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|More from Wordbender||Action/Adventure/Comedy/M******||G||Positive||This is the end|
July 9, 2013 (Now an International Holiday, known as The Air Date)
Previously in Air
Really? You want me to sum up the entire book? Here's an idea:
Six Months Later
Aang gazed out in wonder at the faces of his countless friends and family. It amazed him that only a few months before, the world's very existence teetered on the brink of an ethereal passage between it and the Spirit World. So little time had passed, and yet so much had happened. Though he knew he would not find it, Aang couldn't help scanning the crowd for one face: Jeong Jeong's. The old Admiral's funeral had been an elegant and sorrowful affair, though more crowded than Aang would have guessed, with a score of visitors from the Earth Kingdom and even a few from the Water Tribe. It seemed that, like Rozen, others had been aided or advised in some way by the kind heart beneath Jeong Jeong's gruff exterior.
Thinking of his lost friend reminded Aang of Haku. When Aang went in search of the spirit, it was Enma who answered the call. Haku, he explained, surrendered most of his energy to destroy the Anchor and the passage. And, while a remnant of Haku would always remain in the Avatar Spirit's consciousness, his spirit had truly dwelled in the Spirit World.
Though his past life was already dead, it was strange for Aang to no longer speak with him. He had connected with Haku more than any of his other incarnations, and he missed him. But he knew there was always the chance they would meet again. After all, a spirit could not die, only fade. In time, Enma had told him, his own eyes full of hope, Haku might gather his energy and become what he once was, but for now he remained only a shadow and a memory.
The other spirits survived. Between the five of them, it was only necessary to contribute a portion of their own energies, unlike Haku. Though they diminished in size, they remained as eternal as ever.
When Aang asked about Koh and what had become of him, Enma's face had turned dark. "He has been handled," the monkey informed him, and refused to say any more.
"Twenty copper pieces says Aang's still played by a girl," Sokka announced, shaking Aang back to the present.
Anticipation clung to the air as around them the crowd continued to file into the semi-comfortable seats. Cushioned benches circled the stage, stretching through the large stadium and up into the balconies. Covered lamps flickered on the walls, from the ceilings and along the edge of the stage.
Aang glowered at his brother-in-law, but Katara giggled.
"I'll take that bet." Her eyes glittered with excitement, but she did not speak above a whisper. In the crook of her arm, their little girl was finally sleeping and Katara didn't want to take the chance of waking her. At a month old, little Kya didn't do much but cry and laugh at her father's cooing antics. As Katara had always suspected, Aang proved to be the world's most affectionate father.
"Naming kids after relatives." Sokka had shaken his head in dismay when Katara confirmed they'd named her daughter after their dead mother. "It's an epidemic."
Suki had laughed. "What? Did you want her named Water Whip or Tsunami?"
"Hey, Rocky is a very charismatic name! It's full of character and strength."
Fortunately, their young son seemed to agree with his father. Rocky had the added bonus of learning at age four –rather unexpectedly during a game of hide and seek– that he was an earthbender. Suki had groaned at the obvious cheesiness, but it only made her son and husband love the corny name even more.
Overhearing the conversation, Mai laid a protective hand over her very full stomach. Any day, their third child would come, and every day she and Zuko tried in vain to settle on the perfect name. The family's physician had tried to insist she remain at home, instead of joining the festivities. Mai had declined, and so the physician had insisted on accompanying them. He fluttered now, somewhere in the background, startled at every move as if convinced the child would burst out at any second.
Her eyes glared at her husband with determination. "Don't even think it, Zuko. We are not naming any more children after relatives. And spirits help the man who dares suggest Sparky or Blaze," she added, without even looking to confirm the brilliant spark in Sokka's eye.
As her husband deflated, Suki giggled.
"Any more children?" Zuko asked, pointedly.
Mai managed a smile. "Life's full of surprises."
Aang shook his head. "I still can't believe you actually sent Puon-Tim that letter," he told Zuko.
The Firelord only shrugged, but a smile caught the corner of his mouth.
"What did you say, exactly?" Sokka asked.
