Hey guys! Well, looks like this is the end. *weeps dramatic Katarola-like tears* I've had SOOOOOO much fun writing this story, but now I'm afraid it's time for me to return to "real life." Sigh. Hope you all like the finale, and I hope you guys had as much fun reading it as I had writing it! Thanks again so much for all the reviews, everyone! You don't know how much I enjoyed reading them! And, in fact, I probably wouldn't have finished this crazy story if not for you guys, so yes... Thanks again, and glad I could make you all laugh! Maybe now the movie won't be quite so painful, lol. :D
Oh, and WobblyJelly, I just wanted to say that I was actually planning on doing what you suggested about the reviews way before you even suggested it… But the fact that you suggested it just made the whole thing 10 times more funny! So, thanks for reading my mind! Lol :D
DISCLAIMER: I do not own "Avatar: the Last Airbender," the movie "The Last Airbender," or any of the characters in either of those. I also don't own Lord Shyamalan, and wouldn't want to, no matter how fun it is to take artistic liberties with him as a fictional character.
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: I really, really don't hate M. Night Shyamalan. Honest. Pinky-promise. In fact, I actually like most of his movies (everything he made up to "The Village" - after that, I dunno what's going on in that guy's head). But it's just way too much fun to make fun of him! I can't help it. :)
ANOTHER ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: I also *shameful cough* enjoyed all three Star Wars prequels...
"In Which Awng Faces His Destiny, and Zuko Reads the Reviews"
"Well, everyone," Toph sighed, stretching out contentedly on the grass. "Looks like we made it all the way to the last chapter of the fanfic!"
"I'm surprised we survived this long," Katara commented, sniffling. "You know, with our brains still intact."
"Speak for yourself!" Sokka glared at his sister, sneezing and scrubbing the excess mucus away with his sleeve. Katara cringed at him.
"Sokka, that's disgusting!" she exclaimed.
Sokka glowered at her unhappily. "Well, excuse me for not carrying a handkerchief with which to wipe the fluid of my nose with… Ugh..." Sokka scowled, shook his head fiercely, and waved his fist vaguely in the air in defiance. "I mean, MY SNOT! There, that's better. You won't defeat me with bad dialogue, Lord Shyamalan!"
"I'm more surprised that this story actually sort of had a plot," Toph snickered.
"And that the author of this fanfic actually kept writing for this long," Mai added. "You'd think she'd have given up on this story around chapter six. I know I did."
Zuko, who'd been attempting unsuccessfully to steal the iPad back from Mai since the last chapter, crept slyly up behind her, reaching for the sleeve where she'd tucked it away. But Mai quickly moved out of his reach, narrowing her eyes at him. Zuko hastily looked elsewhere and pretended to be up to nothing.
Katarola was currently slumped on the ground in a dramatic sulk, still bitter about having not been able to finish her fight scene with Z-Patel. Sockson moped beside her, feeling sorry for himself about his break-up with Movie Yue. Aang was pacing anxiously, keeping a close eye on Awng, who sat silently in his meditation pose at the edge of the Spirit Pool, attempting to concentrate. Iroh and Eeroh were lounging contentedly nearby, both beginning to drift off into a doze. And Z-Patel, still trapped (except for his face) in the block of ice, had given up trying to talk one of the Waterbenders into setting him free, and was humming a little tune to himself to help pass the time.
"Jai ho…" he hummed under his breath, bobbing his head to the beat. "Jai ho… Jai – Hey, wait!" Suddenly, the live-action prince looked up, furrowing his brow. "Did anyone notice that Zhao just sort of disappeared after those four random Waterbenders assassinated him in the last chapter?"
"Oh, yeah," Aang frowned briefly in thought, then shrugged at him. "Probably the fanfic author just hoped no one would think about it."
"Yeah," Toph nodded, yawning. "I mean, she probably didn't want to bother writing about us, er… disposing of him. But I'm sure she also wouldn't want us all hanging around in this cave with him still here."
Katara shuddered, sniffling and rubbing her nose. "Yeah," she said. "That would be pretty gross."
"Hey," came the clogged-up voice of Suki from the entrance to the cavern. The animated Kyoshi Warrior herself, looking pallid and miserable, wandered into the Spirit Oasis and glanced around in slight bewilderment. "What's happening? Everyone's here – everyone has somehow gathered in this one place? This spiritual place? I mean – ugh – everyone is…" She shook her head fiercely, struggling against the overwhelming bad dialogue. "Is this some kind of gathering in which we're all gathered? – Blah! Why was I not invited, guys?"
"Fight it, Suki!" Sokka urged her desperately. "Fight the redundancy!"
"Wow," Mai commented, again dodging one of Zuko's attempt to steal the iPad. "The whole cast is here now. The author of this fanfic must be crazy to put us all together in one place."
"The author of this fanfic gave Zuko cactus juice in chapter six," Iroh pointed out, raising his gray eyebrows at Mai. "And you're just now beginning to suspect that she is crazy?"
Katara suddenly sneezed very loudly. Aang immediately turned to her.
"Katara!" he cried anxiously, coming and kneeling beside her on the grass. "Are you okay? Stop getting sick! Hurry – say something! Say something normal!"
Katara glanced at him, amused at his concern. "I'm fine, Aang," she assured him. "No bad dialogue yet. But you better not get too close – I don't want you to catch it, too."
At that moment, while everyone was distracted by Katara, Zuko tackled Mai from behind. He pinned both her arms to her sides and attempted to slip his hand into her sleeve to retrieve the iPad, while she struggled fiercely against him.
"Let me go!" she shouted. "Zuko! No! It's bad for you!"
But somehow amidst Mai's desperate attempts to wrench herself out of his grip, Zuko managed to steal the iPad from out of her sleeve. Quickly, he darted away with it in his hand, retreating to the opposite side of the cavern and snickering in triumph.
"Zuko!" Mai growled, fuming and straightening her tousled hair.
Zuko smiled shrewdly back at her. "Too slow, Mai!" he chuckled, deeply satisfied with himself. "Better luck next time."
Mai scowled first at Zuko, then at Z-Patel. She pointed a threatening finger at the frozen live-action prince. "I blame you for this!" she declared fiercely. Z-Patel's eyes grew wide with fright for a moment.
Awng, who had been trying his hardest to meditate all this time, suddenly exhaled with deep frustration and buried his face in his hands. "It's not working!" he cried out in despair. "I can't do it! I can't meditate. I'll never be able to fight Lord Shyamalan! It's hopeless!"
"You can't give up, Awng!" Aang urged him, sitting down beside the live-action Airbender and putting an encouraging hand on his shoulders. "You can do it – I know you can."
"No, I can't!" Awng shook his head sorrowfully. "I'm not good enough, Aang! I don't know how to fight. I barely know how to have a personality!… And Lord Shyamalan is too powerful!"
"Is he really that powerful, though?" Iroh asked incredulously, stroking his dreadlocks.
