disclaimer: i do not own this. sadly. because these characters are awesome.
dedication: to my brilliant friend because she still believes in true love, and she reminds me why i still do too.
notes: wrote this while listening to gravity by sara barielles. it's an amazing song – probably pertains more to eleven and amy from doctor who but whatever – and inspired this story. part of the lyrics say 'you loved me because I was fragile' or something, and i kind of like the paradox of how korra is so strong, and comes off as this loud, brash, confident girl but she's really quite fragile on the inside.

i kind of tried to get that paradox in the writing, and i hope you like it – i tried to keep it in character, but it's hard and this is not betaed, so I'm sorry if it isn't to your liking.

title: even the strongest people fall
summary: delicate people don't save the world. mako/korra.

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i never wanted anything so much –
as i want you.

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Korra has never dealt with jealousy well. It's just not her style.

Her entire life, she's been raised to believe that she is the Avatar (which she is) and that she is the most important person on the planet. If she dies, all is lost. Special allowances should be made and people should just deal with it, because she's their saviour and they could at least be a little bit grateful. This is Korra's mindset for twelve years; she believed completely in it, lived by it and let it guide her decisions. She'd been told that people were selfish, cruel, only looking out for number one, which is why she needed to save them - because they couldn't do it themselves.

But then she met Bolin. And through Bolin, she met Mako.

And everything changed.

She saw someone who had been so alone, for so long, but still had the capacity to love. The ability to care, to put someone else before himself, even though the mentality of the streets is look out for number one (she should know; she ran away once when she was visiting a city with the White Lotus and lived on the streets for a month).

Mako completely blows everything she believes out of the water. He's a complete ass, prickly on the best of days, but he cares. He tries so hard to provide a good home for Bolin that he runs himself into the ground and doesn't even care.

And in return, Bolin helps the best way he can. He tries to help pitch in with the rent even though Mako insists he shouldn't. He cooks when Mako is too tired to, he (attempts to) clean the flat, he organizes everything for the pro-bending match, and he makes Mako laugh. They're a family; small, and dysfunctional sometimes, but true and loving and so selfless it makes her want to cry – and she never cries.

And Korra is so jealous. So very, very jealous.

Because they have the family she never had.

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The White Lotus took her from her family when she was five years old, just a week or so after she was discovered to be the Avatar. After that, she saw her family once a month; then once every couple months; then once a year.

By the time she was nine, she didn't see them at all.

Korra never resented the White Lotus. She was the Avatar – she needed to be trained. She thought her acceptance was because she was mature enough to understand the reasons - because she knew her destiny as the saviour of the world and knew the prices that came with that position.

Now she realizes it was just because she didn't know any better.

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When Mako and Asami start dating, Korra is angry.

She's angry at Mako, for not seeing how strongly she cared for him. She's mad at Asami, for taking Mako from her before she could make her move, make him hers. But mostly, she's mad at herself.

She's the Avatar. According to the White Lotus, the Avatar is not supposed to have friends, or lovers. Friends are a liability. Yes, Avatar Aang had them, but he never achieved true spiritual enlightenment; he never opened the last chakra, not truly, because he couldn't let go of his earthly attachments. Korra isn't going to be like him; she's going to be the most powerful Avatar ever, and if that means forgoing love and children and a chance at a family for the power to save the world and allow everyone else to have those things in peace, then she'd do it a thousand times over.

Sifu Katara, naturally, thinks the entire thing is ostrich-horse shit, and refuses to allow Korra to become a mindless tool for the sake of the world. She encourages Korra to make earthly attachments, to learn and know intimately what she is sacrificing everything for to protect.

Its good advice and Korra follows it not because she needs friends – though in her heart of hearts she really does want them -, but because she loves the zest of life. She loves the buzz of a thousand voices raised in song, of music and festivals and good food and even better company. She yearns for the warmth and safety of a family, steady like the earth.

For school and work and living away from the White Lotus and the Island, changing and flowing like water.

For the ability to make her own choices without having to worry about the effects on the balance of world - to be free like the wind.

