Actions

Work Header

be ok

Work Text:

.

.

.

I. shoulder

It starts bleeding because of the gunshot wound. Mako despises guns...they're tools for weak people, in his experience. Since he had lost his parents, he and Bolin had been in their fair share of scrapes and fights to survive. He'd done things he was not proud of. At fifteen, his shoulder burns, a hollow tunnel of carved flesh made by the bullet that had penetrated it. Bolin is running for help as Mako's arm bleeds, the blood making a pool on the ground. He stands up, holding his right hand to his left arm where the wound is. Bolin is running back now, trying to lead him to a place where he can be healed. They arrive at a free clinic and receive pity stares and angry ones. Everyone judges street kids, even if it's the street that put them there, like it was with them.

They meet the healer, a cranky old woman working out of a cold room with floors swept this morning, and she removes the bullet, still lodged in Mako's shoulder. She cleans the wound as Mako puts on a brave face, though he winces audibly when she uses tweezers to remove the crumpled bit of metal.

It's so small, he thinks. He wonders how such a tiny piece of metal can cause so much damage and pain. A few inches to the right and Mako might have died.

The woman finishes her work, but she isn't the best healer in the world, or even the city. She's just the one who does free work for kids in fights on the streets. It's a kind gesture, even though it leaves Mako with a circular scar where the bullet was.

It continues hurting for five days afterward while the muscles rebuild and strengthen again.

A month later, Toza finds him firebending in the gutter with his brother by his side, fashioning chairs from the rubble he finds using his earthbending for them to have somewhere to sleep for the night.

They move into the arena that night, his shoulder giving out less pain as he begins using his bending for a better purpose.

.

.

.

II. leg

Bolin drops the rock.

Unfortunately for him, he drops the rock in such a way that it lands on his leg in the middle of pro-bending practice. Toza was working him to the bone. He was fifteen and Mako was seventeen and they were practicing for their first tournament ever. They had a lazy waterbender on their team, which Bolin had begged and begged to name. They were the Fire Ferrets.

Mako tries to pry the rock loose, but it's a really big boulder. Bolin heard the snap of his leg before when it landed on his calf. He lies on the ground, in pain like he can't believe, and finally earthbends himself loose. He bites his lip until it bleeds because of the ache. The bone didn't break the skin, but it hurts so badly. Mako picks him up to take to Toza.

Toza sends them to the arena's healer, who sets Bolin's tibia and works on the immediate tissue damage. She tells them that the bone has to heal on his own and puts him in a cast. For three months he can't do much for the team, but practices his earthbending by sitting in a chair, his one good foot making contact with the ground.

Soon his leg heals and he is ready for the first season. He plays admirably with his brother and they soon become known in the ring as the "Fabulous Bending Brothers" and the "Brothers from the School of Hard Knocks". He remembers that they weren't just hard knocks, but stays positive by reminding himself how they got out of it, and now they were pro-bending, a sport perfect for both of them. Mako still picks up extra jobs to cover their loose ends because Butahka robs them blind, and eventually the ache in his leg goes away.

.

.

.

He meets Korra in the gym because she snuck in and takes her down to the box. He didn't realize that it was fate at the time, and neither did Mako.

But there she is, a fighter, ready to fight for them. And they take the opportunity.

.

.

.

Bolin's shoulder is messed up once during their tournament, the match in which Korra performs a stunning hat trick and blows the Buzzard Wasp into the water. She helps heal him as Mako looks on. He remembers their kiss. He feels guilty, of course, but with Asami in his arms, he can't move.

.

.

.

III. heart

When Korra says "I can't", Mako's chest begins aching like someone punched him. Seconds before, it had fluttered as he told her he loved her. Then she left. The pain was worse than any he'd had before...even injuries he'd gotten firebending hurt less. Still, even with the burning in his soul, he runs after her through the ice and snow without bothering to get a decent coat. He finds her at the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, floating above the world she commands. It's terrifying and exhilarating, but when she comes back down to earth and turns to look at him, the burning in his heart is abated at the gentle expression on her face. She's happy.

