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The following story is indubitably fanon and should not be considered actual canon.
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THE DEAD OF WINTER
"So," Jet smiled, "Your mother tells me that you're getting good at math and numbers, son. You going to grow up to be an accountant one day?" He teased.
He shook his head unenthused and stared back up at his father with an eager gleam of his golden eyes. Jet's own eyes, "Math is easy and all, but it's no fun! What I really wish I could learn is some Firebending moves...from you...So I can be a Pro-Bender like those guys on the radio!"
"I'm sorry son," Jet laughed apologetically, "I'm afraid I can't teach you a lot about Firebending."
"But---you're a bender, aren't you dad?" the little boy asked in confusion. They were walking home from the store down the street with a lowly bag of groceries, as Jet and his oldest son often did on a simple Thursday evening; Jet would carry the heavy bag of milk and fruits, while his son was in charge of picking up anything he dropped in the tattered and dying paper bag.
With a smile Jet replied back to his son, "Well yes, but Grandma and Grandpa weren't---and I'm afraid not many people from my neighborhood knew anything at all about Firebending. I never really got to master my Firebending son, and that's alright because in these peaceful times, all a man needs is his family and a good job to support them with. I don't need my bending to know I'm a good man and a fairly decent father, now do I?"
"I guess so..." he pouted, kicking at the dirt with his toe.
His father chuckled a low, warm laugh and sighed, "Alright, alright! I did learn a few breathing positions from the old Avatar that I might remember enough to show you when we get home."
"You knew the Avatar, Dad!?" he gasped in wonder.
"My parents knew him---I only ever met the man once or twice when I was a boy, but I remember he taught me a few tricks---and he helped me build my old tree house back in Ba Sing Se. Maybe one day we can gather up enough money to build you boys a tree house of your very own, sound good?"
"For real?" he clapped, "With a view of Republic City and everything!?"
"Son, I'll find you the best tree in the city," his father dreamed, "You'll be able to see straight to the old Avatar's house when we finally get her all built."
As the boys turned the corner, Jet walked up the alley to his front door, the trashcans and porch rails were coated lightly in a brief winter's snow, and he set the bag down on the steps and turned around quickly to shag his eager son's spikey hair.
"You ready for a little Firebending 101, Mako?"
"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" he cheered.Jet took a stance and little Mako copied his every move. With a twinkle in his eye, Jet chuckled down at him and instructed, "The key is to be ferocious and calm all at the same time. You feel the sun soaking through your veins; feel the warmth of the world...and as soon as you get your target----" he roared and let out a punch which caused a decent blast of fire to torch the trash bin in the alley next to their apartment.
Eyes bright with pride, little Mako suddenly arched his brows and felt the sun sinking into his black hair from the clearing white sky above. He drew a sharp breath and punched the wind, "Hyun!" he growled. A little ball of fire bounced over and tapped the metal edge of the can, as Mako fell over clumsily and landed in the dirt.
"Haha!" Jet's thunderous chuckle echoed down the block, "That was amazing, Mako! You're going to be a real pro one day son!"
The young boy sniffed once, but hearing his father's praise caused him to smile and he got back to his feet to try it again.
For hours, Mako and Jet practiced on the side of the house. The groceries on the porch would have gone to waste had Mako's mother not secretly drug them inside. She couldn't bear to disturb the boy's bonding time, so while they practiced their bending, Videl decided that she and her youngest would bond a little themselves by cooking dinner for Jet and Mako.
After a long while, Mako was ready for something new and he asked, "Is there anything else you can show me, Dad?"
"Well..." Jet pondered, "The one fire blast was all I ever used, and my "Fire Arrows" are a bit too dangerous, plus I forgot how to conjure them up exactly---but there was this one thing---"
"What!?" he got excited.
"The Avatar showed me how to redirect lightning!"
Stumbling on his words, the ecstatic young boy repeated, "Re-what-ed?"
"It means to take lightning from one place, and shoot it to another..." Jet grinned. "See son, some Firebenders are so talented in what they do and so balanced within themselves, that they can actually shoot lightning bolts right out of their fingertips!"
"How---h-how do you do that!?" Mako gasped, stumbling over his words.
"Well, I could never create lightning myself, but I know a few coworkers of mine who have relatives at the new power plant up town. They can make the lighting, but according to the old Avatar, it takes a skilled person to redirect it. Now, I've never had to use this technique myself, but from what I can remember---" he grabbed his son's tiny hand in his and closed it up into a fist except for the two fingers closest to Mako's thumb. He took the hand and stretched it as high into the air as little Mako could reach and guided it through the motions as he spoke... "The Lightning comes from above, and then you lead it through your arm---into the shoulder and down to the tummy, then up to the other shoulder, and out the other side..."
