A/N: My headcanon for this one-shot takes place several months after the events of The Heart Is a Lonely Warrior; thus it's part of the Lonely Warrior!verse. I really can't believe I'm already writing smut for this series—*facepalms*—but here I am and here it is. Pity me, truly.
The lyrics in italics at the beginning and end are taken from Blackbird, which was written by Paul McCartney; however, for this particular piece I was inspired by Sarah McLachlan's sung version.
Dedicated to senbo-sama and Haefaciel.
blackbird singing in the dead of night
take these broken wings and learn to fly
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to arise
She's leaving tomorrow.
The news blindsides him like a sucker-punch to the kidneys and he's left reeling, gasping for air. Panic spreads through his body like a rumour and he doesn't know what to say or do—he never does in times like these. He's never been the kind of person to allow others to get close, to miss people once they're gone. But now he's gone and done it; he's allowed Korra inside and now she's leaving him behind.
The sensation is foreign yet all too familiar and Mako's rendered speechless, afraid to trust his own words should he speak. He guards his features well and abruptly turns, leaving Bolin and Korra behind at the bar. There's nothing left to say.
The night air blasts him in the face and he takes in a deep breath, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he ambles his way back to the tower loft. The city streets are all but empty in the muggy darkness save the people keeping cautiously to the walls and paved walkways, avoiding the narrow alleyways. Street lights flicker above him and the wind begins to pick up, lashing at his face and lifting his scarf in the air before he slips inside the entrance to the gym and nimbly climbs the tower stairs.
Once inside the loft, Mako opens one of the high-vaulted windows and seats himself on the ledge, taking in the view below. Though it's night the sky shines with a sea of colours reflecting from the buildings' lights, and the waxing moon above seems to catch like a white banner in the breeze as a long trail of clouds sweeps across it.
He loves this city and hates it all at once. The lights, the sounds, sometimes they're all too much. Letting out a laboured sigh, he directs his gaze southwards across the sea. The temple island is a small glittering of light in the distance, like a low fading star. He imagines Korra heading back there tonight, to pack and get ready for the next rung in her journey as the Avatar.
There's nothing left to worry about, he tells himself. With Korra out of his life he can begin focussing on what matters again—how to make his life with his brother better. But trying to forget Korra is easier said than done, and people aren't things that he can force from his mind no matter how hard he tries.
He closes his eyes and knocks the back of his head against the windowpane. It hurts to look outside, it hurts to think, and when he's about to pack it all in and head back inside, he hears the mellifluous song of a bird singing near his feet. He opens his eyes to see a blackbird hopping along the ledge, picking at the wood for bits of food, crumbs most likely left behind by Bolin or Pabu.
The bird jerks its head up, frighteningly precise with its swift, snapping movements as it curiously regards Mako. Growing bolder, it hops closer to his leg, perhaps looking for a treat. Mako slowly leans forward and carefully extends his hand.
"Hey, little guy. What are you doing up here in the big city?" Beady black eyes blink uncomprehendingly. "You lost?"
The blackbird hops to and fro, darting and pecking like a boxer wary of a much larger opponent. Stealing closer and finding no subsistence in Mako's outstretched hand, the bird hops two steps back and opens its tiny orange beak to squawk in protest.
"I know how you feel, buddy." He offers the bird a sad smile before leaning back against the pane. "Nothing's worse than feeling hungry, except for being alone."
The blackbird shakes out its wings, a wild flutter of vibration, as if to say he'll manage fine on his own. Mako smirks and studies the bird with unmasked envy.
"Must be nice to fly." Mako brings a knee up to rest his elbow on, bracing his chin against his fist. "To take off at any moment's notice and explore the world—" he sighs wistfully into his hand "—to go wherever you want, whenever you want."
Mako has so few misgivings about his life with Bolin and probending, but then along came Korra and his world's turned upside down and he suddenly finds himself wanting more. It frightens him, this thought of being special, of being wanted and needed. It sneaks up on him when he least expects it; in the dead of night he'll wake up in a cold sweat and reach out for this dream, for her, and dimly realise that she's not there waiting for him. It's not fair, but then life's never been fair.
