More Papa Fab! (Finally). Jae means "respect" and Chun Hei means "honor and grace" (or something like that) in Korean according to a baby names website. I named the grandparents. I described Mama and Papa Fab's hairstyles in accordance with a guide I read on traditional Korean hairstyles (in kdramas, lol). Genmai-cha is a Japanese green tea with osenbei and (sometimes) a little matcha. I feel like it's earthy.
Bolin snored, shifting in the seat. The young earthbender was sprawled out bodily, with his limbs curled next to him to accommodate the narrowness of the seat. Next to him, Mako sat– awake– as his father stared out the train's window with a sad expression.
He remembered his mother gently shaking him awake as dawn started to seep into the sky and through the window, bringing a peculiar coldness with it. His mother's hair was already tucked into a low bun and concealed by a vibrant green scarf. His father shuffled in the background, moving suitcases and pouring tea.
Groggy as he was, the next thing he knew he'd sipped at a potent cup of oolong softened with sugar and a dotting of milk. Bolin remained lost in the world of dreams. He held his father's strong hand– his hand was engulfed by his father's, actually– as the worn doors and windows of the family's domain clicked and locked closed.
At one point along the dew of morning and the gray of the city and the station, Mako asked a question: "Why are you sad?". His father's response and face– the very combination of it didn't really make sense. He'd smiled a sad smile while his green eyes mixed between sadness and glee.
It just wasn't something he understood. His mother snored lightly, leaning up against the sad man whose eyes didn't drift from the rolling land outside the window.
Boredom lurked in the corner, distracting Mako from a distraction. There wasn't anyone to talk to: his mother and Bolin were asleep and his father wasn't much for words. True, he spoke and conversed freely and smiled down at his sons. But when he lingered with a quiet air about him, pensive and silently rumbling like the earth shifting beneath the world's exterior, silence remained his favorite mode of communication. It calmed Mako.
The train lurched for the final time: they arrived in Ba Sing Se's lower ring. The young firebender reached for his brother's swinging, limp hand as his father carried his sleeping form through the darkening city. Ba Sing Se differed from Republic City in that the buildings were much, much older and run down, as well as more traditional-looking: each line of a home or business ending in a flourish. His amber eyes explored the unfamiliar place. Father's change in appearance registered as he surveyed the area. His longer hair rested neatly in a knot atop his heat, a wooden spear stabbing through it. He felt his mother's soft hand grasp his free one.
Eventually, his parents laden with suitcases and his slumbering brother, they came upon a small house with faded green paint like freshly swirled matcha and a patched wooden roof. The windows lacked the luxury of glass and battered shutters flanked each one. His father set Bolin down carefully as his mother let the luggage down from her hands and back, taking her husband's place in waking the groggy boy. Callused hands knocked gently on the worn wooden door.
Grandmother and Grandfather Jae were wizened and thin, their skin scraggly but clinging overly tight to their frames. Their nearly identical loose-fitting garments had a weathered look granted by decades of washing and scrubbing. Bolin ended up sitting next to Grandfather on a bed in the main room of the small home.
"Granpa, why are you laying down?"Bolin asked, propped beside the pillow beneath his grandfather's head. His mother paused, looking to her husband and her mother-in-law, unsure.
"He's broken, little Bo. But it's okay, he'll get glued back together soon," came the sweet voice of Grandmother Chunhei, answering from a worn chair over a steaming cup of genmai-cha. Mako's thoughts wandered to the answer his father gave him on the way to this small, worn place. He sat on the chair by his mother, dutifully holding her ball of yarn as she knit away at scarves for the aged couple, the rhythmic clicking of her bamboo needles settling over the breathing of his grandfather and the grown-up conversation punctuated by Bolin's questions
"There are things I want to fix," he'd said, a sad look to his face and a slight incline of his lips. The combination of those things on his father, someone so strong he could lift both of his sons on one arm and lunge masses of earth over any obstacle (or so he boasted), whose crafty hands mended everything and gentle silence calmed Mako when upset, was something he didn't understand.
And now, there were things Mako wanted to repair. He wanted to know what happened to his broken grandfather and his skinny grandmother. He wanted to erase the loss of his parents and he wanted to improve the broken state of his and his brother's living conditions. But really, if his father's ripped arms couldn't mend his grandparents, who's to claim Mako's scrawny arms could fix the staggering tower of broken things before him? If his father's iron will and steady stance didn't succeed, why would Mako? His stance was fluid and his will wasn't even an ore. How would he even begin?
Father wanted to rise. He wanted to soar at a reasonable height, above the sickness and the worn furniture of his homes, present and past. It all made sense, finally.
All it took was a pile of things to fix and the utter inability to do anything but place them on a to-do list he was sure would never be completed.
So Mako stopped trying to rise; he settled for climbing.
I don't think the ending was as potent as I wanted it. Feedback would help me out. Reviews make me flutter around on freshly-sprouted butterfly wings.