Notes: Oh hay speculative bosami fic, how you doin'.
Bolin has a lot of ideas about romance, and absolutely none of them are based on past experiences. They're all founded in the plotlines to movies, radio soap operas, serials in magazines and the more trashy newspapers. He considers himself a scholar, in a way. He's observed enough relationships to feel as if he's fallen in love a thousand times over. He knows how they start, usually with a chance meeting where one is completely smitten for the other, and how they end, with swelling music and a dipping kiss just before the end credits roll.
Looking back on it, he tries to pinpoint the opening scene of his story, and realizes that there isn't one. There was never a fleeting moment where eyes met and a spark was there, he was rendered speechless and fawning, and this worries him.
Because he's pretty sure he's in love with Asami, but he's flipping through the script again and can't find any of the old tropes and dialogue.
It just happened. One day he's hugging her after she broke up with Mako (because she doesn't want to talk about it, all she wants is a hug, just some care, not protection) and the next he's watching her from across the dinner table and when did her smile suddenly make him want to throw up? It feels like no time has passed at all, that he's just jumped off a cliff and suddenly he's twenty feet deep in the cold water, wondering just when the hell he hit the surface in the first place.
In reality, it's been a year. He might go into the police force. She's running her father's company and trying to rebuild a relationship with him through visits to the prison where he's held. Mako and Korra are stitched to each other's side, him begging her to go on real dates, her just wanting to stay in and maybe spar a little. It gives Bolin an excuse to go to see Asami until quickly, the excuse just turns into, hey, just thought I'd drop in, I brought your favorite crab stir fry from the cart down the street if you want to take a break from work?
Some of it makes sense to him, if he fudges the rules a little. A poor street urchin with charm and good looks falls for the beautiful heiress with a heart of gold; it might just be a real tagline, if he leaves out the fact that the heiress has no qualms about electrocuting people and the urchin isn't jaded and hardened by a childhood on the streets. The female lead still has two inches on her love interest without heels on. The male lead doesn't even try to act macho when he's sad and the tears flow like he's five years old.
Plus, he knows there's something special between them, but when he's with her half the time, his palms aren't sweating and butterflies aren't in his stomach. It's so easy to slip his arm around her slim shoulders, or take her hand to lead her around the city, or cup his hand around her waist when they dance. There's no spark, but there's a glow, like the warm embers that cling in the night air at the sputtering end of a wick in a candle. It's just enough for the ambiance and just enough to make him lazily slide into place by her side, because by now it's become second nature.
But the movies rely on that spark. He knows it exists, because he's seen the way his brother looks at Korra. He wants that for himself and Asami but he doesn't want the slow burn to go away either.
"How did you know?" he finally asks Mako.
Mako looks up from the sticky pastry in his hand, which he had been devouring like it was the last thing he was ever going to eat. It was Korra's. He stole it from her while she rushed down to the beach with the kids in tow. "Know what?"
"That Korra was the one?"
Mako lifts an eyebrow and looks back at Korra, who is waist deep in the ocean, tossing the airbender kids from her shoulders and into the water. Out of the four, she's having the most fun. "She just told me, I guess."
"How did she know?"
He shrugs and licks the sugary syrup from around his mouth with his tongue. "Dunno. She told me when I was dating Asami. She just said, I think we're meant for eachother, and, well, she was right."
"Is it an Avatar thing?"
Bolin sulks while they continue to watch Korra and the kids in the water. When she emerges, lips a little purple and goosebumps covering her skin, Mako makes sure she's close enough to watch him as he stuffs the last of the pastry into his mouth. Korra shrieks, he laughs with his mouth full, and she ends up tossing him over his shoulder and dumping him into the ocean.
It's not a scene from a movie, Bolin notes. Korra would never be the female lead anyway, all brown skin and muscles, and he's pretty sure Mako wouldn't make a good male lead either. Sure, he broods and is handsome, but he's kind of a mess without it. A really emotional, really motherly mess.
"Mako told me you said you and him were meant for eachother."
Korra tilts her head to the side as she bounces the youngest of the four airbending children on her knee. "I what?"
He draws in a deep breath. "How did you know Mako was the one?"
"Why do you want to know?"
He opens his mouth to respond, but their attention is diverted to the fire at the center of the training platform. Mako is making the flames roar and turn into a dragon while the three kids screech with laughter, and the adults pass a few nervous glances amongst themselves. Korra laughs and shouts, and Mako gives her a quick smile before swiveling the dragon through the air.
"I'm just curious," Bolin decides to say. It's neutral, and if there's one thing he's learned to really enjoy, its neutrality. Lin taught him that.
Korra pouts. "It's going to sound dumb."
"No it's not."
He's surprised when it does sound dumb, because romantic moments are never dumb to him.
"At the end of the first match I saw, when he did that hat trick. But I think it happened the moment when he took off his helmet after winning."
"Yeah. Dumb, right?"
If it weren't for the baby in her lap, she would have punched him in the arm. He's grateful for it.
He just sits back in his chair while Korra stands up to give Pema her baby back, watching the fire while the kids play around it, Mako making sure that they don't set themselves on fire. Korra's confession is ridiculous, he realizes. The moment they met, she just knew Mako was the one? Even though Bolin liked her at the time, even though Asami ran into their lives, even though her and Mako had enough shouting matches to put indignant children to shame.
They didn't even know each other.
At least he knows Asami.
He had been hoping to maybe pass out in the bathtub after training at the academy, wake up in the water, and then crawl into bed soaking wet like usual when he returned home. Instead, when his hand moves to undo the lock with metalbending, he finds that the door is already open.