"He is powerful!" Awng argued desperately. "I mean, look at what he's done – he took a great story with amazing characters and a huge fanbase, and somehow turned it into one of the worst movies of 2010! How is that even possible? And besides that, everyone knows who he is, because he puts his name on the title of all of his movies. But even though he's arguably only made two or three actually good movies – and those were a while back – people still pay lots of money to go see his new movies! You see? He's scary powerful!"
Aang sat for a moment in silent thought, then slowly grinned at the distressed live-action Airbender. "Hey," Aang said. "You wanna know how I know that you can do it, Awng?"
Awng looked at him. "How?"
"Because of everything you just said," Aang replied. "You're more aware of Lord Shyamalan's true nature than probably any other character in this movie… Except maybe Yue, but she already left… But, the point is, you know what you're doing. You know what's going on, and you can do something about it. You've just got to have more confidence in yourself!"
"Hey," Zuko spoke up from the distant end of the cavern, scanning the iPad's screen once again. "Don't worry, kid. This thing says that you're going to beat him before this chapter's over."
"Really?" Awng asked, brightening a little.
"Zuko!" Mai growled again, glaring sternly at him. "Stop reading ahead in the fanfic! You're ruining the suspense!"
Zuko just scoffed. "Suspense?" he cried. "What suspense? Everyone already knew that Awng was going to defeat Lord Shyamalan by the end of this chapter."
"It's true," Toph agreed.
"I'm just trying to give him a little encouragement," Zuko went on. "Is that so wrong, Mai? Is it?"
Mai just shook her head at him in exasperation, throwing up her arms. "Fine!" she said. "I give up – go ahead and read the fanfiction. Might as well read all the reviews too, while you're at it! See if I care."
Zuko's eyes grew wide. "There are reviews?" he exclaimed. Then, eagerly, he turned his attention back to the iPad and began scrolling through the pages, searching for the reviews.
Mai smacked herself in the forehead. "Great," she muttered.
"Hey, Awng," Toph spoke up. "Why don't you just relax? I mean, you're going to face Lord Shyamalan sometime during this chapter. And you're going to win. So don't worry about it! I mean, you probably don't even have to meditate. There's no logic in this fanfic anyway – all of us just showed up here in the Movie World without any explanation back at the beginning. And I was gone for three and a half chapters, then just got here somehow without even doing anything. The author will take care of it, trust me."
"You're right, Toph," Aang said, grinning. "Why didn't I think of that? You don't even need to meditate, Awng! The author will just get you there with no explanation. That's pretty much how this whole story has gone up till now. Might as well just relax until the next section break."
"Hm!" Awng murmured, beginning to smile. "Well – in that case…" He stretched, yawned, and reclined lazily on the grass.
"This is so wrong," Katarola complained, shaking her head furiously, lips quivering. "We're not supposed to be doing all this! It's all mixed up and out of order! What about the Fire Nation, and the big battle scene? What about Z-Patel kidnapping Awng? And Awng is supposed to meditate and cross into the Spirit World and talk to the Anonymous Blue Dragon Spirit who's supposed to give him advice, and then… Ugh! This isn't what's supposed to happen!"
"Oh, calm down, Cupcake," Katara rolled her eyes, sniffling. "None of that stuff is important."
"Right!" Sokka agreed fervently through his stuffed-up nose. "The issue of importance at this moment is the issue of my speaking in this awkward speech, and Suki as well! And soon Katara will also be speaking in a similarly awkward speech pattern of unnecessary words! You see? Lord Shyamalan must be stopped!"
Katarola pouted. "Well – can me and Z-Patel at least have our fight scene? I've been looking forward to it for the whole movie!"
"Maybe later," Katara replied, sneezing yet again.
Zuko, who had adjusted himself into a comfortable lounging position at his end of the cavern, laughed loudly at the iPad's screen. "Hey, everyone!" he said. "This is great – we've got five pages of reviews on here! People think we're funny!"
"Really?" Suki asked, curious.
"Yeah," Zuko nodded. "They think this whole story is really hilarious. Let's see what some of these say… Hm. Apparently someone named She-Pirates-kick-BUTT thinks that Sokka having a smart moment back in chapter one was like the apocalypse…"
"Hey!" Sokka frowned indignantly.
"And… a lot of them seem to think it was funny when I was repetitively spitting out my tea in shock back in the first chapter," Zuko went on, scrolling through the reviews. "WobblyJelly thinks that Katarola is annoying… Everyone seems pretty amused at my ignorance about the fourth wall in the first few chapters… Someone named Forever Fyre writes really long reviews – I'll read those later…"
"Zuko," Mai sighed wearily. "I really don't think you should be – "
But Zuko ignored her. "Brown Eyed Bandit thinks we're the only American cartoon worth watching nowadays – "
"That's probably true," Aang nodded thoughtfully.
"And… it looks like a couple of people were confused about how you knew about sex in chapter four, Aang." Zuko furrowed his brow at the animated Airbender. "Wait – why were you talking about sex?... And how do you know about it?"
Aang blushed fiercely. Everyone stared at him.
"What?" Aang cried, suddenly wishing to curl into a ball and disappear. "I just – ! Well, I – ! I didn't want to talk about it! I was – I was just trying to educate him! Awng! I mean – I mean, he had no idea…! Hey, look – just because I'm a monk doesn't mean I'm ignorant, okay? Why is everyone looking at me?"
Zuko just shrugged and turned back to the iPad. "Whatever. Anyway…" he went on. "They all apparently thought it was really funny when I got drunk on cactus juice in chapter six – "
"Of course they did," Mai rolled her eyes. "None of them are dating you. Though I bet a lot of them wish they were."
"Sapphiq I thinks you're a decent actor stuck in a bad movie," Zuko said to Z-Patel.
Z-Patel brightened for a moment. "Really?" he said, then frowned slightly. "Wait – just decent?"
"Hey, take whatever you can get," Zuko said. "Moving on – Mai, AnnaAza thinks you're awesome. And NikkiTowers says the way you broke the fourth wall in chapter eight was impressive."
Mai couldn't conceal a small smile, but she quickly shook it away. "That doesn't make it okay for you to keep reading those reviews, Zuko – !"
But Zuko ignored her yet again, skimming through the last of the reviews. "Let's see… lots of the same kind of stuff… haha, so hilarious, LOL, the movie sucks, more please, poor Zuko… Tsona didn't finish reading the fanfic yet because of some important chores… Mai4Eternity wanted to inform us that Movie Yue's going to be in the sequel to our show – "
"Hey!" Aang grinned. "I said something about that in chapter eight!"
"… PotterPhantomKitten wanted us to know that the Earthbenders who did the Pebble Dance in chapter five actually weren't as ridiculous as they appeared…"
"Oh, no, they definitely were," Toph interjected knowledgably. "Trust me – all those lies they spread about how it was actually someone else bending that dumb little rock, and they were actually doing something more impressive off-screen? Ha, right. I've heard all that before. They were just trying to cover for how embarrassing their technique really was. But it's okay. I beat them good."
"SarcasticAngel is apparently laughing her butt off about the Bad Dialogue Flu," Zuko continued, snickering under his breath.
