Summary: AU. Korra has to deal with being the Avatar born to the country that started the 100 Year War that splintered and corrupted many of the Air Nomads. It doesn't help that now she needs to find an airbending teacher.
A/N: For Amorra Week, prompt 'illusion.' Cast consists of airbender!Amon and Secretive!Korra and a female sky bison named after Leela of "Futurama." Inspired by this fic at http://beckyh2112.livejournal.com/
Everything changed when the Water Tribes attacked. They sought the Avatar, master of all four elements, their only obstacle--but he had vanished. The Airbenders, to whom the Avatar should've been born to, could not find him. The nomads splintered as the war went on, but endured. There were those who stayed out of the conflict, and those who chose to fight. All bore the stigma of the lost Avatar.
But then Avatar Aang returned, and calmed the war.
When he died, knowing the next Avatar would be born to the waterbenders, the world threatened to break into full-out war again....
Leela gave a low pleased growl as Amon scratched her ear. He tugged gently on her reigns, then mounted the sky bison.
"No," he told the young girl--Korin, she said her name was--and Leela began to walk away.
"But it has to be you!" He heard Korin shout, and the thump of her boots as she raced after Leela and he.
"Clearly not, since I refuse," Amon said, refusing to look back. Finally the girl outpaced Leela, though admittedly the bison's walk was lumbering and leisurely. Her blue eyes blazed up at him--then shifted, trying not to laugh as Leela began to lick at her again.
"See, your bison likes me!" Korin experimentally petted the bison again, even rubbing up the length of one of her broken horns.
"You gave her apples," the masked and hooded nomad dryly pointed out as Leela nuzzled Korin.
The girl moved her face from the bison's friendly lapping tongue, trying to speak again. "Please, I'm begging you, I--"
For a second the girl's eyes darted away. Then she looked back to him, beaming. "I had a vision!" Korin said, perking up and pumping her fist in delight.
Behind the mask, Amon arched a brow as much as he could despite the scars. "So spiritually attuned, and yet you need a teacher to learn airbending? And how can you be a complete novice, bending usually reveals itself before your age...."
Amon let his voice trail off, skeptical, and closely watched the way the girl shuffled her feet. "Look, m-my parents learned I could airbend when I was really little--" She couldn't keep her eyes on him. "--but they didn't want either of the monk or warrior sects to take me, so they tried to hide it, w-what I could do, y'know--but I really want to learn how to control it, I can't deal with random puffs or gales of air anymore--!"
"I don't believe you," Amon said flatly, his patience growing thin.
"What, it could happen!" The girl snapped, her nostrils flaring. Not it's the truth!
"Yes, it could, and it does, but I don't think it happened to you," Amon said, and gently pulled Leela's reigns just so, guiding her to bypass Korin, and again to signal the bison to crouch down and slap down her tail, getting ready to fly. "And even if I were interested in an apprentice, I'd have no desire to teach a deceptive one."
Leela slapped down her tail the last time, the air began to rush up, they rose--and Korin grabbed onto the reigns. And kept going as Leela accidentally swung her up.
Amon rolled his eyes--then stopped, narrowing them, when the girl yelped, "I'm the Avatar!"
With no prompting from him, Leela settled down somewhat, landing on and standing up only on her hind legs. Korin slammed down on the bison's nose, and squealed as she made sure not to fall off. All the while, Leela just watched the girl, curious.
"You're the what?" Amon asked, now propping himself up on the currently vertically aligned saddle, leaning against Leela's head with folded arms and looking at the girl, feeling a headache come on. She was the right age, looked the right nationality, and it would justify her attempt to hide her identity.
"I'm the Avatar--" the girl repeated, and she blew out a small blaze of fire
the battle had not gone well and master would not be pleased and he was weak and tired and the lightninbenders held him up as their leader lowered her burning hand toward his face and Amon closed his eyes knowing he deserved this for serving his master so
"--and my real name's Korra, not Korin."
Amon grunted. "How creative."
Korra pouted, "It was the best I could come up with spur of the moment, and it just stuck, okay?!"
The masked nomad clucked to Leela, and the bison lowered back down to all fours, and Korra clung as tightly as a rabbit-cat clinging to a branch above water.
Slowly she let go once Leela was on solid ground, and again Amon stared very closely at her.
"You're not good with heights, are you?"
Korra crossed her arms, looked away. "Not...exactly...."
The girl's arms flailed. "Hey, I can totally get over that, I can learn, if you--"
"A vision told you I was your best choice for an airbending teacher?" Amon sneered. "Or was that part of your cover?"
"No, I really did have a vision!" Korra was smiling, excited. Then she rubbed the back of her neck, looking away. "But, I did hear about you before that, from my waterbending teacher," she said, and a small fond smile spread on Korra's face.
