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December 28, 2012
This is the tenth chapter of the series,.
Two years later.
"Upsi-daisy." Tahno says as he bounces two year old Sakari up and down as he sits on a couch. The girl giggles as they continue to play and Korra walks in.
"Looks like you two are having fun." she says as she lifts up Sakari. "How's my little girl? Can you say momma?" Sakari simply makes gurgling sounds and squirms to be put down which Korra complies, putting her on the ground as she waddles around the room. "She can water-bend but not talk, should we be worried?"
"I wouldn't worry too much I didn't talk till I was almost four." Tahno says as he lays back.
"Those must have been the most relaxing years in the house for your parents." Korra jokes as she keeps Sakari from falling over. "Oh, by the way I have some business to take care of tomorrow and I'll be out of town all day so Sakari's going to stay with Pema."
"Come on Korra you don't need to bother them with another kid, she's got her hands full with those four. Besides, me and Sakari can have fun right here."
"First off, Jinora's almost seventeen, she can handle an infant water-bender. And second, I don't know if your up to the challenge."
"Not up to the challenge? She's two, how much trouble can she get into?"
"That's what I'm worried about. I've never left her with you for more than an hour."
"And that's my point. You want this to end up like Shaozu and his mom?"
"Hm, I see your point. Alright, you win, you're in charge of her for the day. Take care of her okay?"
"Trust me, you've got nothing to worry about, daddy's got this all under control. Isn't that right baby?" Tahno picks up Sakari and gives her a hug.
The next day Korra heads out on Naga as Tahno and their daughter see her off. "Alright Sakari, so what trouble can we get into today?" he asks as she opens her mouth. "Good idea, let's make breakfast first." they head back inside as Tahno sits her in a booster seat as he prepares breakfast. After he is done he sets Sakari's bowl of mush in front of her. She sticks her hands in it and eats off her fingers. "Ah Sakari, use the spoon." he says as she uses the spoon to flick food in his face and laughs. He grabs a towel and wipes it off as he hears a knock on the door. He leaves her for a brief moment to answer the door. He opens it to see Ming and Shaozu.
"Hey Tahno." Shaozu says as he invites himself in. "How's it been?"
"Yeah come on in." Tahno says as he lets Ming in as well. "What brings you guys out this way?" he asks as he returns to the kitchen to grab Sakari out of her chair to find her covered in her breakfast. "Oh Sakari, really?" he grabs a towel and takes her to get clean. "So what did you guys need?"
"Ming's got a..." Shaozu says before he is interrupted by Ming.
"I've got the opportunity of a lifetime. A buddy of mine gave me an inside tip on the Eel-hound race today. We've got the odds up thirty to one. It's a sure thing. All we need is an extra two hundred Yuan."
"So you came to borrow money?"
"No, we want you to come with us. Because of our...recent losses we can't put any more money in the pot. So we need you to add another share for us."
"I don't think so. I promised Korra I'd take care of Sakari for the day."
"Take her with us, kids love Eel-hounds." Shaozu says excitedly.
"You want me to take my two year old to an illegal, underground Eel-hound racing circuit? Yeah that's a great idea." Tahno says sarcastically.
"Come on it's a golden opportunity. We go, get paid big bucks and get home. The little lady never has to know." Ming says persuasively as he puts his arm on Tahno's shoulder.
"And when Sakari starts talking about Eel-hounds when she finally speaks?"
"When Korra gets back just tell her you went to the zoo, the kid'll never know the difference." Shaozu says. Tahno holds his daughter in his arms as he contemplates for a moment then nods in silent agreement. "Yes, we're off to the races." Shaozu says jumping with joy.
The three make their way to a back alley as Ming takes the lead, knocking on a door as a slit opens and he whispers something to the guard. The door then opens as the group walk inside and head down a flight of stairs. As they reach the bottom they see the large underground track with stands all around. Ming continues to lead the group as they head toward the betting booth. "Hey Shaozu, hold her for a second." Tahno says handing Sakari over to the fire-bender, who lets her ride on his shoulders as her father goes to get his money out. As Shaozu balances her he notices a woman heading back to the stables. "Hey, you wanna see your uncle Shaozu score big time?" he says as he follows her, unseen by the other two who are more focused on placing the bet.
"Thank you gentlemen and good luck." the man says behind the screen as he gives the stub for their bet.
"Alright, we're all set." Ming says excitedly.
