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Everything in Between

Chapter Text

They say that in the blink of an eye, everything can change. At this very moment, that statement rang true for Katara as she helplessly watched Aang’s body fall to the ground. Only moments ago he was there, eyes and tattoos glowing and ready to deliver a deadly attack, only for him to get shot down right in front of her.

Tears poured down her face as Katara watched Aang’s body plummet to the ground. She knew that she had to get to him before he did, she just knew it. Katara gathered the water around her, creating a wave of water to get to Aang in time. She just managed to catch his body before he hits the ground. She looks down at Aang and back up with tears in her eyes. His body had never felt so cold and lifeless.

Katara clutched Aang’s body as Zuko and Azula made their way towards her, ready to attack them but Katara was surprised as a blast of fire made it’s way between them and she looked up to see Iroh, Zuko and Azula’s uncle standing on the wall. Katara braced herself for an attack, but it never came as Iroh jumped down from the wall and shielded Aang and Katara from Zuko and Azula.

“You’ve got to get out of here! I’ll hold them off as long as I can!” Iroh yelled.

Katara could hardly believe that Iroh was standing against his family, his own flesh and blood to protect them, but nevertheless, she she picked Aang up and used waterbending to lift them to safety. Once they were safe, Katara glanced down at Aang. His clothes were ruined, his body was covered in wounds and what hurt Katara the most was that his eyes were closed, showing no form of life.

He can’t be dead. He can’t be dead. She repeatedly thought.

Katara’s thoughts switched to her brother and she hoped that he and Toph had been able to escape. She needed them now, more than ever. Suddenly, she heard a loud roar from above and looked up to see Appa in the sky. Katara waved frantically, desperate to get their attention. Thankfully, the bison began to descend towards the ground and once it landed, her brother and Toph jumped off the bison, running towards her.

“Katara, what-” Sokka began, but stopped himself once he caught sight of the devastated look on his sisters face and Aang’s limp body beside her. “Oh man.”

Toph’s eyes widened in realisation. “I can’t… feel anything.”

Katara chocked back multiple sobs as she held Aang’s body closer to her. “W-we have t-to g-get o-out of h-here.”

Sokka quickly ran over to his sister and helped her get Aang’s body onto Appa. The bison rose into the sky, with Aang and Katara laying on his head.

“Can’t you heal him?” Sokka asked timidly.

“I don’t know. He can’t die – he just can’t,” Katara cried as she held onto Aang’s body. For her to lose Aang now – after everything that they’d been through – would crush her. He was her best friend, he gave her hope and made life worth living. If Aang died, it would be like losing her mother all over again and that was something that she refused to go through twice – once was enough.

Katara couldn’t imagine life without Aang, because without him – there was no life. Her life had been meaningless until Aang suddenly appeared. He gave her hope when she needed it the most and without him, she had nothing. Katara had never realised how dependent she had become of Aang until this very moment, with him facing the brink of death and there was nothing that she could do.

It wasn’t until right now that Katara had realised just how important the young Avatar was to her. He was more than the Avatar to her – he meant everything to her. She loved him, more than she’d ever loved anyone in her life and that thought scared her, realising that he’d die in her arms before she could even realise how much he truly meant to her. She refused to let him go – not now, not ever. There had to be something she could do to save him, but what?

Then, a sudden memory flashed through her mind and she remembered a certain vial of water that was hanging around her neck.

Katara gasped as the thought struck her. “The spirit water! It’s our only hope.”

Katara took the necklace off her neck and waterbended the water onto her hand, before placing it on Aang’s wounded back. The water glows for a second, before vanishing and Katara begins to cry once again, fearing for the worst. Aang’s tattoos glow for a second, and he groans in pain. Katara gasps and lowers him down, holding him in her arms as he smiles at her and she holds him closer again.

He’s alive. Thank the spirits, he’s alive. I’m never letting him go again. Katara thought.

“The Earth Kingdom… has fallen,” Kuei declared.

Katara closed her eyes, refusing to accept it when it was the cold, hard truth. The Earth Kingdom was now in the hands of the Fire Nation and Aang was barely clinging onto life. Katara had no idea what was next to come but she just knew that she had to get Aang to safety so he could recover. And when the time was right, they’d get through this together. So many things were uncertain but Katara knew one thing; she’d never let him go like this again.

Chapter Text

It had been hours since Team Avatar arrived at Ember Island. Katara was still dealing with the aftermath of having faced her mother’s killer while everyone else was settling in at Zuko’s family’s old Beach House. When Zuko had suggested the idea, everyone was obviously hesitant about hiding out in the house that belonged to the same guy they were trying to bring down, but Zuko had assured them that it was full-proof. Besides, everyone could agree that the Island was a beautiful place and there could be worse places to hide out.

They were currently walking around the house, taking in their surroundings and getting used to the place until Suki came across a scrunched up piece of paper shoved underneath a chair.

“Hey, what’s this?” she wondered.

“What’s what?” Katara asked from nearby.

Suki unrolled the piece of paper and was surprised to find an old painting of what she assumed to be Zuko’s family. Based on her first glance, she figured that Zuko must’ve only been a young child when this was painted.

“It’s a painting,” Suki said.

“A painting of what?” Sokka asked as he entered the room with Aang, Toph and Zuko.

“Your family, I would assume, Zuko,” Suki said, handing him the crinkled piece of paper.

Zuko’s face visibly paled at the sight of the painting. He briefly glanced at the image of his mother, getting a hollow feeling in his chest at the sight of her. He missed his mother more than anything and that was one of the rare moments captured with his family before everything changed.

“I’ll just put that away,” Zuko muttered, scrunching up the painting.

“You look so different without your scar,” Sokka deadpanned, earning a brief glare from Zuko.

“I did always wonder how you got that scar,” Katara said quietly, but loud enough for the others to hear as they nodded in agreement.

“It’s doesn’t matter,” Zuko said darkly, before leaving the five of them in the room with the old painting in his hands.

Katara couldn’t help but feel guilty after Zuko left, realising that she must’ve brought up a painful memory for him that he obviously didn’t want to talk about. The group shared pitiful looks for their friend and while none of them felt like bringing up the topic again, Katara’s comment had etched curiosity in all of their minds, making them wonder even more about Zuko’s past.

.oOo.

Night soon fell and the group met up in the courtyard for dinner. There wasn’t much talking going on, since there was a strange awkwardness amongst the group since the earlier incident with Zuko. Speaking of who, Zuko had yet to join the group for dinner and they were all beginning to think that he wasn’t going to show up at all until he simply walked in, took his plate of food and sat away from the group.

The silence amongst them became even more unbearable as they all shared a look with each other before glancing at Zuko. Toph was fed up with the silence and decided to end it right there.

“So, Sparky. Are you going to tell us what happened or what?” Toph asked, earning frantic looks from her friends as they briefly forgot that she couldn’t see them.

“Tell you what?” Zuko asked irritably.

“Duh, how you got your scar,” Toph said.

The Gaang – minus Toph - collectively grimaced, looking at Zuko until he sighed before facing them and joining their circle.

“You really want to know?” Zuko asked, hoping that they’d say no.

They all nodded, more eagerly than they should’ve. Zuko sighed, knowing that it was only a matter of time before the truth came out and that he might as well get it done and over with.

“Was it some type of training accident?” Sokka asked.

Zuko scoffed. “This was no accident.”

“Then what happened?” Suki asked quietly, almost afraid of what he would say.

Zuko sighed before beginning the story. “I was thirteen when it happened. There was a big war meeting going on, and I wanted to know what was happening so that I could start learning what I needed to know for when I would one day be the Fire Lord. The guards wouldn’t let me in, since I technically wasn’t allowed in. I asked my Uncle to let me in, arguing that it’s what I needed to learn so I’d be ready when the time came. He agreed, but he told me to stay quiet and not say anything.”

“I’m guessing that you didn’t,” Sokka deadpanned, earning a slap on the shoulder from Katara and a glare from Suki. “What?”

Zuko took a deep breath before continuing the story. “They were talking about strategies to counteract against the Earth Kingdom battalion. One of the Generals suggested using the forty-first division – which consisted of entirely new recruits – as a distraction, while the real soldiers would mount an attack from the rear.”

Katara quietly gasped. “That’s awful. How could they betray their own soldiers who defend their nation like that?”

“That’s exactly what I said, when I really shouldn’t have said anything at all. The General’s all looked at me, angered by my outburst. But the person who was angered the most was the Fire Lord. He said that my challenge against the General’s plan was a complete act of disrespect and there was only one way to resolve it. Agni Kai,” Zuko continued.

“What’s an Agni Kai?” Suki asked fearfully.

“It’s a firebending duel. It’s commonly used to solve disputes or a fight for honour and it usually doesn’t end until someone gets burned. Back to the story, I looked at the General who I had insulted and with my youth and arrogance behind me, I declared that I wouldn’t back down. But that’s what I misunderstood. Even though I’d spoken out against the General’s plan, by doing so in the Fire Lord’s war room, it was the Fire Lord who I had disrespected. So when the time came for the duel to take place and I faced my opponent, you could imagine what I felt when I saw my father standing there,” Zuko explained solemnly.

“What happened next?” Aang asked, even though he had a sinking feeling that he knew what it was.

“My father is well-known as one of the most powerful firebenders in the world. So I did what any terrified kid would do; I begged for mercy and forgiveness. My father ignored my pleas, demanding that I fight for my honour. Despite how hard I tried, nothing could convince him to stop. He wasn’t going to bow down for me and declared that ‘I will learn respect and suffering will be my teacher.’ I think you guys can figure out what happened next,” Zuko said, muttering that last part but loud enough for them to hear it.

The group of friends all gasped in shock at Zuko’s revelation. While they all knew that the Fire Lord was a bad guy, they never would’ve expected him to do something so horrible to his own flesh and blood. Yet he’d blown away their expectations, giving Zuko a mark that would stay with him forever.

Katara was the first to react, immediately rushing over to Zuko and giving him a hug, catching the ex-Prince off guard.

“Zuko, I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. That’s just awful. I can’t believe that your father would do such a thing,” she said.

“I never thought that I could hate a guy as much as I hate the Fire Lord right now,” Sokka muttered darkly.

“I can’t imagine what that must’ve felt like, Zuko,” Aang said quietly.

“It must’ve been horrible,” Suki said, feeling sympathy for the firebender.

“I feel so bad now for how I treated you, Zuko. You’ve suffered just as much as we have from this war and I was too blind to realise it until now,” Katara said sadly.

Zuko sighed. “It’s fine. I don’t need your guys’ pity.”

Toph just sat there quietly, taking it all in before she realised that there must’ve been something more to the story than what Zuko had told them.

“What happened next?” Toph asked.

“What do you mean?” Zuko asked.

“After you got burned,” Toph replied.

Zuko let out another sigh, knowing that it was now or never. “After the duel, the Fire Lord said that by refusing to fight that I’d shown shameful weakness. As punishment, I was banished from the Fire Nation and sent to capture the Avatar. Only once that was achieved, could I return with my honour.”

Aang’s eyes widened as the realisation hit him. “That’s why you were always following us. You just wanted to go home.”

“Now it all makes sense,” Katara agreed.

“But once I had returned home, I had everything that I’d always wanted but it wasn’t at all how I thought it would be. I was left with an immense amount of guilt and anger towards myself for what I did in Ba Sing Se. it wasn’t until I really thought about things that I finally realised that that wasn’t my place and that my destiny was to really help you restore balance to the world,” Zuko explained.

Sokka put his arm around Zuko. “Well, I’m glad you finally saw the light, buddy.”

“I just can’t believe that your father would do something like that to you; his own son!” Suki exclaimed, still struggling to believe it when it was right in front of her.

“But you know something, I’m kind of glad that it all happened,” Zuko said, earning confused looks from all of them.

“Why would you be glad to be burned?” Katara asked, bewildered.

“If I’d never been scarred and banished, I would’ve just stayed at the palace with my father and Azula. Sooner or later I would’ve turned out just as corrupted as they had. So when you really think about it, him banishing me put me on the right path,” Zuko explained.

Aang smiled slightly at his friend. “That’s a good way to look at it, Zuko. Everything bad that happens always has something good inside it.”

Sokka suddenly shuddered, earning a look from Katara.

“What’s wrong, Sokka?” she asked.

“Just the thought of him as Azula 2.0 is scary enough. Boy, am I glad that you didn’t turn out like her, let alone your father,” he replied, shuddering again.

The rest of the group laughed at Sokka’s comment, including Zuko and they went back to their meal and the sense of normality returned to them as well. While they had all come from different walks of life, they all had their own backstories as well that made them who they were and they could all agree that they wouldn’t change a thing no matter what.

Chapter Text

In the time following the end of the Hundred Year War, Zuko found himself swarmed with Fire Lord duties. There was lots to do with the rebuilding process as all four of the nations were left scarred as a result of the war and Zuko was quick to find himself caught in the centre of everything. It was nearly impossible for him to find a moment to himself a moment alone but on one particular day, he managed to find some time to himself.

Zuko was currently lounging around in his chambers on one of the rare days when he wasn’t swarmed with meetings. This was one of the rare occasions when he was able to relax and find some time to himself. As he lay sprawled across his bed, there was a knock on his door and Zuko looked up to see Aang standing in the doorway.

“What’s up?” Zuko asked lazily.

“We were just wondering if you’d wanna come into town with us to get some lunch since we have a free day,” Aang said.

Zuko thought about it for a moment before nodding his head and getting up. “Just let me get ready.”

“Sure,” Aang said before his eyes landed on an object next to Zuko’s bedside that he instantly recognised. “How’d you get that?” he asked, pointing to it.

Zuko turned to see Aang pointing at the crownpiece that was a Royal Family heirloom that was also identical to the one that Avatar Roku once wore.

“How’d you know what that is?” Zuko asked.

“Because I’ve seen it on Roku’s head whenever we’ve spoken together. So, where’d you get it from?” Aang replied.

Zuko thought about it for a moment before realising that he never did tell his friends an important piece of information that was worth knowing.

“Well, it was originally a Royal Family artefact that was supposed to be worn by the crown prince,” Zuko began.

“And then it was given to Roku by Sozin,” Aang finished.

Zuko nodded before realising what Aang just said. “Wait, how did you know that?”

“I once went on a Spirit World journey with Roku where I saw his past, including his friendship with Sozin before Sozin would eventually leave him to die to begin the war,” Aang answered before asking, “How did you know that?”

“Well, I guess this is something that I’ve never told you guys before and that you should probably know,” Zuko began.

“And that is?” Aang asked, urging him to continue.

“After everything that happened in Ba Sing Se, I was back home and even though I should’ve been happy since I had everything that I always wanted, I was more confused than I’d ever been before. One night I received a note that said I needed to learn the story of my great-grandfathers death to reveal my true destiny,” Zuko started.

“So what was that?” Aang asked curiously, even though he already had a fair idea of how it ended.

“I learned how he was friends with Roku and how Sozin’s desire for world domination got the best of him and how he left Roku to die at the volcano so he could begin the war when the time was right. It then went on to say how he’d waited for Sozin’s Comet to wipe out the Air Nomads and end the Avatar Cycle and once he realised that you had survived, he spent the remainder of his life searching in vain for you, the Fire Nation’s greatest threat; the last airbender. And that’s how it ended,” Zuko continued.

“But that doesn’t say anything about how Sozin died,” Aang said.

Zuko nodded. “I realised that too and I was angry at my uncle for sending it because it basically told me what I already knew. The way I saw it, my great-grandfather was alive in the end and when I went to confront my uncle he told me the truth that I had no idea was real.”

“So what was the truth?” Aang asked eagerly.

“I told my uncle that my great-grandfather was still alive at the end but he said that he wasn’t. I never really knew that much about my mothers side of the family. My uncle then said how Sozin was my fathers grandfather but my mothers grandfather was Avatar Roku,” Zuko explained.

Aang stood there, stunned since he wasn’t expecting that revelation. There was a short silence between the two before Aang spoke. “So you were basically reading the history of both your great-grandfathers.”

Zuko nodded. “Pretty much. My uncle then said that good and evil are always at war inside of me and that it was my nature; my legacy and that I was born with the power to cleanse the sins of our family and the Fire Nation. That revelation really put things into perspective for me and I knew that I had to choose between being either Roku or Sozin.”

“And you finally chose the light,” Aang said, smiling slightly.

“I did. It really wasn’t up until the days leading to the eclipse that I finally decided to leave the Fire Nation and help you take down my father,” Zuko admitted.

Aang nodded and remained silent for a moment before a grin came across his face. “You know what this means, right?”

“What?” Zuko asked, confused.

“You’re my great-grandson!” Aang exclaimed, throwing his arm around Zuko.

“I don’t think it really works that way,” Zuko said.

Aang shrugged. “Well, I guess so but we are spiritually related then. Do I get a ‘welcome to the family’ gift or what?”

Zuko chuckled. “You were pretty much already family. The fact that you’re the incarnation of my actual great grandfather only solidifies that. But you also know what that means?”

Now it was Aang’s turn to be confused. “What?”

“Azula is also spiritually related to you,” Zuko replied.

Aang noticeably shivered at the mention of Azula. Just the mention of her name was enough to send bad memories through Aang’s mind but he was quick to realise something.

“But wait a minute, if you had the power to change your path then how come Azula didn’t do the same since she would have the same power inside her as well,” Aang realised.

Zuko nodded. “She probably still does have the power to rewrite her destiny, but only if she wants to. To be honest, I don’t think Azula really does know about our family history. It was expected that our father would hide something like that from us.”

“Don’t you think it would be worth telling her then? It could help point her in the right path,” Aang suggested.

Zuko shook his head. “I think that’s something we should let her find out herself. Although part of me wants to have faith in Azula, I’m starting to believe what the doctors are saying in that she’ll never find peace within herself. We’ve tried everything we could so far but nothing seems to be working. In fact, I’d say she’s gotten worse since we put her in the mental institution so maybe that wasn’t the best call to make.”

“Well, I don’t think anyone is beyond redemption. There’s always a chance that Azula will eventually see the error in her ways. It could happen now or it could happen years later. I think all she really needs is just a little bit of compassion and understanding since we haven’t really given her that,” Aang said.

Zuko nodded. “It’s definitely something to work on. But for now, let’s just start heading off for lunch.”

“I guess we did get a little bit side tracked there. So when do I get to introduce you as my great-grandson?” Aang said.

“What are you gonna do, declare it to the world?” Zuko asked jokingly.

Aang grinned once again. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do!” he exclaimed before running down the halls. “Hey, everyone, the Fire Lord is my great-grandson!”

Zuko shook his head and chased after Aang. “It doesn’t work that way!”

Chapter Text

When Zuko and Azula were young, they were hardly ever seen without each other. Whether it be Azula following Zuko around or Zuko playing with her, they were attached by the hip. Of course, that was before their father realised the potential that Azula had and brought an end to their close bond. One day, when Zuko was five and Azula was three, the pair were running around in the palace grounds. More like Azula was dragging Zuko around the palace as he let her do just that.

“Where are we going?” Zuko asked as his younger sister dragged him around.

“Play!” Azula exclaimed, pointing to the windows.

Zuko took notice of the rain falling from outside and looked down at his younger sister.

“It’s wet. Mommy won’t like it if we do and father will yell at us,” Zuko said.

Azula stuck her tongue at him. “No fun!”

Zuko barely had any time to react as Azula took off running, stumbling along the way as Zuko chased after her. “Az, no!” he called after her but like all of the time, she ignored him.

Azula eventually found a window that lead to the outside and she eagerly climbed up to the ledge, using the stool to boost her up as Zuko caught up to her.

“Mommy and father won’t be happy,” Zuko tried to reason with her but he was ignored yet again as the toddler made her way to the window that was left open.

“Come play!” Azula pleaded, giving her best sad face look which was eventually too hard for Zuko to resist.

“Fine,” Zuko gave in, climbing up to the ledge as well and following Azula out the window and onto the grass outside.

The poured down as Azula skipped around the garden while Zuko tried his best to stay dry. This was one of the rare times when it rained during the Fire Nation and despite being in the hottest nation in the world, Azula surprisingly loved it when it rain. Zuko would always wind up getting dragged out along with her. Azula eventually pried Zuko off from the tree and dragged him around the garden, without a care in the world.

“why do you like this?” Zuko asked.

“It’s fun! It’s water up!” Azula happily exclaimed, pointing at the sky.

Zuko looked down at Azula, surprised at her comment but she quickly whisked him away once again. The two siblings paraded around the garden until Zuko tripped over a tree branch that was sticking out from the ground, causing him to tumble over and land in the muddy ground, causing him to get mud all over himself. Azula laughed at the sight of her brother covered in mud as Zuko tried to get himself up, but failing miserably at it.

Zuko groaned in frustration while Azula continued to laugh at his misfortune. “Stupid! Stupid! And funny! That’s you, Zuzu!” Azula exclaimed.

Zuko looked up at Azula as she said that, not understanding the new rendition of his name.

“Zuzu?” He asked.

Azula nodded. “That’s you!”

The siblings moment was cut short as a figure quickly approached them and Zuko began to get nervous once he saw who it was.

“Zuko! Azula! What are you two doing out here? You know you shouldn’t be playing outside when it’s raining!” Their mother scolded them.

Zuko looked down guilty while Azula had the same grin on her face.

“She wanted to! I got dragged!” Zuko exclaimed, pointing at Azula who in return, stuck her tongue out at him.

Ursa took notice of Zuko’s dirty clothes. “Why are you all muddy, sweetheart?” she asked.

“I fell on that,” Zuko replied, pointing to the branch.

Ursa slowly shook her head and took hold of her children’s hands. “Come on you two, let’s get you cleaned up before your father sees this.”

“Rain is fun! Not you, Zuzu!” Azula exclaimed as their mother lead them back to the palace.

Ursa also took notice of the name and glanced at Azula. “Why would you call your brother that?”

“It’s funny, he’s not! Zuzu! Zuzu!” Azula yelled, causing Zuko to groan in annoyance.

Ursa chuckled at her children’s behaviour. Even if they were a handful at times, they were definitely the light in her day.

“Well I think it’s cute,” Ursa said.

“It’s not!” Zuko exclaimed.

“Zuzu, want play the hiding game?” Azula asked eagerly.

Zuko groaned. “That’s not my name!”

Azula giggled and continued to annoy her brother with his new nickname. While Zuko prayed that she would eventually grow out of it, his prayers would never be answered as she continued using the nickname, even into their later years and although it would drive him up the wall, Azula would never cease at the opportunity to use her favourite nickname.

Chapter Text

Aang stood against his locker as he enviously watched Katara shamelessly flirt with her boyfriend, Jet. Katara had been dating Jet for over six months now and he only wished that he was in Jet’s position. Jet was a senior, while Katara was one of the most well-known girls in their sophomore year so it was only fitting that he would go for someone like Katara, since Jet was notorious for dating younger girls. Aang had known that he was in love with his best friend since the day he met her in the seventh grade and watching her be with Jet the past year had been torture for him. He hoped for the day that they would break up because in all honesty, Jet was a total jerk and Katara could do so much better.

Aang never understood why Katara would go for someone like Jet since he was a well-known womanizer who went from girl to girl. Yet surprisingly, his relationship with Katara had lasted far longer than any of his previous relationships. He used to date three girls a wake, giving him the status of the schools serial dater. Katara had claimed that Jet’s sudden development was because of her and that she’d been able to change him. But when Katara wasn’t looking, Aang saw the same egotistical jerk that Jet had always been. And it didn’t help her case that Jet clearly treated her poorly, even in front of their group of friends. Aang knew that Katara deserved to be treated like the queen she was and that Jet wasn’t the one who would do that.

“You can’t keep staring at them forever, Twinkle Toes,” a voice said from behind him, causing Aang to whirl around and spot his second best friend, Toph standing behind him.

“I wasn’t staring at them,” Aang said sheepishly.

Toph scoffed. “Please, I could spot your jealousy a mile away. And I can’t even see!”

Aang sighed. “It’s just that, I love her and it hurts watching her be with someone who doesn’t treat her the way she deserves.”

“You think I don’t know that? You won’t believe what his latest stunt was,” Toph said.

“What did he do now?” Aang asked.

“He took her to some party from outside of school and there were these jerks there who kept on saying that he could do better and that she needed to change more of who she was and he just sat there and did nothing while they made her feel like shit,” Toph explained.

Aang clenched his fists. “What’s it gonna take for her to realise that Jet’s nothing but a no good jerk?” he asked.

Toph chuckled. “What are you gonna do, beat him up?”

“I might just do that,” Aang said.

Toph scoffed. “Please, Jet would have you on the floor in pain before you could even say ow.”

“Hey!” Aang exclaimed, offended.

“Oh, you know it’s true. Anyways, Jetara coming your way at six, so try not look like you want to kill him,” Toph said, pointing behind him.

Aang turned around and couldn’t help the growl escape his mouth as said couple made their way towards them. He quickly took notice of their intertwined hands and the empty look on Katara’s face. Just the sight of his best friend looking like that made him want to beat the shit out of Jet.

“Hey, guys,” Katara said weakly.

“Sup,” Jet said.

“How’s it going?” Aang asked carefully, glancing at Katara momentarily.

“Great, isn’t that right, babe?” Jet replied, a little too forcefully for Aang’s liking.

Katara forced her best smile and nodded. “Great. That party last night was good too,” she muttered.

“So, Sugar Queen, wanna hit the pancake warehouse this Friday? There’s gonna be an all-you-can-eat buffet of all kinds of pancakes. Meathead and Sparky are already going and as per usual, Twinkle Toes is being a stick in the mud,” Toph said.

“Oh, um that sounds like fun but I think I’ll pass,” Katara replied.

“But you love pancakes,” Aang said, confused.

“Well, it couldn’t hurt to watch your figure every now and then,” Katara muttered.

Jet nodded. “Gotta stay in tip top shape for that bikini season. Anyways, as much as we enjoyed this chat, Tara and I are gonna head off now.”

“Bye, guys,” Katara said as the couple walked away.

Aang glared daggers at the back of Jet’s head before turning back to Toph. “I hate him. He’s destroying her. He clearly told her that she needs to lose weight when she doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with her figure. She’s beautiful.”

Toph nodded. “I don’t even have to see to know that that’s a load of bullshit. If she doesn’t wisen up sooner or later, I might just have to do something about it. Anyways, I’ll catch you later, Twinkle Toes.”

Toph left Aang standing at his locker and he sighed, looking to where Katara and Jet were once standing.

Katara, why can’t you just open your eyes and see what’s been in front of you all along? He thought sadly.

.oOo.

That evening, Aang lay in his bed after midnight, staring at the sealing. Aang didn’t normally stay awake this late but his mind was occupied with thoughts of Katara. Here he was, lying in his bed thinking about her while she was probably doing who knows what with Jet. Suddenly, he heard a slight tapping on his window. Curiously, Aang got out from his bed and headed towards the window and opened it to reveal a small silhouette kneeling on the tree branch which extended to his window. Aang quickly recognised it as Katara, instantly awakening him.

“Katara? What are you doing here?” He asked.

“I d-don’t know. I n-needed somew-where to g-go,” she stuttered.

Aang quickly took notice of her dishevelled appearance; her hair was messy, her clothes looked wrecked and she looked like she’d been crying. He was quick to extend his arm to help her get inside.

“Let me help you,” he said as she climbed inside.

Once Katara was in his room, he offered her a pair of clothes and let her get changed in his bathroom. As she did so, he sat on his bed with a million thoughts going through his mind.

What is Katara doing here? Why is she so upset? What did Jet do to her now? He thought worriedly.

Katara then emerged from his bathroom, wearing a pear of baggy pants and a sweatshirt that he had offered her. Aang secretly loved it when Katara wore his clothes and he couldn’t help but notice how adorable she looked, despite their current situation. She then walked over to his bed and sat down before the dam broke, tears pouring down her face. Aang instantly went into protective-best-friend mode and wrapped his arms around her, rubbing her back soothingly.

“I’m s-such a f-fool,” she cried.

“What happened?” Aang asked, concerned.

“I went out with Jet tonight but I told him I had to be home by ten so I was waiting by his truck and it was 10:15 and he hadn’t showed up yet. So I went to check on him and I saw him in bed with another girl,” Katara cried, stuttering through each word.

Aang instantly stood up, furious. “What? How dare he do that to you! When I get my hands on him…”

“You don’t have to do anything. Besides, Jet would have you on the ground before you could even do anything,” Katara muttered.

Aang groaned. “Why does everybody keep saying that?”

Katara giggled, the first time that night. A silence overtook the pair for a few moments until Aang broke it.

“You don’t need him. You’re much better off without him,” Aang said sincerely.

“I know that now. I really thought that Jet was changing and that it was because he loved me to do so. Sure, we still went to parties and he still hung out with his friends but I thought that was it. I was wrong. It makes me think that our entire relationship was just a game to him,” Katara said between tears.

“Can I ask you something?” Aang asked cautiously.

Katara nodded. “Sure.”

“Why did you go out with Jet in the first place? Everyone knows the guys reputation, even you did and you still went out with him. He treated you like shit when you deserved so much better than that. I know for a fact that Jet was the one who told you to watch your figure. You’d never have to do that in a million years. You’re beautiful,” Aang rambled, before realising what he said, and blushed.

Katara gave him a slight smile. “Thanks, I needed to hear that. I don’t know why I went out with him. I thought it would just be one date, like he always did so I was surprised when he wanted more with me. I knew he was bad news but he told me he was changing and I believed him. I feel like such a fool right now.”

“He’s the fool, Katara. Only an idiot would cheat on you. Jet’s lucky that he even got a chance to go out with you in the first place,” Aang said.

“You mean that?” She asked.

Aang nodded. “Every word.”

There was silence once again as Aang looked at Katara, who in return looked down at her feet before glancing back up at him. In that moment, Katara realised just how much of a fool she really had been. What Aang had just said to her in a few minutes was more than what Jet had said to her throughout their entire relationship. Now, she didn’t just see Aang as a friend but the guy of her dreams.

All I ever wanted was a guy to sweep me off my feet and be the perfect gentleman. The whole time, he was right in front of me. How could I have been so blind? She asked.

As the seconds ticked by, Katara eventually grabbed Aang’s hand and pulled him down so they were sitting together, face to face. Aang looked down at Katara’s hand, which was still clasped over his and he could feel the butterflies in his stomach. After what felt like an eternity, Katara began to lean in, and so did Aang. Eventually, their lips were only centimetres apart before they crashed together, an array of fireworks going off. Their lips melded together perfectly, and before they could do anything else, Aang pulled away.

“Why did you do that?” he asked, speechless.

Katara blushed. “Because I wanted to. You were right, Jet was a total jackass who didn’t treat me nearly as well as he should’ve. Like the way you would’ve.”

“So, is this your way of saying that you like me?” Aang asked, confused, yet hopeful at the same time.

Katara nodded. “I only wish that I’d realised it sooner. I’d always wanted the perfect guy, yet here you were, right in front of me.”

“I kind of have a confession to make, then,” Aang muttered.

“What is it?” Katara asked.

“Well, I’ve actually had feelings for you since the day I first met you,” he admitted.

Katara just sat there, shocked until she spoke. “So you had feelings for me this entire time, while I was off parading around with Jet? I feel even more like a fool now. I guess that’s what Toph meant by opening my eyes and my options.”

“So does this mean we’re a couple now?” Aang asked.

“If that’s what you want to be, then yes,” Katara replied.

“Then yes,” Aang said, before sealing it with a kiss. It wasn’t long before Katara pulled away, with an obvious blush on her face.

“I wonder if Toph’s invitation to the pancake warehouse still stands,” she wondered.

Aang chuckled. “I’m sure it does.”

Chapter Text

Redirect

“Zuko, I don’t get why you’re wasting your time teaching me this,” Mai complained as said Fire Lord went through his movements.

“Because it’s a useful technique that could save your life. It’s saved mine on more than one occasion,” Zuko argued.

Mai rolled her eyes and let out a sigh of annoyance. “Well, it helps you because you’re a firebender. I’m not, so I don’t get how this applies to me.”

“You never know, it could work on anyone. So bring your arm up, guide it past your stomach and out through your other arm,” Zuko said as he directed her.

“This is a waste of time,” Mai muttered.

“It would be over if you’d do it right because as of now, you’re doing it wrong. Here, let me help you,” Zuko said as he went to Mai to help her.

Mai tried her best to resist Zuko’s efforts to help but he was quick to grab her hands and guide them in the right direction. Mai would be the first to admit that she was nowhere near a hopeless romantic, but as Zuko clasped her hands and lead her through the movements, Mai felt a tingling sensation and felt the heat rise on her cheeks. She couldn’t help but notice how perfectly Zuko’s hands felt with hers and she couldn’t help but get lost in the movements and before she even realised it, it was over.

“Do you think you have it now?” Zuko asked.

“What?” Mai asked, caught off guard.

Zuko chuckled. “Do you think you have the movements?”

Mai tried her best to hide the blush that began to appear on her cheeks. “Not really. I could use a little more guidance.”

Zuko, not picking up on the flirtatiousness, walked over to Mai and grabbed her hands as he guided her through the movements once again. In that moment, Mai decided that maybe this wasn’t such a waste of time after all.

.oOo.

Passion

When it came to themselves as individuals, Zuko and Mai were the least passionate people on the planet. Even their friends would attest to that. But when the two were together, there was an undeniable chemistry between them that only fuelled their passion. They both brought out a side of each other that nobody ever did. So when it came to those heated moments, you could literally feel the passion oozing off both of them.

.oOo.

Belonging

All her life, Mai never really felt like she really belonged anywhere. Even when she travelled with Azula during her mission to capture the Avatar she didn’t feel like she belong. Her own family didn’t even make her feel like she belonged there. But when Mai was together with Zuko, she knew that was where she belonged, in his arms, forever.

.oOo.

Forget

As Fire Lord, Zuko had many important dates to remember. There were too many to list on both hands and quite frankly, he’d forget what half of them were for. That’s why people had a calendar anyways. But the three most important days that Zuko would never forget were the day he met Mai, their anniversary and the birth of their pride and joy, Izumi. There was nothing that could ever make him forget those milestones in his life. Besides, he knew that Mai would most likely kill him with her stilettos if he ever forgot those dates so that was enough to make him remember. Not that he’d ever forget though.

.oOo.

Sunder

In all the time that Mai had known Zuko, the longest time that they’d ever been torn apart were those three years of his banishment. When the two were reunited, they knew that they had a lot of catching up to do and that was one of Mai’s favourite thing about their relationship. She secretly enjoyed those moments when they’d be reunited after being apart and she savoured those moments. It’s what made those times without Zuko bearable and made her look forward to their reunions.

.oOo.

Linger

When Mai and Zuko broke up, there was no doubt between anyone that they still had lingering feelings remaining. It was like a magnetic force that drew them together and despite their best efforts, there was nothing that they could do to get rid of those lingering feelings. It looked like they were there to stay.

.oOo.

Reflection

Whenever Zuko looked at his reflection in the mirror, the first thing that he would notice was the scar. It was impossible not to miss it. For a while it made Zuko hate looking at his reflection in the mirror but Mai would know what to do and say to eventually make him embrace his scar which only made him appreciate her even more than he ever thought possible. But one thing that he’d always love is when he’d look into the mirror and see Mai’s reflection beside him. They were meant to be and he knew it.

Chapter Text

Being Fire Lord was proving to be more difficult than what Zuko imagined. While he knew that the job would be no easy task, a few months in the top spot was proving to be more than what Zuko thought he could take. There had been countless meetings and there was still so much rebuilding left to do. Although the world was slowly adjusting to the new change in the Fire Nation, there was still resistance amongst the other nations, particularly the Earth Kingdom which explained why Zuko was currently on a diplomatic visit to the Earth Kingdom in order to strengthen their relations and make for a more peaceful world.

After visiting Omashu and discussing things with King Bumi, Zuko was moving onto the next stop in his visit, Ba Sing Se, which he had not been to since after the end of the war. Although King Kuei knew that Zuko could be trusted, things were still frosty between the two leaders and Zuko was hoping to continue sorting things out with his next visit. The young Fire Lord was currently travelling across the countryside in one of the Fire Nations blimps, which had been improved since the war.

As Zuko stood over the ledge and looked down on the land that was so close to being destroyed by his father’s evil plans, Zuko couldn’t think about how things had changed in the past year. To think that over a year ago, Zuko was obsessed with tracking down the Avatar and wanted nothing more than his father’s love. Now, he was one of the Avatar’s closest friends and he was the Fire Lord. It’s funny how some things turn out. But Zuko couldn’t help but look back on some of the things that he’d done before he’d seen the error in his ways and feel guilty. He had taken so much for granted and was nothing but a spoiled prince, despite his situation.

There was one moment that flashed through Zuko’s mind as he reflected on his past actions. Zuko couldn’t help but remember Song, the nice girl who had taken him and his uncle in during their time as refugees. She could’ve easily just turned them away, but she took them in anyway and nursed Iroh back to health, even offering them a warm meal – which they hadn’t had in a while. Song and her mother gave them a place to stay, showed them true kindness – that Zuko hadn’t really experienced before. And how did Zuko repay them? By stealing their ostrich horse. It certainly wasn’t one of Zuko’s finest moments, one of which he regretted deeply but he didn’t at the time. Zuko had taken their kindness for granted while taking advantage of them as well.

During his visits around the Earth Kingdom, Zuko had also taken the time to make amends for his past mistakes and he wasn’t going to stop now. There was still two weeks before Zuko was scheduled to be back in Ba Sing Se and it wouldn’t hurt to make a quick pit stop along the way. After deciding on what he was going to do, Zuko made sure to make his captain aware of their sudden change in plans.

