Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar. Wish I did. :) Don't we all? But I do own my OC's (a.k.a. Roku "the younger" and Kairi).
This is my take on what happens to the next generation of the Avatar world. Enjoy!
"It's such a wonderful thing. You feel so alive." My young uncle gave me a nasty smile. "Of course, I suppose you wouldn't understand that, would you Roku?"
I felt Kairi tense beside me and grabbed her arm, squeezing it tightly to keep her from doing anything rash. She glared at me, but stayed where she was.
"'Bending isn't everything,'" I said calmly, quoting Uncle Iroh.
"Maybe not," TomTom said just as calmly, "but it's certainly important, isn't it?"
"Shut-up," Kairi hissed through clenched teeth.
"What was that?" TomTom asked, a taunting smile on his face. "I couldn't hear."
"I said, shut-up!" Kairi repeated, her face growing red with anger. TomTom made a clicking sound with his tongue, like a mother scolding a small child.
"Temper, temper. But, I suppose it comes with firebending, eh Roku? They must run in the family."
I tried to think of something to say that would both discourage TomTom and keep my sister from flying at his throat, but Kairi beat me to it. She jerked her arm from my grasp and leaped to her feet. Clenching her fists, she faced TomTom and blurted out, "I challenge you to an Agni Kai!"
I don't know who was more surprised: me or my uncle.
"Kairi-" I began quickly, but TomTom just laughed.
"You?" His tone was mocking. "You challenge me?" He grinned and gave me a sideways glance. "Wouldn't it be more fitting for Roku to do it? He is the oldest." Kairi's eyes blazed. We all three knew why I couldn't challenge him to such a battle. When I said nothing, TomTom grinned triumphantly.
"Perhaps he simply lacks the honor."
"He doesn't have to do anything!" Kairi said angrily. "I'm the one who challenged you! Are you going to accept, or are you afraid I'll beat you?" TomTom's eyes blazed. Kairi had finally made him angry. Not near as angry as she was, but enough to be rash.
"I'm not afraid of you," he hissed angrily. "I accept your challenge."
The slightest look of triumph entered Kairi's eyes. I could only stare at the two of them in horror. My younger sister had just challenged my uncle to an Agni Kai over my honor. What would Dad say when he found out?
- - -
"You can't go through with this!" I cried, falling into step beside Kairi as she stepped outside. She had changed clothes, donning loose black trousers. Her short black hair had been pulled away from her face with a ribbon as usual. Rather than going shirtless, as most men did in an Agni Kai, she instead wore a red vest with three gold buttons on the left side. The battle was being held at sunset in the open air, as was tradition. But this time there would be no spectators.
"Yes I can," she said. Her eyes, blazing with determination, were locked on TomTom. He knelt on the other side of the small courtyard with his back to us both.
"I won't let you!" I said, getting in front of her and grabbing her shoulders.
"I can beat him," Kairi said confidently. "Besides. Dad wasn't much older than me when he had his first Agni Kai, and he won. Against an admiral." We both knew it had actually been his second Agni Kai, but no one ever talks about the first. The one where his own father gave him the scar that still marks the left side of his face.
"TomTom's practically a master!" I cried, changing tactics. I knew there was no point, but I wasn't going down without a fight. Neither, apparently, was my sister.
"So am I!" Kairi said. "I'm tired of him pushing you around!" Her gold eyes, exactly like those of our parents, blazed with anger, and for a split second I saw why people sometimes compared her to our dad's sister.
"It's the only way," she said, calming down a bit.
As much as I hated it, she was right. The only way to settle a question of honor was through an Agni Kai. Unfortunately, I'll never be able to defend my own honor in such a way. We both knew that. Dad doesn't approve of Agni Kai's without true cause (a petty argument would never qualify) and Mom isn't a firebender. If my sister didn't defend my honor, no one would. She was my only chance. I only wished I could do it myself. But I couldn't. So, until I found another way to defend my honor, Kairi would have to do it for me.
I gave her shoulders a squeeze and then moved aside.
"Good luck." Kairi gave me a firm nod and stepped inside the boundary.
