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|A Change of Pace|
April 19, 2010
A Change of Pace is the second chapter of Honor Thy Father.
The team decides to take Katara out of the front lines. She does not handle the news well...
A Small Celebration Edit
Katara woke up almost at midday. Everyone had gone about clearing up camp. Only her and Aang's tent was still up. She felt sore and achey from her fight with Lian the previous night. And as soon as her head left the pillow, she felt the nausea come on. Somehow, she managed to mentally subdue the morning sickness. Not today. Today is a happy day.
She dressed, washed up and went outside. Two waterbender soldiers were standing guard outside, ready to clear the tent.
“Good Day, Master Katara.”
“Kenta. Mako.” She turned around and bowed to each as she continued.
She saw Aang talking with Zuko, Toph, Suki and Sokka. All of them smiled and started clapping and cheering as she came forth. She smiled bashfully and hugged Aang, who kissed her on the head.
Zuko said “Well, General Zheng tells me the town is still secure. The wounded are being taken care of and there's food for everyone. Shall we go?”
A Tense Breakfast Edit
Usually they ate with everyone else, either out in the open or in whatever improvised mess hall there was available. However, this time Zuko asked for a separate room, where they could talk privately. Zuko and Aang agreed that only Team Avatar and Grand Master Iroh should be present.
Sokka blurted “Well – my pregnant little sister – where would you like to spend your vacation?”
Katara gave him a puzzled look
“I don't understand. Have we not just started an all-out war?”
Sokka responded in his usual condescendent tone
“Well, don't get me wrong, you may have gotten lucky last night, but the fact is, you're no longer in any condition to keep fighting. You need to take care of your baby.”
Katara stopped eating and gave her brother the most vicious look she had ever given him.
“Excuse me??!?!!” The team knew they were in for a rough ride...
All of the “de rigeur” arguments were thrown around, serving only to further exasperate Katara, who deeply resented the team, for they had seemingly already taken the decision for her. Then Toph mentioned something about her reflexes in battle and all hell broke loose. She got up from the table and began shouting.
Suki had been keeping an eye out through the window, and said “OK – we have stares...”
Zuko addressed Katara with all the authority he could summon
“Katara, please, calm yourself. OK – we might have stepped into your boundaries. But this is not the flu or a cold we're talking about. This is a baby. The Avatar's baby, and Water Tribe royalty, no less. This child is a target and you know it. Under any other circumstances this would have been a private matter between you and Aang, but we are at war and this is sensitive information. Protecting you and your child has strategic importance.”
Words of Wisdom Edit
Aang had stayed silent for as long as he could. Every good husband knows that a headstrong wife will usually postpone listening to him until after she has heard everyone else.
“Well” said Katara, “What do you have to say? Do you think I've become sloppy and slow too?”
Aang was honest “Not really. What I DO think is that you have become more cautious – and that surely comes from instinct. You are deeply aware that you are with child and that you need to take care of it. You can't help it.”
Katara was disarmed, but still managed to quip back “Well, if I can't fight, then what else would you have me do?”
Aang knew it was up to him. She had become too irritated to listen to anyone else. Aang looked deep in her eyes “What do you think Kya would have done?”
She wanted to attack, but choked. She lifted her eyes to the ceiling as they filled with tears.
Aang came closer “What did Hakoda do?”
“He left us behind!” she lashed at him.
“Only to protect you. Now I'm your husband, and it's my job to protect you – and to protect our baby - but it will be extremely difficult if you choose to continue on the front lines, Katara.”
Iroh had decided to choose his words, as well as his moment, carefully. “You know, Katara: I only wish I could have done what your father did.”
He walked up to face her, and put his hand on her shoulder. “A child is something too precious to lose to a war. No front line is that important. You can have my word.”
Everyone stood silent.
“Please,” he continued, “let us handle this fight.”
He then began addressing the rest of the room, as he knew he needed to offer the young ones this wisdom, and they were listening. “You know - the airbenders and the Southern Water Tribe were already both in the brink of extinction.” He turned to Katara once again “But you came along and changed so many things.” He stroked her cheek softly, drying her tears. “Within you, you carry the rebirth of both nations. Don't let your parents' sacrifices go to waste.”
“Thank you General Iroh. I'm touched – and I'm honored”
Aang smiled. She frowned back at him “But I'm still not happy with this.” she uttered her last reprieve.
“You don't have to be,” said Iroh, smiling “the baby isn't here yet.” Everyone chuckled.
Iroh drank from his cup. “I sure miss my tea shop...”
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