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Following Destinies

Chapter Text

Character: Toph
Prompt: Lullaby
Words: 150
Rating: K/G

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The Earth sings me better lullabies than my mother ever could.

The squiggle of worms in loose-packed dirt is like music to my senses. The badger-moles making the very mountains tremble is a concert only I can hear. The soil is my stage, and I feel like a conductor of it all sometimes.

My mother tries, in her own way, but she's unaware of the benchmark for comparison. Her melodies cannot live up to what's come before. She sings to me each night, refined little songs delivered with a genteel voice. She never puts her full force behind any of them — so un-Earthbender of her.

I sense the smiles she gives me as she bids me good night are genuine, but subdued. So like her, and so unlike me. And as I pretend to drift off to sleep, my love for her reminds me of her lullabies — sweet, yet lacking.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Lightning
Character: Iroh
Words: 150
Rating: K/G

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Iroh was the Dragon of the West, a Grand Lotus in the Order of the White Lotus, a former general in the world's strongest army. Still, there were things that were beyond even him. He was reminded of this every time he used his own bending creation.

He had done something that no one else before him had — he had taken the sky's manifested fury and redirected it. The coursing of so much power through one individual frightened him just a little bit. It also made him wonder if, in the moment where the lightning coursed through his system, this was the way the Avatar felt all the time?

Iroh's family, always near the forefront of his thoughts, was brought into even sharper relief each time he bent lightning to his will. After all, if he could redirect that, how hard could correcting the paths of his wayward kin be?

Chapter Text

Prompt: Distance
Character: Sokka
Words: 300
Rating: K+/PG

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Sometimes it feels like the only reason we get together anymore is to keep updated on what's happening in each other's lives. There's not much reason to visit Kyoshi Island otherwise.

Sure, we get news from the Fire Nation royals, but it sounds perfunctory, full of unnecessary verboseness. In other words, I know Zuko and Mai never once touched the letters sent here that bear their names.

I can't begrudge Katara and Aang their time alone. The Avatar's duties are far-reaching, and I'm just happy that when his downtime rolls around, Katara is there to share it with him.

Toph… well, nobody really knows what Toph is doing until she shows up out of the blue. She tells us it's the best way to keep her parents off her case, but I have my doubts. Being tied down to one place will never be her cup of tea. It's about the only un-Earthbender thing about her, and an overt sign of Aang's influence.

This is not to say I am not happy here. I have Suki, after all. And she has a regiment of trained combatants that ensure our time here will be as stress-free as we want it to be (even if I still double-take every time I see Ty Lee in the face paint and green garb). But on days like this, with all the chores done and the activity around the village slowed to a crawl, I sit back and miss what I had before.

But then Suki invariably comes and finds me, and her presence always reminds me of one of those simple little truths that are often overlooked — the distances we bear only make the reunions that much sweeter. My family is far-flung, but well-rounded because of it, and always held close to my heart.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Choking
Character: Aang
Words: 100
Rating: K+/PG

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When you're choking on every breath, screaming into the void only to hear your words echoed back with all the flaws amplified…

When you're spent but still moving, struggling against the inexorable bonds of history dragging you away from your duty…

When your world is not black and white but a burst of violently bright colors and your brain cannot process the right or wrong that the shades signify…

When it all pours over in one overwhelming crescendo, when the air tastes pure and the body finally responds and the blur crystallizes into cohesiveness…

A spirit swayed, the will stayed.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Juggle
Characters: Zuko & Jin
Words: 250
Rating: K+/PG

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I'll admit it: when I first saw him in the teahouse, all I thought was that he was cute. The hair was perhaps too unkempt (and his personality even more so), but I was drawn to the good looks and the mystery of the scar that somehow did not diminish those looks. I couldn't pinpoint it exactly, but he had an air of subtlety that his persona did not belie.

I asked him out, just wanting a fun evening out and a chance to really get to know my newfound interest. I ate my noodles unabashedly in front of him, hoping my relaxed demeanor would in turn cause him to loosen up. Still, he remained rigid and awkward — almost as if his mind had already departed the date and traveled elsewhere.

With each question I peppered him with, his mask of careful control fell a little bit more. It didn't take a genius to gather that he was lying — or at least omitting a good deal of the truth — and I wanted to find out why. He was evasive about just about everything. So I proffered what was at hand and told him to juggle.

