When Asami asks for their help to clear out what was left in the Sato mansion, to move it to her new apartment, everybody pitches in. There isn’t much left in the house due to the raids that occurred during Amon’s short rule, during Korra’s absence, but she takes what she claims is important.
She stuffs a box full of rattling glass into Mako’s hands, a tea cloth hastily draped over it.
“What is this?” he asks, trying to balance the box into one arm to lift up the cloth.
She gently slaps his arm. “It’s fragile. Just put it in the truck, will you?”
He walks away grumbling, but still curious.
Setting the box in the bed of the truck, he lifts the cloth.
Inside is a large array of glass pipes, each with intricate, colored designs woven in the thick walls, ends burnt and some still rattling with ashes. A dark umber box carved with delicate designs is just visible under the pipes. It smells faintly like a skunkbear.
Mako shoves the box away and places the cloth back over the top.
He looks around to make sure no one else saw what he did.
To be extra safe, he tucks it behind more boxes to the back of the truck.
While living with Asami, he had thought he smelled something strange from her room a few times. Even he knew it wasn’t wise to tell his girlfriend that she smelled weird, so he kept his mouth shut. It was usually prevalent on saturday mornings. She would slip from her room in a slight haze, smiling at him through tired eyes, give him a quick kiss before disappearing into the bathroom.
She would walk out with bundles of toiletries in her arms, claim she was having a spa morning, and slink back into her room again.
Then there was the night when he couldn’t sleep. He had walked into the kitchen accidentally, only to find Asami already in there.
She puffed smoke rings from her mouth as she looked at the pantry, unimpressed. A metal lighter flicked on and off in her hand.
Mako quickly left as silently as he could.
Asami settles into her apartment well. When she invites them over the first time, Korra instantly notices the extremely tall, shining hookah placed in the corner of the kitchen.
“What is that contraption?” she asks, eyes wide as she walks towards it.
Mako’s lips press into a thin line as Asami’s face brightens, placing her hand proudly on the silver top.
“It’s a hookah. You’ve never smoked before?”
Korra shakes her head and now Bolin perks up, even as his eyes nervously dart to his older brother’s.
“That’s a really nice one,” Bolin says, then winces under Mako’s resulting glare.
Asami laughs. “Thanks. It cost a bit but it’s really good. Plus, it’s pretty.”
“What do you smoke in it?” Korra asks, knuckles rapping at the bottom.
Ten minutes later and Asami has convinced them all to go into the underground parking garage beneath her new building. In her long, pale fingers is the dark umber box. She says she doesn’t want to smoke in her new apartment, not when renovations still need to be done. The smell could linger and attract unwanted attention.
They go to Asami’s car. Korra sits shotgun with Asami, while Mako sits with Bolin in the back.
“You’re not going to try it, Mako?” Korra asks, turning around to look at him.
Mako snorts and glares out the window at the empty Satomobile parked next to them. “I’ve done it before. It didn’t work.”
“You smoked once and now you never want to do it again?” Asami says, digging a pipe out of her coat pocket.
“It didn’t work, so I don’t see why I should waste my time,” he says. “Besides, one of us has to be responsible.”
He wishes he could make his insults more blatant, because Asami is supposed to be more responsible than this. Instead, she ignores him and pops open the box in her lap.
“Here, Korra, look at this.”
Korra is amazed with the entire process. She smells the bright green bud in Asami’s palm and rubs her nose afterwards, making the older girl giggle.
“It’s…strong,” Korra says, nose wrinkling.
“It’s kind of minty,” Bolin says, hands gripping the back of Asami’s seat to bring his head forward to smell.
Asami laughs and places it in the pipe. “It’s called Southern Lights, Korra. I figured it was appropriate.”
“There is no way that came from the South Pole.”
Asami laughs again and waves her hand forward. “Here, light it for me.”
The tips of Korra’s fingers burn with a small flame. Asami draws her hand to the pipe and she explains how the smoke fills the bowl before taking a hit. She tucks her chin down as she holds in the smoke, passing off to Korra.
She tips her head back and the smoke billows out of her lips and nose.
Korra sputters and coughs, but it’s expected. She moves to roll down her window but Asami grabs her arm and shakes her head quickly, jerking it towards Mako. When Korra frowns, Asami leans forward and whispers in her ear. Mako can’t make it out due to the curtain of black curls that end up separating them, but they pull away giggling.
Bolin is handed the pipe and he looks at Mako slightly hopeful.
“Oh, come on.”
“Asami and Korra are -”
“- Do you do everything your friends tell you to do?”
Asami jerks Korra’s hand into the backseat. “Quick, Korra, light him up.”
Bolin leans forward and brings the flame at Korra’s fingertips closer, and he knows exactly what he’s doing, like he’s done this quite a few times before.
Mako hopes his disapproving glare cuts through the smoke quickly filling the car.
Now that he thinks about it, there is a lot of smoke.
He can hardly see into the front seats, and Bolin is just a hazy mass of black and green at his side. White plumes swirl and wrap around his vision. Asami is in the front seat blowing practiced smoke rings that Bolin is just learning how to imitate, while Korra keeps asking questions.
