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September 13, 2012
Appa and Oogi soared through the sky gracefully for such large animals. On Appa sat the elders of the group, and on Oogi were the children. Everyone was mostly quiet for the ride, and the tension between Lin and Tenzin was palpable. Their relationship with one another was complicated, and the only reason they were even together at the moment was at the request of the Avatar that Lin come on the vacation. Tenzin had no qualms, but was clearly uncomfortable throughout the flight. Kya did not help. "So Tenzin, how's Pema doing?" Lin ignored the comment, although her face slightly reddened, but Tenzin tensed immediately.
His sister was gone before Lin and Tenzin got together and separated, so she was unaware of their current status, but the awkwardness was made apparent the moment she mentioned it. "She is doing well, Kya." Tenzin tried to easily settle the situation, but regardless of the fact that everyone was dreary over the circumstances of their reunion, Bumi couldn't help but cackle under his breath at the discomfort of his little brother.
Soon, both flying bison landed at their destination: Ember Island. Aang was the first to hop cheerfully onto the sand. "Alright! We're here! And we've still got plenty of daylight left. What does everyone want to do?" Aang's upbeat attitude did not comfort his dreary company as much as he wanted. Everyone got off the bison slowly with solemn attitudes because of the situation. As much as Aang didn't want to admit it, everyone was gloomy because he had told them of his inevitable fate. They needed to know. We need this time together. I need it. Kya spoke of her intentions first. "I think we'll just unpack and relax for the day, dad."
Katara noticed her husband's expression start to turn grim. She felt just as depressed as everyone else, but Aang was her love, and she would do whatever it took to make him happy. She forced a convincing smile to her face. "We'll unpack later, sweetie. Me and you are going water bending boarding in that ocean." Katara grabbed her daughter and pointed her towards the giant mass of water. The large body of water was great for the sport that Katara and Aang had invented together long ago.
Upon seeing his wife's enthused attitude, Aang became almost giddy, especially at the mention of water bending boarding. "Oh yea! The weather is perfect for it! Kya, me and your mom figured out a delicate and intricate technique in water bending that allowed us to ride any waves we summoned." Aang was very proud of his development of the technique, but Katara just pulled her daughter close and whispered to her. "All you do is make a board out of ice and you can ride the waves." The mother-daughter duo giggled, but before they finished, Aang was already down to his trunks and diving into the water. The moment everyone heard the splash, they heard the all-powerful Avatar yell out "Cold!"
Now everyone began to laugh, and the mood was suddenly much brighter for everyone. As Kya and Katara went to join Aang in the ocean, Toph turned to her daughter. "Alright, my little badger mole, just because we're on the beach doesn't mean we're done training. Come on, let me show you something." Lin was always excited to learn new things from her mother. As the two of them walked down the beach to avoid disturbing everyone else, Lin mirrored her mother's sly grin. Bumi turned to his brother. "Hey Tenzin, you wanna glide off the tallest hill we can find and dive in the ocean?" Bumi loved doing wild and ridiculous things, and although Tenzin was in a much better mood, he always dedicated his time to more peaceful things. "Not now. I'm going to the beach house patio to meditate. I'll be there for a while if anyone needs me." Tenzin began to walk away, and although he found pleasure in simple things like meditation, his brother Bumi sneered at his younger brother for being a stick in the mud.
Sokka came up behind his nephew almost on queue with a conniving look on his face. "Let's try and lighten up your brother a bit, shall we?" Bumi returned his uncles attitude. They always had a strong bond, and frequently connected over their odd humor. The wild man smiled deviously in return. "What did you have in mind?" Sokka took his nephew under his wing and walked him along the beach. "Kid, I love your spirit."
Kya quickly picked up the simple yet amazingly fun technique taught to her by her parents. She was riding high up on the waves that they all conjured, balancing steadily on her ice board, but her mother, a true master water bender was practically at the top, swerving along the water with ease. She yelled to her daughter over the roar of the wave. "You're doing great, honey!" Kya was always amazed at how her mother was able to accomplish great physical feats at her age, but not nearly as much as she was with her father. "Check out dad!" Katara turned her attention to her other side where her husband was riding.
