Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Legend of Korra.
Author's Note: I just wanted to write some Borra during my visual arts lecture…
Korra is never afraid. She is always strong, bold, fearless in the face of any challenge presented before her – whether it is an element, an idea, or a man and his revolution. She never cowers, hides, curls into herself and mutters what she frightens her under her breath.
So when Bolin sees the Avatar in the sky bison stables, lying on her side with her back to the world, he can't help but feel confused and maybe even a little conflicted. This is not the girl who always has a cheeky grin on her face and a spring in her step. This is not the woman who slowly but surely took his heart into her hands. This is a completely different person, one he is not familiar with – and by the looks of things, Korra is unfamiliar with it also.
He doesn't like seeing her so… low.
He enters, and she sits up immediately, her peace of sorts shattered. She viciously rubs her nose and continues to face away from the intruder, even as the shadow looms over her form and blocks out the remnants of the moon. Before Bolin can even inquire what the matter is, Korra's voice rips through the silence, "I'm fine. Go."
Bolin hesitates before coming to a decision. He moves and sits behind her, facing the door as though he's her guard. There are a few distant murmurs from the sky bisons around them – Tenzin's Oogi gives a particularly loud yawn as he rustles amongst some hay – and he merely gazes at what he can make out of the stars in the sky.
"Sooo…" he begins uncertainly.
Korra hurriedly hides the surprise from her voice for a moment – she had thought it was Tenzin, or perhaps one of his children, but to now know that its Bolin surprises her – and she tries again, steadier in voice and composure, "You don't have to be here."
She hides how she feels - the surprise, the fear and the slight joy as good as Amon's face hides behind that white mask.
"I know," Bolin says, then adding thoughtfully, "But I wanna be."
Silence binds them. It doesn't take long, though, for Korra to start trembling a little once more.
She is the Avatar. She shouldn't be so afraid – it is unlike her and the line she represents. And yet, the possibilities, the very idea of losing her beloved bending because of a bitter man rattles her bones. She has already confided her fears in the ever caring Tenzin, but she's yet to accept such a foreign, unwanted emotion.
"It's okay to be afraid," Bolin offers casually, leaning back against her as a form of quiet comfort, "Nobody expects you to keep that 'tough guy' mask on – ooh, 'tough girl', sorry!"
She's not said a word, and yet Bolin already knows. Of course he already knows – the fear is real in him as well, for he had very nearly lost a part of what makes him special.
Korra finally breathes, "No, it's not okay for me to be afraid, because that's just not who I am."
"Something always makes someone afraid," he pauses before continuing, looking to his boots, "I'm sure that Avatar Aang was scared of something, and Avatar Roku before him. Mako always used to call me a fraidy-cat while we were growing up, but I truly learnt what fear was when we lost our parents, y'know?
"I remember looking up to Mako… I couldn't see if he was scared or not but I remember seeing anger, and lots of it… That face made me all the more scared. The streets made me really scared too. All I could think about was if we were gonna make it to the next day, and if he we did, would we be safe? It was hard.
"Everyone's afraid of something, but I imagine that the deepest fears would always be confrontational – why wouldn't you be afraid of losing your bending? Give me one reason why you shouldn't be afraid, Korra," he looks over his shoulder at the chocolate brown mop of hair, a grin forming at his own cleverness.
"Because I'm the Avatar."
"Well you wouldn't be the Avatar if you lost your bending now, would you?" she cranes her head around and glares at him. He looks alarmed, but inwardly, he's a little more pleased – this is the Korra he, well, cares for, "Well, you wouldn't! And that scares you because you've been training your whole life to fulfil your destiny."
"I'm not scared!" Korra finally roars, turning wholly to face the young earthbender, "I'm not afraid of Amon and his stupid powers!"
Internally, Korra back-pedals – only hours earlier, she had admitted to Tenzin that she was. Now, she lies to a good man, covering her tracks.
Bolin scratches his cheek and merely monitors her. He knows she's lying, and he waits for her to admit it again. He instead accepts the thereafter guilty look on her face as she breaks her gaze, staring at the floor instead of her friend. It's weird to see Korra make such a face.
Bolin begins, "Korra –"
"I'm not scared and I haven't ever been!"
"- I know it's not in your nature to be worried –"
"Did Tenzin send for you?"
The look on his face neither confirms nor denies the allegation held against him as he continues, albeit not as strongly and he fumbles for words to fill his mouth, "- but it would be, well, weird if you weren't afraid –"
"How did you get here?" she cuts in with a hiss, leaning forward, "Why?"
"- and you need to accept your fear," he finishes relatively calmly, the latter part of his voice fading away because Korra is too damn close and he shouldn't suddenly feel like a tiny little child. She has always been intimidating, and her proximity makes him think of things that he shouldn't be thinking about because she's his team mate.
