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"I'm not going anywhere until I have taken Sozu and Juji back to Ember Island. The President can fuck off if he tells me otherwise." Sai was taking a stand against General Valka. Another authority figure who was being lectured by a fifteen year old, only he took it a lot better than Mako did.
-"I told you, I understand, but I have orders. I have to get back to Republic City," Valka countered.
"I'm not asking for you to put your entire fleet on halt, I'm just asking for you to let me and my friends go on our bison, and we'll come back to the city once we have given Sozu a respectful funeral."
-"We can't risk exposing you to the Dai Li again."
"That's an inherent risk, no matter where I go. I am the Avatar, therefore I am a target."
Valka sighed. He was one of the best-respected generals in the world, and here he was, bickering with a stubborn kid. Even if said kid was the Avatar. "Here's what I can do. My orders have a little bit of wiggle room in them, I can peel off one or two destroyers to escort you to the Fire Nation. After you have paid your proper respects to your friend, they will take you back to the city immediately."
"General, that's all I want."
The next few days they couldn't do much but wait. They hadn't yet rounded the tip of the Earth Federation, where they would transfer to a smaller ship, which would take them to Ember Island.
Sai couldn't sleep. he kept thinking about what he had done to Juji, how he had put Yang in danger and how he killed Lee. The longer he thought about it, the more details came back. That didn't make it any better though. If anything, it only made it worse.
When they were about to go to the other ship, Yang came into his room again. She had urged him to get some sleep before they made the transfer, which would be in the dead of night.
Sai didn't have to say anything. She already knew. "Sai, something is bothering you. I want to know what."
He smiled. For years, they had been taking care of each other, and they never kept secrets, mostly because there weren't any secrets to keep. "Well, it's just... I keep thinking about what happened that day. The more I remember of it, the more I wish I didn't." He sighed. "I'm terrified, Yang. I could see it all happen, but I wasn't in control. It was like watching a mover. And while I was at it, I killed a man, smacked Juji in the face and put you in danger, without even a moment's hesitation."
Yang put an arm around him, in an attempt to comfort him. "That wasn't you, Sai."
He slapped her hand away, and stood up in anger. "That's precisely the problem! It was me, and I don't know if or when it could happen again!
-"Sai..." Yang started, but she didn't know what to say after that.
"Look, you think it's awesome waving all elements around like it's some sort of good magic trick, but there is power behind it too, and I am not in control over that power."
-"You can figure this out. Can you talk to Korra again? She has done this, and so has every Avatar before you."
He nodded. "I guess so. I'll try it after we come back from Ember Island."
A soldier knocked on the door. "Avatar Sai, we are about to drop the anchor, and we will escort you to dry land in smaller vessels."
Sai looked at Yang, and she stood up, following him. They were walked up to the deck, where they found Juji already waiting in a launch, and they were gently lowered into the water once Sai and Yang had joined her.
On the jetty, Mei and Suke Serizawa were already waiting for them. They immediately took their daughter in their arms, and as soon as Sai locked eyes with Suke, he shot him an annihilating look.
-"You..." he started, pointing an accusing finger at Sai. "This is all your fault! Get out of here!"
-"Dad! He didn't do this, and it certainly wasn't his fault." Of all people, it was Juji who came to his aid. "There was only one man to blame and he is dead."
-"Jinzuri, go home with your mother. This is between me and the Avatar."
Sai nodded. "I understand. But Master Serizawa, I'm only here to pay my last respects to my friend. I'm not here to ask anything else of you, just that you let me do that."
Serizawa seemed a little taken aback by this. "Very well." He turned on his heel and walked back to the manor.
-"I'll talk to him," Juji said, and she went after her father.
-"Did that go about as well as you hoped?" Yang asked once all the Serizawas were out of earshot.
"Well, half of me was prepared to dodge fireballs, so... yes?"
Yang smiled. "I guess that will have to do. But for now, we need a place to stay, it seems kind of unlikely that Serizawa would let us stay here again."
Sai agreed, and they walked to the little town ten minutes away from the Serizawa Manor. It was still scalding hot, given that it was the middle of summer, and they were back on a tropical island. They did manage to procure some more suitable clothes on their way there, so that they wouldn't draw a ton of attention to them.
The bending duo went down to the beach, where they could at least cool down a bit. Sai made them a tent of rock, making another poor attempt at getting some sleep. But they hadn't been there for more than ten minutes when Juji came by.
-"Good news guys!"
Sai shot up. "What?"
-"I talked to my father. I convinced him to let you stay in the manor for now. You don't have to stay out here all night."
Sai and Yang shot each other a meaningful look, and went with Juji. They were given back their old rooms, given that the Serizawa's didn't really feel like taking care of any firebending students at the moment.
Sai tried to sleep some more, and succeeded somewhat. When he came down for breakfast the following day, only Suke Serizawa still sat at the table, given that it was late. Sai was surprised to see his master still here, but as it turned out, he did have a reason.
-"Avatar Sai, I think I need to apologize to you."
"And why is that?"
-"The way I scoffed at you yesterday. Jinzuri told me everything that happened in the Yincang caves, how you were willing to sacrifice yourself for them. I blamed you because it was easy, thought that you got him killed."
Sai sighed. "Well, I kind of did. He was at the Southern Air Temple because I needed to be there."
-"But Jinzuri refuses to let me believe it wasn't his choice to be there. You gave him an out when you were at Air Temple Island, which he didn't take.
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