Chapter 9: Little Bender
Korra stared up at her ceiling with dull eyes. She wasn’t ready to get up and face the day. Her body felt heavy and her eyelids wanted to close and whisk her back to the land of sleep. But sleep was elusive, and she realized that she was probably up for the day.
Sitting up, the Avatar sighed and relished in the calmness in her stomach. As of late the morning sickness had slowed and she was able to hold down her food. Korra’s relief was quickly staunched when she caught site of the ever-growing mountain of wadded papers engulfing her trash bin. It had been a week since she tried writing the first letter to her parents; since then she had made draft after draft and thrown each and every one of them unceremoniously into the bin.
Korra slouched and rested her elbows on her thighs. She was into her fourth month, and she had known about the child growing inside of her for a little over a month now. It was past due to tell her parents, but she couldn’t find the words appropriate enough for a hand written message.
There was no good way to tell her parents, just like there hadn’t been a good way to tell Mako or Tenzin. All Korra knew was that the best thing to do was to find the least damaging way possible and be upfront.
Feeling a small flash of confidence shoot through her body, Korra puffed her chest out with a deep breath and pushed herself from her bed to the small desk at the side of the room. She sat down with a pen and a clean sheet of paper, but the minute the pen hovered over the paper, she found herself in the same predicament she had been dealing with for the past week.
She raised an eyebrow and glanced down at her stomach with a wry smile, “Hey, kid,” Korra grumbled as she propped an elbow on the desk. “Can’t you just come out here and write this for me?”
Korra could already tell what the outcome of this letter was going to be.
One-way ticket to the trash bin, coming right up! --
Asami’s room had never felt so quiet, and her thoughts had never sounded so loud. Memories of words, and signals she missed swarmed loudly in her brain like bumble flies.
She wanted to sear this wound shut; sew them, freeze them—anything to stop the pain she was feeling in her chest and stomach. No matter how much she tried to push the images out of her head—pictures of Mako and Korra smiling together, and what they could have been doing behind her back—they just kept coming back. Asami found she couldn’t sleep well, and as she went about her days she tried her hardest to distract herself. But she was finding it difficult to keep her mind off of her former boyfriend and her now-pregnant best friend. She wasn’t even sure if she could still call Korra her best friend.
Why hadn’t she heeded the signals? They were so obvious—the way Mako and Korra smiled at each other, the way they looked at each other, the way they talked together and the way their body language changed. She had detected it, but chose not to acknowledge it. Thinking back, she assumed that she had just had more faith in the two of them. Mako didn’t seem like the kind of guy to cheat; he was honest, loyal, and selfless. He had been so enamored with her that Asami had thought he would have stayed and not ventured off to another girl.
Asami had told herself similar lies about Korra. Even though Asami knew of Korra’s infatuation with Mako, she just figured that Korra would move on or she would focus more on her duties as the Avatar. And she and Korra were becoming such good friends; she had thought there would have been some sort of unspoken code between them that said, “don’t sleep with my boyfriend.”
“They were drunk…” She knew they wouldn’t go behind her back like that if they hadn’t been. Asami would give them that much, but their being intoxicated hardly got them out of trouble with her. What mattered was that they got drunk together in the first place. What mattered was that they could have put the cups down and stopped before things got too far. What mattered, and what hurt Asami the most, was that they still had feelings for each other.
She should have seen it coming.
Asami sighed; she couldn’t beat herself up over this—she wasn’t to blame in the slightest. Yet, she still found that kicking herself somehow helped staunch her anger towards her friends.
Damn it, she was still so angry, but she didn’t want to toss these people out of her life. Asami hated that she felt this way, but she had just grown too attached to her friends.
