Disclaimer: Characters/places belong to Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino. The idea is mine.
Mako does not want to admit that it's jealousy that rises up in his chest when Korra kisses Bolin's cheek after they win the pro-bending championship.
But that's what it is: a surge of hot envy that Mako has never felt before.
Mako watches carefully for Bolin's reaction, ashamed of himself, as Bolin blushes, caught off guard.
And Mako cannot stand to feel the way he does—like Bolin has done something wrong, or that he is entitled to the jealousy that is bubbling in his gut.
It's not Korra's fault, Mako knows that. She was caught up in the moment, excited at the title of being declared the best pro-benders in Republic City. Korra has always been one to act on her whims without thinking of the repercussions.
However, the hurt that punches through Mako's chest is deep.
That night, Mako doesn't feel much like celebrating, but he obliges Bolin and Korra's pleas and joins them.
Bolin manages to coax some of the jackpot winnings out of Mako's heavily guarded pocket to "increase the experience" of the night. Mako just rolls his eyes. His brother is in too good a mood, and this is their night.
But Mako just isn't feeling it.
He prides himself on controlling his emotions, but for some reason, he can't tonight. No matter how hard he tries, Mako can't suppress the images of Bolin and Korra, together, swimming through his thoughts.
He ducks out of the dance club and walks until he reaches the nearby pier, staring out over the water.
Mako isn't sure how long he stands there, battling his warring emotions, when he hears Korra calling his name.
"Hey!" she says, somewhat breathless, as she collapses against the railing next to him.
Korra's cheeks are flushed from the heat of the club, blue eyes bright.
She studies Mako for a second, and her expression falters, sensing that something's off.
"Hey," she says slowly, "what's wrong?"
Mako is not going to tell her. He's not. She's the Avatar—she has bigger things to deal with other than his wounded feelings.
"Nothing. You played well tonight."
Korra smiles, smug.
"Well, I can't take all the credit. You and Bolin helped."
She nudges Mako's arm chummily, and Mako is embarrassed by the shiver that descends down his spine.
"You know," Korra begins after a pause, "I'm really glad we're friends, Mako."
Mako raises an eyebrow at her, surprised.
"Why is that?"
Korra treats him to a half-smile.
"Because, I know that you have my back. And I have yours. You, Bolin, and me—we're a team."
Mako blinks, suddenly disgusted with how irrational he'd been.
Korra was their friend. She wanted what was best for them, and she looked out for them. She cared for them. Mako couldn't remember a time when anyone had done that for he and Bolin. He had always been the protector. But Korra—she was the Avatar. She was the protector of the world.
As much as they cared about her, Korra cared about them more.
"Come on," Korra said, gripping Mako's forearm. "I wanted to dance with you, but you disappeared on me."
Mako let Korra lead him back to the club, lost in his thoughts.
Before they entered, Mako hung back, and Korra pulled up short, head cocked in confusion.
"Korra, Bolin and I—we're here. No matter what, we're going to be here."
Korra smiles up at him, and Mako feels the burden of jealousy lift in his heart.
"I know," she answers, before dragging him inside.
That night, the three of them celebrate well into the morning hours. For the moment, they allow themselves to forget the threats of reality and just live.
It is the best night of Mako's life.
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