So...Legend of Korra is pretty much my favourite thing at the moment. And I ship Makorra like burning. But I also love Asami A LOT and right now the episodes are conflicting my OTP feels with my '...but...ASAMI' feels.
I wrote this after episode 9 to try and consolidate those feels-to show that I can love the Makorra ship whilst still hurting for Asami and knowing that this whole triangle is going to hurt all of the members involved. But probably Asami the most (dammit...). Also, it holds up pretty well now that episode 10 has aired, even if I'd hoped that Mako would have stepped up and taken responsibility for his actions when confronted. *sigh* I love you, sweetie, but you should have taken the opening Asami gave you and talked things through. Anyway...enough of my notes, onto the fic!
The air was cooler up here, riding on the back of Oogi. Asami hadn't noticed the temperature when they had been frantically scanning the city far below for any sign of Korra's whereabouts, but the journey back to Air Temple Island was much chillier now that they didn't have overwhelming concern to distract them. Wind lashed against her skin and she'd had to gather her hair from her face to stop herself from being blinded, even with Oogi moving at a slightly more sedate pace than before, slower so that they could keep Naga in sight as she followed their trail from the ground.
Bolin was leant over the back of the saddle, tracking her movement through the city below. Naga's size meant that she was easy to spot, even from this high in the air. Occasionally he would look back, scanning over Korra as if to make sure she was still there, but he'd apparently decided that the best thing he could do for his friend was to make sure that her beloved companion got home safely, too.
Mako's gaze, on the other hand, had hardly left her.
When they had all followed Mako back to Oogi, climbing up and joining the two, Korra had already been asleep. Asami's heart had clenched for a moment, the day's fears all coalescing into a single moment of panic before catching sight of Korra's chest rising and falling in a slow, deep rhythm. Tenzin had obviously had a similar reaction, as he had stopped still for a moment before reaching his hand up and unfastening his cape.
The cape was now tucked around Korra, protecting her from the worst of the buffeting winds they were flying through. Mako had straightened it out over her as Tenzin had moved to Oogi's head with Lin to steer them back to the Island, anxious to get Korra back and get her checked over. Every now and then Mako would reach out and check the edges of the cape to make sure they were still in place, smoothing it out over her shoulder if it slipped down.
Every time he had done so, it had made Asami flinch slightly, inside.
She couldn't and didn't want to be angry, right now. A nagging thought in the back of her mind was screaming that she had every right to be, with Bolin's voice saying 'Mako and Korra kissed...' repeating over and over. But she just couldn't bear the thought of being mad right now, not when she was just so relieved to have her friend back safely. She was too exhausted for anger.
But she hurt. Tiny little prickles of pain that lanced through her chest and made her breath catch in her throat as she watched the tension that had been consuming Mako all day slowly drain out of him.
So many things made sense, now. Korra's initial distance from her, Mako's distraction when Bolin took her out around the city, that strange tension that had been surrounding the team when the tournament was under way...now that she was vaguely aware of what had occurred, she couldn't believe she had been blind to it. Even though Ikki's comment about Korra 'liking' Mako had made her wonder, it was completely different to KNOW that something was going on between her boyfriend and her friend.
And that made it worse. She LIKED Korra. It hadn't been long since that day at the race track, when they had finally connected and Korra had admitted that she had incorrectly judged her (and now she had a pretty good idea as to why), but the unfortunate way in which they had been thrown together by her father's betrayal had allowed them to get to know each other much quicker in the closer quarters, allowed them to talk and bond and share little stories that made Asami certain that they were destined to be the best of friends. And Korra had embraced the friendship. She'd let it slip that she hadn't really had friends her own age before she had come to Republic City, and Asami could tell, from the way that she had almost been overwhelmed when Mako, Bolin and herself had offered to help her patrol the city, that it was something she sorely needed.
