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Author Topic: ATLA Wanderings: Many Happy Returns (12/27) [K+]  (Read 1412 times)

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Offline wherewulf

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ATLA Wanderings: Many Happy Returns (12/27) [K+]
« on: April 19, 2013, 11:44:33 AM »
A few years ago on KF, I started a thread called “ATLA Wanderings”.  It contained stories about people and places from all over the ATLA universe.  It had no fixed specialty or particular ship; I just wrote about what I felt like writing about, and as the title suggests, it went quite a few places.

I figured it was time to start it up on TKC.  XD  Hope you like them.



Into Your Work

Long Feng sat at his desk in his office, the crystal fire in the fireplace casting a green glow about the room.  He dipped his chop in red ink and stamped it on the bottom of the scroll he was reading.  He set the scroll aside, then picked up another one, opened it, and examined the contents.

Two Dai Li agents entered the room and stood just inside the entrance.

He sensed their presence, but finished what he was doing before acknowledging them.  They waited silently.  When he was ready, he looked over their way.

“There’s a problem with the lamp operator,” one of them said.  “You need to come see for yourself.”

Long Feng frowned.

“Why do I need to investigate the lamp operator’s problem myself?  What is the problem?”

“I’m sorry,” said the agent.  “He thinks he’s… you have to see for yourself.”

He looked at them.

They looked at him.

Such was the nature of their relationship that they would tell him what he needed to deal with a situation, along with any additional information he asked for, without fear.  Their telling him nothing more told him they had nothing more to provide.

Long Feng’s brow furrowed.

He stood.  “Very well.  Let’s see what the lamp operator is having trouble with.”  Which, the agents knew, probably meant trouble for the lamp operator one way or another.

They left for the lamp room.

Not that there were many problems, usually; generally the agents just needed direction.  They were fairly self-sufficient when it came to decision-making, unless they felt something required greater attention than they could provide.  That was when he would become involved.

He tried to be subtle in his actions; subtlety required less effort to keep things quiet.

The Dai Li liked quiet in Ba Sing Se.

They reached the lamp room, the place where more difficult subjects were… convinced of what the Dai Li was trying to tell them.  Two agents were there to the side, their expressions incongruously light-hearted.  The third, the lamp operator, had a glassy stare and a fixed smile.

Dai Li turned to the lamp operator.  “It’s come to my attention that you have having… problems.”

“Problems?” the man answered.  “Not at all, sir.  Everything is under control.”

His voice seemed odd, stilted.  “That is good to hear,” Long Feng said, keeping his voice low, “but that’s not what I have been told.  What is the problem?”

The man shrugged.  “There is no problem that I know of.  Everything is peaceful here.”

What didn’t help matters was that the other two agents were apparently trying to restrain themselves.  A quick glance showed they were keeping their usual grim watchfulness… but their eyes were dancing.  That bothered Long Feng.

Besides the fact that the lamp operator was smiling that wide, fixed smile.

He put on a calm smile of his own, looking pleased.  “Very well.  In that case, I will leave you to your responsibilities.”  He started to turn back to his office.

“Yes, sir.  I will go and await the next group of newcomers to Ba Sing Se.”

Long Feng stopped and turned around.  “What are you talking about?”

“They will need education about the City.”

Long Feng frowned and raised an eyebrow.  “We have guides to handle that.  You are—”

“But I am a guide, sir.  I’m Joo Dee.  That’s my responsibility.”

Hence the calm expressions and dancing eyes of the man’s fellows and the now exasperated looks of the others.  “You—”  Long Feng took a moment to compose himself.  “Very well.  Joo Dee, I have another assignment for you.  You will go with these men and follow their instructions.”

The lamp operator meekly nodded.  ‘Yes, sir.”

“Very good, Joo Dee.”  Long Feng smiled, then turned to one of the other agents.  “Get another lamp operator down here and fix this,” he growled.

The two lamp room agents snapped to.  “As you wish.”  They laid hold of the lamp operator, who was cheerfully rambling about something else, and took him away.

Long Feng returned to his office.  Idiot.  He knows better than to let that happen.  That’s the second time this month…
« Last Edit: December 27, 2014, 06:27:22 PM by wherewulf »

Offline Cassidy Alice

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Into Your Work (4/19) K+
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2013, 01:07:59 PM »
Heehee! This was awesome!

*yuan*

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Offline A6

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Into Your Work (4/19) K+
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 07:52:07 PM »
This is great wulf. Enjoyed these snippets on KF but glad you imported them to TKC!
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Offline wherewulf

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Nothing to Sneeze At (5/17) [K]
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2013, 11:54:42 AM »
Thanks, Cassidy, Ace! :D  (returns the favor)

This next one I've had on my mind for a while.  It's actually one of the first fanfic ideas I had, but I just hadn't gotten to it til now.  I also realized (realize, I admit) that something similar to this was done in Dark Horse's print of ATLA's Lost Adventures, but I solemnly swear that I did not see that and then think of this.  :D  It just happened on its own.

I mean, when your lead character has a sneeze like a bazooka, well... what are you supposed to think of?  XD  Hope you like this one, too.  And thanks again for reading.



Nothing to Sneeze At

It was a nice, normal, sunny day in the Earth Kingdom; good flying weather.  Blue skies with fluffy white clouds abounded, and Aang guided Appa through them to their next destination.  Toph, Sokka, and Katara rode in the saddle in back, busy with reading, eating, sight-seeing, sleeping, or whatever normally occupied their attention in flight.  Momo was catching a quick snooze in a tucked-in part of the saddle.

Aang rubbed his nose briskly.  He contorted his face violently, but it was no use.  He sneezed.

“Ahhh—CHOO!!!

He blew himself off of Appa’s head.

It wasn’t too big of a deal; the sneeze had blown Aang up and behind Appa, so he merely channeled the air currents to increase his speed and bring him back to a gentle touchdown on Appa’s head.  He took up Appa’s reins again.

The Gaang in back hadn’t noticed.

A little while later, Aang’s nose started itching again… and twitching.  Again Aang tried to fight it off, rubbing his nose, screwing his face up in all sorts of expressions, but to no avail.  He turned his head.

“Ahhh—CHOO!!!

That sneeze blew him off to Appa’s right.  Again, no problem, beyond some quick (and annoyed) Airbending on Aang’s part.  He rocketed back up, gently arced over, and came to a rest once again on Appa’s head.

Appa certainly noticed; he made a lowing sound.

Aang patted his head.  “I’m fine, buddy.  Just an itchy nose.  Nothing to worry about.”

Then the itch started up again.

Once again Aang tried to fight it off.  He didn’t have a handkerchief with him so he could blow his nose (in a more controlled fashion), so he rubbed his nose, blew air out of each nostril individually in turn, screwed up his face trying to fend off the inevitable explosion, and—when he found he couldn’t—grabbed onto Appa’s head.

He got a nose full of Appa’s fur.

Ah—CHOO!!!

The resulting sneeze blew Aang over Appa’s back and into the saddle.  He spun Momo around so he flew up in a shrieking fit, knocked over Sokka, and came to rest at the back of the saddle.

“Came to rest” being a relative term; the impact was pretty hard.

Ooooof!!

Katara looked over at him.  “What was that?

Aang shrugged and rubbed his nose.  “Just a sneeze.  I’ve had an itchy nose for the past little bit.”

“Just a sneeze?”  Sokka turned himself around to look at him.  “Just a sneeze?!  You almost knocked me out of the saddle!”

“I’m sorry, Sokka.”  Aang looked sheepish.  “I am trying to control it.”

“Well, try harder!  I can’t fly like you, okay?”

Momo looked at Aang and added some expressive shrieks onto the end of Sokka’s statement.

“See?”  Sokka gestured to Momo.  “Even Momo agrees with me.”

Aang chuckled.  “Okay, Momo.  I’ll try a little harder to control my sneezes.”

Momo seemed satisfied with that.  He curled up again and went back to sleep.

o o o

That afternoon the Gaang landed and made camp in a cave.  As they got off of Appa, Katara looked over at Aang again.  “You okay?  You sure you don’t have a cold?”

“Nope.”  Aang shrugged.  “I generally don’t get colds.”

Katara looked uncertain.  “All right…”

The Gaang set about setting up camp.  Katara collected water from the nearby stream, Aang went to get firewood, Sokka checked the nearby bushes for fruit and nuts (and any animal that might seem tasty), and Toph sent a chimney hole up through the roof of the cave.  Katara came back with the water and found Sokka sitting by the cave mouth.  “Any luck?”

“Nope.  Picked clean.”  Sokka looked out of the cave.  “Guess I’ll have to go out a little further.”  Nearby, Momo shifted a berry to his mouth.

Aang came back with an armful of firewood… but the dust and bark were setting off his nose again.  Face contortions still didn’t help.

“Ah-CHOO!

The sneeze went into the wood in his arms.  Sokka had to deal with a storm of sticks; he brought up his arm and leg protectively.  “Hey!”

“Sorry, Sokka.  I—ah-CHOO!!

That sneeze went in Katara’s direction.  It knocked her off balance—and the water she was bending up from the bucket got blown at Sokka, leaving him soaked.  “Hey!!

“I’m sorry, Sokka!  Here—lemme get that.”  Aang Waterbent the water off of Sokka and out of his clothes—just in time for another sneeze.  “Ah-CHOO!!

Sokka got soaked.  Again.  “Aang!!

