It began the same way most days did for the Fire Ferrets; early and riddled with extensive training in the pro-bending gym. They still couldn't get decent hours, often meaning Korra was a little late, but the team was managing well. Their winning streak was raising them through the ranks, and with Asami's father paying the fee everything seemed to be looking on the up. However, things weren't right amongst the friends. Mako, though still focused on winning, was skipping more and more of practice to be with his new girlfriend. Bolin would always try to laugh it off, try to calm the aggravated face that Korra pulled every time Mako calmly waved them goodbye and sauntered out of the gym doors with little more than 'Can't do it tonight.' The two were left alone; a clumsy earth bender and a scorned avatar training for the three of them.
Bolin always noticed Korra's face first. Her furrowed brow and pouting lips. Snide remarks meant to cut. Green eyed jealously if he ever saw it; and he had seen it, many times before. His fan girls, or the girls that managed to follow him around and beg for tours of the arena, always fought with one another. They'd stare at other girls with these harsh eyes; like they were lifelong enemies caught in some race to see who could catch him first. It surprised him to see Korra act that way. He'd always seen her as a little different from all the other girls he'd meet. She was brash from the get go; loud and confident, determined to fight and be fought against. Not to say all women he'd meet were the same, but pro-athletes tended to attract a type. A giggly, flirtatious type eager to get in there before anyone else. He'd never suspected Korra to have that kind of attitude to things, but she was hot-headed and sour to the idea of losing.
That day Mako had left again, some lame excuse for missing practice. Bolin grunted at the idea of his brother missing another training session; mainly because if it were him going out on a date Mako would have definitely reprimanded him. He sat in a childish rocking position and sulked. Though, he soon noticed Korra's face again. It was etched with scorn and her bright blue eyes were suddenly dark with some gathering storm clouds. He grinned manically to draw attention to himself.
"Hey, so it's just you and me. How about we have our own little date? A romantic dance under the buzzing gym lights, a candle light dinner in our five star attic apartment. Scenic view included," Bolin smiled as he rose to his feet. Korra's gaze broke away from the gym doors and she glared at her team mate for just a moment.
"I promise I shall be a real gentleman and wear my finest finery..," he mock bowed, his fingers almost touching his toes. He heard a slight giggle, and then a loud laughing.
"Oh Bolin, how could any woman refuse such charm?" she was obviously just teasing, lifting her hand out daintily and mock curtsying back to him.
"Well my dear Lady Avatar," Bolin began as he took her arm. "This evening we shall be dining on the rarest of all the foods in Republic City, dumplings. Then we shall watch the finest of entertainment, Pabu the magnificent in his death defying act of ladder climbing." He led the way up the stairs to the attic. It was all terribly melodramatic and cringey, but that was okay because it was them, and there wasn't anything they couldn't do together. It was a simple matter of comfort. No matter how stupid or silly things seemed to other people it was perfectly alright for them. Mako never really seemed to understand since he was always so serious about things, and the only time he lightened up a little was around Asami. That's probably what annoyed Korra the most. Suddenly, Bolin spun her round and she landed on the sofa with a soft thump. He smiled and quickly turned away. She tried to peer round but was surprised to find Bolin grinning, a giant fake moustache adorning his upper lip.
"Now, my great Lady Avatar," he did another ridiculous bow to his feet. Korra started laughing softly to herself. "I am proud to present to you the magnificent Pabu!" They both clapped as Pabu climbed on the table wearing a small hat.
"Now, my most regal, beautiful and may I mention butt-kicking Lady. I shall prepare the food," he kissed her hand and was off to collect the dumplings. Korra couldn't help but laugh. Bolin always went all out to make her feel better, even if he had to do ridiculously trivial stuff just to get her to smile again. Unlike Mako who seemed to be completely disinterested. It wasn't so much the fact that he had a girlfriend now, but the fact that he seemed to forget she was there at all. Things with Amon had gotten no better over the passing weeks; the Equalists were gaining in the numbers and her aggressive attitude didn't seem to be winning anyone over. Bolin was the only one who seemed to be listening; without him and Tenzin, she'd probably have given up and gone back to the North Pole when she had the chance.
She watched as Pabu jumped and cartwheeled, his tail moving swiftly. It made her realise that she'd made no more progression towards air bending. Not even a small gust. As her mind began to wander, Bolin re-entered the room with a plate full of dumplings. Korra tried to quickly change her expression but it was no good, he'd already seen.
"Something's bothering you," his smile faded.
"No, I was just amazed at Pabu's talent for death defying stunts," Korra's poker face was see-through.
"Come on Korra, you've been funny ever since that big party in your honour. You don't like Asami do you?"
"What? Don't be ridiculous, I haven't even really talked to her," she shrugged as she leant back.
"I'm not saying you don't like her for some aspect of her personality. I'm saying you don't like her because Mako does… and you like Mako," the last few words come out slower than expected and seemed to hang in the air around them. Korra was silent and starred forward without blinking. Bolin sensed the tension and threw his fake moustache down onto the seat.
"S..sorry. That was wrong of me just to assume, I should probably…,"
"No. You're right. I'm annoyed at him, but… not for the reasons you think I am!" a slight blush came over her face. Bolin turned and looked at her intently. Her blush grew to a deeper shade of red.
"I like Mako… but not like that. I mean maybe I did… b-but I'm not such a third wheel that I can't take the hint. It just, it gets on my nerves to see him ignore me all the time. We're supposed to be friends and he doesn't even notice these big things. Like everything with Amon," Korra sighed.
