AN: Story has been re-edited and may have small changes. All old AN's are now gone.
"The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose."
Sokka sat outside of the tent, his shoulders slumped and his forehead resting against a support pole. Confusion showed on his face as the sound of his mothers wailing punctuated the cool crisp air. At only two and a half, Sokka showed no understanding of the sounds of misery and sespair flooding out of the tent flap.
"Sokka…" I called out and motioned for him to come towards me, the worst place for him to possibly be right now was near that tent.
He didn't look at me as he came forward. "Yes, Gran Gran?" he asked quietly, not meeting my eyes.
"Come and take a walk with me, ok? We'll go and see the penguins." I offered.
Sokka nodded and absently followed me outside of the subdued town.
We weren't far when the questions started.
"Gran…" Sokka began unsurely. "Why are mom and dad crying?"
I took a few silent steps before I was collected enough to begin. "Do you remember yesterday when your mom was pregnant?" I asked him, trying to make this simple enough to understand.
"Yeah…I'm going to have a sister." Sokka said with a slight smile, but it faded quickly as if he knew for some reason that now was not the time for smiles.
My heart clenched and I had to take a deep breath before I was able to continue. "Tue and La have decided that it's not the right time for your sister to be here."
Sokka's brows furrowed. "I don't understand."
I sighed and tried again. "You're not going to have a sister at this time Sokka... she didn't survive the birth."
Sokka stopped walking as one of his mother's wails carried over to us. "She's dead?"
I forced my breath out of my nose. "Yes Sokka."
"Is that why momma and daddy are crying?" He glanced back to the camp and then tightened his lips.
"Yes sweetie, they're sad right now, but they will be fine soon. I promise." I lied.
"Mommy said her name was going to be Katara." Sokka said.
I placed my hand on his shoulder and squeezed softly.
"Why did she have to die?" Sokka asked me.
His little mind was probably searching for an answer, one that would cure everything and fix the world…but I couldn't give him that. I could barely mask my won sadness. "Well, it probably wasn't her time to be here, but Tue and La will take care of her spirit until she is ready to join us here again."
I prayed that I was right… For Sokka's sake.
"C'mon Sokka, lets go see those penguins…" I grasped Sokka's hand and gave it a little tug, leading him further away from the spirit of death that hung over the whole tribe.
The Roadside Diner was a town staple. My foster mom, Lucy, Has been working here since she was twenty three. When I turned fourteen, out of sheer boredom I convinced her to take me to her work and let me hang around. Once a week had passed of me commandeering a corner booth and reading while Lucy worked, they had began giving me work. They had joked that since I was there all day anyway, I could at least wipe the menus down, or fold napkins. That had been four months ago and there hadn't been a day since what I hadn't accompanied Lucy for her shift. I could imagine myself ten years from now with a pencil behind my ear, asking people whether or not they want to hear the soup of the day.
"Kat!" Sarah, one of Lucy's coworkers, yelled, jerking me out of my daydreaming. "Table five has been waiting for their water for ten minutes!"
"Crap," I mumbled and ran to give them their drinks (which had been sitting in front of me for nine of those ten minutes).
They took their water without complaint. Lucy had already been to each of the tables and apologized that they were short-staffed and that I would be healing them out.
I made my way to the kitchens to hide from my new and thankfully temporary busboy duties.
"Hey Kat!" Bobby, our line cook, greeted me warmly. "I have Greg's order, can you get Lucy? I don't want it to get cold."
"Can you just put my out of my misery now?"
"Hey, it's not that bad. I used to bus tables."
"Yeah, well Greg has been giving me the eye all night. He's disgusting and I'm only fourteen, this is all very illegal."
"Well, I can't help you with him, but I'm pretty sure Its only illegal if we pay you."
I smirked. "No, I think the not paying me part makes it twice as illegal."
Bobby folded his arms across his chest. "Well, I might be able to brighten up your day. Some of us are going down to the lake to have a bonfire, you want to come?" He asked, giving me a pleading look.
"Really?" I asked curiously while trying not to eye his biceps. Bobby had short dark hair and equally dark eyes, which can easily cause a girl to swoon. His smile is what snatches you in with no hope for escape. Two years of braces certainly did him good. He had an easy smile with perfectly straight teeth and one dimple. I remembered him when he was a Junior and I was a freshman, he was short and kind of chubby and had a face full of acne, but now he was all height and muscle.