Katara chuckled.  “I got it.”  She used her own Waterbending to suck Sokka dry of water—again—then she quickly put the water in the pot where she had wanted it before.  “Gran-gran has a soup to help you fight colds.  It has a lot of pepper in it.  Maybe I should make some.”


“Pepper?”  Sokka worked on his ear to get the remaining water out.  “That’s funny.”

Katara frowned.  “What do you mean?”

Sokka stopped working on his ear.  “Doesn’t pepper make you sneeze?”

“I guess so.  I only know that she swears by it.”

Aang smiled and shrugged.  “Better she swears by it than at it, I guess.”

Now Sokka frowned.  “Hey, how would you know?  You’ve never sworn in your life.”

Another shrug from Aang.  “I guess it’s the kind of life I lead.”  He looked back toward the cave entrance.  “I’d better go get another load of firewood.  I don’t know how much we’re going to need if—ah-CHOO!!

Naturally Aang had turned away from Sokka, and equal and opposite reactions knocked them both into the cave wall.

Sokka rubbed his head and glared at Aang.  “Speaking of swearing…”  Aang weakly smiled at him.

o o o

Everyone settled in that evening around the fire… “settled” also being a relative word.

While waiting for Katara’s pepper soup, Aang’s nose was still itchy—and once again…

“Ah-CHOO!

The sudden gust of wind ruffled everything.  It also rolled some coals from the fire onto part of Sokka’s shirt, where they sat smoldering, unnoticed.

For a moment.

Sokka smelled smoke, saw fire, and was on his feet and out of the cave in a shot.  “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”  He jumped into the stream near the cave.  Coming back after putting the fire out, he squished a bit, and he glared at Aang.

“Hey, Snoozles!” said Toph.  “Didn’t know you were a Firebender!”

That didn’t help.

Aang turned away from the fire.  Soon after that, though, he sneezed again.

“Ah-CHOO!!

That one was aimed Toph’s way, but she heard and felt Aang swelling up again for another sneeze and raised a slab of rock just in time to block it.

Toph frowned at Aang.  “Hey, Twinkletoes!  Your people’ve gotten colds before—you can’t’ve just sat there and put up with it!”

“We didn’t, actually.”  Aang rubbed his nose again.  “We had a special room you had to go to at the Southern Air Temple if you had a cold.  It was a padded room, away from everyone else.  You had to…”

Sokka, still not happy, pointed at the cave mouth.  Toph, grinning, joined him.  Katara, smiling apologetically, did the same.

Aang was downcast.  “Oh.”

o o o

A while later, Aang turned to yell into the cave from outside.  “Do I have to stay out here all night?”

Sokka’s yell came back.  “Well, you’re the sick one—you tell us!”

“Actually, I’m feeling pretty good, now!”  Aang yelled in reply.  “I haven’t sneezed in a good… a good… ah-CHOO!!

The sneeze knocked him into a pillar of rock near the cave mouth, but the rest of it went into the cave.  Aang heard a lot of crashing and banging, and winced at each sound.  A moment later, Sokka came running past, on fire.  Again.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

Aang cringed at that, too, and again when he heard a splash in the stream.

A moment later, a soggy Sokka squished his way back to the cave.  He stopped, glared at Aang, pointed to the grassy spot on top of the cave, then walked into the cave, grumbling all sorts of things Aang had never heard Water Tribe people say before.

Or wanted to.

o o o

A while later Aang sat on top of the cave, his back to an outcropping of rock, looking up at the setting sun.  He was glad it wasn’t raining, at least.

His nose gave him no warning.

“Ah-CHOO!!

The sneeze drove him back into the rock, which wasn’t too bad, but his heels came down on top of the cave.

Boom.

That impact sent just enough Earthbending juju into the rock to cause a tiny tremor—not much, but enough to loosen a rock in the ceiling down below, and…

Crunch.

“Ow!”

Aang winced at that, too.  He waited, and waited, and sure enough, there was Sokka, growling as he came up the rock and rubbing his head.  He also had a rope in his hand.

o o o

After sunset, a very unhappy Aang sat tied to a tree within sight of the cave mouth, pointed away from the cave.  A few bushes nearby had been denuded of leaves.  Momo had come out to keep him company—but behind Aang, not in front of him.

Katara came out of the cave with a bowl in her hands.  She smiled apologetically.  “It’s ready.”

Good.  Thanks!”  Aang looked a little desperate.  “Anything to get back in the cave.”

Katara handed him the bowl.  “Careful, it’s hot!”

“Thanks.”  Aang took a sip—and his eyes bugged out.  “Wow!  That’s a lot of pepper!”

Katara shrugged.  “That’s what the recipe called for.”

“Well, whatever works.”  Aang blew on the soup—very gently—then took another sip.  His eyes widened.  “Is that… cabbage?”

“Yeah.  That’s what the recipe called for—lots of vegetables.  I was surprised.”  Katara smiled.  “This is a Water Tribe recipe so I thought it would have called for meat, but it didn’t.  Sokka wasn’t happy about that.”

“Lucky for me.  I couldn’t drink this otherwise.”  Aang took another sip.  “Hey, maybe somebody Gran-Gran knew got it from Air Nomads!”

Katara shrugged and smiled.  “Could be.”  She looked at Aang.  “How do you feel?”

“I feel…”  Aang considered.  He hiccuped—which wasn’t explosive—and smiled.  “Full of pepper, that’s for sure.”

“But otherwise?”

“Well, my nose doesn’t feel itchy—but lately it hasn’t given me much warning.”

“Do you feel good enough to… come back into the cave?”

“I’d love to—if Sokka will let me back in.”

She grinned.  “You get back into the cave.  I’ll deal with Sokka.”

Aang nodded, smiling.  “Deal.”

Even though Aang could reach the knot that Sokka had made, Katara could reach it more easily.  She undid the ropes.  Aang slurped down the last of the soup.  “I’d keep that pepper soup recipe.  That’s a good one.”

Katara laughed.  “I’m going to.  Toph and Sokka thought so, too.”

“Really?  I can’t see Sokka eating anything without meat in it.”

“Yeah.  He surprised me too.”

Then Aang let out a big burp.  He cringed.  “Sorry.”

“No, that’s okay.  That’s another thing the soup does.  I think it’s the cabbage.”

Aang burped again.  “Hmm… how much cabbage did you use?”

 “A whole head of it.  It’s what we had.”

Aang felt another bubble rise in his stomach.  “Um… I may be doing this for a while.”

Then a couple of loud burps came out of the cave… and after a moment, they kept coming.

Now it was Katara’s turn to cringe.  “You won’t be the only one.”

As soon as Katara and Aang came into view, Sokka smiled at them.  “Hey, Katara!  This is some great soup you made!”  He let out a loud burp.

“Yeah!”  Toph belched.  “This is the best stuff you’ve cooked yet!”

Aang burped, and winced.  He turned to Katara.  “Uh, you haven’t had any of this, have you?”

Katara didn’t look happy.  “Some… but I thought you needed it more, so I… didn’t have much.”

Aang offered her the bowl.  “You could have some more.”

Toph and Sokka proceeded to trade burps.  Aang tried to suppress his occasional burp between clenched, smiling teeth.

Katara frowned.  “No thanks.  I… think I’ll go get some air.”  She went to get her sleeping bag.

“Katara?”  She turned.  Aang gave an anguished smile.  “Thanks?”

She smiled warmly.  “You’re welcome.”  She frowned at Toph and Sokka, who were now trying to burp musically, and headed for the roof of the cave.

Aang kept burping right along with Toph and Sokka, who were enjoying every last one.  He felt embarrassed and lumpish about it—burping like that, in front of Katara kept flashing into his brain—but eventually his impish side caught hold of him, and he too joined the burpfest.  Someone had to show these amateurs how to do it right.

So he did.

And when he did, Katara, now out of sight of the others, couldn’t help but giggle.  And keep giggling.

Offline Cassidy Alice

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Nothing to Sneeze At (5/17) [K]
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2013, 02:19:03 PM »
Heehee! This was a wonderful, amusing story! ^_^

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Offline A6

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Nothing to Sneeze At (5/17) [K]
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2013, 07:05:46 PM »
This was a lot of fun Wulf.  I don't see it as a repeat of TLA, just another amusing instance of air bending gone wrong! :)
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Offline wherewulf

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Eye of the Needle (5/24) [K]
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2013, 11:56:50 AM »
Thanks, Cassidy, thanks, Ace!  :D

And actually, Ace, thanks for the segue.  I saw "Nothing to Sneeze At" happening sometime during Season 2, and this next one during Season 1, before they arrived at the North Pole.  I meant for this next one to come out first, but, uh... didn't happen that way, and there it is.

Hope you like this one, too.  And thanks again for reading, everybody.


Eye of the Needle

It started with a small tear in Sokka’s pants, in a rather inconvenient place.  He found the tear during a “bathroom break” after lunch, while Appa was resting between flights.  Sokka thought about switching to his other pair of pants and bringing the first pair to Katara for mending, but given how Katara had objected last time to his statement of “girls are better at sewing than boys” (among other things), he did what he usually did.  He ignored the tear.

Or tried to.  The tear inevitably got wider by day’s end.  That evening he switched to his other pair of pants.

A few days later Sokka was in the process of switching places with Aang and taking Appa’s reins when they hit an air pocket.  Appa shifted to stay airborne, and Sokka shifted to stay on Appa.  His legs adjusted to the change in direction, but his pants couldn’t.

Rrrrrip!

Sokka heard and felt that.  He groaned.

Aang turned his way.  “What’s wrong?”

