The box had gone untouched for too long.
It had been weeks since Mako had even thought about it, months (or was it years now?) since he'd opened it to survey its weary contents. Doing so made him nervous and sad, but he needed this; a chapter was ending.
After having stared at his reflection in the mirror, after having made sure his face was shaven and his suit jacket was buttoned and his shoes were shined, he realized that his look didn't seem complete. There was something wrong, something off. And it didn't take long for him to notice the lack of color, the lack of red around his neck. So he went to his bed, got down on his hands and knees, and dug beneath for the box.
Mako sat on the mattress, back straight, knees together, box in his lap. It was wooden, though it had been painted at one point in its life. Little chips of blue fell onto his dark pants when he lifted the lid slowly. He opened it and peered at its contents.
His father's scarf, worn and torn, lay on top of everything. It was the last thing he had placed inside. He lifted it out, and it unfolded in his hands, the familiar fabric seeping between his fingers like an old friend. There was a poorly repaired rip that ran through the middle that felt strange to touch. The stitches were messy and the scarf was falling apart, but he was grateful that he still had it, no matter how threadbare it was.
After all, his possessions were few but his memories were fewer.
They'd been collected over many years, but things had gone lost and things had gone missing. His childhood was a blur, those reserved corners of his memory mostly occupied by the shadows of street life, of homelessness. The time that he and Bolin had spent on the streets was cold and dark. However, he remembered more than that. He vividly remembered his parents' murder, his mother's birthday when he was six, and the day when his father gave him his scarf to wear.
It had been snowing.
The rest of his memories before their death were melded together. Mako knew he'd been happy, though, and somehow, that was enough.
Holding the scarf with both hands, he lifted it up to his face.
It still smelled like his father.
Its stitches were messy.
"Come on, just try and catch me," she teased, twisting away from him as he reached for her waist with a swipe. Korra's laugh was infectious, and he couldn't help but smile as he lunged for her once more. He felt the fur edges of her pelt between his fingers, but she was spinning away just as fast as ever. "You can do better than that!"
She jumped up on the table and placed her hands on her hips, looking down at him with a smirk. He shook his head; Korra was just like a kid with all these games she made him play. She was definitely crazy, and he maybe kind of liked her for it. But at this point, she was getting cocky, and that only made him more determined to win their little game.
Mako faked a move to jump up, sending her to leap down off the other side of table. He slid beneath, catching her in his arms. She squirmed in his grasp, laughing. But she conceded and let herself be lowered just enough so that their eyes were level.
"Gotcha," he whispered lowly. She rolled her eyes but let him lean forward and press his lips against hers. Her mouth opened up, and he smiled into the kiss.
He dropped her, and she steadied herself easily.
"Now it's your turn." He crossed his arms, straightening his back as he looked down at her. Korra pouted and shifted her weight.
"That's not fair. You're so much taller than me."
"And I won't be able to just bend down and kiss you. I'd have to jump!" she complained.
"Not my problem!"
He turned, ready to start the game up again, ready to run. But it happened all at once. He felt the tugging, the choking, and he was spinning back with the motion from her pulling on his scarf.
She was determined, as usual, and he saw it in her eyes. She was pulling on his scarf with the intention of bringing him closer to her; he registered this too. She wanted a kiss and he was too tall and it was just a silly game but it was his scarf.
It was his father's scarf.
He grabbed the other end just as it unwound around his neck.
"Stop!" he yelled as he pulled back, trying to get it back from her, but Korra wasn't understanding. She just yanked harder and continued laughing.
"Come on. Just let me kiss you. I can't win unless I cheat."
He tugged and she pulled and her laughter was broken by the sound of a rip, loud and haunting. Time slowed, and they let go simultaneously; it rippled down to the floor. Mako stood there for a moment, letting the empty feeling rush through his veins, the feeling of loss. But it was only a moment, for he bent over and picked it up again, holding his scarf in his hands. His father's scarf. He stared at the rip running through the middle, stared at the little bits of thread sticking out like teeth.
