The Other Side of Me

20: The Dog Days are Over

One Day Previously

"When you hear the whistle blowin' eight to the bar, then you know that Ba Sing Se is not very far, shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin', woo, woo, Chattanooga there you are…"

Midori swept the floor of her bedroom, keeping time with the music pouring out of her radio. Asami had yelled at her to turn off the slow music that she had been dancing to earlier, probably because it reminded Midori's older sister of Liao or Bolin. Midori, on the other hand, had been thinking of Xin when the music was playing—she'd had a huge crush on the beaten-up, funny Agni Kai ever since Liao had first introduced his partner to the Krew.

"There's gonna be," she hummed, "a certain party at the station, yes, yes… satin and lace…I used to call "funny face"…" She giggled. "She's gonna cry, until I tell her that I'll never ro-oh-ohm, yeah! So Chattanooga choo choo, won't you choo-choo me home?"

"Miss Sato!" called Batora from downstairs. Midori kept dancing around the room and singing before flopping on her bed, dropping the broom on the floor, assuming that the butler was talking to Asami. "Miss Sato, someone's on the phone for you! He says his name is Xin—"

Quickly, Midori shut off the radio to the last strains of 'Chattanooga Choo-Choo' and ran as fast as she could to answer the phone, screaming, "I'll get it!" She jumped on the banister and slid all the way down the spiral staircase, frightening a couple of maids on the way, and landed gracefully at the bottom. Midori jogged into the kitchen, grabbed the phone from a bewildered Batora.

"Xin?" she asked, out of breath and anxious to hear the Agni Kai's voice. "It's me, Midori. What the hell is going on?"

"Oh, thank the Spirits." Xin sounded genuinely relieved, and she couldn't blame him. Batora could be really standoffish when he wanted to be. "Listen to me, Midori, it's about Bolin." That got her attention. "He got tortured really severely and has a pulmonary em…embalm…emboli…" Xin struggled with the term before giving up, "well; he has a blood clot in his lungs. Our meddie, er, our head doctor fixed him up as best as he could, but he's not going last another week if Gainika or Zolt keep torturing him. Liao and I are breaking him out now."

Midori gasped. Bolin had a blood clot in his lungs?! How severely tortured did he have to be to receive that? What had those bastards done to him? But more importantly... how could Liao and Xin break him out now? They'd had a plan and everything! "Holy shit," she said, unable to think of anything else to say. "What—how—what's…?" She gulped. "W-what do you want us to do, Xin?"

"Drive up to Ba Sing Se. It's the huge compound near the Raju Forest, you can't miss it: there're trucks patrolling a huge barbed-wire fence on top of a flat ridge. Get off of the interstate and turn left onto the exit…fourteen, I think it is? No, fifteen. Yeah, that's it. You got it?"

"Hold on..." Midori hurriedly scratched down the directions Xin had told her: huge compound near Raju Forest, barbed wire fence, flat ridge, and take exit fifteen. "I'm back. Any other directions?"

"No. Just get here as fast as you can, and bring Mako and Korra too, because…" Xin's voice trailed off. Midori suddenly felt terrified.

"Hey! You still there?" she asked, praying her voice wasn't quivering.

"Yeah," Xin said, his voice sounding a bit suspicious, but she relaxed. "Just have to—Mhmm!" She heard a horrible sound on the other end of the line, followed by loud thumps and footsteps, and grew terrified, hoping against hope that Xin was just playing a joke on her…

"Xin. Stop it, that's not funny," she said, trembling. "Stop it already. Xin? Xin! XIN! Spirits, Xin, answer me! XIN—" She abruptly cut off once she heard a low voice growl a threat into the phone that had her weak in the knees.

"Don't you fucking move, Xin," growled the low voice. "Or you'll bleed out before you even realize it."

Midori began to scream again. "Xin! Spirits, damnit, let him go! Xin! Oh, Spirits, Xin! Come on! Answer me! Please! XIN!"

She heard Xin moan in pain, and started to sob as she listened to another voice give her friend a death threat.

"You are going to die," swore a second voice that Xin also recognized. "You hear me? You're going to fucking die. You can count on that, you scum fuck traitor."

"XIN!" she wailed. The curly-haired teenager swore into the telephone, clutching the phone like a lifeline. "Xin, damnit! Please, goddamnit, answer me!"

