She never felt more scared in her entire life as she ran across the city at night. She didn't even care how many people she bumped into to or how many of them she annoyed at this point. She was still too confused, scared and angry. This was suppose to be a perfect day and now it was starting to seem like a growing nightmare. Everything happened to fast she didn't even know how it all started. She tried to cross the road but didn't see the incoming car. She instinctively waved her hands and the puddle of water on the side of the rode rose up, freezing the front of the vehicle in place, which shocked her. The driver honked and yelled at the girl.
"Hey! What you doin' ya crazy bender!"
"I'm not a bender!" Korra shouted before running off.
"You're crazy!" the man shouted back but Korra kept on running. Things were becoming even more confusing. And they were only getting worse.
There was that voice again. Korra began to feel woozy and her vision was becoming foggy. She leaned against a building, looking down a darken alleyway. The vision was blurry, but she could have sworn she saw a strange figure, glowing pure white with a flowing dress. Korra didn't want to believe any of this. She clenched her head, trying to shake the voices out of her head.
"Korra…don't run…don't run."
Despite her disorientation, she lifted a garbage can over her head and hurled it towards the ghost.
"Leave me alone!"
The trash can only hit the wall on the far side just as her vision became clear once more. There was no ghost at all.
"What's wrong with her?"
Korra turned around to see various bystanders looking at her with concern. "Young lady, are you alright?" an elderly woman asked. "Can I take you to a doctor?"
"No, no I don't need any help!" Korra ran off again. She needed to get away, somewhere safe. Somewhere that would be the last place her parents would look.
It was getting late and Korra was already growing tired. Her feet were in pain and she didn't know if she could continue. She made it up the plight of stairs at the entrance of the pro-bending arena to rest for a few moments and leaned her head against the pillar.
Before long, she dozed off.
Her eyes fluttered open when the smell of food caught her senses. She was no longer resting beside the pillar but was sleeping on a couch right beside the window. A blanket covered her from the chin down. Her vision was blurry at first but it quickly cleared and she could see where she was. It looked like some kind of apartment, fit for two people, complete with bunk beds. A kitchen was right there as well, and she could see who was cooking. She slowly sat up, yawning and stretching her arms.
"Morning, sleeping beauty." Mako said jokingly as he made the meal. He wore the same sleeveless white shirt he did the other night after the pro-bending match and the same black pants and boots. Korra scratched the back of her head, trying to remember what had happened the night before.
"Mako? What happened?"
"Bolin and I found you in the entrance of the arena and brought you up here. Your skin was so cold, I'm amazed you weren't shivering."
"The cold never bothered me, anyways." Korra confessed.
"You may not be a waterbender but you sure have the resilience of one."
Korra's eyes snapped open at the mention of the word. "Mako, did…did anything happen last night?"
"Aside from you bailing from your own birthday party and your dad getting attacked by a firebender nobody saw, not really."
"Wait, what did you say?"
"No, before that!"
"You bailing from your own party?"
"No! In the middle!"
"Your dad getting attacked by a firebender?"
"Yes!" she jumped out of bed rather quickly, "What else do you…wow." she began to feel woozy and stumbled. Mako rushed over to her side and held her up.
"Careful, careful, easy." the firebender helped the disoriented young woman to stand up as he held her in his arms. She looked up at him and he looked down at her. For a moment, their eyes locked. "You must have really been through something."
"I think I just need to sit down." Korra sat on the side of the sofa.
"Let me get you some water." Mako opened the fridge and took an empty glass and a gallon of water. He poured her a glass and handed it to her. The woman gulped down the liquid in seconds.
"Thanks. What time is it?"
"Almost noon. Seriously, you sleep in more than my brother does."
Korra only chuckled lightly, "I never was much of a morning person." she admitted.
"So, should I call your parents or---"
Mako flinched at Korra's sudden reaction, but he complied. "Okay, okay, relax."
Korra sighed as she tried to calm herself down. "I'm sorry. It's just, my dad's the last person I want to see right now." the two teens were startled when they heard chirping coming from the window. Korra smiled upon seeing her dragon bird friends.
"Girls, you're here!"
Korra opened the window and allowed the creatures to fly in and surround her. Mako arched an eyebrow and quickly stood up in surprise. "Mako, these are my friends." Twilight and Sunset both rested on her shoulders, "This is Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer."
"Seriously? How did you come up with those names?"