"What about the things with Amon?" Bolin asked.
"Everything with Amon," she stood up and began to pace the room. Her voice getting louder and angrier with every movement. "It feels like I'm on my own. I have these nightmares where he's just leering over me. His hand closing in on my face. My powers fading. That darkness. Losing everything I've ever had. Crying out for someone to help and no one coming. And then…" she stopped.
"And then?" Bolin urged her on.
"And then I wake up and realise it's all true. That nightmare is real and I'm defenceless. And Amon is coming for me and…and… I'm all alone!" as she shouted, fire came streaming from her fists. The bright blaze burned intensely in the dark room, and then faded to nothing but embers floating in the dead air.
Korra dropped to the ground with tears streaming from her eyes. She thought herself a pathetic sight; the avatar, unable to defend herself from something as common as a non-bender. Bolin stooped down to her side and put his arms around her to hold her close. He could feel the tears running down her cheeks.
"That's not true. You have me, and Mako. And Tenzin. And there are lots of people in Republic City who love you as their hero," he nuzzled her gently into his chest.
"But I just feel so alone all the time. I feel like, as the avatar, this is something that I should be able to do. Just like that. I'm supposed to be this wise hero that swoops in and saves everybody, but all I've managed to do is prove what a useless hot head I am," she sobbed. Bolin cuddled her closer, feeling her cold tears dampen his shirt.
"Hey, don't cry," he said lifting her head. "What happened to the Korra I know and love? The one that says 'deal with it' and kicks everybody's butt? Korra you're amazing. I wish I could earth bend like you. And, though he won't admit it, Mako thinks you're a great fire bender too."
"Doesn't change the fact that I can't air bend to save my life," she sniffed, regaining some of her usual strength she sat upright on her own. Bolin put a hand on her shoulder. Her skin was smooth and cold to the touch.
"So, one element is taking you a little longer than usual. I can't air bend either!" he smiled and stood to take a fighting stance. Korra put her arms to either side of herself and watched in amazement as Bolin desperately thrust forward one hand.
"Air bend!" he shouted. "Hurricane..! Powerful gust… windy day…. light summer breeze?" Each statement was less powerful than the last, until eventually he was at nothing but a pathetic whimper. He turned around and gave a dopey smile.
"See?" he laughed. "I'm a hopeless air bender." For a little while he noticed that Korra had angled her face towards the floor and he couldn't see much of her expression. He thought that maybe he'd just upset her further, made her think he was mocking her serious problem. He rushed over to her side and began apologising.
"I'm sorry Korra; I didn't mean it like that. I was just…" but his sentence was interrupted by laughter.
Korra was laughing and suddenly grabbed hold of Bolin with both hands. She brought them together until their faces were inches apart. He flushed a light pink.
"Bolin, you've got a strange way of dealing with people's problems, but you're the funniest guy I've ever meet," she giggled.
"And the most charming too, right?" he gave his eyebrows a little wiggle and flashed her a trademark Bolin smile.
"Oh I'm weak at the knee's alright lover boy," and with that she kissed him. It was a peck at best, and it was on the cheek, but it was definitely there. Bolin felt his heart skip slightly. His clear green eyes widened. Then, the dopiest smile of all snuck across his face and a quiet mumbling escaped his lips.
"I thought a man as charming as you would be used to kissing?" Korra teased. She didn't really have much experience herself with stuff like this, especially considering she'd lived in a compound all her life, but that wasn't really going to stop her.
Bolin snapped back to life. "On the contrary, I'm a gentleman. I've been looking for the right girl," he grinned.
"Then I guess it's a good thing I didn't kiss you on the lips, I might have ruined it for you," Korra's smile was playful as she went to get up. Bolin's hand immediately caught hers.
"Where are you going?" he asked. She just continued smiling mischievously.
"It's getting late, I should probably go home. Tenzin will be half mad by now," she shrugged, all the while the smile never left her face. Bolin could read her like a book; that confident yet teasing glare. The curved shape of her lips.
"But our date isn't over yet," he smiled back. "I have one last thing to give you. Close your eyes." Korra looked a little hesitant but since it was Bolin she gave way to trust. She closed her eyes and waited in the darkness.
She heard a tumbling noise and a small 'ouch' as Bolin tripped over his own feet. She giggled. Soon after she felt something long and thing being put into her hands. As she felt upwards there were petals; sleek and smooth with a demure smell rising to her nostrils. Then, in what seemed like but a moment, a small pair of lips brushed against hers. They were soft and gentle; barely there like a ghost of a kiss. She placed her hand behind his head and held firmly to the flower. Bolin pulled her in closer, the warm embrace a pleasant change from the aches and pains of practice. Her hand slid round to his face and she stroked his cheek gently. Eventually the kiss broke and the two were left starring at each other in the black room. Bolin preferred her face when she was happy; her blue eyes lit up with the pale glow of the moon. The light skimmed her dark skin and illuminated it. She was in her element.
She looked down to find a rose sitting in her hand.
"I thought I'd give you another one and all. I mean you did save me and you seemed a little distracted when I gave you the first one. Besides, you can never spoil the people you love too much," he grinned. Korra looked up and then back to the flower in her palm. She shook her head and began to laugh.
"Bolin, you're a real charmer you know that right?" she smiled before grabbing him by the collar and pulling him in for a final kiss. The brash Korra was back; and this time, she didn't seem to be afraid of anything.