He shakes his head. "Why am I even talking to a bird?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing."
Mako spins around in surprise. "Korra!"
She's standing in the archway, dappled with the golden glow of the tower lights. Dressed in her native attire, her hair is down for once, the blue beads clutched loosely in her fists. She sets them down on the inside of the window ledge and stares at him, sliding reverent hands through wispy tendrils floating in the breeze. The fluid folds of her top seem to cling to her chest, draping like water down her torso, and Mako traces the fabric's edges with his eyes, skimming along her hips to the dip of her lower back. His gaze travels back up to her face and they lock eyes.
"Looks like I scared off your bird." She points at the ledge and he turns back to look, the blackbird long taken to flight.
"Yeah." He swivels around and rises to his feet, dusting off the seat of his trousers. "Subtlety's never really been your thing."
"I'll take that as a compliment—" she smirks as he breezes past her "—cool guy."
"Of course you would."
He snorts derisively and turns back inside the apartment with its cathedral ceiling and crowning high opalescent windows and makes his way towards the ladder. Despite the brightness of the tower on the outside, inside the loft is dim, casting blurred shadows along long wooden floors. Korra's behind him, keeping in line, even following him up the ladder to his room. When he comes to a halt at the foot of his bed, he lights a flame in his palm and turns around to face her.
She shrugs. "He's still at the bar."
Her blue eyes glow like burnished gold in the firelight and a breeze from an open window wafts through, whispering through her hair that fans her face like a halo. For a second he imagines his calloused fingers weaving through that lovely hair of hers, holding her still against his chest, and then just as swiftly as the image comes it dissolves in delicate silence.
"Oh." He shakes his head as though trying to shake his reverie and lights the lamp sitting on his bedside cabinet. "Then why are you here?"
She studies him with a lopsided grin, head tilting to one side. "You're not very bright, are you?"
He bristles at the insinuation and considers issuing a scathing retort. Deep down he wants her to push him away because it's easier that way, but he knows she won't. It's not in her nature. Through the good times and the bad they've come to trust one another, depend on one another. How can he so easily turn himself away from all of that? How can he turn himself away from her?
"I'm here to see you."
"Yes." She takes a step forward. "You."
Mako watches her close the distance between them. Her movements are almost willowy, a far cry from her normal swagger, and he finds himself transfixed by the gentle sway of her hips. All he can think of is how the jut of her pelvic bones would fit perfectly against the palms of his hands and then his world narrows to her lips, watching them move. He knows she's speaking but for the life of him he can't seem to hear.
Her eyes are wide like almonds, with thick black lashes tickling at the apple of her cheeks. She looks so beautiful in the moonlight, though he'd never tell her that. Another breeze wafts through the open window behind him and her hair brushes against her face. Again, he wants to run his fingers through that hair and brush it away from her face, and he would if he wasn't so self-conscious or so distracted by the worried look etched across her face.
Korra's lips are set in a hard, thin line. She looks as though she wants to continue speaking but can't. Maybe she can't find the words. Maybe she just finds comfort in saying his name.
Mako's own hair is a mess across his forehead and he sweeps it up and out of his face, staring at her in stone silence. One of them has to speak and he shocks himself when he's the first to open his mouth.
"So, you're leaving tomorrow?"
"Yeah." Korra looks down at her hands, twiddling her thumbs. "Tenzin seems to think a pilgrimage might help me connect with the spiritual side of being the Avatar. You know, walk the same path Avatar Aang did."
"T-that's good," he stutters, rubbing the back of his neck in vain.
He glances around, trying his best not to meet her eyes, when he catches her smiling. It's a sad sort of smile and he feels this unexplainable urge to touch her face, but then she begins to perambulate around his bedroom, running her fingers along the walls.
"I'm really gonna miss probending." She sighs wistfully and turns, blushes profusely before adding, "And you and Bolin."
Mako swallows the lump in his throat and mentally tries to shoo away the butterflies that have formed a colony in his stomach.
"Yeah, we're gonna miss you too. You were the best waterbender we ever had."
He closes his eyes in pain. Why must he be so awkward? He knew the words were lame the moment they slipped past his lips, but Korra just continues smiling that sad smile of hers, like an equally awkward thanks, and they resume their nervous silence.