"Hello?" asked the second voice, who sounded almost amused. She wanted to vomit. "Midori, was it?" She wanted to vomit even more when she heard her name. "Your friend is a bit…indisposed at the moment. I'm afraid he'll have to call you back later. Goodbye!"

"Fuck you bastards! Let him go!" she screamed. "Fuck you shit-eating pieces of crap! Let him go!" Midori continued to scream long after Xin's kidnappers hung up on her and the dial tone rang cruelly in her ears. "Oh, Spirits, oh, Spirits, XIN! Xin!"

"Midori!" Suddenly Asami was by her side, her hand clamped down on her shoulder. Her outfit was stained with soot from the racetrack, goggles rested haphazardly on her forehead, and her sleek black hair was askew, dirty and stuck out in different directions. She'd probably been testing one of her all-terrain vehicles this afternoon. "Midori, babe, what's the matter?"

Midori threw herself into her sister's arms and sobbed, still clutching the phone. "'Sami," the curly-haired teenager keened, tears pouring down her face. "Spirits, no…"

"Babe," Asami's voice cracked, "what is it? Tell me. Please, Midori." Asami stroked Midori's hair, and the girl almost burst into tears again at the gentle touch. "It's okay, tell me."

Midori sniffled, her eyes bloodshot as she mumbled what had happened. Her words were muffled by Asami's chest.

"What?" Asami pressed gently.

The curly-haired teenager looked up, her entire frame trembling. "X-Xin c-called me, 'Sami," she whimpered. "H-he told me that—that Bolin was in trouble… Bo was t-tortured really severely, and he had to have surgery by the m-meddies. He's okay now, and Xin and Liao are breaking him out. B-but…Xin was talking to me, and then he w-was taken by some people… Asami, I think he's in trouble. Big, big trouble. The p-person called him a scum-fuck traitor, and hit Xin. Then he told m-me," Midori gulped, "that Xin was indisposed. They told him that he was going to die, that they were going to k-kill him." She gasped, a couple of tears leaking down her face. "Oh, Spirits, Asami, I'm scared, I am so scared…"

Asami wanted to ask her little sister a thousand questions, like whether or not Xin was sure Bolin was okay, if Liao was okay too, how exactly the two Agni Kais were going to break him out a week ahead of schedule…but at once realized that she couldn't ask anything, at least not yet.

Midori did not want to be asked anything now, Asami knew. She needed comfort. She'd just heard her crush being kidnapped by Agni Kais. More importantly, she needed her sister.

Unsure what else to do, the heiress hugged her adopted sister until both Midori's tears and her trembling stopped.

"We need to rescue Xin," Midori whispered. "And Bolin and Liao, too, Asami. We just have to—"

"Shh," Asami soothed, "we will, babe. We will. We'll be there with bells on." We'll rescue you, Asami thought determinedly, praying that Bolin and the two Agni Kai Recruits were unharmed.

Bo, Xin, Liao, we're coming for you. A bit sooner than planned, but we're coming. You can fucking count on that.

(*) (*)

Mako shifted uncomfortably in his desk chair, trying to concentrate on filling out the last bit of paperwork for the recent trial of Dr. Zhen. His newly assigned partner, Aiko, had already gone home for the night—Mako had insisted on it. Aiko had a wife and a six-month-old child to take care of, whereas if Mako went home he would just end up brooding Bolin's current situation while nursing a bottle of whiskey with Korra. How Asami had managed to cope like this for so long, he would never know. It was almost killing him to not tell Beifong to drop everything, go to Ba Sing Se and rescue his little brother from hell.

"Detective Mako?" His secretary, Mishu, motioned him over to her desk quickly, pushing up her glasses on the bridge of her nose. Mako stood up and walked over, cracking his back with pleasure even as Mishu flinched slightly. "There's someone on the phone for you."

"Is it Korra?" he asked.

"No, sir," Mishu shook her head, and Mako felt stupid asking. Korra had called so many times in the last couple months that his secretary could probably recognize her voice in a crowded room. "She says her name is Midori Sato."

Mako furrowed his brows. Midori? Why in the world would Midori be calling him? He could only think of one reason, and that was his little brother. "Are you sure it was Midori?" he asked, checking. "Not Asami Sato?"

Mishu looked offended. "I know what I heard, Detective," she said coolly, handing him the phone before twisting the dial on her radio set. "Would you mind if I turned on the radio, sir?"

