Author: BookWurm15 PM
The Fabulous Bending Brothers are in trouble again, but this time, someone is going to have to pay a dire price; the loss of bending perhaps? Secrets are revealed, but no promises are broken. Oneshot- CompleteRated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Mako & Bolin - Words: 5,218 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 3 - Published: 05-16-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8123359
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The light was blinding.
Mako squinted as he was shoved into the room. I hate chi-blockers. The skin on his wrists was rubbed raw from the metal cuffs. They cut into him and blocked his bending. He didn't even want to know how they'd managed that.
"Well, I recognize you." The voice was low and smooth. Amon stood high on a platform with his arms over his chest. "You're a friend of that worthless Avatar's."
"Korra's not worthless," he raised an eyebrow and paced around on the floor. He wondered why the chi-blockers were leaving him alone. "She may be a hothead, but she's not worthless."
Amon shrugged. "Would you mind telling me where she might be?"
"How should I know?"
"Mako!" a voice shouted. He froze.
"Bolin?" he whispered. "Bo?"
"Mako, help me!" Bolin wailed. He was strapped against a wall behind Amon, hands next to his head. He struggled to free himself, but to no avail.
"I'm coming, Bolin!" Mako strained against his shackles and fell to his knees. "Just hang on!" He glared at Amon; it killed him that he couldn't see his face. "What did you do to him?"
"Nothing. Yet," Amon assured him. "He's your brother, am I correct?"
Mako said nothing.
"Well, it should comfort you to know that this is all your fault, hm?"
"My fault?" Mako whispered.
"Yes. You see, we picked Bolin up this morning when you wouldn't cooperate."
"Watch your tongue, Mako. Or I will go through with what I have in store for your little brother."
"Mako!" Bolin shrieked. "Mako, get out of here!"
"What are you going to do to him?" Mako swallowed, and rose shakily to his feet.
"I will take away his bending. And then I intend to kill him."
Mako's eyes widened. "No…" he shook his head. "Don't. Please, please don't. Don't hurt him. I… I'll do anything."
"I thought so. Give up your firebending, and your brother will be spared."
"No! Mako!" Bolin struggled. "Mako, don't!"
Mako stood up straight. "Take it. Under one condition," he added as an afterthought. "You let us go."
"He can go. You stay here."
Bolin screeched something incoherent. Mako didn't even attempt to make it out.
Amon leaped from the platform and landed in front of Mako. "Boo," he whispered.
"J-just get it over with."
"Mako! Mako, no! You can't!" Bolin bawled.
"I'm sorry, Bo," he murmured. He gasped as Amon grabbed the back of his neck and tilted his chin up. The masked man's thumb pressed hard onto his forehead, and he breathed out sharply as he shoved Mako down to kneel on the floor.
Mako choked and trembled as he felt the heat of the flame die, the energy seeping out of him. His soul was being drained, he felt like he was dying. His body felt hollow and empty. Nothing he'd encountered had ever been this awful. He wanted to scream. He wanted to curl up and cry like a little kid again. But he was stunned to silence.
Amon released his tight grip on him, and Mako fell backwards, twitching and sputtering, eyes wide. "You poor fool," Amon muttered, and snapped his fingers.
"Mako!" Bolin caterwauled, freed from his bindings at last. He lunged forward off the platform before any Equalists could grab him. "Mako!"
"Get him out of my sight," Amon ordered.
"No! You can't! You can't!" Bolin wailed as Equalists seized his arms. "He's my brother! You can't do this! At least let me see if he's okay! Let me say goodbye if you're going to keep him here!"
Amon was silent.
Bolin sniveled, wiping his eyes on his shirt as best he could. He glared at Amon. "He's the only family I've got left," he spat. "If your family was still around, I'll bet you'd be doing the same thing."
Amon was still. Contemplating. Betraying nothing.
The Equalists glanced at each other and began to haul Bolin off.
"You have forty seconds. But only because I am in a… pitying mood."
Bolin didn't hear anything Amon said. He had wrenched his arms away from the Equalists and ran as fast as he could to his fallen brother. "Mako!" he cried, dropping to his knees and moving Mako's hair out of his face. "Speak to me, buddy!"
"Bo…?" Mako murmured. "Y- What are you still d-doing here?"
Bolin shook and held Mako tightly to his chest. "A-Amon let me say goodbye," he sniffed. "I'm going to get you out of here, I'm going to-"
"Bolin, promise me something." Mako's eyes were dulled, as though the fire that had always lit them was extinguished. His expression drooped, and he looked positively defeated. "Don't tell Korra."
