I'll Love You for Always
-

She didn't know.

For once in her life, the Avatar was absolutely certain that she did not know what to do. Every plan, every strategy, every thought went completely out of her head at the sight of the baby she was holding in her arms. It wasn't hers, not hers by a long shot. Heck, she was barely eighteen. Not old enough to have a kid, especially not one as beautiful and pale as this one. She didn't know a thing about babies, didn't know a thing about feeding or changing or how to make them feel better when they were crying their eyes out. Like now, for instance.

Where had she gotten this astoundingly cute little munchkin? It was a long story, but I'll make it short so that you don't have to endure the details. It was supposed to have been a simple walk with Mako, yet it turned out to be much more when they were both crashed into by a skinny woman who looked as if she hadn't eaten in days. Weeks, even. Korra had immediately felt sorry for her and hadn't noticed the look in the woman's eyes. When she had asked the Avatar to take the small bundle in her arms as a sign of apology, Korra had quickly obliged.

She hadn't known then either. She hadn't understood that the mass in her arms was warm and heavy until a couple seconds after the strange woman had disappeared. Mako did, however, notice the squeal that was let forth a moment later – and the both of them threw back the corner of the blanket to reveal a pearly white face, framed by locks of stunningly red hair.

"Mako…" Korra breathed, her eyes as wide as saucers. "W-What… is… this…?"

"It's called a baby, Korra," he answered promptly, unaware that the reply would only serve to spike her temper.

"I know it's a baby! The question is, why did that woman give me her kid?"

"…because…"

"Because she's a lousy mother, probably," Korra ranted, clenching her teeth and groaning. "OH spirits, what am I going to do about this?"

"You're the Avatar. You'll figure out something…"

"Me? I will figure out something? Don't even get me started! You were here too, ya' know!"

Mako was now the one getting angry. This situation wasn't helping his stress level. "Yeah, well, the lady didn't give the kid to me!"

"I can't take care of her myself, Mako!" Korra was practically fuming now. Flames were practically dancing around her, just ready to strike out at Mako. He himself had his fists clenched as if he were just about to singe off her smart mouth with the next comment.

Then, it happened. So suddenly that both of them turned to stare in surprise. The baby was… screeching. Rather loudly at that. The two teens had never seen a baby cry before, let alone taken care of a crying child in their lives. Sure, they had babysat Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo, but those three were all grown enough to know not to cry and shriek to get what they wanted. Apparently, however, the bundle in Korra's arms was not going to give the two of them that courtesy.

"What do I do with her?" Korra asked frantically, clutching the little girl closer to her chest and beginning to rock her from side to side awkwardly. The screams died down a bit, but not enough to satisfy the Avatar (or anyone else in Republic City).

"I… I don't know. Here, let me take her for a minute," Mako said, and Korra gave him the child enthusiastically. She wasn't very eager to carry the poor thing around. What if she hurt the girl? She never liked hurting anything, and with the power she possessed, it was very possible that that might happen. You never know. "Now, let's see here. What's wrong, kiddo? You hungry?"

Korra was almost surprised by the caring smile he gave the baby. She wasn't, however, shocked or stunned by it. Mako had taken care of Bolin for most of their lives, after all. He'd been a dad for one kid already. She looked away, only to turn back again as the girl squealed and clutched Mako's fingers with her own. The crying had completely stopped now and was replaced with giggles and laughter. They were happy, innocent noises that made it hard for Korra not to smile. But she couldn't get attached. It just… it couldn't work out. They couldn't keep the kid.

"Come on, we should find that woman again and give her back her baby – "

"Are you out of your mind?"

Korra was completely taken aback by this statement, but she tried not to let herself get angry with him again. "What do you mean? Of course we can't keep her around! Tenzin'll kill me if I suddenly show up with a kid – "

"So what?" Mako challenged. "She's alone, she has nobody. I'm not going to leave her with a woman who'd just as soon let her die on the streets than feed her bread and water. Korra, I've lived in this place since I was born. I know the people who're around here, and most of them aren't all as needy and nice as you think."

"I don't think that, but…" Korra could feel her resolve softening bit by bit. She was already starting to get wrapped around that kid's little finger. Just the overpowering cuteness would've been enough to make her guilty, but Mako's continuous argument was rendering her resistance futile.

"Alright, alright. We'll keep her. But just for right now! Anyway, we should be getting back to Air Temple Island. Tenzin'll start to worry if we don't hurry."

Mako knew he had won, so he cuddled the little girl to his chest with a triumphant smile and followed Korra (who was secretly smiling to herself as well) toward the ferry docks.

As of that moment, they had no idea what they were getting into. Had no idea that their world would be rocked by the same child that was now resting peacefully in the fire bender's arms. They thought to themselves that it was passing thing. A passing excitement that would figure itself out. They didn't understand what would happen, how attached they would get to the fiery haired child.