Summary: After a mission gone wrong and a cruel twist of fate, Mako has to learn to deal with the consequences and face what could be lost forever head-on, in one desperate last attempt to save what means everything to him, as he learns that tragedy never strikes far from home.
Rated for slight intimacy.
"It was supposed to be a simple op. An easy in and out. We had it all planned out, too, every damn step of it. When our informant came to us, wanting out, they found out and tortured him for the information he gave us. They ambushed us when we got there. There was no way out, and we were outnumbered. All of us were in over the top, and we didn't have an extra second to look out for anyone else. I'm aware that's no excuse, but it's the only explanation there is for what happened. It was all we could do after we saw how serious the injury sustained was to get out of there in one piece. It's a miracle we made it back."
Her voice is a shadow of her usual tone, quiet and hoarse with grief, the bags under her eyes prominent; she looks as if she's aged ten years in the span of a few days.
Another reminder of the incident, another thing to remind him of what happened. Swallowing thickly, he forced himself to look somewhere else, his gaze moving to the intricately designed metal walls of the police station's rooms, the cold, unyielding metal not doing anything to cheer him up.
Nothing is able to cheer him up, nobody is cheerful, nobody can be.
The numbness has spread throughout his veins, paralyzing him where he sits in his chair, listening to Chief Bei Fong's chilling account of the failed mission but two days ago.
Has it only been two days? He vaguely wonders. To him, it seems like a lifetime already. A lifetime of sorrow, worrying, the awful not-knowing that's eating away at all of them from the inside. A lifetime of pain, in a mere two days.
Mako registers the fact that next to him, Bolin is silently shaking with sobs, and his movements feel robotic, unemotional as he rigidly reaches out to place a hand on his brother's shoulder. Tenzin is on his left side, his head bowed in sorrow.
"It isn't your fault, Lin," Tenzin says; they all know the chief of police blames herself for what happened. Mako would, too, were he in her place. Even as it is, he blames himself. They all do; they all sit around wondering if they could have done something, anything, that would have changed things. So that this would never have happened.
"She could- can take care of herself. She wouldn't have gone, had you planned to babysit her. You can't blame yourself; what happened, well, to say she was extremely unlucky is an understatement." Tenzin continues sadly. "Don't be so hard on yourself. She'll get better. She has to."
They've come to the topic he's dreaded since the moment he set foot in this room to find out about the circumstances concerning the incident – a raid on a small group of Equalists still standing after Amon's defeat only a week or so ago. The topic he can't handle.
"The healers say that-"
He doesn't want to know what the healers say. There's only one thing that they say that could ever mean anything to him, that could make a difference, and the chances of those words coming out of their mouths, well, he doesn't want to think about how slim the chances are.
Instead, he deals with this issue the way he's dealt with the whole incident; he gets up hastily, his chair crashing to the ground with a deafening noise that echoes in the barren room, and runs from the room without a word.
He hasn't gone to see her yet; he knows Bolin thinks he should, but he just can't.
Bolin's gone, Bolin's told him about it, Bolin has been strong enough to deal with it. True, they're both torn up beyond repair by this, but Mako just can't face her.
Instead, he's sitting on a cliff that juts out over the bay, the lights of the city glowing in the distance. It's late, and the city glows a luminous yellow; a comforting glow, in his opinion. The Pro Bending Arena had been repaired, but both he and Bolin had found themselves at home on Air Temple Island; Tenzin had told them they were welcome to stay as long as they liked, so they'd all but officially moved onto the island.
Asami had moved back into the city after Amon's defeat and her father's subsequent arrest; they didn't keep in touch any longer, not after their break-up. They weren't really friends, couldn't really be; they never had been just friends, considering that they'd started off dating and completely skipped a phase as friends.
He wraps his arms around his knees, resting his chin on his arms. He feels guilty that he hasn't been to see her; he knows that had their roles been reversed, she would have gone to see him as soon as she heard the news. What he wouldn't give for their roles to be reversed…
The world needed her, much more than it needed him.
Soft footsteps behind him alert him to someone's approach, and he gets up, turning to face whoever it is. Tenzin.
"You should go to see Korra," the older man says gravely. "She would want you to. I know you're upset and I know it's hard, but you should. The healers say that talking to her could help. You were the person she was closest to in Republic City."
The shame washes over him. He hasn't gone to see his girlfriend in the hospital because he's afraid of what it could do to him, to see her like that, in her current state. A lump forms in his throat.
"I.. I'm going to go tomorrow," he says. "I promise."
