Mako doesn’t think that Bolin has the self-control to do it. Korra thinks that he can but will cave within five minutes. Bolin’s offended because life without meat can’t possibly be that bad.
When he voices this thought aloud, Korra fixes him with a look that clearly asks, ‘How do you exist?’
Korra and Mako are pretty much the only ones on Air Temple Island that eat meat at all. The Air Acolytes live in the temple with Tenzin and his family, though the latter have separate living spaces. Since the culture of the Air Nomads frown upon eating meat, the Air Acolytes do too. Korra couldn’t really care, even if she was an Airbender in hundreds of past lives before. Her reasoning is that in this life, she’s not an Airbender, so yeah, she can eat meat.
In what Bolin refers to as the ‘Pre-Makorra’ period, when Korra was still learning how to master Airbending, Korra had to forego meat for awhile until she joined the Fire Ferrets, sneaking meat in the city. She still maintains that it’s the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. It even ranks above the first few days of Airbending training with Tenzin.
“It will the hardest thing you ever do in your life,” She warns Bolin. “You’re even more addicted to eating meat than I am.”
“I am not!” Bolin protests as his sister-in-law raises an eyebrow at him, “I have some self-control, Korra!”
Korra looks at Mako, who shakes his head. “What do you think?”
Mako shakes his head. “Five minutes. Tops.”
“I hate you all so much, you have no idea.” Bolin says with a grave look on his face, though it’s not very effective because his grave look is pretty much equivalent to a child’s confused face. “You only have no idea because I am incapable of maintaining an angry face.”
Korra rolls her eyes and shoves him towards the door. “Go on. Enjoy your horrible meatless life.”
“If Jinora heard that, she’d kick your butt.” Bolin retorts with a smile on his face because it’s true. Korra may be the Avatar, but she is by no means the best of Airbenders. Jinora can air-scooter circles around the older woman with her eyes closed.
“Please,” Korra waves a dismissive hand. “Jinora is too at peace with the world to kick butt.”
“So she can control herself; that doesn’t mean she can’t kick butt.” Bolin tosses back, and he can tell from the smirk on Korra’s face that she just found what he said to be absolutely adorable.
“Good luck,” Mako calls from the doorway leading to the kitchen. He’s giving Bolin a tiny smile. “I know Jinora will appreciate your efforts to integrate yourself with her culture.”
Bolin’s just about to thank Mako when he realizes something: “What do you mean by efforts?”
After three days, Bolin has come to accept that Korra was right; it was indeed the most horrifying thing he’s ever willingly done.
He doesn’t even know how he’s survived the past three days. Bolin hasn’t left the island the entire time, sleeping Korra and Mako’s spare room and sleeping on the grass next to Jinora when she’s outside meditating. He takes his meals with Jinora and the other members of her family, and he gets strange looks from the brunette when he voluntarily eats the meat-free meal.
It’s been one long nightmare for him.
On one hand, it’s nice to have Jinora smile at him whenever he’s with her at the dinner table, but on the other, he misses eating meat so much he may cry.
It’s not like the meals aren’t good. Pema’s an excellent cook and Bolin scarves it down like there’s more waiting for him when he’s done. (Which there is.) It’s just that he misses eating meat because growing up, Mako always insisted that a growing boy needed protein to grow and slaved away to procure at least a couple bites of meat for every meal they had. Eating meat reminds him of his childhood. When he thinks of meat, he thinks of the only family he really remembers: Mako. His memories of their parents are fuzzy and whenever he tries to think of his mom, all he can remember is that Mako looks a lot like she did.
But Jinora is important to him, and she always looks so sad whenever they have dinner together outside of the island because she loves animals. Jinora has one of the biggest hearts that Bolin knows and all her sympathy is usually directed towards some form of baby animal. Bolin wants her to be happy, even if it means sacrificing his childhood memories. He reasons that he didn’t have a very great childhood anyway, growing up in the streets and all.
(But then he remembers the reassurances of his brother, the small fire burning in Mako’s palm at night until Bolin fell asleep, and summers with sticky fingers clutching at a bigger hand.)
“Bolin,” Jinora’s voice interrupts his musing, and when did she get here? He voices that thought, and she replies, “I actually came over to babysit the twins while Korra and Mako are out.”
“Oh.” Bolin answers, and he gives her a small smile. “That’s cool.”
“Sleeping on the couch is bad for you, Dirt Ferret.” Jinora kisses him on the forehead before she stands up and heads towards the door that leads to Korra and Mako’s bedroom, where the twins’ cribs are. “I’m going to check on them.”
Bolin sits up on the couch like she implied that he should do, and when she comes back into the living room a few minutes later, he pats the spot next to him on the couch. “Sit with me for a while?”
Jinora complies, and they adjust so that they’re hugging, Bolin’s face buried in the crook of her shoulder. She rubs soothing circles on his upper back as he makes little pitiful noises. “Oh Bolin…”
“Jinoraaaaaaa…” Bolin is all too aware of how much like a child he sounds like right now.
The Airbender giggles, pressing a light kiss to the top of his head. “Get off; I have to make some food for the twins.”
“Bleagh.” Bolin makes a face, but complies and trudges off to the spare bedroom to continue his nap.
When he wakes up, it’s not because Jinora comes in and wakes him up. It’s not because he’s not tired anymore. It’s not even because the twins jump on him. (There are times when Bolin thinks that they can’t possibly be Mako’s because they’re so loud, but they have his eyes, so.)
It’s because Bolin smells someone (Jinora?) cooking Komodo-Seal meat.
He bursts into the kitchen and is rewarded with the sight of Jinora, in Mako’s apron, serving little pieces of Komodo-Seal mixed in with rice and greens to the twins.
Jinora looks up and smiles at him. “Bolin!”
“You made meat,” is all Bolin can think to say.
She’s gesturing for him to sit, and when he does, she places a bowl of rice with Komodo-Seal and shrimp. “This is yours.”
“But I’m not eating meat anymore.” Bolin protests.
“You don’t have to give up meat for me” Jinora touches his cheek and her eyes are warm when he looks up at her. “It’s sweet of you to try, but honestly, I’m not that type of vegetarian that hates everyone because they eat meat. They’re my personal beliefs. I don’t eat meat, but it doesn’t mean you can’t.”
“I thought it would make you happy.” Bolin admits.
“You make me happy.” Jinora says simply and kisses him lightly on the lips.
Bolin kisses her back, and they only separate because a moment later, the twins manage to spill their milk for reasons of “Bobo no eat Jinowa’s face!”