"No," Mako said offhandedly before placing the phone next to his ear, already anxious of whatever Midori was going to tell him. "Detective Mako speaking."

"Mako! Oh thank the Spirits I managed to get a hold of you," Midori babbled into the line, her voice loud and her words all jumbled together. "Mako, Xin called me today to tell me that Bolin was in surgery but then Xin got kidnapped when he was talking to me by some Agni Kais but Xin told me that we had to rescue Bolin and now I'm really scared that they got to Xin and Liao and we have to go and rescue them all, Mako, we've just got to—"

"Hey, hang on, hang on just one second," Mako said, unable to follow anything the curly-haired teenager was saying. "Midori, I can't understand what you're saying."

He heard Midori take a deep breath and let it out slowly, obviously exasperated. "Xin's been kidnapped. Bolin, Liao and Xin are in a shitload of trouble. Can you comprehend that, Detective?"

Now Mako was exasperated. "How do you know that," he lowered his voice, "Xin's been kidnapped?"

"Oh, for the love of—the guys who kidnapped him called him a scum fuck traitor, told him that he was going to die—correction, that they were going to kill him—and then told me that he was indisposed," huffed Midori. "Is that clear enough for you?"

"So, what, are we rescuing my brother early?" Mako tried to keep his voice low in order to keep Mishu, who was bobbing her head along to the radio. "Is that it?"

He could practically hear the teenager rolling her eyes. "What a wonderful observation there, sir! That is surely a deduction worthy of such a high class detective—"

"Would you shut up already, Midori?" growled the detective.

"Fine, I'll write your praises on a scroll so I can unfold it dramatically. Can I just cut to the chase?"

"Oh, there's more? Fabulous." How much worse could their situation possibly get? Liao, Xin, and his little brother were all in trouble, and now Midori was telling him that there was more? He fought the urge to swear. "Enlighten me, Miss Sato."

"Mako." Her voice grew serious, and Mako instantly grew worried. "Look, um. 'Sami turned on the radio to see how her stock was doing, right? Then her program was interrupted. It's still being interrupted—the message has been played sixteen times, nope, seventeen times now."

"What message?" asked Mako desperately.

"Turn on Channel K5X," was the curly-haired teenager's response. "Quickly. I don't know when they're going to turn it off, but it's really serious. Please."

Mako looked over to Mishu, who was humming along to 'The Varsity Drag', and coughed. The secretary's head shot up. "Mishu, turn on Channel K5X. Now," he barked.

The secretary looked miffed, but with another glare from Mako, she changed the station, where a female voice was finishing saying something about Republic City and the Avatar. Mako listened to the end of her spiel with a frown. "So?" he asked Midori with a furrowed brow. "What's the problem?"

"Listen, it's about to repeat."

Mako listened intently to the radio, which played a crackle of static for a few seconds before immediately going back to the same female voice as last time.

"Hello, citizens of Republic City," said the woman in a melodious voice. Mako could practically hear her beaming. "If you're not aware, my name is Gainika. I am the Section Leader of the Kasai Mage Makumei—better known in the streets of this fine city as the Agni Kais—and am also the current leader of the Triple Threat Triads."

Mako's breath caught in his chest. Mishu gasped.

"Mishu, get Chief Beifong here right now," he growled. Mishu scampered off, almost tripping on the piles of paperwork scattered all over the floor. Mako continued to listen, turning up the volume and hanging on to the phone for dear life.

"I apologize for the temporary interruption of this channel, but I needed to make a very important announcement to the even more important Avatar," Gainika stated. "Madam Avatar—this involves the brother of your boyfriend. No, contrary to popular belief, he is alive and well—perhaps not well, but he is definitely still alive." Gainika chuckled. "For now."

Mako wanted to shoot her in the head. His grip on the phone tightened.

"Avatar Korra, tomorrow night the Kasai Mage Makumei and the Triple Threat Triads will execute your boyfriend's brother on every transmitting radio station in the United Republic. There is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent this—money, drugs, immunity: this we all happen to have." The Section Leader's voice lowered dramatically, and now sounded downright intimidating. "Hopefully the murder of your friend will convince you to give every one of us our bending back, Madam Avatar. If you do not give us back our bending in precisely forty-eight hours after the death of Bolin, then our gangs will wage war on this fair city until you come crawling on your hands and knees begging us to back off.

