If there hadn't been a butler standing directly behind him to push in his chair, Bolin would have fallen to the floor. He'd never seen so much food in his life! And he certainly had never seen so much delicious food.
He sat with Asami and Mako for dinner on the first night that they were staying at the Sato mansion. They were in a very fancy and very huge dining room, and the butler insisted on calling him Master Bolin. It was weird, but he kinda liked it. But it felt like the room was too big and too nice, though, like he was being swallowed whole by the nice curtains and the nice table and the nice rug and the nice everything. It was huge. Much too huge for its occupants. It was only the three of them tonight after all, and with Mako and Asami sitting so close to each other, laughing and touching on one side of the table, Bolin felt rather small.
Mr. Sato had told them earlier in the afternoon that he was sorry, but he just wouldn't be able to make it to dinner that night. Asami swore that he didn't have any business-related meetings, so she had no idea why he was skipping out on eating with them. Bolin had been only mildly curious.
However once the butler began to remove the trays from their first course, Bolin lost all his curiosity. Every scrap of it. A large, steaming bowl of miso soup was set in front of him, and after watching Asami for a bit for some kind of hint on how to properly tackle soup without slurping (thankfully Mako was also watching and thankfully Asami hadn't noticed a thing), he mimicked her and dipped the spoon gently, turning his wrist to avoid little splashes. The soup filled his deep spoon, smooth, light, and dark brown. He sipped hesitantly.
It was perfectly salty with a few green onions floating and tiny cubes of tofu swirling around the broth when Bolin put his spoon in. It was the best miso he'd ever eaten. Granted, he hadn't eaten that much miso in his life, but this was insanely good.
He'd been too preoccupied gulping his soup down that he had already forgotten the extensive array of food that had been laid out in the middle of the table. Huge platters were laid out in the middle of table, begging to be eaten. The spoon clinked against the side of his empty bowl as he dropped it in, and pushed it to his side, revealing a plate underneath.
He started to pile on the food.
Pau buns, hot, soft, and fresh. A huge bowl of fried rice set in the middle of table. Komodo chicken, squid, seaweed noodles, fried dumplings (fried!), and the best, craziest, best, most expensive, and (did he mention best?) part—an entire roast duck, crisp and wonderfully browned.
He could eat all of it and more. He felt the drool collected in his mouth, and he swallowed, debating over whether he should take half of the duck, or just take a fourth now and another fourth later. He was starving! Starving. After the events from the night before and all that commotion, all that fear, getting told that he and Mako had to leave and packing up all his things, recalling all those memories, losing their home, coming to Asami's and—
No. Wait. He was not starving. He was just really hungry.
This wasn't starving and Bolin knew, because although it had been awhile, he knew what starving felt like. He knew the difference. He knew hunger and he knew Hunger. He remembered how it felt in his stomach and in his heart and in his soul. He'd never forget.
The Hunger came with a tinge of loneliness.
He recalled waking up with an empty stomach. He recalled Mako touching his shoulder early in the morning, before it was even light out sometimes, informing him that he was going to go look for work and food and yuans but Bolin had to stay put and stay hidden and stay safe. There wasn't any need to worry. Mako would be back. No need to worry.
Bolin barely had time for that.
Hidden away, deep in the belly of their secret place in the abandoned warehouse, Bolin would wait. He had tried to convince Mako to bring him along many times, but Mako always refused. Bolin's stomach would ache and so would his heart, and he'd curl his knees up into himself and hold them tight, trying to squeeze out the pain. Eventually he'd succeed, and hours after, the pain would have lessened. He'd feel empty instead, and the lingering bits of loneliness around the cold, dark warehouse would come to him full force, filling the hollow that the hunger had left behind.
It was no improvement.
When Mako would come back, sometimes one hour later, sometimes seven, clutching a loaf of bread or a handful of buns, he'd already feel better. The wait was over, and he'd wave goodbye to the lonely.
Bolin didn't have to wait now. He didn't have to hide.
He began to eat.
He started with a few buns, popping them into his mouth, and feeling the sweet dough press up against the insides of his cheeks, the tasty explosion that burst when he got to the center.
He slurped noodles after that, having piled a huge mound on his plate. He was good with a pair of chopsticks, and the noodles slid into his mouth easily. They were slightly chewy and flavored just right.
And the Kimodo chicken, oh, the chicken! The meat was so tender in his mouth, so juicy with its marinade.
"Whoa, Bo," Mako said, leaning across the table to him and pointing with his chopsticks. "No need to rush!" Asami still hadn't finished her soup, but she smiled at him. "Settle down!" Mako's voice wasn't angry, more like teasing, which made it made it easier to ignore. He fell back into his conversation with Asami, which Bolin also ignored.
Bolin continued stuffing anything and everything into his face. Pieces of duck, mounds of rice, another bun, three fried dumplings that were arguably better than his favorite from the stand down the street. His mouth was full, but he kept putting more food inside. It was almost as if he couldn't chew fast enough, and he wanted more because it was so good and so much and he wanted it so badly, so he ate and ate and ate.
His pants already felt tight on his waistband.
He still ate.
Bolin hadn't felt Hungry in a long time, but sometimes memories of it would come back to haunt and tease. The scars were still there, the residual worry that the Hunger would return. For example, he could never leave food on his plate because it was there. It didn't matter how it tasted. When he was small, he only could eat when the opportunity presented itself, and he and Mako would shove inside their bellies what little food he'd gotten as fast as they could, trying to force the Hunger out of their systems.
