Mako wrapped the bandage around Korra's bloodied knuckles, holding her hand gingerly in his as he wound the fabric around, watching the red liquid soak into the white, staining it. The two were silent, not able to dig for any energy to neither speak nor find a care to talk with one another. Moments like these were best for keeping quiet and allowing the other to their thoughts without interruption or intrusion. So Korra sat and allowed him to fix her hand, scrutinizing his pale face in the low light, imagining what was going on in his head. None of it could be good.
"I should be comforting you," she eventually croaked, throat sore from screaming and sobbing. Mako remained silent, not even bothering to look up from her hand.
"I don't understand why you're helping me."
Mako finished wrapping the bandage and dropped it into her lap. Korra raised it and inspected his handiwork, stroking the soft cloth with the pad of her thumb. It still stung, but it was a pain she could ignore easily.
"You must hate me," she muttered, dropping her hand to her lap and staring at it as tears gathered in her eyes. "I wouldn't blame you if you did." When she looked up she saw molten amber eyes and flinched. The first tear slipped and sped down her cheek and her throat closed up as she attempted fighting off her crying fit. "Of course you do. I see the anger in your eyes."
He didn't answer. He didn't move.
He didn't really do anything.
"You blame me for all of this." He stared at her. "Don't worry. I blame myself too." No movement. "I should've been there for her, for the both of you." No answer. "You can go ahead and dump me like the useless trash I am."
"And why would I ever do that?"
Korra blinked back tears. "Why not?"
"Korra, I lo-"
"Don't…say it." Her voice was firm but her bottom lip quivered dangerously. Another tear slipped past and dripped down her chin. Korra felt her hands shaking in her lap and her chest constricted around her lungs and heart, squeezing until she couldn't breathe. Her vision blurred and her heart raced. Small, choked whimpers escaped her throat even when she tried to shove them down and keep herself silent. Mako watched with a distraught fixation, torn between leaving her alone or scooping her into his arms and holding her close.
"I don't deserve such…such kind words," she sobbed, fisting her pants in her hands. Her shoulders shook and the tears increased, but now none of it seemed to matter. She'd been holding this in far too long and it was time to let it all out. She shouldn't have to hide her emotions, even in front of the very person she just hurt.
"This is all my fault."
"No Korra it's not. Stop it. Just stop."
She snapped her head up and furrowed her eyebrows together, wiping away a few tears falling down. "How is this not my fault, Mako? I should've been there!" She took a deep breath. "She's dead because of me. And you have every right to hate me for it."
Korra ducked her head again in shame and sadness. She had let the one person Mako cared about most besides Bolin slip from life so easily. It was her duty to protect those in need and she wasn't doing that great a job so far by her count. All that happened to Asami…she was to blame.
Mako reached out for her and wrapped his arms around her shaking shoulders. "I don't hate you, Korra. And I don't blame you either. Asami's death hurts, but I understand that you couldn't be there for her." Tears began to soak into his jacket and he smoothed her hair as she cried into him, mourning the loss of her dear friend and a strong ally.
"Don't let this get to you, Korra. I know you're stronger than that. Asami knows you're stronger than that."
Korra sniffed and looked up at him, searching his eyes for a lie. "And if I'm not?"
He kissed her forehead and brushed a strand of hair from her face. "Then I'm here for you. And she will be too. We'll help you be strong."