|More from AvatarBeau96||Tragic-Drama||PG-13||Positive (FanFiction.net)||No update page|
|A Separated Family|
A Separated Family is the fifth chapter of. In this chapter, Aang is forced by Sokka to attend Kya's birthday, where he starts developing the fatherly attraction towards her that she's been missing all her life.
This chapter was difficult to write when it went into production before being uploaded to FanFiction.net. This chapter really shows how emotions can affect one's actions, and how they impact those around them. It is in this chapter that Aang deals with all sorts of emotions, ranging from depression, annoyance, love, and even complete and utter hatred.
Almost three weeks had passed since I was put under house arrest. I might as well have been behind bars. Metalbending police officers guarded the island, and the chefs made some type of strange tea with a special herb in it that weakened my ability the bend. The most I could do was create a soft breeze... There was no way I would be able to swim off the island because patrol boats surrounded it non-stop. I was confined to only go as far as the courtyard. It irritated me... I was going insane without any alcohol, and I could almost swear that I had started to hear voices.
At first, they were like whispers, but gradually became screams. I could make out that they belonged to a female, and it seemed like she was screaming my name. It only made it all even worse. The dreams had become more frequent. I had started having at least two a night, sometimes three. It was becoming worse and worse with each passing night, and I was on the brink of insanity... literally.
On top of that, I could have sworn I had started hearing things. Every night, usually around the time I went to bed, I could hear someone's voice—a woman's—screaming my name. When it first began, it was only quiet whispers, but as the days passed, it grew louder and louder until it had become screams. I could hardly make any of them out. I knew that whatever they were screaming contained only one syllable, and I knew I had heard the voice somewhere before. But it was distorted, sometimes garbled. I wanted it to stop, but no matter what I did, the only thing that stopped them was sleep. But I couldn't sleep all day... From the time I woke up until I went back to sleep the voice would shout. No one else could hear it, and certainly Sokka was noticing that I was going insane. I'm pretty sure I heard him talking about putting me in a mental institute if this continued any longer, and in a way, I wasn't against it. Maybe I was going insane. Maybe all the alcohol had done in the past is keep me mentally stable. However, that only made my desire for alcohol rise.
Sokka forced me to shave my head back to its bald nature, and since the first hours of my home captivity, was forced to wear Air Nomad attire. I was expected to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Dining Hall with the other Acolytes, to meditate at least an hour a day (surprisingly that was Sokka's demand, even though he had once said that he never understood the whole purpose of it). It was all meant to reinforce my old Air Nomadic beliefs and virtues, and I have to admit, the meditation did help to keep the voices away.
I exited the washroom, my head shining its baldness.
"Ready to go?" asked Sokka, waiting for me just outside the door.
"Not really..." I answered flatly.
Sokka frowned, "Tough luck then. Let's go," he started for the courtyard. "I told Suki we'd be there by five."
Today was Kya's fifth birthday, and I'd been in a rather sulky mood today. This wasn't a day that I felt like leaving my room, or bed for that matter—much less the comfort of my own home. In the past, when this day came around, my spirit practically left my body. I did nothing, I said nothing, and I didn't even acknowledge that I was still breathing. Some days I'd just lie in bed, staring at the wall for hours and hours with no sense of time. Some days I'd stock up on alcohol the night before and drink myself into a mini-coma that I wished would just last forever. Maybe then I wouldn't have to feel all this pain. Maybe then I could enter one of my dreams, and unknowingly live it until my body finally shut down for good. Unfortunately I was never given that opportunity...
We started for the docks where a ferry was waiting for us. Hundreds of thousands of snowflakes fell down onto the city. The water was as cold as ice. The roads were covered by a white substance, and piles of snow rested on top of almost every surface.
