1: How to Die Without Trying
Four Years Previously
Bolin trudged home, his head down, his shaggy black hair covering his face and a doggy bag in his left hand. He had a backpack slung over his shoulder, and he was absolutely was exhausted. For almost three weeks, he had taken a job at Narook's to help pay for the pro-bending team. Even if Asami was sponsoring the team, he wanted to feel worth something.
Ever since Korra had left for the Southern Water Tribe with Mako on her heels, both of them quitting the pro-bending team and leaving him Captain, he was swamped with funding new teammates, working a day-job and helping Asami with her business. Aniyah, their waterbender, and Kurt, their firebender, did not have the same brilliance as Mako and Korra, but were great people. They simply lacked confidence, which had resulted in them being the new record holders for the fastest knockout in probending history.
He sighed, feeling a bruise underneath his eye. The same thugs from the Triads kept finding him and, as they said, beating some sense into him. They wanted him to join up. They wanted him to do drugs with them. They wanted him to convince Korra to restore their bending, even though Korra had previously refused.
But until she agreed, Bolin was their human punching bag. Ad he had successfully hidden all of his bruises with only one person knowing his secret: Mako's ex, Asami Sato.
She was the only one who understood what it was like to be rejected by Mako, and by Korra. They tried to put on a happy face whenever the lovey-dovey couple was around, but they didn't do so well. Asami and he mourned in private the many times he was over at her house.
Bolin pushed open the door to his house, ready to sneak into his bedroom and relax.
"Bolin?" A voice asked, making him jump.
"Mako? What are you doing here? I thought you were with Korra!" Bolin said in shock.
Mako shrugged. "I got a job opportunity."
"Really? What are you gonna be doing?"
"Beifong offered me a job as a cop."
Bolin's heart thudded to a stop. He had applied for that job weeks ago, and Beifong said that he could have it. But Mako urged him not to take it, because of the danger.
"How could you do this to me?" Bolin asked in shock.
Mako rolled his eyes. "Bo-"
"How could you? I wanted that job. They offered it to me. How could you take it?"
Mako sighed in a condescending way. "Bo, it's too dangerous for you-"
"But not for you?" Bolin retorted. "When will you stop treating me like a little kid? I'm seventeen, a grown man. I can handle danger just as good as you and Korra."
"I've always been the one to handle danger!" Mako snapped.
"Please. I've handled danger," Bolin rolled his eyes. "Have you forgotten that I was actually doing something while you and Korra were off saving the world? Or were you too busy kissing to notice?"
Mako clenched his jaw. "It's none of your business."
"I'm your brother-"
"Well, Bolin, sometimes I wish you weren't!" Mako snapped.
Bolin instantly recoiled. "Take that back."
Mako glared at him. "No. Now get out of my sight."
Bolin, with hatred that alarmed even him, spat at Mako's feet before leaving the room, slamming the door so hard it almost fell off of its hinges.
Bolin was so mad, his blood was singing with anger. Tears blurred his eyes, but he angrily wiped them away. "Get a hold of yourself, Bo," he mumbled, not caring who saw, "it's time."
He waved for a bus at the bus stop, and soon found himself at Asami's mansion, striding to the front door and knocking firmly on her door. Asami soon came to the door, her hair soaked and body hastily wrapped in a white plush bathrobe. "Bolin?" Asami inquired. "What's going on?"
Bolin swallowed and chuckled softly. "Asami...I need a favor."
"Mako, we've got a situation," Chief Beifong stated, sitting down next to him at lunch. Mako swallowed his last dumpling before looking at his boss. "What's up, Chief?"
"New criminal on the loose, his name's Hasir. I recommended you and your brother to put him behind bars."
"Bolin's not even a cop."
"He's the one I wanted to take this position," Lin retorted. "You in or out?"
"In," Mako stated without a moment of hesitation. "Definitely."
"Good," Lin grimaced, the closest thing to a smile he'd ever seen on her face. "We'll meet up tomorrow at the old warehouse. Our Confidential Informant says that he's hiding out there. Ready for this, city boy?"
Bolin didn't even look at his brother the entire ride to the warehouse that morning. Instead, he focused on his and Asami's conversation from a few days ago.
/Asami stared at him like he had evolved into a platypus-bear. "You want me to—"
"Yes," Bolin interrupted.
"How exactly do you propose I do so? Money can't exactly do that, and neither can my looks. And that's on the off chance I actually agree to this."
"Please, Asami. Please?" Bolin looked at her with his patented puppy-dog eyes.
Asami sighed. "I must be losing my marbles."/
Bolin pulled on his pack the second the police car screeched to a halt and exited the vehicle, walking in sync behind his ex-brother, Lin Beifong, and a few other officers. They opened the door slowly.
Bolin entered the building, repressing a shudder when he heard a voice erupt from a corner of the room. "Hello, officers." But Bolin smiled when he saw Mako almost jump out of his pants. Hasir was a tall, burly man with a curly mustache, bad teeth and a deep voice. "Come to take me by force?"
