Part 11 - Change
“When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.”
Tahno allowed you to lead him to the vanity in his bedroom the following week. Once again you seemed to believe he didn’t need his beauty sleep, not that he would call his current appearance beautiful at all. He could hardly see himself in the male reflected in the mirror. Though, he had to admit that he looked a lot better recently, not nearly as pale as he was last week and he actually bothered to be more motivated and bother with his appearance. Your hands were placed firmly on his shoulders and you pushed him down so that he sat on the stool. “Hmph, I remember when I was the one manhandling you,” Tahno said softly and a small smirk crossed his face. Now that he is seated you carefully you combed your fingers through Tahno’s messy hair and smile at him in the mirror. “You were such a jerk, dragging me around everywhere and so demanding,” you tease and gently tug at a strand of his wavy black hair. Pale eyes met your own ___ colored eyes. “You know you liked it,” Tahno said simply with a snicker. You removed your hands from Tahno’s hair and cross your arms over your chest with a grin. “Oh really? Well maybe I won’t help you with your hair then,” you responded and stuck your tongue out at him.
Your boyfriend waved you off with a snort. “I can do my own hair. You would just mess it up even more anyway ___,” he scolded and combed through his hair. You give him a soft wack on the shoulder and Tahno scooted over a bit on the stool so that you could sit also, each of you getting half of the stool. While Tahno began styling his hair and placing expensive hair gel in his gorgeous locks you leaned your head lightly against his shoulders. “Care to tell me why I had to get up early today?” he asked. This question wasn’t one you wanted to answer right away because you had no idea how he would respond. “Well, you made an offer while we were at the Northern Water Tribe…” you stated slowly and watched his face carefully. Tahno blinked twice in confusion and then his eyes widened when he realized just what you were talking about. “___... I don’t know, I mean..” Tahno started, stumbling for words which is quite rare for him.
You bit your bottom lip and stood from the stool before pacing about the room. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pressure you or upset you. We don’t have to,” you quickly replied and ran your hands through your hair to calm your nerves and shame. Instead you focused your attention around his flat. Tahno had sold almost all of his furniture and the large space now felt so empty and lonesome. The money he had won from all his previous probending tournaments was taken by his father after Tahno lost his bending. “You know, if you wanted, you could always sell this place and come live with me right?” you asked in an attempt to change the subject. Yes, you knew Tahno was used to higher class living but he could no longer afford this way of living. Even the expensive hair products he is using now is nearly empty and you both knew that he would have to start using cheaper products whether he wanted to or not. When Tahno glared at you in the mirror due to embarrassment you looked away. You both knew that Tahno hated not being able to support himself now since he couldn’t probend and finding a job was proving to be difficult. “Just think about it,” you tell him.
Tahno stood from the bench and walked up behind you, his arms wrapping around you from behind to stop your pacing and pulling your back flush against him. “Why are you suddenly wanting to take up my offer?” he inquired gently. You swallowed as you considered how to word your answer. “It’s just that… I know you can’t waterbend anymore but that doesn’t meant that the element isn’t part of you anymore – it’s still really important to you and you treasure it,” you whisper as he rests his chin against the top of your head. Tahno gave you a squeeze and placed a kiss to the top of your head. “We will do it,” Tahno assured you in a determined voice. You tipped your head back to look up at his face. “Are you sure? You are okay with starting to teach me how to swim today?” you ask. Tahno nodded, a hint of the confident, strong-willed wolf-bat shining through his pale eyes. “Private lessons?” you persisted. Your boyfriend blinked and raised an eye brow at you. “It’s only fair you offer me private lessons Tahno, seeing as you offered Korra private lessons when you first met her,” you answer his silent question followed by a pout.
Tahno laughed. Actually laughed. Your heart soared. You couldn’t remember the last time he had laughed so hard. His body shook behind yours due to just how much laughter you were causing him. “See, I know you flirted with her you jerk,” you scold teasingly and pull out of his hold to flick his nose gently. Tahno held up his hands in surrender and smirked. “I didn’t know you then, Love,” he replied in defense with a large smirk across his face. With a shake of his head Tahno released you and placed a single hand on his hip. “Do you have a bathing suit or am I dragging you into a pool fully clothed? If you are worried about your clothes you could even go without,” Tahno said and wiggled his eye brows at you. Your face flushed a deep red. “Tahno! I have a suit!” you scold and your boyfriend dodges a punch you aimed at his shoulder.
