Disclaimer: I own nothing but the words I write.
Life's slowly getting back to normal. She's settling back into her routines, and it provides a measure of familiarity, comfort as she struggles to lift the fog in her mind.
She wishes she could just knock it away, but every swipe, every punch and blow she throws in the thick, curling smoke only makes her more lost. It's now that airbending might help, might help in blowing away all the confusion that's gotten into her head like a smoke grenade, might help in piercing the ever-present mist that lingers like the smog in Republic City.
Damn it. She might be a master waterbender, but she can't bend away the fog that clouds her mind.
Tenzin says it'll take a while, for her inner airbender to awaken, and then she'll blow everything away with a swipe of her arm. But it'll take patience, something she's never had, patience to keep trying, patience to never give up, as she stumbles and bumbles around in the haze that shrouds her inner self, hoping to bump onto more memories, so she can keep them precious in her heart.
She's never felt so helpless… so… so… lost.
It's okay though. He's always been there for her, a flame burning bright beside her, a star fallen inside her mind, illuminating the recesses and keeping back the monsters that thrive in the dark as she searches inside herself, where memories lie locked up, waiting to be unleashed again. He's light, and warmth, and life to her. He's the smokeless fire, that burns without choking, blazes without scorching, light without blinding. She burns, too, and she knows she burns brighter, but it's always when she's doused by cold, cruel reality, that he'll reach out, warm her freezing shell and ignite that fire in her once more.
In a sense, it's always been his fire that keeps her soldiering on, forever, since forever started.
It's now, more than ever, as the light recedes and darkness falls, that she desperately needs him, to keep the monsters at bay, the monsters that live in her mind and spring out in her sleep, when she's off-guard and he's not there.
Like a moth to flame, she goes off again, seeking the light and warmth, amid the looming darkness.
He's taken by surprise when somebody knocks into him as he rounds the corner. Oof. He grunts as he's knocked backwards by the brunt of the collision.
"Hey! Why don't you watch where you're… Korra?" The fatigue shows in his voice, as he arches one heavyset eyebrow at her. It's been another long day at the power plant, and his feet ache, his fingertips are numb from generating all that lightning, and he wants to get home before the sweat on his body dries in the bone-chilling night breeze. Which she doesn't seem to see, but then again, it's Korra.
"You haven't been to see me. For four days." Her eyes are slanted accusingly, and her finger jabs at his chest. Her other hand's resting familiarly on her pelvic bone. He winces, but the pain isn't physical.
Really, he shouldn't have expected to avoid her forever.
"I bet you've been working again, huh?" Her lips curl into a condescending sneer that's just visible in the dim light from the street lamps, and her eyes have that icy hard edge that only appears when she's selfishly, irrationally angry.
"It's none of your business, Korra." He's not going to bother this time, something in his eyes stopping her from following him as he walks away, back to the pro-bending arena.
She doesn't understand. She never will.
"Please, I just need a job-" He tries to bargain as Bolin snivels behind him. The smell of food wafts out the crack between the door and the doorframe, as he stands outside in the cold, freezing to death. He's out of his element, and he knows it.
"I don't take street urchins like you. Go somewhere else, and if you don't leave I'm calling the metalbenders." The door slams firmly, and he tries to dull the disappointment that sparks in his heart. It's not too hard, given that it's ten degrees out here. It's not too bad for him, he can breathe fire. But one look at Bolin, the young eight-year old shivering even with both their jackets on, and Mako's scarf wrapped tight around his neck.
He's got to keep trying. It's only been, what? The fiftieth time he's been turned down today? He sighs as he walks away from Kuang's, his hopes of getting some kind of job –waiter, dishwasher, garbage boy, anything – smashed. Of course, he shouldn't have expected anything anyway. There'd been a reason why he'd left this socialite's haven to last, as the sun's dying rays pierced weakly through the frigid air.
It's times like this, when all he's got is Bolin's clammy hand clutched tight in his own numb fingers, that he reminds himself why he ran away from the social workers, just so he won't give in, no matter how weak or hungry he becomes. They'd threatened to take Bolin away. And then what would he have left?
They'd have to survive on their own, for now.
He smirks, humourless, as he and Bolin start on the long trek back to the bridge by the park, where he can maybe find some dry twigs to start a fire, and the wind won't howl so loudly or nip so painfully at their prickling skin.
