"Ayani get back here. You have training soon. Kilik hates when you're late!"
"I won't be late! Plus, I could totally kick his wimpy butt if I wanted to!" Ayani giggled.
Zamena crossed her arms in front of her and sighed at her daughter with a smirk on her face.
"Wha—" Ayani stopped running and began to ask, but was lifted off the ground by the scruff of her jacket.
"So, you can kick my 'wimpy butt' eh?" The tall and muscular man who was holding her hostage said before dropping her into the snow.
She jumped up and brushed herself off. "I said what I said." She snarled. "Plus, you won't let me even try so how do you know I wouldn't!"
Kilik smiled. "Well we can't have you getting hurt, you're one of the best benders of your generation after all." He took two of his fingers and pressed them against Ayani's forehead. "Plus, your mother would probably kill me if you did."
Zamena walked over to the two of them. "Yes, our friend Kilik here is only afraid of two things. Polar bear dogs, and me." She shoved his arm with her hand.
Kilik reached up and rubbed his arm. "See Ayani, she already tried to kill me and I didn't even do anything."
Ayani rolled her eyes and huffed. "You're no fun. How am I supposed to know how good I actually am if I can't try and beat my own master?" She couldn't stand being treated like a child. Even if she was only 12.
"You'll understand one day when you have a pupil of your own." He smiled down at her.
"Yeah right. I don't want to ever have to deal with training someone else. I'm going to be the greatest water bender and healer that the Northern water tribe has ever seen, then I'm going to save the world, just like the Avatar!" She stomped away toward the clearing where she trained every day.
Kilik sighed. "How do you put up with her Zamena?"
"Just barely." She shook her head and smiled. "She sure isn't anything like me."
"You may not think so, but she definitely has your spirit. You don't ever want to stay still either." He paused in thought for a moment. "Maybe she gets the attitude from her father."
Zamena shot him a look. "Don't you start right now." She snapped at him. He knew better than to talk about that in front of Ayani.
"Fine, she'll be home by dinner." He ran toward the clearing, bending a pile of snow at Ayani, knocking her to the ground.
"HEY! NOT FAIR." She yelled back at him as he laughed.
Zamena turned and walked back into the house, leaving her daughter to be tortured by her teacher for the rest of the day. Their personalities matched in so many ways, right down to the cocky attitude.
Zamena loved watching them train. Often she would sit by the window in her bedroom that looked out into the field, admiring how far Ayani had come in just 4 years. She didn't necessarily need the training anymore, she was a natural-born water bender, surpassing everybody her age early on.
The hours passed quickly, the sun beginning to slip behind the skyline. Kilik and Ayani still hadn't finished for the day. Zamena looked out the window and rolled her eyes before leaving the house.
"Come on you both! It's getting late!" She shouted to the two of them. She couldn't remember the last time that she didn't have to remind them it was time to be done.
Neither of them said anything and she didn't see either one of them in the distance.
"DO NOT MAKE ME COME GET YOU!" She stood there a moment longer before huffing and making her way up across the clearing, they had gone further than normal, No wonder they couldn't hear her. She slowed down as she saw the two figures ahead of her, Both lying face up in the snow.
"What if we weren't benders?" Ayani said.
"What do you mean?" Kilik chuckled. "We would be non-benders."
"That's not what I mean." Ayani huffed. "I mean what would we do? I can't imagine not being able to bend, what would the point be."
Zamena quietly sat down, far enough away that she could still hear them, but they didn't notice her yet.
Kilik had been quiet for a few moments, pondering what Ayani had said. He never thought about who he would be without his bending. "You know you're more than your bending right? Bending isn't who you are, it's just what you can do."
"Yeah." She replied. She never felt like she was anything more than a bender. Ever since she could remember, she was bending water, she could remember the first time she accidentally turned the water in the bathtub into ice.
"I was three years old the first time that I bent water. My mother had turned around to grab a towel and heard ice forming behind her...mom moved so fast, bending the remaining water out of the bathtub to knock me over, just as a spike of ice formed out of the tub directly to where I had been standing." Ayani paused, reliving the memory, and laughed lightly. "Apparently that was the day that she realized I was going to be trouble."
Kilik smiled. He knew that story well, it was a turning point in Ayani's life, but that was the first time that SHE had ever told him about it.
"Just because you're a prodigy doesn't mean you're not more than that. Take me for example, everyone thinks that I'm just a big, selfish, water bender. I'm also a super cool babysitter though." He joked with her.
Ayani rolled her eyes. "Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but it's not going to work tonight." She sighed, staring up at the stars. "I just...I don't know who I am."
"You think way too deeply for a 12-year-old, you know that?" He said, rolling his eyes this time.
"I'm serious. Mom is amazing, and I love how much she has sacrificed for me, but that's only half of who I am...I don't know anything about..." She paused, trying to gather what she wanted to say.
Zamena was ready to make her presence known, it wasn't Kilik's place to discuss this with Ayani. He knew better and she hoped that he remembered that.
Kilik rolled onto his side to face Ayani who kept staring into the night sky. "Your mother raised an independent, hardheaded, beautiful, powerful, moon child. You are Ayani, one of the most skilled water benders this side if the water tribe. You are whoever you want to be, your history doesn't determine who you are or will be. DNA doesn't make family, love does, and you have plenty of that."
Good job Kilik. Zamena thought to herself with a smile before getting to her feet and walking back to the house. She could manage to let Ayani have the time with him tonight. Sometimes she needed someone other than her mother to talk to.