Based on this prompt: “an AU where in episode 5 it was Korra who found Bolin instead of Mako after the kiss incident.”
Bolin made a solemn promise to his backstabbing brother never to hit the cactus juice. Though he keeps his promise, he still wakes up with what he imagines a hangover must feel like. Hours and hours of eating endless noodle bowls and sobbing into napkins leaves him with an awful headache and a desperate wish for the sun to go away. He’s groans into the table when hears Narook telling someone, “He’s over there,” both because he was almost finally asleep and because it means that a certain traitor has come to deal with him.
While he waits for Mako to come to the table and berate him, he keeps his head in his arms and tries to collect his thoughts. There are a lot of words he’d like to say to his so-called bro.
“Bolin?” says a voice that most definitely does not belong to Mako. Bolin raises his head slowly, waiting for the figure in front of him to come into focus. Recognition slowly flickers in his tired, puffy eyes.
“Korra!” He sniffs and wipes the snot from beneath his nose. He doesn’t want her to see him like this. It’s bad enough that she had seen him cry last night; does she have to come back to see the aftermath? He buries his head back into his arms and tells her to go away.
Having someone listen when he begs to stay in a heap at Narook’s would be a first, but he’s feeling hopeful. Maybe if he sits still and ignores her, she’ll go back to Mako and they can kiss some more and that would leave Bolin alone to drown in the misery of a broken heart. His plot to sit and wallow is ruined when Korra says, “Well, I can go back and get your brother if you’d rather talk to him.”
Anger brings him out of his sad stupor as he whips his head up. “Don’t call him that! He’s not my brother! He’s… he’s the worst! A jerk! A brother betrayer!” This sounded a lot better in his head, but he continues to ramble on. “Pabu’s my only family now. He’s the only one I can trust,” he says, dramatically gesturing at his pet.
She slides into the seat on the other side of the table. It creates a striking similarity to a setup from last night, but everything is all wrong. The restaurant, completely empty save for the two of them instead of a paragon of nighttime liveliness. Bolin, crying amongst empty bowls instead of enjoying some of Narook’s finest. Korra, her face ridden with guilt, discomfort, and sadness instead of lit up with laughter at Tahno’s expense. “I guess that makes me a best friend betrayer then, huh?”
If he’s being fair, then that should be the case.
But as far as he’s concerned, nothing is fair in love and war, especially so in the case of love. He shakes his head, anger quelled, because he just can’t bring himself to be mad at Korra. Not when she looks just as sad as he does. Not ever, probably. She could break his heart a thousand times; he’d scramble to pick up the pieces and give them back to her every time. “I just… I thought we were going to be together.” He sniffles. “But we’re not!” He breaks down on the last word, collapsing onto the table in a fit of sobs.
He liked her - loved her, even - and she was supposed to like him back. That’s what laughing together and having fun together was, he thought. She wouldn’t have a burping contest with him unless she liked him!
Then again, she had kissed Mako, which beat out any sign of affection she had showed Bolin.
Korra leans across the table to rest a hand on his shoulder, and he can feel his stomach twisting into knots. “I’m sorry for hurting your feelings. And I don’t know if it means anything now, but… I really did have fun last night, Bolin.”
To say that his feelings hurt is a gross understatement, but her sympathetic smile is enough to get him started on picking up the pieces of his broken heart. It’s going to take some time to heal, but he can already feel some of the depressed haze going away.
So, as he does when anything gets rough, Bolin chooses to take things lightly. Joking around always seem to ease the pain, even when it’s brought about by something as serious as a destroyed love life.
After another few seconds, he lets out a deep breath and starts to pull himself together. He cleans the snot off of his nose, rubs his puffy eyes, and even attempts his winning smile. “I’ll be okay,” he says, running a hand through his mussed hair, which he can feel is totally out of place. He exaggerates the motion of twirling a single lock of hair with a flourish, then grins at Korra to let her know that really, he’s alright. “But I look pretty bad, don’t I?”
The sound of Korra’s laughter is music to his ears, a reminder of why she was so perfect for him in the first place. “Well, you certainly are one of a kind.”
His head is still pounding and his nose is still running, but he can already feel his heart starting to mend.