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October 7, 2010
"Bohemian Rhapsody" is the second chapter of the five-part fanon mini-series Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. The chapter continues many of the series' traditional motifs, and also introduces the more light-hearted nature of the story and its tendency for comedic interactions while still maintaining a dramatic tone. It has yet to be reviewed.. It was published on Avatar Wiki on October 7, 2010. In the chapter, Xue dabbles into the life style of a bohemian with Kirai, but this is stunted when Fen is visited by Canren}}; Ni and Wu clash in Hai. The chapter is written and edited by , and derives its name from the 1975 song "
Xue felt his eyelids slowly open as he awoke from his night of slumber. Lightly groaning, he slowly picked himself up from the floor upon which he was sleeping on—he and Kirai had crashed that night in an abandoned wooden structure that had been heavily bashed and worn by the strong winds and heavy rain from that year's storm season a few months before. The ground, also constructed of wood, was damp, and even with the blanket he had lied down to keep himself as comfortable as he could be on such a shoddy surface, he could still feel its cold rush while he slept.
He stretched, yawned for a moment, and then looked around to see if Kirai was still in the building. Much to his silent disappointment, he did not see hide-or-hair of the bohemian beauty in the wooden edifice, and so he bent down, picking up his bag, and heading to the splintered, holed door.
Suppose I'll have to find another ride to Canren's place, then, he thought as he walked over.
When he was about four feet from the door though, prepping himself to open it, it burst open as Kirai suddenly entered the resting place. Xue gasped, involuntarily performing both a hiccup and a swallowing of air at the same time, and his heart skipped a beat. He immediately regained his stature and looked to Kirai, who was at his height—he was always surprised when he found people near his length, as those in his village were far shorter than him.
"Oh, hey," he said, fighting back any further, relapsed shock by blinking twice as much as he habitually did. "I, uh, I thought you'd left."
"Why would I do a silly thing like that?" Karai remarked, stepping further into the building, holding a metal bucket in her right hand. "As a bohemian, I don't get much company; it's always nice having someone to have intelligent conversation with. On a normal basis, a teenager wouldn't be my immediate source for that, but you're rather different. In a good way...Mostly."
Xue rolled his eyes as he slouched slightly to his left, slowly slipped his bag off his shoulder and letting it flop onto the damp, wood surface.
"So, are we going to go into town, pick up a bite...I've got ten copper pieces; that can get us at least a few apples. Then we can leave at about eight o'clock, and—"
"Never mind all that, Xue," Kirai said, tipping the pail ever so slightly so that Xue could see the swishing soup that filled it. "I've already got breakfast. After that, I can show you how to live like a bohemian; you're gonna have to adapt to it 'till you can track down Canren in Hai."
"Tracking him down is actually unnecessary: as you don't seem to recall, I know exactly where he is."
"Yes," Kirai began, placing the bucket down at the water-stained table that was low to the ground and pulling out small, coconut-looking bowls from her coat to pour the soup into, "but breaking into a high-profile estate would be difficult."
"It would, of course, but by that time I'll have a plan." Xue began walking over to the table.
Kirai shrugged and poured the orange colored soup into the two cups, placing them on opposite sides of the table. She squatted down on the ground and pulled out two raggedy, green—almost brown, in fact—from the corner of the wall. After tossing one over to Xue, she folded it into a square, her raven haired acquaintance following suit, and they each sat on it as a makeshift seat-pillow.
Xue squirmed on the seat. "Damn, this is really uncomfortable."
"Take what you get."
Xue rolled his eyes and began going at his soup; he picked up its rigid, coconut-like container and sipped it. He and Kirai did not speak for a bit, letting the earliness of the morning settle them as the sound of their slurping lightly bounce around the hollow edifice.
"Ugh," Xue finally moaned, "this...Gah, this tastes freaking terrible; it's so cold."
"Take what you get."
Xue puffed and went back to his ice-cold soup; he began making faces of disgust, and after a shorter pause than what had occurred between the two prior. Then he spoke up once more.
"Seriously, Kirai, this tastes l-like death. Also, mucus, for some reason, it-it's very, very frightening...Seriously, where the hell did you get this?"
"I stole it from a vender down in the market area."
"Really? You stole this?"
"Well, I guess you didn't understand the part about being a bohemian that means I have no money—"
"No, not that; I'm fine that you stole it, I'm just wondering why out of all the things you could have stolen, you stole this."
