Korra balanced on the smouldering edge of the hole she'd just blown through the wall, fingers flaming and curled against what was left of the plaster. She was going to burn this whole place to the ground, and she wasn't even going to care.
She glanced back at him, grinning manic and amused. "You coming, City Boy?"
Mako pinched the bridge of his nose. "Can't we just go out the door like normal people, Korra?"
"Where's the fun in that?" she demanded. Through the smoke and flames, she was monster magic burning in the fingertips, that far sweet thing he'd been missing for so long. "What's the point in being the Avatar if I don't get to blow stuff up?"
"You would say that," Mako muttered.
Korra's eyebrow quirked up just as her grin did. "I told you I hadn't changed, didn't I?"
"I didn't think you actually meant it," he stressed.
She snorted. "Come on! It'll be fun!"
And she offered him a hand across the fire, still clung to the wall. She was a spider-monkey in that moment; infinitely young, infinitely powerful, infinitely beautiful. She was Korra, and he didn't question that the elements all bowed to her will.
There was no one else in the entire world that could move gravity the way Korra could.
It was a wonder he'd held out as long as he had.
Mako shook his head, and grabbed her wrist.
"Got'cha," Korra chuckled. She dragged him to the ledge. He went grudgingly, and tried to think about how he'd watched her do this so many times when they were teenagers—tried to think about the fact that she'd seen and done things in her two-year absence that he couldn't even imagine.
She'd done things more dangerous than this, and Mako knew it.
Hands laced together, they jumped.
And they fell.
The pavement rushed up towards them dizzyingly fast, backwards fish-eye so that the edges of his vision stretched up towards him in the blistering air. We're going to die was the only coherent thought that went through his brain.
Mako couldn't even find it in himself to be annoyed.
It was just so Korra.
But then somehow she managed to set them down lightly, soft as feathers—Mako had never floated before, not like this. It had taken Korra far, far too long to master airbending for him to have ever had a chance, but he could still remember the exhilarated fear in her eyes the first time she'd fallen from a burning building. He could still remember how she laughed.
The air below bubbled out to catch them both, cool against the sticky humidity of Republic City's summer. The building behind them lit up the sky as the blaze ate away at the not-darkness. The crackle was a merry hunger in the night.
Mako and Korra hit the ground running.
He didn't know who was leading, as the world blurred past. Korra's hair had come undone, caught in the wind and in his face
They ran until their legs gave out.
Collapsed against a wall, Mako shook his head of sweat, limbs trembling with an armful of exhilarated Avatar in his lap. They both shivered as they tried to pull air in and to calm down, but they were not the same thing, and it was taking longer than either expected. Korra pressed her forehead to his collarbone.
"Let's not do that again," Mako panted into her ear.
"Why not?" Korra asked. She pulled back, soft in the lips and the thighs with her knees against the ground; she could have been seventeen again save for the faint scars along her arms. Just a shade lighter than the rest of her skin, they would always make him wonder who she had become while she was away.
"Agni, Korra…" was all Mako managed.
She was always going to be the most beautiful thing, and he had nothing to lose.
He reached upwards for her face.
Korra grinned, and got there first.
She kissed her personality into his mouth; recklessly daring, stupidly brave, frost-mint leaves and foreign vodka. With her hands cupped around his cheeks, Korra was desert wind or maybe dry ice hissing as it hit the air.
It was hard and fierce and fast.
"Missed you," he mumbled against her skin.
"Missed you, too," Korra whispered.
They were quiet for a moment, as they sat and listened to each other breathe. There was a crash far in the distance. Mako wondered if someone had noticed the burning building yet.
"Did you really have to set it on fire?" Mako asked at last.
"Did you really have to become a politician?" Korra asked in reply.
"Right, stupid question, sorry."
She grinned hugely in reply. "Lin's going to kill us."
"Kill you, you mean."
"No, us. You didn't stop me, and that's supposed to be your job!" Korra prodded his shoulder like she'd pound a pillow, and arranged herself more comfortably on top of him. "D'you think we should escape while we still can?"
Mako looked down at her, curled up like a polar-bear pup. She breathed snowflakes into the air around them just to watch them fall. The summer heat melted them away in midair, and it felt a little bit like rain.
"I don't want to move," he told her gently.
Korra made a soft sound at the back of her throat as she closed her eyes. "Neither do I."
She leaned back against him, turned liquid as quicksilver, sea salt and sand. Korra was the whole world bundled up in one girl, and Mako loved her desperately.
(He just wasn't going to tell her, yet.)
"Go to sleep," he said.
"Yeah," Korra smiled, eyes still closed. "Maybe."