Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender, or The Legend of Korra.
A/N: Wow. Just wow. I can't actually believe it, but this is it, the final chapter in It's Elemental. I gotta say, sometimes it felt like I wasn't going to get this far, so I can't really find the words to express how happy I am that it's done. And you, my wonderful, kind and patient readers, I hope that you find that the wait was worth it. I don't want to take up your time with this author's note, so I just want to say that, if you're looking for the smut it's near the end of the chapter.
Six years later…
"No, no, no, mommy," Kimi giggled as she stood before her kneeling mother. "Like this. See?"
Mako bit his cheek to keep from laughing as Kimi swiftly airbended the leaf from between her mother's hands and began manipulating a small current for the flora to dance across. The look on Korra's face was priceless, and Mako wished he'd brought their camera with him when he'd decided to sit on the wraparound porch of their house to watch Kimi's airbending warm-ups.
"OK, exactly who's the student and who's the master?" Korra snorted as she plucked the leaf out of the air, annoyed but also charmed by Kimi's talent. The six year old pouted for a moment – a frighteningly perfect imitation of her mother's favorite expression – but then she crossed her arms over her middle and smiled wickedly, her lips lifting in a self-righteous smirk akin to the one Mako wore when he felt he was being particularly clever.
"I think Papa Tenzin is the bestest master," she said smartly, bobbing on the heels of her feet. Korra's eyes bugged at her daughter's admission and she sputtered indignantly as she tried to come up with a retort. When none came, she turned pleading aquamarine eyes to her husband.
"Don't look at me," Mako shrugged, careful of the snoozing baby in his arms. "I've been telling you the same thing for years."
Korra snorted, her hammy reaction making Kimi laugh so hard that she unintentionally bended sharp, sweeping gales to blow her mother over. The thirty-six year old woman landed on her back with an exaggerated 'oof', making her daughter laugh harder. It was a sweet sound, like the wind chimes that hung from Pema's kitchen window.
The irony that Korra and Mako's first child was an airbender was not lost on the couple. In fact, Korra had proclaimed it to be some sort of cosmic joke. Despite being the Avatar, Korra had never been particularly spiritual so she never suspected that it would be possible for her to mother an airbender, the most spiritually connected of all benders. However, it was impossible to deny that Kimi was an airbender, especially when, at just two years old, the brunette toddler was managing to sneeze herself onto the roof of their house.
It was unusual, particularly since Mako was a firebender and Korra's native element was water, but Korra was also the Avatar, master bender of all four elements, so while the odds were largely against them, it was entirely possible for the woman to mother a little airbender of her own.
"OK, enough of that," Mako called, dampering the mood. Kimi and Korra turned towards the firebender, their matching pouts playing upon his heartstrings like a guzheng. There was just no contest when both of his girls were looking at him that way. Still, Kimi couldn't be late. "It's nearly eight," he excused lamely.
Korra sighed and carefully got back to her feet.
"Well," she said, ruffling Kimi's thick brown hair, "since Tenzin is the bestest airbending master, I guess you'd better hurry to your morning lessons."
"Woo-hoo!" Kimi exclaimed, leaping in the air.
Her excited cheer stirred her baby brother, the infant in Mako's arms smacking his lips and gurgling grumpily at being disturbed from his rest. Eager to avoid another cacophonous fit, Mako bounced Bao in his arms, patting the boy's bottom calmly until he settled again, dark aquamarine eyes blinking quickly. Hopefully, the ten month old would go back to sleep.
"Bye, Daddy!" Kimi cried, using her airbending to create an air-scooter. The six year old giggled as she sped away, navy colored eyes alight with excitement, the red scarf she always wore – the same one Mako once always wore – flailing behind her like the scarlet tail of an ancient dragon.
"I wish she wouldn't do that," Mako muttered as he watched Kimi speed away.
"She's just having fun," Korra said as she sat beside him.
"What if she falls down?"
"Then she'll pick herself back up."
Mako huffed, knowing his wife was right and wondering when she became a guru in all things maternal. Spirits knew this crazy adventure in parenthood hadn't started out that way.
Like the air scooter she so skillfully bended, Kimi's birth had been a whirlwind. Mako didn't remember all the details. He did recall being woken up in the middle of the night by Korra kicking him frantically in the back, screaming that her water had broken and she was feeling crippling contractions. He remembered rushing to the temple and calling for Pema, forgetting to wake the midwife, then rushing back to the house and bringing Naga into their bedroom because Korra had insisted that the polar bear-dog kept her calm. The next several hours were just a blur of people, breathing, cursing, sweating, and pain. Like a watercolor painting, everything blended together in Mako's memory until he wasn't sure what was a dream and what actually happened.
He did, however, remember with crystal clarity the piercing shriek that shattered the late afternoon as Kimi took her first gulping breaths. He remembered crying, remembered Korra crying, remembered counting fingers and toes and thanking the spirits over and over again that his wife and child were alive and healthy. His arms had memorized the warmth of that fragile little body as he held his daughter for the first time, his tongue had savored the taste of her name as he whispered it against her tiny ear, and his senses had tingled with the smell of her skin, raw and pink and so, so soft.
The couple was beyond happy, and while the late night feedings, toxic diapers, and wailing demands for attention sometimes grated on the new parents' frayed nerves, they loved their daughter devotedly. Of course, as Kimi grew, learned to walk (and run), and talk ('no' was her first and favorite word), and of course airbend, the challenges changed, too. It was definitely the child's adventures in her bending that kept things lively within the Avatar's household.
With Kimi, everything had been so new. Learning what her babbles meant, what her cries meant, being utterly enchanted by the way she coughed, laughed, even screamed, all of it had been such an education to Mako and Korra. They had both been so nervous, so unsure and tentative of themselves, wanting to do things right, wanting Kimi to grow up healthy and happy. It took time to adjust to the changes that parenthood brought out in them. It was one of the reasons why they had waited so long to have another baby.
A particularly frigid draft swept around the porch and rustled Bao's wisps of dark hair. The baby's nose crinkled and he let out a belting cry. Mako sighed in defeat. He tried to calm the baby, but Bao would have none of it.
"He's hungry," Korra said, holding her arms out.