When he looked back up at Korra, he realized he'd been holding his breath. The silence was heavy. Korra spoke hesitantly.
"I didn't think I was pulling that hard." She crossed her arms. "I mean, it's old, it was going to happen eventually."
It was almost ripped in two. A few threads held it together. He gritted his teeth.
"What's your problem?"
"We were just messing around."
He'd never told her.
"I told you to stop!"
"I thought you were just playing!"
She'd never asked.
"You don't get it, do you?"
"Get what? It's just a scarf! We can find you a new one."
It never came up.
"This was my dad's!" he yelled, throwing it onto the table. "…It was the only thing of his I had left." He caught her eyes, solemn and sad, just before he slammed the door behind him. He stormed off outside, letting the night wrap around him.
His neck was cold.
It was winter.
Mako stormed off, chin tucked down to his chest and shoulders raised towards his ears so he could stay warm. It's exactly what he'd been doing when his father had let him wear his scarf the first time. His father had laughed at him, saying he looked like such a turtleduck walking around like that.
Mako turned down the alley next to their building, pressed his back against the brick, and slid down to the ground, resting his elbows on his knees. The ground was dirty, littered with puddles from a recent rain. He could see hints of ice creeping into the water.
It made him shiver.
The scarf had still held his father's heat when he'd wrapped it around Mako's neck. His father then rested his hands on Mako's shoulders and stooped down to his eye level. "How's that?" he'd said.
Mako buried his nose inside, inhaling and hiding a smile. "Good."
His father grinned and ruffled his hair. "You can keep it."
"Sure. Just take good care of it, okay?"
"Okay, dad. I will."
Mako was just a kid then. But the scarf was the only thing protecting him from the cold and from the gangs and from the pain. It was his ward through so much pain, protecting him and shielding him from the ache. The ache of having Bolin cry weeks later when the realization hit him, the ache of burns and scars from fighting with gangs, the ache of vomiting because the only food left in the dumpster was too rotten, the ache of loss.
They were never, ever coming back.
But Mako knew this. He could take it now. He could protect himself now. And when he couldn't…
Korra was there, watching his back.
Mako stood slowly, feeling his muscles shift and his joints creak. He stretched and turned, crossing his arms once more as he braved the windy street to get back to their apartment.
He heard her voice coming from inside before he even opened the door. He turned the handle slowly and poked his head through.
Korra sat cross legged on the floor, bent over the scarf in her lap, back to the door. He couldn't see her face, but he just knew her tongue was sticking out as she concentrated. Mako's old sewing kit lay open, needles and spools strewn all over the place.
He approached quietly.
Korra grunted and attacked it again, stabbing the fabric and pricking her hand from the other side. It made her flinch. "Work with me, will you?" she growled as she tried to finish off the repair. Looking over her shoulder, he could easily tell that Korra hadn't sewed much in her life. The stitches were messy and tangled and random and so very perfect.
He put his hands on her shoulders, and her hands dropped down to her lap.
"I'm so sorry," she said softly. "I didn't know."
He sat next to her. "It's okay."
She handed the scarf to him. "Do you want to talk about it?" He stared at it in his hands, at his old friend, finally having lost the fight.
She was right. It was old. It was falling apart. Threadbare. It had done its job, and he didn't need it anymore. He didn't need it when he had her.
Mako drew the scarf up and he inhaled the warmth of his father. "It still smells like him."
Korra rested her head on his shoulder.
"It smells like you."
It was a calm, warm day, and the breeze was salty. He and Bolin rode together in the ferry; Korra was already on the island, getting ready with her mother, Pema, and Asami. He leaned against the side, watching Bolin as he chatted up the ferryman.
Absently, Mako twisted the little piece of fabric wrapped around his finger. It rolled over his skin. The color was fading, black turning to gray. It had seen many days now, though, days of sun and wind and rain.
