Two weeks on Air Temple Island had brought an odd sort of calm to the group. The initial panic and rage had died down to an uneasy silence, where only Bolin was still acting like himself, and even that seemed to be cracking under the weight of the anticipation of Amon's next attack.
Pema had developed a habit of saddling the teenagers with babysitting duties. It was mostly an attempt to keep their mind off things, but also because her new baby was due any day at this point, and Meelo's expeditions up "mount mommy" wasn't really how she wanted to induce labor.
Despite his attempts to support her in her time of stress, and much to his frustration, Asami seemed to be slowly drifting away from Mako. Even more distressingly, when she wasn't helping Pema around the house, he'd find her and Bolin in some secluded corner or another, a little closer together than he wanted his brother and supposed girlfriend to be. Supposedly, she was just teaching him some of the things he'd never had a chance to learn in school, but he knew Bolin too well to be sure of his intentions.
While the love-struck teen wanted desperately to separate them, he wanted her to be happy even more. So instead, he found himself sitting on the south steps of the temple most afternoons, watching Korra train with the airbenders.
Exhausted from an afternoon of training, Korra flopped down on the wooden steps outside the temple where Mako was already sitting, reading a book on satomobile repair. Ikki was kind enough to remove herself from her ride's back via a small whirlwind. She disappeared down the porch, calling after her sister - who had been nice enough to use her own feet, instead of hitching a ride - and Korra sighed, blowing her bangs out of her eyes.
"Er…" Mako ventured, pointing gingerly at Korra. "You know you've still got one stuck to you, right?"
"Yeah," she grumbled, looking down at Meelo, who was clinging to her, sideways, with a grip that could make a pentapus jealous. "He's always the hardest part. I swear he's part slothmonkey. You can't just tickle him off like Ikki."
"Hmm," the firebender mused, poking at the hand clutched to Korra's shoulder. Sure enough, it was completely immoveable.
"You got any suggestions?"
He started to shake his head, and then a memory flashed through his head. "…Just one. There was something our parents always used to make Bolin go to bed when we were little. But I'm not sure if it would-"
"Honestly? I'll try anything right now. Well, as long as it doesn't involve firebending him off, Tenzin would kill me."
Mako took a deep breath, looking around to be sure they had no other company, then cupping his hand around his mouth and whispering, "There's one thing that will make any little boy run in fear: oogies."
Korra's eyes went wide, and her face flushed suddenly. She couldn't - it wasn't right - he was still dating Asami, wasn't he? But he hadn't seen them actually talk to each other in over two days, not even over dinner, and-
"…Well, I guess. Since it's for a good cause."
Scrunching her nose both out of nerves and to try to make it stick out more, she leaned toward Mako, bracing herself on one hand. Her eyes closed when his face suddenly got closer, and when his nose actually touched hers - well, she was a little surprised Meelo didn't fall off just from the vibration of her heart inside her chest.
Soft as can be, but far different from the way she remembered her parents doing it to her as a child, his nose brushed against hers three times. The initial dose of nervous adrenaline started to drain from her veins, leaving a soft shiver in its wake, and her eyes opened, ever so slightly, to see his golden ones smiling back at her.
She finally understood why he and Asami did that so mu-
Korra bolted back upright, stopping herself mid-thought before her lips could try to claim his again. "Er, well, that didn't work!" she declared. "So much for that plan!"
Mako nodded, giving a slight cough and standing up. "Well, uh. I'll go get Pema then. She'll probably know a way to-"
Meelo's grip suddenly faltered, and he plopped onto Korra's lap, snoring lightly.
"-Oorrr he could just fall asleep."
Korra sighed, carefully picking Meelo up under one arm and getting to her feet. "No, go get her anyway," she told Mako, pulling at the left side of her shirt and making a disgusted face. "I'm going to have to ask her if she knows how to get slothmonkey snot out of clothes."