And sitting at the kitchen table is Asami.
It's not that surprising, because when he was just starting out with metalbending, he would pick any lock available. She was the only person capable of putting back all of the broken door knobs, and she picked up the talent along with him.
"Hey," she says, looking up from the magazine in her hands as he bends off his arm plates and shoes. "Want to go see a movie?"
"Don't you have work?"
She smiles. "What, you don't want to go out on a movie date with me?"
He's left standing in the black, short sleeved armor of his uniform, when the word date throws him off and he forgets his bending, causing his metal plates to crash to the floor. Asami doesn't even flinch, because he's never been graceful or quiet. She just waits for his answer, which makes it all the more difficult for him to find his voice.
"Uh, give me ten minutes?" he manages to sputter.
She smiles and he's in the bathroom in seconds, then out twenty minutes later. He's all apologies that it took him so long, embarrassed because he really wanted his hair back to normal, since the uniforms always mess it up. It's unspoken but he hopes he manages to convey that he wants to look his best because this might be a date with the girl he might be in love with.
She laughs at him, places her palm on his back, and shoves him out the door, and he still doesn't know if it's a date or not.
They go to a dive bar first. There's probably a thousand restaurants in the city, and Asami's been to the classy half, while Bolin's been to the working class half. It didn't take Asami long to find out which ones she liked more.
He had nervously asked if she would've prefered Qong's instead.
"Or some place, I don't know...fancier?"
She frowns at him. "But this is our place."
He guesses that makes it kind of romantic.
He picks a table in the back near the wall, because she likes to watch people. There's a small candle on the table, set up on a quilted glass dome, and Asami licks her fingers together and puts out the flame between them after they sit down. It's a habit now, he knows, because once he tried to steal from her plate and his sleeve caught fire.
She orders the usual, as does he. For her it's a pot of seafood stirred in with the most violently hot sauce Bolin's ever had the misfortune of sniffing, all oily and still bubbling with heat when it hits the table. For him it's cold noodles mixed with anything that can be scraped off of the grill.
Like a lady, she pulls off her gloves carefully, pinching the tips of each finger until they fall free. She tucks them away.
As her hands smooth over the napkin in her lap, Bolin leans forward. "On your mark..."
She pouts and narrows her eyes. "Don't."
"Get set...," he continues, and she gives in, poising her hands over the pot of food. "Go."
She dives into it. The race ends when her palms are stained and her dark red lipstick is replaced with the messy application of oily red sauce.
"You can never tell anybody I eat like this," she says in between sucking on a crab leg.
He reaches across the table and steals a black muscle. "What, like I'll sell the story to the tabloids and Future Industries will be ruined?"
He rolls his eyes and passes his nearly empty bowl to her, which she brings to her lips and drinks half of the cold broth.
At Qong's there would have been a dress and a suit, their delicately plated meals framed between lines and lines of forks and knives. A man would have addressed them as Masterand Miss before playing the violin by their table. There would have been tall white candles and lights dimmed for ambiance, not because the owner didn't want to pay a full electric bill.
He's pretty sure her eyes would've still caught the light anyway and make him break out in a wide, toothy grin no matter where they went.
The movie isn't a drama; it's more like a comedy. A man with a sad face goes through a series of crazy stunts and antics until he finally gets the girl of his dreams. Bolin laughs a little too hard and Asami whispers her opinions to him throughout the whole thing, and people all around them hiss for them to keep quiet.
He cries at the end.
"Bolin, stuff like that never happens," she says as they walk outside.
He lifts his arm slightly and without even needing to see, she takes it. "Are you kidding? Stuff like that happens all the time!"
"People like that don't even exist."
"Yes they do."
She scoffs. "I would never date a guy like the one in that film."
"What? Why not?" he asks. "He seemed like a catch to me."
She leans up closer to him, resting her head against his. "He's not real."
"What if he was?"
She shakes her head, and her hair spills into the cave of his collar, tickling his neck. "I want to date real guys. Not ones that are so concerned with their image of what a real man is, or what a real woman is, or what real love is."
The conversation is a bit too serious and philosophical for him to really make a coherent response, so he just hums and latches onto the feeling of her words. A little forceful, perfectly pronounced, her hands squeezing tighter around his arm as she spoke. He gets the feeling that she had been indirectly talking about him.
He thinks he gets it.
"Hey, so, uh," he finally manages to say. "Was this a date?"
They end up back at her apartment, where they talk and dance to the soft music on the radio. He had thought about kissing her after learning that they were really on a date, but he knew then that the credits would roll and he'd have to go back home.
Instead, the ending crescendo of the movie score doesn't ever play. She walks him outside to the front steps, and he can still hear the radio playing up above through her open window. It's staticky. There are some people down the street loudly listening to a pro-bending match on another station. In the next alley, some owlcats are competing with all the other city sounds with their yowling.
The lighting is the dim, bare bulb that hangs above the enclave of the front steps. Moths bump into it loudly, fluttering above their heads, and they wouldn't exist on a movie set.
But there is no way a single camera could ever capture the way her eyes are bright and narrowed with her wide smile, shutting to lean down to press her lips against his.
He doesn't think to dip her, or clutch her desperately, or wonder what comes next. He just tries to move his lips against hers in a way he hopes is pleasant, feels his sweaty palms stiff on her hips, and tries to keep from smiling so the kiss doesn't end too quickly.
When they break apart, the credits don't roll, the lights don't flicker on, and they don't shuffle out of the theater.
His fingers squeeze her waist slightly in his daze, and she smiles at him, because it's real.