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|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action/Adventure, Drama||PG-PG13||Positive||N/A|
It was hot. Not only that, it was blazing hot. But that was to be expected, wasn't it? On a day like this when the sun was shining so brightly that Huong couldn't even open his eyes all the way. It had been weeks since he fled from Republic City after having spirits knows what done to him by Mayor Qian. Luckily, he'd had his glider to get him through the Si Wong Desert. He was now on the verge of making it out of the desert. He found the strength within himself to increase his speed in order to get out faster. He wouldn't stop until he made it clear of that sand trap.
He flew until he saw something he hadn't seen in days: rock. Solid rock. He twirled his glider shut and landed, feeling the nice, sturdy ground beneath his feet. He breathed a sigh of relief as he laid down, finally able to rest. The weeks following his escape had not been easy for multiple reasons. One being the obvious heat and another being the repressed memories fighting their way back into Huong's head.
"What do they mean?" Huong asked himself aloud. "I don't understand. Qian told me my only purpose was to kill the Avatar. Isn't that what he wanted? Why would he turn on me? All I want is to fulfill my destiny and slay the Avatar. Isn't that what he wanted? Why would he drive me out of the city? That makes it impossible for me to slay the Avatar!" With a yell of utter vexation, he hurled his glider, sending it flying several yards in front of him. "I've been asking these same damn questions for five weeks and I still don't have any answers!"
He clutched his head in frustration. He tried not to think about it anymore, but there was nothing else to think about. The memories of him being experimented on clouded his memory, pushing everything else out. "If I could just remember what happened," he said. "That's all I want right now. More than food or water or anything else. I just want to remember."
He simply sat for a while, doing nothing more than staring at the ground. He stared for hours and hours on end, his mind drifting wherever it wanted to go. After much time had passed and the sun had set, he was left with only the darkness. Deciding it was time to retire, he slowly laid down on his back and curled up to keep himself warm. He silently lay on his side until he heard a voice. "Excuse me," said a woman.
Huong sat up, his back turned to the individual, and asked, "What?"
"Oh, my," said the woman. "When my husband said something earlier about seeing the Avatar flying around, I didn't believe him, but here you are! It is an honor to meet you, Avatar Aang."
Huong turned around and glared intensely at the woman. "I am not the Avatar!" he shouted.
Noticing the scar on Huong's face, the woman took several steps backwards. "But you look exactly like him!" she said, perplexed by the man's striking resemblance to Aang.
"Well, I'm not him!" Huong extended his arm to airbend, but only managed to produce a measly puff of air before collapsing to the ground, moaning from exhaustion.
Startled and unsure, the woman took a moment to think of what to do next while Huong's consciousness faded.
Several flashes of light are all Huong could see as his eyes flickered open. They finally opened and everything came into view. He found himself in what appeared to be a bedroom in someone's home. He looked around, observing the brown walls that surrounded him. There was nothing special about this room. No posters or house decorations to spice things up. There were only the brown walls and the bed that made the room. Huong slowly arose from the bed and made his way to the dining room. He saw nobody around which puzzled him. Who brought him here? Was it the woman?
Suddenly, his thoughts were overtaken with a new interest: food. He hadn't had any in a day. He searched through the cupboards in the kitchen and helped himself to a large plate of various foods, scarfing them down in an effort to regain his strength.
After having had his meal, he stood up and made his way to the door, taking a walk outside. What Huong saw on the other side of that door was a town. It was a small town, but a town nonetheless. A place where he could finally stop and rest. "Where am I?" he wondered to himself.
Then a voice came calling from not too far away. "Well, look who it is," said a familiar voice. Huong turned to see the woman he had encountered the previous night approaching him with a basket in her hands.
"Oh, good, you're up," said a man that was with her. "I was beginning to worry about you."
Huong looked at both of them, studying them. "Who are you people? Where am I?" he asked.
"I'm Fong and this is my wife, Min," said the man. "Would you mind telling us your name?"
Huong hesitated before saying anything. He didn't know who these people were. Why should he give them his name? He sighed, considering the fact that they saved his life and figured he at least owed them an introduction. "My name is Huong," he said.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Huong," said Min. "You will have to explain to us how you were able to airbend," she said. "Over a cup of tea first, of course," she added, moving into the house with her husband.
Huong followed them inside and sat back down at the table.
"I, too, would be very interested to know why you look like the Avatar and can airbend, but claim that you're not," said Fong.
"I don't know," Huong said, simply.
"You don't know?" asked Min. "Making yourself look just like the Avatar seems like an odd thing not to remember."
"I just don't, alright?" Huong replied. "Something happened to me and I just can't remember anything before five weeks ago."
"Wow, that's quite unfortunate," said Fong. "What is fortunate is that my wife is a healer. She can restore your memories by healing you."
"Healing me? You're a waterbender?" Huong asked Min.
"Yeah," Min replied. "I'm all the way from the Northern Water Tribe. I tell ya, when I was a little girl, I never thought I'd marry an earthbender." She leaned over to her husband and kissed him lightly on the lips.
