what: Korra likes to give Mako nicknames - partly because he makes it so easy, and partly because she thinks it's hilarious that he always proves her point. A one-shot series.

who: Mako & Korra & Bolin & Asami. (slight Masami, i'm afraid.)

when: a few weeks after "And the Winner Is..." maybe.

where: a seedy bar downtown.

why: Cool Guy.


4. Cool Guy

Okay, this is officially the best idea Korra's ever had.

"I'd hate to see the worst," Mako mutters. She's probably not meant to hear it - she hadn't even meant to say it - but the band in the corner chooses that moment to end their song, so the remark travels clearly to her in the otherwise crowded club.

She frowns at him; so does Bolin, leaning across most of the table, and Asami, her hand wrapped around his elbow.

"Hey, I'm having a good time," she says, equal parts a scold and a laugh.

"Yeah, Mako." Bo enunciates just a bit too much, squinting at him, and leans, if possible, further toward him (Asami quickly pulls her drink out of the danger zone). "We're havin' fun. And you're bein'... you're bein' a... an unfun person!"

This strikes Korra as funny for two reasons, because even though Bolin's made of muscle and bulk, he's a major lightweight where alcohol's concerned, and because it's the same insult he would've come up with if he was sober. She finds this so hilarious, in fact, that she breaks her glare away from Mako and cracks up, leaning so far back in her chair she almost topples over and knocks down a waitress passing by with a tray full of drinks.

She's wiping tears from her eyes when she falls forward again. Her vision clears and she looks around at them all: Mako's got his eyebrow raised, but Asami's mouth is twitching and Bolin looks pretty pleased with himself as the band kicks up a new tune.

Korra holds her glass loosely and brings it to her lips, smirks at them over the rim before taking a gulp, used to it enough by now that she doesn't have to hiss through her teeth as it goes down, just grimaces for a second at the aftertaste.

Mako's hand is over the top of his own glass, twisting it on the table, one finger slipping a little on the edge. It's still completely full of amber liquid and they came in - what, an hour ago? Two? Whatever - either way, she kicks him in the shin.

"What?" she says, nodding at his untouched drink. "Is Cool Guy too cool to accept my generosity?"

He shakes his head and says nothing.

Bolin furrows his brow. "Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute," he slurs. "'M confused. I thought this was Tenzin's gen - genrosty."

"What makes you say that?" stifling another laugh in her throat.

"Well, you seso, din' you?"

Asami pulls her hair over one shoulder. "I think your exact words were, 'I borrowed some money from Tenzin, let's go to a bar.'" She looks way too amused as she takes a sip.

"Speaking of Tenzin..." Mako gets this superior look on his face, all high and mighty and part of her wants to laugh and part of her wants to kiss him but mostly she just wants to punch him so she compromises by kicking him again. He winces and continues, "Somehow I get the feeling he wouldn't approve of this."

In her mind's eye, Tenzin's face floods red and the winds roar around him, at his command, lift him into a massive tornado and he swirls in the vortex and rips the air from her lungs.

(That or he'd yell at her, but she thinks the first one's more interesting.)

"Maybe," Korra concedes. "But what Tenzin doesn't know won't hurt him."

Mako sighs, glancing around the club without meeting anybody else's eyes. The line of his shoulders is tense, nervous.

Now she does laugh, points at him, grinning like a maniac. "No way! You're scared of him! Cool Guy's scared of Tenzin!"

Asami snorts. "Scared of the big, bad, pacifist airbender?"

The emphasis she puts on those last two words is so heavy Korra doesn't know how Asami, being neither a bender nor an athlete, managed to lift it in the first place.

"He's intimidating!" Mako says defensively. He huffs and crosses his arms. "And he's really tall, and the deep voice, and the beard..."

"Yeah, leave Mako 'lone." Bolin's fist slams down on the table and nearly upsets all their drinks.

"So you're on my side now."

"I'll always be there for you, bro!" He raises his glass to his brother, who snatches it away from him before he can tilt it back. "Hey!"

"I think you've had enough," says Mako.

Bolin pouts. "I hate you."

Asami says, "You know you've had too much to drink when you're not sure whose side you're on," and for some reason she and Bolin, grumpiness forgotten for the moment, think this is hilarious, and they both snicker to each other.

Still grinning, Korra slaps Mako's arm with the back of her hand. "He's been picking up your slack," she tells him. "You gonna drink that?"

He drops the glass like it's filled with explosive poison.

"Oh, c'mon," she wheedles. "Tenzin's not here. And even if he was, I'm the criminal mastermind behind this whole thing, I'm the one he'd murder."

