The Grass Is Greener
Rated: K+ for the slightest hints of romance that you will ever see from me (Makorra)
Summary: *Legend of Korra Premiere Spoilers!* Mako and Korra unintentionally stare at each other across Yue Bay and, surprisingly, consider how the other person lives the more charmed life.
Disclaimer: The awesomeness of "The Legend of Korra" is owned by Mike, Bryan, Nickelodeon, and the entire cast and crew. They did a bang-up job, and deserve all the credit.
LES: I am getting closer to shipping Makorra from "The Legend of Korra". As you all probably know, I'm a canon shipper for the most part. I will ship a canon pairing unless I see something specifically wrong with it.
This specific story will not have a lot of Makorra shipping. Mako and Korra have only known each other for two evenings and there's nothing much in the way of solid feelings between them yet. You probably can see some if you squint, but that's about it. This is mainly a stream of consciousness fic for the two characters.
If there was one thing Korra had to admit about Republic City it would be that, despite the vast amount of crime that infested its streets, it was breath-taking to behold.
The view from her room on Air Temple Island was something that she'd never had growing up locked in the White Lotus compound, only allowed out to the surrounding tundra for brief excursions.
Her eyes fell on the statue of Avatar Aang. It was Avatar Aang who had decreed that Avatars-in-training should be protected while they mastered the elements. Korra could understand the reasoning behind it. Avatar Aang's journey to Master the four elements was legendary. Her White Lotus guardians had made sure that she knew the history of the previous Avatar, but their stories made the whole adventure sound so boring. It was her parent's stories, before she was taken away from them, that she remembered. Avatar Aang had to learn three elements while on the run from the Fire Nation. His was, without a doubt, the most eventful training for any Avatar in history, so it made sense that he'd want to protect his reincarnations from that strife.
Still, she doubted that Avatar Aang would have wanted her cut off from the world.
Life outside the compound was even more different than she ever imagined. In the compound, she'd never needed money, food, or a roof over her head because these things were either not necessary or provided for her. But she learned quickly upon making it to Republic City that people did not just hand over their wares for free, even if she was the Avatar.
She had never come face-to-face with people who hated Benders and everything they represented. She remembered listening to that angry old man put down Benders and urging the population to join with the Anti-Bending establishment. She had tried to confront the man, but she'd walked right into his trap. She'd never had to debate with anyone and walked into a classic blunder which not only supported the man's words, but turned the crowd to his cause.
On the compound, everyone knew who she was and catered to nearly every one of her whims. People didn't do that here. That was never clearer than when she'd been arrested by the Metalbending police. Lin Bei Fong had sneered at her when she tried to play the Avatar card, and it was clear that the Chief of Police was not going to let her run around dishing out 'vigilante justice', even if she was the Avatar. Perhaps it was because her mother had been one of Avatar Aang's best friends, but she was not at all intimidated by Korra or by Tenzin, and made the fact perfectly clear.
For the first time in her life, Korra felt the sharp sting of doubt. Was she really so foolish as to believe that the rest of the world was like the White Lotus compound? She couldn't have been further from the truth. At least here, on Air Temple Island, there was some semblance of normal, unlike the crazy chaos of Republic City.
She had to admit that the atmosphere of the island still rubbed her the wrong way, leading to her confusing feelings about Airbending. But, after her success in the Probending arena, she was willing to give Airbending another try.
As she thought of Probending, her gaze turned to the arena. Probending was so much more complex than she ever imagined. Listening to it on the radio, or reading descriptions in the newspaper never conveyed how many rules there were: rules which she had broken the first time she'd stepped into the ring. At least, now, she was starting to understand the basics: stay in your zone, advance only when you got the okay, and don't knock people off the side of the arena. She would be meeting with Mako and Bolin soon so that they could teach her the subtleties of Probending.
The thought of the Bending brothers brought mixed feelings. Bolin was certainly easy to get along with. He was friendly and outgoing. (Maybe a little bit too friendly at times.) But, overall, he was a pleasant person to be around. His brother, Mako, however, was a different case all together. He was closed off and stand-offish. The only Firebenders that she had met were all fiery, quick to passion and anger. In a way, she was like that too. But Mako was not like them at all. He defied all her assumptions of Firebenders.
Korra huffed in annoyance and turned away from the window. Out of all the annoying things that she had run into here in Republic City, Mako had to be one of the most annoying. Ever since she had met him, she had been trying to be friendly with him, but her efforts had only been met with blunt disinterest.
She literally could not understand him! If anyone had an excuse to be reserved, it was her. She was the one who had nearly spent her whole life within the walls of a small White Lotus compound with the only contact from the outside world being from her Bending instructors and visits from her father and mother.
Mako lived this great life in one of the richest cities in the world! He had his own life, and he could take two steps without the White Lotus knowing about it. He was still something of a rookie in the Probending community, but his single-handed win two nights ago had gone a long way towards making Mako a household name in Republic City. And he had done it on his own back, unlike Korra who suddenly found herself standing in Avatar Aang's shadow everywhere she went in Republic City.
