notes: inspired by gorgeous instrumental "Farewell," composed by Alan Menken. I would suggest listening to it while you read. :3
Full summary: The war is over and the Avatar has won. But Korra belongs to the world-and she must face it, all of it. She packs her bags and readies to leave, Republic City in the hands of the people she loves the most. But the sun rises and the wind blows and goodbyes are never easy. mako/korra
The bag slung around her shoulder dug uncomfortably into her skin; it was raw and red from the countless times she let the scratchy material slide off and on, unstable and unsure with her decision as she stood silent on the dock. It was early morning, the clouds from the previous day shoved wispily on the bottom of the horizon. The air was slightly cool, an early sign of autumn and Korra watched with a steady expression as Republic city dulled and the budding dawn tinted the sky with brighter hues as the minutes passed.
She rotated the bag again, irritating her skin. A boat peaked on the edge of the bay and Korra bit her lip in anticipation. With a deep breath of courage she turned around, looking down the long boardwalk.
With a sigh she plopped down on the dock, her bag almost rolling off the dock and into the harbor. She dangled her feet over the edge, swinging her legs and staring at her broken reflection in the soft waves that stumbled into the boardwalk. She blew her bangs out of her face as a strong breeze tossed them gently from her ponytail. Her lips were dry and her eyelids heavy and when she tossed her head into the wind, she closed her eyes; the wind tickled her nose and she swore she could still smell ash mixed with ocean salt. Her hand drifted above her head and she grabbed at the air—it swung freely between the spaces of her fingers, wild and untamed.
She opened her eyes and divided her attention between the waters of Yue bay, the growing size of the boat, and sunrise that shaded her skin a glowing brown. Korra sat perfectly still and relaxed, trying to make her mind do the same—she only wished it worked a little better.
Her mouth quirked knowingly to the side. "Hey," she parroted back. She didn't move as she felt the wood squeak with pressure as he sat beside her, mimicking her posture. Korra smiled at his reflection, offering a small wave. He returned the smile, quivering and shaking in the waves, and Korra was sure that even if the waters were still, he'd look all the same.
His head eventually fell onto her shoulder. The skin was raw and red, but it didn't hurt.
"You did it." he finally whispered, his voice heavy with pride and adoration, like he always had for her. He buried his face into her bare shoulder, and she tried to pretend she wasn't memorizing the feeling.
"We did it, Bolin." She corrected, her own head suddenly heavy as she rested it atop Bolin's.
The sun was steadily rising as the colors grew brighter—the sun had yet to burst over the horizon, the east a soft pink at its brightest. Behind them, Republic City's nightlife faded, leaving the city quiet and peaceful.
"I don't recall mastering all the elements and glowing it up—that was all you, darling. You beat him. You saved the city."
A light chuckle got caught in her throat. "I still have a lot to learn," she reminded him.
She felt his lips move against her skin, "I know," before pressing a kiss to her shoulder; it was light and feathery and everything she was trying to become that she thought she might have imagined it.
"He'll be here," Bolin finally said, lifting his head from her shoulder. She said nothing in response. He stared at back at their reflections, and waited for the wind to calm—for a splint second, the water was still. Her eyes caught a glimmer, still bright and blue and filled with wonder before the waves distorted it again.
The quiet returned, the addition of a few birds chirping in the distance. Korra got a little lost in their song before she said, "I don't know when I'll be back."
Bolin dipped his toe in the bay, flicking a few droplets up. "I understand." he said sadly. He felt a soft arm finally wrap around his shoulder—those familiar muscles, that gorgeous tanned skin appearing in the corner of his eye. Korra's other hand laid gracefully on his cheek, and she allowed him to pull him to face her. He closed his eyes in worry, but when he opened them, he managed to see a tear roll down her cheek.
She wiped away his tears with her thumb.
She offered the best smile she could manage. "But I will be back. Okay?" Korra leaned in and kissed his tear-tracked cheek. She took a shuddering breath, trying to calm herself, trying to be that damn leaf. Bolin put his hand over hers, caressing her fingers. "Take care of the city for me, okay?"