"Take what you get. Just eat the bread if you hate the soup so much."
There was a pause between the two before Xue remarked, "You've got a point."
Kirai smirked, deciding to take a few bites out of her bread as well. After swallowing a mouthful, she addressed Xue: "So, do you have a plan for what to do after you kill the bastard?"
"Actually, yeah." Xue swallowed a chunk of the bread, and then continued. "I'm gonna take on last trip to that...damn village, and I'm gonna enter my home. I'll talk to my mom, and she'll probably be doing something stupid with her plants that she's so obsessed with. And then I'll tell her, 'Mama, I just killed a man.' Then she'll almost definitely go, 'That's nice dear' and have a comical beat..."
"Then she'll be all, 'What? Who?' And I'll say, 'Canren, the bastard who killed my father,' and then I'll tell her all how I did it—which, come to think of it, I haven't planned yet either—and leave. He was her husband, too, no matter how little grieving she did. Maybe she didn't wanna accept it, but whatever; she's just like the rest of them. But anyways, that's the end of my plan. Then I'll be off on my own."
"It's interesting that you've planned things yet to be planned."
Xue rolled his eyes, as he took one last sip of the terrible ice-cold soup. Kirai followed suit.
"Killing Canren is the only thing I've ever wanted to do—that and escape that village—so...so once that's taken care of, nothing really matters after it. No real reason to bother planning anything."
"That's kind of a flawed philosophy."
Xue shrugged. "Nothing really wrong with that, now is there?"
The two shared a smirk.
A few miles from Fen
Canren's carriage—which was adorned with a silk drape, a brilliant shade of red and white—drove smoothly down the road to Fen, a strapping ostrich horse pulling it with a strict tone of professionalism, Canren's servant Lee guiding holding onto his steers from the front. Inside, Canren sat on a very comfortable seat surrounded by the smell of freshly washed silk and the array of early morning sunshine. Still, he sat there goaded, though not for the great length it took to get to the village—an all-nighter—but just because that was the tone he chose to have before a tax collection.
In fact, he had actually become accustomed to all-night journeys to towns, and had even made it a habit to not sleep during them. It allowed him to stay constantly awake and aware, a good preparation for when he needed to be consistently attentive collecting money from the villagers—to make sure they did not attempt to jip him. Lately, even, he stopped even being tired after the late night, which was of course very useful.
He was dressed in a very fine, white suit, complete with a small, white conical hat, an ensemble he chose to wear to every one of his collecting ventures. It was laced with light red towards the bottom of the pants, but other than that, it was entirely a beautiful shade of snow white. Canren always found the color white to give off the perfect attitude for collecting; as if it represented both intimidation and bleak discomfort.
He propped himself up in his seat a bit; he decided then to open up a flap in the silk that acted as a window and see outside. Now an hour or two passed dawn, the sun had risen prominently in the sky, illuminating the carriage, the sun-kissed trees releasing the occasional fluttering leaves. This shade of orange-tinted gold that the whole world seemed to turn at the moment reminded him of Long's eyes, and the memories of Canren's swift murder of him the prior day returned. Canren allowed himself to break his goaded attitude to smile on that job-well-done.
Dumbass suit, Canren thought. Even thinking he could cheat me out on my profit.
After he had murdered him the other day, he and Lee had disposed of the body in his garden; Canren was pleased with this location, since Long's decomposing corpse would probably help the Dragon Petunias Canren had brought from the Fire Nation for his homestead grow. Now immediately, he pondered how to keep the government from getting suspicious about the disappearance of one of their men—he eventually decided the best course of action was allow them to grow wary, and then as usual they would declare him either dead or missing. Lee mentioned that they would also probably question him (Canren), but Canren was positive that even if they did, he would be able to handle it.
He returned to his normal, irritated status to prepare for the tax collection, guessing that the village was mere minutes away. Sure enough, approximately three minutes later, Lee's deep, flat voice called to Canren from in front of the silk draped as the carriage's exterior.
"We are now arriving at Fen."
There was a pause between the two, before Canren responded. "Excellent."
Streets of Fen
Fen was an average village known for its vast array of buildings and stores, half of which—in fact—were, like the building Xue and Kirai had been crashing in, abandoned and shoddy. Still, it was a bounty of sights and marketplaces, and Xue and Kirai sauntered down the street side-by-side.