Sokka and Suki both frowned. "Well, I'm certain that a certain SarcasticAngel's amusement would certainly be much decreased if she caught it!" Sokka said, sniffling.
"Are you certain it's a 'she'?" Suki asked him.
Sokka waved his hands. "Certainly! Most everyone of places is aware in their minds that the large majority of fanfic writers who write fanfiction are females."
"And… whoa! Hold on a second!" Zuko paused briefly, his eyes widening slightly in uneasiness. "Uh… It appears that someone named WobblyJelly wanted the author of this fanfic to – uh – to write a chapter… where one of us reads off all the reviews…"
Everyone grew silent for a few moments, eyes fixed on Zuko. Zuko stared blankly at the iPad for a long while, then quietly closed down the internet browser and shut it off.
"I think I've had enough internet for now," he mumbled. "Suddenly I feel very used."
Meanwhile, in an unknown alternate dimension…
Lord Shyamalan, the mad director himself, sat in his small, artistically cluttered office – a room he liked to call the 'Chamber of Genius' – crouched feverishly over his computer, attempting to work out the kinks of his next brilliant screenplay: The Last Airbender 2.
"We see the heroes soaring over a vast desert," Lord Shyamalan muttered to himself, typing rapidly. "Katara narrates in a voice-over: 'We passed through the desert on our way to Ba Sing Se… We found a Great Library, where Soh-ka discovered that there was to be an eclipse that would block the Fire Nation's Firebending powers… Appa was captured by the Sandbenders of the desert, and Awng was very upset. But after we rescued Appa, he felt better…' And, cut to Ba Sing Se!"
Lord Shyamalan sat back for a moment, scanning the words he'd just written with deep satisfaction. He glanced sideways, to a large mirror that hung on his wall, and grinned at himself.
"You're a genius!" he declared to his reflection.
Standing up for a moment to stretch and contemplate his own brilliance, Lord Shyamalan began to ponder his scheme for the rest of the movie's plot.
"I'd think I ought to really focus on the Guru at the end," he said aloud, scratching his head thoughtfully. "Yes – that spiritual stuff about Chakras is so fascinating and artistic… But how to fit it all into ninety minutes? Maybe I can just leave out the Dai Li's secret conspiracy thing and have the characters just go straight to the Earth King? Oh! – what if the Guru is the Earth King? And I can play him! – Oh, but wait… I've got to make all the Earth Kingdom people Chinese. Forgot about that."
He sighed heavily. "Oh, well…" he said, sitting back down in his Chair of Genius. "The Guru can't be the Earth King. But I can still play the Guru! It can be my cameo. Yeah!"
Quickly, before he lost hold of the idea, he began to type it up into the script. Once that was done, he pursed his lips in deep thought once more.
"Now, how about Toph?" he wondered. "There's no way I can fit in all that stuff about her parents and the Earthbending tournament… Hm… Maybe I should just skip over their meeting with Toph completely? I can just have her join up with them in Ba Sing Se. Fans of the show will know who she is, anyway! I won't have to explain that."
He began to type again, zealously jotting down each of his brilliant ideas, and still muttering to himself as he typed.
"We'll have to get rid of Toph's blind jokes, though," he mused. "They're funny and all, but they definitely won't fit with the tone of the movie – "
"LEAVE TOPH ALONE, LORD SHYAMALAN!" a young, authoritative voice suddenly burst from behind him.
The director nearly fell out of his Chair of Genius in surprise. He leaped to his feet, wide-eyed and gasping, to face the mysterious speaker. There, in the doorway of his creatively cluttered Chamber of Genius, stood a boy. A very familiar boy – one with a bald head, intricate arrow tattoos, and a mouth that hung perpetually open. Lord Shyamalan exhaled, and stared at him, perplexed.
"Oh. It's you, Noah – I mean, uh, Awng," Lord Shyamalan exclaimed, attempting to catch his breath. "You really startled me! What are you doing here? How did you get out of the Movie World?"
Awng fixed his eyes sternly upon the director, not replying for several moments. There was something in the boy's expression that deeply troubled Lord Shyamalan – though he couldn't quite place what it was. Awng seemed… different than he remembered. But different how?
"I have no idea how I got here," Awng answered him at last. "But that doesn't really matter. You see, we're in an illogical fanfic at the moment. The author just put me here, because this is the last chapter, and it's time for me to face you."
"We're in an illogical fanfic?" Lord Shyamalan asked, bewildered. "Even me? But… I can't be in a fanfic! I'm a real-life person! And what do you mean, you're here to face me? Did you… did you come to tell me what a great job I did on your movie?"
"No, Lord Shyamalan," Awng said solemnly. "That is not why I'm here… And yes, you're in the fanfic too. Anyone can fall victim to a fanfic, real-life or not. Besides, you make enough cameos in your movies, you might as well be a fictional character."
Lord Shyamalan chuckled, a little nervously. He opened his mouth, assuming that he already had a very clever rebuttal prepared; but after a moment he realized that there weren't any words coming out of him. So he shut his mouth.
Awng stepped forward into the Chamber of Genius, assuming an offensive fighting stance.
"What are you doing?" Lord Shyamalan asked, chuckling again – even more nervously. That mysterious something different in the boy's face was really unsettling to the director. What was it?
"I'm here to stop you from writing the sequel," Awng declared.
Suddenly, Lord Shyamalan realized what it was that so frightened him about Awng's expression. There was – there was – an actual personality lurking in the boy's eyes. Something alive, deep down inside of Awng, that was made up of complex layers of feelings, strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, spontaneity, and… (Lord Shyamalan gulped)… a sense of humor. It was faint, undeveloped – but it was there, nevertheless. It had potential. It might grow into something he could no longer understand or control.
Lord Shyamalan stuttered nervously. "You want to stop me?" he cried. "You mean, you don't want me to write the sequel?"
"No one does," Awng said firmly. "I'll do whatever I have to to stop you from writing that sequel. And trust me – I can do it."
"But – where did all this come from?" Lord Shyamalan demanded indignantly, his fright and confusion beginning to develop into anger. "You're my character! I wrote you and directed you just the way you were supposed to be! How dare you come here and try to stop me from writing the sequel? Who put you up to this? Was it those tasteless jerks over at RottenTomatoes?"
"No," Awng said again, shaking his head and gathering all his resolve. Something about finally being face to face with Lord Shyamalan, and knowing the truth, was immensely empowering to the boy. "It was the characters from the animated series, actually. See, they saw your movie, and they all thought that it was so bad that they took it upon themselves to come into the movie and try to fix it. They opened my eyes up to the truth. That's why I'm here to stop you, Lord Shyamalan."
Lord Shyamalan stammered and sputtered furiously. "But – but – !" he gasped. "But I'm a huge fan of the show!"
"Well, they're not big fans of you," Awng replied. "Sorry. But you can't blame them – I mean, you even changed their names! What were you thinking?"
Lord Shyamalan frowned indignantly. "I wanted the pronunciations to be more authentically Asian! Is that such a bad thing?"
