Letters from the Falling Sky
Summary: "Katara felt helpless. Aang didn't know he had a daughter." Things more complex than the war had finally torn them apart. In isolation, they take out their brushes, regret the past, and write. Kataang, Tokka. Rated M.
Author's Note: This will be multi-chaptered. Written in third person from the view of virtually every character, starting out with the most important.
Just as a side note: For those of you who read the OneShot "Composition" that I wrote last month, this is a bit based off of that. Exciting, isn't it?
I rated this as Mature because there may be mentions of gore, death, sex, blood, violence—things of that nature. Just as a warning, you know, in later chapters. If I decide against adding that, then I'll just change the rating.
The first is Katara because—yes, although Aang is technically more important—she's my favorite, and really the type of girl I see sitting down to write a letter. Plus she kind of needs to go first because of the whole family situation/ordeal.
The letters will interconnect. So, while it's okay if you read your favorite character, submit a review, add it to your favorites, alert to see if any more chapters will be written on said character, and then just stop, it's recommended that, to get the whole idea of the story, you read them all.
She was not a girl of habit, let alone of happiness.
And this moment of death—the death of her grandmother, her only living female relative besides her daughter—settled upon her like a swarm of hail and stones. Katara sat in the dark igloo dimly, on the low mattress that had belonged to her grandmother before she had been buried earlier that evening.
Outside, she could still see the bonfire. She could hear the weeping. And yet she had been the only one in the tribe who hadn't wept. She hadn't cried at all.
She had placed four year old Kya Lynn to sleep, her bastard daughter from the monk she thought she loved long ago. She had walked about the igloo countless times, talked to tribal friends, talked to Pakku. Walked around more and more. But she hadn't cried.
Mostly, she felt she couldn't. And though being in Gran Gran's room alone helped her think more about the situation, about the overcoming ordeal, it wasn't helping her face the guilt. Her death had been the healer's fault. All her fault.
It still smells like her in here, she thought, trying to scatter her thoughts. She felt herself frown deeply. An aroma of weathered perfume and flavored tobacco filled Katara's lungs with every breath she took. She inhaled, trying to take it all in before it faded forever, before it was carried over the sea, before it was gone.
Especially in the last few weeks of her life, Gran Gran had begun to smell more and more like sweat and worry and old people. She had been a picture of health before Katara showed up nearly five years ago, alone and pregnant and afraid, without a bison, without Aang, without her brother. Her grandchild's worries and depression had been spread on to her.
Katara had finally came back to the South Pole because, like it or not, it was the only place she had any family left. And now—though Pakku was sill alive—she felt as though she had no one but the innocent little girl who was still asking where her Great Gran Gran was.
It was becoming more and more obvious—Katara felt responsible for her grandmother's death, and the feeling wasn't releasing itself in tears the way it was supposed to.
She stood up, sickened by her thoughts, and walked slowly to the next room. She placed a hand to her forehead and sat on her desk. Papers were everywhere, covered in words—in drawings—in prayers. She picked up a page where Gran Gran had drawn her a little heart with the characters for "Katara" and the characters for "Kya" inside. Gran Gran never called her Kya Lynn like Pakku did. She never called her Lynnie like Katara did. She called her Kya, like her first daughter.
Katara picked up a letter sent by Sokka to Gran Gran—only Gran Gran—about the preparations for his wedding. In the letter he had not mentioned Katara. He had not asked about his niece's health—how could he when he didn't know about her? He had not mentioned Aang. Even Toph's name wasn't printed there, in Sokka's fat, stupid, messy handwriting.
Katara picked up a blank scroll and stared at it, turning it in her hands. If she was a normal girl, she knew she would be crying. But instead she just felt furious—angry—afraid. She opened up the scroll crossed her arms.
"What the hell am I supposed to write?" she asked out loud to herself, suddenly angered by her brother's cold shoulder, even if it had been going on for a good sum of years. She picked up a brush and flattened out the parchment.
She grimaced into the paper.
She was the only one who could tell Sokka of Gran Gran's death.
Even if she had let Pakku write it, it wouldn't be the same. Gran Gran wasn't for him. She was their grandmother before she had become his wife. She was her mother's mother. Sokka needed to know, and Pakku wasn't the one to tell him.
Maybe this will finally end the stupid grudge between us, Katara thought bitterly, readying her brush.
Her hands were shaking. She didn't know why, but it frightened her, because she honestly couldn't control them. She held on to the brush with her right hand and held on to her right hand with her left. She started writing.
Sokka. Dear Sokka. Dearest Sokka. Sokka, the idiot—To my brother, Sokka—
Katara decided faintly that this would be the rough draft. She heard her daughter in the next chamber coughing in her sleep.
