Ten Years of Difference


Destiny is not always heeded…

Sokka stared at the hole at the bottom of the boat, and the water seeping in. And then looked up to glare at his sheepish sister. It had been such a fine day to go fishing, and she'd ruined both it and her boat!

It had started out well. Katara had agreed to go with him, but her mind hadn't been on fishing. Rather, it had been on her Waterbending. It had gone to the point where it had irritated him, and he'd done what he'd always done in that case: tease her lack of progress.

She'd gotten angry, of course, and had produced a remarkable jet of water as a result. Unfortunately, that jet of water went through his boat. Which had pretty much resulted in their current predicament.

Katara, her own anger forgotten in her dismay, gave Sokka an uncertain smile.

"Um…sorry?" she mused tentatively, looking down at the hole as well.

"Just…perfect! Perfect!" he shouted, and Katara actually cringed a bit. She knew how long he'd worked on the small boat. He calmed down, however. He had bigger problems to tackle.

"Can you use that Waterbending of yours to make sure the water doesn't sink us too fast?" he asked tensely.

"I…I think so, yeah. Yeah, I can!"

"Then you Bend, I'll paddle like a crazy man to shore!" he said. "I swear, one day that Waterbending's gonna get you or me killed!"

"Hey! You got to admit, that was pretty nice there!" She countered.

"Oh yeah, just great!" he said sarcastically, as he passed an ice mound. Neither looked at it, too preoccupied as they were on paddling or Bending. "And the results? Just incredible! Just like your big Avatar theories! Full of holes!"

"You're just jealous!"

"And you're just…" Their voices faded from the place, their banter glancing off the cold mound, never reaching the incredible secret inside.

Empty, and cold. That was the World in Aang's mind. He didn't know, and yet he knew, that time had passed. Much time. How much? He didn't manage to make himself care, either. He didn't awaken.

The last Master Airbender slumbered in his self-made, icy cocoon.

Destiny was waylaid by fate. The slumbering saviour continued to slumber.

Zuko stared at the woman he'd barely defeated. Panting Yueh, she called herself. He had known that name from his Uncle. The daughter of the Chief of the Northern Water Tribes, that was who she was. She lay unconscious, having fought hard to protect the pool, in which two fish swam eerily.

The Spirits? Those are what Zhao's after? He wondered, even as he heard the battle thundering from the walls. Soon, the battle would spill inside the capital, and Zhao would arrive to destroy the source of the Waterbenders' power.

Do I let him? Do I let him take the girl as well? I am a loyal Firebender, sworn to the Fire Nation. He thought quickly. And yet… Uncle said… that it was the wrong thing to do.

He gritted his teeth, and stepped towards the girl and the pond. He had decided, for good or ill.

Toph raised the Earth beneath the soldier's feet, forcing them all to scatter, and then sped away by controlling the ground. She grinned, her blind eyes useless, but her senses telling her of the trouble she had just caused. The Fire Nation's column would be stalled for at least a day. Enough for the Earth Army to regroup.

The Comet had come, after over a century. And it had transformed the Fire Nation's advance into a tide. Omashu, Entaz, Gaoling, and so many others had been taken. So many fortresses had fallen. Toph's people were being driven back to Ba Sing Se. Soon, even that mightiest of city-states would be assailed.

But Toph refused to give in. She would never bend the knee to the Fire Nation. She'd fight her own battles, and join forces with those who'd oppose Fire Nation rule. Even if the Earth Kingdom fell, she never would.

I am the greatest Earthbender in the world, and they'll learn to fear the name Blind Bandit. She vowed to herself, as she sped away from the enemy and into the wilds.

Ty Lee had looked as Iroh, the Dragon of the West, and the greatest Firebender of his time, had given his last breath. The old man had died as he'd lived – fully accepting his fate. But not before he had told his gloating niece something.

"Your ambitions will destroy you before they destroy the world. Remember that, Azula. There's always a price to be paid."

Zuko had entered, and had pushed them back in his fury, taking the body away. Ty Lee had found herself happy to see that. For some reason, that had felt right.

What am I doing here? She wondered as she looked down from her balcony in what had once been the Earth King's Palace. Cheerfulness is hard to maintain, and I'm starting to feel like Azula won't stop until she'd destroyed every life around her.

Sokka wept as he stared at the raft on which his father's body was being carried. Hakoda had been a great man, and the Resistance had done him a magnificent funeral, following the Southern Water Tribe rituals.

Six years fighting with you. He thought, as the pain sought to overwhelm him. I left Katara back home to find you. To have your approval. Did I get it? I got it, didn't I? His father had said so, and he had to believe it.

He looked around. There was Zuko, looking at the barge with wistful sadness. There was Bumi, the elderly Earthbender looking sombre, his jovial face forgotten today. There was even Toph, who saw without seeing, and who had touched his shoulder in sympathy.

Of Suki, there was no sign. Still with Jet. Even now.

His father's group wanted Sokka to lead them. They said he could. Zuko said he could. Bumi encouraged him. Even Toph acquiesced to the idea. He might take his father's mantle, if they trusted him to do a good job. He would fight the new Fire Empire as Hakoda had done.

And he'd never forget that Suki, the woman he loved, was absent when his heart threatened to sunder forever. With that, Sokka broke down, barely feeling Zuko and Toph as they gently pulled him away from his father's drifting body.

And so, ten years passed from that fateful moment until, once again, a decade later, destiny called once more…