His board was at as high and balanced a level as hers, but he was adding a bit of flare. His feet were not planted on the board. He was doing a handstand while riding the wave, all the while grinning at his beloved wife. She laughed at his boyish antics before yelling over to him. "Give it a rest, you big show off!" Aang giggled, ignored her request and yelled back to her. "Show Kya your finishing move!" Katara knew exactly what he meant, and a sly smile that mimicked Toph's spread across her face. She leaped off her ice board high into the air, yelling "Water-bending-bomb!" As she hit the water, a gigantic splash of water completely overtook the younger water bender and the Avatar, both of them succumbing to the true master's prowess. They emerged from the water laughing, watching the remnant of the wave they were on surge toward the shore.
Just down the beach, Toph took her earth bending stance in the sand. "This is called sand bending." Toph focused all her energy on the sand, and pushed out a strong but controlled block. As she did, the sand molded into the floor in a scale model of the Earth Kingdom city of Ba Sing Se. Toph brought her hands behind her head, smiling smugly at her work of art. "That's how you do it, kid." Lin had observed her mother's technique and felt like she could take it on. "Let me give it a shot, dearest mother." Her sarcasm was equivalent to her mothers, as was her strong earth bending stance. She focused all of her energy, but instead of depressing the sand like her mom, she raised it from the surface to create a far more impressive design. The tallest buildings of the scale model Republic City overshadowed Toph's attempts at sand bending.
Toph's mouth was agape for a moment, surprised at her daughter's talent, but quickly began to beam with pride. "I'm so proud of my little badger-mole!" She began to hug Lin exaggeratedly, and Lin couldn't help but have a bit of pride knowing she had surpassed her mother in an aspect of earth bending. Also, she couldn't help but hug back, feeling a strong love from her mother.
Their loving moment was cut short by a huge wave of water crashing over both of them and their sand sculptures. Toph knew immediately that this was the result of her friend's antics. Angrily, she shouted to the air. "Sugar Queen! Twinkle Toes!"
Tenzin had heard the shout all the way back at the beach house. It interrupted him only briefly, as he had become a master of meditation. However, no level of training could ever prepare him for his uncle's boisterous voice. "Hey there, little baldy!" Sokka walked up the steps to the patio of the beach house and sat next to Tenzin, munching on an apple. Mouth still full, he continued. "How come you're not on the beach with the rest of us?" Tenzin didn't break from his sitting stance. He just opened his eyes to address his nutty uncle. "I am meditating. Others may not find it very fun, but it is serene to me." Sokka continued to loudly crunch his fruit. "Hey, I'm all for it. Meditation's great! Just try not to do it too close to the house."
Sokka leaned in closer to the young air bender, speaking in an ominous tone. "Legend has it, that this house is haunted by the sea spirit that used to rest on these beaches. When someone built a house on it, the spirit became angry and vowed once every ten years to torment the occupants of this. Very. House. Ten years ago today, really" Sokka darted his eyes back and forth in an attempt to rile up Tenzin, but this wasn't the first time his uncle had exaggerated a made-up story to get a laugh of some sort. Regardless, he humored him. "Alright, uncle, I will be very wary of the spirits today." Sokka smiled, and said, "Okay, air boy. I'm going inside for a minute." Sokka walked into the house, looking back deviously at his young nephew.
Tenzin went back to his calming state, concentrating on nothing but the wind. Suddenly, he felt a large thud in front of him drop from the roof, and as he opened his eyes, a monster covered in seaweed was right in front of him. Tenzin couldn't help but let out a scream, getting up to run into the house, when another similar creature emerged from the doorway, making Tenzin scream even louder. He pointed both his palms at the demons, sending blasts of air to each. The seaweed flew off of the two impostors, and Sokka and Bumi began to clutch their stomachs and let out a strongly similar cackle. Tenzin's face reddened. "Very mature, very funny." Bumi wrapped his arm around his young bending brother. "I'm sorry but you needed that. Come on, you've meditated enough. Let's go have some fun!"
