Avatar: The Last Airbender
Book 3: Fire
Chapter 1: The Awakening
Author's Note: Quite obviously, this is my own version of Season 3. I'm doing this to keep me entertained until Season 3 debuts. I hope you enjoy it.
Sokka's eyes shot open. The sixteen year old warrior from the Southern Water Tribe stole a quick glance around the campsite. A loud pounding sound was coming from somewhere. Sokka sat up and looked for his traveling companions. His gaze rested on two dark shapes on the ground.
That must be His Holy Avatarness and Lil' Sis the Waterbender. That means that the Great Rock Pusher is responsible.
Sokka pulled his sleeping bag up as far as it would come. Eventually, he had to admit defeat. He had just grown too much, and the sleeping bag was too small. Sokka groaned and snuggled into his bag, trying to get back to sleep. The pounding continued. Sokka looked around again. His friends were starting to stir. His sister was first to speak.
"What's that banging sound?"
Aang, His Holy Avatarness, groggily rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He too glanced around, searching for the source of the disturbance. His gaze fell on Katara, who still looked as sleepy as he felt. Her dark brown hair was not done up in her braids or "hair loopies" as he liked to think of them. It fell freely and seamed to frame her lightly tanned face. Aang stared for several seconds before the pounding sound came again.
"What IS that noise?"
Before Aang could answer, an angry snort was heard. Both looked over at Sokka. While he was still lying down, it was obvious that he was awake and alert. As they watched, he rolled over and grumbled something. While most of it was hard to hear, they could barely make out the words "Toph", "Meat", "Noises", and "Sleep". Aang laughed. He always got a kick out of Sokka. The young warrior was forever finding a problem with something or other on their trip. Katara, who loved her brother to death, but grew tired of his complaining just the same, rolled her eyes and looked at Aang. The young Airbender quickly looked away. He and Katara were friends, true, but he really didn't want to explain to her why he was staring at her. Maybe she would understand, maybe not. And what if she said no?
"Aang? How's the back?"
Aang snapped his mind out of the gutter at the sound of her voice. His back actually felt quite a bit better, and he told her so.
"Do you really think I believe that? You sound like Sokka does when he's lying."
"If you two wanna talk about me, fine. But give me the courtesy of being gone when you do."
Katara sighed and walked over to her brother. His sleeping bag was curled up on the ground and covered in dew. He looked up to see his sister standing over him, a fierce look on her face. He gave a small EEP and tried to burrow into Appa's side.
"Maybe if you didn't sleep in so late, then you'd be gone by the time we get to you"
Katara planned to berate her brother for at least a few more minutes, when a fresh chorus of booms echoed through the camp, cutting off anything she was going to say. She turned on her heels, marching off to find the source.
Aang and Sokka were quiet for several seconds before they could hear her screaming.
"Toph! It's hard enough trying to sleep when we have to deal with Sokka talking in his sleep, but the constant bangs, pounds, and booms are getting to me!"
Sokka turned and looked at Aang.
"Do I really talk in my sleep?"
The future Avatar looked back at the warrior.
"Sorry, Sokka. But yes."
Sokka burrowed into his sleeping bag again.
Aang chuckled and looked up just in time to see Katara walking back into camp. He noted the dust covering her and the fact that she was rubbing her backside. She marched right back to her own sleeping bag and sat down, immediately folding her arms and pouting.
"I really hate that girl sometimes."
Aang decided it was best not to ask. He yawned and picked himself up. He had, as he always did, spent the night on one of Appa's giant paws. He stood up and stretched. In his current predicament, this wasn't the best choice. His back gave flair of pain. He cried out and fell back onto Appa's paw. Instantly, Katara was there.
"Aang? Are you alright? I knew we should have taken it easy for a while. It's only been three days since…"
"Katara, I'm fine."
Katara fell out of her motherly stride. It was just natural for her. She refused to believe that Aang was even slightly recovered, but a day and a half of uninterrupted sleep and two days of healing water applied to his back had done wonders. Aang continued to stare up at her.
"You worry too much."
Katara learned down, until her face was almost touching his.
"I just don't want to lose you." Again.
She kissed his cheek and stood up. She turned back to her sleeping bag and picked it up and started to fold it. Aang raised a hand and put it on his cheek. He could feel the blush covering his face, his heart beating faster…
"Hey, I can't let a little pain ruin the day. Right, Sokka?"
Aang looked over at where Sokka had been lying, but the warrior had vacated his sleeping bag.
"Hey! Sokka's gone!"
Katara looked up from what she was doing. True enough, Sokka was gone. She sighed and walked back over to Aang. She sat down next to him and put her arm around him, drawing him close.
"It must be more than a little pain. You were struck by lightning. It's enough to hurt anyone. Don't be scared about telling your friends when it hurts."
"Katara, really, I'm fine. I feel great."
"I can tell you're lying, Twinkle Toes."
The pair looked up. Toph was making her way over to them. Katara looked about to say something, but Aang cut her off.
"What were you doing, Toph? What were are those bangs for?"
Toph reached the two and sat down. She pulled a few berries out of a pocket and popped them into her mouth.
"Just moving some earth. Care to join me later?"
Katara tightened her grip on Aang's shoulder. She wasn't about to let him hurt himself again.
"No. He doesn't. Aang still needs to rest."
Toph smiled. She knew how to deal with this.
"Fine with me. If you two want to waste the whole day kissing and splashing around in the river together, then I'm not one to stop you."
Toph's sentence immediately brought back memories for Aang and Katara. Mainly, the uncomfortable situation of being trapped in a cave with each other. Before they could reply in their own separate ways, Sokka came stomping back into camp. He slumped onto the ground next to Aang.
"I don't suppose any of you have any meat, because I can't find any."
Toph moved her hand. On instinct, Sokka jumped up and hid behind Appa. Toph grinned.
"Very nimble. Here, eat these."
She tossed a handful of berries at Sokka, who had recovered enough to catch them. He tossed them all in his mouth as one. Of course, this did little to whet his appetite. He immediately looked around the gang.
"Are you sure no one has any meat?"
Appa flew over a field. Aang was riding in his usual spot on Appa's head. Katara was lying down on Appa's back, but she was on her stomach and holding onto Appa's fur. Toph was gripping Sokka's arm again, her fear of flying was still very real. But Sokka was sitting up; riding on the bison's back as if he had been doing it for his entire life.
A flash of light made Sokka turn his head. He thought he was imagining things when it came again, followed but several more. He nudged Toph.
"Hey. There're some flashes of light to our left."
Toph's sightless eyes meet his.
"Real flashes? Or bending flashes?"
Sokka shrugged. He grabbed Toph's hand to let her know he was still there and slowly made his way towards Aang.
"Aang! There are some flashes of light to our left!"
"I know. We've been descending for a minute now."
"Ohh. Well ok then."
Zuko shot another fireball from his hands at the soldiers sent by his sister to capture him. He was stupid to believe her. She always lied. Why would this time be any different? The young Earthbender he was fighting looked exhausted, but he, Zuko, was fresh and could fight on. He launched another fireball, but saw the bender dodge it. He was more disappointed when the young bender turned and ran. He didn't blame the man. After all, Zuko had managed to down more than half the patrol.
He was still watching the man run when he felt the wind on his back. He turned around in time to see the Avatar jump off the bison's back, his friends' right behind him. He heard a collective gasp.
"Zuko?" said several confused voices.
The air rushed out of Zuko's body as he dropped where he stood.