“Should I be feeling something?” she asks.
Asami shrugs and tips her head back over her seat, shaking her hair over the edge. Bolin plays with the tips of her curls. “It’s ok if nothing happens the first time. It’s not in your system yet.”
“We should do something,” Bolin says.
“No,” Mako shakes his head. “We’re not going anywhere or doing anything.”
“Let’s go see a movie,” Asami says.
“You’re in no state to drive.”
“Lucky for you, we can walk.”
Asami buys everyone popcorn. They see a comedy and Mako has to admit, it’s one of the better ones. He actually laughs.
Korra slaps him in the chest every time he laughs, because apparently, it’s a bit loud. Bolin just tips back in his seat, gazing at the movie through half lidded eyes with a lazy smile stretched across his face. Asami is similarly draped in her chair, eyes not leaving the screen as she stuffs her face with snacks from the concession stand.
Back at Asami’s apartment, she gets the grand idea to toss all of the blankets and pillows she owns to the floor to create a big bed for them all to lie in. Mako has to say it’s one of the best ideas anyone has ever had: they’re no longer in public and reeking of skunkbear, laughing too loud and getting stared at by everyone. He could practically feel everyone’s stares as they walked out of the theater.
Asami called him paranoid
But that’s not really on his mind right now. Right now, he’s watching Bolin make a throne out of pillows, and Asami is on her fifth sweet roll.
“I’ve never seen someone eat so much,” Mako marvels. “Where does it all go.”
Korra sighs dramatically, not seeing anything worth gawking over. She rests her head on his stomach and rolls her eyes. “I know, Mako. That’s the hundredth time you’ve said it.”
“No it’s not. You’d get bored of counting that high.”
“You’re that high.”
Asami laughs and Bolin sits in his pillow throne, only for it to collapse under his weight. Everyone laughs hard at that.
“What else do you do when you’re high?” Korra asks.
Asami wipes some sweet syrup from her mouth, courtesy of her eighth roll. She wordlessly hands it off to Bolin, lying at her side, and he shoves the rest of it in his mouth.
“Usually makeovers,” she replies with her mouthful.
Korra sighs heavily as if she’s bored. Mako doesn’t see how that can be; he’s never felt more content or relaxed in his life.
“Alright. Bring on the makeovers.”
Korra seems cheered up as the makeover happens. Asami paints her face with lipstick and blush, tugging black mascara though her lashes, rubbing a coppery shadow over her eyes.
“You’re so beautiful,” Mako says when she’s finished.
Bolin nudges his head against Asami’s shoulder. He’s been clingy since smoking. “I wanna bebeautiful.”
Asami and Korra are in a fit of giggles when they watch Bolin smear lipstick on his mouth, laughter turning into shrieks when Bolin looks at himself in the mirror, snorting at the sight of his own reflection.
Mako still isn’t trustworthy of his friends since they smoked. He still has to be responsible - he didn’t smoke, after all. He’s just happy that nothing has gone wrong, but he can’t be too careful. He isn’t about to let his duties slip away.
It’s why he sits down on the floor in front of the bathroom while Bolin is using it. He doesn’t trust Bolin to not wander off and make a fool of himself in public.
The tile floor is cool under his bare feet. He’s long since taken off his coat, and wanting to feel that coolness on his skin, he lies down on his stomach. He folds his arms and tucks his chin on top of them, giving him a good view of Pabu.
The fire ferret is right before him, staring at him with beady, black eyes.
“Good Pabu,” Mako says, simply because Pabu didn’t smoke. Pabu doesn’t make him worry.
Pabu sits up. He balances on his front legs and then jumps into the air, rolling into a ball, and landing on one foot.
And it’s the most amazing thing Mako’s ever seen.
He’s in hysterics and he can’t remember the last time he’s laughed this hard, clutching at his sides so his fingernails dig into his shirt, tears slipping from his eyes.
He’s vaguely aware that his loud laughing has grabbed the attention of his friends, who are all now in the kitchen laughing with him (or at him), but he really doesn’t care. He just witnessed something amazing.
They order take out and eat it in the nest on Asami’s floor. It’s a nice evening in. Bolin lies on his back and sings along to the radio, and for once, Mako’s pretty impressed with his little brother’s vocal skills. Usually it’s difficult to hear for too long, but tonight, Bolin is really pulling out all stops.
Korra nestles her head back onto his stomach and he tugs out her front ties, trailing his fingers through his hair. Everyone is utterly content.
When Mako wakes up the next morning, he feels great. Well rested. Late morning sun shines through the blinds on the windows. Korra’s head is still on his stomach, lipstick smeared and eyes rimmed with dark black liner. Take out boxes are littered among the nest.
He realizes that he was high last night.
For the first time.
In his life.
And the world didn’t end. They saw a movie and spent at least fourteen hours on the floor.
Mako groans and shuts his eyes with the thought that he is going to hear fifty I-told-you-so’s once Asami wakes up.