"Why not? She could help get you out-"
"Amon… Amon wants to know where she is. Tell her I'm out. T-tell her something, anything but the truth. Please."
"O-okay," Bolin nodded and squeezed Mako close, burying his face in his shoulder like he used to.
"Time's up." An Equalist tugged at Bolin's shirt, dragging him away. Mako fell back to the ground and winced.
"No!" Bolin sobbed. "Mako! No! No, please!"
"Quiet you!" The Equalist slapped him across the face and he fell into silent sniffles. His heels caught every few feet on the steel floor as they approached the exit.
"Bolin…" Mako stared at him with tired eyes. "I'm sorry."
The door shut between them, and Bolin had never felt so numb. He allowed the Equalists to pull him through the streets of Republic City, not caring so much where he was going, only keeping track of where Mako was being held. When he lost count of how many right turns and how many lefts, he allowed his head to hang in defeat.
"That'll teach you, bender," one of the Equalists spat, throwing him down to the dirt in front of the statue of Fire Lord Zuko. "Don't cross us again."
"I d-didn't do anything," Bolin mumbled, hiding his face in his knees as the Equalists sped off.
"Bolin, where have you been?" Korra knit her brow and crossed her arms as the young earthbender made his way up the steps of Air Temple Island. "We've all been worried sick!"
"We were afraid something might have happened to you," Tenzin nodded gravely. "Glad to see you're alright."
Korra looked him over; his head was bent toward the ground, his shoulders sagged. His eyes seemed tired, and he rubbed his eye with his palm. "Bolin, you don't seem alright."
"Huh?" He looked up at her and faked a smile. "Oh, I'm fine, Korra. Totally fine."
"Then where were you?"
"Out," he shrugged. "I don't really have to answer to you, do I?"
Korra raised an eyebrow. "Okay, now I'm suspicious," she huffed. "Bolin-"
"I was just out, alright? It's nothing to make a big deal of. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go take a nap." He brushed past Korra and Tenzin.
"Something's up, Tenzin," Korra whispered quickly. "I want to know what it is."
"Leave it to me. I know just what to ask," Tenzin nodded and cleared his throat. "Bolin? Where is your brother?"
Bolin froze in his tracks and did not turn around. "He's out," he muttered.
"Just… out?" Korra frowned.
"Was he out with you?"
"Really," Korra huffed. "Because Asami was just here helping to repair the Satomobile I gave to Pema."
"Oh?" Bolin tensed. "Didn't know that."
Korra stepped slowly up to him. "Something you want to tell me, Bolin?" she whispered. "Like why you have red marks on your wrists?"
Instantly, Bolin covered them up. "Don't know what you're talking about."
"Were you taken by Equalists again?" She rolled her eyes, as though it was a joke.
Bolin sighed. Mako had never said anything about Korra guessing. "Yes," he nodded.
She gasped. "No…" Something dawned on her. "M-Mako too?"
"He's still there, isn't he?"
"Then we have no time to lose," Tenzin straightened his robe. "We must find your brother before Amon does something unthinkable."
Bolin ducked his head. Korra pretended not to see the tears on his face.
"Mako!" The name echoed through the buildings of Republic City. "Mako!"
Bolin clutched Naga's saddle, swiveling his head left and right for any sign of the building where they had been dragged. "Korra…"
"What is it?"
"I-I'm sorry I didn't tell you right away," he sniffed. "He… He told me not to. He didn't want you to worry."
Korra sighed. "It's alright, Bolin. I understand. I-"
"Korra!" Bolin leaped off of Naga's back. "That's the place! The place we were taken!" He raced over, with Korra at his heels, to a low building and kicked open the door. "Mak-" he began, but broke off.
The giant room was empty.
"I… I don't understand," Bolin sniffed. "He… We… Yesterday…"
"They've moved," Korra frowned. "Come on. We'll keep looking."
The noon sun slowly crept down on the city, bathing everything in shadow. The lights on the sidewalks were being lit as the day began to die.
"Korra." Tenzin landed his air glider next to Naga. "Did you find anything?"
"We should look again tomorrow," Tenzin suggested gently. "It's not safe at night for us. Come, let's go."
"Is a strong young man. He will be alright. Let's go home."
"Bolin," Korra turned to him. "Do you want to stay by us tonight?"
He nodded. "Thanks."
They arrived at Air Temple Island about a half hour later. Tenzin excused himself to greet his mother, who had just flown in for a visit. Korra would say hello to Katara later. She had to help Bolin.
