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Chapter Thirty-Eight: Abandoned
"And for Aang, the Mark of the Trusted. You are now an honorary member of the Water Tribe."
The cuttlefish ink is cool upon his brow, and yet it turns to ice when he hears the name of his mark.
Bato moves his finger in an arc, a half-oval, over his forehead.
He can't lie to his friends any longer.
He can't lie to her.
He can't lie . . .
Deeply he inhales, filling his lungs with air.
He is an Airbender.
And he was going to be a Waterbender.
Learning with his friend, with her.
Now he won't be.
Now he will learn by himself.
The world crumples around him.
The barest spark of the Avatar Spirit stirs within him.
He presses it down, forces the beast away, tames himself.
"Of course you can!" she answers, the confusion evident on her face.
Oh, Katara . . . how much I love you . . . but I cannot lie. Especially not to you.
He steps backwards; he hesitates, and then with a single movement he wipes off the Mark of the Trusted.
I can't pollute you with my presence, nor can I tarnish your traditions.
"No. You can't trust me."
Another breath. Deep and refreshing. A breath of fresh air.
"Aang . . . ? What are you talking about?" she inquires.
"A messenger gave this to me for Bato," he explains, finding the crumpled map and holding his hand out. With shaking fingers, she takes him, glances at it, and gasps in pain.
The Avatar Spirit writhes, wishing to explode from him.
He forces it down.
"You have to understand!" he cries, his heart thudding, a drum of war. "I was afraid you'd—"
Sokka is next to snatch the scroll, his eyes narrowing in hurt and rage. "This is the map to our father! You had it the whole time?! How could you?!"
He struggles not to let the tears collecting in his eyes flow down his cheeks.
No, no, please, Sokka, I didn't mean to . . .
Sokka's words are deadly spears, skewering his soul. "Well, you can go to the North Pole on your own! I'm going to find Dad."
Bato attempts to say something, but no one is listening to words, only to thoughts, to feelings.
He is worse than the Fire Lord.
He is a traitor to his own family.
Sokka turns back. "Katara, are you with me?"
The Avatar State threatens to overcome him. He spasms with pain. The pain.
She is looking at him, and he smiles. Just a tad. Just the barest flicker.
Katara . . .
Don't abandon me.
Don't abandon me like the monks did.
Don't send me away.
He can see the tears shimmering in her eyes.
She jerks away.
"I'm with you, Sokka."
I hate this episode because it makes me cry. Well, not literally. But inside? I sob like a little child. D'aw . . .
Oh man, not the Avatar State again. Yes. The Avatar State is something that Aang has to face every single day. It's a constant struggle. You see, the Avatar State doesn't know whether he's in daanger or if he's just aangsty. Sadly . . . yes.
Ooh, the monk analogy. I wrestled with that one. Can I really put that in? Is that too much? But it worked nicely in context.
Ah, the chakras. [gasp] Yes, I put them in there. How dare I?
Katara! Nooooo! How could you abandon him, you soulless monster?
Well, I mean . . . she had the right. ._.
It's okay . . . it's okay . . . just think of Zinny . . . that's a good boy now . . .
Oh snap. Mark of the Trusted? Hah! Poor Aang. Guilt trip times a thousand.
He has to learn Waterbending by himself. :o Thankfully, he doesn't.
"I can't pollute you with my presence, nor can I tarnish your traditions." -> I love that line so much. It's not powerful, but . . . it has alliteration! Hey, it does! Wow. I didn't notice.
And if this doesn't invoke some emotion in you . . . you're reading the wrong fanon.
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