Disclaimer: Avatar belongs to Nick, and this is just for (albeit twisted) fun. Me no own. You no sue.
A/N: Ack – I know I said that I would write a sequel to this... but as I sat down and listed all my major plot elements, I thought that this story would be better ended with an epilogue.
So, here we are. Enjoy! (And yes, I am a sick, sick, sick woman... ;) )
If there is one thing I have learned in forty years of life, it is that karma has no deadlines, and fate can drop in unannounced at any moment. So it really should come to no surprise that now – after decades of war – when we are finally at the threshold of peace – that all hell decides to break loose.
It is the Avatar, no doubt, breaking down my doors with his group of resistance fighters. Bizarrely, I'm actually quite curious about him. From what I've heard, this avatar is a charismatic, strapping young man. The people love him, as they have never loved me. Even some of my own people have turned to him, uniting under the banner of 'hope' that he carries.
Not that I can blame them. You see, they too, are weary of war. While I live my life imprisoned behind the walls of this fortress, continuing this doomed campaign – all for the elusive 'peace' that never seems to come -- my people are either dying on the battlefield, or starving and living in squalor. Our coffers are nearly empty, having been used to support the military for well over a century. The once great Fire Nation has fallen in upon itself, a victim of our own stupidity and pride.
I've long since recognized that we are in a lose-lose situation. My people will never willingly withdraw from this war and accept a loss, yet they constantly blame me for failing to bring to a close a war that can not be won.
And so it comes to no surprise that the world is crying for a change of regime.
Perhaps it would be for the best; Agni knows that my family has done nothing but bring doom down upon us all.
Therefore, I choose to stay in my reception room, calmly drinking my fire whiskey, even as my advisors are screaming at me to leave.
"What's the point?" I say to them. "My fate was determined before I was even born. I am no coward – I choose to meet it here."
They are getting closer now; I can hear screams coming from all around me in my supposed impenetrable fortress. There is a sound much like an explosion that suddenly rents the air.
I pour myself another glass of firewhiskey, downing it rapidly before smashing the glass on the cold marble floor. What do I need a glass for, when the bottle will suffice?
Absurdly, I am completely calm. I close my eyes and for a moment, I am reminded of the time when my soul was at ease; when life was simple, and the only goal was to survive another day.
I remember the warmth of the sun, the laughter of a child, and the bright blue eyes of a woman.
I give a moments thought to Tehya, the child I have raised as my own. Although the people never quite accepted her as royalty, she was still very well loved by everyone, and in some circles was referred to as 'the people's princess'. She was always a bright and happy child, with a heart as big as the sky, and always made time for everyone, no matter who they were or where they came from. And, as I have always known would be the case, she grew up to be a beautiful woman. With her fragile, lithe frame and big gray eyes, the people thought her to be quite exotic. There were many offers for her hand, by officers and noblemen alike, all of which I turned down with a smile.
Tehya was like the wind; wild and free, and I would never, ever change that about her.
As soon as I heard that the avatar was once again on the move, I sent my beautiful Tehya off to one of the islands that serve as a retreat for fire nation royalty. It is with the knowledge that she is safe, and far away from here that I am able to accept my fate so readily.
They are getting closer. I can hear the pounding of their feet. It is a matter of minutes now; perhaps seconds. My advisors are all but gone, and I am alone but for my firewhiskey bottle, which, I notice with dismay, is almost empty.
With a sigh, I down the last few drops, and smash it against the hard marble floor as well. After all, it is my palace; I should have some control over its destruction.
When the door crashes open, I am ready for it – that is, until I see the wide gray eyes and flowing black hair of the woman that stumbles into the room. In an instant, I am on my feet – the pleasant haze of the firewhiskey all but gone in less than a moment --
and for the first time today I feel a true moment of panic.
"Tehya!" I cry, reaching for her. "Tehya, what are you doing here? You must go – quickly."
"No, father! I won't! I want to stay with you!" She insists, throwing her arms around me. She was always a stubborn girl.
The walls of the throne room crumble down around us, and I can do nothing but hold her against me in a vain attempt to protect her, as the Avatar and his entourage spill into the room.
I recognize at once the blind earth bender and the water nation warrior, before my eyes fall upon the Avatar himself.
