My take on the issue of the 'No Death' in Avatar (other than the Airbenders and stuff). Of course there was. You just have to look beneath the surface.


Drabble Twenty Two: Requiem

We were kids. And we did not deserve to see what we saw, or feel what we felt.

I didn't deserve to sob while I washed the enemy's blood out of my clothes. Sokka didn't deserve to kill with a boomerang – an instrument that was once a childhood toy. Toph didn't deserve to leave her sheltered home, only to feel a young soldier's heart stop under her hand.

But most of all, Aang didn't deserve it. He was peace loving, innocent and small. This mammoth responsibility: saving the world, saving lives, choosing who was worth his mercy… it was sickening. And it was something that Zuko didn't understand.

"He has to kill my father," he told me one night. So far, Aang had been saved from any direct murder. This was a huge surprise, considering his power. But it was also necessary. He knocked them out with his bending, often taking out dozens of people at once. If any awoke before we made our escape, Sokka would most likely finish them off.

Those days, he wouldn't look me in the eye for hours.

And if Sokka wasn't there fast enough, it was ice that ended them. Or maybe even stone. Those days, I stayed awake, listening to the muffled sobs of Toph as she cried herself to sleep.

Suki had even killed, slicing the throats of Fire Nation guards with the blade of her fan. She was a trained warrior, and she still had nightmares.

So when Zuko told me this, I glared daggers at him. He didn't even flinch.

"You can't ask Aang to kill," I said in a steady voice.

"Why not?" he replied, "We've all killed, haven't we?"

The heartless way in which he said it made my chest hurt. Hadn't he been there when I refused to kill my mother's murderer? It had only been a few days since then, and he had already become so cold?

"Aang's too young," I told him.

"Toph is younger than he is," he glanced over to the earthbender, who was laughing jovially with Suki about something Sokka had done. She didn't look like a murderer at all, but I knew she was. Her first kill was the hardest. She had thrust a boulder at the head of a soldier, and the look on her face when the sickening death crunch came was enough to break my heart.

"I don't know why, but…" I looked up at Zuko. I had to trust him. "I need to protect him."

"He's in love with you," Zuko stated matter-of-factly, "But the fact that you feel like his mother will only hurt him more in the end. Protecting the Avatar won't do him any good, Katara. I hope you know that."

"The Avatar's name," I spat, "is Aang. And he is just a kid!"

"So are we."

In that moment, Zuko looked nothing like a child. Tall, muscled, stubble, a fierce expression. He wasn't a kid, he was a Fire Lord. And I wasn't a kid, I was a waterbender. Sokka wasn't a kid, but a warrior.

Not even Toph could be called childlike, having grown a very adult personality, as well as several inches in height and a more womanly body.

Aang was the only one who had no blood on his hands. And it seemed cruel to think, but he needed it somehow. The blood on our hands was something of a rite of passage. Without it, he would always be one step behind us, out of the circle. He would be isolated, and that would end him.

There has to be a way to end the war without killing anyone.

There isn't, Aang. You have to kill Ozai.

Katara… I can't believe you won't back me up on this!

You don't understand. People have died. Innocent people. And they have died by our hand.

I… I didn't…

Of course you didn't. It's been all us. We've been the ones doing the dirty work. We are stained by the blood of soldiers who had families and homes and lives… All you have to do is kill someone who deserves it. And if you don't, I don't think you will ever understand this burden the rest of us feel. And you will never understand me.

He was a kid, and I had no right to trick him like that. I had no right to use his affection for me to get him to kill a dictator. He didn't deserve the burden, the pain or the blood on his hands. He didn't deserve to be the one to see the life leave someone's eyes, or to hear the breaking of bones under his will.

But then again, none of us did.