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|Fame and Glory|
4-Fame and Glory
Having just left the Southern Air Temple, and discovering a painful truth to Aang's past, Katara is surprised as ever to see that Aang is emotionally unphased and continues his whimsical games. After his games nearly cost him and his friends his life, they end up honored guests in a village they were unaware was present. After high tensions between Katara and Aang, Zuko catches up to the team and chases them away from their island getaway.
This chapter was positively enjoyable to write, complete with lots of little additions here and there. This is also the first chapter that it's really shown what the character Katara is clothed in - if we had no pictures, this would be where you would get a first glimpse of her outfit. I'm not positive that part was well written, it's quite hard to describe!
The thing that struck me the MOST about this chapter in the series, was how we went straight from Katara sheltering Aang and holding him close, caring for him, to her suddenly on the opposite end of the spectrum angry with him. I loved the dynamics, and wanted to try and smooth the transition of her mood to that location as best I could, to show just how easy it is to slip into these situations ourselves. :) -ps, I humor myself even with her thoughts during their argument.
Katara lay curled into the front of Appa's saddle on her side, her legs pulled up into her chest. It hadn't been all that long since she had been there, that Aang turned his attention to her. Or at least, she didn't realize she had already slept soundly for some hours. "Katara!" Her eyes snapped open, staring curiously at a once again excited Aang. "Check this out!" He opened a cupped hand and revealed two shiny marbles in his palm. Just as he balanced his other hand above, they began to swiftly circle one another a hair above his palm.
"Glad to see you're feeling better." She smiled at his airbending trick as she rose up, stretching high into the open sky above.
"Sure am! Wouldn't it be awesome to drop another avalanche on Zuko?" Aang exclaimed, raising his hands high up and thrusting them down for effect. "Whoosh!"
"Zuko?" Katara sat back against the saddle, sliding her legs forward towards Aang, laying her hands in her lap. "You mean the leader of that fire navy ship?"
"Yep, that's the guy." Aang smiled overbearingly again.
Katara raised an eyebrow and stared into Aang's gray eyes curiously. How does he just flip that switch and become so happy? "No, I'd be happy never seeing his face again. I thought he was going to take Gran Gran away, or that he was going to hurt Sokka. But then he took you instead! Every time the Fire Nation comes, I always lose someone close to me."
Aang laughed and patted his chest boldly. "He didn't take me!"
"Yes, he did, Aang." She assertively spoke, not finding humor in his current line of jokes.
He stopped laughing instantly and froze, his other hand stuck to the side of his face. "Uh, right. Well, he couldn't keep me!"
Her eyebrows fell to a cold stare. "He would have, but we saved you." She reminded him curtly.
"Thanks again for that." He answered with a low, nervous laugh, rubbing the back of his head as he dropped to his backside in the middle of the saddle.
"Katara!" Sokka shouted desperately. She turned and hung her head over the front of the saddle, gazing down at her brother in answer, glad for an interruption from her conversation with Aang. "Somehow I got a rip in my pants. It was probably because of Aang's flip out earlier, I bounced off that rock quite hard no thanks to him."
She scowled, angry that he brought that up again in case he'd upset Aang. But instead, Aang leapt over the saddle and landed beside Sokka. "That's okay. I'll be more careful next time." Her forehead bunched up in surprise. Either he didn't care at all, or he was distancing himself from it as best he could. "Let's get going! We have to ride the elephant koi fish!"
Katara sighed; he still wants to play games? "Aang, shouldn't we stay focused on heading to the North Pole? After all, you are the Avatar, you need to master waterbending."
"Katara, we have to do this." He stated with determination, before his voice grew ecstatic. "You'll love it! Even Avatars have fun, if not more-so!" He grinned widely back at her, which only earned him a solid grunt in disgust as she turned her back to him.
"Sokka get up here and take off your pants." She ordered as she furiously considered how Aang only wanted to goof around and discard any responsibility.
"Uh, right..." Sokka muttered at her order. This was what he wanted anyway; at least she would do it. He climbed up and proceeded to do as she asked, before tripping over his own clothing and falling into the back of the saddle.
After some time had passed, Katara had successfully calmed down as best she could; focusing all her attention into each stitch to her brothers' pants. "I think we've already been this way, at least twice today!" Sokka had been carefully observing a map for a long while, before finally addressing Aang. "You have no idea where you're going, do you?" Sokka called out observing a map, trying to find the island they were searching for.
"Well, I know it's near water!" Aang answered smartly.
Sokka frowned as he observed their surroundings, spotting nothing but ocean. "I guess we're gettin' close then." Not my problem. She humored herself to ignore their conversation as she ran the needle through Sokka's pants.
Just a minute later, Aang broke the silence once again. "Momo, marbles please!" Katara heard. Marbles again. She kept her attention directed at her duties. "Hey Katara, check out this airbending trick!"