“N-nothing—I just thought of something I… left behind at the last campsite.  Yeah.  I’ll have to get it when we land.”

“What is it?  Maybe I can help.”

“No, no, that’s okay.  I’ll take care of it.”

Aang smiled.  “Okay.  Let me know if you need help looking for it.”  He made his way back toward the saddle.

Sokka took up the reins, got as comfortable as he could, then looked down at the problem spot, checking it with his hand to be sure.  He groaned again.  Yep… it had to be that spot.

o o o

That evening was awkward.  Sokka walked around the camp with shortened steps trying to prevent any further damage, and naturally Katara noticed.

She gave him a funny look.  “You all right, Sokka?”

“Yeah,” agreed Aang.  “You look like dinner didn’t agree with you.”

“No, no, I’m fine,” replied Sokka.  “I’m just… stiff from all the flying we did today.”

Aang tilted his head.  “But that was a while ago.  We’ve been on the ground since sunset.”

Katara’s look got funnier. “You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” Sokka insisted.  “I don’t need any more attention, all right?”

“All right…” Aang said dubiously.  Then he brightened.  “Hey, did you find that stuff you were looking for?”

Sokka looked puzzled.  “What stuff?”

“That stuff you said you left behind this morning—at the other campsite?”

“That stuff—oh, oh yeah!  Yeah, I got it.”

Katara tilted her head.  “But you’ve barely left camp.”

I’m fine!  I got what I needed, I don’t need anything else, I feel okay, I just… I’m going to bed.”

“But it’s barely past dinner!” said Katara, her face screwing up even more.  “Don’t you wanna—”

“No, I don’t!  Good night!”  He stomped toward his sleeping bag, which was close to Aang and Katara, grabbed it, carried it to the other side of the campfire, threw it down, and made a big business of getting into it and settling down.

Aang looked at Katara.  “I’m starting to worry about him.”  Katara shrugged uncertainly.

o o o

The following day Sokka found he had more problems.  Now it was daylight, so the tear would be even more visible, and worse, they had to remount Appa—as well as reload his saddle.  None of that would help the tear in his pants, or him.

He thought about it… then he seized on something Aang had said.  He stayed in his sleeping bag.  When the others showed signs of getting up, he stayed there—and moaned.

Aang, standing, looked over at him.  “What’s wrong, Sokka?”

Sokka moaned again.  “I think… you were right.  My stomach… it hurts.  Couldn’t sleep all night.”  He moaned again.

Katara looked over.  “What’s wrong?”

“I think we were right.”  Aang looked at Katara.  “His stomach’s bothering him.”

“Well, the way he eats…  I’ll make him some tea.  That ought to help.”

Aang nodded.  “I’ll look for some wild honey.  Gyatso always said that was good.”

“Be careful!”

“Sure will.  I don’t wanna get stung.”  Aang smiled.  “Come on, Momo!”  Momo chittered in acknowledgement and flew to join him as he went into the forest.

Katara patted Sokka’s shoulder.  “You just rest.  We’ll stay in camp today.”

Sokka looked at her, mournful.  “Thanks, Katara,” he said in a forlorn voice.

She snorted.  “Now I know you’re sick!”  She went to make the tea.

Sokka settled down to “rest”.  Okay, Sokka… think.

o o o

Between Katara’s tea and the honey Aang brought back from the forest, Sokka came around and started to feel “better”.  He stayed in his sleeping bag continuing to rest (and continuing to wonder what he was going to do about his pants) while Katara and Aang took care of things around the camp.  Appa certainly didn’t mind the unscheduled day of rest either; his soft snores filled the camp.

In the middle of the afternoon, Katara went off to find water and scout for nuts and berries.

“Want me to come with you?” Aang asked (a little eagerly).

“No… I think we’d better have someone here to watch Sokka, just in case.”

Aang smiled.  “Appa and Momo could watch Sokka.”

Katara smiled herself.  “Right.  I’m sure they could do a good job, too.”  She picked up the buckets.  “Stay and watch Sokka.  I’ll be back.”

“All right…” Aang dimmed.

While Katara was away, Aang noticed that he had a tear in his sleeve.  “Darn it…”  He went to his pack.  To Sokka’s amazement, Aang took off his shirt, got out a needle and thread, and started to mend the sleeve.

“Aang!” Sokka said in a strangled voice.  “What are you doing?”

Aang looked over at Sokka, confused.  “I’m… mending my shirt.”

“You can’t do that!” Sokka half-whispered again.  “That’s girls’ work!  It’s not manly!”

At that, Aang chuckled.

“Sokka.  You remember when we visited the Southern Air Temple?”

“Yeah?”

“You know how there were only guys there, right?  And the girls were at the Eastern and Western Air Temples?”

“Yeah, so?”

“You think we waited for someone from the Eastern or Western Air Temple to come and mend our clothes?”

“Well, I, uh…”

Aang chuckled again.  “We didn’t.  We fixed our own clothes—and made our own clothes, too.  There’s nothing girly about it.  We just did it.  Gyatso taught me how to sew.”  He smiled.  “He taught me a lot of things.”

Things whirled around in Sokka’s head before he spoke again—the logic of the Air Nomads’ living conditions was right there, plain as day; he just hadn’t ever thought about it before—but he also realized it might present a solution to his problem.  “So, you… mend your own clothes?”

“Yup.”  Aang nodded.  “Self-sufficiency.  Part of being an Air Nomad.”

Sokka’s face took on a sheepish smile.  “Listen, I don’t suppose you could… mend something for me, couldja?”

Aang laughed.  “No.  I mean, I could mend something for you, but I bet you can sew as well as I can, if you tried.”

“Aang, honest, I’m serious!”  Sokka gesticulated at him.  “I’ve got this rip in my—”

“Hey, you’re up!  Good.”  Katara walked into the campsite, buckets full.  “You’re sounding much better.”  She looked at Sokka.  “Your color’s good… maybe we can leave tomorrow.”

“Sounds good to me.”  Aang shrugged.  “Sokka and I were talking, and he sounded pretty good.  He didn’t look like he was in pain.”

“Oh?  What were you talking about?”

“Well, Sokka asked if I could—”

“Manly stuff.”  Sokka dropped his voice to a lower pitch.  “We were talking about manly stuff, Katara.  I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Aang’s face screwed up in puzzlement.  Katara laughed at Sokka.  “Okay.  Go ahead and keep your manly secrets to yourself.  I’ll just have to guess.”

o o o

The afternoon and evening weren’t much better.  Sokka kept trying to talk to Aang when Katara was out of earshot (which wasn’t often) and trying to keep Katara from being suspicious wasn’t easy (more like impossible).  Still, Sokka kept at it.

Eventually Sokka came around to the idea that he would have to do the mending himself.  That part was actually easier—at least, the “getting the needle and thread” part, anyway.  Aang was happy to lend Sokka his needle and thread, and it was easier to get that done and not attract Katara’s attention.  Aang was more than happy to show Sokka what he knew, too, but Sokka insisted on doing it himself, much as he would have liked the instruction.  He felt that Katara would never let him hear the end of it if she found out.  So, under cover of darkness and firelight, Sokka set to work, stitching away when he felt Katara wasn’t looking (and stitching his own fingers sometimes.  That wasn’t fun.)

The following morning, though, Sokka felt pretty good.  His pants were a thread merchant’s pleasure and a tailor’s nightmare, but they were sewn back together.  He put them on with pride.  They did feel oddly bunched together at the newly-sewn seam, but they were intact.  That was what mattered.  He also had learned a new skill in the process.

Though one he could never openly talk about.

That afternoon, though, as Sokka was taking over Appa’s reins from Katara, Appa shifted in flight.  Sokka did his best to stay on Appa, and succeeded—though not without cost.

Rrrrrip!

Sokka closed his eyes and groaned in frustration.

“Sokka!  Are you all right?”  Katara was all concern.

“I’m fine!  Let me just… get up there and take the reins!”

“But your stomach!  Are you sure?  You could be having a relapse!  We need to get down as soon as we can!”

I’m fine!!  I just tore my pants again, that’s all!!

Naturally Aang heard—and naturally he couldn’t help but be helpful.  “That’s okay, Sokka!  You can borrow my needle and thread again!”

Sokka’s jaw dropped at hearing that—and he immediately smacked himself in the forehead.

Katara was incredulous.  She started to laugh.  “Wait.  That’s what all that was about yesterday?  You were mending your pants??

With the cat out of the bag, Sokka found no point in pretense anymore.  “Yes!  Yes it was!  I was trying to mend my own pants, all right?

Katara just lost it—she laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  Sokka, for his part, turned redder and redder as he sat down, gathered up the reins, crossed his legs, and tried to burn a hole in the clouds up ahead with his eyes.

Katara made her way back to the saddle, laughing all the way and chuckling as she sat down.  That changed, though, when she looked at Aang; he was sad, and looking at Sokka up in front.

Katara stopped laughing.  “What’s wrong?”

“Sokka told me yesterday he thought sewing was ‘girls’ work’.  I didn’t think so.  We took care of our own clothes at the Southern Air Temple all the time; it’s not girly to me.  I wanted to share that with Sokka, but he was afraid of getting caught.”  He lowered his head.  “He didn’t want to make you mad.”

“Aang, I was laughing at—all yesterday, Sokka was acting like he was sick, and now today he split his pants and I—he was walking around like he was…” Katara summoned a weak smile.  “It was funny.”

“I know… he doesn’t think so.”  Aang nodded toward Sokka.  “I gave away what he was doing.”  He went back to looking at Appa’s fur.