As it all fell to pieces around him, I wondered if the juggling act he was performing within was faring any better than the one I bore witness to. I smiled and offered to leave. After all, there are only so many things you can keep in the air for so long before the balance is upset.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Silence
Character: Ty Lee
Words: 200
Rating: K+/PG

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Ty Lee talks to be noticed. This is plain enough to see, with so many siblings left to clamor for attention. Silence, in her view, is equal to death – a nothingness from which one cannot be reclaimed. Silence is like her family life; she's neatly buried and rarely paid any mind when mute.

Ty Lee talks because she grows to enjoy it. It is fun to get a rise out of Mai, or see Azula's lips curve into a smile/smirk that is all the princess will allow herself of good humor. She keeps conversations flowing to feel included rather than conscripted into some semblance of friendship with the duo.

Ty Lee talks so the silences don't speak volumes to her. Late at night, when left all alone and stillness has settled in, she will clutch her braid and hold rhetorical discussions with herself. Sometimes they are whispered fervently under breath, others simply a melding of thoughts in the mind. She talks to keep the crushing weight of muteness from overwhelming her. She talks until the words weave an aura around herself, pink and pleasing and pure and her.

Ty Lee talks so as never to be lost, ever again.

Chapter Text

Characters: Ozai/Ursa
Prompt: Machinations
Words: 500
Rating: K+/T-ish

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The knowledge of Avatar Roku and his lineage hung over Ozai and Ursa's marriage like a pall. Which of his children, Ozai wondered soon after Azula's birth: which of his children would be inherently righteous thanks to that damnable blood? This kept him up and night and was one of the few things he couldn't hide from Ursa. The intentions concealed behind his eyes were another, fleeting glimpses that Ursa monitored closely yet discreetly.

There'd been love there, once, or at least its semblance. Then the couple's family grew, and the word family quickly became a misnomer for them. Over the years, who was and was not in Ozai's good graces crystalized, and whatever love there'd been became a mockery of itself. Ursa withdrew as much as society and royal obligations would allow, taking extra time to cross the invisible divide between the factions and shelter Zuko under her purview. She had a vision for her future (once clear, now blurry), and Ursa wanted desperately to preserve something worthwhile from her time as Fire Lady.

Ursa tried not to think of her grandfather, the unknowing cause for all the strife in her and her brood's lives. Yet her upbringing was intertwined with his memory, and the life she led now conflicted with that past. She was as loving as possible to her son, all while trying to steer Azula on a more reasonable path. She poured all of herself into the inner workings of keeping the Royal Family together. There was no way her hand could be played subtlety enough; she knew this, and she knew Ozai knew. The eyes and the sleepless nights attested to this.

Then Ozai burned a reminder of disfavored blood into Zuko's face. Ursa, for the first time, regretted her ancestry.

A hooded cloak was donned, to shield her identity — from others and herself. Urua had to work hard to push back in her mind the sense of justice inherent within her — indeed, within any descendant of the Avatar. For her, there was now only the duty to saving what could be, and ending what impeded her. She bid her children farewell and ghosted one last kiss across Ozai's sneering, cold lips. The vial he passed to her as they parted chilled her more, and his whispered final words of control momentarily froze her.

Ursa would follow through with this and disappear. It was what Ozai wanted, but Ursa could see further down the line. She could feel the burning tug in her veins besseching her to disavow the past to keep from forsaking the future. The constant awareness of where she came from guided her, led her to one conclusion: the Avatar was right. She had one chance to make the promise his idea held come true. She'd fought bitterly to keep the world from crumbling around her and failed. But that was past now.

A knock echoed on Azulon's door, and the gears started turning for the hour to come round at last.

Chapter Text

Prompt/characters: Toph/Sokka
Words: 150
Rating: K/G

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Toph could metalbend; this was indisputably true. Sokka, at the moment, fervently wished that wasn't the case.

"Boomerang!"

Toph looked as aloof as she normally did — an impressive feat considering the circumstances. Sokka's precious weapon lay at her feet, more resembling a pretzel or a bow than a hunting implement. Sokka knelt down and gingerly picked the boomerang up, casting an accusatory glare up at Toph. A shrug of the girl's shoulders was his only response.

"Toph, how could you? Out of all the metal things you could've picked, you just had to choose the one that meant the most to me." He flung the boomerang and watched it careen back to the ground ungracefully. Toph's neutral expression shifted to one of mild annoyance as her handiwork landed with a thud nearby.

"Snoozles, I may be the world's greatest Earthbender, and a metalbender to boot, but even I need practice."

Chapter Text

Prompt: Ache
Character: ?
Words: 300
Rating: T/PG-13

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The bones in his hand throbbed like fire from the inside out. Bending did not feel like this, ever. He wasn't sure if anything was ever supposed to feel like this, but then a spasm of pain lanced through his nervous system, and the thought was vaporized. All that was left was to try and survive.

