The Other Side of Me

7: Strange Bedfellows

Present Day

Got to move. Got to move.

Mako ran as fast as he could through a thickened forest, trees surrounding him on every single side, almost suffocating him and blocking all of the sunlight. Gasping for breath, he collapsed onto a flat rock, taking several deep breaths.

Got to move. Got to move.

Soon, Mako found himself running again, as fast as his legs could carry him. He didn't know why he was running so fast, but he deduced it had to be important.

"Mako…"

He ran faster, not even stopping for breath, although his lungs felt like they were clogging up without the necessary oxygen.

"Please! Help, help me!" shouted the familiar voice, although Mako couldn't place it or understand why the voice sounded so, so terrified and alone and afraid… "Mako!"

Mako suddenly approached a crossroads in the forest and stood there for a few moments, trying to catch his breath. Pathetic, he told himself. That person needs your help.

Three minutes, hours, or hell, maybe even three years later, Mako finally came to the decision that he really needed to make a decision. Left… or right, he thought angrily. Where do I go?

"Mako!" the voice screeched, almost aggravating his eardrums.

He ran to the left, and suddenly collapsed through a bush into a large clearing. Trees surrounded him, but at least this time he could see the sky. Bright sunlight streamed onto a rock, where a figure was leaning against it. Mako's heart caught in his chest.

Running towards the collapsed figure and skidding on his knees, Mako surveyed the figure, moving him onto the grassy floor of the clearing. As Mako turned the figure onto his side, he noticed the blood: red, red, red stuff everywhere. Everywhere except where it was supposed to be.

"Mako…" the figure croaked, and Mako almost vomited on the sight of his bruised, bloody face. The eyes were almost swollen shut, but he could see the tiniest sliver of green through the half-mast lids.

"B-Bolin?" he whispered, stroking his brother's hair and jerking his hand back as if he'd been burned. His hand was soaked in blood too.

"Why didn't you save me, Mako?" Bolin whispered through a broken nose, making his words muffled. "Why didn't you help me when I needed you, Mako? I needed you."

"I'm so sorry," he whispered, because what else could he say to his brother's almost-corpse? "But I'm here now, Bo, I'm here for you."

"It hurts." Bolin dissolved into sobs. The sight brought tears to Mako's own amber eyes. "It hurts so much. Why didn't you help me? Why didn't you save me?" he mumbled.

"I don't know," Mako said obstinately, wanting to smack himself in the forehead, because this had to be a dream, it just had to. It just had to.

"It's not a dream," echoed another voice. Mako looked up. This time he did vomit, the puke barely missing his little brother.

He was staring now at the charred, blackened bodies of his parents.

"No!" he choked. "No!"

"You let us down," they said in perfect unison. "You let us down. You promised you'd protect your brother, Mako."

"But I didn't know!" Mako almost shouted. "I didn't know he was still alive."

"Monster!" his parents yelled, just as Bolin started to seize on the grass. His body contorted as Mako stood, frozen, unable to do anything.

"You did this to me!" his little brother muttered through the tears. "You left me…" Suddenly, the life left his eyes, and Bolin died, breathing no more.

"His blood's on your hands. His blood's on your hands," shouted his parents as Mako howled in agony, his heart shattering into a thousand pieces as he yelled to the bright sunshine, "BOLIN!"

"No!" Mako jerked up out of bed, sweat pouring down his pale, narrow face. He gasped for breath, his lungs and muscles aching as if he'd actually been running to his brother. This, of course, wasn't the first nightmare that'd he'd had about Bolin, and he didn't kid himself into thinking it would be the last. He didn't bother to wipe away the tears in his eyes either.

Surrounded by darkness, he quickly realized where he was. Turning around to apologize to Korra for keeping her up, he nearly fell off of the bed at finding that his girlfriend wasn't there. Right, he thought groggily. She decided to sleep at Air Temple Island last night. He remembered her phone call last night, informing him that Tenzin had offered her to stay with them after the City Council meeting. He'd wanted to tell her about Bolin right then and there, but Asami made him swear on his life that he wouldn't tell Korra until she came home in the morning. Instead, he'd told her that he had a huge surprise.

