Waiting in the Wings

Bolin loves Mako, but he also loves Korra. In the end he loves his brother more. Based on the song "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon

Somewhere there's speaking

It's already coming in

Oh and it's rising at the back of your mind

You never could get it

Unless you were fed it

Now you're here and you don't know why

She had always had everything, that much Korra had made obvious to the Ferret Brothers. Always surrounded by people whose only purpose was to serve and protect her; who cared deeply for her and wanted her to succeed in her life. Bolin wondered what that felt like - having people there for you. Sure, he had Mako, and they had always stuck together. But sometimes his brother was so difficult...sometimes it didn't feel like he loved Bolin. That hurt. He needed people to love him, to constantly feel that warmth, because without it everything was just too cold.

Bolin loved easily. He made friends quickly and had his sizable contingent of fangirls swooning over him in the ring. But Korra was different: beautiful, strong, confident, fun, and although he would never understand how, a kindred spirit. They had both had to struggle through life, only in opposite directions. She struggled to free herself from the people surrounding her, and Bolin struggled to find people who would stay with him.

But under skinned knees and the skid marks

Past the places where you used to learn

You howl and listen

Listen and wait for the

Echoes of angels who won't return

He watched her. Not in a creepy way; just glances out of the corners of his eyes, seeing what she was up to, seeing that smile, that frown, that laugh...everything she did was so beautiful. Once, in practice, he was paying a little too much attention to Korra, and a blast of fire from Mako that he normally would've blocked no problem hit him, mildly burning the skin on his upper arm and knocking him backwards onto the ground.

Mako reached him first, berating him for being daydreaming, but with real concern in his eyes. Korra hovered behind him, her blue eyes filled with concern. Bolin flushed and tried to push Mako away. He didn't want to seem weak in front of Korra, but Mako wasn't having it.

"Here," Korra said, coming forward. She knelt next to Bolin; so close he could feel her soft breath on his neck. Calling water to her, it slipped around her hands like gloves, and she pressed her palms to his burnt arm with a tenderness he didn't know she possessed. Slowly, the pain faded away, and when she drew back his arm was good as new.

He smiled dashingly at her, and she smiled back, laughing quietly, and let Mako drag his little brother onto his feet.

He's everything you want

He's everything you need

He's everything inside of you

That you wish you could be

He says all the right things

At exactly the right time

But he means nothing to you

And you don't know why

Contrary to popular belief, Bolin wasn't just some stupid muscle-head earthbender. He could tell that Korra liked Mako in a way she definitely didn't like him. And that hurt. It hurt so much, but it was his brother. Bolin, ever since they were kids, had never figured out a way to be mad at Mako. Frustrated, maybe, annoyed definitely, but never angry. He knew that Mako would never intentionally hurt him; that he would always be ready to take the fall for Bolin.

But Bolin was a good guy. He wasn't mysterious and reserved like Mako; he was far too full of life and youth for that. But he still found it strange that Korra could so obviously feel nothing for him while quickly becoming entangled with her brother, who not only had a gorgeous girlfriend and was very happy with her, but had acted like a total jerk to Korra while Bolin had been nothing but nice. It just didn't make any sense.

You're waiting for someone

To put you together

You're waiting for someone to push you away

There's always another wound to discover

There's always something more you wish he'd say

He had seen her truly vulnerable only once. It had been a stormy day, and the three of them had been hanging out in the brother's attic apartment. Bolin had been in the kitchen cooking (which he was actually quite good at) and Mako and Korra had promptly gotten into an argument without him there to alleviate the tension. Before Bolin could rush to the rescue, he heard Mako yell at Korra.

"You're a coddled baby who can't take care of herself!"

"What? Care to test that theory, tough guy?"

"Yeah, sure! How about needing Tarrlok to look after you on the raids and me to watch your back in the ring? You're worthless, Korra!"

Bolin had run in to see Korra race down the steps to the arena. Casting a disapproving look at his brother, who was nonchalantly leaning against the wall, arms crossed, Bolin went after her.

He found her on the street outside the arena, sitting with her knees pulled up to her chin and an umbrella created by waterbending over her head. She glanced up when she heard him approach, then looked away again. He stood there for a few seconds, the rain running down his face and drenching his clothes. Finally, she looked at him.

"What do you want?"

"You're not useless," he said gently, taking a seat next to Korra, who expanded the umbrella to accommodate him. "Thanks."

"Your brother disagrees."

