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Mako feels as though a sparrowkeet has settled into his chest and begun to sing, its tiny chest puffing out with pride and hope, its feathers the colour of his brother's eyes, and the song promises to never, ever end.

He is standing next to the tart, sensing the heat within it, cooling around the rim of the hole Bolin poked through earlier, the centre roiling with its hotness. Lifting his arms, he makes a grasping motion as if grabbing the heat within the tart and steadily balls his hands into fists, curling in his fingers as though removing the temperature.

It doesn't work.

Sighing, he leans back against the counter, content to watch Bolin eat. His brother nibbles impatiently on the crust as they both wait for the middle to cool. When it does, they dive into it, jerking out handfuls of egg custard filling and bringing it swiftly to their lips. The sweetness overwhelms him, the sugar drying out his tongue and mouth, but Mako swallows, and it settles heavily in his stomach, a foreign feeling of fullness astounding him.

The woman chortles. "Ain't never had egg custard, sweeties? You two sit yourselves right down. I'll call over my daughter. Miza!" Her tone is suddenly loud, causing Mako to touch his hand to his ear. "Miza, come here!"

Bolin looks up from the egg custard, slurping out the rest of the sugary insides. "Miza? That's a pretty name."

"A pretty name for a beautiful girl," the woman agrees.

Footsteps swell in the hall, pausing only just beyond the door. Curiously Mako stares at the entrance, a drop of sweat beading his brow as the door slides open excruciatingly slowly, revealing, at last, a girl his mind names Miza. Eyes the colour of the sea. Blue. Not amber, as he thought a firebender would have, nor even brown. But blue, light in the centres, fading to a deep indigo towards the edge, vibrant with streaks of glittering sapphire-silver. It's as though she's speaking through her eyes: I'm happy to meet you, I'm happy to see you, I'm happy if you're happy. It takes him a moment to tear his gaze from them, the vibrant shades and tints seemingly burned forever in his vision. Mako glances up and down, memorising her to be able to recognise her later: Pale skin a shade lighter than his own, volumes of jet black hair curling tantalisingly over her shoulders and reaching about halfway to her waist, the outfit she wears a strange mix-match of tight-fitting scarlet city clothes and grey-brown rags worn by the rest. A thief, he thinks, noticing the way his heartbeat has oddly quickened, the room becoming heated and stuffy without him realising. His scarf is constrictive, wrapped about his throat in a way that causes the back of his neck to sweat. Pulling at it with a finger, he loosens the scarf, allowing a breath of fresh air to cool his skin.

Miza smiles. The woman gestures at the brothers in turn. "This is Bolin, a hungry little dear ain't he?" She makes a soft cooing noise. "And that is Mako, a firebender." The woman looks pointedly at him, and Mako is confused until he sees Miza clasp her right hand in her left and bow. Cautiously, feeling his fingers slide over his knuckles, he bows to her, his body unused to the motion. "Turtle dove, this sweetie here ain't never learned to firebend before." The girl brings her hand to her mouth in shock. "Would you mind doing a bit of Miza magic, turtle dove?" Beaming, Miza shakes her head vigorously. Across the kitchen before Mako can blink, she appears suddenly next to him, towering a head over him in height.

"H-hello," he stutters. Miza expertly takes his wrists in her grip and drags him towards her, dipping her hair until her hair curls over his shoulders as well. "You're going to teach me to firebend?" She nods, the hair tickling his nose.

Arms fly around him, Bolin squeezing both of them. "New friend!" he declares. "What's your name? Miza? I like that name." The earthbender cocks his head to one side. "Can you talk? I haven't heard you talk. Can you say my name? Bolin?" Her eyes twinkling, Miza tilts her head, imitating Bolin. He laughs. "I like you!"

"She's mute, dears," the woman explains, lifting a sack of rice from the floor and starting to measure out cups of it. "Now, Mako, sweetie, go with her. You need to learn your firebending, don't you dear?" She chuckles at Bolin's crestfallen expression. "And you, hungry boy, take another tart. Be smart, boy, it's hot." He grins, thanking her over and over, the tart fitting nicely into his grip, its weight causing him to jerk down for a second before being able to raise himself back up.

Her long, gentle fingers tugging on his wrist, Miza leads Mako out of the kitchen, the pads of his feet warm against the cool of the floor, and into the darkness of the hallway. "I'm coming too!" Bolin scampers behind them, juggling the hot tart from hand to hand. They pass an open doorway, the air from outside oddly cold for early autumn, but Mako welcomes the change from the heat within.

Another doorway, and soft moans greet them, accompanied by a noisy slap and the sound of glass breaking. Mako senses his brother turning about, curious of the noise, but the firebender takes his hand. "No, Bo. Follow me. Come on."

Bolin pouts. "But what's going on over there?"

"Bad things." He doesn't know. He doesn't want to know. "It doesn't matter, as long as you and I are safe."

The two continue down the hallway, now three, Miza showing them the way. But even as she walks in front of them, Mako knows that it is really two and one. She has her own life. Her mother, her bending, her life.

He has Bolin.

He has all he needs.

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