*~*~*Far Away, This Ship Is Taking Me Far Away*~*~*

He stared up at the metal bunk over his head, hardly believing what was happening. It felt like just yesterday he had crushed the woman he loved most, and now he was heading far away from her and anyone else in the world who cared anything about him. He was leaving Republic City on a ship bound for the military training camp. He had run away with the United Forces.

It had once seemed like the most logical thing to do. He couldn't escape her. She was everywhere he went. Literally. Being the Avatar meant being on billboards and on the radio and on the street and in the police department and everything and everywhere and everyone until he couldn't take it anymore. He had to get away. She was suffocating him, and she didn't even have to speak with him.

They had, in fact, spoken only once since the break up. She had brought some trouble makers into the police department after taking the three of them out single-handedly. He had always been impressed with her power and bending skill. He'd passed her while she spoke with Chief Bei Fong, and though he'd briskly walked away and disappeared around a corner into a supply closet, she had found him.

"Why are you avoiding me?" she demanded, slamming the door behind her.

"I'm... not," he said lamely, avoiding her piercing gaze.

"Right. That's why we're in a supply closet right now."

She had a point. He couldn't argue with her. He knew that all too well. "Korra..."

"You never told me why, Mako. Just..." She took a step closer to him as her voice broke, making him cringe inwardly for what he was doing to her. "Please. I just need to know why." He didn't answer immediately, but she would not give up. "What did I do wrong?"

"You did nothing wrong, Korra!" he burst out, turning away from her and those big blue eyes that seemed to dig into his very soul.

"Then why don't you love me?!" she cried, reaching out to grip his arm. Her grasp was firm and undetermined... and inescapable.

"I don't..." His inner struggle robbed him of words. He didn't want to let her go, but she needed to move on. She had to. Even if she couldn't see it, she deserved so much more than he could offer. And yet he had never in his life loved a woman as fiercely as he loved her.

"I just don't understand..." The wavering in her voice nearly broke his determination. Nearly. "I thought things were great between us."

"Things were wonderful," he whispered before he could stop himself, closing his eyes and allowing his mind to drift back to what it felt like on the couch with her in his lap, snuggled into his neck as she told him she would love him forever. Or the way it felt the first time she kissed him, catching him off guard and setting his insides on fire. Or the way it felt the day he told her he would be a police officer and she jumped into his arms and told him how proud she was of him... He cut his heart off from the memories. "We can't go back, Korra."

"What happened?" she demanded again, her voice wrought with pain. He didn't answer immediately, and not for lack of trying. The words wouldn't come to him. "Mako...!" She twisted him around with hardly any effort and pulled him to her, securing her lips to his. He inhaled her scent deeply as she pressed her warm body against his, beginning to lose his head in her essence. His hands drifted naturally to her hips, locking her firmly into place. Her arms tangled themselves around his neck, and he really began to lose it.

"Korra," he muttered against her lips.

"I love you," she whispered softly, breaking through the fog in which he had found himself.

He pushed her away rather roughly, and though it was unintentional, he could see the hurt in her eyes as she stared up at him. "I can't do this," he said in a low but firm voice, gripping her by the arms. "I'm sorry."

The tears in her eyes started to spill over, but before she could say a word, he pushed past her and out of the supply closet. Within a week, he had signed up for the United Forces.

He left without telling her. He left without telling anyone, but for Bolin. Asami had found out purely by accident. She had shown up at his apartment the night before he left. Bolin had let her in, seemingly clueless to the fact that Mako didn't want to see anybody. At all. Bolin was in his own little world, dazed and confused and more than slightly shocked that his older brother was leaving him.

Asami glanced around his room at the disarray and the suitcase he was packing on his bed. "Where are you going?" she asked, getting right to the point. He had always liked - and disliked - that about her.

"Away," he replied brusquely, not halting for a second from packing his things.

"Where away?" she persisted.

"Does it matter?"

"Does it matter that I care?"

He paused, but only for a second, though he didn't respond to her pointed question.

"I'm sorry," she sighed, "I just..." She tilted her head and studied him for a moment before she switched tactics. "You don't look like you plan on coming back anytime soon," she observed carefully.

"I don't," was his short response, but she was undeterred.

"Are you running away?"

"I don't run away from things," he lied with a casualness he found surprising.

"What about Korra?"

Her name was enough to stop in his tracks, but only for a split second. He knew Asami would have noticed even the slightest hesitation. "What about Korra?" he echoed with less sureness than before.

