Rated T for small amount of gore/violence. Warning: this fic may cause tearbending. You may ignore the italics if you please.

Inspired by "Childhood" by Blutengel. Intended originally as a Bolin-centric fic (because he's my baby) but shifted to include Mako as well and then the entire tragedy of their parents' death. This fic is also more mother-centric than I think it should be, so another father-centric fic from me is coming to make up for it. This is also my own personal fanon regarding the Fab Bending Bros' parents and the circumstances of their death. I think Mako is simplifying/lying slightly when he said it was a "mugger". Also, I tried to keep their parents nameless, but I couldn't.

4 & 6

Where has my childhood gone?

Fire gently flickered inside its iron confines, heating and boiling fresh water. The gurgles and bubbles of the water made their way to small ears, entertaining them for a moment as the young cherubic boy paused to listen. He squatted beneath a rough ensemble of furniture: a table and four chairs. A vast, all-encompassing verdant rug spilled out beneath him, as he grasped tufts of it in his soft fists. He pictured himself exploring the grounds of a grand forest, meeting platypus bears and eelhounds alike, saving horse-deer from the menacing presence of lion wolves. Tottering out from the table, he rushed to the knitting, sitting form of a golden-eyed woman clad in deep purple. He scrambled and scrambled, attempting to sit on her lap, wanting another story. Setting her scarlet yarn and bamboo needles down, she picked up her son and plopped him on her lap, quickly tickling him until light chortles and giggles dominated over the bubbling of the boiling water and the crackling of the fire. The boy, clad in a simple grass-green jumpsuit- and tiny, tiny brown shoes- kicked in amusement. The tickle-assault ceased as the mother snuggled her boy close, telling him of adventures all through the four nations, even going into the legacy of the bringer of peace during her mother's time. The little boy listened. Before dusk settled, young Bolin- snuggled in his mother's arms- slipped into a peaceful slumber. The raven-crowned woman rose, walked the lightly snoring form to a small trundle bed, and tucked him in for the evening. Her eyes were a piercing, yet soft yellow tone. Her hair curled lightly, loose ringlets taking hold of her shorn head, hair barely reaching chin-length.

The home was small and somewhat sparse. One entrance doubled as the only exit, and only three windows littered three of the four walls. The furniture was all wooden and rough, only softened by the bright green rug that covered most of the floor. A small kitchen lay in the corner opposite from the sleeping-area, which included one bed and a trundle bed rolled away from it, about two feet away. Soot clung to the walls from the filth below: the home sat on the uppermost level of a drafty building. Below them a series of small homes tottered in the high building, the faulty fireplace arrangement littering each home with soot. The purple-clad woman approached a wooden-shuttered window and silently opened it, fresh air cooling the room and lightly ruffling her short hair. Flameo instant noodles's "extra flamey" scent followed. She smiled into the city.

Quickly, she dashed to the furiously boiling water, ladling some into a teapot ready with leaves. To the remainder she softened seaweed noodles with a variety of sea creatures and vegetables from her homeland. Satisfied, she turned back to her chair- her bamboo needles and her yarn.

Creakily, the aching wooden door opened as her husband and older son entered. Mako: atop his father's shoulders. Her husband slowly walked in, slow and powerful, smelling vaguely of satomobile-oil, earth, and metal. He reached up, with a twinkle in his verdant eyes, and extracted the beaming boy from his solid shoulders and set him down, making his way to the washroom to bathe himself and remove the grime of the day's work. Mako peered at the bubbling, boiling pot of seaweed noodles and grimaced.

5 & 7

I found all the love I needed.

Bolin swayed toward his brother, his small belly full beyond the brim. Heartily unleashing a laugh, his father gently and carefully patted his rotund belly: "My boy Bolin takes after me in eating, dear." His wife smiled as she finished paying the waiter. The family stood in a garishly decorated restaurant, flooded with red and gold and dragons in every way tacky and ridiculous.

"I wish Mako took after you in that respect," she said as her eyes glanced to her stick-thin older boy. The family enjoyed an afternoon of park-meandering and fire-nation grub shoveling in celebration of their mother's birthday. How old she was now she did not disclose to her children, and lunch mainly consisted of their father threatening to reveal it if she didn't tell the story of her origins. Mako and Bolin's eyes brightened as they briefly made contact across from the restaurant's cheap earth-bent table, Mako seated next to his mother, dressed in his nicest brown suit and Bolin next to his father, dressed in the same suit, albeit slightly smaller. The man of the house wore his uncharacteristic green earth-bender robes, the sleeves clipped and hemmed by his wife to show off his biceps. His wife wore her old fire-nation garments, deeply red and black and gold, her longer hair swept partially into a topknot. Mako beamed, his parents looked nostalgic and dressed-up, out of their usual well-worn work overalls: their mother usually smelling of smoke and sometimes residual snaps of lightning clinging to her clothes.

"Fine. A long time ago, when mommy was a lot younger, she was born to ex-imperial firebenders for the Firelord and his family.", she began cautiously. Her golden eyes were tired.

"Firelord Zuko, mommy? He founded this city!" Bolin enthusiastically, hoping this was news to his brother. His bright eyes sought a response from his quiet brother. His mother did not answer.

"Why ex ones?" Mako, sharp, picked up the prefix. His parents exchanged a glance.

"They retired," his father quickly cut in, attemping light-heartedness to soothe his wife's sudden tenseness.

"They re-tired! What's retired mean? What is a tire? What is re? They were tired and re?", Bolin asked, leaning forward on the table, his chin almost making contact with his rapidly cooling mess of noodles.

"They got old and stopped working, Bo." Mako informed. Although it was hard for him to imagine his mother with old, old parents.

"And then I met your daddy, and we competed together for a few years before Mako came along, and then Bolin. The end." Hastily, she finished.