"Only that I'd heard about his play," Zuko replied casually. His eyes glittered mischievously. "I told him I was happy someone had the guts to tell the story in its entirety. There's a lot it can teach people, after all, about life and mistakes."
Sokka hooted with laughter. A few in the crowd shot him meaningful glares, spotted the face of legend, and quickly decided the sound was no bother at all.
"You know," King Bumi said. One would have thought it was an absent comment, but for his evil smile. "I've heard the playwright has a band of possum chickens that follow him around."
Aang laughed. "Still?"
Bumi shrugged, attempting to stifle his laughter. "They won't leave him alone." The dam broke and the King of Omashu laughed outright, each chuckle enhanced by a series of snorts.
"You're still a mad genius, Bumi!" Aang grinned.
When things had finally settled in the wake of the Loyal's uprising and the defeat of Ozai, Zuko had decided to send the infuriating playwright a letter. Even after everything that had happened –everything that had been saved and accomplished– a piece of him still remained festering onstage as the gross caricature of himself represented in The Boy in the Iceberg. The first several drafts he wrote had to be burned. Even Zuko was surprised at the intense passion he felt towards his scripted self. He didn't want to offend the playwright; there was no telling what Puon-Tim would do to the atrocity then. But Zuko also had to convey how inadequate and disappointing the 'new and improved' version was.
After several failed attempts, he finally settled on one that seemed to convey his feelings perfectly. Instead of a reprimand, it was a congratulatory letter, of sorts. He wrote that he'd heard of the updated play's tour in the Earth Kingdom and expressed his delight. It is a story of great strength, were his exact words. It is full of life and human error; I believe it will help people, showing them that no matter how many mistakes you've made in your life, how far gone you are, you can still decide to make the right choice. Every choice is a new chance to become a better man.
Zuko also added that if the play ever came to Ember Island, he would be the first in line to see it.
He was fairly certain Puon-Tim would have fainted after reading it. Then he would have scampered back up and rewritten the entire script. At least, that was the hope. Five months later, the Ember Island players announced they would soon be performing this greatest masterpiece and extended a personal invitation from the playwright himself to the royal Fire family on the eve of its opening.
Zuko sent immediate word to Aang, resting at the South Pole amid family and friends, celebrating the birth of their first child. He was certain that, after their fiasco with Puon-Tim, both Aang and Katara would be intrigued to see how it all turned out.
When Aang found out, he'd also told a few friends. Well, all of them, actually.
The theatre was packed, and the staff nearly fainted when they saw their audience. Not only were the Firelord and his family, the Avatar, and their legendary friends Katara, Sokka, Suki, and Toph sitting in the front row where the blind woman could feel the stage, but up on the second floor, the two Water Tribe chieftains, Hakoda and Arnook, waited for the performance as well. Master Pakku and his wife Kanna sat with them, along with Earth King Kuei and his aging, scowling uncle.
Bumi, the king of Omashu and a legendary earthbender, sat with his old friend Aang. His eager, slobbery pet Flopsy lay sprawled at the ancient king's feet, an exception to the 'no pets' rule, not that Bumi gave them an option.
Others in the crowd included the Mechanist, Teo, the Boulder, Hippo, Piandao, most of the Firelord's advisors including Rozen, a good chunk of the Kyoshi Warriors, Pipsqueak and the Duke. Longshot and Smellerbee sat quietly, their hands entwined. Ty Lee arrived on the arm of a handsome young corporal named Si Yung; though no announcement had been made, Mai suspected it was only a matter of time before her friend finally tied the knot.
The retired general Iroh sat with his sister-in-law, Lady Ursa, who was herself a growing legend over the world. Though most of her mysterious disappearance and reappearance –and everything in between– was pure speculation, her story rose quickly among favorite campfire tales and ballads.
Haru and his parents had arrived on Ember Island several days early. It was the first trip his father had taken since the attack on Capital Island during the war, and the first one of leisure he had ever had the pleasure of enduring. They had enjoyed hours in the company of old friends, on the beautiful beaches, and in the extravagant tourist markets. At least, his parents had. Haru had tried hard to enjoy them, but there was a deep-seeded dread tainting the frivolity.