She felt a bit masochistic for thinking of forgiveness, and wanting to keep her only friends. She should be completely red in the face over all of this and want to have nothing to do with these people. Yet she just couldn’t shake the forgiveness that was cultivating in her veins. She was still hurt, and she was still angry, but…
Asami could still see Mako’s face as clear as day. How apologies swam like holy koi in seas of amber, and how the guilt rested on each of his shoulders like crumbling statues. His voice sounded just as wounded by his actions, though she was sure her heartbreak held greater pain.
The heiress knew that her now-ex-boyfriend felt bad about what had occurred. She also knew him well enough to know that he had probably beaten himself over it for a while before telling her. Asami knew her ex-boyfriend well enough to know that Mako was selfless, and would be dedicated to fixing what he had done. He would step up and become the father he needed to be for his child. That was what Asami admired most about Mako—his perseverance and his sense of rightness.
Asami sat up in bed and stretched. She would admit that she still liked Mako, but she could feel the cinders of infatuation fading with each passing day. There was just something really unappealing—on a non-jealous and anger-less note—about a guy that you like sleeping with your best friend.
She was thankful, however, that she hadn’t been head-over-heels for the firebender. If she had loved Mako, and found out about him and Korra, she would have fallen to pieces.
Speaking of her best friend, Asami was certain that Korra was probably feeling just as bad as Mako. She might even be feeling worse than Mako, considering Korra was pregnant. That consequence aside, Asami knew all too well that Korra wouldn’t have gone behind her back just to hurt her. Miss Sato sighed, and just chalked it all up to just being a really unfortunate, painful, and unintentional circumstance. She didn’t have enough energy in her to keep questioning all of the whys and hows over and over again.
Asami’s mind wandered though. It jumped back and forth between anger, pain, and sadness. If she were to truly move on, perhaps it would be better if she at least talked to Korra. Once she did that, then she could evaluate her options. She could decide if she still wanted to keep these people as her friends—if it would hurt or benefit her to do so. It would help her mind rest easy knowing both sides of the story. And she hated to admit it, but she felt that seeing the guilt in Korra’s eyes could help her come to terms with all that had happened, and allow her to heal.
She didn’t want to see her friend in any sort of pain, but she needed to know that her friend did, in fact, feel as guilty as she thought. Asami needed to know that Korra really didn’t mean it, and that sleeping with Mako really was unintentional.
Asami stood up from her bed and sighed. Seeing Korra was going to take some willpower. She didn’t feel like facing her friend after all of this, but she also didn’t want to see the proof. Asami didn’t know how she would feel when she saw the baby bump the Avatar was sure to have; her ex-boyfriend’s baby; her best friend’s baby. Would she be able to handle seeing it? Would she feel spite towards Korra and the baby? Asami didn’t want those feelings. Maybe it would be best to wait until after the baby was born. No, Asami didn’t want to wait that long. Besides, Korra might need this closure just as much as she did.
Korra might actually need her support, and Asami found that she might be willing to give it if she actually talked things out with her.
Taking a deep breath, the heiress made the resolve to herself. She would go talk to Korra; keep her eyes locked with hers and get straight to business. Asami would let the Avatar know just how upset she was, and once she said what she needed to say, then she would decide where to go from there.
To stay friends or to take separate paths.
Asami was already pretty sure of what the answer was.
All had been calm for the first time in a while at the Air Temple. Things had almost seemed to go back to normal, and Korra could feel her health returning. That is, until Pema dropped a bit of a bombshell on her:
“Korra, do me a favor and put Rohan to sleep, will you?”
Korra looked up from her half-eaten rice ball and froze mid-chew. She swallowed the article of food, feeling it go down her throat in a rough manner. She cleared her throat. “Um…”
“You need the practice,” Pema reminded with a sweet smile. “You’re going to have one of your own soon.”