Tenzin nods solemnly. "I have sent word to the Southern Water Tribe. Her parents, along with my mother, are on their way here. They should be here tomorrow evening."
Mako sighs. Her parents. "She was going to introduce me to them; she was so excited for them to meet me. We were going to go to the South Pole for her birthday, but now.."
He finds himself blinking back tears, and turns, ashamed of crying in front of an adult.
"I know you're scared," Tenzin says calmly, walking up to Mako and putting a hand on his shoulder. "But you must face your fears. For her."
He can't sleep. He hasn't been able to sleep well since what happened. Instead, he lies there, staring at the ceiling in the room he shares with his brother.
"Bolin?" His voice is no more than a whisper, but he knows Bolin's awake, too. Neither of them can sleep well, not with the perpetual worry gnawing at them, the knowledge that she might never- he stops himself before he can finish that thought.
"I'm going to go see Korra tomorrow," Mako says quietly.
"Good," Bolin says tiredly. "It's about time."
"How bad is it?" he asks, his mind coming up with all sorts of awful scenarios for him.
"It's.." Bolin is silent for some time, obviously trying to phrase it in a way that Mako won't chicken out and decide not to go. "Pretty bad. I mean, she looks fine, but.."
He trails off, which Mako is thankful for. Bolin's snores fill the room a few minutes later, but Mako lies awake throughout the night, imaging what he'll find in that room.
At breakfast, he's so tense with anticipation that he's unable to eat.
He nearly vomits on the ferry to the city.
And once he reaches the hospital, he nearly turns and runs far, far away as fast as he can, until he remembers that he promised.
And she wouldn't run from this.
He's sweating, the perspiration dotting his forehead, and his hands are clammy. His heartbeat takes off, his pulse probably twice as fast as normal. Taking a deep breath, he slowly opens the door, feeling as if he's going to faint.
The room is painted a pale yellow – Korra hates yellow, he thinks. A window overlooks a busy street, there's a small chair, a nightstand, and a round table with a vase of flowers on it. A fat lot of good those flowers will do her, he thinks.
She's lying there on the bed, completely still. She could be sleeping, he tells himself; it looks like she's just sleeping.
Her face is washed, scrubbed, unmarred but for her scars. Her hair is down, tangling around her shoulders in brown waves. Her arms lie atop the covers, and only the faint rise and fall of her chest indicates that she's still breathing. That she's still alive.
He drags the chair over to the side of her bed and collapses into it, squeezing his eyes shut and running a hand over his face.
Because Korra's not sleeping.
She's in a coma.
He's not sure how long he sits there with his eyes shut, breathing heavily, before he finally pries his eyes open, a foolish part of him hoping that maybe Korra will have opened her eyes or something, that maybe she'll magically wake up.
He forces himself to reach out and take her hand, threading his fingers with her limp, unresisting ones. A team of healers enter the room a few minutes later, as he's sitting there, looking down at Korra with a massive lump in his throat and tears in his eyes.
Mako clears his throat.
"How is she?" he asks hoarsely, looking at the healers now gathered around the Avatar's bed.
"All her vitals are good," the one in charge says. "We've healed her head injury as best we can, but we're not sure why she isn't responding.. If she does wake up, there may also be irreversible traumatic brain injury. Are you aware of what that entails?"
Numbly, he manages to shake his head.
"She may not remember things; that could mean anything from the last week to her childhood to everything. She might have gone through a personality change, if that area of the brain was injured.. she might have trouble speaking or moving, thinks like that. If she wakes up, it's very likely that she won't be entirely normal. Her injury was very grave." The man says sadly, looking at Mako, understanding filling his eyes. "I'm sorry. We're doing the best we can."
But it's not enough, he wants to yell. And in that moment, he realizes that Korra, his Korra, might be gone forever, one way or the other.
"Hey, Korra," he says, still clutching her hand. "It's me. Mako. Your, uh, boyfriend."
Talking to her is harder than he expected it would be, but the healers had said it could help. They'd left, thankfully, and he was there, empty and dead inside, talking to his all-but-lifeless girlfriend.
"Tell her about things that may evoke strong feelings, things that may trigger her memory," the main healer, Tarook, had said.
Mako racks his brains for something good.
"Do you remember when I asked you out on our first date? It was that warm, beautiful summer evening, we were out at the island, and you were mad at me.."