Sokka tried to convince me to fly Appa to his home, but I didn't give in, because something told me that Appa wouldn't have been happy about that decision either. I could tell by the look he had had in his eyes a few weeks before. We boarded the ferry and proceeded towards the mainland. Sokka had a carriage waiting for us just across the street. We got inside and headed downtown. Sokka owned the penthouse floor of a hotel. Somewhere deep inside me, I didn't agree with the idea of having a five-year-old living at the top of an eleven-story building. I tried to ignore it, though. She wasn't my problem—but theirs. Still... I couldn't help but feel worried that Kya could climb her way onto the balcony edge and slip in an instant. It could happen in just a few short moments. Suki or Sokka could turn away from her for a moment to answer the door and she could already be descending to an instant death.
Why was I thinking of this?! It was just making things worse! It was a worry that was causing me to sweat, and Sokka noticed this.
"You nervous?" he asked me.
"Nervous about the idea of having a five-year-old in a penthouse eleven stories up..." I muttered under my breath.
He hadn't heard me.
I turned to him, "Nothing... I'm fine."
Sokka rolled his eyes, "If you say so."
The carriage came to a stop in front of the hotel and two bellhops proceeded to open our doors for us. Sokka slipped them both a couple yuans and we proceeded inside. The hotel was certainly classy. Nothing too extravagant, but it was definitely not cheap. The walls were painted white, and in the center of the lobby there were three reddish-orange cushioned chairs surrounding a coffee table. A little away from that was an octagon of various colors painted onto the floor with a round table holding a vase with flowers in it. Beyond that was the front desk where the manager was reading a book. Sokka and I proceeded towards the elevators, where an earthbender awaited us. We walked inside a metal rectangular room, with a layer of stone surrounding it. Sokka informed the earthbender on the floor we were ascending to and closed the metal gates. The earthbender sent us up; throwing his fists up in the air that forced the elevator to ascend to the proper height.
We were met with a short narrow hallway that contained only one door. Next to it, attached to the wall, was a letter box, a small rectangular box with a narrow slot in the middle, with Sokka's name written on a card propped inside a frame. Sokka flipped open the flap and pulled out a number of envelopes. Some had the words "Happy Birthday" written on them, and Sokka made sure that I noticed that.
He slid open the door to the large apartment. "Suki, I'm back!" he called as we entered.
Suki came out of the kitchen wearing an apron over her dress. She immediately looked to me, "Glad you could make it, Aang!"
I shrugged, "Good to be here, I guess..."
As if I had any choice, I thought to myself.
She and Sokka exchanged a kiss, "Where's Kya at?" Sokka asked.
His wife broke eye contact to look down a short, narrow hallway, "She's been in her room ever since she got done eating breakfast," she informed him.
"Why is that?" asked Sokka.
Suki leaned towards Sokka's ear. She tried to speak at a volume I wouldn't hear, but it wasn't low enough. "I told her that Aang was coming over. I thought she deserved to know ahead of time. After she ate breakfast she ran straight to her room. She's been in there since..."
Sokka sighed, "Okay, let me go talk to her."
Sokka started down the hall and Suki invited me further into their home. Their living room consisted of a glass coffee table surrounded by a loveseat and couch. A bookshelf was placed diagonally in the corner. I scanned the walls. There were portraits of Sokka and Suki lining the walls, ranging from when they were teenagers to the age they were now. There were also a couple of Katara and me, but I tried to avoid them. Thankfully the voice had stopped once I left the temple, and I didn't intend on allowing anything to trigger it again. My eyes continued across the walls until they intercepted a fireplace. I didn't think much of it at first, until I saw what was placed on the shelf propped above the fire pit. There were two small vases with a bundle of flowers placed in each them, and placed in between them was a picture of Katara smiling in her wedding dress. Placed in front of the picture were lit incense sticks.
It was there for a reason... This day wasn't just Kya's birthday. But that picture also meant something more. Kya must have known that her mother had passed away. Whether she knew when or how her mother died was a blank to me.
"Would you like some tea, Aang?" Suki suddenly asked, holding a pot.
