Ch 3: Intentions
Aang had kept a clear distance between everyone, Katara had managed to get into the room Aang had locked himself in; he was mediating.
âAang, I can understand if you donât want to talk but this is a big burden.â Katara spoke softly, she leaned in and kissed his cheek and Aangâs concentration broke. He half-heartedly smiled at Kataraâs sneaky method. She knew it would make him immobile for a second as well.
âAs much as I want to say Sokka was out of line when he said…when he said those things but,â Katara sat beside Aang and held his hand. âHe was right…when that storm broke out and we were stuck in the cave, you seemed extremely brief, not only that but you stumbled through the story. I didnât want to question it because I canât imagine how it must feel…â Katara trailed off not wanting to finish the sentence.
Aang looked into Kataraâs eyes, âI love you…â He smiled.
Katara smiled back and squeezed his hand, âJust wanted you to know that Iâm here.â She began to stand to leave but Aang held onto her hand. The slight surprise was reflected in
Kataraâs eyes, she sat back down and Aang sighed deeply.
âIn truth I canât remember what happened…I remember the monks sitting down with the students for the meditation ceremony and then screams. As I look up I only see a wave of water crashing down on me, Iâm on Appa and we are caught in a massive storm… Iâve told Roku about this and all he says is that my memory has been cleared of burden; he said the monks used a form of Energybending to erase that part of my memory and the rest was because of the time I had been in the iceberg…â Aang was starring at the floor, his eyes were misty and his lip trembled.
âIf I try really hard I can picture an older woman and her husband. I can see them holding a baby in a cloth, another girl and boy my age holding onto their robes; calling over to me. The little pieces I can remember….they are only of me and Monk Gyatso training. I remember the temple, my travels to Kuzon and Bumi, my tattooing session and meeting Appa. Everythingâs so clouded though; anything I think about too much just becomes harder to remember…â
Katara moved closer to him to embrace him, âAnd in the spirit world…those were Nomads?â
Aang nodded, âI donât know what they wanted but Roku warned me to stay away from their ghosts…I remember that Monk Gyatso and some other Nomad had tried contacting me before…they tried on the day of Sozanâs comet. The day I disappeared to look for them, I found the lion turtle instead and he showed me how to use Energybending…â
âYou think that the lion turtle wanted you to use it to find your memories?â Katara suggested.
Aang nodded, âI tried getting help from the other Avatarâs that day, all of them wanted me to kill the Firelord; even the Air Nomad Avatar.â
âThen why would the Nomads guide you to the one thing that could help you avoid it?â
Aang shrugged, âThe lion turtle told me that Energybending was used in the time before the Avatar…maybe my past lives didnât even know about it either…â
âThat Guru…didnât you say that he could feel your thoughts with touch?â Katara offered, she was stretching it a bit but she wanted to help Aang understand this and more than anything she wanted to understand him.
Aangâs eyes widened, âYeah…Guru Pathik knew about Energybending, he had to have known because thatâs how he read the emotions so easily…â
Within an hour Aang had explained to everyone his intentions to visit Guru Pathik, Sokka didnât meet Aangâs eyes while he talked and Aang wanted it that way. He never suspected Sokka would be so bothered by his past but in a way he was threatened that Sokka was reverting back to the way he first did when Aang first got out of that iceburg.
âSo you can take memories away with Energybending too?â Zuko asked, his eyes were swimming with hope and almost immediately Aang knew what Zuko meant.
âWhy would he need to?â Sokka asked, it was obvious that Mai, Suki and himself didnât understand…
âAzula has had a twisted childhood…maybe if she forgot it she could become sane…â Zuko explained.
Mai scowled, âYeah letâs just fix her back up so she can finish you and Aang off like she almost did last time!â
Katara looked at Zuko; his face was caught between hate and love for his sister. Their family was surely not an easy one to deal with. âIt might hurt her more than it helps her…â She directed this at Aang. âFor all we know you could be in more misery missing the memories than if you could remember them.â
âWe donât know that, I donât even know that, and if it would take the burden off of Azula maybe the other nations would be able to see how even Azula was a pawn in Ozaiâs plans.â Aang admitted.
Mai snorted, âI canât say that Azula hasnât had a rough childhood but I can say that sheâs always had a pleasure in pain, we all saw how she smiled anytime she was defeating her enemies or toying with them.â
âWhat if you took her bending away and then her memories, she would be less of a threat if she were to go rogue…â Suki sounded skeptical of her own plan but everyone knew that Aang had a weakness for giving people second chances.
