A/N: I know there have been several stories of Neytiri/Jake in the portable link trailer near the end. I started writing this at one in the morning when I got back from opening night of Avatar. It has been nearly two weeks, and I've seen it three times. I have been reading other stories that totally rock -and no offense at my ideas; it turns out a lot of people have the same brainwaves- but I didn't publish mine because it was NOT ready.
Now it is.
This will be a three part series. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own, or will I ever own, James Cameron's Avatar. This is for entertainment use only.
WARNINGS: SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE. and a mention of the mating process.
Tom's death hit me hard. It had happened so suddenly; he and I hadn't spoken in the few months since I'd slammed a door in his face when he brought me stickers for my wheelchair. The pain when I looked at his unsmiling face was worse than any tour of Venezuela. Sitting at my favorite bar, and then, bam. Government agents tell me my PhD certified twin is shot dead for a couple of bucks.
For a while, I asked why I was still alive. When we were kids, Tom would make the plans and tell me how to 'execute' them. Usually I broke bones or gained a few stitches. I ran hell-bent toward danger, while Tom followed at a graceful walk.
Who was I?
Tom had known me the best, as my twin. In my heart, I thought I would never find someone to trust me so completely as Thomas Sully, PhD in Xenobiology and Medicine of Pandora.
I was wrong.
Her name was Neytiri.
I SEE YOU
PART ONE: TORUK MAKTO
I killed the man who nearly killed my mate.
I was fierce and perfect in form. The bow hummed in my hand, and I saw the scarred man's life fade from his eyes. Unable to move or to breathe with the arrows in his chest, he died slowly of the poison. Eywa would not be proud of the feeling inside. But I am satisfied for the trade, the loss of life.
That was instants ago. I kneel over my Jake, but his body is silent. I cry for him, slap his face, hope for signs. There is none and inside, my heart breaks. What do I do? I feel the water of tears behind my eyes. His skin is warm under my hand, but he is like on the morning of the destruction of Eywa's sacred Tree of Voices. He does not respond.
I cannot, cannot live without him.
Then I hope.
In the structure from our four human allies, I hear choking. My ears perk and I am inside the metal box. Scents of sweat, food, and blood make inside me spin; it is the scent of Sky People, but it is Jake. There are big boxes, with smells of fire in the thin wires. One is crushed. My forehead wrinkles, and I cry again, because I see him.
He is different. Not blue. Not tall. No tail. But I know it is my Jake. His chin is strong. His five fingers are in pain as if he fell from Kelutrel. His legs are thin as a twig. Alarmed, I am with him in one step.
No breath. My hands touch...cradle like a baby. I cannot panic. He is small. He is light, like a stretched fern. I see the breathing machine that the Sky People -that Jake- must wear. My hands tug and push until it covers his face. Ox-a-gin hisses like an ikran.
I am afraid for him. He is not in either body. Has Eywa taken him from me?
His eyes open.
I know it is my Jake. He is always like this when he wakes. Take in surroundings, like a warrior. Blink fast to know where he is. They are dark, and small, but alive. The tiny body shudders. He twitches and he can now breathe. I hold him, heart swelling. My Jake.
He looks to me. I look back. We are one. He knows.
"I see you," he says. I know. He is seeing me for the first time as a Sky People. He is not frightened. He is strong.
"I see you," I whisper. I wish he knows I still want him. His hand beneath mine warms. I hold him. I never want to let go.
Her face is exactly what I needed to see.
For one moment, I can forget pain and suffering. Her smile makes my burden lift; it makes me want to reach up and kiss her so hard that she forgets who Eywa is. Our skin is soft and warm together. Eyes the color of the sun twinkle at me with relief. My eyes trace her high cheekbones, then her lips. Her tears wet my fingertips.
Neytiri's war paint reminds me where we are: in a portable link room in the middle of the jungle, miles away from any help or a damn link. I know she can carry me to...wherever. A list of things start pouring through my head. I want to move, to run; I need to go back to the base camp for a link, but I need to check my People.
This body is worthless. I need to move, to strike the perpetrators one last time. Holding two of Neytiri's fingers, I ask, "Are the People regrouped? We need to drive the remaining humans toward the Sector Four camp. The few we don't get will be taken by Eywa."
I know from her uncertain face that was the last thing she had thought of. For a moment, I feel guilty of taking this simple pleasure of holding me away from her. But time is crucial. Like a curious child, she brings me carefully to the airlock, eyes wide. I hit the proper sequence, and the doors slide open into the wild.
