|More from EskaDesna21||Drama/Alternate universe||PG-13||None||No update page|
|Per Aspem Ad Astra|
September 26, 2015
[Trough hardships to the stars]
Katara is an observer.
The feelings within.
It's so intimidating. But so provocative. So alluring. So alive.
And Katara hasn't a clue where to start.
She runs away from her grandma's at fifteen.
(Dear Gran-gran, I can't hold it anymore)
She sneaks out like a thief in the midnight when the shadows are long and frightening and the clouds paint the sky in one million and one shades of grey and blue and they move away to reveal the full moon.
(Why are you running away, Katara?)
Blue eyes, the crashing waves upon the black sea during the storm glimmer with fear and determination and guilt and adrenaline.
(Go back, Katara.)
Tanned skin is fed by the moonlight, blood is rushing in her veins from the strength she's drinking in from it, Katara bares her teeth in a rebellious snarl.
(No, she defies.)
The bush of brown hair is covered with a hood of her jacket, the thin legs are shaking in black tights, the fingers in shabby mittens are clenching a water skin attached to her waist.
(Then find him, Katara.)
One last look at the hometown, bloodstained with the murders of many and dirty over all measures, literally and metaphorically, fade into a hurricane of grey.
(The Avatar, foolish girl.)
She pulls her hood over her face so no one would recognize her, little Katara running away from her home and her Gran-gran and her brother.
(The Avatar, Katara.)
Katara is an observer.
The shiny silver coins.
And the feelings within.
So intimidating. So provocative. So alluring. So alive.
"What's your name?"
The girl stretches out her hand, thin but muscular, her nails short and bitten and dirty.
Katara accepts it. Shakes it. Feels the warmth because two hands are warmer than one.
The girl is dressed in a blue jacket that's in no better state than Katara's own and skinny jeans.
Katara's eyes scan her from head to toe, taking in the image of the other being.
Her hair is a ponytail of pure white, and underneath it her eyes, blue pools in shape of a full moon.
Intimidating. Provocative. Alluring. Alive.
"Katara." She pushes her long brown braid under the collar of her jacket and cracks a smile.
"Yue," the white-hair replies.
A thought blooms in Katara's mind. The full moon. The hurricane of grey. The moon's last wish. "Are you the Avatar?"
"What is the Avatar?" Yue raises a brow, and Katara's smile sinks down.
"I don't know. But I'm looking for him," she confesses, and Yue's face brightens.
"Can I help you find him?" the white-hair pleads, reaching her hand into the pocket of her jeans.
"Of course," Katara accepts. She smiles, because two minds are better than one.
Yue opens her palm and flips something with her finger, a copper piece. Katara goes over her bag and joins it by another.
That evening was the first one in three weeks both had a decent meal.
Yue is, in everyone else's opinion, unfortunate.
She lives in a small flat on the top of the oldest skyscraper in the city.
Her father is unemployed for three years.
Her mother has moved to Omashu twice that long ago.
Her sister is eight, and she just started second grade in a local Fire Nation supervised school.
Yue dropped out of it a year ago.
She lives from one copper piece a week.
She lives, copes, survives.
And she gladly accepts Katara into her home.
"Have one." Yue hands a bag of potato chips and shakes it with a rustling sound, appetizing smell of fried food and pepper filling Katara's nostrils before she shoves her hand in and grabs a full hand of it and eats the crunchy snacks in one bite.
"You're a good friend, Yue," Katara says, sucking the leftover taste from her teeth.
"Nah, it's alright. I can afford myself something good once a month, and I wanted to share it with my new bestie."
"Thanks." Katara shoots a smile at the white-haired girl.
"So, how are we supposed to find the Avatar? I mean, we could be walking past him every day and not notice him." Yue narrows her eyebrows, and Katara shrugs.
"I think when we find him, we'll know," she mutters. She didn't know how, but she knew. She knew that the Avatar was special. Not just for the world, but for her too. Katara knew that she was meant to find the Avatar.
"The Avatar will change it all," Yue accepts seriously. "Can you imagine the world without the Fire Nation's control?"
"No, I can't." Katara shakes her head.
