Brief Intro: It's been a long time since I've been involved in any fanfiction and I'm afraid I've grown a bit rusty. So please bear with me as I work my way through this story. I've really fallen in love with the Legend of Korra show and I'm looking forward to helping get caught up on LoK stories. No matter what happens, I know this is going to be fun. Enjoy!
Rating: T for now, will probably change to M (I can't help myself)
Pairings: The show is throwing everyone for a loop right now but I've moved from being a Mako/Korra fan to a Bolin/Korra fan. This story will address the former but focus on developing the later. Bolin has me fangirling like crazy these days.
And so it begins.
It's right before practice when Korra notices that her pro-bending gear has begun to smell a little funny. She realizes that she's been training with the Fire Ferrets for over three months now. But it feels like a lifetime to her. Korra wrinkles her nose as she shrugs on her gear, hoping she'll remember to take it home with her to be cleaned. It's secondhand gear and pretty beat up but she likes it that way. As the Avatar, her life has been far too sterile and privileged for her liking.
Korra, Mako, and Bolin train hard that day. Mako is particularly demanding and soon Korra is doubled over trying to catch her breath after a drill. She can't be sure but he seems to enjoy exhausting her like this. As Bolin struggles out of his gear and flops down on the floor next to her, Korra looks up to see the training gym door swing open. A slender figure appears, and Korra waves and makes a face which she hopes look more like a smile than a grimace. Asami's femininity still startles her on occasion. Having grown up with warriors and housewives Korra is unsettled by this woman's polished look. She watches the hypnotic motion of Asami's hips but looks away before Mako can greet her with a kiss. If Bolin notices her reaction he doesn't say anything.
When Korra goes to change she throws gear into her locker a little harder than she needs to. After the shower has drained away her anger Korra dresses and slips out the back door.
Korra has already developed a routine and has come a long way from the fresh-off-the-boat waterbender she was a few months ago. On the way back from training she always stops at the food stand by the fountain for a quick but delicious post-training meal. Soon, she's shoving dumplings into her mouth and forgetting about Asami's perfectly applied lipstick and the glint in Mako's eyes as he pounded away at her during practice. For Korra, jealousy had always been about strength and ability. She had been jealous of Aang's legacy, of her trainers, of other benders. This was a feeling which had just motivated her to train harder. But she knew nothing about this jealousy which seemed lodged somewhere between her stomach and her throat. As she swallows the last bit of her soup she reminds herself that she should be worrying about Amon and her airbending skills or lack thereof. It's unbecoming of the Avatar to be lovesick.
If Tenzin knows anything about her moodiness he doesn't show it. She's not completely convinced that his wife, despite her quiet nature, isn't the type to keep things from him. Who knows what married couples talk about before they drift off to sleep. But Tenzin seems solely focused on her airbending training and Korra begrudgingly humors him drill after drill. She still hasn't even bended a sneeze at this point but she's at least learned to keep her anger and her humiliation to herself.
The next few weeks go by without much change -Airbending training, missions with Tarrlock, pro-bending training, dumplings, repeat. She's partially sick with worry because of Amon's silence and partially bored from the lack of progress in her training and in her social life. The brothers are often busy with their own lives these days and it irks her when she sees Bolin at a noodle bar with a girl she doesn't know. It had started raining one afternoon and Korra had taken shelter underneath a restaurant awning to dry herself off. When she glanced inside she saw it was nearly empty aside from a couple sitting at the bar.
The girl had a heart-shaped face and large brown eyes. Her hand was over her mouth, stifling her laughter. Next to her a boy with heavy build and dark hair was talking animatedly. Korra watched as the girl reached forward and rested her fingertips on Bolin's forearm. Her mouth moved, he laughed and Korra could tell by the way he leaned in that he wanted to kiss her. Korra had stepped back out into the rain at that point, fighting off feelings of self-pity.
When she goes to pro-bending training a few days later Mako spends the first few minutes of his greeting chewing her out for missing two practices. His lecture does nothing to improve her mood and Korra makes the excuse that she had a breakthrough with her airbending training. When Mako skeptically demands a demonstration, Korra blows air in his face and stomps off to go practice in the corner by herself. Fifteen minutes go by before Mako comes over and tells her that practice is cancelled and that they're all going out for a team dinner.
They go downtown to a rowdy restaurant whose specialty seems to be slabs of meat.
"It's BBQ," explains Bolin. "Some of the best in Republic City." Best or not, Korra is still appalled by the sheer number of people packed into the place. They find a few seats at the bar by pure luck and Bolin wastes no time in deciding what to order. When he gets done listing the dishes to the server Korra's sure they've ordered over half the items on the menu. Soon, there are three frothing mugs slammed down in front of them by a clearly overwhelmed bartender.
"To the Fire Ferrets," says Mako picking up his drink. Korra and Bolin both raise their glasses although Korra's not entirely sure if they have any reason to toast. "And to friendship," he adds somewhat lamely as they clink their mugs together. After a long drink, Korra is the first to break the silence between them.
"Sorry about missing practice." The words sound far too apologetic despite Korra's attempt to be casual about it. Mako looks uncomfortable for a split second before waving his hand.
"You're not lazy, Korra. If you missed it, it had to be for a good reason. I'm sorry I yelled."