I nodded, "Yes, please." My throat was dry from being so nervous...
She poured a cup and handed it to me. I sipped it gratefully.
"So how have you been?" she asked.
Sokka had already told me that his wife knew what I was going through. My guess was that she was at a loss for words.
"Fine, I guess..." I answered. I heard Sokka's voice down the hall, and even though I wanted to ignore it, I found myself listening intently.
There was a knock on Kya's bedroom door. "Kya...?" he called her name. "Come on, sweetie; come out now." He knocked on the door again, "Please, Kya? Don't you want to see your daddy?"
My eyes widened at the sound of those two syllables. Daddy, I thought to myself. It was clear to me now that she knew who I was. She hadn't ran to her room because she was shy and that a stranger was coming over, but that today would be the day that she finally saw her father—the man who gave her up to her uncle and aunt. Maybe she hates me, I thought. I certainly wouldn't blame her...
I heard the sound of the door sliding open, but only slightly. Kya hid behind the door, revealing only enough of herself so she could peek an eye out the door. She seemed sad, possibly even scared.
"What's wrong?" asked Sokka. "Come on, come out of there."
She shook her head in denial.
"Please, sweetie? Your daddy wants to see you. Don't you want to see him?"
She looked off to the side in consideration, and then threw the door open and lunged at her uncle's leg, hiding behind it as she gripped the cloth of his pants.
He smiled, "Alright, close enough..." he said and started down the hallway, his niece following close behind as she covered herself from view.
I saw Sokka come into view. I began sweating intensely. I received the temptation to run away, to jump off the balcony and attempt an escape. But I couldn't find the will to do so; it was like my butt was glued to the seat.
Kya still hid behind Sokka's legs, out of sight. He turned his head towards her, "You don't have to be shy."
His niece gripped the cloth tighter before sliding aside a bit, revealing only a portion of her arm. Sweat was dripping off my arrow now. I was only moments away from seeing my daughter after five whole years. I felt like shouting, or maybe even crying. I felt almost completely guilty for what I had done to her in the past. I thought that maybe I could change that, right here and now. Maybe...
Finally Kya revealed herself. Time froze all around me. I practically stopped breathing; the only indication of my still being alive was the pounding of my heart against my ribs. She... she was so beautiful! More beautiful than any child I had ever seen in my life. She inherited her mother's hair color, which was braided into a short ponytail, and my nose. Her ears were that of her father's. Her skin was tan, like her mother's, but her eyes were a light silver-gray. She wore a blue shirt and brown pants.
The five-year-old still hid shyly behind her uncle's leg, revealing only half of her whole self. I felt my heart thud against my chest and I realized that time was still in action. I glanced at the picture of Katara and compared it to Kya. They looked so much alike! I felt like crying, but I couldn't. Somehow I wondered how I could have done this to her—completely shut her out of my life. I was now tempted to swoop her up in my arms and run away with her, but something stopped me.
I remembered what had happened five years ago today. I remembered what caused it. My stomach twisted up in my gut. I felt a surge of sadness course through me, a surge of anger, as well. Once again I felt like running away. But I didn't... I stopped myself.
"Kya..." Suki began, crouching beside her niece and sending a glance my way. "...this is your daddy."
She poked her head farther out from behind Sokka's leg, "Daddy?" she called in a soft, shy and scared, gentle voice. I had heard many voices fill in as hers in my dreams, but hearing it now, in the real world... well, I felt like my heart was about to pop out of my chest and launch itself across the room!
I tried to say something—anything. But I was at a loss for words. All I could do was stutter incomprehensible words. I tried to find the skill necessary to speak fluently.
Finally I just blurted out the first thing that successfully came up my throat. "Hi..."