Really, this again? "That's great Aang." She mildly responded.
"You didn't even look." She heard his voice become downhearted.
She turned her head down to Aang, who sat leaning forward towards her with his hand outstretched, marbles sitting idly on his palm. "That's great!" She feigned excitement.
"But I'm not doing it now..." Aang spoke sadly.
"Stop bugging her airhead. You need to give girls space when they do their sewing." Sokka waved off Aang's sadness.
Katara frowned. Ugh. This is like being caught between two brothers. "What does me being a girl, have to do with sewing?" She asked coldly, scowling at the real airhead.
"Simple!" Sokka answered wittingly as he dropped his hands and began to gesture in explanation. "Girls are better at fixing pants than guys! And guys are better at hunting, and fighting, and stuff like that. It's just the natural order of things."
That jerk! She grinned wryly in disgust. "All done with your pants! And look what a great job I did." She tugged his pants apart to show a hole still at its' left rear. Her mocking grin turned to a hard scowl before tossing them into the open wind sending them right into his face.
"Wait! I was just kidding." Sokka begged as he struggled to pull his pants off of his face. "I can't wear these! Katara, please!"
"Relax, Sokka. Where we're going you won't need any pants!" Aang called out as he pulled his reigns to his left, bringing Appa into a sharp descent.
"We just made a pit-stop yesterday. Shouldn't we get a little more flying done before we camp out?" Sokka questioned as he leapt to a snowy, sandy beach.
Brother! She readily sided with him. For once he apparently had some sense about him. "He's right. At this rate, we won't get to the North Pole until spring."
Aang kept his back to them, gazing over the waters of the bay just ahead of him. "But Appa's tired already. Aren't you boy?" Appa only grunted. Katara scowled at Aang's back. How could he just ignore us like this! "I said, aren't you boy?" He elbowed Appa's front leg, warranting a gigantic yawn from Appa. Katara glanced to Sokka in angst, before returning a glare to Aang.
"Yeah, that was real convincing." Sokka bickered. "Still, hard to argue with a ten ton magical monster."
Aang gasped and bolted for the bay, paying Sokka no mind as was everyone's habit. "Look!"
Katara and her brother ran up behind him. Her eyes widened and her jaw hung open at the sheer size of the fish that leapt into the air not far away. That thing is as huge as an iceberg!
"That's why we're here! Elephant Koi! And I'm gonna ride it." Aang explained as he began to strip to his brown briefs in front of them. "Katara, you've gotta watch me!" He implored as he turned his excited face to her.
What's he going to do again? She pondered as he turned and bolted for the water. Leaping headlong into it; he bolted up into the air just after he fell in. "Cooooold!" He cried out before falling back in.
Her mouth slid fully closed as she gave her brother a sidelong stare, not even moving her head. What did he expect...we're still not far from the South Pole...and there's snow still all around. Sokka raised his finger to the side of his head and made short circles, calling Aang an idiot.
Undeterred, Aang began swimming through the frigid waters towards where he had last spotted the fish, before plunging out of sight underwater. Katara stared in amazement, what was he going to do? "You think he'd mind if I caught one to eat?" Sokka inquired. Katara elbowed her brother, but didn't take her eyes off of where Aang had been. "What, I'm hungry!" When aren't you hungry?
An elephant koi leapt into the air, a proud Aang on its back firmly grabbing hold of an immense fin. She could tell he was waving back at the beach to them. Wow! That looked like so much fun! Of course, most anything involving water usually excited her quite easily. She gripped her fists together and bounced around the beach, forgetting about her nearby brother. "Whoo!" She cheered Aang on as he continued showing off. Even Momo skipped along the beach waving his winged arms about in excitement.
Finally remembering her brother, she leaned forward and looked back into his face. He didn't look the least bit excited. "He looks pretty good out there." She attempted to get him into the fun of it.
"Are you kidding? The fish is doing all the work." He uncrossed his arms and waved one forward in protest, before returning to his stoic stance.
Party pooper. She ignored the fact she felt like him just a minute ago. Hearing a large crash, she glanced back to find Appa knocking over a barren tree and biting into its' prickly bark. "No Appa! Don't eat that!" She scolded out loud before bolting away from the scene.
Getting closer, she shoved on his nose, warranting a loud unhappy grunt. She didn't fear Appa in the least; he seemed like a safe bison. "If you eat this you're going to get sick! This is not food." She tugged at the tree, but quickly realized she wasn't going to budge it. However, Appa was obedient and dropped it to the ground. He, likewise, dropped to the ground on his stomach as he let out a hungry groan. "Sorry Appa. We'll get you something as soon as Aang gets back, okay?"
