Hey guys! I'm in a joyous mood today! Want to know why? Its because finals are over! Yup, that means no more studying...and I can have my social life back! So lets all celebrate together with this new story!

Tmeline: I wrote this all during the great avatar depression (after season 3 finale), so this all takes place after season 2, but before season 3.


Into the Darkness


o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

"I hate days like this." I mumbled under my breath. The humid air blew into my already tangled hair making an even worse mess. I tried to smooth it down with my hands, but it wouldn't relent.

I licked my cracked lips and sighed. We had been traveling for a couple days now, but it already felt like a week. We were running low water, so my throat was parched; every thing seemed to be working against me today.

I was utterly miserable, but at least I was keeping this all to myself though; I had not yet uttered a single complaint. Well, not a big one at least. I only complained about the lack of water, but that is understandable, everyone was thirsty.

"This is the worst weather I've seen since we were stuck in that desert." Sokka complained loudly as he tried to wipe away as much sweat as possible.

Ignoring him as usual, I looked around to see if anyone was doing anything that might be interesting. Sokka was swinging his boomerang around like an idiot; with every spiral it came closer and closer to his face without him even realizing it. I was waiting for the moment when It would collide with his forehead. A few seconds later, I got me wish, it hit him right on his left temple and he cried out in pain. I couldn't contain my laughter. Toph was gazing out into the distance with her unseeing eyes, humming a tune that sounded strangely familiar, but I couldn't remember what it was for the life of me. Aang was acting strangely agitated, flying with a scowl on his face that was not normal for him.

"You would think that we would get some kind of breeze up here considering we are FLYING! Gosh Appa…cant we go any faster?!" Sokka said rubbing the red welt that had formed on his temple.

Suddenly Sokka got his breeze; a huge gust of wind knocked Sokka on his back. I looked up at Aang, who was seething with anger. "Will you shut up? I don't like this any more than you do!" That shocked me; Aang was usually calm and serene. I couldn't blame him though; the depressing weather was making everyone on edge.

The earth below us was cracked with lack of water. I looked out into the distance and saw nothing but a few scattered bushes and cacti. No trees, that means there's no water either. This is going to be a very long trip. Usually, in cases like this, I would practice bending, but with no water…

I lay down on Appa's saddle, hoping to make this trip faster by taking a long nap.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

I was tied up to a tree; I clearly felt the bark of the tree through my dress. "Go jump in the river!" I cried out as Zuko paced in front of me.

Zuko looked down thoughtfully

"Try to understand, I need to capture him to restore something I've lost. My honor. Perhaps in exchange I can restore something you've lost." He said as he paced around the tree. The ghost of his breath dancing on my neck. I shivered automatically. I could do nothing but glare at him, and then I noticed he was dangling something blue in front of me. My necklace…

"My mother's necklace!" I said as I struggled to get rid of the ropes that bound my arm.

Suddenly my dream changed…

The wind calmly blew through my hair as if I was falling slowly through clouds. I opened my eyes and found myself diving into a huge lake. It felt wonderful to have my element swirling around me as I sank down to the bottom of the lake.

I relaxed and opened my eyes. Fish were swimming lazily; I propelled myself toward the surface. As my head bobbed up to the surface I saw Aang and Sokka laughing at some private joke. Toph was lazily flinging boulders twenty feet away with just a flick of the wrist, she looked bored so I decided to try and make things more exciting for her. I giggled as I thought of a plan to get Toph wet. I swam up to the shore right next to Toph being as quiet as I could, readying my small wave-

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

I awoke with start and looked around to see what could have possibly awoken me from my dream. I found nothing. My stomach growled loudly and I almost laughed. I was only hungry. I reached for my bag of food and dug around for some fruit until I found some. I bit into a moon peach, letting the juices drip down my chin. The juice did wonder on my dry throat.

I remembered my dream. I couldn't figure out why I was dreaming about zuko. It's not like I've thought about him much lately, why would I have reason to? Ever since Ba Sing se, I have tried to block him from my memory. It's been a while since then, maybe he gave up? I almost slapped myself at that stupid thought. Zuko never gives up.