"Of course! Oh man, I can't wait until I see you again." He said with that same pride. "You're going to be a whole new person." She snorted in protest, threatening to pull away from his touch but he scooted closer. "I mean—you'll still be you. But you'll be the biggest, baddest Avatar there ever was!" He threw gestured to Aang Memorial Island. "Then we'll have to build a statue for you."
Korra stared at the statue, its outline fuzzy from the distance. "You think you'll be able to make one big enough?" She said, her body shaking with weak laughter.
Bolin chuckled and kissed the top of her head. "That's my girl."
The boat grew bigger, sailing softly in the breeze. The sails were stark white, a faint impression of a white lotus tile visible if you looked hard enough. The sky had grown a soft orange, the clouds still bubbling over the horizon—the edges were colored with vibrancy and electricity, glowing with such intensity Korra waited patiently for the sun to rise high enough to burst over the clouds, to shower the world with ambience and litter her world with her favorite color blue. But the sky was still orange and the wind was still blowing and a leaf got caught in her hair. She reached to pick it out, but a pair of dainty hands beat her to it.
Asami rested her chin on top the Avatar's head. "Hi," she mumbled. A playful smirk engulfed her face as she shoved the autumn hued leaf under Korra's nose, eliciting a laugh from all three of them. Korra finally grabbed Asami's wrist, blowing the leaf away to join with a few others in the wind. Bolin and Korra scooted away from each other and Asami crouched between them, their reflections overlapping in the harbor.
She dug into her pocket and pulled out a small package. "The stationary has got a watermark and everything," Asami explained as she reached over and placed it carefully into Korra's luggage. "I do hope you'll write all your adventures down—and maybe spare us a few letters as well," she pointed to herself and Bolin. "I know you have a lot to learn as the Avatar—and I know you have to travel the world to do it. But it's always nice to keep home in mind, right?"
Korra looked past Asami and Bolin and at the towering building of Republic City. "I know you were born in the South Pole, but…" Asami trailed off. Korra watched as Asami's stuttered with her words, as her face contorted and her green eyes bubbled with tears. She reached over and pulled Korra into a hug.
"But home is where the heart is," Asami choked out. Korra felt an uncomfortable lump in her throat as Asami pulled away, a quivering smile on both their lips. "You taught me that, after all."
Korra couldn't help it; a choked sob hiccupped from her mouth and she bit her tongue, trying to remain steady, to be the pillar the world wanted her to be, but she was only nearly eighteen and Korra simply couldn't help it. She yanked Asami and Bolin to her, Asami by her sleeve, Bolin by his collar, and threw her arms around them.
They shared whispered goodbyes and quiet messages in each other's ears. The three of them shook—a bit out of sadness, a bit out of fear and just a smidge from the hope of a brighter future that lied ahead. The wind picked up and whipped their hair around, the words of their hearts getting lost in the wind.
The boat rocked gently to the harbor, the deck lined with White Lotus guards. Howl jumped down and tied the boat down before unsteadily approaching the huddle of teens. "Avatar Korra?" He asked gently.
Korra pulled away slowly, clumsily wiping at her tears. Asami reached over and pulled Korra's hair out of her face before leaning in and giving her a small peck on the cheek. Korra laughed good naturedly, rubbing Asami's arm in comfort. Bolin opened his arms wide for one last hug. She happily flung herself in his embrace. With her mouth buried in the ruffles of his shirt, she whispered, "Mako."
He squeezed her tighter, shutting his eyes. "Oh, Korra," he whispered fiercely. He tilted his head up and looked down the boardwalk—there was no sign of him. "He said-I'm so sorry."
Howl grabbed her bag, and placed a firm hand on her shoulder. "It's best if we get going." Howl said gently. Korra nodded as Howl threw her bag up to another guard, who carried it off to her quarters. Korra headed over to the walkway, Howl offering his hand to help her up, when she suddenly stopped, her head whipping to the sky. She stole a look at the deepening orange hues and bright yellows that bundled by the clouds. The sun was bursting at the seams, and she found it hard to believe clouds had a silver lining when they were set on fire like this. She turned around and looked at Bolin and Asami once more. They wore soft smiles and hopeful eyes. Bolin slung an arm around the Sato, his hand rubbing lazy circles on her arm.
