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Burning beams of the sun slid over Republic City and sent a nice warmth on a clear day when a boy was walking in an empty street. No one would have had any suspicions just because of an innocent boy taking a walk, but only if something about him wouldn't have been a little bit off. His steps were long and slow. His head was straight. His body was tense. And his eyes were narrowed. The icy-blue eyes quickly moved to the left and to the right, giving the teenager a fierce look.
On days like these, everyone was forced to cover up under a hard shell if one didn't want to land in the hospital right away or end up as orphan on the streets. Of course, only when one didn't feel safe. Safety meant nothing in Republic City. Every day, criminals were bullying some innocent person and breaking out of jail. The police guaranteed to have everything under control, but who said they would have themselves under control? Right. No one. So it wouldn't make much sense to trust them on such days. Everyone was left to their own devices.
The teenager knew that as well, underlining the two swords that were put into two crossed sheaths which were hanging on his back. Granted, he didn't have to deal with a bunch of criminals every day, nor had business with them, but the reason why he, a 17-year-old boy, was there at all, wasn't something his mother would've been happy about either.
He came to a sudden halt when he reached a corner that led into an alley. His feet stopped just before the space between the line of houses. He briefly shut his eyes, before turning his head around - only to meet nothing. The alley, whose moldy gray walls had been sprayed, didn't present much but stinky trash cans and some mice that were on the lookout for some food in them.
Still unimpressed, he took a step back and went to the middle of the street to get a better overview. Relatively slowly, he walked further while observing the area attentively. Then he stopped and closed his eyes again in an attempt to get any hint of attackers by only using his ears.
It was unknown to him, however, that two persons were eyeing him. One of them was standing close to him on a roof and had his eyes solely on him while the other one was standing at a corner, already in a fighting stance. When he was sure the coast was clear, he quietly bended a boulder out of the floor and held it ready in the air. He quickly shared assuring eye contact with his colleague who gave him a nod.
Without hesitating, he sent the boulder towards the boy who, however, noticed the flying object in time and made a subtle spin while opening his eyes right before the boulder flew by and landed in a wall.
Again, the attacker threw another couple of boulders towards his target who, on the other hand, did a dive to the side and dove into a roll. But directly after, another dozen of boulders found their way to him. This time they consisted of lava to ensure a hot death for the victim. Though, the supposed victim didn't move and instead, a slight smirk crept over his face. It didn't need a lot but only to duck to escape the rocks of death his uncle used to call.
"Come on! Is that all you got?"
Right after, a fire stream appeared from the side which he evaded shortly with a jump. His gaze glided to the top to one of the roofs where he saw his second attacker.
Well, seems like he doesn't care about a good hideout.
A big fireball was flying towards him when suddenly two bigger lava boulders from the left side also made their way towards him. Without leaving his position, he froze and watched as the dangerous flying objects came closer.
Just a little bit closer ...
Meanwhile, the hot elements weren't even two meters apart from him until they threatened to destroy him when he suddenly jumped into the air and made a perfect 360° degree-spin during the collision of fire, earth and lava while the three elements formed yellowish dust behind him.
Easily, he landed on the bottom and pulled out his swords, spinning them coolly, until the attacker jumped off the roof and fired mid-air another fireballs which his target subject evaded through smooth, converging moves. While he had to prove himself again, the first attacker also stepped out of his hideout before stamping his foot forceful onto the floor and placing the palms on it whereupon massive warmth was created and the ground below seemed to melt. A big mass of lava was formed that was spreading into the direction of the boy in front of it. The latter's eyes widened in shock when watching the nearing mass.
He quickly regained his composure and was thinking intensely about a way out. A brief look told him that in the kitty-corner the firebender had taken position on his right side.
Okay, short sum-up:
Cornered by two men. Among them a firebender and an earthbender. Right now, a huge mass of hot lava is coming straight towards me and my current chances of survival are given low. Not to forget, the other guy's having sight of me. ... I guess the swords won't help much.
Following a brief thoughtful look onto the swords in his hands, he put them away.
Step one would be done. Now the thing with surviving ... Practically, I could run away into the other direction..
The closer the lava came, the more the area was becoming hot plus the surroundings began to seemingly become muggy, joined with other effects ...
Okay, the thing is coming closer. Everything around me has become damn hot and my eyes started to play tricks on me. Considering my current situation, it would be smart to sling my hook.
"Seems like you're pretty burnt out, Sunnyboy," he heard his opponent on the right saying.
