Disclaimer: Bryke own everything and you know it. Now quit yer bitchin'.
"You need to step with me, asshole, not on me," Korra chided.
"Well, gee, fuckin' sorry," Mako said. "Can't say I've ever done the tango before." Somehow, he just couldn't bring himself to get properly angry with her and he had no idea why.
"I'm just trying to get you to learn the basic rhythm. Just concentrate on the rhythm for now. Don't overthink it. It's not really even supposed to be about knowing with your head. Know with your feet," Korra said.
Mako didn't think that made any damn sense and told her as much. The Avatar just laughed in his face.
"I don't even see how this is supposed to help in the bending ring, anyway," he grumbled.
Korra scratched at an ear. "Yeah. I didn't see it at first, either. Thought the whole thing was a massive waste of time. Trust me; it isn't. I'd get you to practice with the spinning gates, but…" She shrugged. "Tenzin said something about not wanting any more priceless relics trashed when I asked him about letting you have a go at them. Don't ask me what that's supposed to mean. I figure instead of gates, you'll just have to maneuver around a partner instead! Close enough, I figure."
He just gave her a look. "You're off your damn rocker, woman."
"Better than being on one, old man," she shot back.
"BURN!" Bolin yelled as he passed by in the hall. How he managed to hear everything perfectly was a mystery to all.
"Anyway, just remember: one-and-two-and-three-four-five. Basic rhythm. Okay?"
"If it were that easy, I would have gotten this a long time ago."
"You think you have the right to bitch? Try doing it backwards," Korra said.
They began again. Mako got to 'and-three' before stepping on Korra's foot yet again.
"Stop! Stop!" he snapped, pushing her away.
"I didn't even feel that, Mako," she said, rolling her eyes. "In case you didn't notice, I've got these big damn boots-"
"That's not the problem!" he said. "I'm just – I'm just not gonna get it! Hell; I don't even need it! I'm fine in the ring as it is, and I don't need to fucking embarrass myself in the meantime. I ain't some prissy dancer – I'm a fighter. This is ridiculous. I humoured you just fine for the first bit, but this is seriously ridiculous."
"No, it's not! You'll get it-"
"Oh, will I? Will I, now? And how exactly do you know that, O Mistress of Apparently-Not-Only-the-Spirit-World-But-the-Past-Present-and-Future-As-Well? You know what? I don't even care any-more. Go teach Bolin. I bet he's better at it than me, anyway."
"I know you'll get it," Korra said softly, "because I got it eventually, too."
"If it got through my thick skull, I bet it'll get through yours just fine," she continued.
He was quiet for a moment. "…How much longer do you think it's gonna take?"
"It depends," she said. "One way to really see, though."
"And what is that?"
She grinned wolfishly and he found himself regretting the question. It felt like tempting Fate all of a sudden. "Through application."
His eyes widened. Yup. He'd tempted Fate and Fate, being a cruel mistress, bit him on the ass yet again. "You've gotta be kidding me."
"Nope! Come on, Scrooge McGrumpy-Pants!" Korra grabbed him wrist and swung him around, kicking the phonograph's needle onto the record. She grinned at him. "Now this time, if you step on my feet, don't stop. Just keep going and try to find the rhythm."
He swallowed hard as the music started. God, this was so intimidating. As he was thinking that, he did what he'd been trying so hard not to do – he stepped on her damn foot again. Mako almost breathed fire in frustration but managed to keep it down. Korra didn't even seem to notice. He remembered what she said about overthinking it. About not thinking with his head, but his feet. Maybe that was Guru-speak for 'bullshit your way through it and hope for the best'? Sounded about right. He couldn't get any worse, after all. He just… let go. The tension in his shoulders he hadn't realised was there and the stiffness in his movements all seemed to evaporate as he decided that he just flat-out did not care any-more.
And somehow, because Irony was twice the bitch Fate was, he was doing it.
He was dancing.
His eyes lit up and a weird little smile popped up on his face. Korra was giving him that insufferable 'I-told-you-so' look, but he didn't care. He wasn't going to dignify that look of hers with any kind of response, so he just kept going. The music wasn't over yet, and he found himself… kind of getting into it. He knew that men were supposed to lead in ballroom dancing, and that Korra had let him take that role just to avoid pissing him off more than necessary, so he figured he may as well lead. He let slight pushing from his hands precede his feet so Korra would know where he was trying to go, and she went happily, getting a strange look on her face. If Mako didn't know better, he'd say it was pride.
They were twirling around the training area together and all Mako could think about was how beautiful Korra would look in a ballroom gown, decked out in gemstones like a queen, dancing with him and only him. It surprised him just how appealing the mental image was. Especially the jealous faces of everyone else. It would be worth it just for that. But really… he wouldn't mind if no-one ever saw. If no-one ever knew to be jealous. As long as he got to dance with her.
The music was winding down, much to his displeasure, and they slowed, finding a stopping point.
"So," he said with a cough.
And then she just started chuckling. At him.
"What the hell is so funny?" he asked.
"I told you so," she sang.
He clicked his tongue at her in a dismissive sort of way. "God, you're such a kid."
"And you are an ungrateful prick," Korra said, taking the sting out with a quick peck to Mako's cheek that he pretended not to enjoy quite so much. "Next lesson: turns!"
"Fuck; there's more?"
"Of course! You didn't think ballroom was that easy, did you?" Her stifling giggling turned into raucous, echoing laughter (at his expense, no less) as she left down the halls, making her way out.
Mako just stood in the middle of the training room alone, wondering absently just what a dress like the one he'd envisioned before would cost.
(A/N): I'm a lot like Korra, so I understand all too well what sort of bullshit she might be willing to take, once she learns that the way Mako is is the way Mako is. It's amazing how much more you enjoy people's company when you learn to just sit back and take things lightly. People who seemed abrasive before are now delightfully frank and funny. I feel that the more Korra learns of the ways of the Airbenders, the more laid-back she'll get in terms of dealing with other human beings' shenanigans.
I'm not a ballroom dancer, I'm a ballet dancer, so if there are any bits or pieces I've gotten wrong, by all means, tell me.
…I want to draw Korra in that dress now.