Summary: Norm is not a marine. He refuses to believe that heroism is something that fate ignores.

Disclaimer: now, don't own avatar, blahhhhh

A Bright Heart

They searched a week for her. Or, at least, Norm thought it was a week. All things considered, time passed differently on Pandora. All he knew was that the sun rose and fell 5 times.

Not many were willing to help him at first. They muttered (thinking he didn't understand the language-) that he would only fall off the mount, whether they tried ground or sky. After all, they would whisper, he's so tiny! He balked at this, finally turning to Neytiri and reminding her how much Trudy had done for them. The least they could do was look for her…it hurt to think it, let alone say it…body.

They were in the sky within the hour. Neytiri was not talkative, but she expressed succinctly that she knew that such a warrior deserved respect. Even if it had only been two days, and they had things to do, and things needed to be decided…he listened to her complain without comment.

Before they had left, Mo'at had drawn near to them, looking concerned. Norm half expected her to say "drive safe" to her daughter, reminiscent of his own mother. Instead, she turned to him.

"I have met only a few sky people whose words mattered to me." He had flushed, flustered by the praise from the holy woman.

"Thank lady? I-"

"no, listen." Her ears had twitched as if for emphasis. "I have met even fewer whose hearts were strong. Jake-Sully is one of them. But you, Nor-m, are perhaps even stronger." She inhaled through her nose sharply. "It is one thing to risk your life for ones you love. It is another to risk it for the love of a world. May Away be with you in your search"

He had muttered his most formal thanks, then climbed awkwardly behind a slightly perturbed Neytiri. He suspected she was peeved about his heart being stronger in her mother's eyes than her mate's. He suspected disapproving mother-in-laws were par for the course on any world.

They set out, resting only at night when the hunters of the sky were too numerous, and then only resting just in the trees.. On the third day, after days of him muttering about the lack of coordinational positioning, they found one of her lifts on one of the floating mountains. He felt his heart clench at the sight of her war paint.

They spent the next day searching that rock, to no avail. Neytiri was feeling mutinous, convinced that Trudy was dead. He bargained for one more day, finally admitting that this wasn't a selfless mission.

The truth was, he was in love with Trudy. It was completely ridiculous, one-sided, and stupid. But the fact that it was so irrational further proved to him that it was true. He saw her smiling face in his minds eye, the fierce assertion of what was iright/i blazing in her eyes, and…he could not give up on her. Jake had accepted her death with quiet sorrow, but the fact was, Norm was not a marine. He couldn't accept that someone with a heart so bright could be snuffed out by cruelty. Fate had to be fairer, didn't it? Because, if Mo'at had known Trudy, she'd have known that the pilot's heart was far stronger. She didn't know the people, didn't love them or the planet, she simply could not follow her stupid orders.

After he had poured this rant to Neytiri, she gladly agreed to one more day. Halfway into the despair of the fifth day, Norm had been hit in the head with a rock. Not from above, but the side…they turned in the direction it came from, and saw, miracle of miracles, Trudy, clutching a bigger rock.

They touched down next to her, and Norm scrambled to her, muttering her name, proclaiming that he knew she was alive. He checked her re-breather, fussing, and she accepted all of this, grinning at him and unmoving.

"Norm, Norm….I could kiss you-" His heart sped a bit, but he shook his head, tapping her face mask in front of her face.

"no, you couldn't" She laughed, but then wheezed, and Neytiri rushed over, scooping her up like a child. Norm following closely, worried at the battered state of her re-breather. As she was loaded onto the Banshee, he decided it had to go.

"Trudy, hey-" she lolled her head towards him. "hold your breath, okay? I'm gonna switch you-" she nodded, and he worked so fast she was laughing weakly by the time he'd switched them. He moved to mount the Banshee behind her, but she grabbed his hand. She grinned at him.

"Think I might owe you more than a kiss, Norm." He knew he must have turned beet red, because she was laughing hard enough to wheeze.

By the time they returned to the village, the clan had named Jake interim leader (no surprise there-) and had hauled their broken trailer to the site. Only, it was broken no longer. The glass had been replaced with solid material, Jake explained later that the Na'vi had only needed to know that it needed to be airtight before they had set upon the thing with all manner of goopey self-hardening concoctions.

But when Neytiri carried a living, breathing, grinning Trudy into the village, silence settled for a mass of five seconds before a chorus of joyous yip-yips and howls set upon them. He heard Trudy laugh something about "big blue cats". He worried, but Neytiri seemed to read the affection in the tone. Cats, after all, would be something she wouldn't even know she resembled.

Once Mo'at had finished telling Trudy that she too had a strong heart (Norm was pleased she got the same recognition-even if this was when Jake chose to explain the trailers-) He excused them, taking her into his own arms and carrying her to the trailer. Jake nodded them onwards, and the rest of the tribe seemed to understand that this was necessary.

He was pleased to find that the airlock was intact, and let them in, making sure all was well before removing his mask, then hers. He laid her down carefully in the link bed, before looking for the first air box. She grabbed his arm.

" My leg's broken, you'll need a splint." He nodded, but she tugged him down to eye level. "Norm, I'm gonna kiss you now." He spluttered, but she did it anyway, slinging her unoccupied arm around his neck, pinning his mouth on hers. Slowly, he sank to his knees, actually pressing his mouth back to hers, and she tilted her head just so, so that both their mouths fell open, sliding hotly in a rush of hot breath that made him force down a groan.

When she pulled back, her eyes were alight.

"Mmkay, doc, I'm ready for first aid." She grinned. "by the way, when I'm healed up, we are so doing that again." Personally, he couldn't wait for either.