Writing this instead of my other papers. Yup. I'm sensing a pattern. I'm sure this has been done before but I felt the need to write my own anyway. :X

Another wrenching cough rippled through Mako's small frame. Bolin's bright green eyes were staring up at his brother with a mixture of fear and worry. The fear wasn't that Mako was angry or would hurt him. No, the fear that kept Bolin up at night was the fear that his brother was going to slowly die right before his eyes, just like everyone else.

Bolin shifted uncomfortably next to Mako. His clothes, which were once his father's, were far too large and worn to allow him the luxury of feeling at ease. His small, dirty hand patted Mako's back when another coughing fit overtook him. He could feel his brother's ribs underneath the thin fabric covering him, signs of their poor eating habits. Well, Mako's poor eating habits. Mako refused to eat his share when he knew Bolin was still hungry. No matter how much Bolin reassured Mako that he was fine and that his share was his share, Mako would simply tell him he wasn't hungry and shove the food into Bolin's lap. Bolin looked at his brother and started to realize just how much that selflessness was catching up with him. The clothes his brother wore were his own, and they draped over his fading frame as though he'd stolen them off a burly probender. It made him look even sicker. As the coughing fit subsided, Mako rested against the wall they were sitting against. A soft wheezing sound escaped its way in and out of his mouth.

"You okay, Mako?" Bolin's voice was small and shaky as the bitter wind whipped through the alleyway. Bolin buried himself in his brother's arm for warmth. Bolin had always been jealous of his brother's ability to keep warm on cold nights like tonight. That wasn't the case tonight, however, Mako felt cold. Frozen.

Bolin looked up at his brother's face in alarm, "Mako?"

Mako's eyes were closed, still resting against the building they were sitting against. The dark circles under his eyes were accentuated by the sickly, pale skin around them, beads of sweat accumulated against Mako's brow. The wheezing had stopped. Bolin held his breath.

Not you too…

Furiously shaking his shoulder, Bolin felt tears stinging the back of his eyes, "Wake up, Mako. Mako! This isn't funny!"

A small groan escaped Mako's cracked lips as his eyes opened slowly. Bolin let go of the breath he'd been holding, as well as the tears.

"D-don't ever do that again! I thought you…"

Mako looked over at his younger brother. Bolin's body was shaking, no doubt because of his uncontrollable sobbing and the below freezing temperatures. Mako opened his mouth to comfort Bolin, but all that escaped was a wet cough. His fit lasted longer than the others, harsh and painful. When it finally subsided, all that was left was a pounding pain in his chest as well as a fist full of phlegm. Disgusted, Mako wiped the phlegm on the ground next to him. He turned back to Bolin, whose eyes were red and puffy from crying.

"I'm going to be okay, Bo. I promise. Don't worry about me. Just a cold," Mako ruffled Bolin's hair with his clean hand.

"Mom promised the same thing. She promised she'd be okay and she's gone now," Bolin gave Mako a small shove, angry that his brother was being so stubborn. "We need to get you medicine! You need to see a doctor, Mako!"

Mako watched Bolin's outcry with surprise. It was the first time he'd seen his brother so angry. He was angry with him. And he was right, their mother had promised she'd be okay and she broke it. Mako understood more, of course, being older that she simply couldn't hold on any longer and that she fought valiantly. But to Bolin, she'd broken her ultimate promise, to survive and take care of them. Bolin hated broken promises.

Mako let out a small sigh that just resulted in another cough. He knew that Bolin had good intentions, wanting him go to a doctor, but they just didn't have the funds. Mako was saving up to buy them a small apartment; any spare change went to a loaf of bread and carton of milk. On rare occasions, when he happened to conjure up some extra cash doing odd jobs, he bought Bolin a piece of candy. He wasn't going to spend their hard earned cash on some doctor who would only have them go out and spend more money on medicine. Not for him at least. He needed to be prepared for when Bolin was the one sick. Bolin would need the medicine, not him.

"I don't need a doctor, Bolin. I need some rest," Mako shifted back against the wall, closing his eyes. He felt Bolin wrap his arms around his waist and rest his head against his chest. Concern for spreading his illness to his brother, Mako gently tried to push Bolin away, "Not so close, you'll get sick too."

Bolin ignored him and wrapped his arms around Mako tighter. Despite his better judgment, Mako let Bolin rest against him. Mako wrapped his old scarf around Bolin's shoulders and concentrated on keeping his body warm so that Bolin had some extra warmth around him. Bolin stared straight ahead into the alleyway, wiping the remained tears off his cheeks. Mako patted his shoulder gently and made sure to keep his coughing to himself.

"What do you think the Spirit World is like, Mako?" Bolin asked quietly. Mako looked down at him, wondering what had sparked the question.

"I'm not sure. Nice, I guess," Mako said.

"Do you think mom and dad are there?"

Mako held his breath and looked down at Bolin. Bolin wasn't looking at Mako and was instead staring intently at the pavement in front of him. There was a long silence that fell between the two brothers. A winter breeze blew through the alleyway again causing them both to shiver in each other's arms. A another sudden rattling cough from Mako's throat disrupted the quiet air. Bolin held his brother's shaking form as the coughs shuddered through him. Mako's lungs burned for air as he continued to cough. Bolin's brows furrowed in concern, but he stayed quiet as Mako finished up his fit. Wiping the spit from the sides of his mouth, Mako cleared his throat so that he could answer Bolin's question with some dignity.

"Aheh, yeah. Yeah I think they are, Bo," was all Mako could muster through his raspy voice. His throat felt worn and raw, as though he'd swallowed fire. Bolin gave his brother a small smile, accepting his brother's answer.

"You'll wait for me, right? If something happens to you and you see them first, you'll tell them that I'm coming soon?" Bolin gripped his brother's wrist, "I d-don't want you to go, but if you do, I want you to tell them I miss them, okay?"


"Please, Mako?" Bolin's lip quivered but he refrained himself from crying. If Mako could keep his composure after all this time, while fighting illness and most likely certain death, then he could stop crying for a few moments.

Mako sat up against the wall and pushed Bolin into sitting position. Turning his brother so that they looked each other square in the eye, Mako gripped Bolin's tiny shoulders.

"I will never leave you, Bolin. We won't see them in the Spirit World for a long time, but that's a good thing, okay? We're going to grow up and be happy and when we're both old and gray, then we'll see them. Don't talk like that. Nothing's going to happen to me and much less you," Mako pulled Bolin into a tight hug, shutting his eyes tightly.

What hurt more than Bolin thinking he would die was the fact that he even had to be thinking of such things at his age. Bolin should be learning to hone his earthbending skills and playing with friends, not worrying about where his next meal was coming from or if his only family left was going to make it through the night. Mako felt Bolin's hands grip his shirt as he returned the hug. He knew Bolin was just scared. He was too.

"I won't leave you, Bolin. Ever."

"You promise?" Bolin asked, his question muffled by Mako's shirt.

Suppressing another cough, Mako cleared his throat so his brother could hear him loud and clear, "I promise and you know I never go back on a promise."

Bolin nodded against his chest and looked up at his brother, "Good, but can you promise me one more thing?"

"Sure, Bo. What is it?"

"Can you please go see a doctor tomorrow?" Bolin managed to muster up a stern look when asking his brother, one that caused Mako to chuckle softly. Bolin was never very good at being 'mean'. Ruffling his younger brother's hair, Mako nodded.

"Yeah, I promise."