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So You Think You're Standing Firm
Chapter information
Series

Ghosts of the Past

Chapter

One

Written by

Katherine Rebekah

Chronology
Next chapter

The Human Spirit Can Endure Sickness

A blaring sound from her iPhone shook Katara from the depths of slumber. She rolled over and sighed. Her dream had been so nice, but now it was time to face reality.

It took her about five seconds to grab her phone off the night stand, slide the lock screen, and entered her code, finally getting the alarm to stop. She sat up and stretched, shaking off the fog of sleep, and took a deep breath, catching the faintest hints of coffee and bacon wafting in from the kitchen. She checked beside her, as usual, Aang's side of the bed was empty.

Katara slid out from under the covers and proceeded to begin her morning routine. She flicked on the lamp, which cast a warm glow across the small room, and began spreading the gray blue comforter out so that it covered the bed, not bothering to smooth out the bumps. She then went over to the window, drew the blinds, and opened it to get rid of that dank, dusty musk that always hung over the old beach house. It was still dark out and a wind from the sea blew in through the screens causing Katara to shiver in her thin T-shirt. She meandered over to the door, still in the half-aware stupor that comes from just waking up, and turned the ceiling fan off on her way out.

Most of the lights in the house were still off, but she could see a faint glow coming from the bottom of the door to the kitchen. She shuffled across the dark living room, and, before she knew it, something was poking her in her eye. Katara swatted at it and let out a little yep, realizing too late that it was only a branch of their plastic Christmas tree gone roge. She scowled at the faint outline of a popsicle stick ornament. Just then she heard a deranged laugh echo from the other side of the darkened room.

"Real smooth, Sugar Queen," Toph's voice penetrated the silence.

"Not cool, Toph." The light switched on and Katara found her friend standing next to the TV with a taunting smile on her face. If Katara hadn't been awake a few seconds ago she was then.

They made their way through the dining room and into the cramped kitchen finding a half-asleep, and obviously annoyed, Sokka sipping on his coffee mug along with an ever alert Suki standing over the crackling bacon.

"Morning, Katara." She flashed a smile, the whiteness of her teeth enhanced by the oxblood color of the lipstick surrounding them. "Have some bacon." She nodded at a plate sitting on the counter.

"Thanks." Katara grabbed a piece and shoved the entire thing in her mouth. She then pushed Sokka out of the way to get to the stimulant. She poured herself a cup of coffee, chewed bacon, and checked the time on the kitchen clock all at the same time. She had thirty minutes to get ready if she wanted to get to the hospital on time.

"How's stuff at the dojo coming along?" Katara spoke through a mouth full of bacon, and Toph and Sokka let out a simulations groan.

"Oh, it's not that bad," Suki snapped at them. "We're going to be a little over budget, but we'll work it all out."

"Good to hear."

Katara made her way back to the bed room to get ready. She dressed in turquoise scrubs, pulled her thick brown hair into a bun with two twists of hair framing her face, and applied a layer of mascara. After that morning ritual was complete she went to the kitchen, poured herself another cup of coffee, and made sure to pick up her computer bag on the way out the door.

The smell of the sea hit her smack in the face as soon as she went outside. It was almost light out now, the sky turning a grayish blue tinge, and she could tell that a storm was moving in.

She took a second to inhale deeply and feel the intense satisfaction that came with almost being done with nursing school. Well, that wasn't entirely accurate. She was half way through the last year for her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. After that she would move on to get her masters and become a NP. But she deserved a pat on the back. She had made it this far. Plus, this was the last day of school before she got off for Christmas. An entire month of no work, and dad would be coming home to celebrate. She smiled to herself. Everything was going her way.

Katara walked around the porch to the East side of the house, the side that faced the shore, to find Aang cross-legged on the porch, eyes closed, incense burning beside him. Katara walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder, giving him a start.

"Morning."

"Morning." He smiled up at her, obviously not upset about being disturbed.

"Can you drive me to the hospital?" He got up, dusting the dirt and splinters from the porch off his jeans.

"Sure thing. I don't have to be at the monastery until this afternoon. I've got Yee-Li taking over for me." Katara rolled her eyes.

"Couldn't you get Xing Ying to do it? She's way more sensible and better at coordinating things."

"Katara, I want to give her a chance. She's been begging me, plus I know her better then you do."

Katara raised her brows. "Alright, but don't say I didn't warn you."

Aang rolled his eyes.

"Come on, let's get in the car."

The couple loaded up in Aang's yellow Smart Car. And, as if it wasn't cramped enough, their massive sheep dog Appa insisted upon riding in Katara's lap and trying to Christen her with slobber all the way to the hospital.

Aang dropped her off and she walked into the ER. It was full of the regular stuff: people that looked like they had the flu, an obvious tourist; who had hit his head scuba diving, a fat man in a bright orange hibiscus shirt; who had a stomach ache, and some dude that was dripping water all over their floors and waring nothing but swim shorts; who had steeped on an urchin.

Katara found the room where her instructor, Dr. Yagonda, had them meet in the mornings. Katara ended up taking care of the fat guy and the urchin guy. The fat guy had to have his stomach pumped, he had eaten too much at a lobster boil, and the urchin guy was scared that someone was going to pee on his foot.

That made up much of her morning and she was just about to go into lunch when they got a call from the EMT's saying that they were bringing in a gun shot wound.