She turned and began to head back to watch Aang ride the elephant koi. How long would he stay out there? She pondered whether he would catch a cold before catching sight of Sokka. She could tell just from glancing at her brother that something wasn't right. "What's wrong?" She questioned as she ran up beside him.
"Aang's in trouble. Aang!" Sokka cried out.
"Get out of there!" Katara joined in as they both began to wave furiously to get his attention. "Come in!"
"Get back here Aang!" Sokka cried. Aang only waved in return to them from his distance, but then the koi he had been riding was sucked beneath the surface of the water and out of sight. Aang went soaring into the air and landed squarely in the water with a splash.
"Oh no!" Katara gasped quietly as she cupped her hands over her mouth. It was coming for... her eyes widened in horror. An immense fin stretched open just behind him, towering at least two times higher than the elephant koi had.
But just as soon as it popped up, Aang airbended himself atop the waters' surface and ran as fast as he could muster to the beach. Katara sidestepped as she panicked how fast he was approaching, only in time to watch Aang soar past her like lightning and slam her brother several feet back and into a tree.
They were both alright, she noticed as they started to stand. "What was that thing?" She asked to neither in particular.
"I don't know!" Aang answered as he pulled his clothing back over him.
"Well let's not stick around to find out. Time to hit the road." Sokka answered as he brushed snow off of his hands.
The next moment she heard numerous soft thuds of soft shoes. She glanced around her; they were surrounded by gowns of green with open fans in both of their assailants' hands. She stared in confusion for only a moment, before a hand behind her forced her blue fur coat's hood over her head. Gasping in surprise, all went black. It wasn't but a moment that their skilled hands had her bound and tossed with a thud onto the sandy beach. "Ugh!" She cried out as her wind was knocked from her.
"Or, we could...stay awhile." Sokka followed up on his stomach as well, blindfolds over all their faces.
They remained quiet as they were escorted blindly up a path. After minutes of walking, Katara felt their hands lay on her again as she was shoved back against a pole. "What are you going to do to us?" There was no answer as she felt the tight squeeze of a rope bind her to the pole. In the next moment, Aang and Sokka also were shoved next to her, and she could hear Momo's helpless cries out not far off.
"You three have some explaining to do." A man's voice addressed them.
"And if you don't answer all our questions, we're throwing you back in the water with the Unagi." A female's voice followed up.
"Show yourselves, cowards!" Sokka screamed, which earned all their blindfolds to be pulled off.
Katara squinted as her eyes adjusted from the sudden sunlight blinding her, enhanced by the surrounding snow covering the hills and mountain ranges nearby. After a moment, she realized they were by a wooden outer wall of a village with wooden buildings lined up in a row. Most surprising, was a group of white-faced, painted women dressed in a full green gowns and padded armor. All the women had dark brown hair, and green bandanas, save one who had a golden crown at the front of her bandana.
"Who are you? Where are the men who ambushed us?" Sokka rudely questioned back.
"There were no men. We ambushed you." This woman deftly replied, waving her finger in his face. "Now tell us, who are you and what are you doing here?"
"Wait a second, there's no way a bunch of girls took us down." Sokka jeered with a sarcastic laugh.
Sokka! Katara frantically panicked. Why are you such a blubber-head! "A bunch of girls huh?" The female grabbed Sokka's fur coat about his neck, and tugged him tightly against the pull of the rope. "The Unagi's going to eat well tonight."
I have to do something! Katara leaned out from her binding and looked the woman in her face firmly. "No, don't hurt him! He didn't mean it." She pleaded kindly, before offering a soft explanation. "My brother's just an idiot sometimes." This seemed to work. The woman leaned back and released Sokka, softening her stare and gazing into his eyes curiously.
"It's my fault." Aang singly stated. "I'm sorry we came here. I wanted to ride the elephant koi."
"How do we know you aren't Fire Nation spies?" The man addressed firmly. "Kyoshi stayed out of the war so far. And we intend to keep it that way!"
"This island is named for Kyoshi?" Aang stated inquisitively, before growing excited. "I know Kyoshi!"
"Pah!" The man waved his hand before his face. "How could you possibly know her? Avatar Kyoshi was born here four hundred years ago. She's been dead for centuries!" Katara glanced up as the man pointed above them. An immense, weathered carving of Kyoshi stood overhead atop the column they were tied to. It looked just like the statue back at the air temple!
Aang quietly contemplated his answer a moment, before grinning confidently. "I know her because I'm the Avatar."
"That's impossible!" The same woman raised an accusing fist to the liar. "The last Avatar was an airbender who disappeared a hundred years ago."
"That's me!" Aang foolishly said with happiness.
"Throw the imposter to the Unagi!" The man called out as he turned away and began to leave. Following his last order, the women present slapped their fans back to their hands, and with a quick spin thrust each open. They didn't look like much, but the sharp ring of steel that echoed horrified Katara.
