Notes (updated December 2014): I wrote this before the airing of the show. For meggannn.
The Sad Saga of Mako's Stolen Scarf
The world ended on a Monday.
It wasn't a particularly surprising occurrence to Mako, because the world was already out to get him, but it wasn't a welcome occurrence, either, because he'd hoped that the universe could have class enough to be kind to him once in a while, and at least have the decency to delay the proverbial apocalypse to Tuesday.
The fact was, however, that it didn't; so, for lack of politeness or sympathy, for lack of decency or class, the world ended on a Monday, when Bolin stole Mako's scarf.
A groan from the bed, followed by loud knocking on the door.
"Hey! Bro, wake up!"
A second, muffled groan, and Mako could feel himself waking up, his sleep only momentarily disturbed by an ambitious stream of sunlight and a perseverant brother. Mako turned over in bed, pulled up the covers to subdue the noise and interruptions, and allowed himself to drift back to sleep under the welcoming warmth.
"Mako!" the shouts continued, louder this time in a valiant attempt to combat the covers, and there was edge of frustration in Bolin's voice at Mako's lack of compliance. "Will you wake up already?" Bolin cried, rapping the door to the rhythm of his annoyance, "We have to be at school in ten minutes or we'll be late, and then Korra—"
Mako's eyes snapped open, and the rest of Bolin's rant was lost to him. He was up and on his feet before he knew what he was doing, and deafened to his younger brother's yelling, Mako automatically grabbed and slipped on a shirt. Long-sleeved; it had to be long-sleeved, that was all that mattered, because it was freezing outside, and as the cold hit his legs very suddenly Mako methodically scanned his bedroom floor, located the same worn jeans he'd been using for the past two days, and pulled them on.
"Bro! What are you doing in there? I'm getting Ma Ma to give me a ride if you don't get up now!"
Bolin was being, apparently, too loud with his knocking and shouts to hear his brother moving on the other side of the wall. Mako, who was not one to speak in the morning—he really wasn't much for anything in the morning—grabbed his car keys off the nightstand, unlocked and opened his door, and with sleepy eyes hung the chain in front of a surprised Bolin's face, a silent command for the younger brother to warm the car while the elder brother made himself somewhat presentable.
"Got it," said Bolin, and he snatched the keys and told Mako to hurry, grabbed his backpack and scurried squirrel-like out the door. At last given some quiet, Mako allowed himself time to take a great, long breath before rushing into the bathroom, where he washed his face and brushed his teeth and noticed that he was wearing his shirt (a purple V-neck that he didn't actually remember owning?) backwards. Sighing, he pulled the offender off and slipped it back on again, ran a comb through his hair, jogged back to his room for his wallet and scarf and he was out th—
Something was wrong.
Where was his scarf?
Mako stopped outside his room, pocketed his wallet carefully. Slowly walked into his room, trying not to let panic or frustration boil in his blood as he scanned for the familiar red, his trademark and his friend and—damn, his eyes caught the time and Mako didn't have time for this, he really didn't. If he was late one more time he'd get more detentions and he wouldn't be able to go on that trip and Korra would be really mad at him, and it wasn't fun, having Korra mad at you—but his scarf!—
There was a honk from outside and Mako grimaced, pulled on half his jacket on one shoulder and half his backpack on the other, and bolted out the door, breakfast be damned. The chilly morning air was bitingly cold and stabbed at his bare face, but Bolin, seated shotgun, had started the car and the heater and Mako tossed his backpack backseat and sat in the driver's, allowing the warmth to calm him down.
As he reversed out of the driveway, he asked, "Seen my scarf, little brother?"
Bolin frowned innocently, shaking his head no, and more-or-less confirming that he had, indeed, seen Mako's scarf. Mako sighed, pulled up the gear to drive, and they were on their way to school through the foggy morning haze. Bolin, normally one to fiddle around with the radio for the duration of the drive, was horrendously bad at acting unsuspicious; he pulled out a handheld and played a game while avoiding eye contact the entire way there. Mako, more awake than before, but still mostly sluggish, side-eyed him at a red light, but said nothing until they came to the stop far in the back of the student parking lot.
"I know you know where it is."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," said Bolin, as he unbuckled his seat belt and slipped out of the car.
Mako followed suit, swinging his backpack on as he did so. Bolin fell into step with Mako as they made their way to the school building in the chilly air; somehow, they'd made it to school a good ten minutes before the bell was to ring—a miraculous feat, if only because they were both on the verge of suspension due to attendance and tardiness. The cloud cover made it difficult to see past the lines of cars, and when the student entrance did come into sight, Bolin's pace sped up, but Mako's remained leisurely enough for him to watch Bolin's movement and the associated suspiciousness.
"Bolin—" Mako tried, but before he could finish the boy turned around and set his backpack on the ground, began to rummage through it. Pulled out a red scarf. Smiled apologetically. "She said I wouldn't have to take the extra courses if I give it to her!" Bolin explained, and before Mako's Monday morning mind could figure out what was going, his little brother had bolted into the school with a scarf held hostage.
Mako blinked, thought about running after him. Resigned to pulling out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter; between Korra's excitement and his kidnapped scarf, he could tell today was going to be a very long and very strange day.
In the past, Korra had told Mako that he smelled like bad addictions—like smoke and mint coffee and cinnamon flavored chewing gum. Mako had retaliated that Korra smelled like icebreakers and sweat and the girl's locker room, and that shut her up. It was, apparently, a 'testimony to their freindship' that they could talk about things like that and not be dating or something, but Mako thought that it was just because she was Korra, because there were girls and there were guys and then there was Korra, so distinct and so herself that she couldn't really be grouped with anyone.