She runs at him and he steps forward, the damage to his heart forgotten, soothed by the balm of her smile. He opens his arms for her and she jumps into them. He spins her around before setting her down. They both lean forward and when their lips meet, he feels happier than he has ever been.

.

.

.

Two years later, when Mako finally asks the question she'd been waiting to hear for months, she doesn't believe him at first. He has to convince her that he really, really, really wants to marry her. She says yes, her voice loud at the top of her lungs, and hugs him so tightly that his shoulder is nearly dislocated. But he doesn't mind.

She doesn't take the necklace off for any reason.

.

.

.

IV. skin

Mako starts his job with the police only a few months after he and Korra get together, so he's been working with Chief Beifong like a dog until he's allowed out on the streets. Training doesn't take as long for him because of his fighting experience. He doesn't need a weapon or a fancy metal uniform, but Lin makes him wear one anyway. It's different, made so that he could put it on himself.

One night he's out working when he gets a call about trouble at the headquarters of the Agni Kai triad. His stomach sinks...he doesn't know them very well, but during his work with the Triple Threats, one of them had threatened Bolin when he was out on a run. He didn't like any triad, but at least the Triple Threats would hesitate to kill him when he had to go take care of something they'd done.

He arrives at the headquarters and quickly takes out one of their men before entering. The fight is growing larger and larger as more men surround a single man of waterbending heritage, probably a Red Monsoon taken as a prisoner of "war". Turf war. He takes out more until he reaches the man, who is beaten badly enough that he is unrecognizable, his left eye and cheek swollen, purple, and bloody. Mako lifts him with one arm, making a circle of fire around them to push himself through the door. The victim is still a criminal and will need to be processed, but he hasn't got a reason to die tonight.

Mako pushes through the crowd when the fire gets closer and closer, all of the members of the triad pushing it inward. Mako is good, and has trained every day to get better to protect his fiancée and himself (though she has proven time and time again that she doesn't need anyone's protection, he still wants to protect her because he wouldn't be whole without her), but this treatment is stifling him. Mako can't breathe and the fire starts to lick up his right arm. It hurts like it never has, because it's never been held to him so long before. He hears crackling and knows it's his skin. He finally drops the Red Monsoon on the ground before using the last of his strength to force the fire away. It rolls over the Agni Kais before it hits the ceiling. They run out of the building as it burns. Mako straggles to the door, his pain searing and stinging where the nerves are still alive...everywhere else he can't even feel it anymore. He gets out of the doorway before collapsing in front of it with the Red Monsoon.

Before his eyes snap shut, he hears the voice of his favorite person in the world screaming at the top of her lungs as she forces her way to his side. Then he sleeps.

.

.

.

He wakes up in their apartment, not in the hospital because of Korra had insisted and the Chief had told her she needed to take two healers back with her and Korra finally agreed. Bolin is there for a few minutes, cooking up something for them with Asami by his side while they watch Mako's fitful slumber and harsh breathing. Korra works on his arm and chest in the meantime, trying to knit back together the charred remains of his skin. The muscles are almost visible and she has to bend the tears away from her eyes as she works.

They leave around dawn and Korra keeps working. She takes a break at seven and takes off her betrothal necklace, its silver chain twisting in her fingers. She goes to the bathroom and vomits into the lavatory, which was installed the week before so they wouldn't have to go outside anymore. She wipes her mouth and kisses the necklace that Mako had carved himself after asking Tenzin and her own father. The symbols intertwined on its blue surface represent who they are - and who she is.

She is so scared. She walks back into the living room and sits by the couch where he is laying. His breath is less labored now and she looks at the injury. Tendrils of scarred skin at the edges, where the damage was less pervasive, stretch up to surround his neck and chest. She continues working inward, healing in a circular pattern to where the burn is the worst at the point of Mako's shoulder. She kisses his face throughout the process, wanting him to wake up. He keeps reacting, so she knows she's doing something right.

It takes a few more healing sessions, all night ones like this, throughout the next three weeks until all that remains of the incident is the nasty puckered scar on Mako's shoulder, which wraps around and touches his neck and chest.

.

.

.

Korra has a long talk with him the next month.

