A/N: My first attempt at some light Makorra fluff before I dig into some sirius aangst. Be kind, and reviews would be very helpful to let me understand how I did.
This is implied to take place pre-Spirit of Competition, when Bo and Mako still had their apartment.
Iceboxes were already around, and refrigerators were starting to come out [albeit expensively] by the early twenties. I did my research yes. [pats Wikipedia]
Korra is so in love with Mako it hurts. I'm still getting off of my crushed Borra love and am testing out the Makorra ship I'd sailed originally, and I plan to write more present-day work after I figure out how to write Makorra period.
The title is a pun on the popular Cooking Mama series of games.
Alternatively one could say Cooking with Mako. But Cooking Mama Mako is too much fun. Mama Mako!
Cooking Mako. I regret nothing. Nothing at all.
Shaded dark by the early evening, the couch is worn and well-used, the cushions moulding to her tense shoulders as she leans back and relaxes, floating on a bed of memories and moments. She can tell this sofa has seen more between the brothers than she ever may. "If only you could talk," she muses, "you might be able to tell me how to make Mako laugh."
Suddenly she hears footsteps just outside the apartment, the jangle of keys in a lock, and her muscles uncoil in a flash; she springs behind the couch, wedging herself between it and the wall, the white paint flaking away. With a creak speaking of rusty hinges the door swings open, and a familiar scarf-wearer steps inside, rubbing his right hand reflexively as if the massaging the tension out of it, no doubt caused by the hours spent generating lightning.
She should ask him how to do that sometime.
"Bo?" he calls out, nudging the door closed with a foot. "Bo, you there?" There's no response; she hopes her breathing isn't audible. He pulls at one of his half-gloves and shrugs out of his jacket. "Funny, he's usually back by this time."
She whispers a silent thank-you to the love spirit for delaying her friend.
Dropping a bag of groceries onto the kitchen counter, he glances right and left, and whatever plans she had evaporate as she realises that coming out from behind the sofa would bring nothing but anger and distrust. Instead, she's curious as to what he will do when he thinks he's alone and in that lovely white tee shirt. Her mind settles on one particularly, er, erotic possibility, but she pushes it out of her thoughts, embarrassed at the blush setting her cheeks on fire.
Cautiously he picks through the groceries, placing most of them inside the icebox resting between two cabinets in the counter. "Now," he announces abruptly, surprising her, "welcome to another episode of Cooking Mako." She stifles a laugh and buries her face into the back of the couch. "Today, we'll be preparing lizard crow dumplings, considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. First, you need a fine lizard crow, such as this one." The glossy-feathered bird is laid carefully on the counter. Somewhat disturbed, she wonders if he killed it himself, the broken neck indicating so. "Skin it and remove the choicest pieces of meat, mostly likely from the breast, legs, and wings." She stops listening and watches him use his bending to delicately burn off the skin. Pots full of heated water fly about, dough rolled and stuffed with lizard crow, the edges curled perfectly into each other like yin and yang flowing as one. The flecks of paint from the wall tickle her throat. "Make sure that none of the dough has been torn. Check every dumpling if you have to, and remember, better safe than sorry." A sneeze builds in the back of her nose; she sniffs quietly, but the feeling doesn't go away, only worsens. "Start to bring the water to boil, whether by bending or by a flame."
She closes her eyes, pinches the bridge of her nose, and focuses on the sneeze, willing it away; it grows until she can no longer contain it.
She sneezes violently into the back of the sofa, the ricochet thumping her head on the wall.
Immediately he's silent, not even his breathing distinct, or maybe she merely can't hear him over the drum of her own frantic heartbeat. If this is what ruins the trust between them—
Her bending informs her of heat, fire, next to the couch. The brightness out of the blue temporarily sends her vision into a dazzling array of white. "Korra?" A firm yet gentle grip around her shoulders. She feels herself lifted up from behind the furniture and dumped somewhat unceremoniously onto the cushions. Coughing, she wipes the dust and paint flakes from her face and finds herself staring at a pair of amber eyes, dark with eighteen years of pain and light with eighteen years of hope. "Are you okay? What were you doing back there?" She can't help the flushed heat that paints her a bright crimson, her powers of speech stripped from her as if he chi-blocked her. His unusually sheepish smile is somehow more disarming: She was expecting rage, disbelief, accusations, not this. He almost seems . . . humiliated. "Korra?"