Footsteps echoed up the stairs. He made a flame in the palm of his hand, ready to defend himself from burglars. Asami threw open the door, a kitchen knife in her hand, just as Mako threw a medium-sized fireball at her. Squealing in surprise, she ducked as it hit the wall behind her. Luckily, it just went out instead of spreading further to the rest of the house. He sighed and Asami lowered her knife.

"Are you okay?" asked Asami not unkindly. "You were screaming like a banshee."

"What're you still doing here?" Mako said, dodging her statement and feeling a blush rise up his cheeks.

"You let me stay the night, remember?" she informed him, resting the knife on his dresser drawer. "You said I probably shouldn't be driving because it was so late."

He remembered now: he'd even given her a blanket and told her to crash on the couch while he collapsed onto his bed at around two a.m. "What time is it?" he inquired.

"I dunno," Asami said sarcastically. "I didn't check the clock when I ran up here because I thought you were being attacked by burglars," she intoned, and Mako almost felt guilty.

"Sorry for waking you up," he muttered, already preparing himself for the onslaught of teasing insults that Korra would normally throw at him. He was surprised again when Asami sat down at the foot of his bed and shook her head. "It's okay," she said gently. "Bad dream?"

He wanted to build up his steel walls back to the sky and yet he found himself opening up to his ex-girlfriend. "Yes."

"What about?"

"I was running and I found Bolin…he was dying, Asami. And I just stood there and watched him die!" he choked, a tear trickling down his face. Asami watched him impassively. "I watched him die and my parents were there: they told me I failed in taking care of him. I know I did," he interrupted Asami as she opened her mouth. "But it hurt so badly to hear it from my parents."

"You know," Asami said, "my mother used to tell me that when I had bad dreams, that there are many who don't wish to sleep for fear of nightmares."

"For good reason," Mako commented, and Asami shot him a death glare.

"Like I was saying. There are many who don't wish to sleep for fear of nightmares, she told me. But nightmares are just good dreams in disguise."

He thought about it and came to the conclusion that the saying was full of bullshit. It obviously showed in his expression as Asami's green eyes darkened. "You don't have to believe it," she retorted. "I'm just sharing what my mother told me." She stood up, and Mako winced at the squeal of the mattress springs. "I'm going back to sleep."

"Wait!" his hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. Asami jerked in alarm. "What?" she asked.

"Will you…will you please…stay, with me? Tonight?" he stammered, feeling like an infant. His whole face turned a deeper red than that of his father's scarf.

He waited for her to call him a baby and leave, but to his surprise, she didn't. Instead, she came around to Korra's side of the bed, lay down under the blankets and closed her eyes. "Happy?" she murmured before falling asleep, not able to hear Mako's response of "Yes."

Mako lay next to Asami Sato, the sounds of the house creaking and her quickened breathing and the unbelievable calmness that he felt at that very moment putting him to sleep.

(*) (*)

A few hours later, Korra was paying the bus driver her five yuans. "Here you are, sir," she said, walking out the door of the bus and onto the driveway. "Have a good rest of the day."

"Thank you, Avatar Korra," he said with a strong Earth Kingdom accent, smiling through a bushy mustache. "You, too."

Nodding respectfully as the bus pulled away, Korra walked up to the house that she and Mako had shared for over a year. Their relationship had been in shambles a bit since Bolin had died, but after taking it one day at a time, they'd moved in together. She still missed Bolin, of course, how could she ever forget the loveable, foolish, and naïve earthbender that had been her good friend throughout Amon's tyranny and through the Harmonic Convergence? But she rarely had time to think about him, was all, what with her Avatar duties, the City Council meetings, helping Pema with Rohan and Meelo, and her romantic life with Mako. She visited Bolin's grave every now and then too, with and without Mako.

