|More from Kugumi||Romance, Drama||PG-13||None||None|
|Art by dorkynoodle|
Arc 1: Air
October 16th, 2013
What was he doing? No. Really. What was he doing? Mako rolled over in his less-than-comfortable bed and pulled the scratchy blanket off of his head. He was busy being a spirits-damned mess, that's what he was doing. Ever since Korra had announced she was going to wed that jerk of a councilman Mako just hadn't had the appetite to even leave his room. He couldn't imagine that Korra could actually be happy in her current situation. Not at all. Tarrlok didn't have one ounce of respect for her, and to be honest, Mako would much rather have left him in that little cage Amon had provided him with. But nooo Korra had to convince him to do the "right thing". Damn it, Mako should have known helping out Tarrlok would come back to burn him eventually.
Although... they really hadn't helped him—but they were going to. That's just as bad if not worse than actually helping him. And then what? That conniving bastard is making headlines in the Republic Daily News like "bringing Amon to justice" and "traitorous acts of the councilman are pardoned". The things that Tarrlok did to him—to Korra—they were unforgivable. Could she not see that he was just using her like he had always done in the past? What about everything that Mako had shared with her? The Southern Lights? Pro-bending? His past? Was all of that in vain? How could she run off with a guy like Tarrlok without even a second's thought? Sure, Korra has always been rather jackelbull-headed, but this was just plain careless! He loved her and she tossed him aside as though that didn't mean anything to her!
He loved her...
So how could she do this to him?
Mako never realized how much of a hold over his heart that Korra actually had until she had suddenly announced her wedding plans with the councilman. First there was that surprise engagement necklace that Bolin brought to his attention, then two weeks later she's publicly declaring a wedding date with that pond scum councilman. And then she's traveling with Tarrlok to the Northern Tribe—no doubt to meet her family... maybe aside from her dad. Tonraq hadn't neglected to make a quick stop at the police station to say hello on his way to some "important meeting" with the council that was returned to in-session status after a brief reprieve. So Mako knew that Tonraq had met with Tarrlok at least once. Mako's sharp brows furrowed over his eyes. He couldn't believe that Korra's father had let this happen. Any of this.
His eyes widened, an abrupt wave of realization washing over his face. Mako threw his blanket away from his body, exposing his pajama bottoms and bare chest to the cold air in his room as he sat upright. "It's another set up," he grunted under his breath.
First Unalaq, now Tarrlok. It was almost as though the whole of the Water Tribe was after Tonraq's position, and everyone knew exactly how to get it: through Korra, the Avatar—his daughter. It was so painfully obvious! Why hadn't Mako seen it before! Korra was in trouble. He needed to do something; he needed to figure out what Tarrlok was planning before it was too late. He was a cop, newly appointed to Detective (officially, anyway), and he was sure that he could crack this case: he just needed a little time.
Unfortunately, time was the one thing that he didn't have much of. It seemed that Korra was slipping further and further away from him. She had told him she loved him once; had made her feelings blatantly known to him once. Feelings like that don't just go away—he knew this for a fact from his experiences with Asami. He still felt very protective over the Future Industries heiress, but Korra was the one that his heart belonged to and he wasn't about to let Tarrlok hurt her or her family.
A knock came at his bedroom door and Mako could hear his younger brother's voice from the other side asking if he was decent. Mako didn't respond. He didn't really want to be disturbed right now. The question must have been rhetorical, however, since Bolin entered the room anyway. Mako's brows knit tightly together as he glared at his brother.
"Heyyyy Mako~" Bolin greeted in his usual manner of enthusiasm.
Truly Mako was grateful for the naive optimism his brother had a tendency to unabashedly flaunt. His gratitude was an internal feeling however, and never seemed to present itself outwardly. Mako's voice was cold and harsh as he responded to Bolin's cheerful greeting, "What do you want, Bo?"
A wide smile formed beneath the younger's button nose. "I just thought I'd let you know that Korra's back," he said with a knowing look at his older brother.
Bolin had been genuinely concerned about his brother these past few weeks. He was worried that Mako was allowing unfriendly thoughts to stew and fester inside of him. Bolin had seen his brother do this many times before in the past, and the results were never good. He hated seeing his brother so angry and confused. He thought that maybe sharing with him that Korra had returned to Republic City would cheer him up. He had not expected Mako to leap off of his bed, however. Mako hastily donned an undershirt and a jacket, and fumbled around his room as he tried to put on a pair of shoes without sitting down. Bolin hadn't seen Mako this wound up in awhile. He crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame confidently. "Press is meeting her at Councilman Tarrlok's Estate," Mako flew past Bolin, the red of his scarf trailing behind him. Bolin called after him, "Hey! Where're you going?!"
