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|More from Vulmen||Adventure/Drama||G (all ages)||Positive||News (Eyes of Katara)|
|Bato of the Water Tribe|
20-Bato of the Water Tribe (P 1)
After Katara's mishap due to her daydreaming, the three ended up on a beach with no nearby town listed - or so Aang's map suggested. After stumbling upon a seemingly abandoned Water Tribe vessel, they encounter an old friend, Bato, and share stories with one another.
Their discussion beside their father's boat, with Katara asking Sokka how long since anyone had been there up until Sokka said 'We should just get some sleep', came straight from the storyboard for this episode.
Yes; it's short. 11 pages, like the first half of Fortuneteller. (Chap 18) - What can I say? It had to be done....otherwise this together would be a monster for you guys to read. With it split up like this, you have a good stopping point at least.
BY THE WAY --- The 'sketch' of Katara is straight from the storyboard, not my own work. :)
"Katara, do you know where you're taking us, by chance?" Sokka suddenly broke her dream-state at Appa's head.
"Huh? Oh, uh..." She didn't even turn back to her brother, knotting her forehead to stare at the shoreline and forest ahead of them. Shoot, I haven't been paying attention...
"We may as well forget about ever reaching the North Pole." Sokka sighed heavily, flopping over the front of the saddle to dangle his arms in the breeze. "Just take us down so we can rest for the night."
Submitting to her brother's wish, she gave a soft shake of the reigns and began descending for the nearest forest clearing. "Sorry..." She mumbled lightly, which he probably couldn't hear.
While the three ate dinner, Aang lay on his stomach and scoured the map in front of him, idly commenting about locations they had missed along the way. "So, how far off course are we?" Sokka questioned, reminding Katara of her ill attention at guiding Appa.
"I think it would be better had we gone east. There's a town called Bei Dao that was just northeast of Makapu." He ran his finger along forest they had set down in, tapping at the map. "I don't see anything here, just...woods."
"Ugh... so, tomorrow we head out for Bei Dao? What's so special about there anyway?"
"From there I was going to take us to the Northern Air Temple, which is the closest we're gonna get to shorten our trip to the North Pole." As Aang explained this, he folded the map and stuck it back in his vest.
"I can't believe we're still following that map." Sokka dejectedly replied as his face planted into the dirt.
And I'm at fault for adding a day to our trip. Katara's eyes narrowed, staring toward their small fire with a subtle frown. Oh well... "I'm going to clean up here and then head down to the shore to practice some waterbending before the sun's gone."
"Sounds great!" Aang exclaimed as he airbent himself off his stomach and onto his knees. "Oh, right." His eyes shifted to a small pot she had stewed their broth and vegetables in over the fire, with used bowls stacked at its side.
"Don't worry about it." Katara subtly responded as she climbed to her feet. "Go on guys; I'll see you there."
Finishing cleaning the dishes, she packed them away in a small bundle and tied it shut. Momo fluttered over and perched on her shoulder as she placed the pack back into Appa's saddlebags. "Hey cutie." He cooed softly, bringing her to smile as he bumped his cold nose against her cheek.
Okay; time for some waterbending. She leapt from Appa's tail and landed with a jolt, sending a startled Momo soaring into the air. Taking the woodland trails leading to the shore, she was surprised to notice Aang and Sokka digging in the bushes along the way.
Quietly stepping into their midst, they maintained their fervent search without even noticing her presence. "Did someone lose something?" She addressed Aang curiously, who turned a smiling face over his shoulder at her question.
"No we found something!" Aang exclaimed from his bush. Okay...like? Glancing back to her brother, he knelt to pick a broken arrow from the ground.
"It's burned." He identified, dropping it back to the ground before tracing the burn to a nearby tree. "There was a battle...Water Tribe warriors ambushed a group of firebenders." Did I just hear that right? She stared in silence beside Aang, both watching Sokka curiously. "The firebenders fought back, but the warriors drove them down this hill."
Really? Sokka, you're amazing! He charged off like an armadillo wolf hot on a trail. Hey, wait up! She bolted off immediately as Aang did, racing after her brother.