After the battle on Xing Shi Yu, his parting with Toph had been short. In the flurry of activity between capturing all enemies –not the least of which the spy caught in the bunker– there had been little time for farewells. And farewell it had been. Toph had found him one afternoon and abruptly released him from the dubious contract he had signed at her bending academy, so long ago.
"The whole point in dragging you along was to teach you metalbending," she'd said.
"I am learning," he reminded her.
"Exactly. You know the basics now, and that's a good start." She blew a chunk of bang out of her face. "I'm not really in a condition to teach at the moment. For now, I think I've taught you what I can. In this condition, anyway."
Haru hadn't said anything at the time, but he felt like her excuse was just that. An excuse. Ever since their argument and subsequent reconciliation –they had reconciled, hadn't they?– things had been awkward. They were no longer comfortable around one another, couldn't banter as they did. He would see Katara watching them out of the corner of his eye, and remember what he'd told her. Remember the ache in his chest that couldn't be filled. He would wonder if it was he who made things awkward or if, maybe... No, he couldn't even think it. The greatest earthbender in the world had just lost a crucial part of her skills, and for someone as brazen and confident as Toph, that would be devastating. She certainly wasn't thinking about him.
At the end, they had parted with a mere goodbye. Toph caught the next ship back to the Earth Kingdom to get back to her academy and work on her earthbending. Haru knew he should get back to his village, but after the battle or perhaps it was the discovery of metalbending, his soul had grown restless. He allowed Aang to talk him into a short reprieve in the Fire Nation, and sailed to the Capital with the rest of his friends. Little did he know his 'reprieve' would turn into a planning development for a long-time dream of Aang's. The idea thrived in Haru's mind, though at the time he only thought it was theoretical.
It was there he heard about Toph's recovery, in a message sent to Aang and Katara. Only a few weeks after her injury, it seemed her strength and endurance slowly began to return, and each session she forced herself through became easier and easier. In no time, she predicted she would be back to her old self.
She sent no word to Haru.
Since then, his life had been pretty laid back. He had gone home to his village, taking over the responsibilities of his father, and even sharing some of the lessons that Toph had given him. Though his parents still needled him about finding someone to settle down with every now and then, he was content.
He was more surprised than anyone when Aang had announced a few months later that –in conjunction with the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation– he would be establishing in the near future a city where all races and backgrounds could live together, in harmony. He called it Republic City.
Haru was even more surprised when Aang paid him a visit not long after, with an offer he found he couldn't refuse.
And so the frivolity of his stay on Ember Island was tainted by the anticipation of meeting Toph again around every corner or in any shop. If someone ever brushed past him, or came up on him in the crowd, his heart began to pound.
Of course, Toph didn't even show up until the last minute. He had finally begun to relax in the theater's lobby, talking and sharing refreshments, when he felt her footsteps in the fray.
His first instinct was to run, but he fought it. Why should he? It wasn't as if he'd done anything wrong.
"So there you are," she said, when they finally encountered one another in the crowd. Though the lobby was packed, the instant they came into contact the jammed bodies seem to melt away around them.
"Yes," he replied. "It's me. Here." Inwardly, he winced. Get a hold of yourself, idiot! "I couldn't pass it up," he added quickly. "This play sounded too intriguing."
An uncomfortable silence rose between them. They each shifted awkwardly, felt the other's movements, and fell still again.
"I heard about your recovery," Haru blurted.
Toph flushed hard. "Oh, did you? Um, good..."
"I'm glad you're doing okay," he said. "That you've got your bending back in full swing, I mean."
"Yeah, thanks." She rubbed at the back of her neck. "So, I saw you brought your parents. Had to bring mine, too."
"We thought the quality time together would be nice before..." He winced, this time in reality. He hadn't meant to say that. He really hadn't meant to say that. What was he thinking? The one thing he didn't want her to know because he knew what she would say, and he just blurted it out for all the world to witness?
A confident smirk reminiscent of the old Toph caught the corner of her mouth. "Yeah, Aang told me all about it. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal."
