Prompt: Thieves in the Night
Summary: Mako is an ambitious officer, struggling to work his way into the chief’s good graces, but when he stumbles upon an opportunity to do just that, it’s not at all what he’d expected. Makorra AU
Chief Lin Bei Fong had no patience for rookie officers.
And Officer Mako was the greenest of the green.
He watched with broad shoulders hunched and a slight pout on his lips as the Chief congratulated Officer Korra on yet another successful tip-off. Mako didn’t know where she got her info, but the girl had dirt on everyone in the city and wasn’t afraid to get her own hands dirty in order to take out some of the trash.
Korra stood with one hand on her hip and waved Bei Fong’s praise aside. “It was only some Triple Threat grunts.”
“Still,” Bei Fong said, her eyes flickering in Mako’s direction. “It’s good to have officers who pull their own weight.”
Mako flinched as he fought to keep from scowling at her.
The Chief completed her rounds and, with a salute, left the officers to their work. Aside from Korra and Mako, there were only a handful of others in the station since most of them spent their shifts on the streets.
Mako let out a heavy sigh as he sunk into his chair and pressed his forehead to the cool wood of his desk.
“Something got you down?” Korra’s low – but undeniably feminine – voice made the hair on his neck stand up.
He turned to face her, hating how much she affected him; he’d had a crush on her from his first day after she watched her single-handedly disarm two thugs who thought they’d treat themselves to a free lunch.
It didn’t help that she had the brightest blue eyes he’d ever seen, not to mention the sharpest wit. She always made him feel like a fool.
“It’s nothing,” he finally muttered, realizing she was waiting for a reply.
She leaned against his desk. “Please. I interrogate criminals for a living. I think I can tell when someone is lying. Especially someone like you, Slick.”
He bristled. “Slick?”
She grinned and gestured at his hair without saying anything more.
He patted at his dark hair self-consciously. Sure he greased it a bit, but how else was he supposed to keep it from sticking up all over the place?
She laughed. “Come on. Spill it. Has old Steel Eyes got you down?”
The Chief got her nickname from her gray eyes and her cold stare that could break the hardest criminals, and Mako glanced around nervously, afraid she was still in earshot. Her nickname wasn’t exactly a secret, but who knew what she thought of it.
“I could give you some pointers,” Korra went to suggest, shrugging one shoulder. “I could always do with some more excitement.”
“More excitement?” Mako asked as his eyes widened. “You were just in a shootout this morning with some of the most dangerous guys of the most dangerous gangs.”
Her resulting grin was wicked. “I like to shake things up.”
Two months later, Mako heard Korra got a tip on the Blue Thief, a notorious crook who struck without pattern and never left anything behind.
As soon as she set foot in the station, he pounced. “Why didn’t you tell me you had another tip?”
She bit her lip, taking a step back, clearly unused to seeing Mako so aggressive towards her. “Oh, uh, I didn’t think…. I mean, it’s just habit to go straight to the Chief. I’m not used to having a partner. Sorry?”
His face was hard as he glared at her. He’d learned a few things tailing her these past few weeks.
One of those things was her tells – and biting her lip was a big one. As tough as she claimed to be, and as good she was at spotting lies, she was a worse liar than he was.
“You’re lying,” he accused.
She continued to worry her bottom lip as her eyes darted around the room, taking in the other officers who were starting to notice the tense pair. “Let’s go outside,” she suggested, shifting her weight from foot to foot. “Then you can yell at me all you want.”
Reluctantly, he followed her to the alley behind the station, his muscles tense. He kicked aside an old newspaper, and scowled at all the cigarette butts littering the ground.
“I think I get why you’re a little upset,” Korra started to say, but Mako interrupted her, not having any of it.
“A little upset? Korra, I’ve been working with you for two months! I thought we were finally becoming partners! I thought I was finally becoming a better officer! And then you have this golden opportunity to get Bei Fong off my back about being such a worthless waste of space and you don’t even think about me!”
Korra’s eyes widened, but Mako wasn’t finished yet.
“And now I feel like even more of an idiot than usual! I thought maybe I’d finally be able to impress Chief, and you, but clearly that’s never going to happen. I’m just a no-good greaseball going nowhere. I feel stupid for even thinking that you…” He huffed in frustration and trailed off, punching the brick wall.
“Hey,” Korra began hesitantly, reaching out to touch his shoulder. He shuddered under her touch, but refused to turn face her. “I’m sorry, I had no idea… ”
“Of course you didn’t,” he laughed bitterly.
“Slick,” she scolded. “Listen. It’s…complicated.”
“Of course it is.”