"Aang, do some airbending..." She whispered convincingly.
At her request, he drew his legs back, and thrust up into the air, snapping the ropes that bound his hands to the pole. Several feet high, he performed a full flip, before he began a slow steady descent as his yellow outfit expanded to the air currents that guided him to the snow.
All the women snapped their fans shut and stepped back, eyeing him in sudden shock and stepping back. "It's true!" The man called out in realization. "You are the Avatar..."
"Now, check this out!" He whipped out his marbles into his hand, and began manipulating them into a tight spin in his hand.
"Ugh." Katara rolled her eyes and dropped her head forward, as a gathered crowd began to literally freak out at seeing the Avatar in their town. Great. Just great. Fans. He's never going to leave, is he?
Having been properly untied, and escorted back to a nearby hut, the man that had previously ordered their life's end apologetically addressed the three. "I am terribly sorry for the mishap earlier. You must understand; we've been trying our hardest to avoid any unnecessary attention!"
"Did three children really look that threatening to you?" Katara asked point-blank, with an accusing stare.
"Considering the three children were playing with our Unagi; yes." He openly replied.
"Good point." She found herself admitting, turning away from him.
"I'm starving!" Sokka whined aloud. "Where can a guy find some meat around here?"
"I'm not, I just want to sleep. We haven't slept since before we were at the air temple." Aang followed.
"Excellent! How would you three like to be our esteemed guests? We would be most honored to have the Avatar and his friends linger with us awhile longer." He offered. "You can stay here as long as you like, and we'll see to it you have your meat before you sleep tonight young man." He answered much to Sokka's joy, as he appeared to begin watering at the mouth.
Katara sighed as Aang more than graciously accepted the offer. Yep, we're not going to be leaving here anytime soon.
"Katara, you have to see this!" Aang shouted up a set of wooden steps that ascended to her loft.
Her blue eyes slipped open, taking in the sight of the wooden rafters and the scent of ... what was that scent? She couldn't make sense of it, but it smelled sweet and warm. "Katara! Wake up!" He cried out again. This had BETTER not be marbles again...
She continued to lie still for a moment, frowning at her surroundings. She didn't want to get up, she wanted to leave. But there was little chance of that happening today, or the next day, or the day after that, if Aang had his way. Finally, she sighed as she sat up, rising off of the soft pillow and pushing back the warm blankets they had been so graciously provided. "Give me a minute." She stated as she decided to face the day.
She stood from her bed, which was really more of a mat, clothed in only white cloth wraps that tightly clung to her most important areas as if they were clothing, as a plus they made a great bathing suit. She pulled on her dark blue cloth pants and a light blue shirt. Then she wrapped sides of a large dark blue gown around her body as she tightly secured it in place. A white band wrapped about her waist, holding the diagonal seams of her gown together firmly. The lower half of her gown was slitted at either side of her legs, reaching up to her hips to allow for maximum leg movement, while it resembled a normal dress as it flowed from the front and back freely. After this, she donned two dark blue armguards, typically intended to aid against the harsh cold weather. She didn't bother with her usual full length fur coat; it was almost too warm for it. But she'd put it on later when leaving the building anyway, she decided.
She loved this outfit the best, it felt so stylish. She took a moment to survey herself, and smiled in acceptance. Turning to a nearby desk, her smile softened as she laid her eyes upon her necklace. Approaching it slowly, she delicately picked it up. It was a dark blue choker; with a light blue hand-carved circular stone bound to its' front bearing the water insignia on it. It was beautiful, to her at least; three rippling lines symbolizing the ocean, and just above were three spiraling waves. "Mom." She spoke softly as she put it on.
"Are you even awake?" Aang called up after her.
"Leave me alone! I'm almost finished." She snapped back to the stairs descending the loft. Ugh!
"Aang, leave the girl alone." She heard Sokka. Just perfect. Another girl speech. "You have to give girls their time to primp."
She clenched her fists and began to convulse. The nerve. Intending to prove him wrong, she quickly began to fix her long dark brown hair. It'd been some days since she had properly arranged it, and it was beginning to show, or at least, she didn't like it. She tied her hair up into a bun behind her head, carefully leaving some to hang down her back which she braided tightly, taking out a soft blue clip to bind her hair near the tip of her braid. Then she bound two long strands of hair together by her forehead in two colored beads, before pinning their ends to her hair bun behind. She liked her style, even if Sokka made fun of her hair loopies continuously.
In the next moment, she descended the wooden built-in steps to the living area. "See? Now does she look any different than she did yesterday? Always worried of their appearance." Sokka jeered to Aang as she came into view.
"Well, you don't look any different..." Aang commented. Sokka frowned, skulking in his corner of the room.
Katara smiled at Aang's defense in her stead, but then stared in confusion at the table he was kneeling at. "What is all that?" She asked, pointing to a large series of mostly bread products, some having what looked like ... snow?