Colonel Quaritch's AMP suit is pristine and shining against the light filtering through the trees, although there is blood coated on the front where the palulukan fell. I look away, remembering the agonizing pain from the nerves of my braid as I hung between life and death. With Neytiri's arm supporting my weight, I motion to my Avatar.
The body is strewn outside in the long grass, seemingly dead. A bug crawls over the arm, skittering upon our approach. There's not even a twitch from a toe. His face is smooth, with no troubles. I've never seen how wild and dangerous he seems now that I am a full Omaticaya; the braids are tight and bunched around the skull, the muscle is no longer lean but thick and burly, and the skin is riddled with bug stings, scars, and cuts. Ironically, the only time I've ever been this close to him was when he was in the growth chamber, not functioning yet. I saw my brother's face in his, and still do. It unnerves me, because Tom is dead. Will I look just like him when I die?
Neytiri's gaze flickers between the two of us. Obviously, she doesn't know how to feel since I am staring at him like I do my paralyzed legs. Her arm subconsciously tightens. "I cannot take both," she warns, clearly demonstrating she'd rather take me than him.
I wish I could call anyone. Norm must have headed out with the handheld communication system - the system inside is destroyed-, and I cannot call my banshee or the toruk. Neytiri told me of her ikran Tze'ze's death. A pa'li cannot be called from where we are, and in all honesty, I don't think I want to ride one right now. Frustrated, I grit my teeth.
Neytiri immediately touches my face with her long warm fingers, and asks worriedly, "My Jake?"
I didn't mean to, but I snap, "How are we going to get to the human camp?"
Her ears flatten, and irritated, she growls, "I will carry you to the People. We will ride pa'li to the camp, and you will speak with No-men." She presses me into a cradle in her arms while I glower at the AMP machine, redirecting my anger. Although she must have seen how tired and frustrated I was, she says nothing.
Faster than a panther on Earth, she begins to run, slender legs eating up the distance. The brilliant scenery flashed past, and my head hurts. If I was in my Avatar, I would be able to hear a beetle on the tree as I whipped past. I would be able to keep up with Neytiri, instead of being carried away by a nine foot tall alien woman.
There is so much building inside of my chest. I can feel the hatred and confusion of my human side, and the trust and worry of my Na'Vi side. Are these both me? Or am I sincerely two people, living a lie?
And why does Neytiri not shy away from me, a human? Do appearances just not matter? Or is she feeling a duty to carry me on, when she knows without me, my Avatar will not live?
I come to the Tree of Souls, and the more of my People I encounter. It is not just the Omaticaya clan, but my brothers and sisters from the plains and the cliffs. All know me as mate of Toruk Makto, daughter of Mo'at and Eytukan. They stare, like rude children, at sleeping Jake in my arms. Many have not seen a peaceful human. I hear unil-tìran-tokx, "the dreamwalker body", from those I pass. It irritates because they do not know it is Jake and my ears are flat against my skull.
It is an exhausted place now. It smells of blood and victory. Warriors hiss and hold wounds, while their mates soothe. They do not enter the grove of our sacred mother. The dead need Eywa's comfort more than the living. My mother is dancing there, praying for my kin who have lost mates and creatures. I watch from the ridge. Her body quakes. She sends prayers to Eywa. I feel shivers; I will one day be her, singing. I walk to a lonely spot through those who wait, and offer a prayer beside them.
I turn, sniffing. A Sky People smell is here. My eyes find No-men. He sits by himself by the edge of the cavern, the look of a hollow tree in his eye. He plays with equipment, poking buttons. This man too, had a dreamwalking body. I found the body in the underbrush. It had been shot through either the arm or the heart; under so many worthless clothes, I could not see the hurt. This made me anxious inside for my mate.
"I see you," I say, nodding to the Sky Person. I realize I copied the nod from Jake.
The sadness is pushed away. He repeats the familiar gesture, and answers in my tongue, "Greetings, Neytiri." His eyes see Jake in my arms. Carefully, he swallows. "Is he...?"
"No." I snap, baring my teeth. I try to tell myself Jake is unstoppable. But I know he is human now, that he cannot be left alone. I blink, and show No-men his body. The small human has to stand on his toes, like a stalk of grass in the meadow. I kneel.
The Sky Person is tired, from his eyes and his body. Dirt is caked on his skin and there is something bad in his eye. He focuses on my Jake. "Looks like the oxygen tank is doing well," No-men's fingers adjust a part. My nose reeks at the smell of his sweat. "Neytiri, both of us need to get back to the main camp..."
I blink. "Jake told me." I hesitate, then say, "Does he have a sickness...?"
