Author's Note: I have always thought since seeing the episode "The Storm" that Aang's past hid far more than he revealed and far more than he was actually aware of and I have always thought it could have something to do with his parents/family and who they were. This story is just an expression of that thought and my own ideas as to what happened.
The title will make sense as the story goes on. You'll see.
Just a warning...I tend to write very short chapters.
I don't own Avatar. I don't own its characters. The other characters featured in this story are my own creations.
The rain had been falling for several days, not like tears but like a torrent of water had been let loose from a dam. The townspeople said it was the worst rainstorm in years. That comment was followed with the occasional reference to the death of Avatar Roku just the year before and the strange weather occurrences that had happened since the Avatar's passing.
But there was one person, with eyes the color of the storm clouds above, who was not thinking of the Avatar's death.
Liyan rushed through the streets of the small Earth Kingdom town of Seisho trying desperately to find shelter from the rain. The squirming bundle in her arms let out a wail of protest as rain soaked the blanket and the little body inside. She briefly looked down at the baby in her arms, her heart aching as the child shivered.
She smiled as she discovered a small covered porch in a nearby alley. Even if she couldn't stay there, at least she and the child could stay dry for a few minutes. Liyan settled herself into one of the corners of the porch, making sure to stay as inconspicuous a possible. The baby wailed again, once again expressing discomfort.
The young mother pulled the wet blanket off of her child and draped it over the bamboo arm a nearby chair. "Hush now, my angel." She loosened her once elegant kimono and held the baby close to her body. There was not much milk for the child and her heart weighed heavily with the knowledge that her baby would continue to be hungry. Liyan sighed and looked out from her hiding place at the rain that continued to fall. Something had to be done. She was running out of money, out of energy, and out of hope.
Liyan caressed her baby's still plump cheek and smiled. This child, this little boy, was her only reason for continuing to fight and to hope. She had to if for no other reason than for him. In her short seventeen years, he had been the greatest gift ever bestowed upon her and the only thing that had made the suffering she had endured over the past two years worthwhile.
The young woman had never been lucky. She had been born beautiful. She had been born to a relatively privileged Air Nomad family. And some would have considered that a lucky beginning to life. But the kind of luck that made one successful in life was something that she had never been blessed with. At least not until the baby. Her grandmother had commented when Liyan was three years old that the little girl's life would end in sadness. It was the curse of being unlucky.
And unlucky she was. Her elder brother, Luta, was a high ranking monk at the Northern Air Temple. Her younger sister, Maiko, was already an accomplished air bender and a favorite at the Eastern Air Temple. Liyan, the middle child, was none of those things.
In a world where elemental bending skills were prized, where people were praised and exalted for being great fighters and warriors, where being able to take care of oneself was a necessity, she was at a disadvantage. She was not a fighter and her siblings had teased her as being far too girly for the Air Nomad lifestyle. She was not a bender and people had often looked at her with pity and disappointment. She would not help in carrying on the family tradition of strong and revered Air Benders.
She was ordinary. Except for her beauty, which for other people would have been considered a blessing, she however considered it a curse. Her looks had caught the attention of a visiting nomad and her father, thinking his daughter who without bending abilities would be a burden on the family forever, agreed to allow the nomad to take Liyan as his concubine. Her mother had told her it was a good prospect and as their family fortunes had been dwindling of late, it might be her last chance to at least be cared for by a wealthy man. He had several fine tents, he had many flying bison, and would be able to provide for her and any future children.
Her mother had told her: "He seems like a kind man who will treat you well."
Liyan choked back a laugh at the memory of her mother's words. The world held onto a myth that all Air Nomads were gentle, spiritual and kind. And that myth couldn't be further from the truth. Liyan's master, Gin Li, had been cruel and violent. He had provided her with a lovely home and lovely kimono to wear, but the price she paid for such luxury was beatings and worse. In fact her beloved child had been conceived during such violence.
Violence that had been present even on the day of the child's birth. The labor had been long and difficult; Gin Li continuously yelling at her and the midwives for making too much noise and getting in his way. Liyan had tried to block out his abusive remarks about what he would do if she gave him a useless girl-child. A bastard was bad enough, but a girl would be even worse. At least in Gin Li's mind. In Liyan's mind, boy or girl, it didn't matter. But as soon as the midwives placed her son in her arms, Liyan knew that this child was what she had always wanted. Ten fingers, ten toes, and a round little face that she fell instantly in love with.
Gin Li had muttered his approval of the child and for a few days, there was finally peace in the tents. But the peace did not last long and he was once again cruel and threatening. He verbally and phyically attacked her once more and the young woman tried desperately not to let despair take over. She would hold her new son and sing to him after enduring Gin Li's cruelty, the baby's sweet newborn smell comforting and his presence reassuring that life was in fact worth living.
She had always been afraid to leave Gin Li, afraid he would kill her, but his threats against their child finally pushed her into action. Three months after the birth of her son and with nothing more than a blanket and an extra change of clothes for the baby, she ran. Liyan knew Gin Li would pursue her, but she had to try to save herself and her child. She had considered the baby's birth a sign that her luck was changing and she hoped the good fortune of being blessed with such a dear child would continue.
"Hopefully you and I will have a better life, my precious. Hopefully we can just start over." She smiled and hugged the baby tight against her. He whimpered pitifully and shivered. Liyan looked down at her infant son and frowned. "I know. I know. It's cold and wet. We need to find better shelter."
Liyan pushed a wet lock of her dark hair from her face and touched the pale blue silk of her kimono. If the garment had been in better condition, she could have sold it. But the tears in the fabric and the hem around the bottom now coming undone rendered it worthless. The girl had sold the two gold and pearl combs that had once held in place her elaborate hairstyle and the money from that sale had not lasted long. She feared she didn't have even enough to last the next twenty-four hours. Liyan fingered the dragonfly pendant hanging on a chain around her neck. It was her last valuable material possession. Not because it was expensive, but because it was the last thing she had been given by her family before leaving with Gin Li. She hated to part with it, but she would for her son's sake.
The young woman counted the coins in the coin purse hidden underneath the folds of her kimono, smiling with relief. Just enough for a night at an inn and maybe dinner. She didn't want to spend all the money at once, but the child's sneezing told her she really didn't have much of a choice. She wrapped the baby back up into the blanket, pulled her kimono together, and stood. She looked out at the street cautiously before leaving the porch in search for a warm place to sleep and a warm meal for her grumbling stomach.