A/N: Just a drabble of Bolin's thoughts.
I must be a masochist, because I can't stay away from one-sided Borra.
I just had to get my feelings out in time for the finale.
The swirling waters of the underground tunnel are cool lapping against his feet through the shoes, which he'll have to discard by the time they walk out. The street rat in him mourns at the waste, but he reminds himself he'll be able to find new ones easily, and there are benefits. His right hand holds the strap across Naga's chest tightly, feeling how snug it is against the coarse white fur. Funnily enough, he always thought Naga would have fur as soft as silk, but for some reason he prefers the coarseness of the wild polar bear dog, the untameable spirit.
But there's one spirit that seems to have been tamed.
He glances at her from the corner of his eye, Pabu's ear twitching at the edge of his vision. Mako's arm is around her, his hand slipped under her armpit, almost to the lower curve of her breast. He doesn't quite understand how she went from such a fiery spirit to . . . to this bruised, battered, bedraggled girl leaning on his brother for support. Even though he knows what she went through at the claws of that monster Tarrlok, he fails to see where she shifted, where her fire went out, where her kindling was lost to the blizzard.
Winter is coming, he realises. Not only in the chill in the air and the snow drifting from the darkening clouds but in the approaching storm, Amon's endgame threatening to bury them all in the flood. But he knows they'll make it out okay. They have before, and they will again.
He glances at her once more.
They will. Unless she is broken. But he doesn't believe she is.
He won't believe she is.
He can't believe she is.
Naga rumbles softly as she walks, splashing the swirling water onto the bottom of his pants, not that he minds. She can't take care of the polar bear dog right now, so he will, for her. He'll always take care of everything for her. What's his. What's not his. He'll take care of everything she needs.
Even if Mako's the one to be her hero, supporting her, being there for her while he does the things that matter.
If he could comfort her, he would. He would hold her in his arms, let her cry, her tears soaking his shirt and running down his neck to pool at the ridge of his collarbone, softly stroke her hair while she wept. He would squeeze her, topple over so that she lay atop him while he curled up around her like her polar bear dog would, whisper, "It's going to be okay. I promise. It's going to be okay, because I'm here, and you're here, and Mako's here. We're all here for you. And as long as we're here together, then it's going to be okay. It has to be."
But he can't hold her. He can't embrace her. He can't do any of these things for her, because she is in another world separated by a veil. By Mako's arm. How does his brother do? How does Mako manage to create a wholly new little world all to himself by putting his arm around someone, a world he can't enter, a world he can barely observe.
His legs begin to burn, the hours spent walking beginning to take their toll, but he keeps moving. He has to show her that he's strong, has to show Mako, has to show himself. The city, forever towering above him with its glittering light, is breaking up around him.
Behind him, he hears the splash of Asami's boot as the young woman nearly stumbles. Mako ignores her. But when she hesitates for a moment, the muscle in her thigh twitching visibly, his brother stops immediately and looks around, his embrace tightening.
He coughs. "Should we stop? I think I could use a break." When he slaps his hand against the side of his leg, the sound echoes unnaturally through the crisscross of tunnels, winding never-endingly through the city, the clogged arteries of a system about to fail, of a man about to succumb, of a team with nothing tying them together but a need to salvage the mirror smashed to pieces.
Mako's gaze meets his. In those amber eyes, he can hear an entire conversation, a back-and-forth. He begs to hug her. His brother turns away, refusing his request, keeping her in the bubble created by that arm.
But as Mako pauses to pick out a spot to rest, she moves out of his embrace. Only a few steps. But those shaking steps she takes towards Naga, whose tail thumps slowly against the ground, splashing each time.
He notices the shine in her eyes.
Her knees buckle. She falls forward clumsily into the swirling water, her legs useless, and he moves to catch her. His arms wrap about her shoulders, his thumbs on the upper ridge of her shoulder blades, and she buries her face in his chest. Gently, he presses his fingers into her back, drawing her up until she is standing on her own weight again. With his left hand, he touches her chin and lifts it, stroking her cheek with his thumb. "Korra?"
Her eyes are a dark blue, like that of the ocean, but the barely contained tears within them frighten him. "Bolin," she murmurs. "I want to . . . I want to hug Naga."
Her muscles tense and relax in his embrace as she struggles to make it to her polar bear dog, and he hooks Naga's strap with his right and beckons the polar bear dog closer; without warning, she collapses onto Naga, her hands curling into the polar bear dog's fur.
She shudders, a low moan vibrating her belly.
He hugs her softly from behind, his arms curving about her hips, his hands warm on her stomach, feeling the ripple of muscle under his fingers, reminding him of the strong, proud, and fiery girl to whom they belong.
But that strong, proud, and fiery girl is, for now, extinguished, the swirling water murmuring away the last of the live coals. But under that, he knows, the kindling remains.
He tightens his embrace.
All it needs is a spark.