.oOo.

When Zuko arrived at Song’s village, it was just before sunset. Zuko had decided to leave his entourage behind, wanting to do this by himself. He wasn’t dressed in his usual Fire Lord attire, taking a change of clothes for a more common look. As Zuko made his way towards the house that he remembered visiting, he couldn’t help the nervous feeling that started to grow inside of home. Zuko had felt nervous numerous times in his life and this was just another one of those times. It’s not like Zuko was heading into battle, he was just repaying an old debt. The worst Song could do was take the money and tell him to get lost. But for whatever reason, Zuko felt the need to make amends with her for how he had wronged her.

Zuko nervously stood in front of the door and hesitated for a moment before knocking gently. There was silence for a few moments before Zuko heard footsteps and the door opened. He was then faced to face with a young woman who he instantly recognized as Song. The reaction changed from confusion to anger as she too recognised the young man standing in front of her.

“Lee? Or would you prefer Fire Lord Zuko?” Song asked, narrowing her eyes at him.

Zuko sighed, somewhat expecting a reaction like that. “My days of Lee are over, so I go by Zuko now.”

“Tell me, Zuko. Why are you here? Here take another one of our ostrich horses? Or something else of ours?” Song asked angrily.

“I guess I deserve a reaction like that. Listen, Song. I understand why you would be angry after I stole your ostrich horse,” Zuko began.

“After my mother and I showed you kindness. We took you and your uncle into our home, gave you a meal, even though we didn’t have to. And you repay us by stealing our ostrich horse?” Song said.

“I will not deny that I stole your ostrich horse. I will admit that it was wrong of me to do so,” Zuko said.

“Then why do it, if you knew that it was wrong?” Song asked accusingly.

“Try to understand, I was going through a very hard time back then. I was going through a lot of difficult things and I was a different person then in comparison to who I am now. Back then, I didn’t see any harm in stealing your ostrich horse but now I know that it was wrong and I apologise for that,” Zuko explained.

Song sighed. “That much I could see. When I first met you, I knew that you and your uncle were struggling. That’s why I offered you a place to stay, out of the goodness of my heart. I just didn’t expect you to repay us by stealing our ostrich horse. I felt somewhat betrayed, even though I’d only known you for a day.”

“I can understand that. I know now that it was wrong of me to take advantage of you and your mother like that, especially after you’d showed us kindness unlike most people had. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently and I remembered how I had wronged you and your mother. I couldn’t in good conscience walk by, without even apologising and thanking you,” Zuko said.

“Well, I guess most people would just walk by. So, I can appreciate you for at least bothering to stop by and try to make amends. I accept your apology, Zuko and I am sorry for lashing out on you the way I did,” Song said.

“Thank you, Song. And I really mean that. I might not have shown it at the time, but I am very grateful for the kindness that you and your mother showed us. It helped my uncle and I in more ways than you’ll ever know,” Zuko said.

Song gave Zuko a small smile. “Well, I’m glad that the ostrich horse was able to help you and your uncle.”

“I might not be able to give you back your ostrich horse, but I was hoping that this might be enough payment for thanks,” Zuko said, handing Song a small chest.

Song curiously took the chest from Zuko and opened it, her eyes widening as she did so. “Oh my gosh. That is a lot of coins.”

“Five hundred gold pieces, to be exact,” Zuko clarified.

“But why so much for just a meal and an ostrich horse?” Song asked.

“It’s not just for that. While it is a part of it, it’s also an apology for any pain and suffering that the Fire Nation has caused to your family,” Zuko answered.

“Thank you, Zuko. You have no idea how much this means to my mother and I. We’ve been through so much, struggling to get by and losing my father certainly didn’t make things easier. But this will, and I cannot thank you enough,” Song said.

“There’s no need to thank me, Song. You and your mother deserve it and I’m sorry about the loss of your father, you have my deepest condolences,” Zuko said.

Song smiled gently at him. “Thank you, I appreciate that. Now, my mother isn’t here right now but if you have the time, would you mind joining me inside?””

“As much as I’d love to, I must be moving on to Ba Sing Se now. I don’t have the time for a long pit stop but I couldn’t just let this go by,” Zuko said sincerely.

“I understand. Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it,” Song said.

“The pleasure was all mine, Song. And if you ever find yourself in Ba Sing Se, visit the Jasmine Dragon, my uncle Iroh – who you’d know as Mushi – owns it and I know that he would be more than happy to see you. It was great to see you again, Song but I must be heading off now,” Zuko said, bowing respectfully.

“You too, Fire Lord Zuko. I wish you safe travels and thank you again for giving me this wonderful gift,” Song said gratefully.

“Like I said, there’s no need for thanks. Goodbye, Song,” Zuko said before turning around and walking away.

“Goodbye, Zuko,” Song called after him.

Zuko felt at ease as he left the small farming house, like he had a load of weight released from his shoulders. He now no longer felt guilty for what he had done, rather feeling that the debt had been repaid. As Zuko headed back to his entourage, he felt relieved now that he had settled things with Song, which had been a dark cloud hanging over his head for some time now. Now he just had to settle things with the rest of the Earth Kingdom.

Chapter Text

Things in Ba Sing Se had changed a lot since the end of the Hundred Year War. For starters, people were a lot more free and weren’t as strictly divided by their social class, thanks to the new laws and legislations from King Kuei and now that the Dai Li had been disposed of, people weren’t as scared as they used to be in freely expressing themselves. Those were a few things that Zuko had noticed during his time in Ba Sing Se. The Fire Lord was currently on a diplomatic visit to the Earth Kingdom’s capital where he and Aang were discussing future plans with King Kuei. Suki was there with them as well as part of her job as Zuko’s bodyguard and Katara was also there, since she was travelling with Aang.

Zuko was currently walking around the Middle Ring of Ba Sing Se and after little persuasion with Suki, he was able to roam freely around the place on his own accord. Despite his status as a war hero and the Fire Lord, very few people bothered him throughout his wanderings. Even though Zuko didn’t always have the best experience in what was the city of walls and secrets, he couldn’t deny the beautiful scenery that was unlike anything in the Fire Nation. Zuko was just glad that his days of Lee were over and that he no longer had to hide who he truly was.

As the former refugee wandered through the Middle Ring, he came across many of Ba Sing Se’s tourist attractions and famous icons, including the tower of Fire Nation tanks that was still where King Bumi had put them during the Liberation of Ba Sing Se. Zuko’s distraction sometimes got the better of him as he’d occasionally find himself bumping into things, earning laughter from the nearby citizens. At one point, Zuko found himself wandering between the Middle and Lower Ring and while he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, he bumped into someone, sending them both hurling towards the ground.

“I’m so sorry, that was completely my fault,” Zuko said quickly as he helped the girl that he bumped into get back onto her feet.

“It’s fine, I – Lee?” the girl asked.

Zuko’s head perked up in confusion as he heard the name that he once used during his days as a fugitive. When Zuko turned to face the girl who he had knocked down, he took notice of her brown hair tied in plaits and her green eyes. There was something eerily familiar about the girl, but Zuko just couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Um, yes?” Zuko simply replied, confused.

The girl crossed her arms. “I guess I should call you Zuko then since after all, that is who you are, but not who I knew you as.”

“I’m sorry, but what?” Zuko asked.

“You mean you don’t remember me? We went on a date a few years ago. To some restaurant, you told me you were a juggler before doing a rather poor performance. I then took you to the Fire Light Fountain, you lit up the lights which I didn’t realise until sometime later. But it made sense. We even kissed afterwards,” the girl said.

Zuko sighed as he realised exactly who the girl was. She didn’t look much different than the last time he saw her, but he knew who it was. Jin, the same girl who he went on a date with. While the whole thing had been a complete mess on Zuko’s part, it was certainly one of his more memorable days as Lee.

Zuko blushed. “Oh, right. Sorry, Jin.”

“There you go,” she said.

“Um, how have you been?” Zuko asked as he scratched the back of his head.

Jin rolled her eyes. “Just fine considering my city got conquered by the Fire Nation and everything that I knew was destroyed. Things have been better though, I’ll admit that.”

“Right, sorry about that,” Zuko said awkwardly.

“You didn’t seem too sorry at the time when you helped that crazy princess conquer Ba Sing Se,” Jin said.

“Hey, that crazy princess was my sister,” Zuko argued.

“You’re not helping yourself,” Jin muttered.

“Well, it all worked out, didn’t it? Ba Sing Se got liberated, King Kuei returned and the city is better than it’s ever been,” Zuko said.

“Like that makes up for everything that happened,” Jin said.

Zuko sighed. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Jin would have at least some animosity towards him after his role in Ba Sing Se’s downfall, but he wasn’t about to let her walk away as he felt some need to apologise to the girl for his past actions, similar to how he felt towards Song.

“I really am sorry about that. I was a troubled person at that time and I let my desire to go home get the better of me. If I could go back in time and do anything different, I certainly wouldn’t have played the same role again if that’s any consolation,” Zuko apologised.

“You still lied to me,” Jin pointed out.

“Regretfully so. At the time, I might not have cared about who I hurt but I’m a different person now. A changed person and I actually care about people on a human level, so I am sorry for lying to you, Jin,” Zuko said.

Jin sighed. “I guess I can forgive you for that since you did help end the war.”

“I guess that you have every right to be angry with me but I’m trying this thing where I make peace with the people that I might’ve wronged during my days as a spoiled prince,” Zuko said.

“Well, you weren’t exactly a spoiled prince when I met you,” Jin pointed out.

“I still was, to some degree and I did hurt a lot of people throughout my travels, but I’ve done a good job of amending those past mistakes,” Zuko explained.

“You’ve done a good job, since I managed to forgive you,” Jin said.

“Well, I can’t have any more pretty girls mad at me,” Zuko joked.

Jin blushed and giggled at the compliment. “How many girls have you made mad?”

“More than I should have,” Zuko answered honestly.

“Well, Fire Lord Zuko, since our first date wasn’t really a date, would you do a girl a favour and go on a second first date with me? After a few drinks and a nice meal, I might just forgive you completely. I’m not gonna lie, I’m still quite frankly, pissed off and you certainly owe me another date,” Jin said.

Zuko gave her a small smile. “I think a second first date could be arranged. How does tonight sound?”

Jin smiled back at him. “Perfect.”

~*.o.*~

Later that afternoon, Zuko was getting ready for his second first date with Jin. Zuko wasn’t really sure how to prepare, since they only went on one date and it didn’t exactly turn out well and the only other girl that he really went out with was Mai and even they didn’t really go on what would be considered ‘normal’ dates. Mai and Zuko’s idea of a date mainly consisted of just lounging around and complaining about all of the worldly problems. Since Mai broke up with Zuko almost two years ago, Zuko hadn’t really gone back out on the dating field. For starters, his duties as Fire Lord would clash with any romantic life he would have, as he realised that contributed towards his break up with Mai.

After the Kemurikage incident almost a year ago, things between him and Mai were a bit frost since after all, Zuko did put her father in prison but it’s not like he had a real choice after his involvement in the kidnappings, even if he did come to his senses. They had cleared up the air with their relationship, but Mai had made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with him, which Zuko could understand given what he had put her through. Since then, his council had tried to set Zuko up with many women from around the Fire Nation, but Zuko just wasn’t ready to commit to anything and besides, he didn’t want to force anyone into anything after what happened to his mother.

 As Zuko got ready for what would be his second first date with Jin, the young Fire Lord began freaking out to some degree once he realised that he had no idea what to do on his date with Jin. All he had told her was to meet him at the train station at the top of the Middle Ring but after that, he had no idea what he was going to do.

Maybe dinner? No, that didn’t turn out well the first time. Think Zuko, you can’t just show up to a date with nowhere to take the girl. Zuko thought as he got his hair ready.

“Hey, Zuko, do you know where my – wait, what are you doing?” Suki asked from the doorway.

Zuko turned to face her, with his hair half-gelled and a frustrated look on his face. Suki tried her best to stifle her laugh, but to no avail.

“Um, what’s with your hair?” Suki asked carefully.

“I’m trying to gel my hair,” Zuko replied dryly.

“Oh. Well, if it’s any help, that look does not suit you,” Suki said.

“Thanks,” Zuko muttered.

“Can I ask why you are putting gel in your hair?” Suki asked.

Zuko sighed. “I’m going somewhere… with some girl.”

“Oh, so you mean like a date? Aw, how cute. Wait, who’s this girl?” Suki asked.

“I met her when I first came to Ba Sing Se as Lee. We did go on a date then and it didn’t really turn out so well. I asked her on a second first date, to make up for lying to her about who I was and what I did. I just don’t know where to take her!” Zuko explained.

Suki giggled. “Zuko, you really shouldn’t worry so much. I’m sure that this girl isn’t expecting that much. Most girls do just like a nice, simple date.”

“Well, where did Sokka take you guys on your first date?” Zuko asked.

“Our first date wasn’t until after the war for you know, obvious reasons but it was at Kyoshi island and we did go riding on the Elephant Koi together until the Unagi showed up. After that, we sat around a campfire and watched the stars. It was somewhat simple, but beautiful,” Suki replied with a dreamy look in her eyes as she recalled the event.

“Thanks, but I don’t see any Elephant Koi or an Unagi around here to help me out,” Zuko said frustratingly.

“You’re over-thinking things. What I’m saying is that you don’t need to be too extravagant. It’s just a first date and besides, there are tons of things to do in Ba Sing Se,” Suki said.

“Well, will you help me think of date ideas?” Zuko asked.

Suki smiled. “Sure. But first, let’s get that gel out of your hair.”

~.o.~

Dusk had soon fallen and Zuko had his second first date with Jin. As planned, the two met near the train station before their date began. With help from Suki, Zuko had planned of what he thought was a perfect date for him and Jin. Their first stop was at the Ba Sing Se Zoo located in the Agrarian Zone of the great city. It was once located inside of the city but had been moved by Aang himself using only a bison whistle and earthbending. The two enjoyed their time at the Zoo and Zuko realised how easy it was to just relax and be himself around Jin which was something that Zuko could only do with a select few people.

Their next stop on their date was the theatre of Ba Sing Se, located on the borderline of the Upper and Middle Ring. Although Zuko had his reservations about seeing a play – given his experiences with the Ember Island Players – he was willing to give it a try and unlike the Ember Island Players, Zuko was not disappointed by the performance. They had watched a play that was a re-enactment of the Cave of Two Lovers from Omashu. It wasn’t as dramatic as Love Amongst the Dragons, but Zuko still found it enjoyable to watch, especially since the acting was far better than what he’d seen in the past. At one point during the play, Jin had held Zuko’s hand and strangely enough, Zuko didn’t pull away.

The third and final stop on their date was the same place where Jin took Zuko at the end of their first date as Lee and Jin, not Zuko and Jin. As Zuko lead her to the Fire Light Fountain, he kept her eyes close as a way to surprise her and didn’t plan on freeing them until they were there.

“Zuko, where are you taking me?” Jin asked.

“You’ll know it when you see it, trust me,” Zuko said reassuringly.

“But I don’t understand why –” Jin began before Zuko revealed their location to her, which earned a slight gasp from the Earth Kingdom girl. “Oh wow. You remembered?”

Zuko looked at her and smiled. “Don’t you?”

Jin nodded, a little too eagerly than she intended to. “Of course, I do. What girl would forget the place where her first kiss took place.”

Zuko’s eyes widened. “I was your first kiss?”

“Well, technically Lee was my first kiss,” she teased.

Zuko could feel his cheeks reddening and anxiously rubbed the back of his neck. “W-well I took the liberty of making sure that the lights were lit before we got here.”

“It’s not like you’d have a trouble of lighting them yourself now though, right?” Jin asked as she rapped Zuko’s arm around her.

Zuko gulped. “So, did you enjoy our date?”

Jin looked up at him, smiling. “Yes, actually I did. It’s a lot more fun going on a date when the other person isn’t pretending to be someone their not. But I really did have fun, and this definitely makes up for lying to me.”

Zuko couldn’t help but smile back. There was just something about Jin that made him give her that reaction. “I’m glad.”

All of a sudden, Zuko felt this warm and fuzzy feeling building up inside of him. He was a little panicked – although he tried not to show it – because he had never quite experienced this feeling. As Zuko thought backwards, the only time that he had ever felt like this with someone before was with… Mai. And in that moment, Zuko knew what that feeling inside of his chest was. He was actually starting to like Jin. Like, really like her. How couldn’t he, though? With those beautiful looks and that gorgeous smile, who wouldn’t like someone like Jin? A silence soon filled there as Zuko struggled to figure out what to say next, but Jin beat him to it as she turned towards him.

“Zuko, I really did have a great time tonight. It’s just, you did everything for me and I think that it’s time that I did something for you,” Jin said.

Zuko stared at the girl in front of him, unsure of where this was going until Jin started to lean in and Zuko found himself leaning in as well. When their lips connected, Zuko could feel a fiery explosion go off, much like how the candles around them lit up. As the kiss continued, Zuko began to feel even stronger towards it – something that he had never really felt with anyone, even Mai. This time when they both reluctantly pulled away, Zuko didn’t run away. Instead, he just gave Jin a goofy smile before she started giggling.

“What?” Zuko asked, confused. Had he done something wrong?

“It’s just that, not every girl gets to kiss the Fire Lord… Twice,” Jin joked.

Zuko sighed before giving her a smile. It had been a long time Zuko had enjoyed himself as much as he had with Jin, and he wanted her to know that.

“Jin, I just want you to know that tonight has been a really good night. I haven’t enjoyed myself like this in what feels like forever. Thank you for letting me experience this sort of feeling again,” Zuko said sincerely.

Jin smiled. “I’m glad. We should do this again.”

Zuko smiled back. “We should.” But then it dropped. “But we can’t.”

Jin frowned. “Why not?”

“Well, I have meetings with the Earth King for the rest of the week before I have to return back to the Fire Nation. I can’t stay here forever,” Zuko said glumly.

“Oh, I understand,” Jin said.

“But I do want to see you again. Maybe we should write to each other?” Zuko suggested.

Jin’s face brightened. “That would be nice. And maybe next time you’re in Ba Sing Se, we could see each other again.”

“I’ll definitely try to make that happen soon. Well, it’s getting late so we should be heading back now, as much as I don’t want this night to end,” Zuko said.

“Neither do I,” Jin agreed.

Zuko extended his arm to her. “How about I walk you back to your house?”

“I’d like that,” Jin said, joining her arms with Zuko’s before the pair headed off.

Chapter Text

Despite everything that had happened in his life and everything that he had overcome, the ex-General Iroh, the once heir to the Fire Nation throne and the brother of Fire Lord Ozai, had never expected himself to end up imprisoned in the walls of his own nation. Although he would say that without a doubt losing his own son, Lu Ten and his wife Aoi was far worse than this. But the firebending master did not regret what he did in Ba Sing Se. Like his nephew said, he did what he had to do in the Crystal Catacombs, yet they both did completely different things. Iroh had stood up for the Avatar while his nephew had joined his niece in taking him down. Now Iroh had lost two sons in the city of Ba Sing Se. First Lu Ten and now, Zuko. Although their relationship had been turbulent at times, Iroh considered his nephew more like his own son, especially in the past three years during his banishment that was now over. Iroh only wished that that for his nephew’s sake that he didn’t regret the choice that he had made.

The days in prison seemed to go by long, which would be expected since all Iroh had to do was lie in his cell while he made his escape plan. Iroh wasn’t sure what it was or when it was coming, but he could feel something coming in his veins. He just knew that he needed to be prepared for anything which explained why he was currently doing pull-ups in his simple jail cell. All that was on his mind was the prospect of escaping his prison sentence. That was all that motivated Iroh these days. As he pulled himself up from the ground, Iroh heard the sound of the lock to his cell opening, so he quickly stood down and got back to doing what he always does when he has visitors, nothing, although he made an extra effort no to give them the satisfaction of his attention but this time, when he heard who came into his cell the firebending couldn’t believe his ears.

“Isn’t this ironic? You were once so great, the Dragon of the West and the once heir to the throne. Now look at you, a traitor and a disgrace to the Fire Nation,” Ozai spat.

Iroh inwardly sighed, knowing that if Ozai was going to visit him then he really shouldn’t be surprised that it was just to ridicule him. Although Iroh had been imprisoned for almost a month now, his younger brother was yet to visit him unlike his nephew. The two brothers were hardly ever close, though. In fact, they were hardly brothers and wouldn’t even classify each other as such.

“It really is a shame, though. You had all of the experience in the world, you were considered a legend by most, even those who feared you. You were the one to invent lightning generation, one of the only few ever to be able to breathe fire. Yet you threw it all away. And for what? Nothing. The Avatar is dead, and the Fire Nation almost has it’s grasp on the rest of the world. Once the comet returns, I will finish what our grandfather started, and you will regret the day you crossed the Fire nation,” Ozai droned on.

That almost made Iroh scoff at his older brother’s musings. While things may seem bleak, Iroh had hoped that his nephew’s fears were true, and that the Avatar was still out there. He had managed to give him and the waterbender time to escape so he could only hope that his imprisonment had been worth it because if the Avatar really was dead, his brother was right, and the Fire Nation would undoubtedly achieve victory in the war.

“I will never understand what made your change of heart. You were one of the most ruthless generals and you stopped at nothing to get what you want. And then what happened? You turned soft. You let your emotions take control of you and when our nation needed you the most, you lost it all. Though it makes me wonder that if you had never abandoned the siege at Ba Sing Se, father would have never seen your weakness and I never would have become Fire Lord, a title which you never really wanted so I guess it all worked out in the end for everyone,” Ozai rambled.

Of course, Ozai would say that. Ozai never understand how much the loss of his own beloved son Lu Ten impacted his life. After the loss of his wife Aoi, Iroh had been able to move on but losing Lu Ten was the final nail in the coffin. As Iroh listened to his brother’s ramblings, Iroh couldn’t help but reflect on his own life. There had been a time when Iroh actually had the desire for the throne but the more time he spent away from home, the less he desired it. Although Iroh may never understand how his younger brother had somehow managed to usurp the throne, since it always went to the eldest child in the family. The story was that his father had been embarrassed by his abandonment of the siege in Ba Sing Se, shortly before his inexplicable death a mere few days later where he supposedly passed his birthright onto Ozai as he no longer had any living offspring. Iroh had honestly doubted that story, given how convenient it was that their father died almost immediately following his own son’s death, but Iroh had come to the conclusion that he would never find out what really happened.

“You were always the favourite, though. I will never understand why mother and father gave you as much attention as they did since your strength and skills were the only thing that connected you to them, since your views were so incompatible. It is funny though, seeing you, their pride and joy reduced to a worthless pile of nothing,” Ozai hissed.

His older brother had a point, Iroh had to admit that. Iroh had always known that their parents favoured him over Ozai. There wasn’t that much of a difference between them during their youth to some degree. Iroh was a pleaser, strategist, master firebender, a wise and respected leader, intelligent and open-minded. Ozai was a dictator, militarist, manipulator, domineering and also an intelligent and respected leader. Although Iroh had noticed when his brother seemed to take a turn for a worse as he became more power-hungry and his desire for the throne was evident. Iroh wouldn’t be surprised if his brother was somehow responsible for their father’s death.

“It is somewhat sad though, that you allowed yourself to become reduced to this filth. We could’ve achieved so much together, more than what father and our grandfather ever thought possible but as you always seem to do lately, you disappointed. You disappointed me, mother, father, Azula, even Zuko and our entire nation! You’re a disgrace,” Ozai spat.

Iroh sighed, this time, out loud. While he was surprised that his brother had wanted them to work together, he shouldn’t be surprised that it would’ve been for his own militaristic gain. Ozai had always been power-hungry, ever since his youth. While Iroh had once had the desire for power, he never had the same drive and motivation as Ozai did. Perhaps that explained why Ozai ended up being the one on the throne? Being called a disappointment didn’t hurt Iroh as much as it used to. He got called a disappointment at least once a day, so he was used to it by now. The one thought that clouded him though was that deep down, he knew his younger brother always saw him as a disappointment, despite his achievements and now his betrayal only gave him reason to do so. Iroh was a traitor and he would admit that himself, but he was a traitor for the benefit of his own nation. That’s what he kept on reminding himself.

“What’s even more of a shame though is the fact that your one advocate, my own son who once looked up to you with so much gusto and even thought to defend you now shares the same beliefs. You almost corrupted him, you traitor. You almost made my own son betray the Fire Nation. I’m glad that for once, he stood up for what he thought was right and made the right decision. Now he looks at you with the same disgust that everyone else does and rightfully so, too,” Ozai mulled.

Now that, was almost like a dagger in the heart. Iroh knew that most people saw him as a traitor but to think that Zuko – who he saw as his own son – saw him the same, hurt the most. Iroh had tried so hard to guide Zuko on the right path but when the time came, he allowed the dark thoughts to poison his mind and manipulate him into making the wrong decision. Although, contrary to what his younger brother said, Zuko had once stood up for what he thought was right and fought for what he believed in and it resulted in Ozai burning him and disowning him. What right did Ozai have to say that about Zuko? As much as Iroh hoped that his beloved nephew did not think of him that way, it had been weeks since he last received a visit from him and the past few times his nephew spoke to him, he didn’t exactly say kind words which were constantly on Iroh’s mind.

“I had actually thought of visiting you for some time, to be honest. But as you would expect, my Fire Lord duties have kept me from fulfilling my thoughts. You wouldn’t know those duties since you never got to experience them. Although I’ve heard that you’ve made quite the name for yourself, as the Capital City’s insane prisoner. Looking at you now, I can see why. You just sit there, saying nothing while wallowing in your own self-pity. It leaves me with more room to talk, though. Perhaps you would’ve fared better in the Capital City Asylum? I’m sure that you would’ve fit in there just as well,” Ozai taunted.

Iroh felt sorrowful, to some degree at how his relationship with his brother had turned out. Although the two of them had never been close before, it pained Iroh to see how strained there relationship had become. His brother would come to visit him in his prison cell, not to comfort him like a brother should, but to mock his failures and belittle him. Iroh wished that he could’ve gone back in time and done something to change the course of his relationship with Ozai because then maybe, things wouldn’t have turned out the way that they did. But Iroh had come to accept that sometimes, things just happen for a reason and he knew that regardless of what he’d tried, this is what his brother had become and Iroh would have to learn to deal with it.

Ozai let out an exasperated sigh. “Well, as much as I have enjoyed visiting you in this lovely prison cell, I must get back to the Royal Palace where my Fire Lord duties await me. To think that you were once in position to take that role. You would’ve gone down as the worst Fire Lord in Fire Nation history. It’s a good thing that father passed your birthright down to me on his death bed. Who knows how the world would’ve turned out with your tea-loving self in charge? I must bid you farewell now, brother. Enjoy the luxuries of the Capital City prison, because that’s all you’re going to be getting for the rest of your life.”

And with that, Fire Lord Ozai turned around and left his brothers cell, leaving him to ponder his own words and contemplate his future actions.

Chapter Text

It had been almost three months since the day of Sozin’s Comet. Three months since Zuko had been crowned Fire Lord. Three months since Azula’s crushing defeat at the hands of her brother and that water tribe peasant. Three months since the once Princess of the Fire Nation was thrown into the Capital City Asylum, the place for the mentally insane which was a pretty accurate description of Azula’s current mental state. Azula once had it all, she was one of the most powerful firebenders in the world and was this close to being crowned the Fire Lord. Of course, she was still one of the most powerful firebenders in the world but what good was that title when she could hardly use her bending as she was constantly watched and chi-blocked because she was a ‘danger to society.’ What more could she expect? If Azula had it her way, the entire world would’ve been burned to the ground.

Although Azula hated being in the asylum for several reasons, the one reason that stood out amongst them all was that being there meant that she was alone. Alone with her.

Ouch, Azula. That hurts.

“Shut it, mother,” Azula hissed quietly.

While Azula knew that her mother was long gone from the Fire Nation, that still didn’t stop her from haunting her own thoughts. Azula blamed her mother for her being in this current situation. First, her mother had somehow turned her closest friends Mai and Ty Lee against her and now she had turned her own mind against her which made living in this Agni forsaken asylum even worse. Azula wanted nothing more than to be free from her wretched mother, but that nagging woman never ceased to leave her thoughts.

I just want what’s best for you, Azula.

“If that’s what you wanted then you would’ve left me alone by now,” Azula seethed.

Just then, the door to her cell opened and she heard footsteps come inside and an extra voice that wasn’t her annoying mothers. “Here she is, my Lord. She was recently chi-blocked several minutes ago so depending on how long your visit is, she shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Thank you,” she heard her brothers voice.

Azula scoffed at her brother’s reappearance. She had known that her brother was responsible for her being in this wretched place but despite that, he was yet to visit her in the past three months. Was Azula bitter towards her brother? Of course, she was. It was his fault that she was in this situation. It was always Zuzu’s fault. She heard the door shut behind her and waited for her brother to speak.

“Hello, Azula. It is good to see you,” he greeted her.

Azula laughed. “Good to see me? You mean with my hands bound together and me wrapped in this ridiculous jacket?”

Zuko sighed. “It didn’t have to be this way, Azula.”

“Of course, it did. We might’ve been born as siblings, but we were born to be enemies. Like I said, Zuzu, the showdown that was always meant to be,” Azula hissed.

“You could’ve seen the light, Azula just like I did. Our father lead us both down the same destructive path that doomed you to end up like this. I only wish that I had managed to get fathers grasp off of you so that things didn’t end up like this,” Zuko said.

“Do you even hear yourself, Zuzu? It was my choice to stay with father and I would do everything again in a heartbeat! If it weren’t for him I would be nowhere near the bender I was today, unlike you who broke away from father and have your bending to show for it. So, tell me Zuzu. How has the life of Fire Lording treated you? Have you enjoyed the title that you so traitorously stole from me?” Azula droned on.

“I will admit, it has been difficult having to deal with this responsibility. There world is still healing from the aftermath of the war but along with Aang, we’re working on bringing the world together in a new era of love and peace,” Zuko admitted.

Azula scoffed. “You were always a goody-two-shoes, weren’t you Zuzu? I remember that you used to go tattling to mother when we were younger. You always played by the rules.”

While you followed Ozai’s orders like the loyal daughter that you were.

“Shut up!” Azula hissed.

“I didn’t say anything,” Zuko said, confused.

Azula glared at him. “I wasn’t talking to you, Zuzu! But like always, you think that everything is always about you! You stole my friends from me! You stole my throne from me! Everything that was mine, you stole!”

“I never said that anything was about me!” Zuko exclaimed.

“Of course, you would say that,” Azula muttered.

An eerie silence overcame the estranged siblings as they stood there in silence. Zuko stood there, trying to think of the right thing to say to his sister that wouldn’t result in a screaming match while Azula was analysing her brothers every move, not wanting to give him the upper hand.

“You know, she visits sometimes,” Azula suddenly said, catching even herself and Zuko off guard.

“Who?” Zuko asked carefully.

“Mother,” Azula simply answered.

“She’s been here?” Zuko asked with a twinge of hope and excitement in his voice.

Azula nodded. “She’s always here! Constantly nagging me and telling me what she thinks! I don’t need her opinion! I never needed her, and I certainly don’t need her now despite what she may think.”

You do need me, Azula. No matter how much you may deny it, you do need me.

“I do not need you, mother and I never will!” Azula screeched.

Zuko sighed as the realisation of what Azula had said hit him. “How often do you have these hallucinations?”

“Every day. Every Agni forsaken day and the woman can’t seem to take the hint that I don’t want her around now just like I never did before!” Azula exclaimed.

“I’m sure that mother does love you, Azula,” Zuko said reassuringly.

“She does not! Otherwise she would’ve left me alone by now!” she yelled.

“Azula, you’re not thinking clearly. You don’t know what you’re saying or what you’re thinking,” Zuko reasoned with her.

“I think I know my own thoughts and feelings better than what you do, Zuzu,” Azula spat.

“You’re my sister Azula, and I know you. I know that deep down, there is good inside of you and that there is hope for you. It didn’t have to be this way but at the same time, it doesn’t. You have the power to change your path and re-write your own destiny,” Zuko told her.

Azula scoffed. “I’m sure that you got that from our good old, fuddy-duddy uncle.”

“I did learn a lot from Uncle, Azula. He taught me a lot and helped me see the world in a way that I never saw it before. I can do the same for you, Azula if you just let me in,” Zuko pleaded.

“Why would I let you in, Zuzu after everything that you’ve done for me? After everything you took from me!” Azula exclaimed.

“Azula, please. I mean it when I say that it doesn’t have to be this way. Both of us had the power to change our future. I chose to take a different path. It’s not too late for you, Azula,” Zuko said.

“Yes, it is. I’m beyond redemption, Zuzu. Just like mother always thought, I am a monster. Monsters don’t deserve redemption,” Azula argued, whispering that last bit but Zuko still managed to hear her.

Zuko sighed. “Azula, you are my sister, and nothing will ever change that. Despite what you may think, I do love you and I’m sure that mother does too.”

“Sure, because you just know everything, Zuzu,” Azula spat.

“It’s time for me to go now, Azula. I will try to visit you again sometime later but please at least think about what I’ve said today. I want to help you, if you’ll just let me in,” Zuko said.

“Oh, so you’re leaving now? Be my guest then, Zuzu,” Azula hissed.

Zuko knew that his attempts in talking to Azula would be futile, so he did just that and left Azula in her cell. Alone, once again.

“Just leave me. Just like everyone else always does,” Azula muttered to herself.

Chapter Text

Darkness clouded the Fire Nation, as it was late in the middle of the night. Almost everyone was in their houses, asleep with their family. Keyword: almost. For the guards at the Capital City Prison, there was no time to rest with some of the nations highest ranked prisoners situated there. Recent chaos had erupted in the city and one of their most infamous prisoners had escaped, but they had since been recaptured and security was now tighter than it had ever been. So, it was no surprise that a hooded figure didn’t go unnoticed by the guards.

“Intruder! Stop where you are!” The guard yelled at the person.

The so-called intruder simply lifted their head and took off their hood, revealing their face to the guard who stood back in surprise.

“What are you doing here?” the guard asked.

“You should know why I’m here,” they replied. “Where is he?”

The guard gulped and lead them to their requested cell. Meanwhile, the hooded figure was already thinking about what they were going to say. Although they had seen the prisoner a mere few months ago, nerves were beginning to settle in which was something that they rarely felt.

“He’s in there,” the guard said, unlocking the door and letting them in.

The hooded figure nodded and stepped inside, letting the door shut behind them as they did so. The prisoner in the cell glanced at their sudden visitor before grunting in displeasure.

“I see that you’ve decided to visit me. After everything that I’ve done for you, I cannot believe that you would do what you did to me. I would expect something like that from Zuko, but from you?” the prisoner vented.

They scoffed. “You give yourself too much credit, father.”

“It’s what I deserve. From the moment you were born, I helped mould you into the bender that you were, and this is how you repay me? With a knife in the back?” The former Fire Lord Ozai berated his daughter, Azula.

“That’s all you have to say? Because that’s all you did. You were never a father to me and I’m ashamed to say that it took me as long as I did to realise that,” Azula said.

“So, you’ve said. It’s a shame though, Azula. I put so much faith in you. You were always my favourite and you go ahead and let me down like you did? You’re nothing but a failure, Azula,” Ozai said.

“And your point is?” Azula asked.

“Failure is not an option. Failure means that you gave up, you quit. You failed, Azula. You lost to your brother and that water tribe peasant and failed at taking the throne away from Zuko,” Ozai said.

“I did not quit, nor did I give up. You should try looking at yourself, Ozai. You have to rely on other people to keep you in power. You lost against the Avatar, a twelve-year-old kid and had your bending taken away. That makes you a failure too, Ozai,” Azula said.

Ozai growled. “Don’t you talk about me like that, Azula! That was meant to happen. The Avatar was always supposed to win, you can’t stop the inevitable. But what will happen is that I will once again rise as Fire Lord. My supporters will not allow that useless brother of yours to retain his title as Fire Lord.”

“And I will not allow you to ever get anywhere close to that crown ever again. I’m glad that we’ve reached that understanding,” Azula said.

“You were always quick lipped weren’t you, Azula. One of the many traits that you got from me. What did you learn from your mother? Nothing because she didn’t love you unlike I did,” Ozai said.

Azula visibly tensed and looked down at the mention of her mother. Ozai grinned to himself, knowing that he had struck a chord with his daughter.

“Did I hit a soft spot?” Ozai asked with a smirk.

“Yes, you did, and you know that. If you really loved me then you wouldn’t have said that, knowing that it would upset me. If you really loved me then you wouldn’t have abandoned me on the day of Sozin’s Comet, knowing that I was on the brink of losing my sanity,” Azula said.

“That was your own fault, Azula. You should have kept your head on straight. I trained you to be a strong firebender and you allowed yourself to get lost in your own head. You should’ve known better than that,” Ozai scolded her.

“If you knew that I was losing myself as you say I was, then you should’ve stepped in and done something to help me. I was going insane and you just let me lose my sanity. That’s what made me realise that you never cared about me and you never would,” Azula said.

“All of a sudden you feel like standing up to me now that I’m weak. You’re just as spineless as that brother of yours,” Ozai spat.

“I’m not spineless, nor is Zuko. He had the courage to stand up for what he believed in, and you scarred him because of it. He ultimately made his choice on where he stood, when he could’ve easily stuck with us, but he took the riskier option instead. I’ve seen Zuko do plenty of stupid and reckless stuff, so he is not spineless. In fact, he is the opposite,” Azula said with a twinge of pride in her voice.

Ozai scoffed. “Aw, how sweet. The two, treacherous siblings and their equally treacherous mother sticking together.”

