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Friend-Bending

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    If someone were to ask who the friendliest person in their group was, it would be a no-brainer to say that it was Aang. Aang was caring and bubbly and loved meeting new people. But if someone were to ask who the kindest was, the answer would be Katara. Because it was Katara who went up to strangers and gave them comfort. Because it was Katara who always refused to leave even a single person behind. Because while Aang cared and was always nice and polite, Katara was fierce and protective and loving to every single person she met.

    She gave her love so easily, and it hurt. That’s why she had snuck from the camp they set up and wandered towards the ocean nearby; the gentle hiss of the waves lapping at the shore, the push and the pull of it swaying her ever closer.

    She gave her love so easily, but where did that leave her? With fractured pieces of herself, scattered across the globe. With fraying edges that were burned by betrayal and death and still ached the same way they did as when they’d been fresh. She was a bleeding heart, but she did not think the sea inside of her could pour out anymore.

    Hands by her sides, slowly rising, the water swirling and lifting and listening. She pushed her hands away, flowing. She was water and the water was her and the blood inside of her roared with like the sea in a storm but it was okay, because she could bend water and she would bend this feeling out of her. 

    Jaw clenched, teeth bared. She was a wild things and wild things couldn’t be hurt by loss and wild things didn’t dwell on the past because there was only survival and the present and the water that shhhhh ed as she parted it.

    She was not crying. She was bending. There was no room for tears.

    Breathe. Focus. She was cold and angry and wild and in control. She was water.

    “—and man, you should have seen me, Yue! I was all bam ! And take that! And my boomerang hit three men in one hit before landing perfectly in my hand again! It was so cool! Oh! I just thought of the funniest thing. If you forget how to throw a boomerang, don’t worry! ‘Cuz it’ll come back to you. Huh? Huh? Funny, right?” Despite being so close to the shore, the water never touched him, but a wave surged up and, just around his feet but never actually on , the water lapped closer.

    Katara forced herself to frown at Sokka’s bad jokes. It was a full moon tonight, how could she have forgotten? Ever since Yue had… Ever since the incident with Zhao and Twi and La, Sokka spent every full moon and some odd nights speaking to the stars. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, take this from him. She turned away, intent on leaving, but she choked on a sob.

    “Katara?”

    She was so selfish, wasn’t she? “Sorry, I… Sorry. I’ll go, Sokka.”

    “Hey, Yue, we’ll talk later, alright?” The moon shone brighter, and Katara felt cold light wrap around her for just a moment.

    There was a hand on her shoulder, but she ignored it and stayed turned away. Her lip wobbled.

    “Hey, what’s wrong?” He moved in front of her, keeping his hands on her shoulders. “Why’re you crying?”

    The dam broke and she was a flood. She wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face in his chest and sobbed. 

    “Uh, Katara?” He sounded panicky and she managed to laugh a bit, hysterical, because even worried he was emotionally inept.

    “It’s— It’s stupid.”

    “Probably.”

    She whacked him on the shoulder and ignored his “Owwwwwww, Katara!”

    “It’s… I was thinking about Jet.”

    That a—” Sokka stopped himself, probably remembering how much Aang disliked cursing and how much Katara was willing to enforce this new no swearing rule. “Jerk?”

    “Yeah.” She slowly sat down, Sokka easily plopping himself down in the sand. She snorted. He was the least graceful person she knew, all loose and gangly limbs. “I know he was jerky, but. I loved him, Sokka. And he hurt me. He lied to me.” Her voice did not raise, but it became more intense, and the humidity seemed to become more prominent. “And Haru— he was sweet, wasn’t he? But is he okay? Are any of the people we’ve met okay? Is Gran-Gran okay? The kids back home? We were the ones to read to them and hunt and we just left them! It was important, yeah, but! But!”

    “Katara.”

    “The men of our village, how many of them are left? Are they all hiding, planning, plotting? Or did they— have they?”

    “Katara!”

    “And dad! We haven’t seen him in years! ” Her breath caught in her throat. “I haven’t seen my father in years.”

    He sighed. “Oh, Katara.” He pulled her close and let her cry, rocking her. What could he do? Nothing he could say could alleviate her worries. 

    He preferred actions to words, anyhow. They came easier.

    He opened his mouth, and in a warbly voice, sung a lullaby neither of them had heard since their mother died.

“Where’s your heart,

    Little Wolf?

    Why do you cry

    That you’re lost

    When your love still sings to me? 

    Your heart 

It has found its way 

Across the seas

    And its caught itself in the stars

But just because it’s spread its wings

Does not mean it’s forgotten

Does not mean it’s forsaken.

    Where’s your hope at,

    Little Lovely?

    It’s something that no one can take from you

    You just shape it with your hands

And don’t you ever let it go.

    Where’s your Spirit,

    When you feel loveless?

    It’s in every breath you take

    It’s in everything you’ve ever made.

    So why do you cry?

    Why cry,

    My Strong Wolf,

    When your heart is never alone?

    For you can still dream and be loved

    Even when your love is far from home.”

 

    There was a beat of silence, before Katara was laughing.

    “That— That was so bad! Pfffffttt!” 

    “Hey!” Sokka’s protests went unheard over Katara’s cackling.

    “What happened to the Sokka that was able to sing every note correctly ?”

    He shoved her away, turning up his nose and crossing his arms. “That Sokka sung that song every day. And cut me some slack, because this Sokka is going through puberty!” As if to prove his point, his voice had cracked on the final word, only serving to reignite her peals of laughter.

    “Oh, that’s funny, huh?” Sokka grinned. “Well, I’m going to show you something hilarious!” He lunged past the shore and splashed her with ice cold water, delighting in her startled scream.

    “You wanna get into a water fight with a water bender ?”

    “I can take you on any day!”

    “Oh, it’s on!”

    Sokka’s screams were higher than her own as a giant wave smashed into him.

    If the moon was a bit too bright, or if the water sometimes became a bit harder to bend towards Sokka, and if sometimes too much water to have possibly been splashed by Sokka hit her, neither of them said anything. They just enjoyed this night, because tomorrow they would have to face the world again, and their loves would be just as far as before.