"Yeah, yeah. Hey where's Shaozu and Sakari?" Tahno looks around panicked as Ming puts his hand on his shoulder.
"Come on relax, Shaozu's probably using her to pick up a girl. She's fine. Marriage has really made you a wreck hasn't it?"
"And being married to Sasame is all plums and roses?" Tahno says bringing up Ming's hard case wife as the earth-bender rolls his eyes. In the stables Shaozu has found the woman standing next to a pen where an infant eel-hound is eating. "Hey there." he introduces himself.
"Oh hello." she says, noticing Sakari on his shoulders. "Hey there, cutie, you having fun with your daddy?"
"Yeah, thought I'd take her to see her first eel-hound race. Can never get them started too early. Is this one yours?"
"Yeah, he's not ready to start racing just yet. A few more years and he'll be a champion racer. We need to find the right rider. Hey little lady, you look like your the perfect size for him too." the woman says allowing Shaozu to set Sakari on the creatures small saddle as it slowly walks in a circle as the infant laughs with joy.
Back on the track, Ming and her father are watching as the race is about to begin. Tahno stands in anticipation holding his stub as the race begins. They keep an eye on their prospective bet as the hounds and their riders race around the track. "Come on, get in the game." Ming whispers as their racer is behind in the third lap, then with a sudden burst of speed he overtakes the rest of the group and finishes in first as the two and several others shout and jump for joy. "Yes! You see nothing to worry about." he says as they return to the booth and collect their winnings.
"Now let's find Shaozu and go enjoy some of this dough," Tahno suggests when suddenly they hear a loud bang as metal-bending officers pour down the stairwell as everyone scatters and panics. The two attempt to run only to be caught by the officer's metal cables.
Meanwhile, Shaozu regales the woman with tales of his pro-bending career while Sakari continues to ride the eel-hound. Just then several men rush down and open the back door, one of them hitting the switch that opens the eel-hound pens as the police storm the area. In the confusion the gate holding the young creature opens and the panicked animal takes off with the child still holding on to the reigns. "Sakari!" Shaozu says as he tries to follow but is captured by the officers.
In the main area the officers are rounding up the suspects as Tahno attempts to secure his release. "This is all a big mistake. Avatar Korra is my wife."
"Yeah, yeah, and the Moon Spirit is my sister. Keep moving." an officer says pushing him with the rest of the group as he the two friends are joined by Shaozu. "Well, well, well, if it isn't the Wolf-bats, well two Wolf-bats and a has-been. Why am I not surprised." Tahno's heart sinks as he hears a familiar voice and turns to see Mako, former pro-bender and now officer in the Republic City Police Force.
"Oh great." Tahno says lowly. All the while Shaozu attempts to tell him about his daughter. "Not now, just make sure Sakari's okay." he whispers not even looking behind him.
"But, but Tahno..." he is cut off again as Mako steps forward. " I wonder what Korra would say if she knew what you were doing. She'd probably think she made a serious mistake with you."
"Wow, you really do have sour grapes about that don't you?" Tahno says with a frown. "Look, Korra chose me not you and I suggest you get over it. It's really not good for your health."
"You're lucky I still owe Korra one. Lao, escort these three outside and out of my sight." he says as the officer unties them and sends them on their way outside.
"Shaozu where's Sakari?" Tahno asks as Shaozu looks around before telling him. "She may or may not be on a frightened eel-hound running around town." as he says this Tahno jumps on him and begins choking him. "I'll strangle you for this."
Ming is eventually able to pry the two apart. "Knock it off, now we have to find that eel-hound before the kid gets hurt." The very thought makes Tahno shiver as he thinks of what will happen when Korra finds out. As they rush out of the alley they spot the young eel-hound four blocks up the road with Sakari still on his back. "My baby!" Tahno shouts as he runs toward them, ignoring traffic as his friends follow. As he gets close he slows down as the animal crotches down. "Okay relax, I'm just going to..." it breaks off in full gallop as he gives chase, breaking a hydrant open and using the water to keep up. He reaches out to grab his daughter, who is completely unaware of the danger, laughing as she holds on. He almost has her before a Satomobile skids to a stop in front of him and he slams into the side.