"Here," Kirai said, producing a thing of cloth from one of her coat pockets, "wrap this around your head, keeps you cooler."
The recent increase in heat—coupled with the surprising lack of a breezes that day—was beginning to bother Xue, so he accepted, grapping the cloth and wrapping it around his mangy, raven hair. "Damn, you have everything in there, don't you?"
Kirai shrugged and the two continued to walk for a few minutes. After a bit, though, Kirai stopped Xue as they approached the front of a wooden fence that blocked a dirty alleyway. A few small shops and such surrounded it, and Kirai sat down in front of it. Xue gave an inquisitive look.
"Um...what are you doing?"
"A natural part of bohemianism—begging."
"Begging? Like a dog? Are-are you serious?"
"Quite. Now plant your ass."
"No way. I'm all for 'embracing' the 'bohemian experience', but I will not degrade myself by begging for money."
"Well that's a shame. You know, Xue, it takes a lot of guts to sit here and ask people to give you money. I just thought you'd be brave enough to do this."
Xue found himself at a loss for words: he couldn't really argue with her. He sat himself down on the ground next to Kirai, his back pressed against the fence.
"You're gonna be a big help, probably," Kirai observed, pulling out the bucket from earlier, of course cleared of the soup from breakfast that morning. "People tend to be more generous to young people."
"What, you want me to do the 'I'm just a poor boy' crap? That won't work."
But despite was Xue suspected, after a few hours, he and Kirai had received quite the sum of money, and Xue commented on this while the two were walking down the street afterward.
"Well, we really did pretty good. Sorry for complaining earlier..."
"Wow, you apologizing for complaining? You're changing already."
Xue chuckled. "You've known me for, like, a day."
"Sometimes that's all it takes to know a person."
Right then, though, Xue stopped listening and his attention immediately fell upon an individual marching down the marketplace across from them. The man was drabbed in white, and under a flapping hat, light black locks could be seen. Xue eyes widened and he shook, before darting over to where the man was.
"Xue? Xue, where are you going?!" Kirai shouted, having been cut off mid-sentence by Xue's sudden sprint.
Xue stopped himself a few feet behind the man before creeping up to a stall selling terrible-smelling fish. He noticed a barrel in front of it—a few feet from the man—and kicked it, sending fish and some weird looking liquid onto the man's white-and-red shoes.
The man looked up, shocked, and then snarled.
"What the hell?! You little crap, what the hell did you do that for."
Xue said nothing and merely stared at the man, at a loss of words. Kirai had darted up around them, baffled at what could have possessed Xue to do this.
"Huh? Well?" The man grabbed Xue by his shirt and threw him against the fish stall. "Do you have any how much these shoes cost? Do you, you asshat?!"
"Please, sir," Kirai began hastily, fearing for Xue's safety, "I don't know why he's, um, acting like this, but I assure you we'll make up for it—"
"Don't give him anything, Kirai!" Xue exclaimed, finally finding words. "This is the son of a bitch who killed my father. This is Canren!!"
Wu walked down the streets of Hai, the afternoon sun settling on everything around him. His shoulders were broadened and his strides were quicker than usual, his trick knee clicking more than normal. Its awakening surge was unnecessary at that moment as he was one hundred percent awake and aware. The previous night he hadn't slept a wink—for the simple fact that he spent the entire time engaged in a very violent brawl with Ni.
When the two's clash had entered the boundaries of Hai, they showed more discretion, more tact. Their attacks depended less on offense and more on defense and evasion—they desired not to draw much attention to themselves, but refused to pause their battle. Climbing stealthily on the bottom, back, and top of passing carts and crawling through alleyways, they battled shadowed and stealthily. Their five-year-long practice in fighting one another was truly exemplified that night. That is, until they began dueling in an alleyway between a meat parlor—closed—and a very worn building scheduled for demolition upon the sun's rising the next morning.
Wu and Ni's feet seemed to sail above the ground as they danced around each other in the moonlight; Ni began slicing his arms downward, omitting sharp shots of curved fire to strike down upon Wu's feet. Wu responded by kicking his feet up with every shot, avoiding it, but—in a moment of honest clumsiness—he lost track of the pattern he applied to the movement, and in unison with a crack from his trick knee, he threw his arms back behind him and slid backgrounds. Ni was given the perfect opportunity to clutch the center of Wu's shirt and then quietly place him on the wall a few feet above him.