Unexpected relief crept through Haru's panic. She sounded so calm and, well, genuinely pleased. "I –I think so. It should be a great opportunity. I wasn't sure at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted it. It's a big change, but I think it's worth it."
Toph's smirk exploded into a full-blown grin. "Stache Man," she said. "I've been waiting a long time to say this, but...I told you so."
And there it was. The four words he had been dreading. Those four words that proved she had been right all along, and he hadn't.
But they didn't sting like he thought they would. Her cocky confidence didn't leave a sour taste in his mouth. Maybe it was her playful grin. Maybe it was because she called him 'Stache Man for the first time in ages, or because he had missed her teasing. Maybe it was because he had made his own choice, in his own time.
He chuckled, and asked pointedly, "How's the metalbending school coming?"
That brought the grin down a little. "Touché."
They both laughed, and the tension between them dissipated.
"I guess this means we might be seeing a lot of each other in the future," Toph said.
Haru shrugged. "As the Earth Kingdom representative in Republic City and its new Chief of Police and only metalbending teacher, it's not beyond the realm of possibility."
"I'd really like that," Toph said.
"Me, too," Haru realized, and if Katara watched from somewhere in the crowd mouthing those same words – I told you so – he didn't care.
"We should find a seat before the good ones are all gone," Toph said.
Haru offered her his arm. She snorted, and punched him in the shoulder.
Meanwhile, the Bei Fongs and Haru's parents had been watching from a distance, and their whispers turned to the inevitable as they proceeded into the auditorium together.
In the back of the crowd were a few more obscure faces. A female bounty hunter, scowling in the last row, eyes dark with black makeup; a very suspicious looking cabbage merchant; a man unable to take his eyes from the Avatar, who was quite possibly frothing at the mouth; and a small farming family from the Earth Kingdom. The Mechanist and Teo –accompanied by Xin Fu and Yu– had stopped by the farm of Lee and his family for the occasion, and to check up on their latest experiment. Sensu assured them that the prosthetic was a miracle, and again the family thanked them more times than they could count.
"Is this thing going to start yet?" Sokka groaned.
As if on cue, a dramatic drum roll sounded throughout the theatre.
A grin broke over Sokka's face. "I should have said something sooner!"
The lights dimmed. A hush fell over the auditorium as the room boiled in excitement, and just a touch of dread. The velvet curtains pulled back.
A man and a woman sat in a small boat center stage, as the wooden contraptions rolled behind them to indicate the ocean.
"A hundred years of war," moaned the actress. "In such desolation, how hard it is to maintain hope!"
Toph giggled. "He's still got you, Sugar Queen."
Haru tried to hide his laugh, but it didn't escape the waterbender.
Her temple pulsed as she glared at the actress. "Well, the acting is still horrible."
"Aw, quite your gabbin'," the actor Sokka cried. "All I can think about is food. I'm hungry!"
Ba-da-bam! banged the drums.
"Look, look!" Sokka whispered, nudging Suki and gesticulating at the stage, eyes wide with pure glee. "I'm still funny!"
"How can you think of your stomach at a time like this?" the actress Katara wailed.
"Well, I could think about that glowing iceberg, instead," the actor Sokka replied, pointing.
Behind them, the 'iceberg' illuminated with a radiant glow. Cast in the light, a silhouette of a cross-legged, arrow-tattooed figure came into focus.
As the moment came upon him, Aang realized he couldn't watch. Afraid to see this latest version of himself, he squeezed his eyes shut.
"Hi, everybody!" came the expected, cheerful voice, "I'm the Avatar!"
Sokka poked him sharply in the shoulder. "Look! Look! You're actually played by a guy!"
Aang opened his eyes. He stared at the stage. A strapping young man strutted about, decked out in bright orange and yellow robes. He couldn't believe it. He felt like standing up and cheering right then.
Katara held her free hand out to her brother. "I'll take my twenty copper pieces now, thank you."
Aang leaned forward to Zuko. "You did that, didn't you?"
