disclamer: i do not own this. just the idea.
dedication: me. because writing is free therapy and this is my happy ending.
notes: sad, angsty and a little bit angry. be prepared for a lot of stories like this.

title: sunshine and storm clouds
summary: because there are no happy endings – just endings. mako/asami, korra. AU.

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and in the silence she calls out
why won't you
save me

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It's a normal day, when it all happens.

She's sitting in the kitchen with Pema, lukewarm cups of tea – courtesy of Tenzin – sitting on the table in front of them. They're laughing about some joke, not girlish giggles but full blown, belly shaking laughter. No one really knows what they're laughing about, and they really don't either.

It feels good to laugh. Something's been brewing; Korra can feel it, in the sky and the earth and the water. The air's charged with electricity, like a storm waiting to burst. Reflexively, she looks out the window and reaches for her warm tea (she hates the stuff, but it will make Tenzin happy so she swallows a mouthful and tries not to gag).

Sunshine and clear skies.

There's no storm, so why does she feel so anxious?

The sound of small feet padding along the hallway reaches Korra's ears, and a moment later Jinora enters the kitchen. Her head is bowed and she carries a piece of paper in her hands. Her face is white; pinched and drawn like a haggard soldier returning home from war. Alarm stirs in Korra and she rises to her feet, clutching the cup in a white hand.

Pema studies her daughter and understands.

Korra doesn't.

"Jinora? Are you okay?" Korra asks.

Jinora looks at her, brown eyes dark and sad. "They're gone."

Korra feels her stomach drop to her toes, and suddenly the world is shifting and spinning too fast and she can't breathe because there's no air sweet Spirits where did the air go - she knew this was coming, she knew it, but somehow she never imagined it would hurt this much.

Somewhere in the distance, she hears a tea cup shatter on the floor.

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They're gone.

Those words haunt Korra's nightmares for months afterwards. When she trains and shatters earth and lets the rage of fire consume her and burn her from the inside out, she hears that word, echoing in her head and her heart and her bones until she wants to drop to her knees and scream and drown out the reality of it all.

They're all gone.

Bolin. Asami.

Mako.

They left her, with nothing more than a note saying where they're going and a sketchy date of when they would return.

The war has affected each of them deeply. They need time to get away, to see the world and learn everything they can and for Mako and Asami, to figure out where their relationship is going. Republic City holds dark memories for them; memories of betrayal and heartache, of bloodshed and death and war.

Korra screams that it isn't fair. Republic City holds all that and more for her. It is a tangible reminder of her failure, her weakness. For her, it is so much more than just a memory – it is a tomb, trapping her in a whirling hurricane and fear and pain and despair. It is a chasm waiting to swallow her up.

But she's the Avatar. She can't go gallivanting off, not when the City needs her help.

So even though she cries and screams and rages at the sky. Even though there's a hole in her heart where they used to be, and its drowning her in anger. Even though she wants nothing more than to leave and forget, forget all this ever happened and just disappear from the world –

She stays.

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The storm clouds that have threatened the city finally break and hte rain falls hard like the sky itself is weeping.

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It gets easier, eventually.

As the months go by, and time stretches from weeks to a year, Korra heals.

There's no monumental moment where she is suddenly at peace with what happened. On the best of days, she's a whirling tumbling ball of anger and bitterness, of a broken heart and a betrayed soul. On other days, she can barely go five minutes without destroying something and cursing their names.

But there is so much work to be done that it keeps her distracted. And distracted is good. She can forget for a few hours the sting of being left behind, of her friends leaving without saying goodbye. And as she tries to forget, the hole where her heart used to be starts scabbing over, the edges beginning to close and form stronger, unbreakable walls.

They said they'd be gone for a year at most, eight months at the minimum. The year's almost up, and Korra can feel it in her bones that they will return soon.

Somehow, that thought doesn't make her happy anymore.

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She has a few casual fuck buddies, for when the pressures and meetings get to be too much and bending is no longer a release.