Bolin shrugged. "He just likes being difficult. He really does respect your abilities, Korra, I know he does. He just expects a lot. Ever since our parents died, he's been the grown up. He feels like he needs to watch out for everyone, even if they can take care of themselves."

"Like you?"

Bolin grinned. "Nah, I still need some looking after from time to time. I don't always think things through."

Korra gave him a sad grin. "Me neither." There was silence for a moment, then she continued. "It's just that I am terrified that I'm not as independent as I think I am. I want to be a good Avatar, and I'm trying my hardest, but nothing's clicking...it's just one big mess."

She buried her face in her knees, and Bolin looked over at her. Reaching out one hand, he paused, wanting to wrap her in a hug but wondering if she would throw fire in his face for that. Instead, he just gave her a quick pat on the back.

"Give Mako a chance. He's really not so bad."

"Okay."

He's everything you want

He's everything you need

He's everything inside of you

That you wish you could be

He says all the right things

At exactly the right time

But he means nothing to you

And you don't know why

Bolin had seen the jealousy clear as day on Korra's face at the banquet. Apparently, her crush on Mako had already seriously developed, and Asami's pretty form draped over his brother's arm seemed to have hit a nerve. That crushed him. Here was his brother, perfectly happy, and for that he was happy. And there was the girl he loved, pining after his brother, and for that, he hated Mako. Not really, but he wanted to.

It was impossible, though, so Bolin just stood aside, hovering behind Korra as she talked to Hiroshi Sato, Asami, and Mako, trying to catch her attention with little remarks thrown into the conversation, but nothing he did could take her eyes off his brother and his girlfriend.

Bolin was so happy to get home that night and curl up into bed, away from the world. That night, he decided he must be the most miserable person in the world.

But you'll just sit tight

And watch it unwind

It's only what you're asking for

And you'll be just fine

With all of your time

It's only what you're waiting for

As the days went by, Bolin noticed more and more of Korra's flirtatious attitude towards Mako; saw more and more of the little ploys she orchestrated to get his attention. He also noticed that little things seemed to go wrong during his brother's dates with Asami, and Bolin had no doubt Korra was behind it. Normally he would laugh and applaud her on her pranks, but since he knew the ultimate prize was Mako, the young earthbender hoped that her attempts would fail and she would move on. That she would move on to him.

But Korra seemed perfectly okay taking things slow, making Mako notice her gradually, and Bolin could see that it was working. The firebender and the avatar became closer by the day, and soon it was Mako smiling and laughing with Korra while Bolin stood in the background.

Why did the two people he loved have to love each other?

Out of the island

Into the highway

Past the places where you might have turned

You never did notice

But you still hide away

The anger of angels who won't return

Korra seemed oblivious to his attempts to garner her affection. The small gifts of flowers and pastries, while not extravagant, were all he could afford, and she knew that. While she always accepted them graciously, she was never excited about them like Bolin hoped she would be.

He didn't think she realized what the presents really meant, brushing them off as friendly gestures. But he assumed she would know that friends didn't give that many roses.

He's everything you want

He's everything you need

He's everything inside of you

That you wish you could be

He says all the right things

At exactly the right time

But he means nothing to you

And you don't know why

Asami was gone. Asami was gone, and Mako was happy. Not necessarily because his girlfriend and him just broke up, but because now he and Korra were together, sneaking off in the night to explore the city. Bolin knew Mako was thrilled about his budding relationship with the avatar; so thrilled in fact, that he actually smiled about it once. For Mako, that was a big thing. And Korra was happy too. You could see it; her face radiant, her eyes sparkling. She was over at the flat a lot, and Bolin loved and hated having her there. He loved being around her, listening to her laugh and swapping stories about their childhoods, and he hated that the reason she was there was Mako.

Not that she and Bolin weren't good friends, they were the best of friends. The problem lay in the fact that they were nothing more, and for Bolin that wasn't enough. But for his brothers sake, he made it enough. He had lost. Now he just had to accept it.

I am everything you want

I am everything you need

I am everything inside of you

That you wish you could be

I say all the right things

At exactly the right time

But I mean nothing to you and I don't know why

And I don't know why

Why

I don't know

Korra was with Mako. Korra was happy with Mako. And Bolin...Bolin stood to the side. He loved Korra, and he loved Mako. In the end, he loved his brother more. So he smiled bravely, bit back the tears, and waited in the wings in case one day they changed their minds. In case one day they split up and Bolin loved Korra more than Mako.