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September 16, 2012
"The Spider can beat anyone, no problem!" Sokka was yelling quite loudly towards the blind earthbender, who was returning with her own ferocity. "The Spider is a wimp! He doesn't take any serious challenges!" The two lifelong friends were bickering about the status of a pro bending contender. They were walking a few feet ahead of Aang and Katara, who were content staying out of the argument and enjoyed the sights of the festival. Aang turned to his own lifelong friend and wife. He spoke to her in a hushed tone. "Honey, you're making all the women at this festival jealous. You couldn't tone it down a little just for their sake?" Katara laughed at his cheesy compliment.
It had been used before, about five or six years ago, and eleven years before that, but it still worked. "Yea, I'm sure all these young women are jealous of some old lady with graying hair and wrinkles." Katara had a determination to age with grace. She frequently saw women who caked make up on their faces in attempts to look younger, but they frequently looked ridiculous. The water bender swore to never act like that in her old age, and she never did. Her appearance was not what made her a strong person. Aang, knowing this all too well, never missed an opportunity to remind his wife that she was beautiful nonetheless. "These girls can't hold a candle to the intoxicating beauty that resides within my wife." He practically sounded like a poet, as if the clutch to his chest, hand on his forehead, and heavenly gaze didn't sell it enough.
Katara giggled once again, but was unable to comment, as Sokka had listened in on their conversation and barged in between them. "Hey, Romeo. Quit hitting on my sister." Sokka enjoyed feigning protectiveness over his younger sister, but she was never amused at his antic. She grunted at him. "Sokka, can't you just act your age and complain about the post office and leave us be?" Her brother ignored the implication of his age. "They never do anything within the time frame they say they will! Anyway, I need Aang to glide me back to the house." Both Aang and Katara quirked an eyebrow at the Water Tribesman. Aang spoke up first. "We just got here, you're done already?" Sokka shook his head. "I left my sword at the house. I feel barren without it, and if you fly me it will take just a second."
Aang knew what Sokka was trying to accomplish with his not-so-mastermind-plot, but he went along with it anyway. Katara picked up on it as well, shooting her husband a look that said, "Go, but come back quick." Aang twirled around his glider, letting the wings spread open. "Alright, grab on." Sokka took hold of a part of the glider near Aang's feet and they took off, leaving Toph and Katara alone. Toph did not quite pick up on Sokka's true intention behind going to the house. "Why did you let Snoozles drag Aang all the way back to the beach house?" Katara, her eyes still fixated on the glider the Avatar commanded, answered softly. "They just need to talk."
Toph had recalled the other night when Aang and herself had their "talk." She suspected that he would probably doing his rounds with everyone in their misfit family as well as with his actual family. Right now it looked like it was Sokka's turn, but being near Katara, Toph could tell that she still hadn't settled her feelings with her husband. "How are you dealing with all of this?" Katara continued to look at the skyline where her husband disappeared. She spoke softly, "I'm not." There wasn't much to say. She and Aang hadn't said much of what would happen since he broke the news to her. She needed time to think, but was aching every minute at the thought of losing her love.
Toph, sensing this, tried to console her friend. "Katara, you can talk to me." The water bender knew that she could. Yet just thinking about saying anything to her friend made tears pour down her cheeks. She tried to communicate through muffled sobs. "I don't know what to do. How am I supposed to live without him? Why does he have to..." She couldn't continue. It was too much to bear right now. Toph, not exactly the touchy-feel-y type, placed a hand on her friends shoulder. "I can't say I know how you feel, Katara. But I want you to know that we're all here for you, and that it will be okay." Katara shot an angry look at her friend. "How can this be okay? My husband, my best friend, is going to..." Katara put her face in her hands, trying to hide from the world around her.
She didn't want to feel this way or be around here. She just wanted to sit in darkness and wallow in sadness for her love. Toph, again unsure of how to handle this situation, was dumbfounded. Nobody in their tight knit family had yet to pass on, so this was the first time any of them had to deal with the death of someone so close. But for Katara, it was like she was going to lose a piece of herself. She and Aang had been together since their childhood, had children together, and spent every waking moment of their lives trying to be together. How was Toph supposed to sympathize with this? Still, Katara was like her sister, and she had to try. "You know how Aang told us about chakras and stuff?"
Katara broke her sobs and turned to her friend, perplexed. Toph had never shown much of a spiritual side, but this made Katara curious. Toph continued with her attempts to comfort the water bender. "He said that love doesn't leave the world, and that we keep those closest to us in our hearts. Even though he is...leaving, he's not really gone. His spirit will go on within your heart." It sounded so cheesy to her, but she didn't know much else of what to say. Regardless of how Toph thought it sounded, it made Katara feel a bit better. "Thank you, Toph. I'm sorry I'm ruining the mood of the festival for you." Toph, trying to lighten the mood, did what she always did: cracked a joke at her friend's expense. "Don't worry about it, Sugar Queen. You brought me down all the time when we were kids."
Katara looked at her friend with an annoyed face. "Well, Mud Slug, we did have our own little adventures regardless." Toph's signature sly smile appeared on her face as she thought of a brilliant way to cheer up Katara. "Speaking of old times, I think I've got an idea to cheer you up a bit." The water bender quirked her eyebrow. "Oh, and what would that be?" Toph wrapped her arm around her friends shoulder. "You and me are gonna pull another scam." Katara first tried to pull away, about to protest, but the idea of just letting everything else go to spend time with her friend was too interesting to ignore. A familiar sly smile crawled onto Katara's face. "Let's do it."
