Author Notes: This was an idea that came while watching the third episode. So everything after The Revelation is Au though I'll make as many nods to the actual show as possible. This follows around what is essentially an OC, but she's a reincarnated (shut up, other people besides the avatar get reincarnated, at least in my fic) version of a character from Avatar the Last Airbender. Revision: Since this got a little more attention than I thought it would, I thought I would give this a little bit of polishing (more like sandpaper or hammering). It's not perfect, but drop me a note if you want me to do this to the other chapters, I really appreciate all the positive feedback I got on this little project. Also think of it as "sorry" for dropping this for so long. Hopefully I'll finish the fic before I go back to school.
Summary: Aita is Spirit, a member of the Anti-bending Revolution and a person confident of Amon. The arrival of the Avatar in Republic City is both a cause for excitement and fear for Aita. As Amon's Spirit, Aita finds herself torn between her beliefs and love for her twin brother who is a bender.
Disclaimer: Is not mine, I could never make up something so beautiful and predictable as it, though I do wish I had Zuko (I would lock him in my room and never leave).
Warnings: Language, violence, protagonist is a bigot, allusions to sex, eventual increase in rating is possible (but not determined).
Aita hated Mondays. Their stepfather was always more volatile on Mondays. This one had started out alright. Her stepfather had already headed to work before she woke. The shop had been quiet, and when Aita had gone to the park during her break she'd found something that caught her eye and made hope well in her chest. She had stopped for a few minutes to listen to a man speak about equality with enough conviction and grace to catch her attention. He talked about a vision of a world where benders and nonbenders were equals. No, better still, a world without benders. Aita wondered how that was possible. He hadn't given specifics on how the man on his poster would accomplish this goal, but Aita, only thirteen years old, already had her own share of disagreements with benders. She couldn't get away from them if she wanted to, especially since her mother was a water bender, her stepfather a fire bender, her five half siblings a mix if those two types and her twin brother a…
Aita sighed and winced. She needed to somehow teach her brother how to make his bending look like firebending. Their stepfather was already itchy about the fact Aita and her brother weren't his. Spirits, he'd gone into such a rage over imagined slights at dinner that Aita hadn't been able to keep her brother safe. No, what the man in the park had been shouting was a pipe dream; it was probably why the metalbenders hadn't cuffed him for trying to incite a riot. To them, what he had been saying had probably sounded like madness.
"Stop moving sis," rasped Sota as if he heard her thinking about him. Aita hated how his breaths were now so uneven and strained. He sighed and drew her into a hug. Aita scrunched her nose in annoyance, but her brother just hugged her closer. Since they were twins, their parents thought that they should 'naturally' bunk together. Seeing as her family a struggled under the weight of six children and only four rooms to their apartment, Aita's and Sota's sleeping arrangements made sense. Still, Aita would have been just as happy for a more traditional setup where they slept on mats on the floor, at least then she would have her own blanket. The bedroom would still be crowded, but she wouldn't be sleeping pressed next to her cuddling twin when her side was on fire from pain.
Sleep came in small spells that jolted away from Aita when she started to pay too much attention to the fact that she was falling asleep or a pain started to ache anew. Sota rasped and cough, jolting her again and again. Aita sighed and wriggled in her grasp. Her brother was an idiot. He was just so nonaggressive, letting everything roll off him. When confronted he would, at the most, try to avoid the attacker, but Aita had yet to see him fight back. Sota would make excuses, he'd run away, or he'd try to placate, and basically he'd do everything that set their stepfathers nerves on edge, and then he'd get an even worse beating for it.
Still, his bruises were better than the burns Aita received for her tongue. Aita had learned quick how to draw attention from her brother and that she couldn't rely on anyone to help them, because who cared about two kids from the bad part of town? Of course Aita and Sota would have a few scars and come into school with bruises and burns. The gangs in their area were notorious for recruiting kids their age, better still that the twins' stepfather was a firebender cop. The neighbors deluded themselves into believing that because Aita and Sota were nonbenders they had to have been looking for trouble.
Aita shuddered at the idea of challenging a bender, especially an untrained one from the school she used to attend. Aita had seen what could happen when an untrained, volatile bender lost his temper and attacked a classmate who was a nonbender. Usually the nonbender was the one who got scolded for provoking the bender. Aita hated how this town catered toward its benders. She didn't understand why her mother loved living here. Couldn't they move to the South Pole? It was supposed to be sparse of water benders, still rebuilding after the war so long before.