He and Asami had ended things by mutual agreement; he had felt things just weren't working out between them, and, though he hated to admit it, Hiroshi's words to him - "And the most difficult part.. was watching my daughter traipse around with a Firebending street rat like you!" - had struck a tender spot somewhere deep down; they hung over him like a dark cloud. She, in turn, had been too upset by her father's betrayal to put time or effort into their failing relationship, so they had merely parted ways.
They tried to keep in touch, to be friends, at first, but the attraction between them had fizzled out completely and they went their separate ways.
He'd tried to repair his friendship with Korra, apologized for all the insensitive things he'd said, and tried to be more.. there for her whenever she needed a friend. It was a hard, trying process, and more often than not they bickered or fought instead of doing things that friends did together.
But it was progress nonetheless, and as the days passed, Mako slowly fell for her, more and more.
It wasn't the same attraction he'd felt for Asami. With Asami, he fell hard and fast – he fell in lust with her. But with Korra, he slowly fell in love with her.
As much as she got on his nerves sometimes, as much as she irritated him and he irritated her, he thought she was amazing, and he loved her. Passively, of course.
Because he wasn't sure of her feelings concerning him, not anymore, not after their spur-of-the-moment kiss which led to all sorts of issues once Bolin got involved. The kiss they never spoke of, not even now that he and Asami had broken up.
Also, she was mad at him. Again.
He wasn't sure what it was; she'd just stormed out of the room once he'd entered, and it was painfully obvious that she was mad at him, except he had no idea why.
She's standing on the cliff, arms wrapped around herself, looking out at the city. He pads up silently behind her, then opens his mouth.
"What's your problem? Why are you mad at me, Korra?"
As expected, she whirls to face him, furious blue eyes filled with indignation. "What's my problem?" she snarls, taking a step towards him."Why are you such a jerk?"
She moves to walk past him, but Mako steps in front of her, blocking her path of escape. "What did I even do, Korra? Just tell me that."
All of a sudden, all the fight vanishes from her, and she drops her gaze to the ground, looking defeated. "Never mind. I'm sorry I got mad. I'm just being stupid." She makes to walk off again, but he reaches out, putting his hand on her shoulder.
"What is it? You can tell me.. that's what friends are for."
His mind whirls with the possibilities of why Korra's upset; had something happened that he'd missed? Was it something with Bolin? Her Airbending training? Had-"
"Look, I still like you, okay?" she suddenly exclaims, and before he has time to process her words, she's pushed past him and run off into the darkness, leaving him standing there, completely dumbstruck.
A few seconds later, her words have sunk into him, and he whirls around, sprinting towards her room. Mako barges in without knocking and spots Korra, lying on her bed, her back to him.
"Go away," she says, her voice muffled by the covers. He decides to get straight to the point before she forcefully evicts him from her room.
"I like you too," he says quietly, awkwardly standing there confessing his feelings to her back. "Do you.. want to go out for dinner tomorrow with me?"
It's quiet for a few beats, then- "Yeah," Korra says softly. "I'd like that."
He chuckles softly. "I don't know if you ever knew how nervous I was that night, Korra. When you took my hand on the way there, I just hoped that you wouldn't notice how sweaty my palm was."
He gazes down at her as she lies there, still unmoving and unresponsive. With a heavy heart, he slowly gets up from his chair.
"I'll come back tomorrow," he says, leaning down to press a kiss onto her forehead. "I love you." He watches her for another minute, just in case something would happen, then leaves, softly shutting the door behind him.
Tonraq and Senna, along with Katara, arrive in the evening. Mako stands alongside Tenzin, his family, and Bolin at the dock, feeling distinctly nervous and watching the waves gently slap against the shore. Korra had longed to introduce him to her parents, had always enthusiastically talked about how much they'd love him, and it always made Mako happy to hear how happily she spoke of her parents, how close she obviously was to them. They'd planned to visit the Southern Water Tribe around the time of her birthday, come winter, and he'd been apprehensive to meet her parents.
What would they think of him, a Firebender off the streets? Would they approve of their only daughter's choice?
He'd never imagined he'd meet them under circumstances like these, however. The three Water Tribe natives step off the boat, looking distinctly out of place in their thick fur-lined parkas and boots.
"Hello, Mother," Tenzin says, embracing Katara, then turning to greet Korra's parents. "Tonraq, Senna; welcome to Air Temple Island. I'm sorry that the circumstances surrounding our meeting are such as they are."
Mako looks Korra's parents over. Her father is a tall, broad-shouldered man whereas her mother is a slight, pretty, slender woman. Both of them have blue eyes and kind faces, both of them wearing worried expressions.
