The Other Side of Me

8: Alone With No Hope and the Rain

Present Day

Bolin lay on the floor staring at the ceiling, which was pretty much what he did every day since he'd gotten captured, and wondered what was going to come next. Ever since they'd killed Ash—something he still couldn't think about without sobbing—the Triads, Agni Kais, and Gainika had pretty much left him alone. At first he was grateful, but after a while the silence and isolation started getting to him.

He would begin to draw small stick figures with his long, uncut nails in the dirt of his prison cell. He concentrated especially on two: one with long dark hair, and green peas for eyes that were a lucky steal from his dinner one or two or five nights ago, and one with short, curly hair and tiny blueberries that he'd found in his pocket, of all places, for eyes. He would carefully label his friends' names over his stick figures: Asami, Midori, Vanek (who was one of his first ones to draw because he was always there for a laugh back in college and did stand-up comedy acts at the bar that Bolin worked at), Tukka (who Bolin had met first and always, always beat him in Pai Sho, so Bolin drew him holding the Pai Sho dice), Akari, (who held a medical kit because Bolin desperately needed to be fixed), Madoka, (who he drew wearing a wedding ring and holding hands with Tukka, because he knew that Tukka wanted to propose to her), Vahni and Kaito, (who he drew dancing to the same song…what was it, yes, The Varsity Drag, and even a tiny version of the apartment building to go with it just to make it right), and several of his professors (even the annoying, know-it-all ones) because he felt that he needed company to make it through this ordeal.

Bolin even attempted to draw Mako and Korra once or twice, but it had been years since he'd seen them and he'd maybekindasorta forgotten what'd they looked like after all this time…and besides, according to the Triads they were the reason he was going through this in the first place and whydon'tyoubetraythem,Bolin,life'llbeeasierifyoujustcooperate…Nonono…can'tbetrayanyone,nonono, nottherightthingtodo, it's Not-Right…I'm Not-Right.

He would use the water that tended to appear like magic during his bouts of unconsciousness to wash his friends' hair, because he just didn't think that any of them wanted the lice that he had (and oh, how tired he was of itching, itching, itching his dirty mane of hair) and gave them tiny crumbs of the food that would also appear every so often in the corner of the room while he slept.

His body felt weaker and weaker with every passing moment. He used to make an effort to walk around the room each day to try and keep up his strength and stretch his muscles, but after a while, he didn't find it in himself to do it (and besides, why would he walk when he could talk to Asami, Midori, and his other friends…)

He drank a tiny sip of the tepid, disgusting water (but he wasn't going to complain, at least it was water) and turned to Fake-Asami. "So how's your business going?" he asked, scratching her a briefcase to make it seem more realistic.

Good so far, but… Fake-Asami would always hesitate, like she wasn't sure what to say. Well, I signed a contract with General Iroh that I would ship him some of the products to help him with the rebel villagers in Panok Town and the Fire Nation.

"What rebel villagers?"

She would click her tongue in surprise and pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear. Haven't you kept up with the news, Bo?

He wanted to scream and rage and shout that 'how could he watch the news when he was trapped in this hellhole?' but the last time he did that, she and his friends went away for days and he was alone again. "I've heard, 'Sami," he lied, his mind working furiously for the first time in days, trying to think of something to say to keep Fake-Asami there.

It's not good to lie, Bo, she said, and suddenly Zolt was there (nonono, Zolt, go away, not here, not here) and he had a whip in his right hand and a knife in his left hand while Bolin cried and swish-flick…sillyboy, you stupid little shit, didn'tyourmommaeverteachyouitwasn'tgoodtotellalietoyoursuperior, and Bolin would reply 'no, my Momma is gone because scum like you killed her!' which would undoubtedly lead to more swearing and cursing and leaving him feeling horrible and bruised as he was deposited back in his cell for the night.

She sighed. I'll go away for now. Blue wants to talk to you. Then Fake-Midori, with her bouncy hair and blue eyes that would always bring him to his knees, appeared. Bolin…

"Hey, Blue Eyes," he grinned. "How ya doing?"

Please…Bo, don't do this to yourself…there's gotta be something else you can do…

"There isn't!" he shouted. "I'm trapped here for frigging ever, no one is coming for me! I've tried it all, Midori, I can't do anything anymore! Stay away from me…" he groaned, curling into the fetal position. "I'm a monster. Everyone dies because of me…"

I'm here. She placed a warm hand on his shoulder. So is Asami…we're here for you, Bo. Just hang on.

"Ash," he whimpered. "Ash is dead because of me, Midori…I got him into this, and it's my entire fault…"

Nothing is your fault, she intoned. You are going to be fine.

He turned away from her.

Don't you shut me out, she warned.

The door suddenly scraped open, and his friends flickered and disappeared, like ghosts. He could've sworn that Fake-Midori and Fake-Asami flashed him small smiles before leaving him alone. The sound of the door assaulted his senses after being in isolation for so long. He had almost jumped out of his skin to see Gainika standing there, unsure what to make of this.

"Get up," she commanded, curling her lip in disgust. He didn't blame her in the slightest: he was disgusted with himself too. Suddenly Gainika grabbed his arm and yanked him painfully to his feet. "On your feet, street scum!"