Katara looked at him, fumbling with her words.  “Aang, I don’t think it’s girly either, it’s just… the whole way things happened… I mean I do think he could use a lesson about sewing, the same way Suki taught him about girls and fighting, but…”  She sighed.  “I don’t know…”

They sat there for a moment at opposite ends, Sokka still burning holes in the clouds, Aang still looking down, Katara unsure about what to do next.

Then Aang, still looking at Appa, smiled slightly.  “You could teach him.”

“Teach him what?”

You could teach him about sewing.”

Still seated, Katara brought her hands to her hips.  “Why would I?  He said he doesn’t wanna learn.  He said it’s ‘girl’s work’.  Why should I?”

“Because he tried to learn.  Because he wanted to do it himself, so he wouldn’t make you mad like he did last time.  He was trying to learn how to do it.”

“So that he didn’t make me mad, that’s what you’re really saying.”

Aang gestured to her, helpless.  “I did.  I just said that.”

Katara turned her head, frowning.  Aang sighed.

o o o

That night in camp felt very awkward.  Aang wanted to say something to try and bridge the gulf between Sokka and Katara, but their faces promised a fight if he did.  Talking about anything other than that felt ridiculous, like he was trying to ignore the badgermole in the room.  They spent a good part of the night listening to the birds and the cricket grasshoppers.  Aang never enjoyed a sunset less.

A while after sunset as the fire was crackling away, Sokka cleared his throat.  “I, uh, wanted to ask you something.”

Aang looked at Sokka, who was looking at Katara.  Katara wasn’t speaking to Sokka, so nobody answered.

“I have a… rip, in my other pair of pants, and I need some help.”

Katara did respond to that.  “Help doing what?” she snapped.

The cricket grasshoppers had the floor again for a moment.

 “I need help mending my pants,” Sokka said contritely.

“Well, why didn’t you say so?”  Katara exploded.  “Sure, just throw ’em on over here!  I’ve got nothing better to do!  Just give the ripped up clothes to the girl, since that’s girl’s work!!

No!!”  Sokka reached out to her.  “That’s not what I meant!”

“Then what did you mean?”

“I meant… could you show me how to do it.”

Aang was wide-eyed and surprised.  So was Katara—for a moment.

Why?  Is this some sort of trick to get me to sew up your pants, and then you’ll forget when you need to sew them up again?”

No.  No, it’s not.”  Sokka looked down at the dirt.  “I want to learn how to fix them myself.”

He drew a breath.  “I got to thinking about what Aang told me about his people, and what they think about sewing.  And I got to thinking about Dad and our warriors, in the Earth Kingdom right now.  Certainly they’re not—”  He stopped, afraid he was going to blunder with what he said next.  He thought about what he wanted to say, then continued.  “I know I said it was girl’s work before.  I think now it’s more like work that girls can do, or boys.  Dad wouldn’t hand his pants to a girl if he got a rip in them—he’d fix them himself.  They all would.  It’s work that’s there to be done, and somebody has to do it.  It just…" he shrugged, "happened that I was busy with other things.”

“But you said that girls can sew better than boys, right?” said Katara, still angry.

“Yes!  I did!  But I want to do it now!  It’s not about girls or boys, it’s about a rip I have in my pants, and I wanna fix it if it happens to me again!  Which, given the way Appa’s been flying lately…”

“Hey!”  Aang pointed at Sokka.  “Don’t blame Appa!”

“Okay!  It’s not Appa’s fault, either!  It just… happened!  Fine!  Katara…”  Sokka spent a moment cooling down, trying to stay on topic.  “I don’t know how to do this; you do.  If there’s anything Suki should have taught me, it’s that it doesn’t matter if a girl or a boy does something, it’s just… work.  Or a job.  Whatever.”

Katara was incredulous.  “So now you’re blaming Suki for not teaching you sewing??

NO!!  I should have said ‘my time with Suki!’  I was wrong!  Okay?  I—was wrong.  Suki is a girl and a warrior.  I can be a warrior and a guy who sews!  It’s all the same thing!”

“Katara,” Aang said, not seeing the smile that was beginning to creep onto Katara’s lips, “I think it would really help Sokka if you taught him how to sew.”

The smile vanished.  Katara turned to Aang.  “Why don’t you teach him?”

“Hey.”  Aang spread his hands.  “I already offered.  He asked you.

“Yeah, Katara, please—it really would help me if you taught me how to sew.”  Sokka brought his hands together in front of him.

Katara was leaning in that direction already, but being Sokka’s sister, she wanted to make sure he properly “understood” the value of what he was asking for.  Now she felt he had.  “All right.  I’ll do it.  I’ll teach you how to sew.”

Thank you!” gushed Sokka in a low voice.  “I really appreciate it!”

“Good.  But…” Katara tilted her head.  “Didn’t you say your other pair of pants?”

“Yeah…?”

“What about the pair you’re wearing now?  I heard them rip this afternoon.”

Sokka looked mortified—not just because his pants were ripped, but because that meant he had more he had to ask Katara for.  “Yeah, they did… rip today.”

“Good.  We’ll have more to practice on tomorrow.”  She turned to Aang.  “Aang, you’ll take care of guiding Appa most of tomorrow, probably for the next few days.  Sokka will need to focus on his sewing.”

Aang nodded.  “Okay.”

“All right.  Now, everybody get a good night’s rest.”  Katara smiled at Sokka with a devilish glint in her eyes.  “You’re gonna need it.”

o o o

The following day Katara made good on her word; she taught Sokka how to sew.  They first took care of one pair of Sokka’s pants… and then the other.  They then worked their way through several things Katara had been saving for when she had time.

A while after that, when someone had a tear in their clothes, Katara brought it to Sokka to fix.  He didn’t like it and he protested a few times, but Katara reminded him that he had to practice what he had been taught.  He didn’t like hearing that either—but the point was valid.  He practiced.

Years afterward, Hakoda found Sokka sewing on a button that had popped off.  He gave Sokka a look.  “I didn’t know you’d learned how to sew.”

“Well, you know how it is, Dad…” Sokka stretched.  “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

Hakoda nodded, smiling.  “Indeed he does, Sokka.  Indeed he does.”



A/N: Full disclosure--my mom taught me how to sew years ago, and I take care of my own mending.  :D
<< Post Merge: December 03, 2013, 01:46:23 AM >>


I'm sorry, I mishandled the way I posted that last one; it wound up looking like a reply rather than a new story.  Ah, well.

I realize too that this next one properly belongs in a "Korra Wanderings", but I don't want to start that one just yet.  It'll just have to go here.  :D

This one was inspired by, um, recent events.  XD  It's not very long, but I wanted to get the feeling across.  Hope you like it.



Cleanup

Lin and President Reiko stood dumbly on the roof of a skyscraper in the wake of Korra’s departure.

The giant blue Avatar had arrived as a bolt from the sky, close on the heels of a monstrous red and black… something that had started to attack the city.  She had driven it back, showering it with blows, then it had started to get the upper hand, holding her aloft like a sack of meat.  And then, with help from some golden… something else, Lin didn’t know what, Korra had beaten the monster, encircled it with helixes of gold, and dispersed it.  Then the Avatar had shot off into the blue.

Leaving one heck of a mess.

As usual, Lin’s mind grumbled out.

Smoke rose from buildings on fire.  Sirens continued to wail as police and fire vehicles went to bind the city’s wounds.  There was at least one police airship down in the harbor, and there was lots of wreckage in the water, from shattered docks, ships, General Iroh’s battleships… lots of things.

Reiko looked at all the wrecked and burning buildings.  Lin, ever practical, looked for the most convenient way to get down from the rooftop.  Then her eyes lighted on the statue of Avatar Aang, now knocked down into the harbor.

That did it.  For whatever reason, all the anger, frustration, fear, and everything else Lin had felt during the battle roared up inside her.  To the President’s great surprise, she erupted.

“WOULD IT HAVE TROUBLED YOU TOO MUCH TO PUT AVATAR AANG’S STATUE BACK THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE YOU LEFT, AVATAR KORRA?!?!?”

Reiko looked at her, eyes wide in shock.

Lin glared at where Korra had gone for a moment longer, fuming in anger, before realizing that the President of the United Republic was staring at her.  Suddenly she felt rather silly.

She motioned half-heartedly at the horizon.  “Because… she was big enough.  Who knows where we’re going to find cranes large enough to…” She shrugged with one shoulder.  “Get Avatar Aang out of the harbor.”

Reiko looked at her a moment longer.

He started to chuckle.

The chuckle grew into a laugh.

Before long, the normally-dignified President was all but laughing his head off, full of relief, release, and, well, hilarity at the sight of his police chief yelling at the now-departed gigantic Avatar.  Lin did pick up on the humor of the situation and laughed some at the whole thing.  If only for form’s sake.

Reiko took off his glasses, wiped his eyes, and sighed.  He put his glasses back on and smiled at Lin.  “Come on, Chief.  Let’s get down from this roof.  Let’s see what we can do about our poor Avatar in the harbor.”

“Yes, sir.”  Lin found a good anchoring place on a neighboring building, shot out a cable, took hold of Reiko, and made her way to the ground.  There was a city to put back in shape.

Again.