The color would fade.
The promise would not.
It was one of those rare times when they both had many moments to spare, when Mako didn't have to go to work and when Korra didn't have any urgent duties to attend to. And whenever these moments came around, they never cared to make plans or do anything particularly thrilling.
They enjoyed simply spending the time together, sharing their company with one another. That was what mattered; the togetherness. Mako could care less what they were doing so long as he was with Korra.
They walked the city streets, hand in hand, talking and laughing because they were together. The air was calm. It was spring.
Korra liked looking into the shop windows as they walked. And sometimes, she'd stop and stare, face pressed against the glass, usually when they were passing a bakery filled with sweet-smelling pastries. She enjoyed looking at the things. But they walked now until one store window caught her attention. She let go of his hand and walked over, fingers splayed out on the glass, her fingerprints marking her presence. Mako followed and stood behind her. He kept a hand on her waist as he looked over her shoulder.
Atop a pedestal, nestled inside an open jewelry box, were two gold rings.
"Wow," Korra said. "Those are really pretty!"
Mako peered over. She was right. They were really pretty. Shiny and beautiful and far too expensive. He looked down at her, at her wide eyes and her smile. One ring was smaller than the other, but they were made of the same gold. Etched into the sides of both were intricate designs, so tiny and delicate that he could not understand how someone had the dexterity to do such a thing, even if a metalbender had crafted them. No wonder they were so expensive.
They were absolutely beautiful.
"Look, they're rings for engagement." She pointed at the tag that hung below the pedestal. He followed the line her finger drew and glanced at the tag. 72,000 yuans for the pair. His eyes widened at the price. "I didn't know there was such a thing as engagement rings."
"Me either." He'd heard of betrothal necklaces, and he'd heard of exchanging gifts between families, of course… but rings? He'd never heard of that. He liked the idea, though. Korra wasn't from the Northern Water Tribe, so a necklace wouldn't mean anything to her. And he had no family, really, so the tradition of a gift exchange would go to waste.
He'd known for quite awhile at that point that he was going to marry Korra. And he was sure that she did too.
She looked like she wanted those rings, those perfectly shiny, beautiful golden rings. She was staring at them, awestruck, happy, and he loved when she was happy. So he decided in that moment that he was going to buy them for her. They'd start their own tradition, just the two of them. She'd like that.
There was one problem, though:
He didn't have the money.
Although he had a stable job in the police force, and he wasn't necessarily poor, he still didn't have a lot of money to drop on new things. He most certainly didn't have 72,000 yuans lying around, waiting to be spent.
Korra grabbed his hand and they started to walk off, on to the next shop (a music store, outside of which Korra admired a phonograph).
He'd start working overtime.
He'd save up the money.
And when Mako made a decision, he stuck with it, no matter how tired and frustrated it made him.
Hours upon hours of overtime were spent at headquarters; he volunteered to help whenever the police were going to bust some gang or another; Mako even picked up a few hours on the weekends at his old job in the power plant.
He saved all the money and didn't tell Korra a thing.
He rarely saw her anymore. Often, he'd come home to her already sleeping. He'd crash on their couch then, not wanting to wake her. Sometimes he just slept at the station because it was easier.
On occasion, She'd catch him right when he was leaving in the morning, if he'd ended up sleeping at their apartment. He'd see the confusion in her eyes and want to tell her, but he wanted the secret more. He wanted the surprise. He wanted her smile and joy when he gave her those rings, when they put them on each others' fingers, when he promised that he'd love her through forever.
He missed her though.
He missed her a lot.
One night, he was at his desk, filling out some paperwork. Night had fallen, and his lamp flickered from overuse. He would need to change the bulb soon.
It was quiet at the station. That is, until he heard yelling with the security up front. He looked up from his desk, pen still in hand.
"I'm the Avatar; you have to let me in!"
He stood, but before he could get the situation under control, Korra was already kicking the doors open, storming over to him. They hadn't spoken in days.
