|More from SifuHotman||Adventure||G (all ages)||None||No update page|
September 9, 2012
Aang walked up to the front of the council building. It was early in the morning, so he didn't attract too much attention. Being the Avatar had its perks, but being mobbed by fans on occasion was one that Aang could do without. As he entered through the large double doors, he instinctively knew to turn left, knowing that Sokka's office was at the end of the hall. Aang couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. As expected, the conversations with his family about his upcoming end hadn't gone very well, and he didn't expect them to go to well with anyone else he told either.
But that didn't mean that on a certain level, he feared hurting those close to him by telling them the truth. He did not fear his death, but he feared leaving his loved ones behind with uncertainty. That's why I need to tell them. I can't let them be shocked by it, so uncertain of the future. Aang passed down the end of the hall until he made it to the door of Sokka's council chamber. The door was open, and he could see his brother in law scribbling something on a sheet of paper. Aang knocked the already open door to get his attention.
Sokka shot his head up toward Aang and a huge smile spread his wrinkled face. "Aang! Come in!" Sokka was always excited to see Aang. Just as he and Katara became closer over the course of time, so to had he become close with the Water Tribe warrior. "It's rare to see you here this early in the morning. Must be something special. Here, I'll order my assistant to bring us tea." Sokka stood from his desk to yell to his assistant. "Oh, Tarrlok!"
Rushing into the office right behind Aang was a young Water Tribe man. "Yes, Councilman Sokka?" The young man seemed eager to serve his superior, although slightly annoyed with Sokka's demeanor.
"Fetch me and the Avatar some tea. And address me with the title we discussed."
Tarrlok let out a sigh. "Right away...Wolf-master-sword-councilor...of-boomerang." Tarrlok finished saying the extensive and ridiculous title before leaving to get the tea.
"Such a good kid. He'll go far in this world. So, what brings you here, Aang?" Sokka looked to Aang expectantly for an answer, but he still hadn't thought up quite what to say.
"We...sure are old, aren't we?" That did not sound as good as Aang had intended.
Sokka let out a laugh. "Sure we are, but being old is awesome! I can spit and nobody cares, I pretend I know what I'm talking about and everyone listens, and if I ever need something taken care of, I just pretend I'm confused and people do it for me!" Sokka hadn't changed much since his teenage years, much to the gratefulness of his friends, but it became a bit much some days.
"Yes, but...I'm here to discuss the future. My future, specifically."
Aang tried to take on a serious tone, but Sokka continued with his antics. "Hold that thought. Tarrlok!"
Tarrlok came rushing in with tea in a tray. "Yes, Councilman Sokka?" Thankfully, Sokka had forgotten about his obnoxious title for the moment.
"Nothing. Just keeping you on your toes." Tarrlok kept a calm expression, but was clearly annoyed by his boss. He set the tea down and left once more.
Sokka picked up his cup of tea, as did Aang. "So, the future. What of it?"
Aang figured the best way to do this was to be straight forward with Sokka. "Sokka, I don't have a lot of time left in this world."
Despite this confession, Sokka continued to drink his tea. "Neither do any of us. That's why I'll have fun bossing around all my subordinates until I kick the bucket or they throw me out of here!" Sokka let out another laugh.
Aang was becoming frustrated, but knew not to blow up at his friend. "Sokka." Aang looked at his comrade dead in the eye with a cold expression.
Sokka's smile disappeared as he set down his cup and looked into the eyes of his old friend. "How do you know?"
Aang continued his solemn stare. "I just know."
Sokka let out a deep breath, unsure what to say next. "How is Katara?"
Aang broke his stare and looked down at his lap. "Far better than I hoped, but it pains me to see her so upset."
Sokka stood out of his desk and went over to his friend. So much needed to be said, but he had no idea where to start. Unless sarcastic remarks were to be made, Sokka was at a bit of a loss. "Aang...I'm sorry." Now was not the time to be down for Aang. He had much he wanted to do.
His expression went from sad to excited in a blink. "I came over to invite you on a vacation with my family. We're going to Ember Island tomorrow." Sokka, sensing that now was not the time to get out all their feelings, flipped his emotions around as well.
Smiling, he said "That sounds fantastic! We should get Toph and Zuko while we're at it, if you can get fire-jerk out of his palace for ten minutes."
Aang giggled at the comment. "I was just going down the hall to get Toph now. You want to come?"
Sokka finished off his tea before saying anything. "Let's go."
Toph and her daughter spent their mornings training vigorously in order to prepare Lin for the special forces. Lin had to learn metal bending, but before she could, she needed to perfect her craft of earth bending. Who better to learn from than the self-proclaimed greatest-earthbender-of-all-time and the world's first metal bender? They were practicing their daily "rock-like" exercises, until Toph had called an end to it. "Good job, my little badger-mole."
Toph gave her daughter a sly grin. Lin didn't care much for the name, but she loved spending time training with her mom. She smiled back at her. "Thanks, Mom."
Toph was so proud of her child, she was sure that she would even surpass the abilities of the former Blind Bandit in earthbending eventually. But for now, it was nice to be able to poke fun. "Take a break, kiddo. We have visitors." Lin saw nobody in the gym, but her mother's extra-sensory perception was rarely off. She went to get a drink, and after a moment passed, she saw Avatar Aang and Councilman Sokka enter the room.
