Through the Years

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar…… Duh? -_-

This is my oneshot of Ty Lee angst! Sorry if you don't like it. I believe that underneath her joyful exterior, there's more going on than she is telling. I guess since the series has ended, we'll never know. This is my little take on it.

Note: I wasn't sure how old Ty Lee was when she joined the circus, when she met Azula and Mai, etcetera. So I simply guessed and picked whatever ages I wanted.

She is four years old. Four is a happy time for her. There are only two of them. Only two children; certainly enough love and attention to go around. Four is filled with games and kisses and hugs. Bedtime stories and laughter and enough toys for all. Her mother's touch is always soft and her father gives her piggy back rides across the fields. Four years old is peaceful and safe.

When she turns five, the twins are born. They scream all day and night; she walks around the house with her tiny hands pressed hard against her ears. Her mother is always tired now and her father is always working. New toys and clothes are a rare sight. Everything is for the babies. The babies need it more. The babies deserve it. She doesn't understand how little, squishy babies who have never accomplished anything can deserve more things than her. It's the first time she starts to think that maybe she isn't so important.

When she is six there are no new children. This makes her happy, but her parents are still busy. No one takes the time to hug her anymore or tuck her into bed. The babies are still young; they need attention. She doesn't need attention. She's old enough.

She tries to be optimistic at first. She still goes about her daily business normally. She sets the table and helps her sister with the dishes. She still asks her mother to braid her hair. On the day she says she's too tired and busy and that the child should do it herself, Ty Lee knows things are getting bad. She is no longer bright about the future. She has to braid her own hair now. She isn't very good at braiding, always tangling the hair into knots and snarls. It looks horrible and other children laugh at her. She just bites her lip and wishes the twins had never been born.

When she is seven she sits at the table alone. She has a new baby sister that is sick. Everyone has taken her to a healer. In their rush to leave, Ty Lee decided to stay home. She sits in her best hammy-down dress with her hair combed and braided neatly. Her legs swing back and forth, banging against the chair. She wants to kick the house to pieces. Instead she cleans up the kitchen from her earlier attempt to bake a cake. When the family comes home, no one wishes her a happy birthday. They just tell her to pack up her things. The new baby needs her own room because of the sickness, so she has to move in with the twins. She hangs her head in anger and sadness, wishing there was more memory to go around.

When she is eight she can't find her new outfit for school. She tugs on her mother's skirt and asks if she knows where it is. Her mother goes through three different names before she picks the right one. Ty Lee. I'm Ty Lee, mommy! Ty Lee. Once she sees her daughter's frowning face, she apologizes and tells her that they all look the same to her. Ty Lee wants to tell her that she's not the same as her sisters. They're all different, even if they look like clones. But she doesn't say anything. She figures that if her parents can't notice the difference, then there probably isn't anything special about her. If she was special, they would love her. She isn't special. She isn't loved.

When she is nine she meets Azula and Mai. She instantly admires and worships the Fire Nation Princess, and envies the gloomy, stubborn girl for being an only child. Azula is never very kind and Mai can be sad sometimes, but at least they pay attention and talk to her. That's more than her family has ever done in a long time.

When she is ten her sixth sister is born. Everything becomes more crowded and the noise reaches a new level. She is older and learning every day. She understands the war and the strain it puts on everyone. She understands that the grass is green, the sky is blue, and that she is just one of six. Nothing will change. When her mother says she is too tired to read her daughter's A plus paper, she understands this too. Being tired mentally, tired of putting up with the world. She understands sadness that threatens to make her eyes water, and anger that makes her want to unleash unmentionables upon the world. When Mai secretly speaks of loneliness, she understands. Loneliness curled up deep inside her breast, making her heart ache. One thing she wishes she had no knowledge of.

When she is eleven she decides that she will learn to be an acrobat. Maybe if she can separate herself someway from all of her sisters, her parents will pay attention to her. She practices for hours on end, doing back flips and handsprings across the backyard. She is determined and very proud of herself and doesn't even cry when she tears her knee open. She works and works, and when she feels that she is good enough to entertain she calls for her parents. It breaks her heart when no one will come, too busy to be distracted with her silly games. She just tries to keep a straight face and works harder. She's heard that perseverance pays off.

When she is twelve she is angry, to state it simply. She doesn't think that she can put up with another sister. She stands over the newborn's crib in the middle of the night, wondering what would happen if she wrapped her hands around the beast's tiny neck. It was only born a few days ago; it wouldn't care much if it lived or died, would it? She doesn't want another little "angel" sucking up the love and attention and care. She almost reaches out to touch the thing, but then realizes that this would be a selfish act and draws away. No one pays attention to her because she is selfish. Yes, that must be it. She is selfish and greedy and only thinks about herself. If she was a good person she wouldn't want to kill her little sister. She would love them all and not even mind that no one loves her back. What else could be wrong with her? What did she ever do to not deserve love? The question hangs in the empty air. She can't think of an answer, though she knows there must be one somewhere. All she can do is slowly tip-toe back to bed, leaving the new parasite to dream in peace.

When she is thirteen she teaches herself about pressure points. She asks teachers at school to let her borrow some scrolls about chi flow and sits under a tree by the river, reading. When she memorizes every point, she begins practicing on the mannequins in the art supply closet at school. When she is sure of herself she tries punching one of her sisters in the arm when she won't stop screaming. She smiles as she sees the limb fall to the little girl's side. Her sister screams more and Ty Lee leaves to show her father. When he just tells her to go away, she slowly walks back to her sibling and apologizes with rejection shining in her eyes, saying she is sorry for hurting her for no reason.

When she is fourteen she learns to stop trying. She distances herself from her family, learning to seek attention from her peers and members of the opposite sex. She does everything that is asked of her without complaint. She puts on a façade of innocence and happiness, stupidity even. Happy go lucky and free. She smiles when the little ones ask if she is alright and lies through her teeth. Lying has become simple, second nature, like the mask she wears every day. It's easy to fool people, to giggle and carry on about silly things like they're important. Nothing is important to her anymore. Nothing except for someone to care about her in any way possible.

She hates it when people ask why she is always alone, and cringes when Azula insists that they should go over to her house this time, not the palace. She likes to run out into the fields behind their home when the pressure becomes too much and scream. She screams so hard that all of the birds fly away and her throat feels raw. Sometimes she picks at her arms and pinches her skin, watching the red marks slowly appear. It makes her feel better even though it hurts. She doesn't understand why, and thinks she is going crazy. She knows she has to get out before things turn even worse.

When she is fifteen she runs away to join the circus and never looks back.

I hope you like it! And just so you know, I really hope that Ty Lee's parents weren't that neglecting to her, but you never know. Review please, even if you hated it!