"Well, since dragon birds are so rare, I figured they needed unique names." she giggled when Rainbow Dash speeded across the room. "That's Rainbow Dash."
Mako ducked the moment the bird flew over his head, "I can see the dash part." he then noticed the orange one eating an apple from the table. "Hey!"
"That's Applejack." said Korra, "You can guess what she's named for." The pink bird happily flapped her wings once she landed on Mako's head. "That's Pinkie Pie. She kind of beats to the sound of her own drum."
The white bird sniffed Mako's scarf on the table and wrapped it around herself to model. The red coloring was indeed lovely. Mako quickly snatched it away from her.
"Sorry, Rarity loves anything to do with fashion." The final bird was hiding behind Korra until she peaked her head out. "And this is Fluttershy. As you can tell, she's not the most sociable."
"Wow. How long have you had them?"
"For as long as I can remember. They've been my best friends."
"I thought Asami was your best friend."
"She is, but before I met her, they were always there for me."
Mako looked at the creatures and realized that they weren't so bad after all.
Korra was now fully stuffed after eating the meal Mako had prepared. "Thanks again for letting me stay here." she said.
"No problem. I guess it's the least I could do since you gave me money to buy food."
The dragon birds even got to each some treats as well. Mako gave them fruits to munch on, and they sure seemed satisfied. The firebender then noticed that Korra was still deeply depressed. Even though he had only just met her, seeing her like this was a tad strange.
"Hey, you okay?"
Korra stood up from the chair, "Thank you for your hospitality but I should get going. Come on girls." the birds chirped sadly but followed her. Mako stood up as well.
A person walked up the stairs and entered the room. It was Bolin with a bag of groceries, since it was his turn this time to do so. "Oh, hey Korra! You're finally up."
"Missed you at the party last night."
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"Hey, no sweat, we had a great time." he then realized that the young woman looked deflated, "Hey, you okay?"
"Yeah. I just need to be alone right now." she gently shoved her her pass him and walked down the stairs from the attic.
"Where you going?"
The two brothers shared concerned looks as the woman left with her animal friends while Pabu leaped onto Bolin's shoulder. "Dang, she looks blue." said Mako.
"I'd say it's more of a cerulean, actually."
Mako face palmed himself, "Not her outfit, I mean she looks depressed."
Bolin, being the nice guy he was, followed the girl. Mako found himself doing the same. Korra was walking down the hallways of the arena when the boys caught up with her. Mako placed a hand on her shoulder, "Kid, what's eating ya?"
"Nothing, she's at the top of the food chain!" Bolin bursted out laughing but Mako only rolled his eyes while Korra only looked at him with an empty expression. Pinkie Pie was laughing but the other girls only shook their heads. Bolin awkwardly stopped his laughing and scratched the back of his neck. "So, you heading home?"
"No. Home is the last place I want to go." Korra said bitterly as she started walking again, only to be stopped by Bolin.
"Oh, because of what happened with your dad?"
"Not just that. I don't want to talk about it."
"Good we don't wanna hear about it."
"Bolin!" Mako exclaimed.
"I was joking! Come on Korra, is there anything we can do?"
"Not unless you can change what happened." Korra responded blankly.
"Well, where are you gonna go?" Bolin asked.
"I don't know."
"Oh, Mako we can't let her out in the cold like that!"
"It's still daytime." said Mako.
"No bro, she's our guest. Korra, I insist you stay here as long as you like."
Korra smiled at his sweet offer, "I appreciate it but I don't want to impose anymore."
"No way! Our home is your home."
As much as Mako loved his brother, he didn't want Korra to feel like she was obligated to stay here. Korra realized that she didn't want to hurt Bolin's feelings, so she complied.
"Well, okay I guess I could stay for a little while."
Bolin pounded his fist into the air, "Awesome!"
"So, what do you guys normally do, you know, when you're not practicing for the next match."
"Well, Mako works at the power plant part time and I work at a pharmacy downtown. But, other than that, we usually lounge around and enjoy what we got. My motto is: Hakuna Matata."
"What?" Korra asked, while her bird friends chirped in agreement. What did it mean?
Mako pinched the bridge of his nose, "Bolin, not this again."
"What does that word mean?" Korra asked.
"Some old song he picked up somewhere."
Bolin: Hakuna Matata
What a wonderful phrase
"It's getting annoying."
Ain't no passing craze!
