Gift of a Lifetime
Chapter 1: We're All Happy
She could remember the heat between their skins; shivers went up her spine as she recalled the feeling of his hands in her hair. Vague memories of his lips against hers danced across her mind; he tasted like alcohol, but she couldn't really complain- she must have tasted the same. Her hands tingled whenever she remembered how the fabric of his jacket felt knotted between her fingers and his hair soon after.
She was sure she could bring more memories to surface, but the idea of delving any further made her entire body flush; the idea of crawling under a rock sounding like a top-notch plan. More importantly, Korra tried not to think of that night at all. Not because it had been awful; awkward, maybe, but she couldn't remember enough of it to know. But the real reason she kept the memories locked away was because the incident had been unplanned. It hurt her more however, to realize that the act wasn't out of love or passion, but out of inebriation. She knew she could never have him in that type of situation where they were both aware of their actions. But whenever she recalled it, she felt embarrassed. Not because they were intoxicated, but the fact she did something so personal with Mako was so…unbelievable, to say the least.
She sighed and tilted her head back, rolling her shoulders while she did so. She shouldn't be thinking about it. After all, they had made a solid pact to never, ever speak of the incident. Mako was just as embarrassed as she was. When they awoke and got over the loud yells of shock and put their clothes back on, they tried to reassess the situation. When they came to the conclusion that they were obviously drunk from a night out celebrating a victory for the Fire Ferrets, and then obliged each other in a heated make out session which magically led them to his bed in the attic, well their faces turned redder than Mako's discarded scarf on the floor.
They feverishly agreed to pretend the fiasco had never happened. They were drunk and not aware of what they were doing. It wasn't planned, so it didn't mean anything. Of course they both knew that they still lost their virginities, but they decided to leave this out of the conversation. The two benders came to the conclusion it would be best not to speak of it and to just move on as if it had never happened.
Korra looked down at the soap-covered plate in her hand. She tried to marvel at the rainbow colors reflecting in the bubbles, but she couldn't rip her mind far away enough from her thoughts. She looked up out the window to see Republic City looming across the bay.
The waterbender supposed their agreement worked. They really did act as if nothing happened. And she and Mako were still the best of friends. If anything they were closer for it; they had a secret together. Of course, it was a secret that went unspoken between them, but it was still a secret nonetheless.
Her eyes fixed on the arena. "I wonder what those guys are doing today," She wondered aloud. More than likely they were training for the probending match next week. If they weren't doing that Bolin was probably just out about the town, eating or wooing his fan girls, and Mako was probably either working at the factory or out with Asami.
Korra wished she could hang out with them today; particularly Asami. They had gotten a lot closer once Korra was able to put her jealousy aside. As it turns out they had a lot in common. The only thing Korra couldn't relate to with the beautiful woman was her interest in clothing- or anything girly for that matter. They were able to bond on just about every other level, though. But Korra avoided the topic of Mako, at least for the past two months. Guilt had coiled in the pit of her stomach since she slept with Mako. Even if it was an accident, the scorpion snake in her gut would relentlessly strike at her and make her feel bad. If Mako and Asami hadn't been dating then she wouldn't have felt bad in the slightest. But she and the firebender wound up disregarding his relationship with Asami Sato, and in the long run just disrespecting nonbender entirely.
Korra placed the clean dishes in the cupboard and dried her hands. Like Mako had said, it never happened, right? It wasn't like they wanted to hurt anyone or anything. It was a fluke; a total mishap. If Mako could move away from it, then so could she.
Her train of thought was interrupted when an awful retching noise erupted from down the hall. Korra allowed her head to drop for a moment, knowing all too well what was coming next.
"Koorrrraaa." It was hard to tell which child it was, but it sounded like Jinora.
Flu season. And all of the airbender kids had it. And who was graced with the responsibility of tending to their every need? She was. Pema couldn't afford to get sick, especially since she was taking care of the newborn. So Korra had spent the last few days holding back hair, cleaning bed sheets, and making medicine runs. But Korra thanked the spirits she didn't have to cook; Pema could do that much.
