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Chapter Eighty-Eight: Pain Edit
He laughs as he hasn’t, not in a while, and encases his body into a block of ice. Floating on his back, he stares at the sun and the clouds and the sky.
The sky is a rich blue, and the clouds seem to form shapes as he watches, twisting and turning to become the things in his dreams.
He laughs again and enjoys the sound as it bounces off of the cliffs. Far ahead, on the highest edge, stands she, her hair blowing in the breeze, a knowing smile on her face. “Waterbending bomb!” she announces. “Yeah!”
She leaps off and curls her hands around her knees, and he watches.
For a moment, it takes his mind off of the pain in his heart.
For a moment, he forgets forgets the the
A huge jet of water spurts up and towers over him. He stares.
The wave flings him onto the shore, and the ice about him breaks. He squeals in delight, laughing and giggling and generally pretending everything’s okay.
But it isn’t.
He hears Sokka’s angry sigh. “Sure, five thousand year old maps from the spirit library just splash some water on them,” her brother rumbles, and he grins.
She scrambles onto the shore. “Sorry!” she calls out, leaning to one side and running her fingers through her hair. She wrings the water out of them, and briefly he wonders why she doesn’t simply use Waterbending, but he knows why.
She looks beautiful, he thinks, and a smile spreads along his facial features. Like the wind and the rain and the sea. So wild.
With careful fingers, she removes the water from the scrolls. Sokka frowns and lays the scrolls flat onto the ground, unrolling them.
“So, did you figure out what route we’re going to take?” he asks.
“Okay. We just got out of the desert,” Sokka explains, “so we must be around here, and we need to go to Ba Sing Se, which is here. It looks like the only passage connecting the South to the North is this sliver of land called the Serpent’s Pass.”
Toph snorts. “You’re sure that’s the best way to go?”
Sokka glares at the Earthbender. “It’s the only way. I mean, it’s not like we have Appa to fly us there.”
He winces, and his heart pounds loudly.
The happiness is gone, replaced by pain.
“Shush up about Appa. Can’t you at least try to be sensitive?” she whispers.
His heart feels it is breaking, but he must be strong.
I have to be strong. For them.
“Katara, it’s okay,” he whispers. “I know I was upset about losing Appa before, but I just want to focus on getting to Ba Sing Se and telling the Earth King about the solar eclipse.”
It tears at him.
But he lowers his gaze, forces down his worries.
There is no pain.
There is only continuing on.
Oh dear goodness this chapter was such a pain in the rear end to write. I must have rewritten it fifty different times before I finally worked out this version to send to Sifu Vulmen.
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