"We'll sure try," Mako growled, and Bolin rolled his eyes.
Lin stomped at the ground and created an earthquake, sending Hasir tumbling backwards into a column.
A spark of an idea flared in Bolin's mind, and he earth-bent the column, but it careened suddenly into Mako. Bolin winced, but he didn't really care.
"Bolin! You piece of crap! What the hell was that for?" Mako yelled.
Bolin opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly, he was in a world of pain. He looked down at his stomach, and as he saw a knife protruding from his stomach, he fell to his knees.
"Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" Lin Beifong sounded and looked like she was underwater as she ran towards him.
Mako's face, frozen in disbelief, was the last thing Bolin saw before he blacked out.
Mako felt like his life had been sucked out of him like a vacuum cleaner as he and a few other officers waited in the waiting room of the local hospital. Bolin had lost consciousness the second Hasir had stabbed him, and how they had gotten to the hospital was all fuzzy to Mako.
Asami had suddenly pulled up and taken Bolin to the hospital, while Beifong, Mako, and the other officers had taken their squad cars. But Mako had barely noticed. His mind was still full of Bolin, his baby brother, getting stabbed in the back. Blood had been leaking out of him by the boatload, and Mako had just stood there like an idiot.
What was wrong with him?
Footsteps from down the hall drew him from his reverie. Everyone sat up stiffly, watching Asami with pleading eyes. Her eyes were red and puffy; the trails of fresh tears still lingering on her face.
"No," Mako begged, almost inaudible.
"He never made it off the table," Asami said, dissolving into fresh tears.
Mako was struck dumb. "No." He buried his face in his hands.
"Yes," Asami said.
Mako felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned right into Asami's firm left hook. It was the absolute hardest that anybody, including Korra, had ever hit him, and the force of it sent him sprawling to the floor with his head buzzing.
"How could you have been such an asshole?" Asami yelled, her words coming out in gasps. "How could you?"
Being stabbed would've hurt more than Asami's words.
One officer pried Asami off of him, and escorted her into the hallway, but she managed to flip him off three times before disappearing.
Mako sat on the ground, his face pale, but his mind was working at lightning speeds. "He's dead?" He asked no one in particular, already knowing that when he walked into the hallway, or into his apartment, Bolin would not be waiting for him. Never. Not again.
And with his mind spinning, he collapsed onto the floor and did something he hadn't done since he was a small child—he cried. "I'm so sorry, Bo," Mako gasped. "I'm so sorry."
His baby brother was dead. The whole world should be black and cold. Nothing should be beautiful.
Korra, his beloved girlfriend, suddenly stormed in, two officers and a tear-soaked Asami behind her. "Mako!" She strode to him, kneeling on the floor. "Are you alright? I heard that something happened to Bolin..."
"Oh, haven't you heard?" Asami's voice was cruel, hard. Mako had never heard anything like it. "Bolin is dead. And Mako killed him!"
Mako's face flushed as he looked up at Asami. "That is not true."
"You hypocrite!" Asami screamed. "If you hadn't distracted him, he'd still be alive!"
"He's dead!" Korra asked, her eyes wide.
"And you!" Asami rounded on Korra. "Don't even pretend to start caring. You never gave a rat's ass about Bolin. 'Who's Bolin? Oh, Mako's dumb younger brother."
"Bolin is not dumb."
"Do you even know anything about him?" Asami fired back. "Do you know anything about Bolin?"
"Uh..." Korra hesitated.
"When's his birthday?"
"Er...wait, I know this..."
"When's Mako's birthday?"
Korra stated Mako's birthday without a moment's hesitation.
"See." Asami's voice was hard. "Both of you know nothing about him."
Mako looked at his ex-girlfriend. "Okay, I'm going to stop you right there."
"Why? Did I hit a nerve?"
"I know everything about him."
"That may be so, city boy, but when was the last time you even acknowledged him?" Asami asked, hands on her hips. "The very last words he ever heard were you telling him that he was a piece of crap."
Korra started to speak, but Mako cut her off. "Hold on. How did you even know that?"
Asami's face was set, her eyes were angry, but Mako noticed that her ears were turning red. "One of the officers told me."
"Oh," Mako said, standing up. Her explanation did not satisfy him.
"Well, everybody," Asami stated, "as lovely as it was to get together with you on this fine evening, I'm leaving." And with those words, she ran out of the room.
A minute later, Mako stormed out of the waiting room, past Asami, past a dumbfounded Korra, past Lin Beifong, past the doctors. He stopped right outside the morgue, where two doctors were having a serious conversation.
Mako pushed past them and ran into another room full of needles. There was nothing left for him in Republic City. There was nothing left in the world for him.
Bolin, he thought, lifting a needle filled with a mysterious liquid to his arm with the precision of a surgeon, I'm sorry.
And he plunged the needle into his arm.