Mako gently placed the baby in his wife's embrace, watching with wonder as she cooed goofily at the pudgy little boy. Mako smiled warmly, always in awe of Korra when she was with their children. Sometimes it was hard to remember that she was a rough and tumble kind of gal, the one that was all sass, and that's not to say she still wasn't, it was just that over the course of sixteen years it was amazing how much and how little a person could change.
"Let's take you inside, little man," Korra said, lifting Bao against her shoulder as she walked into their kitchen. Mako followed and started to clear the table of the breakfast dishes while Korra sat down and removed her shirt. With a carelessness brought on by routine, Korra unclasped her brazier and released both of her breasts to the crisp spring air. Bao gurgled happily, his fat fingers reaching out for Korra's plump brown skin, toothless mouth greedily latching onto a nipple and drinking deeply. "Hey, hey, slow down, buddy," Korra gently cooed, raising her free hand to caress her son's downy head and soft cheeks.
Mako took a moment to watch his wife breastfeed, always mesmerized by the powerful picture of maternity Korra painted as she nourished their children. To look at her in this moment, umber skin luminescent, eyes full to the brim with too many shades of blue, hair loose and free to fall down her shoulders and back, her torso bare, her breasts round and lush, filled with milk, their dark nipples puckered and tempting, was like looking at something too perfect to be real. And then there was their son, feeding from her, laying trustingly in her strong arms, his own blue eyes locking with Korra's as they bonded in the mysterious silence that only mothers and children knew.
It was a breathtaking picture, almost as devastatingly beautiful as the first time he saw Korra on their wedding day.
Not wanting to feel like an intruder, Mako busied himself with cleaning the breakfast dishes. By the time he'd filled the sink with soapy water Korra was at his side, brazier and shirt back in place and Bao in his crib in the nursery. Smiling lopsidedly at her husband, Korra took up one of the rinsed dishes and used her waterbending to dry it. There was a calm that radiated from her, as it always did after she fed their son, a peace that had found solace in the brash, brave, and cocky spirit inside of her. Motherhood had changed Korra, made her more patient, more understanding, more cautious, more gentle...just more. It made her more, and he loved all of it.
"So, did you forget about tonight?" he asked suddenly, enjoying how his wife's eyes widened and her mouth twisted into a panicked grimace. Korra flicked her blue eyes to the calendar on the wall, taking note of the date. She wracked her brain for a moment before sighing as a barrage of memories came to her like a waterfall of cherry blossoms.
"No," she replied confidently, "I didn't forget." Putting aside the teacup she'd been about to dry, Korra wrapped her arms around her husband from behind, squeezing him almost painfully. "Hard to believe sixteen years have gone by already," she said, burrowing her nose in the warm space between his shoulders. "Sometimes I still feel like I'm that nervous girl walking down the path to you."
"You were nervous?" Mako teased.
"Shut up," Korra exclaimed, lightly punching the firebender before returning to drying the dishes. "You were nervous, too. The greenest looking groom I'd ever seen."
"I wasn't green," Mako protested.
"You're right. You were pale. Bolin told me you were almost sick before he and Tenzin came to get you and bring you to the alter."
Mako groaned, wishing, not for the first time, that his brother wouldn't go blabbing all of his secrets for the whole world to hear. He had been nervous that beautiful spring day sixteen years ago, but who wouldn't be when they were marrying the most amazing woman in the world?
Mako's golden eyes flickered at the memory, remembering how he'd fidgeted in his formal suit, how he'd played with the frayed ends of his scarf as he waited for Korra to make her entrance, still irrationally afraid that she would change her mind. He remembered the cherry blossoms falling like snow from the trees, dusting the ground in a pink blanket. One of the blossoms had fallen on his nose and before he'd removed the offending petal Korra had appeared, a beautiful vision of blue and purple rushing up the pathway to him, a wave hurrying to kiss the shore. She'd laughed at his dazed look, plucking the petal from his nose and blowing it into the air.
It had been a perfect day, one Mako wanted to recapture over and over again. That was why he'd asked Tenzin if they could build their house under the trees where they'd wed; it was like keeping a piece of that day with them always. And now that it was the anniversary of their wedding, Mako was determined to make sure the day was filled with just as many sweet memories.
"Will you be home for lunch?" the firebender asked.
"Not today," Korra sighed, her tone dripping with disappointment. "I have a lunch meeting with the Prime Minister. It's so unfair! Nothing ruins a perfectly decent meal like shop-talk."
"Is it about this economy slump?"
"They're calling it a recession," Korra corrected, rolling her eyes. "Whatever word they use, the fact remains that Republic City is in a financial crisis and things aren't improving. I really don't know what to do, but the Prime Minister has been looking into some economical stimulus projects that may be able to help. I'm guessing that's what our little lunch date is about."
"Sounds interesting," Mako offered, elbow deep in soapy water. "At least you'll get to spend the day talking to grown-ups instead of a fussy baby and a hyperactive six year old."
"Oh please, I know you love staying at home with the kids," Korra said, smiling cheekily at Mako. "And while Kimi may be energetic, Bao is not fussy. That's just his natural firebender passion showing itself."
"We don't even know if Bao's a bender yet," Mako pointed out.
"He is. I can tell. Do you doubt the word of the Avatar?"
"The Avatar, probably not. My wife, all the time."
"You're not funny," Korra snorted.
"You were convinced Kimi was going to be a firebender and you were wrong about that."
"Because I was a new mom! I was still learning how this whole mother's intuition works."
"And you've got it all figured out now, have you?"
"Yes. My intuition is telling me Bao is definitely a firebender."
"Well I think he's a waterbender," Mako said.
"Oh?" Korra asked, intrigued.
"Yeah. He's already a master tearbender. Hey!" Mako took a step away from the sink, the front of his shirt soaked in suds from a surprise waterbending attack by his wife. "Really?" he asked her sardonically, only to be answered by Korra's victorious smirk. Shaking his head at Korra's immaturity, Mako moved one of his hands to rest firmly on his wife's lower belly. Korra stilled, the warmth from Mako's fingers spreading throughout her body like a flowing river, bringing a sweet calm to her mind. "And what does your mother's intuition say about this one? Bender? Non-bender?"
"I don't know," Korra admitted, her smile soft as a blush rose to her cheeks. "But I do know it's going to be another girl."
