Emulating Mai

Bolin was gone. Korra looked at the gifts he had left behind almost resentfully. There they were on the steps, the flower and the little cake, a sweet gesture from a sweet young man. She liked Bolin. She really did. But the earthbender didn't make her heart beat faster. She didn't tremble when he stood near.

Jinora, the oldest of Tenzin's children, dropped down onto the steps beside Korra and eyed the cake.

"Do you want that?" she asked earnestly. "It's not from Mako so it's not really special, is it?"

Korra stared at the ten year old, blue eyes wide with disbelief. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Naga, stretched out lazily, lifted her head for a moment. Always sensitive to the Avatar's moods, she kept a watchful eye on the young woman. Korra reached back and scratched behind the polar bear dog's ears. Instantly both felt calmer.

Before replying, Jinora read a few more lines of her book. Korra scrunched up her face impatiently and grunted. Not caring, the ten year old continued to read until carefully she marked her page and set the book down gently.

"I see the way you stare at Mako. I see lots of things because I'm quiet and I observe. You have a crush on Mako and Bolin, you see him as a friend."

"You're ten; what could you possibly know?" Korra countered grumpily. "Besides you've always got your nose pressed into one of those books." She gestured at the tome almost angrily.

"That's the great thing about reading; everyone thinks I'm busy so they say things or do things around me and figure I haven't noticed. I blend into the background."

"And you like that?" The Avatar's voice was disbelieving. "I would hate if no one ever took any notice of me."

"Mai was like that; I'm reading the history of Mai and Zuko now." Jinora picked up the book and cradled it in her lap, like someone else might a child. "She was awesome and I want to be just like her."

Korra grinned and gave the girl a friendly punch on the shoulder. "You can't believe everything you read, Jinora."

"Maybe not; but I've heard Mom and Dad and Grandma Katara say things about Mai and Zuko. And I met Zuko once too. I know what she was like. I know it."

"Okay, okay; relax; so are you going to start throwing knives too?" The Avatar regretted her words as soon as they left her mouth.

"Dad always says that you can't have too many skills, as long as you learn each of them properly." Her face looked more like Meelo's for a brief moment, full of mischief. Then carefully she schooled her features and was the calm, quiet girl that everyone knew. "Thanks, Korra. I'm going to look into that." She stood up slowly, reaching back to give Naga her own pat. "Bolin really likes you by the way."

Jinora's words and tone were understated but somehow her meaning was utterly clear. The earthbender, Mako's brother, her teammate, had a crush on her. Why was everything always so complicated? "Are you, are you sure?"

The airbender nodded confidently. "It's kind of a mess, isn't it?" she added. "It will be fun to watch everything unfold."

Korra spluttered and stammered and could think of nothing to say as the young airbender strode away gracefully, book in hand.