âSo Azulaâs memories are a burden but Aangâs memories arenât?â Toph asked.
Aangâs heart dropped, he had hoped no one would bring this up…
âItâs just that…â Katara began
âJust what? Aang lost his people and from what we can tell, he was there to see it. If those memories are too horrible isnât this amnesia protecting him? Who says Aang wonât go Avatar state on the Fire Nation after seeing what actually happened. He might even want to go after the other nations since technically no one helped the Nomads.â Tophâs cool tone showed that she was only being helpful but the frustration practically emitted from Aangâs body.
âI wonât hurt anyone.â Aang replied in a stern voice.
âYou spared Ozaiâs life; that was amazing considering what happened…what if you only spared him because you didnât really remember what happened? What if your humanity and humility towards your enemies goes away after this?â Mai confessed.
âMy people didnât even have a military force, we were peaceful, we understood the corruption in revenge and we understood above all that life was precious.â Aang defended.
âMaybe you should just give wait to see Guru Pathik…at least for a few more days to make sure this is really what you want to do.â Katara calmed.
Aang looked at his friends and slowly nodded, âI suppose.â
The rest of the day consisted of sparing sessions. First up, Sokka went up against Suki, although they were both neck-in-neck for awhile Sokka eventually nailed in a sneak attack with boomerang. He then versed Mai who took him out quickly; from there she went for Katara.
While those four rested Zuko and Aang spared.
Katara and Sokka were particularly interested if the two had changed tactics after being in battle with each other for so long and that Aang promised to only use Airbending.
Zuko started off with a rippled of fire across the grass, Aang easily flipped over it and with that motion, the wind blew out the fire. Zuko kicked forward, two fire blats were sent over to Aang and Aang ducked to avoid the first jumped to avoid the other.
âYouâre holding back Twinkle-toes!â Toph yelled.
Zuko rolled forward and advanced towards Aang, he sent a few bullets if fire at Aang and then dived to the side to come up on one knee to sent two more.
Aang inhaled seconds before the bullets reached him, his instincts took over. Aang swept his feet over and easily dodged the bullets, his circular evasive manoeuvres made it extremely difficult for Zuko to keep his distance and still aim properly with the fire. He eventually gave up the distance and moved in, as he did a grin spread on Aangâs face.
Katara felt goose-bumps; she knew that Aang wanted Zuko to close in.
As soon as Zuko got within distance, he used his hands to make a wall of fire.
Aang lowered his stance and in a half-moon motion his feet moved around Zuko, within seconds he had his hand relaxed on Zukoâs back.
Zuko tried to face Aang but Aangâs movements were too fluid and graceful to be beat. When Zuko tried rolling forward to get out of the block Aang used his air-scooter to swing around to face Zuko.
Zukoâs expression showed Aang that he was caught off guard, without hesitation he waved his arms in a tight circular formation and then pushed forward, the air spun Zuko around while knocking him back.
Aang helped Zuko up and Zuko smiled, âToph, your turn.â
Toph beamed, âAlright Twinkle-toes, letâs see if you have gotten soft!â
This time everyone was locked on the two, a match of the opposing elements. Two true masters facing each other.
Toph didnât make the first move, Aang did. He flipped forward and tried aiming his feet at Toph; she had already felt the vibrations and her arm shot out followed by a slab of rock.
Aang was knocked down immediately, he pushed himself up with Airbending and then reverted back to circular patterns of movements, about a half an hour later, Toph and Aang were still dodging defensively while occasionally throwing in the offensive.
Aang plopped down on the ground and Toph kicked up the dirt sending him flying up and crashing down.
âRock beats Airbender!â Sokka teased.
Aang slowly stood panting and rubbing his back where Toph had catapulted him. He bowed to Toph and Toph bowed to him, everyone moved in to help them get water and wipe themselves off from the sweat and dirt.
âEnough of sparing, we should make teams and play a sport!â Suki suggested enthusiastically.
Mai raised an eyebrow, âLike what kind of sport?â
âAir-ball is out of the question.â Aang joked referring to Sokka who blushed deeply at the time when he had played it against Aang and lost 0-7.
Everyone remained silent in thought until Sokka gasped. Everyone looked at him expectantly.
âRedemption, that game Aang made up to make the Gan Jinâs and Zhangâs stop feuding in the canyon!â
Zuko, Mai, Suki and Toph all starred at Sokka with confusion.