"If you say so," Mako agreed, kissing Korra's brow and giving her belly a gentle caress before returning to the dishes.
It had only been two weeks since Korra told him that she was pregnant again, and Mako couldn't have been more ecstatic or overwhelmed. After Kimi, the couple had waited a long time before deciding to have another baby. Bao was a cherished addition to their family, but now that Kimi was getting older it was starting to get difficult to keep up with both children. This unexpected baby-on-the-way was certainly going to be a challenge, especially with such a short age gap between them and Bao, but Mako and Korra were happy to become parents for a third time.
"Three's the limit though," Korra said as she rinsed a dish and dried it. Mako nodded.
"Three's a good number," he agreed. The couple finished doing the dishes and Korra quickly changed into one of her council jackets before heading for the door.
"So, where are you taking me tonight, City Boy?"
"That's a surprise. You'll find out when you get home."
More intrigued than annoyed, the Avatar leaned up on her toes and pressed a chaste kiss to her husband's lips.
"Can't wait. I'll see you soon."
"Have a good day," he said, waving to her as she left the house, Naga trailing loyally behind her.
Alone for the rest of the morning, save for his napping son, Atka and Miki, Mako quickly finished his morning chores. He listened as the polar bear-dogs played outside, Miki growling mockingly as she wrestled with her sister. They would tussle around for a while yet, the burly white animals always so full of energy. Hopefully their roughhousing wouldn't disturb Bao and the baby would sleep until lunch time. With practiced ease, Mako finished tidying up and then moved to his small study.
Korra had once asked Mako if he resented being the one to stay at home with the children. With Kimi, Korra had stayed home for a year before returning to her full duties as the Avatar. Mako had given up his pro-bending coaching career, electing to be the main caregiver to his baby daughter. Korra was grateful for Mako's choice, but she knew of his need to be proactive and exercise not only his body but his mind as well. While Mako had assured Korra that their kids were more than enough of a challenge, for his last birthday Tenzin had given him a very special gift, one that now occupied most of the free time the firebender had during the day.
Settling behind the desk in his study, Mako gently took the cover off of his typewriter. He smiled as he stared at the round brass keys, shining in the sunlight like sparkles on clear water. When Tenzin had presented the thirty-seven year old with the machine, the monk's intention had been to help the firebender find an outlet for his pent up energy. He'd suggested Mako write for the newspaper or even begin a personal journal.
What Mako chose to do was to write a story.
He'd already completed an outline and was working on the first draft. It was an epic tale, filled with adventure and danger, exotic locales and breathtaking bending battles. There was a brave and headstrong heroine, a dashing, if somewhat idiotic, hero, trustworthy friends and impossibly powerful villains. The story had laughter, heartbreak, friendship, betrayal, impossible sadness, inspirational courage, and of course, a passionate romance tied together by the unbreakable bonds of fate and destiny.
He called it The Legend of Korra.
When he'd told Korra that he was chronicling her life, the Avatar had snorted, wondering who would ever want to read about her. This humility was not false. Over time, Korra had grown out of most of her selfishness, particularly after she became a mother. She knew that her work as the Avatar was important, that her role as a world leader and peacekeeper was invaluable, but in the long line of Avatars that came before her, Korra truly didn't see how she had done anything out of the ordinary.
Mako saw differently, though.
He knew that the story of a young girl forced from her family to train in the bending arts, cut off from the world save for her loyal polar bear-dog companion, who ran away to the big city at seventeen to find her destiny was just the sort of page turner that every person in all Four Nations would read again and again.
Not that Mako was seriously thinking about publishing the work.
For now, the firebender was writing the story for himself, for his wife, for their children, and their children. He wanted the facts to be recorded properly, untarnished by the rumors of the tabloids and speculation from the gossip mongers. He wanted Kimi and Bao and their youngest one to know how confident and strong their mother was, how cocky she'd been when she first arrived in Republic City, so sure that she could save the city from its problems in a single afternoon. He wanted them to know how much of an idiot their father had been when he'd first met their mother, a brooding, intense, control-freak teenager who couldn't see past his own goals to the beautiful girl smiling at him. He wanted to write all about the fights, the laughter, the passion, the tension, the heartbreak, the kisses, the promises, the guilt, the travels, and most of all, the love.
He wanted his children to know that fate worked in funny ways, that his life and Korra's were like drops of water in a still lake, causing ripples to break the glassy surface, eventually meeting and crashing together, creating something new, something chaotic but beautiful.
For a few hours Mako typed away, the steady rhythm of the clicking keys a hypnotizing music that kept harmony with the sound of rough water churning up from the bay. He had just finished a paragraph describing Korra and Bolin's first meeting in the pro-bending gym when Bao's fussy gurgle pulled him from his work. Checking the time, Mako was surprised to find that it was nearly one o'clock and that Kimi would be back from her lessons soon and expecting lunch. Placing his newly typed pages in his desk, Mako covered the typewriter and went to attend to his unamused son.
Aside from a dirty diaper, all the baby really wanted was attention, content to rest in Mako's arms while the firebender expertly prepared some onigiri and fruit for his little airbender. He smiled as he bustled about the kitchen, his nose sinking into the dark downy hair on Bao's head, his chin rubbing along the baby's tan temple. He really did carry a lot of Water Tribe features, and Mako was certain that his son would prove himself to be an excellent waterbender when the time came.
He had the radio on and was casually listening to the latest pro-bending stats when he heard Kimi coming up the path. Atka and Miki began barking excitedly and Kimi giggled as she greeted the animals.
"Daddy!" she exclaimed brightly as she barged into the kitchen.
"Hello, sweetheart," he said, bending down so he could kiss her on the cheek. Kimi returned the kiss, even gave one to her grumpy little brother, before settling herself at the table and waiting for her father to bring her lunch. After saying grace, Kimi eagerly tore into the rice balls, scattering grains all over her face.
"I had so much fun today," she said.
"Swallow before you speak," Mako chided, joining the six year old at the table and trying to convince Bao to eat some applesauce. "So what did Papa Tenzin teach you today?"
"He showed me this really neat marble trick!" Kimi answered after swallowing a rather large bite. "I almost got it, but then we had to stop for meditation...I fell asleep...again."
