Kyoshi was beginning to realize just how big the world around her was. Not only big, but poorly managed and rather mean. She could not really go anywhere, but she wanted to, her eyes catching dozens of different things beyond the walls of the enclosure she was in. More than anything, Kyoshi wanted to reach out and grab those things, whatever they were, but fate seemed to conspire against her at every turn.
The first obstacles were the two large creatures that seemed to watch her constantly. At first Kyoshi was unsure of what to make of them; they would come in and look at her, saying something in their odd language, and for the first few weeks Kyoshi was certain they were not to be trusted. However, they did not understand Kyoshi's concerns, so they continued to watch her and talk to her.
Try as she might, as time went on Kyoshi could no longer oppose these beings. She grew to enjoy seeing them come and watch her, and they began to understand just when she got hungry and would feed her. Kyoshi liked that; they would feed her, and then they would make her comfortable for a nice nap. If she was tired, or bored, they would come to her and comfort her. They would bathe her and keep her clean, and while she resisted at first she began to enjoy bath time more and more.
The two other creatures in the house, smaller but much more energetic, called the larger ones by many names, or by what Kyoshi assumed were names. She was frustrated that she could not understand what her caretakers were saying, but she would understand soon enough.
The ones she did begin to formulate were "Dad" for the biggest and "Mom" for the one with the nice voice. They had their own words for each other, but those two stood out to Kyoshi.
"Mom"... "Dad"... that was something Kyoshi could understand.
What she could not understand were the little creatures. Way more energetic than Mom and Dad, they did not seem to have the respect for Kyoshi's needs that Mom and Dad did. They would try to speak with Kyoshi while she tried to sleep, or look at her and do odd things with their heads while she ate. Kyoshi did not like that, but fortunately Mom would come and shoo them away if they disturbed Kyoshi too much.
Sometimes, much to Kyoshi's horror, Mom would give her over to these two... things. She would still be there, but Kyoshi was at the mercy of these creatures. The small one would prance around like some kind of animal, hooting and yelling in his odd language while swinging around something Kyoshi could not see. That was bad enough, but the older one would hold on to Kyoshi and mess around with her hair, talking about things she could not understand.
Perhaps it was some bizarre ritual the two performed. As with their language, Kyoshi would understand in due time.
While Kyoshi did not trust them, she could not hate them; they seemed kind of like Mom and Dad, in that their actions were well meaning if a bit odd at times. For now, Kyoshi would tolerate them and their odd rituals, as long as Mom would be there to take Kyoshi away when the others got too weird.
While Kyoshi's caretakers were odd, her dwellings were even more outlandish. First was the box. Mom called it something else, something like "crib", but to Kyoshi it was a box. Kyoshi spent a lot of time in the box, mostly sleeping, but it was good enough for her. The bottom was soft, and when she wanted to go to sleep Mom, or sometimes Dad but usually Mom, would drape soft sheets over her and keep her warm, and Kyoshi liked that. She would have liked it if the box was a little bigger, or if she could get out easier, but they did not seem to understand that.
After the box was a big room. Kyoshi would be brought into this big room two or three times a day, and Mom would feed her there. The room smelled of... something, but Kyoshi enjoyed that something. The others would eat there as well, at least she assumed so as she watched them poking at round things with sticks. The room was bigger than the box, and Kyoshi wanted to see all of it as soon as she could, but she was small, and it would take some time to see the room.
The last, and most confusing aspect of her dwelling, was a large flat surface with plenty of light, made of the same material that made the box. The little creatures would go out there quite often, running about and performing their strange rituals. Kyoshi did not go there as often, as the sheer size of the place and odd smell was daunting. Sometimes Mom would carry her out there to watch the little creatures, which would not last long before the openness and odd lack of any kind of smell began to wear on Kyoshi. She did not understand why the little creatures seemed to enjoy this realm more than they did the big room, and they seemed to think Kyoshi liked being here than in her box asleep.
Mom would help with Kyoshi's confusion. She was fed, cleaned, and got a nap. Maybe she would like moving out there, but for now she was glad that Mom would be there to keep her safe.
Other times Mom carried her to another place, where other creatures like Mom gathered and talked while passing around different, colorful objects. It was here that Kyoshi saw the wonders of hundreds of colors, and she would sit in awe and watch while Mom did whatever it was that Moms did. It was worth dealing with the lack of smell and the openness, if Kyoshi got to see the colors.
As time went on, and the dwelling seemed to be getting smaller, Kyoshi began to understand more and more. The two little creatures were related to her, something called "Brother and Sister", and they had their own titles. The box was replaced by a bigger box, which Kyoshi appreciated greatly until she woke up and realized it was not her box. This happened several times before she began to see this new box as her own, and she loved it more than she had the old one. Her legs and arms grew stronger, and she was able to move on her own over short distances... not that Mom would let her.
She also learned new words, new meanings. The dwelling she was in was called "Home", and the stuff that the others were poking at when she ate was called "Food". Kyoshi wanted to see if this food was any good, but she was denied again and again.