Sunnyboy? Seriously? Unfortunately, he is right. Running away would be kind of stupid, given that I'd be in clear line of fire. But why not use my bending? Guess, it wouldn't hurt. At least not me.
Feverishly, he looked for source of water when suddenly an idea stroke him.
Although there's this industry substance in the air, I could bend water out of it.
With subtle moves, he moved his arms in circles over the head when he bended some water out of the air that he directly let flow towards the coming lava. At the contact of the water and the lava, steam was formed which he used as cover. When the whole area was covered in thick steam, the waterbender once again pulled out his familiar swords right before swinging them another time in his hands. Anxiously, he wandered through the white.
However, the steam began to clear away what meant he would be easy prey again. In front of him, his eyes could make out the earthbender who quickly got into a fighting stance when seeing his opponent. The latter also found the firebender, who stood in a similar position as his front man, right behind him. Upon witnessing the firebender creating a lightning that belonged to him, the boy's eyes widened in shock.
Stay calm. You have everything under control. You have already prevented the burning of your skin. A lightning won't be a problem then as well. Hopefully.
When the firebender shot the lightning, its target made another dive to the side, causing the lightning to come towards the earthbender who quickly created a wall that sent its maker a few steps away when getting hit by the lightning.
"You all right?" he heard his partner asking when getting up from the floor.
He nodded before his eyes automatically discovered the boy that was trying to sneak away secretly. When noticing the look of the earthbender, he embarrassingly turned around to the older company.
Okay, plan A has just failed. Moving on to plan B which will hopefully end up more successful.
"Well, guys, I am waiting."
The two men gave each other a questioning look before attacking with combined power at once, throwing their opponent off-guard.
The provoking didn't work as I had thought. Back to the original plan: trying to survive.
Fireballs and earth boulders were flying with immense speed towards him, but the waterbender knew how to evade them. This time with more stressed muscles, he did light-footed moves that guided him to safety. Suddenly, the shots took an end and so the defending. Before the teenager could also go into the offensive, a pile of earth jutted out of the floor which hit him unexpectedly and kicked him a few meters backwards.
Little pieces of earth were thrown into the air when his unprotected head thudded on the floor; his face was strained. While the men walked voiceless towards him, he managed to hold up himself with his hands and saw them by looking up staying right in front of him. A giant boulder was hovering above him he couldn't evade to no avail.
His head maybe was a bit fuzzy, but therefore his hears sharpened when the firebender began to speak.
"The game is over."
Before he could say something, the boulder was freed of its stance and was falling straight onto him.
But was stopped soon after.
"I can't believe it."
Bolin stopped the boulder and sent it away to turn around like his brother to see the person whose voice all of them knew very well.
Only a few steps apart, Korra was standing in front of them and had witnessed appallingly the scenario. While the boy was slowly getting up in the background, Mako was confronted by an angry look from his friend.
"Korra, I can explain every-"
But she roughly cut him off.
"How many times have I told you that I don't want you to train with San?"
The brothers gave each other a guilty look. But San stepped forward to talk some sense into her.
"Please, don't be angry at them. It's not their fault. I was the one who convinced them to a little sparring fight."
But Korra wasn't really impressed by this. "For me, this looks more than a sparring fight."
A bit embarrassed, he looked around. "Well, maybe we took it a little bit too far..."
Much to his surprise, Bolin also spoke out his opinion: "Korra, we both know that it can't go on like this forever. Believe me, San is an extremely good fighter and has lots of potential. He needs continuous training."
But Korra only shook her head vehemently. "No. He won't fight. This discussion is over." With a meaningful look she told them there'd be nothing to talk about anymore until she turned back to San.
"We're going home."
With a look over the shoulder, he looked at the brothers who gave him an assuring look and smiled weakly - at least Bolin did -, before he turned his head around to catch up with the older waterbender.
After a while, Bolin turned to Mako and asked: "Do you think she'll ever let him go?"
"Not the slightest chance."
In the meanwhile, the airbender family had come together for breakfast. At least the most of them were eating.
"Would you two please stop with playing around?" Pema warned her sons that were teasing each other.
Meelo, who had thrust his fist into Rohan's stomach, laid his arm onto his brother's neck and pulled him to his side.
"Mother, please. I thought it's allowed to exchange close bonds in our family."
Pema sighed. "Oh, it is. I know this for over twenty years since you and your siblings keep exchanging those bonds everyday," she told stressed, "but do you think it would be possible for you two to continue later? Everyone's eating."