Was that supposed to be another rhetorical question? The answer was pretty obvious: Mako was going to Tarrlok's Estate. He had a few things he had let weigh on him for too long that he needed to tell Korra. Mako swung a leg over his Satocycle and quickly flipped the ignition toggle. Within moment he was speeding away from his and Bolin's latest apartment. As Bolin had warned him, when he arrived to Tarrlok's Estate the reporters were crowded around the gates. There were several servants, guards, and liaisons that were keeping the paparazzi from getting onto the premises. Mako tapped one guy on the shoulder. "Hey, is Councilman Tarrlok inside the Estate?"
The man snickered ruefully, "All but barricaded himself inside from what I hear. Him and Avatar Korra."
Oh perfect, the sarcastic commentary taunted from the back of his mind.
Mako pushed his way to the front of the crowd, where one of the metalbender guards was keeping security tight. Mako recognized him as Lieutenant Tsung. "Tsung? Hey! Tsung!" the lieutenant's attention had obviously been caught, "Mako? What are you doing here?"
Mako flashed his badge. "RCPD business. You gonna let me in?"
Tsung laughed heartily. He was going to let Mako in anyway, but he found it humorous that the kid was so willing to go to extremes as to lie his way in and abuse the detective badge. "I'm under strict orders from Chief Beifong to only let the Councilman and the Avatar's approved guests onto the Estate," the middle-aged man watched Mako's face morph into a sea of disappointment, "Easy there, Detective. Lucky for you, your name was on the list."
The metalbender used his earthbending and seismic sense to pull Mako under the ground and have him resurface on the other side of the wrought iron gate. Mako was greeted by a few attendants who offered him tours, food, and to take his coat. "Actually, can someone just take me to Korra. I really need to talk with her."
"Certainly," a short man in a tuxedo replied with a bow, "The Lady Tarrlok is entertaining a few other guests in the rose garden's gazebo—away from all this hullabaloo." He gave a quick gesture towards the front gate as he said that before escorting Mako to the west side of the estate.
Mako almost wanted to hurl hearing Korra being associated with Tarrlok's name, but he refrained. It wasn't difficult to find Korra once they were in the rose garden. She looked exactly how he remembered—that ugly brown pelt, the blue top, thick boots, and even the comfy sweat pants. Thank Tui. As he approached the gazebo the short butler bowed to Korra and announced Mako's presence. Korra's face lit up when she saw him, and she immediately abandoned whatever it was that she had been doing to greet him. "Mako!"
"Will that be all, Milady?" the butler asked politely.
Korra gave the butler a hug first and then thanked him. "Yes, thank you, Nagi!"
"Always a pleasure to oblige, Madam." With that he hurried back to his other household duties—like sending a group out to purify the polar bear-dog's living space.
As soon as Nagi was gone Mako looked around at who else was hanging out here. Asami looked like she had made herself comfortable snuggled next to Naga. And there was a face that Mako hadn't really expected to see: Tahno. Even though he wasn't a threat anymore, Mako still wasn't quite at ease with the cheater just yet. Mako raised a hand in greeting to them, "Hi Asami, uh... hey... Tahno."
"You're just in time! Asami was about to tell us all about her latest sale to the United Forces," Korra explained to Mako, cheerfully.
He perked a brow at her a little apprehensively. While Korra had been away in the North, Mako had taken the opportunity to try and coax Asami into revealing if Korra had spoken with her about him. All he had managed to get out of the heiress was that Korra was confused and frustrated with herself, and that she didn't want to talk with him because she thought it would be awkward. Asami had advised him to just give her some time to cool down. They were all aware of how hot-tempered Korra could get. Which made Mako that much more suspicious of how Korra was acting right now. Was it possible she was legitimately enthusiastic to have him around. Sure... was it likely? He didn't think so. Something was off. He just couldn't place what it was yet.
Tahno exhaled a heavy breath. "I think I oughtta get going Uh-vatar. My shift at Narook's starts soon..." His sentence trailed off as though there was something else to be said there, but he didn't elaborate any further. Korra seemed to pick up on this, however, and her natural instinct was to try and help him. "Tahno, you know I can restore your bending if you want. There's no reason why I shouldn't. You're not a criminal or a thug or anything—and you're one of my friends."
Tahno grimaced. He couldn't even remember what it felt like to waterbend. Could it really be that easy? The Avatar can just give it back? He involuntarily gave her a bit of a sneer. "Don't bother. I don't want it back."
That was a flat-out lie. He wanted his waterbending back more than anything—just not yet. He couldn't admit it yet. Tahno gave a curt nod to her and brushed past Mako with long strides, exchanging a suspicious look with the firebender in passing. Mako rubbed the back of his neck, as he watched Tahno leave. What was with that guy? Seriously. All they were trying to do was help him and he was being so apprehensive about it. Maybe he was still angry about having his bending taken? Mako supposed he could understand if that was the case... but Korra had just offered to restore Tahno's bending and he had thrown the offer aside as if it meant nothing. People like that had always frustrated Mako—Tahno especially.