Another sickening noise came from down the hall. This time Ikki called her name.
"Coming," Korra sighed and trudged across the kitchen.
Like the days before, this one would be just as long and tiring.
"So are the kids getting any better?" Asami asked as she looked up from her magazine on Korra's bed. She had decided to stop by and visit her dear friend after not seeing her for a few days.
They sat in Korra's room nonchalantly looking through some magazines Asami had brought. The green-eyed teen was perched on Korra's bed while Korra herself had decided to take the floor. Naga laid in front of her on her back as the waterbender ran a brush through her thick fur.
"Yes, thank spirits." Korra smiled. The only one who threw up that morning was Meelo, which meant she had less cleaning to do and less contact with vomit.
"I'm glad." Asami smiled. "It just doesn't feel right when I come over and none of them run up to greet me."
"They definitely like visitors." Korra turned around to face Asami and looked at the magazine in her hand. "Since when did you guys start publishing Satomobile magazines?"
"Just last week." Asami grinned as she turned the page. "We decided it would be a good idea, since we just recently released a new model." She turned to a page where a sleek red vehicle was displayed on a race track.
"Oh! I think I heard Mako talking about it at practice the other day." Korra mentally cringed for mentioning the firebender's name, but decided not to make a big deal about it. It wasn't as if he was a big part of the conversation anyway- if she just kept talking then maybe it could stay that way. "Something about how it's the fastest Satomobile yet or something?"
"That's right!" Asami enthused. "I got to test drive a lot of them. I've never driven anything that went that fast before." She turned the page and landed on an add page displaying a popular line of makeup. The nonbender went on and on about how amazing the new model was before she noticed the concealer tones displayed on the page. There were many colors from olive skin to absolutely ghostly pale, as well as water tribe skin tones. She looked at the dot containing Korra's usual color and frowned.
"Yeah, but I bet you still wiped the track with all of the other test drivers!" Korra grinned with confidence.
"Korra, are you feeling okay?" Asami's eyebrows knitted together in worry.
"Huh?" Korra said. "Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"
Asami's eyes drifted back to the color on the page and then to Korra's face. "You look pale." Her normal color was a little bit darker and livelier, but the Korra she was looking at now looked a little drained.
"I do?" She quirked an eyebrow.
"Yeah." Asami closed the magazine and gave her full attention to her friend. "Do you think you might be getting what the kids had?"
Korra turned around with a smirk and started brushing Naga again. "I think if I would have gotten sick it would have happened already. Besides, I'm feeling fine!" She paused for a moment and thought, "I mean, I've been a little tired lately, but I think that's because I've been up all hours of the night taking care of sick kids, but besides that I feel great!" Actually, she neglected to mention she felt a little bit nauseous, but she figured that was because she hadn't eaten all day and due to her lack of sleep. There was no need to worry her friend, especially since Asami could convey her condition to Mako, who would probably tell her to stay home from practice. Korra didn't want that. She had already been stuck on the island for days without any interaction from Republic City- she needed practice to stay sane.
A little part of her also said it was because she wanted to see Mako and Bolin; particularly Mako. And feeling a little pushed out by what probably wasn't an illness wasn't in her agenda.
"I hope you're right." Asami leaned over and scratched Naga's chin.
Korra hoped she was right too.
Her nausea was in full swing by the time she woke up for practice a few days later. Korra cupped her hands over her face as she tried to get her bearings before getting up to face the day. She drew in a deep breath to quell the violence in her stomach and pushed herself onto her feet.
The minute her feet hit the floor, however, the contents in her stomach catapulted up her throat. She bolted to the bathroom across the hall and, with wild abandonment, threw up. As she waited out the aftershock, she rested her head against the wall and closed her eyes, taking slow, shaky breaths. The avatar didn't need this. She had so much she needed to do—so much she wanted to do. She had training with the boys in an hour and after that she had airbending training, which would last until the evening. Not to mention Tenzin gave her fair warning that Tarrlok was considering another infiltration upon an Equalist training facility.