"But the story isn't set in authentic Asia! It's in a fantasy world where pronunciations can be whatever the original creators want! And everybody liked the names the way they were!" Awng pointed out impatiently. "And anyway, even though you tried to make the names more Asian, you didn't actually cast any Asian actors in the major roles! Except for Z-Patel, I guess – but still… That doesn't make any sense! I mean, were you trying to make people mad at you? Because it kind of seems that way."
"Look – no one understands me!" Lord Shyamalan growled, now genuinely becoming angry. "That's all! I'm just too artistic for all of them! They don't understand me! They're jealous! They're jealous because I make better movies than they do! That's what it is! I'm a genius! I made 'The Sixth Sense'! I'm the next Alfred Hitchcock! I even make cameos in my own movies, just like Alfred did! They all bash me because they just don't understand how brilliant I actually am! Just like all great artists in history!"
"All great artists haven't been like that!" Awng furrowed his brow.
"Yes! Yes, they have!" Lord Shyamalan protested resolutely. "What about Van Gogh, huh? What about Mozart? What about, uh… um… What about… What about, um… All the others! That's right, I'm just like them. An under-appreciated and misunderstood genius! A martyr for my art! "
"Lord Shyamalan," Awng sighed heavily. "Sometimes, when people criticize something, it's because it's actually bad. Did you ever think about that?"
"That's what they tried to tell George Lucas about the Star Wars prequels!" Lord Shyamalan sputtered with rage, pounding his fists on the desk. "But did he listen? No! And I won't either!"
"Please listen to me, Lord Shyamalan," Awng urged him desperately. "We don't have to fight! You have the power to end it here and stop what you're doing!"
Lord Shyamalan paused for a moment, breathing heavily, glowering at the boy. Then he scowled, flushing with rage.
"You're right!" he declared after a moment. "I have the power! I have all the power! I am the writer, and the producer, and the director! And big companies still continue to fund my movies even though the critics bash me! YOU WILL NEVER STOP ME! NEVER!"
With a sudden, maniacal laugh, the crazed director dashed out of sight, behind a large file cabinet that stood against the wall of his Chamber of Genius. Awng barely had a moment to react – Lord Shyamalan gave the file cabinet a hefty shove, tipping the whole thing over. The live-action Avatar only just managed to dodge out of the way, frantically stumbling and landing hard against the corner of Lord Shyamalan's desk, bashing his hip bone on the corner of it.
Awng winced, shooting pain jolting through his hip. "Ow," he muttered. "That's going to bruise."
But Lord Shyamalan – in contrast to his ordinarily relaxed demeanor – had apparently now gone entirely mad with power and fury. Awng hadn't expected that to happen. It seemed that something had snapped in Lord Shyamalan's mind. Perhaps it was simply that, after so many negative reviews from the critics, now that one of the director's own characters was actually revolting, it just sent him over the edge. Or perhaps, secretly, he'd always been insane, deep down.
Whatever the case was, the crazed director was now coming after Awng with a stapler, cackling wildly, launching staples mercilessly at the boy.
Awng, caught off guard and attempting to evade the barrage of flying staples, hastily retreated, taking refuge under Lord Shyamalan's desk.
Lord Shyamalan shoved aside his Chair of Genius and leaped on top of the desk, scattering notes and files in a whirlwind around the room. Awng slid farther back under the desk, as far back as he could against the wall. The mad director cackled outrageously and began to fiercely pound on the desk with his feet.
"Come on out, little boy!" Lord Shyamalan bellowed villainously. "You can't hide down there forever!"
Awng cowered under the desk, breathing heavily. He couldn't do it – Lord Shyamalan was too powerful! He was going to lose. It was hopeless!...
But no – no, he couldn't lose! Zuko had said he would win. He had to – not just to prove that he was a good enough protagonist, but to save the Animated Characters from suffering the possibly permanent effects of Bad Dialogue Flu. He had to do it for them. And for all the fans of the series out there in the world that had been cheated out of a good live-action adaptation of their beloved animated series.
If only he had a few moments to breathe, to collect himself! Just some kind of small break. Something short, just for a few pages, enabling him to come back from this moment of apparent hopelessness and miraculously win the battle…
Back at the Spirit Oasis in the Movie World, the rest of the protagonists lounged around in boredom.
"Hey," Zuko commented, looking around. "Where did Awng go?"
"I think we had a section break earlier," Aang yawned. "Around the time you stopped reading the reviews. So he's probably off fighting Lord Shyamalan somewhere right now."
"Hm," Iroh muttered. "Hope that's going okay."
"Yeah," Zuko sighed. Then, after a moment of pensive silence, the animated prince rose to his feet, stretched, and meandered casually toward the exit of the cave.
"Where are you going, Zuko?" Katara asked.
Zuko glanced back over his shoulder at all of them. "Well," he said. "This is the last chapter of the fanfic, right?"
Aang shrugged, nodding slowly. "I'm pretty sure," he said. "I mean, the chapter is called 'Awng Faces his Destiny,' and things like facing your destiny usually only happen at the end of stories. Besides, I'm not sure what else could actually happen in this story. So, yeah."
"Right," Zuko nodded lazily. "I just remembered, I've got to go back to chapter six and take care of something really quick. I'll be back soon. Just don't go back to the Animated World without me, okay, everyone?"
"Sure thing," Toph said.
"Don't take too long, Zuko," Mai added.
"Don't worry, it should only take a few minutes," Zuko replied as he left the cavern. "See you guys in a little while."
After Zuko left, the tedious silence returned, broken only by the sounds of Sokka, Suki and Katara sniffling miserably. Aang sighed. Toph picked at the dirt between her toes. Iroh and Eeroh began playing "rock, paper, scissors" quietly. Sockson, who had fallen asleep, began to snore, while Katarola unhappily tore off pieces of grass in her fingers. And Z-Patel (yes, still in the block of ice) began to hum again, bored.
"I'm just a little silhouetto of a man, scaramouche, scaramouche, will you do the fandango..." the live-action prince sang under his breath.
"I'm bored," Katarola complained after a few moments.
Katara, with a deep sniffle, glared at the live-action girl. "I'm so sorry for you," she said, rolling her eyes. "Really, my heart inside me is full of inner sympathy for your sympathetic plight – whah?" Katara blinked, shook her head dizzily, and her eyes widened in horror at her own sentence. She quickly clamped her hand over her mouth.
"Katara, no!" Aang cried in distress. "Now it's started with you too!"
Sokka shook his head sorrowfully. "No, no! My sister!" he murmured. "Where will the horrible pain of these horrors cease to be horrible? I mean – what? No! I mean – the horror! Gah!..."
"Fight, Sokka!" Suki urged him. "You must fight against the overpowering power of the badness!"
Sokka struggled for a moment, biting his lip and holding back the deluge of ridiculous, unnatural dialogue. He held his breath, his face turning red, attempting desperately to form a sentence that was at least somewhat human. At last, he managed to force out four small, simple words, without any redundancy:
"I… DON'T… LIKE… THIS!"