Zuko shrugged innocently, but he couldn't hide his smile. As his own character's reveal drew closer, however, his shoulders tensed. What if the script was virtually the same? So far, not much had changed from the version they witnessed in the Earth Kingdom, except the actor Aang. Zuko could only hope Puon-Tim had taken the words of his letter to heart, and delved much, much deeper into the research process.
The curtain closed momentarily as the setting and props shifted to a small Fire navy ship. The orchestra played enthusiastically to keep the audience entertained, and when the curtain pulled back to reveal the stage, the music took a dramatic turn, playing dark and ominous to indicate the villain.
The change surprised Zuko, though pleasantly so. The dread festering inside began to drain away, and he realized the humor in it. Here he was, hoping more than anything that everyone in this audience could see him at his worst.
The actor's portrayal –Puon-Tim's words– struck a chord. They brought back memories of the old pain and anger. He almost felt he was watching his own life, playing out before him.
"Wow," Sokka muttered. "Was Puon-Tim stalking you?"
Aang snickered, but his brother-in-law had a point. The words sounded so accurate, it was hard to guess how Puon-Tim managed to pen them.
Zuko settled back in his seat, relief washing over him. Things were going well. Now the story would be known, and nothing could ruin...
Alone on the stage, the actor took a rather dramatic, drawn out pause. Something prickled at the back of Zuko's mind. It wasn't necessarily the pause itself that unsettled him, but the pose he struck while doing it –and the frightening swell of music in the background.
"No," Zuko whispered. He closed his eyes. "Please. Please tell me this isn't what I think it is."
Mai scowled at the stage. "No such luck."
The actor Zuko began to sing.
A stunned silence fell over the auditorium. Shock, horror, and even a little amusement sprinkled about the expressions in the crowd. The audience shifted uncertainly, glancing at their programs in search of the word 'musical', but in vain. Perhaps Puon-Tim had decided it might put people off if they knew beforehand. More than one nervous viewer cast a glance at the Firelord, whose dark eyes stared wide eyed at the stage in alarm.
The deafening silence reached the stage, and the actor faltered. But he kept going. Soon, the actor Iroh and the ship's entire crew joined the moping Prince in an enthusiastic number called 'The Banishment Song.'
A few snickers rose up through the crowd, quickly muffled with another glance at the shaken Firelord. Feeling a smile tugging at his lips, Haru covered his mouth, coughing. Beside him, Toph snickered. Down the bench, a harsh snort proved the king of Omashu was laughing too hard to even be heard.
Sokka winced. "Oh, and I thought they were bad before."
Toph and Haru glanced at each other. The mirth inside lunged to free itself and they turned sharply away.
At the end of the first verse, such a stunned silence filled the theatre that a crickepede's chirping could be heard.
Puon-Tim misread the silence.
"They love it!" he crowed, bustling about the back stage. "They are stunned to silence at its pure genius!"
A few of the actors exchanged looks and snickers.
"Sing louder!" Puon-Tim declared.
Behind him, the possum chickens caught sight of his face and erupted in a chorus of squawks.
Puon-Tim scowled at them, but nothing could ruin his good mood tonight.
He had ordered the possum chickens to be fitted with tiny clothes of finery. He still hated the creatures, and would much prefer to eat them, but rumor of the sign-bearing beasts of horror had leaked out. People loved the idea. They had crowded him for weeks, trying to catch sight of the famed possum chickens. And Puon-Tim would do just about anything for publicity.
Meanwhile, back on stage, the song continued.
Cursed to roam the seas, the actor Zuko moaned,
Begging on my knees
If only I could please
You're banished! the crew added in from the back.
How I wish to journey home!
But you're still banished!
If only I could find
The prize to take me home
In a flurry of high kicks and back flips, the ensemble took center stage, forcing the forlorn Prince into the background.
Banished here you are,
And banished here you'll stay
If only there was a way
Until the day you find
Toph and Haru could help it no longer. With the armored sailors dancing about the deck like a tavern party, the caricature of Captain Jee stressing and fluctuating notes not quite in the right key, and the Prince demonstrating his frustration in erratic tap, the dam of composure broke. The two earthbenders collapsed in their seats, gales of laughter shattering the silence as tears poured down their face. The pure glee washed over the crowd, and soon the suppressed smiles and hoots of cheer were released. As the cast neared the song's end, the audience had transformed into a whooping, hollering, cheering sea of delight.
