dedication: to the whole fandom. sorry bros, I've been pretty dead.
notes: still thanksgiving, still writing way too much.
title: here at the bottom of the world
summary: This is the reality of heroes. — Bolin/Asami/Korra/Mako.
Asami and Korra sleep together, now. These days, it's all they can do to get the memories out of their heads; Republic City is still rebuilding, and they are both almost-orphans, so it makes sense that they've sort of shacked up together.
Only you know, not really.
They just sleep next to each other, holding hands to stop the shaking in their bones. Air Temple Island doesn't feel safe anymore. Maybe it never did.
The trip to the South Pole comes as a surprise to absolutely no one.
Bolin and Mako are both needed in the city—Mako's taken a place on the council to represent the city's non-benders, and Bolin's training under Lin to eventually take over the police force—but they ditch out for this trip. It won't be a long thing, but it'll be a thing.
They all just need to get away, for a little while.
The Avatar and her team—because they are hers, they have always been hers, they will always be hers—take ships, and they don't tell anyone where they're going. They just go; they board a ship bound for the South Pole in civilian dress, and Korra takes down her hair and Asami puts hers up. Bolin keeps his hood up, and Mako tucks away his scarf. They all wear travelling cloaks.
Like this, they look like world-weary travellers just headed for their next direction.
The sad thing is that this is exactly what they are.
The Equalist ideas have taken hold deep in the mind of the populous all around the world. Republic City was just the start—there is oppression of the non-benders wherever Korra goes, and breaking it is getting harder and harder. She's tired.
They all are.
Asami's working herself into the ground to keep her factories up and running and producing goods that aren't dangerous. Mako's chipping away at the bender-biased laws. Bolin's… well, breaking a lot of shit, but he's tired, too.
They don't see each other much, anymore.
So Korra and Asami sleep together, and somehow the boys join them until the four of them are nothing but a pile of limbs and skin and no one is quite sure where one of them begins and the others end. It's good, like this. It's really, really good, because it's all they've got, all they've had for ages and ages and Korra's missed them all so much.
They've all grown up.
Asami and Bolin share a cigarette on deck, passing the smoking stub back and forth but not looking at each other. Their breath comes out solid, and Korra could probably tell them both exactly where they are and how far it is to the South Pole, but neither of them move.
"Are we ever going to be okay?" Asami asks.
Bolin flicks the stub off the edge of the deck. "If by okay you mean normal, then the answer is no."
"Normal is never okay," Asami says this like it's a fact, and that's when Korra worms her way between them. She is warm as fire, and both of them cuddle closer to her, and the three of them hold hands like children. Mako is there, suddenly, too, mussed with his hair all over, and Asami and Bolin both don't want to know.
The thing about Korra is that she's easy to love, and it's impossible not to share someone like that.
They huddle close together for warmth and for comfort and for safety, because they are always, always on guard. Assassination attempts are not uncommon. Everyone wants to control the Avatar, and everyone knows that the way to the Avatar is through her friends—kill one of them, and you'll have an uncontrollable Avatar on your hands.
Some want that.
But some do.
They sky goes dark rather abruptly.
"Look," Korra whispers, and points upwards. "It's the Lights!"
"Why's it so dark?" asks Bolin. He doesn't like the dark. It's too easy to hide a dozen killers in the dark, and he moves them closer together. They're a larger target, but it makes it harder to pinpoint who each single individual is.
Lin's taught him things he never wanted to learn. But they were things he needed to learn, and Bolin isn't as naïve as he used to be. The world's not a nice place, and these three people are the only family that he's got.
"Noon Moon," Korra replies. "We don't see the sun for months, down here in the winter. I'd forgotten…"
She's just staring up, and Asami kisses the corner of her mouth. "We need to do this more often," she murmurs. Korra leans against her, and nods. They all link fingers, and there are icebergs, suddenly, big things that ship out jagged and dangerous. Korra's eyes shine bright blue as the sky in summer.
"Almost home—!" she bounces up and down on the balls of her feet. Mako wraps his arms around her and murmurs nonsense into her throat, because they have nothing. All of them, they have things, material things, but they have nothing in the way of constants except each other, and even they aren't all that constant.
Not really, anyway.
And they all remember Korra dancing on the icy railings, swaying with the pull of the tide, and they all remember that she is Water Tribe, that she belongs to the ocean as surely as they belong to fire and earth and nothing at all.
This is the reality of heroes. When the wares are over, they have nothing left but each other, and the world still moves on. The world forgets, and slips back into complacency, but the warriors do not. The heroes are left broken and shuddering in pieces, hoping that someone will pick them up and put them back together.
When there is no one to do it for them, they do it for each other.
Korra kisses them all in turn, and she is like a glass of champagne; Asami and Mako and Bolin are all drunk on her and she is just as drunk on them.
They are terrible for each other.
But in this world (this terrible world that hates its own heroes), they are all that each other have. And so Korra kisses them in turn over and over again, there on the deck with her breath solid white puffs of air, and she giggles a little, trips over the airbender in her that still isn't quite controllable.
They hold on to each other for a long time, all of them.
The South Pole comes into view. It is all ice palaces and forever snow. This is the bottom of the world, and four forgotten children hold each other because the world hates its heroes—or, at the very least, it likes them better when their dead.
Here, they will hide.
Asami clings to Korra's hand, and Korra only smiles.
"We'll be okay, here," she says.
No one knows who posed the question. They were all thinking it, anyway.
"I promise," Korra says, and sets her jaw. They will be safe here. They will. She will kill anyone who tries to make it any different. This, she swears.
They set down on the ice and snow of the South Pole.
Together, they breathe in.
Together, they breathe out.