Echoes in Time

Summary: Avatar Aang cannot shake the feeling he's been here before. Kataang, with a side dose of Avatar Kyoshi. One shot.

A/N: a little something I wrote up very quickly the other night. Warnings for blatant ruminations about past Avatars along with a little guess work based on the four elements and the Avatar cycle. It's ridiculously fluffy. I don't know where that came from, so I'm blaming JoJoDancer's influence. This actually started out as a bit about Aang recognizing Suki as a decendent of Kyoshi and morphed into something else.

And holy cow I wrote a bit in present tense! That was awkward.

Few legends in the world endure and pass on like the legend of the Avatar. The mere idea of the Avatar itself, of one in tune with all elements, and spirits and world alike, inspires stories and ideas and traditions that are fervently and faithfully passed from generation to generation.

How many of these stories and traditions are actually true is no longer known, but ritual is kept. Children learn about the Avatar, grow up with a steadfast belief in their abilities, and in turn pass the same stories they learned – and maybe a few new ones, depending on who the Avatar of their adult lives is – on to their children.

As such, the Avatar lives a life of intense public scrutiny, of being expected to conform to the ideas and beliefs of each individual person. These vary from culture to culture, but there is one idea, tradition, in particular, that has risen from each and every society and been imposed on the Avatar.

The Avatar, as the single most powerful person in the world, lives a life of solitude and neither marries nor raises a family; the Avatar is too busy running the world; the Avatar must stay impartial between nations; the Avatar must not be distracted from worldly duties.

This rule has been imposed with varying degrees of success over the years. Some – usually from the Fire Nation, with their strong sense of honor, or the Air Nomads, whose genders were raised separately – accepted this with little public complaint. Some – usually from the Water Tribe, and their ability to adapt – merely kept their loves private and to the side, in a thankless but important role in the Avatar's life.

And then some, most often from the Earth Kingdom with their intense stubbornness, simply waved their hands at tradition and did as they pleased anyway.

Kyoshi was sixteen and head over heels in love when she was told she was the Avatar. Her love was a year older than her and they had already began to secretly whisper betrothal plans, to be set the instant she came of age, and being told her life was on a completely different path than she had intended was not part of her plan.

Avatar Kyoshi was also a firebender, and had a strong sense of honor. She accepted this new role in life. Avatar Kyoshi was also an airbender, and could keep a sense of humor about her overwhelming new position. Avatar Kyoshi was also a waterbender, and knew how to adapt, how to compromise between the plans she had made and the plans that had been set before her.

But first and foremost, Avatar Kyoshi was an earthbender. Upon turning sixteen and learning she was the Avatar, she first contacted the monk who would become her airbending teacher, then promptly turned around and married her love, just as she had planned all along.

He was her traveling companion, and though there were rumbles and whispers, they were devoted to each other and few could complain about that. Her marriage taken care of, Kyoshi then settled in to learn to control the elements, and celebrated her ascent to firebending master by falling pregnant with their first child.

Again, there was gossiping and strong undertones of disapproval. The couple returned to their childhood town – at this point, still attached to the belly of the Earth Kingdom – and set up a home, raising what turned from one child to three.

She would face her share of criticisms – particularly in her handling of Chin the Great – and to the day she died there were those who condemned her choice to marry and have children, but Avatar Kyoshi was just determined enough, just sarcastic enough, and most importantly, an earthbender. She knew how to ignore pointless whining about her personal choices.

Once, while still learning airbending, Avatar Kyoshi had been told by the monks that as one prepares to enter the next life, all the accomplishments and deeds of the current life are carefully reviewed and judged by the spirits. In the final days of her life, Avatar Kyoshi thought about her accomplishments and deeds, and always came back to one day: the one in early summer in her sixteenth year when she had married her childhood love. Every detail was cataloged in her head, replaying endlessly as she recalled the happiest day of her life.

It is possible that this is why, two lifetimes later on a warm, early summer day, Avatar Aang cannot shake the feeling that he has been here before.

He is on Kyoshi Island, helping in the preparations of a wedding feast for the one he regards as a brother and the one who has proved to be a valuable ally time and time again.

During the ceremony he studies the bride, and recalls the brush of the thick fabric of the skirt, the cold heaviness of the make up, even the restricting feeling of trying to breathe around the bodice of the dress. It brings to mind faint dreams that he can never remember when he wakes up in the morning: of brushing out silky hair and the metal snap of golden fans and strong arms that feel secure. He has these dreams – along with darker ones – once in a while, but they're neither coherent nor clear, and they don't stay with him long.

Aang watches the bride smile – she must be blushing brilliantly under all that makeup – and understands, very suddenly and clearly, that he is watching a memory from a past life.

The spirits are kind not to give him memories of previous lives, and he can't help but feel almost relieved that this one that has slipped through is a happy one, though there is a familiar ache there in his chest that he has learned to live with.

There is a sudden jolt beneath his hand, and he looks down where it's resting on his wife's rounded belly. She gives him a warm smile, her blue eyes shining – Kyoshi's love had dark eyes, he remembers – and he smiles back and runs his hand over where his child is kicking. Briefly, he wonders if two lifetimes from now the new earthbending Avatar will look into the blue eyes of her airbending teacher and feel that same ache of familiarity.

Then the ceremony is over, flower petals are tossed, and Avatar Aang gets up to celebrate the life he's living now, like Avatar Kyoshi before him.

Anyone still following Shadows in the Mind, no worries, because you'll be getting a two chapter update in the next week or so! I promise. I'll be home for Christmas break on Thursday, which will free up a good chunk of time to focus on some writing that isn't for school.