|More from Theavatardemotivator||Family/Drama||PG-13 (13 and above)||Positive||None|
That night is the first one in which Mako is the one to crawl silently into his brother's bed instead of the other way around, the young earthbender snuggling into Mako's nest to quell his fear of terrible dreams, his arms grasping for a hand, a thigh, anything to grab and wrap around. But now the older brother is the one with the terrible dream, a dream of a flame consuming Mommy and Daddy and reducing them to shadow.
But they're out getting cake.
They've got to be.
They're getting cake.
Maybe if he repeats it to himself a few hundred times it'll sink in.
Bolin welcomes the warmth, embracing Mako tightly, nuzzling his brother's chest with his head.
The next morning finds them in each other's arms, blissful in cookie-laden slumber, oblivious to the world crashing around them.
The brothers survive on sweets for three days, until rounds of tummy-aches bring Mako to stop the feast and find fruits, meats, rice. The vegetables neither of them touches, and into the trash the green food goes, banished for their bland or bitter taste. There's a thrill to being able to rush about the house, scream as loudly as they want, and tussle on the floor, but after a few days Mako quietly reverts to the good son. "Mommy and Daddy are letting us do this for your birthday," he tells Bolin, "and in a week they'll come back with cake."
On the fifth day, Mako awakens to the realisation that Bolin isn't in bed. His hand curls violently around the scarf; he springs, slipping on the floor, and yells his brother's name over and over, his throat burning, something in his innards coiling and twisting. "Bo! Bo! BO!"
Suddenly he hears the sound of clicking and thumping. Blocks? His toes throbbing from the bumps on the walls and doorways, his knees stinging from the occasional fall, he bursts into the playroom to discover Bolin sitting on the floor, playing with a few wooden blocks and a handful of pebbles. "Look, Mako," his brother chirps happily as he flips one into the air. "I can earthbend blocks!"
"I didn't know you could earthbend wood." He's mostly relieved that Bolin is okay, and he turns towards the door, intent on entering Daddy's study to leaf through a book without pictures and ask him if blocks can be earthbent.
Then he remembers Daddy is gone.
To get cake.
"You scared me. What do you want for breakfast?"
Bolin blinks at him. "I don't know. Do we have any juice?"
No, Mako wants to tell him, we ran out yesterday. "I'll see what's in there. And how about some cereal?"
"Okayaday." His response is half-stutter. He returns to the blocks, stacking one atop another. "A red one and a green one," he explains, "for you and me. See, the red one's on the green one, 'cause you're older and taller and stronger, and 'cause you'll protect me if anything happens, like Mommy and Daddy."
Mako's heart thumps. "I know, Bo. I will."
Satisfied, he runs to the kitchen, opening the cupboards. Every meal he has to reach in further to find things. There's a reason he hasn't let Bolin pick out food since day three: What was once a bountiful wonderland has turned into a game of hide and seek.
That is the moment he tries to find water and fails.
Armed with a bowl, he steps outside for the first time in almost a week, noticing that the grass isn't as trimmed as it was before, and the flowers are starting to wilt. Perhaps they want water, too. Not for the first time he wants to talk to the neighbours, like he's seen Mommy do sometimes, but the neighbours are loud and scare him, and none of them has any kids his age. Instead he cuts across the lawn out to the backyard, where a little stream burbles at the edge. Daddy warned him not to drink it—it comes from the city—but it looks like a brook from the storybooks. Leaning by its bank, the grass springy under his knees, he cups his hand, holds his scarf away from the rush, and takes a cautious sip. It tastes divine, soothing his dry throat; the bowl is full to the brim and in the playroom before he can consciously make an effort.
Bolin's fingers and face are covered in paint, his clothing streaked and hair tufted with the caked-on remains. Getting cake. Mako holds the water out to his little brother. "I'll get you some cereal in a second." The earthbender swallows the liquid, downing half of it at once, and spits it out, his face contorting with disgust.
"Ew! It's got a taste to it." Bolin sits down and crosses his pudgy arms. "What is it?"
"It's magic wishing water," he says. He doesn't understand the lie passing his lips. "It tastes yucky but if you drink all of it, you'll get a wish."
"A wish?" His brother drinks the rest. Mako studies the painting. Mommy. Daddy. Him. Bolin. Their names misspelled in a child's handwronging. And a furry red thing on Bolin's shoulders, the pet that Daddy promised they can have as soon as he can afford the other promises he's made to Mommy. Daddy has gotten a pro-mo-shun at work. So they can buy cake for Bolin' birthday. Getting cake. His heart squeezes. "I wish that Mommy and Daddy could bring the cake home, right now."
Mako enfolds his brother in a hug, himself wishing he could hold this moment forever, never let it go, never go back and face the dwindling supplies of food, never recall his terrible dream, never having to whisper getting cake again, simply feel his brother's heart beating against his own.
But then the moment shatters.
And Mako hopes with all of his spirit that the occupants of the doorstep have cake.
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