I couldn't resist. Contains fluff. Generic summary, go!
Summary: After they're captured by the Equalists, Mako and Korra are thrown into a cell together. Korra needs clothes. Mako is a gentleman (but mostly a teenage boy).
Mako has no idea how long he's been stuck in this dark, damp, chilly, barely-a-cell. All he knows is that he's so far underground, he can barely sense the sun. Part of him wonders if he's just imagining it.
After he woke up, he had busied himself for the first few hours of his imprisonment by running his hands over the cool walls of his prison, becoming increasingly frustrated as the earth and stone revealed no faults he could exploit. He had even summoned the smallest, steadiest flame he could muster, holding his breath in the hopes that it would flicker in a breeze and reveal a hidden shaft to the surface.
Eventually, he keeps track of time by scratching marks into the dirt every time the masked guard cracks open the windowless steel door and slide in his food. The unhelpfully logical part of his brain wonders if they change when they bring him food, to further muddle his sense of time.
Mako lets out an impatient puff of air, his lips tightly pursed, and brings his thoughts back under control.
It had been a few days (he keeps his thoughts firmly on track this time) since he, Korra, and Bolin had gone chasing after the Equalist. Mako hates to admit it, but the ambush was very well planned. Korra's tendency to rush into action herself had been noted, despite Beifong's repeated orders to wait for the police.
As soon as she heard the scuffle and cries for help in a nearby alley, she was off like a shot, leaving Mako and Bolin to catch up. They made up some distance when she paused for the old man to point out the direction the thief had gone, but then she was racing down the labyrinth of side streets of Republic City.
He should have realized that something was off when he looked back, and the old man was nowhere in sight.
She had at least remembered their lectures on the dangers of getting lost in the city. The trail of deep, earthbent footprints she left at every fork in the road led the brothers deeper and deeper into the city
The further they went, the fewer people they saw. Mako suddenly recognized the area. He and Bolin had squatted in one of the abandoned houses, before the dried-up wells had forced them to move and -–
Bolin's strangled cry behind him made him jerk his head around and skid to a halt. A masked man was darting back from his brother, who crumpled to the ground. Mako started sprinting towards Bolin, when he heard Korra scream from an alleyway to his left. His breath caught as he saw her pinned to the ground by half a dozen figures. Another dashed in and struck her chi points, and gasped and went limp in shock.
His mind went blank, and time seems to slow as he struggled to decide whether to run to his brother or his teammate? The most important person to the world or to him -
The choice was stripped from him as he felt sudden, sharp jabs at his back. He gasped at the abrupt cold as his inner flame extinguished, and a brief pain at the back of his head was last thing he knew before everything went black.
Mako stubbornly keeps at his meditation. He tries to make a list of those who would realize the three were missing. It's hopelessly short.
Toza might get worried, though he would probably just end up punishing his equipment more than usual.
Korra would get more attention than two struggling pro-benders. Tenzin would notice that Korra had disappeared for longer than usual. Beifong might even realize that the city was too quiet.
And they were lucky, one of them might even follow the trail that Korra had left. Assuming, of course, that none of the Earthbender city beautifiers had actually come by and cleaned up the old section of town. From there… maybe someone had seen the Equalists. They might even be willing to talk to the police. And then the police would have to track them down, fight the Equalists, and rescue the three hostages.
It was possible. Mako had pulled through worse odds of survival.
A ruckus outside of his cell jerks him out of his trance. He jumps to his feet, and then blinks at the sudden light as the heavy metal door swings open. He can't quite recognize the silhouette of the person that's been shoved into the cell, until a familiar voice spits curses at the guard who has shoved her inside.
Mako's eyes adjust just in time to catch familiar bare shoulders and a bare back – wait, what? – before the door slams shut once more, and the room is once again plunged into darkness.
"Korra!" the relief in his voice is palpable as he moves toward her. Her faint outline stiffens, and she quickly moves away from him. Mako pauses, confused. She's usually such an obnoxiously physical person, yanking the brothers by their collars for hugs whenever they win a match or even when she out-smarts Beifong. What's changed? A sudden dread settles over him. "Are you hurt?"
A mirthless snort of laughter comes from somewhere to his left, and he turns face where the sound came from. "No. They won't hurt me. They don't want to bruise me."
"Then what's —"
"Nothing. I'm fine. Have you figured a way out?"
He's confused by the sudden change in subject, but complies. "…No. Not yet. They've got it pretty well sealed-off."
He expects grumbling, but there's just a bitter sigh. He feels his way back to his wall, and slides to the floor. He hears her come over too, and can see her dim outline settle into a crouch, not sitting down.
That's strange. Korra plops down and invades personal space.
He shoves the thought back. "Have you seen Bolin?" He can't hide the desperation in his voice.
"No, but he's fine," she reassures him.
He sags in relief, and then stiffens in confusion as she continues. "They won't hurt any of us. They don't want martyrs, they want us 'on their side.'"
"'On their side'? How?"
"They want us to see what it's like to be without bending. They keep taking mine away."
They do? But he can firebend. The chi-block wore off a while ago. He's puzzled, until he realizes that a firebender underground isn't much of a threat. He's practically helpless.
At least there's one thing he can do. "Here, let's have some light, at least." He snaps a flame into existence- "NO!"
Only to have Korra's hand cover his and extinguish the fire before it even steadies.
"No no no, no, I'm good with the dark. Don't worry. I'm good."
"No! It's just - uh - you need to save your energy. Just in case, y'know - I mean, it's better if they don't know that you've got your bending?"
"Oh." Mako's hand feels colder when Korra finally removes her hand. It's quiet for a while after that.
Mako doesn't mind silence, but when Korra doesn't say another word for the longest time, he starts getting worried, despite himself.
He wonders if she's worried too, and his gut clenches.
He tries to imagine what Bolin would say. Bolin, who has all the smoothness and charisma that his brother lacks. He's suddenly overcome with worry again, but forces it down and cautiously reaches out to pat Korra's knee.
"Hey, it's — uh— " he starts, wincing at his awkwardness. "It's gonna be alri—"
He's feeling bare skin under his hand, and Korra is tensing up even more.
The pause settles like a heavy weight. "Did they take your — your boots, Korra?"
He desperately hopes that they did. He hopes that she is not sitting there, completely –
"The boots, and everything else. Yeah."
Bolin's countless, unwanted lessons on how to be a gentleman are what unfreeze his limbs, and his arms are somehow fumbling out of his jacket as his mind is frozen in shock.
"Here," is all he can manage as he gracelessly shoves the jacket towards Korra. He can hear her noise of surprise, and expects her to refuse, since she's from the Water Tribes and she's heckled him before on how she's taken baths in weather colder than —
No. Stop. Don't think about it.
She takes the jacket with a murmur of thanks, and he can hear her shifting around to put it on.
She chuckles weakly. "I thought your shoulders were punier than mine, but it fits."
If Korra can make fun of him, she's okay. He relaxes minutely.
He hears her fumbling with the fasteners, before giving up and just pulling it closed around her. "Well, it fits well enough, at least. Thanks."
Well enough? But her shoulders are smaller than his, so – oh.
As his face heats up, he is once again desperately thankful for the darkness.
"Y-you're welcome," he somehow chokes out.
It's alright. He can do this. It's better to have two people trying to figure out how to escape. They're going to break out, they're going to find Bolin, and they're going to escape. It'll be easy. He can absolutely do it.
He hears her moving next to him, adjusting the jacket.
"Glad your jacket is so long, too. The floor's kinda cold."
His scratches on the wall are useless. These are going to be the longest days of his life.