"What exactly happened to Korra?" Senna asks, worry evident in her tone.
"Let us discuss this over dinner," Tenzin says, gesturing towards the temple. "I'm sure you three are hungry."
He picks at his food, having lost his appetite, knowing Tenzin was going to discuss Korra's injury in detail, along with the events surrounding it. All Mako had heard was that it was a serious head injury; he didn't know how, exactly, it happened, considering he'd fled the room to be sick in a bush after being told Korra was in a coma and then, shaking, managed to find his way to his room to collapse in a trembling heap on his bed.
It's unusually silent around the dinner table, attributed to the fact that Pema, along with the three kids, is absent, and everyone else is waiting for Tenzin to speak. Bolin is surprisingly silent, too, Mako notices – he probably has already heard what Tenzin's about to say.
"Korra took part in a clandestine, undercover operation led by the police force," Tenzin begins, setting down his chopsticks. "The mission was to locate and arrest members of an organization called the Equalists, who are opposed to benders, and whose leader, Amon, was recently defeated by Korra. However, this group of Equalists had decided to continue to spread Amon's propaganda despite his demise, and they were responsible for several attacks on benders in the city recently. The police had been tipped off, so they knew where to head, but they didn't know that the informant had betrayed them, too.."
"We've got it. Our informant told us the Equalists use this warehouse at the southern end of the docks as a training facility. He said the place should be full of them this evening." Lin strides back and forth, casting glances at the board covering the wall, to which pictures, maps, and notes are pinned. "We do it like Tarrlok did it; we get in, subdue them, arrest them, and we get out. That's all there is to it."
Korra frowns at her hands. Another task force operation. She liked this one better, however, because it was led by Bei Fong, who, despite her tough exterior, was a much better leader than Tarrlok.
"How come he suddenly had a change of heart and decided to tell the police about this Equalist location?" Saikhan asks, suspicion evident in his voice. "It seems odd."
"Apparently, he joined the Equalists but didn't like their methods. The deal was that once we arrest them, he gets immunity and goes free," Lin answers calmly. "The Equalists seem to have a problem with deserters. Those that are left, anyways. Now, we've gone through the plan several times. Are there any questions? Otherwise, it's time to go."
The cops shake their heads, and Lin nods in approval. "Alright. Let's move."
There aren't that many of them, Korra notes. Besides her and Lin, there are maybe five other officers; after some of Bei Fong's best Metalbenders were sent to Amon after the fight in Hiroshi's secret factory, there weren't that many proficient, experienced enough officers left.
They creep towards the deserted warehouse; number 17, they were told. Lin is on her right, an officer whose name she doesn't know on her left. She smiles to herself, despite the situation. She'd defeated Amon: the few Equalists that were left in Republic City after his defeat were small fry. Easily dealt with. Spirits, if she could defeat Amon, then who could stand in her way? She was the Avatar!
On Lin's signal, they burst into the warehouse, having kicked down the door.
"Police! Hands in the air!"
The warehouse is empty.
Confused, she looks around. Posters of Amon are plastered onto the wall, and training equipment Is scattered around the warehouse, which has obviously been used as a training facility. Boxes of Chi-blocker gloves line the far wall.
Cautiously, they move towards the center of the warehouse, all of them with their hands out in front of themselves, ready to defend themselves.
Suddenly, masked figures drop down from the ceiling, landing silently on the floor; in a mere few seconds, they're completely surrounded.
There are so many of them, Korra realizes, the first pang of real fear shooting through her. They're horribly outnumbered. Taking a deep breath, she readies herself, as the Equalists advance.
Panting, Korra blasts another Equalist to the floor with a burst of fire, whirling to deflect the chi-blocking blows from another. There are too many of them. She's probably taken out ten of them already, but they keep coming. A quick glance around at the others shows her that two of Lin's Metalbenders are down; Lin herself is still kicking, thankfully.
Korra freezes one Equalist into the wall in a fluid, sweeping motion, and turns to face the three now heading towards her. She reaches out to grasp the one who reaches her first by the arms, throwing him into the opposite wall, where he slides to the floor. She realizes this was a bad move when the other two, having taken her idea, manage to land chi-blocking blows on her arms and legs before she has time to evade them. Sluggishly, she moves to evade their grasp, but the larger of the two picks her up and hurls her forcefully towards the wall.
Flying through the air, she desperately tries to raise her arms to protect her head in the seconds before she hits the wall, but her arms aren't obeying her will. At first, she hears more than feels the resounding crack that echoes throughout the whole warehouse when her head cracks against the wall.