Also, Kyoshi began to feel something. She was not sure what, but when she did get a chance to sit or move around, she could feel something. Something like a bunch of little round things, beneath the bottom of home. Kyoshi wanted to reach out to them and touch them, but the bottom of home stopped her from getting too far. The feeling was stronger "outside", and Kyoshi found herself wanting to go outside more and more.
This place was playing with her mind. Kyoshi did not like that.
Li was bored. All of his friends were busy with chores or other work, and Mom and Dad were working on dinner. That left him alone with Mei and baby Kyoshi, something that he was not incredibly happy about. Kyoshi was okay, in the sense that she babbled to herself in her own language and did not cause too much trouble, but what really got on his nerves was that Mei would join in, speaking in some warped language in the belief that Kyoshi would understand.
"Will you stop that!" he cried when the baby-talk became unbearable. "You know she can't understand you."
"She can understand me." Mei shot back, turning Kyoshi to face Li. "Look at her, isn't she just the smartest little baby you've ever seen?" Kyoshi's only response was to chew on her hand and give a gurgle.
"Yeah, real smart." Li sighed. "I'm bored."
"Why don't you go find some of your friends and run around in a mud pit for a few hours?"
"They're all busy." Li slouched for a moment before an idea came to mind. He looked up at Kyoshi, who was currently giggling at a Spider-Fly walking across one of the porch railings. "Let me see Kyoshi."
"No." Mei pulled Kyoshi towards her, startling the infant from her marveling. "You'll get her dirty."
"So? Mom'll just give her a bath. Besides, she doesn't have to be all prissy like you." Kyoshi realized that something was going on, and that it was probably best if she not be between the two siblings. But as she tried to crawl away, Mei held on tighter, Kyoshi vocalizing her displeasure with a sharp cry.
"Look, you're scaring her!"
"No I'm not!" Li reached out for Kyoshi, trying to pull the baby away from his older sister. "She just doesn't want to be around you anymore!"
"No, stop it!" Mei pulled Kyoshi back towards her, causing the baby to cry out again, squirming to get free of her sister's grasp. In her struggle to get free, one of Kyoshi's feet hit the board beneath her, strong enough to be considered a stomp.
That stomp sent a tremor down the length of the board. It was small enough that Mei and Li did not notice it while they tried to take Kyoshi for themselves, and even if they did there was not much they could do. The tremor went down the length of the board and turned, running down the side of the steps and into the dirt below. From there it spread out, focusing specifically on two points Kyoshi was trying to get away from.
Argument turned to shock as the steps and porch seemed to lift up under Mei and Li. Both children cried out as they were knocked from their positions by two pillars of dirt stabbing up from the ground beneath them, the wood of the porch splitting beneath the force of the earth. Now free, Kyoshi was distracted from her escape by what she did, staring in wonder at the rocks in front of her. As Li pulled himself up and Mei tried to get back on her feet, Kyoshi began to giggle and clap her hands together, as if she wanted to ground to repeat the performance.
"Mom! Mom!" Mei cried as she ran into the house, leaving Li to keep staring in shock at Kyoshi. Her mother looked up from her work, setting aside a bowl of rice before facing Mei.
"What is it?" she asked, trying to temper the worry in her voice. "Did you hurt yourself?"
"Kyoshi threw a rock at me!" Mei noticed that a few tears were running down her face. In her defense, having your baby sister hit you with a rock hurt both physically and emotionally, and she was not composed enough to deal with such... "insults". Her mother blinked a few times before frowning.
"It was a big rock!"
"Mei. Kyoshi isn't even one yet; she can't throw rocks at people." Mei tried to protest, but was cut off by her mother wiping away the tears on her cheek. "Now, what really happened?"
"Me and Li were fighting, and Kyoshi threw rocks at us."
"Mei, stop trying to bring Kyoshi into this. Why on earth would you try to convince me that your baby sister threw rocks at-"
"But she can!" Mei tugged on her mother's sleeve, pulling her to the front of the house. When the two came out to the porch, Kyoshi was still in her spot, although she was now swatting at the nearest of the pillars of earth, and manage to swat a rather large chunk out of the pillar. "See? She hit me with that!"
"Oh... oh my..." after pulling her sleeve free of Mei's grasp, her mother ran back inside the house. "Han! Come quick! I think Kyoshi's an Earthbender!"
Lian looked down on the sleeping form of Kyoshi. After the initial excitement of learning that Kyoshi was an Earthbender, the girl had tired out and fell asleep, and while Lian put her to bed Mei and Li helped clean up the mess outside. Han went out back for something, so Lian busied herself making sure Kyoshi was comfortable.
"I think I have an idea." she looked up as Han entered the room. "There's a broken plow out back. I can take it down to the blacksmith and see if he can make it into a sheet so Kyoshi doesn't Bend holes in the floor."
"Are you sure that will work?"