The ex-probender smirked even more, which you didn’t think would be possible. “It’s alright if you don’t have one, you can admit it~” he practically cooed in a teasing manner as he took off out of his bedroom. You took off after him, jumping over what little furniture he had left in an attempt to catch up to him. He may have his bending anymore but he could still move as gracefully and quickly as any waterbender. “I have a bathing suit you jerk!” you shout and squeak when he suddenly changed directions. He ran towards you and scooped you up into his arms before spinning the two of you around. “Sure you do,” he said sarcastically as you wrap your arms around his neck to steady yourself in his strong arms. You glare up at him. “I do hav-“ you started to argue but his smirk was replaced with a smile and he silenced your argument with a kiss.
You smiled sheepishly once again and bow your head at Shaozu. “Thank you so much for allowing us to use your pool,” you tell the ex-firebender for the Whitefall Wolfbats. Shaozu smiled a bit and shook his head before holding a fist out to Tahno. The two fist bump and a grin spreads across Shaozu’s face. “It’s no problem at all, take all the time that you guys need. Nice to see you again Tahno. Haven’t seen you since… then and it looks like you are doing quite well. Do Ming and I have ___ to thank for that?” he asked and glanced between the two of you. You weren’t how to respond to that and Tahno remained silent too. As if reading Tahno’s thoughts, Shaozu laughed and pulled you into a hug. “Thank you ___,” he said wholeheartedly before going back into his house. Tahno cleared his throat and looked back down at you. “Do you want to start?” he asked. You nod.
Tahno pulled off his shirt and walked over to the pool. He walked straight towards the deeper end of the pool and dove in gracefully. Once he resurfaced, he flipped his black hair out of his face and swam to the shallow side of the pool. “Come here ___, I won’t let you drown. I promise,” he assured you and walked up a couple of the steps that led down into the pool. You take his hand in your own and walk down the first few steps until you were up to your knees in the water, not even touching the actual floor of the pool yet. Tahno gave your hand a gentle squeeze and kissed each of the fingers on your right hand individually. “You can come all the way down, the water won’t be any higher than your chest, probably, how short are you?” your boyfriend said lightly, teasing you about your height since he is taller than you. You wave a hand at him dismissively. “Shush!” you say with a laugh, losing some of your nerves but still quite afraid.
You allowed Tahno to pull you into the water until you were standing next to him and had your feet firmly on the bottom of the pool rather than on the steps. “Not too bad right ___?” your boyfriend asked and raised an eye brow at you. When all of you had gone into the ocean at the beach you had only gone in up to your knees so he was quite proud of you for standing on the bottom of the pool with the water just below your chest. “No… just don’t let go of my hand alright?” you responded and clenched his hand a bit tighter in yours. Tahno was silent a moment while he considered just what to do. He had been able to swim for as long as he remembered and he had never considered teaching anyone else how to swim. “How do you feel about trying to float? It involves relaxation and I think it will help you feel a bit more comfortable in the water,” Tahno suggested.
It was times like this when you found yourself just staring at Tahno and wondering just who he was. When you had first met Tahno he had been nothing but a rude, arrogant, jerk. The more you got to know Tahno, the more kindness you saw behind his mask. Without his bending, without his fame, he seemed so much more willing to display more and more of his true self. He really cared about you and wanted to teach you how to swim at a pace you were comfortable with, he wouldn’t rush you into it. “Sure,” you finally responded when Tahno gave you a weird look since you had been staring so long. He was almost tempted to tease you and ask if you liked what you saw. Gently Tahno pulled you close to himself. Slowly with Tahno’s guidance you lay back, your body extremely tense as you did so. In order to provide support Tahno slid a hand under your back to keep you afloat. “You need to keep your hips up and your back arched,” he instructed quietly so that he didn’t startle you or make you any more nervous than you already were. Very gently Tahno used his right hand to ease your head back in the water so that you weren’t looking up at him but instead at the clear blue sky.
“I don’t think I can do this,” you grumbled. Tahno’s pale eyes met your ___ colored ones. “You need to relax. I’m going to move my arm out from under you. Just remember, if you start to sink that you can just stand up,” he said slowly and panic filled your eyes. He placed a kiss to your forehead and the slowly released his hold on you and took a step back. For a moment you stayed afloat but then you found yourself sink below the surface of the water. Quickly you stood up while coughing and shoving your hair out of your face. Tahno wondered if perhaps the two of you should have practiced breathing techniques under the water first… or if he really is the right person to be teaching you, the Uh-vatar might have been a better coach. “Let’s try again,” Tahno said and narrowed his eyes slightly, he was determined that today you would be able to float. Your boyfriend moved back over to your side and he allowed you to wrap your arms around his neck. Carefully the two of you maneuver so that once again you were lying on your back in the water. You released your hold on him and took a deep breath. “I feel ridiculous, little kids can do this,” you admitted with a huff. Tahno grinned down at you.