Her last thought before everything goes black is of Mako.
"After that, Lin managed to get Korra, as well as her officers, out of there and safely back to headquarters. Korra was sent to the finest healers in the city, who did the best they could for her. Physically, there is no reason as to why she shouldn't wake up, however, the healers say there could be brain damage such as memory loss," Tenzin concludes. There are tears in Senna's eyes, and Tonraq looks troubled, too.
"We can go see her tomorrow, then?" he asks, and Tenzin nods.
"The healers say talking to her helps. You should talk to her about her favorite childhood memories, for example. Have hope, for all is not lost."
Except for him, everything was lost. If Korra.. died, then he would have nothing left. He would be alone.
With that thought at the front of his mind, Mako excuses himself quietly and exits the room.
That night, unable to fall asleep (partly due to his troubled thoughts, partly due to Bolin's immensely loud snoring), he finds himself wandering the halls of the Air Temple. Suddenly he hears voices coming from the sitting room; a glance in shows Tonraq and Senna, sitting side by side, discussing something. He's about to continue wandering and leave them to their conversation, when Senna calls out to him.
"Come join us," she says, smiling kindly at him. Awkwardly, he heads towards them, sitting down on an empty mat.
"You must be Mako," Senna says. "Korra's told us a lot about you."
Mako flushes, embarrassed. "Oh.. she has? Ah, well, that's nice, I guess."
Tonraq chuckles, a deep, low rumble. "She's very fond of you, our Korra. She said she wanted us to meet you and was going to bring you to the South Pole around her birthday."
Mako scratches the back of his head. "I thought that was going to be a surprise."
"She always did say she was going to marry a handsome boy," Senna laughs. "Why, when she was a child, she always said she wanted to marry a Firebender, so that he could keep her warm. It looks like she fulfilled both of her criteria."
Mako blushes slightly, smiling, but sobers immediately at the thought that Korra might not have the chance to marry anybody, ever.
The next day, he sits by Korra's bed as her parents talk to her, holding her hands and telling tales of her childhood. He smiles, laughs and cries along with them, and when they finally leave to explore the city, he takes over, holding Korra's hand in both of his.
"You're so beautiful," he murmurs, looking at her tranquil expression. "Remember the first time we really kissed, right after you pushed me into the pond?"
"I love the park!" Korra exclaims eagerly, blue eyes bright with joy. The trees in fall are brightly colored; various shades of orange, red, and yellow blending together. They're strolling together, hand in hand, having just come from the movies, on their second real date together.
"Come on, Mako!" she suddenly says, dragging him forward to the edge of a pond. "Look, over there!" she points at the water, and he leans forward, straining to see what she's indicating.
"What-" and then he feels her shove him; he lands with a huge splash in the pond, sputtering and coughing and cold. She's laughing hysterically, clutching her stomach, as he gets up and splashes his way out of the pond, grimacing.
"Was that supposed to be funny?" he snaps, slightly irritated.
"Oh lighten up, Mr. Cool Guy," Korra grins, and with a wave of her hand she's dried him off. He tilts the corner of his mouth up in a slight smile, and before he knows what's happening, she's kissing him, her arms wrapped around his neck.
And this time, he has no problem with her kissing him. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"I remember how insecure you were when, you know.." he flushes and trails off, somehow feeling embarrassed talking about this out loud with an unconscious person. "I thought it was so surprising that you actually were insecure.. you're always so strong and confident. And it was nothing to worry about, anyways.."
He slowly slides his fingers in and out of her, building up a steady rhythm, reaching up to brush his thumb over her clit, smirking as she gasps and arches into his touch.
"More," she gasps, her moans only serving to arouse him further, making the bulge in his pants even more uncomfortable. The way she squirmed and writhed under his touch, the noises she was making..
Obliging her command, he increases his pace, palming her breasts with his other hand and keeps going until he feels her start to come undone. Thrusting his fingers faster, deeper, he's rewarded by her loud cry as she comes. He holds her against him as she comes down from her high, trembling slightly.
He smiles at her, and her blue eyes meet his shyly as she reaches into his pants and grasps him tightly. He groans loudly, thrusting forward into her touch as she strokes up and down his shaft. Somehow, she manages to rid him of his pants, so that they're both completely unclothed.
Suddenly she stops her stroking, and he looks at her questioningly.
"Are you okay?" he asks quietly.