Korra gave them a tight smile and a small salute before the launched herself in the air, and hopping on deck. Howl pulled his hand away slowly, a knowing smile on his face as he rolled his eyes at the young Avatar. He watched as she dashed over to the corner of the boar and retrieved a newly crafted air glider—a parting gift from Tenzin she had placed on the boat the night before. Without the aid of the breeze, Korra airbent herself in the air, grabbing hold onto the ropes of the largest sail with one hand. She swung herself one more time, twisting her body upward until she landed inside the unoccupied ravencrow's nest, resting her glider against the middle post.
She looked down to find the White Lotus already weary and stifled a giggle. She focused on her friends—the bouncy curls of Asami's hair and the way her pale skin glowed. Bolin was bulky and soft looking, and she could almost see the veins running along his arms the way they did whenever he hugged her. They spotted Korra and waved, Bolin bouncing on the tips of his toes. Korra returned the favor and waved back. The avatar listened as the guards shouted some instructions and when she closed her eyes, she didn't open them until she swayed with the waves and she had officially set sail.
Korra stared back at the sky. The sun rose, the top curve peaking out, the sky no longer dark hues of red and orange; nothing but blinding light and shades of white, fading into soft purples and blues. The wind roared in her ears and whipped at her face, salt spackling her cheeks and getting caught in her eyelashes. She rested her chin in the palm of her hand and just listened; she heard the songs of morning, the sounds of peace, the sounds of—
She opened her eyes slowly. The first thing she saw was busted clouds and a sky that matched the sea. She turned around toward the dock, far away, but yet so close. She spotted Bolin and Asami a ways away, still so close their figures smudged and blurred into one. But beyond them, past the little boardwalks and boats docked for the day was the prettiest shade of red she'd ever laid eyes on.
"Mako?" she whispered to herself, leaning over the confinements of the nest. "Mako!" she screamed.
From land, Mako ran to the edges of the harbor, cupping his hands around his mouth. "Korra!" he shouted again.
She leaned as far as she could, her eyes wide with anticipation—he was close enough to see, close enough to hear, but he was still too far. Korra watched as his chest heaved, begging for air and as she stood on the edges of her toes, she soon found she was out of breath as well.
Mako watched as the boat slowly drifted away—it was fighting the wind, sailing as best it could. He spotted Korra's hair waving wildly about, a dark contrast against the bright white sails. He brought his hands down and clutched as his scarf. The words were twisted on his tongue and he squeezed the scarf tighter. But a breeze blew past and cooled his skin.
It smelled like sea salt. It smelled like her.
So he cupped his hands and screamed,
"I love you!"
He waited. He had never been so scared in his life; not when he was running for his life on the streets, not when he was fighting Amon, not when his bending was taken away. But he had said it and he had meant it and all there was left to do was wait.
So he smiled.
Korra's eyes went wide. She looked down and studied the guards—they didn't hear it. She looked back up and saw Mako, tall and lean, that scarf of his whipping him in the face. She thought that when she looked closely enough she could make out the holes in his shirt and the tattered edges of his collar. But most of all she thought she could see the sunlight bouncing of his teeth as he smiled, as he laughed.
There was only one way to find out.
With no hesitation she grabbed the glider and opened it with one swoosh—it fluttered a bit with the already existing wind. From below she heard some protests, most likely from Howl; about how she hadn't quite gotten the hang of gliding about how she should just stay put.
She climbed on and took off.
The laughed insanely as she was engulfed in freedom. The sun shone in her eyes and her hair kept getting in her mouth and when a gust of wind came she was thrown off her glider. But she was Korra and she had made it and it didn't matter than she had clumsily landed on the closest empty boardwalk, her glider feet away.