"Why are you avoiding me?" she asked, hands on her hips.
"Then what's the problem? You're working all the time just because?"
"There is no problem, Kor—"
She scoffed. "As if. You're keeping something from me, so you better 'fess up, chump. I'm sick of waiting up for you and then you not even coming home. I'm sick of not seeing you, I'm sick of having to go off to other nations without you around to say goodbye, and you're acting like nothing is the problem?"
She looked furious. But behind all that, behind the hair that was dipping in front of her eyes, behind the anger, he saw sadness.
He sat on top of his desk, leaning back so they were at eye level. He fiddled with the pen in his hand. He looked up at Korra, arms crossed, trying to hide it from him. But he knew her too well, just as she knew him too well.
"I was saving up money."
"For what?" Her tone was still quite angry. He stared at the floor.
"I wanted to buy those engagement rings that we saw. I thought that—"
Korra burst into laughter. Mako looked up at her, now clutching her sides. "Mako!" She collapsed onto the desk, grabbing his arm now as she laughed. "I don't want anything like that. That's stupid."
"But you liked them! You even talked about them when we got home!"
She wiped her eyes. "Just because I liked them doesn't mean I want them. There are so many better things to spend your money on." She elbowed him in the side. "I don't need stuff like that."
A flush of embarrassment rolled over Mako, but Korra stood back up in front of him and held his face in her hands. Her fingers were warm, and she stared into his eyes, his shining, golden eyes that had missed her so much, the eyes that craved her.
"Besides," she said. "I have all the gold I could ever need."
His eyelid fluttered beneath the weight of her lips, gentle and free.
He felt so stupid.
Her hands drifted down to the bottom of his uniform. She gritted her teeth and ripped off a piece, pulling it slowly.
She put the scrap in her mouth and tore it in half with her teeth; she held up the two equal pieces in front of him and smiled. "Here." She tied one of the pieces around his finger, making sure the knot was extra tight.
She held out her own hand and wiggled her fingers. He took it and knotted the fabric around her finger.
Korra pressed her palm against his, and he squeezed.
Her hand fit perfectly in his.
The trees on the island painted a picture. Yellows and reds and orangey golds covered the landscape. Down from the docks, he could see the commotion of people, the lanterns hung up for the party that would take place later that night, the altar that the air acolytes had set up for the ceremony.
Bolin clapped a hand on his shoulder. "You ready, bro?"
"Yeah. I am."
The desert was hot and sunny and completely miserable.
Sweat dripped down Mako's face, running tracks down his nose and right by his ears, dripping into his eyes so he had to blink the saltiness away. He trudged through the sand, hand shielding the fading sunlight. Korra plodded on ahead of him, rising up to the top of a dune. She put her fists on her hips.
"Come out, spirit. I'm waiting!" she shouted, the empty, open desert swallowing her demand. There was no answer.
Mako wiped the sweat off his forehead.
Only Korra would come up with the idea of seeking out an angry spirit, one that had been terrorizing a town in the Eastern Earth Kingdom and haunting the nearby desert. Instead of waiting for the spirit to show up, Korra thought it best to find it first. After listening to the town's leader, and after getting all the stories from the citizens, she decided that she wasn't going to sit and wait around for it.
She was, after all, not known for her patience.
So Korra packed along a container of water, and Mako followed, just like always. Their adventures were thrilling and dangerous, but they both insisted on traveling together. Korra tended to do stupid things when Mako wasn't around to tell her otherwise. Chief Beifong agreed, and always managed to get him the time off.
However, while he was, in general, her voice of reason, Mako failed to convince her that wandering through the desert looking for a hostile spirit was a bad idea.
"Come on!" Korra yelled again, only this time, there was an answer.