Azula glared at him. “Don’t you talk about my mother that way!”

“Oh, so you stick up for her now? I thought you hated her, just like she hated you,” Ozai said.

“I do not hate mother. Not anymore. And she never hated me, she wanted to help me, but you never let her get close to me. I was able to see past the lies that you fed me, and mother and I are now working on mending our relationship that you so happily damaged. That includes Zuko, Noren and Kiyi,” Azula said.

Ozai growled. “Don’t you dare speak of that coward Ikem and his peasant offspring. They have no belonging in your life, Azula.”

“Don’t you talk about my sister and my father that way. Whether you like it or not, Kiyi is my sister and I have grown to love her just like a sister should. And it’s safe to say that Noren is the father that you never were. He and mother have done more for me in the past few months than you ever did,” Azula said.

“If you want to have those peasants in your life, then be my guest. But mark my words, Azula you will now be branded as a traitor by my supporters. They will do anything they can to bring you down along with that imbecile of a Fire Lord you have,” Ozai said.

Azula shrugged. “That’s fine by me. I don’t want to be associated with those supporters of yours anyways. And Zuko, your son is not an imbecile of a Fire Lord. He’s had that title for the same amount of time that you did, and he’s done more for the Fire Nation and the rest of the world than you ever did. If anything, that makes you the imbecile of a Fire Lord.”

“That pathetic excuse of a bender is not my son and now, you are no longer my daughter, Azula,” Ozai hissed.

“I’m sure that would make Zuko more than happy and I don’t care if you don’t consider me as a daughter anymore because I don’t consider you as a father and I never will again,” Azula said.

Ozai growled. “Ugh, get out of my sight right now you pathetic waste of space!”

Azula chuckled. “Do you really think that you’re in the position to make any demands, Ozai? I’m the visitor and I can leave whenever I want. Meanwhile, you are stuck in that cell for the rest of your life and I hope that you rot in the pits of Vaatu’s lair where you belong.”

“And you will be joining me, too, Azula. Because let’s face it, you were never any saviour before. You were just as evil and conniving as I was,” Ozai said.

Azula nodded. “Yes, you’re right. I was that. But I’ve moved on from that and now I’m a better person. I’ve forgiven myself for what I’ve done and to me, that’s all that counts. As long as I have my own self-respect and dignity, that’s what matters. You, on the other hand have none of that.”

Ozai shook his head. “Sooner or later Azula you will realise the mistake that you’ve made in siding with that oaf of a brother you have, and you will regret the day you turned your back on me. When that day comes, I might just take back what I have said.”

“Don’t count on it, Ozai. Now, if you excuse me I will be going back to the palace to be with my brother, my mother, my sister and my father. Enjoy the luxuries of prison, Ozai because that’s all you’re going to be getting for the rest of your life,” Azula said.

And with that, Azula turned around and left Ozai in the prison cell where he belonged, content with what she had said and what she had done. For the first time in her life, Azula had stood up to her father and she was happy with what she said, and she knew that she never wanted to see his face ever again.

Chapter Text

Aang sat at his favourite table in the Jasmine Dragon with his best friend, Sokka as the two enjoyed their tea. While most teens their age lived on coffee and energy drinks, Aang and Sokka spent most of their time drinking tea at the Jasmine Dragon since after all, it was the best tea shop in the city. Anyone who wasn’t a tea lover could even admit that. Plus, the quiet atmosphere made it a good place to just sit and relax. But for now, Aang and Sokka were engaged in a classic game of UNO as they drunk their tea.

“Pick up four, Sokka,” Aang said as he placed down his card on the pile in between them.

“Dammit, that’s the third time in a row,” Sokka complained as he picked up four cards, “How is this happening to me?”

Aang shrugged, “You just have bad luck, it’s a known fact.”

“Well, I’m not going to waste my time playing anymore since I now have fifteen cards and you only have three,” Sokka said as he threw his cards aside.

“You could still win,” Aang said encouragingly.

Sokka shook his head. “All of the cards that I have are terrible and I’m guessing that you’re loaded with luck.”

Aang just sighed as he put his deck to the side, “Well, what else can we do?”

“Maybe we could-” Sokka began as the door to the tea shop opened and their other friend, Zuko stepped inside.

“Hey guys,” Zuko said in an un-Zuko like fashion with a hint of happiness in his voice.

“What’s got you so happy?” Sokka asked.

“I asked Jin to prom and she said yes,” Zuko replied as he joined his friends.

“Flamey-o, Hotman,” Aang said as he gave Zuko a friendly pat.

“It only took you what, three times!” Sokka exclaimed.

Zuko glared at him, “Well, the first time I just asked her, and she said know. I didn’t know that it had to be some crazy display. The second time I tried being all romantic about it, but she didn’t like that either and then I gave her this cheesy poem that was so cringey, but she seemed to like it enough to put me out of my misery.”

“I don’t get what the big deal about prom is anyways. Why is everybody even fussing about it when it’s like three months away? You’ve got time,” Sokka complained.

Zuko gave his friend a puzzled look, “Sokka, prom is in two weeks’ time.”

“What!” Sokka exclaimed before glaring at Aang, “Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?”

Aang held up his hands defensively, “I did tell you that it was three weeks away last week.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter cause it’s not like I had a date anyways. I was gonna go with Suki but then she dumped me last month and now she’s going with Haru. I mean seriously, Haru? The guy has zero personality!” Sokka exclaimed.

“Calm down, Sokka. I’m sure that you’ll find another date,” Aang reassured his friend.

“Uh, probably not since almost everyone is taken. Jin was one of the last few decent girls that were available. The rest of them might be a little less than desirable,” Zuko said.

“Yeah, like Meng,” Sokka said, shuddering along with Aang.

“Well, there’s only one girl that I wanna ask to prom,” Aang said dreamily.

Sokka scoffed. “Yeah, my sister.”

“What? N-no, I was talking about somebody else,” Aang lied pathetically as he blushed while Sokka and Zuko rolled their eyes.

“Aang, everyone knows that you love Katara except Katara. You should just get over your nerves and ask her to prom,” Zuko said.

“She probably already has a date. She told me last week that seven guys had already asked her,” Aang muttered.

“Yeah, and she turned them all down,” Sokka said.

Aang’s head perked up. “Really? You mean Katara’s available?”

Sokka nodded. “Yep, so you better act fast!”

“I’m way ahead of you!” Aang yelled as he raced outside the door, leaving Sokka and Zuko behind as Iroh watched amusedly from the counter.

“Ah, young love,” he mused.

~*•°•*~

The next day, Aang stood nervously as he watched Katara at her locker. Class was about to begin in five minutes and this would be the last time Aang would see her today, so Aang was running out of time to ask her. The young monk had tried working up the nerve to ask his best friend – who he’d had a crush on since their freshman year – to prom but each time he got close, he faltered. Aang just kept on reminding himself that if he wasn’t going to get to her in time, then somebody else was.

“You finally going to ask Sugar Queen to prom?” a voice asked from behind him.

Aang turned around to see one of his other best friends, Toph standing there with an amused look on her face, “If I can get the courage to ask her.”

“I don’t see what the big deal is. You’ve talked to her plenty of times. Just ask her and be done with it,” Toph said.

“Well, it’s hard because in doing so I would be admitting my feelings for her and I don’t want to be rejected and potentially ruin our friendship,” Aang said nervously.

“This is Sweetness that we’re talking about. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. The worst that could happen is that somebody beats you to it and steals her forever,” Toph said.

“Not helping,” Aang hissed, “Besides, you’re one to talk since you don’t have a date either.”

“For your information, Twinkle Toes, as of last night I am no taken,” Toph said.

“Who?” Aang asked, surprised.

“Me,” a familiar voice said.

“Sokka?” Aang asked, surprised as his friend rested his arm on Toph’s shoulder who merely shrugged him off.

“Just as friends, though so none of that mushy garbage,” Toph dismissed.

“Oh,” Aang said, raising his eyebrows at Toph since he was aware of her secret feelings for Sokka.

“Alright, well I’m gonna go for it,” Aang said confidently.

“Break a leg, my friend but not really, since you need it to dance,” Sokka called out to Aang as he walked towards Katara.

“This should be interesting,” Toph muttered.

Aang headed towards Katara, with a small rose behind his back and a piece of paper in his hands. Since he barely had the courage to ask her upfront, Aang had decided on sneaking her the piece of paper and secretly putting the rose in her bag, but he had left his name on it, so she would know it was from him. Just as he was about to reach her locker, Aang looked up in heard a sound of commotion from ahead and when he looked up to see what it was, the young Airbender groaned in annoyance.

Because heading towards them was a none other than Jet on a horse. A flaming horse! Aang was quick to notice that his old rival was holding a bouquet of flowers and a box with Katara on it.

Of course, Jet was going to beat me to it. How is she going to say no to that? Aang thought bitterly.

“Wow, hi Jet,” Katara said in surprise.

Jet only gave her a charming smile as he extended the box and flowers toward her, “Hey, Katara or should I say, my Prom Date? How does that sound?”

Katara immediately backed away from the flowers while holding her books up to her nose, “Um, thanks Jet but I’m allergic to daisies.”

“So, is that a yes or a no?” Jet asked as Katara quickly slammed her locker shut and ran off. Once she disappeared, he glared down at Smellerbee and Longshot, “I told you guys to get roses! Now I rented this thing for nothing.”

Aang laughed to himself as Jet stalked off on his horse, although he felt bad for Katara, knowing how much she hated daisies ever since she had discovered her allergic reaction to them when she was thirteen. He then turned to face Sokka and Toph who were laughing to themselves while giving him the thumbs up. Aang scowled as he walked off, trying to think of another way to ask Katara to prom.

~*•°•*~

The next day, Aang once again found himself watching Katara except this time, in gym class. Luckily for Aang, she was still available after respectfully declining Jet’s offer once she had recovered from her near panic attack. It worked out for Jet though, since he was now going to the Prom with some girl named Kaede who wasn’t allergic to daisies. Aang had since thought of another place to ask Katara to be his date that involved a cheap boom box and several cards that would eventually ask Katara to prom.

“You’re really going to ask her now, of all places?” Toph asked from beside him.

“Well, I’m running out of time! I need to ask her soon otherwise it’s going to be too late,” Aang said nervously.

“What song did you pick?” Toph asked.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart. I’m going to play the chorus when she has her back turned to me and then start showing the cards,” Aang explained.

Toph nodded her head in approval, “Smart.”

“So, you’re going with Sokka, huh?” Aang asked.

Toph’s face immediately reddened and Aang smiled to himself, completely aware of the reaction that the young warrior had from his blind friend.

“As friends. There’s nothing more to it,” Toph said.

“But you wish it was as more than that,” Aang teased.

“I do not! Don’t you have someone to ask to prom?” Toph hissed.

“Touché. Now, wish me luck,” Aang said as he picked up his stereo before walking towards the centre of the court.

“You’re gonna need more than luck,” Toph muttered.

Just as Aang had reached the centre of the court and placed his stereo down, he went back to get his cards but before he could even do that, he felt a soft ball hit him in the head. Aang then turned to see their gym teacher, the Boulder heading towards them with a basket of dodgeballs.

“The Boulder declares that today we will be playing the greatest sport ever, dodgeball! The Boulder has decided that whatever side of the court you’re on, is the team that you play for and he orders you to play ball!” the Boulder yelled as he dumped the balls across the court. “To make things interesting, the Boulder has decided that the losing team will have to clean up the court!”

That was enough to send everyone into a frenzy as they rushed to pick up the stray balls before throwing them at their opponents, trampling over Aang’s stereo as they did so.

“Why now?” Aang complained before getting hit in a certain area with one of the balls.

“Arrows is the first casualty of the Boulders dodgeball game! Sit on the bench and take your broken stereo with you!” the Boulder yelled.

Aang groaned as he went to pick up what was left of his stereo before sitting on the bench. With that plan ending as a failure, he now had to think of another way to ask Katara to prom and he knew he had to act fast before it was too late.

~*•°•*~

Five days had passed and in that time, Aang had suffered four more failed attempts at asking Katara to be his date to prom. By then, most people had already been taken and Katara was one of the few people who were yet to find a date to prom and she didn’t seem to be the least bit bothered by it. Aang, Sokka, Toph and Zuko were currently at the mall while Aang vented his frustration.

“Six times! I have tried to ask Katara to prom six times and all six of those times have been failures!” Aang exclaimed.

Toph chuckled, “The last one was kind of funny.”

“Let’s not talk about that anymore,” Aang muttered, embarrassed by his recent failure, “I might as well just give up now and go dateless. At this stage, I don’t care if that makes me a loser!”

“You’re making this way more harder than it needs to be. Even though most people have done some over the top promposal for Katara, she doesn’t really care about that stuff at all. Just ask her and she’ll say yes,” Sokka said, growing tired of dealing with Aang’s predicament.

“If you’re too embarrassed to ask her that way, just ask her to go as friends like those two and she’ll say yes,” Zuko suggested.

“You don’t know that,” Aang muttered.

Toph groaned. “For the love of Koh. Look, there she is right now by that cart. All you have to do is walk up to her and ask her! Save us all of the trouble and you the embarrassment and quit being so overdramatic about it.”

“What are you trying to say?” Aang asked.

“Just do it!” Toph asked.

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it,” he muttered before heading off towards Katara.

“Finally,” Toph muttered.

Sokka glanced at Toph, even though she couldn’t see it, “Do you know something that we don’t?”

Toph merely grinned. “Just watch.”

Aang walked up behind Katara and before he approached her, he took a glance back at his friends who were giving him encouraging looks. Aang decided to take that encouragement on bored and finally ask Katara to be his date to prom. Not even Jet on a horse would stop him this time.

“Hey, Katara,” he said quietly.

Katara turned around and gave him a smile, “Hi Aang. I didn’t realise that you guys were here.”

“Small world,” Aang chuckled nervously, “There’s something that I’ve been wanting to ask you now. For a while, actually.”

“What is it?” Katara asked.

“Well, you know how prom is only a week and a bit away, right?” Aang asked.

Katara nodded her head, “I’m aware.”

Aang nervously scratched the back of his head and fidgeted with his hands as he spoke, “Well I know it’s late and I don’t have a horse or a music quartet. I also know that I’m no magazine model or quarterback or anything, but would you like to go to the prom with me? You don’t have to say yes.”

Aang braced himself for Katara’s reaction but she only gave him a smile which was enough to send the butterflies in his stomach into overdrive.

“I’d love to go to the prom with you, Aang,” Katara said warmly.

Aang couldn’t help the sigh of relief that escaped him, “Phew, I’m so glad that’s out of the way. So, I’ll meet you at your place on Prom Night?”

Katara nodded, “Yep. Sokka and Zuko have already arranged the limo.”

“Cool, cool. So, I’ll be going off now,” Aang said awkwardly as he turned around.

“Okay, I’ll text you later,” Katara said.

Meanwhile, the others were watching Aang as he headed towards them with a bright smile on his face while pumping his fist in the air. The airbender even celebrated on his air scooter for good measure.

“So, you finally did it, huh?” Sokka asked once Aang sat down next to him.

“Yep! Katara’s my date to Prom!” Aang cheered.

“Nice going,” Zuko said.

“See, I told you it wouldn’t be that hard,” Toph said.

Aang could only nod in agreement as he smiled to himself. As his friends became engrossed in their own conversation, Aang couldn’t help but imagine how his Prom Night was going to be. He’d pick Katara up, tell her how beautiful she looked, and she’d return the complement. Then they’d go to prom and he’d just dance all night with her. Aang was getting more and more anticipation the more he thought about it. It seemed like Prom was going to be one heck of a night for Aang.

Chapter Text

The night that they had all been anxiously anticipating had arrived. Prom was finally here. The group of Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph and Zuko along with his date Jin had already met up at Katara and Sokka’s house for their pre-photos before they would head off to Prom. They should’ve been excited as ever, but Aang was having a near-meltdown in Sokka’s room.

“You know, I really don’t see what the big issue is,” Sokka said as he tried to tie his tie.

“Sokka’s right. I really think that you’re overreacting,” Zuko agreed.

Aang shook his head, “You guys don’t understand. I asked Katara to be my date to Prom because I really wanted to go with her, not as just friends. Only when I get here does she say ‘I know that we’re going to have a good time just like we always do. I’m glad that we’re friends.’ I’m being friend zoned!”

“Dude, just stop worrying. You’re gonna go to Prom with Katara and have a good time. Don’t let your little crush get in the way of things,” Zuko said calmly.

“Yeah. Just show off your dance moves but remember to keep your hands where I can see them, airhead,” Sokka said.

“Don’t worry about me trying anything. Katara’s made it clear that his is as just friends,” Aang muttered.

“You’ll be fine,” Zuko said.

“Ugh, stupid thing!” Sokka exclaimed as he yet again failed at tying his tie.

“Sokka, I’ve shown you how to tie a tie five times already! You really need to follow instructions,” Zuko muttered.

“Can you just tie it for me?” Sokka asked.

“So, what are you gonna do with Toph?” Aang asked in an attempt to change the topic of conversation.

“What do you mean?” Sokka asked.

“Well, is this a case of the friendzone with you two like it is for me and Katara?” Aang asked.

Sokka shrugged, “I’m not even sure what it is. I just asked her because I needed a date and she was available. But Toph’s made it perfectly clear that this is just as friends so that’s that.”

“Yeah, sure it is,” Aang muttered.

“What was that?” Sokka asked.

“Nothing,” Aang replied.

“There, your tie is tied. Now, Sokka, please don’t ruin the tie because I won’t be tying it again,” Zuko said.

“Fine. Let’s go downstairs,” Sokka said as he grabbed his jacket.

Soon enough, the boys were downstairs waiting for their dates to present themselves. In that time, they took their own group photos but all Aang was worrying about was how he was going to deal with being so close to Katara, but not being able to do anything. Eventually, the girls were ready to present themselves to their dates.

All of the girls looked great, but Katara looked stunning in her sequin blue dress. Aang couldn’t help but gap at her as she elegantly strode down the stairs. When they came face to face, he handed her the corsage that she carefully placed on her wrist, his eyes fixated on her beauty.

“You look great,” Aang complimented her.

Katara giggled, “You scrub up nicely too. I see you grew out your hair for Prom?”

“Yep. What better occasion to let it grow out?” Aang replied nervously.

“What’s his problem?” Toph muttered to Sokka.

“Friend-zoned,” he simply replied.

“Ah,” Toph said.

“Alright, guys, the limo is on its way, so we should finish up with the photos now,” Zuko suggested.

The group quickly went through their votes, with the girls wanting to take as much as possible. Eventually, the photographer had enough and left just before the limo arrived. For most of them, it was the first time being in a limo but all Aang could do was gaze longingly at Katara as she talked to the others. Here she was, his date, giving him the perfect excuse to make a move, only he couldn’t. Not if he wanted to risk ruining their friendship, which he didn’t.

In no time at all, they arrived at their destination and the guys escorted their dates out of the limo before entering the building. It was decked out in gold and black, that being the main colour theme of the prom.

“Hey, I think I see our table!” Sokka exclaimed.

The group headed towards their table, only to be stopped when their paths crossed with Suki and Haru. Suki glanced from Sokka to Toph, narrowing her eyes as she did so.

“Hey, guys,” she greeted them.

“Hey, Suki! When did you get here?” Katara asked, not noticing the tension in the air.

“A few minutes ago. Haru and I have just been catching up with some of our friends. So, Sokka, I wasn’t expecting you to show up with a date,” Suki said.

Sokka shrugged, “It’s just as friends, so no big deal. The same could be said for you.”

“Alright, why don’t we just go sit down at our table?” Aang suggested before things could get out of hand.

They all murmured in agreement before heading towards their table, leaving Haru and Suki behind as she stared at her ex and his date. Eventually, they sat down at their table and Sokka was quick to become fascinated with the centrepiece on the table.

“Damn, that centrepiece is awesome. How did you guys arrange this stuff?” Sokka asked.

“Well, we wanted to go all out for our prom so that it wasn’t a dud like the last years. Azula managed to get her dad to spend a little extra on us. That was the only good thing about working with her,” Katara explained.

“Well, you guys did a great job,” Jin complimented.

“I can’t see anything, so I’ll just go along with what you guys are saying,” Toph muttered.

“When do we get some food?” Sokka asked eagerly.

“Is food all he thinks about?” Jin asked.

“Yes,” Katara simply replied, earning a laugh from the others and a glare from Sokka.

“So, what are you gonna do about Sugar Queen?” Toph asked Aang quietly.

“Just try not to screw things up,’’ Aang replied.

“I don’t see why you have to be such a stick in the mud about this. Just tell her how you feel,” Toph whispered.

“I don’t see you making any move on Sokka,” Aang hissed.

“You wanna test me, Twinkle Toes? Then let’s go,” Toph challenged.

“With what?” Aang asked.

“Let’s make a deal. I’ll make a move on the Meathead if you make a move on Sugar Queen,” Toph said.

“How about you make a move on Sokka and then I’ll make a move on Katara?” Aang suggested.

Toph shrugged, “Fine. If it stops, you from being such a worry wart.”

Aang sighed, “I was hoping you’d say no.”

“Well, unfortunately for you, I like to see people squirm,” Toph said.

For the rest of the night, the group continued in their prom festivities, dancing the night away while Aang hoped that Toph would back out on their deal. Much to his dismay, at one point during the night, he saw Sokka and Toph acting like a little more than just friends and he knew what that meant. Especially when they approached them and Toph had the biggest grin on her face.

“Well, would you like at this?” Toph asked.

Aang sighed, “It’s time for me to hold up to my end of the bargain?”

“Yep. It’s time to grow a pair and do what we’ve all been waiting for you to do,” Toph said.

Aang glanced at where Katara was, “You’re not gonna let me live it down if I don’t do it?”

Toph nodded, “You would be correct.”

“Just save us all the trouble and ask her already,” Sokka said.

“Fine. But don’t be surprised if it blows up in my face,” Aang said.

The rest of the night went on without a hitch, as everybody enjoyed themselves and danced the night away. For Aang, he was just trying to work up the courage to even ask Katara to dance. They’d come there together, yet they had hardly interacted. Each time Aang glanced at Toph’s direction, she was just giving him the death glare but Sokka’s presence was probably what stopped her from killing him.

When the DJ announced that the last song was playing, Aang knew that now he had to make his move. It was the perfect timing to, since it was a slow song that gave him the excuse to dance with Katara. Pushing his nerves away, Aang tapped Katara on the back and she turned around with a smile on her face.

“Would you like to dance?” Aang asked nervously as he prayed for her to say yes.

“I’d love to!” Katara exclaimed.

Aang let out a sigh of relief as he guided Katara to the dance floor. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Zuko dancing with Jin while Sokka and Toph did their own weird dance. Once they got into a good position, Katara was quick to snag her arms around his neck while Aang nervously put his hands on her waist.

“So, it looks like Sokka and Toph are a thing,” Katara said in an attempt to break the ice.

“Yeah, they’ve been acting closer than ‘just friends’ would. I’m surprised that it’s taken this long,” Aang commented.

“I’ve always known that Toph had a strange crush on my brother, but I never really knew where Sokka stood on the whole thing, especially since he was with Suki for the most part. But he’s been a downer since she dumped him so it’s good to see that Toph brought him out of his funk,” Katara admitted.

“Mhm, yeah,” Aang muttered.

“Can I ask you something, Aang?” Katara asked.

“Um, sure,” Aang murmured.

“Have you been avoiding me all night?” Katara asked.

Aang’s eyes widened, “Um, no. Trust me, I haven’t been avoiding you. I’ve just been working up the courage to…”

“To do what?” Katara asked.

I might as well do it now. Aang thought.

Aang sighed, “This.”

Katara narrowed her eyes in confusion, only for them to widen in surprise as Aang leaned in to kiss her. For a brief moment, she was frozen before she eventually kissed him back, wrapping her arms around his neck as she pulled him closer. They could hear Sokka and Toph cheering in the background.

“You’re welcome!” Toph yelled.

“Just ease it on the tongue, okay?” Sokka asked.

Eventually, they pulled a part. Katara’s look was one of happiness mixed with confusion, while Aang was one of complete bliss.

“What was that?” Katara asked with a slight smile.

“Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” Aang admitted.

“So, you like me?” Katara asked.

“Katara, I’ve always liked you. That’s why I wanted to go to prom with you. I only spent the night avoiding you because I was trying to work up the courage to do that,” Aang replied.

Katara giggled, “I also wanted to go to the prom with you. I never expected you to take this long to ask me, though.”

Aang stood there, shocked, “Are you saying that you like me?”

“Yes, Aang. I like you. More than a friend,” Katara admitted.

“I’m so stupid,” Aang muttered.

“What?” Katara asked, confused.

“The reason why it was so hard for me to approach you was because I thought you only thought of me as a friend. Especially after you said that you were glad we were friends. I thought that was your way of friend-zoning me,” Aang replied.

“Oh. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say on my part, since it was anything but the truth. I’m glad that we can spend what’s left of the time we have together,” Katara said.

“Me too,” Aang said.

Even though the rest of the song was over in a few short minutes, for Aang and Katara it felt like a lifetime as they danced together in each other’s arms. For both of them, this was a moment that they had wanted forever and now it was finally happening. They had taken a leap in their friendship and it was safe to say that it had worked out for both of them.

Chapter Text

It was late at night, and the most famous group in the world had just left the premiere of the movie that was based entirely on them. Based on their reactions, it was safe to say that they didn’t like their portrayal in the movie.

“That… wasn’t a good movie,” Zuko finally said once they were a safe distance away from the theatre.

“It wasn’t just ‘not a good movie.’ It was awful! Completely awful. M. Night Shyamalan should be ashamed of himself!” Sokka exclaimed.

“I’m so glad I wasn’t in that movie,” Toph said.

Mai nodded in agreement, “That’s one thing I’m glad I wasn’t a part of.”

“It made me cry, and not in a good way,” Ty Lee admitted.

“Aang, how could you take my overemotional speech about hope? That’s like all I had! Now I’m just… there!” Katara complained.

“It wasn’t me, Katara! Okay, it was me but not me, me!” Aang defended himself.

“I wanted to watch How to Train Your Dragon,” Zuko said bitterly.

“Even that would’ve been a better movie,” Ty Lee agreed.

“I was only in that play for like, five seconds! And that wrench playing me was nothing like me! They’ve completely destroyed my legacy!” Azula seethed.

“I’d rather have her as a sister instead of you,” Zuko muttered, earning a glare from his actual sister as well as a small lightning strike in front of him that made Zuko cower in fear.

“Please, you’re lucky to have me, Zuzu. I should go back to that Agni-forsaken theatre and burn it to the ground!” Azula yelled.

“Normally, I wouldn’t be okay with that sort of violence, but as the Avatar I am allowed to make exceptions,” Aang conceded.

“Those jerks took my meat and sarcasm and replaced it with ponytail! So much ponytail! I’m not Zuko for Spirits sake!” Sokka exclaimed.

“Hey!” Zuko cried indignantly.

“We hardly had any personality! They rendered us to just… Mai!” Katara complained before she quickly added, “No offence, Mai.”

Mai shrugged, “Non-taken.”

“And what was up with my tattoos? Clearly that guy has never seen Air Nomad tattoos in his life. I should give him a tutorial sometime,” Aang said.

“At first, I was upset that the director cut me from the movie, but now I’m glad that I was. They probably would have some random portraying me given how you guys were portrayed,” Suki confessed.

“We definitely caught a break, Fangirl. That guy would’ve done you dirty just like he did to all of us,” Toph consoled her.

Suki’s head suddenly perked up, “Hey, wait a minute. Since you guys never met me in the movie, does that mean I’m scrapped from it entirely? I won’t even be there in the final battle?”

“Don’t waste your breath on it, Suki. It’s for the best. I’d rather not be in the movie at all after how they portrayed me! None of our portrayals were accurate,” Katara complained.

“They could’ve at least hired actors who actually resembled us instead of those clowns they put up there,” Sokka added.

“Does my scar honestly look that bad?” Zuko asked as he looked at his eye in his phone camera.

“They made your scar look even worse Zuko. They need to hire better makeup artists. Hey, they should hire the Kyoshi Warriors! We know how to use makeup,” Ty Lee suggested.

Suki shook her head, “No way. If they’re going to cut me from the movie, I don’t want to help them with their awful affects.”

“That so-called director doesn’t even know a THING about firebending! He said that Sozin’s Comet would give firebenders the power to use our own chi to create fire!” Azula yelled.

“Isn’t that how firebending works?” Mai asked.

“Yes! And that old gasbag playing father didn’t even resemble him! He had no long hair or beard and was hardly terrifying at all!” Azula shrieked.

“I’d much rather have him as a father too,” Zuko muttered darkly.

“Were the affects any good at least?” Toph asked.

Sokka shrugged, “The affects were decent. But for a 150-million-dollar budget movie, they could’ve done better.”

“Speaking of the affects, why does it take five minutes of dance movies for me to bend anything?” Aang asked.

“Like I said, this guy clearly doesn’t understand a thing about bending,” Azula muttered.

“I bet if we made a movie of our own it would be better than that flop!” Sokka proclaimed.

“Even the Abridged Series was better than that movie,” Katara said.

“Can I just say, I know that the Fire Nation isn’t exactly the most… nicest nation but would they really rage war on the rest of the world?” Ty Lee asked.

“Probably,” Toph replied.

“Wasn’t Zhao only an Admiral, though?” Mai asked.

“The world wouldn’t have been able to handle Zhao with the title as General. He was bad enough as he was as an Admiral. Thank Agni father was just a governor. Who knows what he would’ve done with some title like Fire Lord,” Zuko replied.

“I think we can all agree that movie was just a gigantic waste of our time,” Sokka declared.

“Horrible,” Suki agreed.

“I wish I could take back those hours that I wasted,” Azula said.

“All we can do now is hope that the next movie won’t be as bad as that,” Aang said.

“There’s gonna be a sequel!” Sokka yelled.

“Well, it was kind of implied. Nothings been confirmed yet, though,” Aang replied.

“Let’s hope that there isn’t a sequel,” Katara muttered.

Toph nodded in agreement, “Then I won’t have to deal with their horrible portrayal of me.”

“At least we get to keep these cool 3D glasses,” Sokka said.

“Why did you guys even get me a pair?” Toph asked, “I can’t even see!”

“For the full experience!” Sokka exclaimed.

“So, what do we do now?” Suki asked.

“Well, we could either go over to Uncle’s and have some tea, so we can try and wipe those memories from our brains, or we could go to M. Night Shyamalan’s house and make him wish that he never made that awful movie,” Azula suggested.

“Sounds like a plan!” Sokka agreed.

“I’m all for that,” Katara added.

“As the Avatar, I should be advising you guys against these heinous actions,” Aang pointed out.

“But you’re not going to, aren’t you?” Toph asked knowingly.

Aang nodded, “Like I said, I’m allowed to make exceptions every once in a while.”

“This time it would be justifiable,” Mai said.

“After we destroy his house, we should take selfies!” Ty Lee exclaimed.

“Oh, Ty Lee. We’re not just going to destroy his house,” Azula muttered darkly.

Without even questioning Azula, the group made their way towards M. Night Shyamalan’s house where they unleashed their inner fury. After that, it was no surprise to them when he announced that there wouldn’t be a sequel to the Last Airbender movie.

Chapter Text

For as long as Sneers could remember, he had been a member of the Freedom Fighters. They were a group of rebels who fought against the Fire Nation to protect their people from those who had destroyed their lives. Keyword: were. As of recently, the Freedom Fighters had disbanded and they had all gone their separate ways to find their place in the world without each other. That left Sneers without a place to stay, since the Freedom Fighters had been his only home ever since his parent’s death at the hands of the Fire Nation. It seemed pointless for him to stay at their hideout, since nobody else had opted to do that and there was no point in Sneers staying there if he was going to be alone.

While Jet, Smellerbee and Longshot had decided to go to Ba Sing Se for a new beginning, Sneers decided to distance himself from them entirely. When Sneers had joined the Freedom Fighters, it was to protect those from suffering the same fate he had as a child. In all honesty, that’s what Sneers thought they were doing. But by the end of the Freedom Fighters run, Sneers realised that Jet had his own plans that differed from their own personal beliefs. It was common knowledge amongst the Freedom Fighters not to question Jet, so that’s what Sneers did. But now that Sneers didn’t have to follow Jet’s rules anymore, he was free to do whatever he wanted, even if he didn’t quite know what that was.

After some thought, Sneers decided to seek refuge with the only family member he knew he had; an uncle who lived in the Fire Nation colony of Yu Dao in the Earth Kingdom. Although it wasn’t Sneers ideal place to live, since he’d be surrounded by the people of the same kind who murdered his parents, but it was the only place Sneers could think of. At least then he’d have his uncle to remind him of his parents.

When Sneers arrived in Yu Dao, his uncle barely gave him a warm welcome and just gave him a room to sleep in and a job at his diner. That was more than enough for Sneers, since it gave him some money and a place to stay. For the most part, Sneers just kept to himself and did what he had to do for his uncle’s diner, even if it was uncomfortable for him to constantly have people of Fire Nation blood in his presence. There wasn’t really that much for him to do a part from greet the customers and make the food, so it wasn’t like he had the most exciting job in the world.

That was until one day when the most beautiful girl Sneers had ever seen walked into the diner. Admittedly, Sneers didn’t really have any experience with girls, since the only girl around his age that he had ever related to was Smellerbee. But this girl wasn’t anything like Smellerbee. She was the most beautiful girl sneers had ever seen. Almost instantly, he was lovestruck by the fine girl who came into his uncle’s diner. Unfortunately, Sneers never really got the chance to interact with her since he was always behind the counter and she was out there. So, he made it his mission to find a way to interact with her.

Just like any mission with the Freedom Fighters, there was a lot of planning put into making sure that he got the perfect moment with the girl. That involved getting one of his rare days off in the hopes of her stumbling past, so he could find out more about her. Since his uncle only gave him one day off a week, Sneers had to pay attention to every little detail about her with that being when she came to the diner and how long she was there for. Ultimately, Sneers concluded that the girl visited the diner once every three days so on his next day off, he made sure that their paths would cross.

However, that was easier said than done since Sneers couldn’t exactly wait inside his uncle’s diner without appearing suspicious. So, he hid outside the diner as he waited for the girl to make her appearance. All his time taking part in surveillance with the Freedom Fighters was paying off, since he was easily able to remain hidden without coming across in an odd way. Finally, Sneers saw her walk into the diner, dressed in a mix of green and red attire. Assuming that it was just a fashion choice, Sneers thought nothing of it and waited for her to come out before he made his move. Unfortunately, when she did come out she was with somebody else and when Sneers saw that it was a decent looking guy, his heart dropped. There was no way that a girl like that would be just friends with a guy like that.

Not wanting to give up, Sneers decided to follow the pair before he came to his own conclusions. When they parted ways, Sneers took notice of the friendly wave the girl gave him before she headed off on her own. Now that she was alone, Sneers decided that it was time to make his move, before he lost any of the courage he had left. Slowly, Sneers made his way towards the girl before he was within talking distance with her. That was when she turned around to face him.

“Are you following me?” she asked.

Sneers blushed, “M-me? Following y-you? Of c-course n-not.”

The girl crossed her arms, “Who are you?”

“M-my n-name is Sneers,” Sneers replied.

The girl raised her eyebrow, “What kind of name is that?”

“It’s a nickname,” Sneers replied, which it was since it was the name that had been given to him when he first joined the Freedom Fighters. Each and every one of them had their own specialised nickname, except for Jet of course.

“It doesn’t really suit you,” the girl noted.

“Yeah, w-well I try,” Sneers said, trying his best not to sound nervous.

“Hey, don’t you work at that diner?” the girl realised.

“Yeah. My uncle owns it. I just moved here recently, so he gave me a job there,” Sneers explained.

“Oh. Well, my name is Kori Morishita,” the girl – Kori – replied.

Even her name is beautiful. Sneers thought.

“What was that?” Kori questioned.

Sneers blushed as he realised that he must’ve said that out loud, “N-nothing. Since I’m you know, new around here, I was wondering if you’d want to you know, hang out. I haven’t really made any friends yet.”

“Well, I guess I could use some friends of my own, so sure,” Kori said, not wanting to pass up the opportunity of a friendship. “Hey, have you played solitaire before?”

Sneers grinned, “Of course I have.”

“I have a set of my own if you’d wanna play,” Kori offered somewhat shyly.

“That would be great!” Sneers exclaimed.

Smiling, Sneers followed Kori to a quiet place before they set up their game of solitaire which they quickly found themselves engrossed with. At the same time, Sneers learned that there was much more to Kori than her looks, since she was one of the nicest people he’d ever met and just like that, a friendship was born.

~*•°•*~

Soon after Kori and Sneers developed a firm friendship, it wasn’t long before Sneers found himself falling more and more for Kori. Luckily for him; the feeling was very much mutual and it wasn’t long before he and Kori officially became a couple. While Sneers was happy to be with Kori, he was also nervous since he had never been in a relationship before. Up until he met Kori, Sneers had never even kissed a girl. So, it was safe to say that this whole ‘relationship’ thing was foreign territory for Sneers. Something else that was foreign territory for Sneers was meeting other people’s parents, which was the point of where he was at in his relationship with Kori.

Now that they had been dating for almost a month, Kori thought that it was a perfect time to introduce Sneers to her family, since they had never met him before. To say that Sneers was nervous about the whole prospect would be an understatement, since he was practically freaking out over the thought of meeting Kori’s family. Little did he know; Kori was feeling the exact same nervousness for reasons of her own, since it would be the deal-breaker in their relationship, although Sneers himself didn’t know that.