Asami's words from the hospital waiting room four years ago still haunted her most days. How dare the heiress say that she didn't care about Bolin?! Yes, before his death she hadn't spent too much time with him…but that hadn't been her fault! She'd been busy!

Okay. Maybe Asami's words were valid. And Korra (while fumbling with the keys at the front door) wouldn't admit it even at gunpoint, but if it ever came to choose between the two Fabulous Bending Brothers, she would choose Mako every time.

Collapsing on the couch, still lost in thought, Korra decided to discuss this with Mako, maybe even start something for him, kind of like what Beifong did with the BCF. She'd make him his favorite breakfast, they'd talk, and maybe, if she was lucky, she'd get a little something extra.

I wonder what the surprise was that he told me about on the phone last night; she wondered as she started making a pot of tea and making some dumplings for them to have for breakfast. Is it the Satomobile on the driveway? Maybe that's it…huh. Kinda looks a bit like the one Asami had…

After finishing breakfast and the tea, she placed it artfully onto a silver tray that Bumi had bought them for their second dating anniversary (she remembered him saying with a coy wink that for the wedding and the baby showers he'd buy the whole silverware set); she started up the stairs carefully, not wanting to spill anything.

"Mako," she crooned, setting the tray down onto the dresser. She walked over to the curtains. "Oh Mako…" she purred, throwing the curtains open and turning around towards her slumbering boyfriend. "Mako—Aahhhhh!" she screamed, almost collapsing onto the threadbare rug on the floor.

Mako shot up like a gunshot. "Oh, Spirits, Korra!" he exclaimed. "What's the matter, what's going on? What're you doing here; I thought you were at Air Temple Island?"

Korra looked like she was going to have an apoplectic fit. "What am I doing here? What is she doing in here?" she spluttered, pointing to a still slumbering Asami Sato, who was curled up on her fucking side of the bed next to Korra's fucking boyfriend.

"Who?" Mako asked, rubbing his eyes before he caught a glimpse of Asami and turned bright red. "Oh. Oh."

Korra was ready to murder someone. Preferably Asami. She didn't care if she left Midori an orphan again, but she was ready to commit bloody murder the CEO of New Future Industries.

"Korra?" Asami mumbled, opening her eyes. "Hi!" She sat up in bed, oblivious to the tension. Obviously she was still half-asleep. "We've got big news for you! You won't believe it!"

Korra's jaw clattered to the ground. "Is this my fucking surprise?!" she yelled at Mako, who looked ready to pass out. "Was this what you told me about last night?! That you're sleeping with Asami fucking Sato?"

"No!" At least Mako had the gall to look embarrassed. "Damn it, Korra, no, I swear this isn't what it looks like!"

"I may not be a detective like you, Mako, but I know fucking damn well what it looks like!" Korra seethed. "You're sleeping with Asami! What the hell is wrong with you?"

Asami was next to chime in. "No, Korra, we're not sleeping together! I swear!"

"Then what the hell were you two doing last night?"

"Um…sleeping toge—that's not the point!" Asami exclaimed. "I came here last night to tell him something, and then I crashed here, and then he…er…had a nightmare and asked me to stay in here with him…"

Between Asami's stuttering and Mako's poleaxed expression, Korra was now officially ready to go into the Avatar State. Her eyes started to glow, and Asami looked frightened.

"Look." Mako jumped out of bed and held out his hands. "Korra. Baby. Look at me."

Korra, although she really didn't want to, looked at him with a cocked eyebrow, still ready to go into the Avatar State.

"Now. Asami is still wearing her clothes," Mako enunciated. "We were not having sex or anything of the sort, okay? Do you honestly believe that I would cheat on you?"

Korra glared at him.

"Okay, yes, fine!" he exclaimed. "One time. But you had amnesia…I wasn't cheating on you, theoretically—damnit, that is not what I'm trying to fucking say! The point it, Korra, I love you. Asami and I are not dating. Okay?" he said with the air of someone trying to calm down a toddler.

Korra took a deep breath, and the unearthly glow vanished from her eyes. Asami exhaled before getting out of the bed, a fact that also placated Korra.