"They're awesome is what they are!" Aang replied. Katara made her way beside Aang, just in front of an open window, and knelt to a colorful rug the table rested on.
Just as she did so, a man walked into the room holding another tray of rolls. He bent forward and set the last tray down on the table, before silently turning to walk away. "Alright! Dessert for breakfast! These people sure know how to treat an Avatar." Aang proclaimed as he stuffed an iced roll into his mouth. Katara frowned as she picked up and curiously examined a sweet roll. She'd never seen any of this before in the South Pole. "Mm! Katara, you've got to try these!" He held one of what he had out for her.She smiled as she set down the sweet roll she had been holding. "Well, maybe just a bite." As she reached for the iced bun he was offering, Momo swiped the one he had bitten into out of his other hand. She took the red-pink iced roll from his hand and tested; it was amazing! It was sweeter than anything she'd tried before, and so warm, and ... gooey? That's the word, yes.
Aang grabbed a yellow iced bun, and took a quick bite before noticing Sokka's skulking. "Sokka, what's your problem?" Katara saw what Aang just grabbed; it looked just as tasty as what she was now eating. So many! I'll just have to try some of each. She leaned forward and grabbed a yellow iced bun as well, as Aang exclaimed behind her towards Sokka. "Eat!"
"Not hungry." He coldly replied, continuing his skulk.
"But you're always hungry." He stated in mild surprise, leaning back to stare past Katara's hair bun at Sokka in his corner.
"He's just upset because a bunch of girls kicked his butt yesterday." She grinned mightily. His just dessert.
Sokka leapt forward and explained readily. "They snuck up on me!"
"Right, and then they kicked your butt." She leaned towards him and gave him a satisfied smile. Revenge was sweet.
"Sneak attacks don't count!" He argued as he rose to his feet, before skulking off muttering. "Tie me up with ropes, I'll show them a thing or two." He turned and made his way to the table, pointing at Katara before snatching up a handful of the goodies. He couldn't resist good food. "I'm not scared of any girls; who do they think they are anyway. Mm, this is tasty." He commented as he left the room.
"What's he so angry about?" Aang asked Katara. "It's great here! They're giving us the royal treatment."
"Hey, don't get too comfortable." Katara commented with a slow, gentle wave of her hand. Remembering the trouble they encountered at the South Pole, she warned him of the thought. "It's risky for us to stay in one place for very long."
"I'm sure we'll be fine." Aang interjected with his usual optimism. "Besides, did you see how happy I'm making up this town?" He turned and gazed out the open window to the Kyoshi carved statue outside. "They're even cleaning up that statue in my honor!"
"Well, it's nice to see you excited about being the Avatar." She paused, thinking silently to herself. You just don't take it seriously. She turned away from him as she dryly stated her other fears. "I just hope it doesn't all go to your head."
"Come on, you know me better than that. I'm just a simple monk!" He assured her as he leaned out the open window. A crowd of little girls below began screaming at the sight of the Avatar leaning from the hut's window.
Katara's eyelids fell. She rose to her feet and turned to face Aang. Really? He remained leaning on the windowsill enjoying the attention. With a sharp roll of her eyes, she blew a firm raspberry at him in reply.
"Well, gotta go! Places to go, things to see, people to meet. You know; Avatar stuff." He reassured Katara as he turned to her and leaned against the wall beside the window.
Avatar stuff. Her stare fell cold and still. "Fine. Do whatever you think is best." She turned back to the table and knelt down.
"See ya later!" He bolted off out the door, leaving her there.
After time had passed, she snapped to reality, realizing she had simply been sitting poking a sweet roll with her finger for what felt like an hour. She frowned and pushed the tray away, straightening herself as she sighed. "Avatar stuff." She restated the most foolish excuse she'd heard from him yet.
That was it, she wasn't going to sit by and let the group fall apart here. They were not going to stay in Kyoshi, not if she had her way. She balled her fists up and rose to her feet. Dumping out a basket of rolls, she headed down to the village to see what for real food she could find to fill the basket with.
Minutes later, she passed by Aang in the streets. A fan club of little girls surrounded him as he used just airbending from his breath to perform pushups, hands behind his back. She rolled her eyes again as she passed, paying him no mind. He was letting this go to his head.
At a nearby outdoor market, she found wholesome produce; vegetables mainly. It was better than simply iced goodies. She used Water Tribe money that her Gran Gran had given them to purchase this. I swear, if I didn't see to it we ate well, we'd not eat at all.
She began placing eggplant, nuts, potatoes, leeks, long slender pieces of bread, and other products into the basket before she felt a gentle poke at her back. Glancing to her side to see who it was, she spotted Aang and smiled. "Oh good! Can you help me carry this back to the room? It's a little heavy."