She smiled softly, and it caused pools of water to flood my eyes. I couldn't figure out why! A part of me was crying over the fact that I abandoned her, but another, more influential part of me was crying over the whole reason why I abandoned her. For the last couple years, I had told myself that I wasn't capable of raising her all on my own. But now I realized why I really gave her up. I was afraid—afraid of her. I was afraid that raising her would make my whole life become a personal Hell, that every day when I looked at her I'd be reminded that she had been granted life in sacrifice of her mother's. I had hated her for that... and a part of me still did.
Kya continued to slowly reveal herself and a soft smile grew on her face. Why is she smiling? I asked myself. Doesn't she understand what I've done?
All of a sudden, she began running back down the hallway where her room was apparently located. I frowned softly and looked away. I thought she was running away from me—that she believed a smile was all I deserved from her. I couldn't blame her for that, just like I wouldn't blame her for hating me.
But then I heard her frantic footsteps come speeding back into the room. She had an object in her hand—some type of rag doll. She kept the doll firm in her grasp, almost covering it completely as she was holding it against her chest as she ran towards me. She might as well have gone ahead and jumped right in my lap with how she stopped, practically running right into my legs. My arms threw themselves out of her reach, like she had a contagious disease that I wouldn't dare risk catching by touching her. She looked up to me with her sparkling silver eyes, smiling.
She held the doll out to me, "Is this you, Daddy?"
I lost it there. I couldn't restrain myself from crying any longer.
The doll—it was modeled after me, a toy you'd buy at any retail store. It was made from colored cloths and stuffed with fluffy white cotton. Many of its details were off, but the primary aspect of the design was spot on. It had on my old Air Nomad training attire that I had worn before they had become scraps. The head had an oval shape, and it had a childish smile—a couple threads of yarn stitched at an angle that might as well have been circle cut in half. The eyes were stone-gray buttons, clashing with the color of the cloth resembling my skin tone. The arrow was pretty well put together, though.
I brought me to tears seeing that she actually had a doll modeled after me. Not only was it an amazing relief that didn't appear to hate me, but it also showed me that by not taking responsibility in raising her, and missing out the majority of her life, she had resorted to a cheap rag doll to remind herself who her true father is. I could see it in my head. So many nights she'd lay in her crib or bed, holding that doll tightly with no intention of ever letting it go and smiling in her sleep, knowing that it would keep her safe, like a real father would.
As the tears streamed down my face, I managed to make a short, soft chuckle. "Yeah, that's me..."
Her smile widened to where it showed her perfectly white teeth. Kya linked her arms around my waist and I chuckled again as the tears dripped off my chin, placing my hands around her as well. Doing this... I felt like I was hugging her mother. In a way, I was. I was hugging a part of her—a part that she and I created. Suddenly, the voices stopped. The screaming, the yelling that had been trying to get into my thick skull just ceased, right then and there.
About two hours had passed and we were finishing up dinner. To my surprise, Sokka had discovered a couple years ago that Kya was a vegetarian. Her favorite dish was fried rice with a variety of herbs, spices and some pepper. As we prepared it, I realized that I hadn't said a kind word to my brother-in-law up until that point. My craving for alcohol continued to remain as strong as forever, but for Kya's sake, I resisted it. I had to. It wasn't easy, believe me. It was a complicated and difficult process, but luckily I had a considerable amount of control over it... when I wanted to. That's another thing I realized. I'd become so addicted to alcohol because I wanted to be. I wanted to believe that alcohol was the answer to end the majority of my pain. But all I really needed was something to remind me of all the good things in life.
That something had been Kya...
Kya took her final bites and slid her plate towards the center of the table, as we had all done. Suki began to rise up from her seat but I beat her to it.
"I got the dishes, Suki," I told her. "I can get them."
"But you are our guest, Aang," she argued. "You shouldn't have to clean up in our home."
I sent her a smile, "Believe me, after everything you've done for me, this is not even remotely close to being the least I could do for you two."
I collected the plates and continued into the kitchen. Sokka smiled at his wife and I knew what he was thinking. The plan of his that he had put together had turned out just as well as he had hoped. I hadn't wanted to believe it would, but look at me now—happier than I've been in a long time...
