A/N: Takes place immediately after Bolin and Asami take down Hiroshi Sato in "Endgame."
Because Asami needed someone to comfort her, and Bolin needed more lines.
They both sat still for a few tense moments. Bolin could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He would never let it show, but he'd been scared – scared for her, scared for having to watch it happen. He rubbed Naga affectionately behind the ears in gratitude. The dog had saved his life twice today, and she'd brought him here fast enough to save Asami. One second later, and Hiroshi could have…
No. He didn't want to think about it. He shouldn't. It was in the past. And he, of all people, knew that it did not do to dwell on the past.
"Good girl, Naga," he whispered gratefully to his companion. "Korra would be really proud of you. You saved the day!"
The polar bear dog leaned into his hand and emitted a deep sound from her throat. Bolin smiled, glancing up nervously at the prone form of Hiroshi Sato lying at the entrance of the building. They should probably do something about him. And patrol the rest of the compound. And make sure everything was okay.
But he already knew everything was not okay. Not for Asami.
Taking a deep breath, he dismounted Naga and took two steps toward the mecha-suit. She hadn't come out yet, and he couldn't see inside the tinted windows. He was torn between averting his eyes to give her time and calling out to her. But realizing they still had work to do, he decided the latter made more sense.
"Hey, uh…Asami? I'm, um…" he had so many things he wanted to say. I'm glad you're okay; I'm sorry your father is a horrible person; we should get to work rounding up the rest of the Equalists; we should start heading back so we can check on your ex-boyfriend and the Avatar.
He didn't quite know where to start.
While he fumbled for words, he heard a click and a gust of air as the window lifted on the mecha-suit. He darted his eyes toward the sound, keeping his head down. The suit bowed slowly, making easier for her to get out. But when the glass pane fully lifted up and he saw her, he rushed toward her in concern.
"Asami, are you all right?" he asked dumbly, kicking himself immediately. "I mean, well...physically?"
She was curled in on herself, and she was crying. He had to admit, he was a little lost for words at this. He'd never seen her cry. He imagined she had probably cried immediately after that first encounter with her father; but she must have either kept it to herself or only cried around Mako.
But Mako wasn't here for her now. And, Bolin realized, he probably wouldn't be again. At least, not in the way she wanted...
"I'm fine," she responded to him numbly. Her voice was strong and full of conviction, like it always was. But he knew better this time.
"No. You're not," he whispered, reaching in to pull her out of the mecha-suit and into his arms.
He felt her shaking against him, and he held her still more tightly, pressing a strong hand against the back of her hair as she buried her face into his shoulder. He muttered hollow words of comfort and stroked her hair gently, shaken by the fact that this girl – this strong person who had just fought valiantly and almost single-handedly taken down one of the Equalists' prime leaders – was crying on him. Was finally giving in to her emotions.
He was jolted out of his reassurances by a strangled sound behind him. The cords around Hiroshi Sato released another electrical charge to keep him unconscious. He gulped, but it brought Asami out of her speechless daze.
"I didn't want to hurt him," she whispered. "Even after he was trying to…I still couldn't do it."
"Hey," Bolin cut her off quickly, pulling back a bit to give her a smile and wipe her hair from her face. "You did great. It turned out fine. Perfect, in fact. You beat him, just like you wanted."
She looked away, probably deducing that Bolin was not the person she wanted to talk to.
"Okay, maybe not…exactly like you wanted," he whispered, pulling her back to him.
She cried suddenly harder, and he glanced down at her. "I'm an orphan," she muttered, making the revelation for the first time as tears cascaded from her eyes.
Bolin's face hardened at the word, at the revelation. It was familiar to him. He felt almost protective of the title, as though Asami didn't deserve it. But, recalling the image of her father - in a mecha-tank and moving to strike his own daughter down before him - Bolin closed his eyes and conceded to the fact that she was, by all rights, an orphan.
Just like him.
"I'm sorry," he responded, his voice cracking from the tears that had started to build up behind his own eyes. Any mention of parents and orphans brought him to a place he didn't normally allow himself to go.
"I'm sorry, too," she responded thickly, whether about his own orphan status or about today's general ordeal, he couldn't be sure.
"Naw, I'm fine," he said with about the same level of confidence she had displayed earlier with those very words. "But you - you need some more Bolin hugs. No one deserves to be betrayed by somebody they love…" he trailed off slightly, trying to pry his heart out of his words as memories flooded him. "And definitely not someone as amazing as you."
She peered over his shoulder at where her father lay on the ground, and then she shifted her gaze off into the distance. He could tell she was processing what he said. And she understood that he meant it on several levels. For both of them.
"Where do I go from here?" she asked, sounding more lost than he had ever heard her. "I've lost my mother, my father, my home. I've lost…I've lost Mako…"
The tears returned, and Bolin pulled her back again, using his thumb to wipe some of her tears from her face. She looked so defeated, no longer trying to hide her tears from him. It was over, and she was done. She had lost everything and everyone. She didn't know what to do or where to go.
His heart broke for her, but he kept a smile plastered on his face. "You come back home with us. You're still a part of our family."
She leaned into him again, and he felt a strange sort of pride that she now leaned on him without his prompting.
"When we get back…they're going to be together, aren't they?" she asked, although the question was rhetorical, he knew. "He loves her."
Bolin grimaced, but he nodded. He'd been loath to admit it, living in denial of the facts for weeks. Perhaps for Asami's sake…perhaps for his own. But even he could see now that his brother's interactions with Korra had become far beyond friendly. He had been trying not to see it, to block it out like he always did with everything. But if there was one person in the world he knew like the back of his hand, it was his brother. And he could see the way he looked at Korra…the way he didn't look at Asami. He knew.
"Yeah," he whispered into her hair. "They love each other."
She shook her head, and he could still feel her shoulders trembling, but she had moved past the point of open sobbing. He realized, as he held her, just what she had gone through. Her father had betrayed her, Mako had all but abandoned her, and she'd just almost endured a battle to the death with her only surviving parent. He'd been orphaned at such a young age, he couldn't hardly remember the safety and comfort of having parents. But Asami, she knew what it was like to live a life of security, luxury and love, and she'd lost it all. Lost it all because of her involvement with Mako, with Bolin, with Korra. And, for awhile, she'd had that comfort restored in Mako. But now…
Now she needed someone else to lean on. She needed someone firm, a steadfast and loyal friend. And Bolin knew he could provide that for her. He could be her rock.
"Asami," he said, "you don't have to go it alone. I'm here for you, just like I was here to help you fight. You need me, you say the word. I'm sorry you had to lose your dad. And someone you lo—"
He shut his mouth quickly.
But she knew. She looked up at him, her eyes dark and still lost, but a twinge of hope sparkled in them as she gave him the same reassuring smile he had been affording her.
"I'm sorry you had to lose Korra, too," she whispered, sitting up and opening her arms in offering for a mutual shoulder to cry on. It was the moment he knew her strength had returned. The moment he knew that she would be okay. Someday.
Bolin simply smiled back, shaking his head. He grabbed her outstretched hands and hauled her to her feet as he stood.
"I think it's time we take care of your dad and make sure there are no more Equalists," he said. "And then we can go home. Together."