But mostly, she yearns for love. For the things she's read about in her forced quiet times when the White Lotus got too tired of her energy. For the warmth of a hand in hers, a kiss on her lips and a warm body by her side. She wants that intimate physical contact that she's been denied since she was five. Sure, she hugs people and slings her arms around them and goofs off, but it isn't the same. It isn't personal; loving. It's just - contact.

And that is why, as much as she hates Mako and Asami for getting together, she hates herself more for wanting to be in Asami's place.

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Korra kisses Mako, and it feels like her soul is on fire.

She feels safe, loved – complete; like when she bends and feels the elements sing inside her, surging through her veins like a tsunami, raw power and emotion bottled up into one little girl: her. Butterflies erupt in her stomach, her cheeks burn red and she can't believe she didn't do this earlier.

But then Bolin's heart breaks.

And Mako doesn't feel the same way.

And Korra feels heart-break for the first time.

She knows she should probably leave. Go fight Amon on her own, take him down and disappear quietly into the world on the Spiritual Journey she so desperately needs. Shame and anger and sadness well up in her stomach and Korra feels so guilty for hurting two of the people she cares the most about.

This is why Korra never tried to make earthly attachments until now, however much she wanted to.

Because she's never been good at good-byes.

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But Korra is nothing if not persistent. Eventually, it pays off. Mako starts to like – love – her back.

But then Korra walks away.

She's lost her bending; who her very person is. She feels so lost and confused. Nothing makes sense, because the earth is silent and the waves don't roar in her ears and the fire doesn't hum in her veins. The wind caresses her cheeks and whispers comfort in her soul but it doesn't make up for the hollowness inside her. The last part of her heart is missing, and all Korra wants to do is fall under the snow and sleep and sleep until she doesn't feel so empty anymore.

She leaves the room because she can't stand to see the pity in their eyes. Mako follows her – like she knew he would – and he tells her he loves her.

A month ago – a life time ago – Korra's heart would have beat war drums in her chest at those words.

Now, her chest is cold and silent. She has nothing left to give. She lost half her heart when her bending was taken, and the other half had already been given to Mako – well, forced on Mako. (She hadn't been in a giving mood that day). And he threw it away because he already had something better than anything Korra could ever be. He had beautiful, delicate Asami Sato. And Korra isn't delicate.

She's powerful. She's strong.

And so Korra does the thing she never thought she would.

She walks away from Mako.

And it's the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

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Avatars can't be delicate.

Delicate people don't save the world.

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But he follows her.

When Korra gets her bending back, she feels complete and powerful, the unstoppable Avatar once more.

When she and Mako finally, finally kiss – and properly kiss, mind you – she feels like she could take on a hundred Amon's at once. And she makes sure Mako knows by jumping around and sending little puffs of air in every direction as she shouts and makes the sea roar and the earth laugh and the flames grin. And when Mako catches her around her waist and kisses her to shut her up, she smiles against his mouth and fists her hands in his hair and thinks that maybe, in private when nobody can see and it is just her and Mako and the stars, she can be delicate for him.

But if he ever tells anyone, she will filet him on a stone spike.

When she tells Mako this, he kisses her forehead, and holds her close, and tells her that they can do that, but only if she's comfortable with it. The intimacy of the moment is broken when Korra flicks his nose and calls him a sap, and an epic snow fight begins when she bends the white powder down his shirt. it ends with her pressed in the snow and Mako on top of her, warm and solid and real. His laughs shake her body from where their chests are pressed together, and his smell drifts to her nose - of burning firewood and the warm musk of his cologne - and Korra thinks that maybe Aang had it right after all.

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set me free – let me be
here i am
and i stand so tall, next to you

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notes: little fluffy one-shot (i love one-shots!) about mako and korra, who are flipping perfect together. and canon, ha! finally, i actually ship canon. well, aside from when i shipped nine-slash-ten/rose, but the doctor has lots of lady loves – and probably some men too – so that doesn't really count.

anyway, review? please and thank you. :)

-natrissabelladonis