Their chase led them to the sea shore, where Sokka stood in silent observation over the distant water. Slowing her pace, Katara stopped just behind Aang as he pressed further. "So then what happened?"
"I don't know. The trail ends here." His reply came downheartedly, lowering his head.
Shoot. She surveyed the sandy beach, wishing Sokka had been able to work some miracle and find... her eyes widened as she threw her finger up toward a boat lying on the shore some distance off. "Wait, look!"
"It's one of our boats!" Sokka exclaimed emphatically. A sudden wave of excitement washed over Katara, unable to control the smile that overcame her as she ran alongside her brother, racing him for the vessel.
Reaching the bow, she halted beside her brother as he laid his hand against the ship's wooden exterior. It was magnificent, a familiar piece of home, reminding her of times long gone. "Is this...Dad's boat?" She questioned, unable to take her jubilant blue eyes off of the moss-covered ship.
"No, but it's from his fleet." Sokka turned to her and stated proudly. "Dad was here." Dad...I wonder if he's near. She lifted her eyes to the topside of the vessel, taking in the sight of this reminder of who she was.
Aang soared overhead, landing adeptly atop the ship's rail. Gazing left to right, he returned his attention to the brother and sister below with a shrug. "Nothing's here now though."
"I'm going to go get our things. We're moving camp here for the night." Sokka declared, turning toward the forest. But before going, he jabbed a finger commandingly toward his sister at his side. "Don't leave this spot! I'm going to look around some more when I get back."
And miss if Dad comes back around? I'm not leaving. "I'll be here." She nodded in acceptance, turning her smile back to the boat. "I'll practice my bending while you're gone."
"I didn't know you were experienced with boats." Side by side, each practicing streaming their own water, Katara shook her head dismissively to Aang's spoken thought.
"Not me, I know enough about them but that's not really something the women of my tribe learned. Men mostly did that." A loud snap followed by the crackle of shattering ice sounded ahead of Katara, having struck a column of ice with her water whip.
"Oh, I just figured you knew about it. The last ship we were on was that pirate ship!" Right, I had forgotten about that. "It was much bigger than this one."
"It's not like women are excluded from it, they could if they wanted to." Katara pulled her arms back, melting the shattered ice column to water and guiding it around her slowly, carefully attempting to follow its every ripple. "I know a lot of the terms used for seafaring and how the ships are made, it's just not something I had much part in."
She streamed her water slowly over her head, bringing it down in a sweeping motion along the front of her body. Splash! Aang's stream collided with hers, sending their water crashing to the sand. "Hey!"
She turned a quick scowl to Aang, who simply chuckled guiltily. "Sorry. I got a little carried away."
Night fell. A bitter cold flowed through the crisp air, leading Katara to wrap a blanket about her. Only her head poked out the top with her legs pulled up against her chest, huddling beside a fire her brother had started when he had returned. It is so cold...what is wrong with me? Am I the only one that feels this way? Her eyes followed her brother, who seemed unfazed as he ran his hand along the ship's boards. I think I'm getting used to the weather being warmer...
Bobbing her head toward the fire, she continued mulling on this thought. Dad's been gone two years, I wonder if he's used to the change in temperature too. Straightening her back beside the side of their tribe's vessel, she twisted toward her brother and posed idly. "So...how long do you think it's been since someone was here?"
He didn't even turn back to her, kneeling over to run his hand along moss at the bottom of the ship. "Long enough for moss to grow on the hull." Standing upright, he turned back toward her and held his arms out in explanation. "About, three months?""Oh." Her heart fell. Darting her eyes away for the sand by her feet, her head dipped downward in pursuit of her gaze. "So Dad's probably long gone." She pulled her blanket up, tucking it just beneath her chin as she frowned with let out a sad breath.
"I wonder why they left this boat." She gazed out the corner of her eyes for her brother as he mused aloud. "There's nothing wrong with it."
"When was the last time you saw your dad?" Aang suddenly questioned by her left.
"I don't wanna talk about it." Sokka returned singly, turning away from the two.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to bring that up." Aang apologized, turning his head for the ground as he lay on his stomach.
