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Chapter Sixty-Nine: Annoyance
She gently rubs the sky bison's flank, her expression one of joy and gratitude. He watches her, and her heart beats.
His voice is soft, so soft, like gossamer. "Katara, I need to tell you something," he murmurs. "I've been wanting to say it for a long time . . ." A sudden blush swathes his face in scarlet, and he stares at his feet.
She glances at him. "What is it, Aang?"
His cheeks burn. He can't speak. "Katara, I . . ."
Much to his annoyance, someone grabs him by the head and puts him into a headlock. "All right!" Sokka. Her brother. Her annoying brother. "Who's ready to get going on our little—" He winces as Sokka rubs his knuckles on his arrow. "Men-only Man Trip?"
She frowns, raising an eyebrow, and he smiles sheepishly.
He can feel, using his seismic sense, the approach of the Earth King and the procession. "Aang and Sokka, I wish you a good journey." Sokka turns them about, and he is still trapped beneath her brother's arm. "Ba Sing Se owes you its thanks, and we look forward to your safe return."
Her brother stands up straight, leaving his victim to hang in the air for a few seconds before snapping up smartly. He bows respectfully, knowing that what he has done has been great. Sokka spins around and begins to clamber onto Appa.
"Your Majesty, there are three female warriors here to see you." explains one of the Imperial Guard. "They're from the Island of Kyoshi."
Sokka rears back. "That's Suki!" Startled, her brother flails for a few minutes before being forced off of the sky bison and onto the stone floor below. Sokka sits up and hands his hand over his bruised shoulders.
He watches the proceedings with interest, but he is still annoyed at the interruption.
The Earth King raises an eyebrow. "You know these warriors?" the king inquires.
Sokka blabbers on, a minor annoyance in his otherwise perfect day. "Oh yeah. The Kyoshi Warriors are a skilled group of fighters. Trustworthy too. They're good friends of ours."
"Then," the Earth King proclaims, "we shall welcome them as honored guests."
He nods, somewhat bored by the speaking, and turns to prepare himself for the journey ahead. He has yet to tie Appa's—
"Wait, Aang . . ."
He glances back at her, surprised.
She embraces him fiercely, and, after a moment of hesitation and amazement, he gives in, relaxing. To his astonishment, she kisses his cheek.
His cheeks flush crimson, and he gasps for breath, but his lungs have ceased to work. Well, at least I'm good at Firebending in one regard, he muses, laughing to himself. She kissed me. She really does like me. I knew it!
Toph breaks through his thoughts. "I'm really going to miss you guys."
"Me too," Katara answers.
He nods. "Yeah."
And then he is embracing them all.
His true family.
Never, ever, an annoyance.
This chapter was originally going to be "No Time" - that is, Chapter Twenty-Four - but then Vulmen had a better idea. Little shout-out to my Fanonbending Master. Thanks,
Katara's Husband Sifu Vulmen!
"His voice is soft, so soft, like gossamer." -> Read Gossamer. It's a chilling tale, and I'm sad it didn't win any awards.
"Well, at least I'm good at Firebending in one regard, he muses, laughing to himself." -> Cheek Firebending! In terms of that, Aang beats Zuko hands flat on the ground.
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