Gainika continued. "Do not make every citizen suffer for your asinine behavior. Give us back our bending, and no citizen will be harmed. Leave us your response on the radio tomorrow evening after Bolin's execution. We will be waiting.

"If you are even entertaining the notion that we are bluffing, kindly take your head out of your ass. I've brought along our young prisoner to say hello to you. How are you, Bolin?"

Mako held his breath and nearly burst into tears as the hoarse, shaky voice of his little brother that he hadn't heard for nearly half a decade entered the conversation. "Burst into f-flames and…die."

"Isn't he just a charmer?" Gainika laughed. "You know what to do, Madam Avatar. Citizens of Republic City, have a wonderful evening." The message cut off to static, and Mako stared helplessly into space, his mouth half open and his stomach somewhere along his knees.

Midori started to speak again, but her voice cracked. She fought to compose herself. "See what I mean?"

Mako nodded, not caring that the curly-haired teenager couldn't see him. "I'll be over in ten minutes," he said slowly before hanging up on the younger Sato, placing the phone on Mishu's desk, dropped to his knees in front of a trash can and emptied the contents of his stomach into it, tears pouring down his face.

"Kid." He looked up to see the police chief standing behind him, Mishu hovering a few steps next to her. "Your brother's alive?"

Mako nodded again, wiping some saliva off of his face.

"How long've you known?"

"Two months, Chief," he whispered. "I couldn't get the police involved, or h-he'd die. I—I'm sorry, I just couldn't let Bo die because of me."

"Hey." Lin shook her head. "I thought your brother was dead once, Mako. I'm not letting it happen for real this time. I'm ordering you to get Bolin back, kid. You, your girlfriend, and the Sato's. Get him back. That's an order, Detective."

Despite his overwhelming despair, Mako couldn't help but smile. "You got it, Chief," he managed to say before tearing up.

I'll get you back, brother. You aren't dying on me. Not now. Not ever.

(*) (*)

Present Day

Bolin pushed himself to his feet, pressing his bloody knuckles against the palm of his right hand. He walked around his cell, counting his steps to keep himself calm. After all, he was going to be executed in less than twelve hours. He felt a horrible twinge in his stomach, and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

Bolin took a deep breath and let it out slowly, meeting Zolt's eyes with resolute. This was it.

Satoshi stared at Zolt with wide eyes. "NO!" he yelled, somehow leaping in front of Bolin right as the trigger was pulled with a bang.

"Ash!"

"I…I c-choose…I choose Xin."

"It is as you wish," Gainika said simply. Her hand flickered to her pocket.

Then all hell broke loose as Gainika shot Xin right between the eyes, killing him before he even hit the ground.

"NO!" Liao screamed, shooting Jiktun in the abdomen before running to his partner and never letting him go, tears pouring down his face. "Xin…I'm so sorry. Oh, Spirits, oh my Spirits…Xin!"

"We're here to perform an execution."

"Where's Liao?"

"He's been disposed of…"

Gainika fired a shot into Zolt's gut.

Bolin, the Recruits, and the Initiates were too shocked to speak or move as Gainika sauntered to a stunned Lightning Bolt Zolt's side.

"Goodbye, honey," she purred, and fired another round into the spot directly over his heart.

"Argh!" Bolin pounded his fist against the wall, unsurprised to see that it had gone through the wall. He flexed his wrist, and actually was surprised to see the wall almost cave in on itself. "Ahh," Bolin said appreciatively. He flicked his wrist, and the wall returned to normal. He took out his hand and examined it—aside from the usual cuts and bruises it had acquired for what seemed like forever, it was fine, and not deformed in any way. Un-freaking-believable.

"Damnit," he muttered with a small smile. "It only took twenty-one years, and Ash's and Xin's deaths for me to learn how to metalbend. Small world."

Maybe I could become a cop now, he thought to himself, before frowning. What was he going to do after all of this? There was no way he was going to go back to his old spot on the probending team—which had gotten even worse since he'd left for Ba Sing Se—or become a cop. It just wasn't him anymore. Which brought on the even harder question to answer—who exactly was he now? He wasn't the same Bolin he'd been four years ago, or even before the Harmonic Convergence. He hadn't been the same since Korra had walked into the probending arena, and he'd rescued her from Toza's wrath.

He chuckled without humor. Wrath was an eight-hour-long torture session with Gainika and Zolt, not the threat of Toza.

But back to the question at hand. Who was he?