"Tahno?" he looks up half conscious to see Asami Sato, standing with Ming and Shaozu as they help Tahno into the car. The group then continue their pursuit. "Let me guess, these two convinced you to go to the track to place a bet. You took Sakari with you since Korra's out of the city. You gave her to the lady killer here, who put her on that eel-hound like the goof that he is. Then the police showed up and made them panic, and before you could stop it the hound took off with your daughter, leading us to the point we're at now."
"How did you know?"
"The track was one side of the center, the other was a chop shop. Several of Future Industry's new models were stolen from one of the plants. Mako kept me informed and gave me a call when they pinpointed the location. I was on my way down there when I ran into you." she drives alongside of the still running creature as Tahno opens a water sack strapped inside his jacket and uses it to swing a water whip toward his daughter, attempting to lasso her. She sees it and responds by controlling the water herself, giggling as she does it.
"Okay, baby that's funny. Now give daddy back the water." she responds by seizing complete control of it. "Give daddy the water!" he shouts, making her cry as she swings it frantically slashing the cars front right tire. The car skids to a stop as the group hop out. They see the child fly into the air as the creature jumps up and runs off. "Sakari!" she comes down and lands in one of several bags that a rather large woman is carrying as she turns the corner. The three friends give chase, but not before Tahno turns to Asami. "Thanks so much for your help. Do you think we could not tell Korra about this?" he pleads as she nods.
The woman stops at a stand and places her bags down as a stealthy young man quickly grabs the bag Sakari happens to be in and dashes off. She then picks up her bags oblivious to the one missing and continues walking. The three lose sight of her as they search the crowd. "Hey Shaozu." the fire-bender turns to see thirteen year old Ikki standing behind the three. "How are you, haven't seen you in a long, long, long time. It feels like forever since we talked." she continues as Shaozu thinks to himself.
"Oh great, Ikki the mouth, if she finds out about this they'll be no keeping it quiet." he thinks to himself as he gestures the others to go on without him. He pretends to listen to the never ending stream of words coming from the girl's mouth, nodding every so often. "Wouldn't that be fun? We could go tonight if you want." he hears her say as she finally stops, still not listening as he hears his friends. "There she is, go!" Tahno says as the group chase after her as she is about to get into a cab.
"Uh, yeah, great. I'll meet you there." Shaozu says excusing himself.
Ming propels himself through the air with earth-bending, Shaozu with fire-bending, and Tahno glides over the ground with water skates. They surround her still bearing their respective elements, causing her to scream. "Oh, Triple Threat Triad!"
"No lady, no Triad." Shaozu tries to explain only to be hit in the face as she swings her bags at the three. The group attempt to stop her without hurting her only to be attacked by the woman. While the other two are being beaten, Tahno searches the bags on the ground. "She's not here." he looks up and sees the thief with the last bag he recognizes. "There." he says as the three run off as the woman throws rocks at them.
The thief sees them coming and runs without having time to check the contents. Shaozu attempts to shoot a fire ball at him before Tahno grabs his arm. "What's wrong with you?"
"I'm trying to stop him."
"You're going to fry my kid. Just catch him." the thief climbs a building and runs along the roof. He sees a train running along the track as he jumps on top. The three follow as they land on the roof of the train. They give chase to the thief as he heads for the engine.
Shaozu rushes for him but the man pulls out a pair of bolos that trips up the fire-bender causing him to stumble over the edge and crashes into a dumpster full of garbage. He continues on his way as Ming and Tahno continue their pursuit. He then leaps down between two of the cars and opens the passenger door, dashing through car after car. Tahno jumps down after him as Ming cuts him off in front blocking his escape route. "Hand over the back pal." Ming orders as the crook rushes him using chi-blocking moves to disable Ming's left leg then performs an aerial kick that knocks the earth-bender over the side into the river.
Tahno uses the remaining water in his sack to grab the thief by the arm. "Hey lay off pal, it's bad enough you benders steal our jobs, now you gotta steal from crooks. Why do you want this so bad anyway?" the thief says as he looks into the bag only to get a face full of water as Sakari hits him in the face giving her father an opening as he whips the water around, knocking the thief against the wall and icing him in place as the other passengers look on in surprise. Tahno then grabs Sakari out of the bag and hugs her tight. "You're okay now, daddy's here."
"Daddy." she says to his surprise as she says it over and over.
"Let's go home."
Later that day Tahno lays Sakari down for a well deserved nap as he heads back to the main room of the house, removing and hiding the radio, not wanting Korra to hear any news of what transpired while she was away. He then calls everyone they know and pleads with them not to tell her. He then falls back onto the couch as he falls asleep. A few hours later Korra arrives back and enters the house. "Hey Tahno." she says as she leans over the couch and kisses him on the cheek, waking him up. "Where's Sakari?"