Amon had stiffened, and Korra kept going, "Tarrlok said you were really--"
His hand instinctively twisted around Leela's reigns, though he had enough of his mind not to pull and disturb her--but a sudden rough wind still flared up and shoved Korra back.
The Avatar's eyes bugged out, and Amon's voice became harsh. "Why not your predecessor's own son, Tenzin?"
"No!" Korra snapped, her eyes even wider. Then she deflated, biting her lip. "I mean, no--no, I don't want anything to do with Katara. Or anymore to do with Aang than what I already have to." Her eyes lowered, and she looked away.
Amon knew how complicated the Avatar's place in the world had become in recent history, and how twisted it was by rumor and myth and heresy. He would not pry or try to untangle that for now.
"The vision," he repeated instead, his voice low.
Korra rubbed the back of her neck, frowning. "I went to the swamp Aang had gone to when he was a boy, because it's a spiritual hot spot, you know? I was looking for more guidance--and I found it!" She beamed. "You were there, or a future vision of you--well, future for me, that vision looks just like you right now, and Aang said it reminded him of Toph Bei Fong, he saw a vision of someone he hadn't met before, and then he met her, so that vision came true, since 'time is an illusion,' and the swamp's priestess still says that, and have you ever been to the swamp before--?"
"It's been years," Amon said, slower than Korra's rushed words.
"See, you've been to the swamp, you've sought out the spiritual hot spots, you're perfect--!"
Amon's headache was growing. "How can you think it's exactly like Toph's situation?" Amon grunted. "Even the stories say that Avatar Aang had to see Toph in action--"
"And I saw you in action!"
Amon actually blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I was in the crowds that watched you take down Lightning Bolt Zolt, I was all incognito-like, and you'd stepped in to help the farmers before I could, you were so fast--"
"You're interested in the energybending," Amon flatly said.
"Avatar Aang could do it, the highest form of airbending--I have to too--!"
"Other than that, I didn't airbend." .
"Exactly! You chiblocked like Ty Lee too, just one touch and bam--!" Korra punched a fist in her hand, practically bouncing on the balls of her feet. "--Zolt's goons were down for the count! You moved like the air, but I'm pretty sure you didn't actually bend the air, you didn't need to, not until, y'know, you had to neutralize Zolt--you just did what was necessary, not any of the extra stuff, though that would've been way cool--but Aang did say that my airbending teacher should know restraint and act really precisely, but still be able to change at a moment's notice in every way--"
Amon's headache grew as the girl again spoke in a rush, and he wondered how she breathed, exactly, when she got like this.
"--and you're pretty much a neutral, not with either of the sects," Korra said, her voice still bright.
Amon considered. "I suppose it makes sense for you to want a teacher who essentially avoids taking either side. And Tenzin has definitely picked a side."
"So you'll take me on as an apprentice?" Korra perked up, looking up at him expectantly.
"No," Amon said, and swept the reigns, Leela taking off.
He carefully watched Korra follow below on foot, on a wave of earth, cursing up a storm.
Korra followed Amon everywhere, like a persistent polarbeardog pup.
"You're a rather good tracker," he called down conversationally to Korra as she climbed the mountain, and he sat against a napping Leela.
"I had a good teacher," Korra snarled back, then refocused her attention on the rock.
Amon tilted his head. "Why don't you use a more dramatic display of your bending to come up here? It's not like the mountain is made up of platinum or wood."
He saw the girl pout, but she uncharacteristically kept quiet. Amon continued to watch her closely.
Amon stirred slightly, but made no move to help when Korra slipped and fell. The drop hadn't been far, though the girl had shouted at the impact. Again he wondered why she didn't bend. He thought she would at least do it with water to heal whatever scrape or injury she now carried, but when Korra struggled up, she just continued to ascend the mountain again. She only pulled out one of her waterskins to quench her thirst.
When it got too dark and Amon knew her energy was spent, Korra stopped and curled up, sleeping. Amon meditated, before he too slept.
He woke up early, and he found that Korra did too, albeit sluggishly, waterbenders typically did not do well in the mornings (Tarrlok rarely did). She continued on, and he watched her climb, and fall; get back up and climb again.
When she finally reached his cliff, Korra laid flat on her stomach, chin propped up on the dirt. She gave a low groan.
Amon stared at her. Then he slipped out his staff from Leela's saddlebag. When he tapped it in front of Korra' propped up chin, her nose, she stared entranced, her eyes crossing. Amon began to draw a curving line in the dirt.
"Airbending is about spiral movements."
A/N: I couldn't figure out a way to fit in more backstory, particularly about Airbender!Amon, so here, let him be mysterious for now--he does mystery really well. Hoped the hints at worldbuidling were enough, 'cause--well, I try to be pretty careful about exposition. Also, with this Amon, he's more of an AU of my 'misbegotten sons' fic than canon AmoNoatak--for one, being actually scarred.
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the Legend of Korra.