And she would remind Korra about that the next time she saw her.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 01:46:23 AM by wherewulf »

Offline Autumn

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Cleanup (12/2) [K]
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2013, 02:27:27 AM »
Here's a mercy post for you, Remus! :D


ATLA Keeps (click to show/hide)
-Aang’s tattoos
-Kataang’s fluffiness
-Toph’s earthbending sight

LOK Keeps (click to show/hide)
-The Kataang Family Portrait
-Tenzin’s Tattoos
-Toph’s Statue
-Korra's Appa Plushie
-Pokey the Lemur

Offline A6

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Cleanup (12/2) [K]
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2013, 02:33:27 AM »
It was an fun drabble.

But if I could read the symbolism into that scene it seemed to me that not only was Unavaatu done with the good Avatars as he took over, so too is Bryke as they move on with Korra. Bryke probably wants Aang laying and rusting in the harbor...
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Cassidy Alice

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Cleanup (12/2) [K]
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2013, 03:17:04 AM »
Heehee! Such a lovely drabble!

And oh! I hadn't even thought about the symbolism of that scene, but it makes sense! XD

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Offline Autumn

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Cleanup (12/2) [K]
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2013, 08:55:42 PM »
hehe. That was cute. I hope they're able to get Aang's statue back up in LOK. That part in the finale pretty much killed me (coupled with the other Avatar's disappearing ). Yeah, I caught a bit of symbolism too. ^_^

Also, I thought the ATLA one was good with Sokka's pants ripping. That was funny. :P


ATLA Keeps (click to show/hide)
-Aang’s tattoos
-Kataang’s fluffiness
-Toph’s earthbending sight

LOK Keeps (click to show/hide)
-The Kataang Family Portrait
-Tenzin’s Tattoos
-Toph’s Statue
-Korra's Appa Plushie
-Pokey the Lemur

Offline wherewulf

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Double Take (10/31) [K+]
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2014, 11:57:18 AM »
Thanks, Ace, Cassidy, Autumn!  :D (very late)

You know, have we seen any shots of Republic City Harbor in Seasons 3 or 4 so far?  I agree.  I hope they get Avatar Aang back up out of the harbor.  You know, though, I could see that as a project that Asami would take on, too, with Future Industries.

Another fanfic to write if they don't, I guess.  :D

This next one is, well, definitely different than my usual approach, so I hope you'll bear with me.  And I hope you like it.  :D  Thanks again for reading.


Double Take

Sokka gazed at the full moon one night in his room in Yu Dao, and he pondered.

He thought about Yue, naturally… but he also thought about Suki—and in particular what Yue might have thought about Suki.  Even Ty Lee intruded into his thoughts, and how that happened he honestly wondered.  Although there was the way she had smiled at him on board the Drill…

He shook his head briskly—then slowly, more sadly.  He looked up at the moon again.  I love Suki, Yue, he thought.  But I love you too.  I know you’re not here now, but…

He sighed.

“I don’t know how to put this.”

He moved back the covers, got out of his bed, and stood before the window.

“I don’t want it to look like I’ve—like I’ve moved on,” he said, talking with his hands.  “I love you, but I love her, and she’s here, and you and I won’t be together for a long time, so…”

His face screwed up in consternation, searching for the right words.  Eventually he looked at the floor.

“I just hope you can forgive me,” he said quietly.

Then, in glorious white shifting light, Yue came to him.  He was elated, seeing her for the first time since that terrible night at the North Pole, then… ashamed.  He started to speak.

That’s all right, Sokka, Yue said in the unnerving backwards reverb of the spirits.  I understand.

Sokka couldn’t believe his ears.  His mouth worked for a moment before he spoke.  “You do?”

A small smile from Yue. Of course.  I can see you every night, after all.

Sokka’s face soured as he thought about everything Yue might have seen.  “You can?”

Yes.  A warm understanding smile.  I know what you have gone through.  I’ve seen it.  It can’t be easy.  I forgive you.

His face lit in wonder.  “You do?  Really?”

The warm smile was still there.  Yes.

Sokka went to his knees, and he smiled.  “Thank you.  Thank you so much.  I didn’t know how I was going to explain—”

That’s all right, Sokka.  I understand.  I went through it myself.

A guilty cringe.  “I know.  I was thinking about that too.”

It was easier for me in some ways.  You mentioned moving on… I’ve moved on too.

That Sokka didn’t expect.  “What..?”

Yes.  I thought it was better—for both of us.

Sokka was still stuck in surprise.  “What?”

Yes.  Yue laughed a little.  It’s funny, in a way—I think you know him.

An insect-like scuttling sound whispered into the room, but Sokka barely heard it.  He tried to force his mind to work.  It didn’t work.  “What?  Who?”

At least… I think Avatar Aang mentioned him to you.

The scuttling sound grew until that was all Sokka heard.  A long, wide, centipede-like body, twice as long as a man was tall, scurried up from the right and brought itself upright near Yue.  “Good evening, my darling!” it said.

Yue smiled warmly again, then turned to the centipede, her face blank.  Good evening, my love.  It’s good to see you tonight.  She leaned in to kiss the head of the centipede, and Sokka to his horror found himself looking at the old man’s face of Koh.

The old man’s mustached face switched to that of a baboon.  “Good evening, Sokka.  Yue’s told me so much about you!”

Too late Sokka remembered what Aang had told him, what he had to do if he ever saw Koh, and his face still wore the shock of what had taken place.  The baboon’s face grinned cruelly and laughed.  It glowed a sickly yellow, and Sokka felt his face tearing off of his head.  He screamed—and he heard the scream coming from a source a hand’s-breadth in front of him—his face lifting free—which made him scream even more—

Sokka jerked awake in his bed, panting.

He tried to collect himself.  He threw back the covers, lurched out of bed, and stumbled toward the washbasin.  He poured the basin full, then splashed water on his face—

—only to feel only skin—

Sokka looked in the basin.  There in the faint light of the moon he saw his head, his disheveled hair, and no eyes, no nose, no mouth, no face—

He screamed.

He jerked awake in his bed.  Again.

Quickly he ran his hand over his face and found his nose, his mouth.  He exhaled, relieved.  It was just a dream.

It was
all a dream.

Moonlight shone in from the uncovered window, falling across his bed and drawing his gaze up to the full white moon in the starlit sky.

His stomach felt queasy.

Wasn’t it?

Offline Cassidy Alice

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Double Take (10/31) [K+]
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2014, 03:49:29 PM »
This is amazing, wulf!

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Offline wherewulf

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Double Take, Part 2 (11/21) [K+]
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2014, 12:47:06 PM »
Geez, Cassidy.  XDD  Thanks!

Now if you know anything about me or if you're familiar with my writing--or both--you know that I tend toward happy endings, not shock/horror/fear... stuff.  I thought about saying something about that, but I didn't want to tip my hand that I had something else coming.

Partly because I wasn't sure if I could bring what I was writing to a successful conclusion, and I didn't want to promise something that I might not be able to deliver.  Thankfully Invaderk took a look at this and gave me a few good suggestions, which I hope I put to use.

Tell me what you think.  :D  Thanks again for readying, everyone, and especially for commenting.

Double Take, Part 2

Sokka sat there in his bed in Yu Dao, troubled.  The full moon was still there, still quietly arcing across the sky through the watches of the night, but now, instead of being a serene, calming sight… it was a source of worry.

 How did he get her? he thought.  How did she fall for… him?

Is she under his control somehow?  Did he threaten her?  How did he get to her?  She could lose…


Sokka was glad to feel the night breeze, the light weight of his sheets, glad to know his eyes, his nose, his mouth, his entire face was where it was supposed to be and that what he had seen had not been real.  That was a great relief.

But.

His stomach felt loose and shifting as he stared up at the moon, fear filling his face.  Was any of that real? he wondered.  What if it was a sign that he has her?  What if he got to her by threatening to do things to me?  Or her family?  What if it was a warning?  A message?

Can dreams
do that?

He couldn’t think of any answer to that.

He turned away from the window and rested his hands in his lap.  He looked at them.  I have no idea.

I don’t know anything about dreams.

Then he realized something.  His eyebrows went up.

But I bet Aang might.  That is his territory, sort of.

He laughed weakly.  Of course, I don’t think he’d want me to wake him up in the middle of the night.  But this is Yue we’re talking abou—

He belched.  Not just a mere dainty burp, but a real, hearty emission of gas that tasted of half-digested sea prunes.

“Whew!”

He waved his hand in front of his face trying to disperse the smell.  When he was done waving, though, his stomach felt a little more steady, and some of his queasiness had gone away.

Sokka frowned at himself.  Huh.  He tilted his head, then back again.  He did feel better… but the uneasiness crept over him again, almost as if he could hear the scuttling of Koh’s many centipede feet.

Again he looked at the moon, and his chest filled with dread.  His mouth opened slightly.  Could Koh have you?  Could he have found some way to come into this world?

Indelicately his system chose that moment to belch again, letting loose another eruption of sea prune gas.  He covered his mouth, embarrassed.  Burping in front of Yue like that.  “Sorry.”

The second burp didn’t smell any better than the first one, either.  He waved his hand in front of his face again.

After a moment, though, his expression lightened.  Although Toph would understand.

He chuckled.  He enjoyed that thought, how Toph would behave in front of the ‘high and mighty’ Moon Spirit.  Which Yue wasn’t, of course—‘high and mighty’—but he knew that’s how Toph would interpret things.

Maybe it was because his stomach was no longer so burdened with sea prunes, or maybe it was the picture of Toph blowing raspberries at Yue when she thought Yue wasn’t looking, but Sokka felt better somehow.

He shifted in bed to get more comfortable.  You know, I know I don’t know everything about spirit stuff, he thought, but I know that Yue is here, in this world, and Koh is there, in the Spirit World, and he’d have to do a pretty big amount of something to get here.