He doesn't realise it until he processes the scream that echoes around the deserted, empty streets, cold and bloodcurdling like metal scraping on bone.
Damn it. Why did she have to get into trouble every time he was trying to walk away?
He whips around, just in time to hurl a blast of fire at the equalist who's snuck up behind him, kali stick poised for a lethal stab. The equalist's eyes widen behind his mask, and he's caught mid-jump, with no way to dodge the fireball from point-blank range, body recoiling as the force of it catches him straight in the chest.
A quick blast of lightning knocks him out.
Mako sprints around the corner that he's just left, stepping over the masked body on the floor, and barely dodges a punch to the abdomen by another equalist. He grits his teeth.
C'mon Mako. It's the arena. This is just another team we're going to beat today.
Kick. A long arc of fire like the deadly stroke of a sword quickly takes out Mako's would-be assailant, not giving him time to recover before he crumples on the floor.
In the background, he sees her, a flash of blue and brown as she uproots the ground, taking out six equalists simultaneously. Blasts of fire, deadly and powerful, make for good precision attacks as she leaps and ducks, trying to keep her distance. He wonders briefly if she's feeling like he is now, adrenaline pumping and senses hyper-alert, the battle melding into action and reflex.
He's never felt more alive.
He dodges another kali stick, and moves suddenly in a twisting motion, his arms snaking around him and throwing out a ring of flame that knocks back two new assailants, before they slam brutally into the nearest wall and collapse, unconscious.
They're cunning and crafty, not to mention fast and nimble, and it seems like he's always whipping around to find an equalist nearly face to face with him before his reflexes take over, and he blows them away with blazing punches and swiping kicks. He's trying desperately to dodge the stabs of kali sticks, the punches and kicks that could leave him powerless, and retaliating with short bursts of lightning. He smirks. The equalist's suits might be fireproof, but they sure as hell aren't lightning-proof.
He can't keep this up forever, though. His movements are getting slower, poisoned by fatigue, and soon he loses the bending in his right arm. Numerous punches land on his side, and he knows they'll become bruises, deep splotches of purple and blue.
Assuming he gets out of this alive.
Suddenly Korra's fought her way over to him, and time slows down as their eyes meet. Her lips move, and a forced whisper comes out – run, get help, I'll be okay – and she's whipping away from him again like a tornado, but twice as destructive, lighting up the night with spurts of fire as she gracefully dodges all the attacks thrown at her, and counterattacks immediately. He stares after her, for an impossibly short fraction of a second, as time seems to freeze for a moment, and the sounds of battle die away.
He made the mistake once.
Not this time, he won't. Not again.
"You've lost, Avatar." Something glints in the dim light, hidden in the thick hood that cloaks his figure.
The young man's caught in his grasp, and she doesn't have to see to know it's him, because only he'd be so stupid to come running after her. Her heart's sunk, her inner flame fizzling out, as she sees those heartbreaker eyes open again, just barely, a flicker of motion speaking louder than words ever could in that special way only she'll ever understand.
It's alright, Korra. I'll see you on the other side.
She almost wants to believe it, too.
An arm's wrapped around his neck, and fingers close, constricting around a red scarf, the colour of blood. The knife in his other hand glints, and forces its way towards his throat…
She knows she went into the Avatar state. Twice.
She knows she airbended. Twice.
Right now, she doesn't care.
It's funny. Funny how she wanted to remember for so long. Funny how she's desperately trying to hold it back, because he's dying, and oh spirits there's so much blood-
The memories threaten to overwhelm her, but she keeps it at bay, because her world's just narrowed to the bleeding boy in front of her. Dark crimson stains alabaster skin, blood flowing like molten lava from the wound in his side, and golden eyes are quickly fading, as she wills them to stay open.
Damn it. Damn it.
Equalist bodies lie scattered haphazardly against the cold black tarmac of the road, but she doesn't spare them a glance. She's kneeling in front of Mako, propped up weakly against the brick-red of the wall, his legs splayed on the pavement as a thick, sticky pool of his own blood forms and dries.
She's fumbling with the water, pressing it against his side and seeing it turn a sickening shade of red, breathing out commands as she chokes back the sobs that threaten to wrack her body. The tears fall like snowflakes onto his deathly white skin.
"Why?" She's trying her best to staunch the bleeding, trying to stop his fiery essence from leaking out of his body and splashing onto the pavement in a torrent. The flow slows to a trickle, trickling like tears of an angel, falling from the sky.
