discoloration, blemish, dye

So this was it.

Years – her entire life, really – and this was the final reward. Everything she'd worked for, everything she'd wanted, all she wanted, was right in front of her. All she had to do was take the pain.

"Are you sure-?"

"I'm not changing my mind now."

Tenzin was paralyzed. Who was this girl in front of him? Was this really his daughter? In everything he did to prepare himself for this day, he could have never imagined. There was pride, yes. But also confusion, worry. Though he didn't want to admit it, there was also regret. This isn't what he thought it would be like, not with Jinora…

"Don't cry," Jinora said before he'd even realized he was doing it. She tried to offer a weak smile, but it just looked like a grimace. "Let's just do it."

Tenzin laid out his supplies, selecting the wedge-shaped tool with the blade.

"Let me do it."

"But it's customary—" His daughter didn't waver, and her eyes told him she was serious. He handed over the razor.

She bent over the bucket on the floor, collected her hair in one hand and the blade in the other, and shaved. It was less smooth than she'd expected. She cut herself quite a few times, but the hair came off like waves. When the job was done, Jinora raised her head and studied herself in the mirror. She was ragged. Torn up, a little bloody, and lumpy. She was ugly. It was perfect.

She didn't scream at first. She'd expected it the pain. But as the needle dragged on, it hurt more and more. At the first scream, Tenzin stopped immediately.

"Keep going," was her reply, trying her hardest to keep her tone steady. At least she could try to make this easier for him. He didn't have a choice.

Tenzin hesitated. "Are you sure? We can stop for now."

"No, don't stop until the head is done."

"You don't want any of the sedating tea?"

"I didn't want any before, I don't want it now."

He held the needle for a bit longer. "You know, it doesn't make you weak to take a break. I didn't get much further than this my first day."

"It's okay. Just keep going."

She screamed a bit more, but eventually her entire body when numb. She wouldn't let herself pass out, she wouldn't.

It went on for a week. An arm one day, the next arm the next. Back, legs, hands, feet. Since the head was the worst, the rest of it didn't seem all that bad. Each day, Tenzin said she looked beautiful. Mature. But she knew what she really was. Ugly. Feral.

But at least she'd gotten what she wanted.

Woo hoo! I'm pretty excited to be working on this. You might be a little confused about the format, so let me explain briefly. The first chapter of this fic is the quick story. Now what I'm doing is going back in and writing what happened that we didn't see through Ikki's perspective. So that means I'll be writing scenes from when Jinora got her tattoos (which is this one), when Skoochy visited Jinora, their talk on the shore, etc. I plan to post teasers on Wednesdays on my blog (lionhearted-hawk on tumblr) and update the story here on Saturdays. If you have any questions, go ahead and PM me here or on tumblr, and please take the time to leave a review, as that makes me very happy.

(Oh, and don't worry These Days of Dust fans, I haven't forgotten about you!)