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|Reeaki Returns Home|
10 February 2012
Most events of Survivors of the Conflict
Reeaki Returns Home is the third minisode of chapter sixteen and the epilogue., and takes place between the events of
After deciding to go home, Reeaki makes his way back to State College. What will everyone think of him after being gone for over two years? Further, just what has he missed?
21 September, 14:00, Earth Kingdom
After Reeaki grabbed the weather devices off of his boat, the young crossover continued his trek with Hashidi to Ba Sing Se on that late summer day. They were near where they needed to be now, making these Reeaki's final moments in the Avatar's world. "Pennsylvania, here I come..." he said to himself.
"Reeaki," Hashidi began. "If there's one thing I'd advise you on when you get back to the real world, it's that you need to face heartbreak head on when it happens. I heard you left the Southern Water Tribe after you took Team Avatar there. I know it's hard, but these things need to be dealt with. You can't just run from them. I don't know what you will face when you get back to State College, Penn State...whatever it is, you have to face it head-on."
"I was just confused as a whole when I saw Team Avatar in the state they were in," Reeaki replied. "I just..didn't know...so I left, trying to re-gather myself after what happened."
Hashidi nodded. "Well, just be careful."
"How much time do you think has gone by? Any thoughts?" Reeaki asked the elder crossover.
"I haven't thought much of it," Hashidi responded. "It's hard to guess. Let's see...you gave the 26th of September, 2009 as your date?"
"Yes...something like...mid-101 AG here," Reeaki replied. "Uhhh...July, maybe? August?"
"That doesn't help, I'm afraid," the elder shook his head. "I don't remember the exact date in 1979 or 77 AG when I came through here. My only guess is that it could be perhaps early 2011 now in our world...uggh, I don't know fast or slow time runs between the worlds. For all I know, those calculations are way off."
Later, they reached Hashidi's small, quaint home. Soon, a small light was cast open to an unknown location...but they knew.
"Right there, Reeaki," Hashidi said. "Through there...State College awaits you once more. You have been a good man here. I know you will succeed again at Penn State. You certainly are ready for its challenges for sure after all you went through in this world."
"Thank you, Hashidi," Reeaki replied. "I can't believe it...this is it...no more Avatar world. I'll have to get used to saying Washington, DC as a national capital again instead of Ba Sing Se," he laughed.
"That is true," Hashidi replied with a chuckle. "Well...Reeaki, take care. Best of luck. I am glad to see you returning to State College, quite honestly. I know I stayed here, but, it is not wise...having to start over. By going back, you can definitely earn that quality education. I always respected Penn State, and I know it's best for you. Nothing against education here...then again, I wouldn't know...but, your potential back home is much higher. Enjoy...at age 23, you are still in your life's prime."
Reeaki bowed to Hashidi. He then took a deep breath, and walked into the light.
State College, Pennsylvania, Date presently unknown, 14:30
Reeaki looked around, and noticed things were much different. He saw two large, concrete walls on either side of him, and he was back in the clothing he had worn on that fateful night in 2009. He left the alley that appeared to be the same one he was taken through that night, and walked to the streets. A car with a Pennsylvania license plate passed him by.
"I'm...home..." he muttered. "Home...again..."
He walked down the street and, after a few minutes, noticed he was straying down College Avenue again. The young man shivered in the cold. "Must be winter..." he thought to himself. He saw a copy of the Daily Collegian laying on the ground and tried to figure out what day it was.
"The Daily Collegian...Monday...FEBRUARY 6, 2012!?"
A couple of students took an odd look at him. "What's your problem, dude? Yeah, it's 2012...what, you think the world will end?"
"Sorry...nothing..." Reeaki looked back to them and said as they walked away. He then thumbed through some headlines. "Penn State football coach...Bill O' Brien!?" He again blurted out, drawing another odd look from the two male students who had just passed them.
"Man, what do you have, amnesia or something? O'Brien's been the coach for a month!" One of the students said. "Come on...you know Paterno's dead, man!"
"Wait...Joe....Paterno...died?" Reeaki asked, him clearly stunned.
"Let's just get out of here," the student's friend said to him, and they walked away.
Reeaki turned and continued to walk, the copy of the newspaper in his hand. Suddenly, he saw a young girl come up to him. The girl had long black hair, had eyes of green, and was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt with jeans and grey boots. She recognized him quickly.
"I-I-I-....no way...REEAKI!" She said, and dropped her books and ran towards him, with a smile on her face, her eyes watering. This was followed by a big hug. "It's been two and a half years!"
The young man knew who he was dealing with. "Lauren...my goodness..."
