Author's Note: I'm working on my updates for my other stories so don't worry! But sometimes a new idea can't be ignored, enjoy!
Chapter 1: Truths and Sunsets
It's on a hot, muggy day on a remote beach in a small reclusive island east of the Fire Nation that Sokka, Toph, Katara, and Zuko finally remember that Aang is the Avatar. Or rather, what being the Avatar actually entails.
You may ask yourself, "How could you ever forget that? It was the whole point of your journey! The only reason you met the others!" And you would be so very right. And so very wrong. For Aang is a force onto himself. It is possible to believe- in his company- that he would be capable of all the feats he has accomplished even if he wasn't the Avatar.
But he is and on some level you know, but most of the time you look at him and you see an eleven year old boy and all you can think is that you must protect him.
Because when Aang defeats the Fire Lord- and there is no doubt in your mind he will- the world is going to tear him apart with their greed.
Greed, you muse grimly to yourself, the human constant. (The worst part is that you know every single member of the group would be vying for a piece of what the Avatar could offer.)
Katara would want someone to learn water bending from- for what better teacher than the Avatar? And you love your sister more than anything but she matured once she met Aang and you can't help but think if she hadn't gone through the trials she had when they traveled with Aang that she would've been so easy to corrupt. After all, you muse, look how close she came even after the trials she faced with that blood bending incident.
Toph would want a sparring partner, a rival she could work with to become stronger, maybe even a savior if he took her away from her parents who brought her nothing but grief and pain by not understanding her and not trying to understand. This isn't a horrible wish in itself but you know that Toph wouldn't be the only child like this and you know Aang would eventually crack under the strain. This is perhaps the least selfish wish but might have the most disastrous results. For what would happen to an Avatar who cracked? You shudder at the mere thought.
Zuko, while not tempted by what the Avatar could offer him, would most likely be motivated by revenge. For if he never met Aang he would have still sought his father's approval and so he would throw his life into taking revenge against the Avatar after his father lost his bending. And Azula would too, you realize with dawning horror, because Katara and Zuko would never have been there to stop her if they hadn't met Aang.
And yourself, Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe, the most ordinary member of the team and yet you would use the Avatar (use Aang) to help make the South Pole great again. You can see how you could spin a sob story and since you know Aang as well as you do, you know it would work. You might be the foolish, funny guy (someone needs to lighten the days for Aang, who has no choice but to face a war) but you know you can be devious when you want to be and if the prosperity of your tribe means the sacrifice of the Avatar then so be it. You close your eyes and remind yourself that you met Aang and you aren't going to use him. But something inside you twists into greasy knots with the acknowledgement that you would use a man you don't know just to further those that you did.
Sometimes, you disgust even yourself.
Shaking off your dark thoughts- this is a time of reunion, of celebration- you focus back on your team, your family and you don a grin (though this one isn't as big as the one you wore all those years while you were helping Aang prepare for war- it isn't as fake either.)
- Line Break-
Aang sits quietly watching his friends, his family, talk and laugh and argue with each other. He purposely skims his eyes over Sokka who was never as dim or as happy as he appeared. You know this because you are the Avatar (as much as you never wanted to be) and to be the Avatar comes with its own rewards and its own curses.
Aang focuses again when Toph starts to speak of her invention of metal bending and how awesome she is.
Aang chuckles quietly, "Good job Toph." And though she can't see the pride and affection in his eyes he knows she understands that he is so unbelievably proud.
Earth, the wind whispers to the only one who can hear it, loyal, steadfast, but in need of loving care and a firm touch. This Aang knows. He is always aware of what someone needs (one of the boons of being the Avatar) he knows what everybody needs and sometimes he's glad and sometimes he wishes he wouldn't ever have to hear all the needs of people that he can never fulfill- asking for loved ones that were lost is the most common and always makes Aang's throat and eyes burn (for some things are beyond even the Avatar's power.)
His next words are quiet compared to his normal exuberance, though he has mellowed out over the years. "I invented a new type of bending too."
