She spends the eve of her birthday practicing at the Pro-Bending arena, then in the brothers' apartment in the attic.
"Why would you want to spend your birthday in the attic, anyway?" Bolin had asked her after he had granted her permission to stay with them. She had asked him and Mako after their practice session, in the locker room, where the air was stuffy and humid and smelled faintly of sweat. Not that Korra minded it much.
"Because," she replied, plopping down on a bench, "I was born the day after Avatar Aang died. So if tomorrow is my birthday, today is the anniversary of Avatar Aang's death. I don't really feel like being around Tenzin and his family while they're sulking around and mourning."
Mako took off his helmet and shrugged. "Fair enough. I hope you don't mind the couch, though, because it's all that we've got."
Of course, Korra didn't complain.
Korra finds herself unable to sleep tonight. It was rare for her; she would usually be asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. But now, in the middle of the night, she finds herself sitting on the sill of the attic window, gaze set to Air Temple Island.
"Hey," a voice says behind her, "that's my spot." The voice catches Korra by surprise, and she tears her eyes off of the island and onto the figure standing behind her.
Mako chuckles at Korra's reaction and sits down beside her. "Can't sleep?"
"Nope." Korra shakes her head."You can't either?"
"Nah," Mako says, "I can never seem to fall asleep, though." He looks at her, though his eyes don't quite meet hers. "So…uh, happy birthday."
Korra shrugs. "Thanks," she says blandly, turning her head and returning her stare to Air Temple Island.
"What? Don't like birthdays?"
Korra exhales, a long and heavy sigh escaping her lips. "Well, they're not all that bad. I mean, when I lived at the compound in the Southern Water Tribe, I didn't have to train, and I got to see my parents and have dinner with them, and Sifu Katara always made me a cake and stuff, but…it was always awkward. I mean, Sifu and the White Lotus members who knew Avatar Aang were in mourning just the day before it, and then when my birthday came around, it didn't feel—I don't know—welcome. It never felt like my birthday, always the anniversary of Avatar Aang's death, you know?"
Mako puts a hand on her shoulder. "I get it." He sighs. "I've never liked birthdays much, either."
"Yeah, but you weren't born the day after the most powerful man in the world died," she pouts.
"True, true," Mako says. "But, uh, think of it this way: yeah, it sucks that Avatar Aang died since you know his family and all and now you have to live up to his legacy and stuff—"
"—not helping, Mako," Korra snaps with a roll of her eyes.
"Okay, okay, let me finish. Well, uh…if he didn't die, you wouldn't get to be the Avatar, and then…well…you would never have even come to Republic City in the first place, and you would have never met me—us! Me and Bolin...that is," he finishes lamely. "Does that make you feel better?"
Korra smiles. "A little." She pushes herself off of the sill and back into the apartment, heading toward the couch. "Well, I'm gonna try and get some sleep," she says, back turned to Mako. "Good night."
Mako wishes her a good night, and Korra falls asleep almost as soon as her head reaches the pillow Bolin had lent her.
In the morning, she wakes up to a small, crudely iced cake in front of her.
Drowsily, she picks it up, noticing the characters of her name smeared in blue icing over the top. She walks into the kitchen, where Bolin is making breakfast and Mako is reading the newspaper and asks, "who made this?"
Bolin smiles and says, "it's not much, but we figured you should have something."
"So you made it?"
Bolin laughs, a thick, hearty sound. "Actually," he says, gesturing to his brother, "Mako over here did." Mako's face turns almost as red as his scarf as he places a hand over his forehead.
Korra can't help but giggle. "Well thanks, Mako."
Mako just glares at Korra and grunts, "well, aren't you going to eat it?" Korra rolls her eyes playfully and sits down beside him. She elbows him in the ribs, taking it as a "you're welcome."