He warmed to the thought.  And Yue is pret-ty powerful in this world.  I mean, without her, we wouldn’t have the moon, am I right?

So she can take care of herself.  Yeah.

I don’t need to worry about anybody taking her
anyplace.

He settled back in bed and closed his eyes.  Yue isn’t going anywhere she doesn’t want to.

He smiled at that thought, and went off to sleep.

A few moments later, though, he sat bolt upright.

But what if she did want to go with Koh?

Again he looked at the moon—then back at the covers.

What if that part wasn’t a dream?  What if she did move on?  With Koh?  What if she has moved on?

I never thought about that before.  I always thought…

He swallowed.  I always thought that she’d be waiting for me.

He shrugged sheepishly.  I figured she could always see me, but I just thought that she would be there for me.  I don’t know how…

Another shrug.

I don’t know how we’d resolve things, since there’s Suki, and there’s me, and Yue isn’t here, but I figured…

Another look at the moon.

That we’d work it out somehow.  I don’t know how, but I thought we would.

His eyes came down to the wall opposite his bed.

But that’s not fair.

He shook his head.

That’s not fair to her.

Especially when
I clearly can be with somebody.

I mean, I can see her, she can see me, I can talk, I don’t know if she can hear me, and I can’t hear
her… She deserves it.  She deserves someone.  She deserves someone who can be with her.

“Obviously I can’t,” he said out loud with another shrug.  “I can’t be up there with her, yet.  And it’s not fair to expect her to sit up there and watch me all the time with someone.  It’s not fair.  Even if she is with…” he shuddered, “him.

Sokka looked to the moon.  “It really should be up to her.  Not me.”

He thought some more, then got out of bed and knelt in the moonlight, facing the window.

“Yue, I—I don’t know how much of this make sense, or if you’ve been listening (which would make it easier), but…  —And I don’t know if you really need this.”  He laughed.  “I mean, you’re the Moon, after all.  You don’t really need my permission for anything.  But…”

He sighed, and smiled sheepishly.  “I don’t know how we’re going to figure things out when I do get to the Spirit World, but I figure we will.  And until we can be together again and figure things out, I hope you’re okay with me being with Suki—and I wanted you to know that I am okay with you being with someone else.”  He lowered his eyes, happily thinking about the past.  “You were okay with being with me in the first place.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me, how happy it made me.”  Again to the moon.  “I want you to be happy too.”

He sat there.

No shimmering vision of shifting light came to him, no sign manifested itself that Yue approved, or had even heard… but he felt better.  He got up off the floor and back into bed, and smiled.

He would give of himself, fully and honestly, to whomever he was with.  He would ask Yue’s forgiveness when he saw her in person.  And he hoped that she was as happy as he was, whomever she was with.  Or not.

Just as he was about to fall asleep, he chuckled.

Of course, hanging out with Koh would be a little awkward.

And on high, in the realm of the stars and the sky, if you happened to listen… there was a faint giggle.

Offline Autumn

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Double Take, Part 2 (11/21) [K+]
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2014, 04:34:51 AM »
I swear I will read this one day! Now post away! ^_^


ATLA Keeps (click to show/hide)
-Aang’s tattoos
-Kataang’s fluffiness
-Toph’s earthbending sight

LOK Keeps (click to show/hide)
-The Kataang Family Portrait
-Tenzin’s Tattoos
-Toph’s Statue
-Korra's Appa Plushie
-Pokey the Lemur

Offline Water Lily

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Double Take, Part 2 (11/21) [K+]
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2014, 05:16:27 PM »
These stories are awesome! The people are so in character, too. Every time I need a break I can just come to this thread and read over them. Very interesting as well. Hats off to your writing abilities! :D


~To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.~

Offline wherewulf

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Many Happy Returns (12/27) [K+]
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2014, 06:31:39 PM »
Gosh.  Thanks, Water Lily!  :D  (tips hat)  I appreciate that.  I do my best to keep them in character, because if I don't, well... there's not much point.  That's one of the best compliments I can get.  Thanks.  And thanks again, Autumn!

Now four years ago, I wrote a pair of AU ATLA fics in which Katara and Aang and then Mai and Zuko run into a certain jolly elf; if you're interested, you can read them here and here.  I always meant to write one for Azula, but I couldn't think of a good enough, and sensible enough, plot to get the two of them into the same space.  (Part of the problem, of course, was the thought of "Azula?  And Christmas?  What?")  But my mind being the back room full of back burners that it is, apparently I hadn't given up on the idea, and... this is the result.  Going back to some of my Book 4 stories about Azula, of all things.

It ran a bit long--and it gets a bit weird--but like another fic of mine from a few years ago, "Tea for Three", it felt like natural conversation, so I thought I should leave it be.  Hope it works.  :D  And hope you like it.  Thanks again for reading.  And a Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday season and Happy New Year to everyone!



Many Happy Returns

The predominant color of the Royal Sanitarium was gray.

And black.

And various shades in between.

It was not like Azula had intentionally sought to study this, but given her countless hours, and days, and weeks, and months in what had now become her home, she hadn’t had much choice.

There was gray stone... black mortar... shadows of black and deepening gray, depending on how the light outside and the light from the torches fell.  There was blue from the occasional sunny day, if she happened to look out her small slit of a window, there was brown on the ground from the base of the caldera where the sanitarium was located, there might even be white if she was lucky enough to see a cloud outside—unless it was a completely cloudy day, in which case everything outside was gray, too.  Her plate, her bowl, the chopsticks and spoon she had been given to eat with, all made of flat, gray iron.

All designed, she eventually concluded, to suck every last violent emotion out of any inmate of this place.  To create a hopeless, sorrowful, sullen gray pit inside.

Gray.

Which was why the bright red sock hanging on the bars of her cell was such an anomaly.

She had woken up one morning and it was there, just idly attached to one of the black iron bars in the middle.  It wasn’t dark red, like the burgundy of Fire Nation uniforms, it wasn’t an angry yellowing red like the greedy, devouring fire they all loved, it was a bright, cheery, festival wagon, baboon cheek red—a bright red sock as long as her arm, trimmed with a hand’s-breadth of fine, soft, equally bright white fur.

Her jailors might as well have knocked a hole in the wall to let the sun shine in, for something to be so out of place.  It was ridiculous.

It was maddening.

She levered herself off of her bunk, her bedsheets just as gray as the walls, and walked toward the strange red thing uncertainly.  A thought came: Could Zuko have…?

Other than her jailors, and her doctors (which she could well do without, she felt—the frauds), she had had only one visitor through the many months she had been here: Zuko.  He had come only once—without Mai, and with his guards.  It was nice to know he still viewed her as a threat.

Of course, he hadn’t come back after she had thrown first fire at him, then insults, and taunted him to have the peasants in the kitchen put orange in the orange sauce for her bland, colorless food, but even he had been a welcome break.  Yet maybe this bizarrely out-of-place sock was from him, to drive her over the edge once more.

And she had been feeling better lately, more like herself.  More like the self she used to be, or remembered.

“It is a gift,” said a deep voice.

She froze.

There was a mirror opposite her cell bars, angled so that people down a long brick corridor could see her and talk to her from a safe position.  She could bend fire at the mirror (and she had), but the only thing that would happen if she did was that she would knock down the mirror.  Her jailors would come, slide shut the steel door that completely blocked off her cell and any light that came into it, and set up the mirror again.  They then would reopen the cell after a while.  When she had started to regain her sense of self, she had played that game with her jailors until she had gotten bored.  It had taken a while.

Now, though, there was a man in the mirror.

His appearance matched the sock that was hanging on the bars.  He was clad in bright, cheery, “Look at me, Hotman!” red, with bright white fur trim around his middle, on the cuffs of his sleeves, and above his black boots, and he wore a droopy red hat with poofy white trim and a silly white poof ball on its tail.

He wasn’t from the Fire Nation, that was obvious.  But where was he from?  The moon?  He was completely outlandish.

His expression was as incongruously cheery as his outfit.  His long clean white beard spoke of many years, and he had a twinkle in his eye, like he knew something you didn’t and he was just dying to tell you.

A lot like Uncle Iroh.  That and the beard.

Azula frowned.  That gave her some kind of mental landmark to navigate from.

“Why in the world would you give me a gift?”  Someone who thought they knew better she knew how to teach otherwise.

The smile on the man’s face grew, and so did the twinkle in his eye.  “Because.”

She didn’t like that game, but she knew how to play it.  Very well…  “Because why?”

And again the smile grew.  “Because because.”

Not that she liked playing that game for very long, either.  She ground her teeth.  “That doesn’t make any sense!

A soft chuckle.  “I beg your pardon.”  He brought a hand to his glasses, and he looked over the tops of them.  “I did think I was speaking with someone in a madhouse.”

Being talked down to like that, insulted, made fun of—Azula lost it.  She drew her hand back to throw a huge ball of flame, she didn’t care if she knocked down the mirror—

“Careful,” the cheery man said.  “I wouldn’t want you to burn your gift.”

She was tempted to do it anyway, just for the spite of it and to see his face change, anything except that insufferable smile… but Azula knew how to toy with people too, as this man did.  She slowed herself down, then collected herself.  “So.  You don’t want me to burn it, do you?”

A head nod to the side.  “No, I don’t.”

A flame appeared in her hand, yellow-red in her cell.  She was momentarily annoyed that it wasn’t back to its focused blue—yet.  Her head swiveled so she could see the man, and she smiled.  “Then why don’t you tell me what this ‘gift’ is, before I set it on fire?”