A huge creature, dripping and green with countless limbs supporting it zipped across the sand, just past Mako. He shot off a blast of fire with the shock, but it missed the spirit entirely, the ball of flame exploding on impact with the sand. Korra twirled back, sliding down the dune to Mako. She leapt up and kicked, bending the sand up. The spirit shook when it collided with its eyeless face.
"I'm the Avatar," Korra declared. "And we need to talk." The spirit turned to them. Its breathing was grating and terrifying. Mako stood in position, ready to summon lightning if necessary.
It whirled around, firing a tornado of sand towards Mako. He slammed his eyes shut and threw his arm up to protect himself, but before he had the chance to see again, he was flying back. He opened his eyes to see Korra's fists lighting with fire as she ran to the creature, the spirit was racing towards her; they were going to collide! Korra pulled back her fist but it rushed behind her, wrapping its limbs around her, pulling her up out of her stance, and she was screaming because she couldn't bend and—
"Korra!" Mako screamed.
But the spirit was gone.
Korra stood with only the wind to keep her steady, and he knew before she started to fall that she was gone too. He started running, but he couldn't catch her in time. Her body crumpled, first down to her knees, then onto her face. Mako sprinted as fast as he could, sand slowing him down, keeping him from her. He breathed heavily but did not care that he had inhaled dust.
He slammed onto his knees and yanked her up into his lap. Her body was limp, and her head rolled back.
Her eyes glowed, white and pure.
She was in the Spirit World again. And he couldn't follow her.
Mako wiped the sand away from her lips before leaning down to listen. Her breathing was normal, so he pulled her closer to him, cradling her with her head resting on his shoulder. Her stomach moved up and down as she breathed. He held her tightly.
This was all he could do. He couldn't help her fight her battles now, and it killed him. He'd follow her to the ends of the earth, but he could not follow her into the Spirit World.
He couldn't follow her now.
So he waited for her to return, determined to stay put and protect her body so she could find it once more, after her battles were over. All he could do was stay.
Night soon began to fall, twilight dripping away, and his sweat dried off his skin. He drank some water and struggled to get Korra to swallow any. Most of it fell from her mouth and into the sand. He brushed back the hair from her forehead; she was cool, clammy, and his stomach dropped. The desert was getting too cold.
Korra's body was shivering.
He pulled her even closer, trying to tuck all exposed areas of skin between him and his arms. He tried to hold her shaking, tried to contain it, but she wouldn't stop.
"Korra?" Mako said, but only the burning stars were listening. "Come back, Korra, please."
All the sudden, it was as if she heard him. The light in her eyes faded. The glow disappeared into the night.
But her eyes had closed.
They did not open.
"Korra!" Her body had stopped shivering. "Korra, stop messing around." He shook her lightly, but she was still limp. He listened hard, trying to ignore the pounding in his chest, hoping that the sinking feeling was just him being ridiculous, that his instincts weren't true. But he listened and knew.
Her breathing had stopped.
She was gone.
"Korra!" he screamed, shaking her again, but she didn't wake.
Did she lose?
Was she dead?
"Korra. Korra, please," he pleaded, pushing her hair away.
He was supposed to protect her. That was his job. They were a team; they had each others' backs, and he was supposed to protect her!
He laid her out in front of him. One of her knees was bent up, and arm was thrown out to the side. He took a deep breath and pinched her nose shut and pulled down on her chin before pressing his mouth to hers. He exhaled, and her chest rose. He breathed in again and exhaled into Korra, and her chest rose.
He started shaking because it wasn't working; she wasn't waking. So he exhaled once more, begging internally that she would borrow his breath, that she would take it away, that she would come back to him.
She was going to die.
She was already dead.
He breathed out once more, and her lips stirred beneath his as she returned his breath with a kiss. Korra coughed then, and Mako broke away, picking her head up off the ground so she could get all the dust and sand out from her lungs. Her body convulsed with each cough, but she settled, quite worn from it all.
He'd never seen her more exhausted.
"I won," she commented with the slightest of smiles. "Problem solved."