To the brother who hates me, Sokka. No. Just, Sokka:
This is going to come as a surprise because I really didn't want to talk to you ever again but I guess I have to under the circumstances.
I mean I honestly still can't stand you and I probably will never stand you again but do I have a choice, no I guess I don't? You still hate me, Sokka.
I probably don't—run on sentence—run on—run away. Guess what, Sokka. Ready for the news here it is whether you're ready or not because here it is: I killed Gran Gran, you idiot. I killed her. Thanks to all the stress and shit you gave me. The shit Aang and Toph gave me. I came down here and ruined her life with my problems.
She kept thinking of ways to make me happier until she died. She kept telling me to send you a letter or tell you to come down or make peace. She kept telling me to get engaged and get married—yes, a man will solve all your problems—look at this suitor he is so pleasant—your daughter needs a father figure, because did I tell you, Sokka, that I have a daughter now?—you're young and you need someone to share your life with and if you don't talk to Sokka at least get married, you crazy girl. Sokka you're a stupid bastard. I killed Gran Gran—she's gone forever. You stupid bastard. Come back home so I can tell you to your face. So you can see your own bastard niece. She's the only thing I have left. I miss you and I just ruined a perfectly good scroll. Gran Gran is dead. My daughter's name is Kya Lynn and I can't call her Kya because then I see Mom's face and it scares me.
The characters were everywhere. Katara was usually rather neat, and when it came to writing, very professional. Generally she never wrote a rough draft for anything. But she couldn't control herself. She didn't care. Her hands were shaking so badly that the words were blurry and dancing and run-on.
"This isn't the right time," she said to herself. "I can barely write. He won't be able to read it even if I send it. He probably won't even open it. And I can't send him this." A sigh voiced itself from behind her throat. She dropped the brush and reached for another paper.
She told herself, because she had found peace in self-conversation, "This one is for Aang. Aang will open a letter from me. He has to."
Katara froze and turned around in her chair. Kya Lynn, hair messy and cheeks flushed, stood in the doorway, holding her prized stuffed air bison doll. She rubbed her eyes sleepily and looked at her mother.
"Are you writing a letter to Baba?"
"I thought you were asleep, Lynnie," Katara stated truthfully, also rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "I'm sorry for waking you, dear. I'll think things to myself next time instead of saying them out loud like that."
"What are you going to tell Baba about?" the girl asked as Katara swooped her up into her arms.
"Nothing, dear. I'm not going to write anything to him."
The waterbender placed her daughter on the tiny mattress in the room they both shared. She pulled the animal furs to Kya's chin. As always, she began staring into the girl's eyes—deep gray, like her father's. The only thing she had taken from Katara was her thick, wavy brown hair and her undeniable spunk. Katara only hoped her pale daughter would prove herself as a waterbender when the time came, but there was always a flicker of doubt. She might sneeze and shoot thirty feet into the air, and then Aang would have stolen that aspect too.
For the tenth time that day, Kya Lynn asked, "Where's Gran Gran?"
Her mother pushed the mattress a little closer to the wall. She had grown used to lying. "I told you, darling," she sighed tediously, "Gran Gran is taking a long nap."
"When will she be back?"
"Very soon, Lynnie. Very soon."
The girl paused, contemplating this. She looked into her mother's eyes. "Is Baba coming now that Gran Gran is dead?"
And suddenly Katara's hands stopped fixing the blankets. She sat there, captivated and horrified by her daughter's wit. She couldn't think quickly enough. Too many things were happening at once. In this small instance, her daughter had grown up.
"Who told you that?" she asked crossly, folding her arms.
"Gran Gran did," Kya answered casually, playing with her stuffed doll. "She just came in my dream a second ago and told me. And she said I should comb my hair out more now that she can't do it herself, and because you never do it, Mama."
A lump rose in Katara's throat. She continued staring into Kya's great, gray orbs. Small pricks of discomfort stung her own eyes, but she didn't care. She didn't blink. She felt the world was spinning too fast.
"What else did you dream about?" she asked lamely, in order to further grasp this.
"Gran Gran said I should take care of you."
"Will you do it?" her mother asked with a bitter laugh.
"I don't think I need to," Kya Lynn admitted innocently, avoiding Katara's cynical pitch. Usually, although her mother was rather tender and caring towards her, Kya could tell when Katara was bothered. She continued, "I think now that Gran Gran is gone, you'll start taking better care of yourself—all by yourself."