Through a haze of indistinct shapes, he tried to bend with the hand that did not resemble a kneaded lump of dough, and failed. His breath caught in quickly fading clouds as he struggled for air. The sounds of combat returned, closer and more ferocious than before, and he was not sure if he could see or move well enough to escape this time.

Weary and half-conscious, he moved to a sheltered, shady spot where the wind did not bite and the acrid smell did not linger. He leaned up against a stone wall and fought to stay coherent. They were coming. It was over. He tried to fight these thoughts as he'd fended off the intruders, but both efforts were waning.

A burst of light interrupted his vision, shadowed over by the silhouette of an armored man. He tried to sit up straight to meet his fate, tried to appear calm on the outside as his insides fell to pieces. He heard the towering figure ask if he had any last words, but he chose not to respond to the sneer he heard in the voice.

His world was lit in brilliant oranges and reds, and all he could think was, 'this is the last, I am the last, last last lastlastlast.' Monk Gyatso felt the heat, the pain, and let a tear fall. Aang.

Somewhere out to sea, an iceberg drifted, its occupant unaware of how true his mentor's final thoughts were.

Chapter Text

Characters: Katara (and Sokka)
Prompt: Storm
Words: 150
Rating: K/G

Evanescent Empathy

It rained for four straight days
and there was nothing you could do to stop it,
not sure at first if you wanted to or not,
but your mantle seemed too important to drop.
You bent fruitlessly at the heavens
yet still the water came,
a summation of the days gone by
rained down in a litany from the menacing clouds.
Cold, it was allowed to soak you through,
as if the effort of holding the deluge back
was too much weight to bear on a frame
already burdened with so much.
The pelting of drops in your hair could do nothing
to drown out all the problems you took on as your own
and only now you wondered, shivering,
was this push and pull not truly yours?
Did you let the moon and sea become you?
Was it the sky's tears you were trying to stop
or your own?

Chapter Text

Title: Die By The Drop
Characters: Azula/Hakoda
Words: 200
Rating: T/PG-13

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It was the facial hair, she decided. Not that she had a daddy complex, mind, but the beards really did it for her. It gave her a little something to yank on, to crush his face to hers.

The Water Tribe chief fought against the Fire Nation princess — as much as his restraints would allow. His teeth gnashed, grinded, clenched as the teen's tongue made a mockery of his mouth. Blood was drawn, on both sides, dripping down in a scarlet memento of scars being formed.

There was a burning, deep and low, one that had nothing to do with the tendrils of smoke trailing from the fingernails raking taut biceps. The skin on his arms would be ribbons soon, and she wanted to see the look in his eyes deflate from defiance to defeat as she dissected him piece by piece.

But, despite it all, he would not meet her gaze. That would have to change.

She cupped his chin in her hand, stroked the hair there, then set it afire. Finally the eyes, a startled cerulean, locked onto hers, questioning amidst the pain and trying not to show either.

She sneered. "It had to go…and so do you."

Chapter Text

Prompt: Vitriol
Characters: Jet
Words: 400
Rating: T/PG-13

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The Fire Nation had wronged him — deeply, irrevocably harmed him in ways he might never understand. But this could motivate him. This indisputable truth was the foundation for Jet's every action. After the murder of his family, he had to find the will to move on from somewhere, and the searing pain of what had happened was the easiest to follow through on.

In time, the Freedom Fighters that Jet gathered around himself came to embody the sense of loss and hurt he carried with him at all times. They became the family that had been taken from him, but it was never the same. As chummy as they all appeared on the outside, within them churned with discord.

They all had their ways of dealing with the lot life dealt them. Smellerbee clammed up and hid behind a façade of a bully. Longshot had the clammed up part down, but he let out his frustrations by practicing with his bow until his fingers cracked open. Pipsqueak joked and The Duke rushed around trying to soothe everyone's frayed nerves, but no one ever saw what Jet did when he needed to blow off steam.

Jet never let his gang see him at his most vulnerable, when the anger clouded his vision and drove him to violence. If it was directed at the occupying soldiers, so be it, but the line had started to blur the longer he carried his crusade on. Jet's family of the displaced became the guerilla army of a boy's unending war.

And then the Avatar and his pulled-together family stepped into his life. The embodiment of balance in the world shone an unkind light on the skewed nature of his. Blindly committed to his cause (for he knew no other way), Jet plotted revenge and executed it well. Blowing the dam was a catharsis he didn't realize he needed. If this was the only way he could feel fine, what would he do next?