From his spot at the fire Sokka perks up. None of them ever got a real explanation of what the bending was besides the fact it took Ozai's bending away from him. "Are you going to tell us more about that zappy-bending-taker-awayer?" Sokka looks confused as everyone chuckles around the campfire and seems almost insulted when Zuko mumbles something about having the royal healer check Sokka's head when they get back.
And though his friends hide it well Aang can see a glimmer of fear in his friend's eyes at the thought of their bending being taken away. Aang knows without asking that they would rather die than lose a part of themselves. A small part of Aang wonders if he inflicted a monstrous amount of torture on Ozai by not killing him, he brushes that thought from his mind for there is no changing it now.
Instead Aang murmurs, "Yes, that." And his eyes look out over the ocean towards the setting sun on the horizon but everyone seems to realize that Aang is seeing something different.
Zuko watches Aang, his best friend (and who would've ever believed that even a few short years ago?), and sees shadows in his friends eyes. Zuko digs down into himself-to that part of him that defied his father-that fought Azula- to find enough courage to ask Aang a very important question.
"Do you regret it?" He doesn't know if he's talking about inventing energy bending, or taking away Ozai's (not his father. Ozai hadn't been a father for a long time, if he even was one to begin with) bending, or even if Aang regrets not killing the Fire Lord but he knows someone has to ask it and why not him? After all he knows the most about regret.
After a long silence, Aang answers.
"No. I followed what I thought was right. But this is a type of bending that others can learn too." He doesn't tell them that he knows that his weakness that stemmed from not being able to kill Ozai will lead to the next great villain, he doesn't tell them that his time is moving much sooner than they think (because there can only be one Avatar per great evil. The Avatar always dies before the next big imbalance in the world pops up.) Aang knows he should, but he doesn't, tell them that the next great evil will appear in their lifetime and he will not be able to meet the enemy, to fight with them.
"Is it bad that other can learn the bending too?" Katara asks timidly before she can stop herself because for all she knows about Aang there is so much she doesn't.
Old, old eyes. The eyes of an Avatar look at them-and how could they ever forget that's what he is?
They wait in a tense, painful silence. All of them are aware they have intruded into territory they shouldn't be in, but no one is sure how they stumbled upon this shaky ground and no one knows how to leave it. So they wait.
They finally get some response from Aang but it's not as much of an answer as they were hoping for.
"There is a reason this bending was lost." Is all Aang says before he forces a grin on his face, "I'll tell you what no one has ever been trusted enough to know, not even the companions of the other Avatars."
Aang catches sight of Zuko's face from the corner of his eye, full of self-doubt for he doesn't feel trust worthy after hunting Aang and working against him for so long. Aang reaches out with his pale, moon white hand and gives Zuko's sun kissed one a reassuring squeeze. For Aang trusts him with no doubts, no reservations and Zuko lets out a relieved smile. After all, who can doubt the Avatar?
"We are so, so powerful. And so very old." Aang's voice has the echo of all the past Avatar's laced through it and while his tattoos blaze blue- his eyes are a soulful, tortured brown. "So very old." Aang whispers again, this time like a secret. "There is a reason we aren't told about our powers right away, a reason we don't remember how to bend every element from reincarnation to reincarnation. We could be monsters."
The other's ache to deny it but they can't because they have always known-the world has always known-that the Avatar could destroy the world as easily as he saved it. He could remodel it and take complete control and he would be unstoppable.
Everyone respects the Avatar and everybody fears him.
"Even now I'm holding some of my power back. The Avatar is always controlling part of their power and it hurts us. Like old wounds continuously reopened." Aang sighs as he slides off his log that he's sharing with Zuko and leans so his back rests against it instead. "Maybe I'll show you someday what our power is like when we don't have to constantly rein it in."
And Katara, Toph, Sokka, and Zuko all nod their heads in agreement. For what other response was there?
Author's note: There will be at least one other chapter for this story in the future. Please Review!