Wu stayed there, pressed against the wall, breathing through his nose, for much longer than he expected. For a whole minute, without words, Ni merely had Wu pressed against the wall, not moving an inch, but sporting a face Wu was, in his five-year-long experience with the man, able to analyze as uncertainty. A bit taken aback by Ni's irresolute expression, he still was able to focus and try and use it to his advantage.
"What, do you want to just stop and chew the fat? Or are you honestly unsure about whether or not you want to kill me, stopping this wonderful five-year battle of our's?"
As usual, Ni remained wordless, but his expression did not change, and it appeared to Wu that Ni was paralyzed in thought.
Wu finally decided to spring into action: he locked his legs together, and then sent then flying into Ni's stomach. Ni was chucked backwards and rolled rearward. For a split second he lie flat on his back before he swept around and onto his feet before latching backwards to consume a wave a fire—to his continued misfortune and misstep, his wave had caught onto the building behind him, and the worn building's worn walls shattered onto Ni before he could escape. Now covered in an avalanche of slightly burning fire, Ni was trapped and Wu stood four feet from the sight.
"Caught in a landslide, aren't we?" Wu muttered, backing up slowly, unsure whether to leave him there or tear through the rubble to see if he was alive. He finally turned his head and darted down the street.
But since then, Wu grew worried—he was now unsure whether the rubble had buried Ni enough to actually kill him, and now he was in actual fear of Ni for the first time in four years. For at this moment, Ni could actually surprise him. Wu decided to best approach was to try and leave the colony as quickly as possible and worry about Ni for another day, but as his paces lessened and he found himself trying to conveniently squeeze his way through a crowd of people, he saw the image of Ni's face on that of a thin-haired man he bumped in to. His heart skipped a beat, and he locked eyes with the man. The second interval seemed like an hour.
"Watch where you're going," the man muttered irritated as he walked on.
Wu shook his head and stopped to clear his mind. After taking a deep breath, he cut through the crowd and sauntered across an alleyway, another street where he cut through a smaller crowd of people, and down another alleyway. He stopped in the middle of that alleyway as he felt a presence creeping out from the shadows in front of him.
Sure enough, Ni crept from the shadows: he was alive, but it was very obvious that he had not survived the flood of debris unscathed. His face now bore a large, prominently red scar that stretched from the left rim of his nose to the corner of his jaw, and his neck was partially burned. Splinter-induced cuts covered his arms. He stopped in his tracks just a few feet from Wu.
"Welcome back," Wu remarked, barely above a whisper.
Ni punched Wu so hard in the right side of his face that he briefly became blind in that eye and his nose broke with a crack so loud that its echo sounded like a firework exploding in the silence of the alleyway. Blood covering the rims of his nostrils and the majority of his mouth, he struggled to get back onto his feet. Ni ran up to meet Wu and shot a fire blast directly at his face. With all the strength he could muster after such a hard assault, Wu rolled over to the side just in time to avoid the shot. He picked himself up and engaged Ni head-on.
Punch after punch, kick after kick, blast after blast, they disregarded discretion as they fought each other in the middle of the street. As expected though, the attention they received finally attracted the local authorities: two guards—each with silky black hair and flat faces—grabbed them around their shoulders and locked their hands behind their back. Ni loosened his arm and tried to snap the guard's neck, but the man quickly caught Ni's hand, slammed it onto the back of his neck, and held him down on the ground.
Wu and Ni were caught.
Canren relaxed his face, arranging his eyebrows in a rather queer manner—a mix of stoic indifference and hidden inquisitiveness. The true nature of the expression was viewable in his golden eyes, as he relaxed his grip on Xue, before fully withdrawing it from the boy's collar entirely. "Well then," he said, straightening his small, white conical hat with the hand he had just withdrawn from Xue's shirt, "I believe we need to have a bit of a talk then, huh? Lee, clear a place for me and, um..."
"Xue," Xue hissed.
"A place for me and Xue to chew the fat." Canren threw Lee a sack of silver pieces—plenty to convince a shopkeeper to rent out his shop for a brief conversation in privacy. Xue scrunched up his forehead, struggling to stop any further course of action he would regret.
"So, Xue," Canren began; he, Lee, and Xue resided in a small flower shop. He and Xue sat across from one another on a petite, rectangular wooden table. The smell of flowers filled the air. "You've really peaked my interest."
