The pastel colors of early dawn splashed across the broad canvas of sky above Yue Bay, painting a new day in Republic City. The stars slowly began to fade from view, the sun veiling them beneath a warm blanket of pink and yellow, as if it were tucking them into bed. Daybreak danced across the buildings as it chased the shadows of the night into the horizon, and slivers of light peeked into the homes of sleeping citizens, awakening them softly. The orange sun rose from the depths of the ocean surrounding the bay, its rays of sunlight stretching out across the sky—as if it were in tandem with the thousands of yawns resonating throughout the city.
The playful dawn crept over Air Temple Island, casting a beam of sunlight which happened to fall upon the dreaming eyelids of a young Avatar. She did not share its warmth or enthusiasm for the morning.
Korra sleepily opened one blue eye, only to be greeted directly by the sun which was being let in by the open window. She squinted furiously and shivered as she felt the crisp morning air crawl across her skin. With a grunt, she turned over to go back to sleep; but what greeted her on the other side of the bed curled her lips into a sheepish grin.
Before her was the sculpted, marble-white back of the boy she loved, rising and falling as he pleasantly dreamt on. She noted the dark freckle on the back of his neck, behind his ear, and another right between his shoulder blades. Her eyes followed the curve of his spine all the way down to where the sheets covered his backside. She couldn't help feeling that itch to toss the sheets back and press herself against him. She wanted to feel his warmth—feel his presence, breathe it in. There was no denying that she was selfish when it came to the sleeping body beside her. She was more than smug with the fact that he was lying naked in her bed.
Korra sighed and shook her head, trying to bring herself back down to Earth. But this certainly didn't feel like Earth—not with Mako wrapped in her sheets. She rolled onto her back, propping her head up as she looked up at the ceiling. She felt the soreness of her muscles, the drain of her body from last night. Her hands slowly moved up her neck, feeling the rough mark of flesh that signaled a new hickey. She moved down to her breasts, across her stomach and her thighs—she blushed as she recalled his mouth managing to cover just about every inch of her.
"Stop it, Korra." she whispered aloud to herself. She felt her face flush, only to have a cold gust of air drift across her stomach. Must have left the window open when he snuck in, she thought, having difficulty with remembering the bits of last night when she and Mako's limbs weren't intertwined. She knew Mako didn't plan on staying over because he never usually did—it was "too risky", he would always harp. But of course, Korra didn't care about the risks nor consider them. She secretly enjoyed the rare mornings spent with Mako asleep next to her, naked and completely vulnerable.
That was what she loved the most about their relationship when she really thought about it. Not that she would ever openly admit it; she was too prideful for that. But she found comfort in her time spent with Mako, whether they were speaking with words or with their bodies, because there was a kind of safety with him. It was somewhat ironic, since realistically the whole situation was risky—what with Mako dating Asami and Tenzin and the airbender kids always lurking—but right now she didn't care. She was happy. Damn, was she selfish… but she was happy.
Her eyes flickered back to Mako, searching for the rise and fall of his breathing. For a moment, she forgot about her pride. She forgot about the pain in her chest that always followed after she thought of Asami, and she forgot about the stone wall she had built between herself and other people, to keep the hurt out. She wanted Mako to be on the other side of that wall. She wanted him always like this, lying next to her, simply breathing in and out. She slowly raised her hand, outstretching her fingers as she went to trace the curve of his back.
"Mako…" she began. But found she couldn't finish, for suddenly Mako propped himself up with his elbow and sleepily rubbed his eye.
"Huh, what time is it?" he slurred, slowly emerging from the dreamy haze that clouded his mind.
Korra felt her face flush, her cheeks burning as that sheepish grin returned. Her heart quickly sank as she realized he would be walking out the door in a moment, leaving her with only a curt goodbye, an indent in her mattress, and her conscience to sort out.
"Good morning," Korra tried her best to say nonchalantly, but as Mako turned to her with his eyebrow arched and ridiculous sex hair, she couldn't help but laugh.
"Morning." Mako lingered on the word for a moment before his golden irises widened. "Wait, morning? Ah, Shit," Mako sighed as he tossed back the sheets, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to stay over." He quickly jumped out of bed and began to look around the room in search of his clothes. Judging from the frenzy of last night, he wasn't sure how much he would be able to find.
"Oh, it's okay. Really not a big deal." Korra tried to play it off, but as she sat there in bed she began to feel the shame wash over her. She couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed that Mako couldn't blatantly see how much she wanted him to stay, how much she wished he was hers. But of course she'd never say. At least not with these circumstances.
Mako sat on the edge of the bed as he pulled on his pants and began to put on his shoes. Korra couldn't help but glare at the back of his head. There he goes, from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds.