"I couldn't," A strained breath, "lose you", another weak inhale, then "again." He smiles tired at her, and his eyes start to close, hands falling limp from where they've been cupping her face, cold and clammy like death.
"No! You're not going to die on me now, damn it!" Her palm collides with his face. She'll do anything, anything to keep those golden eyes open and staring cutely at her. His eyelids stop falling, and with a look of great effort he stares at her once more, and she stares back, indignantly, daring him to stay awake.
"Besides, who'll take care of Bolin if you die now?" He chuckles, coughing once or twice.
"I guess that's up to you." She's trying to mend the burst artery, stitching it back together before it tears more, and all her work is wasted. She casts about for something else, anything to keep him talking, as long as he's awake.
"Mako, what about pro-bending? Everything you ever dreamed of? Winning the championship? Building a better life for yourself?"
"Some things in life… just aren't meant to be." He's speaking slower, and his voice is slurring, panting heavily. She's done all she can. The bleeding's stopped, but oh spirits he's lost so much blood…
"You still don't get it, do you? You still have me to deal with. You can't get off that easy." It's halfhearted, and she tries to crack a smile, but ends up crying instead, because she can't look into those pools of fire and say it, liquid blue mixing with crimson red on the pavement.
He's lost all sensation, and everything's turned dark.
Is he dead?
He sees a man and woman, beckoning to him, silhouetted against the blinding light that shines in the darkness. This must be death. It feels oddly relieving to be free of burden.
"Mom? Dad?" He ambles off toward the shining portal, ready to join them in the afterlife, content to be with them.
Bolin's face calls to him, jade eyes and a merry laugh lingering on his face, asking him where he's going.
I'm sorry, Bolin. But you've grown up, now, and you can take care of yourself, can't you?
He keeps walking.
Asami's face appears, blocking his path. But he no longer feels anything, when those eyes tilt in a pout and begs him to return.
He keeps walking. He reaches out a hand, to take his father's, and step into the light-
A hand grabs him by the back, and flips him around.
"Oh no you don't. You're not done in this world yet. You're going to live to a ripe old age and marry me and grow old together with me."
There's his fiery, impulsive girlfriend. She's smirking at him again, sapphire eyes light and teasing, as she drags him behind her and turns to face him, eyebrow cocked in a challenge.
"Don't I get a say in this?" He arches one eyebrow, and she giggles, cutely, in that way that always makes his knees turn to jelly and his brain turn to mush. A hot bubbly feeling wells up in a heart he didn't know he still had.
"Nope. Deal with it, hot shot." She douses him with a wave of water, seemingly conjured out of nowhere. He growls, and makes to grab her wrist before she summons more water. She's startled, but then laughs, clear and bright as the sun glinting off the ocean surface, and drags him into a kiss…
This time around, he's the one who wakes up in a strange hospital room. Groaning and blearily rubbing his eyes, he sits up, wincing from the residual pain.
He's instantly met with a tight hug, strong enough to knock the wind out of his lungs but gentle enough to not hurt. And she's whispering his name, over and over again in his ear, and he knows just by the sweet, soft way in which she murmurs his name, in that voice when they'd just finished a mission and she was hugging him for being alive, that her memory's back.
Grinning like an idiot, he lifts her off the floor and into his cot, flipping over so now he's on top. She gasps, startled by his sudden aggressiveness, before it melts into the fiery, playful Korra he knows and loves.
"You're going to hurt yourself." The words come from her mouth, but there's no mistaking that look in her eyes.
"Looks like I already did. Oh well. Might as well." He teases, going in for a chaste kiss, pulling away far too quickly just to see her pout, and melt his heart, forging the shattered pieces back into a whole, and then wrap her arms around his neck and pull him in.
Fire and ice, moon and sun, summer and winter, hot and cold.
One alone is not enough, they need both together.
And so they are reunited.
A/N: Well, there it is. I thought I would never finish this.
I'm still trying this out, and this is my first ever fanfic. So leave me a review, and tell me what you thought of this chapter. I'll be eternally grateful :) and I'll be inspired to write more (hopefully) better fics!
Also I will never criticise a bad ending again. I take back everything I ever said about authors who had less-than-satisfactory endings. I know how you feel, bros.
This fic is officially considered over. Look out for more fics from me, possibly soon!
P.S. Thanks to everybody who reviewed this. Really, I appreciate it. :)