He attempted to lock his knees under him in an attempt to stay on his feet. He felt so disoriented: how long had it been since he'd stood up? Days? Weeks? Years, even? They moved down a short hallway and suddenly, after so long, he felt the warmth of the sun on his back. He cried out: after so long in the dark, the sunlight was almost unbearable to his eyes.

Finally, they came to a room back inside, much to Bolin's disappointment. Gainika pushed Bolin to the floor in disgust before leaving.

"Wait," he croaked. "G'nika…"

Gainika turned around. "What?" she spat, literally spitting at his feet. "What do you want?"

He considered. What did he really want? He really wanted to be free, and to be back home, back in Ba Sing Se in his apartment with the radio blasting and Vanek and Tukka and Akari and Madoka and Asami and Midori and whycan'tIbehome, whyamIevenhere, Iwannagohome… "I want to take a shower," he found himself saying.

Gainika raised an eyebrow before laughing until she was on her knees gasping for breath, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes. "You want a shower?" she asked sarcastically, "then you're gonna get one, darling."

"Thank you," he whispered, although it came out more like "fuck you." Hell, what was the difference? He was gonna get punished even if he got her in bed with him and told her that she was the most beautiful girl in the world like he did when they were together and he didn't know that she was a spy for the Agni Kais.

She slammed the door shut, leaving him once more in the blessed dark. Once his eyes adjusted again, he could see that this room was slightly better furnished than the last one: it had an actual cot with no blankets, but that was fine by him, a plastic cup on the floor, and a table with a radio on it that was blasting static…

A radio. Spirits, a radio. Bolin felt a feeling blossom inside him to the point that he felt a shriveled up ball of hope form in his stomach. Maybe if he turned to the right station, he could get into the police hotline, and then he could contact Beifong and Mako and they'd rescue him…Spirits, he had a plan. It felt incredible. He made to get to his feet before a horrible feeling of lightheadedness came over him and he immediately passed out.

What felt like a few minutes later, he awoke to rain. Then more. He opened his eyes wide, finding the floor and the cot completely soaked in water. Thunderstorm, he realized. Shit! "Shit!" he shouted.

How was the rain getting in? He looked up to see if there was a hole in the ceiling or something, and there wasn't. Somehow it was raining in his prison cell. Tue and La…how is this happening to me?

With strength that surprised him, he made his way over to the table, almost knocking the radio set over onto the wet floor, which had almost an inch of rain on it. He twisted the dial as hard as he could, desperately trying to remember what the radio number for the police dispatch was…and if they'd changed it over the years since he'd left…

"Damn it!" He slapped his hand on top of the radio set. "Work already, goddamnit! Please, work, please, please!"

Suddenly, the drone of static changed to a voice, the voice of a dispatch operator. "My name is Lei, you've reached the Republic City Department of Safety; how may I assist you?"

"Oh, Spirits," he sobbed. "Please, please help me, I'm locked up alone…"

"Hello? Hello, is anyone there?"

He leaned closer to the radio, almost shouting at the top of his lungs. "HELP ME!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.

"Sir, the line must be having problems, I can hear you faintly, all right? Just keep screaming, all right? Where are you?"

"I don't know," he shouted, hating the fact that he was straining his voice. "They kidnapped me…I need to talk to Beifong, Lin Beifong! Put her on the line!"

"Miss Beifong isn't here at the moment—" Suddenly the line was interrupted by a voice that Bolin knew almost as well as he knew his own. "What's going on, Lei?"

"Mako!" Bolin screamed, praying that he could hear. "Please, please help me…please."

"Who is this?" asked his brother curiously. Bolin could practically see his older brother raise his eyebrows, thinking hard in the police station.

"It's Bolin—it's me, Bolin, please Mako, you have to help—" Bolin paused. "M-Mako?…" the radio had been taken over by someone laughing hard, a laugh that he unfortunately recognized and made his heart go still.

"It's amazing what we can do with a little voice-recording, isn't it, Bolin?" asked Gainika, still chuckling. "Ha…see you in the morning, darling."

"Fuck you!" he screamed, tears pouring down his face as his hope dissipated in the rain. "Fuck you, Gainika!"

"You've never offered in the past, darling," she simpered. "Have a good evening."

Bolin roared in agony, kicking the table hard, making the radio fly across the room and hit a wall, crashing into the water and luckily not electrocuting him.

He cried himself to sleep that evening. The rain didn't let up. Neither did his tears.

(*) (*)

They took him back to his cell in the morning. By then, Bolin's ragged clothes were completely soaked. He had definitely come down with a cold: his teeth chattered and a wracking cough had developed sometime in the night.

The Goon Squad threw him down onto the wonderfully dry floor of his cell, and Bolin lay there, not willing to say anything at all to them. The door slammed shut, leaving Bolin in isolation once more. Bolin rolled onto his side, wanting to talk to Stick-Vanek or maybe even Stick-Kaito, to calm his nerves. But they weren't there. Frantically checking the floor, even under himself, to see if he missed anything, but none of his stick-figures were there.

Bolin began to cry again. This time, it wasn't from being tricked, or beaten to within an inch of his life by Zolt or even from starvation. He cried because he realized that now, after all this time and suffering, he realized that now he was truly alone.

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