"I.. I've never.. did you and Asami.. you know.." Korra trails off, visibly blushing, despite her brown skin. She refuses to meet his gaze, her gaze fixed somewhere around his chest as he realizes what she's getting at.
He's surprised to realize that she, the Avatar, who can bend all four elements, is worried about her prowess in bed, worried that she's not experienced.
He strokes her cheek gently, cupping her face in his hand and smiling when she leans into his touch. "We didn't. She wanted to, but I wasn't ready."
He can feel her relax, the tension leaving her body. "So this is your.. first time too?"
He nods, and the relief on her face is palpable. "Don't worry, Korra. We'll figure it out together. After all, we have plenty of time to practice."
"Agni, I miss you." He whispers, tenderly cupping her face as he did then. The only difference is that back then, she was the Korra he misses so dearly; vibrant and full of life.
Suddenly the room, with its yellow walls feels cramped; too small. Mako gets up swiftly and hurries outside, where he takes huge gulps of air, bent over with his hands on his knees. There has to be something more they can do for Korra. She's the Avatar. She can't be allowed to die just like that. There has to be something more they can try; anything.
He strides calmly back into the hospital, strengthened by this idea.
"Surely there must be something," he tells Tarook. "Have you really done absolutely everything in your power?"
The man's expression sobers. "We can try healing the injured area more extensively, which will increase her chances of waking up, but we haven't done so, because that would also increase the risk for memory loss. I think it would be up to those closest to her to make that decision for her, her parents perhaps. The sooner we would do it, the more effective it would be. That's all that can be done now, besides wait."
At dinner that evening, he tells the others about what he learned from Tarook. Tenzin sets down his chopsticks, expression grave. "Is it really worth trying?" he asks quietly.
"I think so," Senna says softly. "I'm a healer, too, but these healers are more specialized, but from what I know, I think it could work. And we have to try. For Korra. It isn't healthy for her, either, to be in this state day after day."
"So it's decided, then," Mako says, and is met with nods from the others. For the first time in a while, he feels an inkling of hope in his chest.
He rushes into Korra's room as soon as the healers are done, accompanied by Tonraq and Senna.
"How did it go?" he asks Tarook.
"We think it went well. All that's left now is to wait. Try talking to her about things that will evoke positive emotions.. especially happy memories, perhaps." Tarook says, then leaves, shutting the door after him.
Tonraq and Senna talk to Korra, telling her about various things that happened in her childhood, and it pains Mako to realize how little they featured in Korra's life, due to her living at the White Lotus compound. They barely saw her as she grew older; they weren't as prominent a part of her life as parents should be.
Hours pass. Tonraq and Senna finally decide to leave; Mako decides to stay a while longer, feeling more at ease talking to Korra when alone.
"Keep an eye on her, son," Tonraq says, clapping him on the back as he leaves. Mako nods and leans back in his chair, scuffing his foot against the floor, staring at the bare yellow walls.
"Let's see.." he trails off into thought, trying to come up with a memory that would evoke positive emotions. "How about that time when we were discussing the future, what we wanted to do in life? We were talking about having kids.."
"I definitely want kids!" Korra exclaims happily, swinging their entwined hands back and forth between them. "Lots of them! Being an only child got kinda lonely sometimes.. maybe 3 kids or so. What about you?"
He smiles at her enthusiasm. "I'm not sure," he says softly. "I want to make sure I'll be able to take care of them.. you know, financially, as well as make sure I'll be a good parent."
She frowns at him. "What are you talking about? You'd be a great dad, Mr. Hat Trick. I'd be more worried about our kids inheriting that brooding gene from you."
At her mention of their kids, his heart swells until it feels like it's going to burst in his chest. "I love you," he says simply.
Korra beams at him.
"I love you too." She says brightly.
Mako sniffles and laughs softly. "Spirits, Korra, I'm still so in love with you. Please, just wake up.. we can have all the kids you like if you just wake up."
He squeezes her hand softly. "Come back. I need you."
Suddenly, he sees a tear trickle out of the corner of her eye, slipping down the side of her face into the pillow. He dashes out into the hallway. "Tarook! Come fast! She's crying!"
The healer rushes into the room as Mako sees more tears slowly trickle into Korra's pillow. Her eyelids vibrate slightly and he leans forward with anticipation.
"This is a good sign," Tarook says. "Keep an eye on her."
He sits there for another hour, feeling fatigue overcome him. There's no more signs of life from Korra, and just as he's about to leave for the night, her eyes fly open. Mako's eyes widen in shock as he gazes at her. Her blue eyes are open wide, but he's not sure if she sees him.