"I'm Bolin," he told himself with a frown. "I'm an earthbender—metalbender now, ha—I'm twenty-one, I'm…" his voice trailed off, unsure of what else he was. Psychology major? Brother of Mako? Older brother to Midori? Lover of Asami? Gainika's prisoner. Responsible for the deaths of his parents, Xin and Satoshi Daichi…

But not Liao.

He hoped desperately that Liao was not dead.

"Damnit," he swore, collapsing to the ground and burying his face in his hands. "Liao," he muttered, "where are you?"

A sudden squeak from the door made him whirl to his feet, and he was surprised to see Gainika escorting an Agni Kai Recruit into his prison cell. Bolin's jaw dropped.

"…Liao!" Bolin stepped forward towards the Agni Kai Recruit, who was still wearing the same puke-stained uniform as he had several hours ago. Liao looked haggard, as if he'd aged forty years since Bolin had last seen him. Bolin looked at Gainika, who stared impassively at the two from the doorway of his cell. "What's he doing here?" he asked, because there just had to be a catch.

"Your last request, darling, if you remember, was to see him," Gainika replied with a small smirk. "Make it snappy. You're getting executed in six hours." Gainika walked out of the room and slammed the door shut.

"Oh, Spirits," Bolin sighed, feeling as though a great weight had dropped off of him, "thank the Spirits you're alive!"

Liao said nothing.

Bolin took a step back. He had been expecting a response from the Agni Kai Recruit, perhaps a joke or something like that. But then again, Xin was dead. He hadn't laughed for weeks after Ash or his parent's deaths, and he seriously doubted Liao would. "Liao...I—" he hesitated. "Look, I, uh, I'm really sorry about... about Xin. It, um, I'm sorry."

Liao's entire demeanor changed at the mention of his partner's name. He stiffened, and his features melded into one of pure fury.

Then he rushed toward Bolin and slapped him as hard as he possibly could.

Bolin took another step back, his eyes widening to the size of yuans. Of all the things Liao could've done or said to him, Bolin had never expected the Agni Kai to slap him.

In his surprise, Liao landed another blow to his stomach. "You unbelievably cruel heartless bastard," Liao growled, his eyes shining with angry tears. "You killed my partner! He's dead! You fucking killed him, you son of a bitch! Xin is dead, and he's never coming back and I can never tell him that I...that I cared for him, that he was like my brother...and," Liao sneered, his eyes narrowing to slits, "it is all because of you."

"I'm sorry," Bolin whispered, not knowing what he could say to make Liao stop talking. How could he convey to the Agni Kai that the guilt of Xin's death on his conscience was practically killing him? It was killing him possibly more than it had when Ash had died.

"Oh, you're sorry?" Liao cackled, and Bolin flinched. "My partner is dead because of you and you think it'll all be sunshine and roses if you just say 'sorry'?"

"I'm sorry," Bolin repeated more strongly, because really, what more could he say? "I...I didn't mean—"

"He's dead!" Liao shouted. "Damnit, Bolin, I don't fucking care what you say, because it won't fucking help, understand? Xin will still be dead. I can still see his head snapping backwards, and, oh Spirits...You have no idea what I'm going through right now, Bolin!"

At that, the earthbender snapped. "Really?" Bolin responded, incredulous. "I don't know what it feels like to lose someone I love? Yes, of course, Liao, you're right. I wasn't the one who watched my parents burn to death when I was six fucking years old. How about when I held Ash in my arms as he died? He took his last breath in my arms, and took a bullet intended for me, Liao! You think I don't know what it feels like? Of course I know what it feels like, you idiot! It feels like shit, like an anvil is weighing down my fucking insides! I know perfectly damn well how it feels."

He took a moment to compose himself.

"Now look. I really am sorry that Xin died. I'm sorry he died and I lived, Liao. Is that what you want me to say?" Bolin demanded, breathing heavily.

He prepared himself for more insults, more punches that he definitely deserved. What he didn't expect was for Liao to completely curl in on himself, fall to the ground, and start to sob. Bolin was struck dumb as he cautiously approached the crying Recruit. "Uh…Liao?" he asked carefully. "Are…you okay?"