"Earthbenders can't Bend metal, and I don't think she's strong enough to break through." he sighed. "Spirits, my life was so much easier this morning when my daughter wasn't an Earthbender."
"Is there something wrong with that?"
"No, no. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and Kyoshi'll be a great help around here once she gets older. It's just..." a pause. "My father used to tell me stories of roving fighters and Earthbenders, who'd go from town to town seeking out other Earthbenders to duel. I don't want Kyoshi getting caught up with something like that."
"But that was then." Lian moved closer and placed a hand on Han's shoulder. "I'm sure times have changed. Even if they haven't, no one ever comes this far south. Kyoshi will be fine."
"... I suppose." Han broke from his wife's touch and moved to look at the sleeping Kyoshi. The baby squirmed to find a better position in her crib, but otherwise did not wake up. "We'll still have to find a way for her to control her Bending."
"I'm sure she'll mellow out when she gets older. And we can always find her a teacher if things get out of hand."
"Where, though?" Han turned back to Lian. "There's no Earthbenders anywhere near here, and I don't want to uproot everyone and move to Gaoling to find a teacher."
"Maybe someone here knows something about Earthbending. I could ask around tomorrow."
"That sounds like a good idea." the two were interrupted by the sound of shuffling outside the room. They turned and saw Li standing in the doorway, his arms covered in dirt.
"All the dirt's gone, Mom." he said, wiping some of the dirt on his forehead.
"Good. Go get washed up for dinner."
Kyoshi was aware of someone watching her. It was not Mom or Dad, or even the other two; this one was different, alien and yet familiar at the same time. Most of the time Kyoshi did not realize the presence was there, but it seemed to drift forward whenever she got a chance to go outside and touch the ground. She wanted to focus on this presence, but it disappeared as soon as it had arrived.
Kyoshi did not like this. Hopefully it would go away.
She was seated on the porch again, only with Mom this time. The others, whom Mom called "Li" or "Mei", were gone, having gone with Dad while he dragged a big rolling box filled with things. Mom was seated near Kyoshi, guiding her away from the steps while she played. Kyoshi was willing to accept that; after she made the dirt break the floor that one time, she did not want to break anything like that again, although she did want to move dirt around again like that. She would get her chance, and she would wait for that.
"You know," Mom said, as if she was trying to strike up a conversation with Kyoshi. "You remind me of a fire ferret I saw in a traveling show once."
"Ba." Kyoshi said, focusing her attention on a small rock. It was not like she understood what Mom was saying, and Kyoshi was distracted by her new rock, but Mom continued on anyway.
"You've never seen a fire ferret before... Maybe when you're older, we could go look for one. But this one was very curious, always running to every person it saw and sniffing them." Mom chuckled. "And now I see you here, and you just keep on moving from one thing to the next... maybe I just forgot about it since your brother was your age."
"Abah." was Kyoshi's only response. She reached forward and grabbed her new rock, turning it over in her hands. As she held it, she could feel something running through her fingers, something that brought a smile to her face. She felt like the rock was another part of her, like her toes or her hands.
But she wanted to do something more with the rock. She cupped it in her hands, feeling every bit of the rock as she held it. Maybe she could make it look like something else... like Mom. Mom was pretty, and the rock was not so pretty, so with another smile Kyoshi began to pull at the rock. Unfortunately, she lacked the coordination to properly shape the rock, and as she pulled she gasped when the rock exploded into a cloud of dust.
Kyoshi did not like that. Her rock was gone, and now she was sad.
"Oh dear." Kyoshi was not given a chance to mourn for her lost rock as Mom turned her around, rolling up her sleeve and rubbing the dust from her hands. Kyoshi wanted to cry, but Mom always had a way of cheering her up. "See? All better now."
"Baba." Kyoshi pulled her hand away and began to look around for a new rock, spotting one near Mom's foot. "Ma?"
"... What did you just say?"
"Ma." Kyoshi pointed to the rock. That would be her new rock, and she would make it pretty for Mom. But Mom did not seem interested in the rock and picked Kyoshi up.
"Y-you just called me 'Ma'." Mom said, a large smile spreading across her face.
"Ma." Mom seemed to like that, and if Kyoshi could not get her a pretty rock, this would suffice. Mom smiled even wider and hugged Kyoshi, Kyoshi mimicking the action to make her even happier.
"Oh, you are an amazing little girl." Mom said, chuckling as she held Kyoshi close. There was a pause before Mom pulled away. "Can you say anything else? Can you say 'Da'?"
This was something she understood. This was something Kyoshi liked.
Appears that I had a bit of inspiration from the last chapter. Who knew?
So, Kyoshi's an Earthbender now, and her past lives might be trying to get a better perspective of what she's like. We'll be sticking around Kyoshi's childhood for a few chapters before she glows it up and starts travelling the world. Hope you enjoy.
Still don't own Avatar and its related characters. Reviews and favorites are appreciated, and if I screwed something up please let me know.