Say something, you idiot! he screams at himself. Don't just stand there trying to act all indifferent when you're not. You're not the cool guy and she knows it. She sees right through you, Mako.
The fact is that she does know him, maybe even better than Bolin, maybe even better than he knows himself. Her presence has become a comfort to him, and though he can't pinpoint when, she's slowly wormed her way into his heart. But he promised himself that he wouldn't get close. She's the Avatar and he's just some dirty-nosed kid from the streets. He'll always be that orphan without a home. He'll never be her equal.
"When do you think you'll be back?"
"I dunno. I'm not sure how long the spiritual training will take, and then there's this whole thing with Amon and the Equalists." She makes a futile gesture with her hands. "I'm supposed to talk to the White Lotus, rally the troops and all that."
"If you need any help—"
Mako rubs the back of his neck. "Nothing. Never mind." What would he have to offer her?
He turns away and curses himself. He's not sure when it happened but he knows that he's fallen in love with her. He doesn't know what else to call it, this intense pain and joy he feels in his heart whenever she's around. She's crept up on him like the inevitable morning sun and slowly wilted away his resistance. His fears of abandonment fall by the wayside and he's left struggling what to do next.
The months they've spent together seem much longer than what's real. He feels like he's known her his entire life, as though they were destined to meet. The thought of not seeing her every day causes his chest to tighten and jars his thoughts like shards of glass beneath his feet. He can't imagine living his life without her now.
She's somehow effortlessly wormed her way into his heart, leaving an ache in parts of him he hadn't even known were empty. Maybe it's safer that she leaves—that way he won't have to risk his heart and suffer the unbearable ache of goodbye. Safer, yes, but empty, and not at all what he wants.
She leans forward expectantly. "Yes?"
I don't want you to go.
He drops his head. He can't say it. The words are there, right on the tip of his tongue. He wants to say them but he can't—he just can't.
When he raises his head, he captures a glimpse of a sharp, reckless gloom hidden in her eyes and he pauses. He's never seen her look like this, never so vulnerable. Suddenly her lips are on his, brushing into his mouth with a gentle pressure that's quickly surpassed with a messy sort of abandon.
Her arms reach out and twine around his neck, pulling him down to her, demanding. Eyes open wide and Mako freezes for just a moment, and then it's as though a switch has been turned off in his mind. He gives in and tastes her mouth, lowering his hands to her waist. Everything is warm and soft as the rest of her body melts into his. He begins pushing his hips into hers, enjoying the smooth groove of her lower waist with his hand.
Then the warning lights begin to go off and through the sheer force of will alone he breaks off from the kiss, letting his forehead rest against hers. Collecting his breath and his thoughts, Mako's face suddenly becomes a steely, barely composed emotion. For some reason he is angry—really angry—with her.
"Korra." He holds her back at arm's length when she tries to lean in again. "Do you honestly think you can distract me from what's really going on here?"
There's a quiet, angry tremor to his voice. He's angry and he's hurt and though he wants this he can't deny that this is just an escape, an excuse. But then she looks up at him with a similar sense of grim resolution and he finds himself wondering how much she really needs this—how much he needs this.
"You think I'm happy about this?" He licks his lips, tasting her on his tongue. "You think that by doing this I'll just forget that you're leaving me?"
His voice catches in his throat and for half a second nothing happens except a hackling, barely perceptible change in the atmosphere. She doesn't answer his question. Instead she brings her fingers to her lips and simply studies him. Maybe he doesn't need an answer because the mood has changed and the air about them is somehow different, thickened and coiling in their guts.
They stare at each other, breathing quietly as they catalogue each other's features. Waiting. It's almost like a challenge, to see who'll turn away first. Then Korra's hands are reaching out and grabbing Mako by the face, kissing him hard. His eyes flutter shut and he abandons all thought—no more questions, only feelings.
His lips hesitantly open under hers and her warm tongue slices into his mouth, stealing along his teeth. He swears he can taste colour. Then a hand comes up to grab the back of her neck—his hand—and he holds her into the kiss, refusing to let go.