I gazed over the edge of Appa's saddle. None of the scenery has changed since the last time I looked. "How long will it take to get to another town?" I asked Aang with a sigh.

"Couple more hours…" Aang answered dryly.

I looked at the food we had left and felt my stomach grumbled again. "We only have 3 moon peaches and a handful of leachy nuts left…and something that looks like a rock." I said as I threw it over the saddle.

"Well, if ponytail over here wouldn't eat all of our food, then maybe we wouldn't have to go into a town every other day." Toph said as she bended a rock from the dusty air and tossed it at the sleeping Sokka's head. Sokka grunted and rolled over as if he was a little kid told to get up and do his morning chores.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

"Stupid tea..." I mumbled under my breath as I cleaned up another spill caused by a teenage girl. As I bent over I felt her eyes trailing to my butt. I stood up and with a glare, stomped my way to the back room. "Stupid shop..." I said loudly as I entered the storage room to dispose of the broken cup. I tossed the broken shards roughly into the trash can and grabbed a new cup.

Ever since I broke my uncle out of prison, we've been traveling from town to town.

Uncle had been happy that he found a place to settle down, but I sure wasn't. Ever since I got here, I had been miserable. I had given up on the avatar, my uncle and I had opened a shop with a little apartment on the second floor in a small town I didn't even know the name of. All I knew was that it was somewhere in the earth kingdom, I hadn't bothered to find out the name because we, or at least I, didn't plan on staying that long. But knowing my uncle, he would make us stay here until I died. I felt a chill go up my spine at just the thought of it.

It was already dark out, and I was tired of serving tea. I thought about leaving and finding a nice place to meditate, but my uncle trusted me to take care of the shop.

I heard the service bell ring from atop the counter followed by a girlish giggle, I sighed a frustrated sigh. That's it, I thought to myself, I'm going to close shop early then find a quiet place to meditate.

It was dark and chilly outside by thi time I started to sweep up. "Gosh, why couldn't it be as hot as it was an hour ago?" I asked to no one in particular. I grumbled to myself and stalked back inside.

I didn't want to go out on such a cold night. Who needs hypothermia? Anyway, Iroh would be back soon, and he wouldn't be very happy if he came back to an empty shop. I walked back inside and went back to the counter.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

"Finally!" Toph yelled a little louder than necessary "There's a fruit tree about 20 feet that way, go get me food!" she yelled as she pointed to a cluster of tightly packed trees.

"How can you tell?" Aang and Sokka said at the same time. They both looked at each other and laughed like it was the funniest thing that ever happened to them. Those two seemed to get a little dumber each day.

"The bees." Toph said simply then started to flap her arms around in a bee like fashion as if they weren't mentally competent enough to know what a bee is. "Vibrations." I thought I heard her say 'idiots' but it could have just been the wind.

"I'm going off to find a lake or something." I said as I felt my water skin, it was empty. I would have to find a bigger water skin next time we were in a town.

"Do you need me to come with you?" Sokka asked as he stretched his stiff muscles.

"Why would I need you to come?" I asked.

"Well no offence Katara, but you're not the best hand to hand fighter in the world…"

"Excuse me! I can take care of myself!" I snapped at him. Usually I would have more patience, but today had been horrible. The weather had been hot and my patience had been worn thin a long time ago. All thanks to Sokka I might add.

"I'm just looking after my little sister" Sokka said with his hands in front of him as if he was trying to protect himself.

"Well I don't need your help; I'm not a little girl anymore. I'm a waterbending master!" I yelled at him.

"Katara…" Aang said with a scared look on his face.

"Don't start with me Aang…don't come with me, don't follow me, and don't come looking for me either. I'll come back whenever!"

I stormed out of camp seething with anger. Why did they always have to be so damn protective? I bet I could beat both of them in a duel. I'm a master, I could definitely beat them.

