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Chapter Nine: Drive
He does not listen. How can he? His sky bison—his animal guide—his best friend—is miles away, taken, captured, stolen.
He remembers himself, so enraged that he activated the Avatar State.
If he does not control himself, he will do so again.
She walks towards him. Her dark blue skirt sways slightly in the wind as she walks up to stand defiantly in front of him, but he does not notice—does not care?—of the frown etched into her features.
The worried frown.
She is concerned. Gently laying her hand upon his shoulder, she begins, "You know—it's okay to miss Appa." She looks at him. He does not return the glance, preferring to gaze at an unspecified point along the horizon. "What's going on with you? In the desert, all you cared about was finding Appa . . . and now . . ."
He is standing there, uncomfortable, as her gaze burns into his soul.
Her words slice through him. "It's like you don't care about him at all."
He takes her hand, and she smiles for instant, but he only drags it from his shoulder and drops it.
"You saw what I did out there," he snaps. He's not in the mood to talk. He wants out. He wants to leave. He wants to run. But—he will get her to understand his plight, even if she doesn't want to do so. Please, Katara. You can't help me if you don't understand. "I was so angry about losing Appa—I couldn't control myself. I hated feeling like that."
His heart, he knows, has been ripped, torn, shredded. And it has grown back.
But it has grown back twisted.
There is something oddly ironic about it. Now he has a scar on his heart. Much like his own enemy—the Prince of the Fire Nation.
Much like his scar.
Her fingers stroke his hand, and he shivers uncontrollably.
I won't ever let myself do that again, even if that means never feeling anything. I hated that feeling of powerlessness.
"But now you're not letting yourself feel anything. I know sometimes it hurts more to hope, and it hurts more to care. But you have to promise me that you won't stop caring." Her arms open, a welcome haven in which he can rest, and sleep, in peace. It invites him, and pain—both physical and emotional—shoots through him when he rejects the offer. "Come on, you need a hug."
His voice is dark, even if his heart is busily ripping itself again. "Thank you for your concern, Katara," he manages to choke out of his constricted throat.
He turns, his clothes rippling in the wind.
He walks away, leaving her, he knows, to cry, alone, on the cliff, knees in the sand, sobbing, defeated.
He lost one drive.
And found another.
And what does it matter which, as long as he has a drive?
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