I set the dishes in the sink and pumped the lever that flowed water from the faucet and onto the pile of dishes. I was finishing up when Kya linked her arms around my leg.
"Daddy, are you going to stay here tonight?" she asked me, excited as if I had already said yes long before.
I shrugged with a smile, "I'm not the one you should be asking," I began, talking sweetly to her. "That's something you should be asking your aunt and uncle."
Sokka and Suki rose from the cotton-stuffed seats. Kya sped over to them, linking her fingers together in a plea, "Can Daddy stay over, Uncle Sokka?"
He looked up at me, smiled, then back down to Kya, "Sure, he can."
Kya hugged him and then her aunt, telling them both that she loved them before grabbing her rag doll from the arm of the couch. She ran into the living room and stopped at the fireplace. I stared at her and cocked a brow. What is she doing? I asked myself.
She tried reaching up to the shelf where her mother's memorial was set up, but her arms were too short and the shelf was too high. I came up behind her and lifted her up. She placed the rag doll on the shelf, directly against the picture frame of her mother. I nearly began to cry when she turned to me.
"Now you and Mommy are together again, Daddy!"
I made a soft chuckle as I tried not to cry. I stroked her cheek, "We sure are, Kya... But your mommy will always be with me—with us both. I bet she's looked down at us right now."
My daughter smiled and rested her head in the spot between my head and shoulder. I stared at the picture. This is what she would have wanted... This right here.
Suddenly a knock came to the door.
"Who could that be?" I asked curiously. I had thought I was the only one coming to this little party.
Sokka rushed to the door, swinging it open and smiling widely in surprise.
"Dad, you actually made it!"
My eyes shot open, my heart began racing as if it was getting ready to pop out my chest, my grip on Kya's shirt tightened like I was about to rip the fabric, my teeth gritted so hard it was like I was trying to bite down on metal.
What is he doing here?!
"I'm sorry I got here so late. The snow has really piled up out there. I practically had to dig through the snow to get here," Hakoda explained to his son.
Kya began to wiggle out of my grasp. I set her down and she rushed to her grandfather while I stood there with fire in my eyes. He shouldn't be here—he had no right!
"Gramp-Gramp!" she cried as he scooped her up in his arms.
"How's my little sea prune?!" he asked as he picked her up.
As he stood up, I came into his view. His age was definitely showing. He was about sixty now, maybe a little older. His hair was a silver-gray with a couple strands of dark-brown hair still showing. He had wrinkles all over his face, some stretching longer than others. His eyes had surprise in them.
"Aang," he began, surprise in his voice, "you're back in town! I didn't even know you had returned."
"What are you doing here?" I demanded in a low, firm voice.
"Visiting my granddaughter for her fifth birthday, what else?"
My eyes narrowed at him, "You shouldn't be here. You shouldn't have come all this way."
"He always does, Aang," Suki pitched in, bringing in a fresh pot of tea from the kitchen. "Hakoda comes every year for her birthday. He hasn't missed one yet."
I looked away from her and back to Hakoda. He had Kya leaning against his shoulder. How dare him! Touching my daughter—the girl whose mother he practically killed! My hands balled up into fists, clenching as tight as possible.
"Yeah, well, he should start now."
Sokka sent me a disgusted look, "What are you saying, Aang? He just came for his granddaughter's birthday!"
"I don't care!" I snapped. "He doesn't deserve to be here! He killed Katara!" I shout angrily.
Kya had fear in her eyes after I said that. Not at Hakoda, though; at me. Tears swelled up in her eyes from it. She said only a single word, "Mommy...?"
"Aang, what's gotten into you?" Hakoda demanded, stepping into the room. He set Kya down and she grasped the pants of his leg. "I never did anything of the sorts, and you shouldn't be saying such things in front of Kya!"
"Maybe you didn't kill her physically, but you're the cause of her death!" I continued to shout, raising my voice higher.
