"Korra! You excited for our first practice as a team?" exclaimed Bolin. Korra laughed.
"Definitely! You'll never believe this-Tenzin-he's my mentor, for airbending, being the Avatar, all that-he was watching that match! And he was so impressed! I really wanna blow him away with the next one."
"Well, you're not going to do that by coming to practice late," said Mako crossly. Korra frowned at him.
"What happened to 'I'm going to take back what I said, you ARE a natural'?"
"That doesn't mean you don't have to be punctual."
"Um, guys?" interrupted Bolin. "As much as I like to see you fight...not...can we get to practice? I vote we make Korra teach us that awesome footwork first!"
Korra smiled at him, but Mako replied, "I think we need to run some basics by her. She has a lot to learn."
"So teach me."
"Fine. Warm up with the discs-and we'll fill you in on all the rules...and fouls. Especially fouls."
Korra rolled her eyes and walked to the other side of the gym with Bolin, who explained everything from the length of each zone to the specific peeves of the referee. Remembering to keep light on her feet, she whipped the discs at the net and tried to feel ashamed when she realized she was imagining Mako's face taking each hit.
"One on one. Bolin will be calling each and every one of your fouls. So concentrate on the rules right now, not on winning. You're not going to beat me anyways."
You cocky jerk, Korra growled in her head, familiarizing herself with the space that she had in zone one. No matter what, she'd try to push forward or her bending might force her to cross the line without realizing it-which would no doubt upset His Highness.
Bolin blew the whistle.
Immediately, streams of fire shot towards her and she swiveled to dodge them, otherwise staying rooted to the spot. She retaliated with powerful jets of water, pushing her hands forward and then rotating them in an attempt to torpedo Mako out of his zone. He jumped out of the way and spun into a roundhouse kick, but the fire created was immediately doused with more waterbending. Just to annoy him, Korra imitated his last move but added three swift punches-which he obviously was not expecting. Mako managed to dodge the first two but the third caught him in the stomach, pushing him back just enough so that-
"BEEP!" mimicked Bolin. "Looks like you've gotta move back to zone two, big bro!"
Korra smirked and prepared to defend herself against the now irked Mako's oncoming attack. It was obvious that this time, his fire was fueled by anger rather than irritation. It blasted by Korra's face and she could feel the searing heat though it had been a good six inches away. Using one of the tactics Bolin had taught her earlier that day, she feigned a veritable tsunami and used two fingers to shoot water right between his eyes. Korra got one look at Mako's surprised expression before his head hit the floor. Before she could laugh, though, something electric blue and terrifying crackled near her ear. She froze.
And a blast of fire knocked her clear out of zone three.
"Are you stupid?" Mako snarled. "You can't do that when we're out there! Just because you realize somebody's Toph's grandson or something-"
"Well, seeing as Lin Beifong doesn't have any children, that's probably not going to happen."
"You. Know. What. I. Mean."
"But you knew I was the Avatar and you never bothered to tell me?"
Bolin scratched the back of his head. "Actually...it was probably better that way...Mako, why did you-"
"What do you mean? Better that I didn't know you were related to Fire Lord Zuko?"
"Drop it, Korra," ordered Mako. "This is a practice, not a family tree drawing session. And it is now over."
Mako started to pick up the discs in the net and stack them up in neat piles. Bolin, subdued as Korra had ever seen him, grabbed a towel and headed for the showers.
Don't back off. She would not cross the metaphorical foul line of Letting-the-Mako-Shark-Swim-All-Over-Her. "What's your problem?"
He turned to face her. "You, currently."
"Very funny." She poked him in the chest. "You need to lighten up. And I don't mean that as a pun-using the lightning was completely uncalled for. Why are you the complete opposite of Bolin? Did Zuko's broodiness rub off on you?"
"I told you to drop it."
"Do you really think I'm going to?"
"Do you really think I'm going to keep you on this team?"
"What other choice do you have? The next game is the championship."
Mako frowned, knowing he'd been beat. "After that. You're off."
"Because I want to know about your grandparents?"
He started and then returned to that cold, stubborn demeanor. "No. Because you lack focus. Maybe that's okay as the Avatar, especially when there's no war to fight, but it's not okay when your team members depend on you for these winnings...winnings that are going to help someone they care about."
Korra bit her lip. "Oh...I didn't know. I'm sorry, Mako. Really, I am. I'm just in this for fun, maybe for a little training. I had no idea that there was anything at stake."
"It's fine. Just don't...lose." He turned to leave, but stopped before he reached the door. "By the way, our grandparents...are not Zuko and Mai. Or we'd be princes."
"Our grandmother is Azula."