"It's okay Aang." She lifted her chin from her blanket, turning to her friend as he lifted his eyes for her. "Our dad left about two years ago, with all the Water Tribe men."
"Maybe we should all get some sleep." Sokka exclaimed, throwing himself to the ground with his back toward them. Katara stared sadly toward his back, sighing lightly as she saw the hurt he was hiding. Sokka...
"Thanks Katara." Aang lightly responded, lowering his voice to keep from disturbing Sokka at the other side of the campfire.
Her somber eyes reflected the dancing flames as she turned her attention back to him. "Sokka's taken it a little hard. Back when Dad left, Sokka and I grew closer than we ever had been before." She turned back to the fire, gazing toward its base as her head slowly descended. We both needed each other. Though I'm not sure he realizes it.
"Well that's a good thing, so at least there's a bright side to it." Aang posed as his hands drifted forward in gesture. "So..." His tone resembled uncertain curiosity, alternating slowly raising his legs up into the air behind him. She turned to him curiously. What are you thinking... "What's it like, having a Dad?"
Her eyes widened as she blinked in surprise. His question literally took her off guard, though she knew he hadn't had a legitimate father to call his own. "Well, he's not replaceable." She mused, gliding her legs along the sand to turn toward Aang as she pondered what more to say. Then she sighed softly, smiling as her eyes lowered to the ground between them.
"It's wonderful to feel completely safe from the world and loved by a dad. It's even better when he dotes on you, taking pleasure in seeing you happy..." She lifted her eyes to Aang, staring somberly at the young Air Nomad. "Having a father is like having someone closer than a friend, a part of what makes you who you are. Someone you will carry with you for all your life, no matter what happens."
Aang listened attentively, propping his hands beneath his chin with his elbows on the beach. Katara's smile faded to a frown, gazing somberly to the beach once again. "But it hurts to see him go. When you know what having a father is like, it's hard to lose him."
"Don't worry. You'll see him again..." Aang reassured lightly, placing a smile on his face before rolling back to head for Appa's leg. "Goodnight Katara."
A warm smile crept back to her face as her eyes settled on the young Airbender making his bed on Appa's warm leg. "Goodnight Aang." She replied softly, turning to lift her fur-lined sleeping bag to crawl into.
"Who's there?!" A voice disturbed her sleep, jolting her mentally awake. Mmm...hush... She strained her eyelids tightly, keeping them closed; barely comprehending it was her brother who shouted. Another voice replied that she couldn't hear clearly over the crackle of their campfire, before her brother's voice exclaimed in surprise. "Bato?!"
Huh? She slid her arms beneath her and lifted her upper body, opening her sleepy eyes to spot a man in Water Tribe attire standing in front of her brother. "Who-the-what now?" Aang thrust out beside her.
"Bato!!" Her face immediately was overcome with a heartfelt smile. In a quick sprint, she shot out of her sleeping bag and ran to join her brother, throwing her arms around the dark-haired man.
The bandaged warrior laid his arm on her shoulder, turning a wide smile down to her. "Sokka! Katara! It is so good to see you two!" He let out a hearty chuckle, lightly rubbing her shoulder. "You've grown so much."
"Hi, I'm Aang." He introduced, before Sokka voiced the question she was waiting on.
"Is he here?!" She swiftly followed, leaping back a step to face Bato, unable to leave Sokka's question as it was.
"No." What? Disheartened, she frowned as he continued. "He and the other warriors should be in the Eastern Earth Kingdom by now." She turned to her brother, offering him her silent emotional support as he lowered his eyes in defeat. A gust of frigid morning air blew past them, sending Katara into a sudden shiver as she chattered her teeth and threw her arms around herself. Aah...so cold!
"This is no place for a reunion!" Bato held his arms out and stepped between the two, turning back to lay his arms across both their shoulders at his either side. "Let's get inside."
Walking back with their father's best friend, Katara relaxed as she leaned against his side, finding comfort within his embrace.
"How did you end up all the way over here Bato? We aren't that far from the North Pole...which is where we're taking Aang, he's the Avatar." Sokka questioned. Katara had walked on in quiet, leaning her head against Bato's chest as she reminisced times of old.