As I walked, my anger seemed to slowly subside until I felt guilty about the whole argument. It wasn't Sokka's fault; he was just acting like a brother should. Even though I didn't need his protection, it still made me happy to think about how much Sokka cared about me. Sokka isn't the type of brother that would show affection, so I guess that it is good that he doesn't want me to get hurt.

Eventually, I started feeling the familiar pull of my element guide me into the water. I looked down at my dusty dress and thought about how horrible I must smell. One sniff and I knew it was true. I missed the days when I could take a bath daily, but now since were traveling; we don't have time to bathe.

When I finally reached my destination, it was breathtakingly beautiful. It was so colorful; wild flowers of every color surrounded the bank of the crystal clear river. The trees that had the greenest leaves that I had ever seen, it was like they were straight out of a book. I twirled around breathing in all of the different scents. I giggled like a little girl as I lost my balance and fell. Acting like a kid must have been the thing I needed because I was happy and relaxed as I stumbled my way back to my feet.

I felt the urge to take a quick dip in the lake, I've been flying all day in the dusty wind and hot sun all day, if that isn't a good reason to take one, then I don't know what is. I looked around to make sure I was all alone before I did anything else. The trees seemed menacing, but I was comforted by the fact that I was surrounded by my native element. I sighed as I stripped off my smelly clothes until I was just in my breast bindings and leggings. Walking up to the shore, I scanned the trees one last time just to be safe. Nobody was there, so I dipped my toe into the crystal clear water to see how cold it was. The water was surprisingly warm from the constant sunlight it experienced thorough the day. I sighed as I started walking into the water. Wading knee deep, I started to bend a thin ribbon of water. I snaked it thorough my hair, and around my body trying to get the dirt off.

Suddenly there was a rustling sound coming from the trees behind me. I readied a water whip as I tensed and spun around. Nothing was there. I slowly turned around and got back into the rhythm of my little water dance. I was so engrossed in my dance that I didn't sense the tattooed man sneaking up behind me.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

The mans cat-like movement was swift and silent. He threw a rock at a nearby tree and waited. She spun around with a water whip at the ready and scanned the forest for any hint of movement. He smirked as he assessed her slow reaction. And he wasn't impressed.

He remained quiet as he closed in on the girl.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o

The water was dancing around me as if it were a ballerina in a ballet just for me. I brought it up and down, then around my legs. I closed my eyes and let myself slip into a peaceful state of bliss. I spun around gracefully.

Just as I completed my turn, someone hit me hard in my chest. My eyes snapped open as I staggered backwards and tried not to fall. I didn't see if he used his hands or his foot,in fact I didn't see him at all, I only knew that one minute I was dancing, and the next a blow struck my chest- I felt myself flying backwards and then heard a thud as my head crashed into a tree. I was too stunned to feel the pain. I couldn't breathe yet. I couldn't even move.

He walked toward me slowly.

"HE-" I tried to scream as he kicked me to the ground. I silently cursed myself for not having Sokka come like he had suggested. I tried to water whip him in the head, but he was too fast and dodged it easily.

With speed I didn't know possible, his foot stomped down on my leg. I heard the snap before I felt it. But then I did feel it, and I couldn't hold back my scream.

"Oh no, did I break my little waterbender?"

I looked into the face of the man and screamed, but not because of pain. He had large scars everywhere on his face. It looked like part of his nose missing, and it was bent at a weird angle, like it had been broken a few times. He also had a tattoo snaking around his arm; it was a crude picture of a snake eating a bird. He saw my reaction and smiled a toothy smile full of rotting teeth. He licked his teeth and raised his lips in a snarl.

I couldn't concentrate enough to bend water, I was too scared. I got up and tried to run, actually hop, away but he grabbed my wrist and yanked me back. I heard a snap and then felt a blinding pain surge through my wrist. Now I could only bend with one hand. The man must have noticed this because he let go of my broken wrist and, with his free hand, started to grab at my bindings. I raised his arm to my mouth and did the only thing I could think of, I bit him as hard as I could. He grunted as if he had merely been bitten by an annoying mosquito. The last thing I remembered was him raising his arm to strike.

And then into the darkness I went...