Mako leaned down and threw his arms around her, pulling her back up to his chest in a tight embrace. There was sand in her hair, running through the strands, but he pressed his face against it anyway.
"You can't leave me like that!" The tears burned his eyes. "You can't just leave me alone."
"But I've been to the Spirit World countless times now, I thought—"
"No, no, you were dead. You were dead. I thought I'd lost you forever. I thought you'd left me."
The desert air was cold and unforgiving.
Korra wriggled away to have a better look at him. "Mako?" But he was shaking his head.
"I've never been more worried. I've never been more scared," he admitted, the words falling from his lips. She tilted her head up for a kiss, which he gave willingly. His lips quivered.
"I'm not going to leave," she said with certainty. "You're marrying me, right?"
"That means you're stuck with me forever. Just you wait. Five years in, and you'll be begging me to leave."
He shook his head, surprised that a laugh tickled the edges of lips. She was okay. She was Korra, and she was okay. She was here. They were together. They were a team. "You're crazy."
She pressed her forehead against his. "I love you?"
"I love you."
When she stepped toward him, it was just like then, all those months ago. When she stepped toward him, waiting for her at the altar with Tenzin… when she stepped toward him, wearing a dress of red and gold… when she stepped toward him, smiling, glowing, gorgeous…
When she reached him and took his hand, when she whispered in his ear how she was so very nervous, it was just like that night in the desert.
She took his breath away.
Mako walked up the steps leading up to Air Temple Island, hands in his pockets. He'd gotten off work early. Autumn had finally arrived. He was marrying Korra in one week.
He was very happy.
Mako had planned on surprising her with a visit; he always liked watching her training sessions whenever he got the chance, and he knew today was solely dedicated to airbending. But as he approached the pavilion, he realized that he wasn't the only one who knew she would be on the island all day.
A group of men in blue robes and white collars, members of the Order of the White Lotus, stood in front of Korra. Tenzin was nowhere to be found, but the kids all cowered behind a column as they eagerly watched the altercation. Korra wore her airbending clothes and gripped her glider as she spoke, as she argued and shouted at them.
"I understand your concern, but frankly, it's none of your beeswax!" She slammed the butt of her glider down for emphasis. A paunchy, gray-haired man gestured up and down at her.
"The Avatar has a duty to the world. You can't make commitments like this when you could be needed in the blink of an eye."
"This wasn't a problem for Avatar Aang!"
"The Order was very different—"
"And it's my life—"
"My life! Mine!"
She turned on her heel to leave, eyes blazing, but spotted Mako. She was absolutely furious. The members of the Order of the White Lotus were yelling her name, trying to get her to come back and listen to them, but she ignored them and continued toward Mako. She grabbed his hand, yanking him along behind her.
"We're going," she said in a low voice. "You ready?"
"Let's fly." She stopped suddenly, pushing Mako so he was sent stumbling forward. He heard the snap of her glider and all the sudden, he was airborne, Korra's strong thighs clamped around his ribcage as she guided them both through the sky. He'd never flown with her before, but he had no worries that he would fall, that she would drop him.
She'd never let him go.
Mako breathed in the air, breathed in the flight. The sky was cloudless and blue, so very blue, and it filled him. Mako had never felt so light, with the wind in his ears and the sun on his skin. They soared over the bay that rippled beneath them, so far beneath them. Instinctively, Mako moved his arms so he was holding onto Korra's legs, and she tightened her grip in response. Mako finally looked up to wherever Korra was guiding them:
Avatar Aang Memorial Island.
They approached the statue, whirling up higher to the top.
"I'm letting go," Korra yelled over the wind, and her legs finally relaxed, sending Mako down to the top of the statue's head. He rolled out his landing and stood just as Korra fluttered down, wind playing with her hair. She threw her glider down, and it slid across the stone.
"Well, that was something," he commented.
"What is their problem?!" she complained as she paced back and forth. "It's my life, my choice." She turned to face him. "I love you. This is what I want. I want to marry you!"