Although he knew he should be exasperated with Kimi's lack of focus when it came to her meditation studies (which Tenzin insisted were integral to the full education of an airbender) he couldn't help chuckling.
"Don't worry, Kimi. You can ask your mother about all the times she fell asleep when Papa Tenzin tried to teach her mediation." Giving up on trying to feed Bao, Mako sat the boy in his highchair and let the ten month old play with his food, watching with quiet amusement as Bao squeezed the lumpy applesauce between his fingers and then slapped the goop onto his face and hair. "And what did you learn with Sister Dira?"
Grinning proudly, Kimi dug a piece of paper out of her pocket and slid it over to Mako.
"See?" she asked, bouncing in her chair as Mako unfolded the sheet and perused the calligraphy brushed in the middle of the paper. "I spelled my name with no mistakes this time."
"It's very good!" Mako exclaimed, eyes tearing just a tad as he admired the perfect characters on the page. He hadn't been able to spell his own name with half as much precision or artistry until he was nearly thirteen, his education having been pushed aside during those hard years on the streets. Seeing his daughter excel, seeing her enjoy her lessons, made the firebender's chest heave with pride. It was really too kind of Tenzin to take on teaching Kimi airbending and then permitting the child to attend classes in the little schoolhouse at the air temple where the children of the air acolytes studied.
"Do you think mommy will like it?"
"Of course she will."
Kimi blushed then and lowered her chin shyly. While the six year old was certainly confident and even a little boastful, she was constantly seeking her mother's approval. Once, she had confessed to Mako that when she grew up she wanted to be just like her mother, admiring the woman with a stary-eyed hero worship.
"I'm going to put this on mommy's dresser so she'll see it when she gets home."
"Are you guys going out tonight?"
"Yes. Uncle Bolin's going to come by and babysit you and your brother."
"It'll be fun!" Kimi stated. "I'll show him the marble trick."
"He'll like that," Mako said. "Put your dish in the sink and change out of your school clothes. I'll clean up your brother and then we'll go down to the beach so Atka and Miki can catch their lunch."
Eager to oblige, Kimi followed her father's instructions with rapid ease, already changed into her casual clothes before he'd managed to wash all of the applesauce out of Bao's hair. Once the baby was clean and crankily flailing in his father's arms, Mako took Kimi's hand and led her and the polar bear-dogs down to the beach. Before their feet had even crunched on the stiff, dark sand, Atka and Miki were bounding into the frigid bay waters, barking at one another as they swam out and hunted for fish. Laughing at the animals, Kimi made herself comfortable in the sand, encouraging Bao to crawl towards her as she built sandcastles.
Mako watched the scene in silence, content to observe and let his happiness crash over him like a wave. He never regretted becoming the homemaker. Every one of his days was filled with precious moments and he wouldn't trade places with the Fire Lord if it meant he had to miss out on Kimi trying in vain to teach Bao that building sandcastles was more fun than knocking them down. It made Mako shake his head sometimes. For so long his life had been filled with travel, intrigue, civil service, adventure. His home had been Korra and whatever province or nation she happened to be living in. Those early years had been so full of adrenaline that the thought of slowing down seemed impossible. Now, Mako found home was with his wife and children on Air Temple Island. Life was peaceful and domestic, and he was content.
He watched Kimi and Bao play, his daughter eventually giving up on her sandcastles as Bao continued to destroy them with cute baby roars. She wandered closer to the surf, picking up a stick and scratching patterns into the sand. It wasn't too long before she was calling out to him.
"Daddy come and see what I drew!"
Unable to refuse Kimi, Mako walked towards the six year old, taking a moment to make sure that Bao was still knocking down the sandcastles rather than trying to eat them, and stood beside his daughter as he admired her picture.
It was a child's scribblings, indistinguishable blobs and stick people smiling up at him from the sand. He knew that the three oblong circles with floppy ears were Naga and her cubs. He guessed that the tiny stick figure with the frown was Bao while the one beside him was Kimi. The two figures hugging one another were Mako and Korra, his hair spiky and hers up in a wolftail. And beside them was their house, the blooming sakura trees flanking the happy home.
"I did all of us," Kimi bragged, waving her stick over the picture.
"Not bad," Mako chuckled, ruffling Kimi's hair. The little girl laughed and then ran off to play with Atka and Miki who were clamoring back onto shore. Using her airbending, Kimi helped the burly beasts to dry off, screeching when they shook their heads and icy droplets splattered along her face. While she played with the polar bear-dogs, Mako sat with Bao, building crude sandcastles for the baby to smash with his pudgy little fists, laughing as he destroyed the structures with great gusto.
He was definitely Korra's son.
The family stayed down at the beach for most of the afternoon, groans from Kimi and squawking protests from Bao following Mako as he informed them that it was time to clean up and get ready for dinner. They walked back to the house to the tune of Mako's whistling.
Kimi was always helpful with Bao, giving the baby a bath in a small aluminum tub set up in the kitchen while Mako hurried to make them dinner. Bao was gurgling crankily as his sister tried to scrub the sand from between his toes when Mako noticed that Korra was running late.
"Your mom better get here soon or we're going to lose our reservation at the restaurant," he said more to himself than his kids.
"Mmm! Something smells goooooddddd!"
"There's my favorite girl."
Mako kept his eye on the bok choy he was frying, glancing out of the corner of his eye as his younger brother waltzed into the kitchen and scooped Kimi up into his arms. The six year old giggled as Bolin rubbed his goatee along her cheeks and Bao slammed his fists happily in the water of his shallow tub.
"Uncle Bo, I wanna show you a trick. Just wait, I gotta go get a marble." And with that, Kimi darted out of the kitchen.
"Guess Tenzin taught her the marble trick, huh?" Bolin asked. Mako nodded. "Need some help?" the earthbender wondered, scooping Bao out of the tub.
"Thanks. Korra's running a bit late so –"
"I'm here! I'm here!"
Korra stormed into the house like a tsunami. She had obviously rushed from the dock, her cheeks flushed and her hair falling into her eyes. As she blindly sailed into the kitchen she tripped over the tub, spilling water all over the floor.
"Welcome home," Mako deadpanned.
"Spirits, Mako! Why would you leave that there?" Korra snapped as she hurriedly bended the sudsy water off the floor and into the sink.