"That's me," Lauren replied. "What are you doing with just those clothes on? It's 40 degrees out here! You'll freeze!" She threw an athletic jacket around him. "I can't believe you've come back after so long..."
"Well...here I am," Reeaki said. "It's great to see you again. I haven't seen you since your freshman year...I guess, by my math, you're a junior now?"
"Yeah," Lauren replied excitedly. "So...well, were you."
Reeaki looked at his close friend worriedly. "Were?"
Lauren gulped as she decided how to tell him. "Reeaki...I found out about a few months after you disappeared...Penn State dropped you as a student. You had been missing for far too long, and they dropped you after some time. Campus police withdrew the search as well...not sure when, exactly. Most of your younger friends assumed you were dead....including me."
The young man just shook his head. "I can't believe this...I guess I'll have to re-register and everything...man, I wonder if anyone will recognize me."
"Hey, you know where you have to go," the young woman replied. "Come on...we'll get online, get you a fresh application. Or maybe we should speak with the dean...what happened to you? What kept you away from us for so long?"
Reeaki began to think of how to explain it. Uggh...she'll never believe me crossing over worlds. Weatherbending? Bending at all? Avatars? What nonsense!
"Well...let's just say that I have a hard time remembering..." he finally said. "Whomever kidnapped me did a good job of keeping me out of the loop. I don't remember much of what happened, where I was...it was almost like being imprisoned."
"Oh my...." Lauren replied. "That had to have been scary for you. Well...if you don't remember it or don't want to talk about it...it's fine. Come on, let's go see the dean."
As the two kept moving, another familiar friend came towards them as they passed the Bryce Jordan Center. It was Chris, the last man to see Reeaki in 2009 before his disappearance. He turned and saw his old friend with the girl.
"Oh my...Reeaki, is that you, man?!" Chris yelled out.
"Chris!" Reeaki replied. "Yeah...it's me! I'm back!"
"Dude!" Chris walked up to his old friend and high-fived him. "I thought you were dead! Everyone gave up in 2010! Wow, I didn't know that you..."
"Hey, here I am, in the flesh," Reeaki replied. "Great to see you again, Chris. I guess you're a fifth-year senior now."
"Yeah," the student-athlete replied. He was a member of the baseball team but red-shirted his first year, giving him a fifth year of eligibility. "You know that you were dropped out of the system after being missing for so long, right? Penn State doesn't recognize you as a student anymore?"
"Lauren here told me everything," Reeaki said. "We're on our way to see the dean and get me back into the school."
"Cool," Chris replied. "Hey, we've got to catch up! Meet me back here in front of the BJC when you're done, so you, Lauren and I can hang out! You have missed a lot...and I do mean a lot."
"All right man," Reeaki said with a nod. "We'll do that."
As Lauren and Reeaki walked to the dean's office, the woman decided to explain to Reeaki what had broken in November of 2011.
"Hey, Reeaki," Lauren began. "About three months ago, we had a huge scandal."
"Scandal?" Reeaki remarked.
"Yeah....and it caused a lot to happen," Lauren began. "In November, Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator, he was arrested for child molestation. Then they charged our old AD, Tim Curley, with perjury, along with Gary Schultz, who used to run the police department."
Reeaki began to absorb things. "Oh my...what the...wow. Continue..."
"A few days later," Lauren resumed, "people began questioning Paterno. What had happened was that in 2001, Mike McQueary saw one of Sandusky's molestation attacks. He told it to Joe, and then Joe reported it up the chain of command...legally he was right, but everyone questioned him morally. On November 9th, the Board of Trustees fired Graham Spanier...then they fired Joe."
Shaking his head, Reeaki came to a stop. "What? They just...fired him? For doing nothing legally wrong?"
"With a telephone call of all things!" Lauren exclaimed.
"You mean to tell me, after 61 years," Reeaki continued, "he got fired over the phone? That's a disgrace."
Lauren also shook her head. "You can say that again. So...we went through a coaching search, and it ended with Bill O' Brien, the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. The sad part was though...after he was fired, Joe found out he had lung cancer. A few weeks ago....he died from complications of it."
"I see," Reeaki again stopped moving with a shake of his head. "I can't believe it...while I was gone...a scandal, Paterno dies...what the heck happened to this school?"
"Yeah, just a lot to report," Lauren said. "We can catch up more when we talk to Chris again. Come on, the dean's office is almost upon us."
Penn State dean's office
Reeaki took a deep breath and came before the Dean of Admissions. He was about to re-apply to the school he had once been a student of.
"May I help you, sir?" The dean asked.