It is with a mixed jolt of surprise and awe that I notice that he looks exactly like I would have as a young man, if I had not been so cruelly disfigured, save for a pair of piercing ice blue eyes. And in a burst of sudden realization, I laugh out loud at the irony of it.
"Let her go." The Avatar – my son – orders. "Let her go, and your death will be quick."
"You will keep her safe?" I ask, knowing in my heart that he would keep his word.
"On my honor. Always." He says, and there is a softness in his eyes that takes me only a moment to comprehend.
'She is more forbidden to you than your mother was to me.'
"Koda! No! He is my father! Spare him... please!" Tehya cries, clinging to me fiercely as I attempt to let her go. Her familiarity and tone with the Avatar only confirms what I already fear.
'I could destroy their chance for happiness with only a handful of words...'
The Avatar draws his gaze from mine and meets Tehya's, his face softened with regret.
"Tehya, please. I'm sorry. It must be done. Your father knows it as well as I do. We have no choice in the roles we play."
"Tehya. I accept my fate. Go. Live your life. Be happy."
I turn her head to mine, wishing I could erase the anguish in her eyes, the fear in her expression. I place a small kiss on her forehead before pushing her away roughly, knocking her to the ground in the process.
In that brief moment, the moment before death was about to delivered to me, I remember a night of passion shared many years ago with a water bender whose spirit was one of the brightest I have known.
And then, I close my eyes and wait.
I hear the crackling of the air as the Avatar gathers the energy to himself. It seems right that I should die the same way as my former advisory. Except the lightning never hits me. Instead, there is a whoosh of air as Tehya places herself in between the Avatar and myself with a speed only obtainable by an airbender.
Time stands still for one awful moment as Tehya falls lifelessly to the ground before me. A keening cry rents the air, and then a wail. I am not sure which one comes from me and which one comes from the Avatar.
I rush forward, reaching for her, and am roughly shoved aside by the Avatar. For a brief moment, I want to kill him, and I probably would have if the water tribe warrior didn't grab my shoulder roughly.
"Don't – let him try," he says quietly. "My sister taught him the healing arts years ago, when she first found him on the island of Kyoshi."
I grudgingly stand back, directing a fierce look towards the Avatar, when the significance of the warrior's words hit me with a startling jolt.
'Katara never told them that he was her son.'
With trembling hands, the Avatar directs the healing waters into Tehya's wound.
I watch with baited breath. Every second that passes is agony. And when the Avatar gathers her up into his arms with a sob, I fall to my knees in despair.
"Please, Tehya," he mumbles, the tears falling freely from his eyes. "Please, my love..."
The Avatar turns his head towards me, his bright blue eyes wet with tears. "We are being punished... all of us..."
"For our sins..." I whisper in completion.
A moment of understanding passes between the two of us.
"No." The Avatar says quietly. "No. I am sick and tired of being fate's tool. No."
The Avatar's eyes begin to glow an electric blue.
"Koda – don't!"
The warrior's protest falls on deaf ears as the Avatar slips into the godlike state that I have seen his predecessor use so many times before. And in my heart, I feel a sliver of hope.
This time, when he directs the water into Teyha's wound, the room is filled with a light so bright that we are all forced to avert our gaze.
And then, after several tense moments, there is a soft gasp.
"Tehya!" I cry, reaching out to her with my hand. I manage to brush the soft skin of her cheek. To my immense relief and gratefulness, her skin is warm and full of life.
Her gray eyes open slightly, meeting mine first with a tired smile, and then the Avatar's.
"Koda... promise me... don't hurt my father," she whispers briefly before her eyes close as she slips into unconsciousness. The Avatar is still holding her, although he is shaking fiercely and looks to be on the verge of losing consciousness himself. The unnatural blue fades from his eyes until only the ice remain. The nod of his head is slight, but seen by everybody before he too succumbs and falls to the floor, arms still locked around my daughter.
I had never even thought that would be an option. It is one, however, that is more than acceptable. It seems that the Avatar's former water bending teacher resides upon a secluded island just off the coast of Kyoshi.
And they all agree that she would be more than capable of keeping me from becoming too ambitious.
'As if that would even be an issue,' I think to myself as our boat approaches the small island. On the coast I can see the water bender waving at us, and I smile as I realize that for the first time in many years, I am going home.