what: Korra likes to give Mako nicknames - partly because he makes it so easy, and partly because she thinks it’s hilarious that he always proves her point. A one-shot series.
who: Mako & Korra & Rai Li (ray-lee) & Kouri (corey). Makorra.
when: about twelve-fifteen years post-series/post this point in the series.
where: Republic City Park.
Exactly how she’s managed to retain most of her strength after everything – sitting through council meetings day in and day out and years of sudden inactivity and two pregnancies and time – Korra doesn’t know, but she does know that she’s thankful for it as she catches up to Rai Li and snatches her up, throws her over her shoulder, dangling upside-down by her legs while she shrieks with laughter.
"Mommy!" Rai squeals. "Put me down!"
Korra secures her grip on her daughter’s ankles. “No can do, kiddo.”
She whirls around – Rai Li squeals some more – and calls to her husband, lagging behind, “Hey, Slowpoke! Wanna hurry up and get over here before I go gray?”
"Yeah, Slowpoke!" echoes Rai Li. She struggles to do a kind of midair crunch. Relenting, Korra lets go of her and airbends her safely back to her feet.
"Working on it," Mako says from a distance. He kneels, scoops up Kouri and places his arms around his neck, carrying him toward them. "I think this one’s ready for a nap."
Korra leans down to Rai Li and stage-whispers, “Dad’s lying. He’s just using Kouri as an excuse because he wants to be lazy.”
Rai stifles a giggle behind her hand. Mako’s rolling his eyes, smiling.
"I wouldn’t mind it," he admits, using two fingers to gently remove Kouri’s thumb from his mouth. "But that doesn’t make me lazy."
“Sure it doesn’t,” says Korra, and she winks at Rai Li before heaving an exaggerated sigh. “All right then. Your dad’s spoken, Rai. What he says goes. Dad’s word is law.”
"Awwww!" While Mako’s busy glaring at her (Korra smirks), Rai, short little thing she is, latches onto his leg. "Can’t we stay just a little longer, Daddy? I don’t wanna go home!”
Impressive, Korra thinks, just like she has about every day for the past six years or so, as gold meets gold and Mako melts. Not even trying and she’s got him wrapped around her finger. When she gets to be a teenager…
Her hearts twists and the sentence is cut off in her head by not my baby. Deciding to cross that bridge when they come to it (seven years from now, thank the spirits), she reaches out for her son and hugs him tight, picks stray pieces of grass out of his dark hair and caresses his cheek. Kouri blinks sleepy blue eyes at her and rests his head on her shoulder, yawning into the crook of her neck.
"Hey, Ri, baby," she murmurs.
"We don’t have to leave, Rai," Mako tells her, bending over to pry her off him.
She looks up, her chin against his knee. “We don’t?”
"No," he says. "We can just find a tree and sleep there."
He glances sideways at Korra; she raises her eyebrows with a smile playing on her mouth.
Rai seems to be lost in serious contemplation. Her eyebrows are drawn together and her lips are puckered into a thoughtful pout. “But…”
She beckons Mako closer.
Shaking her head, she just waves him again.
"You’re gonna have to stand up, sweetie, I can’t bend that far."
Korra’s unable to stop herself from snorting but manages to hide the rest of her snicker. Mako gives her a really? Look as Rai Li releases her choke-hold on his leg and cups her hands around his ear.
"You won’t set the tree on fire," he says, more for Korra’s benefit than Rai’s.
"What about the grass?" Rai asks anxiously.
To his credit, he doesn’t even chuckle. “You won’t set the grass on fire, either.”
Pride overflows in Korra because her daughter, so young, so oblivious to the world and the nature of life, cares so much for all aspects of it, regardless of whether or not it has a face.
"Promise?" Cue the big eyes.
Mako drops a kiss onto the top of her head, smoothing her hair. “Promise.”
"C’mon," says Korra. "I know a great spot for napping."
They walk along the river. Kouri lifts his head and stares at it with way more concentration than is appropriate for a three-year-old to have, and maybe she’s just getting her hopes up but she thinks she sees a wave surge under his gaze, an extra splash here or there.
Rai Li moves ahead and Mako falls in step beside Korra. “Very mature,” he mutters out of the side of his mouth, and she grins.
“You know it.”
He flushes adorably, the same way he’s always done around this topic and especially around the kids. She shifts Kouri in her arms to take his hand and squeeze it.
He’s so long-limbed he can stretch his arm forward and tug on a lock of Rai’s hair. She spins around: He point’s at Korra, and Rai’s glare slides to her.
"Liar!" Korra says. "My hands are full, kiddo, look," and she tries to lift her and Mako’s joined hands, but he rips his from her grasp, raising both to shoulder height. She elbows him. "Dad’s lying again, Rai."
"Am not," Mako says.
"There he goes again!"
Rai Li puts her hands on her hips and says, with little-girl exasperation, “Daddy, lying is wrong.”
Korra struggles not to laugh, but he keeps a straight face. “Sorry, Rai.”
She turns around and they walk on. Korra nudges her husband in the ribs again so he knows something’s up, but he doesn’t react in time to prevent her from giving another tug on Rai Li’s hair. Rai turns back around and says, “Dad!” while Korra’s trying to wrestle Mako’s hand into hers.
