Halfway Til Bliss

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough.

Warnings: Speculation, Spoilers up to Season Three

AN: For AtLA Land's bingo card writing challenge. Prompt was "Bend and Not Break."


His parents abandon him. He's not a bender. Not worthy of their time or attention.

Their love.

He tells the owners of the orphanage a name that isn't really his. One that he makes up on the spot. One that doesn't belong to a boy who's shoved out of his childhood home and all but dragged through the darkened streets. Who isn't left on a doorstep like a piece of unwanted trash.

He only cries the first night. Afterwards, Piandao grows up and grows older and finds his true calling in the sword. He joins the army. Then, he leaves it. He travels. He learns. He teaches. He comes to Shu Jing, a city he fell in love with as a young man, and makes it his home.

Piandao sees his mother again when he's long grown. She's gone grey, and her face is lined. She's still lovely though. At a party with her oldest granddaughter – a bender, just like her mother and grandmother before her – in the hopes of an introduction with the new Fire Lord. As if young Zuko would ever look anywhere but his own lady now that he has her; he's too much like his uncle for anything less.

Piandao turns away from her without saying a word. Only to bump into a man he hasn't seen in decades. Not since a heart-wrenching night. Not since a time when he was just a boy and only an embarrassment.

He recognizes his father; his father doesn't recognize him. There's no spark of remembrance, of family lost and now found. No one but a stranger looks back at him.

Piandao murmurs an apology and brushes by. He has more important matters at hand, and he makes it forward in just enough time to see attention drawn to the front of the room. To watch as his favorite and best student receives the recognition he's so sorely due.

Sokka turns to wave excitedly at him afterwards; Piandao shakes his head with a chuckle and waves back. He can only wait there as Sokka picks through the crowd to reach him.

"Your son, I take it?" a male voice asks then.

Piandao turns to see that his father is beside him once more. He glances questioningly at the boy headed their way before turning back.

"You must be very proud."

Piandao looks at the man who left him behind. Who threw him aside as though he didn't matter. Who thought him so useless that he wasn't even worth keeping.

Then, he looks at Sokka, and he doesn't fight his smile.

"Always."


Ever Hopeful,

Azar