Korra stands by the entrance to the training room, leaning one hip against the doorframe. Mako is lifting weights, sweat forming along his temple, his mouth turned downwards in a frown. She wants to stride up to him and wipe it away, maybe help him out because that weight looks a little too heavy for the city boy, but she remains rooted in her place and watches from afar.
"Out," is his response.
Her eyebrows furrow. Mako should be furious, considering they have to start training for next season if they're going to try and beat the Wolf-Bats again, but he's just standing there, looking irresistibly good looking even though he's pretty damn sweaty.
Mako drops the weight and turns to look at her, exasperation written all over his face. "A waitress at Flameo Noodles asked him out on a date."
Her eyes widen and she puckers her lips to one side. "Impressive." All the girls at Flameo Noodles were pretty Fire Nation girls, with dark hair and striking pale skin. Korra had felt out of place when they'd gone there for a celebratory losing dinner, her dark skin and Water Tribe garb standing out among all the paleness. Bolin had insisted she was the prettiest girl there but…
She shrugs, making her way into the training room, intending to grab some of her own weights and begin practice. "I guess guys will be guys."
Mako seems like he wants to say something, but thinks better of it and turns away just in time to catch sight of an older woman running frantically, searching for something.
The woman stops. She runs to him, carrying a small child in her arms. "Oh, Mako! Thank goodness I found you."
Worry is laced in his words, "Did something happen?"
The woman, Chemi, is so flustered she uses her baby to fan herself. "I'm supposed to go out with Toza but the babysitter cancelled and Toza thinks Lema is old enough to stay home by herself but she's a year old for goodness sake can you keep her for a few hours, please?"
Korra struggles to keep from laughing. Mako looks horrified and takes a step backwards, hands up in defense. But Chemi is faster, and baby Lema is thrust into Mako's unwilling arms before the woman turns on her heels and yells, "I'll Toza to give you a month free from rent."
Suddenly, Mako is grinning, and Lema is blowing bubbles of spittle at her new nanny.
And then she starts crying.
Korra wants to flee. The cries are awful high-pitched screeches and she's positive Lema is dying. She should go grab a doctor or something. Were there even healers around here?
But Mako seems unperturbed, cradling the wailing baby to his chest, his eyes turning soft. "Shh," he whispers, "Mom's gonna be right back."
Taking a few steps towards him, Korra tries to peer into the baby's face. She's never seen one before, not really, and Lema looks kind of cute actually, even if her face is all swollen and red and gross with spit and snot. She wants to touch the wispy black hair growing out of Lema's skull but stops short only a foot away.
"Sorry," Mako says. "We can just cancel practice tonight."
"It's okay." Korra bends closer to watch the crying baby. "That's a lot of tears."
"She misses her mother," he explains. "Of course she's sad."
She's unconvinced. She missed her parents a lot when she was stuck in the White Lotus grounds, too, but she never cried like a—
Ah. So that's where the saying came from.
Mako moves away from her, towards one of the large sand-filled bags that haven't been hooked up to the ceiling yet. He takes a seat, nestling Lema's tiny head in the crook of his arms, whispering soothing words in a tone Korra never thought he was capable of producing. He uses an end of his scarf to slowly, carefully, hesitantly wipe Lema's face clean.
Korra lifts one hand to her chest; she must be sick, because she swears her heart has just skipped a beat and that is not normal.
He looks up at her and motions her closer with a nod of his head. "Want to hold her?"
She does as he instructs, but shakes her head when he offers quiet Lema up for inspection. "I'm… no good with babies."
"Really?" He seems so genuinely surprised Korra melts a little. But then he draws his eyebrows together and nods, "Yeah, I can see that."
Scowling, she takes a seat next to him, careful to keep a few inches between them. Lema is staring up at her, eyes so wide and dark.
"Her eyes look like dirt," Korra notes.
Mako turns to her. "We call that color brown, Avatar."
She shrugs. Same thing, she wants to say. But she doesn't, and simply goes back to staring at the tiny little fleshy human in Mako's strong, wiry arms. She wonders what it would feel like to be wrapped in those arms, warm and secure, with nothing to be afraid of.
"She likes you," Mako tells her. Her head snaps up to look at him. He's watching her with his own honey eyes, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "Or thinks you're really weird looking."
Her nails dig into her palms as she keeps from punching his arm and sending the baby flying ten feet into the air.
They sit in silence together, watching Lema's eyes grow heavy, her breaths deep. Soon, the baby has fallen asleep, head turned into Mako's chest, little fingers forming a fist. Korra feels something prickling in her eyes and she raises the back of her hand to rub it away.
"Yeah. Something in m-my eye." When she's sure the offending whatever it was is gone, she wets her lips to speak. "You'll be a great Dad."
She doesn't get a response. She can't even look at him because she's afraid she's insulted him, that she's said something silly again and their friendship will be irreparably broken all because she's desperately in love with him and she can't help but think he'd be an amazing father because look at him.
She feels a finger lift her chin, forcing her to look at him. Mako is staring at her, an unreadable expression in his eyes. She gulps, afraid of what her stupid words have cost her.
"Thanks," he says. He shifts and Korra thinks she's imagining his face coming closer and closer. His hot breath washes over her face and she struggles to keep her eyes open and the rest of her from swooning. "I think you'll be a pretty amazing mother, too."
Her eyes close because her willpower has run out and there are soft, soft lips pressing against her own in the sweetest way she never thought possible.
When she opens her eyes, she finds Mako licking his lips and little Lema staring at them both with a wide, toothless grin.
Korra realizes love tastes like Mako and looks like Lema.
AN: My first fanfiction for LoK! Please review and let me know what you think!