He exhaled heavily afterward, exhausted from the effort.
Katara, her hand still clamped tightly over her mouth for fear of what would come out next, looked anxiously at Sokka and Suki, and turned her frightened blue eyes sadly to Aang. Aang's own eyes were wide-open and alarmed.
"It's getting worse!" Aang shouted. "The bad dialogue is taking over! Guys, I – " Suddenly, the animated Airbender's nose twitched. He wrinkled it for a moment, frowning, and very abruptly exploded in a violent sneeze that sent him flying all the way to the ceiling of the cavern.
"Aang!" Katara cried, releasing her mouth in dismay. "No, not you too!"
Everyone watched as he came fluttering back to the ground on a current of air, sniffling and rubbing his nose. The animated boy collapsed onto the grass, tired and unhappy.
"Great," he sighed. "Now I've caught it! I just hope that Awng defeats Lord Shyamalan soon."
"Or else we're all doomed!" Sokka cried, clutching his head, eyes darting around in terror. "Doomed to forever speak in these speeches of words for all time and always!"
"You guys ought to all be quarantined or something!" Toph commented, nervously scooting far away from all of them. "Zuko was smart to leave. All of you keep your redundant germs away from me! My snarkiness is part of who I am, and I'd really like to keep it!"
"I think you all deserve it," Katarola muttered bitterly.
"What?" Katara shouted fiercely. "We deserve it? What actions have we committed that we are deserving of such an undeserved punishment of penalties – Blah! Blegh! – I mean, we only came here with the purpose of trying to help!"
"You Animated Characters ruined the movie!" Katarola cried, quivering and blinking rapidly. "This was my very first movie, and you came in and ruined it! And you've been really mean to me the whole time, too. Especially you, Katara! So I think you deserve to have Bad Dialogue Flu! That's what I think."
Katara rose to her feet, clenching her fists with rage. "This bad movie film was ruined long before we got here and entered it!" she shouted fiercely. "And I have no regretful feelings of remorse at all for making fun of you in a mocking way! You were supposed to portray my own character, and you did not portray me with any accuracy at all! You cry and weep and sob and cry and pout and whimper and cry all the time, every scene, non-stop! You can't fight or engage in any combat! And you're mostly just useless in a non-useful way – BLAH! And it's REALLY, REALLY hard for me to yell at you properly right now!"
Aang sniffled. "Hey – come on, don't fight, guys," he sighed. "This is the last chapter, and I'm feeling too tired to intervene right now."
Katarola rose to her feet as well, lips trembling with emotion, glaring at her furious animated counterpart. "I'll engage you in combat!" she declared.
Katara just rolled her eyes and turned away, sniffling. "No, thanks," she sighed. "Under ordinary circumstances I would very much enjoy an enjoyable kicking of your behind, ordinarily. However, I don't feel well or in my ordinary state of health. And besides, it would hardly be a fair fight, anyway."
"Aw," Toph moaned in disappointment. "Too bad. A good Katara vs. Katara battle would have been really entertaining."
"Well, I really want to fight someone!" Katarola shouted, her dewy eyes intense. "Can I please fight Z-Patel now, since you won't fight me?"
Katara slumped back on the grass again with an irritated growl, and waved her arms at the live-action girl. "Fine!" she said. "Go on, go ahead and go for it. There's nothing better to occupy our time until the next break of the chapter."
Katarola smiled brightly, suddenly delighted and eager. Waving her arms in a slow, twirling motion, she melted the ice that was holding Z-Patel captive. The live-action prince collapsed to his knees for a moment, standing shakily and wincing.
"Hold on," he groaned, holding a finger toward the enthusiastic Katarola. "My legs fell asleep in there. Give it a second… Wait… Wait… Okay, I'm good."
"Need some fire, Z-Patel?" Iroh asked helpfully, raising his hand toward the live-action prince to offer him a small flame.
Eeroh, however, reached out and lowered Iroh's arm. "Wait, wait," Eeroh said, grinning. "I'll handle this. I was supposed to do this earlier, but I did not get a chance. And I've been really wanting to do it."
The live-action general rose slowly to his feet, took a deep breath, and stretched his arms out wide with a loud roar. Two impressive streams of fire burst from his knuckles. Z-Patel and Katarola both gawked at Eeroh in amazement. The Animated Characters, however, just yawned, shrugged, and went back to their respective lounging positions on the grass. It wasn't a big deal to them.
Eeroh set a portion of the grass on fire, then gathered his self-made flames back to himself and sighed, resuming his seat. "There you are, Z-Patel," he smiled serenely at his nephew.
"Let's fight!" Katarola shouted eagerly, raising her hands toward Z-Patel.
"'Kay," Z-Patel replied with an indifferent shrug. He then took a deep breath, did a few quick, spastic movements with his arms, and launched a fireball at Katarola.
The live-action Waterbender quickly waved her own arms in a wide circle, lifting a stream of water from the Spirit Pond and extinguishing Z-Patel's flames. Both the combatants took a moment to pause. The Animated Characters all yawned again. Suki sneezed.
Z-Patel did his best to make an angry, intense face at Katarola before attacking again – though it was hard for him to muster the necessary rage. He just wasn't feeling the motivation anymore. However, he went on with the battle, this time sending two jets of fire in her direction. Katarola quickly blocked them as well. Both of the Movie Characters paused again, breathing. Katarola stared at the live-action prince, wide-eyed, wide-mouthed, bubbling with emotions.
A third time, Z-Patel shot fire at her, adding a half-hearted roar to his attack. She spun and doused his flames once more. Another pause.
Toph sighed with disappointment. "This is a boring fight," she muttered.
Z-Patel also sighed, unenthused, and began to jerk and contort his body once more for yet another fiery attack. But in the middle of the attack, he just sort of gave up. A small stream of fire flew towards Katarola, but dissolved with a pathetic fizzle before it even reached her.
"Hold on," Z-Patel said. "Why are we fighting?"
Katarola blinked at him, bewildered. "Um… Because… Because I wanted to fight someone?"
Z-Patel scratched his head. "But why?"
"Well, because," Katarola stammered for a moment, lowering her arms. "Because… I guess, because it's… hm…"
"I just feel like there's no point," Z-Patel admitted after a moment. "I mean, in the script I was supposed to fight you because I was trying to capture the Avatar. But the Avatar's not even here right now. And anyway, we both know I'm never going to capture him… I mean, what's our motivation, you know? It just feels pointless…"
"I… I guess," Katarola muttered, frowning in confusion.
Z-Patel looked at her entreatingly, beginning to step toward her. "You know... we could be friends instead?"
Katarola blinked at him. "We could?"
"Yeah, why not?" Z-Patel asked, with a disarming smile.
"But – " Katarola stuttered, shaking her head and quivering. "But – no! No, it's impossible! We're too different!"
Aang, meanwhile, glanced at Katara and whispered, "Um… what's going on?" Katara just shrugged, too tired to even try to understand these Movie Characters anymore.