"Actually, I can't right now." Aang replied softly, holding his hands up in apology.
"What do you mean you can't?" Katara protested as her happiness faded.
"I promised the girls I'd give 'em a ride on Appa. Why don't you come with us? It'll be fun!"
She withstood giving him sarcasm, turning back to the food. "Watching you show off for a bunch of girls does not sound like fun." Still, she wasn't able to mask the sarcasm at the end of her statement.
"Well, neither does carrying your basket." Aang pointed out.
What?! "It's not my basket." She turned, exclaiming directly to Aang. "These supplies are for our trip. I told you we have to leave Kyoshi soon." She raised her hand in explanation.
"I don't want to leave Kyoshi yet. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something I really like about this place." At this, he scratched his chin as the little girls behind him broke into laughter.
Katara raised an eyebrow. Seriously? "What's taking you so long, Aangy?" A little girl shouted out in demanding protest.
"Aangy?" Katara jeered in disgust to Aang.
"Just a second Koko!" He shouted back to her with a wave.
She settled into a hard stare. "Simple monk, huh?" She waved her hand before dropping it to her side. "I thought you promised me this Avatar stuff wouldn't go to your head."
"It didn't! You know what I think? You just don't want to come because you're jealous."
"Jealous? Of what?!" Katara leaned forward as she raised her voice, bending her elbows out as she placed her hands on her hips, keeping a firm glare on the exuberantly happy face in front of her. What, does he think I'm his girlfriend or something? She began to fume. Avatar!
"Jealous that we're having so much fun without you." He merrily jested.
She turned her back to him, and began mindlessly tossing vegetables into the basket unaware of which she was placing in. "That's ridiculous." She complained.
"It is a little ridiculous; but I understand." Aang playfully taunted back at her.
"Urgh!" Katara grabbed the basket in both hands and hefted its weight, turning and leaving him to his girls. Walking back to the hut, she grew madder with every step. How could he be so idiotic! Of all the nerve, leaving me to do all the work while he plays around with a bunch of girls! And where's that idiot brother of mine? Why am I the only one trying to keep us moving?
Making her way into the room, she slammed the basket down on the nearest table, spilling a few of the vegetables onto its surface. He'd better be glad he didn't pretend I was his girlfriend! She crossed her arms and stared out the window; stewing long and hard over their last discussion.
Nearly an hour later, Katara was in the center of the hut, knelt on the wooden floor with her soft leather shoes pressed into the floor just behind her, resting on her legs. A fair-sized bowl sat just in front of her lap, filled with water. This was the one thing that she could divert her attention to, to pass time and attempt to calm herself from all the frustration inside her. The water stretched up towards her hand as she bent it up and down, slowly moving it, as well as her emotions.
"Katara, remember how the Unagi almost got me yesterday?" Aang selfishly addressed her as he entered the room.Great, here we go. What are you gonna do, ride it? She mocked silently. "Yeah." She was careful to keep all her feelings bent into the water, keeping her voice as still and emotionless as she could muster.
"Well, I'm gonna go ride it now. It's gonna be real dangerous."
You couldn't make it any easier to guess. "Good for you."
"You're not gonna stop me?" Aang questioned, marginally concerned.
"Nope. Have fun."
"Great." Her emotions began to take over, as the water dipped lower. She scowled down to the bowl.
"I know it's great."
"Well I'm glad you know."
"I'm glad you're glad."
"Good!" She shouted in finality, growing angry as ever at him.
"Fine!" Aang absolutely shouted back at her from the doorway. This completely broke her concentration. She balled her fists and shut her eyes as the water collapsed into the bowl. Aang turned to the doorway and made his way out, as Katara loosened her anger and gripped her elbows, turning to stare after him. Jerk. She turned her head away and gazed out the corner of her eye to the window at the other side of the room in depression.
Kyoshi. She frowned and dipped her head, breaking her eyes from the statue just outside that caused her to remember their time at the air temple. Aang was so different then, if not for just that one time. He seemed real, like her. She could relate to him, his hurt. But now, what was this? He couldn't simply not feel anything! Or did he really not? She still couldn't comprehend how he could be so carefree.
She sighed, dropping her eyes back to the bowl of water below. Her heart broke, staring into its placid surface. What did she want? She pondered; why was she angry? Was she angry that he was happy? She stuck her finger into the water and began to stir it, using her bending to wrap it up her finger gently as she did so. The feeling was so calming.
"I want to go to the North Pole." She admitted to herself and frowned. She was being selfish; her reasons weren't just to help Aang. She wanted to help herself. "Oh, I'm sorry Aang..." She began to cry lightly, but forced herself to stop, rubbing away the tears on her sleeve. She was angry at herself now, though she still was upset with Aang for letting this town get to his head. The fan girls did not help that fact any for her.