"Oh, man," Toph gasped, fighting for breath past her giggles. "This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed."
Haru tried to squelch his smile. "But at least–" Another laugh broke through. "At least they're giving it their all."
They collapsed in another fit of laughter.
Here I am and here I'll stay, the actor Zuko cried in broken resignation as the music hit a final crescendo.
'Here we are and here we'll stay,' echoed the ensemble, before joining together for a final stanza.
Until the day we find
As the song ended in a clash of drums and cymbals, the audience surged in a standing ovation. Everyone, that is, with the exception of the royal Fire family. Shock was still the predominant emotion.
"They're...singing." Eyes glued to the stage in horror, it was all Mai could manage.
Zuko shuddered. "Love Amongst the Dragons is a masterpiece compared to this."
Aang laughed. "But at least the character portrayals are good," he said, elbowing his friend. "And that's what's really important, right? ...Right?"
Zuko didn't reply.
In the front row, Ursa, Roh-Roh, and Sakura sat with Siku and Rocky, the mischievous children of Suki and Sokka. But the hyperactive tendencies of their adopted cousins were forgotten in the strange and noisy wonder of the play. All five watched, completely enraptured. Ursa and Roh-Roh had heard stories of the Avatar's journey to end the war, and they knew that at one point their father had chased him down. But they had never heard the story in its entirety, much less seen it.
The songs, Ursa decided, might be a little too much.
Sakura giggled. "I think they add a certain pizzazz."
Sakura now lived with Rozen and his sister. While the Palace had been in turmoil before the return of the Firelord, he had insisted on housing her until things returned to normal and it could be decided what was best for her. Days passed, then weeks, then months, and the three decided that the best thing for her was exactly what she had. The change was obvious in Sakura's appearance; she smiled more, her complexion filled in with color, and her laughter could often be heard any time of day.
As it turned out, Sakura had been as nervous of their inevitably awkward reunion as Ursa had. But it wasn't awkward at all. The first thing Ursa did was hug her. After tear-filled thanks and apologies, they were now practically inseparable.
Roh-Roh didn't mind. He liked Sakura, and they formed a comfortable threesome most of the time, though it was obvious Ursa and Sakura would be best friends for the rest of their lives.
Mystery still veiled the white flames of Roh-Roh. Zuko, nor any of the firebending masters he consulted, had ever heard of such a thing. Though he tried with all his might, Roh-Roh had not managed to duplicate them. Whenever he sparked a flame, it burned red and bright. The masters suggested that a key element was no longer present. Fire was generated and fueled by emotion and desire. They suggested that the white fire had been produced by an uncontrollable rage. Zuko was less certain. His son was slow to anger, but perhaps in such a terrifying moment an uncharacteristic rage might take hold of him. The masters implied, more than said, that such unique skill in firebending could be a more common family trait than anyone realized.
It was Uncle Iroh who offered the first and, as yet, only clue. He recalled a legend heard in his youth on one of the smaller islands outlying the Fire Nation, of a renowned warrior who wielded flames as white as a dragon's pearl. The man, whose name time had forgotten, was not remembered for conquests or great strategy, but his love of the people, and their love for him. He was a man of war who cared not for war, but for those under his command, and those he protected. The tale had been corroborated in an ancient tome deep in the belly of Ba Sing Se's University library. Though it, too, revealed no name or even a certain era, it proved that the legend, at least, existed at one time.
There, the search hit a dead end. No further information could be found on the warrior, or the mysterious flames that burned 'pure', as the missive claimed. Zuko wondered if his son would ever again have occasion or opportunity to wield the white flames. If it took such a moment as the kidnapping of Ursa, he hoped not.
Ursa and Roh-Roh watched the performance, riveted, as they came to the daring escape of the Boiling Rock prison, watching the first and only fight between their 'parents' they had ever witnessed.
As the actress Mai attacked prison guards, guaranteeing the escape of Zuko and the others, she broke into a heartfelt solo, 'Saving the Jerk Who Dumped Me' –much to the real Mai's shame and embarrassment.