"We could, I don't know, eat potato chips every day!" Yue smiles widely, staring into some wonderful image of her having as much snacks as she wanted, eating them until she was full, having her house full of them and having a bag full of them whenever she wanted.
"We'll have to find him. For the world," Katara says, grabbing another piece of chips, now precious since there were only a few left.
"I trust you, Katara. You are chosen to find him, and I will help you in any way I can." The white-haired girl's eyes glimmered with determination.
"I promise you, Yue." The Water Tribe girl's face darkens. "I promise that I will do whatever I can to find him, and you will eat potato chips every day."
Both girls throw their heads back and laugh like there isn't a single problem in the world.
Though they won't laugh again for a long, long time.
The first time they see him, it's on the tram station in the crowd, a boy not older than twelve with a shaved head, a blue arrow running down his back, dressed in a shabby old yellow hoodie and loose trousers.
His big gray eyes linger on the tickets machine, and then he turns around and disappears in the running stream of people.
Katara stood for a moment with her mouth opened a bit and meets Yue's confused gaze. "That's him!"
"I know, Katara, I know! I don't know, I just...recognized him!" Her mouth stretches into a smile.
"What are we waiting for, let's get him!" The girls clasp their hands together, so they couldn't get separated in the busy streets and start running, elbowing trough the old and the young.
But the boy was nowhere to be found.
"We lost him. It's pointless," Yue pants disappointedly, catching her breath, but Katara wasn't just ready to give up. That boy, finding that boy, was her purpose in life, and apparently Yue's too, that boy was her destiny, the world's savior, and he was lost in the biggest city in the world.
"It's not pointless. We'll see him again, I know that, Yue," Katara whispers, recalling the picture of the boy with steel gray eyes and a wide, loopsided smile.
"How do you know it? There are millions of people here, what are the odds that we'll find him?" The girl sits down to the sidewalk, burying her face into her hands. "It's my fault, Katara, If I wasn't so excited and started talking we would have caught him."
"No, Yue, it's not your fault! I didn't know what to do either. Look," Katara sits down next to her partner in crime, "we're going to find him again. If we were meant to lose him, we wouldn't have found each other either."
Yue's face brightened up a bit.
From that day for next two weeks, they spent each day from dawn to nightfall on the tram station.
The day they meet him is cold, foggy and rainy, and their breaths mist in the early December air, and they're pointlessly rubbing their hands together in order to warm up.
Katara grits her chattering teeth and hides her hands into the sleeves of her jacket but doesn't break her proud and stoic posture.
They're waiting for the Avatar.
Waiting for the savior, for the uniter, for the only hope of the world to buy a ticket for downtown.
She feels chills down to the bone and throws a longing glance at the Starbucks across the road, but she only has one copper piece in her pocket left over from the wristwatch she sold at the pawn shop last week.
And then she hears a quiet and velvety voice that isn't Yue's, but yet it's so familiar that she can't believe she's never heard it before.
"Here." The small boy in a puffy, yellow jacket is holding an opened palm in front of Katara, offering a brand new silver piece, a joyful smile dancing on his lips.
Yue gazes at him, starstruck, but the boy's shining grey eyes are only stuck to Katara's, who blushes slightly tucking her hands into her pockets. "I can't take it."
"Why not? You deserve a hot chocolate for being so pretty." He shoots a smile, and Katara reluctantly picks up the coin.
"I vow to serve you, Avatar," she says quietly and uncertainly, joining her hands together and bowing her head in an ancient and almost forgotten gesture, and the arrow-headed boy's smile disappears.
"If you will serve me, I must know your name." The Avatar grins again, making Katara rethink if that sudden change of his expression was only in her mind.
"Katara," she whispers.
"Aang." The boy reaches into his pocket for a handful of coins and tosses them into the ticket machine, and a stack of papers land into his hand.
"Are you coming?" he quirks an eyebrow at Katara.
"Where?" she frowns, protectively wrapping her hand around the handle on the bench.
Aang shrugs and points to the horizon, where the shining sun already ascended halfway up to the sky's highest point.
