A/N: For two weeks, or however long it has been since I updated, I've just been staring at this chapter thinking: what the hell am I doing? I warned you all that the farther I get into the story, the worse I get about updating. For the record, I love hearing what y'all have to say but I really write for myself. When I'm down or sad, I just write it all out.
I don't really like this chapter - it was more like a plot filler. Sorry.
With that said, my apologies for the delay - now on to the review replies!
alchemistextraordinaire - I would never kill Mako... and yes, I will give you guys a Borra fix because I still have a soft spot for that dude.
lpwriter4life - That was Zuko's way of saying "get off your ass" ;D Thanks!
azaliahearts - I can't wait to collab with you!
Turkeyhead987 - Wow I'm flattered! And yes, Zuko is a BAMF and no matter how old he is he will retain the air of hotness.
The Fing Jinder - Okay, first of all - HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! And second, I don't care what your reviews about, I want to hear every word my readers have to say! Though, obviously, this method of communication is inefficient especially when I neglect to update. :P Thanks for your review and eat lots of chocolate apples!
Nobody2012 - I know, he's gonna get some major...abuse... in the next chapters.
Chibi-Gai - Wow thank you! Though you probably won't be thinking that after you read this chapter :/
Ex Mentis - As you've gathered, it is Zuko! And I will eventually address the lack-of-scar later on... I did not forget.
Aurellius Maximus - I love waffles! Do you?
theVillage1diot - Thank you! I have made Bolin a little OOC, but I don't think it matters because the show didn't give us much to play with other than his humor.
Guest - I've thought about your review a bit, and I've come to the conclusion that Bolin is not half Fire Nation. The Fire Nation is a country, not neccessarily an ethicity. I think the four nations are ethically different because of the bending in their genes. Bolin and Mako's heritage is unknown - for all we know, they are descended from all Earth Kingdom, with a small drop of Fire Bender in their blood line, resulting in Mako. So Bolin isn't half Fire Nation, so to speak. I'm American, but I don't identify myself as being half Irish because somewhere in my ancestry I have Irish people. Sorry for ranting, I just was just flushing out my philosophy of the ethnicities of the world of Avatar.
Bolin had finally adjusted to the uneasy rocking of the ship and was able to get some sleep after they were halfway through the first day of their journey towards Kyoshi Island.
Feeling the morning sun hitting his face, Bolin stretched his legs and tendons, back cracking slightly as he did. He rubbed his eyes, letting out a long yawn as he swung his legs over the side of the bed.
Looking out the window, he was happy to see there were no more giant icebergs poking from the water, a sign that maybe the temperature would be warmer outside. Still doubtful, he put on his coat and wrapped his scarf lazily around his neck and exited his bedroom.
The hall inside the Fire Nation ship was dark and dimly illuminated by a string of lights overhead. Across from his room was Korra's, and her door was open slightly. Curiosity overcame Bolin as he quietly pushed open her door.
She was rolled in a ball, shivers wracking through her as she squeezed a pillow in her arms. She was already covered with a blanket, so Bolin removed his coat and padded towards her, draping it over her legs.
Just as the fabric brushed her skin, Korra dove from her bed and onto the ground, launching a punch at Bolin's face as she screamed. Bolin gasped and barely dodged the blow, bending backward at the waist to avoid being hit in the jaw.
"Whoa, it's just me!"
As soon as she heard his voice, Korra snapped from her trance and lowered her arms to her side, averting her eyes in embarrassment.
"I'm sorry," Korra said, voice barely audible. "I was having a nightmare."
Bolin nodded and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "No worries, okay?"
Korra sat on the edge of her bed, noticing among her heap of blankets that she kicked off before launching her attack, was a dark wool coat. Eyebrows pinching together, she held it up to him. "Is this yours?"
Bolin took it from her hands; he supposed she wouldn't be needing it anyways. "Yeah, I was checking to see if you were awake and saw you were shivering…" he trailed off uncomfortably, slipping the jacket back on.
"That's sweet." She forced a smile then let her chin fall into her hands.
"…Are you okay?" Bolin whispered to her.
"Yeah. I've been having nightmares ever since Amon took your bending. The same one, actually…now I have a new nightmare," Korra mumbled, eyes darkening as her lips tightened. "And Mako's in it."
Getting the feeling that Korra wanted to talk, which was great, Bolin took a seat next to Korra on her bed. He placed his hand over her knee and nodded. "I had a nightmare about him too," he said. "But it was more of a memory."
Korra turned her head, looking into Bolin's eyes, prompting him to go on.
