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Chapter Fifty-Four: Tower
He stands at the top, looking out into the world below. His glider is slick in his hand from the rain, and he struggles not to fall from the damp windowsill. "I'm sorry, Monk Gyatso," he whispers, and the glider opens.
"Hey, Aang, what's wrong?" she asks, handing him another fresh cup of tea. "Did you have another one of your nightmares last night?"
He watches his reflection on the surface of the liquid. "Nah, I'm okay."
The wind blows against him as he struggles; he glances up as a spear of lightning forks through the sky, illuminating the spire of the Southern Air Temple. Illuminating the tower. Illuminating his home.
"Do you want to talk about it? Sokka and Toph are still asleep. It's okay."
He leans against the wall, his hands shaking, and the surface of the tea betrays his shivering. "I was just thinking about Appa."
"Come on, buddy!" he cries, forcing his way into the sky bison stable. Appa bellows, and he unlatches the door, allowing the sky bison to bound out in a pair of leaps. "Come on," he murmurs, and he isn't sure if the wetness on his cheeks is just rain or if it's tears. "Come on."
"Oh . . . Aang . . . I'm sorry. We'll find him soon. I promise." She moves around to kneel to him, and she embraces him. Her mouth is next to his ear, tickling him with each breath, as she whispers, "It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay. I promise we'll find him."
As he leads Appa outside, he takes one last look at the great tower of the Southern Air Temple, and then he leaves.
"It's just that he's been with me through everything," he explains, and he catches sight of the arrow on his head, its visual echo rippling in the tea, a mocking reminder of whom he has lost. "It's like I just lost a part of myself."
The sun beats down on him as he kneels in the sand, amazed that the sinking library has left such a giant crater, amazed that the tower is wholly and utterly gone. He stands and glances around, eager to tell Appa the good news.
"It's okay to feel loss. I felt the same way when I lost my mother," she whispers. "It makes us human."
Toph perches on a dun; he hesitantly approaches. "Where's Appa?"
He shudders in her arms, and she hugs him more closely. "I feel so torn . . ." he murmurs helplessly. "I want to find him, but Joo Dee won't let us."
She nuzzles his cheek with her breath. "It's okay, Aang."
The tower is gone. The Southern Air Temple is gone. The library is gone.
Appa is gone.
The word is a thousand pains, a thousand sorrows, a thousand deaths.
The word takes his soul and tears it apart.
I'm surprised that this scene, or something like it, didn't actually happen within the series. Really surprised, actually. There was no fallout. Aang should have had nightmares, daangit.
I also used this chapter to mesh two other chapters that didn't make the final cut because they weren't Kataang - the chapters about Aang running away and losing Appa. I think that I meshed them well.
Tea solves everything. =3
"and he catches sight of the arrow on his head, its visual echo rippling in the tea, a mocking reminder of whom he has lost." -> Seeing his reflection - and the arrow - must hurt him.
"The word is a thousand pains, a thousand sorrows, a thousand deaths. The word takes his soul and tears it apart." -> If you know what I'm referencing, kudos to me. If not, that's okay; most people won't understand.
"She nuzzles his cheek with her breath." -> I've been meaning to use this. I love the idea of nuzzling another's cheek with one's breath.
I initially wasn't sure what to do for "Tower", but the final version is wonderful, I think.
""It's okay to feel loss. I felt the same way when I lost my mother," she whispers. "It makes us human."" -> But Aang can't be human! He's the Avatar! And he also needs a hug.
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