“No, please.” She spoke haltingly, unsure of how to proceed. “I just-“
“I don’t want to hear it,” he spat, spinning on his heal and stalking off. “Consider our partnership over if you can’t think of anyone but yourself.”
Korra knew she had to choice but to watch him go, her heart in her throat.
The night of the tip-off, Mako was stationed on guard duty at a small museum covering for an emergency nightshift call-in while Korra and a handful of other officers were at the river, positioned to raid the warehouse stocked with the latest Sato gadgets the Blue Thief supposedly had his eyes on.
Mako hadn’t said a word since he received his assignment. It was an insult, making him play babysitter here. There was nothing of real worth in his wing of the old museum, just some old water-tribe artifacts that no one would be able to sell on the black market. He didn’t even tell Korra where he was going to be.
“Not that she’d even care,” he grumbled under his breath, shining his flashlight around a corner and, seeing nothing of interest, moved on.
That part stung the most. He didn’t actually care so much that she’d gotten another tip – they were her sources after all. It was that she hadn’t told him. He’d heard it from another officer who was gossiping excitedly about the possible identity the thief was hiding.
Popular theories included a corrupt politician, or a member of one of the triads.
But that wasn’t really important.
What was important was that Korra still kept secrets from him.
Two months wasn’t that long, he knew, but they’d saved each other’s skin multiple times and things like that tend to bring people together. His crush hadn’t faded, but morphed into something far more dangerous. Dangerous because she clearly had no feelings for him.
Feeling sorry for himself, he rounded another corner, bored and wondering what the others were up to. No doubt collecting exciting stories and proving their worth, all while putting another criminal behind bars.
A slight scratch-scratch caught his attention, and though he was sure it was just tree branches or a cat outside, he trudged in that direction to investigate, flicking his flashlight off to let his eyes adjust to the darkness.
He was wrong. It was not a tree branch.
The Blue Thief himself was crouching in the window, the moonlight reflecting off the blue warrior’s mask that gave him his name.
Mako flattened himself against the wall, hidden in the shadow.
He watched the thief’s moves – he moved like a cat – and then Mako realized that the thief was no man: the skin-tight black sneak suit clung to womanly curves that nearly made him gasp aloud.
She slinked through the darkness, barely looking in his direction before proceeding. Clearly, she was not expecting company.
Korra’s tip was a fake, Mako realized suddenly, and a brief wave of fear washed over him as he wondered if she’d walked into a trap.
But he didn’t have time to worry about her now. She could take care of herself, and this was his chance.
He crept after the woman, matching his steps to hers to hide the sound, his blood racing with anticipation.
She led him to a jewelry case, and he smirked to himself. Typical, he thought, after the jewels, even if they’re worthless.
He watched with rapt attention as she plucked a tool from the belt that hung low around her waist and cut a rough hole in the glass. The museum didn’t bother to put an alarm in this wing; that was Mako’s job for the night.
He inched closer, taking advantage of her distraction as she hunted through the contents of the case for whatever it was she was looking for. He reached for his gun, fingers tightening around the cool metal.
When the thief looked up with her prize in hand – an old necklace from what Mako could see – Mako’s gun was at her throat.
“Don’t move,” he said in a guttural voice, fighting to mask his rising excitement.
The woman said nothing, slowing turning to face him, stowing the necklace in the pouch on her belt and tilted her head to one side, clearly not at all intimidated.
“I mean it!” Mako repeated, clicking the safety off his gun.
She continued to call his bluff without speaking a word and took a step towards him. Then, without any warning, spun and kicked the gun easily out of his grasp. It skittered across the tile floor, leaving Mako unarmed, but not defenseless.
He recovered from his shock quickly, thanks to hours of training with his former partner.
He spun in the direction of her attack, using the momentum as he crouch and kicked out at her leg.
She lept over his attack, jumping back neatly, then again as he continued his attack. Punch after jab after kick, he couldn’t land a hit, and she only danced out of reach.
“Fight me!” He shouted angrily, his breath coming hard now and sweat rolled down his neck.
She continued to remain unfazed, easily dodging him until he finally tripped her up.
She fought to regain her balance, but Mako jumped on the opening, grabbing her arms and pinning them behind her back. He was easily a foot taller than her and used his strength and size to his advantage now that he had her.
Her moves seemed more desperate now as she squirmed and kicked and struggled to free herself from his hold, but he was stronger.
He swiped the handcuffs from his belt and tightened them around her wrists with a harsh click-click that echoed through the empty room. Then spinning her around, he removed her mask.
Korra’s stunning ice blue eyes met his and he didn’t know what to say.