“Right…” Korra grumbled, eyebrows pinching together in worry. She glanced down at her food, which suddenly didn’t seem as appetizing as it had mere moments ago. The Avatar had managed to forget about her impending motherhood for a while and had felt almost normal for the first time in a month. Luck had smiled upon her; she hadn’t heard a word of baby talk in the past few days. The days fell in a pattern: she woke up, got sick, ate breakfast, did her airbending training. Around noon she ate lunch, got sick again, and helped Pema around the house. In the evening, Mako usually came by either before or after dinner. Then she meditated, got sick one last time, and then went to bed. Even with new symptoms coming up what seemed like every day, she still felt more at ease.
“Why don’t you go sit in the other room on the futon and try and get him to sleep?” It wasn’t much of a suggestion, because Pema immediately handed Korra the fitful infant.
“Sure.” Korra stood up and awkwardly took the baby into her arms. It always felt weird holding a baby. She hadn’t had much experience with one; the only one being Rohan. She felt like she was handling a delicate artifact that could crumble at any moment.
She looked up from Rohan and saw the two airbending girls staring at her curiously from their spots at the table. Suddenly Korra couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. If she weren’t pregnant, then their stares wouldn’t have bothered her. She could have easily tried to put Rohan to sleep right then and there. But the fact of the matter was that she was pregnant, and she felt hypersensitive to their stares; their wonder and their judgment.
Pushing herself off of the floor, Korra quickly exited the room. As she was leaving she heard Ikki and Jinora ask their mother if they could help put their little brother to sleep.
“No, I think she needs to try on her own.”
“But we could help!”
“I know you could, but she needs to learn since she’s going to have one of her own soon. And I don’t think she’s too comfortable with all of this yet. Give her some space.”
Oh, Korra was going to have to hug the putty out of that woman. She was glad Pema was on her side and seemed to understand.
Rohan squirmed in Korra’s arms and earned her attention. It felt alien holding Rohan, or any baby for that matter. She had only ever held him once before; it had been shortly after he was born, and she had been sitting down to make sure she didn’t screw up and drop him or something, and Pema had been there to supervise her. Before Rohan, she had never even held a baby before. Her experience with children was almost completely limited to watching mothers interact with their children on the streets. She had helped Katara deliver a baby before, but Korra had been much younger and she had tried her best to blot the graphic details from her pristine memory.
Anxiety bustling in the pit of her stomach, Korra looked down at the baby in her arms. “You know,” she started with an innocent pout, “I’m not sure how Pema expects me to get you to sleep, especially since I’ve barely even held you before.” Korra looked around for a moment, hoping no one was listening in on her conversation with the baby. Her blue eyes caught Rohan staring at her with curiosity. She smiled back at his green eyes. “But I guess we won’t know if we don’t try!”
Korra found the room was empty of human life. The room itself contained a small futon with a small coffee table placed before it. Potted plants adorned the corners of the room, and the window covers had been shoved aside to allow one to see outside. But what was most important to Korra, rather than the aesthetics of the room, was how quiet it was, and how no one else was around to see her fail at putting an infant to sleep.
More importantly, no one would be reminded that the Avatar was pregnant, and judge her on her ability to mother a child.
As she bent over to sit down on the futon, Rohan reached up and grabbed some of her hair between his fingers. Korra laughed lightly before gingerly prying his small hands out of her chocolate locks. “No, you can’t have my hair.” The airbending boys must have had a thing for girls with a full head of hair. Meelo almost always had something nice to say about Asami’s hair whenever she used to come over.
Korra’s faint smile dropped; Asami probably wouldn’t be coming over anymore.
Taking in a deep breath of air, Korra scrunched her eyebrows together. As bad as she felt about hurting Asami, she didn’t have time to dwell on it. She had more problems than she could shake a stick at, and she had a baby to lull to sleep.
Looking down, Korra noticed that Rohan kept his eyes locked on her. She scanned his face to see what he could possibly be thinking; he didn’t seem too hurt by not getting her hair, so she figured she was in the clear. And seeing as he wasn’t protesting or crying, then she must have been holding him right. His head was rested in the bend of her arm, while the rest of him was pressed up snuggly against her stomach and chest.