Aang called out to his old friend and stepped onto the training floor. "Hey, Toph!" Toph immediately shot up a rock from beneath Aang's feet, thrusting him into the air. Even in his old age, the Avatars acrobatics were unmatched, and he safely fell to the floor. "What was that for?" Aang asked her angrily.
She simply walked over to him nonchalantly with her 'cool as a cucumber' attitude. "You stepped onto my training area without bowing in. Doesn't fly with my students, and it doesn't fly with the Avatar." She gave him her sly smile, and he returned his own.
He bowed obnoxiously deep to his former trainer. "My deepest apologies, Sifu Toph."
The blind earthbender couldn't help but let out a laugh. "What's happening, Twinkle toes?"
Aang shook his head. Always with the nick names. "I came to ask you to come with me and my family on a vacation to Ember Island. Sokka's coming too."
At the mention of his name, Sokka raised his hand, as if to clarify his presence. "What's up?"
Toph looked at her friends, bewildered. "A vacation? Now? What for?" Toph questioned very directly. Aang's eyes had become saddened once again.
He again didn't know how to start. "You know...we're not getting any younger."
Toph, still a bit confused as to the timing, pushed head on with her questions. "Yea, but why? And maybe you're not getting younger, but I feel like I'm..." Toph's snarky comment was cut off by her own realization at what the purpose of this was. She adjusted her feet properly, looking into Aang with empty eyes and her jaw hanging slightly.
Aang knew that his friend was perceptive. She had an uncanny ability to understand what people were trying to say before they even said it. After knowing her for so long, their level communication didn't even need words.
As tough as she always was and wanted to be at this very moment, Toph couldn't help but let her eyes get a little watery. "Are you sure?"
Aang didn't speak, didn't move, not even so much as a nod. He simply looked to her, and after a brief moment, she walked over to him and hugged him tightly.
Aang was a brother to Toph her entire life, and the fact that he may die shortly...she couldn't bear the thought at the moment. She pushed him off of her.
Toph tried to return to her hard-as-stone attitude. "So, a vacation, huh? Where to, again?" Aang was still reeling about from Toph's show of emotion.
He mentioned the location again, "To Ember Island." Toph, as usual, didn't miss a beat. "Sounds like a plan. Can Lin come?"
After gathering himself a bit, Aang's smile unveiled itself once more. "I would love for her to come."
Toph smiled just as much and yelled over to her daughter. "Lin! We're going on a vacation with Aang and his family!"
Lin cringed a bit. She was never unnerved by her mother's brazen announcements, but she knew that this meant that she would have to spend time with Tenzin.
For now, though, she put those reservations aside and answered her mother's statement quickly. "Great! Thanks for the invite, Uncle Twinkle toes!"
Aang gave off a half smile at his old nickname coming from his friends child. "You have taught her well." Toph smiled her sly grin once more. "She learned from the best."
Firelord Zuko sat in his chambers, meditating, as was his nightly ritual. He had much to think about in terms of the state of his nation, but was pleased with its steady progress. As he faced out his window, he heard the caw of a messenger hawk as it flew in. It doesn't matter what it is. Right now, there is nothing. Just...emptiness. Zuko spent much time trying to center himself and close out all distractions. Even if for just a moment.
It didn't help when one of his guardsmen came to his room. "Your highness, there is a message for you." Zuko did not move from his seated position, his candles settled around him burning calmly.
He answered his guard calmly as well. "I am not to be disturbed during my meditation for any purposes." Peace, serenity: the only things on his mind.
"It is a message from the Avatar, my lord." Zuko stood up quickly, the candles burning hotter and larger than before. "What?!" Zuko was always excited to hear from Aang. It bothered him being so far away from all of his friends in Republic City, but his country needed him at the capital. He took the message from his guard and dismissed him from the room.
Zuko was halfway through the letter from Aang, when Mai entered the room. "Meditation cut short, mister spiritual?" Mai had a gift of being both loving and snide in her remarks. Her husband's back was turned to her, but she could sense his growing rage.
Zuko ignored his wife for the moment, reading the letter in his hand, gripping it tighter and tighter. After he finished, he stuffed it in his shirt, and turned to his wife. There was fire and anger in his amber colored eyes. She was not afraid of him as some were, but knew that whatever was in that letter must have troubled him deeply.
He spoke very coldly for being in such an enraged state. "I am leaving on a ship tonight. I leave you in charge of the homeland for a time." Mai was about to question her husband, but decided against it. She normally kept him in line when he would become emotional, but this time was different. He was furious beyond belief.
"Alright, I'll take care of the meeting with Kuei tomorrow. How long will you be gone?" Mai wasn't sure how the Earth King would react to the Firelord's absence, but he would have to accept it.
Zuko turned to his dresser and began to pack certain articles of clothing into a bag. "About a week. You can handle Kuei." He slung his bag over his shoulder and turned back to his wife.
He still had a burning rage in his eyes, but he hugged her tenderly. "I love you." After pulling away, he left the room behind her, headed for his air ship.
The Firelady couldn't help but ask. "Where are you going?"
Without losing his stride, keeping the flame in his voice, he said, "To Ember Island."
A few things: I decided to upload twice a week, since this series shouldn't be very long and I'd rather have it out there quick. Good for those of you that enjoy it :)
This chapter was hard to wrap my mind around, considering the fact that I had to write about pre-existing characters. I hope that I actually captured their true essence
Tarrlok has no significance to the story. I just thought it would be funny to mess with him.
Why is Zuko so angry? What was in that letter? Can Toph read minds? Find out in the next installment on Wednesday
For the collective works of the author, go here.