The young woman ran her hands over her eyes and grunted. "I can't get sick now..." She hoisted herself up off of the bathroom floor and went about her morning as if it never happened. But by the time she was going to make her swim across the bay she felt the nausea come back. Not feeling up to the journey she called Naga to swim her across.
Normally Korra found the sea water calming—it was the embodiment of her birth element. Wherever there was a form of water, she could always feel at home. But today the water was mocking her. Watching the waves move in a rhythmic pattern and Naga moving underneath her only jostled the nonexistent contents in her stomach around more. Korra clenched her eyes tight and gripped Naga's fur between her fingers. The polar bear dog seemed to sense her owner's discomfort and tried to swim faster to shore. As soon as they surfaced, Korra turned around to upchuck into the ocean.
She placed her hand on her head and sat up. She looked around to see if anyone had seen the almighty avatar release a technicolored yawn, but she found herself alone. She looked up at Naga when the large hybrid whined with concerned. "I'm fine, girl." She held a hand up to put the polar bear dog's mind at ease. "Just the flu, it'll pass."
As she and Naga walked up the arena steps, Korra felt queasy again. She leaned into Naga before entering the building. Naga's small eyes brimmed with worry.
"I'll be fine!" Korra reassured, trying to stand up straight. "See?" she said as she steadied herself. "Now wait out here. I'll be back in a couple of hours." She bid her companion farewell and made her way to the locker rooms.
Her nauseated state never improved while she dressed for practice. She tried taking in deep breaths and taking small sips of water from the sink, but found little relief. She figured training with the brothers would take her mind off of it and make her feel better. Surely part of it was just her worrying too much; if she could just get her mind off of the problem, then maybe the bug would just skedaddle and she would be good as new.
She gave herself an unimpressed look in the mirror after that thought. Worry? Yeah right. This was a full on bug and it wasn't going to go away if she just didn't think about it. But she had to push through it. She had the boys counting on her for the match in a few days. She couldn't just call in sick- they needed to win as many matches as possible to make a good impression for sponsors. And sponsors meant more money and a better chance at the championship.
She took a deep breath, immediately regretting how it settled on her stomach and started for the gym.
"Hey, Korra!" Bolin chimed as he tossed the training ball to his brother.
"Hey," she called out tiredly with a smile. She was always glad to see Bolin, but she would be lying if she said his loud voice didn't make her feel even sicker. She wanted quiet- and now that she thought about it, she probably wasn't going to get any during practice.
She let her gaze slip to Mako, who held the ball as if he were ready to throw. His eyes were locked on her in an examining way. "You don't look so good."
"Thanks," Korra grumbled. "That's what every girl wants to hear in the morning." It seemed the closer she got to them the more they expressed their concerns.
"That's not what I meant." Mako rolled his eyes. "You look sick."
"Yeah." Bolin leaned towards her a bit. "You look kinda green."
"More like pale," Mako added.
"I'm fine." She had a feeling she was going to get tired of saying that.
"You don't look fine," the firebender said. "Maybe you should sit this practice out."
"What? No!" Korra shook her head- another bad decision on her part. The room spun for a brief moment. "The match is in a few days. And I'm your only waterbender!"
"Exactly." Mako placed the ball against his side. "As our only waterbender you need to be in shape for the match, not green around the gills."
"You just said she looked pale a second ago!" Bolin gave his brother a look. Mako sighed in response, but before he could say anything, Korra nabbed the training ball from his side and started for the center of the gym. "Listen you guys, I appreciate the concern, but really, I'm okay." She gave them a smile, but it didn't seem to convince them otherwise. "Come on, let's get to work."
Both brothers hung their heads and decided to go along with the strong-headed girl's decision. They threw the ball between each other for another ten minutes before Korra abruptly threw the ball back to Bolin and then darted out of the room.
"Where is she going?" Mako asked.
Bolin cringed when he heard the sounds of vomiting down the hall. "I think she went to go throw up."
Mako sighed and stood by his brother's side. "She really shouldn't be here." He put his hands on his hips. "She's going to make herself worse and she might get us sick too."