But Aita's mother was a bender. She had no reason to leave Republic City unless it was to get away from their stepfather, and Aita mother loved the abusive son of a bitch. Aita's stepfather had a 'respectable' job as one of the few firebender coppers in Republic City. From what Aita gathered, the job paid shit, so how it was respectable was beyond Aita. Yet, her mother had birthed enough kids for him that it was obvious she found the man desirable; however impossible that seemed.
Sota, as if sensing his sister's tumbling thoughts, circled his arms and body completely around her and stuck there like an incredibly painful attachment. Aita cringed and breathed heavily through her teeth for a few moments before settling back to try and sleep. If she thought herself in circles anymore, she wouldn't get any sleep and then wouldn't be of any use around the store in the morning. They ran the place themselves; it had been something their stepfather had dumped on them so they could 'learn hard work'; which basically translated to her stepfather finding an easy way to get free money. Aita's brother really did have too big a heart. Aita would have lied to their stepfather and kept some of the profits so they could run away. Maybe then she could find a proper teacher (one who wasn't a disappointment) for her brother to learn his bending and then find a chi blocker teacher for herself so she could defend herself properly.
Until a week ago, her mother had supported Aita's love acrobatics. She had seemed to be proud of Aita for taking the classes, though the woman was probably just thinking the classes helped compensate for missing Aita's childhood. Not that Aita could blame her mother for that. Aita had in many ways also missed her childhood. Now her stepfather had declared learning acrobatics a waste of money. Aita conceded that it was. The movements helped her concentrate, but learning acrobatics was useless in the long run. The only tricks people thought were worth seeing were those done by benders. It didn't matter to them that it didn't really take any extra concentration to bend when doing the tricks seeing as bending was just an extension of various arts of dancing, acrobatics, and fighting styles. But somehow the added effect of snow or bursts of fire were more impressive than simply doing the trick itself.
Aita dreamed of red, of land by the salty sea, of crashing waves against a dead beach. Rocks shot up from the ground, all plant life had recently been stripped from them and the sky burned with fire.
The image moved fast. The sky was splitting open and the last avatar, Aang, stood, his eyes white with power, staring at the man he held under his will on top of one of the rocks. The avatar looked poised to kill. Aita gasped, staring at the scene before her. Of course, she'd seen this scene printed on one of her books at school. It was that moment when the avatar had held the Phoenix King and, instead of killing him, had stripped him of his bending.
The king looked mad and frightened. Then the avatar spoke. His voice resounded with even more wisdom and ferocity than Aita had imagined, could ever have imagined. Yet, under what sounded like a thought wise and ferocious voices was the voice of a child. One certain, yet regretful of what he had to do even as he prepared himself for the inevitable.
Then the avatar struck, and Aita found herself screaming as she learned, felt, lost all the power and skills of a fully trained firebender. She then fell far into the mind of someone with power that spoke of ages, which reflected eons of rebirths when they mastered the bending arts over and over. She gained the knowledge of everything it meant to take the power to bend away from another human, to rip apart an essential part of a benders mind and essence.
Aita woke up and knew how to take away the bending of another human being.
The next morning she was dragging a cart behind her filled with their latest provisions, grumbling at how her family took so much of their profit, that Aita and Sota didn't have enough left over to purchase a proper form of transport for their products. She preferred it when they got their wares from conventional sellers. That way she just filled out a form and it was brought to them. But they ran an odds and ends store, and some of their stuff had to be picked up by them for various reasons.
Aita buckled a little under the weight of the cart and grumbled, readjusting and trying to loosen up a little. She tied her hood more securely around her head so that it wouldn't fall off with the wind kicking up so badly.
"Hey there girlie." Aita swallowed nervously and turned to look at the man coming toward her. She gulped and shifted her grip as the man waltzed up and next to her, leering at her and making her shiver. "What you got in that cart?"
"None of your business," snapped Aita as she tried to pass him. A rock flew and hit her squarely between the eyes. She fell to the side, the two wheeled cart crashing to the ground.
"That's not a nice way to treat your betters girlie," said the man. Aita felt herself shaking, fear making her quake. "Now, be a good girl and give me all your money and let me see if you've anything of interest under that tarp."
Aita stared at the man and then took off the tarp from her wagon. The man looked into the cart. Aita watched the muscles in his neck stand out as he looked from what was revealed back to her. Aita tried to give the man a sincere smile. The thief sneered and spit on her.
"What the hell are those?" he demanded. Aita tried not to glare at him.
"Custom made pet rocks. All the rage with five to ten year olds," said Aita.
"Fucking useless," said the man, and then he turned on Aita and punched her in the jaw. Fear grabbed Aita and she kicked, catching thief in the jewels. The thief doubled over. Aita shivered and kicked him in the face. Aita's mind seemed to go black as she seemed to instinctively follow him down where her gloved fingers dug into his eyes and against his throat. She stood and started kicking him. She then bent so she could beat him with her fists again, and flesh and bone broke under her fists. Soon the fear slipped away and the repetitive pounding made her mind slip peacefully into a state similar to the one she entered while meditating.