"Hiya, Mama!" Bolin chirped playfully, holding a squirming, and still wet, Bao against his chest, waving the baby's arm in her direction.
"Hey, little man," she sighed, moving to kiss her son on the crown of his head.
"What? None for me?" Bolin teased shamelessly.
"Only because it's you," Korra conceded, loosely wrapping an arm around her brother-in-law's neck so she could pull him down and plant a kiss on his nose.
"I'll get Bao dressed," the green eyed man said, winking flirtatiously as he exited the kitchen, Bao grumbling in his arms. Sighing, Korra turned to Mako, blue eyes weary and apologetic.
"I'm sorry I'm late. My lunch with the Prime Minister ran long and then I spent all afternoon debating with the rest of the council about whether or not it's time for Beifong to step down as Chief of Police. The woman is a powerhouse! She's single-handedly responsible for keeping the most brutal triad members off the streets and she's managed to keep the peace despite this recession. The whole lot of them are idiots and I – what are you doing?"
While lost in her tangent, Mako had sidled up beside her and pulled her against his chest. Without an explanation, the firebender kissed his wife soundly on the mouth, bringing a different sort of flush to her cheeks.
"Hi," he whispered.
Huffing, Korra fell into Mako's embrace, hugging him tightly, letting her stress and frustration from the day melt out of her like ice under the sun.
"Hi," she returned, her voice muffled against his shoulder.
Kimi barreled into her mother's legs with the force of a small tornado, the woman having to grip her husband's arms for balance.
"Hi, baby," she said, curling her fingers in Kimi's hair. "How was school today?"
"I wanna show you what I did. Daddy left it on your dresser."
"Just a second," Korra said, resisting as her daughter tugged on her hand. She turned her attention back to Mako. "What do I need to wear tonight? Casual?" she asked hopefully.
"Formal, I'm afraid," Mako teased, shaking his head as Korra's pouted before she was dragged away by Kimi. Taking advantage of the few minutes of peace, Mako finished cooking dinner before rushing to the bathroom for a brief shower. He had placed his suit in the bathroom earlier and was able to change quickly before returning to the kitchen where he found Bolin, Kimi and Bao already digging into their dinner.
"Great food, bro," Bolin complimented around a mouthful of noodles. Rolling his eyes, Mako was about to chastise Bolin for talking with his mouth full when Korra walked into the room.
"Is this formal enough?" she asked, fiddling with the chain of her betrothal necklace. Bolin whistled appreciatively and Kimi complimented her mother on how pretty she looked while Mako was momentarily stunned speechless.
While Korra was never one for dolling up, she had put in some effort for her anniversary dinner. The gown was long, form fitting around her bust and torso, accentuating the full swell of her breasts and trim dip of her waist, barely hinting at the tell-tale baby bump. Of course it was sleeveless, but the neck was high, pearl buttons trailing from the center of her throat all the way down to her ankles. The skirt wasn't particularly swishy and a slit ran up the right side to her knee.
And the dress was red.
A deep crimson, the color of fire at its brightest, with the gilded stitching of a powerful bearded dragon looping around the garment like a lover's arms. Korra usually wore blue but she knew how much Mako liked red – how much he liked her in red – and on their sixteenth wedding anniversary she wanted to please him. It was one of the countless ways she wordlessly expressed how much she loved him.
"Now, are you going to be good for Uncle Bo?" Korra asked her daughter pointedly as Mako wrapped a saffron shawl around her shoulders.
"Yes, mommy," Kimi replied obediently.
"That's right, we're going to have fun!" Bolin chirped. "After dinner I'm going to take you and Bao to the bison caves. Kushi will have her calves soon so I have to check up on her. I'll even let you listen to the babies' heartbeats in their mommy's tummy. That'll be fun, won't it?"
"Uncle Bo," Kimi began thoughtfully, "how did Kushi get babies in her tummy?"
"Oh!" the thirty-five year old stuttered, rubbing the back of his head. "Well, um...you see...wow, this is awkward..."
"And mommy says she has a baby in her tummy, too. How'd it get there?"
"Big bro? Little help?" Bolin pleaded in a panic.
"Not tonight," Mako chuckled as he and Korra made a quick escape, leaving Bolin sputtering for an answer while Kimi continued to pepper him with questions about babies and bellies.
The couple laughed on their way to the ferry, excited to begin their evening.
"Enough with the mystery. Where are you taking me?" Korra asked as they walked up the dock towards the boat that would carry them to the mainland.
"Kuang's," Mako answered, choosing to be flattered by Korra's low whistle.
"Snazzy," she complimented. "And you're looking pretty snazzy, too," she said, tugging on his jacket and pulling him in for a teasing peck before stepping onto the ferry.
"Well," he followed, sweeping in behind her and looping an arm around her waist, "a fella's got to do his best for his best gal."
"It's been sixteen years. Am I still your best gal?" she wondered breathlessly.
Satisfied, Korra and Mako made themselves comfortable along the port side railing of the boat, watching with eager eyes as Republic City came closer and closer. By the time they docked it was dusk, the streetlights buzzing with electricity and casting a yellow glow over the avenues. The couple walked to Kuang's, the stroll encouraging their appetite. When they arrived at the elegant restaurant, they were led to a private booth near the orchestra.
"I don't remember that," Korra noted, tilting her chin in the direction of the band.
"Well, the last time we were here was just before Kimi was born. I guess things changed a bit," Mako replied before turning his honeyed gaze to the menu. "Don't forget you're eating for two," he teased.
"Right. So I guess a glass of sake is out of the question," Korra huffed dramatically, her large aquamarine eyes looking over the list of dishes and taking a great interest in some of the newer additions. "Look, Mako," she said, lips quirked sassily to the left, "unagi in curry and topped with your choice of lava sauce."
Catching the playfulness in his wife's tone, Mako reached across the table and took her hand in his. Korra still liked to pester him about his change of heart on spicy cuisine. After having lived in the Fire Nation for three years it wasn't any wonder that Mako had developed a taste for the local grub, and what the Fire Nation specialized in was spice. Where once the firebender would have blanched at the idea of hot, sizzling chillies, smoking fireflakes, and burning curry powder, Mako now found himself craving those delicacies. He even had a stash of fire-gummies in his desk drawer at home, popping the candies when he was struggling with a bout of writer's block.