“K-Korra?” He stuttered, absolutely dumbfounded.
She stopped fighting him. “Yeah.”
“What…I mean how are you…but why?” All the questions seemed to fly out at once.
She looked at the ground. “I’m sorry you got involved,” was the only answer she had to offer.
“I don’t understand.”
“You caught me. The Blue Thief. Congratulations,” she smiled ruefully. “I guess you’ve proven yourself after all. I knew you would eventually. I just hadn’t planned on it working out quite this way.”
“You’re undercover,” he said, realization dawning in his eyes. “That’s why you always had the best tips.”
“They were never the juiciest, though.” She shrugged. “Just enough to get the trust I needed.”
“You were using everyone? You were using me?”
She winced. “Like I said, I didn’t mean to get you so involved. But I kind of like you, Slick.”
Mako couldn’t believe his ears. “What?”
“I know, I’m not exactly easy to read, but you impressed me. You worked hard and you’re loyal to a fault. I admire that in you, even though I knew all along it was going to get me in trouble. And you’re pretty easy on the eyes to boot.”
He raked his fingers through his hair in frustration. “But why? What did you even come here for?”
“You knew I was water-tribe, didn’t you? First generation to grow up in Republic City, actually. And that necklace was stolen from my family a long time ago. I didn’t even know it was here, under my nose the whole time. It’s rightfully mine, but you know as well as I do I would never get it back legally.”
Mako couldn’t deny her that. “But what about the other things you’ve stolen?”
She smiled sadly at him. “Other lost family treasures. Some for other members of my tribe, or for friends. Did you ever really look at that list, Slick? Nothing was worth the danger it took to retrieve unless it had sentimental value.”
He slumped against the wall, releasing his hold on her. He knew that even though she was cuffed, she could easily escape, but he also knew somehow that she wouldn’t run now.
He scrubbed at his face. “Now what? I can’t turn you in.”
“I wouldn’t ask you to do anything else, Mako. I know how important your job is to you,” she spoke softly, looking at the ground. “I know what I’ve done, and I know what the consequences are for my actions.”
The use of his name sent his heart racing again. She never called him by name. It was always Slick, or Officer, or some silly nickname that hit in the spur of the moment.
“I can’t…” he trailed off. He didn’t know what he couldn’t do. He couldn’t turn her in. He couldn’t let her go. He couldn’t hurt her, but he couldn’t shirk his duties.
“Hey,” she prompted and he met her steady gaze. “No hard feelings if you do send me to the big house. Really.”
He groaned. His mind reeled.
He weighed his options, and he knew he really only had one choice.
He unlocked her cuffs.
“Mako?” She looked at him, her eyes questioning and hopeful.
When he spoke, his voice was gruff. “Did you know I would be here tonight?”
“No, I had no idea, I swear.” She shook her head violently. “ You wouldn’t talk to me and I had too many other things to coordinate to find out of my own.”
“What other secrets have you kept from me?”
“Nothing else big like this,” she touched his arm hesitantly. “I know it’s hard to believe me now, but truly I never meant to hurt you or get you in trouble.”
“And you like me.” He voice was emotionless.
He groaned. “Why did it have to happen like this?”
Korra waited for him to continue, and he turned to face her. “You know I’ve had a crush on you since my very first day? And then I was so thrilled to be working with you because you’re so good at what you do. And then I got to know you more and I just fell for you even harder.”
Korra had always been a girl of action, and she did not hesitate now.
She sprang forward and pressed her lips to his in a desperate kiss. She tried to pour all of her apologies and her regrets and her hope and her passion into her touch, and Mako, though stunned at first, met her kiss with equal fervor.
When they pulled apart, breathless and exhilarated and confused, Mako leaned his forehead against hers.
“We’re such idiots.”
Korra laughed, breathy and a little giddy despite their circumstances. “We really are.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I know how to lie low. I hate to leave Republic City, but I might have to. For a little bit at least.”
Mako looked torn.
“You know,” Korra began hesitantly, fingering the badge on Mako’s chest. “You could always come with me.”
He liked that idea more than he should, and something in his expression must have encouraged the girl in front of him.
“I know you’ll miss your brother, but you’re living separate lives now, and you could always come back to visit, or write. We can find better jobs, or live as vagabonds, or whatever we like. You won’t have to worry about impressing Bei Fong or anyone looking over your shoulder all the time.”
“And I’d be with you?”
She smiled. “Of course.”
He looked at her for a long moment, unable to tear his eyes away from hers. He always knew she was dangerous.
But he’d grown used to danger.
“Then count me in.”