I'm back! Sorry it took me so long to update! I have been busy with school and personal issues! Now that school is over, however, I actually have the time to write! This chapter is mainly filler... and again, I find myself not too fond of how this turned out. Sucky ending – sorry! I just wanted to get this up as fast as possible. Thanks for waiting so patiently! Read and Review!
Disclaimer: I DO NOT own The Legend of Korra.
"You benders have no place in this world anymore!" snarled the Lieutenant of the Equalists. "Your time has come and gone – your tyranny is over!" An expression of pure hate coated the man's features as he raised the electric prongs in front of his chest, ready to attack. His mustache quirked upwards as a sadistic smile contorted his lips, making him seem even more twisted.
All around, electricity hummed. The hair on the back of my neck rose in the charged atmosphere, my skin prickling and my senses going into overdrive. There were a lot of Equalists. There were a lot of Equalists and only three of us. The chances of us making it out of here were slim, to say the least.
I should have never allowed this to happen – it's my fault we're in this mess. If I had just shut my mouth and kept my cool, maybe we wouldn't be surrounded by dozens of wicked, deadly weapon-holding men and women.
Each foe was wearing a specialized suit, designed to better withstand the hazards of fire and earth. The helmets they wore protected their heads as the tinted glass covering their eyes protected their identities. Each enemy was unknown, and yet each and every one of their goals was laid out clearly for all to see.
They wanted equality and peace. This would seem like an honorable goal to strive for, if only it weren't for the way they were going about reaching this goal. To them, all benders were ruthless, smug, stuck up bastards who shoved their powers in every non-bender's face. Apparently, in this unfair world of ours, all benders were treated as high class while everyone else was treated like dirt. Now, I'll admit that relations between the benders and non-benders have been increasingly strained in the past years, and that non-benders are justified in some of their claims against us. But does that render it necessary to terrorize and attack every bender you see? Does it make it okay to rob them of their livelihoods just for the sake of "equality"?
It was people like these armed men and women who wormed their way into the minds of innocents, corrupting them into thinking that, yes, it was in fact necessary to eradicate the ruthless, smug, stuck up bastards.
And it was these armed men and women who looked about ready to end us for good.
Korra, Bolin, and I stood back to back, each facing a different section of the threat. I could feel the muscles in Korra's back tense and hear the shuffle of Bolin's feet as he positioned himself to better hold his ground. I could already feel the flames licking my fingertips as I flexed my gloved hands in anticipation of the fight that was about to ensue.
Time seemed to slow in the few seconds we stared each other down. And then it whipped into hyper drive as the first move was made.
"Yaaahhhh!" the Commander charged forward, heaving up his weapons as the rest of Amon's men mimicked his actions.
All turned into a blur of water, earth, and fire as we all tried to hold off the onslaught of Equalists. They were attacking from every direction, striking as fast as buzzard-wasps. Very quickly, they managed to separate the three of us, backing us each into different corners of the area.
Korra growled in frustration as one of the trained men made a series of quick jabs at her arm, rendering it useless in this fight. Bolin heaved a pile of rocks towards a cluster of the enemy and panted from the effort of trying to avoid their deadly fast strikes. I, on the other hand, didn't make a sound. I didn't make a sound when a woman Equalist launched herself at me. I didn't make a sound when she revealed a rather sharp object from her belt. Knowing that Bolin and Korra would hear, I didn't even make a sound when she stabbed the cold blade into my side, a suppressed laugh of mirth shown in the folds around her flashing smile.
My eyes shot open. Gasping, I tried to sit up when a stabbing pain shot down my side. Immediately falling back, I clutched my stomach as the pain raced through my body again. I took fast, shallow breaths until it subsided, trying to get the air I needed while not aggravating my wound further. My head was throbbing and sweat poured down my brow.
The battle…I could remember bits and pieces, but it was all such a blur. All I saw were flashes of the action, but it was in no collected order. Putting the pieces into the correct order, however, proved to be too tiring. It hurt my head to focus.
When the pain was bearable enough, I blearily opened my eyes and took in my surroundings. I might not entirely remember what had happened, but I knew enough from my current condition that I had been wounded and taken to some room to rest. As my eyes slowly examined the room, I saw from the corner of my eyes a flash of red. My eyes, in this neutrally colored room, were directly drawn to the vibrant color. My scarf, I inferred. And next to it was my jacket and undershirt – the undershirt of which I could clearly see a stain of dark red surrounding a tear in the fabric.