"Aw, you guys are going to make me cry," teases Bolin. He's cheerful as always but Korra also suspects the drink might have something to do with it. His already empty glass is soon replaced by another one overflowing with froth. As they talk and joke with one another the initial tension fades and soon Korra finds herself having a good time. She's thankful when the food comes because the alcohol has really gone to her head by this point. Bolin's cheeks are rosy and even Mako's face has a small glow to it. Despite the amount of food they ordered, it no match for three ravenous pro-benders. The only words spoken happen between the arrival of dishes and usually it's a request for more napkins. Korra has never had meat prepared like this before and at first she tries for cleanliness but gives up after seeing that half of Bolin's face is covered in sauce. Pretty soon they're all wearing sauce on their faces and parts of their clothes and Korra starts feeling like one of the guys again. They take turns in competing to see how many goatpig bones they can stack on top of one another before the server gives them the evil eye and carries away their game.
"One more drink," demands Bolin. But his last word is interrupted by a high pitched hiccup which has both Mako and Korra roaring with laughter. It's only when the bill comes that Korra is snapped back into reality. As Mako dumps a pile of coins onto the counter she can't help but wonder if Asami and her father are actually the ones paying for this meal. Bolin says nothing and turns away and Korra gets the sense that money has always been a funny subject between the two brothers. Korra pretends to wipe her hands, feeling an unpleasant soberness creep up on her.
Outside, the trio stumble back towards the gym. There's some comment from Korra's right side- Bolin she thinks- asking where she's going.
"I left some stuff at the gym," she replies because she's not quite ready to go home yet. Tenzin would disapprove of her showing up half-drunk and smelling of cigarettes, beer and sauce, and Korra is not quite ready to say goodbye to her good mood. So the three move on through the crowded streets, the night air breathing some life back into their drowsy bodies. At some point they all end up with their arms around each other's shoulders and Korra smiles.
As she expected, when they get back to the pro-bending gym Bolin asks her to stay for a while. Mako makes no comment so she's not sure if he approves or not but either way she soon finds herself up in the attic seeing their home for the first time. It's cozy, definitely a bachelor pad. The beds are unmade, the furniture is an eclectic collection of chairs and boxes and stools. There's a small metal basin in the corner which she assumes is for washing. However, upon closer examination it seems to be covered in Pabu's fur. The wood creaks as Mako walks across the room and flops down on his bed. This action seems to say that he could care less about her being there.
"It's not much, I know," says Bolin. He takes on the role of host since Mako seems content to lie there and say nothing.
"It's fine. It has all you need." Bolin smiles at Korra like she's done him a favor by saying this. He's still flushed and she can't help but think he looks like an overgrown cherub. There's a click followed by the sound of static and Korra looks over to see that Mako has switched on the radio. His hand blindly turns the dial until some music pours out of the speakers. It does a lot to improve the atmosphere and for the first time since they got back Korra thinks that maybe Mako isn't upset about her being here. Bolin half-stumbles, half-dances his way to something that looks like it must have once been a sofa. He's drunk enough to have lost most of his sense of propriety and he startles Korra by pulling off his shirt before sitting down.
"Let's do this every night, okay?" says Bolin. Mako grunts and rolls over to look at him.
"As long as we keep winning that prize money. But at this rate we'll be to fat too move."
"I'm not fat," whines Bolin. "I'm a growing boy." To emphasize his point Bolin pats his stomach. To his credit, Korra can still see the outline of his abdominals despite the ridiculous amount of food and drink he must have consumed. Mako has no comment and instead turns his head towards Korra who is still standing in the middle of the attic.
"Are you crashing here?" he asks, like it's the most natural thing in the world. This question feels like challenge and Korra can't ignore her competitive side.
"Yeah, I'm beat," she groans. To emphasize her point, Korra strolls across the room and plops down next to Bolin. She makes a point of taking off her boots and relaxing into the mass of cushions to prove to Mako that she's not intimidated by him. Meanwhile, Bolin happily taps his foot to the music from the radio.
Korra isn't sure how this arrangement became a regular thing but after that night she finds herself "crashing" in their attic at least four or five times over the next few weeks. Initially, Tenzin was furious at her for not coming home. His face turned a bright red that following morning when she showed up looking haggard to their morning meditation session. He sent his children away with the promise of leechee juice before laying down a list of possible scenarios that Korra could have gotten herself into, each one more dark and gruesome than the next. His face proceeded to turn purple once she explained to him that she had stayed with the two boys from her Fire Ferret team and that there was nothing to worry about.
"Young lady!" Was all he managed to get out before his temper got the best of him. Korra watched him fume, unimpressed by his usual theatrics.
"I can handle myself," Korra reasserted, crossing her arms.
"I'm not worried. About you. Handling yourself." He gritted out. "I'm worried about-" But here Korra lost him again. She caught a few words like "hands" and "boys" and "indecency" before Tenzin seemed to deflate before her like a balloon stuck with a pin. After Korra conceded that she would have a talk with his wife, Tenzin closed the topic and forced her into a particularly long meditation session.
Korra wasn't sure if Mako intended it, but their team dinner had done a lot to bring them closer. She knew it was typical for teammates to live together – something about improving coordination and flow on the field – but being the Avatar had made her somewhat of an outsider to the pro-bending culture. To Korra, this felt like another step in her initiation and despite herself, Korra liked to feel accepted.
The happy result of this arrangement was that Mako seemed to become more comfortable around her and Korra felt less like inclined to puke and break things when Asami came to see him. Bolin, well, he was his usual cheerful self. He would flirt with her in one moment and in the next they would be stuffing their cheeks with donuts to see who could hold the most.
"I don't know which one of you is more disgusting," Mako would say with mock disapproval. But inevitably someone would laugh and lose their donuts and it would send all of them into a fit. Korra would remember these days fondly in the weeks to come.
It's a particularly warm night and the three of them are lying about the attic in dozing in the heat. Mako's fingers somehow find the radio and switch it on. Instead of music however, a familiar voice fills the room and Korra feels her blood run cold. The time for waiting is over.
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I'll be posting more soon!