She was falling.
She whizzed past blurs of light, reaching out for somebody, something, nobody at all. Stars. Darkness seeped everywhere, into everything. She cried out but her voice was smothered by the cosmos as she tumbled down, through, into.
Her descent slowed, and her body righted itself, toes making contact with some kind of surface. It was invisible. All was stars and all was dark. She breathed in the colors, heard the shine, tasted home. She looked up and saw herself, huge and beautiful and terrifying, eyes glowing white, brighter than any sun.
"Korra. We finally meet."
She knew that voice. It felt like she was speaking to herself in her own voice, but it was definitely male. Recognizable and unfamiliar all at once. She turned to the speaker. They'd never met, but she knew him. A man stood far from her, his features hazy, but she could make out one thing. A tattooed arrow, brilliantly white.
Korra jolted awake with a soft gasp.
Her heart raced, and her lungs sucked in air as fast as they could. What just happened? Where had she been? Better question, where was she now? Her mind was trapped in a thick fog. She tried sitting up fully, but her head was still spinning from the fall, so she laid her head back on a pillow. She blinked to clear her vision and took in her surroundings. A pointed ceiling, rising straight into the roof. Plain, unadorned walls. She was definitely in a bed. She tilted her head, and out of the huge windows on the far side of the room, she could make out Air Temple Island. Where was she?
"I need to go and tell Tenzin," a voice said from below.
"No, Mako, you need stay. You're hurt too. A lot more than I was…" Mako? Mako! And Bolin, that had to be Bolin! But where… how?
"What about Tenzin?"
"I'll go and tell him."
She was in the brothers' apartment, in Bolin's bed, she presumed, up in the lofted area above the main room. Her legs were tangled up in sheets, and when she raised a hand to her face, she noticed she had a light sheen of sweat over her whole body. How did she get here? She racked her brain, but couldn't remember anything. The last thing she remembered was hugging Naga, the smell of her fur, her warmth and then… nothing.
"I'll go tell him what happened," Bolin continued. "And maybe he'll want to come back to see how she's doing. I don't think we should move her. We don't know if she's sick… you know… if she did something to herself. She hasn't woken up, yet… Tenzin'll probably know more."
Mako hesitated. "Was that… was all that what she had been talking about earlier today?"
"Must be." She pictured him shrugging.
"It was… scary." Scary? What was scary? "Did you see her eyes?"
"Yeah," Bolin sighed.
"It felt like they were looking right through me, but I… couldn't look away. I…"
The memory hit her, hard and unyielding, and she remembered. Oh, she remembered. His wrists, bleeding underneath the manacles. His mouth, slightly agape and stuck in awe. His amber eyes, full of fear, staring at her, at her, at the Avatar, at an uncontrollable tempest of pure power. She'd been entirely out of control.
And Mako was scared of her.
Korra closed her eyes tightly and bit her lip, hoping to wake up from another dream, but she was very awake. This was no dream. She sighed, and listened in again. She heard patting. Was Bolin comforting Mako? "It's okay, bro. It'll all be okay. You just stay here and rest. Let ole Bolin handle the situation."
The door creaked open. "Fine. Stay safe, Bo. …Love you."
"Will do. Love you too."
The door closed. Click.
Korra had to get out of here. If the brothers were safe, then she had done her job, and she could leave and didn't have to see them ever again. She didn't have to see the fear in his eyes, fear directed at her. She'd go before she had to see him. She'd leave out the window or something. She just… couldn't have him look at her.
She swung her feet over the side of the bed and stood all in one motion. Her body ached, and she instantly knew something was off. Her eyes widened. Blood rushed. And her head… ah… The room spun around her, darkening in splotches. She fell on her knees, reaching out to catch herself before her face collided with the wood. One arm pushed against the second bed; the other hit the floor.
She knelt on the floor unmoving, waiting for her vision to clear, dreading what Mako was going to say to her. What was he going to say? She breathed in, breathed out. Oh, she hurt. The sharp pain in her knees was subsiding quickly, but her body was still incredibly sore in this position. The dark splotches slowly were beginning to fade. She sat up, blinking the rest away.
"Korra!" His voice was much closer. She turned and saw his head just peeking over the edge of the loft as he raced up the ladder. She looked back down at her feet. "What are you doing? Are you okay?" He approached her hesitantly, his footsteps barely making a sound. Of course he was hesitant.