His fingers curl up into her hair, seeking purchase on the silky tendrils, and suddenly she's gasping into his mouth. A moan of protest or desire? His fingers tighten, pulling almost painfully at her scalp, and she cries out.
His body's ignited and his lips move from her mouth to her chin, along her jaw and down her neck, holding a wet kiss to her throat. She laughs softly and he can feel the vibrations against his mouth. He dips his face into the curve where her neck meets her shoulder and breathes in before tracing his lips along the staves her tendons raise beneath the skin.
She arches her back, pressing her breasts into his chest, and he quietly murmurs her name into her skin. His palms lower to her hips and his long fingers skim along the low dip at her back. His hair falls around his face, woven through by her slender fingers that hold him still against her throat. Her very flesh is on fire as he nips at her collarbone, trailing teeth-marks in their wake as she pulls at his hair. Heat rises between them, licking at their skin, and spreads its sweet torture beneath a slow-burning haze that he can't begin to describe.
She's impatient for more and lunges forward, kissing him hard. She is erratic, breaking away from his mouth and licking wetly across the line of his jaw and the corners of his mouth, biting at his lush lower lip. He's still for a moment, not sure what to do next except for this all-consuming need to devour her.
He catches her wrists and brings her palms to his chest while he rests his on her hips. His mouth finds its way back to hers and she gasps, struggling for breath as he pushes her back up against the wall. Even when pinned against the wall, Korra tries to dominate, harshly yanking his hair back with one hand while she trails her teeth down his neck, leaving red and pink blushing wakes behind to match her own.
He pulls back.
He cuts her off with a crushing kiss before snuffing out the lamplight with a flick of his wrist. Moving his mouth to her throat, he begins placing rhythmic bites down the lines of her neck, layering the rings of teeth marks over top of the welts that he's already made.
One of his hands grabs at her wrists, his long fingers easily gathering both of her hands into one of his own, and he pulls her arms over her head, pinioning them to the wall. She doesn't try to pull away, awarding him this small battle for supremacy.
He leans in close, pressing his chest into hers, and holds a kiss to her throat. There's a sharp intake of breath and he can feel her juddering against his lips. He begins trailing open-mouthed kisses down her neck until he meets her collarbone and then travels downwards to the swell of her breasts. It's a wet, messy sort of love-making, but she doesn't seem to mind his inexperience. He idly wonders how his hand isn't shaking as its fumbles to explore the canvas of her body.
He lets go of her wrists and her hands come to rest on his shoulders. They're both breathing heavily now and the expression on her face is nearly unreadable, faintly shy yet hungry. Their lips meet and everything feels a tiny bit slower and deliberate as she poises herself up on her toes and lets his hands roam with hungry ease to her breasts. He looks down at them, fascinated by the feel and weight of them in his palms.
She closes her eyes, letting her head hang back with the weight of her tangled hair off her shoulders, and then blue eyes flutter open. She lifts her head and moves towards him, spinning him around and pinning him to the wall. Mako's suddenly reminded of a wild animal doing a sort of mating dance. It's the wary dart and peck of it, the primal art of it all, and then her mouth is on his neck, biting just hard enough to bruise.
He moans into her hair and blindly reaches out to touch her, to touch any part of her. His long fingers find her wrists and he turns them both around, yanking her sharply with him towards his bed. She looks dumbfounded for a moment, and even he can't deny that he's slightly surprised at his own actions. But then she smiles, a sly curving of the lips, and allows him to lead.
Even in the dark he can find where her mouth is and his hands reach up to cup her cheeks. When she leans in to meet him, their teeth click for a second and she laughs. Then he knees her up against the side of the mattress and she breathes in sharply before exhaling.
Blood pounds in his ears as his hands move down to her hips and slip up inside her top. The flat of his palms travel upwards, smoothing over bare skin. She bucks as the pads of his calloused fingers slide over hardened nubs and he captured her mouth with a kiss to cut off any sounds.
He slips her tunic up over her head, catching just below her nose, and he steals another kiss while her arms are caught above her head. She wriggles her arms out and writhes as Mako's hands begin to roam the expanse of her silky skin. His mouth trails wet kisses up her neck until he reaches her lips and opens her mouth. His hands then travel back down to her breasts, kneading her until she whimpers with desire.