Aang had brought Sokka near the front of the beach house with as soft a landing as an airbender could make. They both walked side by side into the house, and lo and behold, Sokka's sword was placed on the dining table. He went over to pick up his trusted weapon. "Thanks for bringing me back, Aang. I get uneasy when I don't carry my means for butt-kicking." He snickered a bit at his own joke. Aang rolled his eyes at his brother-in-law. "Yea, you must be getting pretty forgetful in your old age to leave your sword behind." Sokka laughed at the implication. "Yea, you know me. Old, forgetful Sokka." His eyes turned solemn as he looked down at the blade in his hands. "We are getting pretty old, aren't we?" Sokka was very unsure of how to proceed with this sort of conversation, but he had feelings he needed to settle with Aang. "Truth be told, I'm not sure how much time I have left in this world either."
Aang had known this talk was coming, but still hurt at the thought of Sokka passing on. Of course, his own circumstances weren't much different. The Avatar struggled to find the right words. "...Are you afraid?" Sokka continued to look at his sword, the symbol of his youth and virility which had slipped by as the years went on. "No, I'm not afraid. I just worry about leaving my family behind. I know they will manage, but I don't want to be the cause of their pain." He looked up to his lifelong friend. "That's why I understand why you brought us all out here. Enjoy the good times while we still have them." Sokka turned his head away once more, tears starting to well. "But it doesn't mean that I'm handling this any better than everyone else. I can't bear the thought of you leaving Aang. We've been best friends our whole lives. Comrades on the field of battle. And now..."
A moment of silence passed between them. It was true that they had shared much throughout their lives. The battlefield was one aspect of their relationship that Sokka frequently clung to, but right now Aang wanted to remember all of the other important parts of his life that Sokka was integral to and tell him how important he is, for he may not get another chance. He walked towards his friend, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Not just my comrade, Sokka. You are my brother as well as my best friend. You were an example to me my whole life, showing me how to be a man, always teaching me things. Heck, you taught me how to shave!" Sokka laughed at the old memory. "Ha! You tried it by yourself first and slit your cheek. You ran out of that bathroom, begging me for help!" Aang joined his laughter. "Then you had to explain to me why we don't use kitchen knives to shave!" Both of them now enjoyed their laughter together, until they calmed down enough for Aang to continue.
"You helped me in my journey to become the Avatar, you gave me your blessing to be with your sister, and you helped me become a better man, the man I am today. I owe you a part of my life, and I love you like my brother, Sokka." Sokka smiled at the Avatar. There was little left to be said between the two. The two hugged as they shared the remembrance of their lives together. Sokka was first to pull away. "I'm going to miss you, Aang. You too, were like the little brother I never had, but you taught me just as much and probably more than I ever did for you. I don't know why it is that fate has decided to take you now," Sokka held out his arm, "but I know that you will face your fate like a man. And maybe soon, I'll see you on the other side."
Aang grasped his friends forearm in a strong grip, the two of them smiling at each other. They each let go, and Aang spoke up first. "Let's head back to the festival. I saw a fencing game going on. But maybe you're a bit too old to kick some young swordsman butt." Sokka laughed at the challenge. "I'll show you who's old. After I'm done beating up those kids, you and me are gonna arm wrestle." Aang laughed as well, the two of them leaving the house, heading out to enjoy their male bonding moment for probably their last time.
Later that night, everyone was gathered around the dining table, enjoying a meal that everyone helped to put together. Everyone was eating and laughing, sharing the stories of their day at the festival. Kya gestured to the large stuffed animal in the corner of the room. "After Bumi gave away all of his toys, he played one last game and won me a giant stuffed bear." Sokka looked curiously at the stuffed creature. "That thing still weirds me out." Toph nodded in agreement. "It's just a bear? That thing is creepy." The table joined in the laughter until Lin spoke up. "While you two had fun winning toys, I cleaned out half the gamblers on the floor." Tenzin scoffed. "Then they almost threw us both out of the festival. I had to calm down those card players you hustled." Toph laughed at her daughters antics. "That's my girl! Always rustling up trouble. Just like her mom." Katara jumped into the conversation. "Thank goodness we have another Bei Fong around. We didn't get into enough trouble already."
Toph smiled at her friends comment. "You're one to talk, Sugar Queen. You did some hustling yourself today." Katara laughed at the thought of their adventure today. "That jerk didn't know what was coming. Oh, my hip, my hip! I fell over because of this careless vendor wheeling around his cart!" Toph joined her friend in reminiscing about the day's events. "That dude got so scared he hurt you, he gave us both purses just to shut you up!" The whole table joined in the laughter once again, enjoying a good meal, and enjoying the time they spent together. Aang couldn't be happier with everything that was going on. He loved having everyone around; just having fun with whatever situation they found themselves in.
Just when Aang thought things couldn't get any better, a huge crash interrupted their dinner. The crash came from the front door that was just kicked in, and standing in the door with violent fury in his eyes was Firelord Zuko. He raised his hand and pointed his finger at the Avatar. "You and me need to have a talk."
Aww snap. Zuko's in the house. I wonder what he's so mad about?
I feel so bad for Katara. I feel like she is going through so much and doesn't know how to deal with it all. At least she has Toph to help her out.
I liked the story I made for Sokka and Aang. The shaving thing seemed pretty funny.
So far so good with the whole story. I have it all mapped out, and it will be about ten chapters, but after the next, I may go on a small hiatus. So for the three of you reading, sorry to keep you waiting.
For the collective works of the author, go here.