Bolin, who was leaning against a post on the porch, staring out at the water with his chin on his chest and his arms tight around him. Bolin, who'd had a pretty awful life, a pretty awful heartbreak, and now couldn't even find the one person he could always rely on.
"We'll find him," Korra promised. "He'll be okay."
"No. He won't."
"Don't say that."
"I'll say it if I want to."
Korra groaned, frustrated, and kicked the fence. "Where in the world is Mako?" she cried, tugging her hair.
The pair of them whirled around to see Mako leaning heavily on Naga's neck. His pants were soaked up to the thigh, and he stumbled as he stepped toward them. Korra could see his breathing was labored, his skin was ashen, and his eyes were glazed over.
"Mako!" Bolin cried, running over to his older brother with Korra at his heels. He straightened the rumples in his clothes, examined him from all angles, and hugged him tightly.
Mako flinched, but held him with one arm. Naga nuzzled Bolin's arm with her nose.
"Are you alright?" Korra asked.
Mako raised an eyebrow haphazardly. "He told you."
"I guessed," Korra corrected. "Are you okay? You look awful."
Mako blinked heavy eyelids and nodded slowly. "I'll be fine."
"Did Amon…" Korra bit her lip. "Did Amon take your bending?"
Mako was silent for a while. Bolin buried his face in his red scarf.
"Mako, don't tell me-"
"He was going to kill Bolin," Mako grimaced. "He was going to take his earthbending and kill him. What was I supposed to do?"
"Oh… Oh, Mako…" Korra stepped over and put her hand on his shoulder. He flinched and shuddered.
"How did you get out of there?" Bolin asked.
"I… I dunno," Mako swallowed. "We moved buildings, they dragged me around… then after a while, one of them kicked me and… and I woke up on the docks. Naga was licking my face."
Korra had to fight not to laugh. "So that's where you went, silly girl," she said, stroking the polar bear-dog's enormous head.
"So I held onto her and she brought me here." He swayed on his feet.
"You look like you're going to pass out," Korra frowned, holding his arm steady.
"I… I might…" He closed his eyes and leaned his head on Naga's neck.
"Mako!" Bolin cried, holding his brother by the shoulders, but Mako was already out.
"Hey, Bolin, look at this…" A bit of paper stuck out from Mako's pants pocket. Korra took it by the end and unfurled it.
It was an Equalist promotion poster that read 'Join the Revolution.' Tensing her jaw, she flipped it over. Handwritten in red paint were the words, 'He is the last warning, Avatar. Next time, I will not take mercy on your affiliates.'
"O-Oh…" Bolin squeaked.
Korra crumpled the note and threw it aside. "Let's get him in the house." She and Bolin took Mako's arms and carried him inside. His head bobbed onto his chest and his feet dragged along the ground. Korra had never seen him more vulnerable, more helpless. It made her want to cry.
"How is he?"
Katara sighed as she closed the door behind her. Korra's pleading eyes bored into her; she hadn't been out of the room for five seconds. "His bending is gone, Korra. But he'll be alright otherwise."
"Korra, I'm sorry. He can't firebend anymore."
"Can I see him?"
"No. He's been hurt very badly by the Equalists; he'll recover, but it'll take time. Right now he needs his rest."
"Bolin is his brother, Korra. Would you deny him that?"
Korra sighed and looked at the ground. "No. I wouldn't." She kicked at a dustball halfheartedly. She opened her mouth to speak again, but decided against it.
"What are you thinking about, Korra?" Katara asked gently. "You can tell me," she added when the Avatar wouldn't respond.
"I just feel so bad for them!" she cried, running her fingers through a tie of hair. "I mean, they're all each other's got, no one else!"
"They have you."
"But they don't have parents or even parent figures," Korra sniffed. "Their parents died when they were little."
"Yeah, and-" Korra paused. "Wait, you know? You barely know them, and I don't remember Mako or Bolin telling you…" she knit her brow and thought. "Wait… Wait…"
"Wait! You knew their parents!" Korra gasped. "How? Why? Who were they?"
"You know who their parents were, didn't you!" Korra blinked. "Tell me you know!"
Katara sighed. "Yes. I know of their parents."
"Well, who were they? Tell me!"
"Come on, Katara, please! Which one was the firebender? Which one was the earthbender? Why do you know them? How? Please tell me!"
"You're so stubborn," Katara shook her head. "Come. We'll sit on the porch."
A few minutes later, Katara was nestled into a chair and Korra sat, cross-legged, on the floor in front of her.
