Tormenting thoughts plagued Bolin as they made their way to their new destination. What was the truth? Would he be able to remember who he was? Worst of all, would his brother ever speak to him again? Mako wasn’t speaking to him now, was it because he couldn’t forgive Bolin? Maybe he didn’t deserve to be forgiven. He had just done horrible things that certainly weren’t justified to his own brother. Mako’s obvious pain while he walked served a horrible reminder of that fact.
They had finally arrived at their destination, a very unimpressive place. This was where they lived? He looked around as Mako told him about their childhood. He sounded very somber, as if something very important had been taken from him.
Fire. Warmth washed over him as Mako told him about his sick winters. Why was he picturing fire? Warmth, and a safe feeling. Was this a memory? It was too faint to tell…
Pabu? The name brought him happier feelings and a flash of something red. He tried to focus - there it was! A small, furry creature, one he had claimed as his own right here in this very place! He begged Mako to keep him…’He’s alone, just like us! He needs us, Mako!’
Mako…he turned around, smiling, full recognition in his eyes for the first time since he disappeared. More and more memories were coming back - all the recent events with his brother, the kidnapping…Korra. Korra, the most beautiful girl he knew. The Avatar. The girl he loved.
The smile vanished as more painful memories started to surface.
‘But why aren’t Mommy and Daddy coming back, Mako? Where did they go? Don’t they want to see us again?’ Remembering was like losing them all over again. Familiar tears returned to his eyes - their parents were gone. The first time, Mako held Bolin tightly for as long as he cried, for hours at a time. That was what he needed right now.
He ran to his brother, practically falling on him with a hug, tears streaming down his face. Almost worse than the sting of losing his parents again was the guilt of what he had done. For the first time, he realized the extent of what he had done to Mako. Attacking him and Korra, in this horrible Equalist outfit, being so close to Amon…
It was all too much for him. He needed his brother right now, but did he deserve comfort after what he did? He never would have done it, knowing what he knew now. He managed to choke out some quiet words, face buried in his brother’s stomach; he couldn’t even stand up. “Mako…I’m sorry…I love you.”
He had thought for the worst. He had thought of the never ending torture. All the things that he told himself not to believe, he thought of. But all those doubts vanished the moment Bolin tackled him into a hug. For a moment he thought that Bolin was going to attack him. During those ticks, the picture of him and Bolin flashed through his memories like a short clip. Etching itself for the final moment. For its last goodbye.
The embrace erased all the assumption and doubt of his brother ever assaulting him. The knots inside him suddenly eased out. Like the path has been lit and everything became clear. The fire bender marveled if his brother finally recalled back all of his time worn memories. All of the memories that they’ve had together. The words that slipped from Bolin’s lips gave him reassurance.
Happiness. No. Words aren’t enough to describe what he’s feeling. Mako didn’t need to hear the earth bender tell him that he remembers. His declaration of brotherly affection to the fire bender was enough. It gave him the comfort that he needed. Bolin, his brother, his only family, remembers. He remembers him and that’s all he needed. Tears brimmed from his amber eyes as he responded to the bone crushing hug.
Bolin’s admission of pretense wasn’t needed. There were no need for redemption and justifications. Just the knowledge of his recollection is enough. It’s enough for Mako to forgive everything that Bolin has done to him. All the pain that Bolin had caused him didn’t matter to him, just as long as he had his brother. “I love you too, Bro…” And he meant it.
They’re brothers and no matter what happens, it’s them against the world.