As he leapt forward, his inner fire building up inside his fist for the final attack, for the win, Mako thought absently how this must have been fate… or something. After all, he had been waiting for this moment, and the knowing look of defeat in Tahno's eyes satisfied him immensely.
This is what he'd been waiting for.
Mako had never liked the Wolfbat's waterbender. He was cocky and undeservedly so. But the truth of the matter was that Mako did not like many people, and this was not a new phenomenon, so he had always simply ignored Tahno whenever they passed in the arena or saw each other out. It wasn't that hard to pretend he didn't exist. After Tahno met Korra, however, and spoke to her in that filthy, cocky, condescending way, Mako realized that he didn't just dislike him. He hated him. He truly was disgusted by him and his stupid hair and his smug expression and his weird taunting (flirting?) with Korra and everything.
Korra had handled everything perfectly well of course, because she was capable and strong and independent, and she'd be able to easily handle anything with two hands tied behind her back. (Having a polar bear dog as her best friend also helped.) But memories of that night still irked Mako to no end. He didn't want that creep to get close to Korra ever again, and he wanted to show him this with force. However, competitors weren't allowed to fight one another outside of the arena.
This rule had been the only thing separating Mako's fist and Tahno's face that night.
So Mako had restrained himself and bit his tongue, knowing he'd get his chance eventually. Once the Fire Ferrets advanced to the final match of the tournament, and once he'd discovered that their opponents were to be the Wolfbats, Mako wasn't sure which pleased him more: his team actually being in the finals and finally having their hard work pay off and being so close to the winnings that he could smell the yuan or being presented the opportunity to smash Tahno's smug little face in or the warm feel of Korra's arms tightly around him as she hugged him with excitement.
All three were amazing.
The match had started off badly. For who knows why, Korra was off her game today, and got knocked out of the ring in the first round only seconds in. Bolin had gotten pushed to zone two. The second round had been better, but Korra still managed to get cornered, attacked, and knocked off. She'd never performed this carelessly before. Was it nerves? In all their other matches, Korra had been a star, combining all her different bending techniques to send the Fire Ferrets to the finals. She was an amazing bender. And while she sometimes had trouble translating her skill into pro-bending, she was still the best he'd ever seen. He didn't know why she was acting so distracted.
Just before the bell signaled the beginning of the third round, the two teams had been lined up, staring each other down. Mako had heard Tahno sneer to him, taunting and tempting and teasing him, "It's a shame the Avatar is such a terrible bender, isn't it? Maybe that Amon guy wouldn't have so many followers if she actually had any talent."
Mako was going to make sure that he would regret saying such a thing.
He hadn't responded with words, because even though he wanted to defend her, to tell Tahno to shut up because he didn't have any idea who Korra was because he didn't know her like Mako did, he wasn't all that good with witty retorts. So he responded with furious, focused firebending. He was quite good at firebending. He'd pushed back the other two Wolfbats to zone three easily, giving Korra and Bolin a chance to attack and knock them off. Ignoring everything and everyone but that scum, Mako burst forward with a flurry of attacks. He hadn't even registered the fact that the other two opponents had been knocked off when he'd jumped up for his finishing blow, relishing the look of submission glowing in Tahno's eyes as he jabbed two punches of fire to his chest.
The silence pressed down like a weight. Tahno tumbled to the water below. Everything felt slow and thick. Surreal.
Then the crowd exploded.
Panting, Mako finally unclenched his fists and stretched out his cramped fingers. He removed his helmet, and turned to Korra. A wide smile stretched across her face as she took her helmet off too. Her bright blue eyes burned into his, shock and excitement and passion all exchanged in that one look.
She yelled out something, but Mako couldn't hear her over the noise. Bolin ran up to Korra, screaming and punching the air. She lifted Bolin up in her arms, squeezing him tightly, pressing her face against his chest as she yelled.
"Now that is firebending! Right there! The Fire Ferrets have risen to the top, the true underdogs, and have made this match the most exciting of the season!" the announcer barked into his microphone, the sound rumbling over everything. "Korra and Bolin did their part, of course, but the real star tonight was Mako! That was incredible! Such raw skill! You could see the fury coming out of him, the desire to win, and win they did!"
A deafening roar thudded against Mako as the crowd shrieked again. He blinked, looked up, and vaguely processed the tiny bits of colored paper cascading from above. Confetti.
This is what he'd been waiting for.
Ever since Toza had agreed to let the two brothers live in the arena, Mako had wanted to win the tournament. Ever since he was a kid, really, climbing up to people's balconies and hiding in the shadows so he could listen to the matches broadcast on the radio, he'd wanted to win. So he practiced for hours upon hours and waited for his moment. He'd wanted to be the best; he wanted his name to be remembered.
And he did it. They did it. They won.
"We won?" he finally mumbled, disbelief lingering in his tone. He glanced back down. Korra was rushing up to him, still beaming. Bolin was now sprinting around the ring, blowing kisses out to the crowd and flexing his muscles in various poses. Mako watched as Korra grabbed his hands, her grip tight. Was she really holding his hands right now? Had he really beaten Tahno? Were they really the champions? It felt like a dream.
"Mako, you were amazing!"
He looked back up at her. "We won," he repeated softly.
Korra reached out and placed her hands on his cheeks. "We won!" Her eyes blazed, and he knew what was coming long before it happened, and he didn't resist because he knew he wanted it too.
She pulled his face to hers and pressed her lips against his.
He ignored the thousands of screaming, adoring fans, ignored the announcer's commentary, ignored everything but her, this incredible girl who had stumbled into his life from so far away, who saved his brother, who helped win this tournament, who changed his life. So he pulled her into his arms and kissed her, thinking absently how it must have been fate… or something.
Because this is what he'd been waiting for.
a/n: Man, I am so lame. Had the idea (obvies inspired by the Harry/Ginny victory kiss) but it didn't turn out like I wanted. Ughhhh. Whatever. DONE CARING.
LET'S ALL BE EXCITED FOR EPISODE THREE. I AM INDEED PUMPED.
Korra and friends (c) BRYKE.