At sun down exactly, Sneers arrived at Kori’s house which he had been to plenty of times before, he’d just never met Kori’s parents. From what Kori told him, her father was always busy with his work and her mother just seemed to have bad timing. With one deep breath, Sneers lifted his hand and gently knocked on the door. When the sound of footsteps approached, Sneers considered turning back now while he still could, but that wouldn’t matter as the door was quickly opened for him to step inside, revealing a large man clad in red standing there.

“Ah, you must be Kori’s boyfriend,” the man addressed him.

Sneers nodded, “Y-yes. I am. Y-you m-must be Mr. Morishita.”

“Indeed I am. Come inside, boy. I’m sure Kori will be happy to see you. Since she usually is whenever she speaks of you,” Mr. Morishita said.

“Really?” Sneers asked.

“Of course. Kori constantly talks about you. You seem to make my daughter very happy,” Mr. Morishita commented. “What was it she said your name was? Tears?”

“Sneers,” Sneers replied.

“That’s an unusual name,” Mr. Morishita noted.

“Well, it’s not really my name. It’s just a nickname,” Sneers explained.

“It doesn’t really suit you,” Mr. Morishita said.

“F-funny that. Kori a-actually said the same t-thing to me w-when I told her it,” Sneers stuttered.

Suddenly, a woman appeared in front of them clad in green clothes. Assuming that it was Kori’s mother, Sneers made his way towards her with the intention of introducing himself.

“You must be Sneers! Kori has told me so much about you! I’m Kori’s mother,” the woman introduced herself before turning around. “Kori! Your boyfriends here!”

Another set of footsteps were heard before Sneers saw Kori emerge from the corner behind her. Kori quickly embraced her boyfriend in a hug before giving him a kiss on the cheek.

“Sneers, I’m so glad you could make it. Come on, dinners almost ready,” Kori said as she dragged him to the kitchen.

When Sneers entered the kitchen in Kori’s house, he was quickly surprised by the decorations that surrounded the place. Most notably there was a mix of red and green ornaments, something which seemed to be a trend for them. But what caught Sneers off guard the most was the poster of Fire Lord Ozai that hung above the fireplace. While Sneers had never seen the Fire Lord himself, he had heard enough to know what the man looked like.

Although Sneers had been in Kori’s house before, he had never seen that portrait hanging up on the wall. And if Sneers was being completely honest, it rattled him to be in the presence of the picture of the same man who despised his existence.

“Why is there a portrait of the Fire Lord in your kitchen?” Sneers whispered to Kori.

“My dad is uh, very patriotic,” Kori replied nervously.

“Why would he be patriotic for the Fire Nation?” Sneers asked.

Kori sighed, “Because he is Fire Nation.”

Sneers eyes widened as he whipped around to face Kori, “What? How come you never mentioned that?”

“It just slipped my mind…” Kori trailed off.

“Kori,” Sneers said.

“Okay, I wasn’t going to tell you until the time was right. Telling people straight away never seems to do me any favours,” Kori admitted.

“But that would make you Fire Nation,” Sneers hissed.

“I’m Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom. My father is Fire Nation and my mother is Earth Kingdom,” Kori stated.

“You’re still Fire Nation,” Sneers muttered.

Kori glared at him, “So? Just be quiet and don’t get on my father’s bad side.”

Sighing, Sneers followed Kori to the table before sitting down next to her, although he couldn’t deny the awkwardness that he felt inside. While Kori happily chatted away with her parents, Sneers just stared into place as he pondered the bombshell that his girlfriend had just dumped on him. Kori was Fire Nation. Well, part Fire Nation at least. She had blood belonging to the same people who murdered his parents. Kori very well knew what had happened to his parents, and she still got herself involved with him. That had to mean something, right?

As much as Sneers wanted to ignore the part of him that wanted to hate Kori purely for the fact that she was Fire Nation, he couldn’t bring it in himself to do so. It wasn’t like Kori had done anything personally to him. Besides lie about who she truly was. That on it’s own was something that Sneers couldn’t excuse.

“I asked you a question, boy,” was what brought Sneers out of his thoughts.

Sneers looked up to see Mr. Morishita glaring at him, and he gave the man a sheepish apology, “Sorry, sir. I got distracted by your… decorations.”

“Ah yes, they truly are magnificent, aren’t they? Anyways, back to my question. What are your intentions with my daughter?” Mr. Morishita asked.

“Dad,” Kori hissed.

“Don’t you want to know if this boy is truly genuine for you, Kori? I do not want another repeat of every other relationship that you’ve had,” Mr. Morishita said.

“Um… What?” Sneers questioned.

“Forgive my husband, young man. He never seems to mind his tongue, despite how much I have told him to do so. My husband is just concerned for Kori, since she has had it rather difficult making friends, let alone keeping a relationship. I’m sure you would understand why,” Mrs. Morishita explained.

“Mom,” Kori hissed.

“What do you mean?” Sneers wondered.

“As I’m sure you would know, it is not easy growing up in a world with mixed blood. That has been the case for Kori as she has not had an easy time making friends or maintaining relationships. That was, until she met you,” Mrs Morishita said.

Sneers glanced at Kori and was surprised to find himself sympathising with her even though she was part of the same people who were responsible for the death of his parents. While the Jet part of his brain was telling him that Kori was nothing but Fire Nation scum, the rational part of his brain was saying that Kori was different, and that she has nothing to do with her people’s destruction on the world.

“Mom, you and dad can interrogate Sneers after we’ve finished our meal,” Kori snapped.

“That works with me,” Mr. Morishita muttered.

The rest of the meal continued in awkwardness, even if it wasn’t awkward already. By the end of the night, Sneers was more then ready to leave Kori’s house as he suddenly found himself questioning everything he thought about their relationship. Was this what relationships were supposed to be like?

“Sorry about my parents. I hope they weren’t too hard on you,” Kori apologised as she lead Sneers outside.

“It was unexpected,” Sneers admitted.

“Are you mad at me?” Kori asked.

“Why would I be mad? What reason would I have to be mad after finding out that my girlfriend is the spawn of an ash maker,” Sneers replied sarcastically.

Kori gasped as she slapped Sneers, “Don’t you dare call my father that derogatory term! Look, Sneers. I know that I should’ve told you about my heritage before tonight but you have no right to talk about my father like that!”

“How could you, Kori? You knew what those ash makers murdered my parents!” Sneers exclaimed.

“Your parents might’ve been murdered by the Fire Nation, but that doesn’t mean that everyone from the Fire Nation is bad. Look at me, you liked me even when there could’ve been every likelihood that I could’ve been Fire Nation,” Kori argued.

“Well, I thought you weren’t after I saw you earthbend. That left little doubts in my mind. But I guess now you’re not the girl I thought you were,” Sneers stated.

“What does that mean?” Kori demanded.

“I thought you were genuine, Kori. I thought there wasn’t anything to be judged about you. But I was wrong,” Sneers said.

Kori’s glare hardened, “Well, if that’s how you feel then I guess there’s no point in us continuing in our relationship anymore. Goodbye, Sneers.”

With that, Kori turned around and slammed the door in Sneers face, leaving him feeling more guilty than he thought he would about this entire situation. Now he was left to decide if his relationship with Kori was more important than everything he’d ever known.

~*•°•*~

Four days after Sneers disastrous dinner with Kori and her parents, Sneers walked towards a familiar spot with flowers in hand and an apology planned. It had taken him two days to admit to himself that Kori wasn’t worth losing over his misconceptions about the Fire Nation. He had to admit that Kori was right about what she said in regard to not everyone from the Fire Nation being bad. Sure, Kori had lied to him about who she was but he could understand why she did so. If he was her, he would’ve done the same thing. Now he was on his way to apologise, and hopefully earn Kori’s forgiveness even if it took a while.

When Sneers arrived, he started to think that maybe he’d chosen the wrong moment to apologise to Kori when he saw that she was practising her earthbending. Unlike most of the times when she had someone with her, Kori was completely alone and Sneers could see that she was expressing her anger which would undoubtedly be directed at him. After sucking up the remaining courage he had left, Sneers made his way towards his girlfriend… or ex-girlfriend. Sneers wasn’t so sure where he stood with Kori after the last time they spoke together.

“Hey uh… Kori,” Sneers greeted her.

“What do you want?” Kori asked as she launched another boulder into the air.

“I came here to give you these,” Sneers replied as he held out the flowers.

“Why?” Kori asked as she turned around to see him holding flowers.

“Because I wanted to say sorry,” Sneers mumbled.

“Why?” Kori repeated as she crossed her arms.

“Because I was wrong. Kori, I’m sorry for what I said. It wasn’t fair for me to judge you and your family because of my own experiences. You’re nothing like the people who murdered my parents,” Sneers admitted.

“What made you realise that?” Kori questioned as she stepped towards him.

“When I realised that you were part Fire Nation, I wanted to hate you but I couldn’t bring myself to. I could never hate you, Kori. Whether you were Fire Nation or not,” Sneers answered.

Kori smiled as she took the flowers from him, “That’s really sweet.”

“So, do I not have to worry about you shooting a boulder at me?” Sneers asked.

Kori laughed, “No, you do not. But the same cannot be said for my father.”

“You’ll talk to him, right?” Sneers checked, not wanting to face the wrath of Mr. Morishita.

“Yes, I’ll tell him not to be so hard on you. Even the Mayor of Yu Dao can succumb to the wishes of his only daughter,” Kori said.

“Your father is the Mayor of Yu Dao?” Sneers inquired, shocked.

“Yes. How could you have not known that?” Kori asked.

Sneers sighed, “I don’t know. I’m an idiot.”

“But you’re my idiot,” Kori smiled.

With that smile, Sneers knew that he was back in Kori’s good graces and he was going to make sure that he didn’t get out of them anytime soon, since Kori wasn’t someone that he was willing to let go of, even if that meant forgetting everything he ever thought he knew. But for Kori, he was willing to do just that.

Chapter Text

For as long as she could remember, Katara had practically lived off of coffee. It was what got her through her days, especially now that she was at college. Unlike her brother, Katara had opted to take all of her classes in the morning, so that meant getting up at early times even if she was half asleep. Those were especially the times when Katara appreciated her morning coffee, since it was just what she needed to keep her going.

Luckily for Katara, there was a Starbucks shop right around the block from her college so it made things easier for her. Katara waited patiently for her turn, and she couldn’t help but notice how there was a different barista standing there then there usually was. Not that Katara ever really paid attention that much, she had just never seen the guy standing at the cash register before. Realising that the line was taking too long, Katara pulled out her phone and texted her friend Suki saying that she might be late to their first class.

“Next!” the barista called and Katara barely had a moment to register that he was calling for her.

“Uh, sorry,” Katara apologised before giving him her order. “I’ll have a Caramel Macchiato.”

“Name?” the barista asked as he grabbed a nearby cup.

“Katara,” she replied as he scribbled her name down on the cup before giving the barista the required money.

“Your name will be called when it’s ready,” the barista said.

Nodding, Katara stepped out of line as she waited for her order to be ready for collection. Out of the corner of her eye, Katara could’ve sworn that she saw the barista glancing at her before dismissing it as nothing.

“Katara!” the barista shouted her name when her drink was ready.

“Thank you,” Katara said as she took her drink from the barista before quickly rushing out of the shop, knowing that she was running out of time to get to her class. As she was hurrying along, Katara couldn’t help but notice how her name had been spelt on the cup.

Kitara.

“Are you serious?” Katara mumbled to herself. Admittedly, Katara had never had her name misspelled before, since she always assumed that her name was pretty straight forward. The barista seemed to think otherwise, but Katara had no time to worry about some barista who couldn’t even spell her name right.

~*•°•*~

The following morning, Katara made her usual stop at the coffee shop. However, this time she had another motive a part from the coffee. When Katara saw that the same barista from yesterday was still there, she knew what to do. Katara was going to see if he could actually spell her name right, or if maybe her name wasn’t so easy to spell as she thought she was.

“I’ll just have a Cappuccino,” Katara ordered as she gave the barista her money.

“It’ll be ready in a few,” the barista mumbled as he scribbled her name down on the cup.

Curiously, Katara glanced ahead to see if she could notice how he spelt her name this time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t close enough for Katara to see so she sighed as she stepped out of line, knowing that she would have to wait until her order was ready to see if he had spelt her name right.

“Katara!” her name was called.

Her nerves started to build up as she approached the barista. Deep down, Katara knew that she was being sill about nothing, but she had to know if he could spell her name right. Which he obviously couldn’t given how he spelt her name this time.

Cetara.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Katara mumbled disapprovingly as she took a sip of her drink. Of all the spellings of her name, she never would’ve considered spelling it like that. Either barista boy couldn’t spell, or he just didn’t like her for whatever reason.

~*•°•*~

Determined to try something different, Katara took her friends Suki and Toph to the shop the next day. Just like her name, Katara considered Suki and Toph’s names easy to spell, so she was going to see if barista boy really couldn’t spell or if it was just something about her.

“Remind me again why we’re doing this?” Toph complained as Katara dragged her and Suki to the line.

“To see if barista boy has it out for me,” Katara replied.

“This is stupid. I should be sleeping in right now, not lining up at some stupid coffee shop,” Toph grumbled.

Katara rolled her eyes, “Oh, please. I know that you invite Sokka over once I leave.”

“Then I should be sleeping with your brother, not in some fucking line,” Toph muttered.

“I’m going to ignore the first part of that sentence,” Katara shivered as a rather unflattering image entered her mind.

“Why does this even concern you so much, Katara? So the barista spells your name wrong, big deal?” Suki wondered.

“But he shouldn’t spell it wrong. My name is as straightforward as it comes,” Katara stated.

“If you’re going to make me waste my time, I’m going to make you pay for my coffee,” Toph proclaimed.

“Fine,” Katara conceded as they were called up to order. “I’ll have a Cappuccino.”

“I’ll have a Caffe Latte please,” Suki ordered.

“Gimme the Triple Mocha Frappuccino. She’s paying,” Toph gestured to Katara.

“Names?” the barista asked.

“Suki and that’s Toph,” Katara answered for them. “You should know my name by now.”

“It’ll be ready in a few,” the barista mumbled.

Glancing back at the barista as they stepped out of line, Katara couldn’t help but wonder how this would work out. She hoped that he’d finally get her name right instead of butchering it like he has so far. As they waited, Suki’s words from earlier echoed through her mind. Why does this even concern you so much?

If she was being completely honest, Katara had no idea why it bothered her so much as to why a complete stranger couldn’t even spell her name right. Katara tried to rationalise that it was because she’d always be getting her coffee from him and she wanted him to at least know her proper name. But Katara couldn’t help but think that it meant more than that.

“Katara, Suki and Toph,” the barista called.

“Here it goes,” Katara murmured as they headed up to collect their orders.

“Well?” Suki asked expectantly as they headed out of the shop.

“Again?” Katara exasperatedly exclaimed as she saw the spelling of her name on the cup.

Ketira.

“Well, it’s kind of similar…” Suki trailed off.

“Man, that guy must hate your guts,” Toph snorted.

“Did he spell your names right?” Katara sighed.

“Yeah, he did,” Suki replied.

“I just don’t get it. What is so hard to get about Katara? Where in my name does it sound like there’s an ‘e’ or an ‘i’?” Katara questioned.

“Maybe your name just isn’t so easy to spell for everyone,” Suki suggested.

“You know what, I’ve had enough of this. When I go up to order tomorrow I’m confronting him to find out why he can’t just spell my name,” Katara proclaimed.

“Go get him, Sugar Queen,” Toph said.

Both Suki and Toph glanced at each other with amusement at Katara’s antics. While they couldn’t understand why the barista couldn’t spell Katara’s name, they also didn’t understand why it bothered her so much. They figured that they’d get their answers soon enough.

~*•°•*~

Just as she said she would, Katara walked into the Starbucks shop to confront the barista boy who couldn’t seem to spell her name right despite how easy she thought it was. When it finally came time for her to order, Katara had already prepared what she was going to say.

“I’ll have a Cappuccino, please. Here’s the money. And before you even write it down, it’s Katara. K-a-t-a-r-a. Katara,” Katara stated.

Without even bothering to acknowledge him again, Katara stepped out of line before glancing back at the barista boy. She couldn’t help but smirk at the baffled look that fell upon his face. If he couldn’t spell her name right after that, then there must be something wrong with him.

Surprisingly, Katara saw the barista boy approach her with her order in hand instead of calling her name like he normally did. When he handed her the drink, Katara eagerly looked down at her name and smiled with satisfaction as she saw that he had finally gotten it right.

“Thank you,” Katara said.

“Your welcome. Listen, um, Katara…” the boy trailed off.

“What?” Katara asked.

The boy sighed as he spoke in a jumbled mess, “I’m sorry for spelling your name wrong. You see, I’ve spotted you in the back of the shop a few times before and I thought that you were really pretty, so I wanted to ask you out but I didn’t know how to approach you. So, I thought that by spelling your name wrong it might get your attention. How could I ever spell such a pretty name wrong?”

Katara blinked several times as she felt her cheeks heat up. That certainly wasn’t what she was expecting. “Um, thank you.”

“I know it was stupid of me, but I’ve never really had the best of luck with girls. But you’re not like most girls. You’re beautiful and I can tell that you’re a beautiful person as well,” the boy mumbled.

Katara smiled, “That’s really sweet. What’s your name?”

“Aang,” the boy replied before he added, “A-a-n-g. Aang.”

Katara giggled, “Well, Aang. How would you like to get a coffee sometime?”

“I’d like that,” Aang replied.

Chapter Text

Ever since Princess Zuka had joined Team Avatar, there had been a whole lot of tension amongst the group, particularly between Suko and Zuka. Although Zuka had given up on her past of chasing the Avatar and joined their group, their was still mistrust surrounding her intentions. Most of it was from Suko, given their history together.

After Zuka invaded Kyoshi Island, she ended up taking Suko prisoner to use as bait against the Avatar. It didn’t work for her, since Suko managed to escape with Team Avatar at the North Pole. However, that wasn’t the last time Suko and Zuka’s paths crossed, since they were reunited once again in Ba Sing Se. However, instead of telling the rest of the Gaang about seeing Zuka in the city, Suko decided to give Zuka a chance since it seemed as though she had truly changed.

Unfortunately, Zuka all but betrayed Suko’s trust when she turned against the Gaang for her brother, Azul. Though much to their surprise, Zuka would ultimately betray her own people once and for all on the Day of Black Sun. When Zuka surprisingly showed up at the Western Air Temple, everyone, not just Suko, was sceptical of her true intentions. But for the most part, their group had come to accept her as one of their own. Most of them minus Suko, of course.

Despite Zuka’s best efforts, Suko had refused to allow himself to trust Zuka again after what happened the last time. Even some of the other members of the group like Anna, Toa and Sonna had tried getting him to forgive Zuka, with little success. Kataro was the only member of the group who didn’t bug him about it, since Kataro had felt the same amount of betrayal as Suko did. Although there was more to it than Suko would ever willingly admit.

One night in particular, Suko was struggling to get to sleep in the confinements of the Western Air Temple. Deciding to step out and get some fresh air, Suko headed off for a small walk. A lot of his struggles came from the fact that he was still getting used to the idea of Zuka being with them.

Almost as if the universe had it out for him, while Suko was on his walk he caught sight of someone in the distance. Fearing that it was an intruder, Suko got ready to battle before he realised that it was only Zuka, although it might as well have been an intruder.

“I know you’re there, Suko,” Zuka addressed him.

“I won’t be for long,” Suko muttered, but Zuka still managed to hear him.

“Still bitter at me, huh?” Zuka commented.

“What more could you expect after how you betrayed me, betrayed all of us?” Suko asked.

“The others seem to have forgiven me,” Zuka pointed out.

“All of us except Kataro. They might have accepted you but we haven’t and we never will. We’re not dumb, we know what you’re truly capable of,” Suko argued.

Zuka scoffed, “Please. The others all seemed to have forgiven me after I pretty much did the same thing to them, so I don’t know what makes Kataro so different except for the fact that he had a schoolboy crush on me.”

Suko crossed his arms, “And what about me?”

“Well, I guess you would have understandable reasons for not wanting to trust me. I did betray you, after all,” Zuka said, with a hint of regret in her voice.

“Yes, you did betray me. And for that, I’ll never forgive you,” Suko insisted.

“Never is such a strong word,” Zuka commented.

“But it’s appropriate in these circumstances,” Suko argued.

Zuka sighed, “So, you’re just never going to forgive me?”

“Nope,” Suko shook his head.

“Is there anything I could do to make you forgive me?” Zuka asked hopefully.

“Nope,” Suko repeated.

“How about a sparring match?” Zuka suggested.

“What does that have to do with this?” Suko questioned.

“Well, it would give you the chance to release whatever petty anger you have at me. Nobody’s around to watch us,” Zuka answered.

“That’s a stupid idea,” Suko brushed it off.

Zuka smirked, “Afraid I’d beat you?”

“Please, you couldn’t beat me even if you tried. I’ve been trained in hand-to-hand combat. All you have is your cute little firebending,” Suko mocked.

“You should know that I’m skilled in more than just firebending. What kind of Princess would I be if I couldn’t defend myself without any bending?” Zuka argued.

“Technically, you’re not a princess anymore,” Suko pointed out.

Zuka walked towards Suko, “Then you should have no problem with a little sparring match.”

“Fine, let’s do it,” Suko conceded.

Zuka raised her eyebrows, somewhat shocked, “Really? Wow, I didn’t think you would actually agree to it.”

“Well, I did. So, let’s get to it,” Suko said.

“Alright. To make things fair, I won’t use my bending and we’ll just stick to our own personal strengths,” Zuka suggested as she pulled out her broadswords.

“Either way, I’d still beat you,” Suko challenged.

Zuka grinned, “I like the sass. On my go, we begin.”

Once they were both ready, Zuka gave the go and their sparring session began. Although neither would admit it, they were both relatively even fighters, since they were better in some areas compared to their opponent. They knew this from the other times they had sparred together, back when Zuka had taken Suko captive.

“I’ve gotta say, you’ve improved since the last time we’d spar like this,” Zuka complimented him.

“I was just holding back then. It’s hard to give it your all when you’re a prisoner,” Suko snapped.

“What, no compliment for me?” Zuka asked sarcastically.

“You don’t deserve a compliment from me,” Suko argued.

“Getting a bit self-righteous, are we?” Zuka commented.

They continued on with their sparring, with each hit and every movement getting more intense than the last. Both opponents were determined to get the better of the other, since they refused to lose, even if it was just a sparring match. It was safe to say these two had their own bad blood that had been dormant until now, where they could finally release their pent up frustration in the best way they knew how.

“Bet they don’t teach you this back in your ash-making country?” Suko asked.

“That’s a low blow, Suko. Even for you,” Zuka drawled.

“What, can’t handle the competition? Then just give up,” Suko suggested.

“Giving up isn’t in my vocabulary,” Zuka proclaimed.

“So, I guess all firebenders are stubborn then?” Suko asked.

“It’s in our nature, hun. Just like you Earth Kingdom people are as thick as they come,” Zuka mocked.

“So much for changing your beliefs,” Suko snapped.

“What? It’s the truth,” Zuka shrugged.

Angry at his people getting insulted, Suko charged towards Zuka with his katana outstretched, ready to knock Zuka off her feet. However, what Suko lacked in agility was what Zuka excelled in herself as she was easily able to dodge Suko’s attack. The opponents charged towards each other again, both ready to take the other out. What was supposed to be a simple sparring match was now turning into an all-out brawl.

“Ready to give up?” Zuka asked.

“Never!” Suko roared as he kicked Zuka backwards.

“Ouch, not even going softer on a girl. Some gentlemen you are,” Zuka mocked.

“Like you’d appreciate me going soft on you anyways,” Suko remarked.

“True, but it would be nice to have a gentlemen around here. Kataro hardly treats me like an equal and Toa is about as manly as they come with no respect for women whatsoever. I don’t know how you put up with them,” Zuka commented.

“Hey, don’t talk about my friends that way!” Suko exclaimed as she made another lunge towards Zuka, who pushed him back with her broadswords.

“I’m the Princess of the Fire Nation, so I’ll talk about whoever I want to however I want to,” Zuka snapped.

“You’re the princess of nothing!” Suko yelled.

Charging towards Suko, Zuka prepared herself to attack only for Suko to step out of the way. Just before Zuka would’ve ran into the wall, she turned on her heals and ran up the wall before jumping off and landing on her feet in a perfect stance, smirking at Suko as she did so. Using Suko’s momentary shock to her advantage, Zuka was easily able to disarm Suko of his weapon before pushing him up against a nearby pillar, signifying her victory.

“You were saying?” Zuka asked.

“Get off of me!” Suko snapped.

“Can’t handle losing, huh?” Zuka questioned.

“Not to the likes of you,” Suko muttered.

“Ouch, Suko. You’ve wounded me greatly,” Zuka feigned being hurt.

“Yeah, yeah. You won. Now get off me!” Suko exclaimed.

“Not until you forgive me,” Zuka said.

“No,” Suko drawled.

Zuka sighed, “Listen, Suko. You have every right to hate my guts. What I did was awful and betraying you is one of my biggest regrets in my life. Trust me when I say if I could go back and change it I would. So will you please forgive me? We don’t even have to be friends, I just want to be civil with one another.”

“We have been civil,” Suko murmured.

“Yeah, like rolling your eyes at me whenever I enter the room or mimicking me is being civil with one another. I get why you wouldn’t see it, but I really have changed and having your forgiveness would mean the world to me,” Zuka insisted.

“Zuka, I want to believe that you’ve changed. But you said that you changed before and then you turned your back on us! Anna was almost killed because of you!” Suko exclaimed.

Zuka grimaced, “I know, and I regret it more than anything. You have to believe that I’ve changed, Suko. If you do forgive me I promise that I will never break your trust again, not that I would have any reason to.”

Suko sighed, “I don’t know…”

“Why don’t you know?” Zuka asked, closing the gap between them until their faces were mere inches apart.

Neither of them responded to that, but they wouldn’t have to as they were suddenly joined by another person who ultimately killed whatever moment they were in the middle of.

“Suko? Zuka?” the person asked.

They turned their heads to see Kataro staring at them with confusion before they glanced at each other and quickly pulled apart, both of them blushing as they did so. That was certainly not how they wanted anybody to find them.

“What’s going on here?” Kataro asked.

“We were just sparring,” Zuka replied.

“Yeah, sparring,” Suko trailed off.

“Oh. Well, could you guys be quiet. Some of us are trying to sleep,” Kataro snapped before turning around and leaving them alone once again.

“So, will you forgive me?” Zuka asked hopefully once Kataro was gone.

“We’ll see. But, you are on the right track,” Suko commented. “Now, let’s get to bed before Kataro comes back to lecture us. You don’t want to be on his bad side anymore than what you are.”

“Yeah,” Zuka murmured, grinning as she followed Suko.

Although neither would acknowledge it, something had certainly changed between them after their little sparring session. Zuka hoped that this would only improve things for the better, since all she wanted to do was repair the bridges she had so callously burned. And it seemed as though she was on the right track with Suko, which was more than enough for her.

Chapter Text

Taking responsibility over one of the most busy places in the Fire Nation was a lot more difficult than what Abby thought it would be. When Daisuke gave her the title of General and the duty of watching over the Tatakai Stronghold while he was gone, she was more than happy to oblige to his wishes. Only now she found herself crumbling under the pressure, although she’d never admit that to anyone.

Throughout her fifteen years, Abby had done a lot of things that most people wouldn’t even do in a lifetime. Against the odds, she had mastered firebending by the age of thirteen despite how hard she had to work to achieve most things. From then on, she’d been moulded into the perfect firebending soldier who would do anything for the greater good of her nation.

One thing that Abby had taken for granted, or at least overlooked, was how hard it actually was to run a place like the Tatakai Stronghold. Daisuke had always made it look so easy with how he was able to make things run smoothly. So far, Abby had had many difficulties in keeping the rest of the staff under her control and she was struggling to figure out why that was the case. Perhaps it was because they couldn’t handle taking orders from a teenager or they just didn’t respect her. Either way, Abby was in charge now and she’d be ruling with an iron fist.

However, as the reality of her newfound responsibility started to set in, Abby started to find herself slipping into a dark place that she didn’t even realise she was doing. For the past few months, Abby felt like she was hanging onto everything by the skin of her teeth. There was so much pressure and so many expectations that she had to live up to, and Abby felt like she wasn’t meeting them. That only made her more frustrated at herself, since she was letting everybody down by being like this.

To everyone, Abby had to appear strong and dominant, she couldn’t let anybody know how she truly felt about everything. If Daisuke caught wind of how she was struggling, there was no telling what he would do to her since he was always a fan of using unorthodox methods. Then again, it was those unorthodox methods that made Abby into the firebender that she was. Without that hard training she went through, she wouldn’t be anywhere near the level she was now.

Currently, Abby was sitting in her room after a long day, which consisted of her first official portrait being painted and taking care of her incompetent workers. Anyone who had dared to disrespect her authority or her presence was dealt with the same punishment as Kyou and so far, Abby had fired thirteen people from the Tatakai Stronghold. Admittedly, she knew that she would have some explaining to do to Daisuke but in Abby’s opinion, her reasons for firing those imbeciles were justifiable.

“Those irritable nuisances,” Abby muttered disdainfully.

It was then that she realised that she’d have to replace the workers that she fired, which was something that Abby wasn’t looking forward to at all. Although the more she thought about it, the more Abby started to question everyone’s place at the Tatakai Stronghold. Perhaps she could test their skills to decide who was worthy enough to stick around, since they couldn’t have any incompetent imbeciles sticking around.

Then again, Abby wasn’t so sure if Daisuke would be understanding of her reasons. Truth be told, Abby had always been afraid of the man, although she’d never say it out loud. One of the many reasons why she had so easily followed Daisuke’s orders was because she had witnessed and experienced firsthand just how violent he could be when he didn’t get his way. Unlike Abby who used manipulation to her advantage, Daisuke used his ferocity to overpower and instil fear in others. There had been so many times when Abby wished to have called him out for his actions, but she’d never had the courage to do so since after all, Daisuke had taken her in when he didn’t have to and he could easily cast her aside like her parents did.

Thinking about her parents made Abby more angry than she already was. If she could see them now, she’d hold them at flame-point before burning their heads off for abandoning her. Their last thoughts would be fear, fear of the same girl they so carelessly abandoned and regret for doing just that. As much as she’d tried, Daisuke had never told her anything about her parental history except for the fact that her parents didn’t want her. Just that thought alone was enough to make her blood boil.

At least Abby had grown up knowing the truth, unlike Xia who had no idea who her father really was and had to live with a mother who was terrified of her. Memories of Osamu filled her mind, and Abby found herself remember her brief conversations with that man. His goal appeared to have been to confuse her, which he definitely did. It wasn’t like Osamu was the only person who confused Abby, since she had Saori and her conscience to deal with. They all seemed to be telling her the same thing, but Abby refused to acknowledge the truth in their words.

Being the stubborn firebender that she was, Abby refused to believe what anyone said to her, especially if it contradicted what she believed on her own. But as the days went on and the more confusing it was for Abby to deal with her emotions. With each day that passed, Abby found herself struggling more and more to hold onto reality. Truthfully, she felt like she was about to snap any moment, not that she hadn’t already.

It was times like this when Abby wished that she had some sort of confidant to express her thoughts and concerns to. Unfortunately for Abby, there wasn’t anyone at the Tatakai Stronghold that she trusted enough to divulge her thoughts to. Not even Kenji, Liling or Seung were trustworthy enough for Abby, since she had no idea what they’d do with the sort of information that she’d give them. For Abby, trust was always something that was hard to earn but easy to break. However, there was one person who Abby thought she could talk to, even though she couldn’t really talk to them at this very moment since she had no idea where they even were.

Hesitantly, Abby pulled out a piece of paper from one of her draws along with a quill so that she could start writing the letter to its intended recipient. After a brief moment of uncertainty and confusion, Abby picked up the quill and began writing her letter.

Osamu,

I want to start off this letter by saying that it’s Abby, the very same girl who you stumbled across several times throughout your travels. Since the last time I saw you, I was taken back to the Fire Nation and I am now residing at my previous place under General Daisuke’s guidance. Only now, he isn’t the only one with a new title. Shortly after I returned, Daisuke gave me the title of General for my brilliance and innovative thinking in regards to the Fire Nation’s personal developments. I would tell you what I have contributed greatly to, but I am not at liberty to do so.

Now that I have the title of General, Daisuke has given me control over the Tatakai Stronghold until he returns from his current business. Again, I would tell you what that is but I am not at liberty to do so. Since taking over leadership of the Tatakai Stronghold, I’ve realised that being in such a powerful position was a lot more daunting than what I thought it would be.

At first, I was thoroughly enjoying having so much authority and power in my hands, since it is what I have worked so hard for. However, as the demands of being a leader of this establishment takes its toll on me, I feel like I’m beginning to unravel. My focus isn’t as clear as it used to be, even now when I’m writing this letter to you I have to keep on going over my mistakes, which would explain the smudge marks across the letter. And if you haven’t realised based on our interactions, mistakes aren’t something that I make frequently.

Not only that, but I am having trouble sleeping. There’s always something to keep me awake, whether it be something on my mind or something around me. I feel like my tiredness is beginning to influence my decisions and mood swings, since I am becoming more angry and irritable with the less sleep I get. At the same time, I feel like my own mind is against me. I keep on seeing things that aren’t there, and I keep on hearing these persistent voices that are driving me insane. They’re telling me the same thing; that I’m destined to fail and that I’m worthless to everyone around me.

Admittedly, I don’t trust anyone around me to divulge this information to since I fear what they would do with it. I’m only writing to you because I’m desperate for any form of help that you can give me. Whether it be words of advice or anything, I just need some help. I refuse to let everything that I have worked so hard for slip through my fingers because I can’t keep my head on straight.

On another note, shortly after the last time I ran into you, I came across someone else from your past. Initially, I knew her as Jun before I discovered her true identity as Dhatri, the same woman that you fell in love with and had to let go of all those years ago. However, Dhatri wasn’t alone where she was. She has a daughter, your daughter. Her name is Xia and she is a firebender, just like you.

Shortly after the last time you left her, Dhatri discovered that she was pregnant with Xia and when an opportunity presented itself, she had to leave to protect her unborn child. I told Dhatri that I’d met you, and that you still thought about her and she told me the feeling was mutual. She said that if she knew you would’ve come for her, she would’ve stayed to wait for you so you could have been the family she always wanted. Only now I’m not really sure where she is, since she wanted to leave where they were and I suggested that they travel to Ba Sing Se for their safety. So, they could very well be to the great impenetrable city and if you wish to find them, it might be your best bet to go there.

Now, I’m running out of stuff to say and space to write it on so I must conclude this lengthy letter. Like I said previously, any possible help or guidance that you could give me on what to do with myself would be greatly appreciated, since the last thing I want is to fall apart with no way to put myself back together. If you choose to respond to this message, send it back on the same messenger hawk that I use to deliver it.

Hopefully I’ll be hearing from you soon,

Abby.

Satisfied that her letter was finished and included everything she needed to say, Abby put her quill aside and rolled up the letter before putting it in its casing. Now that she had written the letter, all Abby had to do was find a messenger hawk to send it to Osamu in the hopes that it would reach him. However, Abby had her own hesitations about sending this letter since she feared what would happen if it got intercepted.

With a little bit of uncertainty, Abby walked out of her room and headed towards the messenger tower in the hopes of finding a hawk to deliver her letter. Admittedly, Abby wasn’t even sure if she would go through with it since even as she walked along the corridors of the Tatakai Stronghold, she had her reservations about sending the message. In the end, Abby figured that she’d just make up her mind when the time came to decide if she should send this message or not. If she did send it, Abby hoped that Osamu would be able to respond in time, since she wasn’t so sure how long she could get a grip for.

Chapter Text

Sitting around a large table in the Fire Nation Royal Palace was Team Avatar plus a few extra of their friends. Those extra friends being Toph’s boyfriend, Satoru, Mai and her boyfriend Kei Lo, Azula and Ty Lee along with Azula and Zuko’s half-sister, Kiyi. Although they weren’t dressed in their usual attire as they had all ditched their usual outfits in order to assume the identity of an entirely new person.

Because they all had time to kill while they were in the Fire Nation, Sokka and Toph had taken the liberty of organising a little fun game for all of them to participate in. That game involved them sticking to the character of their new persona and figuring out an elaborated mystery that was yet to be delved into.

“Remind me again why I’m here,” Mai grumbled as she and Kei Lo tried to get themselves situated.

“Because I’m very convincing,” Sokka replied, since it had been him and Toph who had gathered everyone there for the evening.

“More like annoying,” Mai muttered.

“I think it’s good for us to bond with the others, Mai,” Kei Lo commented, shooting a look Zuko’s way.

“This outfit is ridiculous,” Azula complained as she examined her outfit, which certainly wasn’t like something that she’d usually wear.

“I think you look cool, Lala!” Kiyi exclaimed, using the nickname that she had given her older sister which irritated her equally as much as her nickname for Zuko did.

Zuko smirked, “Yeah, Lala. Think of the fun we could have.”

“This is hardly fun, Zuzu. You’re friends have the strangest taste in ideas,” Azula remarked.

“So how does this game work exactly?” Aang wondered.

“We were just about to get to that. Now if everyone would take a seat while your hostess and I get everything ready.” Sokka said.

Everyone shared looks of uncertainty as they tried to figure out what their residential comedians had install for them. One thing for sure was that whenever Sokka and Toph had something planned together, it was always something entertaining.