Aang smiled, âToph, we need a courtyard and a ball.â
Toph shrugged indifferently and made up a large rectangular field, she carved a rock to form into a ball and held it up.
âTeams?â Sokka asked.
âGirls vs. Boys.â Mai suggested.
Everyone agreed even though the girls would be at an advantage with one more person on their team.
âThe goal is to get the ball across the opposing boundary while holding it.â Katara quickly explained.
Zuko grinned, âThis game got two tribes to stop fighting?â
âMore or less.â Aang smirked.
Katara and the other girls moved on their side of the field and the boys on theirs. The ball was placed directly in the centre, âGoâ Toph yelled.
The boys ran for the ball, the girls did too all but Toph who stayed behind waiting.
As soon as Sokka picked up the ball Toph sent the land beneath him skyrocketing. Sokka flailed and threw the ball to Zuko who was confronted by Mai. She slid underneath Zuko and tripped him.
Aang flipped over Mai while gracefully taking the ball; of course Katara stood in his way and grinned playfully. Aang started running for the line when she opened her pouch and shot the water at his feet, freezing it Aang stumbled and Suki grabbed the ball.
Sokka stopped rubbing his sore butt and ran after her as she made a break for it. Zuko wasnât far behind, focusing more on blocking Mai from any possible assist.
Aang and Katara blocked each other, hoping to do the same.
Sokka tackled Suki and managed to throw the ball at Zuko, Toph sent a rock at him and the ball flew from his hands into Maiâs. She kicked the ball up in the air and Aang took that as his unofficial clue to go after it.
He used a powerful Airbending move to launch himself upwards; he caught sight of it and pulled it towards him with Earthbending. From there he was falling back down.
He could see Mai had changed to block Sokka who was acting as a defense on their side of the field. Zuko and Katara were shoving each other out of the way, but Zuko was still close to the boundary, Toph was smiling from ear to ear waiting for Aang to land, he knew she would use her moves to get the ball to her teammates. Suki was prepared as a defense on her side of the field…
Aang had decided, he landed and as he did he felt the ground beneath him begin to rise, he threw the ball to Zuko and he dived for it, using Firebending as a block to Kataraâs advancement, she had no choice but to step back and protect her from the flames.
Zuko made a run for the boundary and Toph drilled her heel into the ground making sure Zuko tripped.
Suki rolled forward and got the ball, she threw it to Mai who wrestled with Sokka for it. Eventually Sokka came out with it and Toph simply raised her arm and a chunk of the ground knocked him back.
Hours passed by, so far the boys had gotten three points and the girls had four due to Tophâs relentless Earthbending. The only reason the gang didnât continue to play was the call of a hawk in the distance.
They all paused and watched as it flew towards Mai, she opened the letter and groaned. Zuko moved beside her to read why.
Hey Mai, the Harmony Restoration Movement is going well except the colony your father is governing. It would mean the world if you could stop by and persuade him to cooperate, maybe even let him know that he may get a place in the palace since you are dating Zuko am I right?
Your best friend,
Mai shrugged, âShouldnât keep her waiting, itâs been fun and all guys but I really need to take care of this.â
âHere Iâll come with you.â Zuko offered.
âNo, you should spend a little more time relaxing, I wonât be more than three days and thatâs really all the time you can spend away from your nation Firelord Zuko.â She smiled at his title.
Zuko kissed Mai and she headed for the pier where a few Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom boats were docked.
âWhere is she going?â Suki asked curiously.
Zuko felt a little embarrassed for not reading the letter out loud for everyone else. âTy Lee and some other Kyoshi warriors are still helping evict the colonies, Maiâs father is being a little difficult and Ty Lee thinks that Mai can give him a nudge in the right direction.â
Toph smiled, âLast I heard they werenât even starting to pack, for once itâs great to know I was wrong.â
âYeah, we are just a step closer to peace.â Aang commented.
The friends spent the last few hours of sunlight working on their plans for after the vacation they were having. Sokka and Katara planned to go back to the Southern Water Tribe to help Master Pakku and the others rebuilt and build things to improve it.
Toph admitted to wanting to go back to Gaoling and see her parents, Suki wanted to join her fellow Kyoshi warriors in the HR movement but agreed to visit Sokka in the Southern Water Tribe as soon as she was finished. Zuko obviously had to get back to the Fire Nation to run it, the people were going to need support since all of the colonials would need housing, Aang offered up the Western Air Temple so that they would have a place to stay in the meantime.
