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January 12, 2013
"Alright," I replied, even though scenes from the last conversation played through my head. "I'll try not to be so... upset this time," I said, as Dad nodded. He put his arm around me and placed his hand on my head, as we walked up to the cliff overlooking Republic City. We sat down and I let my legs dangle off the edge, but Dad sat with his arm bundling one of his knees. There was a drawn out silence, and I mustered enough courage to speak up. "I wanted to tell you some things. I-," my voice croaked slightly, "I thought about them while I was gone."
"Tenzin, you can tell me anything. You know that," he mumbled, as he rubbed my balded head.
"Well... first off, I did believe you, it's just... there was so much pressure thrown on my shoulders at once, and I just kind of... broke."
"Trust me Tenzin, I saw it in your eyes," he started, as he tightened his arm around me, giving me a partial hug, "It pained me to see you hurt, I nearly went crazy when you disappeared. But I know exactly how you feel. When I was your age, I was as normal as the other air bending kids, playing games in the courtyards every day, and then... they announced I was the Avatar." Dad looked down at the ocean, and continued. "Everything changed... my friends even treated me like I was an outcast. My only friend was my guardian. Even being as isolated as I was, the monks took it further, and tried to ship me off to an air temple on the other side of the world."
"What did you do?" I asked, as Aang lightened his arm on my shoulder.
"I didn't know what to do," he began, and paused for a moment. "I was confused, and lost, and... I left. I took my glider and Appa, and just... ran." I could feel Dad shake ever-so-slightly. I hugged him back.
"I know how you feel, dad," I started, "I know anything I could possibly go through would not even compare, but when I ran away, I felt guilty. About the way I just knocked you down, even if you meant no harm. I felt awful inside. But it had nothing to do with you. I was mad at myself," I stuttered. "I know I'm not the perfect son you dreamed of, but I promise you, I'll never give up," I said, as I fell back.
"Tenzin, you are the son I've dreamed of. When you ran away, I felt like I failed. Like I failed you. I'm supposed to be your rock, and I was the opposite," he paused for a while, seeming to revisit our past conversations.
"I guess... I didn't want you to know I was the Avatar, because I didn't want you to treat me different, like my friends did. I wanted to not only be your father, but your best friend. I was afraid of what you would think of me," he concluded, looking back to the horizon, right at Republic City. A prolonged silence followed what he said.
"Dad," I said, breaking the silence, "there's something else I wanted to talk to you about." I said, as we both stared out at the sunrise. "While I was out there, I tried to airbend, and... nothing. I really got down on myself. I thought it was because of what had happened that day. But honestly, I felt like I failed you. I sat in the dark, and thought about what everything meant to me. What you meant to me. What my life would be like without my dad. And I couldn't." Dad took a deep breath, as I continued. "That night, I had the strangest dream. I've never experienced anything like it in my life." I twiddled my thumbs ever-so nervously. "I had never felt so helpless... I felt like there was nothing I could do. But even with you gone, I heard you whisper to me. It felt like you were there, right next to me."
"The people you love are always with you. In your heart, and in your soul," he said, and followed, "deep down, you still knew I loved you, you still knew I believed in you."
He was right, of course. I knew I loved him. Deep down, I knew it all too well.
"Uncle Sokka told me that I was bound to fail before anything went right for me, and I could never give up in fear of failure," I said.
"Did he now?" Aang said with a smile. "Believe it or not, he actually knows what he's talking about sometimes!" he exclaimed while grinning.
"Aang! Tenzin!" I looked up at Dad, and he nodded, which hopefully meant I wasn't awaiting cruel retribution. "There you two are!" Katara exclaimed, throwing her arms around my neck. "Don't run away. Again." Mom said, with a slight smile on her face.
"Sorry mom, I promise it won't happen again." I said, hugging her in return. Actually, it wasn't so much as a hug, as it was me being semi-strangled in love. Same difference.
"Let's go inside," Dad spoke up. He airbended himself upright, and lent Mom and me a hand. Katara and Aang put their arms on my shoulders, and just like that, all of my fears burned away.