“As you know, you’ve all left your old selves at the door since you will be taking on the identity of an entirely fictional character for the fun and games we have planned tonight. We being myself, Toph and of course, Kiyi,” Sokka explained.

“I made the nametags nice and pretty!” Kiyi grinned as she handed out the nametags to everyone.

Katara raised her eyebrows, “Nametags? Why do we need nametags?”

“Because like Snoozles said, you will be assuming the identity of your new persona,” Toph answered.

“Before we get into the rules, I would like to welcome my amazing hostess to give out the introduction,” Sokka gestured to Toph, who stepped forward to get the game started.

“Come one, come all, to the celebration of the end of the Hundred Year War,” Toph began as she elaborately gestured around. “For the past two years we have gathered here to celebrate the new era of peace. Only this year it won’t be the same as the last as we are without one of our regular guests. It is only fitting that we pay tribute to him, since he is unable to be with us as a result of his…” Using her earthbending, Toph made some rumbling noises for dramatic effect for what she was about to say next. “Tragic death.”

That seemed to get everyone’s attention as they leaned forward in interest, curious to see how this involved them and the ‘game’ that Sokka and Toph seemed to have planned for them.

“But wait!” Kiyi jumped up with a scroll in her hand. “I received contact from our deceased hero after his death!”

“Would you care to tell us what he says, Miss Kiyi?” Sokka asked.

“Our hero says…” Kiyi began as she coughed on purpose. “My former mortals, it is I, Qopuk Hashimoto writing to you from beyond the grave. I must say, being in the Spirit World has given me k-nowlage –“

“Knowledge,” Sokka corrected her.

“As I was saying,” Kiyi glared at him. “Being in the Spirit World has given me knowledge that I never had while I was alive. It has allowed me to see through what you all show yourselves as. One of you is not who you say you are because you are none other than… a murderer!”

“Oh!” Ty Lee gasped as she covered her face with her hands.

“I cannot rest peacefully where I am now while my murderer walks free. So if you would all be kind enough to find who is responsible and give them the justice that they deserve, it would be greatly appreciated. From down below, Qopuk Hashimoto signing out!” Kiyi finished.

“Who’s Qopuk Hashimoto?” Satoru asked, having never heard the name before.

“He’s a guy that we made up for the game, so it’s not like he actually died or anything,” Toph replied.

“It appears as though our esteemed ally has also left us with an accurate description of his death!” Sokka exclaimed as he spread the drawing out for everyone to see.

“You said accurate,” Azula commented, referring to the inaccuracy of the drawing.

“Did you draw this, Kiyi?” Suki asked.

“Nope,” Kiyi shook her head. “It was Sokka!”

Sokka blushed, “Anyways, as you can all see, there is an envelope in front of you with your characters name on it. Inside of those envelopes is secret information or gossip that you know about some of the other characters. I would recommend that you keep that a secret. There is also some basic information on your character beside you that you may share with everyone else.”

“What about this envelope?” Aang asked, referring to the one directly across from him.

“That envelope would belong to me,” Sokka replied as he took his seat and got into character. “You’ll also notice that there is a small slip of paper at the bottom of your envelope. That paper contains your final confession that you cannot read until the final round, since it reveals if you’re the murderer or murderers.

“But wait, since you designed this game wouldn’t you know who the murderer is?” Katara pointed out.

“I can assure you that I only took part in the basic designs of the game so I’ll be just as much in the dark as you guys. I only know the information that everyone else will know. It was Toph and Kiyi who did most of the work,” Sokka reassured the others.

Nodding with satisfaction, Katara glanced down at the public information that was beside her envelope as everyone did the same. This information included their job and bending or non-bending status.

“Wow, I’m a waterbender!” Satoru revealed.

“Did you make me an earthbender on purpose?” Katara asked Toph who shrugged in response.

“Yes! I’m an earthbender too!” Sokka cheered.

“Looks like I’m a non-bender,” Zuko grumbled as he skimmed over the rest of his character notes. “Why did I have to get stuck with this character?”

Azula smirked, “Funny how things work, I’m still a firebender.”

“And I’m still a non-bender too,” Suki replied, grinning at Zuko who was sitting to her right.

“Flamey-o, Hotman! I got firebender!” Aang exclaimed, who also grinned at Azula who shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“I just had to be a waterbender,” Mai drawled.

“Cool, I’m an airbender!” Kei Lo announced.

“Really?” Aang grinned.

“Me too!” Ty Lee added, sharing a smile with Aang.

“Yeah, we wanted to be fair and have two of each type of benders with one for each female and male character,” Sokka said.

“When can we start playing?” Ty Lee asked excitedly.

“Before you guys can, I’ve gotta explain the rest of the rules before I forget them,” Toph replied. “As hilarious as it would be to watch you all fighting amongst yourselves, this game will go on in rounds. We’ve taken the liberty to leave you guys some extra facts on the case and some of you as well that you may choose to make public. If your character is questioned, you have to answer. But if you have some dark and dirty secret that wouldn’t do you good becoming public knowledge, you can lie to keep your secrets a secret. As Snoozles said, you won’t know who actually killed the guy until the final round so you should even suspect yourself. There is only a certain amount of clues for each round, so you should use your questions wisely.”

“How are we supposed to find out who’s guilty if we don’t even know who it is?” Suki questioned.

“Once everyone has been interrogated and they’ve used all of their facts, you will unfold the small piece of paper which will reveal if your innocent or guilty. If you’re guilty, there will be a confession explaining why you did it and how. The guilty convict will only reveal their lies once everyone has voted, whether they received the most votes or not,” Toph finished.

“Why aren’t you playing, Toph? This seems like the perfect game for you,” Katara pointed out.

“True, I do love me a good murder mystery. But I would immediately be able to tell who did it because of my earthbending. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to read any of the clues so Snoozles decided that I should sit this one out,” Toph explained.

“Now lets get this game started!” Sokka exclaimed.

Everyone took some time to prepare themselves for the game that was about to take place. It was quite obvious that Aang, Kei Lo and Ty Lee were the most excited for it to begin while the others were just waiting to see how it would all turn out.

“Would the lovely Jia care to get us started?” Sokka asked, gesturing to Suki.

“Why, I wouldn’t mind at all,” Suki replied as she got herself ready. “It’s a shame that one of us has to go down as a murderer, but considering his past with Qopuk, I would like to bring some attention to… Ping!”

“Me?” Satoru feigned innocence.

“Yes, you. As his former classmate, you had grown up with Qopuk for most of your life since you always shared the same waterbending classes. From the beginning, Qopuk was renowned for his skills and abilities whereas you were always seen as the inferior waterbender. And that was certainly something that Qopuk reminded you on a daily basis,” Suki revealed.

“Can you cut to the chase?” Satoru asked.

“On the day of Qopuk’s murder, I saw you arguing with him not too far from the place where his body was discovered! Can you confirm or deny that this altercation occurred?” Suki interrogated him.

Satoru sighed, “Yes, that did happen. But it was only because I had grown sick and tired of Qopuk constantly belittling me and making me look like an idiot in public. Everyone would know that he took every chance he could to humiliate me! For someone who was considered a good guy, he was a pretty horrible person to me. I had actually gone to talk to him that day to ask him to stop it, but he just brushed me off and that was when we started arguing. But I should point out that that happened hours before Qopuk’s recorded time of death, so that proves nothing.”

“We’ll see,” Suki smirked as she glanced at Zuko for him to begin.

“As part of Qopuk’s most trusted inner circle, I’d like to think that I knew most things about the guy and his family matters,” Zuko began as he turned to Mai. “Hali, as the second born you weren’t promised the same luxuries as your esteemed older brother was. In fact, you had less than a quarter of what Qopuk was promised in his inheritance. With him out of the way, it was all left for you to take. It must’ve felt great to know that you had everything that you could ever need without your brother around.”

“While it felt nice to have some more security, it certainly didn’t feel good since I had lost my brother to get it. Sure, Qopuk and I had our differences but he was my brother and I loved him, no matter how annoying he was. And it’s worth mentioning that every other brother and sister have their differences. I mean, look at Erika and Riku!” Mai defended herself, while referring to Katara and Sokka’s characters.

“We could use some more facts,” Aang stated as he picked up an information card for his turn and read it out loud. “Qopuk Hashimoto was the leader and founder of the Five Fighters, a resistance group that was integral in the victory of the war. The group consisted of himself as the waterbender, Ami as the airbender, Erika as the earthbender, Kane as the firebender and Zian as the non-bender.”

“That’s my boy, Zian!” Sokka winked at Zuko and the Fire Lord groaned in his seat.

“The Five Fighters?” Azula scoffed. “That’s hardly an original name. Just like Team Avatar.”

“Hey, Team Avatar is iconic!” Sokka exclaimed.

“Lets stay on track, guys,” Katara said as she began her turn. “Since I had known Qopuk almost all of my life, it was no surprise that he assigned me as the earthbender in his exclusive team of fighters. The group mostly consisted of people that we all knew, since we were all friends and got along with each other which was what allowed us to work so well together. Except for two of us; Ami and myself.”

Ty Lee narrowed her eyes, “Where are you going with this, Erika?”

“Ever since we were young, you hated me! And I never even gave you a reason why, since I was nothing but nice to you. But you made it quite clear where you stood with me, no matter how hard I tried to be nice to you. The only thing that bonded us together was our relations with Qopuk. So, my question for you is why even bother sticking around if you quite openly hated me?” Katara elaborated.

“First of all, I never hated you, Erika. We just never had the same interests which made it difficult for us to get along. But we did work well together when it mattered. I only put up with you because you were Qopuk’s wife and if I had it my way, you wouldn’t even be in the picture!” Ty Lee exclaimed.

“Before we get into an all-out argument, I’d like to begin my turn,” Mai interrupted as she picked up an information card to read to the others. “When Qopuk Hashimoto’s body was discovered, he had several bruises on his body and showed signs of defensive wounds, like he had been in a fight. But what caught the healers attention the most were the freshly made burn marks left on his wrists and the fact that his stomach looked like it had been torn to shreds.”

Everyone was quick to shoot Aang and Azula, the two firebenders, dirty looks before Kei Lo began his turn.

“As a victim of war, I went through much suffering at the hands of the Fire Nation, especially since I was one of the last remaining airbenders. I was even captured and held prisoner for months before Qopuk and his team rescued me. And we all know who ran those prisons,” Kei Lo glanced at Azula.

“What about it?” Azula asked.

“Gina, you were in a good place being with the Fire Nation. You could’ve easily changed sides and stopped the war, but your loyalties to the Fire Nation stopped you from doing so. So it quite understandably destroyed you when Qopuk managed to put an end to your terror camps and threw you in prison. And funnily enough, you were released just one month before Qopuk’s death,” Kei Lo finished.

“Yes, I was released from prison. But that was only because I had redeemed myself. Being in prison gave me time to contemplate the error in my ways, and everyone was able to see that I had changed. While I might have despised Qopuk for taking away over two years of my life, I wouldn’t risk my freedom for his pathetic life,” Azula admitted.

“My turn!” Ty Lee exclaimed before quickly getting into character. “As much as I would love to return the favour from Erika, I would like to turn my attention to Zian.”

“What did I ever do to you?” Zuko asked.

“Nothing, it’s more like what Qopuk did to you,” Ty Lee smirked, getting everyone’s attention. “Since you were the only non-bender in our esteemed group, Qopuk was always harder on you than he was on everyone else. In fact, he practically bullied you.”

“It would seem that our good guy isn’t really a good guy,” Satoru commented.

“As I was saying,” Ty Lee continued. “As one of Qopuk’s closest friends, I knew mostly everything that went on in his personal life. Like the fact that he was bullying you… for being gay.”

“Wow,” everyone chorused.

“It’s okay, man. I’ve got your back,” Sokka smirked, causing Zuko to roll his eyes.

“Yes, he was bullying me for being gay,” Zuko reluctantly admitted. “Qopuk made it clear that he didn’t support my sexual preferences, and that was why he bullied me the way he did. It had nothing to do with me being a non-bender, since if that was the case then he wouldn’t have even let me be a part of the Five Fighters. I’ve faced prejudice before, and Qopuk was no different.”

“But who’s to say that you couldn’t handle being bullied anymore and you finally snapped?” Ty Lee questioned.

“Oh yeah, well why didn’t you stop it if you knew it was happening?” Zuko challenged.

“You can’t do that!” Kiyi exclaimed.

“Just some food for thought,” Ty Lee murmured as she triumphantly crossed her arms and turned her attention to Satoru to begin his turn.

“I think that I’ll reveal some facts,” Satoru said as he picked up an information card and read it out loud. “Multiple eye witnesses claim to have seen Kane arguing with Qopuk just moments before his death.”

“Looks like Kane is our number one suspect now,” Suki glanced at Aang, who simply shrugged in his seat.

“If anyone would like to ask me what that argument was about, I’d be more than happy to answer,” Aang stated.

“Now I finally get to shine some light on this situation,” Azula began as she stood up. “Spending two years in prison certainly wasn’t fun. But if there was one thing that was fun was the gossip that spread throughout the prison yard. One thing that caught my attention the most was that after being in a relationship for three years, Hali and Kane broke up.”

Everyone turned their attention to Aang and Mai, who sat expectantly in their seats.

“Multiple sources told me that it was Kane who broke up with Hali and I just can’t help but wonder why that was the case. So, Kane, would you care to tell us why you broke up with your girlfriend, who just so happened to be Qopuk’s sister?” Azula finished.

“Every relationship runs its course eventually. Hali and I had known each other for years, but the spark just wasn’t there anymore and I didn’t see us having a future which is why I broke it off with her. Qopuk wasn’t happy about that, since he had always wanted us to be brothers and that would’ve happened had I married Hali. But Qopuk and I were brothers regardless of marriage, so marrying Hali would have made no difference,” Aang explained.

“If you say so,” Mai muttered, bringing an end to Azula’s turn and starting Sokka’s.

“Finally, it’s my turn!” Sokka exclaimed. “I’d like to question, Jia!”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Suki said playfully.

“Jia, you were very close to Ami and Qopuk and despite not being apart of the Five Fighters, you certainly made yourself useful to them with your talents as a jewellery maker. You even made most of their armour and weapons. One day, I went to visit you at your shop to ask you for a favour. When I arrived, I saw you in the middle of making a gorgeous emerald ring that you said was for Qopuk,” Sokka started.

“So I was making jewellery? It’s what I do,” Suki argued.

“It’s rude to interrupt people when they’re interrogating you!” Sokka snapped. “Anyways, at first I thought nothing of it because it is what you do. But, days later, I saw the exact same ring on somebody else’s finger. And that person was none other than Ami.”

Everyone gasped at the implications of Sokka’s words, and turned their attention to Ty lee who smiled innocently in her seat.

“Would you care to explain to me why you were making a ring for Qopuk that wasn’t for his wife?” Sokka asked.

“I was hoping that this wouldn’t come up,” Suki began. “It’s true, Qopuk did ask me to make that ring for him. He even asked me to have ‘forever yours’ engraved on the bottom of it. But while he asked me to make the ring, he never told me who it was for so naturally, I assumed that it was for his wife. But when I also saw the ring on Hali’s finger, I knew that it hadn’t been for Erika. It was for Ami.”

“Well would you look at that,” Kei Lo commented.

“Immediately, I thought that Ami and Qopuk were seeing each other behind Erika’s back, so I did some investigating on my own. And sure enough, I discovered that they were having an affair. When I confronted Qopuk about it, he begged me to keep it secret. As much as I wanted to tell Erika the truth, he made it clear that he would destroy my business if I said anything to his wife. So, regretfully, I kept the secret to myself,” Suki explained.

“And the plot thickens as they say,” Satoru said.

“Now it’s time for my final turn,” Suki stated before glancing at Ty Lee. “Ami, as Erika said before, you had always hated her and for the longest time, I never understood why. But after I discovered your affair with Qopuk, I knew why you hated her. You were jealous of her. Jealous because she was married to the man that you loved. It must have killed you to be Qopuk’s side girl while he was still married to the girl you hated. So who’s to say that you got stuck with the ‘if I can’t have him then nobody can’ mentality?”

Ty Lee sighed, “It’s true, I had always loved Qopuk and that was why I hated Erika. I never understood what he saw in her anyways! But my dreams came true when Qopuk finally admitted that it was me who he had loved all along, not his bland wife. We had been seeing each other in secret for months before you discovered what was happening. Before that, he had told me that he was going to divorce Erika the day he died. So really, I would be losing everything by killing him. Qopuk was the love of my life, and I never would’ve hurt him. I can’t say the same for his wife though.”

“Let’s find out some more facts,” Zuko grabbed one of the last few information cards that were left. “Now this is interesting. Contrary to what Ami has just said, Erika and Qopuk were already in the process of getting a divorce.”

“Damn,” everyone chorused, glancing at Katara who shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“It gets even more interesting,” Zuko added. “According to the reports, it was Erika who had filed for a divorce.”

“Well how about that,” Ty Lee taunted smugly.

“I’m going to add even more to the speculation,” Aang stated as he turned to Sokka. “Riku, despite being an earthbender and the older sibling, it was Erika who gained entry to the Five Fighters. You and Qopuk had also never gotten along either, and it became even worse after they got married. So, would you care to explain why you and your sisters husband could never get along?”

“I would be more than happy to explain why,” Sokka replied as he angrily stood up. “The reason why I never liked Qopuk was because he was nothing but a pompous, irritating and not to mention, abusive jackass! From the moment I met him, I knew that there was something off about him. I just didn’t like the way he acted like he was the moons gift to the world. That got even worse after he married my sister barely six months after they started dating. I always thought that Erika was too good for Qopuk, but she never listened. It wasn’t until Qopuk started abusing her that she started to realise that I was right. That was why my sister filed for a divorce and as much as I wish that I could’ve been the one to put Qopuk in his place, somebody had already beaten me to it.”

“This is getting good,” Toph commented as she and Kiyi watched with interest when Katara began her turn.

“As much as I wish that it wasn’t true, Qopuk had been abusing me over the past year,” Katara admitted. “In the early days of our marriage, we were happy. But he let the success of the war get to his head and the man that I fell in love with was soon gone. And I would like to say something on one of the facts that was released earlier.”

“Go for it,” Sokka urged.

“While I appreciate Jia for wanting to tell me the truth, it wouldn’t have been necessary as I had already known before she did that my husband was seeing Ami behind my back,” Katara revealed.

“You never said anything about it,” Ty Lee interjected.

“Because at first, Qopuk said that it was just a one-time thing and that I was the love of his life. But when I asked someone to do some detective work for me, they had confirmed that Qopuk was still seeing Ami. And I only discovered the truth about his infidelity after I discovered the burn marks on his arms, the same burn marks that were found when his body was discovered. I’m not the only one who knew where those burns came from, so Ami, would you mind telling everyone how that happened?” Katara finished.

“If you insist,” Ty Lee drawled. “In the early stages of our relationship, Qopuk and I both realised how adventurous we were in the bedroom. We both had our own little kinks, with Qopuk’s being bondage. Those burn marks came from one of our sexual activities that I’m sure Erika wouldn’t like us delving in to.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” Sokka commented, causing Suki to elbow him in the ribs.

“I’m sure Riku wouldn’t like to hear about what his sister’s husband did in the bedroom with his mistress,” Suki hissed.

“I guess you’re right,” Sokka sighed before turning to Zuko. “But I wouldn’t mind Zian telling us what he gets up to with his loverboy’s.”

“That brings me to my question,” Mai stated, glancing at Sokka and Zuko. “While Zian had been openly gay with everyone, there is one person in here who’s true sexual preference was unknown to the rest of us. That person being none other than Riku.”

“How could you possibly know that?” Sokka snorted.

“Because I wanted to know why Kane had unexpectedly broken up with me, which I did eventually find out. But not after I discovered you getting hot and heavy with none other than Zian,” Mai revealed.

Everyone laughed at Mai’s revelation, suddenly realising why Sokka had been so supportive of Zuko’s character and why Zuko had been so uncomfortable over it.

“Anyways, Riku. I have a feeling that that wasn’t the only reason why Qopuk hated you, since the feeling between you two was certainly mutual. So, did he also know about your true sexual preferences?” Mai questioned.

“No, he didn’t and I’m glad that he didn’t after seeing what he put Zian through because of it. And funnily enough, it wasn’t until I really noticed how badly Qopuk treated Zian that I realised my true feelings for him. So at least I have something to thank Qopuk for,” Sokka answered.

“Is anyone going to ask me why I was arguing with Qopuk or what?” Aang asked, growing tired of being ignored.

“Sorry, Aang – I mean Kane, but I think I’m going to ask Sora a question,” Kei Lo apologised as Aang huffed in disapproval and Satoru waited for Kei Lo to address him. “Sora, as a war survivor, you were subjected to numerous torture methods and suffering. Most of which was at the hands of Gina. But even after you were freed, you suffered even more at the hands of Qopuk.”

“I’m really starting to hate this guy,” Katara murmured.

“I know this for a fact as you came to me, begging me to heal your injuries after Qopuk had hurt you. While I never found out why he did what he did to you, I would like to know why now since it would hopefully shed some light on his murder,” Kei Lo finished.

“Why’d you have to bring that up, Ping? Especially after I’d begged you to keep it a secret,” Satoru sighed. “It’s true, prison life was torture but as I’m sure most of us would agree, so was dealing with Qopuk. It wasn’t like he continuously hurt me, it was only after he had freed me from the prison. But I can understand his reasons though, as twisted as they were, since he only wanted to find out as much information as he could on the Fire Nation. And it was the information that I gave him that allowed him to end the war once and for all.”

“My turn!” Ty Lee squealed before frowning. “I really should’ve waited until now to reveal my dirty laundry, since now I’ve got no secrets on myself or anyone.”

“You’ve got something on me,” Aang interjected, hoping to be asked the question that he’d been dying to answer the entire round.

“I’ll just flip a card instead,” Ty Lee decided, causing Aang to groan in his seat. “Now this is interesting. It seems that Sora and Erika had been in close contact shortly after the time that Erika had discovered Ami and Qopuk’s affair. They were writing letters back and forth for weeks before it seemed to stop.”

“Got something you two would like to share?” Azula smirked.

“You’ll just have to wait for your turn to ask,” Katara remarked.

“Alright, I guess that I’ll put Kane out of his misery,” Satoru said, much to Aang’s delight. “Kane, would you mind telling us why you were seen arguing with Qopuk moments before his supposed murder?”

“Finally!” Aang cheered. “Anyways, since I was friends with Qopuk, I was indirectly friends with Erika. At first she and I didn’t really know each other well, but we became really close over time. Then I started noticing that something wasn’t right with her, and that Qopuk was always stealing secret glances with Ami. On that day, I confronted him about having an affair with Ami, which he surprisingly admitted to. I demanded to know why he would do something like that to someone like Erika, but he never answered me before blasting me with a wave of water and running off like the coward I’ve discovered him to be.”

“Interesting,” Azula murmured as she picked up an information card. “This one reveals some information about the scene of the crime. The terrain was badly damaged, almost like there had been a fight. And some of the rocks were awkwardly positioned too, as if they’d been manipulated.”

“Murderer!” Ty Lee cried as she pointed at Katara.

“Her brothers an earthbender too!” Kei Lo added.

“And it’s now time for her brother to finish off this final round,” Sokka proclaimed as he thought for a moment. “Hm, I don’t know whether to ask Hali why Kane broke up with her or ask Erika why she was in contact with Sora. Decisions, decisions…”

“Just ask it already,” Toph complained.

“I guess I’ll ask Erika my last question,” Sokka decided before turning to Katara. “Why were you in contact with Sora, of all people?”

“Like I said before, I was still suspicious of Qopuk’s infidelity after he promised that it was a one time thing. I needed to ask someone to follow them to hopefully deny my suspicions, which is where Sora came in. He did some digging for me and unfortunately confirmed my suspicions that Ami and Qopuk were still seeing each other,” Katara explained.

“And that finishes the last round,” Toph announced.

“So, how do we decide who’s guilty?” Ty Lee asked.

“We’ll have a few moments to deliberate before we voice our convictions,” Sokka replied.

“It’s safe to say that the waterbenders and the airbenders are safe. A firebender could’ve easily hurt Qopuk the way he was,” Satoru noted.

“Technically, anyone could be the killer,” Suki pointed out. “An earthbender could’ve done the damage to the terrain, a waterbender could’ve done just that as well as an airbender or firebender.”

“As well as a pretty powerful non-bender,” Kei Lo added, glancing at Suki and Zuko.

“I feel like it’s too obvious to be Zian, Riku, Kane, Ami or Erika,” Azula commented, glancing at Zuko, Sokka, Aang, Ty Lee and Katara respectively. “They seemed to have the most dirt on them.”

“But there was still plenty of information left that could’ve put any of us in the spotlight,” Ty Lee reasoned.

“Let’s just vote so that we can convict the killer and I must say, I think you’ll be surprised at who it is,” Toph grinned.

“No spoilers!” Sokka exclaimed.

“So, we just take turns voicing our convictions?” Katara checked.

“Yep. And remember, you can’t add any extra information to your character or someone else. You can all read your extra slip of paper to see if it was you or not,” Toph replied and everyone did just that. “Who wants to convict someone first?”

“If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to start us off,” Satoru replied as he took a deep breath before making his conviction. “I think that it’s none other than Riku. It must have hurt to know that Qopuk was abusing your sister, and you seem like the kind of guy that would be willing to do anything for his sister. Even if it meant killing for her. You said it yourself, after all. You would’ve been more than happy to do it yourself.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I offed the guy!” Sokka exclaimed.

“My guts telling me that it was Hali who killed her brother,” Zuko interrupted. “He was the first in line for their families fortune and the only way for her to get it for herself was to kill her brother, which she obviously did.”

Mai rolled her eyes, “I wouldn’t say obviously, Zian. Just for that I wish I could convict you, but you don’t really seem like you’d have the guts to kill someone. I think that the killer is, Erika.”

“Care to explain why?” Katara crossed her arms.

“As everyone now knows, your husband was an abusive jerk. You guys might’ve been on your way to getting a divorce, but who knows how long it would’ve taken to free you from your husbands clutches. And to add fuel to that fire, he was cheating on you with Ami! So, in a bid for revenge you followed him and Kane and once Kane was gone, you killed your husband,” Mai explained.

“Unlike Hali, I actually think that it was Zian,” Kei Lo stated. “Qopuk had constantly belittled him for being gay, which I’m sure Zian eventually got sick and tired of and using one of his weapons, he sliced Qopuk’s guts open.”

“That’s a bit of an accurate description,” Katara shuddered.

“Unlike Sokka’s drawing,” Aang jeered.

“Speaking of which, I’d like to convict…” Sokka pointed a finger at Azula. “Gina!”

Azula smirked, “I thought I was innocent.”

“You weren’t, which was why you were thrown in prison by Qopuk in the first place! Inside, you devised a manipulative plan to trick everyone into thinking that you had changed so that you could get your freedom back and kill the man responsible for taking it away! Then once the dust settled, you blamed it on somebody else,” Sokka accused.

“You’ll see if you were right,” Azula muttered.

“As much as I wish that it was Erika, she wouldn’t want to risk ruining her perfect little image for everyone by being a killer. So on that note, I think that it was Ping!” Ty Lee exclaimed.

“Why’s that?” Satoru asked.

“Because Qopuk had constantly bullied you and made you feel miserable! And you were seen arguing with him on the day of his death. Like I said before, who’s to say that you finally snapped and killed Qopuk as revenge? On top of that, you could’ve easily snuck away for a few moments and returned once Kane had left,” Ty Lee replied.

“Nobody because I didn’t!” Kei Lo exclaimed.

“Well, I think that it was Ami,” Katara glared at Ty Lee. “Only because she couldn’t handle the fact that Qopuk would always be married to me, even if we got divorced. And she didn’t want to risk me stealing him back so she figured that if she couldn’t have him, then nobody could.”

“Why would I kill the only man that I ever loved?” Ty Lee cried.

“Onto my suspect. I believe that it was Jia who killed Qopuk,” Aang stated.

Suki raised her eyes, “Funny you should think that, Kane.”

“Before I ask why that’s funny, I just wanted to point out that Qopuk had threatened Jia for wanting to tell Erika the truth about his affair. And without her business, she would have no way to support herself. That, combined with the disgust that she felt at Qopuk for cheating on his wife, is why Jia decided to kill him,” Aang explained.

“Your reasons would make sense if they were true. We can all admit that we all wanted to kill Qopuk, but only one of us had the guts to do it,” Suki said as she glanced around the others.

Azula leaned forward, “There is one person who seems to be a common trend in our stories.”

“Are we thinking the same thing?” Suki asked.

“I think we are,” Azula replied. “Should we reveal it together?”

“It would give it a dramatic effect,” Suki agreed and the two girls stood side by side as they made their conviction.

“Kane!” they chorused.

“What? That’s ridiculous!” Aang defended himself. “Qopuk was my best friend.”

“Your best friend who married the love of your life!” Suki exclaimed.

“That’s even more ridiculous. Erika and I were just friends,” Aang reasoned.

Azula crossed her arms, “Sure, at first. But as you got to know her, you fell for her. You admitted it yourself that you two had gotten close over the years and you knew well enough about her to know when something wasn’t right.”

“Plus, you were always playing second best to Qopuk. He was the one who got all of the glory for your achievements and him cheating on Erika with Ami must’ve been the last straw for you,” Suki added.

“There is also the one question that didn’t go unanswered; why you broke it off with Hali. My theory is that you fell in love with Erika and didn’t want to lead Hali on anymore, so you ended it which further damaged your friendship with Qopuk. So, with nothing to loose you attacked him after he attacked you before killing him,” Azula finished.

“Twinkle Toes, would you care to confirm or deny Honeysuckle and Zappy’s accusations?” Toph grinned.

“Alright, it was me! I did it! I killed the guy!” Aang confessed, causing Azula and Suki to grin at each other in triumph.

“Kane… Why?” Katara asked.

“Because he never treated you like the queen you were! You deserved to be treated far better than Qopuk treated you. Plus, the guy was a total bastard! He hardly deserved any of the glory that he got. I knew all about what he did to Sora, and it made me furious since it went against everything that we were fighting for!” Aang revealed.

“Tell us how you did it,” Sokka probed, eager to get the truth.

“After Qopuk had attacked me with his waterbending, I lost it. So, I returned the favour. It soon turned into an all-out brawl between us, which is why the area looked so damaged. This wasn’t just some friendly sparring match, it was a fight to the death so it was kill or be killed. Once Qopuk was distracted, I readied my lightning and struck it right through him,” Aang explained.

Once he had finished his confession, Aang sat back down in his seat and everyone simply stared at each other in shock at his statement. Despite seeming to be obvious, everybody seemed to think that it was too obvious to be Kane.

“Well, that was a surprise to me,” Zuko admitted.

“Figured that you would figure that out,” Mai said to Azula.

Azula shrugged, “I’m just that good at reading people.”

“I’ve gotta say, I am pleasantly surprised by this outcome,” Sokka stated. “I wouldn’t have thought that it would be somebody obvious, yet it was.”

“Obviousness is often the best route to take,” Satoru commented, smiling at Toph.

“That was really sweet what you did for me, Sweetie,” Katara smiled at Aang.

“I would do anything for you, Sweetie,” Aang gave her a quick kiss.

“Ugh, I should’ve said no oogies at the start,” Sokka muttered in disapproval.

“What did you guys think?” Kiyi asked excitedly.

“You did good, Kiyi,” Azula praised the girl, and she smiled back up at her older sister.

“We should do something like this again sometime,” Ty Lee said.

“You can bet that we will,” Toph smirked.

Having finished the game, everyone bid their farewells and went their separate ways, while at the same time, looking forward to their next gathering like this since they had all enjoyed this time and knew that the next time would be just as fun.

Chapter Text

One of the most ancient spirits of all time was the famous Mother of Faces, one of the most powerful spirits to exist. Unlike most spirits who were feared, people sought out the Mother of Faces. That was because she had the power unlike any other spirit. The power to give someone an entirely new face. It was somewhat of a power that the Mother of Faces resented, since there were numerous people who had sought her out for selfish reasons. She only tended to use her powers of giving people a new face if she could sense that their reasons were genuine.

Despite having the power to bestow people with new faces, there was a part of herself that the Mother of Faces despised. That was because it was the part of her that had the ability to take away someone’s face. As selfish as she often found humans to be, the Mother of Faces believed that taking away someone’s face was cruel and undeserving. It was a part of herself that the Mother of Faces despised, so at the first chance she got, the Mother of Faces chose to separate herself from that part of her, essentially giving herself a ‘son.’

After separating from that part of herself, the Mother of Faces had never felt more at ease with herself, knowing that she didn’t pertain such evilness inside of her anymore. With that behind her, she chose to reside in the ancient Forgetful Valley with her wolf spirit to hopefully escape the offers that she was constantly bombarded with. It was hard not to pity the humans, so she decided to grant one request to one human each season. Living in Forgetful Valley was peaceful, since it was a unique place in the Mortal World unlike any other.

For years, the Mother of Faces had wondered what had happened to her son, who was just as much a part of her as anything else. To be honest, she had thought that her son had just become a recluse and was never heard from again. But then the Mother of Faces heard the stories. The stories of a spirit who resided in the Spirit World and was feared by all. The stories of how that spirit used its powers to remove the face of whom it belonged to – whether they be human or not.

It didn’t take the Mother of Faces long to realise that it was her son who those stories were about. He was that part of her who she had gotten rid of because she didn’t like what it made her do. Based on the stories that she had heard; the Mother of Faces had come to realise just how much her separation from him had affected him. Most notably, had had given himself an entirely new identity in the Spirit World, referring to himself as Koh the Face Stealer, which certainly wasn’t the name that she had given him. Legend has it, he’s spent the remainder of his life stealing the faces of anything who showed the slightest fragment of emotion.

Knowing that she was partly responsible for her sons anguish made the Mother of Faces feel guilty, since it had been said that it was because of her actions that he chose to resort to those actions of his own. As much as she thought that humans were ungrateful creatures, the Mother of Faces felt that it was wrong to remove a face of anything since without it they were nothing. That was why she had separated herself from him to begin with, and now she was almost coming to regret that decision because of the fallout that had transpired from it at the hands of Koh.

The more the Mother of Faces tried ignore how those actions made her feel, the more obvious those feelings became. Through other spirits, she had heard the infamous stories of Koh the Face Stealer and it soon became apparent to her that he was one of the most feared spirits in the Spirit World. It was spread that if anybody or anything made the slightest movement in front of him that he would steal their face without hesitation. Back when Koh was still apart of her, she only resorted to that method to punish those who had wronged her. Now that Koh was completely away from her, he just used it whenever he wanted to.

There had been times when the Mother of Faces had tried to locate her estranged son in the Spirit World, but he seemed to want nothing to do with her as every time she tried looking for him, he managed to evade her attempts. Part of the reason why she wanted to see her son again was to make amends with him so that he wouldn’t feel the need to take the face off of anything that showed emotion to him. That was never why she would remove the face of something, but that was the way that Koh had twisted it to be. Showing emotion was a part of life and it was wrong of him to take advantage of that, just like it was wrong of the humans to take advantage of her generosity.

After several failed attempts at reconciliation with Koh, the Mother of Faces decided to reside in Forgetful Valley forever instead of looking for her son, deciding that if he wanted her that he would know where to find her. It wasn’t until when the Avatar came seeking her help in order to restore a relationship between a mother and a son as well as a brother and a sister that she reconsidered her actions in regards to Koh. After discovering that the Avatar had a history with Koh, she had decided to listen to his reasoning as to why she should break her rule of only giving one favour ever season.

“I know we humans can be aggravating. So often, we’re ungrateful for what we’ve been given,” the Avatar admitted. “Maybe I was out of line when I asked you for two favours instead of one, but I really needed your help to restore two relationships: one between a sister and a brother – and another between a mother and a son.”

“Why should I break my rules for you, Avatar, after you so ungratefully asked for more than I was willing to give?” the Mother of Faces asked.

“Because you can see yourself and Koh in my friend and his mother. They have been separated for years now, just like you and Koh have been separated for as long as you have,” the Avatar reasoned.

“You know nothing of my relationship with Koh, Avatar. I’m assuming that he didn’t even mention that I was his mother when you or your past life crossed paths with him. The fact of the matter is that I do not feel like I should repay you after that girl so rudely demanded me to give up her mothers whereabouts,” the Mother of Faces replied.

The Avatar grimaced, “Yeah, I do deeply apologise for her behaviour and how she has treated your forest. But the reason she behaved like that is because she hasn’t had her mother to guide her through life. Forgive me for giving my opinion like this, but to me that seems an awful lot like your relationship with Koh. If you were to help us, it would give her the chance to have her mother in her life. Maybe that will give you the push you need to mend whatever your relationship is with Koh.”

“As ungrateful as you humans might be, I can’t hep but feel pity for you. But like you said Avatar, I do see some of my relationship with Koh in regards to your friends and the mother. Because of this, I will grant you one more favour and offer the woman who was once Ursa a chance at having her life back,” the Mother of Faces conceded.

The Avatar bowed respectfully, “Thank you so much, Mother of Faces. There will be no other way for us to repay you for what you have done.”

“You can start by promising to never harass me for favours like this again,” the Mother of Faces said.

In saying that, the Mother of Faces had granted the Avatar’s request and allowed the woman who was once Ursa to have her old face and memories back. Seeing the way in which her son had reacted to that had deeply touched her, although it was hard not to notice how her other child had abandoned them, running into Forgetful Valley and away from her mother. But what the Avatar had said did make the Mother of Faces ponder her relationship with Koh.