It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It's our problem free
Bolin had led Korra and Mako back up to the attic as he explained the 'Hakuna Matata' thing to their new friend.
"Hakuna…Matata?" Korra tried saying the word.
"Yep! Whenever I'm feeling down, it always brings me back up! Too bad I can't say the same for Mako."
The older brother crossed his arms, "After hearing it for the past ten years, ya get tired of it."
"Ya see Korra, take this guy as a bad example. Why…"
When he was just a young land
When he was just a young
"Very nice" Mako said sarcastically while wiggling his finger into his ear due to his brother's high pitch.
He found his broodiness lacked a certain appeal
He could bring a clown down to cry and yield
But he's really a sensitive soul
Though he seems thick-skinned
And it hurt, that I barely saw him
And, oh, the shame!
"Here we go again." Mako groaned in annoyance at his brother's over dramatics, while Korra only found his antics amusing.
Thought of changing my name!
"No he didn't."
But when I got downhearted
Every time I would--
"Bolin! I think that's enough."
"Actually, I'm feeling a lot better." Korra said with a smile, catching Mako by surprise.
"Yeah. That song really does work."
"I knew it did!" Bolin exclaimed happily, "Even Mako knows it! Come on, you know you know the last part!"
"No, no, I'm not going to!"
"Yeah you are! You know you know the words."
What a wonderful phrase!
Ain't no passing craze!
Mako knew he couldn't fight it any longer, so he sang the next part of the song.
Mako: It means no worries
For the rest of your days
"Yeah, sing it bro!" the two brothers sang together
Together: It's our problem free
Korra smiled as she stood up and opened her mouth to sing along, and the boys were entranced by her soulful and powerful voice.
It means no worries!
For the rest of your days
The three friends sang together the last verse.
It's our problem free
The three friends landed on the floor in a giggling heap. Korra felt her sadness fade away. It was nice to have friends who would cheer her up.
Meanwhile, Tenzin had been restless all night. Korra was no where to be found. He had Lin scan the city for her, but so far she did not turn up anywhere. The phone in his office rang and he quickly answered it, hoping to hear news of Korra.
"Lin? Any sign of her?"
"I'm sorry Tenzin." said hid old childhood friend with sincere sympathy, "We've searched all of her favorite spots but we haven't found a trace yet."
"Tenzin hoped he didn't have to hear this but he refused to give up, "Well, keep looking, I wont rest until my daughter is safe at home!"
"Tenzin, I understand your concern but---"
Lin, amazingly, flinched at his anger. She had never seen him this way. She sighed and complied, "All right." she said before hanging up.
Tenzin sat on his chair, sighing sadly to himself as he covered his face into his hands. "What have I done…what have I done?"
Korra remained with the boys for most of the day, wanting to have a change of scenery before returning home and being away from her troubles, even for a moment, was liberating for her. To thank them for their hospitality, Korra washed the dishes and cleaned their messy apartment. With the help of the dragon birds, she managed to do it in no time. Bolin had gone out once again because he forgot to buy something from before, and Mako nagged him to go and get it. It was the last ingredient for their home cooked meal tonight, which Bolin was looking froward to and invited Korra to stay for it. She of course said yes but said she need to return home at some point.
Mako sat on the couch as she worked, "You know you don't have to do this." he said, "I've been cleaning up after Bolin my whole life."
"I know, but I wanted to. It's my way of saying thanks." she said with a smile. This girl was just full of surprises, Mako thought.
"So," he began, trying to make more small talk, "how exactly did you come up with those names for the birds?"
"Dragon birds." Korra corrected him once she was done cleaning the table and Rarity flew over, taking the rack out of her hands with her talons and washed it in the sink. These animals were very well trained.
"Well, how did you come up with names like, "Twilight Sparkle", "Pinkie Pie", and "Rainbow Dash"?"
"Well, Rainbow was a no brainer. Plus, since she loves to fly fast, I knew I had to add 'dash' into the name too."
Mako chuckled, "Figures."
"My sister first wanted to name Pinkie 'sweetie pie', but I knew Pinkie was more fitting. So, I found a compromise. Rarity came to me when she couldn't stop making goo-goo eyes at my pendant. Plus, it was very 'rare' to find a creature who loves fashion almost as much as Asami does."
"Well, you certainly come up with some unusual names."
Korra rolled her eyes and smiled as she leaned against the table with her arms crossed, "Oh, and the name 'Pabu' isn't weird at all?" she said sarcastically.