Unnoticed by Mako, Asami had perked a curious brow at him. What was he doing here? Bolin had said he was going to tell Mako that Korra was back from her trip, but Asami hadn't expected Mako to actually make an appearance here. Spirits knew he had pretty much locked himself away after Korra's wedding. If he was here now, then he must have been ready to confront Korra about her political move to marry Tarrlok—which was a conversation that she knew would not be easy for either of them. Asami didn't want to impose, though. This was a discussion that Mako and Korra needed to have alone. She coughed lightly, grabbing their attention. "I also have other things I need to get done today," yeah, okay she was making that up.
Korra pouted. "But I thought you were going to—"
"Well, I can always tell you that story some other time," Asami kissed at Naga to follow her, "C'mon, Naga, let's go see if those stable hands have finished cleaning out your hut yet."
With a yawn and a stretch, the polar bear-dog obediently accompanied her. Korra's brow furrowed slightly as she watched Asami and Naga disappear across the courtyard. She really didn't want to be left here alone with Mako... not that she wasn't complete ecstatic that he had come to welcome her home, but she knew what his presence meant. They needed to talk. Korra supposed she had avoided this conversation for long enough. With a shrug she took a seat on a bench under the gazebo and gestured for Mako to sit down beside her. Numb, and unsure whether to accept her offer or not, Mako just stood rooted to his current place. "Mako?" she asked, "are you okay?"
Was he okay? What a stupid question; of course he wasn't okay! Why would she even bother asking him that, he wondered. Mako assumed she was just trying to make small talk, but she probably didn't realize how much those words had just stung him. "Uh..." he sighed, "no. No, I'm not okay..."
He looked at her as though she had some sort of answer for him; some sort of way to make his heart stop aching. But Mako doubted that if Korra could provide him any consolation or closure it would be that. But he was finally being honest with himself... and perhaps that was the first step to mending this broken relationship—not to its former glory, but at least so that he could salvage his friendship with Korra. His eyes were begging her to listen to him. Really listen to him. He simply wouldn't be able to take it if she blew him off... not this time. "Korra... I..." he really didn't know where he was going with that, "you know I... still love you, right?"
"Yeah... I know." Her response was simple, but she couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Am I just..." he could feel a lump in his throat, and his voice broke slightly as he spoke, "not good enough?"
Korra forced her eyes to look at him. How could she have let this talk go unspoken for so long? The words he was saying were things that she had let him collect and mourn over for over a month. It was unhealthy... and it was unfair. All she could do for him now was accept whatever burdens he had to lay at her feet and try to absolve him of his suffering. "Mako, please, try to understand... it wasn't anything you did or didn't do. This was about my tribe. I had to d—"
"You could have at least talked with me about it first!" he interrupted angrily, "I was your boyfriend! I told you I would support you no matter what decisions you have to make—and I stand by that statement—but you never stop to think about how the things you do affect the people who love you. I know you're the Avatar! I know you have to do what you think is right!"
He paused for a breath of air, biting back a few tears that threatened to escape his eyes. That was the last thing he needed. There was no way he would cry in front of Korra. "I guess I just hoped that we could have worked through it together..."
He might not have been crying, but his speech was enough to make her cover her face from his sight—she just couldn't stop crying. "I know," she sobbed into her hands, "I made a mistake. I'm sorry... this is all my fault."
Seeing her just as upset as he was felt strangely satisfying, but it didn't make him feel any better. He stepped forward to her and knelt down, reaching to pull her hands away from her face gently. He waited there a moment holding her hands. She managed to choke out the words, "I still love you, too... but..."
He couldn't let things stay like this. He had been right, Korra was absolutely miserable. All of the smiling he had seen earlier was obviously just a façade. "I can't change anything now. It's too late," Korra tried to explain through irregular breaths.
Mako shook his head. She was wrong. They were together now. Everything could be fixed; he could fix this. They could still work together to find a better solution than this arrangement with Tarrlok that didn't seem to be working nearly as well as Korra had thought it would when she first agreed to it. Mako stood up, still clutching her hands in his. There was time. Korra was just over-reacting—jumping to conclusions like usual. "Mistakes can be fixed." He tried, pulling her to her feet with the best comforting smile he could muster and dotting each of her hands with a kiss. "You don't have to stay trapped here. Come on, Korra... let's runaway together!"
Her expression was an illegible mixture of shock and surprise. Korra had no words to describe the feeling of excitement that was pulsing through her veins. But there was shame in her, too. Disappointment. Dread. Anxiety. Her head swayed from side to side. She couldn't—wouldn't—do it. "Think of what you're asking me to do, Mako... I can't give up my job as the Avatar... I can't risk a war with the Water Tribes."
This was silly. She was being ridiculous! She didn't need to stop being the Avatar for him and surely they would figure out a new solution to the tensions between the North and South. His voice was calm and somewhat encouraging, "If we just give it a little time—"
She wrenched her hands out of his grasp and stepped away from him. He didn't understand the pressure she was under. She turned away from him. Korra just couldn't look at him—she just couldn't. She could hear his voice behind her saying her name, trying to get her to acknowledge him. They were baring their souls to each other here and now—and he had a right to know... she was bearing more than just that. "Mako, I'm pregnant. It's too late."
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