"Nice time to finally take responsibility for your actions," he says.

"Thanks!"

"It wasn't a compliment."

She hears Bolin tell Asami to "watch this" and then his hand not-so-subtly begins to creep across the table toward his hijacked alcohol, but Mako jerks it out of his immediate reach and holds it out while Bolin stretches out his arm as far as he can.

"There's only one way to stop him." Korra smirks.

A whine: "Makooo..."

"Really. What's that?"

Sharper: "Mako."

She cuts her eyes between him and the drink in his hand. He groans.

It's become two short syllables, more of a bark, really. "Mako!"

"You've gotta be kidding me."

"I kid you not."

"You're serious?"

"Dead serious."

Growing tired of the struggling, Bolin gets to his feet to reclaim his stolen drink. In one swift movement, before she even completely realizes that it's happened, Mako stands up, shoves Bo away, and keeps him at arm's length long enough to tip his head back and down the whole thing in one. Bolin's so stunned that he doesn't protest when Asami tugs him into his seat.

Mako coughs and sputters, collapsing back into his chair, but Korra claps and woops, and a couple people turn and stare at her as if she has six heads. The band finishes their song a few seconds later.

"That's how you do it!" she says. He coughs some more, wipes at his mouth, and Asami pats him on the back. "Way to go, Cool Guy!

He won't stop coughing; jokingly she offers him the remainder of her drink.

"Need something to wash it down?"

Thank the spirits she was born with so much comedic talent. Too bad Mako can't seem to appreciate it, because he just glares at her.

The glass that used to be Bolin's is empty. He stares at it in disbelief, he picks it up and he turns it over - not a drop spills from it and he lets it fall with a dull clatter. He looks devastated (and it's actually really funny).

"Be right back," he mumbles, and wanders off in the general direction of the bathroom. Mako watches him go until he disappears into the crowd.

Asami stands. "I'm gonna go too," she says. "Korra?"

"Hm? Oh - nah, I'm good."

She shoots Korra a weird look and Mako a quick smile and attempts to thread her way through the crowd. Finally Korra sees just how drunk she is: where she would normally weave between tables with ease, almost with grace, every male's head turning as she passes, now she trips and stumbles and staggers, her movements uncoordinated so that at times she has to lean on tables and catch onto chairs and, accidentally, shoulders to stay upright. Not that she isn't attracting male attention, she's even gorgeous wasted, the eyes of every guy in the place is on her - every guy, it seems, except Mako.

Korra's not sure how to feel about this so she scowls at the fingers clasped around the base of the glass. They're strong, scarred and callused, the skin stretched tightly over her bones when she flexes; she watches the muscles and tendons slide along them as she lifts a hand and makes a claw. Her nails are getting longer and she resists the urge to bite them by wrapping them around the drink and sipping from it.

A man falls onto their table suddenly and Mako jumps. Korra grabs the guy by the collar of his jacket and shoves him up and back. She can feel her own biceps contract, tighten, and loosen.

"What are you so jumpy for?" she asks.

He glances around again. "This isn't exactly the best bar you could've picked."

"This place is great!"

"Well... it's kind of..." He fishes for the word in the recesses of his brain and settles on, "Seedy."

There's smoke drifting near the ceiling and a rusty smell and noise, noise, more noise, but the music's good and the booze was cheap and her company isn't too bad, either.

"Innit?" she says appreciatively. "Look, don't worry about it!" He looks away. "I can handle anyone, I'm the Avatar!"

There's a beat of silence (between them, anyway). Sighing, Mako taps the end of his nose.

Her heart seems to commit suicide by leaping from a tall building, but it never hits the ground, never stops falling, just plummets down and down and down, the world rushing by in colors and shapelessness and wind in her ears as she tumbles head over heels, head over heels, the room spinning and spinning.

Oh.

He looks at her pitifully then and she wonders if it slipped out, if she said it in a small voice to get a look like that, like glowing coals. She's sorry, she couldn't keep it in, it burst out of her, stupid, stupid.

She's so angry with herself for being so blind, so ignorant and naïve. Of course. It makes sense. The Avatar's a target: that means her friends - and potential boyfriends - are targets. It'd be dangerous to get involved with her. Of course he'd stay with Asami; it's the smart thing to do, the safe thing. Asami is safe.

Korra swirls the last dregs of her drink and tosses it back, noticing the liquid missing from Mako's glass. It's not splashed on the table, and she quirks a tiny smile.

"Dance with me." Command.

He takes another gulp. She thinks she can sense him swallow.

"I don't think that's such a good idea."