"War." He quietly replied, keeping his voice soft and sorrowful as he progressed. "What led me here are events I hope that you children never have to experience."
"What happened?" Katara questioned with concern, lifting her eyes to stare up into the warrior's face.
"We attempted to stop the Fire Nation from amassing a fleet to attack the Earth Kingdom." Bato turned a pair of sorrowful eyes to the young girl. "Failure is what happened. Our attempt failed and we were split up from each other during the battle. I was taken captive..."
"No way." Sokka retorted in surprise.
"I'm afraid so." Bato nodded gravely as he shifted his gaze to Sokka at his left. "Even the best of us don't always win, Sokka."
"How did you escape?" She continued, drawing Bato's attention back to continue his tale.
"Your father broke me out; however even that went wrong. As we were trying to leave the ship's lower decks, there was an explosion and I ended up in the ocean. Next thing I remember, your father was pulling me to this shore." So Dad saved you. She smiled warmly, though sad to hear things had gone so poorly.
"When I stood, that's when I realized I had been injured from the explosion." Bato tipped his gaze to his bandages that covered his entire chest and shoulder. "Fleeing from the firebenders, we ran into the woods. When I couldn't keep up I tried to convince your father to leave me behind, but he stood his ground and we ambushed our hunters."
"We nearly died." Silence passed as his eyelids fell, turning to gaze ahead of them down the trail they walked. Katara also broke her gaze, turning ahead of them. The topic was grim, leaving her a little apprehensive to respond. "I don't know how he managed it, but Hakoda drove the firebenders back to the shore after I fell."
"After you fell?" Katara questioned softly as she glanced out the corner of her eyes, concerned for just how hurt Bato may truly be.
"Yes." He gestured forward of them with a nod of his head, only now did she realize they were passing beneath an archway leading a walled abbey. "After I was wounded, your father carried me to this abbey. The sisters have cared for me ever since." A wondrous aroma filled the air. If Katara hadn't already been relaxed, this peaceful mix of floral scents would have calmed her quickly.
Many nuns in tan and white gowns stood in small groups throughout the Abbey's grounds, yet Katara kept her eyes and attention on Bato as he approached three at the center of the courtyard. "Superior. These are Hakoda's children. They've been traveling with the Avatar; I found them by my boat."
Katara smiled politely, cupping one hand over the other as she stood ahead of Bato. "Young Avatar, it gives me great joy to be in your presence." She proceeded with a gracious bow of her head, stepping toward Aang. "Welcome to our abbey." The old lady slipped her hands into her white sleeves, smiling warmly toward them as they finished their approach.
"Thank you. It's truly an honor to be here. If there's anything–"
"What smells so good Bato?" Sokka outright questioned. Y'know...I was wondering that too. She turned her adoring eyes up to Bato.
"The sisters craft ointments and perfumes." He calmly replied, holding his hand out in gesture for the gathered basins that held the fragrant liquid. Oh. I'll have to try some... Katara grinned anxiously at the sudden notion.
"Perfume?!" Sokka twisted sideways and jabbed his thumbs toward Appa. "Maybe we could dump some on Appa. Because...he stinks so much! Am I right?" A smug grin overcame him, holding both arms out toward the two in request for their agreement.Her eyebrows lifted as she frowned in reply. I wonder about you sometimes... "You have your father's wit." Bato replied singly, leading Katara to turn her eyes upon him subtly in quiet agreement. "Come children." He turned and set his hand on Katara's back, leading her toward a nearby building. "You can stay with me while here. I think you will like what you see." Oh? I can't wait...!
Approaching the door, he reached past them and slid it away. "Bato!" She exclaimed, throwing her hands together ahead of her chest. "It looks like home!" She hastily stepped through the doorway, observing the many pelts and a strong scent of home cooking, enhanced with the soft flicker of firelight.
She turned to her left and propped her hands off her hips, admiring a Southern Water Tribe banner displayed on Bato's wall. "Everything's here, even the pelts!" Sokka exclaimed behind her.
"Yeah. Nothing's cozier than dead animal skins." Aang stated quietly by the doorway. They are pretty comfortable...and warm. Now what is that smell...