So it wasn't weird that when Mako sauntered into homeroom, Korra casually took his mint coffee, drank it up, and gave the cup back to him empty, as she did nearly every day.
"No, I'm good, thanks for asking," Mako said in form of greeting as he slumped into the seat behind her. She spun around in her seat to face him, smiling and gleeful, an unholy happiness on a morbid, scarfless Monday. Her eyes were bright blue and relentlessly awake; they had the power to wake him up better than any drag or alarm clock or even that one time Bolin doused him with a bucket of ice cold water in the middle of their winter vacation. It was kind of unnerving.
"You look different," Korra remarked brightly. "Did Bolin cut your hair again?"
Mako fixed her with a long, thoughtful stare as he tried to figure out whether she was being snarky or annoying or genuinely stupid. Korra ignored him and his feelings of nakedness, knowing full well the absence of his scarf, and changed the topic, bouncing up and down in her seat as though she were an overzealous freshman: "You're going to be at the meet, right?"
"I am going to be at the meet," Mako confirmed robotically, as thought it wasn't the seventh time she'd asked in the past four days. The glee that erupted on Korra's face almost made him smile, but the aura of angst was promptly recharged with the entrance of another student in their class, who had apparently decided that it was perfectly okay to walk into homeroom twenty minutes late weari-
Mako's eyes widened and Korra whipped around, nearly hitting Mako's face with her ponytail. She spotted what had surprised him and snorted, doing her best not to burst into giggles while their homeroom teacher chastised the tardy student.
Korra: "Oh my God, is that yours?"
"I'm going to murder him," Mako said in confirmation, and Korra cackled and set to finish an assignment due next period while Mako related to her aloud the exact ways in which he would drop his brother in molten lava and destroy his beanie baby collection and enact all his other revenge plans, because there was no reason, no reason at all, why a random student in his homeroom class was looking at him smugly, his trademark red scarf hanging from her shoulders.
It was almost like it was being tainted.
Korra whistled. "Bolin's gonna get it, huh, Bro?"
"So you're definitely positive you can make it to the swim meet?" Korra confirmed again at lunchtime, while Mako glared at the girl with his scarf and ignored his stomach's incessant growling. He'd been counting on the fact that he had a twenty left in his wallet that he could have a fulfilling lunch, having missed breakfast, but as it turned out, he didn't have a twenty in his wallet. Instead of money, as Mako made to pay the woman at the cash register that afternoon, he'd found a lovely note that read:
I. O. U.
"If I'm not in jail," said Mako.
Korra sniggered, glancing back at the girl who'd caught Mako's attention in the worst of ways. "Do you think you could report her for sexual harassment?"
Mako fixed Korra with another look.
He'd almost forgotten that he had gym with Bolin; it was weird to think that they had any classes together, seeing as it was just last year when they went to different schools. In the class period before physical education, Mako had difficulty paying attention to the subject at hand for three reasons: one, that he was missing his scarf, two, that the girl across the room was wearing his scarf, and three, that he was attempting to very calmly and coolly figure out the best way to confront Bolin without strangling him.
A rational thinker might have suggested that he go and confront the girl, but Mako without his scarf was not a rational thinker.
Come gym, he ended up chasing his brother in the middle of class, and the coach tried to pull them away from each other, but failed pathetically, and their resident varsity-just-about-everything ended up pulling the brothers apart.
They all ended up in the disciplinary office.
"Mako," Korra insisted as they waited, "Quit being all moody, and maybe he'll let us go without a scratch."
"I'll quit being moody when I get my scarf back!"
"Why don't you just ask her?" Bolin hissed, from his spot hiding behind Korra, where he hoped he would be safe.
"Why did you give it to her?" came Mako's snappy—and appropriate—response.
"I already told you," Bolin whimpered, "She's the daughter of someone important and she can make my grade go up, and then I won't have to take summer classes and come on, Bro, you totally love me and you don't want me to take summer classes, right? It's just a scarf, and if you really want it back you could totally just get it after I pass, and—"
"Who's next?" came the menacing voice of the staff member meant to see them, and that shut Bolin up as Mako put his head in his hands.
They were let go without a scratch, because by some miracle Korra had managed to lie through her teeth and convince him that it was just stress, because she had a meet coming up and Bolin and Mako were just having a rough time because midterms were coming up, and Mako's girlfriend had broken up with him recently and he was having a rougher time, and Bolin was talking to her earlier and that made Mako upset. Really, they were okay.
Mako thought it was really just a load of opaque bullshit, but Korra was, as always, Korra, so they got away with it.
"You're still coming to the meet, right?" Korra asked hopefully, and Mako fixed her with a third and final look.
"I'm going to be all moody without my girlfriend," Mako said, sighing, but yeah, he would definitely be there.
By the end of the day Mako was tired and angry and it was raining, but he'd decided that he was definitely not driving Bolin home, no matter how many "Bro!"s or "Come on"s he got. Disgruntled and moping, Mako opened his locker for his jacket and took out his calculus book because he had a stupid test tomorrow and shoved in his psychology binder and—
Mako pulled out the familiar red scarf and it didn't smell like cigarette smoke or a mint coffee or cinnamon flavored gum anymore, but it didn't smell like perfume or nail polish or hand sanitizer, either. Instead, when Mako wrapped it around himself he inhaled the scent of sweat and icebreakers and the girl's locker room, and a note fell to the ground as he slammed his locker shut and did his best to hide his stupid smile.
Thought you'd like your girlfriend back.
P.S.: See you at the meet!