The young airbender was reluctant at first, but he did want to spend time with his brother. Now was as good a time as any. He turned to his wild man of a brother and said, "I'll get my glider." Bumi's face lit up, as he let out his trademark battle cry that boomed through the sky and was heard all over their private beach. The two brothers went to their things to get the glider, and soon took off for the sky, ready to enjoy the rest of their day together enjoying whatever madness would ensue.
The sun soon set, and the whole family gathered around a small camp fire on the beach. Nobody was anxious to get into the house, and camping brought back good memories. Sokka was standing before the group, trying to regale them with the story of The Haunted Blade. "Little did they know...that the blade was haunted!" Sokka drew his sword and pointed it to the campfire, doing his best to make scary noises. Some in the group were unimpressed. Toph scoffed at the stories finale. "That story wasn't scary fifty years ago and it isn't scary now." Sokka turned to her and spoke in a mocking tone. "It appears the old hag is jealous of the incredible story telling skills of the young and handsome sword master." He raised his sword to the sky in triumph, but Toph looked at the man before her with a cringe in her face. "Who are you calling old? I'm three years younger than you!"
The Water Tribe warrior continued his mockery. "Ah, but I seem to grow more handsome as time passes. If you look closely, you can see my jaw line becoming more and more chiseled." The whole group laughed at Sokka's humor, even Toph. Aang was so happy with how the day had turned out. It was everything he wanted from his family, just all of them having fun together. He stood up and walked toward the house. "I'm going to make us some tea." Upon hearing this, Toph stood up as well. "I'll come with you." The two of them left the group at the camp fire, walking together in silence towards the house. As they stepped the patio, Aang, didn't enter the house. He went by the railing, leaning against it, knowing that Toph hadn't followed him to help with the tea.
The blind bandit joined the Avatar as they both stared towards their family, huddled on the beach, and just past them lay the ocean. Oddly, it was Toph that broke the silence. "You know, I was always considered the rock for the group. No pun intended." Aang looked to his friend. She wasn't the type to talk about old times. Or the feelings she had during those times. But when she began opening up, Aang knew to let her go at her own pace. Toph continued, "Whenever things started to go bad, I always felt like I had to keep strong and fight when nobody else could." Aang smiled. "You were always the tough one, Toph." She didn't return the smile.
She turned away from the railing and faced her friend. "You came for me. You helped me and believed in me when no one else did. You brought me on an adventure across the world, and now, darn it..." Tears began to appear in her pale eyes. "...Now you're leaving. I feel weak, like I can't help you. You're telling me you're going to die and there's nothing that you can do or that I can and I'm so scared..." Toph began to weep.
She knew full well that she was in the presence of Aang, but it didn't stop her from crying. It was true, she was scared of losing Aang, the boy that gave her a life beyond what she had and gave her friendship like nobody else ever did or could. Aang put a hand on her shoulder. "I know it's hard, but you don't have to be my rock for this. You don't need to fight this for me, because it's nothing to fight." Her blank eyes looked up to him through tears. "You are one of my best friends, Toph. All I need from you is to be happy, and enjoy your life. You will always carry me with you, like the rock that you are. You'll be tough and strong through everything, just like you always are, and even when I'm gone..."
He pulled her into a strong hug. "You and I will always have our bond together. We'll always be best friends." Toph let out a few more tears before calming down. They stayed like that for a moment, until Toph broke their embrace. She wiped the tears from her eyes. "I'm going to miss you Aang." Aang smiled at her. It wasn't often that they shared affectionate moments, but Toph had really opened up with him just now. "I'll miss you too." They looked back over the railing of the patio at their little family, standing in the silence. Out of nowhere, Toph delivered a punch to Aang's arm, ending their affectionate moment, and right then, he knew that she would be okay.
I have to admit, I got a bit teary with Toph. *sniff*
Writing all of these characters and trying to find time for them in the whole chapter was a bit of a challenge, but I feel like I gave everyone something fun to do. Except Tenzin. Always so serious.
Today we had Toph's goodbye to Aang, and over the course of the rest of the chapters, we should get the rest. Hopefully this one was satisfactory, as I wrote Toph as strong and confident, yet saddened to lose her lifelong friend.
Thanks for reading :)
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