Rohan blinked owlishly and continued staring up at Korra. He didn’t appear to be the least bit tired. How did Pema get him to go to sleep so easily? Pema could literally get him to go to sleep in about ten minutes once his belly was full and his diaper changed.
“Come on, it’s time to go to sleep,” Korra encouraged quietly. Rohan blinked and made a few noises in response, but otherwise showed no interest in catching any z’s.
Korra wished that Pema would have at least shown her how to lull him to sleep. The Avatar had really been thrown to the moose lions for this one. She supposed that Pema had wanted her to give it her own whirl first, before getting any help. It was times like these where she wished she had watched Pema’s motherly charm more closely. Korra had never really bothered to see how Pema charmed Rohan to sleep, considering she felt like it wasn’t really important for her to learn right now. Funny how that worked out.
Still, Korra had to give it a shot. “Come on, Rohan, time to go to sleep!”
Still the baby didn’t respond the way she wanted to. Instead, he started to squirm, and his face twisted into one of discomfort.
“Ahh, no, no, no, don’t cry,” she pleaded, bringing the baby up closer to her chest. Maybe if she held him closer then he would feel more comfortable. Alas, he still squirmed in her grasp and made mewling noises of protest.
The almighty Avatar was starting to feel frantic. She could take on a whole mob of chi-blockers, but she felt completely helpless at the hands of a baby. She tried calling out his name and even tried making a few faces at him, but Rohan didn’t seem to find the humor in it. Korra tried bouncing him lightly to try and get his mind off of whatever was upsetting him, but to no avail.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. She could feel concern well up in her chest. What if something was wrong with him? What if she accidentally hurt him? She was a little taken aback by magnitude of these concerns; normally she wouldn’t have been too worried if Rohan was crying. Maybe it was because she was the one dealing with him, or maybe it was her stupid hormones trying to kick-start her into motherhood. Either way, she pushed them to the back of her mind and tried to figure out what he could possibly want.
Maybe he was just uncomfortable? He was lying on his back after all, and had been for a while now. Spirits knew she hated trying to sleep on her back. She knew babies weren’t really supposed to sleep on their stomachs, but she knew she could at least put him up so he had his head rested against her shoulder.
Gently, she repositioned the infant and pushed him up just enough so his head rested against her collarbone and shoulder. Sure enough, his squawks ceased and he went back to looking around the room in silence. Korra let out a sigh of relief. Crisis averted; now to get him to sleep.
She tried gently bouncing him again, trying to lull him into a rhythmic movement that might put him into a quiet slumber. When that didn’t work, she simply tried rubbing his back and just waiting out his energy. But when she craned her head back to see if Rohan had fallen asleep, he exchanged a look with her.
Korra sighed once more and continued to wait the baby out. She was sure she had more energy than he did. He would tucker out sooner or later.
The sound of the doors sliding open snapped her out of her bitter patience. She whipped her head around her shoulder, careful not to knock Rohan’s head in the process. She felt an odd sensation of relief and embarrassment when she found Mako standing at the doorway. Relief because he was home and could maybe help her; embarrassment because it felt odd holding a baby in front of him when they knew this was obviously practice for their near future. But the amount of embarrassment was small, so she easily pushed it aside.
“Hey, Mako.” Korra smiled. She felt her heart skip a beat as he made his way over to the futon. “Did Pema send you in here, too?” Korra couldn’t help but give him a sympathetic smile.
Mako smiled as he stopped to stand before the Avatar. “I guess so.” He leaned over to his right to get a look at the baby on Korra’s shoulder. “Pema said you might need a little help.”
“Yeah,” Korra sighed. “She sort of just asked me to put him to sleep, but she didn’t exactly tell me how.” Once again, Korra craned her head back to see if Rohan had fallen asleep, but instead the baby had turned his head around so he could lock eyes with Mako. The infant’s green eyes mercilessly scanned Mako without hesitation; Korra couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but she assumed all was well since he wasn’t crying.