“I could.”  He was still smiling, but there was some sadness there.  “But don’t you want to find out yourself?”

“Why?”  She made her smile look unsettling.  “When I can just destroy this thing of yours?”

“It’s no longer mine, Azula.”  A simple smile.  Azula’s jaw dropped.  “I brought it for you.  All of it.”

The sound of her name was shocking.  Her mind worked as her mouth did, trying to grasp what she’d heard.  The obvious conclusion was…  “The guards.”  A slight head shake.  “Zuko.  He told you!  He told you my name!”

“No, Azula.”  The man shook his head.  “He doesn’t even know I’m here.”  A slight chuckle.  “Well.  He does know I’m here, since I visited him tonight.  Or at least he will know.  But he doesn’t know I’m here, where you are.”

The man’s outlandish dress… the way he talked, how he knew who she was… the fact that he had no qualms about her destroying something he’d given her… all this combined with Azula’s current fragile state of mind to make her wonder if she had fallen back into the yawning abyss of madness once again, where the walls poured lava, green ostrich horses pranced on the ceiling, and her face appeared on her own body, and on Mai’s, and on Ty Lee’s (but thankfully not Zuko’s, although how that happened she wasn’t sure) (or hadn’t happened), but she fought.  She fought for control, some kind of control over her current situation so that she could anchor herself once again in some kind of relative reality—

“Aren’t you going to open your gift?”

That helped her.  She felt more aware, like feeling a splash of cold water to combat sleep.  Or at least it threw her a lifeline as to how to behave, how she could behave and regain some sense of herself.

“Why?”  A smirk.  She moved her fire-hand closer to the sole of the sock.  “If it’s mine, it’s mine to do with as I please, isn’t it?”

“It is.”  Complete surrender.  Or at least he was allowing her no sense of purchase over him.  “And if you want to destroy it, I suppose that would give you joy in that sense.  Which is really what I wanted.”  An honestly cheery smile.  “I hope you enjoy it.”  He turned and started to walk down the corridor.

No.  Not like that.  She threw an arm out, and her yellow-red flame was snuffed.  “Wait—”

He obediently stopped, then turned around and came back, still wearing that insufferable cheery smile.

Again she wanted to burn the blasted sock, if only to watch the smile melt off his face.  But if now he felt she would enjoy destroying it—she frowned.  “For someone who just gave me a gift, you seem to enjoy teasing me with it.”

“Azula, if my intention was to tease you with it, I wouldn’t have to show myself.  I could have just left it hanging there on the bars, without a word.  Which I ordinarily do, in other places,” he added.  “But then they know I’m coming.”

“So why not me, then?”  Now she was frowning at him.  “Why do I warrant your special attention?”

“Perhaps special is the right word,” he said.  “Although the word itself is very overused.  But at the same time, it’s still true.  It still applies.”  The twinkle returned to his eye.  “You’re all special.”

“But for you to take such an interest in me,” Azula said, enjoying the twists of words, “you somehow find me more special than others, correct?”

More eye twinkle.  “In a sense.”

“Why, then?”  She never thought she would hate someone twinkling their eyes at her.  No—that wasn’t right.  Uncle Iroh had done his share.

“I think because for the longest time, you haven’t allowed people to think you’re special.  Or rather, special for the wrong reasons.”

“Why?”  Azula rather enjoyed that thought.  “Because I’m good at what I do?  Getting people to do what I want?”

“No…”  He looked at her with… compassion, of all things?  “Because you’re more interested in having people fear you, than to have people love you.”

“That’s true, of course,” she said matter-of-factly.  “But you say that like it’s a bad thing.  That’s how the world works.”

A sad smile from the cheerily-dressed man.  “And I’m afraid that’s how you’ve grown up to think that’s how the world is… without thinking there could be more.”

“That’s…” Azula could lie with the best of them, naturally, but lying to herself… that she had never done.  She remembered those moments of awkwardness with Ty Lee at the party on Ember Island, months ago.  How Ty Lee had managed to connect with so many of the others, and find happiness… when she never could.  How even Mai had managed to find someone—Zuko, of all people—whereas she had… well.

Of course, lying to yourself and lying to an opponent were two different things.  “That’s something I’ve considered,” she said smoothly.  “But fear is so much more useful for motivation.”

The man gave her a look and a smile which said he knew what he was hearing, and that it wasn’t the truth.

Abruptly Azula chose another tack, one to reassert control.  “I’ve decided to accept your gift,” she said, walking to the bars and taking the sock down from them.

The man nodded.  “Very well.”

She stopped, and smiled.  “But I’ve decided to open it later.”

The man smiled his cheery smile again.  “Suit yourself.  I hope you enjoy it in any case.  Farewell.”  He turned and left.

Just before he disappeared from the mirror, Azula called out, “I am curious, though.”

The man turned and came back into speaking range again.  “Yes?”

“Aren’t you the least bit worried about the guards?”

Now the man really smiled.  He laid a finger aside of his nose and tapped it a few times, then turned and left.

o o o

It was very weird, hiding a bright red sock in a gray place like that.

There was a devilish part of her (which was a big part of her, big surprise) that was tempted to let her jailors find this bright red thing, mainly to enjoy watching them tear themselves apart as to how it got in here, who brought it in here, what reasons could they have for doing it, and so on, but she didn’t.  The sock was hers, after all.

Of course, she herself wondered who in the world that bright red man was, and why he had brought this… thing, whatever it was.  Which she still hadn’t opened.  So in a certain sense, she was actually hiding the sock from herself.

And, given the environment she was in, that worked out about as well as expected.

The incarnation of Mai wearing her face faded into being next to her on the bunk one evening.  “So you still haven’t opened it.”

Azula turned away from Mai-Azula with a sudden frown.  “No.”

A sigh of exasperation.  “Fine, suit yourself.  You know it’ll bother you until you do.”

There was a giggle.  Mai-Azula frowned, and she turned.  “What?”

She was looking at a version of Ty Lee, pink-and-red gymnast’s clothes and all, who also wore Azula’s face.  And was still giggling.  “That’s what he said.  ‘Suit yourself.’  It’s kind of funny, really.”

Mai-Azula turned away.  “It’s annoying.”

Ty Lee-Azula put her hands on her hips, leaned toward Mai-Azula, and made a face.  “Fine.  Even if you don’t see what’s funny about it.”

Mai-Azula sighed.  “Stop doing that.”

Ty Lee-Azula kept making faces, Mai-Azula kept grumbling, and Azula herself was close to sighing, too.  She knew these images weren’t real, they were part of her imagination, they were all in her head, but she didn’t enjoy her mental noise being visualized.

A black and red armor-clad version of herself came out of nowhere between the images of her friends.  “All right, stop.

The other two, more out of surprise than anything else, stopped.  Azula smiled and went back to her thoughts.

Armor-Azula all but slithered over next to her in a strange, liquid, gliding move.  “Do you really want to know why you won’t open your present?” she asked innocently enough.  A cruel smile came to her face.  “It’s because you don’t want to face your past.  You’re a coward.”

Ty Lee-Azula all but stamped her foot.  “She is not!

“Why do you say she’s a coward?” asked Mai-Azula.  “Why do you think that weird red… thing has anything to do with her past?”

“It’s simple, really.”  Armor-Azula turned to face her.  “Whoever that red man was knows who she is.  He said it was a present for her; something she’d like, he thinks.  If he knows what she likes, then he knows about her past.”

A sour look from Mai-Azula.  “That is one of the most twisted trails of logic I’ve ever heard.”

“Given who we are, you’re surprised?”

“No.”

“All right,” Ty Lee-Azula said.  “Let’s say whatever this is is from her past.  She has every right to face it when she’s ready.  That doesn’t make her a coward!”

“Oh, but I think she is.”  The cruel smile returned to Armor-Azula’s face.  “Everything in her life til now she’s faced head-on—never backing away from what she can do.  This time, she did.  If, as you say, she’s waiting til she’s ready to face it… she’ll never be ready.  She’ll never face it.  She’s a coward.”

“She is not!

“So let’s say a strange man you’ve never met who says he knows you hands you a package and tells you to open it.”  Mai-Azula looked at her armored self flatly.  “Would you go ahead and trust him?”

“That’s a silly question.”  Armor-Azula gestured dismissively.  “Of course not.”

“Does not trusting make you a coward?”

“Of course not.  I’m simply being careful.”

Mai-Azula pointed at Azula.  “So why is she a coward when you’re not?”

Armor-Azula laughed.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  I’m not her!”

“You’re as much her as I am.”

“Yeah!”  Ty Lee-Azula piped in.  “So don’t call her a coward!”

That started a general bickering hubbub between the three of them; Azula brought her hands to her head.  After a moment, she brought her hands down hard into her lap.  “All right!” she said exasperatedly.  “I’ll open it.”

That brought her three selves to a standstill.  Armor-Azula smiled, satisfied.  “Good.”

Azula brought the sock out from its hiding place, again momentarily shocked at how bright the red thing was in this gray place.  She sat there for a moment with the sock in front of her.  For all that the cheery red man had talked about her “opening” her present, there really wasn’t anything to open.  The top of the sock was loose.  If there had been something dangerous in there, animal, poison, or otherwise, it could have wandered or seeped out.  There really wasn’t any danger.

“Says the woman who’s about to put her hand into a strange sock,” Mai-Azula said.  Ty Lee-Azula shushed her.

Azula glared at her too, mainly because it felt good.  She turned back to the sock and reached in.