Once an opportunity presented itself to Bolin, he couldn't resist. If there was food, he had to eat. The chance might never come again.
He remembered the first night Mako was able to scrounge up more than just a loaf of bread, more than old buns, more than half-eaten bowls of the sweet-and-sour-pork that made his hands and face sticky and delicious.
He'd carried his haul in a torn blanket. His red scarf, Daddy's scarf, was nearly touching the floor as he stumbled in, dragging the load behind him. He yelled. He laughed. Bolin ran to meet him, and nearly fell over when Mako revealed the treasure. Meat and bread and fruits and various pastries, all piled together, blending their flavors and smashing together but it didn't matter. It was amazing. Bolin had never seen so much food in his life!
Both knew that they should save some, that they should stay calm and sift through everything and find what they could keep and what wouldn't go bad. They should put some aside; they shouldn't eat everything.
But they couldn't help themselves.
The opportunity had presented itself to them, so Bolin ate fast and Mako ate faster.
They nearly consumed everything.
It wasn't until Mako dropped his apple and it rolled across the blanket, covered in bite marks, and he clutched his tummy, staring at Bolin, that there was any indication of stopping soon.
Mako groaned at Bolin to stop eating. He yelled at him to stop, now.
Then he ran off, away from their secret place. Bolin covered his ears so he didn't have to hear the sounds of all that food being wasted, so he didn't have to feel the involuntary need to purge his stomach as well.
He'd hid his eyes and tried to keep the food inside, dreading the feeling of his stomach rising up too high inside him. But he'd stopped in time.
It felt worse than the wait, worse than the loneliness of Hunger.
He felt it now. He hadn't stopped in time.
He was in the middle of forcing yet another bun (really, they were sublime) down his throat when it hit him, a sudden urgency that he'd set on himself. It came like a storm, raging and furious and now.
He jumped away from the table, knocking his chair over. Mako looked surprised, Asami concerned.
"Bolin?" she said, "Are you okay?"
"I gotta…" He couldn't finish his sentence. He sprinted out of the dining room, into the hall, searching for a bathroom. Mako yelled after him, confused. Bolin clamped his hand over his mouth when he felt the first wave of vomit rise up in his throat, and had to stop and swallow. No, he couldn't. No. It needed to stop. His stomach rolled when the vomit returned.
The bathroom was four doors down the hallway, and he skidded inside, slamming onto his knees right before the toilet. He waited for it to come again, to twist his stomach and push out all the delicacies he had just enjoyed in the few minutes that he'd been sitting at the table. The duck, the noodles, the dumplings. It had been so much and so good.
Bolin noticed Mako just peering his head around the edge of the door when he started to puke. He closed his eyes so he didn't have to see, but he still smelled it, acrid and burning and revolting in his nostrils.
He felt a hand on his back, moving up and down, rubbing between his shoulders and down his spine. He gagged and puked a second time, overwhelmed by the smell of the first round.
He kept going, ashamed and unwilling, but he couldn't stop it. His body was running on by itself now, determined to clear everything out, and nothing Bolin could do would stop it. Mako sat next to him, his hand following the same path back and forth and back and forth, and Bolin shuddered as another wave hit him. He gripped the toilet. It hurt.
And then it was done.
He sat back on his legs, wiped his mouth and wiped his tears and took a deep breath before looking at Mako. He expected anger. He'd known what would happen, and he'd told him to slow down, to stop. Just like before. Only this time he didn't listen. He expected the anger in Mako's eyes, but that's not what he saw.
He only saw pity.
He only saw open arms.
He fell into them, comfortable and safe. Mako didn't complain when Bolin grabbed onto him as well, gripping him tightly, practically sitting in his lap. He started to cry.
It was bad when Bolin waited alone in the warehouse, when the Hunger and the loneliness came hand in hand.
It was worse when Mako had made him stop eating.
But it was the worst on those rare days, those rare nights when they didn't eat at all. Bolin remembered the first time the best because it was the last time he stayed hidden. It was very late. Bolin had been looking at the stars through the hole in the ceiling, connecting the dots.
Mako stumbled inside, hands empty. That was the first thing he noticed. Hands empty. But when he got closer, Bolin saw that he had scrapes on his face, cuts on his knees, and he understood why Mako always refused to let him go with him, no matter how much he pleaded, no matter how much he begged.
He fought for their food. He fought people for their food.
And today, he'd lost.
Mako stood, defeated, and sat down on the ground. "I'm sorry," he'd said, face in his hands. He started to shake, trying to control the tears so that Bolin wouldn't see them, rubbing his arms to get the soreness out. But Bolin crawled closer, tears starting to form in his own eyes because Mako was crying and Mako shouldn't be crying and Mako needed to stop crying.
"Please don't cry, Mako. It's okay. I'm here."
Mako grabbed him and he held him close and he held him tight. Bolin squeezed back, and the two collapsed onto the cold ground and fell asleep like that, clinging to each other because there was nothing else. They had no parents and no home. They were starving and they were alone. All they had was each other, and that's what they had to survive on.
They held on tight.
Just like now, they held on tight.
Mako gripped Bolin hard and repeated his words, this time a whisper.
"Please don't cry, Bolin. It's okay. I'm here."
And with that, Bolin knew he'd never really be Hungry again. He didn't have to binge again. He didn't have to feel the worry or the fear ever again.
Mako was here, and they were together.
They had no parents and no home. And all they had was each other. But really, it was okay. It was okay.
Because it was all they needed.
a/n:Written for Korrafic Saturday on tumblr, as part of the Seven Deadly Sins prompt. Mine was gluttony.