The last thing Korra expected to hear in the middle of the night was shuddering sobs from his side of the bed.
"Mako?" She fumbled to find his hand in the sheets, but when she grabbed a hold of it, he pulled away. "Mako?" she whispered again. She turned over and in the dark she could see the outline of his form. His back was to her and he's curled in a way that reminded her of a small child. She heard his breath hitch and she reached out of put a hand on his back. When he didn't respond, she rubbed her hand up and down his back.
For a few moments, he continued to sob and Korra just kept soothing him, but then he turned to her and threw his arms around her and held on to her so tightly that she could feel his body pressed hard against hers. She could feel his damp, salty tears on her and his shirtless body was cold and sweaty. She ran her fingernails gently up and down his back and kissed into his hair.
"Where's Bolin?" Mako mumbled into her shoulder.
Korra's eyes widened in bewilderment. "Mako … you know where Bolin is. He's at his apartment," she said carefully.
"N-no. He's gone. And I let him go." And then it donned on Korra. He had a nightmare.
After Mako had calmed down, Korra sat against the headboard and Mako leaned into her, this back on her chest and her legs parallel to his. Korra couldn't stop touching him – hair, shoulders, neck, arms. Mako drew circles on her thighs. They sat wordlessly for an eternity until Mako broke and words came tumbling from his mouth. Words of secrets and fears and worries.
"There is a man who has terrible scars all up and down his arms but you wouldn't be able to see them because he hides them. I did that to him."
"When Bolin and I used to sleep in old sheds, I would always sleep near the door in case we got attacked so the intruder would kill me first."
"Bolin doesn't know this, but there was a time when he was thirteen and he was growing and I had almost nothing to eat for a month because we only had enough to feed him."
"I used to steal when I was little because I couldn't work. I never want to steal again."
"I think the reason Bolin always had so many girlfriends was because he was desperate to find someone who made him feel special like Mom did."
"I had to teach Bolin how to read."
"When I stopped doing work for the Triads, they threatened to hurt Bolin. I killed three men that night."
By now he was crying again, and his words stopped making sense. He talked about Bolin's favorite foods and how they met Toza and about pro-bending and a kid named Skoochy. And finally, when his body was pounding with wails, he said,
"Sometimes at night I swear I'm going crazy because I hear my parents talking to me. It's the worst feeling in the world."
At that, he started screaming and he rolled over and stuffed the blankets in his mouth and screamed and screamed and screamed. His hands fisted in the sheets and when he looked up his features were crazed and tears engulfed his face and veins popped out of his neck. Korra couldn't bare to watch calm, collected Mako lose it. She looked at him and all she saw was a broken child. She couldn't stand it any longer. She got up and went to the bathroom and shut the door and sat on the side of the tub as his muffled shrieks of terror were heavy in the air.
Another lifetime later, Mako opened the door to the bathroom and walked to the sink to rinse his face.
He looked up at Korra and she could no longer tell when the tears stopped and where the mask of water began.