When she saw the man’s face without a face, the Mother of Faces couldn’t deny the pang she felt in her chest, knowing that his suffering was largely due to her actions towards Koh. That was what made her decide to seek her son out to hopefully reconcile and put the humans as well as spirits at ease. It was a common consensus among wherever she went that Koh was one of the most feared spirits. Although Koh did have a formidable power, something like that shouldn’t be feared to the degree that it was.

As a result of the power and influence that she had, the Mother of Faces was easily able to track down her son in the Spirit World where this time, he wasn’t able to evade her. Every other time she had tried to track down her son, he had managed to get away from her attempts. This time she had managed to trap him in his lair, leaving him with nowhere to run and no way to get away from her.

“Hello, Koh,” she greeted him.

“Well, if it isn’t the all-so powerful Mother of Faces,” Koh sneered.

“Do not speak to me like that, Koh. If it weren’t for me you would not be able to do what you can,” the Mother of Faces said.

“You seem to be forgetting that you were the one who separated yourself from me because you were so disgusted by what I could do, which is ironic considering that you’re able to make people forget who they are. Have you been using your powers on yourself?” Koh remarked.

“Is this how you talk to all of your victims before you steal their faces?” the Mother of Faces asked.

“It depends on the kind of mood I’m in,” Koh replied.

“I have to ask, Koh, what do you think gives you the right to just steal an individuals face when it is easily the most important part of anything?” the Mother of Faces inquired.

“I only steal the face of those who deserve it, just like you used to do,” Koh answered.

“I have come to realise that there is a more humane way of punishing individuals rather than stealing their face. While stealing their face teaches them a lesson, it does them no good if they do not have it,” she stated.

“It gives me great joy in stealing the face of those insolent creatures,” Koh said.

“That is the main difference between you and I, son. You have always relished in taking away the face of anything, whereas I hated that part of me. That is not how it should be. That is not a power that you should use against those who cannot help themselves,” the Mother of Faces insisted.

“But it’s just so much fun, mother. And those rats deserve it,” Koh drawled.

“Did the Avatar’s love deserve to have her face stolen because of a problem that you had with him? No, she didn’t. You have abused this power for your own selfishness,” she berated him.

“You make me sound so cruel, mother,” Koh remarked.

“Because you are. It is not how you should treat those who cannot help themselves. If I had the power to, I would give back the faces of anyone’s who you selfishly removed,” the Mother of Faces proclaimed.

“But you do have that power, yet you haven’t,” Koh argued.

“I cannot keep track of all those faces that you steal, Koh. Out of all of the thousands of faces that you most likely have stored, only one of them has come to sought me out. I gave them back the face that you had unjustly stolen. Whether or not they deserved it does not matter. You’ve stolen what doesn’t belong to you,” the Mother of Faces said.

“What is it that you wanted from this visit?” Koh snapped.

“I had hope that we would be able to mend this rift that has been there between us since the dawn of time,” she replied.

“Then you would be mistaken, mother. You separated yourself from me because you didn’t want me as a part of you. That is just as bad as that woman who came to you seeking a new life and you made her forget her children, just like you wanted to forget me,” Koh sneered.

“You should know that I can only do so much with my powers, Koh. It was the only option for her to be free and she chose that path,” the Mother of Faces reasoned.

“Regardless of the facts, mother, you let yourself go from me because you didn’t want me. Now, I don’t want you. Do yourself a favour and leave my lair. You have no idea just how powerful I can be when I’m furious,” Koh threatened.

“I will not give up on you, Koh. I know that there is a part of you that longs to be with me. The legends say that you miss me so much that you have spent all of history stealing faces to be close with me,” she said.

“Those are nothing but legends, as you said they are. Legends are not necessarily true or false. Surely something of your calibre would know that,” Koh seethed.

“That is how I prefer to see it,” the Mother of Faces stated.

“Then you would unfortunately be wrong,” Koh growled.

Before the Mother of Faces could react, Koh lunged forward in an attempt to steal his mothers face. Even though he wasn’t exactly sure what the result would be given the fact that they were both spirits, Koh wanted to see if he would have the ability to do what he wanted to do. Part of it was because he wanted to be close with his mother, just like the legends said he did. He would never admit that to her, though.

Unfortunately, Koh didn’t get that far with his mother as all he seemed to do was deeply wound her, causing dozens of faces to come spewing out from her. All of those faces then started attacking Koh, causing him to retreat into his lair as his mother backed out. When Koh saw her again, she was struggling to hold herself up due to the impact of the wound that he had given her. Although spirits could not be harmed by humans, they could certainly harm each other and it was apparent to Koh that he had harmed his mother.

“Koh… You have hurt me…” his mother trailed off.

“You brought this upon yourself, mother. You should have kept me left alone like you have since the dawn of time,” Koh stated.

“I had hopes that this conversation would’ve turned out differently. I do believe that there is a part of you that wants and needs me with you. I will let you come to that realisation on your own,” the Mother of Faces said.

With that, the Mother of Faces vanished into thin air, leaving Koh at the entrance of his lair. The last time that his mother had tried finding him was many centuries ago, and he never would’ve expected her to try finding him again. As much as part of Koh wanted nothing to do with her, he still wanted some form of satisfaction from his mother which he didn’t get. All he got was her disappointment and berating, which Koh certainly did not appreciate and was partly why he lashed out on her, to get some sort of reaction from her.

One thing that the Mother of Faces had gotten right was that Koh relished in stealing the faces of any living thing. While his mother may have tried to convince him to give up those ways, Koh would never give up stealing the faces of those pathetic creatures. If they couldn’t withstand his powers than they didn’t deserve to keep their faces. The only living thing at this point in time who had managed to evade his face stealing ways was the pesky Avatar who had proven to be a major thorn in Koh’s side.

Perhaps this Avatar deserved the same retribution as his past life as well…

Chapter Text

It had been an interesting few days for the members of Team Avatar. They’d been forced to pack up their camp and flee the Western Air Temple after Zuka’s crazy brother, Azul had attacked. Following that, they’d camped out which saw tempers flair between Princess Zuka and Kataro. There had been tension between the two of them ever since Zuka had changed sides and joined their group. Despite most of Team Avatar welcoming Zuka with a fair chance, Kataro and Suko were yet to warm up to the firebender, for reasons of their own.

For Suko, it was because he shared his own past with Zuka that certainly hadn’t ended well and Kataro still felt betrayed by Zuka’s actions at Ba Sing Se. When the tension between Kataro and Zuka finally boiled over, Zuka decided that it was time for her to mend some faces with Kataro which saw the two of them head off in a search of the man who murdered Kataro’s mother.

The whole time, Zuka had seen a different side of Kataro that she hadn’t yet seen before because Kataro always seemed like the nurturing father figure of the group. At least to the others. But it seemed like Kataro had completely switched off his emotions as he let his desire to find justice get the better of him. It had almost shocked Zuka how far Kataro was willing to go to get to the truth, especially when he somehow managed to use waterbending to manipulate the captains body. Even though he hadn’t shown it, Zuka could see that doing something like that had affected Kataro but Zuka wasn’t sure if talking to him about it was a good idea, since they were barely starting to be friends.

So when the group all met up at Ember Island and Kataro had gone to take some time to himself, Zuka decided to pull Anna aside. If there was anyone who could talk to Kataro when he was like this, it was Anna. Though it might have seemed strange that Zuka was taking such an interest in Kataro’s well-being, Zuka just wanted him to feel better because he deserved to feel at ease after everything that he’d just done.

“What’s up, Hotman?” Anna asked Zuka when she pulled her aside.

Zuka rolled her eyes, “How many times have I told you not to call me Hotman, Anna?”

“Was I supposed to be counting?” Anna wondered.

“Never mind that,” Zuka grumbled. “Listen, I wanted to talk to you about Kataro.”

“What about him?” Anna questioned, trying not to show her obvious interest.

“During our little ‘field trip’ as you called it, we hunted down the leader of the Southern Raiders because the man who had killed Kataro’s mother previously held that position. As soon as we busted in and had him cornered, Kataro used this weird waterbending technique that allowed her to manipulate the captains body,” Zuka answered.

“Oh,” Anna paled, recognising the technique as bloodbending.

“Afterwards, I could tell that he was bothered about it but I didn’t know how to approach the subject because you know, he was still barely talking to me before we left. So I think he could probably use a shoulder to lean on right about now,” Zuka finished.

Anna nodded, “Thank you, Zuka. I know what I need to do.”

With a little bit of hesitance, Anna headed towards the docks where Kataro had been sitting after they arrived. Hearing that Kataro had resorted to bloodbending had left Anna a little bit unsettled, because he had sworn to her that he would never use that dark technique ever again. Unless Zuka’s descriptions were way off, Kataro had used bloodbending and Anna didn’t like that.

After she found Kataro sitting at the docks, Anna sat down quietly beside him. For a moment, there was nothing but silence until Kataro was the one to break it.

“What do you want, Anna?” he asked irritably.

“I wanted to see how you were doing after… everything,” Anna replied.

“I’m fine,” Kataro snapped.

Anna sighed, “Don’t give me that, Kataro. I’ve known you long enough to know when you’re really bothered about something. Is this about the man who killed your mother?”

“Yes, and no,” Kataro grumbled.

“You can talk to me about it if you want,” Anna offered.

“I did something really bad, Anna. Something that I’m ashamed of,” Kataro stated.

“What?” Anna inquired, even though she already knew the answer.

“I used bloodbending while trying to find the man who killed my mother. I had been so consumed by my hatred and rage that I allowed my emotions to get the better of my morality. As soon as I saw the man who I thought had done the deed, I just did it. I regretted it as soon as I did it, and not just because the man had been innocent,” Kataro answered.

“Not that I’m saying that this is how I feel, but anyone else would’ve thought that he’d deserve it,” Anna said carefully.

“But he didn’t. Bloodbending is such a cruel technique. You’ve experienced this yourself, Anna, so you would know. But you don’t know what it’s like to have that much power. I know that Hama probably relished in having that sort of power over her enemies, but for me it just felt so dirty and wrong. It certainly doesn’t make me feel good at all that I had used bloodbending on an innocent person,” Kataro mumbled.

“Some would say that the captain deserved it,” Anna pointed out. She certainly wasn’t agreeing with what she was saying, Anna just wanted to understand Kataro’s intentions so that she knew why he had done it.

“Even if he did, it still makes it wrong. Bloodbending is something that should only be resorted to if it is a last resort. That wasn’t a last resort. I was just using it because I had let the hatred overrule my morality because I wanted him to feel the pain that I felt about losing my mother. Spirits, I’m becoming just like Hama,” Kataro’s eyes widened at the realisation.

“No, Kataro, no. You’re nothing like that monster,” Anna reassured him as she wrapped his arms around the older boy. “There is a fine difference between you and Hama. The difference is that like you said, Hama relished in the feeling of having that power and control over someone whereas you resent it. Even after using it on someone who in your eyes might have deserved it, you still felt guilty about doing so.

“But she had let her hatred control what she did. I became exactly like that when I allowed my hatred towards Zuka and the man who killed my mother get the better of me,” Kataro insisted.

“Stop making yourself out to be such a bad person, Kataro, because you’re not. Anyone could understand why you were angry with Zuka. I probably would’ve been angry with him like you if it wasn’t for my forgiving nature. As for what you did with the captain and even though I don’t agree with it, you thought that you were giving him justice. Granted, everyone has different perceptions on what justice is but that’s what you thought was right,” Anna said.

“It was still wrong though,” Kataro continued to make himself feel bad.

“Yes, and you realised that. Hama never realised that her actions were wrong. Now you can use this as an opportunity to grow and make yourself a strong person,” Anna reassured him.

“Why do you have to be so wise?” Kataro muttered.

“Well, I am kind of the Avatar so I have to show some worldly knowledge,” Anna joked, earning a laugh from Kataro.

“You’re a dork,” Kataro commented in a jokingly matter.

“Why don’t we head up to the house? The others are probably wondering what’s taking us so long,” Anna suggested.

Kataro nodded, “Yeah, we should go.”

Being the gentlemen that he is, Kataro helped Anna up from where she had been sitting and turned to head off. Before Kataro could even take a few steps ahead, he suddenly found himself being pulled into Anna’s arms as she entangled him in a hug.

At first, Kataro was somewhat uncomfortable with the unexpected action before he relaxed into it, feeling comforted by Anna’s hug. There was just something about her touch that soothed him, and Kataro knew that Anna probably felt the same way.

“What was that for?” Kataro asked once Anna pulled away.

“You looked like you could’ve used a hug, so I gave you one. It seems like you enjoyed it, though,” Anna joked suggestively.

Kataro found himself blushing, “What? Of course, I enjoyed it. You know I enjoy hugs.”

“Especially mine,” Anna smirked. “Don’t feel nervous about asking for a hug in the future, because they come for free!’

“I certainly won’t,” Kataro murmured.

Despite Anna’s actions appearing to be seemingly innocent, Kataro had certainly picked up on some of the implications with her words. Whether or not it was intentional, Anna always seemed to have the ability to make a situation awkward. Even though Kataro hated the awkwardness, he much preferred the awkwardness to the way he was feeling just before.

If there was one thing Kataro appreciated Anna for, it was her ability to make him feel better no matter what the situation was. That was exactly what he had just done and Kataro was surprised that it had taken so little of her to get him out like this. Who knew a few wise words from the Avatar and a quick hug would be enough to make him feel better?

Chapter Text

It was a Christmas tradition for the friends of Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki, Toph and Zuko to take part in a Secret Santa. It was something that they had done since they were in school, and something that had continued into college. Two weeks before Christmas, they were all sitting in Katara, Suki and Toph’s shared apartment as they prepared the random draw for Secret Santa.

If there was one person that Aang wanted to get a gift for, it was Katara. They had been friends since middle school and Aang had been in love with her since middle school, but he’d never had the courage to tell her how he felt. He’d always wanted to tell her how he felt at Christmas, because it was easily Katara’s favourite holiday. She always went over the top for Christmas and pulled out all the stops. There had been plenty of times where Aang had tried to get her under the mistletoe, but because Katara was always busy at Christmas his attempts were in vain.

Because Katara always loved Secret Santa, Aang had always wanted to get her a special present then so that he could tell her how he felt. But Aang had never been lucky enough to get Katara as his Secret Santa. There had even been a year where he’d tried to rig the random draw so that he could get her, but even that hadn’t worked and he’d gotten stuck with Sokka. So now Aang was just hoping more than anything that he would finally be lucky enough to get her as his Secret Santa.

“Alright guys, the random draw is ready!” Katara exclaimed as she put the box with their names down. “You know the drill, one at a time we’ll each pick a name and that person will be your Secret Santa. Remember the golden rule – no swapping.”

One at a time, they all picked out a name from the box. Another rule of theirs was that they couldn’t tell anyone who their Secret Santa was and that they couldn’t reveal who it was until after they had given away their presents. Before Aang went to pick his name, he silently hoped that the name he pulled out would be Katara’s.

For once in his life, luck seemed to be on Aang’s side as the piece of paper that he pulled out did in fact have Katara’s name written on it. It took almost everything in Aang to not let his face go into one giant grin because that would’ve most likely exposed who his Secret Santa was. Aang didn’t even care who had gotten him as their Secret Santa, all he cared about was getting Katara the perfect gift to finally show her his feelings.

~*•°•*~

Finding the perfect gift for Katara had been easier than Aang thought it would be. There was no way that Aang was going to buy something for her because that wouldn’t be able to show Katara his true feelings like making something on his own would. He knew that Katara was a sentimental person and that her favourite kind of gifts were handmade ones, so that was had prompted him to make Katara a gift on his own.

They had certainly been through a lot as friends over the years after meeting in the seventh grade. It had taken Aang a while to actually realise that he had fallen in love with Katara because it wasn’t until their junior prom when Katara showed off her handsome date that Aang realised what his true feelings were for his best friend. Of course, Aang had never told her the depth of his feelings for her with the fear that it would ruin their friendship and the only way that Aang would ever tell Katara his feelings for her would be by showing them.

His gift for her was actually pretty ingenious, he had to admit. If this didn’t woo Katara then Aang didn’t know what would. Because of how extensive the gift was, Aang had pushed himself into working all day and night in the days leading up to Christmas so that it would be absolutely perfect. The last thing that Aang wanted was to mess up this opportunity.

When Christmas Eve arrived and they had their usual get-together before going off to celebrate it with their families, Aang made sure that he had his present ready in perfect condition. But first, Aang had to get his Secret Santa present which was from none other than Suki.

“I tried to make up for the pandora earrings that you got me last year,” Suki said as she handed him his present.

Aang’s eyes widened as he saw two tickets to his favourite band, Panic! At The Disco, “Wow, this certainly does. Thanks, Suki.”

“Maybe you could even take Katara with you,” Suki winked.

A blush slowly crept onto Aang’s face at the implications of her wink. Despite having never openly told anyone about his feelings for Katara, he was pretty sure that everyone besides her knew since they just loved to tease him about it. If all went well with his Secret Santa, maybe that concert could be their first date together.

As the night went on, Aang tried his best to work up the courage to give his gift to Katara. Showing your best friend that you’re in live with them is easier said than done, especially when there were witnesses around to see it. So that was why Aang was going to wait until he got the chance to take Katara away for a few moments. That was until she approached him.

“So…” Katara trailed off.

“So,” Aang murmured awkwardly.

“Where’s my Secret Santa present?” Katara asked expectantly.

Aang paled, “How’d you know it was me?”

“Everyone else had gotten theirs, and since you’re the only person yet to give someone their Secret Santa, I assumed you were mine,” Katara replied.

“Do you mind if I give it to you in private?” Aang asked nervously.

Katara shrugged, “Sure. I’ll be up in my room.”

After glancing around to make sure that nobody was around to see him, Aang pulled out his Secret Santa present from the bag that he had hidden it in. More slowly than ever, Aang walked up the stairs to Katara’s room as he worked up the courage to actually give it to her. Finally, he reached her room and walked inside with the present behind his back.

“Since I know how much you love handmade gifts,” Aang said as he gave it to her.

Katara smiled, “Thanks, Aang. It’s a photo album, isn’t it?”

“Sort of…” Aang trailed off as he sat down next to her. “Open it.”

“Okay,” Katara murmured.

Doing just that, Katara opened the album to see the first photo that they ever took together during seventh grade. Written underneath it was, we met like this.

The rest of the photo album was basically snapshots of their favourite moments together throughout high school. There were definitely some memorable ones and some moments that Aang would much rather forget, but nevertheless he included them because he knew they made Katara laugh. As Katara neared the photo that was there for their junior prom, Aang grew increasingly nervous as this was what it was all coming down to. For a brief moment, Aang had considered abandoning the plan altogether but knew he was in too deep.

As Katara flipped the page that lead to their junior prom, Aang held his breath as he waited for her reaction. Silence filled the room as Katara stared blankly at the page in front of her. Because written underneath the photo of them together were the words, that was the night I realised I loved you.

It was hard to figure out how Katara felt towards that, because she literally just stared at the page with an unreadable expression on her face. The silence was killing Aang, and he knew that it was only a matter of time before she turned around and rejected him. At least he tried.

“So…” Aang trailed off, desperate to break the silence.

“Do you still feel it now?” Katara asked quietly.

“Feel what now?” Aang stammered.

“Love. Do you still love me?” Katara clarified.

“I’ve never stopped,” Aang admitted.

“This is… unexpected,” Katara murmured.

“See, I know it’s stupid but I just haven’t been able to shake off these feelings. Believe me, I’ve tried not to feel that way about you. I even dated Meng for that month just so that I could get over you but we all know how that turned out,” Aang rambled, referring to his ex-girlfriend who was now his stalker.

Katara giggled, “Does she still take digital pictures of you at the mall?”

“Every time,” Aang shuddered.

“Maybe she’ll stop once we start going out,” Katara suggested.

“Yeah, maybe,” Aang replied before he realised what she said. “Wait, what?”

“You heard me,” Katara said.

“By going out did you mean going out as in just going outside together or did you mean going out as in going out romantically?” Aang clarified, hoping more than anything that it was the latter.

“Romantically,” Katara blushed.

“I’m confused…” Aang admitted.

“What’s there to be confused about? I love you, you love me. So lets go out,” Katara said.

“Okay, based on the way you’re phrasing that I’m assuming that you reciprocate these feelings,” Aang drawled, hardly believing it. “When did you start?”

“When you started dating your stalker,” Katara replied.

“Oh. Well at least something good came out of that relationship,” Aang grinned.

Katara giggled, “Yeah, it did. But I should be thanking you for this gift, Aang. I get the sentiment behind it, and you know how sentimental I can be.”

“That’s exactly why I made it,” Aang smiled.

“I love it,” Katara said.

They stared at each other in silence until Katara leaned in and gave him a kiss. A kiss that Aang had been waiting to happen for so long. Kissing Katara had been something that he had dreamed about since he realised he wanted to. But their kiss was cut short as Sokka made a sudden appearance in his sisters room.

“I just wanted to let you guys know that – gah!” Sokka exclaimed as he saw his sister and best friend kissing.

“What, Sokka?” Katara snapped.

“I uh… Just wanted to let you guys know that… We’re gonna start watching the Nightmare Before Christmas so uh, you better get down now,” Sokka stuttered.

Katara sighed, “Okay, we’ll be down in a few.”

“I’ll be counting!” Sokka called out as he went back down the stairs.

“I guess we better go down before Sokka drags us down,” Aang said.

“He’s going to be unbearable now,” Katara muttered.

“He’s going to be giving me more grief than you,” Aang pointed out.

“Let’s just go down so that he doesn’t have any grief to give us. No doubt he’s telling everyone what he just walked in on,” Katara stated.

“Then we’ll face it together,” Aang grinned.

With Katara’s arms wrapped around Aang, they headed down to the living room together. Sure enough, when they reached their friends Sokka was in the middle of telling them how he walked in on them ‘smacking lips’ before Katara quickly put an end to that story. They sat down together and watched the Nightmare Before Christmas and made it an effort to act as coupley as possible to give Sokka as many oogies as possible.

As Aang sat down with Katara in his arms when she fell asleep, there was only one thought going through his mind. This had been the best Christmas ever.

Chapter Text

To say that Aang was lost without Appa was an understatement. Although he had gotten over his initial anger over losing his beloved bison, Aang still wasn’t the same as he was when he still had Appa. Appa had been his only connection to his past and they had been hanging out for the past one hundred years after all. Losing Appa had been devastating for Aang, and he wouldn’t be the same until they were reunited.

Hopefully that wouldn’t be too long, since they had been told that Appa had been sold to someone in the city. The others had initially been optimistic about finding him soon enough, but when they saw just how big the city was, they understood Aang’s hesitance. The city was huge and had to be at least one thousand times the size of Appa so the bison could literally be hidden anywhere.

Finding Appa wasn’t the only reason why they had come to Ba Sing Se though, since they had intended to tell the Earth King about the incoming solar eclipse but they had been simply told that one could not just ‘pop in on the Earth King.’ Since it didn’t seem like they would be seeing the king anytime soon, Aang put all of his energy into finding Appa. He wouldn’t rest until he found his bison who was just as much of a friend like his other friends were.

“We’ll find Appa eventually,” Katara reassured him as she noticed the distant look on Aang’s face. He tended to have that look whenever he thought about Appa, which happened a lot.

“I know,” Aang smiled softly. “I just wish that we could be together again. When we first met, I promised him that we’d always be together and now we’re not.”

“Just because Appa isn’t with you physically doesn’t mean that he isn’t with you in your heart,” Katara placed Aang’s hand over his heart.

“Thank you, Katara,” Aang said.

“You know you can talk to me whenever you want to, right?” Katara reassured him and Aang nodded. One thing he loved about Katara was how easy it was to talk to her. He’d only ever felt that way with Gyatso.

“I’m going to go into town and get some supplies,” Katara stated.

Once Katara was gone, that just left him alone in their house with Toph who was busy snoring away. Sokka was doing who knows what, and Aang didn’t feel like searching for Appa right now. Sometimes his grief was too consuming for him to do anything, and Aang hated feeling like that. There was nothing that he wanted more than to be reunited with Appa again.

If Aang had known when he said goodbye to Appa in the Si Wong desert that it would’ve been the last time he saw Appa, Aang would’ve never left him behind with Toph. In hindsight, Aang had realised that blaming Toph for Appa’s capture hadn’t been fair. She was handicapped in the desert, after all. Aang still couldn’t help but think that if he had stayed with Appa, he never would’ve lost him. But then Aang thought that if he had stayed behind, they never would’ve been able to find out about the eclipse.

Ugh, experiencing this turmoil sucked.

When Aang couldn’t hear Toph’s snoring anymore, he knew that she was awake now. It had quickly became apparent to Aang that Toph snored loudly than anyone he’d ever met, even Sokka. So it made sleeping around Sokka and Toph annoying, although Aang knew that he wasn’t completely innocent since he snored too. The only one of them who didn’t snore was Katara so it was probably worse for her.

“Where’s Sugar Queen and Snoozles?” Toph asked as she snuck up on Aang. Even after travelling with her for weeks now, Aang still hadn’t gotten used to that.

“They went out into town,” Aang replied.

“And you didn’t?” Toph grunted.

Aang shrugged, “I didn’t feel like it.”

“Oh,” Toph murmured as she suddenly felt what was coming from Aang.

Sometimes being able to feel how people felt wasn’t the best thing in the world. Toph could feel the grief coming from Aang, something that she knew he’d been feeling ever since what happened in the desert. It almost felt like something was broken from Aang, and Toph knew that was because of Appa’s absence. She was able to feel the bond between them and now that Appa was gone, the bond had been broken. And although she knew that she shouldn’t feel that way, Toph still felt like part of it was her fault.

“Sorry about Appa,” Toph mumbled.

Aang blinked in surprise, “You don’t have to apologise, Toph. If there’s anyone who should be apologising, it should be me. It was wrong of me to yell at you like I did when you did everything you could’ve done. I know that if you had been able to save Appa, you would’ve.”

“Don’t sweat it, Twinkle Toes,” Toph reassured him. It was good to know that Aang didn’t hate her like she thought he did, since Toph hadn’t been able to feel Aang as well as she used to since he had become so consumed by his grief.

“So we’re… fine?” Aang wondered.

“As long as you are,” Toph mumbled.

“I’m glad that we had this talk. I’ve been meaning to say that to you since we got out of the desert, but everything has just been so… busy,” Aang admitted.

“Then we should stay busy if we’re going to find Appa,” Toph stated.

Aang grinned, “And we will. Let’s see if anyone has heard anything new.”

“Lead the way, Twinkle Toes,” Toph said.

Doing just that, Aang dragged Toph out of their house as they headed off in search of Appa. As they left, Toph could feel that something in Aang had just shifted after their conversation. He wasn’t so dragged down by his grief like he had been recently. There was a part of him that felt like his old self and it was then that Toph realised that part of what was dragging him down had been the unspoken tension between them.’

Now that it had been lifted, Toph knew that the only thing that was missing from Aang was Appa and she knew that once they were reunited, Aang would go back to being his normal self.

Toph would be lying if she said that she didn’t want that to happen.

Chapter Text

At twenty-three-years-old, Katara was the only single one in her group of friends. All of her friends were paired off with their own boyfriends or girlfriends. Her best friend Suki was dating her brothers best friend Zuko, her other best friend Kori was dating a guy nicknamed Sneers and her other friend Niyok was also in a relationship. Her brother, Sokka, didn’t count since he was a self-proclaimed bachelor living the bachelor life. Sure, Katara had had her fair share of flings over the past few years, most notably her short lived relationship with Jet and her much more serious one with Haru that had ended in even more tears than her one with Jet did.

With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, Katara was fully expecting herself to spend that day alone and she was surprisingly okay with that. The last time that Katara had spent Valentines Day without anyone was when she was five-years-old because ever since then, she had boys lining up to be her Valentine at school. This was the first time that Katara was going to be alone on this holiday, and she couldn’t care less.

Little did Katara know, her best friend Suki had other plans for her. During their weekly get together, Katara had immediately noticed that there was something off with Suki, like she was hiding something from her. It didn’t take Katara long enough to find out what Suki was hiding from her.

“I’ve set you up on a blind date,” Suki declared.

“A blind date?” Katara repeated.

Suki nodded, “Yep.”

“Why?” Katara asked.

“Because this is the first Valentine’s Day that you haven’t spent without a date and I’m not about to let you spend it alone while Zuko and I go out together,” Suki replied.

“Thanks, but no thanks. It’s sweet of you to do, but I’d rather not go on a blind date with a guy I’ve never met,” Katara said.

“That’s the whole point of it,” Suki chuckled. “You’re just gonna go out to have fun and enjoy yourself with someone you’ve never met. The worst that could happen is that you find the guy to be a total dud and it ruins your Valentine’s Day experience forever.”

“Thanks for the confidence,” Katara remarked.

“Like you’ve ever struggled with confidence when it comes to guys. Besides, you won’t have to worry about him being a jerk because I know he’s not,” Suki reassured her.

“You know him?” Katara narrowed her eyes.

“Well, I don’t really know him myself but Zuko does. He’s in Zuko’s film class and they’re friends at college,” Suki explained.

“It’s hard to believe that your boyfriend has spent seven years at college,” Katara commented.

“That’s what happens when you decide to change your life goals after you stood up to your controlling father who was pushing you into a path of unhappiness,” Suki smiled.

“If Zuko had stayed on that path he would’ve been filthy rich on his own,” Katara said.

“But unhappy. I love Zuko with or without money and nothing will change that. Maybe your blind date will give you that same feeling,” Suki pointed out.

“Fine, I’ll do it,” Katara conceded.

“Great! Your date is on Valentine’s Day – of course – and I’ll text you the details once everything is arranged,” Suki said.

So it turned out that Katara wouldn’t be spending her first Valentine’s Day alone after all thanks to the meddling help of her friend. But Katara trusted Suki’s judgement and she knew that if Suki said her date was a good guy, then he was worth giving a chance. Maybe this blind date wouldn’t be so bad after all…

~*•°•*~ 

When February 14th arrived, Katara was at a bar as she waited for her blind date to arrive. Suki and Zuko had gone out for a romantic dinner, leaving Katara to wait for her date. According to Suki, his name was Aang and he was a total sweetheart. Suki had met him a few times and had said that on a scale from nothing to Sokka, he was a nothing meaning that he wasn’t a sexist pig. Since Suki had nothing but nice things to say, Katara was willing to keep an open mind.

The time that had been arranged for them to meet was 7:00pm, so when that time came around, Katara kept her eyes open for anyone matching the description that Suki had given her. At first, there was nobody that seemed to be her date until Katara’s eyes landed on a short, bald-headed guy walking in her direction. Suki had told her that her date was bald and on the short side, so she assumed that had to be her date. Her assumption was correct as the guy made his way towards her with a smile on his face.

“Hi,” he greeted her. “You’re Suki’s friend, right? The girl she set me up on a blind date with?”

“The very same,” Katara nodded.

“Well, it’s great to meet you,” he smiled. “I’m not sure if you know my name, but it’s Aang.”

“Yeah, Suki told me. And I’m not just Suki’s friend, I’m Katara,” she introduced herself.

“Katara… A lovely name for a beautiful girl,” Aang grinned.

Katara giggled, “You’re getting your flirt on already? Most guys usually wait until the date starts for that.”

“Well, it is seven and that’s when our date was supposed to start so I’d say that it’s started,” Aang remarked.

“Good point,” Katara laughed. “So, what should we do?”

“Suki told me that you did a little bit of dancing back in your high school days, so maybe we should hit the dance floor,” Aang suggested.

“I did. I was a dancer and a cheerleader during school and college. But Suki also tells me that you have a couple of moves yourself,” Katara said.

“You’ll just have to see for yourself,” Aang held out his hand for Katara to take, which she hesitantly did.

They spent the next half an hour dancing their butts off. It didn’t take Katara long enough to realise that Aang certainly had a few moves of his own. He seemed to attract the entire dance floor as he performed all sorts of tricks and moves, some of which that even Katara couldn’t do. Of course, they danced together for a few songs as they talked every now and then. It wasn’t until Katara realised that they hadn’t actually had a proper conversation that she didn’t really know the guy.

So after the thirteenth song played, they both decided to take a break and sit down so that they could get to know each other. Katara could already tell that Aang was a sweet guy, so she wanted to know more about him.

“I guess this is the part where we talk about ourselves,” Aang stated as they sat down with some drinks.

“Tell me about yourself,” Katara urged. “Like, how did you and Zuko meet? I know that’s how you know Suki.”

“I met Zuko during my first year at college. I’m sure that you would know that he changed his career path into film so he was already pretty older than I was. But we connected after we realised that I’d met his father before and we both shared a distinct dislike for him,” Aang replied.

“How did you meet Zuko’s father?” Katara asked curiously. Zuko’s father, Ozai, was the owner of one of the most successful business chains in the country. He owned all sorts of buildings and franchises, and Zuko was expected to follow in his footsteps before he changed his mind.

“I’m not sure if Suki told you this, but I’m a Buddhist so I go to a temple as part of my faith. Anyways, Ozai was trying to buy the temple that I go to so that he could make it into another hotel of his. He was quite demanding with what he wanted and was completely disrespectful to our faith. He battled with us for months as he tried buying the temple, but we managed to get enough support to override his advances,” Aang explained.

“You were apart of that?” Katara exclaimed, remembering how the media had ate up the story about Ozai trying to buy a Buddhist temple. There had been a petition aiming for ten thousand signatures in order for the temple to stay there. Katara wasn’t a Buddhist, but she had supported the cause anyways by signing the petition.

“I was one of the driving forces behind the whole movement. We were able to stick it to Ozai, and ever since then I’d never liked the man. So when Zuko made it clear that he wasn’t part of his father’s business and didn’t want anything to do with it, a friendship was born,” Aang said.

“I’ve known Zuko since high school because he’s my brothers best friend,” Katara stated.

“That’s Sokka, right? I’ve met him once or twice,” Aang noted.

“Yeah, my brothers a bit of a sexist pig and a self-proclaimed bachelor. He’s probably off getting wasted with his single friends right now,” Katara remarked.

“Speaking of which, do you mind me asking why you decided to go for a blind date? You don’t really seem like the kind of person that would need help in the dating department,” Aang said.

“Well, I haven’t spent a Valentines Day without a Valentine since I was five. Ever since then I’ve always had guys lining up to be my Valentine. Last year I had a boyfriend, but that relationship is over and Suki didn’t want me to have to spend a Valentine’s Day alone while she and Zuko went out,” Katara explained.

“I feel you on that. I broke up with my girlfriend, On Ji, a few months ago and we’d been dating for years so it felt strange to spend a Valentine’s Day by myself. I normally don’t do blind dates but since Suki had nothing but nice things to say about you, I figured why not,” Aang admitted.

“That’s the same with me. I was a bit unsure about doing this, but Suki had reassured me that you’re a sweetheart and Suki has never given me reason to question her judgement before so I thought what the heck,” Katara agreed.

“So, apart from dancing, what do you like to do for fun?” Aang asked.

“Well, I love writing and reading. I also love anything to do with the beach like swimming, jet-skiing or anything like that. The water is like my home,” Katara replied. “What about you?”

“When I’m not at college, I usually go to my taekwondo classes and I spent a lot of my time helping the homeless and giving back. I work at a homeless shelter near my apartment so I go there a lot,” Aang answered.

“Suki was right, you are a sweetheart,” Katara smiled. Sure, she donated money and old belongings to charity but Aang clearly did more than she did. That was definitely a quality that Katara appreciated in someone.

As their date went on, Katara couldn’t help but compare Aang to her past relationships. Her relationships that stood out the most were the ones with Jet and Haru. Jet had been her high-school boyfriend and they had dated from her sophomore year to her first year of college. That was her first real relationship, since all of her relationships before him had just been short lived and not that serious, at least on her end.

From the beginning, Katara had known that she was asking for trouble by dating the schools womanizer, but Jet seemed to tone down his sexist ways while he was dating her. Katara had expected their romance to fizzle out by the time she left school, but Jet had surprisingly wanted to continue seeing her, which he did. That was until Sokka had caught Jet cheating on her, prompting her to break up with him which had left her in tears.

Then there had been Haru, who had comforted her after her break-up with Jet. Since Katara was still feeling the pain that had come from it, she and Haru hadn’t started anything serious until her sophomore year of college, much like how she had started dating Jet in her sophomore year of high school. Haru had been a great guy, he’d treated her with kindness and made her feel like the only girl in the world. But when Haru had proposed to her, Katara panicked and after doing some soul searching, she realised that Haru wasn’t meant to be her one and only.

It had quickly become clear to Katara that Aang wasn’t like any of her past exes. He barely knew her, and had listened to everything that she said with complete interest. The entire night, he had made her laugh with genuinely funny jokes that weren’t offensive or just not funny like Jet and Haru’s were. Aang had treated her with respect, like a man should treat a woman. It gave Katara this warm and complete feeling that she had forgotten what it felt like.

“Would you mind if I walked you home?” Aang offered once they had finished their date.

“Not at all,” Katara smiled.

As they walked to Katara’s apartment, it started to rain and Katara couldn’t help but note how cliché that was. Being the gentlemen that he had shown himself to be, Aang was quick to offer Katara his jacket which she originally reject, but took after Aang’s insistence. His jacket felt warm and comfy, and Katara found herself wanting to feel more of it.

“I believe this is your stop,” Aang said once they reached Katara’s apartment.

“It is,” Katara nodded.

“I just wanted to say that I had a good time with you, Katara,” Aang smiled.