"Korra, just calm down."
She stopped pacing and plopped down where she stood with a pout and a huff. Mako approached and sat at her side, gesturing for her to lie back with him. The stone was warm. The sky was very blue.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"You'll be okay."
His hand drifted over to hers, and he touched her lightly. She opened up, letting him slip his fingers between hers. She was scared, but he was there so there was nothing to fear. Not really.
"What if they're right though?" She squeezed his hand, tightening her grip. "I have a duty to the world. I'm the Avatar."
"But you're Korra first." He felt her turn, felt her seek him and seek his words, but he still stared up into the sky. "You've always been Korra first to me."
He turned to her then and stared at her, stared at the worry and the confusion and the fear, at all the pain and all the responsibility, at the desire to be strong, to be great, to meet all the expectations the world screamed at her.
Her eyes were blue.
It was something that had bothered him, something that he'd given much thought to, ever since they day he'd confessed his love to her. She'd refused his love at first. She'd refused it because she was entirely convinced that she wasn't the Avatar without her bending.
And knowing that she thought that about herself, knowing that she couldn't see herself without all her past lives lingering in her shadow… it had been eating at him for so long. Too long.
It spilled out of him.
"Even from the first time I met you, you were Korra. You were the girl who took my team to the tournament. You were the girl who helped me rescue my brother. You were the girl who drove me crazy and you were the girl I fell in love with." She bit her lip, but neither looked away from the other. They could not look away, not now. "And even though you're the one who saved Republic City and you're the one who gave back people's bending and you're the one who restored the spirit world, you're still Korra."
"And you'll keep saving the world and you'll keep it all in balance and one day you'll even have a statue, just like this one, and the entire world will remember your legend but I'll remember you."
"You may kiss the bride."
So Mako took her face in his hands, her beautiful, beautiful face (she couldn't stop smiling) and he kissed her. He kissed his wife, his love, his teammate, his Avatar. And he kissed her hard.
Mako woke calmly, silently.
It was just a nightmare. It was just his parents dying again. He'd seen it countless times before. Everything was fine. He sat up and looked over. Korra was still sleeping soundly, her breathing not quite a snore. Everything was fine.
Slowly, he turned so his feet were resting on the floor. And he stood, avoiding the creaky part of the floor. He didn't want to wake her up just because he couldn't sleep.
Mako navigated his way toward the empty room in their apartment, the room with the perfect view of the moon, the perfect view of their city. He padded over to the window and looked out, looked out at the shadows and the stars.
They'd been married a year, but he'd already forgotten things.
He'd forgotten so many things, lost them all to the blur of his memory. He could not remember the exact shade of red of her dress or the first song they'd danced to together at the party that night or what exactly Korra's parents had said to him.
He just remembered them saying how proud they were of him.
Would his own parents be proud too?
"Mako?" He heard Korra's voice. He hadn't wanted to wake her; she needed her sleep. "Mako?" she repeated, walking into the spare room. "I was looking for you."
He turned and she was there, yawning sleepily, rubbing her eyes. His wife was there.
Mako walked to her and leaned down for a kiss. Her lips opened up to his, soft and warm and lovely. She fell against him and he caught her, just like she always caught him, and he kissed her with want and need and love. His hand drifted down to rest on her swelled stomach, and he could have sworn he felt their child move.
He could have sworn he felt the life, the reminder that one year had already passed in the blink of an eye, the reminder that time would move and seasons would come and go, the reminder that one of them would die eventually, though they still argued over who it would be first.
One of them would die, yes, but the memories they'd make would transcend time, would go beyond the seasons and the generations.
Sure, they'd be forgotten and blurred and erased.
But they'd be created.
And they'd be theirs.
They'd laugh and fight and argue and kiss and hold and protect and love. They'd love through forever.
And that was enough.
Forever was enough.
He kissed her once more, slow and sure.
"Here I am."