Katara seemed upset that Aang was going to travel to the Eastern Air Temple alone to see Guru Pathik instead of go to the South Pole but she figured the Guru was very old and didnât have more than a few years before he would pass on. Aang needed all the time possible to learn about the things he would have had he not run away and had the Fire Nation not murdered his people… That and the idea of Aang finding out about the lost memories he so badly missed, although no one commented on it, they still thought it was a bad idea to try and remember them.
By the time the sun had set everyone was in their little huts. Appa was found sleeping on a pile of hay while Momo munched on some berries from the nearby trees. Aang smiled at them as he passed by. He and Katara shared a hut, they both werenât sexually active for the reasons that Aang was only 13 and they both agreed that they werenât ready for something that mature. That didnât stop them from cuddling and the occasional smooch before they went to bed together.
On the other hand Sokka and Suki were in their own hut probably doing just what Aang and Katara werenât doing…
Zuko fell asleep near Appa since he didnât really like the lonely hut where Mai would have been had she not left for the colony her father was at. He wasnât talking about it but Zuko really had a problem with the colonies. On one hand he knew how much of a home it was to his people, how some had even made peace with the Earth Kingdom people there and they prospered together because of it. Yet there was the issue of his oath to the Earth King, how peace was believed to be in the restoration of the land and as much as the colonists wanted to say 100 years of life in the Earth Kingdom made it their home, countless centuries before this one would say otherwise.
Toph in her hut got to sleep easily much like Katara and Aang, yet she was still troubled by the idea of her parents welcoming her back to a life of suppression and over-protection. She desperately hoped that her parents would see her part in ending the war as her proof that she was more than a blind girl and that as their daughter she needed love not lies.
Aang opened his eyes, much like the day before Sozanâs comet he heard chanting, he stood listening for the source.
Katara rubbed her eyes in response the chilling breeze where the Avatarâs warm body used to be.
âAang?â She asked in a tired mumble. She walked out the hut and stopped Aang, âAre you okay, are you sleep walking?â
Aang looked at Katara with his sleepy eyes and then back at the field; the hilltop had a cold breeze blowing viciously, âI think there is something down there.â He admitted.
Zuko looked out at Katara and Aang, he had not slept yet and knew that at the rate he was going, his troubles would be keeping him up longer. He got up and followed, Appa grunted in his sleep and Katara turned, âHey, youâve been awake?â
Zuko nodded, âWhatâs wrong?â
âApparently Aang saw something down thereâ, Katara pointed down to the field and they walked to Aang who had stopped in the middle.
âI donât get it…â Aang whispered as the chanting stopped abruptly.
A flash of blue came from beside the three and they took fighting stances in alarm.
âAggression, your choice.â The blue figure spoke in a low and gravelly voice. As the figureâs features became less blurry Aang and his friends gasped. More multiplied from the spiritâs body and they all advanced on them, without a word they began to attack.
Sokka jumped at the sound of a yell, he shook Suki and got out of bed. Grabbing his boomerang and sword he stormed out of his hut and found that Toph was already up having felt Sokkaâs vibrations, âWhatâs going on?â Toph asked sleepily.
âItâs just over the hill.â Sokka guessed.
Sokka drew his sword, his face filled with confusion as he ran towards the loud explosions that had begun without warning. The Earth Kingdom was cooler with the fall setting in; his breath formed a mist as he kept his pace steadily towards the top of the hill. Suki wasnât far behind; she called out to Toph who was running at a slightly slower pace.
Sokka froze at the top of the hill, below was the clearing and his eyes widened trying to absorb the chaos of it.
Suki joined Sokka and her jaw dropped, Toph paused as well.
âIt feels like Zuko, Katara and Aang practising their bending….â Toph waited impatiently for Sokka or Suki to explain their awed state.
Sokka inhaled sharply. âAre they…..spirits?â
The ghost-like people dodged several of Kataraâs ice blocks which she threw desperately.
Shades of transparently blue-outlined figures attacked Katara and Zuko with what seemed to be fierce dancing?! No it was circular movements; it appeared as a dance but it became clear to Sokka, these things…these ghosts were benders; their technique was based on trying to get behind their targets. These were Air Nomad spirits…
âWhy are they fighting Aang?â Suki asked her breathing quickened as she witnessed the battle.
âDoesnât matter, they need help.â Sokka yelled charging towards his friendâs attackers. Toph and Suki tried to keep up while blinking away their drowsiness.