“So did I. If you want to, we could, you know… Do it again sometime?” Katara suggested.

“That would be nice,” Aang nodded. “I’ll give you my number, and you can text me when you want to.”

“I definitely will,” Katara grinned.

Once Aang had given her his number, he gave her a quick hug before bidding her goodnight. As she watched him walk away, Katara couldn’t help but look forward to their next outing together, since she definitely planned on texting Aang in the near future. She’d felt something special with him, something that she definitely wanted to keep feeling.

This certainly wouldn’t be the last Valentine’s Day that she’d spend with Aang.

Chapter Text

Being locked away for as long as she was hadn’t done Hama any favours. For a while, the waterbender had feared that she would never have freedom again. That was, until she discovered her newfound ability. Years had been spent mastering the technique that would lead to Hama’s long-awaited escape. She had sauntered through the corridors of that wretched Fire Nation prison after making her escape thanks to the very guards that were assigned to keep her in. Now, Hama was free to live her life like she’d dreamt of doing ever since her imprisonment.

For over two decades Hama had dreamt about being reunited with her brothers and sisters at the South Pole, but in recent years Hama realised that perhaps returning to her old home wasn’t the best idea. Hama had heard how the Fire Nation had practically destroyed the South Pole, which enraged her to no end. But Hama knew that the Fire Nation could return there in search of her, and Hama didn’t think that her tribe would welcome her back with open arms if they ever learned about her technique.

Bloodbending was something that Hama had never heard of before, let alone considered doing on her own free will. It was something that she had never thought of doing until the days became longer and Hama had more time to think. The realisation that humans were nothing but skins filled with liquid had come to her when the rats continued to scurry down the chains holding her cell above the ground. Hama had tried doing it without the full moon, but she couldn’t do it so Hama had waited for the next full moon before she started practicing her technique.

Five years had been spent perfecting the art of her technique, and it hadn’t been an easy task. At first, Hama could barely get the rats moving but she could feel the water inside of them so she knew that it was working. Months had passed before Hama had successfully been able to get control of the rats, even if it was just a ligament. Then five years after first trying it, Hama had mastered control of the rats and knew that she was ready for the men. At first, Hama had felt disturbed by how much she had relished in having control of the guards and putting them at her mercy, but Hama pushed those thoughts of weakness aside by rationalising it since they deserved it. They deserved to lose control like they took her control away. It was sweet justice if you asked Hama.

Since going back to the South Pole wasn’t an option, Hama reluctantly decided to take up residence in the Fire Nation. She didn’t do it lying down though, since Hama made use of her newfound ability by making a mess of whatever she could. At forty-six-years-old, Hama had spent half of her life in captivity by being captured when she was twenty-two before escaping at forty-four. Most people her age had settled down and had their own family, but Hama knew that nobody in the Fire Nation would want to settle down with her and she certainly didn’t want to settle down with any of them after what they had done to her people.

So it was just her luck that Hama managed to meet a man from the North Pole who all-too willingly allowed himself to be weaved around in her web so that he was entranced by her. Two years had been spent working him up before Hama worked him out and she ended up carrying his child, something that Hama had never expected at her age. The man hadn’t wanted to stay for his child, so he had returned to the North without a second thought. Hama hadn’t expected anything less from them, since she knew from her friend Kanna just how sleazy those Northern folk could be. She missed her friend sometimes, but Hama knew that she could never go back to her.

To Hama’s delight, she ended up giving birth to a daughter whom she named Umiko. Her daughter displayed the ability to waterbend at an early age, which Hama was thrilled for since it meant that the Southern tradition wouldn’t die with her. When her daughter was six, Hama started teaching her the basics of waterbending so by the time Umiko turned ten, she was well on her way to becoming a master. At the age of twelve, Hama started teaching her daughter bloodbending. She had moulded her daughter into thinking that bloodbending was a necessary skill that she was required to learn in order to be a fully-fledged waterbender, but it didn’t stop the questions that came from a curious girl.

“Momma, why do I need to know this? I’m a perfectly good waterbender without it,” her daughter had said when Hama first introduced the technique to her.

“Because, my red moon, bloodbending is the most powerful technique of all the bending arts. It gives you full control of someone, allowing you to enforce your own will over theirs. Without it, you are vulnerable and allow yourself to be subjected to the manipulation of others. With it, you could be the most powerful bender to exist and show those ash makers just how powerful a waterbender can be. You can avenge my fallen brothers and sisters in a way that I was unable to do,” Hama replied.

A look of anger and determination had morphed onto her daughter’s face. Hama had also raised her daughter to despise the Fire Nation and made her well aware of what these despicable people had done to their people and their civilisation. Hama would dare say that her daughter hated the Fire Nation even more than she did, and that was saying something. Umiko often took joy in using her waterbending to overpower unsuspecting bystanders, something that Hama also relished in. So her daughter had willingly learned the technique and by the time she had turned sixteen, Hama had taught her daughter everything she needed to know.

With that in mind, Hama allowed her daughter to break free from her and seek her own vengeance. That didn’t mean Hama no longer heard from her daughter, since Umiko often sent her letters and visited her every once in a while. Two decades had passed since Hama had escaped from prison, and the waterbender had grown sick and tired of living amongst ash makers and not doing anything productive about it. So, Hama had gone house hunting (or target hunting) and found the perfect village with a cave nearby which allowed her to execute her plan. Her first target had been the owner of an inn near the village, so Hama snuck into it on the night of a full moon and got the man under her control. She had relished in seeing the way he suffered under her control and found it difficult to control her cackling as she lead him to the cave in the mountains.

Nobody seemed to take the mans disappearance seriously, since Hama had made it out as though the man had simply left instead of him being kidnapped. So Hama easily took over his home and made it her own, and she used it to plot her devious plans that her younger self would’ve been disgusted of. But Hama had changed since she was a young girl. She was no longer full of the innocence that she once had. Now she was old and bitter, and determined to seek revenge on those who had wronged her. In Hama’s eyes, anyone from the Fire Nation was just as bad as the people who had captured her and held her prisoner for those two decades.

In the coming years after her first capture, Hama made her next moves with extreme caution. She didn’t want anyone to connect these disappearances to the cycle of the full moon, so Hama reluctantly held back on capturing as many people as she could. A few months after her first capture, Hama managed to get two for the price of one as a brother and sister duo were trying to find somewhere to stay. Sometimes Hama would resort to capturing people from other towns nearby so that nobody would connect the dots. Finally, after almost five years of her plans tacking place, people started to notice the patterns. Hama had covered her tracks well so that nobody would suspect her, because to the outside world she was a kind hearted woman. Nobody would be able to see the evil inside of her until it was too late.

People in her village started to fear the full moon as the disappearances escalated. Especially after that brut referred to as ‘Old Man Ding’ managed to escape her grip before Hama could force him into the cave. So for about a year Hama held back from her revenge seeking and the panic surrounding the full moon seemed to dwindle. In that time, Hama still sought out unsuspecting people from other villages to add to her collection. Sometimes on the full moons Hama wouldn’t even capture anyone. She’d just give her prisoners false hope of escaping and then when they got free, Hama would play with them like the puppets she had in her inn. Hama relished in seeing them struggle, just like their people had made her struggle.

“Why are you doing this to us?” they would ask.

“Because filthy scum like you ash makers deserve it!” Hama would sneer in response.

“Please, stop it! Just let us go and we won’t tell anyone about what happened!” they would beg.

“Oh, of course you won’t,” Hama would cackle. “Because you won’t live to have the chance!”

A year after the panic settled down, Hama resumed her activities and this time, she didn’t care about what happened. She relentlessly captured unsuspecting people who were foolish enough to go out in broad moonlight under the full moon. Sometimes when her daughter would visit, Hama allowed her to get in on the fun as well. Her village soon feared the full moon and people were even terrified to go outside without it. Hama thought that was exactly what they deserved, to live in fear like they had made her people do. This was revenge at its finest.

When news broke out about the Avatar’s return, Hama did nothing but continue her revenge seeking ways. After spending almost a decade capturing people, her prison cave was beginning to get overcrowded so Hama had held back on taking care of them since she hoped that death would help free up some space down there. Hama also knew that her time was dwindling, she was in her early seventies and she knew that she wasn’t as strong and powerful as she once was. She would have to find someone to continue her work, but Hama couldn’t ask her daughter to do so, not when her daughter now had a son of her own to look after. It was time someone else took after Hama and continued her work.

For months Hama searched for hopeful waterbenders so that she could pass her teachings onto someone else, but finding the right candidate proved to be easier said than done. It was difficult to find a waterbender in the Fire Nation, since those who were in the land of the ash makers were only there because of captivity. But then one night before the full moon, Hama found the perfect candidate. She’d been on her way back from the cave after giving her prisoners their daily feeding when she heard a group of teenagers telling ghost stories in the forest. They clearly weren’t from the area if they were foolish enough to camp out in the notorious forest. That was made even more clear when one of them told a story that was supposedly from the South Pole.

Knowing that this was a perfect opportunity, Hama gave them residence in her inn. She didn’t immediately introduce herself as one of them, since Hama knew that she’d need to establish some sort of trust with the teenagers before revealing her heritage to them. When she caught them snooping through her stuff, Hama figured that it was the perfect moment to let them in on her secret even if she would have preferred to wait before doing so. Hama then revealed herself as a waterbender to them and was overcome with joy for the first time in a long time when the girl revealed herself to be a waterbender as well. Katara had been all too willing to learn some of Hama’s techniques, which gave Hama the confidence that she would be the perfect candidate to pass her ways onto.

During the time that Hama showed Katara her moves, Hama remained observant of the younger girl to see if she could get a good read of her. Katara seemed to have taken the brunt of the war, since her mother had been murdered at the hands of the Fire Nation and her father was fighting in the war as well. It enraged Hama to hear that what was once her home was hardly a home at all after it had been destroyed by those Fire Nation scum. To Hama’s surprise, Katara didn’t seem to share her exact rage towards the Fire Nation.

“Doesn’t it anger you about what they have done to our people?” Hama asked.

“Of course it does,” Katara replied. “But I’m not inclined to think that all people from the Fire Nation are bad. I know that because I’ve met people from there who aren’t complete monsters. So, they can’t all be bad even if majority of them are, right?”

“How could you say that? Everyone from the Fire Nation are cruel monsters. They have all turned a blind eye to this war and allow their people to commit unspeakable acts. That alone makes them all just as despicable as those who commit those acts!” Hama exclaimed.

Seeing the look of hesitance on Katara’s face made Hama think twice about letting Katara in on her dark secret. But Hama ended up deciding to throw caution to the wind and teach it to her anyways. If Katara refused, them Hama could just take her to where the prisoners were and make up some story about her being captured by the spirit to her friends. She’d just have to make sure that they never found out that it was her who did that to Katara, since if they did then the jig would be up. Hama already knew that they were still suspicious of her despite Katara’s trust, and they had every reason to be wary of her.

On the night of the full moon, Hama took Katara to the forest where she recounted the story of how she discovered bloodbending and used it to make her escape. By that point, it didn’t surprise Hama that Katara didn’t want to learn the technique, so Hama took it upon herself to have some fun with Katara. What did surprise Hama though, was that Katara’s bending was more powerful than her own, which allowed the young waterbender to break free of her grip. This was not how Hama had anticipated the night going. She had expected Katara to be difficult, but not difficult to the point where she would have to duel her.

When Katara’s friends showed up, Hama knew that the jig was up but that was only if she allowed them to get away from her, which she wasn’t going to let happen. Since bloodbending Katara wasn’t an option, Hama resorted to bloodbending her own friends. Since letting her friends get away wasn’t something that she could let happen, Hama took the opportunity to finish them off with each other. Only that wasn’t what happened.

Even though being manipulated by her own technique wasn’t something that Hama wanted, the action had meant that Katara was following after her. At that point, Hama wasn’t even disappointed when her prisoners had been freed and were taking her away to face their form of retribution. That didn’t matter to Hama in the slightest way. Her days of bloodbending might have been over, but Hama had done her duty as the longest reigning waterbender of the Southern Tribe by passing on her teachings to those beneath her.

“Congratulations, Katara. You’re a bloodbender,” Hama called back to the young waterbender as she was led away in chains.

It was clear to Hama that she would be spending the rest of her life locked away in prison once again, but that didn’t matter to Hama anymore. Her work there was done, and there was no need for her to be an issue anymore. Hama knew that the chances were that Katara would never use bloodbending again, but it was something that was still a part of her and would never go away. Every full moon, Katara would feel the power surging through her. That was when the madness would begin just like it had started for Hama.

As Hama rotted away, the old woman was content with everything that she had done. Despite spending her last days in prison, Hama wasn’t phased the slightest. She had done her duty to the Southern Tribe by avenging her fallen brothers and sisters and passing the tradition onto her daughter and Katara. Hama might have died with darkness, but she knew that the Southern tradition and bloodbending wouldn’t die with her. Not only did it exist in Katara, but it was apart of her daughter and now her grandson as well. Her teachings would never cease to exist, not when her offspring were the exact product of it. Hama knew that she would forever go down as a legend for being the inventor of the greatest form of bending there was. People would forever fear the wicked old woman and the full moon. That was more than enough for her.

Chapter Text

Since the end of the war, there had been a lot of changes made in the Fire Nation under Zuko’s rule. Unlike practically every Fire Lord before him, Zuko was lucky enough to have had the opportunity of experiencing life outside of the Fire Nation and life beyond the Capital City. With everything that had happened in the war, Zuko had seen the impact that the Fire Nation had on the other nations and even their own people.

One thing that had become clear to Zuko was how the Fire Nation propaganda had changed things over the past hundred years. Talking with his other friends also made Zuko realise some of the real issues that needed his immediate attention, particularly what was being taught in Fire Nation schools. When it came to his education, Zuko only ever received private tutors while Azula attended the Royal Fire Academy for Girls. At that age, Zuko was still ignorant and didn’t think twice about what he was being taught. Only now did Zuko realise the error in the lessons that were in history books. There was a lot of change that needed to be done, and Zuko was barely halfway through it.

In the following months after the war ended and the dust had settled, Zuko decided that he was going to make a change in Fire Nation schools. His people needed to be given an accurate representation of life outside of the Fire Nation and they needed to be given the true facts surrounding the war. For the most part, educational institutions were being fairly receptive to his changes in the academic program. Although that didn’t mean that Zuko was doing this without challenges, since one particular school in the city that his father had renamed Fire Fountain City was insistently resisting Zuko’s attempts at changing the education program. The Headmaster had kicked up quite the fuss about Zuko’s attempts and had even gone as far as not responding to his messages. That was how Zuko found himself on route to Fire Fountain City with Aang in tow.

“I appreciate you coming for support, Aang, but I don’t see why you really need to be there,” Zuko stated as they were escorted through the city.

“Like you said, Zuko. This education reformation is about giving your people an accurate representation of the other nations and the history surrounding the war. I can provide a lot of insight there and act as a mediator,” Aang replied.

“You didn’t want to come to any of the other schools that I visited,” Zuko pointed out.

“You never had as much as this resistance like you’re having here,” Aang argued.

“If you say so,” Zuko murmured, though he suspected that Aang had his own ulterior motives for joining him on this particular visit.

They continued walking through Fire Fountain City, which was definitely one of the Fire Nation cities that had undergone the most changes following the war. For starters, one of Zuko’s immediate acts was to have that larger than life statue of his father removed. Zuko was also in the process of having its name changed back to North Chung Ling, since it was kind of redundant having it called Fire Fountain City when the fountain centrepiece of his father was no longer there.

“You know, when I first saw that statue I really thought that those muscles were exaggerated. But after facing your father in person, I can see that they weren’t,” Aang commented.

“Wait a minute, what?” Zuko snapped his head towards Aang. “How could you have known what the statue looked like if you’ve never been here before? The statue itself has already been taken down and the area is in the process of being rebuilt.”

“Oh, yeah. About that…” Aang trailed off sheepishly. “This isn’t actually my first visit here. It’s actually my third time here.”

“Since when have you been here before?” Zuko asked.

“Well, it was after Ba Sing Se when we were hanging out in the Fire Nation. We came here to get new clothes and I enrolled in a Fire Nation school the first time we were here. Then we came back and Toph had a gambling problem and that was one of the many times Combustion Man tried to kill us,” Aang explained.

“You enrolled in a Fire Nation school?” Zuko repeated.

“Yeah, I did and it was fun except for the fact that dancing is basically banned here and a lot of their educational facts are wrong,” Aang replied.

“So that’s why you wanted to come here,” Zuko realised.

Aang nodded, “I did make some pretty cool friends here, but they were all brainwashed by the Fire Nation propaganda in their educational system.”

“And that’s what we’re going to change, whether the Headmaster wants to accept that or not,” Zuko proclaimed.

“And you’re going to encourage dancing,” Aang added, earning a slight glare from Zuko. “But of course we’re gonna fix the education first.”

As they approached the school, Aang filled Zuko in on the time that he had spent at the school while masqueraded as Kuzon. Zuko knew from visiting other Fire Nation schools that education in the Fire Nation was a rather serious practice, but they certainly took things seriously here. Given the nature of the school, it was now not a surprise to Zuko that the Headmaster was putting up such a resistance to change the education system.

“We should do something about History first since that class is where the real issue is in this school,” Aang suggested.

“Yeah, that’s definitely something in need of a change,” Zuko agreed.

Together they made their way through the school, managing to make their way through the place with ease because of the classes being in session. They had no intention of causing any trouble, they just wanted to set things right.

“Ah, it’s just like I remembered,” Aang grinned.

“So I’m sure that you’ll know where to go,” Zuko said.

Aang nodded, “Let’s go.”

Being back at the school brought back some memories for Aang. He wondered if the friends that he had made were still here and he wondered if they’d recognise him without his hair and upside down headband. When they reached the History classroom, they both gave each other one nod knocked on the door. Who opened the door was none other than the same teacher who had taught Aang when he was a student there, Mrs Kwan.

“Fire Lord Zuko, Avatar Aang. What a surprise to see you here,” she addressed them with obvious distaste in her voice. “I must ask, what does bring you here?”

“Well, Mrs Kwan, since your Headmaster has been very persistent on not responding to my messages and not supporting my education reformation, I thought that it was time for me to make a visit in person,” Zuko replied.

Mrs Kwan pursed her lips in a disapproving manner, “Then shouldn’t you be visiting him first?”

“We thought that it would be best to see the classes first,” Zuko answered.

“And why does the Avatar have to be here for this?” Mrs Kwan wondered.

“Because the errors that exist within Fire Nation history concern my people and I want the record set straight on certain issues,” Aang replied.

“The Headmaster should know that we are visiting today if that is any issue,” Zuko added.

“If you insist on joining my class then you may do so as you observe quietly,” Mrs Kwan conceded.

Being back here definitely brought back Aang’s short-lived days as Kuzon while he looked back on them fondly. When Aang and Zuko entered the classroom, the reaction was immediate. Gasps immediately echoed amongst the teenagers and Aang recognised a few of his old friends among them, though they didn’t seem to recognise him. Aang supposed that he was hard to recognise without his hair and signature upside-down headband.

“Class, Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko will be joining our lesson today,” Mrs Kwan said.

Whispers immediately broke out amongst them as they asked all sorts of questions, and it was clear that Mrs Kwan was having none of it as she slammed a heavy book on her tail, immediately shutting the class up.

“You are to be quiet while our guests are here. Behave as you normally would,” Mrs Kwan ordered as Shoji raised his hand. “Yes, Shoji.”

“May we ask why are they are here?” he asked.

“We are here to make an influence on the education practices in the Fire Nation,” Aang replied.

“What’s wrong with our education?” another student asked.

Zuko cleared his throat before he spoke, “As someone who has spent years amongst the other nations, I have realised the inconsistencies and the errors in what we have been taught about the other cultures that exist, and especially the history surrounding the Hundred Year War.”

“And what would be wrong about that history?” Mrs Kwan pressed with her arms crossed, a disapproving look on her face.

“For starters, Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku weren’t enemies and Avatar Roku wasn’t a traitor. They were friends for years, and Sozin even gave Avatar Roku his signature hairpiece as a gift despite the fact that it was a royal artefact. Avatar Roku stayed true to his duties as the Avatar when Sozin stepped out of line, and Fire Lord Sozin left Roku to die on his island to secure the power that he craved since Roku would no longer be an issue,” Zuko explained.

“And there’s also a big error in your history books in regards to the Air Nomads. As one myself and someone who did live over a hundred years ago, I can honestly say that we had no formal military whatsoever. Air Nomads were and have always been pacifists, meaning that we do not engage in fighting. My people were peaceful and chose not to engage in actions,” Aang continued.

“But you still defeated Phoenix King Ozai,” Hide argued, and Aang scowled as he remembered the kind of jerk that Hide was when he came to the school.

“Keyword: defeated him. Everyone was expecting me to murder Ozai but because of the Air Nomad beliefs that I had been brought up with, it did not feel right with me to kill him in cold blood. I did everything I could to find a way not to, even though everyone was telling me that I had to. I did my duty as the Avatar to end the war while staying true to myself and my Air Nomad values,” Aang proclaimed.

“Sounds like copping out to me,” Hide remarked.

“Don’t be rude, Hide,” On Ji snapped, and Aang had to hide his grin at the look of embarrassment that came across his face. Served him right.

“Avatar Aang, what’s your perspective on the Fire Nation after everything you’ve seen before and after the war?” Shoji wondered.

“Well, if you’re meaning before the war started when everything was how I remembered it, I loved the Fire Nation and it’s people. There were all sorts of things around that you guys don’t have now. One of my best friends was even from the Fire Nation. In this time, seeing the changes that I’ve seen, a lot has definitely changed in the Fire Nation. Things weren’t so segregated before and everything wasn’t as regimented as they are now. You guys also had a few cool dance moves too, like the Phoenix Flight,” Aang answered.

“Dancing serves no purpose in a functional learning environment. These students must have rigid discipline and order, which you are breaking by showing up to my school unannounced,” a voice said from behind them.

Turning around, Aang and Zuko saw the Headmaster standing in the doorway with some guards behind him and he certainly didn’t look happy to see them.

“We did write to you beforehand, Headmaster Gosai. It would seem as though you haven’t been reading my letters at all, and here was me thinking that you just didn’t want to talk. It turns out that you were too close-minded that you didn’t even bother reading my messages,” Zuko replied.

“You say that you want to improve our educational system but you are only disrupting it by interfering with our classes,” Gosai snarled.

“Perhaps we should take this conversation elsewhere,” Aang suggested, only to be ignored by Zuko as he continued.

“We’re also providing your students with insight about their nations history that has clearly been altered to support the previous Fire Lord propaganda,” Zuko proclaimed.

Gosai snorted, “That’s ridiculous. Our nations history is the same as it’s always been.”

“But it hasn’t provided accurate accounts on what shaped this country into what it is today, especially in regards to the beginning of the Hundred Year War,” Zuko insisted.

“You’re talking nonsense, boy. Everyone knows that Fire Lord Sozin began the war after the weak Air Nation resisted cooperation with our esteemed forefather so once they threatened a war, Fire Lord Sozin battled the Air Nation army and emerged victorious,” Gosai argued.

“With all due respect, Headmaster Gosai, that is incorrect,” Aang spoke up. “There was no battle with the Air Nomad army because the Air Nomads had no army. My people were pacifists; we did not believe in fighting to solve conflict. We had no formal military. Sozin defeated them by ambush.”

Mrs Kwan’s eyes widened as she seemed to remember those exact words spoken by Aang when she knew him as someone else.

“Kuzon?” she stated.

“That’s what you knew me as, but my friends call me Aang,” he grinned, not missing the whispers that broke out amongst the classroom.

“That was you!” Hide squawked.

“You were that interfering nuisance that disrupted the functionality of my school!” Gosai exclaimed.

“So, you were there a hundred years ago…” Mrs Kwan muttered.

“Well, technically I was frozen in a block of ice at the time but I was still there,” Aang commented.

“You can’t be Kuzon!” Hide yelled as he sat up from his desk. “You’re… you’re…”

“A better person than you ever were or could be,” On Ji remarked.

Hide gave her a stern glare, “Listen here you little-“

“Hey, don’t talk to her like that,” Aang interjected.

“Save your petty squabbling for later,” Gosai snapped as he turned his attention back to Aang and Zuko. “You two have no right to give a history lesson when all of those history books and reports would give more than enough information. Don’t think that you can change years of curriculum just because of who you are.”

“But your students should be taught the right history. Instead of idolising a criminal like my great-grandfather because they have to and it is what they are taught to do, they should have the freedom to form their own opinions on events from the past by having the correct information to do so,” Zuko argued.

“First you change our cities name, then you disgrace us by taking down the statue of Phoenix King Ozai and now you want to change our educational system. The next thing you’re going to say is that you want to instil dancing classes!” Gosai growled.

“Well, that wouldn’t be a bad idea,” Aang remarked. “Your students should also be allowed to express themselves. When I was Kuzon, they knew nothing about dancing because they had grown up sheltered without knowing what freedom felt like so they couldn’t try new things or do what they want to.”

“I would like to add some more input,” Mrs Kwan interjected. “You can’t just erase a part of history, Fire Lord Zuko. Whether it is wrong or right, it is what generations before you have been taught. I do not wish to believe that our history texts would lie to us for whatever reason. The past one hundred years has been a time of greatness for our nation and you have only weakened it. This is what you want to do, isn’t it? Weaken our perception to the other nations by erasing our history?”

“I’m not erasing a part of history; I’m changing it so that it’s the right history. And the past one hundred years has not been a time of greatness for the Fire Nation. Instead it has been an Age of Darkness that has left the world scared and divided. We must do what we can to ensure that history does not repeat itself, and we can start by doing what we can to make things right with history and to prove future generations with the right information so that their minds are not filled with lies and propaganda,” Zuko proclaimed.

“Are you implying that we have brainwashed our students?” Gosai demanded. “I can assure you that we merely provide them with the necessary information so that they can succeed in life. It is up to them to form their own opinions.”

“Then you won’t mind me asking a question to your class then,” Aang said. “Have any of your opinions about the war and the other nations been influenced by what you have been taught at school?”

Basically everyone except for Hide rose their hand to answer Aang’s question, essentially proving their point. There was no denying it now when the evidence was right in front of them, but Gosai wasn’t taking this lying down.

“That’s just one class,” Gosai argued.

“And I’m sure that if we asked your other students that majority of them would say the same because of how their minds have been corrupted which is the direct result of your school system that needs to be changed,” Zuko declared.

“Fire Lord Zuko, what are your thoughts about your forefathers?” one student asked.

“I think that when people look back on them in years to come, people should be disgusted by them. They should be looked back on as war criminals because that is what they are. My father war a cruel and power-hungry maniac. He had no compassion for anyone and raised my sister to be a weapon, not a daughter. My grandfather was just as cruel, slaying and destroying millions of lives during his reign. He only expanded the Fire Nation’s lust for power and continued its downward spiral. My great-grandfather is the worst of them. He wiped out an entire nation of innocent people that did not deserve the fate that they received. Fire Lord Sozin committed an act of genocide,” Zuko answered.

“I think that calling it genocide is a bit much,” Gosai muttered.

“He murdered an entire race, Headmaster. I believe that classifies as genocide,” On Ji stated.

“I think that not allowing your students to express themselves and experience freedom while giving them an accurate representation of history is a shame. They deserve to know the truth,” Aang said.

“I would like to learn the truth,” Shoji piped up as other students murmured in agreement.

“It’s what they want, Headmaster Gosai,” Zuko stated.

“Yes, after you brainwashed them into wanting it,” Gosai snarled.

“We merely gave them the facts and they made the decision to want to know more on their own,” Aang commented.

“I’m not going to rely on your cooperation for this now, Headmaster Gosai. It is within your students rights to learn the right history and you cannot deny them the ability. A new age has started in the Fire Nation and the world. Times are changing, and you can choose to either stay in the age of darkness or move along with the hope of the future,” Zuko proclaimed.

“It’s not like I have a choice,” Gosai muttered. “You can change the history books all you like, but you won’t have my support and I am sure that there are plenty of other people out there who will agree with me.”

With that, Headmaster Gosai stormed out of the room in a huff while Aang and Zuko gave each other a look of satisfaction, knowing that they had done what they had come to accomplish. They then turned back to the class of students as On Ji raised her hand to speak.

“Avatar Aang, we started a secret dance club in your honour after you threw us that party. Would you like to join us after school?” she asked.

Aang grinned, “I’d love to!”

From that day on, things had changed in the Fire Nation education system. Zuko had made it his mission to right the mistakes of his forefathers, and he was going to do his best to ensure that history never repeated itself again. The Hundred Year War was an age of darkness, it was not a time that should be celebrated for the advancements that were made in the Fire Nation at the expense of suffering for others. His forefathers were not people who should be looked at and admired for their crimes against humanity.

Years from now, when a new generation of Fire Nation students would begin their education, they would be privy to information that had never been given to them. They would be given an accurate representation of the world that existed beyond them. Students would look back on Zuko’s forefathers and not celebrate or idolise their accomplishments. They would forever belong to the trashcan of Fire Nation history with the age of darkness, and for that, Zuko knew that his ancestors would be rolling in their graves. He had to admit that he quite liked that thought, and it’s certainly what they deserved.

Chapter Text

With a loud sigh, Avatar Aang practically threw himself onto the nearest couch, burying his face into a pillow as he let out a frustrated scream that was barely stopped by the pillow. To say that the young Avatar was at his wits end was a complete understatement at the moment. Nearly ten years have passed since the end of the war and people were still trying to tell Aang how to live his life. Well, it wasn’t necessarily people, only interfering politicians who had nothing better to do than to stick their noses in his business. Particularly his romantic business.

Since the end of the war, Katara was the only constant thing on Aang’s mind. His heart had always yearned for her, and that was one thing that had never stopped. Even when they hit a rough patch a few years ago, Katara was the only girl for him. Obviously that wasn’t something that the stupid world leaders understood since they were trying to set Aang up with other women while he only had eyes for Katara.

“Avatar Aang, surely you must understand the importance of rebuilding the Air Nation. I do not think that Lady Katara is the most suitable choice for you if that is your goal.”

“Of course it is my goal, but one of my goals is also to be with the love of my life forever.”

“I understand that you have a deep love for Lady Katara, your relationship is legendary already. But realistically, do you fancy your chances of producing airbender children with a waterbender? There aren’t good odds with that.”

“I don’t care about the odds! I want to be with Katara!”

That certainly wasn’t the first argument that Aang had been involved with in regards to his life choices. Over the years, there had been more than a fair few of world leaders and politicians who had tried meddling with Aang’s romantic life. There had even been a time when they’d tried setting Aang up with a bunch of non-bender women. Of course, that was when he and Katara went through their rough patch but they managed to overcome that difficult time and came back together stronger than ever. Now Aang just wanted to marry Katara and be with her forever, but they clearly didn’t agree with that. If there was ever a time that Aang could use to vent, it would be now.

“Way to blow off some steam, Twinkle Toes.”

Well, Aang was just thinking about how he could use someone to talk to, even if Toph probably wasn’t the best person to get advice from. At least she was someone.

“I’ve got more than just steam,” Aang muttered.

Toph snorted, “What’s got your Avatar pants in a bunch?”

“It’s those stupid politicians. They keep on trying to tell me what to do and how to live my life,” Aang replied.

“I thought I told you not to let them. See, this is why authority figures stink because they think they know better than everyone else,” Toph said.

Aang narrowed his eyebrows, “But you’re training to be an authority figure.”

“This isn’t about me, Twinkle Toes,” Toph snapped. “What are those geezers trying to get you to do now? Another glowing recommendation of their horrendous politics?”

“No, I would actually prefer being told to do that. They’re trying to tell me that I can’t marry Katara because there’s less of a chance of her producing airbender babies,” Aang explained.

“Isn’t that what you want?” Toph asked.

“Well, of course I want to rebuild my nation and I am well aware that their reformation rests solely on my shoulders. But I also want to be with Katara because I am well aware that she is the love of my life,” Aang replied.

“Then tell them that,” Toph shrugged.

“Don’t you think I have? But they’re still trying to set me up with other women before I make any ‘commitment’ to Katara when I already am committed to her. I don’t need a betrothal necklace or a marriage to prove that,” Aang growled.

“I thought you already had a betrothal necklace made for her?” Toph pointed out.

“I do, and they somehow found out about my intentions to propose to Katara and chose to intervene before I did something foolish,” Aang replied.

“See, Twinkle Toes, you like most people still have a lot to learn about politicians. Of course you know that they’re all geezer jerks but these geezer jerks just so happen to know everything. The moment you had the necklace you should’ve just popped the question to Sugar Queen before anyone found out and could try to do something to stop you,” Toph said.

“I realise that now, but even if I did propose to Katara without letting anyone know, they still would’ve tried to stop the wedding,” Aang argued.

“But you would’ve been engaged, so it’s not like they could’ve done much to stop you,” Toph said.

Aang groaned, “I just want to marry Katara.”

“Then do it,” Toph shrugged before exiting the room.

“Always with the helpful advice,” Aang muttered.

Though he did have to admit that Toph had a point, since he could’ve just proposed to Katara and then gotten married as quickly and quietly as possible so that nobody could stop them. Now he was faced with the issue of interfering politicians who were still trying to meddle with his life. Toph hadn’t been that much help, but Aang knew someone that could because it was just their luck that they were in the middle of a diplomatic visit to the Fire Nation.

~*•°•*~ 

As much as being the Avatar had its perks, Aang wished that he could be normal like his friends were. That way he wouldn’t have people constantly interfering with his life and trying to get him to do things that he didn’t want to do. Sometimes, Aang envied how Sokka was free to live the bachelor life as he pleased without the pressure of needing to settle down as soon as possible. The only person that Aang knew who could really understand the position that he was in was Zuko.

Similar to Aang, Zuko was in a relationship with a woman from another nation. Barely a year ago, Zuko had married a woman from the Earth Kingdom named Jin. Aang knew how Zuko’s council had objected to his union, but Zuko had gone ahead and married the girl of his dreams regardless of their interference. Now Aang just wanted to find out how Zuko had been able to do that.

“So, what’s going on that makes you need my help?” Zuko asked as he and Aang sat near one of the many palace balconies.

“I need advice,” Aang grumbled.

“I gathered, but am I really the best person to go to for advice? I don’t exactly have my uncles way with words,” Zuko pointed out.

“Yeah, you’re no Iroh, but you’re the only person who could remotely understand my situation,” Aang said.

Zuko grimaced, “That bad?”

“Yeah, those old geezers keep trying to stop me from marrying Katara,” Aang snapped.

“And so you’re coming to me because I can understand due to my relationship with Jin,” Zuko deduced.

Aang nodded, “I am. How did your council react to you when you first revealed that you were dating her?”

“Well, as I’m sure you remember, nobody knew the exact context of my relationship with Jin until Sokka let it slip to everyone that we were together. They immediately tried to stop it, saying that I was doing a great injustice by soiling the Royal Family bloodline by getting involved with an Earth Kingdom peasant,” Zuko explained.

“How did you get them to accept it?” Aang wondered.

“I didn’t,” Zuko admitted. “My council came to the conclusion that this was yet another way of me rebelling against the country and assumed that our relationship was a hoax. They didn’t actually think that I was serious until I proposed to her.”

“Then what happened after that?” Aang asked.

Zuko shrugged, “They were livid to say the least, since dating an Earth Kingdom peasant was one thing but marrying one was something else entirely. They spent months trying to sabotage our relationship, even going as far to try and get me back together with Mai. I think that they were even about to go as far as organising an assassination for her.”

Aang recoiled in shock, “That’s horrible.”

“I was able to get them to accept it by rationalising the fact that me being married to an Earth Kingdom woman strengthens our strained ties to the Earth Kingdom. Once they realised the benefits of me being with someone like Jin, I think that they were able to come around to the idea of me marrying her,” Zuko said.

“So how should I handle my situation with Katara then? How do I get those interfering politicians to stop trying to sell me off to any of their non-benders?” Aang questioned.

“Try and get them to see the benefits of you being with Katara. One of the first things that I learned as Fire Lord was that the only way to get politicians and leaders to accept something is to make them realise that it benefits them too,” Zuko answered.

“And how do I do that?” Aang asked.

“That’s up to you to figure out,” Zuko replied.

Aang groaned, “You weren’t very helpful. Maybe I would’ve had better luck going to Azula for advice on this.”

“You really think that my sister is the best person to go to for romance advice?” Zuko deadpanned.

“Well, she gives better advice than you do on any other day,” Aang argued.

“She would’ve told you to just kill them all,” Zuko stated.

“At least she would’ve offered me a suggestion even though I wouldn’t have used it!” Aang exclaimed.

Zuko crossed his arms, “For someone who came to me for advice, you’re being ungrateful about it.”

Aang sighed, “I know, and I’m sorry. I just wish that people would stop trying to get in the way of my life.”

“It’s not what we signed up for, but it’s what we got stuck with,” Zuko commented. “The best that we can do is deal with it and tell those interfering geezers where to shove it.”

Humming in agreement, Aang and Zuko continued talking for some time before Zuko got called back in for an important matter, leaving Aang to decide what to do on his own. There was a lot of uncertainty about what Aang would do, but he knew that he wanted to be with Katara. He couldn’t let anyone get in the way of their future after what they had been through to get here. With a sigh, Aang left the balcony and headed off to leave the palace before he was bombarded by Sokka.

“Hey, Aang, you wanna something awesome?” Sokka asked as he quickly dragged Aang away, not even giving him a chance to answer.

“Where are we going?” Aang wondered as he was dragged through the palace.

“Here!” Sokka declared once they reached the palace garden.