Mako looked at his hands and grinned, repeating the maneuver to himself time after time before punching another spark out at the trash bin.
"You boys almost done out there?" Videl called from the window above, "Bolin and I have a nice dinner all set out for you!"
"Yeah!" Mako's pudgy younger brother exclaimed, "I made the rice all by myself!"
"Alright Mako," his father laughed down at him, "Your mother and Bo want us back inside for dinner, come on son---we'll practice some more tomorrow. Now don't try any of these new moves on your brother, you hear?"
Nodding, Mako took his dad's hand and looked up with a puzzled expression before asking, "Daddy, are you ever sad that you can't bend as much as other people can?"
"No...not really..." he shook his black hair around and gave Mako a wink, "It's like I said earlier... When you live in such peaceful times, Mako..." he let out a pleased sigh, "You don't need bending to get by. What a man really needs is a good job to support his family, and love to share with them for years and years to come."
"Oh yeah," he stated. Mako grinned and added, "But those pro-benders---they need bending for their jobs, don't they?"
"I suppose?" he shrugged back with a grin and a low chuckle of amusement.
"Well then, I'm gonna be a pro-bender someday, Dad---I'm gonna be the best Firebender of all time and I'm going to make you proud and get so good that I can make lightning!"
"I'm sure you will spike," Jet shagged his son's hair, "But first, athletes like us need our protein---let's eat first and then we'll become pro-benders tomorrow after work, sound like a plan?"
"Yeah!" he squealed, shooting into the house, calling for his mother to tell her the thrilling news.
A few months after, in the dead of winter, Jet hoped off the trolley and blew a spark of fire into his hands to fight off the bitter cold as he made his way to the porch and up to his house.
"I'm home!" Jet called. He had just returned from work, snow falling outside and he kicked the remains of it off of his boots as Mako and Bolin, trampled each other down the small staircase to greet him.
"Jet!" his wife scorned, "don't trek snow into my house, do that outside!"
"Sorry love," he blushed, "I'm just a little excited to show the boys their Christmas gift is all.She looked to him with a concerned glare that meant, "What gift?" Because both of them knew on their tight budget, it was likely the boys weren't going to get any presents this winter.
Jet returned a nod that meant, "I've got it covered," and she had no choice but to grin unsurely as Bolin and Mako shoved each other to rush their father, looking for the present all over.
"Alright boys, alright!" he laughed warmly, "Take a seat, both of you---go on!"
They did, and Jet got down on one knee to look them in their twinkling little eyes. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out four large rectangles of paper and flashed them out so the entire world could see them dazzling in the light.
"Oh Jet!?" Videl wondered in a light, surprised gasp.
"Dad, are those---" Mako started, the excitement boiling within him, until he snatched the tickets right out of Jet's hands and exploded, "Pro-Bending tickets!? You got us seats to watch a Pro-Bending match? A real Pro-Bending match, in person!?"
"That's right boys," he smiled, "Tomorrow night the four of us are going to watch the "Xiao Yao Zebra Frogs" and the "Ba Sing Se Badgermoles" duke it out for the win!"
"Whoa!" Bolin gasped, his little mouth dropping straight down to his socks. Mako was jumping up and down on the rickety old couch with excitement and Jet's wife merely leaned in the doorway with a small smile as she stared down at her shoes. The family may not have been able to afford these tickets, but now that they had them, seeing their boys so excited just made it all worth the while.
The next night, Mako, Bolin, Jet, and Videl got dressed into their best clothes, fixed their hair, washed the dirt off of their faces and took the trolley into town to make it to the Pro-Bending Arena.
"Stay together now," Videl warned, "Mako---hold your baby brother's hand and don't let him go!"
Mako took Bolin's pudgy fingers in his and all the while the two little boys were in shock and awe as they looked around the massive arena. They had never seen so many people in one place before, and they had never ever seen such a massive building before in their lives.
"Tickets please," a gruff man asked. Jet pulled the four tickets out of his pocket and handed them to the doorman. Mako watched as he punched them with some odd little tool and gave them right back to his father before saying, "Floor Two, row seven; enjoy the match."
"Seven?" Mako wondered to himself.
The family walked down the large staircase as the blinding light faded away and Mako saw the ring below, water surrounding it's every corner, bright and huge----it was everything he'd heard about on the radio and more.
"Here we go, row seven!" Jet ushered.
They were close to the ring---not directly up front, but they were a balcony up and on the seventh row---they were not bad seats---not bad seats at all. Bolin and Mako held onto the guard rail in front of their seats as Jet and his wife smiled and sat together, hand in hand as the family waited for the match to be under way.
"Dad, Dad, Dad!" Mako repeated excitedly, "Who are you going to root for?"
"I'm going to cheer for the Badgermoles myself, Mako. I grew up in Ba Sing Se, so you could say that they are my home team?"
