Nov. 18th, 2012

Title: vigil(ante)

Fandom: Legend of Korra

Summary: AU. Equalist leader Asami shows some mercy.

A/N: For amosami week day 1 prompt 'illness.' Let's see if I can do this basic AU premise across all the days: a sort of age/role reversal between the two combined with other AU elements.

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the Legend of Korra.

"Now what is this?" Asami asked, polite curiosity drifting from behind her smooth-faced mask as the Lieutenant shoved an adolescent boy down in front of her. She carefully noted burn scars stretching up his neck and to his cheek, but no further up. It was not entirely an unbearable sight.

"An intruder, obviously," deadpanned the teen, though he slightly winced as the Lieutenant tightened his hand around the boy's shoulder.

"But now why would an intruder be here?" Asami said, tilting her head and maintaining her polite tone as she moved away from the wall covered in maps and mech tank blueprints. Her skirts whispered along with the tell-tale beat of her boots, pale lithe hands folded behind her back as she looked down at the young intruder.

"I'm no bender," the teen muttered low enough to growl, though he tensed as Asami pressed a hand to his forehead. She'd had enough of a grasp on energybending to sense whether a person was cursed or not via such touch; no person could hide it from her, like Fire Lord Zuko could do as the Blue Spirit during the Hundred Year War.  She would've sensed even him, if she'd been born in his time.

Her hand pulled away, satisfied. "That you are not." Her voice was kind. But inside her patience was at an end; it had been a long week, and she was on her way to something tiring. And this boy's face was reminding her of someone unpleasant, slight scars crawling up it and the paler skin color and wrong eye color notwithstanding. Such a resemblance raised her suspicions. "Your name?"

The teen was silent at first, but when the Lieutenant squeezed his shoulder again, he reluctantly said, "Amon."

"So you have no bending to lose, Amon–just your life, if you do not tell me right now why you are here." She knelt down before him, taking his chin, uncaring if she touched the scars, though the boy twitched and scowled when she did. Behind such a gesture of power and control was an opportunity to search his familiar face more closely. "There are proper channels for new recruits or allies to go through. Tresspassing like this more immediately marks you as an enemy, and in line to suffer the consequences of that. I'm afraid the times make security an upmost priority among the Equalists."

"There's no need to make a point about the divide between benders and nonbenders to me, or inform me about Equalist policy," Amon evenly said, and winced again when the Lieutenant squeezed his shoulder once more.

The Lieutenant spoke, probably sounding gruff to the boy, but Asami could read the odd gentleness in his tone (Lieu typically had a soft spot for the young when not in the rage of battle, being a father himself long ago). "Just answer the question, kid," the Lieutenant advised.

Amon closed his dark brown eyes. "I'm looking for my brother. He's a bender."

"Your brother's name?" Asami asked, letting go of the teen's chin and standing back up, but still looking down at him thoughtfully. The teen's eyes were opened again, looking up at her blankly.

"How do you hope to be reunited with your brother if you do not give me his name?" The boy opened his mouth, but Asami cut him off, emphasized by a little flick of her hand. "I can assure you, I have all the captive benders' names, so there's no point in being concerned over revealing any sensitive information about his identity."

Amon blew out a shaky breath, then ground out, "Tarrlok."

So that's why he resembled that particular captive. And why he would've hoped to keep the name secret.

Asami first glanced to the Lieutenant; his face was a complete storm now, no longer calm, but at least he hadn't crushed the boy's shoulder. Lieu could be trusted to keep his head, even when Yakone came up.

Then Asami locked eyes with Amon. "I was not aware Yakone had another son."

"He doesn't talk about me much," the teen said in a blunt voice.

"I imagine the leader of the Red Monsoons wouldn't show much interest in a nonbender child, especially with his own bending removed."

"I'm not here to be recruited or gutted or held for a futile ransom, because yes, Yakone won't be interested–I just want my brother."

"Do you have a different mother?" Asami asked, pretending to ignore Amon. "To my understanding, Tarrlok's mother was one of Yakone's prized lieutenants, a full-blooded Northerner–"

"We are half-brothers, yes, sharing only a father.  I inherited my mother's skin," Amon snarled, eyes starting to burn up at Asami. "Please, Yakone won't answer any ransom for Tarrlok either, just let me take my brother–I'll do anything, I will be a new recruit if–"

"The situation is more complicated than you realize," Asami said, her voice softer. The teen looked apprehensive while Asami gestured to the Lieutenant to let Amon up.

###

Amon went to Tarrlok's bedside, taking his hand and rubbing another hand down his sweat-drenched forehead. Asami stood back, watching the half-brothers impassively. The empty beds in the rest of the lab infirmary stretched out before them, and their emptiness did weigh on the Equalist leader's heart.

"Me equalizing all benders one by one isn't that viable, and I've yet to successfully pass that tecnhique to anyone else. Should it truly be necessary to cleanse massive numbers of benders, a medicine mass produced and mass administered would be more ideal. And for that, we do need test subjects."

The teen jumped up as if shocked and whirled on the Equalist leader, fists clenched and looking like he dearly wanted to strike at her. Asami calmly stared at him back, her tranquility matching the white mask's immutable expression.

Visibly restraining himself, Amon said, "He's sick–"

"I'm well aware of that. And we are taking care of him as it would be–"

"–better to have a live, successful test subject, right?" Amon snarled, stabbing a finger at Tarrlok lying pale and limp in bed.

"Good to see you're not unintelligent, if still a little misguided," Asami said, brow arched behind the mask.

"And you're not?" Amon said in a low growl. "Have you even tried waterbender healers?"

"I think you know the answer to that."

"Let me take him to one–"

"No." Asami's voice was final. Amon opened his mouth, and she said, "You cannot bring one here either."

Amon stared at her, then burst out, "Who's unintelligent, who's misguided now?!"

"In this case, your brother's life pales in comparison to the principles I will have upheld." Her green eyes narrowed, becoming cold emerald pinpricks in the infirmary. "If your brother passes on, he will not be the first, and what is one more to me at this point?" She pointedly glanced to the empty infirmary around them. "However, he was the only one to survive the latest group.   He might yet live.  Take solace from that when you leave."

Amon stopped in mid-yell. "What?" He blinked. "You won't take me priso–?"

"I will not hold you." Asami made sure to keep the remorse out of her voice, to keep it utterly neutral. (She did not wish to deprive anyone of their family, but she had done it before, and would probably do it again.) "You can go."

Amon's eyes widened at her–then he spat in her masked face. "I won't." He turned his back on her, sitting back at Tarrlok's side. "I won't until Tarrlok gets better," he bitterly whispered.

Asami stared at him, looking down at the determined, yet weary slump of his shoulders. Finally she left him, and ordered the Lieutenant to give Amon a cot.

In private, Asami removed her uniform, slipping off the hood and untying her hair.  She pulled off the mask. She touched up her make up, refined her hair, donned the formal dress and carefully made her way topside. She went there to flash artificial smiles at the shakers and movers of Republic City, to hear them let slip useful information in the face of her charm and projected carelessness, to criticize those horrible Equalists and divorce her public persona from them as much as possible. No one would ever dream that Asami Sato, scion of the Sato Family and CEO of Future Industries was the masked Equalist leader that only went by the General, for if there was a Lieutenant, there was also a General.

Not if she did her job right, that is.

She danced and she laughed with them, hating them all in her heart, her mind drifting to underground, where Amon waited with Tarrlok.

tbc

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greedyslayer

November 2012

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