What was it he had said? She tried to recall their argument. It had occurred so fast, and she had so distanced herself, what was he trying to tell her? "The Unagi!" She shouted as she leapt up and kicked the bowl of water over by accident. "Stay calm, stay calm. Aang knows what he's doing, even if he is a jerk." She steadied herself and walked out of the room to find Aang.
"Where are you going? Don't leave!" She heard Aang cry out in the distance. No, wait, do leave. She rolled her eyes, staying out of sight for a moment.
"Sorry Aang, maybe next time!" She heard Koko reply. Katara smiled and stepped out to approach the water as the mob of little girls left. Aang sulked; bobbing his head down into the waters as he nearly disappeared from sight.
But as he spotted Katara, he positively beamed with joy and jerked his head up from the cold water. "Katara! You showed up!" He shouted loudly.
"I wanted to make sure you were safe. You really had me worried." She sheepishly answered, holding her hands together in front of her fur coat.
"But back there you acted like you didn't care."
"I'm sorry." Katara lightly apologized, dropping her head a little.
"Me too. I did let all that attention go to my head. I was being a jerk."
Oh, Aang! Her heart spilled over, she suddenly felt closer to him than she had before. "Well get out of the water, before you catch a cold, you big jerk!" She raised her hands by her mouth and jokingly called out to him with a large smile, which he returned.
"On my way!" He shouted as he came closer. But then, he got his first wish. The Unagi scooped him onto its serpentine back, as Katara gaped in awe and gasped in horror as it blasted a powerful jet of water at him. He held on just barely, gripping at a fin on its back as the water held him back. Katara could only watch from the shore as it thrust forward and snapped its jaws for Aang. It was huge! Taller than even the nearby mountains!
"Hang on Aang!" She shouted as he grabbed one of its serpentine whiskers and held on for dear life. It flailed him just in front of its' sharp fangs, snapping and biting every time he soared close enough to them. Aang could not stop screaming, and Katara could not stop a horrified fear he'd never make it back to shore.
In a final overhead swing, Aang's grip slipped and he soared into the air, higher than any tree. Falling a long distance, he slammed into the water and fell unconscious floating atop its surface. No! "Aang!" If I don't help him, no one will! She leapt into the water, coat and all, gasping in terror as she fought her way against her icy water-soaked clothing for Aang. The race was on, she saw the serpent plunge into the waters, sending up a mighty splash as it began its trek to devour its prey.
She reached Aang first, grabbing his limp body and holding him back against her. But just as she reached him, so did the Unagi. It leapt from the water, towering more than twenty feet above her head. Without hesitation, it thrust down to clamp its jaw around its victims.
Rather than succumb to fear, she clung to a single emotion, hope. She had to get out of this with Aang. Waterbending! She ground her teeth together in determination, as she bent her left arm back and clutched Aang tight in her other, then slammed her arm forward against the surface of the ocean with a loud cry. A blast of water flung into the air, as a strong current propelled her a short distance straight back from the ... Aah! She couldn't even shout it, but thought it, as she saw fangs larger than herself bearing down upon her.
As the Unagi struck, a torrential spray of water launched her into the air. She was careful to keep her grip on Aang solid, but it was difficult as she completely lost her balance, spinning into the water and slamming against something hard on her side. She had no idea where she was, and couldn't breathe. She was underwater! But then the water retreated back to the ocean, leaving her on her side with Aang on a rocky outcrop just beside the water.
Aang was still unconscious. She crept to the rocks by the water, and glanced over the top to see the Unagi blasting huge jets of water into various cracks and crags to try and flush them out. She quickly retreated back to Aang's side, hoping to not attract its' attention. But as she turned, something caught her eye. She lingered to the other side, placed her slender fingers on the rocks' cold surface and peered over to spot an incoming fire navy ship. "Zuko!" She exclaimed, risking a second glance as she saw firebenders leave their ship on the backs of rhinos. She dropped back out of view to hold onto Aang.
After the rhinos the firebenders were riding passed, she rolled Aang onto his back. "Wake up Aang!" He only had his brown briefs on again; and he still wasn't moving. ...or breathing! She panicked for just a moment, wondering if she should attempt to give him mouth to mouth, which she didn't know how to do. Wait, I know something better! ...If it works.
She held the back of his bald head gently, as she poised her other hands' fingers towards his chest, and pulled her free hand up. It worked! A small stream of water fled from his mouth and into the air, and Aang began to cough. She smiled warmly as she thrust the water away.
"Katara..." Aang spoke in warning as he finished coughing, and saw her smiling face. "Don't ride the Unagi. Not fun..." He murmured.
She laughed softly as she began to cry, and pulled him into her arms. "Don't you ever do something so stupid and dangerous again! You had me so worried." She cupped her hand around the back of his bald head again and rocked him into her arms, before sighing and letting him go.