"So…" the silence in the bedroom got extremely awkward. Korra sighed. "What did you want to tell me?"

"Bolin's alive," Mako said without any preamble whatsoever. "And he's in trouble."

(*) (*)

After the shocked confrontation that involved several boxes of tissues, taunts and swearing, twenty-four glimpses at the note that Bolin had written, another attempt to go into the Avatar State once Korra caught sight of Bolin's blood, the Avatar, the detective, and the Future Industries CEO found themselves eating the breakfast that Korra had cooked at the kitchen table.

"He's really alive?" Korra asked for the fifth time.

"Yes," Asami stated, not even the least bit annoyed. Damn, it felt good to have more people in on her secret. Thank the Spirits that it wasn't just her and Midori now. It felt so good. It was amazing.

Suddenly, before Korra or Mako could ask her another question, the phone rang. Mako jumped up to get it.

"Hello?" His countenance changed in under a second. "Hey…Chief, look, I really can't come in today…yes, I know about the kidnapping case…look…hang on…no, I don't want to be fired…Chief, I just can't! I have things to deal with, okay?!" A pause. "Yes. I meant that. But…fine. Yeah. I'll come… Yeah, I know her. Why? ...Wait, what?" Mako asked in surprise. "Yeah, she's here…Asami?" he gave the phone to her, and Asami's eyebrows shot up. "Chief Beifong wants to talk to you."

"This is Asami," she said with curiosity. Why would Lin want to talk to her?

"Miss Sato, your…" Lin hesitated, cutting right to the chase. "adopted sister…is in here."

"My…" Asami's mouth dropped open. Midori. Oh, Spirits, she'd forgotten about Midori. She swore aloud. "Oh, my Spirits. I'm so sorry. Can I talk to her?"

"Yeah." Asami heard shuffling in the background before Midori's shy, quiet voice entered the conversation. "Asami?"

"Hey, babe," Asami said apologetically. "I am so sorry! I just went to visit Bolin and then…I maybe ended up crashing at Mako's place."

"Why?" Midori's words cut to the heart of the matter. "Is this about Bolin?" Midori asked, a bit scared of the answer.

"Maybe…" Asami wanted to smack herself upside the head. There was no way of getting around it now. "He's in trouble, Midori."

"Like he's in jail or broken relationship kind of trouble?" Midori asked.

"More like, er, he's been kidnapped, kind of trouble." Asami really hated to say it, but she had to. Mako knew. Korra knew. Midori had to know.

Midori was silent for so long that Asami thought maybe she'd hung up. "And you didn't tell me." Midori's sounded calm, but Asami could clearly hear the hurt in her voice.

"No…but—"

"Why?! Why wouldn't you tell me something like this?!" Midori yelled, taking Asami completely by surprise. The mild-mannered teen hardly ever raised her voice, let alone yelled. "Bolin's my friend too!"

"I know, babe, but I had to tell Mako…Bo told me to. He left me a note, Blue," she said soothingly, using the nickname that Bolin had given Midori before realizing that probably wasn't the best idea, under the circumstances. "He said to specifically tell Mako and Korra—"

Midori took a deep breath. "I'm not a little girl anymore, Asami," she said, appearing to calm down. Asami let out a sigh. "I know that I was twelve when this…secret about Bo began, but I'm sixteen years old now…Please include me in your plans, 'Sami. I care about Bolin too."

"I know, Midori," Asami said gently. "I'm sorry. I'll be at the station to pick you up in about ten minutes, okay?" She knew that she was being abrupt, but Asami could tell that the rest of this conversation should probably be continued in person.

"Okay." Midori sounded so small. "Bye."

"Bye, Midori." Asami hung up the phone. "Mako, I have to go," she said to her ex-boyfriend, who was already rushing around the kitchen with his jacket half-on and his pajama pants still on. Korra watched in amusement.

"What's the matter?" Korra asked.

"I have to go pick up Midori from the police station," Asami said bluntly, hoping that she'd never have to say those words again for the remainder of her life.