A groan from her victim made her pause. She was near the man's element. It was all around her. The very ground itself could have swallowed her. It was why she had done this, why she had been so violent and continued beating him after he was down. She looked down on him. He was still breathing, barely. His breaths were wet, and his face was a mess. Aita started shaking and then grabbed her cart of rocks. Her arms hurt, her entire body sharking, and her hands were covered in blood under the gloves. She hurried down another back alley to where she knew one of the pipes dripped.
She had no choice. She had to beat that man into submission or he would have killed her. He had bending on his side, and her wares could have been used against her. The very ground itself could have swallowed her. Plus, she hadn't known she could do that. She didn't know her own strength. Tenzin hadn't told her. No one had. Sure she knew some moves from training her brother, but she had been told that anything she learned in her dreams was rubbish, a trick to get her back. She'd also built up some muscle from all the heavy lifting she did. But she thought she was still weak, still just a small girl who could easily be crushed by even the nonbenders of Republic City.
"That was impressive," hissed a slick voice from the shadows. Aita felt her blood freeze as the water dripped from her now clean black gloves. "I thought at first you were a bender. It was the way you moved. But, you don't have any powers of your own, do you girl?"
A hand touched her shoulder. Aita hit it off and grabbed at her hood to make sure her face continued to be covered.
"Leave me alone," said Aita. She turned sharply and came face to face, so to speak, with the person she'd seen on the posters, the one the man in the park had said would bring equalist to Republic City. He was masked, tall, and clothes nondescript. Before this he'd probably had his hood up.
"No harm meant," he said, reaching for her face. She hastily backed away.
"Calm down child, I understand the need to hide your appearance," said the man, gesturing at his mask. "I simply wanted to see the face of the girl, so small, with the ability to fight like a bender without the powers of a bender."
"How do you know I'm not a bender?" asked Aita, taking a fighting stance. The man tutted and struck out so fast that Aita didn't have enough time to defend herself. He first threw her off balance and easily repositioned her to a new stance. "What is this?"
"This is one of the stances for those who practice chi blocking," said the man. Aita gasped.
"You know how to block chi?" she asked shakily. The man chuckled and let go of her arm.
"Yes," he said. Aita felt her heart grow with hope, but then she shrank back and looked at the ground in shame. There was no way she could learn to chi block; her family would see it as an insult or worse. Her father would go ballistic, and her brother would be crushed. The masked man sighed and put a mask like his into her hand. She looked up in shock. "I, of all people, know why you have to hide your identity. If you want to learn how to fight the benders and help make this world a more equal place, then you are welcome to come to our classes."
Aita gripped the mask close to her. She hardly noticed when he left.
When she looked up he was gone.
She looked down on the mask and then back at her wagon. She glared at the stupid thing, but she was supposed to take the pet rocks back to the store some time that day. If she didn't get back there soon her brother would start to worry. Aita sighed. She was never going to allow her brother to order anything ever again.
Aita pushed the mask under her sweatshirt and tied the bottom of it tight. She tugged subconsciously at her hood and walked back to the street. The crowds had become thick by the time she entered the main street. It had to be close to midday.
"Wow, scary lady coming through," said Bolin. Aita glared at her brother's sort of friend as she stomped past him. She hadn't seen the brother's in a while. Her stepfather disapproved of them because they 'dropped out of school'. The fact her stepfather hated them made them tolerable if annoying and dangerous. Since they had gotten involved with gangs after their parents had died.
"Hey sis, why you wearing your jacket like that?" asked Sota.
"The winds are blowing hard today," said Aita. She shed the coat, but kept her sweatshirt on, careful to keep the mask hidden. She glanced at the brothers. "Are you here for more free stuff?"
The oldest brother, Mako, glared at her. But Bolin just laughed.
"Still the same Aita. Soon you'll be able to beat me in a weight lifting contest," said Bolin with that stupid smile of his as he watched her haul around her cart. Aita blushed and glared at the smiling boy.
"I keep up flexibility," she said.
"Stop teasing my sister," said Sota, though he looked like he was trying not to laugh. Aita glared at him before carefully setting her cart down. She took off the tarp and reached for the first few pet rocks and started setting them up on the shelf that Sato had cleared for her. "Those are cute."
"I'm never letting you talk to any cute girls ever again," said Aita under her breath. Her brother groaned, used to listening closely to his sister's mutters.
"She was five. It wasn't creepy," said Sota with a pout.