Pabu, Bolin's pet fire ferret, squeaked when he heard his name and rubbed his head against Korra's ankle. Mako found it fascinating how the animal liked her so quickly. He normally doesn't like strangers very much.
Mako then heard munching and noticed that the orange/yellow dragon bird was eating the apples he and Bolin had purchased. "Hey!" he walked on over and pulled her by the tail. "And I can see why you named her Applejack."
Korra took the bird into her arms, "A.J., what have I told you?" The bird chirped an apology. "She said she's sorry."
"You can understand them?"
"More or less, I get the gist."
Mako noticed how the dragon bird just seemed to melt in Korra's touch. It was strange, physically this woman strike him more as the athletic sassy type, but she was also remarkably kind and gentle. He then remembered who had raised her. Of course, having grown up with airbenders would lead anyone to develop such a personality. But even so, despite her nomadic upbringing, she still appeared somewhat disconnected to the heritage in a way, especially how she behaved last night with her father, though that was understandable.
Korra noticed him looking at her, "What?"
"It's just…" he didn't know what else to say, but Korra had a hunch.
"Let me guess, you're still not use to somebody being nice to you, hu?"
"Well, okay yeah, a little."
Korra rested Applejack on the table and looked at Mako in the eye, "Look, I'm sorry you and your brother had it rough, but the world isn't made up of just jerks and hypocrites you know. Not everything's as black and white as you think."
"It's not easy changing how you see the world." he said.
"Doesn't mean you can't."
This girl really had a way of breaking down his walls. She was so strong and unyielding, it was hard for him not to feel a bit intimidated. Still, he didn't want to get all mushy with his past. He didn't want to think or talk about it, so he changed the subject.
"So, enough about me, what about you?" the moment the words left his mouth, he immediately regretted it. Korra's expression fell and she turned away, walking a few steps forward away from Mako with her back turned. "I'm sorry." he tried to say, "I didn't mean to--"
"No, it's okay. I don't actually want to talk about myself right now."
Mako tried to ease things, though he wasn't so sure how. He wasn't always the 'in touch with his feelings' kind of guy. "You know, getting accepted into college isn't such a bad thing. At least you have the opportunity and the essentials and your dad was only looking out for you."
"I know, but that still didn't give him the right to choose for me."
"You should consider yourself lucky Korra, not everyone has the essentials you have. You've got a good family, a large group of friends, you've even got ties to some of the most important people in the world. People would kill to be in your shoes."
"You say it like it's a good thing."
"Well, it's true. You've got everything."
"See, now that's where you're wrong. I may have all that you said, but I don't have real freedom to choose. My dad's always been on my case on what I should do, where I should go, even how I should dress. I know he means well, but it feels like he's holding on too tight. I want to explore other nations, meet new people, really learn more about myself." Korra turned to look at him and sat down on the chair next to the table alongside him. "What about you? Haven't you ever wanted something?" she asked, "Any dreams, goals, ambitions?"
Mako sighed as he rested his arm on the wooden table, "Yeah, I do actually."
Korra beamed as she listened, "Tell me!" she said eagerly.
"Well, it's simple actually. Win the tournament, get the money, buy a better home and live a life without anymore cares or worries."
Korra's smile faded into a disappointed one. "That's it? That's all you want?"
"Well, what else is there?"
"It's just, don't you want to travel, explore, see what's more for you out there? I mean, staying here in the city the rest of your life just counting your winnings seems kind of…superficial, I guess."
"Oh, and traveling the world to your heart's content isn't?"
"No, I want to travel so I can learn and maybe do some good for other people. Find out what more I can do."
"I don't know, but I'm sure I'll know once I get there."
"See, that's your problem, Korra. You don't plan ahead of things."
"Not always." she said rather defensively, "But that doesn't mean I don't when I have to. I know what I'm going to do."
"But you don't have a clue once you get there."
"Well, no but--"
"Exactly! Korra, if you just go with your gut all the time things aren't going to turn out the way you expected."
"Isn't that what life is all about? The unexpected? Where's the surprises, the unexpected twists that only make things more exciting?"
"Korra, it's cute how you're so idealistic on this whole thing, but in the real world, people will eat you up alive."
Korra's jaw dropped and the dragon birds all chirped/gasped in shock. Korra had never felt more insulted in her life. How dare he say this about her. It was clear that this boy was still very clueless as to who she really was. She didn't say a word but instead got up from the chair and walked out. Mako immediately realized the error of his words.