"Why do you say that?" No-men asks, hands checking Jake's forehead. I want to pull back. I don't. I know Jake is sleeping, but he will wake. The human continues speaking, "There's no fever, and no external wounds. Did a leak spring in the oxygen hold-"
I twist until Jake's legs are in front of No-men. "No movement in his legs."
Shocked, the man's mouth opens. This makes me anxious again. No-men doesn't know what to tell me. My cheeks glow with impatience. "I do not care," I defend sullenly, "I wish I could save him."
No-men nods with amusement, although he is sad. "You did save him. You should have seen him before. He was...sick with grief and depression." His hand rubs his neck. "You should talk to him about it. He never discussed it with me, and I knew his bro-."
Like he knows we are speaking of him, Jake wakes. His arms flex and I can feel muscle against my skin. It makes me smile at his human power. I whisper in his ear a simple waking prayer. Soft brown eyes greet me. I want to nuzzle him, and I do.
"Neytiri," he says, in the way only he can. Tsu'Tey never says my name; he only greets. Glancing toward the Sky Person, he says, "Norman..." He is awkward, "I'm sorry about Trudy. She called me in the last few seconds. She...she gave it her all." I frown. The sadness in Nor-man's eyes increases.
"Jake, I'm glad you made it through. Thomas would be relieved. Proud even."
My mate is silent, and I feel his heartbeat sing. "Norman, we need to get the last humans back to Sector Four. They need to leave. There's more oxygen there and a link center. God willing there's a trustworthy astronaut willing to head for Earth." His five fingers are curled on my forefinger, while he keeps himself up. He is holding them tight.
The other human nods, quickly saying, "If you get Tsu'Tey or Mo'at to command a sweep of the valley, we can herd the stragglers into the base. Besides, all of them will have lost sufficient amounts of oxygen from their reserves, and the actual air can't sustain them for a couple of days. We can just surround the base if Max can open the blast door."
They talk more. I wonder where Tsu'Tey is; he could fly Jake to the Sky People camp. The two continue to talk, holding a war speak in the middle of the resting grounds. Could I make it to the ikran grounds tonight? "Let's go," Jake says, making me listen, "I'll feel better once the humans are contained without the tech supplies."
Norman frowns. He shows fear by not looking at my mate's eyes. "Jake, the People need to rest. War and these losses cannot help after exhaustion. The two of us have enough oxygen to stay out here for the night."
Suddenly, my mate stiffens in my arms. The hair on my neck rises aggressively at his reaction. Jake growls, "Yeah, well, my body is lying in a jungle alone, and I want to be in it right now."
I know his worry, and I react.
"I can return for him." My words take Jake back. He does not ask how. I do not plan to tell him I will ride a pa'li to the metal box, in the dark, and by only my own strength bring him back. Before he can speak, I nuzzle his face, touching his cheekbone. His anger is stopped. With care, I put him down on the ground. It concerns me. His legs do not move. I tell Norman to watch and I command Jake to stay. My mother will check, I explain, while I get his body. He is smiling when I am finished. He touches my hand.
I leave. The body of Toruk Makto must be mine.
I spoke with Mo'at a few hours ago about surrounding the base within twenty-four hours. Norm told me since she is the remaining clan leader at the sight, she has the power to ask for such measures, and with my close association already, it was almost guaranteed. Confused, I wondered where Tsu'Tey was. If there was a chance for him to ridicule me, it would be now. Strangely, I wouldn't mind seeing him in person.
Close to ten, Mo'at came to my seated position against one of the rocky outcroppings. I was relieved she did not stare at my exposed legs. With the traditional greeting established, she asked what I needed, and if it was in accordance with Eywa. After hearing my detailed proposal, she told me what I asked would be done. Then she left.
Within a few minutes, a horde of eager warriors had thundered out on pa'li, whooping as the sun set below the horizon. The wounded and exhausted stayed behind, resting. I heard from Norm that Mo'at had asked Eywa to care for her brethren so that in the morning many more could ride out.
Once the rumbling dies, it is quiet. The dark and the silence make my ears buzz.
All evening, Norman has been by me, although I didn't blame him when he fell asleep. The stars are bright, and the planet of Polyphemus above is like watching an ever-changing sunset of azure and purple. The brush encloses me comfortably as if I am under a blanket. I feel safe surrounded by my People, even if they don't know it's me.