Too bad his girlfriend is both amazing and incredibly good looking, I thought.
"Yeah. You in?" He asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.
"I don't know…" I sighed, "Last time I went I was the youngest one there."
He shifted awkwardly. "Well, Brian is bringing Evan…"
I groaned. "I am not getting set up with Evan! He keeps trying to grab my boobs!"
"That's why I'm telling you this time so you won't be caught unaware."
"I don't like surprise dates!"
"Its not a date." he hissed. "And keep your voice down."
"If I go, I expect your protection…"
Bobby held up three fingers. "Scouts honor."
"Ok then, but I'm not going near Evan and his stupid smirks."
"That's what I like to hear!" His smile widened and dimpled. "Were meeting at five, do you need me to pick you up?" He asked me, conscious that I wouldn't want to bother my foster parents for a ride.
I nodded. "Sure, That'd be great."
"Ok, we're each bringing something…I'm covering the drinks, and everyone else is bringing things you can barbeque…so you can bring the smores."
"Okey dokie!" I smiled. "I'll make sure to write that down, I'm sure I'll forget-"
"Robert and Katara!" a voice yelled from behind us.
We both cringed and turned towards our impending doom. The apocalypse in the form of a middle-aged woman with thick rimmed glasses.
"Get back to work, both of you!" She wagged her finger at us. Had her arm fat not waggled with it, the gesture might have had the intended effect.
"Sorry Miss. Cooper." We said simultaneously, shifting our feet. "We'll get back to work."
She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"And Katara?" She addressed me before leaving.
I cringed again, but this time from the use of my name. I hated the name Katara, it's so weird. It sucks to grow up with a name like that while everyone had something completely normal like Katherine or Jane.
"Yes?" I replied, turning around.
"Your mom" Foster mother, I mentally corrected her, "wants me to tell you that you have to watch Tina tonight. We're going to the movies together and wont be back until late."
Bobby's sigh of disappointment was audible. I bit my lip and glanced at bobby. "I'll figure something out."
Tina was a lovely girl with dark brown hair and a pretty pair of hazel eyes. Her personality, on the other hand, was that of the devil.
I hated how pleading my voice sounded as I spoke to her. "Please cover for me, I wont be out long…I promise."
"No." She replied with a smile.
"C'mon, I'll do something in exchange." I offered, knowing that I might just end up streaking or doing something equally mortifying.
"Hmm…I don't know." She cocked her head to the side and sighed. "Maybe if you ask Mom again, she'll cancel her plans and let you go."
I checked my cringe at hearing Lucy being referred to as mom. It's not that I didn't like Lucy, it's just that I know she's not my mom…I know my real died during birth and wouldn't be back to collect my like Tina's would be. "You know she won't."
"Well…maybe there is something you can do for me…" She pursed her lips and stared up at the ceiling, obviously trying not to laugh.
"What is it?" my eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Oh nothing…you just have to take a picture of Bobby for me, shirtless and glistening in the sunl.
I could not hold back my snort of laughter. "What?"
"Or you could go streaking at our next football game. Your choice." She picked at her nails.
"It will be dark." I pointed out, imagining myself running past the ten yard line in my birthday suit. But how was I supposed to get a picture of Bobby glistening in the sun?
"Campfire would be sexy too I guess." She snorted with laughter.
I sighed in defeat. "Okay."
"I love this relationship we have." She held out her hand and we shook on it.
"The love and hate kind?" I asked sarcastically. "But its definitely leaning towards the hate side right now."
"Yes." She agreed with a smile.
I sighed and pulled the checklist I made earlier at work out of my pocket and handed it to her.
She walked up to the wall and leaned on it. "Flashlight."
With a dive, I pulled my tote bag out from under my bed and dug my hands into the bag searching until I found what I was looking for. "Check."
"Why was that already in there?" Tina asked.
I sighed. "I always have that there; it's for blackouts or whatever."
"Blanket." She continued with an eye roll.
"Crap…um..." Where did I put that blanket? Oh wait…it was under my bed. I fished around for my extra warm blanket and sighed in relief when I found it. This blanket has been with me through many bonfires. Hell, it still smelled like fire from the last time. "Check."