Korra is quiet once again as she looks at Bolin, furrowing her eyebrows. Accept her fear? Accept the weakness? Why in her right mind would she want to accept such a thing? It has no part in her, no part in the Avatar line and no part in this war against Amon.
"Amon has no power over me," she growls lowly.
"Fear isn't someone having power over another. It's human nature."
But she's the Avatar, the bridge between worlds – she should be the strongest human ever, and strong people aren't supposed to cower. She feels her posture slacken as her weakness shows itself again, as though the tide is low and baring the truest part of Korra that exists.
She's always been heading for fear.
Being the Avatar's always something she has been proud of, but when did she really stop and think about the burdens it would bear? The affects it would have on herself and her family? On those who care? On the gruelling nature of the training? What if she can't stop Amon and save these people? What if she isn't good enough, or effective?
What if she is only a shadow of Aang?
The questions, the 'what if's, and the fear of the possibilities finally crash upon her and force her to crumble into herself and exhale shakily. To give, and to understand. Maybe Bolin, the surprisingly wise but still very adorable Bolin, is right. She admitted to Tenzin earlier of her fear… but maybe she needs to accept it still.
"Tell me more about your fears," she finally states, bringing her legs up to her chest.
"If I did, we'd be here all night!" Bolin jokes, throwing his hands up in the air in an attempt to humour her. Yet, when she does not crack the slightest grin, his own fades just as quickly as his response. She's being serious. Swallowing, he scratches the back of his head, "Well, I really don't like spiders…"
"But you can squash spiders under your boots," but she can't squash this fear of losing her bending.
Bolin feigns a thoughtful face before he becomes very animated in his speech, his hands going this way and that, "I could! But they're just really creepy…" He wiggles his fingers as though they're the spider's many legs, and they crawl over Korra's skin with ease – and there, a small smile, a small laugh as he continues, "I mean, why do you need eight legs to get around? Two are fine…"
He backs off then, bringing his hands back to himself, "I'm afraid of losing people that I care about, like Mako. I can't imagine what my life would be like without him, or even Pabu!" Korra then notices that Pabu is not here, and she looks around before the earthbender fills in the blanks, "I left him with Mako. They were both sleeping when I snuck out and took the boat here…"
Korra surmises that that is a fair fear. To lose someone you care for, that would really be difficult. She loves her parents and Naga, and she has already begun to care for Tenzin, his family and the bending brothers. They've all been so wonderful to her, through her hard-headedness and her arrogance. But she still only believes that fear will hold people back, not enhance them. A hindrance.
She wonders, What good can come of fear?
"I'm afraid of another thing, too," Bolin says, watching as his fingers tap against his boots.
"And what might that be?" Korra asks softly. She really appreciates Bolin having come to visit her, and just talking with him, as always, soothes her. The fear is still there, beating in her heart, but it is calming. And yet, in his presence, she still feels as though he is seeing the truest part of her – and to her surprise, she is not afraid of that.
"It's sort of like a ball of fears…"
She says nothing, waiting for him to continue on his own time. And he does.
The first thing he does is reach for her shoulder and place a hand on it. The next thing he does is lean across and swiftly capture her lips with his own. And when that breaks, he sheepishly looks back down at his feet and speaks, "I was scared of doing that, and I'm now terrified of the consequences."
Korra's still silent. She watches his expression as it shifts under her gaze, and he's looking everywhere but her, because he is afraid of the consequences, of the unknown – afraid of what his actions might've cost him. But why should he feel that way? It was harmless… right? It's not cost him anything and it's not like she didn't enjoy it –
A lot of good can come from fear, she answers inwardly as she reaches for Bolin's hand and merely holds it. She has no experience in such an area, but she'd be lying if she said that there wasn't a spark somewhere in her brash heart for such a bold boy, New experiences, unprecedented strength, and new bonds.
"Are you still afraid?" she presses.
Bolin can't form words. Instead, he simply shakes his head a little and smiles, glad that the small display of his feelings were accepted. Because after all, she is the Avatar – she could have anybody she wanted, and she seems to be okay with him.
When she looks down at their hands and sees that their fingers have interlocked somewhere along the way, and that his grip is tight, she can't hide the smile that blooms on her face. Bolin sees it and speaks, "If I can conquer my fear of showing you how I feel, then you can conquer your fear of losing your bending. There's always a lesson in everything!"
A smirk, "You're starting to sound like Tenzin."
"Or maybe, Tenzin's starting to sound like me!"
Korra laughs wholeheartedly, and Bolin's smile grows. He pulls her to her feet and out of the rip.