Fandom: Avatar: The Legend of Korra
Title: Stepping Stones
Summary: Mako does his duty, in spite of the teasing he's going to get later.
Word Count: 423
I CAN'T WAIT FOR MOST OF THIS TO BE PROVEN WRONG 8D
Bolin is six when their parents sign him up for the morning class at Master Pao's, and Mako is coerced into walking him there because "he can't find his way there, your father has to be at the office by dawn, you're his brother, Mako, please?" So he shoves his feet into his boots and grabs his little brother's hand, head down and feet carrying him as fast as he can, lest Shenshi and the other neighbor boys catch sight of them.
Bolin doesn't notice, of course. He chatters all the way there, trying to keep his too-big hat on straight, small stones practically dancing around his feet as he hops and jumps to keep pace with Mako's furious gait. Mr. Jiang waves to the brothers from his fruit stall, in the midst of setting out the day's fresh plums and peaches.
"First lesson today?" the old man calls, and Bolin puts his free hand to his mouth to shout back, "Yes, sir!", nearly tripping over a stray spotted lynx napping on the sidewalk.
Mako wishes with all his heart that he'd been born an earthbender too, so that he could take the opportunity to bury himself deep into the earth and die there.
When at last they reach the dojo gate, Mako yanks his hand away and mutters that he'll be back after lunch to take him home, and goes to make his getaway, hoping he can make it home before someone from school recognizes him.
He's not five feet away when Bolin bursts into tears.
"D-don't want you to leave!" he sobs, tears rolling down his pudgy cheeks and onto collar of the training shirt Mom pressed for him this morning, the one she claimed was her grandfather's. She'd wiped away a tear of her own as she bent to kiss Bolin's forehead, ruffling his hair and saying she was so proud, she and Pop were so proud of their gifted boys. Mako remembers Mom walked him to all of his firebending lessons, even on the days it stormed in morning or she felt sick with the flu that came around one year, even when Bolin was still a lump in her belly and she had trouble walking herself.
He unties his kerchief to wipe his brother's face.
"Listen," he says, "I have to be at school in an hour. But I'll stay right outside for another twenty minutes, if you need me, okay?"
Bolin sniffs and nods, and Mako puts an arm around his shoulders, and pushes the gate open.
- Avatar TLK: Stepping Stones