The next one, she read off as a question. "Pocket knife?"
"Bobby told me he's bringing those really good Cola's that have the bottle caps on them, and I know that he's going to forget to bring a bottle opener…and I don't want him to break his teeth while trying to chew his way through the bottle…" I told her while reaching into my sock drawer, pulling out my trusty pocket knife.
"Sure, wouldn't want him to ruin that sexy smile…um, whats S.S.?" Tina asked, moving down the list.
"Smore stuff." I told her. "And check."
"Extra change of clothes."
"Camera and sandals."
"Check and check." I yelled from inside my closet. With one swift move, my feet were in a pair of tennis shoes and I had my sandals in hand.
"Is that everything?" Tina asked as she sat cross legged on the floor, crumpling up the list and tossing it in a perfect arc into the wastebasket.
"I think so." I shouldered my bag and left the room, grabbing my jacket off of my bunk and calling out a "thank you" as I left.
With a quick text, Bobby was on his way, and I was in the kitchen foraging for food. I shoved any food I could get my hands on into my bag. There was no way I was going to eat anything that a bunch of teenage boys cooked over a fire. Last bonfire I went to, the boys tried to be manly and grill the hamburgers, and a few people ended up getting food poisoning.
It only took Bobby five minutes to get to my house, in which time I polished off one of the apples I had packed and cleaned my nails. He picked me up, and we were to the lake in less than no time. The sun was setting and it was already getting dark, but I had been going to this lake for years, so I was able to find my way to the fire pit pretty easily and without the use of a flashlight.
I could hear the laughing before I saw the group that had assembled at our pit.
The people were formed in a large circle around the fire, already cooking their hotdogs, and chatting with each other. I smiled politely at everyone as I approached and was able to recognize some people from school.
Even caught my eye right away and I had to suppress a shudder. He was tall and gangly, with short cropped blond hair and lips way too big for his face. I've had nightmares of those lips being aimed towards mine.
I set my stuff on the ground at my feet and sat down in an empty spot in their circle, as far away as I could from Evan. Their conversations continued on without interruption.
Not really wanting to talk to anybody, I sighed and drew pictures in the sand with my finger.
Friends talked with friends, and hand gestures flew all around. They all knew each other and were close to each other. I didn't really have that, but I sure wanted it. I hadn't had any luck making friends at any of the schools I'd been to. Everyone thought I was a snob, but it wasn't that. I just didn't click with anyone.
Why the hell am I here? A voice in the back of my head asked.
A groan escaped my lips. I hated it when I got like this. The feeling that I don't belong was an always present plague in my mind.
Whenever I'd start to get uncomfortable, I would take a look at my life and think that something was wrong. I felt as if something was missing from my life. It sure as hell wasn't a boyfriend—I'd already tried that. Whatever it was though, it was haunting me. Whenever I talked to a friend, I thought that they weren't the ones I should be talking to. Whenever I went home, I felt as if my real home was somewhere else.
I couldn't help but think that this had something to do with my family.
My real one. My dead mother and my no name father.
I groaned to myself and picked up my bag. I knew I just barely got there and Bobby would miss me, but I had to get out of there. I looked around and saw that no one was paying attention, so I took my chance and snuck into the cover of trees. A warning went through my mind, but I quickly stifled it. I needed to take a walk and clear my head of all its ghosts, and I'd be dammed if the threat of a bear would stop me. But still, I felt a pang of fear at the darkness that wouldn't go away.
To quell my anxiety, I pulled my flashlight out of my bag and turned it on, using its beams to search the darkness.
"Keep walking…" I told myself. And I did.
It wasn't long before my mind began playing tricks on me. Every shadow became a monster, and bug related noise became a bear. After a particularly loud crack, which turned out to be me just stepping on a twig, I had to force myself to stop and calm down.
It was then that my flashlight suddenly went out.
Damn, I cursed. Just my luck.
I vainly whacked the flashlight against the palm of my hand a few times. After a few minutes, I finally gave up and sat cross legged on the cold, slightly damp ground.