"Mako, you have to be more careful next time," she says in the middle of dinner, which he had prepared because she couldn't cook anything more complicated than Flameo Instant Noodles.

Mako stills his fork as he listens. "I know," he says.

"No, you don't know," she says. "Really. A lot more careful. No more of this bursting into triads' headquarters with no backup. You almost died. You aren't doing that again," she says. Her eyes are burrowing a hole into his head. When he returns the gaze, he feels no choice but to concede, though his job as a police officer doesn't allow for being careful most of the time. He puts his life on the line every day, but he doesn't want her to worry, even so. And after what happened, he can't really argue the point.

"Okay, Korra."

It doesn't seem like he understands, but when he hears her crying in her sleep that night, clutching her stomach with one hand and scratching the other down the mattress, her voice calling out his name frantically, he understands why she was so worried.

.

.

.

Their wedding is two months later on Air Temple Island. Korra wears a dress so pale blue that at a distance, it looks white, and Mako wears his father's scarf with the police dress uniform he's had for a few years but never worn.

There was never anything important enough for it, but now there is.

.

.

.

V. stomach

Mako's stomach hurt badly when the man punched him in the gut with those brass knuckles. He hears the sound of blood rushing to the area and lifts up his shirt to see blood pooling at the spot, a huge bruise forming. He has to leave the scene shortly after he arrests the man because his brother called about his wife.

Korra's actively in labor when Mako arrives, squeezing the holy bejeezus out Bolin's hand, because he stupidly offered it when the contractions got really bad. She was fully dilated before she could say "get me the hell out of here", which she did say, although they did try to get her to the hospital. They didn't make it and asked the Air Acolyte women to help her deliver. Pema was there too. She is pushing and pushing and pushing when Mako sits down beside her, trying to smile though his stomach is in so much pain. She takes his hand then, not noticing his wincing as she clutches it.

Finally, she gives a last push. The screams of their child fill the air as Korra breathes heavily. Her vocal cords are exhausted and for the first few days afterward, she can't talk easily, whispering because of the soreness in her throat.

The midwife who delivered it cleaned up their baby, placing it on Korra's stomach as Mako looks at the child with wide eyes.

"Congratulations, it's a boy."

Mako is so happy, and Korra is so happy; they smile and smile at each other, though his bruise isn't getting better. They can only stare at their new son. They kiss each other many many times in the Air Acolyte building as they sit quietly. Everyone is outside except Pema, who rubs Mako's shoulder, smiling with pride at the young family.

"I love you," Korra says, kissing his mouth for the seventeenth time since she gave birth.

"I love you," Mako says. He strokes the head of his son, whom they have yet to name, and kisses her back fervently. He doesn't even care about the bruise, though Korra discovers it the next day when she notices the yellow edge under his shirt.

He sleeps next to her on the futon to keep her safe and satisfied as she recovers from childbirth, but she ends up waking him up in the middle of the night for nursing and afterward begs him to squeeze into the tiny bed with her. He happily obliges, only looking reluctant for a few minutes before laying down and kissing her head gently. He wraps his arm around her and they look at their son again before drifting off to sleep.

.

.

.

VI. ear

This perpetrator is a nonbender...he pulls a knife on Mako and runs to stab him with it, presumably in the neck, but he stumbles and the knife slips free. It catches his ear and gouges it, tearing the flesh almost in half. When he comes home with it wrapped up, Korra and Haru look alarmed. The seven year old has Korra's eyes and Mako's distinct features, his hair spiky like Mako's, and his skin dark. He's a waterbender and a gentle spirit like his father, and fiercely protective of his younger sister, a wild-eyed firebending girl with a knack for burning up her dolls. Korra stopped buying them when she figured out Saya was only using them to practice making fire bombs. She gets her sports equipment instead, because she'd done the same thing at that age.

Korra unwraps the wound, looking at the long gash on the side of Mako's head.

"Seriously? Again?" she asks. Haru looks away, taking Saya back to her room when Korra asks. She presses her hand to the ear, holding it between her thumb and other fingers as she heals him.

"I didn't ask for this one," Mako says. "He pulled it on me as I was putting the cuffs on him." He winces as she moves her hands around. Healing isn't always rainbows and butterflies. When Mako really gets hurt, it's the worst pain in the world.