Across the courtyard, TomTom shed the red cape draped over his shoulders and stood. He turned to face my sister and the two of them bowed. Then they moved forward and circled a bit, feeling each other's defenses. Kairi kept her hands up, ready to defend. Her gaze stayed focused on TomTom's eyes and chest, waiting for him to betray some sign of what he intended to do. While my uncle had shown us practically every move he knew (that was another way he tortured me), he had never seen my sister train. Maybe that would give her an advantage.
Suddenly TomTom lifted his leg and kicked, sending a stream of fire at Kairi. She shot her hand out and deflected it easily. It had begun.
I don't remember much about the fight. I knew Kairi was practically a master at the art of firebending, but I was still too concerned for her safety to notice the different moves she and TomTom used. All I saw was Kairi striking and TomTom retaliating, back and forth, back and forth. Every minute was agony for me. Kairi blocked every blow TomTom sent her way, but I still winced every time, wondering if this would be the one she failed to catch, the one that caused her downfall.
Suddenly, so quick I didn't see what my sister did, there came a stream of fire and then TomTom was skidding across the floor on his back. He came to a halt in the middle of the courtyard. Kairi was upon him in a flash. She leaned over him, her right hand clenched into a fist, her arm drawn back, ready to strike. I had never seen TomTom look as scared as he did in that moment. I held my breath, half in joy and half in horror, waiting for my sister to deliver the blow that would either kill him or mark him forever.
But the blow never came.
"Never ever insult my brother's honor again," she said, her voice low and dangerous. "He's got more than a coward like you will ever have." Slowly she lowered her fist and took a step back. "Count yourself lucky. Next time I won't hold back."
She turned and walked away, not once looking back. TomTom propped himself up on his elbows and stared after her. Part of him was amazed that she had beaten him, and part of him was in shock that she hadn't hit him again when she had the chance. Knowing the temper Kairi had, and how much she hated him, I was surprised too.
She walked past me and I fell into step beside her. I waited until we were inside and out of TomTom's earshot before speaking.
"Why didn't you hit him?" I asked curiously. Kairi shrugged.
"He didn't deserve it. Even the loser of an Agni Kai has some honor, just because he took part in one. TomTom doesn't have even that much." I shook my head. Only Kairi would care enough about honor to see it in that light.
We walked in silence a moment before she added, "Dad didn't hit Admiral Zhao when they had their Agni Kai. I thought it was fitting, since this is my first too."
"What are you going to do when he finds out?" I asked. While we both knew Dad would be proud of Kairi for dueling our uncle and winning, and for defending my honor, we also knew he would not be happy that she had done it behind his back. Or that she had done it at all, for that matter.
"He won't find out," she said calmly.
"He's the Fire Lord, Kairi. There's not much that goes on that he doesn't know."
"Only three people even know it happened," she said matter-of-factly. "I'm not going to tell him. And TomTom won't admit to being beaten by a younger girl. So unless someone else decides to tell..." She let the unfinished sentence dangle between us.
She had me there. I wouldn't tell, and she knew it. There was no way I would admit to letting my younger sister take part in an Agni Kai over my honor. Not only would Dad be disappointed, but I would lose all the honor I had. My honor was my responsibility. Unfortunately, I would have to find a way to defend it besides the traditional one.
"I just wish I could have done it," I said, a bit angrily. I felt like a caged animal, reaching for something just beyond its grasp.
"You know you couldn't have," Kairi said quietly, suddenly finding the stones beneath her feet quite fascinating.
As much as I hated it, I did know. We all did. Only firebenders could participate in an Agni Kai.
I had been a strange case from the day I was born. I was the only son of Zuko, Fire Lord and master firebender. People expected me to follow in his footsteps on both counts. My name was ironic too. My parents had named me for Avatar Roku, my great-great-grandfather through my father's mother, Ursa. Naturally, being the Avatar, he could firebend. He was also originally from the Fire Nation, so he probably could have firebent even if he hadn't been the Avatar. I was Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, descended from a long line of famous firebenders. Fire flowed through my veins. That was all well and good, but there was one small problem.
I couldn't firebend. Try as I might, I had never been able to do it.
Someday I would become the first, and probably the last, Fire Lord in Fire Nation history who couldn't firebend.
Hope you liked it! I'll post Chapter 1 as soon as I can. In the meantime, please review!!