She couldn't help but think of the guilty little looks that Korra had kept shooting at her, though, when she thought that she wouldn't be seen. Asami had assumed it was to do with Korra's part in exposing her father, so she hadn't said anything because, really, it wasn't Korra's fault. Only her father was responsible for his actions. But there was apparently more to those looks, a kiss at the very least.
And she wish she knew more about it. Wish she knew what it meant. And the anger that she didn't want to feel started to worm it's way out of submission because, dammit, how could Mako KEEP that from her...but she pushed it away, again.
She knew that she would need to talk to him, that she WANTED to talk to him. But she wanted to see Korra being taken care of, first. Once Korra was in the hands of a healer, they would be less distracted, and she knew the conversation would be too important to have whilst they were both thinking of their friend. 'But then,' she couldn't help but think to herself, 'the problem seems to be that he CAN'T not think about her.'
That, now familiar, clench around her heart made her close her eyes for a moment, and she opened them to Mako catching the corner of Tenzin's cape as it, once again, slipped away from Korra's body, the wind ruining all efforts to keep it still. She watched his hand as he tucked it back underneath her shoulder and she followed it back as he draped it over his bent knee.
His voice finally made her look up, and her eyes met his as he looked at her from across the saddle. The tension was pretty much non-existent, now, and he was looking at her with a grateful expression, tinged with a little guilt. She couldn't help, for a moment, but wonder if he knew she knew (and, really, that was ridiculous because she had known for a few hours and he hadn't been paying enough attention to her and Bolin to know what they had spoken of).
'I'm sorry I snapped at you. Earlier.'
'Oh,' she thought. She remembered when he meant, when she had queried about the tunnels. It had been the moment she knew that she could no longer deny that there was more to Mako's feelings for Korra than a simple friendship. The other observations she had made had been unconvincing, things that friends did for one another or things that she would have otherwise contributed to Korra's playful personality and Mako responding to it. But Mako's sheer determination in finding her and the way he blind-sided everything else had been too much to dismiss.
'It was a little uncalled for.' She responded, her tone carefully modulated to not give away how upset she had been...that she still was.
'I know, I know...' He looked chargrinned, and looked down at Korra briefly before returning his attention to Asami, 'I get snappish when I'm worried. You don't want to know how many times I've upset Bolin when he's done something to worry me!' He said this last bit in a teasing tone and Bolin, not quite completely out of the conversation, turned from tracking Naga to chime in.
'Oh, yeah, I can certainly vouch for that!' He sent an exasperated look towards Mako before looking over at Asami. 'In my case, though, I was usually getting myself into trouble so it was probably my own fault.' He sent one final sharp look at Mako before returning his attention to the ground.
Mako visibly winced at that, regret obvious. 'I shouldn't have taken it out on you, I know that. That's why I'm sorry, I really am.' His expression was tender, now, and this was the most painful part of the entire situation.
Because whatever was going on between Mako and Korra, Asami knew he cared about her, too. She could see it, even now with his apologetic eyes and earnest tone. And she almost wished that she couldn't, because this would all be so much easier to deal with if he didn't care about her, or if she didn't care so much about him, or if she and Korra hadn't become friends. It would be simpler if she could just hate one of them or could convince herself that one of them hated her, if she could believe that there was a reason that this was happening and hurting her.
But it wasn't possible. They were all entangled now, by necessity, by friendship, by affection. This wasn't a situation that any of them could just walk away from, that any of them would WANT to walk away from.
'It's okay, I understand.' And, really, it was both the truth and a lie. She did understand, and of course people sometimes lashed out at others and regretted it. She could accept his apology for that. But everything underlying it, the reason he had been so worried and the way Korra had consumed him until he had forgotten everyone else, forgotten HER, that was NOT so simple. 'We'll talk about it later.'
He smiled lightly at her, relieved at her apparent understanding, and she pushed that thought of 'later' to the side. For now, they were a reunited team and they were taking their fallen member home, to heal. Asami could heal her own heart, afterwards.