"No, wait, wait, Korra I didn't mea--Hey!" Rainbow Dash began pecking on his head in furry before flying off behind Korra. Mako went after her. He caught her walking down the hallway, her expression still stern as he stepped in front of her.
"Hey, wait! I didn't mean to insult you, I was just saying you don't know how the world works."
Mako was not making this any better, "Not, that you're stupid or anything--"
"No, just clueless, right?"
"No! No, just let me explain!"
Korra tried to leave, but the reluctant firebender was blocking her path. "Just move!"
Mako then gripped Korra's arms, "No, I'm not letting you leave." the man himself couldn't believe what he said. But even with those words, he still got a punch in the gut from the young woman. He groaned in pain as she walked away from him. She opened the doors of the arena and walked out in a huff with Mako still following.
"Wait! I never said you were clueless, you're not you're just, inexperienced."
Korra turned around to face him, her hair wiping and resting on her shoulders, "Oh, and you are? You can't even tell when a person is being nice to you!"
"It's just, you see, what I mean is that, I…" poor Mako couldn't find the words to say. He was so lost even in his own reasoning.
Realizing his struggle, Korra began to feel sympathy for him. Maybe she had been a bit too harsh before. He approached him and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"What you mean is, I'm not like you. I think I get it."
You think I'm ignorant, princess
And you've seen so many things
I guess, it must be so
Still I cannot see
If the naive one is me
How can there be so much that you don't know?
You don't know…
Korra gestured him to follow him, which he did. Now he was curious as to how she will explain how she sees the world. She led him towards the bay, walking down alongside the shore as she lifted up an old stick.
Some think they own whatever land you land on
The earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock, and tree, and creature
Has a life
Has a spirit
Has a name
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk in the footsteps of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew
You never knew
Korra allowed the dragon birds to circle around Mako and Pinkie Pie nuzzled his cheeks. As she continued to explain her perspectives, the two walked down along the bay where the fishermen worked.
Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?
Or ask the grinning bobcat why he grins?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind
Mako was now beginning to somewhat understand what Korra was trying to say. She was explaining all the many wonders the world has to offer and what she hopes to see in the future, and those are things we can't always plan ahead for, but let them happen to see what comes next. She led him to the park, where they were now surrounded by nature.
Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest
Come taste the sun sweet berried of the earth
Come roll in all the riches all around you
And for once, never wonder what they're worth
The rainstorm and the river are my brothers
The heron and the otter are my friends
And we are all connected to each other
In a circle
In a hoop that never ends
Twilight rested on Korra's arm while Sunset rested on Mako's and, at the same time, they lifted up their hands and watched as the two birds flew up into the sun shinning sky.
How high does the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down
Then you'll never know!
And you'll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
For wether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind.
You can own the earth and still
All you'll own is earth
Until you can paint
With all the colors
Mako looked deep into Korra's eyes, admiring the life and fire within them as her words started to become clear. It was at that moment he realized, maybe he was the one who needed to learn more from her. For a moment the two stood there, gazing into each other's eyes, until Korra heard the sound of police sirens.
She spotted the cops and she quickly took Mako by the arm and the two hid behind a bush. She saw the police officers, many of whom were close to the chief, as they spoke to one another.
"Sir, we've searched the park this morning and we still didn't find her."
"The Chief said to double check every place she has been. Tenzin's daughter has got to be around somewhere."
Korra silently gasped. They were searching for her. She should have known her father would do something like this. She knew she needed to get back home, and soon.
"They're looking for me." said Korra in a hushed tone so only Mako could hear her. "My father must have sent them." once the cops left the area, Korra stood up. "I need to go."
Mako quickly took her arm, stopping her. "Wait!"
"Tell Bolin I'm sorry."
He was still holding on to her wrist, but he didn't know what else to say. He knew he wanted to see her again, but how was he going to say it? Would she take it the wrong way and think he was hitting on her? Would she say no? Would her father say no? Luckily, he didn't have to ask anymore.
"I'll see you around, okay?" Korra gave him a reassuring smile before he slowly released her hand and they went their separate ways.
Korra approached the cops who recognized her immediately. She didn't say a word and one of the cops spoke into his walk talky, "Chief, we found her."
The cops politely escorted the young lady away as Mako only looked on. He knew she would keep her word. He will see Korra again.
But, the next time might not be in the way he thought.