"Sleeping." he says as he looks up at her. "How was everything?"
"Great, actually, I have some big news to...,uh where's the radio?"
"Oh we had a little water-bending mishap. I took it to the shop and they said I can pick it up in a week or so."
"Well aren't you Mr. Responsible. You know Tahno, I was a little hesitant to leave you two alone, probably because I haven't always been completely on board with all your decisions over the past few years. I wasn't to happy when your family sent Sakari that cat-gator for her birthday, but Gigi has turned out to be like one of the family." she says looking at the lazy animal sleeping in the kitchen. "Or when you signed us up for couples dancing classes, I thought it would be lame but I actually had a lot of fun. And now I'm sure you'll be able to..." she is cut off by a knock on the door. She walks over as Tahno lays back and relaxes. "Oh hey Ikki." he springs up as he hears that name.
"Oh Korra, I was so worried, are Tahno and Sakari okay, do you need anything, is there anything I can do to help?"
"Calm down Ikki, what are you talking about?" Korra asks as Ikki shows her a late edition of the paper showing a picture of Sakari riding an eel-hound. Korra grabs the paper and begins reading, then looks up at Ikki with a forced smile. "Will you excuse me for just a minute?" she says closing the door then turning to Tahno with anger as her eyes narrow like a predatory animal.
"Tahno begins to back up as he tries to explain. "Now Korra, let me explain. We went to the zoo and had a little mishap, but I took care of it and..." as he moves back the ticket stub from the track and several wads of cash fall out of his pocket. He looks down then back at Korra as she enters the Avatar State. He grabs a chair to defend himself then, realizing how foolish that is bends some water. "Korra, calm down, I really don't want to use this." she makes quick work of him throwing him through a wall.
"Well that's my story gentlemen and I'm sticking to it." a half drunken Tahno says an hour later as he Ming and Shaozu sit in a small diner in the city, all three bruised and battered from the days events.
"Why did you flashback all the way? We were there for most of it." Ming asks
"Yeah, except for the last part, that was funny." Shaozu says as he eats some of his food.
"Ha ha, very funny." the water-bender says slouching in his chair.
"Keep it down. Sasame found out and she is not happy." Ming says ducking down as he sees several women pass by the window.
"Eh, who cares. Nothin' even matters anymore. Because you do and you do and what does it get you? You know what we don't need those girls or anyone else. The three of us were fine before em' will be fine after em'." Tahno says almost falling out of his seat.
"Yeah, who needs them? Here's to the Wolf-bats, the best darn team of friends in Republic City who don't need anybody." Ming says as the three raise their glasses in a toast.
"Tahno?" Korra calls as she enters the diner and spots him in his chair.
"Korra." he jumps from the seat almost falling over and runs over to her, getting on his knees. "I'm sorry I lied to you, I just didn't want you to think I couldn't take care of our the baby. Please please don't leave me." he says half crying.
"Come on, let's get you home Pretty Boy." she chuckles before she helps him up off the floor and takes him outside, putting him on Naga as the two ride off.
"Well so much for all for one." Ming says. He looks up and sees Sasame outside the window, the emerald eyed woman gesturing for him to come out with her hands crossed.
"I guess I'll see you later, I hope." he gets up and walks off with her, leaving Shaozu alone.
"Are there no real men left besides me?" he says as he chugs down his drink.
"Hey Shaozu, sorry I'm late." Ikki surprises him as she sits down across from him. Shaozu doesn't speak as he replays the conversation in his head, remembering he did agree to meet her somewhere and this must be the place. Seeing as he is by himself he figures 'What the heck.' "No problem, what would you like?" he says as she looks over the menu.
Down the road, Korra and Tahno ride Naga home as they talk. "Where's the baby?" Tahno asks.
"Jinora's watching her until we get back. Listen Tahno, I'm sorry I blew up at you like that. It's just that I worry a lot about the baby and I need to know you can handle things when I'm not around. Especially now that we have something else on our plates." she says holding her stomach.
"I was feeling a little sick so I stopped by the doctors. We've got another one on the way."
"Wow, we are good at this." he laughs.
"Knock it off Pretty Boy."
"Whatever you say Uh-vatar."
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