Everyone was expecting her to easily step into the shoes of one of the greatest Avatars who ever lived, and they just didn't understand how woefully unprepared she felt.
Getting Airbending down seemed like a small task now compared to the much bigger task of finding a way to bring peace to the warring Benders and Non-Benders in Republic City.
Korra gazed back at the Probending arena, towards the roof. She didn't know exactly where Mako and Bolin lived within the building, but she couldn't help but smile as she thought of the reserved Firebender.
She couldn't help but envy his freedom.
Across the dark waters of Yue Bay, in a small cramped apartment in the attic of the Probending arena, a young Firebender ignored the snores of his sleeping brother and he gazed across the water towards Air Temple Island.
He had grown up in Republic City all his life, and he had seen Air Temple Island from a distance many times. But he had never set foot there. Master Tenzin was not the only person on the Republic City Council, but he was the one afforded the most respect among the citizens. Both Avatar Aang and Firelord Zuko had built Republic City together, but since all of Firelord Zuko's children had to remain in the Fire Nation to rule them and Aang's older children had followed their own paths, Tenzin was the only heir to their legacy in the City. With Master Tenzin in the city, most citizens felt like they had the Avatar still among them.
Mako didn't remember Avatar Aang. He had been a very young child when he had died, but he remembered how sad the people were when he passed. And, for the next seventeen years, life had continued in Republic City with nary a thought about the Avatar except knowing that it was someone in the Southern Water Tribe, still in the process of learning the four elements.
And then, quite suddenly, Bolin had brought this girl to watch one of their Probending matches. It wasn't the first time Bolin had done something like that, and he felt that it wouldn't be the last. He ignored Bolin's suggestions that this girl was special and they went on to win the match, albeit by a narrow margin thanks to the ineptitude of their Waterbending teammate.
He ignored the girl fawning all over him, but he couldn't help but become interested when she asked Bolin for some Bending tips, despite Bolin being an Earthbender and her obviously from the Water Tribes. While mixed-racial marriages were highly common in the United Republic of Nations and Republic City, it was far less common in the Fire Nation, Earth Kingdom, and Water Tribes, so he doubted that she was the daughter of Earth Kingdom and Water Tribe parents.
And then she admitted to being a Waterbender, Earthbender, and Firebender. Mako's heart sank.
Bolin didn't catch on right away because he was younger than Mako and had no memory of Avatar Aang at all. But Mako was able to quickly put two and two together. This girl was not just any Water Tribe girl… she was the Avatar.
Things only got more involved and worse when she came to watch their match the next day and discovered that their Waterbending teammate had split on them. He was firmly against her joining the team. She may have been the Avatar, but she didn't know a thing about Probending. That couldn't have been clearer than in the first round where she made penalty after penalty and was eventually knocked off the platform.
But, even Mako had to admit that she'd really come through in the final round. He'd never seen anyone move like that, like absolutely nothing could touch her. And, for the first time, he began to consider adding her to their team permanently. When Bolin offered to let her join their team, she had quickly accepted and, after arranging to meet with them again to learn more about Probending, she said that she had to get back to Master Tenzin on Air Temple Island and had left.
So now, Mako found herself sitting at his window, staring across the bay to the island that he always knew about but never really thought about.
It was like a whole other life over there on the island: a life of security and plenty. Master Tenzin was the leader of a small community who lived by the values of the old Air Nomads. Of course, Tenzin and his children were the only true Airbenders among them.
The Air Nomads, by a general rule, lived a very simple life, but there was prosperity and safety in that life. They protected each other, looked out for each other, and no one was ever left wanting. Korra would certainly be receiving the same treatment while she lived there on the island, safely insulated from the hardships of living in Republic City.
Mako and Bolin had both been on their own since a very young age, growing up as children of the streets. When one lives on the streets you never know comfort or security or plenty. He had lost count of the many times that they'd been ambushed by angry non-Benders who were sympathetic with the Anti-Bending establishment. They were too weak and scared to take on adult Benders, so they focused their rage on the children.
As children they received no formal training in their elements, so they were forced to teach themselves how to Bend, which lead to their unusual style: Bolin's light-on-his-feet-flowing Earthbending and Mako's signature cool-under-fire style. It was what made them such effective Probenders. Everyone expected Bolin to be easily pinned down and Mako to attack aggressively, but they didn't work that way and it worked for them.
But Korra… she had said it herself: she had received Bending training from the world's greatest Masters all her life. She knew what it meant to receive formal training.
Sure, she was the Avatar, and simply being the Avatar meant there would be trouble in her life. If anything else, the Anti-Bending establishment will not like the idea of having Korra in the city and they were sure to come and attack her soon. But she also had the power to deal with any number of attackers. Her abilities as the Avatar would keep her safe.
Powerful, privileged, and ultimate confidence in oneself. Those were the provinces of the Avatar and no one else in this world.
Mako gazed at Air Temple Island. He wasn't sure exactly where Korra was, but it didn't matter. The whole island represented her.
He couldn't help but envy her privileged life.
LES: Well, I hope that you enjoyed it!