"You know what I think about this," she says. "Did you call General Iroh back about his offer?"

"Not yet. But I like the city. I like this work. I keeps me near our family and we really need that right now."

Korra couldn't argue with that.

"Just watch out. Or let me come on some of these, or something. I'm the Avatar. It's my job to protect the world, Mako," she says, turning his face to look at him. "And you're a pretty big part of my world."

Korra takes one hand down from his ear and holds it out to him. She catches his golden eyes with hers and tries to convey how worried she is every time this happens. It's the job, she knows, but he's her husband. She's been in love with him for ten years. Mako takes her hand and kisses the back of it, his gaze full of "I love you" and "I'm sorry" and "I'll try not to let it happen again". They're all about protection these days. That's what they do.

It's their job.

.

.

.

VII. lung

A new threat makes it way upon the horizon - Korra's old conflict with the demons of the Spirit World reignites, without her knowledge, and she is attacked in her home in the middle of the night. She wakes up the sounds of something moving on the floor. Her eyes snap open and she sits up. Sleepily, Mako sits up too, not taking his arm from around her middle.

Her eyes scan the floor and she can't see anything at the time, meaning that whatever it was had left for the night. She knows that it's just the beginning when her sixteen year old son and her fourteen year old daughter come into her room and curl into their bed.

"Mom..." Haru says, "There was something evil in here." There are tears in his blue eyes. He's hunched over because of the sleep but his eyes are wide. The boy was shaken to the core. He was very spiritual and finishing up school soon to go be a monk in the Southern Water Tribe, where Korra had lived for the first seventeen years of her life. Now, at thirty-six, she's a fully realized Avatar and polices the spiritual as well as physical world. It's her job to deal with this threat, but the fear taking up room in her loving son's heart makes this almost personal.

"Come here," she says. She holds Haru tightly and he grips her back as she strokes his hair, treating him like he is three years old once again and there is a monster in the closet.

This time, the monster is in her closet.

Mako assures Saya that Korra will take care of whatever it is, but the fear is in her husband's eyes too. Saya is fearless, taking on junior Pro-bending at twelve and becoming a champion at thirteen. She didn't see or feel what it was in the room because she isn't as spiritual as her brother, but the looks on her family's faces frightens her. It takes her an hour to get back to sleep and she keeps watching the door.

.

.

.

The next brush with the evil spirit occurs during a council meeting. The lights flash off and there is a low moan as Tenzin stops speaking. There is a flash and a loud screech. It gets louder as the monster gets closer.

Korra detects the movement before anyone else does. They hear her scream, shrill, and then like a battle cry as she attacks something in the air with her firebending. She can't see anything...it's so dark, but the fire lights up her vision just as the enormous reptilian spirit plunges its slimy black claw into her chest.

Korra's face contorts in pain. She can't believe this happened. It was only a few weeks ago that the thing had visited her home, probably scoping her out. She'd meditated with Aang and some of the past Avatars in the Spirit World, trying to figure out what that thing was. It was supposed a newer spirit (if by newer they mean five thousand years old, which it was) and very deadly. It attacks spiritual leaders...which means that it would go after Tenzin and probably Haru.

While the creature has its claw in her chest, breaking a few ribs as it moves around, spreading poison into her body, Korra attacks it with firebending, subdues it with earthbending, and her son, who has been training in spiritual arts, exorcises it. The creature is destroyed, but Korra is unable to move, gasping on the floor. Haru bends over next to her, as does Tenzin and the rest of the council sits in their chairs, horrified, as someone goes to check on the lights. The hall is dim, the only light streaming in through the windows.

"Mom," Haru says, but he looks at her chest, sticky with blood, and inspects the wound. Spiritual training also includes healing training, but he notices the black slime from the monster has infected the wound, which makes sounds as it sucks in air. Korra's lung was punctured. Under normal circumstances, she could be easily healed, but the poison makes this a delicate situation. Haru trained with Katara in her last years and then with her successor, but he can't handle this. He starts crying, his voice coming out in sobs.

"Mom," he says, holding her hand.