"S-sorry I was j-just waiting for y-you and Bo to get back s-so we could, y-you know, g-go train or someth-thing," she stammers, her tongue twisted into a thousand knots. "I'm s-sorry."
Exhaling clear relief, he settles down on the cushions, his back pressed against the curve between breast and hip. She's simply overjoyed that he didn't appear to notice her luminescent cheeks. "How much of that did you see?"
"How much of what? Your . . . cooking show?" A chuckle threatens to erupt out of her, and she clamps her hand over her mouth to stop it. As she shakes from the contain mirth, he draws away from her, gaze trained on the pot. "You should do that professionally."
"Want to help make dumplings?" he asks out of nowhere, cutting off her teasing.
Squeezed between him and the sofa, she struggles to sit up, one hand pushing against his thigh. "Be a star on Cooking Mako?"
For a second she's certain he's going to slap her, but he sighs and slips off of the couch instead. "Are you going to help me or not?"
She considers making fun of him, just to see if he'll explode. But then it dawns on her that this might be another reason he doesn't consider prime material for a girlfriend.
The word brings another blush; she swiftly leaps from the cushions and crosses her arms to make up for it.
"Fine. What do I do?"
He smiles at her, a smile that makes her knees go weaker than a new-born turtle duckling and her heart race like a sun-maddened ostrich horse. Striding back to the counter, he plucks up the white-dusted knife and cleans it with a rag. "Why don't you come here and find out?" Hesitating, she takes her place next to him, tapping the wood nervously. He gestures to the bowl of spiced lizard crow meat and the slab of dough still unrolled. "Want to help me make these?"
"How?" She swallows. "I don't how to cook anything that doesn't involve three steps: Grab, firebend, eat. I'm great at those."
In response he shakes his head. "Then I'm going to teach you. Take some of the dough." Preferring to overestimate than under, she reaches for a fistful, but he stops her with two fingers on her wrist. "Not a lot. Like so." A tiny worm of grey-beige dough curls in his palm.
She huffs. "That's nothing."
"Nothing can become something, Korra." Sensing him watching her, she gazes to see how he rolls it into a flat, thin circle and tires to do the same. "Bolin and I were nothing on the streets. Now we're the first underdogs to get this far into championship season. Other than the Wolfbats, we're the favourites for the pot." She dips her head and shows him her handiwork. "Good. Now the meat. A little bit, Korra!" Ashamed, she drops the preparations and rubs her arms instead.
"This is stupid. Cooking is for girls."
His eyebrows arch. "And you are . . . ?"
She realises what she said. "I mean, girls who have nothing better to do but sew and cook."
"Korra, stop talking." His fingers run smoothly over the dumplings' surfaces.
"You're doing it again. Stop talking. Ssh." He points to the bowl of lizard crow. "Ssh." Silently, she curses him for making her do stupid things, but she's also aware that he is letting her into his world in a private way, allowing her to view him through a new lens. Throwing herself into her labour, she follows his steps exactly, wanting to impress him as best she can. To please him. To prove that they can work together in areas outside of bending.
And there's something oddly comforting in rolling out and stuffing circle of dough, the two of them moving in rhythm.
After a time he ceases his own movements and, finally, speaks. "Finish the dumplings. Pinch the edges of the dough leaves so they stay together in the pot."
She bites her lip. "How do I—?"
He steps behind her, her body curving into his, her entire frame shivering from barely suppressed delight, and he takes her hands in his, guiding her gently, softly, tenderly. Perhaps it's only her mind spinning events. But here, in his arms, she feels the safest and warmest she has ever been.
By the time the dumplings are cooking, she is the happiest woman in the world.
"You really should start a cooking show. Cooking Mako." She fiddles with the knife while he stirs the boiling water. "Contact a radio station. You're really great."
She can see the question in his amber eyes when he glances curiously at her. "Thank you. We make a good team."
Hiding her face, she grins. "That we do." The happiest woman in the world. "That we do."