"I heard about... you two."

"Yes," was all he said, hoping she would drop the subject but knowing full well she wouldn't.

"Is that who you're running from?" Asami questioned, her arms crossed in front of her.

"What do you want me to say, Asami?" he burst out, turning to face his ex-girlfriend squarely. "I broke her heart. Just like yours. Are you happy?"

He knew his words were unfair and uncalled for, but he resumed packing anyway. These days, he wasn't very good at saying - or doing - much of anything, especially when it came to women.

"No," she said quietly, "I'm not. I don't quite understand why you did it."

"To you or to her?"

She was quiet for a moment, and he knew he'd struck a chord. He couldn't help himself. "To her," she clarified in a smooth voice that betrayed no emotion whatsoever.

"It was over," he said simply. She needed no further explanation.

"It didn't look that way to me, or to anyone else. Especially to Korra. Have you talked to her lately?"

"No," he lied again. It was becoming easy, this lying thing.

"She's broken. Not just broken-hearted. She's broken." She paused for a response, but he had none, and so she continued on. "Do you enjoy breaking girls' hearts, Mako? Is that what this is about?"

"What do you think, Asami?" he snarled hotly, throwing a crumpled shirt in his suitcase so hard that a dozen other things toppled out. He briefly considered setting the whole thing on fire.

"Hey, don't get mad at me, I'm just trying to figure you out," she said with more than a slight hint of sarcasm, throwing her hands in the air in a defensive pose. He felt the fire inside him begin to slowly burn out.

The silence in the room was heavy. He expected her to keep badgering him as she had been doing, but she didn't. She was waiting. Calculating. "I joined the United Forces," he said at last, his shoulders slumping.

"Come again?" she asked with genuine surprise, crossing her arms in front of her once more.

"I joined the United Forces." He sighed heavily, running his hand down his face. "I messed up, okay? I messed up big time. I broke her heart because... I don't even know why. All of my reasons... they seem so stupid now." He stared down at his feet, feeling like a complete fool. His errors were beginning to catch up to him and eat him alive. He was running. "I just gotta get away for a while. I need to focus on me... clear my head."

"And you intend to do that with the United Forces?"

"Asami, don't you get it?" He whirled to face her. "I can't be here and be constantly reminded of her, every minute, every hour, every day!" Her eyes flickered for a moment, and he knew she was recalling their own break up, and probably wondering if he had felt any kind of remorse over what he had done to her. He had - to a degree. And yet he hadn't because when Korra kissed him... He exhaled slowly. "I'm sorry," he apologized, though he wasn't quite sure for what he apologized.

"She would take you back," Asami stated flatly, her eyes cold as she stared him down.

"How do you know that?"

Her arms dropped to her side, and she crossed the room to stand in front of him. She looked up at him for a moment before laying a chaste kiss on his cheek. "Because I would have," she said softly.

And just like that, she was gone. It wasn't until she had left his apartment that he realized he'd never asked her what brought her to his apartment in the first place. Now, as he lay on his back staring up at the cold, unforgiving metal over him, he closed his eyes and struggled to find sleep. He knew full well, however, that a certain brunette beauty would haunt his dreams, just as she did every other night.

"He did what?!" Korra exploded, making Bolin cringe like a girl.

"Don't shoot the messenger!" he quavered meekly, holding his hands up in front of him.

"Why would he do that?!" she demanded as her heart cracked in two inside her chest. It seemed there would be no end to the hurt when it came to Mako.

"I don't know... some nonsense about getting away and clearing his head," Bolin mumbled lamely. She could tell he was pretty hurt, as well. She wasn't the only one who had been abandoned. Her anger softened at the look on his face.

"Well... I..." She was at a loss for words. What she really wanted to do was hunt Mako down and strangle him. And then probably toss him in the ocean. And yet here she was with someone who knew exactly - well, almost - how she was feeling. "Hey." She sighed, peering up into his dejected green eyes. "Want to go get some noodles?"

To her relief, he cracked a small smile. "I'd love to!" he beamed, taking her arm in his as he lead her towards the ferry. "You know, I have a new earthbending move that I haven't shown you yet. Did I tell you that?"

She laughed, for the first time in a long while, and it felt really, really good. "No," she said with a smile, allowing herself to be lead. "You didn't."

Far away
This ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die
I will be chasing your starlight
Until the end of my life
I don't know if it's worth it anymore

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold you in my arms