He wants to explore more than what he should. He wants to feel her shudder beneath his fingertips, his lips. But he also knows that Korra wants to take the reins. She's never been the type to remain passive.
Finally freeing herself from her top, Korra reaches out and grabs Mako fiercely by his wrists and brings his palms to her breasts, to the hardened nipples that he's so attracted to. His mouth leaves hers and he bites harshly at her neck before pulling away to stare down at his hands cupping her breasts.
Her words are cut off as he bends down and puts his mouth on a nipple, making sounds of utter pleasure as he moves back and forth. His hands that so unerringly find the under-curve of breasts are moving cautiously now, feeling along her skin and tracing over the goosebumps that have formed beneath the flesh. One hand leaves her breast, the pad of his thumb rubbing over a swollen nipple, and she bucks against him. Then his fingers dip down the flat line of her stomach into the waist-band of her trousers and she brings her own hand on top of his.
He makes as if to brush his fingers between her legs but she grabs his hand out of the way, snarling something at him, and he's momentarily surprised at her animalistic reaction. She slips out of her trousers herself, her bare long legs shining in the moonlight. He resists the urge to bring a hand between her naked legs and instead eases her back onto the mattress, trailing hot open-mouthed kisses along her throat and the hinge of her jaw. She sighs into his hair before taking his face in her hands and covering him with kisses—kissing the lids of his eyes, his nose, his mouth—and he thinks he can get used to this messy ragged edges sort of love-making.
Seated on the bed, Korra's bare legs curl up in a womanly reflex of coyness and Mako brings his wide palms to her thighs, smoothing over her cool umber skin before propping her legs open and climbing on top. He can feel the heat from the blush on his cheeks spidering up to the tips of his ears and hopes like hell it's dark enough in the room that she can't see him. It feels awkward to be so forceful with her, but at the same time it feels so right.
She dips back into the mattress and they both begin to nudge and back up farther on the bed. It feels like they're still wearing too much clothes, at least he is, and Korra seems to agree. Suddenly she's on top, pushing him back against the wood of the headboard and kissing him roughly, trailing bite marks down his neck and across his collarbone.
He moans softly into her hair, clutching at the bedsheets, and his hands reach out to grab her hips. Then it becomes a wrestling match, a struggle for dominance as sweat drips, teeth clink and skin is rubbed raw. They turn, winding over and over each other, until he's sitting up against the headboard and she's pulling off his shirt, briefly getting them caught in the tangle as she steals hungry kisses.
Their breathing speeds up to a slightly frantic colour and Korra's hands are on his trousers. Mako hitches in a shuddering breath as she slides them off, discarding them onto the floor with her own clothes. Her fingers make their way back up his thighs, caressing, and his eyes threaten to roll into the back of his head. But he resists, steeling his resolution. His hands find her hips instead, turning her over and trailing caresses along her stomach before shakily moving his fingers to her undergarments, sliding them down with his hands' pursuit of the long line of her legs.
He poises them back to open around him and her legs quiver like grass stems. He swallows hard and steadies his hands on her thighs, taking comfort in the thought that he's not the only one who's nervous. His hands slide down to her hips before landing his elbows in a baiting position on either side of her head. Her motions, in turn, become more coiled with eagerness as her hands roam his back.
It's all coming together in a slow, groggy ascent as her fingers dig in, hands urging over his muscled back and soft feet moving up his thighs. He positions himself above her, feeling the heat emanate off her body in waves as he places the head of his cock at her entrance. Lightly pushing, testing, he needs to make sure that she's wet enough for him, turned on enough to take him inside.
He licks his dry lips and dips his head into her shoulder before gently pushing inside, so slowly that he begins to question his own sanity. In the darkness he slides silently inside her, her hot tightness burning. There's some resistance at first, maybe some blood he suspects, and he glances up from the crook of her neck to see her making a face of pain.
Blistering tracks of tears stream down her face as her mouth opens, struggling to breathe, and he stops.
"Does it hurt?" His voice is a quiet murmur of terrified embarrassment and she nods.