"It was nearly twenty years ago that this all started," Katara breathed, closing her eyes in memory. "Their mother, Kisa, was the eldest of two daughters of a very well-off family of firebenders-"
"I knew it! I knew it was their mom!" Korra cried, then blushed when Katara gave her a stern look. "Sorry, continue?"
"Yes. She fell in love with a young, handsome boy in the city who went by the name of Luon. The one problem… He was an earthbender. Her mother disapproved of their coupling, in addition to all of the other issues the pair argued about, which I refuse to go into."
"What about her father?"
"Her father was blissfully unaware of his wife's and daughter's squabbles until it was too late. They hid their arguments quite well.
"One day, it became too much for Kisa to bear to fight with her mother; she and Luon had finalized their engagement. Enraged, her mother ordered her to break off the engagement or Kisa would be disowned.
"By this point, their disputes had escalated to the point that her father noticed at last. He was, frankly, shocked. His wife explained her disapproval, but he could see nothing wrong with his daughter and her fiance. He would not banish a child, he told his wife. And that was final."
"But…" Korra leaned forward, excited.
"But Kisa hated the glares her mother would shoot at Luon. In the end, she decided she would make her life elsewhere. She disowned herself, bid farewell to her father, and left with her husband for a place in Republic City. Her father was devastated."
Korra blinked up at Katara. "But how… How'd they die? I mean, Mako told me they were mugged and killed…"
"That, I don't know."
"What firebending family was it?" Korra asked. "Maybe I know them. Maybe Mako and Bolin could find them."
Katara hesitated. "I doubt you do," she murmured slowly. "And it would be unwise to just-"
"Gran-Gran!" Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo sped around the corner and clambered all over Katara. "Gran-Gran, someone's here to visit!"
"He's really old, like you, Gran-Gran!" Ikki beamed. "Only I think he's a lot older! And he's got something weird on his face!"
"Daddy says he can't have his normal room because the firebender boy Korra likes is in it," Jinora added.
"Oh dear," Katara whispered.
"What?" Korra asked. "What is it? Who's here?"
"For the last time, Tenzin," an elderly man's voice, alive with light, sounded from the house. "I do not need any assistance. I have been walking on my own for eighty-four years, and I don't intend to stop any time soon."
Katara shooed her grandchildren and rose to meet the old man, who embraced her warmly. His white hair was pulled back in a loose half-bun and his white beard was pointed, accenting his chin; Korra couldn't see the rest of his face. "Katara! It's good to see you again, old friend!"
"And you too, Zuko," Katara smiled.
"Zuko?" Korra gasped. "Wait, you're Fire Lord Zuko?"
"I was," Zuko corrected, and faced Korra head-on. She could then see the burn scar on his face. "My daughter now holds the title. I am an ambassador for peace." He looked her over. "You must be Korra, the new Avatar- am I correct?"
"Yes, sir," she nodded. "It's an honor to meet you. I've read all of the stories, and Katara has told me-"
"Oh, I hope she hasn't told you everything! That would be embarrassing!" Zuko laughed, his amber eyes alight with a cheerful pleasantry. Amber eyes… Where had she seen those eyes?
"I'm sure not everything," Korra shrugged with a grin. "She keeps her secrets."
"I'm just surprised you're not chasing her around the island," Katara smiled, and Zuko laughed.
Tenzin cleared his throat from behind the former Fire Lord. "Sir?"
"Tenzin, you've known me how long?" Zuko scolded him gently. "You don't have to be so formal or call me 'sir.'"
"Alright then, Zuko," Tenzin conceded. "I'll direct you to your alternative quarters for the night."
"I can find my way myself, just give me a room," Zuko shrugged. "Guess I'll be off then. Your son," he added to Katara. "Is quite persistent. He gets it from you, I think. Goodnight."
Katara smiled. "Goodnight. Don't let the Phoenix King bite."
Zuko rolled his eyes at her and smiled as Tenzin began talking to him.
A jolt shot through Korra's body. She suddenly knew where she'd seen those eyes before.
She waited until Zuko had left before turning to Katara with folded arms. "You didn't tell me the current Fire Lord… Lady… married an earthbender," she remarked.
"What? She didn't."
"Oh, don't lie to me! I know Kisa was Zuko's daughter! And Zuko's daughter is the Fire Lord!"
Katara tensed. "The current Fire Lady's name is Ursa; she was named for Zuko's mother."
Katara sighed and sat back down. "Zuko's elder daughter was Kisa, alright? She left, remember?"