My fingers unconsciously danced across my chest, feeling the tightly wound bandages wrapped around it. I placed my head back against the pillow and closed my eyes, suddenly tired from the effort of holding my head up.
I was either in a recovery room at the police headquarters, or Air Temple Island. From the wood décor and bright light shining through some window above and behind me, it was more likely that I was currently at the later place. The police station tended to be darker – and made of metal.
I was about to get up (or at least try to get up) and go find someone who could brief me on the situation, when the door slowly pushed open. A head topped with dark hair popped in through the crack. It was a little girl – one of Pema and Tenzin's kids no doubt. I could see the orange air acolyte clothing from the half of her that was in the room. She looked at me with wide eyes before she quickly concealed her surprise and neutralized her expression.
"Oh, uh, you're awake. I was just coming to check up on you – I'll go tell my mom." the young girl said in a voice that was much more mature than I expected.
"Wait," I said before she retreated from the room. I slowly pushed my way up the bed and rested my sore back against the backboard. The cool feel of the wood was a pleasant surprise as my flushed back pressed against it. I let the light covers fall from my chest as I ascended into the sitting position. It was so hot – my limbs were covered in sweat and the sheets felt damp. "What happened? Where's Bolin?"
The young airbender opened her mouth, but paused in what she was going to say. "There was an attack, and you got hurt," was what she settled on saying.
And then I remembered.
"Bolin!" I shot up, completely ignoring the agony that raced through my side. "Bolin – where's Bolin? Is he okay!" How could I have forgotten my little brother? I seem to be forgetting a lot of things lately.
My outburst shocked the girl, and she stumbled backwards. I could tell by the look on her face that she thought I was crazy – like a wounded animal. That look turned to relief as her mother, Pema, stepped in the room.
"Oh dear – Jinora, go get your father and inform him that Mako's awake. Go," she said, gently prodding Jinora towards the door. She went willingly enough and disappeared down the hall.
I wasted no time. "Take me to Bolin." I was already limping my way towards the door when Pema placed a soft hand on my arm.
"Mako. Please, get back in bed. You're going to hurt yourself further." Her tone was motherly, trying to reason with me. Was she trying to soothe me into forgetting that my brother was hurt somewhere? Why was she ignoring my request? My mind instantly jumped to the worst conclusion: was she trying to protect me from something horrible…?
I ripped my arm out of her slight grasp. "No," I growled before I could take a hold of my temper. I stopped when I notice her flinch slightly and sighed. "Take. Me. To Bolin," I said haltingly, partly from trying to sound less angry and partly from the pain that was seeping back into my body from the brief respite my adrenalin had caused. "Please," I added for good measure.
Pema's face softened – it seemed as if she understood the panic I was going through. In a way, I suppose she did understand. She probably felt the same whenever her husband or Korra came home from a battle with Amon and his followers.
"Please," I repeated my voice no more than a horse whisper.
"Mako," she placed her small hands on top of her bulging belly, "honey, your brother is fine. Bolin is fine. He is awake and eating breakfast." Her words instantly had a calming effect on me, but not enough to get me to cooperate.
"If he's fine, I would like to see him."
I could see the corners of Pema's lips turn upwards a bit at my stubbornness. "Mako, if it'll make you feel better, I will have him come to you. But you, dear, must lie down – all this movement has reopened your cuts." She glanced at my side and the blossoming pool of crimson that was soaking through the previously white bandages with worry.
The second I saw the dark stains, I felt faint. The pain was back full force now, and sweat started accumulating on my forehead again from the effort of standing. I was barely aware of myself nodding or Pema guiding me back towards the bed. She helped me lie back as slowly as possible, but it was too much. I couldn't ignore the pain anymore. When I breathed a bit too deep, the pain hit harder and I gasped – which only intensified the pain. I tried to hold back my cry of pain, and I can't honestly remember if I succeeded or not before the blackness took over again.
After some unknown amount of time, I became aware of myself regaining consciousness. It was a slow process to say at the least, but I was able to attain some of my bearing with each of the senses that returned to me. First, my hearing came back, then my sense of coherent thought.
I ached all over, that's one thing I knew, and I could tell the origin of the hurt was in my left side. I hoped it wasn't still bleeding.