She followed her nose to the center of the room, where a lidded pot dangled over a small fire. Just the smell alone made her stomach growl as she lifted the lid curiously. "No way! Stewed sea prunes?!" Her eyes ran to her brother across from her as he and Bato joined her by the fire
"Help yourself." Bato offered kindly, raising his hand toward a bowl by her side. I think I will! She hastily snatched up the bowl beside her and a spoon, beginning to fill her it with the warm stew.
"Dad could eat a whole barrel of these things." Sokka joked as he joined in filling his own bowl.
With her older companion by her side, and a reminder of home in her bowl, she attempted to remember stories and events of home. Finally, something took her mind off war. "Bato...is it true you and Dad lassoed an arctic hippo?"
"It was your father's idea; he just dragged me along. Well...the hippo did the dragging." Oh rich. I wish I could have seen that!
"Hey, I ride animals too!" Aang raised his voice loudly as he broke in. "One time, there was this giant eel and I–" Almost died. She silently mused, keeping her attention on Bato as Sokka continued.
"So, who was it that came up with the great blubber fiasco?" Sokka inquired quickly. Oh yeah, gosh that was messy. But it worked...
"You knew about that?" Bato questioned between stifled laughs.
"Everyone does!" Katara chimed in merrily. Well, from our tribe anyway...the merchants didn't get it. She nearly laughed before Aang questioned curiously.
"What's that story?" Eh...the long or short of it... Turning back for Aang, Sokka answered for her.
"It's a long one Aang, some other time." Thanks Sokka. She smiled at him pleasantly. Patience Aang...we haven't seen Bato for over two years!
She returned her attention to Bato and chuckled softly. "You and Dad had so many hilarious adventures..."
"Not all of which were hilarious at the time, but...everything's funny with hindsight." He let out a soft laugh before suddenly stating more loudly. "Hey Aang!" She turned quickly to spot him donning a Water Tribe wolf spirit hat. "Please put that down, it's ceremonial and very fragile..." Aang, gosh...please? What are you doing...
"Was it you or Dad that put an octopus on your head and convinced Gran Gran you were a water spirit?" Sokka suddenly pressed forward despite Aang's antics. Thanks again, Sokka. A smile crept back over her as she turned back to Bato.
"Your dad wore the octopus but..." He held his hands forward and lowered his voice. "I did the spooky voice."
"Then did anybody ever tell Gran Gran she hit Dad with that pot?" Katara asked with a quick laugh, nearly spilling some of her stew at the memory.
"No, your father asked us not to. He said if she found out he'd get a knot to match that one the other side of his forehead!" Bato let out a hearty laugh, leaning back from the small fire.
Putting her bowl to her lips, Katara took a large drink of the thick, warm stew flavored with real sea prunes. "I'll tell you one I still remember." Bato continued with a sly grin, lifting his finger toward the young warrior before him. "The time Katara snowed you in while you were in the restroom. Now that was hilarious!"
Katara laughed so suddenly she choked on a sea prune, spewing a mouthful of soup back into the bowl. "Aha...ha...hum." Sokka began to laugh, but trailed off as his eyes drifted away toward the tent Bato had set up in the back of his room.
"Ah you kids...how I have missed you." Bato mused, picking up the bowl by his feet to help himself to his breakfast.
"We've missed you too Bato." Wiping the soup from her mouth, Katara's excited blue eyes rose to their friend. "Do you have any more interesting stories since you've been sailing with Dad?"
"Oh yes, many. Some are amusing in retrospect, others I would rather not repeat." He explained after swallowing a sea prune whole. "Actually, I think I've got one for you." Setting the bowl back to the floor, he extended one hand in gesture as he began. "Nearly a year ago, we were tracking a Fire Navy ship that was passing through Southern Earth Kingdom waters..."
"...and so, there we were, dressed up as a bunch of traveling nomads singing to this group of tipsy firebenders in their camp." The story had taken longer to set up than anticipated, but now at the meat of it, Katara couldn't remove the smile crossing her face. "They didn't suspect a thing; most of them had already passed out. All we had to do was walk around the campsite and tie them up. They didn't even notice they were chained until we had them halfway to Ba Sing Se for prison!"