"What about you, Mommy?" Bolin wondered.
"Zebra Frogs are my favorite animal honey, so I'll just cheer for them."
"Then I will too!" the five year old stomped defiantly.
"No," Mako disagreed with bright eyes as he surveyed the arena, "If Dad says Badgermoles, then they're sure to win..."
"Nuh uh!" Bolin pouted.
"Oh look boys," Videl pointed, "The refs are coming out."The boys went still as statues until after the match had begun. Mako and Bolin watched every move of the players as though they were watching gold growing on a tree. Every time the Badgermoles would score, Mako would scream out with excitement and Jet would let out a whoop or two just to compete with his son's cheering. Then when the Zebra Frogs made a point, Videl would wave Bolin's arms around and cheer quietly as though she were just shouting loud enough for him to hear.
The match eventually came to an end and the Badgermoles won with a thrilling two to one game, and even though his team lost, Bolin was just as excited as Mako when they walked out of the arena, and rode the trolley back towards their neighborhood. They stepped off the train and had a fairly short walk before they actually made it back to their home, but the snow had let up a little, so it wouldn't be that bad.
"It's cold out Mako," Jet warned, removing his hat and his red scarf, "Here take this. Bolin, you too, son." He wrapped the red scarf warmly around Mako's neck and fixed the hat atop Bolin's head even though it was so large it covered both of his ears and the upper half of his big, green eyes.
It truly was chilly out, dark and cold, but Mako and Bolin were too excited from the match to care. They ran a few feet ahead of their mom and dad, pretending to Pro-Bend at each other and announcing their moves out to the world just like the announcer did at the game. Her arms wrapped around her husband's, Videl smiled as she watched her two boys and called, "Don't get too far ahead of us boys!"
"They'll be fine, Videl," Jet grinned, giving his wife a tiny kiss as they continued the walk home. "I'm glad we got to do this for them."
"Me too, sweetheart," Videl hummed, "It was worth every yuan."
Yes, it seemed like nothing could spoil such a wonderful moment in the humble family's life, but suddenly the air grew sharper and the joy utterly faded away as Mako and Bolin stopped dead in their tracks when they noticed a dark silhouette waiting at the end of the alley. Videl looked up and let out a tiny, frightened gasp, and Jet lost his warm smile and arched his brows in concern. Mako and Bolin watched the air puff in front of their noses and hustled back to take shelter from this stranger behind their mother and father.
"It's probably nothing," Jet tried to calm although the tone in his voice seemed to prove otherwise and both Videl and Mako could hear the worry in his tone.
"J-Jet," Mako heard his mother say, her voice coming out as quiet as air, but he could still make out the word as his mother tried to coax her husband back.
"Can I help you sir?" Jet called in a pleasant and welcoming weary way.
Bolin quivered and Mako took his hand, just like their mom told him at the arena. Her coat sleeve completely blocked Bolin's eyes, but Mako could see past her protective arm and watched as his father stepped out at the shadow man who had gotten much, much closer to them than he was before.
"Pretty necklace your lady has on," the dastardly voice erupted through the alley, "Nice earrings too."
"They belonged to her mother," Jet said, his conversation seeming oh so normal, but that tone in his voice was low and grumbled in his throat like the thunder in the sky. "Wore them to our wedding too."
"I love weddings!" He laughed, "So, hey--you got any cash on you, pal?" his horrible sounding voice added.
"I'm afraid not," Jet swallowed, "I'm just a humble working man like you. Took my boys to their first Pro-Bending game as a holiday gift for the family."
"Christmas come early then?" he chuckled darkly, speaking towards Videl, rather than Jet now.
With an uneager sigh, she nodded and tried her best to smile; Mako saw now how that arm she was shielding them with was shaking almost as much as little Bolin. Mako noticed that his mother was scared stiff and that made him very uneasy.
"You know buddy, I was just planning on doing a little shopping for the holidays myself. Thought that maybe I'd get me a nice jewelry set for poor ole' grandma---A red scarf for my pops---a pair of shoes for my cousin---you know how it works."
The shadowy figure suddenly lit up as his hands burned with hot fire. Jet took a step back and Videl's hand had clenched into a fist as she pushed her children back a few small steps; their shoes splashed through the cold puddles, not yet frozen in the street, and Mako let out an airless gasp. Suddenly, Jet's fists too lit bright with a gust of fire as the two men stood still as stone in that alley, glaring one another in the eyes.
"It's been ages since anyone's heard of an actual Agni Kai..." the robber reveled.
"Look, I know life is hard for all of us my friend. Why don't you let my family pass and we can all go about our lives like civil gentlemen? Maybe we can even come to a compromise over a nice, warm cup of tea..." Jet tried to soothe as he spoke with that sure and unwavering voice like that of the rolling thunder, "I know of a nice little place to eat not too far from here and they should still be open if we hurry."