Huong nodded. He didn't know how to respond and, frankly, he didn't care. All he cared about was that these people could help him get his memories back. "So, how do you do this?" he asked.
"Hold on," Min said. "We have to put the groceries away first. Why don't you go out to my healing shed? We'll meet you there in a few minutes and get started."
Huong nodded and made his way to the shed. He entered and saw a table standing in the middle of the room. He lay down on the table and waited impatiently for Min and Fong to arrive. So many thoughts were jetting through his mind. He wondered what he would remember. He thought of the possible things he could think of that could have happened to him. He was so eager to find out he could hardly stand it. He wanted to know! He wanted to know now! He couldn't stand it anymore! Then he heard the sound of the door opening and he very nearly launched himself from the table, but the calming couple approached him and he relaxed.
"Okay, try to relax," Min said, soothingly. She walked to the head of the table and gently placed her hands on his bald head, wetting it with the healing water she used.
At first, only a thick fog was visible to Huong. It filled his vision as the healing water supposedly did it's work. Then he saw something different. He saw himself as a boy. At least now he knew it worked.
Huong stood at twelve years old, surrounded by his friends. The four of them looked on in terror at the four older kids who stood just several yards away. "What, did you little babies think you were going to get away with telling our parents about us pulling that prank at school?"
"Run!" one of Huong's friends shouted. The four of them took off in different directions.
Huong booked it through an alleyway and made it to the village streets. He kept running as fast as his legs would carry him, not even looking back to see if his pursuers were still following. He ran all the way through the village, never letting up and all his mind told him was to keep running and not to think of anything else. He looked back to see if his pursuer was still after him and before he could even see, he ran into someone else. He turned around and whimpered, afraid he had finally been caught, but instead saw his mother staring down at him.
"What are you doing, Huong? You should be more careful. You could have gotten seriously hurt not watching where you were going!"
"Mom, mom, he's after me!" Huong cried.
"Who is?" asked Huong's mother.
"Guys, I found him! He's over here!" shouted the boy that had been chasing him. He then saw the mother and knew he was in trouble.
"Honestly, son, is this what you're resorting to? Having your friends terrorizing your little brother and his friends?!"
"He should have kept his mouth shut!" the older brother insisted.
"You apologize to your brother right now!" their mother insisted.
"Why should I?" asked the older brother.
"Qian, I said apologize now!" the mother hollered.
"I'm sorry," Qian said, insincerely. He then stormed past the both of them and disappeared around a corner.
Back in the present, Huong remembered the incident from his childhood and sighed.
"Any luck?" asked Min.
"Yes," said Huong. "I'm starting to remember."
"What do you see?" asked Fong.
"Not enough to remember just who I am yet," Huong replied. "Just give it some more time."
As young men, Huong and Qian stood side by side. They were both beaming with pride as this was the happiest day either of them had had since they were born. They stood on a stage with hundreds of people staring at them.
"Let us give a generous welcome to Qian and Huong!" said the man onstage with them. "Sozin University accepts you with open arms!"
Both Qian and Huong had been selected among thousands of other students to receive a full scholarship to Sozin University. Qian for his intelligence and Huong for his deep appreciation for Fire Nation culture.
Huong remembered the day he had been accepted. The headmaster said that his knowledge of Fire Nation history was astonishing. 'That's the kind of man we want at this university!' he had said.
Of course, neither brother was very happy about the fact that they had to go to college together. They both knew it would cause problems. The question that was on both their minds was which one of them would do something first?
The answer came later that night. Huong was lying in his room, tossing and turning beneath his sheets when an explosion was heard. Both he and his roommate shot out of bed and ran through the hallway four doors down. There were already other students crowding the doorway, peering into the dorm room. Huong saw Qian and his roommate surrounded by the charred remains of their room. "What happened here?" Huong asked.
"Oh, you would like to know, wouldn't you?" asked Qian.
"What?" Huong asked, puzzled.
"Move out of my way!" the headmaster shouted from down the hall. He moved his way through the crowd and saw the room. "What happened here?!" he shouted, furiously. "Who is responsible for this?!"
"It was Huong!" Qian shouted. "He planted an explosive in our room! He did it, because he doesn't want me here!"
"What?" Huong asked. "That's ridiculous! I wouldn't blow up your room!"
"Search through his room, headmaster!" Qian insisted. "I bet you'll find something there!"
"Well, let's have a look see, shall we?" asked the headmaster. He moved down the hall with everyone else following. He finally made his way into Huong's room and searched everywhere. He looked under his mattress, his pillow; he searched through his bags and found nothing at all. He moved to the closet and recoiled as he saw the mountain of explosives that sat in his closet. Furious, he turned to Huong and yelled, "Get out! Get out of here right this instant! You're expelled from this university!"
Huong's eyes widened and his mouth dropped as this news was processed by his mind. He bolted down the hall and into Qian's room and threw himself on top of him. "I'll kill you! I'll kill you, you fucking asshole! You planted that in my closet! I'll fucking kill you!"