“It can’t be that hard,” Mako started. “People seem to get babies to go to sleep pretty easily.”
Korra snuffed and pouted at the firebender. “Yeah, but I’m pretty sure that’s because they have experience under their belt—I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much experience with babies.”
“I don’t either, but how hard could it be?” Mako eased himself down onto the futon next to Korra and Rohan. The Rohan’s eyes never came unglued off of Mako, not even when he decided to lay his head back down on Korra’s shoulder.
Mako leaned back to get a better glimpse of him. He wore a soft, tired smile as he examined the baby’s pudgy face. It was enough to make Korra’s anxious heart melt and bring a smile to her face.
“Here, let me see him.” While he held a bout of confidence in his heart, there was more anxiety and uncertainty in his entire being. He had never really held a baby before—though he could slightly remember holding Bolin. But at the time, he had been sitting down on the floor, and his parents were there to make sure he didn’t mess up and drop his brother.
But he had to learn sometime, and he wasn’t going to put his foot in his mouth by failing to put this baby to bed.
Korra awkwardly shifted Rohan into Mako’s waiting arms. Rohan eagerly reached out to his new destination and readily accepted the new pair of hands that picked him up. Just like with the last person who held him, Rohan was placed against Mako’s body with his head on the young man’s shoulder.
Rohan pushed himself up and looked Mako in the face. He began babbling an intellectual conversation that only he could understand, but Rohan assumed that Mako was getting the gist of it, considering he was smiling back. Since their talk was going so well, Rohan placed his hand on Mako’s cheek, shoving it upward so that Mako’s eye closed.
“I think he likes you,” Korra laughed as she turned to face the two boys. She placed her arm on the back of the futon and rested her cheek against her fist.
Mako looked at her from the corner of his amber eye, his smile never faltering.
Korra’s heart fluttered for a brief second and her smile grew.
Damn it, he really looked good with kids. She wasn’t sure what it was; maybe it was Rohan’s soft, rounded face next to Mako’s more angular and sharper features, or how Mako’s usually tired and hardened eyes were sparkling with mirth. There was just something really attractive about Mako with a baby.
She quickly bit her lip to prevent a blush from forming and to shut off the thought of Mako being the father of their expectant child. Knowing that he would be holding their baby by next year just made her toes curl and her stomach do somersaults. It was enough to momentarily smother the anxiety that was ever present in his gut and let her catch a glimpse of the positives that could come out of all of this.
“I don’t think he’s tired,” Mako stated as Rohan squirmed around in Mako’s arms enough to plant his feet on Mako’s thighs. He gripped Mako’s coat and scarf between his small fingers and tried to climb on top of the young man.
“That’s the problem!” Korra sighed as she snapped out of her musings. “I’ve tried talking to him, making funny faces, changing his position, and even bouncing him a little, but nothing worked!” She crossed her arms over her chest and stuck out her bottom lip.
Mako easily plucked the child off of and then readjusted him back into a resting position against his chest. Something told him it wouldn’t last long before Rohan decided to go on another hiking adventure on Mt. Mako.
“Well, I don’t think making funny faces at him would tire him out.” Mako smirked at the mother-to-be. Rohan, once again, started gripping at Mako’s clothes and pulling himself up. And, once again, Mako pulled him back down. He would be a pro at this before the night was over.
“Oh, well, since you think putting a baby to sleep is so easy, then why don’t you give me a demonstration, hot shot?” Korra said snidely. There was no way Mako knew more about babies than she did. Even if he did look good with babies, she could still tell he was just as uncomfortable as she was when it came to handling and dealing with them.
“I think I will.” Mako glanced at Korra defiantly before turning his attention to Rohan. This was no longer about putting a baby to sleep. Now it was about answering to the Avatar’s daring tone and keeping his pride intact.
