"And the best part is…the eclipse isn't even our biggest advantage. We have a secret. You!"
"Yep, the whole world thinks you're dead! Isn't that great?"
"The whole world thinks I'm dead? How is that good news? That's terrible!"
"I've failed. I've let the whole world down—"
She wakes up slowly, calmly. She doesn't remember the last time she slept so peacefully. There was no one reaching for her in the darkness, no scenarios that fell out of her favor. Just flashes of images and memories she knows nothing about. She looks around and notices a pair of thin muscled arms holding her snug. She tilts her neck awkwardly and sees Mako. His eyes are closed and there's a ghost of a smirk on his face. He starts to scratch her back affectionately.
"You kick in your sleep," he remarks lightly.
She digs her heel into his calf. "Do not."
Mako manages a chuckle. He moves her hair that's ticking his face and runs his finger along her collarbone. "Did you beat the big, bad sea monster?"
Her brow knits together. "Huh?"
He shrugs. "You were mumbling in your sleep. Quite a dream. Something about how the universe "loves proving you wrong," and such." His good mood seems to falter. "Can't say I blame you at the moment."
"Oh," Korra mumbles. She instantly recalls hazy images of metal ships, red cloaks, and a staff, much like Tenzin's. Her dream was sporadic and unorganized. It was like the time Amon knocked her out and she saw the image of Aang coming towards her, angry and on the offensive. But this was simpler, longer and heartbreaking. The last thing she wanted was another tale of immense failure and regret.
The wound on her stomach suddenly gets more painful.
She doesn't hide the realization well. "Whoa, easy. You alright there?" Korra nods. She sits up slowly, untangling herself from his arms and props herself on the other end of the bed, stretching her feet. She shoves her toes in his face, coming dangerously close to his nostrils. He splutters a bit before swatting her away.
"Stop asking me that," her mouth in a thin line. "I'm awake now, alright?"
Mako looks away quickly, towards the living area where he knows his brother is probably still sleeping. "I hate to ask but…can you bend?"
Korra's brow scrunches in confusion. She tries collecting a flame in the palm of her hand. But she has no such luck. "Do you have yours?" he shakes his head. She bites her lip and swallows her fears forcefully down her throat. "I'm sure it'll come back. Amon didn't touch us."
Mako nods, although unsure. "Yeah, but Bolin has his bending back."
Korra throws her feet over the side of the bed. She peers her head over and she can see Bolin's head on the couch, Pabu resting comfortable on his stomach. "Strange," she mumbles. She tries to get up but her joints protest and her head complains and she sits back down. She roughly slams her head into Mako's chest and snuggles back into his hold. "It's like a wretched hangover," she frowns.
Mako goes back to scratching her back. "No, you're much worse to deal with when you've got a hangover."
"I'd so set your ass on fire if I could."
They fall into silence and Korra's hand starts playing with the hem of his torn shirt. She lifts her eyes to the nearby window and watches the moon; she remembers the stories Katara told her when she was a little girl, all about a beautiful Princess from the North who became the moon spirit. Katara told her that story right after her first waterbending lesson. It was summer, making the days long. It was probably three in the morning but the sky was still bright and the world was still white and Katara smiled at her the whole day through.
His touch goes cold. "Hmm?"
"When was the first time you firebended?"
He frowns. Korra waits patiently for an answer, but it doesn't come. Finally, he lets out a breath that tickles her face. "I couldn't tell you."
"You don't remember?"
"Nope," He says, smacking his lips. "I guess I've spent so long trying to block out the bad memories of my childhood, that I erased some of the good memories, too."
Korra wrinkles her nose. "That's silly," she comments.
Mako pokes her side, curious. "How so, Miss Avatar?"
She leans up from his chest, her icy blue irises pooling into his own copper spackled pair. "Trying to forget a part of who you are."
His mouth unhinges slightly. Korra was one for long spiels and speeches that didn't always get to the point. She was full of rhetorical questions and trickery. It was rare that she uttered the sagely advice so worthy of her past lives. But times like these, when it slipped out so innocently, so sincerely, he felt his heart swell.
"That's why you're the Avatar…and I'm an idiot."
Jinora concentrates on the sound of wind pounding through her ears.
The roar of the motorcycle was too much and the faint sound of dying embers was too little. She liked her element, and as the wind whipped through her face, tossing her ash-covered hair, she felt a little safer. Asami had a gentle grip on her hands as she held them on the handlebars. She remembers Asami giving one last half-assed effort to remove her helmet and she remembers the poorly masked cry of pain she gave when she was unsuccessful. She had whispered apologies and told Jinora she'd just try to be careful before placing her on the front of the motorcycle where Asami could keep an eye on her. She revved the engine, the only sound of life for what was probably blocks, and headed down the boulevard toward the harbor.