"I'm going home. And I'm fine," she replied through gritted teeth.
"You're not going home; you're staying here. You need to rest. Let me help you."
"But I'm fine," she repeated, but she couldn't stop him from hitching one arm underneath her knees and the other behind her back. What was he doing? After what had happened… it didn't make sense. She stifled a gasp of surprise as he lifted her effortlessly and cradled her against his chest for the briefest of moments. She relished in his strength and warmth and no. She wouldn't let herself think like that. Not anymore.
He placed her lightly on top of the bed. When she tried to get up again, he gently pushed her down. She conceded with an annoyed sigh and pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs. At least he wasn't forcing her to lie down. She looked at her feet again. "Does Bolin mind that I'm in his bed?"
"It's my bed," he said simply, sitting on Bolin's bed, facing her. "And I don't mind."
She didn't want to be here, and she didn't want him looking at her. She didn't want to talk, but she heard Pema's voice in her head, urging her to communicate with him. Stupid Pema. Always right. She rubbed her shins and snuck a glance over at Mako. His elbows were propped up on his knees, and he leaned towards her. Both his wrists (his bleeding wrists) were tightly wrapped in bandages. He'd really been hurt… Her curiosity got the better of her, like always.
"How did we get away? What… happened?" she asked softly. He leaned back on the bed, head tilted as he observed her, gauging her reaction.
"Well, you fainted… and the warehouse kept crumbling after you'd passed out. Amon was still frozen in place, so the Lieutenant started trying to get him free, hacking away at the ice. Bolin and I started climbing down slowly. I could barely move after… you know." Korra grimaced into her knees, remembering the electricity and the writhing and the yelling (the screaming, the shrieking, the crying). "I was halfway down when Naga busted in. She's the one who got us out of there before the whole building collapsed." He rubbed the back of his neck. "I assume all the Equalists—well, those who were still alive—got out before it came down. Bolin steered Naga to the arena, and we brought you up here. It hasn't been that long… only half an hour or something like that. I'm sure the police are reviewing the scene now."
The warehouse had been completely destroyed. She'd done that. She'd had that power, the ability to demolish an entire building. Her mouth opened slightly. She remembered the roof crumbling down, the metal melting, the ground trembling… It wasn't like she'd had any control over it though, but still—an entire warehouse cleared to the ground because of her.
"Are you guys…okay?" she asked tentatively.
"But what about…" She gestured at his wrists.
He fell into silence, and Korra fell back into her thoughts. Memories flooded back to her, but they were different than normal memories. It was like they had a glowing haze wrapped around them, restricting her from seeing the whole picture. She could only get glimpses of quick images. Fire. Smashing the chi-blockers against the wall. Sizzling skin. Amon's mask, melting against his already scarred face. Bolin falling. Mako's eyes. She glanced back up. He wasn't fine. Something was wrong, he wanted to say something, but he was resisting. She had to know. She didn't want to know, but she just had to.
"What?" she said. He ran a hand through his dark hair and tugged a little. His mouth opened and closed and opened again.
"That whole spectacle was incredibly stupid of you. What were you thinking? Going by yourself? Why didn't you get Tenzin?" Well, that certainly wasn't what she was expecting. He groaned, and his voice softened. "Why do you insist on being the hero alone?"
"I'm the Avatar," she replied simply. It was a phrase that had been memorized and repeated her entire life. Mako shot her a look of annoyance; that answer clearly did not satisfy him.
"How'd you even know where we were?"
She began picking out the dirt underneath her fingernails. "They left a note on your couch."
"Our couch? Wait, why were you here?" He leaned forward on his knees again. He certainly enjoyed filling in stories, finding all the pieces to the puzzle, fitting it together neatly and smoothly.
She evaded eye contact. "I came to apologize for this morning, okay? I'm sorry for… well, I'm not even sure anymore. I'm just sorry."
He hesitated. "I wanted to apologize, too, Korra. I was just—"
"I already know," she interrupted. "I think." He cocked his head to the side. "I found… the uh… practice run?"
"Hey, I wasn't snooping or anything. It was on the back of the paper that the Equalists had used to write their note telling me where to go. Sorry."