He was completely adamant about taking the challenge, but once his eyes landed on Rohan, he realized that he had no inkling of how to go about winning. This kid was bright-eyed and alert and wouldn’t go down without a fight.
“Come on, Rohan.” Mako gave the baby a slight boost so that their eyes were level with each other. “It’s time for you to go to bed.” His outward confidence didn’t persuade the baby in the slightest. Instead, Rohan just stared at him blankly.
Mako looked at Korra, who was smiling at him with all the cockiness in the world. She had already counted him out.
Okay, well, babies were people, so they must go to sleep like people, right? Mako thought about what he needed to fall asleep at night: blanket, peace and quiet, a pillow, and a darkened room. He was pretty sure babies didn’t use pillows, but he was pretty sure they needed everything else.
“Does he have a blanket anywhere around here?”
“There’s probably one in his room,” Korra answered. “Pema has a whole stack of them next to the rocking chair.”
Mako stood up and turned to face Korra. “Here, take him for a second. I’m gonna go get one.”
“’Kay.” Korra held out her arms and found that she took the infant with much greater ease than she had before. It still felt strange and slightly distressing, because he felt so awkward coming into her arms, but once she had him held against her, it almost felt natural. It made her feel a little bit better; at least she could get the hang of holding a baby.
In her small reverie, Mako had gone to Rohan’s room and come back with a blue blanket held loosely in his gloved hand. He had stopped for a brief moment and allowed the site before him to sink in. He had always thought that Korra with a baby would be strange—a site he assumed would be alien and out of place. Yet what he saw before him was just the opposite.
The air around the Avatar was still one of uncertainty, but it held a positive gust about it. Mako could see the fear in her eyes, but there was hope and relief that seemed to make them sparkle around her pupils. The way her hand brushed down Rohan’s back wasn’t rough or casual, but it was gentle and comforting; caring, just like a mother.
Mako could feel his heart swell and his jaw drop ever so slightly. He wasn’t sure if his breath had been taken away; it was strange how Korra didn’t need to be an airbender to do that to him. It was in that moment that Mako could see things a bit more clearly, and what might be in store from them.
He couldn’t help but feel that things were really, genuinely going to be okay.
Korra looked up to see Mako standing forlornly at the other end of the futon. He seemed like he was in a trance, and the fabric of the blanket barely held onto the tips of his fingers. She offered him a tilted smile and she quietly wondered if she was doing something wrong. “Is everything okay?”
“Y-yeah.” Mako snapped out of his thoughts and held the blanket out to Korra. “Go ahead and wrap him up in this.” He looked around as Korra took the blanket from him. “Where’s the light switch?”
“Should be next the door you came in, but it’s a dim-switch.”
“Even better.” Mako strode over to the door and found the switch hidden behind a plant. He pushed the tab down until the room was almost dark. There was just enough light to see, but enough darkness to lull a baby to sleep; he hoped, at least.
Mako returned to the futon and made a split second decision to sit hip to hip with Korra. He would say it was so he could be closer to Rohan and make sure the baby got to sleep, but he had to admit to himself that it was mostly just to be closer to Korra.
“Here, I’ll take him.” Mako motioned for Korra to hand the baby over, but Korra shook her head with a smile.
“I think he’s calming down. He’s still right now.”
Mako leaned over slightly to see if what Korra said was true. Rohan’s eyes were still wide open, but there was a hint of recognition in his green eyes. He must have realized that when the lights go out then it’s about time to go to sleep. “You think we should just wait him out now?”
“We can try.” Korra shrugged.
The two teens fell into an uncomfortable silence as they waited for the child in Korra’s arms to doze off. They both tried to focus on other things as they waited; anything but the heat the other radiated, and how their thighs and hips felt against each other.
Korra was a little surprised by Mako’s choice in proximity, but she simply brushed it off as wanting to be close to Rohan to help him get to sleep.
