Chapter information




Written by




Last chapter


Next chapter


Mommy is laughing.

Her entire face has lit up with happiness, her eyes bright as miniature suns tinted green, the same colours reflected in his. She tilts her head to one side as he has so often done himself, and he catches a faint smell of the fire lilies she was just planting in the yard, the earth fresh under her fingernails. Fire lilies and earth and baked sweets, a medley of scents, a melody of scents, all of the thing he associates with Mommy.

He raises his arms like he did when he was little, and she doesn't stop laughing as she folds her arms around him and lifts him up to her chest, embracing him tightly. "Oh, Bo," she whispers into his ear; he buries his face in her shoulder, inhaling the scent as much as he can, desperate to keep whatever relic he can that Mommy's here, that Mommy's here. Gently she strokes his hair with her right hand, her left supporting his body. "I love you so much. Never, ever forget that. I love you, and I promise I'll protect you."

"I love you too." His hands grasp for her hair, curling the dark brown locks between his fingers. He has never felt so safe, so warm, so . . . so . . . loved. "When are you coming home, Mommy? I want c-cake. I'm hungry, Mommy." Mommy stiffens, her grip becoming firm, almost painful. He inhales and buries his face further into her shoulder. "Mommy?"

"Bo, wake up."

Her tone is changing, deepening, the laughter fading away, and he cries out from fear, flinging his arms around Mommy, squeezing her, his blood a dull roar in his ears from the terror of never seeing her again. "Mommy," he says over and over again. "Mommy."

"It's okay, bro. I'm here."

"Mommy. Mommy. Mama. Mako. Mako." He closes his eyes and wishes he could somehow dissolve into his brother's embrace, wishes that somehow nothing else in the entire world could matter, wishes more than anything that, right now, Mako would pull out a plate of cake, chocolate cake, birthday cake. "Promise me you'll never leave. M-mako?"

His brother exhales, a tongue of fire escaping his lips. "I'm here for you, brother. Just go back to sleep. It's going to be okay."

Bolin allows the words to settle on him, and then he blinks against the fabric of Mako's shirt. Slowly he becomes aware of a rocking sensation. Movement. They're going somewhere. And then, of something bulky against his brother's right side, like a case of some kind. Raising his chin, he opens his eyes and glances up curiously at the dark skies overhead, the moon a lucky silver coin eager to be slid into the slot, the lever pulled and the wheel spun, one of those games at the fairs that sometimes opened up in the centre of the city amid colourful lights and brilliant fireworks.

It takes Bolin a long and drowsy moment to realise that he's outside when he should be in.

"Where are we going?" he mumbles sleepily, the sentences not quite syncing together. "Are we running numbers again? I thought that you—"

"Ssh." Pressure on the back of his head: His face is pushed into Mako's shoulder to muffle his speech. "It's going to be okay, I promise. Just go back to sleep. Please, go to sleep. Please."

Somewhere, something is wrong, but Bolin merely closes his eyes, his hot breaths trapped in the fabric, keeping his face from the cold air. A drop of wetness slides down his neck. Snow.

"It has to be okay," Mako is saying, almost more to himself than to Bolin.

"It's okay." He lets out a quiet yawn, the rocking motion lulling him to sleep. "Mommy promised me she'd keep us safe."

His brother's muscles tighten, and he holds Bolin all the more strongly. "Then we'll be okay."

The earthbender nods, teetering on the brink between consciousness and slumber, Mako's promise faint and far-off. "Promise?"

For the longest moment there is nothing but the sound of shoes crunching through a thin layer of snow.

And then, pulling Bolin back from the edge of sleep, comes the reply, softer than a feather alighting on the stone:

"I can't." A pause, a hesitation, a quaver in the timbre that sounds off somehow in a way he can't name. "But I'll figure something out. I always do."

Bolin beams, his fingers curling around pinches of fabric, one of the shirt, the other of the scarf; a shadow whispers over him, and he slips downwards to float in the sea of sleep. Air Temple Island rises from the waves, the birdlike airbenders waiting in golden cages while he walks amongst them, staring at their feathered wings, pausing only when they begin to sing, their voices exactly the same as Mako's.

A sudden motion flicks his eyelids up, and he gasps when he awakens with a start: His brother stopped walking. As he tries to orient himself, a scent oddly familiar drifts under his conscious, and he wrinkles his nose from the smell. Salt. Like the bay.

He wonders if they're going to visit the airbenders after all.

Then he hears Mako whoop, the loudest noise he thinks he's ever heard his brother make. "It's here!" Mako is half-crying, half-screaming, and more than anything it scares him; he shuts his eyes tightly as he can, praying his brother to stop. "The canoe—right there—Dad—thank you—"

Bolin feels himself sliding downwards out of his brother's grip, and a yelp escapes him. Mako immediately scoops him up again, holding him flush against the firebender's chest. Something shines on his brother's cheeks, but Mako's smiling, a thing rare and beautiful as the rainbow after the storm. "Bro?" Bolin's heart hammers in his chest. "What's going on?"

"We're going to be okay. Better than okay." Mako laughs, a sound Bolin never thought he'd hear again. "We're going to make it, Bo."

See more

For the collective works of the author, go here.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.