"Yeeeaahhhh but if you try telling her that she'll just go from pale to green to red in the face." Bolin grinned stupidly at his older brother.
Mako rolled his eyes. At least his brother knew how to make a situation lighter; something Mako was always grateful for even if he didn't act like it. "We'll drag her back home if we have to."
"Drag who back home?"
The brothers looked up to see Asami at the doorway. She immediately made a bee line to Mako and wrapped her arms around him. He wrapped his arm around her waist and drew her closer to him. "It's Korra," he answered simply. "She's sick and she probably won't go home."
"Oh no," Asami bleated. "I had a bad feeling she might get sick when I saw her the other day." She looked around the gym. "Where is she now?"
"Tossing her cookies in the bathroom." Bolin sat down on one of the training benches.
"I'll go check on her." Asami gingerly let go of Mako and sauntered out of the gym.
"Thanks, Asami," Mako called after her, meaning every word of his gratitude. Maybe if he was lucky his girlfriend could talk his teammate into going home early. Whenever Mako tried to convince Korra to do anything he was boldly denied. But it seemed to just be him though. She did give Bolin a hard time every now and again, but she was still lighthearted around the earthbender. Maybe she was slowly falling for his younger brother after all.
The idea sent an unexpected pain through his chest; something he had grown to ignore. He was with Asami. And even though he and Korra had one night together, it didn't amount to anything. And if it didn't mean anything then it was obviously an indication that they weren't meant to be. Aside from the guilt he felt, he still felt attracted to Asami- so she was the right choice. So why did he still find himself drawn to his waterbending teammate?
He sighed and turned out to find his brother staring at him. "What?" Mako huffed.
"I don't know," Bolin answered. The earthbender looked down to the ground, hoping his brother wouldn't ask any further. But at the same time he wished he would.
"What is it, Bo?" Mako asked more sternly. He could get anything out of his little brother if he used that tone.
"It's just…" Bo looked at the netting across the room. "Are you sure you made the right choice?" He looked back up at his brother with sad eyes.
"What?" It was more of a statement; it only took him a split second to figure out what his brother was insinuating. "Of-of course! I mean, I'm happy." Mako had a brief moment where even he doubted himself. "And besides," he tilted his chin up, "I thought you liked Korra." It was something else that bothered him. He slept with the girl his brother adored.
"Well, I mean, sure. But-"
"But nothing." Mako put his hands on his hips and looked to the wall with pseudo-confidence. "We're both happy." He didn't want to hear anymore. He would close his ears if he had to. He didn't want anyone questioning his happiness.
Not even himself.
Korra leaned against the bathroom wall and slowly slid down to a sitting position. She groaned and rubbed her eyes, trying to regain focus. Instead she felt like everything was being seen through a distorted, blurry lens. She was able to blink away some of the fog, but only enough to see reflection in the polished bathroom door.
"They were right. I look awful," she mumbled before closing her eyes. She tried focusing on taking slow, deep breaths. For the moment it helped keep her stomach acid down.
Korra opened her eyes when she heard heels clopping around the corner. She turned her head just in time to see Asami Sato at the door.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"What's your definition of okay?" Korra asked dryly. "Because if it means I can stay and practice, then yeah, I'm super." She brought one knee up to her chest and rested an extended arm on it.
"Then you're the opposite of super." Asami walked over to the bathroom sink and wet a paper towel. She gave it to the waterbender, who took it without complaint. Asami took a moment to examine her friend as she wiped her face of sweat. She was several shades paler and looked just a little thin. Her usually vibrant, ice-blue eyes were dull and looked like they were covered in a haze.
"You really don't look good," she commented as Korra rested the paper towel over her mouth.
"You're not the first to tell me that." Korra brought the wet paper to her forehead where she let it stick to her skin.
"You need to go home."
"You're not the first to tell me that, either." She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the tiled wall again.
"And you're not going to go home, are you?"
"Not the first time I've said that, either." Korra allowed a weak smile to grace her lips. "I have to stay here. I have to practice."
