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The third chapter, entitled Peace, in the-mini series Passion by Ruen.


If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace.


It had been ten days since Katara had been taken.

Ten days... Sokka thought, she's been gone for so long. Is she even alive? Can I manage without her? Can Aang? Sokka was standing in the street, staring at Katara's home. The door had been fixed up, but he could still see it, he could still feel it.

The emptiness within.

He turned away and began to make his way toward the exit of the village. As he approached he could see a figure ahead, sitting by the edge of the crater. Slowly approaching he began to make out who it was. But he didn't need to, he already knew who it was.

After returning to the village two nights ago, no closer to finding Katara than when they'd started, Aang had not moved from the spot. He had sat alone, through the cold and wet rain of a storm even, not moving an inch. Sokka knew he wasn't meditating, despite his little knowledge of the subject, he could still tell. Aang had distanced himself from everyone around him, even Sokka. Not wanting to eat or sleep, Aang sat there, and nothing Sokka said could bring him around.

But Sokka wasn't about to give up on his friend just yet. He still attempted to talk to him every so often to some how get through to him, but so far with no success.

Approaching Aang slowly he gave himself a brief pep talk. C'mon Sokka. You can do this. You can get through to him, just tell him that we'll find her. Because if you can't, no one else can. Sokka sighed. How could he convince Aang if he couldn't even convince himself?

"Hey, Aang?" Nothing, not a single response of any kind. His face remained as expressionless as ever. But Sokka continued on. "Look... I know things seem bad now but, we'll find her. Don't worry. Toph, Suki, and the Kyoshi Warriors are all out looking for him. Even Zuko is commanding his own task force to search for her."

After four days searching on Appa, Aang and Sokka, though mostly Sokka, had decided to ask their friends for help. Right away they had sprung in to action upon hearing what had happened. Suki rounded up all her warriors, now including Ty Lee, and set off on their own search. Toph disappeared as soon as she heard the news, wasting little time and offering nothing more than a, "I'll find her," before leaving on her own to search. Zuko had gathered his own squad of elite firebenders before setting off in airships to search. So far though, nothing had turned up.

Sokka and Aang had eventually returned to the Southern Water Tribe after five more days of their own searching. Sokka had made the decision to return on his own, but it was a difficult one to make, even for himself. Eventually he forced the decision by taking control of Appa. Aang had sat in the saddle the entire journey without saying a word.

After returning, he only got worse. Sokka had tried to get him to sleep, but the next day he found Aang sitting by the crater's edge.

After all Sokka's attempts, Aang sat as silent and unmoving as ever. "Come on, Aang. This isn't what Katara would have wanted. You'll catch your death out here." Nothing. Sokka paused for a moment before trying again. "Aang... you're not the only one who misses her. I do too, but we had to return to the village, we don't know where else to look. It was pointless to keep looking aimlessly." Again, Aang showed no response. Why is he taking this so hard... it wasn't his fault.

Sokka stared down into the crater below, his mind wandering to Katara. You always knew how to cheer him up, and now... when he needs you the most, you aren't here. Sokka watched Aang continue to sit without falter, struggling to understand the pain his friend felt.

Sokka dropped his head, dejected. Well, I tried... back again tomorrow it seems. Sokka hesitated for a moment, hoping Aang would give him some sign that he was still there, but got nothing and decided to return to the village.

"And if you could take your soul and offer it up instead, would you?" The words traveled through the winter air as Sokka stopped in his tracks. Looking back, he stared at Aang, who still sat in the same position. It sounded like him, but... offer my soul? Sokka pondered the question for a moment, before turning away again.

"If you can't answer now, you'd only lie later." Sokka stopped as he heard the cold words reach his ears, hesitating momentarily, before continuing back to the village.

Sokka awoke the next day and realised it had been a week since the others had began their search for Katara.

As he left his house, he found he had received letters from his friends. Suki and her warriors had returned to Kyoshi Island, sending a message to Sokka, apologizing for finding nothing. Even Zuko had given up the search, offering his own apologies, having sent a messenger hawk as soon as he had ended the search. Toph, however, was the last to give up, even finding her way to the Southern Water Tribe, arriving soon after Sokka's first attempt of the day to cheer up Aang.

"Sorry, Sokka. I just couldn't find her anywhere. I even checked the usual cults and underground groups. Nothing. No one has any idea where she is. And you know how good I am at getting information from people." It was true. Toph had a way with interrogation; being able to pull information out of just about anyone if she really wanted to.

"It's okay. I understand." Both were standing at the exit of the village, staring out at the distant form of Aang, who had still not moved from the spot. How long can he just sit out there?

As if reading his mind, Toph spoke up. "He's been there the entire time you got back?" Sokka merely nodded. "Ouch... he must be taking this hard. Maybe I could try and talk to him."

"Maybe," Sokka responded offhandedly, his thoughts drifting back to Aang's question, still unable to answer it for himself. I doubt it'll help though.

Toph approached Aang slowly, taking her time to feel the earth beneath her, and sat down next to him. "Hey, Twinkle Toes."

Toph could sense everything going on in his body. But really, she could sense very little at all. His heartbeat was there, but it just beat without deviation. Always the same methodical rhythm. He showed no reaction to her presence at all. How can he just sit here and do nothing? Doesn't he care that Katara is missing? "Okay, that's it. You, me and Sokka are going to find her right now. Stop sitting there as if you don't care. You're coming with us." But Aang continued to sit there as if she wasn't even there.

This did not sit well with Toph, who jumped to her feet and raised her fist in frustration. "Hey! Didn't you here me? Get up, Twinkle Toes!" She grabbed his arm and pulled him around to face her. He did nothing but stare forward with unfocused eyes. Toph began to drag him toward Appa's shelter as Sokka approached them.

"Umm... Toph? What's going on?" Sokka asked, reaching the shelter with a confused expression on his face.

"We're going to find Katara, that's what." She dragged Aang over to Appa and used earthbending to lift them both up off the ground to height of the saddle. She threw him in to the saddle before turning to Sokka. "Come on, you're taking the reins."

"What? Why do I have to do it?" Sokka begrudgingly walked towards Appa's head and began to climb, already knowing the answer before Toph, who was now in the saddle herself, responded.

"Because I'm blind, remember! And Twinkle Toes is in no shape to be doing it himself." She sat down on Appa, trying to make herself as comfortable as possible when she was as far outside of her comfort zone as possible.

"Yea, I know... Appa, yip yip." Appa slowly rose to his feet and made his way out of the shelter. "C'mon Appa, yip yip. We're going to find Kata-" But he was cut off as he caught sight of something flying toward them.

A messenger hawk had appeared in the sky, heading straight for the group. The hawk landed on Sokka's, now outstretched, arm and he took the letter before the bird quickly departed.

"It's from Zuko." Sokka began reading the letter over. "He knows who has Katara! He said it's... Azula!"

"Does he say anything about where she might be?" Toph looked over to Aang for a reaction of any kind, but got nothing.

"He said he knows of one hiding spot. One that she thinks no one else knows about." Sokka read the parchment again to make sure. "It's in the Fire Nation. An underground base that was to be a last resort to hiding in for Ozai."

Aang suddenly stood up and moved to the front of the saddle. "Move." Sokka complied, but could sense the cold, emptiness in Aang's voice.

Aang sat down, cracked the reins, and Appa took flight. Sokka turned to look at Toph as he sat down in the back of the saddle.

Sokka and Toph were both confused at this sudden change, but happy at the same time that something had gotten a response from Aang. But he wasn't completely back. Not yet.

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