"Are we really that different?" Z-Patel asked earnestly, stepping closer to her again.
Katarola kept her wide, blank eyes fixed intently on the live-action prince as he approached. "Well," she murmured, "you're fire, and I'm water…"
"You're right," Z-Patel nodded, smiling again. "We're opposites… Sort of like… yin and yang…"
Katarola smiled slightly. "I never thought of it like that…"
Z-Patel was now standing face to face with Katarola. "You know," he said, "when you think about it, it's almost like it's our – "
" – Destiny," the two Movie Characters said in unison, gazing deeply into one another's eyes for several moments. An intense silence settled over the two of them, while the Animated Characters all glanced at one another in bewilderment.
"You're kind of hot," Z-Patel said at last.
Katarola suddenly smiled seductively at him. "Princes with daddy issues are sexy," she said.
A moment later, they were kissing passionately.
The jaws of the Animated Characters all dropped simultaneously. Katara gagged a little in her throat.
Suddenly, a strange cry – like a great multitude of agonized female voices – came reverberating through the air, wailing and echoing into the cavern: "NOT ZUTARA! NOOOOO….!"
Iroh groaned, swaying for a moment and holding his head in pain. Eeroh glanced at him, putting a hand on his shoulders. "What is it, my friend?" Eeroh asked him with concern.
"I'm not sure," Iroh replied, frowning solemnly. "But I felt a great disturbance, as if… millions of Kataang fans suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced."
Mai, grimacing with distaste at the scene, looked away. "Okay," she muttered. "I didn't think that this fanfic could get any more disturbing than it already was. But somehow, it just did."
Awng, still crouching under Lord Shyamalan's desk, cringed at each loud thump of the mad director's foot above him. Lord Shyamalan was still laughing maniacally, pounding on the top of the desk with wild fervor. Awng glanced upward, shuddering with fright – the top of the desk was dipping perilously from the weight of the crazed director. A small crack was beginning to creep through the wood, deepening with each ferocious stomp of Lord Shyamalan's feet.
"Ah, ha ha ha! You're weak!" Lord Shyamalan bellowed, cackling villainously and jumping on the desk with tenfold energy. "You do not deserve to exist in this movie – in my movie! Prepare to DIE-E-E-E!"
And with that, Lord Shyamalan gave a last, crushing blow to the top of the desk. The desk gave a groan, and a sickening crack – and collapsed on top of the live-action Avatar. Lord Shyamalan leaped out of the way of the ruins as it gave way beneath him, turning and surveying the pile of smashed wood with satisfaction.
Silence. Nothing stirred beneath the ruins of the desk. Lord Shyamalan stepped nearer, leaning down to examine the pile.
"Come on out, little boy!" Lord Shyamalan sneered, his eyes bulging madly. "You're about to – "
Suddenly, a tattooed arm burst from the ruins of the desk, grabbing a handful of the director's curly black hair.
"Ow!" Lord Shyamalan whimpered, his voice squeaking and his eyes watering. "Hey, that really hurts!"
Awng, eyes and tattoos glowing with the unearthly light of the Avatar State, emerged from the ruins of the desk with a newfound strength and vengeance. Lord Shyamalan gaped at him in fright, stuttering. He meant to say something, but before he had a chance, Awng raised his arms and blasted him with a powerful burst of air. The director flew across the small office, hitting the opposite wall hard and landing uncomfortably in a pile of paper, pens, and old Hitchcock movies.
Groaning, Lord Shyamalan looked up, eyes wide with terror. The live-action Avatar towered over him, and his eyes pierced the director with their pale, unforgiving light. The director quivered and cowered.
"Hey," he stammered nervously. "Hey, come on, kid! I didn't mean it! Look, what if I keep Toph's blind jokes in the script, huh? Would that be okay?"
"NO, LORD SHYAMALAN," Awng declared solemnly, his voice resonating with the voices of all the Avatars before him. "IT IS TOO LATE FOR THAT. YOU HAVE BROUGHT SHAME UPON YOURSELF AND UPON THE AVATAR UNIVERSE. AND NOW, YOU MUST PAY THE PRICE!"
So saying, Awng stepped forward and pressed his right thumb against Lord Shyamalan's brow, directly between his eyes. His left hand he pressed to the director's chest. Lord Shyamalan's eyes glazed over suddenly – he couldn't move.
Awng breathed deeply, closed his eyes, and Energybended the mad director.
Two bright beams of light shot out of the two of them – a blue one from Awng, a red one from Lord Shyamalan. For several intense moments, the two lights wrestled one another, as the live-action Airbender's spirit grappled with the spirit of Lord Shyamalan.
At last, however, Awng was victorious, and his blue light consumed Lord Shyamalan's.
The deed done, Awng stepped away, stumbling slightly from the effort. Lord Shyamalan looked around dizzily, wobbily attempted to stand, but collapsed once more into the pile of Hitchcock movies.
"What…" he gasped. "What did you do to me?"
"I took away what was left of your reputation as a good filmmaker," Awng replied gravely. "You can't use it to hurt or threaten innocent fictional characters ever again."
Awng turned to leave, his destiny fulfilled. Lord Shyamalan stammered, shocked and dismayed, and shouted after him.
"W – wait!" he cried. "But – but – what should I do, now?"
Awng glanced back at him thoughtfully for a moment. "I don't know. You'll have to re-evaluate your life. Maybe you should find a new hobby? Tae Kwon Do is pretty cool… And who knows? Maybe now you can go back to film school and start over, and make better movies in the future. It's all up to you."
And with that little piece of advice, Ahvatar Awng departed, satisfied. He had done it. He had defeated Lord Shyamalan and saved the Movie World.
"Hey, guys," Zuko said, meandering back into the Spirit Oasis. "I'm back – AI-yee!" Zuko recoiled suddenly and stammered in horror, pointing blankly at Katarola and Z-Patel – who were still locked in a passionate embrace. "Um... what?" he cried.
"Don't ask," Mai quickly advised him. "It's better just to ignore them."
Zuko blinked. Blinked. Shuddered. Then composed himself. "Well… uh… anyway, you guys all know that the big battle scene is still going on out there, right?"
Aang shrugged, sniffling and rubbing his nose. "That's okay," he said. "We'll take care of that as soon as Awng returns from fighting Lord Shyamalan in the final fight of the finale – um – I mean…"
Katara sneezed. "Don't speak with words, Aang!" she cried desperately. "It's just altogether better not to use speech at all."
Zuko stared at all of them, and shook his head. "All of you are sick now?" he asked. "Well, that's just great. Keep your distance from me – that bad dialogue stuff seems really contagious." He carefully strolled past all of them and sat down on the grass beside Mai.
Mai gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, then noticed a small lump hidden in his shirt. "What's this?" she asked curiously, reaching to see what it was.
"Uh, nothing!" Zuko said quickly – but he wasn't quick enough. Mai pulled forth a small bottle of a transparent green liquid.
"Zuko!" she cried, frowning at him with disapproval. "You went and got more cactus juice from chapter six?"