"No, it was a waste of money," Aita snapped and glared down at one of the stupidly painted grinning things. Bolin chuckled and she chucked it at him. The earthbender moved fast and the two halves of the pet rock split and hit on either side of the door.
"Really?" asked Sota with a sigh as he vaulted over the counter to get the pieces.
"Your sister could have killed me!" said Bolin.
"A rock bender killed by a rock. Wouldn't that have made a pathetic headline?" said Mako with a chuckle. Then the three went silent. Aita paused while setting the last stone that could fit on the shelf and glanced over to where the three boys were staring out the store window. She then turned to haul the cart back onto its wheels so she could unload the rest of the stupid things into the storeroom. Hopefully, there would be enough room in the back to store them all.
"You guys came to stop them, didn't you?" asked Sota. Aita looked behind her and out the window to see what looked like group of gangers walking away from the shop. "Would you like anything?"
"No, that's alright. We need to get back to work," said Mako.
"Catch you later Sota," said Bolin, the doorbell chimed as they left. Aita continued to the back room, ignoring her brother's sighs.
It didn't take too long to transfer the rock pets onto the shelf Aita had cleared for it the day before. They rock pets didn't have too many loose pieces on them, so she didn't have to be too careful with them. Really, they were the most pathetic looking things she had ever seen. Really, in theory, a child just had to pick up a rock from the road and in no time flat paint their own rock pet. It would much cheaper and more personal, probably nicer looking too.
Aita took off her sweatshirt and reached took the mask to look at it. The thing was rather plain looking. White, masculine, with big enough holes that were set a bit too far apart. Aita sighed, setting the mask down on her lap again. She looked around; they did have a lot of useless junk. Aita shifted through one of their shelves and found what she was looking for almost instantly. The holidays always brought along a certain set of curiosities and they always stocked up to properly for the intended holiday rush. Masks were always a safe bet to stock up on through the years. Almost every holiday called for masks in some capacity.
Finally she dug out the one that looked closest to the one the masked man had given her. It was simple, without too many decorations, and just about the right size to fit her. Well, she could see out of it and it covered most of her face that was good enough for now. If this became a permanent thing she could get a mask done custom.
Of course, that begged the question: did she really need a mask? Chi blockers didn't showcase their abilities like benders but they didn't hide either. A bender was easily distinguishable by the clothes they wore, or by what bending powers were most prevalent in their family. It was also, oddly enough, easy to figure out who didn't have any bending powers because they tended to wear more nondescript, changing, or chaotic color choices then benders. But still, if her stepfather found out that she was learning chi blocking, he would kill her.
She also didn't want to insult the man from earlier. He had respected her. He hadn't killed her for beating the theif near death but had congratulated her. He knew what it was like to be surrounded by benders, to be abused and pushed down because she didn't have any bending powers. He knew what it was like to be ridiculed and thought less of because he was 'missing' something. He'd teach her to take her life back, to actually defend herself. She'd have power.
Because she had the vision of how to take bending fly through her mind, but she shook the hallucinations away. That was just a silly dream. Not every dream she had actually meant something. The only one who could take away bending was the avatar. Aita had problems just keeping her concentration on the moment, she couldn't take bending. That was ridiculous.
Still, chi blocking was an art in and of itself. The forms had been created by a nonbender who fought beside the avatar during the Great War. Aita would give anything to learn it.
"Hey, sis, what are you doing in here?" asked Sato. Aita froze and quickly shoved both masks under her shirt.
"Nothing, I'm just a little shaken," said Aita. Sota smiled sadly and walked over to give her a hug.
"I'm sorry about yesterday. But you shouldn't keep drawing all of dad's attention to yourself," said Sota. Aita pushed him away.
"That man is not our father," she hissed. Sota sighed and nodded.
"Will you be alright?"
"Yeah, just let me catch my breath. I have a few things I need to organize back here," said Aita. Sota just stared at her in concern, and Aita forced herself to smile. "If there are no customers later, I think I know how to make it look like you're really fire bending."
"Really? You're the greatest little sister," said Sota, giving her a hug. Aita sighed after he had gone and stared at the ground. She hated lying to her brother. She almost always ended up telling him the truth anyway later. But this time-this time she had a feeling that it would be different.
She saw a small slip of paper on the floor, almost under the shelves and picked it up. She opened it, though it was folded intricately. She was shaking so badly that she almost ripped the paper a couple of times.
"West docks at 6 o'clock," she whispered, and then held the paper to her heart. She'd see the masked man again. She'd give him back his mask, and he'd understand she wasn't being ungrateful. She would find out what he stood for and she would become a great chi blocker. She would protect her brother and those around her. She would be strong.