"No, damnit, I'm not okay," Liao choked out, tears streaming down his grimy face. Bolin felt as though their roles had been reversed, with him the comforter and Liao the one in need of comfort. He'd never felt so awkward in his entire life. "Goddamnit…I'm sorry, Bolin, you're right, shit, you're right…I have no right to complain—I know you've lost people too. It's—it's just," Liao said, trying to compose himself, "it's just that Xin—he was my best friend. I've known him for three years. He saved my life, taking that beating for me, you know. He was funny, and brave, and smart, and he was like my brother, Bolin. And I never even got to tell him how much I cared about him," cried Liao, burying his face in his hands. Bolin knelt beside the Agni Kai Recruit, barely able to make out what he was saying.

"What'd you say?" Bolin asked, his brows furrowing.

"I…I s-said that he d-died, knowing I was willing to sacrifice him over you," repeated Liao miserably, his words muffled. "Spirits, I'm so fucked up, Bolin. I wanted him to live and at the same time wanted you to live too. I chose you. I hurt him badly, Bo. He thought I didn't care enough to save him. I could've saved him, it's my fault, oh Spirits, it is my fault." He groaned in agony, looking up at Bolin with tears in his eyes. "Goddamnit…Xin…" The sound of his partner's name was almost rusty on his lips—he hadn't spoken it in what felt like a thousand years. "I'm so sorry, Xin," he choked, and Bolin got the feeling that Liao wasn't even really talking to him anymore.

Bolin waited for a moment before sighing, and running a hand through his greasy hair, wincing at the feel of it. The very first thing he was going to do once he got home was to take a long, long shower. "You aren't fucked up," he said seriously. "I'm the one that was stupid enough to trust Gainika. I was going to ask her to marry me, you know."

This statement made the Agni Kai look up in disbelief. "Are you shitting me?"

"She pretended to be my girlfriend for a year and a half," Bolin stated heavily. "I fucking trusted her. I lost my virginity to her, and all that time she said that she loved me, and I was going to buy a ring. So my friend Tukka—I bet he proposed to his girlfriend Madoka by now—and my other friend Vanek kept making bets behind my back when we'd get married. Except once, 'Sami and Midori came to visit, right? I introduced 'em to my friends, and Akari—that's Vanek's girlfriend—cracked this joke, asking me if this was Gainika's replacement or something. Midori was about fourteen, and she suddenly yelled that I shouldn't even be dating Gainika in the first place." Bolin chuckled dryly. "She never liked her. Always said she was stuck-up. Guess she was right."

There was a silence in the cell for several minutes.

Liao broke it. "You were going to ask Gainika to marry you?" He bit his lip, looking like he was fighting not to laugh. "Sorry. It's not funny, it's not—" Liao cracked up. "It's not funny," he said unconvincingly.

Bolin glared at him. "Show some respect for the damned."

"Hey, kid, I said it wasn't funny," Liao said with a chuckle.

"I'm a prisoner, not deaf, Liao," Bolin said sarcastically. Liao's good mood vanished as he remembered his now-deceased partner saying almost the exact same thing to him barely a week ago. Bolin frowned. "What'd I say?"

"N-nothing," Liao said shakily, trying to eliminate the image of Xin's head snapping backwards and his own terrified scream. "It's nothing."

"Are you s—" Bolin cut himself off. "Yeah, okay." He let out a deep, shaky sigh as Gainika came back into the room and grabbed Liao's arm, yanking the Agni Kai to his feet.

"Come along now, Recruit Liao," Gainika said sweetly, her inch-long nails digging into the skin of Liao's arm. "Don't worry, though, you'll see your friend again. I'll make sure you get a front row seat at his execution."

Liao thrashed in her grip and cursed so much that, with effort, she had to put him into handcuffs and drag him out of the cell. "Bolin!" Liao yelled, trying to run back to the twenty-one-year-old earthbender. "Make them—make them pay for it, kid!" His voice cracked as Gainika elbowed him in the diaphragm, but kept speaking. "Make those bastards rue the day they killed my partner!"

Gainika punched Liao in the face, not breaking his nose but giving him an impressive bruise on his cheek. Bolin wanted to metalbend her into next year, but refrained. After all, she could not ever know of his new skill—she'd probably move him into a cell made entirely out of wood. How would he escape then?

"I'm not getting executed," he said aloud.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard someone chuckle in the doorway. "That's the spirit, kid," the unknown Recruit said before lumbering away down the hallway.

Bolin shuddered. "I'm getting out of here," he whispered, quieter. "Those sons of bitches aren't going to get the satisfaction of taking me alive."

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