"I'm sorry Katara, I–"
Katara cut him off quickly. "We have to do something, while we were here I saw Zuko and his firebenders pass. They're heading for Kyoshi!"
"What!" Aang airbended himself to his feet in a second. "I have to get my things! They're on the beach. You get back to the hut and gather our things. I'll hold him off."
"Aang, are you so sure you can–"
"Go, Katara! I'll be fine." He leapt feet into the air and bounded across the tops of rocks, making his way speedily for the beach for his staff and clothing. She held her hand out for a moment as he passed her by, before withdrawing it. She nodded in understanding and bolted onto the path, running for the village.
There was fire everywhere. The hot smell of embers singed her nostrils with each breath. Smoke rose high in the sky, darkening the evening sun. With worried eyes, Katara spotted children lingering in the streets in apparent shock. She ran closer to them. "What are you doing? You have to get out of here, don't be seen!" She pushed some along as they screamed, reminding her greatly of her life at the South Pole.
"It's okay; it's going to be okay! Get inside!" She pushed the final two children indoors, as Aang soared in from overhead and dropped to the ground, closing his kite staff.
"Look what I brought to this place..." he said with sorrow as he approached her.
"It's not your fault." Katara said once again, never feeling he purposefully destroyed anything. It was the ruthless Fire Nation! It always was.
"Yes it is! These people got their town destroyed trying to protect me."
"Then let's get out of here! Zuko will leave Kyoshi to follow us. I know it feels wrong to run, but it's the only way!"
Aang hung his head. "I'll call Appa." He spoke quietly in defeat, turning to walk away slowly.
"Aang..." She followed after him, placing her hand on his shoulder.
"Please get Momo for me."
"Okay." She turned and ran back to the hut.
Momo scurried out of a tight grip of one of the children, before leaping out and wrapping around Katara's neck, turning to give a single screech in protest to the child for its prior hold. "Relax, he's just frightened." She patted Momo, excusing the boy for his handling of the lemur.
Looking into the children's eyes, her forehead knotted with concern. Many sets of eyes were on her, wavering in fear at what was in their streets. None of them cried; they were all too scared to. She knew the feeling, firsthand, as a child. She wanted to do so much more for them, but all she did now, was turn and run. Run as fast as she could to find Aang. She fought off the urge to cry, feeling nothing but guilt over that weighted memory.
Having found Aang, she quickly scrambled into the saddle. Leaning over the front, she found him sitting silently on Appa's head. Then she heard Sokka, turning around she spotted him with a Kyoshi Warrior, kneeling by the edge of a building. Is he wearing a dress? Did she just...kiss him? "Appa, Yip-yip!" He shouted as Sokka leapt into the saddle.
They rose into the air, sailing away from the smoldering town behind. Flames licked high into the skies, as their wooden homes continued to burn to the ground.
"I know it's hard, but you did the right thing. Zuko would have destroyed the whole place if we stayed. They're gonna be okay, Aang." During her whole speech, Aang wouldn't face her. Instead, he once glanced back just enough to stare to the black smoke rising behind him that he was now running from.
Before Katara could say anything; Aang rose to his feet and kicked forward, leaping headlong into the air, falling headfirst over Appa's side intentionally. "What are you doing!?" She shouted in surprise as he plunged beneath the water below.
Once again the Unagi rose from the water's surface, with Aang gripping both its' tendril-whiskers behind it. He slammed his feet down upon the back of its' head, steadying himself. The serpent parted its' mouth and emitted an intense blast of water into the air, dousing the entire town with its' waterbending.
He kicked off with the aid of airbending of his own, soaring into the air as Appa flew by. Appa seized Aang in one of his six legs, providing him the ability to climb up his side and into the saddle to his two waiting companions.
"I know; I know...that was stupid, and dangerous." Aang admitted as he scaled into the saddle, remembering her last request.
"Yes, it was." She stated kindly as she smiled warmly. And brave, and kind. She bolted forward, throwing her arms around Aang in a friendly hug around his neck, proud of him. She felt him gasp, then sigh happily as he leaned into her arms.
Sokka eyed the two embracing in mild surprise. "Are you two done?" He questioned with a wave of his wrist after a moment had passed.
"Oh, back off, warrior boy." She released Aang and leaned back, eyeing her brother, before finally addressing what shocked her. "Sokka, why are you wearing a dress?"
"It's a warrior's gown. It symbolizes bravery and honor!" Sokka sat forward and defended the outfit.
"Oh, I get it." Katara crossed her arms and smiled wryly as she eyed him. "If you can't beat them, join them?"
Aang burst into laughter as Sokka downheartedly sighed, sinking into the back of the saddle in defeat.
Props to Ianbernard for helping make this wonderful chapter template with images! (he created the images)
The Boy in the Iceberg
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