In the surrounding trees and rocks, other Na'Vi have bedded down, sometimes fingering their mates. It makes me ache. I want Neytiri, even without the Avatar. I know she is racing through the jungle, either trying to find my body or bringing him back. There is only one way I want to thank her and I can't. This body will not allow me anything, let alone mating -or even kissing!- with the woman that I love. I force a bitter swallow down my throat.
I cannot sleep, even when I close my eyes, because before I was either awake in my Avatar body or awake in this body. My mind is alert and insomniatic. I am still reliving the feeling of leaping through space from the bomber onto toruk, and feeling gravity yank me free from Quaritch's ship as he fired the machine gun toward me.
I never told Grace how I felt about the Avatar.
It became my freedom, my escape from a dark world. As long as I had something to do, to focus on, I could truly rise up. But I was ignoring the part of me that held my mind: a paralyzed Marine with a strong and defiant, steel-trap mind. Being around my peers, paralyzed from the waist down, makes me feel...complicated. My mind is what led us to victory, not this paralyzed body. It is absolutely worthless.
Under my hands, I feel the ground rumble from a lone pa'li. As the figure comes to the outskirts, I can tell the animal slows, its breath labored. No one would be returning. I hope it's Neytiri.
The hours crawl by, but my mate does not appear through the underbrush. My back begins to twinge like it is falling asleep. I can't seem to keep my eyes open...
I swear and jerk, seeing Neytiri approaching softly at a half-crawl. Her hands dig into the earth, the four fingers keeping her weight balanced. In the twilight, the luminescent spots on her skin as bright as the stars. Clacking from her war beads alerts me that it is truly her. She comes to my side.
I immediately know something is wrong. Her eyes are downcast, and I can see the pain in her slumped shoulders. It physically burdens her.
"I found the body of Tsu'Tey," she whispers.
Her pain becomes my own and I clench my jaw. Unreal. Impossible. Tsu'Tey was one of the strongest, the best of the warriors. Pushing me was his own private game, and was he a master at it! In the end, we had truly overcome our differences. He was my brother. We were to work together to chase away the people of Earth and he was to lead the Na'Vi when it was over. The sadness swallows me for a minute, and I put my head into my hands.
I realize I have lost two brothers in one year. Tom was hard enough.
Neytiri quietly sneaks her head into my lap, arms protectively encircling my waist. I want to bat her off, to tell her that I'm not a feeble old man, but I think this time, she's the one who wants protecting. Gingerly, I run my hands through her hair. She sighs, and her breath deepens.
We sit for nearly an hour, reeling from the shock of Tsu'Tey's death. I should have expected it, but he seemed a steady part of the community, a rock in the midst of the sea. But so many have died, so many strong warriors. It was a miracle that both Neytiri and I made it through after Quaritch's attack. If not for Neytiri, I wouldn't be alive.
She breaks the silence by asking, "Jake? Can't you feel this?"
I don't understand what she is asking until I see her fingers running down my leg. Heat rushes to my chest. The little vixen had performed the same movement in the sacred woods, when she accepted me as a mate. The way her fingers pressed on my muscles had driven me wild in a flash of pleasure.
My stomach churns in disgust. The world spins.
Like she's being burned, her hands jump away from my brittle legs. The touch on my face is soft, and I can see her eyes shaking in shame. "I'm sorry," she whimpers, "I...I-"
"Stop it. I'm fine," I say, through the mask. It distorts my voice into emotionless. For once, I'm glad of it. It's an awkward subject for humans, and I don't expect her to understand. Hell, even I don't understand why it suddenly became the most hated thing about myself. Maybe since I've become unable to even link up to my Avatar. "Tomorrow, when we are back at the Sector Four camp, I want to talk to you about everything. Everything."
Her golden eyes soften, and she carefully hugs me against her hot body. My thoughts calm, thinking of an explanation that will not cause her worry. Finally, I just say, "Neytiri...I need the human camp. I need-" My head swims. "I need my body."
She jumps at the chance to apologize. "I brought him back. Mo'at is praying for his good health." Tears are building under her eyelids. "I didn't mean-I didn't want-"
"Neytiri," I feel the words come out of my mouth harshly, "Stop. Tomorrow."
I turn to the jungle, away from my curious mate. I may love her, but my mind couldn't do this. Not tonight.
I was sick of being a cripple.
I had hurt my Jake.
I could see his icy anger, burning a hole in our bond.
I didn't mean it.
Unable to leave, I slept next to him, defiant that he would shut me away. We were mates. This body would not come between us.
I would not let it.
When he was stupid, I called my Jake a baby. I remember my anger at his stupidity. He followed when I pushed him away, insisted that he come with me. He was stupid. Rude.
Perhaps now I am the baby.