"Yes," she says, touching his face before kissing him. "But it's okay."
He closes his eyes and keeps still, feeling a burning tattoo on his heart. After a moment she breaks away from the kiss and begins to move her hips, urging him to do the same. There's a soft catch in his breath as he makes it all the way, his arms trembling as he holds himself up.
She's so tight and warm and wonderful. He has no other words to describe it other than she fits him perfectly, as though she were made for him.
"Korra." His voice is rasping, almost pleading, but she doesn't have time to reply because he's already moving inside her.
Picking up the rhythm, he sits up slightly and begins to push down on her shoulders. She bites her lip and sinks into the mattress. He follows her down, still deep inside her, and his hips push into her thighs. His chest is flush against her chest, and with each thrust it feels as though she's swallowing him whole.
He doubles up, forging a new path between her shaking thighs. His thrusts are not fast but deep, and when he plunges into her, she cries out in a mixture of pleasure and pain. And while he knows he should be gentler with her, he can't help himself. He's getting lost in the act, in the very feel of her. This is the only way he can truly connect with her on an equal footing, to show her how much she means to him.
Her nipples are hard and erect, rubbing against his own. He can feel her tightening around him and he tries to hold onto himself, to some semblance of control. But shortly he finds himself panting in her ear, breathing hard across her cheek.
She cries out his name and he can't resist grunting into her shoulder, increasing his pace twofold as he barrels into her relentlessly, as though to some unheard drumbeat or maybe it's the tattoo of his own heartbeat. All he knows is that he must bring her to her peak, to make her feel the pleasure he feels.
She's no longer speaking, not coherent words anyway, but she's making little sounds every time his hips connect with the flesh of her buttocks, and every time he has to bite her shoulder to prevent himself arriving before she does.
Their pleasured cries echo throughout the room and he can feel the heat inside him building. He's not sure how much longer he can hold off, and that's when Korra she cries out.
She begins juddering round his length. His hands snap to her shoulders, holding her in place for each of his demanding, deepened thrusts. He can feel his own orgasm building and it scares him a little. She scares him. This is so much different than what he expected, what he experiences with himself. She's hot and wild and this pleasure he feels coiling up inside is so much more than that. It's a feeling rooted deep inside like an overpowering current, and he can feel her reacting to every stroke like she's exploding in rippling waves. It courses through her to him, starting at the core and rolling outwards endlessly, connecting them.
Her ankles sweep up and dig into his thighs. She's impaling herself back on him with primal abandon. He catches her by the hips to keep her steady. Sweat rolls down his forehead; drops gather onto his lashes and hang precariously before dripping down onto the swell of her breasts. He grabs her calves and pushes forward, angling himself into a different groove, plunging deeper. A cry rings out in a voice that doesn't sound like his and it isn't. Rather, it's Korra's.
Rather, she's coming.
Mako stares at Korra in mild shock as her back slides up into a sweet, sharp arc. He didn't expect this, not for her first time. Her fingers are clawing at his biceps, digging deep into his flesh. She's clenching around him and it's almost too painful, as though her body is trying to force him out.
Struggling for control, he rolls his hips back into her more forcefully, feeling his own release coming soon. Korra's mouth widens and her spine curves U-shaped as she lifts herself off the mattress, trumpeting her release. Her body begins to buck and Mako has to snap his hands back to her hips, forcing her down to keep her from thrashing off the bed and hurting herself—or him—as she comes in rolling waves of heat and pleasure.
Her back arches once more, frozen for only a moment before she starts grinding against him, continuing to come in sharp surges. They're so powerful it's almost terrifying. Her arms and legs lock around his body, holding him down to her. Her immediate gasps pitch into a slight whine that's all too close to his own ears, and any sense of control he had been exacting earlier is completely lost.
He can't handle much more of this.
Korra's slides her hands down from his neck to his chest, frantically trying to touch every inch of his skin. At this point Mako can only moan and bring a hand to cup one of her breasts—so focussed he is on thrusting into her and not coming with each haphazard stroke. But then all of a sudden she's bucking against him again. Her legs are so tightly wrapped around his waist that his movements are hindered.