"Oh, you mean by mentioning that you murdered my dad? Yeah, that tends to spark interest in most people."
"Naturally. Well, anyways, while we're here, you might as well elaborate for me."
"His name was Fuchoun. You killed him twelve years ago in a village called Cun. He teamed up with you in a business venture in return for our village's safety. You betrayed him one night and murdered him in your office."
Canren sat further back in his chair. "Oh, Fuchoun. Yes, I remember him quite well. That specific business venture actually helped me in setting up my job as a tax collector—you see, he helped me figure out that forty percent of tax profit was a perfect amount to cheat from the government. I thank him greatly, actually, for that. But then he started getting greedy, talking crazy about receiving eight percent, which, at most, is five percent more than I could logically give him and his...family." Canren stopped himself from making any disparaging remarks about Fuchoun's family in front of Fuchoun's son.
He paused for a moment there, letting his explanation settle on Xue: though Xue remained straight faced, his eyes clearly told that he was controlling a boiling anger. After a bit, he continued.
"So, what do you plan on doing now? After all, I'm just six feet from you—you are six feet from me, the man who killed your father."
"That's an easy one. I'm going to kill you."
"But, Xue, I'm sure you know—like most people—I don't want to die."
"But I'm sure you know I don't give a damn." Xue's anger was slipping out—he had to control it better.
"I like your attitude: you're not a man yet, but that teenaged spirit is probably the best humanity has to offer." Canren got up from his seat then and stood in front of the table. "Well, Xue, I have no right to deny you this request. So I think the best thing for you and I to do is to fight one on one. If you follow me, I'm sure we can find some place fitting."
Xue was surprised, but pleased—this man was a bit classier than he expected. Well I never really imagined what he'd be like, Xue thought. Just what he'd be when I killed him.
He got up from his chair and followed Canren to the door, but he stopped dead in his tracks when Canren opened the door.
Four guards were standing in front of it next to Lee—Xue hadn't noticed, but Lee had slipped out from the shop while Canren and Xue were talking. One of the guards was holding onto Kirai, who had a cloth wrapped around her mouth, her hands clenched behind her back.
"Thanks, Lee," Canren said with a smile. "Men—take the boy."
Xue eyes widened as three of the guards stepped into the shop and approached him. He was so shocked that his attempt to escape from them was late and he was grabbed in mere seconds. Kicking his feet, he was dragged out the door, and—finally allowing his anger to explode—he exclaimed:
"You bastard! You Goddamn son of a bitch!! You lied to me, Canren! I'm still going to kill you!! I'm not gonna stop 'till I see your cold dead face!!!"
"Enjoy Jin, you two! I'll be sure to be there when you two are executed."
Forest, dozens of miles from Hai
Cuffed and placed across from each other in the back of the police cart, Wu and Ni stared at each other with strict determination. Neither spoke, but their eyes were able to convey their entire emotion to one another. Five years of very limited conversation with each other (their interactions mainly focused on wringing the other's neck, which allowed no time for chewing the fat) had led to this being a very habitual thing for them.
"You bastards thought you could just storm into a Fire Nation colony and start fighting?" one of the guards said from the front. "Uh-uh. We have rules here, rules I'd expect two imperials to understand. Disturb the peace, cause public panic, and of course the simple fact that you two were trying to kill each other. Have some respect for your country. Jin's gonna treat you right, I'm sure of that. "
Ni and Wu continued to not speak, and stared at each other further. It was nightfall. They were on their way to the city of Jin.
Writing and motifs
"Bohemian Rhapsody" features more light-hearted, comedic material than its preceding chapter, one of many parts of the intricate structure and tone of Five. Most of this material occurs during the early scenes with Xue and Kirai; Flash believes that this gives the story more of a natural, unique feel, and allows it to be realistic.
The chapter derives its name from the 1975 song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. Continuing one of many motifs in the story, the song's lyrics comprise a plethora of dialogue in the chapter:
- Xue: "Also, mucus, for some reason, it-it's very, very frightening..."
- Xue: "And then I'll tell her, 'Mama, I just killed a man.'"
- Xue: "What, you want me to do the 'I'm just a poor boy' crap?"
- Wu: "Caught in a landslide, aren't we?"
- Canren: "[...]I don't want to die."
- Please review.
For the collective works of the author, go here.