"Korra, it's not that big of a deal," Asami sighed. "I mean, it won't kill the Fire Ferrets to forfeit a match." She tried to offer her friend an encouraging smile. "And maybe they can just get it rescheduled instead of having to forfeit."
"Yeah, but Mako and Bolin can't afford to reschedule the money in their pockets." Korra brought her forehead to a rest against her knuckles, the wet towel falling into her lap. The brothers relied on probending to keep them fed and housed. Mako's job at the factory was to put extra cash in their pockets and also helped pay any probending fees. But if they missed a match, then Mako would have to work twice as hard to make ends meet.
It saddened her even more to think that Asami could help them out when they were in financial trouble, and all Korra could do was sit and watch. She would be the reason they would lose, if not totally forfeit. She had to keep playing to help, to feel relevant. And to keep her own sanity.
Korra couldn't help but look at Asami from the corner of her eye. The woman was gorgeous in comparison to her. She had such flawless light skin and bright green eyes. Her makeup only brought out the shine in her eyes and accentuated her wavy, flowing locks of hair. She was tall; her legs long and lithe. She had all the curves in the right places and knew exactly what to wear to show off what she had. In appearances, Korra felt like she was beat.
"It's no wonder Mako likes her so much." Her heart twinged and she could feel disappointment lodging into her heart. She wanted to hit her head against the wall and scream at herself. She thought she was getting over him. But she wasn't.
It made her stomach lurch to think Mako had probably already been intimate with the dashing beauty in the room with her. It made her even sicker to think Korra had slept with him, knowing he had already probably felt Asami in the same way. It nearly made her vomit to think she had betrayed said beauty's trust. And she hated to admit it, but it made her heart cringe whenever she saw them together. Some days it didn't hurt much. Other days it was almost suffocating.
Today was one of those days. "Asami? Korra?" Both women whipped their heads around when they heard Mako's voice outside of the door. "Is everything okay in there? You've been gone a while." Korra dropped her head and looked at the floor.
"Everything's fine, sweetie!" Asami called back before turning back to Korra. Asami was about to continue pressing her friend to go home, but instead she noticed how Korra had covered her mouth. "Are you about to get sick again?"
"I think I'm gonna go home." Korra abruptly stood up and grabbed her duffle bag. She would change at home. Right now, she just wanted out of the vicinity. She didn't want to talk to anyone. But most of all she didn't want to see Mako. Today was one of those days she just couldn't deal with him; where it hurt too much. She hated the feeling. She hated how she could knock Equalist skulls together, but she couldn't be strong enough to put up with one person just because of how he made her feel.
Ignoring her nausea and her spinning world, Korra pushed her way past Asami and then out the door past Mako. She didn't even give Mako the time of day to speak; the avatar was out the door before he could even breathe. She passed Bolin without even a parting word and was out the Arena door and on Naga in just a few minutes.
She wasn't expected home for a few hours, so Korra snuck in and scurried to her room before anyone could see. She lay down on her bed and released a shaky sigh; her nausea was starting to die down. Unfortunately her jumbled mind was only just beginning to tie itself into tight knots.
"I thought I was over this…" She turned onto her side and stared blankly at the wall. Her stomach gurgled at the thought of Asami clinging to Mako and it churned at the thought of Mako's arm around Asami's waist. "I have so many other things to worry about." Korra closed her eyes. There was airbending; the entire reason why she had come to Republic City in the first place. There was Tarrlok who kept clawing at her leg to rejoin his task force. There was, of course, the problem behind it all- Amon. And then there was Republic City in general, which was in major need of help involving equality and understanding. Korra had to remind herself to take deep breaths. "So why am I still getting upset over him?" Furrowing her brows she temporarily wiped her mind. Her stomach only barely responded to her change of mind.
There were still a few hours left. Maybe she could sleep off the rest of her nausea, as well as her worries.
Just wanted to give a little shout out to my awesome Beta and friend, day-dreamer-101! Thanks for going through all of this and fixing my derpy grammar- as well as enjoying the story and drowning in Makorra feels! You rock!
Also a shout out to Konekonekonaito for encouraging me with all her feels! I'm not even sorry that I make you cry like a wienie. :D