Mako rushes in then, running at top speed to where Korra is. He stops abruptly, running into one of the tables. He bends down and looks into her eyes, a few wrinkles around them from age and stress, but happy. She was happy in her life.

Korra gasps more, and looks at Mako wide-eyed. "Mako."

"Korra," Mako says, and doesn't ask. He saw the demon too. He sees the slime on Haru's robes and knows he took care of the monster.

"SOMEBODY!" he screams, his own tears falling. "Haru, can you heal her?"

"I can try to remove the poison, but it's very extensive, Dad."

Mako touches Korra's face, wrapping his palms around her cheek. "Please, please try."

"Mako," Korra says, still gasping for air, "I love you."

"I love you too, but you don't have to speak, Korra, we're going to save you, I promise." Mako talks rapidly because he doesn't know how much time there is left.

"It's okay," Korra says. "Just make sure Haru is happy. Make sure that Saya doesn't marry some idiot. And don't assume anything. Take care of our family."

"I won't have to do it alone," Mako says. Haru is working on the poison, using spirit water to try and pull it out.

The poison finally comes out, squirming in the vial Haru put it in for analysis back on the island.

By that time, Korra's lost so much blood that she's weakened, her gasps quieter as she breathes. She pulls Mako down to kiss his lips.

"I love you so much," she says. "You have made my life amazing."

"No, that's what you did for me," Mako says, a small laugh in his voice. He is crying unabashedly, his tears soaking her robe.

"I'll see you, my love," Korra says, and gasps once more, and her head falls into Mako's hand.

He sobs heavily for about five minutes, the sounds of his despair like a wounded animal. His soul hurts, but Korra's spirit watches over him, and she touches his shoulder, looking on before passing into the Spirit World.

.

.

.

Fifty years later, Haru and his sister stand over the graves of their beloved father and mother, the people who raised them. They missed their mother so much after she left them, but the current Avatar is a kind man who is trustworthy and so honest it's shocking.

"We miss you, Mom, Dad," Saya says, placing a bouquet of Panda Lilies on the ground by the impressive headstones. Mako had wanted simple, but the Avatar always got a statue. Korra's was in Republic City, actually in front of the Pro-bending Arena along with a matching one of her husband. They were in traditional garb from early era bending - Saya had worn something more progressive and her students in firebending wore things even lighter and more effective. They'd even expanded the rules to include airbending.

Haru is crying, wiping his tears with the sleeve of the suit he'd worn on the anniversary of their mother's death...a few weeks after their father had died. He's a sixty-seven year old man and respected shaman of the Southern Water Tribe, but they come back every year to visit these graves under the tree in Republic City Central Park, where their parents had fallen asleep one early morning when they were saving their uncle.

.

.

.

In the bright sunlight shining through the trees, Korra sits under a tree with her old polar-bear dog, shining an apple to eat after she'd plucked it off a tree to eat (after thanking the spirit who harbored it first, of course...she'd learned that lesson when she'd first arrived from Aang, who told her what a bad idea it was to take without asking). She's under the tree with her dog and Avatar Kyoshi, who she had become friends with long ago. She saw her old waterbending master here once she'd arrived a few years before her, nearly fifty-three years before. It's felt like much longer and much shorter to Korra. She smiles when Kyoshi attempts to tell a joke.

She's humorless.

Aang and Katara have walked off hand-in-hand to visit her brother and their children Kya, Bumi, and Tenzin, all of which have arrived after Korra.

Her arrival, she's been told, was entirely too sudden.

She realizes.

She looks up at the sunlight through the trees and Kyoshi goes dead silent, turning her head to look at the far corner of the meadow.

"Huh? What is it?" Korra says around a chunk of apple in her mouth. she rotates her body and has to stand up, shielding her eyes against the sun to see the newcomer.

Her heart, if still beat, would have stopped in her chest. She starts running. She stops. She blushes, and she hasn't blushed in fifty years. Not since she died.

"Um," she says, feeling tears in her eyes. "Hey, Cool Guy."

He smiles brightly, the sun lighting everything up behind him. He pulls her into his embrace.

"Hi, Korra."

.

.

.