Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar.
The feeling rolled over me in a thick, suffocating liquid threatening the morals I so persistently held. Heat washed over me, then freezing cold. The tips of my callused fingers tingled and electrified. I was hyper aware of everything.
The soft rustling of leaves turned into a cacophony to my ears. Soft breezes turned into raging roars that tore through me with unrestraint. Footsteps thundered and the soft melodious call of the night birds grew harsh and shrill.
I took a deep breath; hearing and feeling my lungs expand with much needed air. I exhaled, hearing it come out in a hiss.
Guilt and hatred had doubled me over. I squatted and held my arms over my stomach in a desperate attempt to keep nausea at bay. My face felt strained and awkward as I attempted to reach some sort of semblance at normality. But why? No one could see me out here. So what did it matter if I wanted to scream towards the sky?
My mouth opened for the much needed release. Then, the worst thing happened. It closed up, swelling to unmentioned proportions. It forbade any air or sound to pass through.
The anger reared its ugly head. I stood up and forced my taut limbs to budge. It seemed as though I was not even a part of my own body. I was an entity watching this young waterbender walk stiffly towards a river. I watched the sky darken as a large cloud obstructed the majestic moon. The young waterbender faded into a deep shadow. When the cloud passed the darkness did not leave the girl's face–my face.
I sat on the edge of the river bank, my legs underneath me. The position should have caused a great discomfort for my muscles were too taut. It felt like they were already stretched out to their fullest. Any more would result in a fury of shattered ligaments, tissues, veins, and blood.
The water tantalized me. Drew me in. The moon was not full. Not as it had been the day before.
A shiver ran through my body and I was now dancing on the razors edge. That day brought sinister memories forward and I worked to pull them back. All thoughts were now concentrated on the river. Like the way it bubbled and lapped gently over the river bank wetting my knees.
I looked up at the moon. The first waterbender. It taught my ancestors many wonderful and invigorating things. It taught me my strength…and my weakness.
My mind faded from the river and took on more sinister thoughts.
Push and pull like the tide. Rise and fall like the human chest.
Quickly, I plunged my face into the freezing water. I came up with a shuddering gasp.
That was certainly one way to clear one's mind. My chest heaved with great excursion. My stomach felt like lead. The only upside was that my limbs were no longer taut but not completely relaxed either.
My glum feelings a moment before I plunged my head into the glacial water could all be attributed to one person. I could not say her name. I could not think it. I would never allow myself too. It was just too painful and challenged all that I held near and dear to my heart.
But that woman. That old cynical, crazed puppet master was the reason I was in this mess.
I suppose some of it was my fault. Though I never lingered long with those thoughts. I had been the waterbending nerd and allowed my fascination for new knowledge cloud my judgment. I wanted to believe in the good spirit of people. I still do. I can't help it.
By nature, I am an open person. I don't close myself off from my emotions like Zuko. I don't deny my feelings like Toph. I don't try to rationalize like my brother. And I don't delude myself like Aang.
I feel because feeling is a human's way to the truth. Feelings describe that which we cannot rationalize.
Take love for example.
There are many different kinds of love. A siblings' love. A friends' love. A parents' love. A love of hobbies. A love of food. A soul mates' love. A love of a particular brand of reading material. A love of the arts. A love for nature. A love for bloodlust. A love for truth. A love of power.
There are many more for humans tend to attach themselves fairly easy at anything that piques their interests. Many of these loves are formed because of just that. Others, are unwillingly heaved upon our shoulders.
A love for power.
I've never loved power. I've loved strength. I wanted to get stronger to change the world. To help my friends. To save those I care about. I've never had any need, or want, to lust for power.
But because of that inn keeper that's exactly what I have.
I cannot feel its presence on a regular basis. Even when the full moon comes around again, and that feeling of power surges within me, I can simply close off my mind and not think about it. But its there. Always in the back of my mind. It hides in a small corner, watching what goes on around me with glowing eyes just waiting for that one moment when my resolve will slip. When I fail and cling desperately to something it is always there with an outstretched hand. When I tentatively touched it long ago, it burned my soul. So I let it go.
But yesterday I slipped, and not for lack of resolve. I slipped down that slippery, curvy, jagged road because of my feelings, my rage. I let them overshadow me. I let them control me. All my inhibitions were thrown into the cold fire as I saw my brother being held by a rebel fire nation soldier with a knife at his throat.
I had cried and pleaded for him not to hurt Sokka. My brother stupidly yelled at me. Told me to get out. To get away. I wanted to punch him for such a stupid suggestion. I was his sister! How could I ever leave him? Simple answer: I couldn't.
Instead I tried to give the rebel our money, our food, our clothes, anything to get him to release my big brother. He laughed and told me that he wasn't interested in material things. He had bigger plans in mind. He was going to kill my brother and me and everyone else who stood in his way and start the war again in Ozai's name.
Fear had its snaky tendrils around my throat but I refused to succumb. When I took a stance to fight, he held the knife tighter against Sokka's throat. He told me to drop my weapons quickly unless I wanted to see my brother tortured. I dropped my pouch.