She was definitely glad for the darkness of the room, or else Mako would be able to see her flush. She was hyperaware of the feeling of Mako’s hip and thigh against her, and she could swear all of her feeling had flitted to her side to take hold of Mako’s touch and heat. He was so warm. Her mind flitted back to that night when it all began; how his skin felt like an iron brand against her skin, and how intoxicating his weight felt on her. How he moaned her name in such an unadulterated, husky manner, “Korra…”
Korra abruptly took a noisy, deep breath to try and regain the sense that Mako always seemed to suck out of her. He didn’t even have to try, all he had to do was sit next to her to make her head whirl.
“Are you alright?”
Mako’s concerned voice made her head snap around. She couldn’t bear to hold his gaze—not without her face turning red and the familiar stinging feeling on flustered tears in her eyes. “Y-yeah, I’m fine.”
Now wasn’t the appropriate time to think about that night; there was never an appropriate time to think about that. But Korra found it increasingly more difficult not to reflect on it now that Mako wasn’t with Asami. It made her feel less guilty to thinking about it, and now that Mako wasn’t in a relationship, the agreement never to speak about that night was off. Now that it no longer felt as taboo, Korra found herself thinking about it more and more.
Korra tried to distract herself by checking to see if Rohan had fallen asleep. Alas, the baby was still wide-eyed. “Hey, go to sleep,” she lightly commanded.
“He still hasn’t fallen asleep?” Mako asked and inspected for himself.
“No,” Korra answered and worried her bottom lip with her teeth. It was starting to concern her; not so much because she couldn’t get Rohan to go to sleep, but rather for her future as a mother. What if she couldn’t get her own child to go to sleep—not just once, but any time it needed to go to bed? Putting an infant to bed shouldn’t be this hard, so why was she struggling?
Rohan rubbed his eyes and yawned, but he continued to stare around the room. His eyes latched onto Mako as he moved to get comfortable.
“He’s obviously tired,” Mako stated.
“Then why won’t he go to sleep?” Korra tried her best to keep the desperation out of her voice, but was finding it increasingly difficult. It made so much sense to her: feel tired, and then go to sleep—so why wasn’t this baby following that logic?
“Relax,” Mako replied. He could tell Korra was trying, but it was clear that she was having a hard time with this. Usually Korra excelled in whatever she wanted to do, and she had confidence in that. But this wasn’t exactly something she desperately wanted to do, and when it didn’t come naturally, it frustrated and worried her.“Do you know of anything Pema might do for him before she puts him down for bed?”
“Not really, I’m never…” Korra brushed through her memories with a fine comb and reviewed them. She remembered Pema doing the laundry with Rohan in a sling around her. Korra had passed them when she went out to go train with Tenzin. When she got outside she had been scolded for not dressing in her airbending outfit. On her way back in to change, she could hear a soft melody coming from the laundry room, but quickly brushed it off as she dashed back to her room.
“Wait!” Korra’s face lit up. “She sings to him!”
“Well, sometimes…” Korra’s eyes scrolled across the wooden floors for a second as her confidence dropped a tick. However, she looked back up at Mako with a light of hope in her eyes and at the edges of her smile. “I’m not really around them enough to know, but I know I’ve heard her a few times.”
“Then maybe singing to him will help.” Mako rolled his shoulders for a moment before leaning forward and placing his elbows on his knees.
“It’s worth a shot.” It pressed upon Korra’s mind that this would mean she would have to sing in front of Mako. She had sung in front of him before, but it had been in a sillier manner, and she had Bolin singing with her. It made her hesitant to even go through with the idea; just thinking about how this was more of a melodic and serious sort of vocal endeavor made her cringe inwardly.
She pushed her shyness aside and toughened up; this wasn’t a big deal—singing wasn’t a big deal! Besides, if she was going down singing, then she was gonna take Mako down with her.
“But you have to sing too!” Korra jabbed a finger in Mako’s direction.
