a/n: So. Thanks to the lovely Azar for having hold of this right before my computer crashed, I can post it today despite the laptop woes. Thank the gods for best friends, ne?
Anyway, this is my first official foray into the Avatar: the Last Airbender fandom. It's only a oneshot, but who knows, the door may open for more in the future. There are lots of fun characters to play with after all. *grins*
Title: Forgotten Son
Characters: Piandao, Jeong Jeong, Male OC
Warning: Spoilers? Speculation?
Description: It's been decades, but Piandao has never forgotten that face.
Dedication: For AzarDarkstar, who keeps dragging me into this fandom with enticing lures of bromantic goodness
There comes a time when all things must come to an end. When everything he's thought that he's carefully hidden and boxed away to the deepest portions of his consciousness are dragged to the light.
For Piandao, that time is now.
All around him is laughter and revelry, music and dancing. The war is over, a new lord graces the Fire Nation throne, and the Avatar has brought peace to the land. It's a time for celebration, for broad smiles and forced cheer and happy things.
Piandao should be warm, but all he feels is cold. There was a part in the crowd, a shift in the dancers. Piandao stepped through it, catching sight of Jeong Jeong's crown of white hair. He had intentions of greeting his dear friend, perhaps sharing a drink in celebration.
Instead, he nearly collides with another man, murmurs an apology, and is startled when the stranger says his name. And not the name that everyone has come to know him by, but one Piandao has not heard uttered in decades.
Piandao feels himself go cold, frosty and frozen through. He's thrust years and years into the past, and he finds himself staring into a mirror. Albeit one that's aged by twenty years. Their eyes meet because the older man is for once at eye level. Though it's been decades and Piandao was just a boy, he knows this face. He'll never forget it until his dying day.
Inside his sleeves, where his hands are buried, fingers clench into fists. A minute shudder ripples through his body, but it's clamped down equally fast with a chilly calm. Behind his mask is a torrent of fire, however, and all Piandao does is incline his head stiffly.
"Do I know you?"
There's a flash in gold-tinted eyes. "You're my son, Li, aren't you?"
Bitterness laces Piandao's tone before he can stop himself. Before he can tell himself that it's better to be mature and unbothered. That he's over this and has been for decades.
"My name is Piandao," he says with a trace of heat. "My parents are dead."
If words were poison, Li's father would be dead by now.
Something in the man's expression softens in a way that Piandao had once dared to hope for. But it only infuriates him now. Only makes that internal fire blaze all the brighter.
"I was mistaken then," Li's father apologizes and tips his head in a bow. "I'm sorry for bothering you."
He turns, and not once does Piandao think to call him back. His eyes spark, and he wishes that he was a firebender just to use it in this very moment. He wishes even more for the weight of sword and sheath at his side. There's no need for either here, in this celebration of peace, but Piandao wishes he had them nonetheless. Wishes for a sharp blade and for the taste of vengeance. Revenge for a boy dragged through the streets at night, in shame, and discarded like unwanted trash.
But he doesn't have his sword. He isn't a bender, and that was always the problem.
Piandao is an adult now, not that boy anymore, but somehow, it still stings. He can't quite understand why.
Still, he doesn't call the man back. Piandao simply watches Li's father disappear into the crowd, inches taller than the rest. Looking for a son who no longer exists. And Piandao doesn't regret his misdirection for a single instant.
It is after all the truth.
"I could show him some real firebending, if you want."
Piandao doesn't have to turn to know who has appeared behind him. Especially when the familiar presence moves to his right side.
"He's not worth it."
"No, I don't suppose he is." From the corner of his eye, he sees Jeong Jeong's mouth quirk into something resembling a grin. "Still, if you change your mind…"
His friend leaves the offer open ended. Despite himself, Piandao feels some of his fury crumbling away, feels some of the tremors in his body fade into nothing.
"I'll know exactly who to ask," he comments, and something like a smile curls his own lips.
Jeong Jeong tilts his head towards him. "You don't have to do that, you know," he replies and scratches a finger over his bearded chin. "I don't think anyone could begrudge you hating him."
Piandao suddenly feels transparent. He's nothing more than thin glass where all the things he's kept to himself have really been on display without his knowledge.
"I should be better than this," he mutters, but if it's to himself or someone else, he can't decide.
"You're only human," Jeong Jeong answers anyway. "Just like the rest of us."
Piandao supposes there is merit in that. He thinks of Sokka, no bender, but a hero all the same.
Only human is just fine with him.
"Now come on," Jeong Jeong inserts then, half-turned away, waiting for Piandao to join him. "This is supposed to be a celebration."
"Is that your way of asking me to share a drink with you?" Piandao counters, pleasantly amused as he falls into step.
He doesn't look back; he doesn't search the crowd. Piandao doesn't care for another set of shoulders that stand inches above the revelry. They belong to a forgotten, abandoned past. One that Piandao doesn't care to see ever again.
Jeong Jeong harrumphs. "I don't need to ask," he insists, full of self-confidence and certainty. "I already know that you will."
Amused despite himself, Piandao allows himself to smile and thinks no more of the past.
Even if it does come back to haunt him, Piandao knows just the firebender to make it disappear.
AN: In canon, Piandao was abandoned by his parents for not being a firebender.
Since this is my first try, I'd love a little feedback. Comments and crits are welcome and appreciated! Thanks for reading!