"You firebenders really do rise with the sun." She said aloud, and immediately disliked how much pain could be heard in her voice when she said it. So she tried her best to act as if she didn't care. "Tenzin does like to meditate pretty early, though, so be careful on your way out." Korra then regretted saying that, too. She just couldn't seem to win with her emotions. Feeling completely defeated, Korra rolled onto her side, facing the window and away from Mako. She wanted so badly to just hide under the covers and disappear from Mako's sight. No, more than that, she just wanted to disappear completely. Vanish.
Mako stood up, adjusting the collar of his shirt and slinging his scarf over his shoulder. There were a few buttons left undone but he would worry about that later. His face fell as he looked at Korra's figure—arms crossed, her dark hair fluffed out on her pillow and tan legs peeking out of tangles of white sheet. Mako's brow furrowed as he looked over Korra.
"Is something wrong?"
Korra simply didn't reply. She was done with trying to pretend like she wasn't hurt. She was done trying to reject that she was in love with Mako. She was done trying to be everything she felt she was the opposite of.
Mako walked over to the bed, placing a hand on his hip. "Look, I really didn't mean to spend the night. If that's what you're upset about—"
"It's not." Korra sighed, pulling the covers up over her breasts as she sat up. "You staying over is the last thing I'm upset about. I'm just…"
"You can tell me anything, Korra. I hope you know that."
Korra looked up at Mako, and she couldn't help but blush when their eyes met. There was something in the way their eyes locked on each other—Korra could swear she actually heard her brain click when they shared a moment like this. Mako's expression became less tense, and he sat down on the edge of the bed again to take Korra's hand.
She was the only girl that could level him with her eyes.
"I can't help it," Mako swallowed, breaking their stare as his eyes darted down to his hand in hers, "I can't help what I feel for you."
Korra felt both angry and happy at the same time. It was the most explosive mixture of feelings—they boiled inside her, set everything on fire. It was passion both ways, colliding all at once. And yet on the exterior she only managed to pull her hand away.
"And you can't help how you feel for Asami, either."
Mako's heart sank as he watched Korra pull away. It's was funny, how someone can be sitting right next to you but they feel so many miles away. His jaw tensed as he collected his hands in his lap. "No, I can't. Look, Korra, I told you from the beginning that I was confused. But you know how I feel about you, and you have to understand how ha—"
"I don't know, actually. You say you're confused, and a statement like that pretty much leaves me in the dark." Korra blurted, and she felt the fire inside her begin to ignite. Mako saw the sparks in her eyes.
"I don't like having to hurt either you or Asami." Saying her name with a naked Korra before him felt forbidden. When they were together, that's all it was supposed to be—Mako and Korra. But as much as Korra hated it, the truth was that underneath it all, it was far from that.
Mako took a deep breath, shaking his head as he said, "But you mean something to me, Korra. More than I'm ready to accept."
Their eyes locked again. Sparks became flames. They lit Korra's bones on fire, boiled her blood—she felt her cheeks flush. She wanted him to do it. She wanted proof, anything she could get. She was tired of being left alone at the end of the day, loving someone who she felt was meant to belong to her but was so far away. In the end, it was always Korra who had to keep everything bottled up inside. She was the one who had to stand by and pretend to smile as Mako kissed Asami, the one who had to try and contain something that utterly overpowered her from within.
Completely consumed by fire. She just wanted to burn already.
The sun fell onto Korra's hair as it crept higher into the sky. It poured light across the city, filling up every street corner and shining through every leaf. It sparkled across the water, the light reflecting the city onto the surface of the sea before it. Mako's eyes watched the particles of dust dance in the light of the ray falling through the window, swimming in the sun's golden glow.
Mako outstretched his long pale fingers to stroke Korra's cheek. Her blue eyes searched his as he tucked a dark string of hair behind her ear. He always liked it best when her hair was out of her face—he wanted to see her eyes. The eyes that, he noticed, were now searching his lips. Prove it. The words lingered on Korra's tongue and hovered in the inches of air between the two of them.
And so he did. Gently at first, Mako's hand fell from Korra's ear to the back of her neck, pulling her closer to him as he pressed his lips against hers. He could feel her surprise in the tension of her lips—but as he continued to kiss her, Korra felt the flames inside her turn into something completely different. She burned with a new intensity now as he held her, the touch of his hands gently holding her face giving her goosebumps. Korra wrapped her arms around his neck, welcoming the warmth of the sun on her back for once. She knew he wasn't hers completely. But at least a part of him was, and she knew that now. And as he whispered into her ear and kissed her a dozen more times before leaving with the promise of tonight in the air, Korra was pretty sure that he had a part of her, too.