Shigeru from the Metal Benders is her favourite.

They're passionate and hard and wild, harsh lines and teeth leaving bruising marks on warm skin. There's no love at first – no sweet murmurings or cuddling once it's over. It's just fire on metal, scorching and burning and twisting until there's a unrecognizable form at the end and it's impossible to tell her from Shigeru.

A few times, they entertain the possibility of running away together, of rediscovering themselves and putting the broken pieces that make up Korra back together.

They never do.

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The year is up, and Mako, Asami and Bolin return.

She sees them sometimes, in between meetings with the council and nights with Shigeru and rounds about the city. Their former home has flourished under her and Tenzin's combined efforts – her strength and power, his diplomacy and smooth words – and it is barely recognizable to the trio anymore.

When Korra finally runs into them in the street, the hole in her chest rips open again, raw and weeping scarlet blood that stains her dark hands red. She stops dead, staring with stony blue eyes at their illuminated figures.

Bolin's grown taller. He's eighteen now; a man. His baby fat is gone, and powerful, defined muscles ripple under well-fitting clothes. He's confident, self-assured – but some things don't change. When he sees her, his face lights up and she sees a glimpse of the old Bolin, of her best friend.

But then he sees her expression and guilt weighs down his features.

Mako and Asami stand close together, hands linked and smiling at each other. They haven't noticed her yet. They're so in love, so enamoured with each other that they don't pay anything else any mind.

Korra feels shards of ice drive into her weakly beating heart, threatening to silence it forever. Obviously, Mako's words at the North Pole meant nothing.

Bolin yanks on Mako's arm, forcing him to look, to realize what their stupid plan has done, what he has done, but by the time the fire-bender looks, Korra is gone.

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They catch her as she's leaving.

Sitting astride Naga, she's mere metres away from the end of the city when they appear from the shadows. She freezes, and watches stonily as they block her way. She lifts her palms from the fur of her friend – her best friend, her most faithful friend – and doesn't bother stopping the fire that ignites in her hands.

"Move." She snaps.

They refuse.

"Korra, we are so sorry –" Bolin begins, but Korra is hurt and furious and twelve months of pent up emotion comes pouring out in a tidal wave of fire the moment the word leaves his mouth.

"YOU'RE SORRY!? YOU COME BACK, AFTER MONTHS OF NO COMMUNICATION, NO LETTERS, AND AFTER LEAVING WITH NO GOOD-BYE, AND ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY IS YOU'RE. FUCKING. SORRY?!"

Asami is paler than usual. "Korra, please, we are so, so very sorry, but you have to understand -"

"UNDERSTAND WHAT? WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH? NEWSFLASH, ASAMI, I WENT THROUGH THE FUCKING SAME THING! DID YOU SEE ME RUN AWAY, ABANDON MY FRIEND WHEN THEY NEEDED ME THE MOST? NO! SO STAY OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY, AND DON'T YOU DARE TELL ME I DON'T UNDERSTAND!"

She wheels Naga around and powers past them, but Mako's voice stops her cold.

"Ever since I was a kid, I'd always wanted the happily ever after to a story filled with anger and uncertainty. I've found that now. I'm so sorry I had to leave, Korra, and I'm sorry I couldn't say good-bye, but I just - you're overwhelming; raw power and presence confined in human form. I felt so small beside you, so over-looked. I just wanted to find my happy ending. Can't you understand that?"

He's looking at her, pleading with her with sad golden eyes. Before she would have crumbled, but now she just hardens her heart and looks towards the horizon. She's been a fool. A love-struck, heart-sick fool – it will never happen again, this she swears.

The storm clouds clear and the sun comes out for the first time in a year.

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"I'm the Avatar. There are no happy endings for me. Just endings."

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the wind sings her name and she spreads her wings –

-and flies

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notes: my friend left today for university.

he didn't say good-bye.

-natrissabelladonis