Korra's jaw dropped and she sat on the floor again. "So that means… Zuko… And Bolin and Mako… Oh wow!" She smiled a silly smile. "Does Zuko-"
"No," Katara shook her head desperately. "And he won't know. He doesn't know about Kisa's and Luon's deaths either. It would break his heart."
"It was ten years ago," Korra pointed out.
"The pain would be worse. He wasn't told. He never knew she had children."
"But they're his-"
"Oh, come on, we have to tell them! They're family!"
"No, Korra!" Katara cried. "No. I am looking out for my friend. We are not going to break his heart."
"But Mako and Bolin-"
"Korra," she knit her brow sternly. "You must promise me you won't tell any one of those three. Do you promise?"
Korra sighed. "Yes. I promise. I won't tell."
Zuko stepped slowly through the halls of the new Air Temple. He was quite sick of Tenzin's fretting; he was a former Fire Lord, for the spirits' sake. He could walk and move around when he wished. He could probably still put up a good fight if he needed to. He sighed and shook his head, but paused as he nearly tripped over a figure curled up in the hallway.
He blinked and crouched down to the person's level, creating a fire to allow him to see. It was a young boy, a teenager, though strong like a man. A curl of dark hair flipped into his eyes and waved back and forth as he breathed. The boy's face was round, full of youth, but his expression was one indicating fitful sleep. Zuko frowned.
The boy twitched, and his eyelashes fluttered and slowly separated. His eyes widened when they saw the flame and he scrambled backward.
"Are you alright?" Zuko asked gently.
"F-fine," the boy nodded. He had green eyes, Zuko noted. Probably an earthbender. "I'm fine. Who are you?"
"My name is Zuko."
His jaw dropped as he noticed the scar. "Z-Zuko… Like… Fire Lord Zuko?"
"Former Fire Lord. Are you a friend of Korra's?"
"What is your name?"
"Wouldn't you have a room, then, Bolin?"
"I do have a room, sir," he shrugged.
"There is no need to call me 'sir.' And if you have a room, why are you on the floor? Someone could trip over you and hurt you."
"I…" He blushed. "Katara kicked me out of my brother's room. She said he needed rest."
Bolin nodded. "Yeah. His bending got taken by Amon, and he got beat up pretty bad. He's in there," he jerked his head toward the door.
"Why did he get his bending taken?"
Bolin's gaze dropped to the floor. "He… He was protecting me," he sniffed. "He shouldn't have done that."
Zuko pursed his lips in thought. "He is very brave and very loyal. I should like to meet this brother of yours then, Bolin."
Zuko looked around carefully. "I'm sure Katara is asleep by now," he whispered. "She can't stop you from checking on your brother."
Bolin laughed. "I knew you were cool," he grinned, and rose unsteadily from the floor. Zuko followed him into the room, where Bolin crouched next to the occupied bed. He lit a candle that stood on the wall and sat near Bolin on the windowsill.
The boy in the bed had dark hair like Bolin's, though his face was narrower and his chin more defined. His eyelids twitched in his sleep.
"Hey, Mako," Bolin crooned, smoothing the elder boy's hair back from his forehead. "Feeling any better, buddy?"
"You said he protected you?"
"Amon was going to take my bending and kill me," Bolin nodded. "Mako let Amon take his bending instead."
"It's a shame. He looks like he was a powerful bender," Zuko frowned.
"Yeah. Best firebender there was… to me, anyway."
Zuko froze. "A firebender? I thought you looked like an earthbender."
Bolin nodded. "I am. Don't you follow Probending? We're… We were the Fire Ferrets. I'm the earthbender, Korra's water, and Mako is… was fire."
"Fire Ferrets," Zuko muttered, then he remembered. "Oh, yes! I remember! You made it to the finals, correct?"
"I had no idea that you were the Probenders. Forgive me," Zuko said.
"Nothing to forgive. It's late, it's dark. I-"
"Bo?" Mako had stirred in his sheets. His voice was raspy and tired. "Bo, who's here?"
"A friend of Katara's," Bolin soothed. "Go back to sleep."
"N-Not tired…" The former firebender tried to lift his shoulders from the cot.
"You're exhausted," Bolin shook his head and gently pushed him back down again. "Try and sleep."
Bolin started to hum to his brother, running a hand through his hair. Mako's amber eyes slowly began to close; he tried to fight it, but to no avail. Soon, he was asleep again.
Zuko looked at Bolin, who continued the tune with words.