With a dark chuckle, the man replied, "I've never been one for tea---"
It was silent for a long moment as the world started to shift into slow motion. The shadow man made a grunt and a swift move that broke the frozen night silence, and lit up the alley like a burst of sunlight. Mako couldn't see just whose fire blast had hit who because his mother screamed and suddenly started running with them in the opposite direction. Bolin was wrapped in her arm and Mako trailing behind, his hand in her own as he attempted to look back, but all he could see was a large explosion of fire; the heat scorching bright, enough to sting his face as Videl pulled him as fast as their legs could run.
"Dad!" Mako shouted, only to see the bad man come bellowing out of the flames. He raised his fist again and shot another fury of fire which struck Mako's mother from behind and before he realized it, the little boy was face first in a puddle of slush and Bolin was out cold, still strapped in their mother's arm, against her chest. The puddle instantly froze to Mako's face and his arm suddenly hurt and pounded even though he couldn't move it. "Mom?" Mako grunted; he tried to get up, but was stuck on the ground, his mother still holding his hand as his small arm was pinned beneath her limp body; her hand felt funny and cold in his own, and he asked softly again as the water from the puddle started to garble his words together, "Mom?"
Mako flinched as the bad man chuckled down at him, hovering right over the three of them so closely that the young Firebender could smell the rotten stench of his breath breathing down his neck. Mako whimpered and hid his face in the watery pothole of the alley, then after a minute, the world went cold. Silent. Mako looked up and peered around the alley, but the man was gone and only a few scorch marks smoked about the scene where he once stood.Mako pulled his sore arm out from under his mother, but still she didn't move an inch. He managed to turn her around to get his little brother out from under her and noticed that Bolin had a tiny bump on his head, but other than that, he seemed alright. Videl had a large burn mark on the back of her coat and she lay there watching him, but strangely she didn't blink. Mako picked up their father's hat and placed it back on his brother's head before scooping him up and carrying him back down the alley towards their father. He too was lying on the cold, wet ground, still and painfully silent. Mako set his baby brother down and shook his father by the shoulder, "Dad..." No reply. Mako shook his father harder, feeling the odd touch of his skin just as he had felt on their mother. Jet's entire face had blisters on it and his clothes were burnt, but Mako ignored it and only tried harder to wake him up. "Dad! I think there's something wrong with Mom! Bo is hurt too, but Mom won't wake up." Mako tried to shake him, but still nothing, no reply. He shoved harder and tears welled up in his eyes before he shouted a final time, "DAD!?"
A clatter down the street made Mako jump, and with panicked breaths, he grabbed his brother up in his arms again and ran away from the alley and he didn't stop running, not for anything, not even to look back. Mako ran and ran until he reached the park and he looked around trying to remember which way was home. Without his father guiding them, it was easy to get lost in this big city and all that running---Mako realized that he was lost. Sniffling a few tears back, Mako found a tiny crate near the trash bin at the park and he set his baby brother inside and squeezed in himself, snuggling his body close to Bolin's as he wrapped their father's scarf around both of their necks.
The wind was sharp, but the moon came out from the winter clouds and brightened the sky to where it didn't look so scary. Mako sniffed once and in a calming tone told Bolin, "Everything's going to be okay, Bo. In the morning, everything will be fine, I promise." Mako's eyes drifted and he pulled Bolin closer as he tiredly fell asleep beneath the calming light of the full moon.
- and were last seen in the TYATHYW year, .
- Jet having a tree house as a boy is a connection to his parent's history as Freedom Fighters.
- Let it be known that Mako became interested with Pro-bending at an early age.
- Some of the only Firebending training Jet received was from Avatar Aang, and these lessons included: basic Forms, Fire Blast, Heater Hands, and Redirecting Lightning.
- The Xiao Yao Zebra Frogs and the Ba Sing Se Badgermoles are notable teams in the Pro Bending Leagues.
- This year is very highly based to the origins of Batman.
- Bolin's head injury (as well as his young age) is most likely the reason he does not remember this night as well as Mako.
- Smellerbee (Jet and Videl's last remaining family member) passed away two years prior to this one, thus leaving young Mako and Bolin orphans in the vast and terrifying Republic City.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|The Years Before the Equalist Revolution|
|Year Fifty-Three (Part Two) - Year Fifty-Four- Year Fifty-Five- Year Fifty-Six - Year Fifty-Seven - Year Fifty-Eight - Year Fifty-Nine - Year Sixty - Year Fifty-Sixty-One - Year Sixty-Two - Year Sixty-Three - Year Sixty-Four - Year Sixty-Five - Year Sixty-Six - Year Sixty-Seven - Year Sixty-Eight - Year Sixty-Nine - Year Seventy|