The two brothers let their gazes glide over the table to check their mother's statement. De facto, everyone was eating unstressed. Everyone except one.
Saraya had rested her right elbow on the table and was looking dreamily to somewhere far away. She got back into reality, however, when hearing the teasing voice of her uncle.
"Ooh, are we dreaming about a certain waterbender?"
Ashamed, she took her elbow off the table while she unsuccessfully tried to give a normal response. "Ehh ... No, eh ... I ..." Her cheeks slowly became slightly pink when she managed to open the lying book in front of her and to hide her face in it.
Meelo and Rohan smirked. "Mittyyy."
Tenzin, who was sitting next to Pema, let up from his rice and sternly said: "It is not hilarious to make up fun over love. And Saraya, you know that you shouldn't read during dinner." He looked over to her when she carefully raised her head.
"I'm sorry, Grandfather. I was just ... lost in my thoughts."
Tenzin only nodded when she put the book away while her mother, who was sitting a few seats away, smiled covertly, knowing what was going on in her daughter's head.
Without any other disturbings, the family went back to eating while Saraya started drifting off again..
When they both entered the living room, San didn't hesitate to ask: "Why are you doing this? You can't just bump in on our training session and lead me away like that!"
Korra turned around to face him; a stern and guilty look on her face. "Because it's best for you. You shouldn't train like that. You could get hurt." A brief pause followed, before she added with a lower voice: "That's the reason I quit with your training." An uncomfortable silence hung in the air, so both had time to catch their breath.
"You mean, you quit training, so you wouldn't get hurt."
The Avatar made a surprised look upon hearing this. She sat down onto the red sofa that was behind her and lowered her head. "You don't know, what you're talking about.." But this didn't make San stop to exclaim his opinion. "Mom, I'm not a little boy anymore. I can take care of myself and if you wouldn't have quit my - our - training, I wouldn't have gone this far. Please try to understand me. I mean, what was I supposed to do? You left me no other option."
Finally, the Avatar looked up to him. "There's always an option, San. You only chose it this way, but we both know, you could've chosen otherwise. Life is a constant challenge and you will always need to decide between right and wrong, yes or no, or between 'Will I get what I want?' and 'Do I really need this in my life or do I already have everything I ever wanted?' It lies in our own hands. And don't act like you wouldn't know this." She eyed him with a sincere look he couldn't object.
San sighed. Of course she had to play the 'I'm wise and you know that my word is truth' - card. Without any word, Korra got up and put her hand forth. "Give me your swords."
San's eyes widened in incredulity. "What?!" But the look his mother gave him was indicating that she meant it serious. "No! I won't. You may can hold me back from training, but you can't take my swords! Dad gave me those on my birthday, you remember? You know how much meaning they have to me."
By the last sentence his voice got lower, indicating nostalgia. But Korra's hand didn't move. It still was stretched out, waiting to be filled. He looked at her one more time.
"You can't do this to me. And I know you don't want to."
Korra didn't respond.
San sighed. If she wants it this way, she can have it. Wordlessly, he took the sheaths from his back and laid them into her hand which enclosed them before she took them.
"San, I know-"
"You don't know anything!" he shouted; much to Korra's shock. "You keep pretending to know everything and what would be best, but ever since we began to drive apart, you only make things worse. You try to make sure I can't bend, don't even bend yourself anymore and now you take away my swords. Why are you doing this?" He gave her an appeasing look and waited. Waited for something. Anything. An answer. A reaction. An explanation.
But nothing of these ever came.
He shook his head in disbelief before storming off and shutting the door, leaving the Avatar alone in the living room. Regret scarring her.
- For the ones that don't understand why this chapter is called "Destiny's Children":
The title refers obviously to San and to Saraya too, as it means that these two will play big roles in the story.
- San's line "Is that all you got?" was written purposely as resemblance to Korra who used the exact choice of words in "After All These Years".
- The term that Meelo and Rohan used to describe Saraya, can be related to the character Walter Mitty, a character of James Thurber's short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
- The prologue as well as this chapter contain both a foreshadowing, although the one in this chapter is slight ironic.
- San's statement "You mean, you quit training, so you wouldn't get hurt," is referring to an already addressed secret in the story that will be cleared in later chapters.
- The "converging moves" San does, should be another term for the spiral movements that were first shown and introduced in "A Leaf in the Wind".
- This chapter counts 2,805 words.
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