I started this a few months ago-the original intent was to publish it on my birthday. That was May 27. Yeah. Anyhoo, that's why it's about a birthday.


Whoever invented mornings deserved to get punished by an Avatar whilst in the Avatar state. If she could, Korra preferred to not be awake until around noon. She was the type of person who would rather stay up half the night and sleep all day than one who believed in the maxim "the early bird gets the worm." In true fashion, she had stayed up till around midnight-ish the night before, even knowing she had to wake up before the sun the next morning, and all in all getting around four and a half to five hours of sleep.

So that was probably why she kept forgetting herself and nearly using one of the three other elements at least three times already, instead of only waterbending like she was supposed to be, much to the chagrin of her teammates.

(But they were sending weak attacks at each other as defense practice and trying different ways of blocking them; it was her instinct, what was she supposed to do? Counteract an earth disk with water? Please.)

"Korra!" Mako snapped at her on the fourth time of her returning his fireball.

"I know," Korra huffed, exasperated, sending a bit of water at him and drenching him. Though his brother began literally rolling on the floor laughing, Mako was not amused; instead, he glared at the sleep-deprived Avatar till she removed the liquid from his clothes.

"Now Waterbend," he told her slowly. "Water." She did—a huge wave of water right in his face, and she refused to dry him off.

By splashing cold water on her face to wake herself up, she managed to get through most of the rest of practice without using any other than her native element. But when again she Earthbended, Mako threw his hands up. "Never mind. There's only two minutes left before the other team shows up anyway. Let's just go." With that, he swept out of the room.

As soon as he was gone, Bolin sidled up to Korra. "Don't mind him, he's just cranky 'cause it's his birthday tomorrow and he doesn't like people making a big deal about it," he said matter-of-factly.

From a small distance they heard Mako yelling, "Bo, you better not be telling her what I think you are!"

"Nooooo," Bolin called back with faux innocence.

Korra muttered out of the corner of her mouth, "Surprise party?"

"Surprise party."

XXX

"Meelo, stop trying to eat the streamers!" Ikki raced after and caught the squirming little boy while Jinora plied the salvageable bits of streamer from their brother's mouth, then Airbended herself up to hang them all across the room, criss-crossing the different colors of blue and red. She bounced lightly off everyone's heads in the process, naturally causing many angry reactions, and finally lowered herself down next to Skoochy. Tenzin hung a banner reading 你生日快乐馬寇!(Happy Birthday Mako!) and Lin Metalbended its tacks into the wall.

"Um, what's this about?"

Korra jumped at the sudden voice behind her. Seeing Mako, her eyes nearly bugged out of her head. "M-Mako!" she stammered, hastily attempting to shove him out of the room. "It's nothing, really!"

"Just let him in, he's here already," Lin said monotonously, rolling her eyes.

Defeated, Korra stepped aside. "Surprise?" she said weakly, hopefully.

Mako turned to Bolin, who by this point had wandered over to them. "I thought I specifically told you not to tell her, or was I talking to Pabu that whole time?"

He shrugged innocently. "Slipped."

"So…you're mad?" Korra said, not sure if it was a question or a statement. It was then Mako looked at her and noticed how sad and hurt she looked at this concept. He placed a hand on her shoulder.

"No, I'm not mad." He offered a small, slightly forced smile and Korra's face lit up. And then he really did smile, just for the look on her face and how she could change emotions so quickly, going from a pout to a full-on grin in a matter of seconds.

Bolin clapped a hand on Mako's shoulder. "Happy birthday, bro."

Iroh and Asami, in charge of the phonograph for the night (and having a bit of trouble with it), began music to get the party started and to relieve a bit of the awkwardness. Korra held out her hand to Mako. "Care to dance, mister?" she invited, eyes glistening with the spirit of the joke. He was just about to place his hand into hers and accept with a jest of equal proportions when he was nearly rammed into by Ikki.

"Mako, will you dance with me? Will ya?" she asked, bouncing up and down.

"Uh, I was just about to—"

Korra waved a hand. "No, it's fine, go." And so Mako proceeded to awkwardly lead Ikki out onto the dance floor, and she was so short she rode on his toes. He twirled her once for good measure and Ikki used Airbending to make a spectacle of it.

When the song ended he looked around for Korra, who had gone over to the food table and was sampling different foods made by Pema, and began making his way over to her. But he was stopped again, this time by a little girl who he knew was either Ikki or Jinora's friend, but he couldn't remember which. She, too, asked for a dance, saying she saw Ikki doing it and it looked like fun.

Throughout the night he kept trying to get to Korra, but little girls wanting a dance continued to get in his way, or another guy would ask Korra instead, and his jaw clenched as he watched her dancing with nearly every other guy there.

Finally able to snatch a free moment, Mako ducked outside to get some fresh air and to get away from the roomful of people—years on the streets had made him wary and uncomfortable in crowds.

To his surprise, Korra was outside as well, sitting on a bench in her party dress—no doubt one she'd been forced into, though she'd once confessed that it wasn't dresses she hated, it was the events she usually had to wear them to, so maybe not.

"Hey," Mako said, sitting next to her. "Why are you out here?"

"I could ask the same of you," she replied, smiling. "Just wanted to get some fresh air."

"Me too."

They were silent for a moment, the noise of the party and the jazz music, the current new phenomenon, being played by Iroh and Asami spilling out into the night. Suddenly Mako stood, a spark of an idea in his head. "Y'know," he said, "we never did get in that dance earlier."

Korra sat up straighter with realization. "No, we didn't, did we?"

Mako held out his hand. "May I have this dance, milady?"

She grinned and placed her own hand in his. "Of course, sir."

After the party ended, Bolin came up to him and asked how he liked it. "It was great, Bo," he told him honestly. "And no, that is not an invitation to do this every year." Bolin closed the mouth he had opened just before Mako spoke the second sentence and pouted.


Sorry if the Chinese is wrong! It's from a translator. I tried asking my online friend who knows Chinese, but she's on vacation and so never replied.

Fun fact: Originally, Mako and Korra would dance after the party, and there'd be no music. Korra was going to point this out (after a minute of dancing) and then Mako would attempt at trying to get the phonograph to work and fail miserably.

They had phonographs in the 1920s, right? Ah, it's 2 AM, too tired to care. I was listening to Shanghai jazz tonight while I wrote, too.