In the silence that consumed them, Katara saw her daughter get out of the furry blankets she had spent so much time worrying about and put her bison down. She swung her arms around Katara's shoulders and didn't let go.
But it wasn't fair. Katara loved her daughter to unknowable extents, and yet she felt nothing. She sat on her knees with a four year old child embracing her, sobbing softly into the flex of her neck, calling her Mama.
"It'll be okay, Lynnie," Katara started awkwardly, wondering what was wrong with her senses. Everything seemed fogged. She lifted her hands and pulled the girl closer. "Don't cry any more, Lynnie darling. It'll be alright."
Kya Lynn whispered hoarsely, "You never call me Kya."
"I know I don't, dearest. That was my mother's name."
"Call me Kya like Gran Gran used to," the child ordered, not leaving her spot. "And you have to comb my hair, Mama. And tell me stories."
"Of course. Calm down, now, darling. Please don't cry anymore."
"Is Baba going to die too?" the girl asked suddenly, choking back a sob. "Or is he already? How come I never see him? I miss Gran Gran, Mama. I miss her. She loved me! She used to brush my hair."
Katara felt helpless. Aang didn't know he had a daughter. He didn't know that, all that while five years ago, little Kya Lynn was conceived without a promise of marriage, or an engagement. How could she explain the concept of a bastard child to her daughter? A girl pushing five years with the burden of worrying about her unstable mother. A girl who had just lose the only person she truly loved. Kya was reliving what Katara had experienced when the first Kya died. Rejection. The world slamming its doors just when she thought everything was perfect.
She rocked her daughter back and forth. She couldn't cry so she hummed, but her voice sounded awkward so then she fell silent. Nothing was right about this day. Nothing at all.
After Kya had cried herself to sleep, Katara made her way back to the study and sat down. She made sure she didn't speak to herself this time.
This is pathetic, she thought.
Just because Aang would open the letter didn't mean that he loved her. It didn't mean that he was ready to forgive and start over—and even if he was ready, she wasn't ready. Not ready to tell him he had a daughter that she kept from him for four years. As much as she had fantasized reuniting their old makeshift family, she knew it wouldn't happen now. And even if he knew she needed him, it's not like he would come running to her rescue.
But then there was the doubt again—the shallow regret. Maybe he would come back.
Katara printed, in fine, shaky black strokes: I have become a terrible, lonely, disgusted person. I see the world through a thick dark film. My Gran Gran is gone forever, my daughter is falling apart, and it's all my fault.
She blew on the scroll so that it would dry and rolled it up and took it with her to her grandmother's room. She placed it under the pillow and sat on the edge of the mattress.
The world was spinning. She couldn't handle this. She needed release—she needed to cry.
She needed to tell someone how much guilt was swelling into her chest. She needed a hand on her shoulder, fingers intertwined with hers, a soft whisper, a dying breath—just someone to tell her it was okay that her life was spiraling into a fiery gyre. It was okay that she felt it was all her fault. It was okay if all of her old friends left her and that she refused to make new ones. It was okay that she wasn't married or engaged or seeing anyone.
Just someone to tell her it was okay to become a terrible, lonely, disgusted person, and that the world was thick and black with or without the film, and that Gran Gran could some how come back, and that Kya was a strong girl—strong as her mother once had been.
Katara was biting her lip as this realization dawned upon her. She didn't take the chance. She got up suddenly and ran to the study and sat down.
The new version of the letter began, To the Avatar—to Aang.
Sokka would have to wait. This letter was first. She wrote without hesitation, without restriction, without rough drafts. Maybe he would come back. Maybe he would feel for her. The letters came out furiously, neatly. Her hands were shaking and she was getting little splatters of ink every time she dipped her brush but she didn't care. She needed to take the first step—no apologies, no tearful confessions. But a letter.
And she wrote, mostly, in a direct manner. She didn't say sorry for things that happened, and mostly she avoided them. Their past was their past, she wrote. And now she was looking for a future. And so she wrote also about her greatest secret from him. She wrote about Kya Lynn.
…She calls you Baba, you know. Gran Gran told her to call you that, before she died. I wanted to tell you earlier but I couldn't. And now I feel I have to. She has your eyes and your face and your grin. Aang, she's a beautiful little girl. She might be an airbender. Pakku said it's too early to tell.
She wants you to come here. I don't know where she got the idea. You probably think I'm lying—you probably think I miss you. But I'm telling you the truth this time…
It was signed: With all the love I am capable of giving. Katara, and your daughter, Kya Lynn.
She sat down and wrote the next one to her brother.
Maybe, if Aang decided to come back—and maybe, if he just happened to bring Sokka and Toph—she would be able to cry again. To feel again.