“And what’s here that I haven’t seen before?” Aang questioned.

“The ultimate race featuring the ultimate turtle ducks!” Sokka exclaimed as he gestured to several turtle ducks who were on the ground instead of the pond.

“You’re really bored, aren’t you?” Aang remarked.

“Bored out of my mind,” Sokka drawled. “So, with the unlimited free time that I’ve had, I trained the ducks how to race each other! You wanna see them go at it?”

Aang shrugged, “Why not?”

What followed was the most boring race that Aang had ever witnessed as the turtleducks barely managed to get themselves moving, since most of the racers were babies. Despite Sokka’s commentary, it left a lot to be desired and was only able to momentarily take Aang’s mind off of his issue at hand, which Sokka seemed to notice.

“Okay, I get that my turtleduck race wasn’t that exhilarating but couldn’t you have at least faked a little more enthusiasm? I spent hours training these guys,” Sokka said.

“Yay,” Aang said dryly as he waved his arms unenthusiastically.

“Okay, what’s bothering you?” Sokka asked.

Aang sighed, “It’s those damn politicians. They keep on trying to tell me that I can’t marry Katara.”

“You mean you haven’t asked her yet?” Sokka stated.

“If I did, don’t you think that she’d be wearing a new betrothal necklace?” Aang asked.

Sokka shrugged, “You guys could’ve been keeping it a surprise.”

“Well, I should’ve kept my plan to propose a surprise so that those old geezers wouldn’t be able to interfere,” Aang said.

“Even without them knowing that you wanted to propose, they still would’ve brought it up at some point. This isn’t the first time that they’ve been harassing you about marriage,” Sokka commented.

Aang scoffed, “They’ve been wanting me to get married and start pumping out airbender babies from the moment I turned sixteen.”

“The only person who’ll be having your babies is Katara,” Sokka proclaimed.

“She’s the only person that I want to have my babies, but those politicians don’t care about that because they’re just focused on me rebuilding the Air Nomads,” Aang said.

“Isn’t that what you want, though?” Sokka wondered.

“Of course it is,” Aang replied. “But I’ve just been taking this one step at a time, since my first goal was to fix the air temples and I’m almost done with that. I don’t want to have babies just because they want me to, I want to have kids when I’m ready and I’m just not right now.”

“You and me both, buddy,” Sokka remarked.

“I just want to be able to marry Katara in peace, and to not have interfering politicians getting in the way all the time,” Aang said.

“I hear your problems, buddy. Here’s my thoughts. Aang, you seem to be forgetting that you’re the damn Avatar. They can’t tell you what to do. You’re above everyone else!” Sokka exclaimed.

Aang rolled his eyes, “Sokka, the Avatar should not be seen as a figurehead who can do whatever they want. The Avatar should be someone that presents themselves as equal to everyone else.”

“Yeah, yeah. All that aside, you are the Avatar and there isn’t a single official in the world who can get in your way of doing what you want to do. So if you want to marry my sister, do it. We’ve all been waiting long enough for the wedding already. Don’t delay it anymore and don’t care about what those old geezers think,” Sokka said.

“I’m surprised that you’re even encouraging this,” Aang commented.

“I’d resigned myself to the fact that you guys would end up together some day. And that would inevitably mean having babies at one point too. At least then I’d get to be a cool uncle,” Sokka reasoned.

“You’d be the only uncle,” Aang pointed out.

“And I’d love however many that you have. But at least give me one non-bender nephew or niece that I can favour over your bending offspring,” Sokka said.

“We’ll try our best,” Aang chuckled.

“But before you do that, you’ve gotta marry my sister first so just put her and the rest of us out of our misery and propose to her already,” Sokka stated.

“You know what, Sokka. I think I will,” Aang murmured.

“It’s about time. Now, help me train something else around here to do something cool,” Sokka ordered as he yanked Aang away before he could have a second thought.

Although his friends had all offered different opinions, there was one realisation that they had made clear and that was that he had put off proposing to the woman of his dreams long enough. So it was about time that Aang finally popped the question.

~*•°•*~ 

Unable to contain himself any longer, Aang headed straight to the penthouse that he and Katara shared whenever they visited the Fire Nation. Aang didn’t plan on making the actual proposal now, but he definitely planned on making it clear to Katara that he wanted to marry her regardless of what anyone else thought. So when Aang set sight on his hopefully future wife, he headed straight towards her as he tried figuring out what he was going to say.

“Hi, sweetie,” Katara smiled. “How was the meeting?”

“Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Aang said.

Katara frowned, “It’s nothing serious, I hope.”

“I’m not sure, but it’s prompted me to do some serious thinking and I want to share those thoughts with you,” Aang stated.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Katara urged.

Aang sighed, “Some of the council have a big problem with you and I being together.”

“What? Why?” Katara demanded.

“They’re worried about us getting married and that limiting the chances of me presenting any airbender offspring. For the past few months, every politician has been harassing me to get married and start a family with anyone but you even though I’ve made it clear that you’re the only woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with,” Aang explained.

“What!” Katara exclaimed angrily. “That’s outrageous! They can’t control your life like that.”

“Well, they seem to think that they can. They even tried suggesting that we go ahead and get married, but I have a ‘side partner’ who I can make airbender babies with,” Aang said.

“That’s even more outrageous. You better take me to whoever even suggested such a ludicrous idea,” Katara seethed.

“So that you can splint them with icicles? I don’t think so,” Aang said. “And besides, it doesn’t matter. Nothing that they say matters because you’re the only person that I want to be with.”

Katara sighed, “Aang, as much as you say that it doesn’t matter what other people think, it does. You don’t want yourself to be at odds with any of the world leaders and as much as I hate to agree with them on anything, it is kind of important that you rebuild your nation. Don’t you realise that when you’re gone, there’ll be nothing left of the Air Nomads?”

“Now you’re agreeing with them? Just a moment ago you were saying that they were outrageous,” Aang stated.

“I said that they’re ideas are outrageous, but they make good points. Don’t you want a family of airbenders?” Katara asked.

Aang gripped onto her hands tightly, “The only family that I want is with you, regardless if our children can airbend or not. And if they can’t, maybe that’s a sign that the Air Nomads were supposed to die with me.”

“But then what about the Avatar Cycle? Surely there will be another waterbender Avatar, but there won’t be anymore airbender Avatars,” Katara argued.

“Why is this suddenly important to you now? It’s never something that you’ve stressed out on before,” Aang commented.

“It’s important now because you’re bringing it up. As much as I know that you’ll love any children of yours regardless of how they can bend, I know that you don’t really want your people’s legacy to die with you,” Katara said.

“You’re right, I don’t,” Aang agreed. “But if that means having a family with you, and only you, I can accept that. We wouldn’t have to keep on pushing out babies until we got an airbending child. So long as we have healthy and happy children, that’s all that matters.”

“You really want to have that family with me, even if it means that I don’t repopulate the Air Nomads?” Katara asked.

“Katara, you are my family,” Aang insisted.

Katara smiled, “Does this mean that you’re proposing to me? I mean, you’ve basically said that you want to marry me and have children together.”

“I’ve been saying that for years, Katara,” Aang laughed. “But yes, I do want to marry you. And you can consider this like a half-proposal. So we know that we want to get married, but it’s not official yet.”

“And when will the official proposal be?” Katara wondered.

Aang grinned, “That will be a surprise.”

“Which I cannot wait for,” Katara smiled.

Being the Avatar wasn’t without its challenges, that much was clear. But what was clear to Aang was that he had no intentions of spending the rest of his life with anyone but Katara. So it wasn’t long before Aang made his official proposal which just so happened to be down near the South Pole where Aang had met Katara for the first time. Of course Katara said yes, and they would go on to plan their wedding and be married without caring about what anyone had to say.

Chapter Text

Ten years after the War had ended, a lot had changed in the lives of Team Avatar. For the most part, they had all settled down to enjoy the first amount of peace that they’d had in their entire lives. Aang and Katara’s romance had only blossomed and they had gotten married two years ago while Suki and Zuko had also recently gotten married. As for Sokka and Toph, Sokka enjoyed living the bachelor life while Toph was adamant that she would never settle down. The groups friendship had stayed strong so far, and despite the nagging speculation from everyone out there about the status of their relationships, all was well.

So on the tenth anniversary of the end of the war, Team Avatar was having their first official press conference together in Republic City. There had been a lot of developmental changes in the world recently which made it easier for people to access information, especially with the addition of the printing press. Now almost every nation had some form of news outlets, and there was no doubt that the transcript of the highly anticipated press conference with Team Avatar would be hitting shelves everywhere across the world.

“Here for their first official press conference together, Avatar Aang, Lady Katara, Fire Lord Zuko, Fire Lady Suki, Councilman Sokka and Chief Toph Beifong.”

“They could’ve just called us Team Avatar,” Sokka grumbled.

“You know, that never really caught on,” Katara commented.

“It was only ten years ago, on this very day and in this very city that these heroes put an end to Fire Lord Ozai’s tyranny and began a new era of peace in the world. Republic City is the product of the new era, and I’m sure that you all have many questions for its founders and their associates. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a grasp on how they have managed to change the world and just how much has changed in their lives over the last ten years,” the announcer declared.

There had certainly been a big turnout for the event, with more than one hundred people sitting in the crowd, eager to speak with the famous Team Avatar.

“We’ll start off with a Q&A where everyone will get the chance to ask them a few questions about whatever they feel comfortable answering,” the announcer said, with almost everyone in the crowd stepping forward in an effort to be noticed.

“Hi everyone, it’s so wonderful to see you all here for us,” Suki smiled. “Now, we’ll only have time for a couple of questions so we’ll start off with the small man in the front.”

“Yes, thank you,” the man said. “Republic City was only formed over a year ago, and I was wondering what plans do you have to expand the city?”

Zuko cleared his throat before he spoke, “Well, as of now Republic City stands on its own, but we do have plans to expand the city into a bustling metropolis. The city certainly won’t stay on its own forever and we hope to make it into something as big as the other nations.”

“I have a question!” a woman called out.

“You can ask it,” Zuko said.

“With the invention of the printing press, we have more access to news from around the world and it also provides us with a new way of sharing it. There have been a lot of things said about the state of the world recently, and I was wondering if you could shed some light on the feud between Jang Hui and Hing Wa Island?” the woman asked.

“Well, as far as we’re aware there is no feud between those locations, so I do not know where you got that information from,” Katara replied.

“It’s all over the Republic City Post!” someone piped up. “But nobody really cares about that nonsense. What I want to know is what are your thoughts on the shipping wars?”

Sokka spoke before anyone else could, “If you ask me, that’s a lot of nonsense. I’m sure that all of the towns and islands like Jang Hui and Hing Wa Island could come to a sound agreement on how to handle their trading wars. Hing Wa should just stop being stingy and give Jang Hui the appropriate amount of ash bananas.”

The crowd immediately went silent for a few moments, with Sokka glancing around in confusion before the crowd burst into laughter. It took them a few moments to get everyone to be quite again, though Sokka was just confused.

“What? All I did was answer the question? I mean, I know that I’m hilarious but that wasn’t even supposed to be funny!” Sokka exclaimed.

“Um, Sokka, I don’t think that was the kind of shipping wars that they were referring to,” Katara said.

Sokka blinked in confusion, “Well, what other shipping wars are there?”

“Yeah, what were you referring to?” Aang asked.

“Oh my spirits, you guys don’t know?” the person asked, only for the members of Team Avatar to shake their heads simultaneously.

“Don’t you guys know what shipping is?” a man wondered.

“Well, I would assume that by shipping you mean postage, but considering the looks on everyone’s faces, I don’t think that’s it,” Sokka said.

“Shipping is the act of taking an interest in a romantic relationship between fictional characters or actual people,” a girl explained.

“And how does that relate to us?” Toph grunted.

“Well, when I asked my question I meant what are your thoughts on the shipping wars about you guys,” the person who asked the initial question clarified.

“Whoa, wait. There are shipping wars about us?” Katara asked.

“Oh yeah, there’s shipping wars about everything!” a girl chimed in. “You know, the most common shipping war is between the Kataangers and the Zutarians.”

“We have no idea what that is,” Suki deadpanned.

“Wow, for a group of people who are so involved with the state of the world, you guys sure have been living under a rock if you don’t know what Kataang and Zutara is,” someone remarked.

“Wait, wait! I think I got it!” Sokka exclaimed. “Kataang is Katara and Aang’s names mushed together while Zutara is Katara and Zuko’s names mushed together.”

“So, what you’re saying is that people actually ship Katara and I together?” Zuko clarified.

“Of course we do!” a girl yelled. “Why wouldn’t we? You guys would be so hot together!”

“Well, I’m married to Suki and Katara is married to Aang so that’s a pretty good reason not to ship us,” Zuko stated.

“The shippers ship what the shippers want to ship,” the girl argued.

“Why would you even want to ship Zuko and I?” Katara questioned.

“Well, for starters you guys would be the most visually appealing couple that the world has ever seen! Your kids would be gorgeous together, whereas any kids that you have with Mr Avatar will most likely turn out awkward and unappealing,” a Zutara shipper explained. They also happened to be holding a poster of Katara and Zuko together which didn’t go unnoticed by the two on the panel.

“Clearly you don’t know anything about Zuko since he is the epitome of awkwardness,” Katara remarked. “And where did you get that photo of Zuko and I from? There is no way that it exists!”

“It’s called fanart,” someone replied.

“What’s fanart?” Sokka asked.

“It’s art made by fans,” a Kataang shipper replied with sarcasm. “And fanart doesn’t have to be real! But making fake fanart for a ship that never stood a chance is just sad and pathetic, not to mention, disrespectful to Kataang.”

“Of course you would say that! But you wouldn’t be saying that if Zutara had been endgame. You’d be making all of your sad and pathetic fanart without a care in the world,” a Zutara shipper argued.

“Well, isn’t this just fun. A bunch of losers arguing about who Sugar Queen should’ve ended up with when I could think of far more better things to argue about,” Toph jeered.

“You’re just jealous that you don’t have your own ship,” Sokka remarked.

“Actually, she does have her own ship,” said someone who was holding their own poster with Sokka and Toph on it. “There’s a ship for anything these days, and I mean anything. Toph’s most popular ship is Tokka, but there are a few Taangers lingering around, though they would only ship Aang and Toph together if they ship Zutara.”

Aang nearly choked in his seat, “People actually ship me with Toph?”

“What’s wrong with me, Twinkle Toes?” Toph glared at him.

“I didn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. It’s just that there would be so much wrong with us together as a couple, no offence,” Aang reasoned.

“Hey, that argument is completely invalid,” a Taang shipper argued. “Aang and Toph are great friends and would compliment each other very nicely if they were in a romantic relationship. And for your information, I certainly don’t ship that mess Zutara. Now, if you want to talk about a Water Tribe and Fire Nation ship, Zukka is where it’s at.”

“Twinkle Toes would be eaten alive by me in a relationship, so there’s no way in Omashu that we would ever work out,” Toph scoffed.

“Oh, yeah, Zukka is the best gay ship ever!” a Zukka shipper proclaimed. “For a while, I was kinda on the fence about them since Jetko was pretty hot, but since Jet died I claimed Zukka and that is the best decision that I ever made.”

“Wait, you people actually ship me and Zuko together?” Sokka squawked. “What have we done that could possibly make people want to ship us?”

“You’re both awkward messes to start with,” Toph commented.

“Yeah! And you’re both hot warriors,” another Zukka shipper added.

“Why ship Jetko and Zukka when you can ship the trifecta that is Jetzuka?” someone called out.

“No way, the best ship ever invented is Sokka and his boomerang. Talk about a tragic love story. I mean, boomerang sacrificed itself to save Sokka. If that isn’t true love then I don’t know what is!” another person yelled.

“Which is exactly why Zutara is the superior ship compared to that boring Kataang,” a Zutarian said.

“Oh yeah, and why is that?” a Kataanger challenged.  

The Zutarian grinned, “Well, if you ask me, there is no greater trope than enemies to friends to lovers which fits Zutara perfectly. If they were able to put aside their differences to be friends, then surely they could put their similarities together to enter a relationship. Not to mention, Zuko literally risked his life to save Katara. When has Aang ever done anything like that for Katara?”

“Um, countless times. Did you forget that Aang risked unlocking the Avatar State so that he could save Katara when she was captured in Ba Sing Se? And if you ask me, friends to lovers is the better troupe because there is already trust in that relationship whereas with enemies to friends to lovers will always have the drama and the problems from when they were enemies. And can I ask you what differences do Katara and Zuko have? If you ask me, Aang and Katara are more opposites than they are but their opposites compliment each other nicely,” the Kataanger argued.

“You guys talk as if you actually know us,” Katara remarked. “Though I do have to begrudgingly admit that you do have a point about Zuko and I being more alike than Aang and I. We’re both hotheaded, passionate and reckless people. The only thing that really makes us opposites is our bending disciplines. But then Aang and I compliment each other wonderfully. We use our opposites to make our similarities work which is a healthy balance in a relationship.”

“Our queen has spoken!” the Kataangers chorused.

“Katara doesn’t know what she’s saying!” a Zutarian argued. “The Avatar probably put some of his mindbending abilities to use and has tricked Katara into loving him!”

“I would never do that!” Aang proclaimed. “And mindbending isn’t even a thing!”

“Can we just forget about Zutara versus Kataang and focus on the minor ship war that is Tokka and Sukka?” someone called out.

“That could be a three-way battle with Zuki as well!” another person added.

“Well, it’s nice to not be ignored,” Suki remarked.

“How could you be enjoying this mess, Suki?” Katara asked.

Suki sighed, “Well, I’m always pushed to the side when people refer to you guys. So it’s nice to have people talking about me, even if it is over something as stupid as a ship war.”

“Okay, okay, I get shipping me with Suki and her with Zuko since we’re actually couples. But why would people wanna see Toph and I get together?” Sokka wondered.

“Because you guys are another classic friends to lovers trope!” a Tokka shipper yelled. “One of these days, you guys are gonna hook up and have a secret love child and not tell anyone, leaving everyone to speculate the identity of the child’s father with no confirmation. And you guys might not have been together yet, but Toph totally had a crush on you so that counts as grounds for shipping!”

Sokka’s eyes widened as he faced Toph, “You had a crush on me? Why didn’t you say so?”

“Because she probably didn’t wanna Tokka ‘bout it!” someone joked.

Sokka burst into laughter, “Oh man, that was hilarious. I gotta remember that one. Tokka ‘bout it. Clever word play.”

“Can we talk about how easily it is to ship Sokka with anyone?” someone commented. “I mean, he is so shippable that you could picture him with everyone! From Zuko, to Jet, to Suki and Toph. Even Azula! Not to mention, you could even ship him with Katara if they weren’t brother and sister.”

“Same with Azula and Zuko!” someone else chimed in. “They would be so hot together, and I don’t just mean because of their elements. Plus, remember that time Zuko went to see her after he came home? You can’t tell me that they didn’t fuck after that confrontation.”

“Because we didn’t!” Zuko yelled.

“Now I see what they meant when people can ship anything,” Katara remarked.

“I don’t know what’s worse, being shipped with Jet or Azula,” Sokka shuddered.

“What about being shipped with Sugar Queen?” Toph suggested.

Sokka grimaced, “Yeah, that would be worse.”

“I can’t believe how disgusting some of you are with your ships,” a Zutarian scoffed.

“Says you,” a Kataanger snarled. “How could you possibly ship Katara with someone who chased her around the world and tried to kill her multiple times? Not to mention, he attacked her village and literally betrayed her for his evil sister! Aang never did that. Yeah, he screwed up sometimes but he made up for his mistakes in the end. Have you forgotten how Katara was literally prepared to abandon her entire village for him, but Aang didn’t want her to do that?”

“How could you possibly ship Katara with a child?” another Zutarian argued. “You can talk about friends to lovers all you want, but the fact that Katara basically mothered Aang throughout their entire journey together is kinda weird.”

“Okay, I won’t be the first to say that Katara is the mothering type,” the Kataanger agreed.

“Hey!” Katara protested.

“Oh, you know that you’re a motherer,” Toph said.

But, Katara mothered everyone, not just Aang. And you can’t tell me that her mothering was different with Aang. She mothered him because she cared about him. You didn’t see her ever mothering Zuko because, oh right, she spent practically their entire journey together hating him while she loved Aang so suck on that!,” the Kataanger proclaimed as the other Kataangers erupted in a fit of applause.

“Okay, can we please get this press conference back on track?” Aang said, only to be ignored.

“I bet that there wouldn’t be this much drama about shipping wars if there weren’t so many hetero ships around,” a Zukka shipper grimaced.

“Not everything can be gay to satisfy your gay needs,” a Kataanger remarked. “I mean, you can’t deny that some of your gay ships would be severely problematic which could lead to a hundred year war!”

“What gay ship has resulted in a hundred year war?” the Zukka shipper asked.

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku?” the Kataanger replied. “You can’t tell me that there wasn’t more than friendship between those two. If you ask me, the reason why Sozin became so anti-gay was because he got rejected by Roku and he didn’t know how to handle rejection. Why else would he have had a child so late in life?”

“You know, I never really thought about it that way, but that is a very reasonable theory,” Aang commented.

“Now we’re really getting off-topic if we’re gonna talk about a hundred year old ship,” a Zutarian remarked. “We’ll get back to the press conference if the Kataangers admit that their ship is inferior and a fraud.”

“Well, then you better order some toilets and fire flakes because we’re gonna be here forever with that ultimatum,” a Kataanger proclaimed.

“I just wish that we could all get along like we used to before the shipping wars. I wish that I could bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles so we could all eat it and be happy,” a non-shipper declared, only to be met with silence.

“She’s not even from our world!” someone called out.

“Are you even from this world?” Sokka asked.

“I just have a lot of feelings…” the non-shipper replied.

“Could someone just get her out of here?” Katara wondered.

“Could you Zutarians just admit that you are wrong to ship the most unhealthiest ship of all ships!” a Kataanger yelled.

“What’s so wrong about Zutara? Can’t we just make ourselves miserable by obsessing over a ship that wasn’t made cannon in peace?” a Zutarian yelled.

“I could give you a million reasons why Katara and Zuko should not be together. But, I’ll give you my biggest one first. What is so healthy about a ship where one of them tried to kill the other and that same person also betrayed the other person in said ship and later encouraged the same person to commit murder?” a Kataanger argued.

“Oh my Spirits, don’t even get me started on that!” another Kataanger agreed. “What right did Zuko have to encourage Katara to murder the man who killed her mother? You wanna know something else. Even Zuko admitted that he didn’t know what Katara needed and that Aang did. Aang and Sokka knew what was best for Katara while Zuko could not even begin to understand that which is why Kataang is the superior ship.”

“Okay, clearly they’re just gonna keep on going here,” Katara commented.

“I’m beginning to think that this press conference was a waste of time,” Aang added.

“It wasn’t a complete waste of time. Honeysuckle got some validation, and we got to watch a bunch of weirdos fight over who we should’ve ended up with. I say that we got enough from this,” Toph stated.

“Should we… stop them?” Zuko asked as the fan war started to become more violent.

“Nah, we should leave them to fight it out amongst themselves,” Sokka said.

“Let’s just get out of here,” Suki stated, with everyone agreeing as they followed her out, just as several chairs were thrown at their table.

“Lucky we missed that,” Katara said.

Although they were all happy and satisfied with their current relationships, there was no denying the awkwardness that had formed amongst the group as a result of the fan war that they had just experienced. Of course Sokka was the one to diffuse the tension with a poorly timed joke.

“Hey, why doesn’t Toph ever mention her parents?” Sokka wondered.

“Because it’s none of our business?” Katara suggested.

“Cause she doesn’t wanna Tokka ‘bout it!” Sokka joked.

He was promptly elbowed in the rib.

Chapter Text

Staring at the piece of paper in her hands with a scowl, Katara scrunched it up into a ball before throwing it into the bin. The piece of paper had been an invitation to a Christmas party, and Katara had no intentions of wasting her time with something like that. To say that Katara didn’t like Christmas was a complete understatement. She hated it.

Truth be told, Katara hadn’t always hated Christmas. As a young girl, it was her favourite holiday and she would always stay up late on Christmas Eve and wake up bright and early on Christmas day to enjoy the festivities. However, Katara’s love for the holiday ended when her mother was killed in a home invasion on Christmas Eve when she was thirteen. Ever since then, Katara hated Christmas and wanted nothing to do with the holiday.

After her mother died, Katara resented Christmas with a passion and could never bring herself to celebrate it. The last time that Katara had truly celebrated Christmas was the year before her mother was killed. It was too hard for Katara to think about anything other than the grief that she felt around Christmas, so Katara did everything she could to distract herself from the painful holiday. Ever since Katara got her first job, she always made sure to work around Christmas. Despite the endless amount of invites to parties and get togethers, Katara wanted nothing to do with it.

At age twenty, Katara was a university student working at a delivery centre that worked for charitable organisations. She’d been working there for two years now and her job was to organise the deliveries and make sure that everything got done right to her bosses specification. On the 23rd of December, Katara showed up to work and was ready to get her work done. Though her boss, Iroh, had different plans for her.

“Ah, Katara. Just the girl I was hoping to see,” Iroh smiled warmly at her.

“What do you need me for, Sir?” Katara asked.

“We’re down on staff for today, so I was hoping that you wouldn’t mind delivering the required shipments to the homeless shelter,” Iroh said.

“I’d be happy to help,” Katara replied.

“Good, because I could certainly use it,” Iroh chuckled.

When it came to her boss, he was always a joyful man. In some ways, he reminded Katara of Santa Claus, though she tried to banish those thoughts from her mind. As promised, Katara took over that job for Iroh and gathered the supplies that they were required to send to the homeless shelter as part of their charity organisation.

“Oh, and Katara. I’m not sure if you’ve heard but I’m giving the entire office Christmas off,” Iroh said.

Katara’s eyes widened, “What? Why? What about the deliveries?”

“I’m making sure that we get them done before Christmas. A lot of the staff have been working overtime lately so they deserve to have some time with their families. You should spend it with yours too,” Iroh explained.

Little did Iroh know, Katara barely had any family to celebrate with. She’d moved to a different state for university and since Katara had always worked on Christmas from when she’d gotten her first job at fifteen, she had not made any plans to go home to see her father. As for her brother Sokka, although they both attended the same university, he jumped at any chance to go out and get wasted on Christmas so there was no point in joining him. She supposed that they’d always had different coping mechanisms. Hers was to distract herself with work, while his was to distract himself by making him forget the pain.

So no matter how much Katara didn’t want to, it looked like she’d be spending Christmas alone. At least when she worked it was easier to distract herself. But when she was alone, Katara would have no choice but to be reminded of the aching hole in her heart. The realisation of not being able to work on Christmas certainly soured Katara’s mood, so she begrudgingly saddled up the crates in the delivery truck and headed towards the homeless shelter.

As always at this time of the year, every radio station had some sort of Christmas song on it. At one point, Katara resorted to turning off the radio entirely after she resigned herself to travelling in silence. The less she could think about the fact that it was Christmas, the better.

When Katara arrived at the homeless shelter, she started unpacking the boxes of food and supplies that she was supposed to deliver to them. One habit that Katara had when it came to work was over-estimating her abilities, which is what she did when she piled too many crates together and ended up dropping them all onto the ground.

“Damnit,” Katara muttered as she went to pick them up.

“Let me help you, Miss,” a voice said.

“Don’t call me Miss,” Katara snapped.

“Then what is your name?” they asked.

“You don’t need to know,” Katara replied.

“Well, my name is Aang,” the boy replied.

“Thank you for your help, Aang,” Katara drawled. “Now, would you by any chance know where I am supposed to take these deliveries for the homeless shelter?”

“Oh, you’re Iroh’s girl then. He called an hour ago saying that he’d have someone else bring the stuff over,” Aang said.

“So, help me then,” Katara ordered.

“Right this way,” Aang replied.

It was clear that this Aang guy worked at the homeless shelter as he lead Katara inside and took care of the deliveries for her. One thing that wasn’t clear was why Katara felt this sense of familiarity towards Aang. There was a certain pang in her chest as Katara looked around the homeless shelter. What she didn’t feel was sympathy for them, what she felt was sympathy for herself. How could they possibly spend their time at a homeless shelter that was a permanent reminder of what they didn’t have? Pushing those thoughts aside, Katara turned her scrutinising gaze back to Aang who took notice of this.

“Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have something on me?” Aang asked.

“Um, no, it’s just… you look familiar,” Katara said.

“Oh well, what is your name then?” Aang pressed.

Katara sighed, “Katara.”

Aang gasped, “Katara? Katara Chen?”

“Yes,” Katara nodded. “Do we know each other?”

“Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten me,” Aang said.

“Sorry…” Katara trailed off.

Aang sighed, “Katara, we’d known each other for six years from when you were five. We were neighbours until I moved.”

“Oh, Aang Liu?” Katara realised.

“The very same,” Aang grinned. “I can’t believe that you forgot me.”

“Well, it has been almost a decade since I last saw you, so you can’t blame me for forgetting you,” Katara reasoned.

“True,” Aang agreed. “So, how have you been? What are you up to?”

“I’ve been… okay. I’m not up to much a part from university. I’m in my sophomore year,” Katara replied.

“Well, I’m about to graduate from school,” Aang said.

Katara smiled awkwardly, “Well, it was nice seeing you again. I should be heading back to my work.”

“Of course,” Aang nodded. “But, we should totally meet up sometime. How about tomorrow or Christmas day? Are you free then? Because we could use an extra set of hands around here.”

“Oh… um, I’m busy on Christmas,” Katara lied.

“But doesn’t your family live in a different state?” Aang pointed out.

“I’m still busy,” Katara said through her clenched teeth.

“Well, if you change your mind, I’ll be here,” Aang mumbled, and the disappointment was evident on his face.

Katara scoffed, “Why even bother with this place? For some people it’s just a reminder of what they don’t have.”

“But it’s still good to help people,” Aang argued.

“It’s unfathomable to me how homeless people can leach off of people. Don’t they have enough reminders that they’re poor?” Katara muttered.

Aang scowled at her, “If you have nothing more to do here, then you can leave.”

Not needing to be told twice, Katara gathered herself and left the homeless shelter. Once she was back in the delivery truck, Katara broke down in tears as she felt the guilt about what she had said looming over her. Katara didn’t have anything against homeless people, she really didn’t. It was unfortunate how many people weren’t able to support themselves due to circumstance. Those words had come from a place of grief from Katara, because just like they would be reminded of their unfortunate situation, she would be reminded of the fact that she had no mother to spend Christmas with.

~*•°•*~ 

That night, Katara struggled to get some sound sleep. Her bitter words from earlier seemed to be echoing in her mind. Was this some kind of punishment for being a bitch? When Katara decided to get a glass of water, she just about had a heart attack when she saw someone sitting on the edge of her bed. Though it wasn’t just anyone.

It was her mother.

“M-mom?” Katara cried.

“Hello, my sweet girl,” her mother smiled.

“H-how? What? Y-you’re dead,” Katara stammered.

“I’m here to help you, pumpkin,” Kya said.

“With what?” Katara asked.

“You will see,” Kya stated as she moved next to Katara. “Now, take my hand.”

There were a million thoughts racing through Katara’s mind. This was obviously some sort of ethereal occurrence. But how could this be? Despite her caution, Katara still reached for her mothers hand, choking back a sob as she felt her mother’s familiar touch.

In an instant, Katara felt herself being pulled away and taken into some type of dramatic pull. It was the most bizarre sensation that Katara had ever felt. It was almost like being on a rollercoaster ride. When it stopped, Katara found herself looking into a room. Though it wasn’t just any room. It was the living room of her childhood home. A gasp escaped from Katara as her gaze landed on her younger self on the floor. She turned to her mothers ghostly form before turning back to the scene as her mother made an appearance.

“Katara, sweetie, what are you doing?” her mother in the scene asked.

“I’m making presents!” Katara’s younger self exclaimed.

“For who?” her mother wondered.

“Aang told me how some people don’t get presents on Christmas and that made me feel horrible. How could people not get presents, mom? So, Aang told me how he and his family donate their presents to charity so I wanted to make some too!” young-Katara said.

Her mother smiled, “That’s a wonderful thing to do, sweetie.”

Katara turned to Kya, “Why am I seeing this?”

“Because you need a reminder of how Christmas used to make you feel,” Kya replied. “You loved Christmas, Kat. You loved the spirit of it and celebrated it with happiness every year. You always helped Aang give back to people because it was part of the giving spirit in Christmas.”

“We did have fun together,” Katara murmured. She did miss those fun times with Aang. But time wasn’t the same now. Katara was different, and Aang could see that for himself.

Katara felt the pull again as it felt like she was being taken to another place. This time, she was back at the homeless shelter where she had just been only hours ago. It was Christmas, and Katara instantly found Aang at the head of the food bank as he handed out the donations with a smile on his face. As the day went on, Katara watched in amazement as the homeless people wore smiles on their faces as they received donated gifts.

“Why am I seeing this?” Katara asked her mother.

“Because you need a reminder that you can still celebrate Christmas despite the pain that the holiday brings,” her mother replied. “Look at these people. They barely have anything and can hardly afford to give gifts to their loved ones. They have to accept gifts without being able to give anything in return, being reminded of what they don’t have.”

“They could still change it,” Katara argued. “They could turn their lives around and have a happy Christmas on their own merits. I can never have a happy one again because you’re not here.”

“You can still replace the bad memories with good ones,” her mother said. “If you don’t, then look at what could happen to you.”

In an instant, the setting changed again. This time, Katara was in a rundown apartment. It was clear that Katara had aged quite a bit here. She certainly wasn’t young anymore, since her face bore a few wrinkles and her hair was beginning to turn grey. One thing that Katara noticed was how… alone she was. The woman resembling her older self had no zest or spark for life. She just looked miserable and alone.

“But… I don’t understand,” Katara murmured.

There was a knock on the door and Katara watched as her older-self went to answer it. Katara was surprised to see Aang on the other side of the door. Like her, he certainly looked a little bit more on the older side. Only he seemed a lot more happier than Katara’s older-self did.

“Hey, Katara,” Aang smiled brightly. “We’re having Christmas lunch now, and I was wondering if you would like to join us?”

“No, I don’t want to. Now leave me alone,” her older-self snapped as she rudely slammed the door in his face.

It quickly became apparent to Katara just how bitter and lonely her older-self was. She was lonely and sad, that much was clear. But Katara refused to accept that this was all her future could entail because how could it? Sure, Katara might be a real grinch around Christmas but that couldn’t mean that she would be miserable all the time.

“How could this be?” Katara asked.

“If you continue on the path that you are on, the bitterness and resentment will consume you. You will not let people in and you will stay alone without anyone,” her mother replied.

“No, I won’t be like this. This can’t be my future,” Katara insisted. “Surely there will be someone? I can’t be alone forever.”

“You need to learn to let people in, Katara. Otherwise there will be no room for anyone else,” her mother said.

Let people in.

Let people in.

Those three words repeated themselves in an echo as Katara found herself being sucked in again. All of a sudden, Katara found herself lunging forward in her bed in a fit. She instantly looked around for any sign of her mother, but found none. As the realisation of her dream sunk in, Katara burst into tears as she remembered what she had seen with her mother.

That night, Katara cried herself to sleep for the first time since she was thirteen.

~*•°•*~ 

On Christmas day, Katara approached the homeless shelter with caution. In her hands were boxes of presents and food that she had spent the previous day buying just for this occasion. Katara didn’t know how Aang would respond to her, since she hadn’t exactly been the best person when she first saw him after nearly ten years. She supposed that she’d deserve a cold shoulder for being a bit of a bitch.

Bracing herself for the worst, Katara headed into the homeless shelter and made her presence known to Aang when he had his back turned to her. The surprise on his face was evident when he saw her, though Katara was hoping that it was good surprise.

“Hi,” she whispered. “Am I too late to join the fun?”

“Of course not,” Aang replied after a moment of silence.

They spent the rest of Christmas day helping the homeless, and Katara did have to admit that it brought a rare smile to her face to see people happy when they got their gifts. It was a feeling that Katara hadn’t felt in so long, and she was happy to have it again. Although she and Aang didn’t really talk much, Katara could still feel him watching her throughout the day. It wasn’t until the donation time was over and they were packing up shop that they had a chance to speak.

“So, you certainly seemed a lot happier today,” Aang commented as they packed up the boxes. “What changed your attitude?”

“I needed a reminder of what was important. And what’s important is giving people a good Christmas even though I can’t have one,” Katara replied. “So, I would like to apologise for my harsh words the other day. I imagine that they didn’t come from the girl that you remembered me as.”

“They didn’t,” Aang nodded. “The Katara I knew was a loving and giving person who would never mock someone in a poor situation. So, what changed?”

Katara sighed as she fought back the tears that always came up when she talked about her mother, “My mother died.”

“Oh,” Aang said.

“It was when I was thirteen. On Christmas Eve. Ever since then, I’ve hated Christmas and have never wanted anything to do with the holiday,” Katara confessed.

“Yet you’re here today,” Aang commented.

“Truth be told, this is the first Christmas since she died that I’ve actually done something. I’d just sworn off it and never celebrated the holiday,” Katara said.

“I think that your mother would want you to be happy and enjoy this time rather than resent it just because she’s not here,” Aang stated.

“She said something similar to me in a dream,” Katara muttered.

“So, now that our paths have crossed again, what do you say we keep in touch now?” Aang asked.

Katara smiled, “I’d like that.”

And they certainly did. One thing for sure was that Katara would never allow herself to spend another Christmas being alone and bitter. Especially not when she had Aang to spend it with now.