"It's not my worst - not my best, either - but not the worst."

He chuckles. Quiet. She nearly misses it.

"Let's dance."

Sip. Swallow.

"Let's not."

His shoulders are tense for a different reason. She wants to hear him say it but doesn't want to force him.

"You don't trust yourself."

"You're drunk." Accusation.

"Oh, definitely. I trust you, though."

He hangs his head.

"If you don't dance with me, I'm gonna have to find some creepy stranger..."

He sighs and - is he smiling? - drains the rest of his drink, his eyes screwed shut.

"All right," he says, looking at her finally. "Fine." Yeah, that's a grin. Mako catches himself and wills it away, with effort, it seems. "But I'm not happy about it."

They both get up, swaying a little. Korra grabs his wrist and pulls him toward the band, where an area's been cleared of tables to make a dance floor that's being put to good use, full of writhing bodies. She and Mako join in, going straight to the center, and become just two more faces in the mob, moving as one big mass, and the thrumming bass in the corner is the beast's heartbeat.

She turns to him, hesitates and takes his hands. The music's loud here, so he has to lean down and talk right in her ear to be heard.

"I'm not much of a dancer," he confesses.

"Sure you are, Cool Guy," she says, semi-shouting, and lower, "Follow my lead."

Although she's not really much of a dancer either, she begins to weave and skip about him, stepping close and back while he bobs awkwardly, close and back, closer and farther each time, the crowd pressing in on all sides, pressing, closing. He gets into it after a while, mirroring her - once she steps into him, kind of trips, and they're face-to-face and he's breathing alcohol straight into her lungs - she thinks he could breathe fire in this moment and she'd burn up, is burning up, she's ready to go up in flames - then he grabs onto her and spins her out, away, and he's a dragon twisting around her, easy, and when he spins her back to him she can taste the drink. It's nothing more than a breath against her lips, a whisper, a wind, a passing ghost and then it's gone, vanished into thin air, ashes scattered in the breeze.

This band has some ridiculous timing: they finish their song and people applaud and cheer and Mako's slipping through her fingers, through the crowd. Korra could puke and not because of the drinking, the room's tilting and whirling again but she doesn't, she won't, she can't even if she wants to.

Asami materializes out of nowhere and leads her to the wall. "Where's Mako?" she says.

"Back at the table," Korra tells her, and doesn't ask why.

"Go get him. We need to leave, now. Something happened."

Yes, something did happen, but what she says aloud, with a large dose of sarcasm, is, "That's not vague at all. I totally understand what you're talking about."

"Bolin... well, he kind of... he tried to steal some guy's drink, almost got in a fight, then threw up on the guy's shoes. He mentioned trying to climb out the bathroom window."

Korra stares, shaking her head and throwing up her hands. "As much as I'd just love to tell Mako he's gotta clean up the mess his brother made - literally - like he always has to... Thanks, but no thanks. I'll go help Bo."

"I was afraid you'd say that."

"Hey, he's your boyfriend."

At least, she thinks as she walks off, cracking her knuckles and picturing Bolin getting his butt stuck in the window, vomiting all over himself and everything else, I can hold my alcohol better than Bo.


a/n: wow that was long. a lot longer than the wait for this - quickest update yet, folks. woot.

I DIDN'T MEAN FOR THE KISS TO HAPPEN. WHAT. MAKORRA IS POSSESSING MY BODY. IT'S LIKE THE HULK, ONLY WITH MORE FLUFF AND FIRE AND ROMANCE. I AM OKAY WITH THIS.

told you i'd give you more Bo! even better, it was drunk!Bo! he's the best! drunk!Bo who's a lightweight and turns bipolar! and drunk!Korra who thinks everything's hilarious and gets cocky and has bad ideas! and drunk!Asami who's really good at hiding it, but not her secrets? and drunk!Mako, who has no sense of good judgement whatsoever! yaaaaaaaay!

why does it feel like fire is becoming a recurring theme with these two? I DIDN'T MEAN FOR THAT TO HAPPEN EITHER.

next up (get ready to shit your pants) - future fic. with steambabies. that's right, Makorra kiddies. aslfghgapifnehlkr. you wanna try to guess? it was inspired by this one, actually - a line that popped into my head but didn't write for the sake of the next chapter.

if you wanna keep track of this, i try to keep it updated as a WIP on tumblr, also whisperedtouches. just a thought.

reviews are fantastic, just reading is even better. thanks guys. :)

~whispered touches

disclaimer: everything belongs to Bryke and Nick. i own nothing and intend to infringe on no copyright.