Disclaimer: Babe, if I owned Coldplay, would I be sitting here writing fanfiction about Avatar (which I also don't own)?
AN: I've learnt a new word; "review-whore". I've also discovered I am one. So, what this means kiddies is that reviews pay the creative bills, which stops my brain from imploding. Writers with imploded brains don't write fanfiction. They sit around sucking apple sauce through a straw.
Also: This fic was largely inspired by two pictures ('Tui and La' and 'Yue's Metamorphasis') on DeviantArt by the talented Isaia.
Oh yeah your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
And you know
For you I'd bleed myself dry
For you I'd bleed myself dry
– Coldplay, "Yellow" –
It was a stupid thing to be killed by. But being stupid didn't remove the crossbow bolt from his chest, or the slow poison the archer had smeared on its tip. The tell tale green smudges had appeared beneath his eyes within minutes. He would have a week to live at the most. If constant fever, sickness and hallucinations could be called living.
A week, though.
Just enough time.
His sister was weeping healing water onto his ribcage. He gripped her shaking wrist as firmly as he could – which was probably more than necessary. He wasn't that far gone yet.
"Katara," he rasped.
She looked at him with wide, horrified eyes. "Don't talk," she commanded, even now taking on the healer's mantle. It didn't stop her voice shaking. "Save your strength –"
"Take me back, Katara. Take me back to her. I want to die in her place. In her sanctuary."
There was no mistaking who or where he was talking about.
Trembling with grief, the water-bender nevertheless called out to their war skiff's first mate.
"Set a course for the North Pole…we're taking the captain to say goodbye."
I wrote a song for you,
And all the things you do,
And it was called Yellow.
Katara knew the story, and for the journey into the semi-familiar cold, she believed that maybe, like Yue, Sokka could be given new life, and go on. She believed it all the way to the spirit oasis, and as she had the men lower her fever-wracked brother into the water. She believed as she turned her tear-stained face heavenward and begged the bone-hooded moon to hear her.
"Yue, please, if you can hear me, speak on his behalf. If you love him, end the sickness, save him, I beg of you…"
She still believed, with the belief of the desperate, that he would live. That he would not end here.
In a way, she would always be right. In a way.
The waters swirled, shifted. Glowed with a light fierce enough to sear unwary eyes. Beneath it, Katara could just see the body of the ocean spirit, La, writhing and pirouetting about his mate. A nameless, faceless shadow rose from the lighted water, his back to them, facing the sky.
Then the light of the moon seemed to solidify, take form. And there was Yue. She hovered before them, shielding the man-shadow from their sight. The moon spirit was smiling her eternal sorrowful smile. At first Katara thought she knew why.
Then Sokka's body began to fade. Unthinkingly, Katara screamed "No!" and threw herself into the pool, frantically cradling him to her, clinging. Amongst the furied thought and emotion, she noticed he had stopped breathing. The crew looked on, helpless, as their captain disappeared completely and their war-maid dissolved with grief.
"Why?" she sobbed, looking back at the moon spirit. Sudden anger seized her. "Tell me why!"
Yue sighed like a cool breeze. "It was his time, Katara. You know this, in your heart of hearts." The sad smile curled a little further and became affectionate. "And besides, did he himself not once say, 'she's gone'? Yet here I am."
"But you became the moon. Sokka, he – he just... He's dead." And it hurt so much to say, to admit that it was real.
"Do you remember what I told him, when I ascended?"
"That you would always be with him."
"And I have been. And he will be with you."
The water-bender bowed her head, feeling a fresh wave of helpless tears. "But I want him beside me…" she sobbed.
"Kat, you've so many bits of me, how could I leave?"
Gasping, she looked up, not at Yue, but the man-shadow behind her.
The faceless spirit was no longer faceless. Now, he had eyes and a mouth, and a name.
He was grinning lazily over his shoulder and Yue's. Even as a war captain, Sokka had been something of a goof. There was nothing goofy about him now. This new creature might have a wicked sense of humour, but 'goof' could never be applied.
While Yue's gown was white, his warrior's garb was black, right down to the boomerang sheath at his back, and the handle of his machete strapped to his hip. His hair was longer, darker, dressed and braided like a chief's. On his face were the black sections of Southern Tribe war paint. She could see the now obsidian club held effortlessly in his right hand. He smiled, but his eyes were narrowed, his gaze like steel.
"Tui and La," the terrified second mate whispered.
Sokka laughed, and Yue's smile widened.
"Sokka?" Katara said again, sounding like a lost child.
He looked at her and the steel melted. In a blink he was kneeling before her in the pool, one cool hand on her cheek. "It's like I said, Little Sis. You've too many parts of me in you for me to ever truly leave. I am the ocean, the ocean is me. And you're a bender besides. You've got me in you heart, in your blood and now, even in that crazy water magic you love so much."
She managed a gasp of laughter. He could always make her laugh.
"I'm never leaving, Katara," he murmured, embracing her. "Just changing…"
When she opened her eyes, the light had faded and her arms were empty. She hugged herself instead, noticed her clothes and hair smelt ever more richly of salt and were faintly damp. Tui and La were circling nearly in her lap. She reached out, held her hand just over their heads. They arched as they passed it, nudging her palm affectionately, bizarrely cat-like in their behaviour.
Katara stayed like that for a long time.
I jumped across for you,
Oh what a thing to do.
Cos you were all yellow,
"War-Maid, come quickly!"
It took her all of ten seconds to water-bend up the city wall. The first mate was their, pointing out to sea, a look of absolute rapture on his face.
The full moon was rising on this, the night after that of Sokka's ascension. Katara refused point-blank to call it death. As the great sphere rose, the water-bender could see it leaving a trail of white light across the ocean.
"Beautiful," she murmured.
"But that's not all, Lady Katara," the mate said urgently. "Keep looking! See? There…"
And there they were.
Two figures stepping down the highway of light like they ruled the world. One in black so aggressively sharp he was a silhouette of lazy male energy. His companion in white so luminous she was almost indistinguishable from the wavering path. They walked hand in hand, and Katara thought she could hear distant singing.
"He's home," she murmured, absently resting a hand on the water skin at her hip. Pitching her voice to carry, she called to the crew ranged along the wall. "Ready the skiff, we ship out at dawn."
They scattered, leaving her alone. She turned to bend her way down, then looked back. "And it had better be smooth sailing. You owe me, oh-brother-mine."
His laughter followed her all the way to the harbour.
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.