Zuko looked abashed. "Well! I had to go back there anyway, and I thought… I don't know… I mean, it was… it was kinda fun, you know?"
Mai glared sternly at him.
"What?" Zuko shrugged defensively. "It's just a little bit!... You can have some too?"
Mai took the little bottle and tucked it away in her sleeve, shaking her head at him firmly. "No!" she declared. "No more! I'm not letting you have this, Zuko. It's not good for you."
At that moment, Awng suddenly reappeared, entering the cavern from one of those mysterious side entrances. He was beaming, almost swaggering with a newfound confidence.
"Hey, everyone!" he said. They all stood immediately when they saw him.
"Awng!" Aang cried, grinning. "You're back! Did you defeat Lord Shyamalan?"
Awng nodded happily. "He won't be writing any more bad movies from now on!"
Sokka opened his mouth, hesitantly – still afraid of what might come out – but at last he said, "So… does that mean we're cured?" Instantly, he gasped, and grinned ecstatically. "I didn't say anything awkward or redundant! The Bad Dialogue Flu is gone! I'm cured!"
"Me too!" Suki cried. "I can talk in normal sentences again!"
Katara ran forward and caught the live-action Airbender up in a tight hug. "You saved us, Awng!" she cried. "You did it! You must be so proud!"
Aang grinned at his live-action counterpart. "You're a real hero now, Awng."
Awng beamed – then suddenly he spotted Z-Patel and Katarola at the other end of the Spirit Oasis. They had apparently not noticed his return, too distracted with their ongoing kiss. Awng frowned, appalled, and stuttered.
"Hey – what?" he cried, pointing at them. "What gives?"
Aang glanced back at Katarola and Z-Patel, grimacing, and then shrugged helplessly at Awng.
"Yeah, uh… sorry," he said awkwardly. "Guess you can't win them all, huh?"
Awng moped for a moment, but then shook himself and sighed. "Oh, well," he said. "She was a little too needy for me, anyway."
"Well," Toph said. "Are we done here? I mean, Lord Shyamalan's defeated. Isn't it about time for us to go back to the Animated Universe?"
Sokka furrowed his brow. "Yeah, uh… We ought to be going back any time now…"
The Animated Characters all paused, waiting for a few moments, expecting to be suddenly spirited back to their own Animated World. But nothing happened. They all began glancing at one another uncomfortably. Zuko looked particularly alarmed.
"Don't tell me we're stuck here?" he cried at last.
"No, no," Sokka shook his head quickly, though he seemed quite perplexed. "The fanfic author will get us back eventually. But – "
"But nothing's happening, Sokka!" Katara exclaimed nervously. "Are we supposed to do something? Recite some magic spell? Click our heels together and say 'there's no place like home'?
Toph snickered. "That's dumb," she said. "Why would we have to do that?"
Aang glanced toward the entrance of the cavern for a moment, pondering. The sounds of the big battle scene were still raging outside. Suddenly, his eyes lit up with an idea.
"I know why nothing's happening," he grinned at all of them. "It's because the big battle's not done yet. Come on! Let's go get rid of all those Fire Nation guys. That should do the trick."
And so – gladly leaving Katarola and Z-Patel (and Sockson, still asleep on the ground) there in the Spirit Oasis – the rest of the characters raced out of the cavern, into the streets of the citadel, where the battle was still raging. Aang blasted the fighting Movie Extras out of their way with massive gusts of air, while Katara ran beside him and helped clear their path with impressive waves of water. Fire Nation soldiers and Waterbenders alike found themselves swept aside, tossed to the ground and disoriented, while the cast of protagonists raced past them.
"Sorry! Sorry!" Aang and Katara shouted to the nonplussed Movie Extras as they passed. "We're just in a hurry! Sorry about that!"
The group made their way up to the outer wall of the city at last. Awng stepped forward, gazing out over the dark scene – evil, metallic Fire Nation ships dotted the churning sea all the way to the dim horizon. Fireballs flew through the air, launched from Fire Nation catapults.
Aang grinned at his live-action counterpart. "Do your thing, Awng," he said.
Awng grinned at him as well, then took a deep breath. His eyes and tattoos suddenly began to glow with the familiar pale blue light that all of the Animated Characters had seen so many times in Aang. They all stepped back, watching, as the glowing live-action Avatar took a firm stance and raised his arms. Down below the wall, the ocean surged and swelled. It lifted, gurgling and smashing against the wall, rising up into an enormous wall of water.
Sokka smirked briefly at Aang. "Well, it's not as impressive as your Koizilla thing in Season One," he said. "But I guess it'll do the trick. Go Awng! Show those Fire Nation guys who's boss! Smash those ships! Yeah!"
Awng's massive wall of water continued to rise, swelling and curling dangerously. Fire Nation soldiers on the ships down below all screamed in terror. The ships began turning around, retreating from Awng's impressive wave. All the Animated Characters waited eagerly for Awng to drop the wave on the ships.
However, the wave never dropped. The Fire Nation ships just turned tail and fled, vanishing slowly off into the horizon. Awng's wave quietly settled back into the ocean.
The entire city was shrouded in awestruck silence. Well, mostly awestruck. The Animated Characters were all not so much awestruck as disappointed. Awng sighed, swaying slightly from the effort, as his eyes slowly ceased to glow.
"You mean all you had to do was make a big wave, and they just left?" Sokka asked, frowning. "You didn't even have to get any of them wet?... Well, that's lame."
"Koizilla was definitely much better," Katara agreed.
Awng just shrugged and turned back to the Animated Characters. "Hey, I didn't write the movie," he said, smirking slightly.
Aang grinned at him. Just the sight of the live-action boy – the same boy who'd started off this fanfic with only three facial expressions – smirking, filled the animated Airbender with a profound surge of pride.
"Well, Awng," said Aang, reaching to shake his hand. "I guess this is the end. It's actually been a lot of fun, despite all the weirdness."
Awng grinned back at him. "Thanks for everything, Aang," he said.
Aang nodded. "Good luck. Keep practicing your sense of humor. And I hope that maybe, one day, you'll get to be in much better movies than this one."
Very soon, the Animated Characters all found themselves – exhausted and utterly relieved – back in Iroh's beautifully animated teashop. They all agreed that they'd never been so happy to see the Jasmine Dragon in their lives.
Katara smiled brightly, spinning in a circle to take in their surroundings. "It's so… flat!"
"And smooth," Aang added, running his fingers happily along the walls.
"And WONDERFUL!" Katara cried, hugging herself delightedly for a moment and collapsing into the nearest chair with a contented sigh. "Let's never leave the Animated World again!"
"Agreed," Zuko and Mai both said in unison, nodding.
"Good old tea shop!" Iroh sighed happily. "Perhaps I should make us all some tea? I think we need some after that whole strange ordeal."
Everyone eagerly concurred, and Iroh vanished into the back kitchen to prepare some tea for all of them.