When their waiter came, Korra asked for the scallop stir fry with sesame seeds, broccoli and eggplant, and Mako ordered the six spice catfish with shitake mushrooms, dry roasted peppers and leeks, and a side of egg noodles for them to share. While they waited for their food the couple talked about their day, Korra going into a bit more detail about the Prime Minister's stimulus projects and Mako explaining how far along he was in his book. They both bragged with genuine pride about Kimi's calligraphy, pleased and proud that their little girl was growing up with a good head on her shoulders.
"Oh! It's that new big band sound!" Korra exclaimed when the band started their next number. Her slippered feet were already tapping away to the up-beat melody and Mako knew he couldn't let the moment pass them by.
"Dance with me," he said, sliding out of the booth and offering her his hand. Once, Korra would have shied away from the offer, having never been particularly fond of dancing. But the years, and newer music, had changed her opinion and Korra could often be found in the family sitting room with the radio blaring, swing dancing with either of her children in her arms. Eagerly, the Avatar took her husband's hand and led him to the dance floor.
"Just go easy on some of those twirls," she warned. "Remember, I'm dancing for two."
They moved like they had been dancing together for years, knowing where to step without even having to look. Push and pull, that's how they danced, the moon and the ocean in a never-ending cycle of advance and retreat.
By the time the song was over their food had arrived and the couple were more than famished. They ate mostly in silence, relishing the expensive food, letting the savory flavors coat their tongues and tantalize their throats. They took samples of each others' meals and drank sparkling leechi juice as a toast to their anniversary. For dessert, Korra and Mako shared candied bananas slathered in maple syrup and topped with mango sorbet. Korra ate most of the sweet confection, moaning temptingly as she licked her spoon clean.
Mako didn't fail to notice the fire in his wife's eyes, that luring siren's song that let him know that she was more than willing to give him his own special dessert once they got home. The mischievous foot she kept rubbing up and down his leg during dinner was also a fairly obvious clue. Muttering under his breath that he would make Korra beg for his mercy later, Mako paid for their dinner and escorted his wife out of the restaurant.
"Where to now?" she asked. "Home?"
"Not just yet," Mako said, looping Korra's hand in the crook of his elbow as he led her down the street.
"You tease," she growled, biting his shoulder.
"I learned from the master," he joked.
They walked down the busy sidewalk for a while, getting lost amongst the crowd, before arriving at Republic City Park. Delighted by the romantic moonlight stroll, Korra leaned against her husband as they aimlessly wandered the grounds. The scent of young flowers and fresh air wafted over the two and they found themselves stopping at a familiar fountain, listening idly to the trickling water.
Recalling the first night they had spent in the park so long ago, a headstrong, immature Avatar and a moody, desperate firebender looking for his missing brother, Korra smiled secretly to herself, her blues eyes turning to look at the spot where she and Mako had fallen asleep under a canopy of red leaves. The tree was gone now. It had been struck by lightning nearly ten years ago and was uprooted. Now there was a park bench in that spot, but if she squinted, Korra thought she could see the ghosts of her younger self and Mako nestled cozily against Naga, sleeping beside one another in the foggy dawn.
"Feeling up to one more stop?" Mako wondered quietly, breaking through Korra's nostalgic daydream.
"Sure," she answered, curious to see where he planned to take them next.
Mako hailed a cab and had the driver bring them to the docks. As they settled on the worn leather seats, Korra fell into a giggle fit when Mako clumsily hooked his arm around her shoulders, blushing like an awkward teenager on his first date. It reminded the Avatar of their own first date nineteen years ago. Staring out the window, Korra watched as the city passed her by, the brownstones, the satomobiles, the people. As they got closer to the docks she spotted the sushi restaurant that she and Mako had loved going to in their youth. It was boarded up now, one of many businesses that had gone belly up in the crippling recession. It brought a twinge of sadness to the Avatar, her heart clenching in longing for those lost days.
The taxi stopped at the city boardwalk and Korra smiled brightly as Mako offered her his arm and led her down the promenade.
"This hasn't changed much," she noted, her eyes darting between the various kiosks and food stands. There were some new shops and a carousel that wasn't there before, but the atmosphere, the hustle and bustle, the screaming laughter of children, the wafting scent of tobacco, perfume and salt water, the colored lights that lined the long walkway, the pro-bending banners, all of it was still the same. When Mako bought Korra a bag of jennamite, popping one of the candies into his mouth and crunching contently, she wondered if perhaps she really was that same seventeen year old girl who hadn't known she was on a date with her crush. That the last nineteen years hadn't happened, that the life she and Mako had built together was something in the distant future. That she wasn't getting crow's feet or laugh lines and he wasn't starting to show gray hairs at his temples. That they were both still two foolish teenagers circling around each other, waiting for the other to make a move, a brush of fingers or a sidelong stare causing a violent blush to stain their cheeks.
They reached the end of the boardwalk far too soon.
Seeing the lights of the ferry as it came closer to the dock, Mako and Korra made themselves comfortable as they waited, the Avatar fitting herself snugly into her husband's embrace.
"Tonight was wonderful, Mako," she gushed. "Thank you. You know, for the food and stuff."
"You're welcome," he replied, amber eyes softening as he held Korra by the waist. She laughed as he hugged her firmly, rocking back and forth.
"All these years," she sighed teasingly, "and you're still not very good at this dating thing."
"This is a date?" Mako exclaimed, eyebrows raising in mock surprise. Snorting at her husband, Korra leaned forward onto her tiptoes and kissed him, wiping the smug smirk off his face.
Mako moaned into the kiss, his tongue sweeping out to lick Korra's bottom lip with practiced ease, wickedly plunging into her mouth and slipping along her teeth, making his wife's breath hitch and her head swim with wanton desire. The kiss was so different, yet so much the same as the one they'd shared on that first date. It was clumsy in its eagerness, passionate, and true. In that kiss, every feeling that Mako and Korra had for one another was expressed.
When the ferry docked, one of the deckhands had to clear his throat before Korra and Mako broke apart. Chuckling with embarrassment, they clamored aboard, finding a secluded corner where they could continue their tryst, lips brushing against heated skin while hands sought purchase on hips and backs. By the time they reached Air Temple Island it was all the couple could do to compose themselves and make a hasty retreat towards their house.