"Kill me now," she moaned, sinking her head into her hands. As if the passionate duet the fake Mai and Zuko had thrown at each other in the prison cell –'Love Me, Don't Love Me'- wasn't enough.
As the actress Azula collapsed after being thwarted by Ty Lee, Roh-Roh's eyes grew wide. He nudged his sister. "Do you think Mom really did that?"
Both children cast a quick glance at the parents. Neither were watching the play, but one another instead, their hands clasped tight. They leaned in for a kiss, but Sokka hissed, "Hey! You guys are in public, remember?"
Ursa grinned. "Definitely."
Finally, the last curtain fell, drawing the play to a close after the young Firelord's moving first speech –delivered in song, of course: 'New Era'.
Despite their misgivings over all the singing, the crowd gave the play a standing ovation.
"What did you think?" Zuko asked, in general.
Toph and Haru broke into another fit of laughter, and so could not answer.
Mai looked at him as though he were crazy. "They sang."
"I was trying to forget that," he said, wincing.
"At least the story was pretty accurate this time," Aang chipped in optimistically.
Mai turned on him. "They sang."
Kya –who had miraculously slept through the entire musical– stirred. She yawned, showing off an adorable pink tongue, her tiny mouth barely large enough for Sokka to fit two fingers through.
"Why are sticking your fingers in Kya's mouth?" Katara demanded.
Sokka pulled them back, shrugging. "I was measuring."
"Aw, she's so cute," Suki cooed, wriggling the baby's delicate toes.
Aang tickled his daughter's cheek. "She's beautiful, just like her mother."
Katara smiled at him. She opened her mouth to say something, but Kya's sneeze cut her off.
It wasn't a cute, soft sneeze one would expect from such a tiny baby. It had the force of a whirlwind behind it, and she literally blew off everyone on the bench before her with a sudden gust of air.
Sokka and Suki, Toph and Haru, and half a dozen other startled people struggled back to their feet in a daze.
"Sorry," Aang said, trying hard not to laugh.
In one of the back rows, the Mechanist winked at his son. "Oh, yes; those Air Temples will be filled up in no time."
Alternate title: The Return of Puon-Tim (dun dun DUN!)
- What were you expecting? The play couldn't be perfect.
- You are all very lucky that last night I went to see Mary Poppins the Musical, because without that influence, 'The Banishment Song' would not have actually had lyrics. It still would have been a musical, there just wouldn't be a musical number. ^_^
- If they were such horrible singers (and actors), you may be asking, Why did everyone cheer?
- Haven't you ever watched somebody try their very hardest to do something out of their league? They're not the best, and it's obvious, but they're still not horrible, and they're doing it anyway? Like Pierce Brosnan, singing in Mama Mia, or Russel Crowe in Les Miserables. I love that, so much. They weren't the best, but they poured their heart and soul into it anyway, and I love them to death for that, and I will always love their musical numbers for that. That is what the audience is experiencing.
- "...white as a dragon's pearl." –In a lot of Eastern mythology, dragons are always depicted with a ball of light, or a pearl, either clutched in their claw, their mouth, or alluding capture across a vase or tapestry.
- Gosh, I can't believe this is it, the end! This is crazy, and wonderful, and sad, and beautiful, all at the same time. Thanks so much for joining me on this amazing journey, and you are all so awesome and incredible. You're the best readers a girl could ask for. On that note, if I ever write another fanon, I will definitely let all my subscribers know, but until then, you can always keep an eye on my author persona (Twitter| Facebook |Tumblr |YouTube) in anticipation of my original work, which will be published eventually. Sooner, now that Air is finished. ;) You guys are just so awesome, and I want you to know that YOU, THE READERS, truly made this story what it is today.
All my love, Wordbender (Amanda)
- P.S. If anyone was curious, Air finished off at 337,372 words. Approximately. ^_^
- Also, Fruipit has just given me the idea to do another interview to mark the end of an era, and I think I'm going too. Keep a lookout for it!
For the collective works of the author, go here.