Her whole body convulses and he can feel the heat of it roll up her body. His mind blanks and his stomach coils as his hips begin to thrusts violently into her. He can't stop. His voice is wet against her neck, muttering her name like a mantra, and he tries to pull out but is unable to with the sweet clenching of her own body. Snarls rip out of his throat and he comes jerkily inside her in hot, thick swells.
He closes his eyes and it almost feels like he's crying. His mind is a foggy haze, and as his body roils with the last shocks of orgasm, he tries not to collapse on her. Instead he holds her beneath him and pushes his hips forward. He pins her head to the pillow by kissing her, thrusting his tongue inside her mouth. When his hips finally stop moving spasmodically, his full weight collapses onto her body and she exhales shakily, her breath ruffling the hair above his ear.
He says her name, his mouth muffled by the skin of her neck, and she breathes his name in return. Her fingers spear through his wet, matted hair and she relaxes her legs from around his hips, juddering uncontrollably as the last after-shocks of her orgasm whisper through her to him. Mako begrudgingly sits up on his forearms and slowly pulls out.
There's a sharp intake of breath and Korra hisses loudly, wincing. Mako cradles her face into the crook of his neck before rolling over onto his back. She curls on top of him, resting her cheek onto his dampened chest. Both are sweating, the sticky peel of warm, wet skin on skin, and breathing heavily. Satisfied.
He stretches an arm out behind her head like a pillow and she lifts her cheek from his chest to rest on the bow of his shoulder. Her leg slides over his thigh and he lets out a protracted exhalation before closing his eyes and smiling to himself. He can't begin to describe this relaxing, satisfying sensation other than by relating it to an utterly undeserved feeling of accomplishment.
The pure blissful feeling of contentment becomes a sedative and Mako wakes an hour later, wondering when and who drifted off to sleep first. He turns his head to see Korra still lying beside him, having slipped off him at some point in the night to curl up on her side and half cover herself with bedsheets. Her cheek is pillowed against clasped hands and Mako rolls over on his side to pull her into him. Her presence alone, having her body in his arms in the darkness, feels like an aloe over sunburn. The brush of skin on skin sets his every nerve alight and the lower part of his body begin to rise in response.
She murmurs in her sleep, soft sounds against his skin that make him draw her in even closer. He nuzzles his face into the crook of her neck and breathes in. He's simply amazed by her, by everything she does, by who she is. Not that she's the Avatar—while that's amazing in itself—but by the kind of person she is despite that. She's caring and strong and never backs down, no matter what. He's been jealous all his life of people blessed with her kind of devotion, and now that he's found his own wretched control-freak-fear-of-abandonment self blessed by her, he doesn't know how to accept it.
He doesn't know how to let her go.
Instead of dwelling the nows and what-ifs, he watches her sleep. Her eyelashes are fanned out across her cheeks like whip-marks. He reaches out to touch her face, sweeping her hair back behind her ear before tracing his fingertips over her cheeks and the ridge of her nose. Her eyes blink open and she turns her head, sleepily smiling up at him and mouthing a silent hello.
Rolling over, she reaches out to tug at his hair, spearing her fingers through it before pulling gently. He hums under his breath and mimics the same action on her, looping one of her miscreant chestnut curls around his middle and index fingers before letting the strands slip through the cracks of his hand.
She closes her eyes and he leans down to kiss her cheek, rolling her back over onto her side so that he can hold her close. Curling his arms around her waist, he hugs her close and breathes deeply, pressing his chest flush against her back. Her fingers find their way to his, lazily entwining, and she turns her head, entreating his mouth for kiss. He readily obliges, pressing his lips into hers and smiles.
In the end it's the warm skin-on-skin feel of her, her gentle sighs and the way she whispers his name that make him realise how much he needs her. Without knowing how or why, she has come to mean everything to him and there's no way he can let her go.
The next morning Mako awakes early. The sun has yet to rise in the east and there's a heavy rush of adrenaline singing in his veins. This is the day he tells himself. He's determined to tell Korra that he's coming with her; that wherever she goes he'll be with her. But when he turns over on the bed, the only thing beside him is a rumbled heap of bedsheets.