Gradually, I built up the strength to open my eyes. Everything was out of focus for a few seconds, but when everything became clear I found that I was staring right into the eyes of none other than Bolin.
"Bo?" I questioned weakly, even though I knew it was him – how could I not? No one could possibly have such rich green eyes as Bolin did – the same color as their mother's. That, and no one would have such a goofy smile on their face. I guess I just wanted to hear him talk to be absolutely positive he was okay.
He smiled even wider. "Hey Mako! How are ya' feeling buddy?" He shifted in the chair that someone must have brought in, leaning in closer and resting his elbows on his knees.
"Me? How am I feeling?" I stared blatantly at his head, which was wrapped tightly in crisp white cloth. "What about you?" I started firing out questions as my brotherly instinct arose in me. "How's your head? Does it hurt? Are you oka—"
"Whoa there!" Bolin cut me off. "Mako slow down! I'm fine – it's just a concussion. And not even a bad one."
"But I saw—"
"Yea, apparently I have a thick skull." To emphasize his point, he raised his fist and knocked on his head lightly.
"There was blood." I said, wondering if he was downplaying his injury for my sake. He knows all too well how I am when it comes to him being sick or hurt. I've been called a worry-wart and a mother goose-hen on multiple occasions.
"It was just a surface wound. No permanent damage. I'm okay Mako." He looked fine, and he didn't sound like he was in much pain. I sighed and finally let the majority of my doubt fall away. Not all - but most.
We sat there in companionable silence for a few minutes when Bolin said, "I'm glad you're okay, Mako. You had me worried – you had us all worried. Everyone's taking this whole thing kind of hard. Especially Korra. She's secluded herself away in the meditation pavilion and has barely spoken a word to anyone since we got back." He looked sad, his eyes easily showing every emotion he felt. "She seems to be avoiding me."
Despite my best efforts not to, I couldn't help but feel some of the anger I'd felt at Korra before rise up in me again. I knew it was wrong; I knew that it wasn't her fault. She had no idea what she was doing, or who she was doing it to. But not only was that what got my temper rising, it was also the fact that she'd locked herself away and refused to even acknowledge Bolin. Had she even seen if he was okay? Had she even come to see if I was okay? She can't avoid us forever. We are, after all, living under the same roof.
At some point in time, Korra is going to have to face what she did. Not just for Bolin's sake, but for her own. This whole Avatar State thing is new for her, and in a way this was the test run. No one can rightfully blame her for not knowing what to do when in possession of such raw power. Perhaps she will learn from her mistakes and be able to control herself next time she enters it.
If there even is a next time. I remember quite vividly the feel of her tears sliding down my neck and into my scarf. I remember the silent sobs that had racked her frame and how desperately she had clung to me. I'd never seen her so vulnerable before. It didn't take a genius to know that she had been scared. And if anyone knows Korra, they would describe her as fearless and brave – and befittingly so. I don't think she's really ever been afraid before. Well, not this afraid. Not to the point of tears. And even if she did, she hid it behind her tough exterior so no one would see her as "weak". So I can see why she would be reluctant to be around anyone. She was probably confused and embarrassed.
Realizing that I had yet to say something, I brought my hand to rest against Bolin's forearm. "Bo, don't think too much about it. She's probably just shaken from what happened."
He looked at the floor and found interest in a loose thread on the bedspread. "Yea, I know. She'll come around eventually."
"Here, help me up," I said, already pushing my way up into a sitting position.
"Uhh, I don't think that's a good idea," he said as he placed his hands on my chest to stop my motions. "Pema just had one of the healers change your bandages. She told me you tried to leave the room and it started bleeding again." At the mention of "it", Bolin nodded towards my wound, covered up in fresh bandages just like he said.
I glared half-heartedly at him. "I'm fine," repeating his words from earlier. "Now help me up. I want to take a walk – my legs are restless." Bolin looked at me, gauging the validity of my statement. "C'mon bro."
Reluctantly, Bolin removed his hands from my chest, and instead gripped my wrist with one and supported my upper back with the other. I made it up without too much difficulty, and slowly swerved my legs so they fell off the side of the bed. Bracing myself, I stood up. I was weak, and would need some support from Bolin to stay upright, but I was fine.