Suki began to approach me, holding her hands up in a 'calm down' manner. "Aang, I think you're just confused—"
"—Confused?" I cut her off. "I know what happened that night!" I yelled, pointing an accusing finger at the chief, "He tricked us all—no, he betrayed us!"
"I honestly have no idea what you are talking about, Aang! Please, just calm down!" he insisted as Kya hid herself farther behind his legs. "Now, let's just talk about this for a minute. I think your emotions may just be judging your thinking a little,' he explained, glancing at the small memorial set behind me.
That only angered me more. "Nothing is judging my thinking, Hakoda. I know what you did and so do you; you just can't admit it!"
Kya poked her head out from her hiding place, "Daddy..."
I turned to Kya and saw tears flowing down her cheeks. I had never seen her crying before, not since the night she was born. For some strange, unjustifiable reason, I blamed Hakoda for her tears... even though, deep down, I knew they were caused by my anger and aggression. At the time I didn't accept that, though.
"Now look what you've done!" I shouted. "You've got her crying now!" I continued with scorn.
I felt a hand rest on my shoulder. I jerked my head to see Sokka, staring with disappointment and shame in his eyes. "I think you should leave, Aang..."
I glanced back at Hakoda with a dark sparkle glistening in my pupils. I glanced back at Sokka.
"Maybe you're right..." I began. I shook my head and proceeded for the door. "I knew it would be a mistake coming here," I finished as I slammed the door behind me.
I left them with a sinking feeling in their stomachs—that feeling you get when someone you love has become very angry and you can't help but feel it's your fault. It's a hard feeling to describe. All of a sudden you feel the need to hide, or do something that will help that person, without confronting them in any way. You can't help but stare at the floor or a wall, or anything that isn't alive. You're at a sudden loss for words, you become extremely quiet. And when you can talk, your voice is too soft for anyone to even understand you. That's how I left them feeling... That's what I felt leaving.
Hakoda was the first to regain his will to speak. He curved around the couch to where Kya was sitting curled up, holding her legs against her chest while her chin rested on her knees, streams of water coursing down her cheeks. "Kya, sweetie—"
She suddenly stood up and ran past them all and into her room, closing the door immediately behind her as hard as her small arms could. It was no doubt that she had gone to weep.
Sokka's eyes closed and he took a breath. "It was working— I mean, I thought that maybe he finally changed. I was sure that—" He sighed, "I don't know..." he tripped over his own words.
Suki laid a comforting hand on his shoulder, but it didn't help any. "I'm going to go talk to her."
"And say what?" asked her husband. "She knows what happened. Dad showed up and hers got angry. Neither of us understands it, so we shouldn't try and make her."
Her eyes drifted, "I suppose you are right."
"He is," Hakoda spoke up. "I can't understand it either. I can't even begin to fathom where these accusations may have come from."
"He said something about you betraying us..." Suki began. "Any idea what that might mean?"
Her father-in-law looked away, "I've barely spoken to Aang since the funeral; actually that's the last time we spoke, when I gave him her necklace." The chief glanced at the memorial made for his daughter, but only for a brief moment.
"Maybe it had more to do with something you said that night," she suggested.
"Yeah," Sokka added, "Didn't you pull Aang off to the side when she went into labor?"
He made a contemplative hum. "Maybe I should go talk to him..."
"You sure that's such a good idea?" asked Sokka.
Hakoda turned away from them and directed himself towards the door, "Only one way to find out..."
I sat on a windowsill near the top of the base of the temple, my back leaning against the frame with my legs outstretched as far as the space would allow, with a bottle of tequila being chugged down my throat. The sun had been dominated by the full moon. The sky was pitch black, a thick layer of clouds stretching across the city. I could still, but only barely, see the moon's illuminating glow behind the layer of air and water. I was practically in a trance as I stared at the orb of light. I needed something to distract me.