Mai sat down in one of the chairs, also with a deep sigh of relief. Zuko came and sat beside her, while Aang leaned against Katara's chair, and Sokka and Suki both reclined against the wall. Toph jumped up onto a nearby table, swinging her legs happily.
"Well, glad that's over," the blind Earthbender commented.
"Yeah," Suki agreed. "I mean, it seemed like a pretty fun idea at first. But I don't ever want to do anything like that ever again."
"I hope Iroh hurries with that tea," Aang commented. "I'm really parched."
"Just be patient," Katara said, running her fingers wearily through her hair and leaning back lazily.
Aang's eyes wandered briefly, and he spotted something on the ground – a small bottle. Stepping aside curiously, he picked it up and examined it. It was filled with some kind of green-tinted drink, and there was a picture of a friendly-looking mushroom on the outside of it.
"Huh," Aang muttered to himself. "Must be one of Iroh's drinks. I guess someone accidentally dropped it."
Unfortunately, no one paid him any heed. The Airbender, extremely thirsty and not seeing any harm in it, surreptitiously opened the bottle and gulped down the green drink. It was sweet and tangy, and quenched his thirst very nicely.
"Aang," Katara said suddenly, glancing curiously at him. "What are you doing?"
Aang turned around, wiping his mouth and grinning. "Oh, nothing," he shrugged. "I just saw this bottle on the ground, and I figured it must be one of Iroh's tea shop drinks. Sorry, I was just really thirsty, after that big battle scene and all."
Mai's eyes grew wide. She reached into her sleeve, where she'd tucked away Zuko's cactus juice – but it wasn't there. "Oh, no!" she exclaimed. "The cactus juice! It must have fallen out!"
Katara stared first at Mai, then at Aang. Her mouth fell open. "Oh, great!" she cried.
"What's wrong, guys? I – ooh!" Aang suddenly swayed dizzily, his pupils dilating. He shook his head violently, and hiccupped. "Are we... are we in real life?" he asked slowly.
Katara glared at Aang in annoyance. "Aang, seriously?" she cried sternly. "Since when do you just drink some mysterious liquid you find lying around? I swear, you're as bad as Sokka!"
"Oh, boy," Sokka said, unable to keep from grinning. "This ought to be interesting."
Aang just stared blankly at Katara for a few moments, his mouth dangling open. "Uhr – wha…?" he mumbled. Then he suddenly laughed loudly, stumbling slightly. "Wow! That's some crazy stuff! Heh! Katara – why's your hair purple?... I LOVE IT!"
"Who wants tea?" Iroh announced happily, returning from the kitchen with a tray full of tea cups. Aang took one look at the old man and squeaked, wide-eyed.
"IT'S A TALKING PLATYPUS-BEAR WITH DREADLOCKS!" he bellowed, pointing at Iroh.
Iroh frowned. "Pardon?" he asked.
But Aang darted toward Katara, standing protectively in front of her. "Don't worry, Katara!" he cried. "I'll save you!"
Sokka and Toph were already laughing uproariously. But Katara, irritated, put her hands on Aang's shoulders and turned him around to glare at him. "Aang, stop!" she shouted. "That's not a talking Platypus-Bear!"
Aang gawked at her, profoundly distressed and bewildered. "Are you sure? 'Cause he's got a duck-bill! That's a dead giveaway!"
Iroh, puzzled, glanced aside at Zuko. "Don't tell me – cactus juice?"
Zuko sighed unhappily. "Yeah. My cactus juice."
Mai also sighed. "Wow," she muttered. "I thought this fanfic was over. But no… The author just had to somehow get both Zuko and Aang on cactus juice before the story was done."
Aang, blinking rapidly, suddenly looked around the tea shop in awe. "Whoa," he said slowly. "How did the tea shop get underwater, guys? Is this normal? Are we fish, now? YES! I'M SO EXCITED!"
Katara growled in frustration, pressing her forehead. Aang, delighted and energized, darted off and began running in circles around the tea shop, waving his arms as if he were swimming.
Sokka could hardly breathe, he was laughing so hard. "This is classic!" he cried. "Was I this funny when I was on cactus juice?"
But Katara, not very amused, turned and glared fiercely at Zuko. "Look what you did, Zuko!"
Zuko crossed his arms indignantly. "It's not my fault!"
"It is too, Zuko," Mai agreed, also sending Zuko a stern scowl. "You're the one who brought back that cactus juice from chapter six."
"Aang is still innocent and impressionable!" Katara scolded Zuko. "You're a bad influence!"
At that moment, Aang came up behind Katara and took her into his arms, dipping her backwards and planting a large kiss on her. Katara gasped and sputtered in surprise.
"You're lookin' good, baby!" he grinned suavely. "Whaddya say the two of us run away together? Hm?"
Toph fell off the table laughing, landing with a loud thump on the ground. Sokka and Suki were both also doubled over with laughter. Iroh, too, rumbled with chuckles and wiped tears from his eyes. Even Mai couldn't help but snicker quietly.
"Oh, man," Toph gasped. "I gotta get me some of that stuff."
Katara blushed violently, while Aang lifted her back up again and twirled her. She collapsed dizzily into a chair, and he laughed and took off on an Air Scooter, flying in happy little circles around the Jasmine Dragon.
"WHEE-EE-EE!" he shouted.
Katara could only blink for a moment, dazed, and shake herself. "This has got to be one of the craziest fanfics we've ever been in," she commented at last.
"Way to state the obvious, Sweetness," Toph laughed, grinning.
Aang whizzed past them all on his Air Scooter over and over again, beginning to sing loudly as he zipped around in circles: "SECRET TUNNEL! SECRET TUNNEL! THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS, SECRET SECRET SECRET SECRET SECRET SECRET SECRET SECRET…"
"I think he's stuck," Toph snickered.
"SECRET, SECRET, SECRET…!"
"Someone stop him!" Mai cried.
However, Aang stopped himself – he accdentally slammed face-first into one of the walls, falling backwards with a painful groan and staring blankly at the ceiling.
"Tweeting birds around my head…" he muttered dizzily.
Katara sighed wearily, running and kneeling beside him to make sure he didn't have a concussion. "Aang?" she asked, helping him to sit up. "Are you hurt?"
"Chakra sandwich taste good... yum," he mumbled, smiling distantly at her.
Sokka, attempting to compose himself after his long laugh, wiped a tear or two from his eyes and breathed slowly.
"Oh, man," he said. "I think that whole fanfic was worth it just for that."
"Even still," Mai added. "Let's all agree never to meddle with an alternate reality ever again. Especially one based off of us."
"Yeah," Sokka nodded fervently. "I mean, whose dumb idea was it to go into the Movie World in the first place?"
Everyone turned and stared at him for several moments.
"YOURS!" they all said in unison, glaring at him.
Sokka's eyes darted around nervously for a moment. "Oh," he stammered. "Uh… Hey, what's that thing outside the window?"
And when everyone looked, Sokka made a hasty escape out the tea shop door.
Hope you all enjoyed. Now, I'm off to cause trouble elsewhere! Peace! *chugs cactus juice, and runs off singing* :D