Then Sokka came and sent his world crashing down with the news that his plan was for naught. The culmination of all his work, of his life from then to now, was this: the scorn of a true family and a torrent of vitriolic words. And as he stood there, bark digging into his back and ice working its way through his clothes, he could only direct all the anger at himself.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Prelude
Character: Hama
Words: 200
Rating: strong T/PG-15

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Hama had seen one too many of her tribespeople die whilst in the Fire Nation's cages. The desiccated corpses, macabre husks of humanity, lay slumped against cold bars in the water-free atmosphere to remind those still left clinging to life of their future fate. Though the high slits they called windows, even the moon held no comfort for the aged waterbender. She envied the rats their freedom to scurry in and out of her steel square of suffering.

It was when Hama started identifying more with the rats than her fellow captives that something inside of her snapped.

The moon, once a reminder of happier times, became the ice in her veins as she secretly trained with the vermin. Her compatriots became afterthoughts; emotional baggage that she couldn't afford to carry. The only thing left in Hama's empty soul was a deadly certainty. She would get out. The conquerors would pay. And she would rend her very being — and do so gladly — to never again feel as helpless as before.

A smirk curled upon her withered face as the soldier jerked spasmodically. The plans had been made, the groundwork laid, and now it was time for the promise of pain.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Revolution
Character: On Ji
Words: 500
Rating: K+

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The mood had subtly shifted after Kuzon had fled the dance party. School the next day was a study in subterfuge. Those that had been at the gathering last night were quietly approached by those who weren't, and as the information was disseminated, the buzz around the campus grew. The teachers knew something was afoot, but after the hullabaloo that was Kuzon's brief stay at their institution, whatever was brewing seemed minor in comparison.

Somehow, amidst all the students jockeying for details and trying to one-up each other with outrageous fallacies about the party and how it had concluded, On Ji became the go-to source for a factual account. It was this, more than anything, that underscored the change in dynamics in the hierarchy of the school. On Ji could not firebend. She was not especially popular because of this, and her association with Hide had hurt her social standing more than helped.

But the truth was, On Ji had been the closest the Kuzon, he of the wild ideas and wilder antics. And like a breath of fresh air throughout the staid school, he'd brought vitality to a moribund populace. On Ji had, unknowingly, rode the swell of change as it swept through the building. Kuzon was impossible not to like, or at least be intrigued by. And his philosophy on their life… On Ji was moved. And he had danced with her, her!

In the light of the new day, On Ji had time to take a step back and reevaluate. She had no time to be a besotted little girl. Kuzon had basically laid down the gauntlet that the Fire Nation was rotting from within. She was a proud citizen of the most powerful nation in the world; so why did a couple of fleeting interactions with a stranger make her feel so off-kilter? On Ji decided, before heading off to class, that Kuzon's points were to be emulated.

She was only one person, but now she was a person with a modicum of power. Kuzon had merely set the spark to the kindling. Now it was up to On Ji to mind the inferno that was slowly smoldering in his wake. She was no bender, but she could corral this element and bend it to her will. Their future, as revolutionary as it sounded, might very well depend on it.

So she gladly told all who would listen, in corridors between lessons or in the yard during physical education, of the impassioned way Kuzon spoke, and the message he espoused. As the day wore on, her followers swelled in number. A wellspring of whispers, made all the more powerful by the fact that they were true. And that, really, was the number one lesson she would take away from Kuzon's time with them. The truth, as they had known it, was not trustworthy. Anyone could see that now, if they were just willing to broaden their outlook. On Ji had opened her eyes to the fire within.

Chapter Text

bobbing on the tide
churning gut leaps into throat
moonbeams still the sick

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flecks of metal ore
seeding hard-packed barren plains
speckles light the path

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cloudless sky spews heat
sun burns like a dragon's mouth
breathe and center self

~~~

fly in wind-whipped robes
eddies seek the crevices
refuse to settle

Chapter Text

Character: Wan Shi Tong
Prompt: Knowledge
Words: 100
Rating: K/G

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Wan Shi Tong wasn't actually that surly of a being if he was simply left alone. It was only interlopers that brought out his beastly side.

He had countless scrolls and tomes at his disposal, and his little fox-like assistants brought him more daily. Wan Shi Tong had intimate knowledge of every scrap of information contained and curated in his library. If knowledge truly was power, he ruled the roost.

But... he had nobody but his fellow spirits to lord this supposed superiority over. Wan Shi Tong might be secure in his station, but he was never content with it.