Korra looked up from her nails. His face was scrunched up in concentration. Why was it so easy to talk to him right now? No, she wasn't supposed to be here. She needed to go. Why was he even talking to her in the first place? Wasn't he—
"Well at least let me thank you. Even though it was the dumbest thing ever, you still saved me and Bolin." He wanted to… thank her? No, that was a joke. In her mind, she saw his eyes again, bright and afraid. She had been out of control. There was nothing to thank, nothing to be proud of.
"Thank me for being so scary?" she mumbled. Mako leaned back again, his eyes incredulous and wide.
"I heard what you said," she admitted, her voice a monotone, broken, sad. She fixed her gaze on the wall, ignoring Mako, and her eyes ran over all the imperfections. She tried counting the marks, but she couldn't get him out of her head. He was right there, sitting on that bed right there, and all she had to do was look into his eyes and see what lay behind them. But she couldn't do it. Because all she could see in her head was the terror in his eyes, cowering from her. "You said it just now with Bolin. It was scary. In your note, at practice… You were scared of me. You are scared of me."
He'd been right, of course. It was scary. The energy surging through her veins, her body completely out of her control, destroying and hurting and killing without her consent. Of course he was afraid of her. He could never care about her after that.
Nobody would ever care about her.
"Look at me, Korra." She closed her eyes and shook her head. "Please, look at me," he pleaded. His voice, patient and kind (why?) pulled her eyes from the wall and back to his.
They weren't afraid.
"I wasn't scared of you." He spoke slowly, calmly, like he was in complete control of the situation. Unlike her. "I was scared for you."
Korra looked back at the wall. "What are you talking about?" she muttered.
"I don't want to see you hurt, okay? I don't… it's just that I've always only cared about Bolin, and he was all that mattered. And then you came along." She felt a blush rise up in her cheeks, but no, no, no, he couldn't. "Now I have two people I can't lose. At least with Bolin, even though he's running off and getting into stupid trouble, he doesn't mean to. But it's not the same with you. You do this willingly!" His voice was quick, aching, like he'd been dying to tell her this all along. "It's been bothering me since you challenged Amon that first time. You just jump into danger alone, not even asking for anybody's help and that's what scares me, Korra. I'm scared of losing you."
She heard her pulse throbbing in her ears, loud, strong.
His voice slowed as embarrassment set in. "I was going to tell you when I apologized for the way I acted this morning. I just… couldn't get the words right, I suppose." He wrung his hands between his knees.
"But I thought you were mad at me because I've been blowing off practice."
"Well that is definitely annoying, and I wish you would stop—"
She finally looked up at him and gestured her frustration, fists clenched. "But I've told you a thousand times that I've been training with Tenzin!"
He stood. "Yeah, so you can just run into even more danger willingly!" She quieted, and he paced in front of her, spinning on his toes as he turned. His arms jerked out in big, sweeping, frustrated gestures. "Being the Avatar may be your job, but ever since my parents died, it's been my job to protect the people I care about, but you won't let anyone care for you! And then you start talking to Bolin at practice today about the Avatar State and how you could die. So casually, too, like it didn't even matter. And that's what made me mad, okay? You just don't care about how we feel… about how I feel." He paused, stopping in his tracks in front of Korra. "It's like you don't even see it." He fell into silence.
Mako wasn't making any sense. None at all. How he felt? She saw it though… she saw how he felt. He was afraid of her. Afraid of her aggression, her skill, her strength. Afraid of the sheer power harboring inside her soul, waiting to be released again. But he said that he wasn't afraid… and when she looked at him now, she didn't see fear, she saw lo—
No. It was impossible. She had no control; she had too much power. Her mind buzzed, and images flashed through her head. Bright, horrible, uncontrollable.
She had lived her whole life waiting for the moment when the energy surged through her body and she entered the Avatar State. She had craved it for years. But it wasn't like she had imagined; it was nothing like her childhood fantasies. When it took hold of her and the voices flowed out of her mouth and she became a puppet… she didn't want it. It had turned her into something she wasn't, a swirling storm of bending ready for the kill, ruthlessly out of her control.
Amon had been right. She was a monster.
If she couldn't control it, what was going to happen the next time? When was it going to happen? She could hurt someone… she could hurt Mako. She almost did, didn't she? That fire whip had been so close to his hands, his face. She could have killed him. She didn't want it. She didn't. She couldn't. Her eyes stung, and her vision blurred.
I wasn't scared of you, he had said.