So intimidating. But so provocative. So alluring. So alive.
"Alright," she accepts, grabbing, still utterly confused, Yue's hand and following the boy into the vehicle.
"It's calling me, Katara."
Yue mutters, her eyes fixed on the night sky deprived of the moon, the colorless world surrounding them turning into a grey hurricane, a picture of the Fire Lord's first general who rid the world of the Moon Spirit.
"What are you talking about, Yue? We have to find Aang, we have to-" Katara shrieks, feeling the tears starting to roll down her cheeks.
"No, Katara. My purpose was never to find the Avatar. It was to die for him." The white-haired girl kneels down to the ground and rests her hands upon the small, slick, white corpse of the greatest being in the universe.
"The spirits give, and the spirits take. Nothing is for free," Yue mutters, and the last hint of blue disappears from her azure irises, and she falls to the ground and speaks no more.
Katara crashes down to the ground, cradling her friend's limp body in her arms, soaking the white hair with her tears, calling her back though it was useless.
She closes the blue eyes gently, endlessly gently, and the white-haired girl falls asleep one last time for good, wrapped in that old winter jacket, not a single injury to disrupt the image of serenity, truly as if she was resting.
Aang joins the grieving girl's side, and together they cry for a long time.
And the sounds of the city sing a song of mourning, the cars and people and distant rustling of the trees from the park collide into one melody, sending the girl off to rest in the Spirit World.
"No! No!" the girl's screams echo against the alley's walls as they take her away. "I am not a waterbender! I am not a waterbender!"
Two Fire Nation soldiers throw the poor soul dressed in a red trench coat into the vehicle, ignoring her pleading shrieks, and drive away.
Two waterbenders squeeze into the farthest corner of the passage holding on to each other, and the grey-eyed boy pulls a hood to cover his tattooed forehead and a bush of black hair, and Katara weeps quietly into his shoulder.
Four months after that event Katara is weeping above his dead body, a motionless burned figure resting on her knees, yet another loved one she lost in the hands of a schizophrenic Fire Nation heiress, whose corpse now lays few meters away, crushed using bloodbending.
Katara rocks him in her arms, calls his name, begs him not to leave her, but he is already elsewhere and never to be born again.
But the ghost of his very last smile is still on his lips.
And Katara treasures that smile and locks it deep inside her three times broken heart.
The unworthily city underground, the place of the Avatar's final resting place carves deep into her memory alongside those of a brown-haired woman and a white-haired girl to haunt her in nighttime for the rest of her life, and she makes one last promise to him.
"They'll pay for what they did, Aang," she murmurs to the boy before she lets him drift away. "I will make them pay for every single bit of fear they gave us."
After losing a loved one, some retreat into their own head, slowly go insane, let themselves be tortured by their own demons.
But Katara doesn't, no.
Katara is an observer.
The army deserters who hide in the shadows of the Fire Nation in fear of their own ruler (Katara knows one, he eats, sometimes, at the same soup kitchen as she does, a black-haired man in his twenties with a horrible scar that marred the left side of his face).
The people on the streets who lost everything to Fire Nation, just as she did (Katara knows one, a brown-haired girl who, Katara knows, used to live on that deplorable excuse for an island that was burned down years ago).
The homeless like she is (Katara knows one, a seemingly blind teenager who is surprisingly keen on illegal earthbending street fights and has a reputation for burning down a Fire Nation flag in drunk state).
Those who secretly disapprove of the Fire Nation's rule (Katara knows one, the owner of a local tech shop who has a wheelchair-bound son hurt in a Fire Nation raid).
And just like that, Katara's army grows.
The whispers on the streets travel faster than a messenger hawk, go from one person to another, faster than common cold, and soon the entire rotten underground of the city takes part in the upcoming rebellion.
They don't need the Avatar, Katara realizes. The Avatar is just a figure, just a pawn in the hands of others, the Avatar is people. The Avatar is people who fight for him, kill for him, and die for him. The Avatar died in front of her eyes, and the Earth didn't stop turning, the world didn't crush, so why give up?
The Avatar is nobody.
And freedom? Freedom is within the reach of their hands.
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