She stumbled to her feet and shot up, her head whipping left and right. When her gaze fell dead center, her breath caught in her throat and she froze. He was a speck, sharp, yet small, but he was there, and she was here and all she had to do was get there.
So she started walking.
Her steps were hesitant at first, slow and unsure. Her heart was thumping mad, pushing against her ribcage, and running her blood hot. She was the Avatar, strong and steady, but she was also Korra, scared and in love.
She walked faster.
Mako stood speechless as he watched Korra jump with reckless abandon on to her glider—he was well aware she had never done such a thing before. He watched, stunned as she crashed on land and he still remained frozen as she slowly made her way forward. It was so like her to throw herself into something, to always be the first one to make the move, but he wouldn't let her come to him—he wanted to get to her first.
So he took a step forward.
The both walked slowly, their footsteps heavy with anticipation and anxiety. But when the wind picked up their feet felt lighter and their hearts felt stronger.
They started running.
Korra's breaths grew heavy and quick until they bled into one another, nothing but a steady breeze blowing through her lungs. Her feet felt light and her eyes stung with tears; Mako's steps were swift and steady and his head grew light. But when he was close enough, when he could finally see the oceans in her eyes he laughed as loudly as he could.
So, he grabbed her with reckless abandon and crushed her lips to his.
His hands slipped around her waist and her hands wrapped around his neck. He kissed her once for being late, twice for all his mistakes and several more because he loved her. She kissed him back for all the times he was there for her and for the love she always knew they had.
Korra pulled away and peered into his eyes—beautiful gold made with soft fire and sunshine. He counted her eyelashes and pretended that he could toss a coin in the waters of her eyes and make a wish for her to stay.
"I love you too," she whispered back. She leaned up and pressed a soft kiss to his jaw. Her hands slid down to grip his scarf.
He memorized the way her smile sprouted across her cheeks—the curve of her dimples, the stretch of her lips, how her tongue pressed adorably in the small spaces between her teeth.
"Here," he said gently. He gently pushed her hand away and slowly unwrapped his scarf. Korra stood in awe as he carefully unwound it, only to put it around her seconds later.
"You know what," he whispered. "Keep this. I think it looks better on you."
She stared dumbly at the scarf, winding the tattered threads around her finger. She was hesitant to look back up; but when she did her mouth broke out into a soft grin. She felt him intertwine his fingers with hers and give the softest squeeze. She counted his pulse and felt the fire burning underneath his fingertips and when he looked at her she felt his love.
"You belong to the world," Mako admitted, pulling her closer by the scarf. "But I will always belong to you."
Her head fell forward and bumped into his chest. Their hands still intertwined, she let herself spill a few tears before she stood straight, wiping at her cheeks.
"Goodbye," she murmured, staring at their hands. She started to loosen her fingers, but the thought made her heart ache she almost thought losing his touch would burn.
Mako leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead. He wiggled his fingers free and for a moment, the wind blew between them, cool and refreshing, but the heat was back as he pulled her into a hug.
"…goodbye," he finally choked back.
After a few moments, he pulled away. "I'm sorry I was late," he said quietly and he felt Korra smile. "It won't happen again."
She laughed, getting lost in his grin. "idiot," she teased gently and Mako laughed. His finger hovered over her face before gently bopping her on the nose.
"Some things never change, do they, Avatar?"
"You're the Avatar…"
Korra smiled. "I hope not."
"…and I'm an idiot."
He leaned down and kissed her softly one last time; and when she pulled away, he was overwhelmed with the sounds of waves crashing, of skies stretched across the sky and hopeful glints swirling in her irises.
All he saw was blue and it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
But as he watched her grab her glider and fly off into the rest of the world, the red of his scarf caught the sunlight and shot across the sky like a shooting star.
She'd be back.
AN: Once again, I find myself doing one-shots. But I really liked how this turned out. If you haven't noticed, I always end with the bittersweet moments. but this one ended up being more sweet, i thought! :D
on a side note, I am a firm believer in kissing your friends. albeit, chaste ones, but nonetheless! So Team Avatar kisses galore :3