In an instant the place was buzzing with activity, getting ready for the patient. This would be the first time that the student's had seen a life and death situation in the ER and Katara was itching to see if they would let them help with the patient. She doubted it, but maybe they would.

Then he came in.

He had a nasty gun shot wound right in the chest. Katara felt sick. But not from the blood, or his grunts of pain, she was used to that stuff. She felt sick from his presence, because what Katara's eyes had locked on was the tattoo of a third eye right in the middle of his forehead.

A million thoughts ran into her head all at once. He was supposed to be in jail. There was no way. Maybe had just escaped. Maybe that's why he was shot. Maybe...

"Katara!" The yell of her instructor shook her into attention. "Go get me gossamer. Now!" Katara ran off to fallow her orders.

It didn't take long for Dr. Yagonda to get the man's bleeding under control and Katara helped her wheel him to an OR were a team of surgeons was waiting for him. She couldn't seem to peal her eyes off the blood stain in the middle of his chest, all the thick, red, warm blood that had pored from it, the look of misery on his face. She swallowed an odd feeling, a feeling of pleasure at his pain, mixed with this lurking sense of terror that made her want to bolt out of the hospital.

Once he was out of their hands, the students were allowed to go to lunch, a much welcomed break from the all the craziness of the ER, a place where Katara could eat in relative peace and sink into thought about her strange feelings.

She sat across from Visola, who had the sleeves of her black scrubs rolled up to reveal her blue tattoos. Her muscles bulged as she cut her seal jerky sandwich in half with a knife that she had hand crafted out of a railroad spike in her blacksmith shop.

"You know if you keep bringing those things to work there going to catch you eventually." Visola looked down at her knife as if she hadn't even considered the possibility, then shrugged.

"Let them do what they want." And she went back to cutting the sandwich. She valued her knife above her job. As Visola had said before she was only here, "for the blood, gore, and pain," seemed to Katara like a lot of schooling just for some blood.

"So what's with you?" The tattooed girl looked up at Katara with those intense purple eyes.

"Nothing, why do you ask?"

Visola turned her attention back to the sandwich, took a huge bite out of it, then spoke through her mouth full, "Cause when the three eyed guy came in, when you looked at him, you froze. It's like you were shocked to see him or something."

"He was one of Ozai's men. I didn't understand how he was out at first, but then I figured that he escaped and got shot by a policeman."

Visola shook her head. "No. You're assuming things. Never assume."

"You have a better explanation?"

Visola nodded. "He was released. Not escaped. The men that worked for Ozai, but didn't have any substantial evidence to convict them of specific acts of violence, didn't get a life sentence. His sentence was up so they released him. A lot of them will be getting out soon, including my no good dad."

Katara suddenly felt like someone had hit her in the gut. That couldn't be right. They couldn't be getting out. That was impossible. Katara pushed her tuna sandwich away and pulled out her phone.

"Visola, tell Yagonda that I picked up the flu from that patient we had earlier."

"You want me to lie to Yagonda?"

"Just cover for me okay?"

Visola nodded, her thick black bangs bobbing with the movement of her head. "Sure, but now you owe me."

"Fine."

Katara pulled out her iPhone and found Zuko's contact. She waited impatiently while the phone rang.

"Hello?"

"Zuko, It's Katara. We need to talk."

"What is it?"

"I need to talk with you in person. Can you come pick me up at the hospital?"

"Katara, why can't you just tell me?"

"This is important. I need you to come. Now."

"Okay, okay. I'll be there."

Katara waited outside on the damp pavement, computer bag in hand, for Zuko to show up. He pulled up outside the ER in his Jaguar and Katara slid into the leather passenger seat beside him. He was dressed in a black suit and had his hair slicked back, obviously having just come from the office.

"So why did you call me to come get you?"

"I couldn't bother Aang. He's teaching a meditation class right now."

"Wait, so I'm here to chaperon you? This isn't Driving Mrs. Daisy, Katara. I have a business to run, and you told me you needed to talk."

"I do. It's very important. Visola told me that some of the men who used to work for Ozai were coming up on their release dates."

Zuko nodded and he put the car in drive. "Yes, it's true. I've been to every court hearing and testified against them, but most of them have gotten out any ways."

"What about Yan Ra? He has life right? Tell me he's not getting out. Please tell me that."

"I'm sorry Katara, but Yan Ra has his hearing in the spring. If he's anything like the others, there going to let him out."

"But they can't do that! I was a witness and you were a witness. They can't just let out a murderer." She pounded her fists on the dash board in frustration. Zuko seemed unfazed by her outburst.

"Unfortunately, they can. You can go to the hearing and tell them your story, but I have done that with every case so far. They let them out anyways." Katara put her hand to her temple feeling a sudden sickness wash over her. What were these people thinking? What was wrong with them?

"Just take me home, Zuko. I think I need to lie down."


Notes

First chapter out sense deciding to rewrite this, and I'm a little nervous. I would love to hear feed back from you guys, tell me what you think, what you like, and what you would change. Also, if you see any spelling or grammar errors please don't hesitate to fix them, I love the extra help.

Oh, and about the song, I think I'm going to add a song at the end of each chapter, just because it's fun and I can. The song above is Sleep Like a Baby, by U2.

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