Notes: Speculation about the brothers' lives before their parents were killed-I really like morally grey characters, so I ran with the idea that their father could have worked for the Triads.
It was easier to lie as he got older. Not because he had learned how; it simply got easier with age. Time eroded so many memories that what little Mako could cling to stuck with him, until years upon years of threaded lies created a new tapestry of his childhood. On some nights he could recount every movement of needle into fabric with perfect clarity. On others he would sit and wonder where all the holes had come from, where the tattered ends had been eaten away by moths or had never been filled in the first place.
There were a handful of memories that were so clear that he knew they had to be true, but they didn't soothe his mind. He remembered wandering into the kitchen one night, gruff and boisterous laughter reaching his bedroom, only to find a group of strange men and his father seated at the table. Only a lantern was lit and strung up above them, casting ugly black shadows on their carved faces and reflecting an even more sinister gold shine to their already gold jewelry. His father sat among them and smiled down at him, still the same smile, still the same man, but now so different when circled around these men. Before Mako could fully grasp why his father was suddenly so different, his mother swooped in and carried him back off to bed. Years later, he would realize the change.
He knew that they were poor. They had enough to get by, but gettingby was enough of a struggle. He remembered eating jook enough times that he threw a tantrum and knocked his meal to the floor, begging for something, anything else to eat. He remembered the importance of his mother's sewing, the feeling of having swaths of fabric pinned to his body as his mother made him a new outfit in preparation for school. How the only pride she had was in her appearance, how she woke up before dawn to iron all their clothes, how the house was always immaculate.
But some nights his father would come home with bundles of gifts that Mako could remember gazing at longingly through the glass storefronts. Amazing toys that didn't break and fall apart one week after receiving them, desserts and candies that shined like precious stones, or a brand new pair of shoes that reflected his murky, excited face in the shiny black leather. His mother would sigh at the gifts and mentioned that he was spoiling them, but all complaints left when his father draped a new necklace around her neck.
He didn't reflect the true nature of these memories to his brother-didn't even touch the first, which only resurfaced during dreams. Bolin only remembered so much, only enough to remember the way their father crushed them into hugs or the soothing relief that came with their mother's voice; a child's memories. It was enough for him to remember that there was something missing, but Mako knew that Bolin would never reach the conclusion that he and every other person made: parents are not just parents. They could work for a gang and still smother their children in hugs with the same amount of unwavering love as those that worked on the opposite end of the law. They could sit among men with ragged pink scars that dragged across their eye and smile that same smile they tucked their children in with every night.
So Mako would tell his brother every night that their father was a good man, the best man, and hope that he was right.