"That's why there's posters in a book at home," toothlessly grinned Bolin, his suit smelling strongly of spilled tea.

"Mom, when I grow I want to be a firebending probender like you were" Mako quietly said, nodding.

Bolin nodded back, "Me too! But not fire, because I can't firebend. I'll be like daddy was!"

"We'll have to start training then!", their mother lilted as she filled with pride. Their father began to chortle steadily in relief and delight.

Delight did not emanate from the eyes of a patron three tables away. His eyes, a deep yellow, froze on the family. He was dressed in unassuming brown, his nation betrayed only by his militaristic hairstyle and manner and bearing. And eyes. He kept his senses on the table until the family rose to pay, and steadily observed the woman. Her hair-length and choice in clothing and hairstyling that day only served to shatter the evasions covertly employed by herself and her husband.

6 & 8

Mako and Bolin walked together to the sloping building- mother and father in tow- dressed in shabby shorts and sleeveless tops, hoping their parents would train them. They hoped to head for the nearby patch of undeveloped land before the sun set, but their parents steered them toward home, complaining of tiredness and scolding them for leaving the watchful eyes of their elderly neighbor. Bolin and Mako slumped, disappointed, as the family ascended the dusty stairs. Their mother revealed a worn key and set to scratching it inside the lock, willing the door to open. With its screech, the door popped open. The family single-filed inside: mother and sons and father. She lit some lamps as her boys kicked off their shoes. A small home appeared as light touched it, decorated cheaply and simply, same green expansive rug enveloping the wooden floor as it had in their previous domain.

The lamp adorning the table turned on as the woman stood, 5 feet away, at an iron cookstove-fireplace contraption, lighting it.

"Hana. Hana of the Fue family of imperial defunct, disgraced firebenders", a deep, cold voice stated. She whirled toward the table, panic and adrenalin feasting on her internal organs. A man, coldly yellow-eyed, sat atop the table, legs crossed. He wore black to blend with the shadows.

"That is no longer my name," steadily she stated, turning to her family. They had yet to notice.

"You and this world sicken me."

"You're crazy. You and my family and all of the others clinging, 70 years after his defeat, to Firelord Ozai's twisted plans for this world. Leave before I and my husband force you."

"And here I thought: I could spare them before I took you back by force." The man charged at her husband's back, charring it as her sons screamed and ran to the window, hiding behind the long curtains. Melded, burnt flesh and cloth suffocated the room. Fire licked at the man's neck, its origin: her mouth. She roared fire. Bolin began to wail, tears streaming down his face as he covered his eyes behind the curtain, curled up next to Mako's standing form. Tears streamed from his face as he peeked from the curtain, eyes capturing all.

His mother erupted lightning as her husband fell, paralyzed, barely clinging to life. Still, he struggled as his limbs twitched uselessly to form an earthbending stance. His breathing became ragged quickly, the spirit world calling. Mako's eyes widened impossibly.

She unleashed lightning at the man, as he did the same. Quickly, she flipped in front of the window, defending. The man grinned as he shot one behind her. "GO, BOYS. GO.", she screamed. Neither moved. There was nowhere to go.

The man shot his final lightning at the curtain, and the mother stood before it as she shot back. Both convulsed as mass quantities of electricity singed and destroyed their bodies. Rocks rained on the man from the side as the father tried all he could, half-dead, burnt to a crisp, and gasping. Burning clothes and flesh and loud zapping filled the room. Finally, the firebenders fell limp. Wheezing still resounded in the room as it grew fainter and fainter.

"Boys..." weakly the usually strong voice croaked.

Sobs unleashed, uncontrollable, from the two behind the slightly burnt green cloth. The brothers clung to each other, their tears intermixing and drenching. Mother, father, mom, dad, mommy, daddy: gone.

Hours passed. Bolin fell into exhausted, haunted sleep. He cried even at rest. Mako, trembling in body and in his lower lip, as sobs threatened to escape, slowly stepped toward the coat rack near the door, keeping his sight away from the cold of his father. A red scarf swung from it, crafted by mother and worn by father. He grasped it and pulled. Making his way to his brother, he encountered a decorative jade hairpin of his mother's. A gift from father worn by mother. He picked it up, too. Silence permeated the room, broken only by Bolin's cries.

He shook Bolin from his gasping, sobbing nightmare and squatted next to his lying brother. Silently, he grasped his hand, slipping the pin into the smaller hand. He took the other, and together they stepped from the corpses and into the world.

Now I find myself in a world of sorrow.

16 & 18

Bolin gripped the tiny wooden box attacked to a cloth cord he usually slipped under his clothes. Today they were the bleached, purest white. Inside, an old relic brought comfort. His brother stood beside him, another relic around his neck. A stark red contrasting the white. It was just setting, the sun. Buildings blocked full view of the orange-hued departure, but the lighting slipping past the skyline showed the time. A chill settled slowly, the scent of dust and dusk filling the air. Flowers lay before the brothers, atop adjoining graves. Their sweetness wafted away with the wind. For the tenth year in a row, the boys smelled, tasted; burnt, charred flesh and salt. For the tenth year in a row, they embraced in sadness and fear and uncertainty. And silence echoed around them.

Tell me: where's my childhood gone?

In case I was unclear: the killer was a crazy member of a crazy group adhering to Ozai's dream for the world who used to be intended as Bolin's mom's fiance before she ran away from the defunct group of imperial firebenders (under Sozin/Azulon/Ozai) turned rebels against Zuko. I say "imperial firebenders" because Mako has gold eyes and is very skilled in firebending. Bolin and Mako are, of course, in the dark about all of the above. So Mako stated it was a mugger in LoK. Yeah, I'm probably crazy.

Please review :D