"One more," Korra begged as they reached the porch, her teeth already nipping at his abused lips. Giving in, Mako dragged his fingers through Korra's hair as he kissed her senseless, promising more once they were locked away in the privacy of their bedroom.
"Happy anniversary," he whispered along her cheek.
"Happy anniversary," she echoed, taking a moment to catch her breath before opening the door to their home.
"Hey, Bolin," she called as they entered the sitting room, rousing the earthbender from the book he was reading. With a large smile, Bolin flipped his reading glasses to sit on the crown of his head as he stood up and greeted the couple.
"Well, look at you two lovebirds," he teased.
"Were the kids OK?" Korra asked, ignoring the jibe.
"They were fine. Kimi couldn't stop showing me that marble trick all night."
"Yeah, that move is pretty sweet," Korra agreed, remembering when she had once been enamored of the simple airbending exercise. "Did you want to stay the night? We can make up the couch for you."
"Nah," Bolin said. "I'm actually going to bunk down in the bison caves. Kushi's a lot farther along than I thought. I think she might have her calves by tomorrow night and I want to be here for it." Laughing, the earthbender clapped his older brother on the back. "Just think, Mako, next summer Kimi will be choosing one of those calves to be her companion. Pretty wild, right?"
"Yeah," the firebender sighed, imagining all the changes that would happen over the next year. Kimi would have a sky bison, Bao would be walking and talking, and there would be another little one crawling around his feet. Sometimes, Mako couldn't wait for the future to arrive, and other times he hated the inevitability of the changes that were fast approaching, wishing he could keep his perfect life frozen as it was.
"So, did you two have a nice night?" Bolin wondered politely.
"Very nice," Korra said, sending a pointed look at Mako that sent the firebender's blood ablaze. He swallowed thickly, letting the charged atmosphere crackle between them. Picking up on the electricity, Bolin cleared his throat and made his way to the door.
"Well, it's getting late. You kids have fun," he said, winking pointedly at both of them as he slipped on his coat. "I'll stop by for breakfast," he promised, waving to the pair before he left.
"Goodnight!" Korra called, eyes still locked on Mako. She licked her lips slowly, purposefully, aroused by how Mako's golden stare focused on the trail her tongue left. "Think I'll go change," she all but gasped, sashaying out of the sitting room, making sure to put an extra swing in her hips.
Mako followed her like there wasn't any choice.
It was dark in their bedroom, Korra opting to leave the light off as she came into the chamber and threw her shawl into a corner. She felt Mako's looming presence behind her, a shadow in the shadows, and she felt herself getting excited as the anticipation rolled over them. Mako took a moment to appreciate the strong line of Korra's back, the enticing curve of her muscled shoulders, the lingering scent of the jasmine perfume she wore on special occasions.
As soon as he closed the door he pounced on her, tipping his wife down onto the bed as he boldly suckled on her neck. Korra moaned against Mako's ministrations, her arms curving up along his back. She arched into his touch as his fingers ghosted over her breasts, nipples hard and straining against the silk of her gown. They were always so much more sensitive when she was breastfeeding and Mako knew it. She felt him smile against the pulse at her throat and whined.
"You're teasing me."
"My revenge for that little foot trick of yours at dinner," he said, voice husky and deep.
He moved his body down hers, fingers curling under her dress and lifting it over her thighs. Korra never wore stockings and Mako showed his appreciation by running his hands along her dark skin, cupping her muscular calves and masterfully bending tiny sparks of lightning through his fingertips to bite at the trembling flesh. He kissed the sensitive hollow behind her right knee, listening to the helpless moan that left his wife's lips. Before she could demand that he rip her dress off her body, Mako surged forward, kissing the wet spot staining Korra's cherry red underwear, his teeth grazing the lace that encased her delicate folds.
"Did you wear this for me?" he asked, his breath hot against her inner thigh.
"Now you're just being mean," Korra cried, one hand twisted in the sheets while the other sought purchase in his dark hair.
"Only if I make you beg," he taunted, licking her thigh, so close to her core she could feel his breath on her.
The plea was small, desperate, the mewling cry of a woman trapped in an unfulfilled want. Korra didn't put up a fight when Mako tore her panties off of her. She yanked on his hair and swallowed a passionate cry when his lips kissed her moist flesh, his wicked tongue dragging slowly up her slit before tapping against the straining pink bundle of nerves crying for his attention.
For nearly two decades Mako had been making love to Korra. He knew what she liked best, what spots to kiss and tease and pinch to have her writhing in a mad frenzy. She loved it when he was just a tad brutal, the way she groaned when he bit the soft skin of her inner thigh almost enough to make him come on the spot. He grazed his teeth against her delicate lower lips, listening with rapt attention as she hissed and keened, her nails digging hard against his scalp as he loved her with his mouth.
When he could feel her getting close, her breaths hitching faster, her core pulsing under his mouth, Mako lapped at her entrance like a cat-owl sipping cream before latching onto the sweet cluster of nerves and sucking hard.
With a cry she muffled by biting on her knuckles, Korra came long and hard, her body quivering uncontrollably as her orgasm rocked her body from top of her head to the tips of her toes. Her hips undulated violently, seeking to make the sweet, terrible tremors last longer. Tears came to the corners of her eyes, her nipples tightened painfully, her backed bowed like the neck of a swan-giraffe, and when she came down from that climax she trembled like a newborn koala-lamb.
Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, Mako joined Korra on the bed, spooning her against him, whispering gibberish against her temple as he released himself from his trousers. Straining painfully and desperate for relief, Mako wrapped one arm around Korra's chest, mindful of her tender breasts, and used the other to lift her leg so that it sat high on his hip. For a moment, Korra's twitching sex was exposed to the cool air of their bedroom, soothing the abused skin, but she soon felt the spongy head of Mako's cock teasing her core and before she could protest he pushed himself inside of her, grunting at the perfect feeling of completion.
"Mako, I can't..." Korra panted, her body still reeling from the aftershocks of her first orgasm.
"Yes you can," he whispered hungrily in her ear. "You can do anything."