As I watched the knife puncture a small cut on the tan skin of my brother's neck, something snapped. I saw the blood and took a breath. The clouds uncovered the moon. The full moon. This time the temptation was too great. I could feel my fingers tingling as the full moon powered me.
I could feel a hot, fat tear trace its way down my cheek, leaving behind an ice-cold trail. I closed off my senses for a moment to get my bearings. Then I struck.
I lost myself to the power of that monster lurking in my head. It took control of my limbs and used them as it felt was necessary. Sokka was free and shouting at me to stop. But the monster didn't obey. It kept twisting the limbs of the controlled roughly and then smoothly. As the soldiers arm twisted roughly one way, it unwound softly and then it twisted harshly again.
He wanted to talk about torture. If he lived he could write a whole series on torture from the material I gave him…wait, me? Was it really me? No, it couldn't be. I wasn't the one torturing this man. It was the monster. Right?
Sokka's panicked voice was raw in my ears but fell on the deaf ones of the monster. I pried a way out of the prison I had created for myself in my mind but the power was too much. The rage was too much. Everything was so overwhelming I felt like I was going to break!
I gasped and shot up. Sokka's ocean eyes looked down at me perplexed.
"What are you doing out here? Were you training?"
I could feel the weight of my hair plastered to my head from the previous dunking I gave myself.
"Just…washing my face. I feel all grimy." It was only half a lie, but even then he didn't believe me.
"Well, I'm kind of hungry and I'd like to get fed sometime tonight. We have a long ways to travel in the morning."
I nodded. "I'll be right there as soon as I finish up."
We were going back to the southern water tribe. Back home. We were in Earth kingdom territory and would have to make stop at a port tomorrow to secure a boat and furnishings for the rest of the ride.
He nodded and turned around but didn't walk away.
"Are you okay, Katara?" he asked.
I grimaced at his back. "As good as I can be."
"I wanted to say…I'm sorry."
He sighed and his hand came up to rest on his face. "For not noticing the danger earlier and putting you in a position like that."
"I didn't notice it either until it was too late. You're not the only one at fault." He definitely wasn't at fault. It was me and that uncontrollable surge of power that shut down all ethics.
"But I couldn't do a thing," he argued. "And when you got him off of me…I froze." I heard him gulp. "I froze because…I was scared, Katara. I'd never seen you like that. Your face…it wasn't yours."
Tears were making their presence known and I blinked them back.
"I know, Sokka. I'm sorry that you had to see that. I…lost control." Contrary to popular belief, blinking does not get rid of tears. If they wanna come out they're going to no matter what. "We should be more careful from now on."
He snorted softly. "I thought the end of the war would bring peace. Not a bunch of crazed fire nation folk with pointy objects."
There was one sure thing that I leaned from this war.
"The years following a full-scale war are the hardest. I mean, back when the war first started you knew your enemies and you had a plan. Now that the enemy is gone you have no set plan. Feelings have been twisted and grudges have been set. No one knows what to feel anymore and much less how to act. Big changes usually inspire that kind of behavior."
Sokka scratched his head. "Well, I guess that's why we have an Avatar. We should give Aang a shout about fire nation rebels in Earth kingdom territory. He'll want to know."
I knew that was true. But I didn't want to tell Aang. He'd be so disappointed in me if he knew what I did.
"I won't tell him everything, Katara. It's not my thing to tell."
I wiped the tears away and stood up on shaky feet to hug his back.
"You're a great big brother and I promise to never lose control like that again."
He softened into my embrace for a moment, before becoming his usual self.
"If you have time for hugs you have time to feed me. Hurry up with your princess spa so that we can both get a good nights' sleep."
He patted my hands that were crossed on his chest and I let him go. I watched him walk off towards the fire he built with a bit of a lighter heart.
Then I looked up at the moon. It wasn't the moon's fault that it enriched waterbenders with power. And I didn't blame the firebenders for unknowingly creating a bloodbender.
I blamed myself for opening myself up to that madness. When we left that wretched village I thought I was done with bloodbending. But every time I used it–which was few and far between–I could feel a bit more power dripping into my veins and feeding the monster.
The Avatar is the balance of all, but even with him on the job it would take a while for people to return to their normal lifestyles. That meant that there'd probably be more rebels like that man from last night. If I hadn't been able to protect my brother without the use of bloodbending it was only a matter of time before the monster would control me like the inn keeper.
If that was so, then how long would it be before I lost myself to insanity?
I didn't know the answer to that. If I was honest with myself, I didn't want to know. What I did know was that I was now bonded to something dangerous. It was a bond that would never leave my side. For the rest of my life I'd walk the razor's edge.
I looked at the moon one last time before walking back to my hungry brother. When my stomach grumbled it was not the monster that was hungry. It was me. I picked up my pace, no longer feeling that sense of nausea.
After all, root soup wasn't going to make itself.
Just a little story that popped into my mind while re-watching "The Puppet Master." It's such a creepy episode but I like it.
I was just exploring Katara's dilema with bloodbending. After all, when you wield that much power there are bound to be consequences, no? Well, this was a one-shot about such consequences.
Hope the read was enjoyable.
Love: Lola of the Peaches