The voice... It had returned only moments after I stormed out of Sokka's home. But it was much stronger this time, much louder. It wasn't as distorted as before, but I still couldn't make it out. I didn't want to anyway. I needed something to block it out again. That's what the tequila was for. So far it was working...
I saw the ferry arrive at the docks, returning from the city. My eyes narrowed. I had had enough of Sokka for a while. I had had enough of it all. I remembered that, long ago, when some of the monks achieved spiritual enlightenment, they would leave their respective temples and go someplace far away and live in solitude until the day they died. I had always thought that they were going a little too far. But now, it didn't seem like a bad idea. I could go someplace, without anyone knowing where, and live the rest of my days alone, with no one to tell me how to run my life. Yeah. I might just do that, I once said to myself.
Eventually, the visitor revealed himself not as Sokka, but as his father.
I titled my head back and chugged more of the alcohol. What's he want? I asked myself as the liquid slid down my throat.
The chief made his way up the stairs and to the courtyard. His eyes roamed the area. I could tell that a nostalgic feeling had struck him, especially when he looked toward the path that led to mine and Katara's former dormitory.
A part of me was hoping he'd turn back around and head back, finding this visit completely pointless.
Unfortunately, I wasn't granted that satisfaction.
An Acolyte approached him and they engaged in a short conversation that led to my location being revealed to the chief. He looked up and saw me seated on the windowsill with a bottle of tequila. He bowed respectively to the Acolyte and proceeded to enter the temple. Minutes later I heard his footsteps approaching. I didn't bother removing my eyes from the sky. As far as I was concerned, the moon was more important than his presence.
"That's not a healthy habit, you know."
"I don't remember asking for your opinion."
"I suppose not..."
I chugged more of the alcohol. "You come just to inform me of my health risks or do you actually have something to say?"
He took a deep breath and starting pacing a bit. I presumed he was trying to put his thoughts into words.
"You're going to have to be a little more specific," I said.
"Why are you doing this to yourself?"
"I thought the answer was obvious?"
"That stuff's going to kill you; you know that, right?"
"Let it. Not like I haven't tried to do so myself..."
"Is that what you really want from life, though?" he asked in concern.
I tilted the bottle as I thought out my answer, still looking out at the sky. "You know something? I don't know what I want anymore. Right now all I want is for you to leave."
Hakoda took in a breath, "I've thought about it over and over again on my way over here, but I still can't figure it out... Why do you have this sudden hatred of me?"
For the first time, I looked to him, "Think back, five years ago today, at just about this time of night, Katara went into labor, but before you even let me stand by her side during all that pain, you said something to me. Don't you remember what you said?"
The chief broke eye contact as he thought back. I was surprised it took some actual thought. I remembered his words clearly, word for word even.
"You told me about what happened to Kya when she gave birth to Sokka. You told me that she opened her eyes again, and that Katara—my wife!—would do the same," I eventually answered for him. "You told me to hold on to the hope that she would! And look what happened!" I raised my voice, smashing the bottle against the wall as I got up. He flinched a bit as the shattered glass spread with the alcohol across the floor.
My eyes, narrowed, were darting at him with hatred.
"Aang, you can't logically blame me for that! I had no way of knowing—"
"She told me, before she died! She already knew happened with her mother! She said you told her before! She knew that she was going to be weak, that she'd lose consciousness! That's why she didn't fight it! She knew she was going to die, all because of what you said!"
As I shouted these words of hate and anger, I remembered when she spoke those words...
Thankfully, Katara's eyes opened once again and she stared into mine. "I...love you, Aang. Please...take care of Kya." Her eyes then drifted closed once again.
That hope that I had gripped firmly then began to slip away as her words struck my heart. "Katara...no, don't say that. You're gonna be fine. We'll raise her together, as a family, just like we wanted! She'll have parents who will love and support her forever, right, Katara?" I managed to say, the words clawing my throat as they exited the mouth. I brought Katara's hand that I had been holding and brought it to Kya's cheek. "Do you feel that, Katara?" I asked her. "It's Kya's cheek! Come on! Don't you feel it?"