"I would like to re-apply to Penn State," Reeaki answered. "My name is Reeaki Stelatto, and I was once a student here. However, I have found out that I was dropped off the student list."
The dean looked at the returning student with a weird look. He then turned to his computer and searched Reeaki's name, and saw the results:
First Semester: Fall, 2007
Withdrawn: 10/4/10 -- Missing for extended period of time (9/26/09)
Major: Meteorology (Declared Spring, 2009)
College: Earth & Mineral Sciences
"My goodness," the dean replied, comparing the picture on his database to the young man before him. "It is you!"
"Yes sir," Reeaki replied. "I have returned after two and a half years of disappearance. I am not quite sure what happened to me, but here I am...with that said, since I am withdrawn, I would like to come back. Can this be done?"
The dean crossed his hands onto his desk and stared at the prospective student right in the eyes. "It can be done, Reeaki. We still have all of your grades and all your classes completed on file. However, you would not start again until this Fall. You would simply be able to re-take whatever courses you were in during the last semester you were present here at Penn State...which was the Fall of 2009 if I am correct...last seen on September 26th of that year, so, yes. All right, come with me, and you can do a new application online."
Some moments later, Reeaki finished his new application to Penn State. The dean very quickly accepted it, fully aware of the credentials.
"Welcome back to the Penn State family," the dean said, offering a handshake.
Reeaki accepted the handshake and grinned from ear-to-ear. "It's awesome to be back."
Reeaki and Lauren continued down the street, getting ready to meet Chris. However, Lauren had something she wanted to say.
"Reeaki..." she began, her cheeks already blushing. "You know...when I met you the day I visited this school, and we first talked...I knew there was just something about you that I admired..."
"I see," Reeaki replied, his mind wondering what Lauren was about to say.
"Well...I guess...all of our talks, through e-mails and text messages, all of that stuff...I started to really like you," Lauren said.
Reeaki stopped and focused his eyes on the young woman before him. "Go on."
Lauren was searching in her mind for the right words to say. "When you were gone for those 2 1/2 years...I just...I missed you. A couple of guys tried to date me, but...I somehow managed to keep thinking of you. What I'm saying is...I came to a strong realization...Reeaki...I...love you."
The young man's eyes shifted from side-to-side rapidly. He then looked straight at Lauren again. "You...love me, Lauren?"
"Yes," Lauren replied. "I just...do, okay? I wanted to say it, but I thought for some time that I would never get the chance," a couple of tears were dancing down her cheeks. "I understand if you don't love me back, considering you were gone for so long, or didn't really know me well, or..."
Reeaki placed a finger on her lips. "Lauren...you know, I always thought we could be. I did feel really close to you, but...I had forgotten about you during my time away. There was no way to talk to you, nothing. But...seeing you back now...it has re-kindled everything." He smiled brightly once again. "I...love you too."
Lauren excitedly threw her arms around Reeaki in a tight embrace, which was returned. "Oh, Reeaki! I must be dreaming!"
"You're not," Reeaki replied. "I love you, Lauren. Now that we're back here...I'm ready to be with you."
The two new lovers smiled brightly at each other, looking into each other's eyes. Soon, they locked their lips together in a deep kiss.
"Hey, check out the new lovebirds!" Chris yelled, approaching his friends and proceeding to laugh.
Lauren and Reeaki turned to see Chris, and they each blushed. "Yeah...we're together," Reeaki told his friend.
"Oh, man! This is awesome! Come on, you got to tell me about it!" Chris then continued down College Avenue. "Let's go, lovers!"
Reeaki and Lauren took each other's hands and followed Chris down the street.
These past two years couldn't have worked out any better...Reeaki thought to himself.
He had helped save a world.
Now, he was following his own path.
With a new companion alongside him.
Some notes about this Lauren girl: She is 20 years old, and they met in early 2009 when she went down to the school for a visit while deciding on a college.
Reeaki has a last name after all!
Well...I don't know any college would conduct a re-application process. That's just my take on it.
Reeaki is in love too.
Man...so much to explain. The guy has missed a lot. I'm not entirely sure on a correlation of dates between our world and the Avatar world.
The Daily Collegian is the Penn State student newspaper.
Mike McQueary is a key figure in the PSU scandal. For more on his role, click the link.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
Changing Weather - Not Your Typical Days - Regathering the Team - Into the Fire Nation - The Masters of Weather - The Meteorologists Attack - Recovery and Disasters - Searching for Instruction - Reeaki's Arrival - Training - Reverberations - A Dire Warning - Can We Hold Together? - Last Preparations - The Final Showdown, Part 1 - The Final Showdown, Part 2 - Survivors of the Conflict - Moving Forward
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