It was then when I realized what I had done. I got myself lost. I was in the middle of a freaking forest with nothing with a broken flashlight and whatever I had in my bag. Perfect. How long could I survive off of what was in my bag?
I looked around myself so I could get an idea of my bearings, but the limited light I received from the moon didn't help as much as I'd have liked it to.
I wanted to cry, but I knew that wouldn't get me anywhere, so I sucked it up and stared at the moon instead. It was especially bright and full tonight and it- oh hell, who am I kidding. I was freaking lost and I'd probably die out here. My eyes watered and I sniffed pathetically.
Ok, so I don't have a cell phone, and no one knew I left. Maybe I should have told someone I was going for a walk…
A tear slipped down my cheek and I rubbed at them in frustration, when I opened my eyes again, the light was fading.
The shadows that had been scaring me earlier were becoming bigger and bigger, until they completely consumed everything.
I blinked a few times, expecting everything to go back, but when it didn't, I started to freak out.
"Ok, maybe this is normal," I desperately reassured myself, "like when you stand up too fast and your vision blacks around the edges."
…But I wasn't standing up and my vision was completely gone. I was completely surrounded by darkness.
The only sounds that accompanied me were- wait…where were the crickets? I could have sworn that there were bugs chirping and clicking away, but now there was nothing. Just complete and utter silence.
I felt like I was trapped in a soundproof box.
"Ahh!" I yelled into the darkness, trying to get rid of the stifling silence. My head felt like it was splitting in half and I started to feel very cold, despite the thickness of my jacket.
Something was wrong, really wrong. My stomach was feeling really light, like centrifugal force on a rollercoaster, and my fingers were tingling.
This was it, I thought, I'm dying, and I don't even know why.
Then suddenly, as if from a dream, two figures appeared in front of me.
One was a beautiful woman with white hair. Her blue eyes, not so unlike mine, shone brightly from her tan face. A flowing white robe floated off of her body and made me think of an angel, or a Greek Goddess. She shone brightly and slightly translucent, but I had the feeling that if I were to reach out and touch her, she would be solid.
The man standing at her side had the same bright translucency, but that's where the similarities stopped. He had a mane of long black hair that went past his shoulders, accompanying deep blue eyes. I couldn't say he had perfect features; there was something wrong with his face— maybe it was its symmetry— but the imperfection made him very attractive. His expression was harsh and severe, but his bright eyes were kind. My eyes roamed away from his face and saw that he too was wearing a flowing robe that was synched at the waist with some kind of belt. As I focused on it, I saw that it was made of an ornately decorated silk.
"Katara…" a soft voice spoke.
I snapped up my head, surprised at hearing the woman's voice. I was, by this point, half sure I was dead, but to make sure, I squeezed my hand into a fist and dug my nails into my palm. When a shot of pain resulted, I suddenly got dizzy again.
If this wasn't a dream, and I wasn't dead…then what the hell was going on?
"What's going on?" I demanded, suddenly scared, terrified actually.
The male spoke. "Be careful, mortal." I flinched at the tone of his voice. "You don't know who you're speaking to."
The woman frowned at him and then addressed me. "Katara, you need not worry, were not here to do any harm."
"Then what is this… what's happening?" I asked her, calming my voice so I didn't anger the man.
"We're here because we need you." She told me.
"What?" I asked, dumbfounded. Why would they need me? I had no idea who they even were. What could people like them possibly use me for?
"We need you in our world— in our time." The man said quietly, still seemingly angry.
"World? Time? Who are you?" I was about to scream in frustration. My head was killing me and I wanted to go home and cry in my bed.
"We are Tui and La." She said, offering no other explanation.
"I don't understand." Confusion began to override fear. Those names sounded familiar… but I live in California, where would I ever have heard those names?
"We don't expect you to." The man said harshly.
The girl sighed and made a gesture with her hand. "We are spirits from another world. We've come for you."
"Come for me? I thought you weren't going to kill me!" I began to yell. "Damnit, just tell me what's happening!"
The man's face transformed into a look of hate, and he took a step forward, probably to complete the deed, but the woman placed her hand on his arm and squeezed, calming him substantially.
"Don't worry Katara, all will be revealed in time." The woman smiled. "All you need to know now is that you must seek out the avatar."
There was an ear splitting crack, and my world was filled with light.