Bolin heaved a sigh before nervously scratching his head. "Remember that day… that Mako burned me?" Bolin asked, sifting off his jacket slightly and pulling back his shirt collar over his bicep. The scar of Mako's burn was now a light pink, but he could still feel the burning sensation whenever he touched it.
"Yes," Korra breathed, recalling the memory. "You looked so scared."
Shaking his head, he clenched his jaw. "Except, my nightmare wasn't being afraid of Mako. In my nightmare…all my nightmares…I am the monster. I have my hands wrapped around his throat and something is possessing me and I just feel so angry at everything…" Bolin's breath hitches and he can't speak. "I feel like a monster for letting the Equalists take him away. I feel like a monster for blaming you…after you've done nothing but help me."
"Bo…" is all Korra can mutter before she leans her head against his shoulder. "You have been through so much. Losing your bending, your home, your brother…"
Her words should have made him sad, but the heat of her skin against this neck comforted him. She understood him. That's all Bolin ever wanted.
"In my nightmare," Korra continues, her fist clenching as her jaw hardens. "I fail. I see all the faces of the ones I've failed to save. I see Amon taking my bending, tying me up, and make me watch him kill Mako."
Korra eyes glazed over, as if somewhere else.
"It's okay, Korra," he tries, but only finds himself imagining her dream. His brother being tortured. His brother dying. He shoves them away, refusing to accept that he might not only be an orphan, but the last in his family.
The loud wracking against the bars of his cell startled Mako from unconsciousness. He wasn't quite sleeping, but rather he closed his eyes and tried to forget where he was. When he heard dark laughter, it sounding like Amon's lieutenant's, he forced his sore body to rise from the ground.
"How's the ex-bender doing this fine day?" the lieutenant asked. He held a flashlight, pointing it right in Mako's eyes making him flinch.
When Mako didn't answer, the lieutenant fumbled with his keys to open the cell.
Mako hesitated, the prospect of freedom overwhelming. He could fight, even without his bending. Maybe he could win.
With a surge of courage, Mako barreled his weak body toward the masked Equalist, grunting has his head collided with a blunt object. The impact of his head hitting the ground blurred his vision, already impaired by the darkness.
Then pain struck through his abdomen as electricity pulsed through his body. He cried out, tears brimming his eyes as he wished he could bend the electricity away. Even after the waves of blue stopped, his body still twitched with pain and numbness all at once.
In the conscious corners of his mind, he knew the Equalist was stripping him of all his clothes. When he was only in his cotton boxers, the damp air made him shiver.
As he tried to create friction on his exposed skin, burning hatred was the only thing he felt.
Bolin and Korra walked out on to the deck of the ship, where they were met by Prince Zuko. He had shed his Fire Nation uniform and opted for the long black robe Bolin knew so well, and a red collar embroidered with gold encasing his neck. He smiled slightly at the two, bowing his head. "Good morning you two, I hope fared well last night. I have decided we are making a small detour on our way to Kyoshi Island..."
A motioned an arm toward the left side of the deck, and both Korra and Bolin's eyes followed. In the distance, they could see a blurry splash of green sitting above the blue water. They were quickly approaching, and it was clear that they were coming towards an island.
"Red Sand Island, although small and completely lacking of red sand, is where many of the Republic City refugees were evacuated to," Zuko said.
Korra's eyes widened as she rushed toward the deck of the ship. She glazed over as her lips parted. "Zuko - do you think Tenzin is over there? And Pema?"
Zuko sighed, nodding slightly. "I don't see why not."
"Spirits, Korra!" Bolin exclaimed, his eyebrows pinching together. "When I put Pema and the kids on that ship, she was in labor!" he brought a hand to his forehead and rubbed it anxiously. "I never told Tenzin she was in labor."
Korra turned to him, lips pressed together as if she were holding back a laugh. "You..." she chuckled. "You forgot to tell Tenzin his wife was having his baby?"
Bolin blanched and hid his face. "You know, there was a lot of stuff going on and I guess it just...slipped my mind."
Korra gaffed, the strength of her laughter making her lean on the railing of the ship for support."Forgetting to feed Pabu slips your mind, not that -"
"Pabu!" Bolin interjected, stomach falling. "We're gonna see Pabu!" Affectionately, Bolin wrapped his arms around his stomach, embracing the ghost of his fire ferret.
Although Red Sand City was metropolitan area, it was nowhere near the size of Republic City. The buildings weren't as tall and the docks weren't as long. From the harbor, the streets were filled with white tents marked triage and hundreds of people had gathered as they awaited treatment for their injuries.