It's another sucker-punch to the kidneys.
Then, out of the corner of his eye, he spies a half-folded note sitting on the bedside cabinet. He pushes himself up onto his forearms and wipes the sleep out of his eyes before rolling over and picking up the piece of paper. He sits upright with his back against the headboard and unfolds the letter. A single sentence is scrawled in the middle with child-like hand-writing:
"I just couldn't say goodbye."
He crumples the note in his hand and grimaces. How alike they are; how simple and direct yet how utterly stupid and stubborn.
Suddenly a crash and a bang come from below and Mako jumps out of bed, pulling on his trousers. Maybe it's Korra. Maybe he's just missed her. He rushes out of his room and slides down the ladder, leaping down off the last few rungs. There's another loud crash followed by a hissing string of curses that erupt from a decidedly masculine voice—a decidedly familiar masculine voice.
His younger brother is standing barefoot in the middle of the room, holding onto a pair of boots. A deer caught in the headlights look registers in his eyes, which quickly morphs into an expression of guilt as he needlessly tiptoes towards Mako.
"Uh, yeah," Bolin whispers, still holding onto his boots as Pabu curls around his ankles, almost tripping him. "I just got in. I figured you and Korra—" he hiccups "—w-would need some quality time alone together."
Bolin leers at his shirtless older brother, before offering him a knowing wink. Mako swears right then and there that if Bolin waggles his eyebrows he's going to drop him to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Luckily, Bolin gets the hint and backs off somewhat.
"But ain't I just the best baby brother ever?" He peeks around Mako, looking for signs of Korra. "So, how did that all turn out? Is she still sleeping?"
Mako frowns and shakes his head. "No, she's gone."
"Gone?" Bolin blinks nonplussed and loudly drops his boots to the floor. "Were you your usual Mako self and pushed her away with all your brooding?"
"No." Mako raises a single eyebrow in annoyance. He does not brood. "I didn't push her away. I tried but I couldn't." He lets out a protracted sigh and runs his fingers through his fringe. "She just left here I don't know how long ago. She left me a note—said she couldn't say goodbye."
"Oh," Bolin says distractedly and then the words began to sink in. "Oh!" He frowns. "So what are we going to do about Korra?"
Mako turns his head and shrugs. He can't stop her. She's the Avatar. She has her duties and he has his own obligations. But he can't just let her go, can he?
Suddenly Mako's back at the ladder, making his way up to his room. He takes out a duffel bag and starts throwing clothes and what little money he's saved inside. He's decided—he's going to follow her. She'll probably tell him to turn back and he'll probably look like a complete idiot, but he's going to try. He has to.
Bolin's outside his door looking in, absently petting Pabu, who's curled around his shoulders.
"Where are we going?" he asks in a quiet voice, watching his brother pack.
Mako drops the bag on the bed and takes in a deep breath, turning to meet his brother's earnest gaze.
"I'm leaving, Bolin, and you're not coming with me." It's the hardest thing he's ever had to say, the hardest thing he's ever had to do, but it has to be done. "You have your own life to live, Bo, and I can't interfere with it anymore."
Bolin stands still for a moment, barefoot in the doorway with wide eyes and Mako wonders if he will only ever see his little brother as child. Nodding to himself, Bolin brings his fingers to his chin and hums thoughtfully, leaning forward.
"Mhm, so I ask you again—where are we going?"
Frozen, Mako looks up. It feels as though a heavy weight has been lifted from his heart and he's almost sent back reeling. A flood of emotions, namely gratitude, ripple through him and he can't help but smile, Stepping forward, he clasps a strong hand to his brother's shoulder and squeezes.
"We're going after Korra."
Bolin grins and lets out a loud whoop before pumping an energetic fist in the air. "About damn time!" he yells, punching his older brother in the arm and grinning wickedly. "C'mon, Pabu—" he tickles the fire ferret's chin before heading to his own room in earnest "—we're off on a new adventure."
Mako watches his brother leave and silently laughs to himself. He's right. This is a new adventure, a new opportunity, a new path to travel with his family—with Korra and Bolin—together.
How can he possibly live his life without them?
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to arise