|More from Theavatardemotivator||Family/Drama||PG-13 (13 and above)||Positive||None|
Clothing is easy to come by, relatively speaking. Borrowing the over-sized jacket the triad gave to Bolin, Mako leaves him hidden safely in the bushes and wanders off to find a pair of pants, keeping as far away from people in the park as potentially possible, self-conscious of his nudity, even though the hem of the jacket is long to go halfway down his thigh. His stomach complains hungrily, but he ignores it for the time: He's certain he will be able to find some food, if only he can catch some clothes first. Unfortunately for him, no apparel appears until he stumbles upon an especially beauteous bush in the middle of the expanse of grass, a few short metres away from the bridge. Someone has laid out several articles of attire on the green, perhaps to dry. To Mako, it is a spirit-send, no matter how worn and torn it might be. Glancing left and right and listening cautiously for signs of the clothes' owner, he dashes forward, snatches a pair of what he presumes to be pants, and leaps back to hastily put them on. They're a size or two too big, but he removes the scarf from his neck to tie it about his waist like a sash, holding his outfit in place.
"Hey! Kid! What are you doing with my trousers!" Mako's head snaps up: A wild-haired elderly man squatting in a bush is flinging his arms about. As he scrambles out of the hedge, he falls onto his face, the soil crusting on his grey whiskers. "Get away from my stuff!"
The firebender swallows. "I'm sorry, sir, I n-need it," he stutters. "You have plenty of pants."
The vagabond's eyes narrow, and he yawns, his tone abruptly shifting to one of boredom. "Well, if you need it, take it. Boy, who's going to stop you?"
Since Mako and Bolin took to the streets, he hasn't felt guilt as much as he has fear and a will to survive, but the shame descends on him, a wave over a sandy stretch of shore, dragging the glittering seashells into the abyss and leaving naught but dull rocks. "I'm sorry," he says again. "I can make it up to you somehow."
"How about you catch me some of those fish?" The hobo gestures towards the river. "I could use some dinner, boy."
"Mako. Not boy." On second thought, it would have been more intelligent to give a false name.
The tramp bobs his head. "Yup, yup. I'm Gommu, by the way."
Adjusting the sash to better fit his slim frame, Mako, resigning himself to Gommu's demands, crouches next to the water, and gazes at it, attempting to find a fish swimming below the sleek silver surface. A memory silently tip-toes into his thoughts: A camping trip he took with Daddy to a forest just outside Republic City, near the mountains. Fishing. With firebending. But how did he do it?
A movement against the current catches his eye, and he lunges forward, the water splashing his new attire. His fingers brush life; the creature slips away before he can catch it.
"Close!" Gommu calls. "Very close!"
Worried his brother might have wandered himself into trouble, Mako hopes Bolin is all right, then concentrates on the rushing rapids. Another movement, this time upstream. His hands are in the riverbed so swiftly he surprises himself, but moments later ripples against his palms cause him to close his fingers around a slippery fish, the scales cutting the pads. Tossing it into the air, Mako firebends at it, cooking it in seconds, and watches it drop, half-charred, at the vagabond's shoes.
"Thanks, boy." Gommu salutes him. "Enjoy the trousers and good luck!"
He glances back at the river, considering fishing up a meal for himself and Bolin. "Sir, is this Central Park?"
"The one and only." The tramp sniffs at the fish, holding it delicately between his thumb and forefinger, and bites into it. "Mm, there's nothing tastier than home-burned meat if I do say so myself."
"Don't make fun of me." The firebender focuses on the task at hand. "Sir, do you know where two kids could find a home in the city?" He hates the way he describes himself, hates the way his life turned out to be, hates this homeless hobo with the guts and right to laugh at his plight.
"Don't know, boy. I've been living it up in this here bush—" The vagabond pats the coiled leaves fondly. "—for nigh on years now, and I haven't been able to find nothing. Used to have everything. Then everything changed."
Mako's quiet, listening to the story with one ear and to the sounds of the waves with the other. A flash. Miss. Another. Miss. Again, again, again. Miss, miss, miss. Flames of frustration flare within him, the heat rising in his throat, and, without another option, he expels as much as he can into the water, which begins to boil and starts to steam.
"They're replacing my beautiful telegraphs with the radio. Science marches on, it does, but sometimes a fellow can be a bit upset." Gommu pauses. "But you know what they say. No one's promised tomorrow. Some people get it, and some people don't. You just got to keep your chin up, boy, and carry on till the day they strike you dead."
The water vapour clears; several dead fish float in the languid liquid. Without realising what he has done, Mako collects them as cooler water flows in from upstream, bringing with it more river-dwellers to take the place of those killed in one fell swoop by his indiscriminate firebending.
"Thank you, sir." His tone is polite. Cold, yet polite.
Nibbling on fish, Bolin comments on the outfit: "I like your scarfy sash. Reminds me of Mommy's."
Mako responds with silence, the grass scratching his neck where his scarf was.
He returns it to its place, wishing he could return to his place as well.
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