Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender belongs to Bryke and Nickelodeon, not me. "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" belongs to death cab for cutie.
Love of mine, someday you will die
But I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the dark
No blinding light, or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
She knew this day would come.
For years she waited…years for him, of course. To her, it felt merely like days…or hours…or minutes. Time ran different in the skies.
From high above she had watched him. Her powers had guarded his every step since the moment she kissed him goodbye.
She touched her lips. Decades later, and she still felt the urgent warmth of his mouth against hers.
Much had happened since then. He had seen much. In less than a year since the moment she left the earth, he had traveled the world and defeated enemies. He had learned much, both as a swordsman and as a man. He was wonderful.
When the war reached its final, bloodless conclusion, she watched him rise in the esteem of Water Tribe, Fire Nation, and Earth Kingdom alike. He stood alongside the avatar, tall and proud, as they rebuilt the world. His young adulthood passed with the fervor of hectic days and rowdy nights, as he both thoroughly enjoyed the peace that pervaded his formerly war-torn world and worked to maintain it.
She loved him as he grew up, laughing at his antics and crying at his quiet heartbreaks, until slowly- it always happens slowly- he became a man. Broad-shouldered and decisive, with a man's knowledge and a man's strength, and yet he never lost his boyish smile nor his boyish sense of fun.
And while she watched him become a man, she couldn't but remember that she was still just a girl.
She was proud of him, had always been proud of him, yet she was proudest still when he became chieftain. His eyes were bright with unshed tears as he bid goodbye to the father that he had loved so deeply, yet he stood tall and noble as his people named him their leader. And he was a good leader- kind and clever, fair and considerate. Yet he still retained that sense of righteous anger that made his enemies unsure and those he protected feel safe.
Time passed for him. The boy she had kissed goodbye was an old man, kissing his loved ones goodbye himself. It was his time, after all.
She had seen many of the human world bid their farewells and cross over. At first she had wept, mourning for them as she would have on earth. But slowly, slowly she realized that their goodbyes were only temporary. The separations that stung so cleanly in the mortal world became momentary aberrations in the immortal. She saw them reunited- parent and child, lover and lover, friend and friend. And so she waited for this day, knowing that someday the separation would end.
It would not be long now. His grandchildren were held up to kiss him goodbye; his grown children surreptitiously dashed at their wet eyes as they cracked weak jokes and he laughed gently.
And then his wife. His pretty wife, still youthful and lovely despite her pure white hair, bent to kiss him. He caught her hand, his eyes falling solemn. They exchange a glance so loving, so heartbreaking, that she had to look away.
She had forgotten about the wife.
Of course he would move on. They had been children when she had faded from his arms, after all. It wasn't fair to ask him to remain true to her, as she floated through the sky and he was left standing on the earth.
She watched him fall in love. He fell, head over heels, in the blinding intensity of young love. The girl was clever, kind, strong. A decent match, she supposed. He searched the world over for her, working to protect.
You didn't fail, she wanted to scream. You never failed. I made my the decision myself!
But he never heard her, and instead he pursued the girl. He found her, and they stayed together. Having her there by his side kept him going through the long, hot, relentless days of that final summer.
But she grew up too.
She went home. He did as well. They wrote. They visited. They kissed. But as they departed into their separate surgeries, the intense need for each other faded. Soon the letters were few and far between, and the visits even less. Eventually he received news that she was to be married, to a young man from her own hometown.
He was in his twenties by then, and he laughed. The love of his youth was a pleasant memory now. The man he was now had not stayed in love with the woman she became. They were friends, but their love had faded as they had grown.
For a while she wondered if he would marry. She entertained the notion that he would remain celibate, out of solidarity for her memory. But it was not to be.
The girl he chose had been by his side the entire time- a lively, pretty child. He hadn't noticed her then, not as she wished to be seen. She had been just a little girl then.
But at long last he saw her differently. She was seventeen, and it was summer. He was captured by this new mystery, a child turned into a young woman without him noticing. She had nursed a crush on him since her childhood, but she didn't let him know that. He spent time with her at every chance, laughing and talking and gazing when she didn't notice his eyes on her- which was often.
She was eighteen, and it was winter, and he made her angry. She was lovely when she was angry, her fair cheeks flushing red and her pale eyes flashing brightly. He persuaded her to open her gift- a beautifully carved moonstone on a pale green velvet ribbon. She tied it round her neck, and he took that as a yes.
They were married by spring, in the early evening. She watched the wedding with interest and heartbreak both. It was a lovely wedding, out on the wide expanse of the garden with brightly colored lanterns swinging above their heads. The bride wore white lotuses in her hair, and though her heart was breaking, she shone more brightly than she ever had. And she knew he noticed.
Their marriage was happy. She saw to that. They squabbled, of course, about silly things like spending too much time with the guys or not cleaning up properly. But they loved each other deeply, in their shared jokes and their gentle touches and the nights that were too sacred for anyone to know.
And then the baby came.
Of course there was a baby. He wanted a baby from the moment they were married, and she would tug on his ear and tell him be patient, there's time. And the day came when she placed his hand on her still-flat stomach and whispered a secret in his ear.
The baby was beautiful. He held the little one to his heart, singing soft husky lullabies while his wife slept, and told him stories, and promised him the extravagant silly things that only a father can promise. And she watched from the heavens, and her heart broke as she watched the joy from which she must be forever be barred.
Time passed. The baby grew up, and was joined by others. She watched him gaze with pride on his family, from his clever, pretty wife to his happy children, and knew he was happy. And she was content.
But time passes only for so long. And now he had to say goodbye to them.
She watched as his children grown shuffled out of the room, allowing themselves the comfort of tears when the door was shut behind them. The smile faded from his face as he looked out the window, lost in his own thoughts.
His wife sat beside him, tucking his hair behind his ear in a familiar, comforting gesture. He smiled at her and pulled her to his chest. She twined her arms around his neck, her shoulders trembling. He whispered something into her ear; she whispered something back and hugged him as if she could never let go.
But he did.
She felt him slip from his world to hers, quietly and peacefully. She watched his wife drop her head on his shoulder and shake with sobs. And she waited.
It could have been seconds, or minutes, or hours. But then again, time meant nothing now.
He stood before her, smiling. She felt no anxiety, only peace. He was older than he was when she kissed him goodbye, but younger than he had been on earth. His eyes shone, and he took her by the hands.
"I thought I would never see you again," he said, wondering.
"I knew," she said. She squeezed his hands. "I always knew."
He glanced away, and she knew what he was looking for. "Do they miss me?"
"Of course," she said. "They loved you. They love you still."
He didn't look up, and she realized, finally realized, that the boy that she had loved was never coming back. "What did you tell her?" she whispered.
"Hm?" he said slowly, his eyes trained on the earth far below.
"What did you tell your wife?"
He smiled, his gaze far away from the heavens. "I told her that when it was her time, I would be waiting," he said.
She looked at him then, really looked at him, and the remaining pieces of her human heart fluttered away like leaves in a soft breeze.
He had not followed her into the dark. He was paving the way for someone else.
If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied
And illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark.
I've written some tearjerkers before, but this one made me honestly bawl.
I got the idea a while ago, but I just now wrote it. I've never written anything with Yue before, and I probably won't for a while, just because I don't want to cry again.
I wrote this while listening to "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" on repeat. I bet you can tell.
Also, Sokka married Toph, in case you were wondering.
I hope you enjoyed this! Let me know what you think.