Just Watching

I don't own Avatar.

This is the second-to-last in the Ponder Chronicles. Enjoy.

The rain is finally letting up. A happy grin covers Aang's face. "We can leave now!"

Katara's face suddenly looks stricken. "So soon?" She says, masking her fear with sarcasm. She gives me a look.

I'm just watching her, that's all.

"It's about time," Sokka breathes, and I rush to leap upon Aang's shoulder. He pats me on the head.

"Aren't you happy we're leaving, Momo?"

I chatter in approval, telling him I am thrilled to leave this lousy piece of rock. I leap from his shoulder to Katara's, then to Sokka's, who brushes me off.

"Look, even Momo's happy." Katara sighs, grabbing her pack. "Let's go."

Minutes later we are flying through the sky, happy to leave our island and our troubles behind.

The next day we make landfall in an Earthbending town's harbor. Sokka gives a cry of delight at the sight of so much food and rushes out without another word. Katara chases after him, carrying our meager amount of money.

Aang turns to me. "C'mon Momo, let's do something interesting."

I run behind him as he runs off to the vending stalls. As soon as I hear the first gasp, I know someone recognized him. Again I take a flying leap and rush to his shoulder, peering at the trinkets he is staring so avidly at.

I watch the crowd approach us, and I smell someone familiar.

Is that Zuko? I scrunch up my nose, trying to decide. It doesn't look like him, and I'm almost sure it is not him.

Is-that-really-Zuko is dressed in peasant's garb with an eye patch over on eye, his hood over his face. I can see him watching Katara.

A sense of dread wells up in me and I take off to stop that man from looking at her.

I sit on the ground, my head bent to one side. He towers over me but doesn't notice. The power of my gaze must have drawn his, because he looks at me.

"What are you looking at?" He snaps, his voice low and gravely.

I send him an offended look. Don't mind me, sir, I'm just watching.

"If you don't have anything to say then leave me alone!" He says in a commanding voice.

"Momo!" Katara rushes over to rescue me.

She and the man in the cloak lock eyes. She whispers something so quietly not even my humongous ears can hear it. He turns on his heel and leaves.

I make a sound resembling a cheer, but Katara's look cuts it off short. "Momo," She scolds, "You should be nicer to strangers, especially with Aang around."

She is sending me on a guilt trip and it works. I apologize in my own way, by leaping up to her shoulder and rubbing the top of my head under her chin. Katara laughs.

We make camp a few hours before sunset. The afternoon has taken on a golden orange glow. Everyone looks refreshed, but still tired.

I can't ignore the changes in everyone. In some way, the island forced us to mature. Appa groans suddenly, plunking down in a clearing. I strike up a conversation with him, just watching everyone mill around.

Sokka reclines in a patch of sunlight. "Katara, when are you making dinner?"

Katara reddens. "As soon as you get off your butt and get firewood!"

Sokka grumbles unhappily, trudging off to do as he was told.

Aang is busy practicing earthbending with the other earthbenders back in town. Why we didn't stay in town is beyond me, but Katara wanted to stay a night in the woods.

As soon as Sokka leaves, Katara glances around and then takes off in the opposite direction.

Intrigued, I follow her deep into the woods. She is marking trees so she can find her way back.

I peer through the leaves of a tall pine and watch her gather a few plants. She comes near the base of my tree.

Don't mind me, Katara, I'm just watching you.

She bends down and pulls numerous plants of the same species. Even from up here, I know that these plants are an aid in sleep.

I have been leaning too far forward for too long, so I finally take a tumble to the ground.

Katara shrieks in surprise. "Momo!" She yells, furious with me.

"Were you following me?" She demands, and I watch her carefully conceal the sleep-plants.

I chatter indignantly, and she finally relinquishes her temper. "I'm sorry, Momo. I guess I overreacted."

I leap on top of her head, chattering happily. I'm just watching you, Katara.

I was just watching when I was feigning sleep almost a week ago, seeing her collapse against Appa.

I was just watching Sokka throw boomerang after weapon into the knot of a tree, anger burning in his eyes.

I was just watching Aang turn bitter almost two days ago, before the rain finally fell.

Katara begins to make dinner as Sokka salivates. Katara is making soup again, and I watch her drop herbs into it for flavor.

Aang comes back with meat and vegetables from the market, giving a cry of joy when he sees the simmering pot.

Katara rolls her eyes good-naturedly, taking the meat from him.

While our dinner is cooking, I become bored and decide to investigate. I sniff around the fire, meat wafting into my nose. I scratch around the edge of our camp, watching Katara watch the trees.

Finally, I get around to sniffing her pack. A brown parcel is carefully concealed, and I stare at it with interest. I nudge it with my nose, smelling unfamiliar people and places.

"Momo!" Katara suddenly yells yet again.

I leap up, staring up at her with innocent eyes.

"Momo…" She says in a warning tone. I bow my head in regret, asking for an apology.

I look up into laughing blue eyes. "What's gotten into you?" She asks fondly, scratching me between the ears.

I make a sound of delight, craning my head around to give her more to scratch.

With a final chuckle, she goes back to cooking.

I settle down on the ground, my chin resting in my arms. As I am closing my eyes, I notice Katara throw some strange plants into the food.

Were those the sleep-plants?

Only a short while later, Aang and Sokka come bounding back to camp, pawing at Katara for food. She gives them an annoyed look but spoons out food anyway. She holds out a bowl for me.

Aang and Sokka wolf down the food along with me. Katara shakes her head.

When the first stars are peeking out of the sky, Aang and Sokka are soundly asleep. In fact, I am struggling to stay awake.

A girlish figure reappears, concealed in a dark cloak. She gazes at me, sorrow filling her eyes.

Sleep has almost claimed me. I watch her put on her shoes.

When she speaks, I know who she is.

"Goodbye, Momo." Katara whispers, stroking my ears. "I'm sorry."

And with that, my watching eyes close.

There we have it, the climax. The ending is next!