There were several ships sitting at the docks, including the ones Bolin had personally watched set sail only a few days before. But there were also United Republic Navy ships idling next to the island, soldiers tentatively watching the foggy sea.
With a loud clank, the metal centerboard dropped onto the pier, and a fleet of Fire Nation soldiers exited the ship first - Zuko, Bolin, and Korra following.
As soon as Korra stepped off, and she was visible to the people gathered near, the air fell silent. Although dressed in black and gold attire, courtesy of the Fire Nation, they knew who she was. She glanced around hesitantly, seeing their faces. Some were bruised and bloody, some of their eyes were bloodshot from tears. They had all lost something.
Their eyes shifted from neutrality to anger, scowls and grimaced erupting on nearly every expression she could see. The intensity of their stares hit her like a wrecking ball, and she doubled over into Zuko as she clenched around his arm. Korra tried to be strong as they walked, the armada of soldiers encircling her. She could still see their eyes persecuting her. Glistening and livid, she saw all her failures reflected back in their eyes.
She gasped for air as she held back her own tears.
Bolin returned every scowl he saw, resisting the urge to slap every dirty look he saw off their faces. Did they not see her fighting for them? Risking her life to save their city? Bolin swallowed his anger and put a hand on Korra's shoulder. He understood they were blinded by their own loss to see her sacrifice, but the boiling silence was...disrespectful.
They dissected the street, and came to a large tent that was guarded by a pair of soldiers. Zuko waved off his guards and motioned for Korra and Bolin to enter the tent, him following behind. Inside was a table - which had a large map planted in its face - and surrounding a variety of men and women who seemed to have paused from their previous conversation to acknowledge their presence.
"Korra!" a voice exclaimed, recognizably Tenzin's. He rose from around the table and made his way to the young Avatar, wrapping his large arms around her.
"Tenzin," Korra replied quietly, embracing him with a small smile. After they released, he turned to Zuko bowed respectfully.
"Was your journey successful?" he inquired, raising his eyebrows.
Zuko's eyes darted to the other leaders who seemed impatient. "It was, and I suppose it can be discussed at a later hour. It seems we have interrupted." He nodded to the table, and gave a slight bow. "It is an honor to be in the presence of so many of our world's leaders."
Much to Korra's immediate displeasure, Commander Huan was among these men. He was the first to rise, reciprocating the bow toward the Fire Nation prince before delivering a fake smile. "The pleasure is ours, Prince Zuko. We were just discussing our strategy for a counterrevolution."
Another man stood, his red uniform embroidered with black and gold. Medals hung from his lapel. "We were actually waiting to hammer out the finer details until your arrival, Grandfather."
Bolin's mouth dropped, gritting his teeth as he examined the man closer. "Grandfather?" He was incredulous. He supposed that he did look like a less-wrinkly Zuko.
"Oh, General Iroh!" Korra exclaimed in recognition. She bowed to him, which made Huan frown since she did not grant him the formality. "I've heard so much about you."
Iroh smiled, much in that way Zuko did occasionally, and bowed to Korra. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Avatar Korra." Motioning to the table. "How about you all have a seat as we discuss our retaliation?"
"Actually," Tenzin spoke up, "Korra will not be involved in the initial retaliation."
"What?" Commander Huan exclaimed, face contorting as his fists clenched. "But she's the Avatar!"
"Her being the Avatar doesn't make her a tool or weapon."
"I should be helping, Tenzin!" Korra argued with exasperation. She glanced toward the entrance of the ten. "I've let so many people down already."
"You don't have your bending back to full power yet. You must continue your plans to master the spiritual side of all the element." Tenzin wrapped his hand around her shoulder blade. "When the time comes, you will be fighting Amon. But you must have patience."
"Patience," Korra sighed. "Is a virtue?"
Tenzin smiled. "Yes, a very important one." He sobered and turned to the other leaders. "While defending Republic City, Korra entered her Avatar State and the effects were detrimental to her health. She has improved, but she is not ready." His eyes narrowed at Huan. "You must control your eagerness."
Commander Huan's eyes glazed over, black as night. "If she is not apart of our plan, then her and her friend have no business here." Korra's jaw dropped, and she pointed a finger at him.
"You've got some nerve -"
"Korra, no," Zuko interjected. Tenzin nodded in agreement, and tilted his head toward the drape at the entrance of the tent.
"Why don't you go and fine Pema?" he suggested. "And our new edition to the family."
All I have to say is blah. This chapter did not turn out how I wanted. But what evs! I thought it was cute.