Mako started pumping into her, urged on by the way her backside pressed against him, how her hands found his, nails clawing at his knuckles, how her breath came out faster, higher, how she arched her neck back in silent desperation for his hot kisses. He licked the salt from her skin, an aphrodisiac all its own as he thrust into her harder, faster. Her soft pulsating walls gripped him harshly, pulling him in, pushing him back, and it wasn't long before he felt a taut, pleasurable tightening in his lower belly flare. Smiling almost cruelly, Mako reached out and gripped one of Korra's breasts in his large hands, found a pebbled nipple, and squeezed. The warring combination of pain and pleasure sent a shock-wave of liquid bliss down Korra's spine.
She came scant seconds before Mako did, the firebender biting his wife's shoulder as he emptied himself inside her, Korra's fingers digging so harshly into his hip that he knew he'd have bruises in the morning. The couple collapsed onto each other, their lungs desperate for breath like two drifters who had plunged into the ocean and fought their way back to the surface. With great gulps, Mako and Korra sucked on the air, shifting only so that they could face one another. When they kissed, Korra tasted the barest traces of herself on his tongue, the blush on her cheeks spreading to the tips of her ears.
"I love you," she whispered, nuzzling her brow along his jaw.
"Love you, too," Mako replied, the words heavy on his tongue, deep like a well. He had loved her for so long that there wasn't a time he could remember not loving her. She was the constant in his life, his North Star, the point in which his world revolved and no matter the changes that happened, she remained ever steady, ever beckoning, ever Korra, ever his.
The couple remained entwined with each other for a long while, sweat drying on their skin, clothes half on and off their sated bodies, the air becoming stale with the taste of their lovemaking. Eventually, Korra stirred, telling Mako she was going to take a bath and that he was more than welcome to join her. Because he wasn't a complete idiot, Mako took his wife up on her invitation. They washed each other in fragrant water, Korra teasing Mako by bending suds into his hair when a familiar cry shattered their romantic reality.
"Told you. Tearbender," Mako joked.
"And I told you, you're not funny," Korra snorted as she hefted herself out of the tub, bending the water off her body before slipping into one of Mako's old shirts she used as a nightgown. "I'll go see if he's hungry."
Mako didn't stay long in the bathroom by himself. He gave his body a quick scrub then dried off, dressing in a pair of loose fitting pants before walking back to his bedroom. He'd opened the windows before he and Korra had gone to take their late night bath, the heady scent of the tryst now replaced with the fragrant bouquet of cherry blossoms and sea water. With practiced hands, Mako quickly changed the used bedsheets for fresh ones, making a mental note to do laundry in the morning.
Startled by the small voice, Mako turned and spotted Kimi in the doorway, one hand rubbing fervently at her eyes while the other clutched his red scarf like a favorite blanket.
"Hey, sweetheart. What're you doing up so late?" he asked, sitting on the bed and opening his arms for Kimi. The six year old stepped into her father's embrace, yawning as he lifted her onto his knee.
"Bao woke me up and I heard mommy singing to him. Uncle Bo wouldn't let me stay up 'til you got home."
"That's because we got home very late," Mako said, kissing Kimi's brow and playing with her tangled brown hair. "Were you a good girl while we were gone?" Kimi nodded tiredly, her fingers playing with his Dragon Sage tags as her blue eyes became unfocused and heavy.
"Can I sleep with you?" she yawned, body going lax in his arms.
"Sure you can," Korra answered, stepping lightly into the room with Bao cradled agasint her chest. The couple kept a bassinet in their room for Bao on Korra's side of the bed. While it was used mostly for if the baby was sick, sometimes Bao simply wouldn't settle down for the night unless his parents were nearby.
Gently placing the baby in the bassinet, Korra turned down the fresh sheets of her own bed and settled in for the night, Mako and Kimi following suit. Patting the space between herself and Mako, Korra encouraged Kimi to make a little grove for herself, the six year old falling asleep within moments of being tucked in. Pushing a few wayward strands of long hair out of Kimi's face, Korra kissed her daughter sweetly before snuggling close to her tiny body.
"Goodnight," she sighed.
Mako watched as Korra closed her eyes, mesmerized by the even rise and fall of her chest, enchanted by how much mother and daughter resembled one another in peaceful sleep. As an orphan living on the streets, cold and desperate and just trying to keep his little brother alive, Mako never would have imagined that his life would ever be this fulfilling. He was husband to the woman he loved, father to two (soon to be three) precious children, and he was happier than he had been since before his parents had died.
And all because of the crazy, amazing, spitfire of a woman named Korra.
When they had met so many years ago, he could never have imagined the life he'd lead standing at Korra's side. Their life together was like the threadbare strands of his father's red scarf, tattered, stained and worn, but also strong, and enduring, and loved.
"Korra?" he whispered, long fingers tracing her high cheekbones.
Her voice was groggy, sleep and dreams rapidly stealing over the woman at his side. Enchanted with Korra as much as he had been the first moment he'd seen her, Mako leaned in close, mindful of the snoring Kimi, and kissed his wife on the nose.
"I just wanted to say you're amazing, and I think we were meant for each other."
Smiling beautifully in her fatigue, Korra blindly reached out to kiss Mako on the mouth, hitting more of his chin than his lips.
"Both are true."
Laughing softly in the darkness, Mako and Korra settled into bed. The firebender tucked the blankets around his wife and daughter, ensuring they were snug and secure before making himself comfortable, golden eyes slowly closing, the faces of Korra and Kimi the last he saw before sleep claimed him.
And so the little family slept, lulled into pleasant dreams by the constant push and pull lullaby of Yue Bay.
Water is the element of change – Iroh
And that's all she wrote, folks!
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read this fic. A lot of love, sweat and tears (mostly love) went into writing this story. I hope you've enjoyed the adventure.
To everyone who reviewed, thank you so, so much. I know that many other authors have stated this, but the feedback and encouragement is what helps keeps these fingers typing, especially when boughts of the dreaded writer's block get in the way. To my anonymous reviewers, thank you as well. Since I can't contact you personally I wanted you to know that your thoughts have always been appreciated. To everyone who has favorited and alerted this fic, thanks to you, too. It's humbling (and kinda super awesome!) to know that this story has been enjoyed by so many.
Keep calm and Korra on.