Disclaimer: Does anyone actually read this? Anyone? Oh well.
Author's Note: Really, I wrote this all in one go, but it was too long. I had to break it up. Written because I think there are way too few Pakku fics out there! I hope it inspires more, because I really love Pakku's story!
Master Pakku stood in a simple ready stance, breathing deeply of the frigid morning air. Soon, his students would arrive, but for now he enjoyed a moment to himself. He would be instructing the Avatar today. This should have been an exciting prospect, but Pakku was only irked that he had to tutor a beginner. As the water formed a sphere in front of him, he pushed the thought out of his mind and began a routine exercise to warm up his bending. He needed to concentrate on this before anyone showed up.
Too late. "Good morning, Master Pakku!" came the loud, overly cheerful shout from behind him. Pakku winced, consequently losing focus on the water. It splashed unceremoniously to the snow-covered ground.
Now thoroughly irritated by the interruption, he replied without turning around. "No, please, march right in; I'm not concentrating or anything," he said, his words dripping with his usual dry sarcasm. Then he turned to face him – or, rather, them. A girl of no more than fifteen stood beside the boy expectantly.
The young Avatar obviously wasn't accustomed to people like Pakku (then again, few were), as he didn't seem sure how to respond. Instead, he continued, "Uh, this is my friend, Katara. The one I told you about?" The girl bowed politely.
Pakku eyed them warily. He hadn't expected this to happen. He had thought that even the simple people of the Southern Water Tribe knew about their customs. Apparently, though, judging by the eager look on the girl's face, they had no idea. Pakku decided to be civil in light of their ignorance. "I'm sorry. I think there's been a misunderstanding," he said, creating a seat of ice as he spoke. "You didn't tell me your friend was a girl." Well, it was as civil as he could be under the circumstances. His tone became darker, his expression more serious. "In our tribe, it is forbidden for women to learn water bending."
The girl's expression turned from perplexed to angry in an instant. "What do you mean, you won't teach me?" she demanded. She marched over to him. "I didn't travel across the entire world so you could tell me no!"
"No," Pakku said impassively. He wasn't fond of people throwing tantrums, especially in his training area.
"But there must be other female water benders in your tribe!" So, she was resorting to reason. But reason was useless without facts.
"Here, the women learn from Yagota to use their water bending to heal." Pakku smirked and added, "I'm sure she would be happy to take you as her student – despite your bad attitude."
"I don't want to heal, I want to fight!" she yelled, lashing out at the air in front of her. As Pakku looked at her, for one instant, her chin became slightly sharper and her cheek bones more prominent, and he was looking at Kanna, at fourteen, annoyed at him again. His jaw tightened imperceptibly, and he blinked to clear the image. Those were the only outward signs that anything was amiss.
He continued as if nothing had happened, in the same dry tone. "I can see that. But our tribe has customs, rules."
"Well, your rules stink!" she yelled, glaring at him.
"Yeah, they're not fair!" The Avatar seemed to materialize beside the girl, defending her. "If you won't teach Katara, then…"
"Then what?" Pakku said, standing up threateningly.
"Then I won't learn from you!" he shot back.
Pakku sneered, "Well, have fun teaching yourself! I'm sure you'll do a great job!"
"Wait!" the girl cried out after the Avatar's retreating figure. She turned to Pakku, pleading. "Aang didn't mean that."
He watched the two of them converse quietly, with several glares sent his way. Finally, the Avatar nodded and turned toward Pakku sullenly. The girl left. Good riddance, he thought. Unfortunately, that left him with a student that was not only a beginner, but got on his nerves as well. He may as well have some fun with this. "Why don't we get started, then?" he said nastily. Before the boy could react, a mass of water had flung him back a good ten feet. Pakku smirked.
The lesson had not gone well. Certainly Pakku had been harsh on the Avatar, but what did one expect? All new students had to be broken in, especially ones that had as little time as this one. For someone who had to master the elements, he wasn't very good at it.
Pakku had not seen the girl, Katara, again today. It was odd, what had happened back when she was arguing with him. He hadn't thought of Kanna in a very long time. In hindsight, it hadn't taken much for Katara's face to change into Kanna's. The resemblance was strange. She was certainly fiery and independent as Kanna had been, especially around him.
Even as a teenager, Pakku had been a great water bender. His parents had arranged for him to take private lessons from Master Lun, to prepare him to take the position of Master Water Bender. The lessons took most of his time and energy, but to travel to and from them he had to cut through the market. That was when he usually saw her.
He would often walk with his friend, Codan, and they would talk and joke and laugh, as young men do. More often than not, they would see Kanna, sometimes with Yagota, making her way up the street with a basket of fish, cloth, or some other product. Pakku stopped and lifted the basket out of her hands. "Let me get that for you," he said, with a dashing smile. Yagota giggled. Met with only a raised eyebrow and exasperated snort from Kanna, he started toward her house. He knew exactly where she lived.
"I think I can carry a basket for a few blocks," a familiar voice said sarcastically from behind him – presumably having the same owner as the hand that was now hindering his progress.
"It wouldn't be very polite to let a lady carry this load by herself," Pakku said smoothly. The basket was taken forcibly from him. "If you're sure," he called after her. She turned around to look crossly at him, but not without a hint of amusement at the corners of her mouth. This event happened several times more, in the same general pattern.
A few times, he felt a sharp rap under his chin. "You're drooling," Codan would say, grinning.
Once, after such an encounter, he confessed. "Codan, I have to tell you something…"
"You're running away to live with turtle-seals?" his friend guessed with mock hope.
Pakku snorted. "I'm trying to be serious here." He lowered his voice. "That's who I'm going to marry."
Codan looked puzzled. "A turtle-seal?"
"Sorry. Go on, then. Who's the lucky lady?"
"Yes," Pakku said coldly. "What's wrong with Kanna?"
"Nothing. She's… Well, you're good looking, you're rich, and you're going to have a good, steady job. You could have anyone."
"True. And I want Kanna," he said firmly.
"I guess. There's no denying that she's pretty…"
She was the most beautiful girl Pakku had ever laid eyes on. "What's your point?"
"Wouldn't you like a more… compliant wife?"
Pakku just gave his friend a lopsided smile. Not a chance, he thought. At that point, he tuned Codan out and looked back, trying to catch another glimpse.
Pakku sighed and ran a hand over his face. Why did this have to come up now, after all these years? He had work to do; maybe that would distract him. That was it, he thought. All he had to do was get his mind back to work, and these memories would return to the dark corners of his mind where they belonged.
Congratulations, you have survived Flashback Number One. Prepare yourself for many more. Oh, and review whilst you're at it.