"Oh gosh!" She nearly shouted as the three burst into a fit of laughter.
Bato slapped his thighs humorously, wiping tears from his eyes. "On second thought, not everything needs hindsight to be as funny as it truly is!" He let out a sigh, attempting to calm himself.
"Dad...dressed as a nomad." Sokka remarked with a stifled laugh, shaking his head. "I wish I could have seen that one." Katara leaned back and relaxed, turning a pair of misty blue eyes to Bato coupled with a deep, appreciative smile.
"There's something I should tell you kids." He began, glancing to each in turn. "I'm expecting a message from your father."
"Really?!" She didn't even take the time to gasp, leaning forward as her hands clasped tightly atop the skirt on her lap.
"WHEN?!" Sokka bellowed with just as much eagerness.
"Any day now. Your father said he'd send a message when they'd found a rendezvous point. If you wait here until the message arrives...you can come with me, and see your father again."
"It's been over two years since we've seen Dad! That would be so incredible!" Sokka had threw his hands up to grab the back of his head by his wolf tail as he nearly shouted, before turning his excitement across the small fire to his sister. "Katara?"
Her eyes softened, nearly sighing as she answered Sokka's request with thoughtful wonder. "I do really miss him...it would be great to see Dad."
"It's been far too long, hasn't it?" Bato mused. "I'm not sure when word will arrive. When it does, we can all go together."
Oh. Her heart fell, as did her attention as she looked to the fire. But...that would mean Aang wouldn't learn Waterbending. "By all of us, you mean Aang can come too." She idly mused.
"Of course, a friend of yours is welcome among us any day." Bato nodded in reply.
"Hmm." Sokka leaned back and set his bowl down, having been his fifth helping for the morning, Katara on her third. "And you said this would be at the Eastern Earth Kingdom? Like, close to Ba Sing Se?" Your thinking the same thing, aren't you Sokka?
"That's right. I don't know where just yet, until I receive that message I can't set out."Sokka let out a crisp sigh, dampening his excitement as he continued. "It would be great, but we can't." She turned to set her eyes on her brother as he dipped his head sorrowfully. Yes...yes you are. "We have to take Aang to the North Pole first."
I agree. She clutched her bowl, turning to dip her head as well and gaze toward the floor ahead of Bato. "Even if we had time to wait for the message who knows how far we'd have to travel? We don't have time for a long detour." She finished sadly.
"I'm sure your father would understand." Bato consoled their decision warmheartedly. "And be proud that his children are helping the Avatar."
"So...if we leave, how are we going to find you again?" Katara quietly questioned, becoming even sadder at this prospect.
"I'm sure you will. Now that you're with the Avatar, I'll inform Hakoda and we can track where you are. We'll get in touch when we can."
"Oh." Sokka stated dejectedly with a frown. "If it's that simple, maybe that's why the Fire Nation keeps finding us."
"Keeps finding you? Are you two being followed?" Bato questioned with concern, sitting upright to stare directly toward her brother.
She answered instead. "The Fire Lord's son has been following us everywhere we go...and he's been surprisingly good at finding us."
"The Fire Lord's son? You mean Prince Zuko himself?" Bato questioned with doubt, lifting a brow. "I heard he was banished. What would he want?"
"I'm still trying to figure out how he got by that blockade twice when we went to that Fire Nation temple." Sokka mused aloud, scratching at his chin. "I mean, why else would he go back? He's banished."
"You went to the Fire Nation...?" Bato's hands fell to his lap, widening his eyes in shock.
Katara cupped her hands around her bowl and nodded in reply. "Yes, we helped Aang connect with his past life for the first time; Avatar Roku." Never mind getting captured though...
"We had some trouble along the way." Sokka continued. "Zuko shooting...what was it you called them? Oh yeah, that's right. Hot stinkers!" He broke into a quick laugh, jabbing a finger toward his sister.
What's so funny? She frowned immediately, scowling back at him as the two began to tell Bato of all the encounters they had that day.
"It sounds like you two have already been through a lot..."