As exhausted as I was, I could not sleep. I relived the past days repeatedly, seeing where I went wrong, and the positives of it all. My eyes occasionally fluttered to a close, in which I forced them open with more thoughts. Eventually, I began to drift off to sleep, and awoke myself before I fell into a slumber. But it wasn't where I was, just moments ago. "What the..." I stood up off of the ground, but I wasn't even standing on solid ground. I was in the clouds, surrounded by a dense fog.
"Aang, why didn't you tell us you were the Avatar?" It sounded just like my mother.
"Mom?" I called out, just to be nearly interrupted by another voice.
"Because... I never wanted to be." This voice sounded just like my father, except younger.
"Dad?" I yelled, as the clouds around me began to morph. "Where am I?" I thought to myself, as I looked around, but when I tried to move my feet, I couldn't, almost as if they were being controlled by an invisible force. Three people appeared as the fog diminished, one was an airbender, and the other two were Water Tribe kids. The air began to swirl around the nomad, sending plumes of smoke flying into the air. He looked very similar to me, and he couldn't be much younger, but he had tattoos on his body. Airbending tattoos. Just like my father. I tried to call out, but I could not speak, and as the boy swirled into the air, his tattoos and eyes began to glow with a sharp blue light. A vortex of air surrounded him, whipping dust and debris into the air. I wanted so badly to call out to him, to comfort him, to tell him that everything would be alright. The two Water Tribe members braced themselves behind fallen pillars.
"What happened?" The girl called out, who had my mother's voice yet again.
"He found out firebenders killed Gyatso," the boy yelled to the young girl over the roar of the wind, whose voice sounded strangely similar to Uncle Sokka's. The last word echoed in my head, pounding in my mind. A blast of air sent me spiraling backward, and I braced for impact. But the impact never came.
"The air temple..." I whispered, as I descended back towards reality.
I shouted violently as I sat up, drenched in sweat. It was all so real, like it actually happened, as if I had really been there. Aang slid my door open, and ran over to me.
"Are you alright, Tenzin?" He asked. I looked up and shook my head.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
I took a deep breath, sighing. "You never wanted to be the Avatar, did you?" I asked concisely, as he sat down on the bed next to me.
"How did yo-" He started, but I cut him off.
"I keep having these... visions... in my dreams. I envisioned I was alone, but... then I heard mom ask you why you hid the truth from them about being the Avatar, and that's when I heard you tell them." There was a momentous pause before dad said anything.
"You're right... in the beginning, I didn't want to be the Avatar, because I associated everything that happened to me was in relation to my being of the Avatar. Over time, I grew to accept it." He paused for a moment, and then continued. "In this life, we all have destinies, Tenzin; we all have different paths to follow. As the Avatar, I had no choice in the saying of which path I was set on, but I soon realized that destiny isn't completely set in stone. We have the power to reshape our own destinies," Dad said, grasping his hands together and leaning over the edge of the bed.
"Dad, also... who was Monk Gyatso? I saw you go into the Avatar State in front of Mom and Uncle Sokka, and Sokka said it had to do with him." He covered his mouth with his fingers, and placed his thumb under his chin.
"When I was younger, I didn't have parents... I was raised by monks. My guardian was Gyatso, he was basically my dad," he said, "I actually named you after him, Tenzin." I looked up at my dad and smiled, and he smiled back.
"One more thing, Dad. In my dream, we were at the Southern Air Temple. All of the statues had tattoos like yours on them. You never really explained to me what they represent exactly. I mean, I know they're given to Airbenders and all, but I didn't really know..." I trailed off, as my dad threw his arm on my shoulder.
He pointed to the arrow on his head, smiled and said, "The tattoos represent an airbending master, someone who has completely mastered the art of airbending, and its concepts. Typically the monks gave it to the new master, but I hope your okay with working with me!" He said, with a gigantic smile on his face.
"Really, I'll get them someday?!" I quietly exclaimed, with a hint of amazement in my voice. I always admired my father's tattoos. They were like a notion from the past.
"Of course! Not only do I know you will, I believe you will," Dad replied, smiling down at me. I wrapped my arms around him, as he patted my back. "Now get some sleep, Tenzin. If you want those arrows, you have to start training tomorrow, bright and early!" He softly exclaimed, as he stood up. "Good night, my little airbender," he whispered jokingly, as he rubbed my head gently, and walked towards the door.
"Good night, Master Aang," I whispered back in the same manner, and I heard a quiet chuckle as the sliding door closed.
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