these are the scars that silence carved on me
You were his best friend.
You've known him your entire life.
You don't even remember when you fell in love with him. He was your first everything, and you always assumed that he would be your last. You aren't even entirely sure what you are without him, he's always been there, a constant in your life from the very start. You gave him everything. You gave him your heart and your mind and your body and your past and your future.
You gave him your life.
So when she takes him from you, she takes you from yourself as well.
It isn't fair to lash out at her, to scour the laws until you find something you can land on her. It isn't fair to hate her or to mutter things under your breath when you're around her. It isn't fair that you treat her like a monster.
But then, it isn't fair that he adores her now, more than he ever adored you.
So it is even.
And now that Mother is gone, and Tenzin is gone, there's no one left who's brave enough to call you out on it.
They invite you to the wedding, and you think you might die. You deliberately save up reams of paperwork, so that you'll have a ready-made excuse for not going, but then Katara comes personally to pick you up and shushes away all of your (mostly very good but some flimsy) excuses.
So you sit in the back of the temple and focus on anything but the wedding and make a beeline for the exit as soon as possible.
But then Bumi stops you and begins making light conversation.
"You know, it's funny," he says, ever-tactful. "We'd always thought it would be you up there."
"I fail to see the humor," you tell him, with as much venom as you can muster. He shrugs.
"You win some, you lose some," he says airily, like love is one of his idiotic sports. "It happens to the best of us."
You work very hard to avoid the insult hidden in his words, and leave without another word, before anyone else can stop you. In another life, these people were family, the most important people in your world.
You hate every one of them.
You spend that entire night locked in your office, working diligently on paperwork, until your eyes hurt and the birds start singing.
"You look rough," Kya says lightly, leaning on the doorframe. It's finally evening, and you still haven't slept, but you're tired enough now that you think you might actually be able to sleep. "I gave Tenzin a piece of my mind, by the way."
"What, for running off with that girl?" you reply, shrugging and hoping that you sound more flippant than you feel. "He was in love, Kya, and you can't blame a man for acting on love."
It almost sounds sincere, but you can't keep the acid out of your tone.
"True," Kya responds, "but I can blame him for being an idiot about it, and for moving so quickly into it. And for being cruel enough to expect you at the wedding."
"It wasn't cruelty," you say flatly, because it's true even if it doesn't feel like it. "Tenzin doesn't have a cruel bone in his body."
"All the more reason to call him on it when he is," Kya answers, voice even. "Come on, I'll buy you a drink. You look like you could use it."
You almost say no, but then you think about returning to your lonely, cold apartment, and agree.
"He should have said something sooner," you mutter, halfway through your fifth whisky sour.
"He should have done a lot of things," Kya agrees, and you can't remember how many she's had. Less than you, it looks like, but then Kya has a way of always being or at least looking like she's in control of every situation, so it's hard to tell. "Breaking it off when it was actually over is lead among them."
You bury your head in your arms to hide the fact that you want to cry. "I hate her," you say, so quiet that you hope Kya can't hear. But she's Kya, and Kya always seems to know everything.
"You hate what she's done to you," she says slowly. "But you don't know enough about her to hate her."
"Don't you side with her, too," you snap, angry and more emotional than you want to be. "Everyone's on her side. I'm just the shrew of an ex-lover."
"Not everyone," Kya replies evenly. "I'm on your side. And I know Mother wasn't happy with how he handled this, either."
You snort. "She was crying."
"She's Mother," Kya sighs. "She tearbends."
You fall into semi-companionable silence, and motion without looking for the bartender to bring you another. He hesitates when he reaches you, and you turn the full force of the Bei Fong Glare onto him, so he pours you a sixth drink before making a slicing motion to Kya: after this, she's cut off. Kya nods, and you pretend you don't see her.
"I gave him everything," you breathe, hating yourself for the person you are right now - the jilted lover drinking her sorrows into the bar. You used to scorn those people, roll your eyes at them when they inevitably caused a drunken ruckus. "I'll never have another - even if I wanted - it's too late."
You're too old, now. You bargained everything on a life spent with Tenzin and you've lost.
So now what?
"It's never bothered me much," Kya tells you, and you know that it isn't really true because Kya languished in her own spinsterhood for a while, but it's Kya. And Kya is always in control of everything, so Kya is, of course, at peace with her fate. You'd hate her if you had anyone else to sit with you tonight.
"You have plenty of reasons to be perfectly content," she continues, ticking them off on her fingers. "You're the chief of an incredibly effective police force. You're one of - if not the - best earth and metalbenders in the city. You're respected and admired by the entire non-criminal population of the city, and feared by the criminals. You - "
"Kya," you say coldly, cutting her off. "Tonight is not the night for that kind of thinking."
She's quiet for a moment, and then she begins rubbing your back gently. "Fair enough," she says.
You would love to say you feel less alone in the morning, but you don't. All you feel is terribly hungover, and vaguely unwanted.
Oh well, you think, looking at your haggard reflection in the mirror.
May as well get used to it.