There wasn’t anything in the top part of the sock, so she reached in a little further.  Her fingers touched something round… several somethings.  She grabbed a handful and brought it out.

What she held she found she didn’t expect.  Ty Lee-Azula tilted her head.  “Bottles?”

Azula unstoppered one of the black bottles and looked in.  She sniffed it.  “Shampoo.”

“Oh, I know what those are!” said Ty Lee-Azula.  “Soaps and lotions from the royal spa!”

“That red man is indeed mysterious.”  Mai-Azula smiled slightly.

Azula gave her a comradely “knock it off” frown.  She took a long sniff of the shampoo in her hand, and even despite where she was and how she had felt, she felt more relaxed.  She remembered those days at the royal spa, not so long ago; laying there and allowing the servants to pamper her made her feel… well, part of who she was.  Royal.

“So it’s shampoo,” said Armor-Azula.  She smirked.  “How do you think you’re going to use it?”

“Silly.”  Ty Lee-Azula waved that away smiling.  “The guards let her wash herself if she wants to.  She can find a way.”

Azula was rather pleased at how quickly the backbiting part of herself had been shut down.  She reached in the sock again, wondering how much of a supply the cheery red man had given her—and she touched a box.  “That’s odd.”  She brought it out.  It was a red and yellow-accented box.  She sniffed it, then, surprised, opened it.  “Cinnamon fire flakes?”

Fire flakes?” Mai-Azula and Ty Lee-Azula chorused.

Azula looked at the box, marveling at it.  “Why, I haven’t had cinnamon fire flakes since… since…” Her voice grew small.  “Since I was a child.”

Mai-Azula all but rolled her eyes.  “And somehow this is a bad thing.”  Ty Lee-Azula grinned and gave her a nudge with her elbow.

“I used to love them.”  Azula smiled.  “Especially when I learned Zu-zu loved them.”  She laughed.  “I’d make sure that I got every—last—bit of them, so that he couldn’t get any.”

Armor-Azula looked disgusted.  “Do you think we don’t know all this?”

Azula giggled.  “And then he’d run to Mom-my and complain, with tears running down his face.”  She absently reached into the sock again.  Her fingers touched on something, a handle, maybe.  She grabbed it and pulled it out and looked at it.  “He was such an easy—”  Then she froze.

All of the Azulas froze, each one wearing the same slack-faced expression that she did.

In her hand was a wooden handle, which was attached to an oval of wood.  The oval bore a set of closely clustered long, black bristles, and the wood was stained a warm brown.  On the back was the tongue-of-flame of the Fire Nation stamped in gold.

“This… why is this here?  This shouldn’t be here.  This shouldn’t be here!”

Her eye caught something flitting in the mirror.  She looked; sure enough, there stood the man in red.

“You!  You know what this is!”

The man nodded, no smile on his face this time.  “Yes.”

She shook the thing in her hand.  “This shouldn’t be here!  This doesn’t exist!  I burned this years ago!  I burned it to ashes!”

“Yes.”  The man nodded again.  “I know.”

Why did you remake this?  Why did you remake this thing?

His expression lightened ever so slightly.  “Since we both know what this thing is, Azula, we should call it what it is.”

Her expression turned savage.  “My mother brushed my hair with this hairbrush!” she said, shaking it at him to punctuate her words.  “I burned it when she started paying more attention to Zuko than me!  She then told me that if I wanted my hair brushed, I could do it myself, and she walked away from me!”

“And now you have it back.”

What makes you think I want it back, old man?” she said, almost shaking.  “I burned it to get back at her!  I don’t want this!  Why would you give it to me now?”

The man stood there calmly, hands joined at his belt in front of him.  “Azula, I want you to think about something.”  He looked at her calmly, too.  “I don’t ordinarily spend this much time with people when I deliver things, but in your case I’m making an exception.”

“Because I’m special,” she threw back at him bitterly.

“Yes.  You are.”  His expression lightened a little more for a moment, then he grew serious again.  “Everything that was in that sock besides this was something you like, something from your past.  Since that’s the case, why would there be something in there that you wouldn’t like?”

“Because you like being cruel,” she said angrily.  “Why are you here?  To torture me for Zuko?”

“No, Azula.  Like I said, he doesn’t know I’m here, with you.  And no, I am not cruel.”  He looked down slightly and raised an eyebrow.  “I will admit, there have been times in the past when what I’ve brought has been misused.”  He looked at Azula again.  “But no, I’ve never intentionally brought something to hurt anyone.  And in your case, I brought these things because someone asked me to.”

“Who?”

A bit of mischief caused the twinkle to return to the man’s eye.  “Can’t you tell?”

Azula’s brain was working, but it must have slipped a gear; she couldn’t follow this.  Or rather, the conclusion that her mind had come to just didn’t make sense.  Her mouth worked, but nothing came out.

The man stood there, seeming to enjoy her discomfiture, she felt.  Then, after a long moment, he reached into a pocket and drew out a gold bauble on a black strap, almost egg-like but perfectly round and flat; one side of it was white with raised black markings.  “Mmm, that’s what I thought.”  He put it back in his pocket.  “I’m sorry, but I must be going.  I have more deliveries I have to make.  That, and my friends on your roof don’t like staying in one place too long.”  He smiled and winked.  “They get skittish, you know.”

“No, I don’t know.”  By now Azula’s other selves had faded away, and she felt she had more command of herself than she had had in a long time.  “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know why you brought me these insulting things—”

Insulting?”  The man’s face lit up, and he had a good deep laugh.  Much like Uncle, Azula thought again, and frowned.  “That is a new one,” the man continued.  “But it wasn’t what I meant by them.  Neither me nor the one that asked me to bring them.”

“They’re yours now,” he said, turning to go.  “You can do what you like with them, even burn them if you feel like it, although I think that’s a waste.  All I’d ask is that you think about them, and enjoy them, however you like.”

She glared at him.  “I will.”

“Good.”  He raised a hand and smiled at her.  “Take care, now.”  And he left.

o o o

After the man in red left, the silence really was very loud.  For quite a while, not even Azula’s other selves came out to comment as she tried to make sense of everything that had happened.

Finally one did.

“So what are you waiting for?”

Azula knew which one it was.  It was her head, after all.

Armor-Azula stood there impatiently.  “What are you waiting for?  Do it!  Burn it!”

Azula didn’t move.

“Get rid of it!  Burn it!  It shouldn’t be here!  You did it once—you can do it again!”

“She doesn’t have to,” Ty Lee-Azula said, vwoop-ing into being with her hands on hips.  “She can always do it when she feels like it.  When she’s ready.”

Armor-Azula turned on her.

“If you recall, that same sort of thinking is what led us to this point in the first place!”

Ty Lee-Azula looked hurt.  “I’m only saying she doesn’t have to destroy an option.”

A sneer came to Armor-Azula’s lip.  “No you’re not.  You know very well what you’re suggesting by that.”  She pointed at Azula without looking at her.  “You want to save that hairbrush because our mother sent it to us.  You want to save some chance that we might actually mean something to her!”

“So what if I am?”  Ty Lee-Azula bickered back.  “Does it mean that the ‘great and mighty Azula’ can’t be more than one thing?  That she can’t be sharp and decisive with everybody else but also have a softer side that actually has feelings for people?”

“Not in this case!  And not—about—her!

Azula looked at the hairbrush in her hand.

“Well, why not?”

“You know what she did to us!  You know what she said to us!  You know how she feels about Zuko in comparison to us!”

Ty Lee-Azula folded her arms, a smirk on her face.  “Oh, and her sending this stuff to us changes nothing, huh?  Especially the hairbrush?”

Armor-Azula scowled.  “That absolutely changes nothing because it only means that she’s trying to get back into our good graces!  You know what she really thinks about us!”

Azula continued to look at the hairbrush, almost studying it.

Ty Lee-Azula’s smirk grew into a full smile.  “Well, you’re making an awful big fuss about it for something that doesn’t matter.”

Armor-Azula started to grow red in the face.  “I’m making a big fuss about it?  Well, why are you defending a silly hairbrush?”

Ty Lee-Azula looked away, playfully.  “I dunno. Why are you attacking it?”

“Because of who sent it to us!  Don’t you realize that—”

Then Azula started to brush her hair.

Armor-Azula knew it instantly, and whirled on her.  “What are you doing?  That thing is from her!  Burn it!  Now!

Azula heard her, of course, but her only response was to keep on brushing.

“I can’t believe this.”  Armor-Azula threw a hand in Azula’s direction.  “You’re actually going to use that thing that she gave you!  After all that she said.  After all that she did.”

Ty Lee-Azula smiled.  For a moment things were quiet; Armor-Azula couldn’t think of anything to say, and the only thing Azula heard was her hair coursing through the brush.  It felt good.

“Oh.  Well.  That part I can understand.”  Armor-Azula folded her arms.  “Might as well turn something she gave you into something useful.  Turn it against her.”

More brushing.  Ty Lee-Azula smiled even more as she walked and faded away.  Armor-Azula faded away, too, as her nattering slowly dissipated into the quiet, leaving Azula all by herself with the bright red sock, the black and brown bottles, the box of fire flakes, and the old brown hairbrush.

And a smile on her face.

Which—eventually—grew into a very familiar smirk.

Offline Cassidy Alice

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Re: ATLA Wanderings: Many Happy Returns (12/27) [K+]
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2014, 03:11:56 PM »
I'm late as always, but this latest piece and double take were simply wonderful! I loved how you wrote Azula and I'm eager, as always, to read more!

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