"I need an alibi!" she whines. Once more he pulls himself free and points at her.
"Mom did it that time, I swear!"
Rai shakes her head, disappointed. “You just said you wouldn’t lie, Daddy.”
Mako’s jaw falls open in indignation. He throws Korra a dirty look.
"You’ve turned our daughter against me," he says.
“Me? Why, I would never do such a thing!” she says, grinning at him. “You did that all by yourself – Boy Who Cried Wolfbat-style.”
"Momma?" Kouri says, right into her ear.
"Can you tell me a story?"
The fountain comes into view, and the tree with it.
“Right now? This second?” She tickles his stomach and his sides and his neck and he laughs high-pitches toddler laughs.
"Hmm…" She pretends to consider it. "I don’t know…"
"Please?" He sticks out his lower lip.
"Yeah, Mom, please?" Rai Li chimes in. Her hand swings from Mako’s and his eyes shine.
"Okay, okay," she says, groaning as she plops down beneath the tree and leans against its trunk, letting Kouri roll in a kind of controlled fall into her lap. "Just lemme think a minute. You two have tired me… out…"
Korra puts her head back and fakes snoring. Giggling like crazy children, her kids shake her “awake.”
"Huh? What? Oh, I guess we’ve been sleeping a while, time to go!" She starts to get up.
"No!" Rai Li says, pulling her down. Kouri just laughs and so does Mako, at last, lacing their fingers.
"So you only wanna hold my hand when it’s convenient for you?"
"I think you have a story to tell," he says.
"You’re avoiding the question!"
He laughs some more and kisses her temple, leaning his head against hers. “Story…” he says, closing his eyes.
"Story!" Kouri repeats.
"C’mon over here, Rai." Mako opens his arm, and then, because she’s hesitating: "You won’t burn the grass. I promised, remember?"
There’s another moment of pause and then Rai climbs into his embrace, curls up against his chest. Korra wants to laugh but doesn’t. Still – the girl relights her birthday candles two months ago – all six of them – and now she thinks she can destroy the entire park? Someday, Korra doesn’t doubt that, but not this one. Today there’s just trepidation and a complete lack of self-confidence (I wonder who she gets that from) and probably a little fear, too.
She smiles, sliding further down the trunk so she’s sprawled out on the grass.
"What story do you wanna hear?" she asks.
"The Boy Who Cried Wolfbat!" blurs Rai, and Mako frowns.
"Maybe you can ask Uncle Bo to tell you that one later," Korra says.
The magic words – they both light up.
"Yeah, we’re gonna see him tonight. If he tells you The Boy Who Cried Wolfbat, he can do the voices and everything.”
"Tell us a new story," Rai says.
"A new story about Pabu? Let’s see… How about Pabu’s origins?"
In response, all three of them, even Mako, scoots closer.
"There was once a fire ferret named Pabu," she begins. "He lived in Republic City all by himself. Pabu was very lonely, and he was scared by the tall buildings and the loud Satomoblies. The other fire ferrets in the city didn’t like him very much because his fur was brighter red than theirs, so Pabu didn’t have any friends. But then one day, Pabu saw two boys eating some bread in an alley. Pabu was really hungry, so he stole the bread from the boys and ran across the street. The two boys chased after him, using earthbending and firebending to slow him down until they caught him. Realizing he had no way out, Pabu gave them back their bread. When the boys let him go again, he followed them back to where they had been before and found out that he’d saved them from getting the bread stolen by a bad guy who wouldn’t have given it back to them. To thank Pabu for his heroic deed, the two boys shared their bread with him and promised to be his friend forever. And they were, and the three best friends lived happily ever after. The end."
Kouri’s already asleep, his cheek on her thigh. Rai Li twists around on Mako and Korra’s stomach; they’ve both “oof”ed and grunted and just missed getting kicked in the nose more than once by the time she’s comfortable.
"Not your best," Mako informs her. "But I’ll give you points for historical accuracy. More or less."
"Shut up." Korra runs her hand up and down Rai’s back. "You good, kiddo?"
"Good," she says. Leaves rustle overhead and she can feel the wind hum through them, the sky curving above the solid earth, the dappled sunlight on her skin, her heart beating nothing but love through her veins. She looks over and Mako’s staring at her with eyes like the sun. "What?"
He smiles. Just a little. “Nothing.”
She can feel her children breathing, feel his gaze scorching, feel the life – her life, her whole entire world – all around her, inside her, and it makes her smile the same way. Nothing. Everything. Exactly.
"Okay." She sighs and she realizes that she’s really, really happy.
"Happy birthday…" Her fingers dig into his side, slowly, slowly, surely, with her nails, leaving a mark, a promise of things to come when the stars start to sing. "…Slowpoke."
a/n: aojfiaurhgangnihbihaee i am so overwhelmed with feels for my own story that i could barely finish it you guise. because. the steambabies. they’re just. and Makorra. and just. I BROKE MYSELF, GUISE. DROWNING IN FEELS.
just wanted to say that Pabu is like the steambabies’ childhood bedtime story HERO. and i’m so damn proud of my head for creating that headcanon.
also i’ve never written little kids before so don’t judge me kay thanks.
imma shuddup now and go to bed