"Please..." she managed to say, her voice too soft to be heard by anyone else. Her eyes were still closed, but... she was alive! Thank God, she was alive! "...come closer."
I didn't argue with her request. I leaned in closer, "I'm here, Katara. Please, you have to stay with us! You have to see our baby!" I pleaded.
Her head shook ever so slightly, "This is how it's supposed to be. Dad told me...I'd be weak. He told me about my Mom," her voice was almost too soft for me to hear, her lips barely moving. But I didn't care. I could still hear her voice. That's all that mattered. "I can see her. I can see Mom again..." At tear dripped down her face as she managed to turn her head in my direction. She opened her eyes slightly and a soft smile rose from the surface. "This is how its supposed to be..." Her eyelids began to slide downward. She had to be blinking! She had to be! She couldn't leave like that! She shouldn't be convinced this is how it should be!
Finally... her eyelids closed, and her head fell with that smile still on her face.
Then, without any warning, her arm dropped to her side. At that very moment, the hope I tried so hard to hold onto, vanished forever.
"I thought she had the right to know!" Hakoda argued. "She deserved to know the risks she'd be taking—I told her all that not long after we found out she was pregnant."
"And you didn't tell me until that night?!" I shouted angrily. "What about my right to know, huh?! She was pregnant with my child!"
"Trust me, Aang, the way you've been acting these last few years, I don't think you even deserve to be Kya's biological father. You've abandoned her, left her to believe she doesn't have a mother or a father!"
"Because of you!"
"All that alcohol really is screwing with your brain cells, isn't it? What I said wasn't meant for her to accept death—"
"But it sure did convince her to do as such!"
Hakoda growled irritatedly, then took a breath. "Look, we both know we can't forget what happened in the past, but you have to move on! When I saw her in your arms, she'd never looked happier... But you've let your need to blame another and poison yourself overcome your true emotions."
"Get out..." I ordered as I turned away from him. "Get out of my house, get off my island, and get out of my city!"
Hakoda shook his head in disappointment, "You may have helped found this city, but you don't have the authority to exile me from it."
I spun around, my fist creating a trail of fire, "I SAID GET OUT! I don't ever want to see you again! I want you out of my life! I want you out of Kya's life! Hell, I wouldn't care if you dropped dead by tomorrow!"
He left with a look a shame on his face, but also great sadness. The last time I had seen him so sad was... you get the point. I sat back on the windowsill and waited for him to leave. Minutes later, I saw him walking through the courtyard. He made it halfway when he suddenly stopped in his tracks. He bent his back downwards, like he was in pain or something. He stood there, bent over, for a couple seconds before he collapsed into the snow, face down. My eyes widened and I suddenly found myself jumping from the window.
"Hakoda!" I yelled his name as I softened my fall with airbending. I sprinted towards him. Why had I suddenly cared for his well-being? Why was my heart about to leap out of my chest? I wanted him to leave. I didn't ever want to see him again. But now I was on my knees on the ground, yelling his name as I turned him over. His eyes were close, hand clutching his chest where his heart was buried. He wasn't breathing! He was having a heart attack!
"Someone! Someone get help!" I shouted desperately. "Hakoda, come on!" I shouted, but he was unresponsive. I had to take matters into my own hands. Using thin slice of air, I quickly ripped open his shirt and started CPR. I started pumping his chest. He still wouldn't respond. "Come on, Hakoda! Please, breathe, goddammit!" I demanded desperately. I pinched his nose and proceeded to do mouth-to-mouth, manually sending air into his body. I then continued pumping his chest. My attempts seemed futile, but I couldn't give up. No, I wouldn't give up! "I didn't mean what I said, Hakoda!" I told him as my eyes began to flood. "Katara already died on me, don't you do it too! You hear me?! DON'T YOU DIE ON ME!"
For the collective works of the author, go here.