Qian struggled beneath his younger brother, but couldn't manage to shake him off. He was much stronger than he was when they were boys. "Get off of me, you little brat!" he spat.
The weight was lifted off of Qian's body as the headmaster and several students removed him from the room.
"Leave now!" the headmaster ordered.
Huong stormed out of the dormitory, leaving his brother quite pleased with the knowledge that his trickery had won him the next four years without his brother.
At the coronation of Fire Lord Zuko, Huong and Qian stood in the back of the audience listening to Zuko's speech.
"But with the Avatar's help, we can get it back on the right path and begin a new era of love and peace," Zuko finished.
"He talks of peace," Qian said. "How pathetic."
"It's something new," said Huong. "We should try it out before automatically saying it's bad."
Qian turned to look at his brother, a man he had not seen in quite a long time. In fact, he hadn't seen him since the night his brother was expelled from the university. "Why are you here, little brother?" Qian asked. "Did you come here and see me again for the first time in over twenty-five years just to disagree with me?"
"No, Qian," said Huong. "I came here to put an end to all of this. You and I have been fighting since we both learned how to talk. We've done some things to each other I'm sure we both regret, but I think it's time we just let bygones be bygones and let the past fade away."
"You can find it in yourself to forgive me after all I did to you?" Qian queried, genuinely shocked by his brother's forgiveness.
"Yes, I can," said Huong. "Because I've made my peace since that night at the university and I want you to as well."
"Well, brother, I think you've done a rather good job proving how nice you are," Qian said. There was something about the way Qian said that that made Huong uneasy. It was as if Qian disapproved of Huong's forgiving attitude. "Sure I can forget the past," Qian said.
"I'm glad," said Huong.
"Can you remember enough now?" Min asked, back in the present.
"I'm getting closer," Huong said.
"Alright, I hope you find something soon," Min said.
Huong rode in a bumpy carriage down the streets of the city. He sat in silence, not even bothering to make small talk with the driver, until he pulled up to City Hall and stopped. "Thanks," Huong said, handing several yuans to the driver and stepping out of the carriage. So this is what Republic City was like? It was unlike anything Huong had ever seen. He spun around slowly, gazing at the architectural marvels that the city boasted. The hustle and bustle was unreal. The evolution of civilization was the theme of this city. Huong remembered where he lived when he was a boy. Never had he dreamed of a place like this existing when he was that age.
He made his way up the steps to City Hall and searched for his brother's office. That was another thing he never thought would happen. Who knew that the mayor of this marvelous city would be his brother! He made his way through several corridors until he finally reached his brother's office. What was it that he needed? Huong never expected his brother to call him up or ask him anything, but he apparently needed something from him and he was willing to help.
He opened the door and entered. "Qian?" he asked. He saw his brother standing just several feet in front of the door as he walked in. "Hello, brother," Qian said. Without even a single pleasantry, Qian clobbered Huong in the face, knocking him to the floor. He was barely conscious when he heard a woman's voice speaking along with Qian's.
"Now work your magic," said Qian.
"I will give to him the gift of airbending," Kela said. "That way, they will have no choice, but to believe that he is the Avatar."
That was the last thing Huong heard before he slipped away.
"Hold still," said the doctor.
Hold still? Holding still was not an option. It was impossible. Huong screamed in agony once more, the jolting shock of electricity coursing through his body with the stinging, venomous fury of a thousand spider wasp bites.
"Hold still," the doctor repeated in the same, monotonous voice.
Again the pain came rushing back into his body. He was begging for it to stop, thrashing around and bellowing out as it felt like his bones were about to disintegrate.
"Hold still, damn it!" said a different voice. This one was more authoritative and commanding. It belonged to his brother.
He braced himself for even more pain and let out another cry of anguish as he felt it once more. That was one more thing Huong never thought possible. His own brother would do this to him. He had been the cause of all of the suffering he had ever endured in life and now that they were separated, he called him up and asked him to meet so he could put him through this. Then a spark went through Huong's head and he thought of nothing anymore except one thing: that he must kill the Avatar.
Back in the present, Huong spoke, "You can stop now," said Huong. "I remember everything."
"What did you see?" asked Fong.
"I saw a lot," said Huong. "I saw my own brother torture me my whole life. Whenever I was sad or angry about anything, it was because of him. He brainwashed me, turned me into his own personal weapon to kill the Avatar, took away my identity and changed my face all after I decided to forgive him. Now he's made me a fugitive from Republic City." Huong stood up and looked at the couple. "Thank you sincerely for your help," he said. He left the room and went back into the house to grab his glider. Once he had it, he was out the front door.
"Wait!" Min called out after him.
Huong looked back to see the couple running after him. "Where will you go?"
"I'm going to go wherever the wind takes me," said Huong. "My wind, specifically."
"We wish you the best of luck on your travels," said Fong.
"Thank you," said Huong. "You are very kind people."
Huong twirled open his glider and flew away. He was a wanderer now. His path may not have been clear, but at least he could see one now and that is all that mattered to him.
For the collective works of the author, go here.