Throughout the process, I caught Bolin staring at me intensively, watching to see if I needed to sit back down. He must have seen nothing alarming since he smiled his wide smile again and led me to the door.
As we were walking, I heard the screams and shouts of the children playing and the chatter of the ring-tailed lemurs. Then I smelled the delicious smell of teriyaki noodles. My mouth instantly watered and I inhaled deeply before flinching and stumbling a step. Bolin tightened his hold on me and called my name.
I waited for the cloud of pain to evaporate before I answered, cursing myself for not watching my actions more closely. "I'm…I'm fine. I just tripped." He gave me a look that said he didn't believe that one bit.
"Maybe we should head back…" he said uncertainly, noting my quick shallow breaths, which were already slowing into natural breaths as I regained my air.
"No. I'm hungry. Let's go get something to eat." I started walking again, and Bolin had no choice but to follow me, lest he let me fall.
"We could head back and I could just go get you something you know." I just shook my head, determined to make it to the kitchen. I refused to be doted upon and pampered like a child. I had been taking care of myself and Bolin since I was eight. I didn't have or need help then, I shouldn't need it now. I felt utterly useless at the moment. It was already bad enough that I needed assistance walking; I wasn't going to concede to being waited on because of a little discomfort. I could get my own damn food.
As we continued to walk down the long hall, the pads of my bare feet forming to the hardwood floors, I let my mind wander. It was nothing deep – rather, it was about simple, unimportant things. I took note of the melon-shaded sunshine shining on the walls; the fresh air that felt refreshing on my sore limbs. I also wondered how food could smell so good. My stomach rumbled.
The scent of the noodles got stronger as we got closer to the kitchen. Inside, I could hear Pema and Tenzin discussing some matter about the Republic City Council. Both stopped talking, however, the moment they saw Bolin and I walk –or more like shuffle- into the room. Pema rushed to my side almost immediately and placed the back of her dainty hand against my forehead.
"Oh thank goodness! Your temp has gone down!" The look of motherly concern on her face brought a slight blush to my cheeks. "Here, here, let's get you seated shall we?"
Tenzin got off of the stool he was sitting on and offered the chair to me. "It's good to see you up and walking." he said, smoothing out the creases in his robe as he nodded in my direction.
"It feels good to be moving, sir." I sat down gingerly in the chair, finding that I had to sit somewhat awkwardly to avoid pain.
"Tenzin is fine," he corrected, not unkindly.
"Do you want any noodles, Mako?" Pema asked, already placing a heaping in a bowl. "You must be hungry. You haven't eaten anything for three days."
"Three days?" I asked incredulously. I was out for three days?
Pema looked at me, her eyes betraying the hint of pity I knew she felt. "Yes, dear. Three days." She walked over to me, mindful of the big bulge that was her stomach, and placed the bowl of food in my hands. The warmth seeped into me and calmed me down.
I ate as slowly as possible, trying to retain the warmth and not stuff my face in my hunger. Three days is the longest I've gone without food since…well, since I was living on the streets. Old instincts never completely die, I guess.
After a few minutes filled with idle chatter, Pema kissed her husband on the cheek and said that she was going to lay down for a nap. Tenzin left the room shortly after without a word, his orange robes billowing around him as he walked.
I finished my food just as Bolin was finishing his second serving. Slurping up a handful of noodles, he got to work on chewing. I scoffed at his puffed cheeks and he looked at me.
"Bo," I started. Then, seeing the innocent expression on his face, I smiled and said "Nothing."
I got up to go put my bowl in the sink when Bolin walked over and took the dish from my hands. "I'll get that for you!"
"Hey Mako, should I bring you back to the room?"
He seemed eager to get me back. Sighing, I nodded my head. There was really nothing else to do. Plus, I was rather tired after that meal. It's funny how one can be asleep for three days and still feel drained of energy.
When we shuffled back to the room, Bolin helped my lay back down. Someone had changed the sheets and fixed the bed for my return. Too tired to wonder who or feel anymore resentment at being doted upon, I closed my eyes.
If I focused on the sound of Bolin's breathing, I could almost pretend that I was fine – that he was fine – and that we were both upstairs in the attic of the Pro-bending arena, stretched out on the couch, exhausted from a day of training and running all around town for Toza.
With that in mind, I slowly felt sleep take over. "Goodnight Mako," was the last thing I heard before I was out.