Mako was nervous, and he didn't know why.
He shouldn't feel this way about her now; he shouldn't get these knots in his stomach thinking about her, but he did, he did. And even though he'd lived on Air Temple Island, his heart was racing as he walked up the steps that led to the set of buildings high up on the hill. The fingers that held the bouquet of pink flowers he had gotten for her as an afterthought were shaking. He felt like a boy. Foolish, ridiculous. He just couldn't help it, though.
He'd missed Korra so much.
After spending all that time together, those precious few days and those limited nights down in the South Pole when they had finally let all their walls down, having not seen her in so long was painful. Those days were almost a dream to him thinking about it now. His memory was clear, however, and he knew it hadn't been just a fantasy. It was real: walking around at night in the snow, listening to Korra share stories of her childhood, showing him all her favorite places, kissing in the dark. They'd held hands as they walked across the barren fields of snow and ice, wandering to nowhere because it didn't matter; they were together. They were warm. Pink. New.
It had been two weeks since they'd returned, and nearly that long since he'd seen her. It had been two weeks (only two weeks), and he knew this; he did.
But it felt like two years.
Korra was busy with her Avatar duties: training, meditation, meetings, interviews, and restoring bending whenever she got the chance. Mako had been busy too, going back to work at the power plant, fixing the arena up, helping Asami as she dealt with all the commotion and corruption of Future Industries.
Yes, he'd been busy as well, but he missed Korra. He knew it wasn't going to be like this forever, but he missed her. ...No, he didn't just miss her.
He craved her.
So it was no surprise that the first chance he had time to visit, he did just that, nerves twitching and stomach twisting.
Mako passed the training grounds and made the mistake of waving to the three kids; they rushed over to him excitedly with a big gust of wind. He was surprised Korra wasn't with them.
"Are those flowers?" Ikki asked as she peered behind his back, and Mako hesitantly held them out in front of him for her to see. "Flowers for Korra? Oh, they are soooooo pretty!" She stuck her face into the bouquet, and the little pink blossoms kissed her skin. "And they smell so good!"
"Can I eat them?" Meelo asked.
"Hyacinthus litwinowii," Jinora muttered as she eyed them. "Very nice choice."
Mako cleared his throat. "Um, where's Korra?"
"I think she's in her room," Jinora said, stepping back. "I'm not certain, though."
He continued walking and watched as the kids hopped onto their air scooters and zoomed back to the training grounds. He stared down at the flowers again, now regretting his uncharacteristically impulsive decision to buy them. What if she didn't like flowers? What if she didn't like pink? He really didn't; maybe she didn't either. This was all a bad idea; maybe that's why he felt so nervous.
Or maybe it was because he was worried that she had changed her mind. That their time spent at the South Pole was a fluke, a mistake. That she had come back and realized that she couldn't do it after all.
The thought made him feel vaguely ill.
Mako entered the women's dormitories, stepping lightly down the hall to Korra's room. Her door was closed. He took a deep breath, filling his lungs with anticipation before he slid the door open and closed it behind him.
He saw her there.
And he smiled.
Korra slept tangled up in her sheets, clearly so exhausted she hadn't even bothered to take her boots off. Her mouth hung open slightly, and a trickle of drool fell out of the corner of her mouth onto her pillow.
He smiled, yes, but his heart fell. So much for seeing her, holding her, loving her. She needed sleep, so he'd give her that, even if it meant disappointment for him.
He tip-toed forward and set the bouquet on her side table lightly, to be sure that she would not wake. He turned and watched her for a few brief moments, watched as her body rose and fell with her breath. He wanted nothing more than to curl up next to her, press his body against hers, let her sleep in his arms and his arms alone.
He shouldn't bother her, though. He should go.
So he turned to leave, resigning to another week, two weeks, three weeks without seeing her, without hearing her voice, without tasting her lips on his. She had to do her duty. And he had to do his.
His hand reached up to slide the door open again when he heard it, perfect and pure, and his stomach flipped:
He turned, and Korra's eyes, slow and sleepy, brightened, moving straight to him. To him.
"Mako!" she repeated, scrambling to get out of the bed. The sheets that had tangled around her legs would not come untangled, and she fell to the floor with a crash and a groan.
But before he could make a move to help her, she was clawing her way out of the sheets and hopping right back up, running, running to him. She leapt forward, and he grabbed her, stumbling back and resting her weight on his hipbones as she wrapped her legs around his waist.
She kissed him then. She kissed him hard, her lips pressing and sucking and giving and wanting. He held her tight and opened his mouth up to her. He swallowed her laughter.
Korra rested her forehead on his, and her hands played with his hair.
"Hi there," she said. She shifted to get a better look at him, leaning back slightly with her hands on the back of his neck.
She was blushing, with cheeks pink and perfect, and it made him feel warm and him made him feel alive.
"Hi," he said, holding her tighter. "Shouldn't you go back to sleep?"
She pressed her mouth to his again, her teeth grazing his bottom lip. "Only if you come with me."
It was an offer he couldn't refuse, so he carried her to the bed and laid her out gently before climbing in next to her. Their bodies intertwined, their limbs tangled, their foreheads pressed together. He closed his eyes and breathed her in.
Korra tilted her head back, gesturing towards the flowers. "Are those for me?"
"Thank you," she said before claiming his lips once more. "I love them."
"I love you," he said.
"I love you too."
He wasn't sure how long they could lay together like this. He wasn't sure when he was going to be able to see her next. But it didn't really matter. Because they were together. They were here. They were warm.