"Can you drive me there?" Mako asked hurriedly. "I'm going to be late for work…"

"Work? Mako, it's the weekend, what does Lin want?" Korra asked in surprise.

"Something about the kidnapping case; this boy named Satoshi went missing a couple of days ago. They're suspecting gang involvement," explained Mako, pulling on his combat boots. "Foul play…all the normal stuff."

"Sure," Asami nodded, pulling on her coat.

"You guys could report Bolin missing there too!" Korra exclaimed. "I'll come too!"

"No!" Asami shouted, much to the surprise of Mako and Korra. "No. You saw Bolin's note, we can't get the police involved…"

"Who says we're getting the police involved?" Korra asked, crossing her arms over her chest. "Why can't we only tell Lin?"

"Yeah, and then we can only tell Tenzin and the kids, and the Southern Water Tribe, and your cousins, and the mover industry—"

"Korra," Mako interrupted. "Bo told us not to get the cops involved, so we won't get them involved. Simple as that. Okay? Asami, come on. Midori's waiting for you."

"Right." Asami shot Korra one last glare before the two left the house and got into Asami's Satomobile.

Funny, Asami thought as she pulled out of the driveway, the last time I had him in here I wanted to have sex with him. She immediately cursed herself. Shut up, me.

"You know, I'd appreciate it if you didn't mouth off to my girlfriend so often," Mako suddenly said when they were two blocks away from the police station.

Asami's jaw dropped. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me," Mako said as Asami pulled up. "Asami. Just…look. I—"

"Don't even give me this shtick, Mako," she growled as the two of them got out of the car and walked toward the police station. "I've been acting as your girlfriend's fucking relationship therapist since before Bo pulled this crap on us. I was nice to her then, even though I felt that I wanted to pull my own hair out—"Kinda like I feel now, she mused. "I just don't like Korra, okay? I will tolerate her for Bo's sake (and yours, she thought), but I don't like her."

Mako grasped her wrist before she could walk up the steps to the police station. The two of them stood on the sidewalk, facing each other. "I'm sorry you had to deal with that," he said honestly. "But just don't be so mean, okay?" He quickly went on before she could interrupt. "We care about Bolin, too, you know."

Her mask cracked and a tear slipped out. "I'm scared," she whispered much to her own chagrin, a pretty blush forming on her cheeks. Mako looked so serious, and for a brief second, just for a second…she understood why she'd liked him so much five years ago.

Abruptly, Mako leaned towards her, placed one hand on her shoulder, and kissed her.

She found herself leaning into it too, kissing Mako with everything that she had. Nothing crossed her mind except the thought of kissing him. This is wrong, she thought groggily. But who cares? Her arms wrapped around his neck, and his arms enveloped her, making her feel warm.

Passerby whispered and pointed. "Get a room, you two!" someone shouted from the window of a car before cackling in amusement.

Suddenly, her soap bubble of happiness popped, and Asami pulled away, feeling disgusted with herself. Mako's face was as red as a stop sign. She stormed up the steps, him behind her. Once she reached the door, she turned around to face him, putting her finger so close to his face that he almost went cross-eyed.

"You will not speak of this to anyone," she growled through gritted teeth. "This did not happen, alright? We clear?"

"Crystal," Mako replied, shell-shocked as Asami threw the door open and walked toward the front desk while Mako headed off to his own desk.

"Lin?" Asami called to the grey-haired police officer, who turned around with a faint smirk. "Where's Midori?"

A red and silver blur tackled her out of nowhere, causing Asami to fall to the floor with a loud thud. Once she could see again, she stroked a sobbing Midori, who was clinging to her like Asami was the last thing she had left. In a way, she thought, she kind of was.

"I'm sorry for what I said," Midori cried, clutching Asami, who moved to a better position on the floor. "I just want Bo…"

Sitting up, but still keeping a firm hold on Midori, Asami hugged her sister. "It's okay, Blue," she said. "We're going to find him. I promise you. We will find him and we'll bring him home."

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