He should get Tarook, but he's caught by her gaze, unseeing and blind. Slowly, she blinks, her eyes focusing on him. He opens his mouth, but he isn't capable of forming any coherent words. Korra blinks again, confusion evident in her blue eyes, and his heart pounds frantically in his chest as she gazes at him, bewildered.
She doesn't remember me..
"K-Korra?" he croaks unsteadily. "D-do you.. know who I am?"
She blinks, then parts her lips slightly, and he nearly chokes from anticipation.
Please, Agni, please..
Her lips seem to begin to form a word; his name, he hopes with all his might, and then-
And then she shakes her head slowly, and his world comes crashing down around him to lie at his feet in ruins.
He manages to tell Tenzin and Korra's parents that she's woken up before stumbling to his room and collapsing into his bed, crying.
She doesn't know who he is. She's forgotten him. He's lost her.
Tarook had said that it was very likely she'd regain her memory; bits and pieces at a time. That did nothing to comfort Mako, however. Because what if she never remembered him? If she never remembered that she loved him? That he was in love with her..
At some point, he fell into a fitful sleep.
"Mom? Dad? Where am I? What's going on?"
He stands in the doorway as Korra embraces her parents, confusion evident on her face.
She remembers them..
"Oh, sweetie, you had an accident. You hit your head.. what's the last thing you remember?" Senna asks, holding Korra's hand in hers.
Korra frowns. "Home.. I remember.. I.. I was leaving. For.." she frowns. "I was going to the city?" Her parents nod enthusiastically.
"What else?" her father asks worriedly.
"Air.. bending," Korra says slowly. "The man with the beard.. Tenzin! Katara's son. He was going to teach me. That's about it."
She doesn't remember him or Bolin at all. The past eight months have been erased. The lump in his throat threatens to choke him as he takes the ferry back to Air Temple Island to tell Tenzin and Bolin the 'good', if he could call it that, news.
Mako is actively avoiding Korra. A week later, she's finally been let out of the hospital and been strictly confined to Air Temple Island. The press has been going wild, but they all know that it can't get out that the Avatar has lost her memory of the past eight months. Korra remembers bits and pieces every now and then, along with what everyone has been telling her, but he can't stand to see her like this; confused and empty, a shell of her former self.
She doesn't know who she is; neither does anyone else. She's unsure of herself and lost. And he can't bear the pain of knowing that she has no feelings for him, that she doesn't remember him. Sure, she's been told that he and Bolin are her friends, that they were a Pro Bending team. But it means nothing, because she doesn't remember it.
"So.. we're friends?" she asks, confusion in her eyes as she looks at him and Bolin.
Bolin nods. "Yeah, Korra."
She tilts her head and looks at him. "What was your name again?"
"Bolin," Bolin says. "And this is Mako. We're brothers."
"Oh," Korra says. "Okay. How long have we known each other?"
He can't bear to be around her, with her confusion and questions concerning things she already knows. It's too painful, because what if Korra, his Korra, never comes back? What if she eventually falls for someone else, because she never remembered him?
The island isn't big enough, however, because one day, they run into each other. She catches up to him easily as he walks away, eagerly tagging along at his side.
"You know," she says, "It's weird not being able to remember stuff. I feel like you were really important to me.. I liked you, didn't I?"
He stops walking and looks at her sadly. "Yeah," he says. "You did. I liked you too."
Korra looks sad too. "I'm sorry I can't remember. I bet it's hard for you, seeing me like this."
Somehow, her apology just makes him feel worse.
Throughout the days that follow, he watches Korra grow closer and closer to Bolin, who's more than willing to help her out, tell her things she's forgotten, to be her friend. In spite of himself, Mako's jealous, even though he's still avoiding her, unable to deal with this new, amnesiac Korra.
He watches them laugh at Pabu's newest trick together, and a pang of jealousy shoots through him. He should be trying to dredge up Korra's memories of her love for him, but it's too painful for him to remember them when she can't, when she most likely.. won't.
One night as he's sitting on the steps leading down to the courtyard, lost in his depressing thoughts, she pads up and sits down next to him, Naga at her side.
"I remember something," she says, and he turns to look at her in surprise. "It was you and me.. we were laughing, you were holding a stuffed Platypus Bear, and then.. you kissed me. Where was that?"
He's surprised that memory has come to her. "We were on a date.. you dragged me down to the local carnival.."