"Leaves from the vine… Falling so slow… like fragile tiny shells… drifting in the foam…"
Zuko froze. He recognized the song. Uncle used to sing it to him when he was young with nightmares, or when he was thirteen and badly scarred, fourteen and giving up hope, fifteen and frustrated, sixteen and confused. Tears beaded up in his eyes. Uncle… he thought wistfully. But Iroh had passed on years ago, years and years ago. He missed him desperately. "Brave soldier boy comes marching home," he whispered.
Bolin turned to him. "You know it?" he flashed a small smile.
"Yes. It's old and familiar. My… I heard it all the time when I was young. And I used to sing it to my daughters. How do you know it?"
Bolin breathed out through his nose. "Our mother used to sing it to us all the time when we were little. She sang everything to us," he laughed, but it died away.
Something occurred to Zuko. "Where is your mother?" he asked. "Why are you here and not home?"
"Oh…" Bolin shuffled his feet. "We don't have much of a home. Our parents died. Years ago. They were mugged by this firebender guy and…" He shook his head. "I was six. Mako was eight."
"I am so sorry." Zuko put his hand on the boy's shoulder.
"It's okay. We do have one thing left of them. I can't bear to wear it, though; besides, red's not my color. Our mother gave our father a scarf way back when. Mako wears it all the time."
"A scarf?" He reached out and touched the scarf with one finger. The texture… the texture was familiar.
"Are you sure about this, Kisa?"
"Father, I can't stay here."
"But I approv-"
"I know you love Luon almost as much as I do. But Mother… I can't stand her any longer. You would think she would want me to be happy. Instead she judges him for his bending; not even his social class, his bending, Father."
"I've made up my mind."
"And there's nothing I can do to change it?"
"And there's nothing you can do to change it."
"Very well. At least take this."
"That's Mother's sash. I don't want it."
"Take it to remember us by, please. Remember your home."
"She cut off the black edges, and the gold seal," Zuko murmured, playing with the scarf in his fingers. "But it's the same."
"Um, sir?" Bolin raised a hand. "C-could you not touch that? Please? Mako gets pretty territorial when it comes to Papa's scarf, and I kind of do too-"
"It's not a real scarf, you know."
"Yes it is," Bolin scoffed, bristling slightly. "You're crazy, old man."
Zuko raised an eyebrow. "It's a sash, and it's cut to be a scarf. Do you see here? There was stitching along the edge. And here; there's a hint of black. This was a sash of a noble Fire Lady."
"Yeah, right," Bolin rolled his eyes. "It's my Papa's scarf, and there's nothing you can ever say to disprove that. You didn't even know my parents; how could you even guess that about that scarf?"
"Was your father's name Luon, perchance?"
Bolin froze. "How… How do you…"
"And your mother was Kisa?"
"Y-You're starting to scare me…" Bolin gulped and backed away from Zuko, closer to his brother.
Zuko pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned his elbow on his knee. "My Kisa…" he whispered, and his shoulders shook. "Oh, my poor, sweet Kisa."
"You knew our mom?" Bolin breathed. "H-How-"
"Your mother," Zuko breathed shakily. "Your mother was my eldest daughter, crown princess of the Fire Nation."
Bolin lost all feeling in his limbs. "No… way…" He shook his head. "You're bluffing," he folded his arms. "You've got to be bluffing."
Zuko shook his head and looked Bolin in the eyes. "I don't bluff."
Bolin stared at him, meeting his gaze. He gasped. The skin on his face was old, scarred… But the eyes. Bolin recognized his brother's eyes in the elderly man's face. He saw his mother's soft look, full of love and adoration, Mako's determined and cool stare. Zuko was not bluffing.
"S-So wait a sec," Bolin swallowed. "If… If our mom… was your daughter…"
Zuko put a hand on Bolin's shoulder. "The spirits have given me grandsons," he murmured.
Tears welled in Bolin's eyes. I'm someone's grandson? he wondered. This is unreal. "Y-You can hug me if you'd like, Grandfather." The words were odd-tasting in his mouth; he'd get used to it.
Zuko wrapped his arms around his shoulders and held him. The old Fire Lord shook, whether from joy or grief for his daughter, Bolin could not be sure. He didn't care. He patted Zuko on the back in an attempt to console him.
Zuko reached out a hand and brushed Mako's hair out of his eyes. "Why did no one tell me?" he muttered.
"Maybe no one knew?" Bolin suggested.
"Perhaps. What does it matter, though?" He smiled and rumpled Bolin's hair. "You are my descendants…
"You are my family."