“This is the man that made your glider for you, Tenzin.” Katara pushes her son towards the old man seated behind the desk that was cluttered with papers of schematics.
The child mumbles a quick, “Thank you, sir,” and digs his toe into the stone floor.
“Have you tried it out?” The mechanist asks kindly.
Tenzin looks up with a guilty expression. His mother answers for him. “He's still learning how.”
“Of course. You wouldn't want him to leap off a cliff until he knows what he's doing.”
I do know what I'm doing, Tenzin wants to say. I just don't want to fly. But Katara turns him and guides him to the door. “Tenzin, why don't you go outside with the other children? I'm sure your dad is out there somewhere.”
Grumpily Tenzin trudges down to the bottom level of the temple and sits on a low wall, his knees drawn up. Above him the sky is filled with people in shades of green, soaring on gliders in a rai nbow of colors. His father is easy to pick out among them, his robes flapping yellow and orange, his tattooed head shiny in the sun.
A man in a chair with wheels rolls up to him. “Hey there.”
The child turns. “Hi.”
“I'm Teo. You're Tenzin, right?”
“I'm glad to finally meet you. Your daddy has told me a lot about you.”
Tenzin just shrugs. Adults tell him this a lot, before they start going on about 'Avatar' this and 'airbender' that.
“I was about to go gliding. Do you want to come?”
He shakes his head.
“Okay. What would you like to do instead?”
“What kind of things do you do at home?”
“Sailing, huh?” Teo does a little wheelie. “I was in a submarine once.”
“With Uncle Sokka?”
“Yup. You know, in a lot of ways, it was just like flying.”
The child gives him a skeptical look.
“Think ab out it,” Teo says. “Air and water might be different elements, but they have a lot in common. Both have currents, right? You could look at the sky as one big ocean, and the gliders as little boats.”
The boy still looks doubtful, and Teo smiles at him in encouragement. “Come on, I'll show you.”
Tenzin gets down from the wall, but hangs back. “I'm...scared,” he admits in a small voice.
“What are you scared of?”
“Well...you could fall off your boat, right? But that doesn't stop you from going out on the water.”
Convinced, Tenzin follows Teo as he rolls over to his special chair with the wings and lifts himself into it. He gets his own glider, and they go up to the topmost platform of the temple.
“Ready?” Teo asks him.
“Ready,” Tenzin says.
And they jump.