dedication: to the Bolinora fandom you guys are perf.
notes: I am going to make you all cry.
title: on the way home
summary: She packed up her bags, and she ran away. — Bolin/Jinora.
She shrugs his hand off.
It's just a little movement, the barest twitch of her shoulders; completely involuntarily, but Bolin thinks he can hear her heart cracking when he moves away. It's a slow thing, the way her face closes off—and maybe it's been closed off for a long time and he just didn't notice it.
She shrugs his hand off and cringes. Wraps her arms around herself and Spirits, she looks so young—is so young, she's only twenty-two and he's about to turn thirty and she is so young. She is so young.
"Don't," she says. "Don't, Bolin. Just don't."
He watches her collapse in on herself, crumpling like a leaf on the wind, and he doesn't understand—who did this, what happened, when, where, why, why, why are you crying?
She draws a slow, shuddering breath in. The wind howls 'round them; suddenly trapped in the eye of a hurricane and unable to move, Bolin has to force himself not to reach towards her.
Jinora's dress is the colour of rust threaded with sunlight. Her eyes are no colour at all.
(Later, after she's gone, that's what he'll think of—that her eyes were no colour at all.)
Her control is always superb, but then, Bolin has never had his heart broken. He's never been on that end. But watching her now, he thinks he could relate. Jinora quakes, hands clenched.
At that moment, she could have set the world alight and not felt a thing, Airbenders be damned.
"You could have told me," she says.
Bolin doesn't know how her voice is audible over the wind, but it is.
"What?" he croaks.
"You could have just told me! You didn't have to go—go rub it in my face or whatever, I get it, I'm still a kid to you—but you could have had the decency to just tell me!" she says, and he can tell from the thin line of her lips that she is struggling not to cry.
He's seen it before.
"Told you what?"
"Why didn't you just say you didn't care? Why did you have to—why did you have to kiss me and then—and then—"
Bolin has never heard Jinora raise her voice.
But now she shrieks.
The sound tears itself from her throat, blood on her lips, and she screams at him. The wind screams with her, an amalgam of rage and pain to shred the last bit of self-worth either of them have. It's a wall between them, diamond-hard oxygen built up to keep him away.
Bolin would try to slam away at it, because he knows it's only air. Physically, it is only air—but it's also years and years of denials and hurts and figuring things out that takes Bolin a while. Figuring things out always takes him a while.
And maybe that while he had been figuring things out, she had been growing up.
She's done growing.
Jinora raises her head, and the wind dies. But the lights in her eyes recede, and she's a blank slate, perfectly clean. She takes another deep, shuddering breath in through her teeth.
"I'm going," she says.
"That shouldn't matter to you, right? You've got your bending and your girls and me—I'm unimportant. So I'm going."
The only indication that she feels anything at all is the trembling in her lips.
"Does anyone know?"
"No. Who would I tell?"
He thinks your sister, your brothers, your father, you mother, I don't know, maybe the Avatar? My brother, or the bookstore owner on State Street who waits for you to come in on Monday at noon, or the lady who sells those dumplings you like, but why are you telling me—
Bolin grits his teeth and stays quiet.
He's never hated a decision so much, only he knows he has no right.
Jinora shrugs, too sharp and jerky for the elemental grace that normally suffuses her limbs. "Sorry. But I have to. I can't—can't be here anymore. It hurts too much."
Bolin doesn't know how to answer that.
Her head falls forward to her chest. The sparkle of tears is clear on her cheeks, and now, now he can't help himself. The wind's gone, and he strides forward to hold her face in his hands.
She's so small, he marvels.
(Twenty-two. She's so young and Bolin feels so, so ancient.)
He kisses her hard and fast and furious, all heat and heart-ache. Jinora is dangerous-soft, and when he finally pulls away, she simply looks at him.
"I hate you," she whispers, and it is almost kind, with eyes wide open and so gentle. Almost wondering. "I hate you."
She steps back, steps away even as the wind picks up. It pulls at her, pulls her up and off the ground until her glider wings snap open.
Bolin can do nothing but stand on the ground, and watch her disappear.