"Come on, Mako! Pleaaaase? It'll be fun, I swear!" Korra' practically bouncing around him in a circle, and he sighs, reaching a hand up to rub his temple.
"It's the same carnival every year.. I've seen it a thousand times." He says.
"But I've never been to a carnival before," she whines, gazing up at him like a kicked puppy. "Come with me?"
He sighs in defeat. "Fine."
"Yes!" Korra jumps with joy, then grabs his hand and drags him towards the park. Her eyes widen as she gazes at all the vendors, the booths, the games, the food. She darts around, happily spending her pocket change on things she finds interesting; games, roasted nuts, various trinkets. Despite himself, Mako is infected by her enthusiasm; he smiles as she grabs his hand again and drags him onwards, checking out every booth.
Suddenly, she stops short. "Mako…" she begins, a wicked smirk dancing on her face. "Win me that Platypus Bear?" she points at the ridiculously large stuffed toy that's the first place prize for some equally ridiculous dart-throwing game.
He groans. "Okay."
She giggles happily, then proceeds to watch him spend all his yuan on the game, missing the bullseye each time. Irritated, he glares at her. "You win it, Korra. You're the Avatar, you can deal with it."
"Alright," she shrugs, handing the vendor a few coins, taking a dart, throwing it, and hitting the bullseye.
As she's handed the gigantic Platypus Bear, she laughs over the top of the stuffed animal's head at his expression. "Stop being such a sore loser, cool guy," she giggles, handing him the toy. "Here, you can keep him."
"But.. I don't.. want.. ugh. Fine." He takes the abomination from her, and her grin lights up her face in such an adorable way that he can't help but bend down and kiss her, not caring that half the city is present.
He feels her smile against his lips, and that makes everything worth it.
"Sounds like we had fun together," Korra says softly, a slight smile on her lips as she gazes at her feet.. "Thanks for telling me."
She gets up and walks off. Mako watches her until she disappears out of sight.
"I can't stay here anymore, Bo," he says, tossing his jacket and scarf into his worn bag. "It's killing me, seeing her like this, not being able to do anything.. I'm getting restless here, anyways."
"What're you going to do?" Bolin asks curiously, looking up and pausing in the process of brushing Pabu.
"Go back into the city," Mako says wearily. "Scrounge up a job, find some place to stay; I bet Toza will let me stay in the attic. I'll be able to make ends meet."
"You sure about this, bro?" Bolin asks.
Mako nods. "I just.. I can't stay anymore. I'm going tomorrow morning."
"Okay," Bolin says quietly.
He goes outside, gratefully inhaling the cool air, treading through the damp grass to his favorite cliff where he stands, drinking in the view. Soon, he'd be back in the city, back to his old life.. back to what was normal. After he had met Korra, and when he was dating Asami, he had wanted things to go back to normal, had tired of the endless conflicts, problems, issues, skirmishes that followed in Korra's wake. He'd just wanted to live the life Asami had introduced him to.
But now, he would give anything for the old, hectic Korra he loves.. but that Korra is a shadow of the past, nothing but a memory now. It hurts too much to see her as she is now, at least for him it does. Maybe the new Korra will choose Bolin, maybe she'll be happy with him. Mako knows that unless she remembers him, she'll never be truly happy even if they were together; she'd be living a lie, for the sake of his happiness. It sounded like something she would do, however.
He turns around at the sound of her voice, startled. He studies her closely; there's something different about her – her grin is wide, eyes bright and happy.
"I remember everything, Mako," she whispers, closing the distance between them and hugging him tightly. He's completely shocked and only manages to stare down at the top of her head. She steps back when he remains unresponsive.
"I love you," she says, grinning, and that does it. He grabs her and kisses her roughly, tears streaming down his face as he cries with relief.
She's back. His Korra is back.
She kisses him back fervently, wrapping her arms around his neck, the way she always used to, to draw him closer, and his tears mingle with her own.
"How did you.. remember?" he croaks after pulling away to sniffle in an undignified manner.
She shrugs, still smiling that cocky, smug grin that's her trademark. "I don't know. It just sort of hit me. All of it."
"Spirits," he says hoarsely, wrapping her tightly in his arms. "I was so lost without you. I love you so much."
"I love you too," she laughs happily. "Bolin told me you're leaving for the city?"
"Not anymore," he says softly into her hair. "I'm staying wherever you are."
"Good," she says. "You gotta deal with me."
And with that, she grabs his hand and leads him to her room, where he falls asleep with her in arms, his last thought that he, finally, is home.