Yeah... She turned back to Bato, eyeing him sadly as she nodded. "A lot certainly has happened since we found Aang in that iceberg."
Bato lifted a brow, tilting his head to one side. "The Avatar was in an iceberg?"
"Yep, he'd been there for a hundred years." Sokka hastily continued. "Just chillin'." Really Sokka...? Pointing a finger toward Katara he laughed cruelly. "Until she had another tantrum and blew his iceberg up by accident and nearly drowned us!"
She frowned again, slipping the bowl to the wooden floor as she crossed her arms. "You're forgetting that your expert ice dodging left us stranded on a piece of ice when your canoe shattered."
"Shattered your canoe? Not the one your father and I built for you, was it?"
"That's the one." Katara piped up quickly with a smirk.
"Look, I couldn't help that; I'm good at ice dodging okay? We got caught in an ocean current and we're lucky I kept us from being ripped apart with the canoe."
"Hey everyone!" Aang suddenly broke into the talk. "Sorry I was gone so long."
She turned back quickly to spot Aang standing by the door. Oh? Welcome back! "Hey Aang! I didn't notice you left."
"Yep but now I'm back!" He exclaimed with a joyous wave of his arm, dropping to grab a bowl of sea prune soup he had left sitting a long time ago. "Sure could...go for some delicious sea prunes!" Hastily he devoured spoonful after spoonful. "Mmm!"
Suddenly he hacked up a mouthful of sea prunes all over the floor, clenching back his eyes and mouth to continue his feigned pleasure. "Mmm!"
Aang...? What has gotten into you? Katara knotted her eyebrows, staring at him dumbfounded. "You... sure you're alright?"
"You sure seem to have a love-hate relationship with those sea prunes." Sokka chimed in, pointing his finger toward the cluster of food on the floor.
"Don't mind it, I'll clean it up." Bato added in as he rose to his feet.
"Yep I'm perfectly fine! Just took too big a bite!" He chimed out as he thrust another spoonful into his mouth, seeming to fight a sudden wince.
Oh my word. Is this really happening? "Really? 'Cause, you look like your spoon is attacking you." Sokka jeered, lifting a brow.
"I...was...hungry?" Aang explained in mock belief, setting his bowl back down. "Uh; so, nice spears..." As Bato brushed the spilt sea prunes into a small basin, Aang pointed toward the wall. Nice...spears? Katara followed his eyes to the rack on the wall, blinking in confusion. This isn't like you.
"Oh hey, that reminds me..." Sokka addressed as he climbed to his feet and headed quickly for the door. "I'll be back, there's something in our bags with Appa that I think belongs to you."
Bato lifted his eyes inquisitively to Sokka as he disappeared, turning his questioning look back to Katara. She simply shrugged. Don't look at me, I don't know. Aang continued to seemingly force-feed himself, which captured her attention and left an awkward silence until Sokka returned shortly afterward.
"We found this in the woods. I was able to track the skirmish around it to your boat." Sokka lifted a whale-tooth saber in his right hand.
"Well I'll be. I looked everywhere for that! Thank you for returning this to me." Taking back his lost possession, Bato laid it against the wall below his other weapons. "I'll tend to it later."
"Well now that we've had our breakfast, I'll give Appa his!" Aang exclaimed merrily before leaping to his feet and quickly heading for the door. Okay... Just then, Katara caught a glimpse of a certain fruit lingering in the bag Sokka had brought in. Her mouth parted in wonder.
Scooting across the floor on her knees, she plucked the papaya from the bag and held it in her hands, staring at oddly. Aunt Wu said I would eat this for breakfast. Her head darted to her left, settling her blue eyes on the empty bowl of sea prune stew that she had helped herself to multiple times. But...I...didn't? I'm full? She blinked in surprise, taking this in.
"Is everything alright Katara?" Bato broke her perplexed gaze, bringing a smile to her lips in return. Aunt Wu was wrong. I guess Aang was right; you really do shape your own destiny.
"Yes, just fine. Do you like papayas?"
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Props to Ianbernard for helping make this wonderful chapter template with images! (he created the images)
The Boy in the Iceberg