“True love, you just need to relax. You are too tense. Think of something relaxing,” he told you shook some of his own wet hair out of his face. The two of you continued this process, Tahno would hold you up by sliding his arm under your arched back then at some point he would let go and you would sink. You were getting entirely frustrated but Tahno was as patient as ever and didn’t get annoyed when you couldn’t do it. Now you were on your sixth attempt. You shut your ___ colored eyes firmly and tried forcing your body to relax. You found your mind wandering to thoughts of ___ (something that relaxes you). A smile spread across your face and you opened your eyes. You were shocked when you didn’t see Tahno standing over him. When had he let go of you? “I’m floating?” you ask in surprise and glance to your left to see Tahno standing back with his arms crossed and a pride shining through his eyes. He nodded and a smile spread across his face. The feeling of floating was exhilarating and you were so happy that you were finally able to do it.
Tahno moved back beside you and placed a soft kiss to your lips. Your cheeks flush and you found yourself sinking once again. Like before, you quickly stood up but this time the top of your head ended up bumping into Tahno’s chin. You placed your hands on top of your head. “Ow, ow, ow, sorry!” you say while he rubbed his chin. Now you stand upright and narrow your eyes at him. “You made me sink on purpose!” you shout and the sly smirk that spread across his face despite the pain in his chin only proved your point. Tahno splashed some water at you. “What are you going to do about it?” he asked. You ended up having to chase Tahno around the shallow end of the pool, which, it is quite hard to run in water while Tahno easily swims away. Finally Tahno swam back over to you and you hugged him from behind. You buried your face in his back and smiled softly against the skin when you felt him turn his head to look over his shoulder at you. “Thank you Tahno, really,” you tell him.
A soft splash was heard from the other side of the pool and you turn to see Shaozu in his own bathing suit with his feet in the water. “You two are too cute. Tahno, who knew you were such a softy,” said Tahno’s friend and you laughed softly. Ming was sitting down beside Shaozu, when Tahno questioned why he was there the green eyed teen explained that Shaozu told him to come over. With Tahno’s hand in yours, the two of you walked over to the side of the pool and climbed out. Tahno situated the two of you between Shaozu and Ming. You wrapped your left arm around Tahno’s shoulders and your right one around Shaozu. Tahno sighed halfheartedly when you elbowed his chest but he figured out what you wanted and wrapped his own left arm around Ming’s shoulders. The Wolfbats may not be able to bend but they aren’t broken. They each were still standing tall and you vowed that you would talk to Korra and get their bending back.
“Korra? Come in,” you told your unsuspected guest. After a long but fun day with the Wolfbats you returned home. The avatar just looked so tired. Tahno glanced up from where he was on the couch reading the newspaper and studied Korra. “Uh-vatar, you’ve been working too hard,” your boyfriend commented then turned his pale eyes back to the newspaper. Earlier the two of you had a long discussion and Tahno finally agreed that he would sell his flat and move in with you. Today he already moved a few of his things in and asked if he could stay the night. Korra frowned at him and turned to you. “Are the two of you back together?” she asked slowly and glanced between the two of you. Now you had to hold back a sigh. You had wanted to tell your friends but Tahno was afraid they wouldn’t be too happy about it and insisted that you didn’t tell them yet. Both of you knew you would have to tell them eventually and you felt kind of guilty about telling the Wolfbats about this before the Fireferrets. “Yes we are Korra,” you answer simply and assume the worst. Instead of Korra snapping like you expected, a huge smile spread across her face and she pulled you into a hug.
“___! Finally, I’m so happy for you!” she squealed and her blue eyes stared at your ___ colored ones, looking much more energized than a few moments ago. The Avatar released you and spun to face Tahno. She pointed two fingers at her own eyes then pointed them towards Tahno as if to say she had her eyes on him. “You hurt her again and I will kick your ass, I’m serious, she won’t be able to stop me. You hear me?” she asked and walked over to Tahno. Your boyfriend looked up at her with a serious face rather than the arrogant one he seemed to keep up when Korra was around. “I won’t,” he assured her and then motioned to the newspaper. Korra peered at the newspaper in his hand and briefly skimmed through it to see that it was about her latest work with Tarrlock and finding the Equalist factory. “Don’t remind me,” Korra groaned out and plopped down onto the couch beside Tahno. You lowered yourself down beside Korra and gave her hand a firm squeeze. “How are you doing? I haven’t seen much of you lately,” you ask, concern lacing your voice. You had lived in Republic City for a long time but you had never liked Tarrlock.