"Is this your motorcycle?" Jinora asks, just loud enough to be heard over the engine.
Asami takes a sharp turn, tossing a glance behind her. "No," she answers gently.
Asami starts picking up more speed. The wind in Jinora's ears grows to a painful roar. "You think we'll make it in time?"
Asami leans forward and pushes the engine harder.
Korra and Mako wake to face the fearful eyes of their third teammate. Their expressions fall to match his. "What is it?"
Despite any of their previous injuries, Korra and Mako are immediately on their feet. Korra looks left and right, but the apartment looks the same as it was before she fell asleep again. She looks to Mako who wears the same perplexed expression.
Bolin grabs them each by an arm and shoves them to a window he's opened. They each lean their heads down and look. It takes a few minutes; Korra spots a pair of florescent goggles and follows the trail to the corner of the arena.
"Shit!" she exclaims. She's suddenly angry, very angry. "Dammit, we should have known better!" She turns to Mako, whose expression no longer mirrors hers. Unlike her, his face is crestfallen and completely terrified. That's when she remembers.
He can't bend. And neither can she.
The foundation shakes as an explosion goes off on what they assume to be the bottom floor. "The arena's going to collapse!" Bolin shrieks.
Korra looks to her hand one last time. She tries producing a flame, bending her sweat, moving the training disks in the corner of the room—nothing.
"Dammit!," Tears are slipping down her cheeks. "Guys, I can't help you!" She looks to Bolin. "I can't help you."
He does his best to maintain his composure. The arena shakes again. "I can still earthbend. I'll move any debris that's in the way." He looks to his brother. "We just got to get out of here!"
The three bust out of the apartment and start running down the flights of stairs. At first, things seem normal, aside from the smell of ash that seeps through the walls. But as they go down three, four flights, fire licks at the wooden banisters and the corners of the walls and finally the entire staircase. The three stand in shock as a ceiling support falls and adds to the existing kindling.
Bolin coughs. The smoke is thick and it clogs his lungs. They'd been out of the fray for just a few hours, but it feels like it had only been seconds ago when he couldn't breathe. Memories clog his mind. He shakes them away and looks back to the powerless duo behind him. "Just follow me, okay?"
It does him no good that he can earthbend. Instead, he kicks aside flaming wood and creates a narrow pathway that would surely kiss their exposed skin with sparkling heat but it's good enough to get them down the last few steps to the gym, where they can cut through and use the other staircase he prays isn't on fire as well. Mako and Korra follow behind, weaving as flames dance, shrinking and growing and teasing them with burns. They make it to the gym and they all fall into a coughing fit. Korra runs to where she knows the barrel of water for training is. She looks down and frowns. It's all evaporated. She doesn't dwell long on the disappointment as Mako grabs her arm and tugs here away.
"Come on," he begs desperately. "Keep moving!"
There's another crash and it rumbles the floor, causing them to lose their balance and fall to the ground. There's a subsequent crash that causes the ceiling tiles to cave in and crumble to the ground, adding ten times the amount of smoke and reducing their ability to see and making it nearly impossible to breathe. She looks for Mako, for Bolin—she can't find it. She coughs again and the smoke starts to taste like stomach bile and her eyes water and she's so thirsty she's willing to sit and cry and give up if it means getting to drink her own tears.
Spirits, she's never felt so helpless.
"Korra!" She hears her name, but she has no idea where they are. She coughs and this time, blood splutters from her lungs and stains her fingers cherry.
"Mako!" Cough. "Bolin?"
She manages to stand up, but the smoke isn't any thinner. She heaves and wheezes and she can hear the roar of fire but all she can see is smoke. It's darkening the corner of her eyes and filling her lungs and the whispy wind is killing her and all she wants is air.
She needs air.
She twists and turns and lets out an agonizing scream. She shuts her eyes and she thrusts her hands wildly about her and when she opens them, she can see them, wide-eyed and in disbelief.
The smoke is gone.
"Airbending? W-what! You told me you've never been able to airbend before!" Bolin accuses. He coughs.
Korra shakes with emotion. "I haven't!" She looks around. "Is that seriously what I just did?"
Mako runs up to her and pulls her into a bone-crushing hug. "Yes, yes you did." He takes a deep breath. "I can breathe. Thank you."
She takes in another breath-not completely clean, but its air. "Let's just hope I can do it again."
AN: So..my bad. I know I said I'd post every day, but I got a little stuck with transitions. I also started AP exams and Cinco De Mayo was last weekend…and you get the picture. I'm not completely happy with it, but I'm hopeful that after some feedback I can work with it. I think I'm doing a good job of doing the whole, slow revealing process of what's gone down, but then again I'm the one who knows what's going to happen. If you guys are confused, TELL ME, I'll be happy to go back and make it more clear.
Also, thank you so, so SO much for the reviews guys! Your words are so kind and they mean so much to me!