“What?” He lifted an eyebrow at her as he rested his cheek against his open palm.
“You heard me—you have to sing with me.”
“Fine.” Mako knew there was no fighting with Korra over this. He might as well just go with it and see where it led them. “But I don’t really know any songs.”
“Uhh…” Korra thought back—far back. She hadn’t really heard anything Pema had sung to Rohan, so she had to dig back into her own childhood and remember what her mother sang to her. "I think I know one, but I can't remember some of the verses."
"What is it?" Mako inquired.
"I think it's called Little Bender, but I'm not sure."
"I think I know that one," Mako answered. His mind went back to the easier days of his life; when his parents were still alive and when he still had a home. He often liked to listen to his mother sing. She sung at any time of day, but he always went out of his way to hear her at night when she sung to Bolin. She always sung one song in particular that a lot of kids their age knew. Alas, he didn't retain the knowledge of the song's lyrics, since he had much more pressing matters to attend to and commit to memory. "Our mom used to sing it to me and Bo when we were kids."
"My mom used to sing it to me, too." She could remember the nights she spent with her mother around the fire or in her bed. Senna would hold her and sing in her softest voice for as long as it would take for her daughter to fall asleep. Korra always loved the feeling of being encased in her mother's arms and how soothing her voice was in the cold nights of the South Pole. Korra would often drift off, repeating the lyrics of the song in her head.
"You want to try that one?" Mako asked.
"We can." Korra pushed out her bottom lip to form her famous pout. "I really can't remember parts of it, though."
"We'll just try and work off of what the other knows and try to fill in the blanks." Mako glanced at Rohan again, who was still eyeing them bother curiously. "Do you remember how it starts?" Mako looked back up at Korra.
"I think so."
"Then why don't you start us off?"
Korra was about to open her mouth to object, but she clamped her jaw shut. She really just wanted to get this over with, and arguing and bargaining weren't going to help. Besides, it was just a song-- there was no point in making a huge fuss over it.
'Just take a deep breath and go for it.'
“Water will keep you serene and calm,” Korra started off nervously with a lyric. Once the first line was out there, she could feel her nervousness roll off of her, and she waited for Mako’s turn to pass.
“Fire will keep you warm,” Mako tuned in gently
“Earth with keep you safe from harm.”
Korra could feel her confidence and her memory coming back to her, and she continued into the next verse with Mako, “Air will chase away the storm.”
Never in her wildest dreams had Korra thought she would be with Mako like this—singing a soft lullaby to a baby that wasn’t theirs; singing a lullaby in preparation for their own unexpected child. She could see herself perhaps singing with him in a silly manner, just like she did with Bolin, but this was so far out of her reckoning.
Yet she found that she actually liked it.
There was something enticing about Mako’s singing voice. It was low, with a hint of its rasp, and it came through smiling lips and paired with tired eyes that sparkled as they held an infant’s sleepy gaze. How those amber eyes flicked to look at her every now and again to see how she was fairing and how she was gaging him in this moment; how his smile grew when he saw that she was smiling back at him. Getting lost in his expression, Korra found herself forgetting the things that made her most nervous. It was like she had permission to think about him for a moment and not about their impending parenthood. It made her think that if she could be a parent with him, and of his child, then maybe this wouldn’t be such a sour deal after all.
Korra tore her eyes away from Mako and looked down at Rohan. He was far more relaxed in her arms than before; much more like putty than a tight coil ready to spring. His green eyes were half-lidded, and growing heavier and heavier with each word that passed their lips. Before she knew it, the song came to an end, and Rohan was in the beginnings of sleep.
A few minutes of quiet later, Rohan was completely out.
“I guess I lost this round,” Mako whispered, looking up at Korra with a smirk and an amused sparkle in his honey colored eyes.
Korra could feel her heart fluttered in her chest and a light smile crested her lips. She glanced down at Rohan for a brief moment before looking back at Mako. “I think we can call this one a draw.”