"I was scared of me," Korra mumbled. Her shoulders trembled as the fear poured out of her in thick, rolling tears. Mako sat next to her on his bed, hesitantly wrapping an arm around her. She shook her head. "I don't want it to happen again, Mako. But I know it will. I know I will…" She sniffed.
"It's the only way I can defeat Amon. I understand that. But it was so scary, it was so… I hated the feeling of being out of control, of having nothing to hold onto…" She wiped at her face. Mako's voice came out in a whisper, gentle and kind and desperate.
"You can hold onto me."
"But I'm the Avatar. This is my job. I'm the one who is supposed to save everyone. Nobody else."
"That's not true, Korra." He no longer spoke gently. "You're not alone, and you'd see that if you just opened your eyes." She shoved his arm off her and turned away. "Stop pushing me away!" he said frantically, grasping both of her shoulders and shaking her lightly.
"JUST LET ME LOVE YOU!" he yelled.
All that could be heard was their breath, their life being inhaled and exhaled in short bursts of emotion. His hands slid down her arms. Her heart pounded in her chest, trying to break free. Love. She wasn't alone. All she had to do was open her eyes. She had Tenzin, she had Bolin, she had Mako, and now she had Aang, finally coming to her after so many years of lying in wait.
"I thought it was too hard to care about me," she said softly. He sighed.
"Just because it's hard doesn't mean I don't. You drive me crazy and you worry me constantly and it scares me how willing you are to jump into danger but I love you." He breathed, "I love you."
She let herself look into his golden eyes, to really look into them. They were begging, pleading with her to let him in, to not be alone.
There was no fear. There was no anger. Only love.
She didn't really want to leave, did she? She wanted to stay here with him. And just as much as he wanted to protect her, she wanted to protect him too. She couldn't bear to lose him, either. Because if she did, she'd never see him laughing at Bolin again, never see his excitement at winning a match, never see his confidence when he bended fire, never see his smile, rare but perfect… never see his eyes, his soul.
Korra opened her eyes, and felt it there. In him, in her. Slow, burning, pure.
"I think… I think I love you too," she said. Her head leaned forward and rested on his shoulder. His arms found their way around her again, pulling her against him once more. He was strong. Warm. She breathed him in.
The last of her tears were soaked into his shirt. She wasn't alone. She wasn't alone.
"It's scary, isn't it?" she said, clinging to him.
Mako's breath dusted across her hair. "What is?"
"Everything. This. Us."
He pulled away from her and cocked his head to the side, a look of hesitation on his features. His hands touched her face, fingers gradually moving up her cheeks. She swallowed. Her eyes met his. Hearts pumped, breaths quickened. She'd never felt so nervous in her life.
The distance between them closed, and lips were brushing against lips, breaths were mingling together. They kissed softly, innocently, perfectly.
A tingling set in her body, running through her veins, but it wasn't like before. It didn't fill her with dread or make her uncomfortable. This was just right, exactly how she'd imagined it. Flawless. It wasn't full of burning or anger or sadness. Just love. Only love.
Mako broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers. Her eyes remained closed, but she heard the smile in voice when he spoke again.
Okay, guys, this is the LAST PART. I'm just gonna go hide now. SEE? THIS IS WHY I DON'T DO CHAPTERED THINGS. I CAN'T SEEM TO TIE EVERYTHING UP LIKE I WANTED TO. AND AND AND LAME ATTEMPTS TO CONNECT LOVE AND THE AVATAR STATE. UGH. I'M SO LAME. And that kiss part took me forever to get "right", and part of me feels like it doesn't belong BUT I ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE FLUFF, DON'T I? SO SCREW IT.
Oh, well. Enough complaining. There are still parts that I genuinely do like. The beginning dream-like sequence, for example. I really liked that. And I still like the battle bits from the last chapter.
Sorry if I got carried away and they ended up too OOC. BUT WHATEVER. DONE. I JUST WANTED THIS UP BEFORE EPISODE FOUR OFFICIALLY AIRS TO CELEBRATE MAKORRA, ESPECIALLY AFTER ALL THE NONSENSE FLYING ABOUT ON THE INTERNETS. BECAUSE MAKORRA IS LIFE AND MAKORRA IS FOREVER AND NOBODY CAN TEAR THEM APART.
Korra and friends © Bryke