“Fine, I’ve been doing a lot of work with Tarrlock, haven’t had time to see the guys nearly as much as I used to. It turned out that Asami Sato’s father was helping with the Equalist Movement. I feel so bad for Asami, she had no idea and she feels so guilty about it. For now, Bolin, Asami, and Mako are staying at Air Temple Island. We’ve even formed a new ‘Team Avatar’ which I wanted you and maybe even Tahno to join, you haven’t been around to talk to. Look, I’ve quit working with Tarrlock as of two days ago and he isn’t happy about it at all. We formed this team to deal with the Equalists ourselves. Tarrlock got tired of us getting in his way and has arrested them,” Korra practically shouted in frustration. Your eyes widened as you took in all this information and Tahno had even folded the newspaper to give the Avatar his full attention. “Bolin, Asami, and Mako are in jail?” you ask and stand up to begin pacing about. Korra nodded and crossed her arms over her chest with a huff. “The new Chief of Police that Tarrlock assigned, Saikhan, won’t let us get them out of there,” Korra added, practically hissing.
You glared out one of your windows at you studied the lights of Republic City. “This is ridiculous, you are just trying to help. What are we going to do?” you asked and blinked when you noticed Naga outside. Korra had taken the Polarbear Dog here. “Tenzin said he would talk to Tarrlock at the meeting tomorrow morning but I can’t wait that long. I’m going to talk to him myself,” Korra said and now stood also. Tahno, who had been quiet throughout the conversation finally spoke up. “You can’t go alone Uh-vatar, you are in enough trouble with Councilman Tarrlock as it is,” he stated and tossed the newspaper onto the table in front of the couch. You couldn’t help but agree. “Besides, you don’t know if he will still be working at City Hall so late. He could have gone home for the night. At the very least, let us come with you,” you add. Korra clenched her hands into fists at her side. “No, I can’t. I’ve already go enough friends involved in this, I won’t get the two of you arrested also. I’m going alone and I am going to get the rest of the team back,” the Avatar argued. You sighed because you knew just how stubborn Korra was. “Then why are you telling me all this? Why did you come here if you won’t let me help you?” you ask and grab her arm when she moved to walk past you.
Korra turned to look at you. “Someone needs to know where I am going, in case something happens,” she said so seriously that your blood ran cold. She didn’t tell Tenzin? Slowly you dropped your hand from her arm. “In case something..? What can he possibly do? Korra?” you ask and try to reach out for your friend again but she had already slipped out the door. Tahno gave a slight shake of his head and stood from the couch. “Don’t worry too much, as soon as you wake up tomorrow morning you can wake me up. We will visit her as soon as you want and I won’t complain about getting up early,” he said to try and soothe you. You weren’t sure if you’d be able to sleep tonight.
“___! You have to wake up! ___! Come on, even Tahno is already awake!” someone shouted in your ears and you groaned. You forced your eyes open to find Bolin’s face inches from your own. “B-Bolin, what’s wrong? How are you here?” you asked and quickly sat up. A hand grabbed yours and you turned towards the person to see an odd look in Tahno’s eyes. “What?” you asked and now studied the room now that you were more aware and awake. Mako was standing in the corner of the room talking quietly with Beifong and Asami. As if feeling your gaze, said Firebender looked towards you and frowned. “___, Korra is gone. Tarrlock and Korra were attacked by Equalists and she was taken,” he told you. You never moved so fast in your life as you jumped out of your bed, ushered everyone out of the room, and changed. Once you were ready you stepped into the main room. “We are going to talk to Tenzin,” Beifong told you and moved to leave your apartment. Asami, Bolin, and Mako moved to follow the metal bender as you turned to Tahno. You opened and shut your mouth several times.
“You are not leaving me here ___. I can’t bend like many of you, but I am part of Team Avatar too whether your friends like it or not. I can help you. I won’t just sit around while all of this is going on. I did that before when I first lost my bending, not anymore. Let me help,” he said from behind his messy black hair. You grab his hand and move towards the door. “I wasn’t going to ask you to stay behind,” you tell him and pull him outside and after the rest of your friends. Tahno had changed for the better, he was part of the group now and you wouldn’t have him anywhere else but by your side.
“Let’s save the Uh-vatar.”
“You mean Korra!” Shouted Bolin as he waited for the two of you to catch up.