author's note: EMOTIONS FOR Y'ALL.

She's not sure how it happens. The action is so fast, her opponents too agile, and her reaction time has been slowed by the ache of exhaustion her Avatar state had brought on. Amon is able to overpower her with little effort, and she drops to her knees, beaten, bruised, and sobbing.

Mako is slumped against a wall across the room, breathing heavily. His jaw drips with blood, and Korra distantly watches the liquid trail down his neck and mix with his precious crimson scarf. His face is also tear stained, but his injuries are minimal.

No, he's been crying for Bolin, who is thrown next to him in a heap. Korra realizes, with a strangled sob, that his chest isn't rising.

"Maybe now," Amon hisses, clenching his teeth behind the mask on his face, and digging a heel into Korra's injured torso, "maybe now there will be equality."

Instead of finishing her off then and there, he waves a gloved hand to a chi-blocker. The masked figured squats over her. Then, a flash of pain, physically binding her body onto itself as horrible waves of dizziness wash over her.

She looks down, tries to imagine away the throwing knife lodged in her abdomen, but blacks out instead.

When she comes to, her lap is propped on something solid that isn't the floor. It's difficult to open her eyes, thanks to the matted blood in her eyelashes from her head wound. Mako's black and blue, swollen face hangs above her, worried and dusted with ash, dirt, and blood.

Korra wonders how much of it is his.

"Oh, spirits. Thank you, thank you," he mutters, wraps his arms around her shoulders and torso, bringing her closer. Korra groans as her stomach shifts, and the knife twists along with it. Mako apologizes, tears his scarf from his neck, and grips the handle of the knife with his good hand – the one that hasn't been burned beyond use.

Korra watches with wavering vision as he pulls the weapon away with a wet sound, but she can't feel the pain anymore, and she's glad for it. But she also knows it's a sign that everything is ending.

She smiles up at Mako, who just runs a hand along her cheek and lifts her hips up to tie his scarf around her open, bleeding gash. She starts to slip her eyes closed, content with the situation even after failing Republic City, her friends, and benders everywhere.

"No. No you don't, stop it. Open your eyes, dammit," Mako's voice cuts off by a hand squeezing his, the one pressed over Korra's stomach. She flicks her eyelids open just to please him. The happy expression isn't yet gone from her face, but he still feels tears begin to run tracks down his face, clearing away soot and grime as they go.

"We fought hard," she says, and he nods, nods yes, nods because he wants her to be happy in these last moments.

"We did really well. We did our best. Bolin did his best," she says, and Mako drops his forehead to hers, smearing caked blood together, and sobbing against her neck.

"We didn't do well enough, Korra," he admits. She shakes her head, and reaches up a hand slowly to pat his back, but soon her strength gives out and the weight of her arm sits there, reminding him of their failure. He suddenly knows that he'll feel that ghostly weight on him for years to come.

She shudders, and a long breath escapes her. He thinks it may be her last, so he cries harder, too hard for a boy his age. Bolin didn't cry – but then again he didn't have time to cry before the blast of rock hit his head.

"I'm scared," she finally says, "what happens now?" Mako lifts his head to see her eyes shimmering emptily, filled to the brim with tears.

"Nothing happens now Korra. Nothing." he whispers, bends his neck to kiss her.

It's their second and last kiss.