Hi Everyone, welcome to my new fanfic. This is another plot bunny that has been cooking in my head for a while now and I thought I'd give it a shot.
Basically while I enjoy the LOK, as many people have spent hours on Youtube pointing out, the show has some serious flaws. I'm hoping to bring some of those to light and expand upon them in ways the show's writers never did. Hopefully my changes manage to shift the story into something fuller.
The front door to the Beifong estate opened and a small child darted inside. He wore simple clothes, despite his families vast fortune, a grey buttoned down collared vest and dark blue pants. Negi ran through the many halls, offering the briefest of greetings to the house staff as he reached his room, slamming the door behind him with a loud bang.
It had been a long day at school, but it was finally the weekend! Sweet relief filled him as Negi chucked his school bag onto the freshly made bed. He didn't waste any time bursting out of his room seconds later and dashing again down the adjacent hall towards the kitchens, where Rosa was waiting for him.
"Slow down Negi," the tan skinned woman scolded without any real seriousness. "I know you're excited, but baking takes patience. You can't make it go faster just because you want it done sooner."
"I know that Rosa," Negi replied in the usual way. "But the fast I got here the faster we could start."
Rosa just laughed and got back to work laying out the large pieces of dough they would need in order to bake her famous banana crumb bread. Negi always loved eating Rosa's food, often telling the cook that she would do well to open her own bakery. Rosa always dismissed the thought, stating that if she did then who would be here to look after a little troublemaker like him.
Negi never denied this. He was a maker of trouble in every sense of the word. At least, trouble for those who deserved it.
They continued for over an hour, kneading the dough, adding in various other ingredients until everything was just right and ready for the oven. Then came the waiting, the hardest part for Negi, but well worth the effort as when the timer went off, out came an assortment of delicious smelling bread. Rosa even let Negi taste them to see how they did. As usual, it was perfect.
"Now don't go eating them all at once," Rosa reminded him.
"Of course I won't. They're for our special start to my week long break and I can't start it without my mom."
That was the promise. A full week of no work, no distractions, and no getting angry with Tenzin when they visited tomorrow. Just seven whole days of relaxation and fun. It didn't sound like much, but to Negi it was like being given the world on a platter.
He carried the exceptionally large tray carefully as Rosa walked behind him step by step, ensuring the six year old didn't waste all their hard work by sharing it with the floor. They made it to the sitting room, well furbished with a red lined couch, long rug, and various awards. His mother had commendations from the city while he had participation medals from school.
There were a few pictures lining the wall as well. Most were of himself, as Negi's mother wasn't a big fan of her extended family or her immediate one at that. He never quite knew why, but never got a satisfying answer no matter how often he asked. Eventually, like most things with his mother, Negi learned it was just better not to.
Negi loved relaxing here most of all because it allowed him the opportunity to stare out their large bay window that overlooked the city below. From atop the Forest Grove Hills that the Beifong estate resided on, one could see nearly the entire city from end to end. All the Satomobiles stuck in rush hour traffic, the few airships patrolling the skies, and even the giant statue of Avatar Aang off in the distance. It was almost as nice a view as the cliffside behind their home.
Rosa sat the plate of treats and pitcher of water on the coffee table and Negi leapt onto the couch, bouncing in his seat long after the cushion had absorbed his weight. He looked at the clock. It read 3:45. Damn, Negi thought, his mind the one place he could get away with repeating the words his mother often used without getting scolded. He still had over an hour to wait until she got off work.
"Negi, don't you want to go out and play until your mother gets home?" Rosa asked as she grabbed a stack of boardgames from the bureau's top shelf. They were the games Negi played whenever his friends would visit or, in many cases, when he was alone and needed something to keep him occupied.
"No, I'll wait," he said, grabbing one last piece of bread and stuffing it into his mouth before Rosa could stop him. Negi ignored her raised eyebrow and began setting up his favorite game, Four Nations. It was a pretty simple and fun game where each player chooses a different nation and attempts to conquer the world using their unique factors, moving from town to town and battling for dominance.
He often played with his friends, his mother, and even Tenzin, though his Godfather wasn't a big fan when Negi used the Air Nomads to completely dominate the board. That or he was just upset he lost so badly to a child.
"Alright. I still have some work to get done, so let me know if you need anything." Rosa scurried out of the room, leaving Negi to his preparations for when his mother returned home. Tonight would be the start of his best weekend ever!
It was nearly ten at night when the front door finally opened. All of the staff, including Rosa, had already gone home for the week, leaving Negi alone until his mother finally stepped inside. He heard the commotion and hurried towards the foyer to find his mother dragging herself forward.
She still wore her typical uniform, black and grey metal armor covering most of her body. There were large bags beneath her eyes, which looked bloodshot and worn. She took no notice of Negi as she approached the large cabinet in the corner and retrieved the biggest bottle of alcohol she could muster the strength to grab.
"Hi mom," Negi said hesitantly. He was a little upset with her broken promise, but it didn't mean he liked seeing his mother in such a state. Lin placed the bottle down and turned towards Negi, rubbing her eyes vigorously before she could look at him.
"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Negi frowned at his mother's quick response.
"Well, I mean, you got home so late and I got worried so…" he trailed off. Lin let out what Negi could interoperate as a groan, though it sounding more like she was choking on something.
"Don't be, I'm fine. No one in this city is tough enough to give me anything more than a headache dealing with these incompetent bureaucrats." She walked past Negi and into the sitting room. "And I thought I told you to clean up all your toys when you're done playing. Why is there still a mess in here?"
Negi followed his mother's eyes towards the still open board game, all set and ready to be played, and the nearly empty plate of bread.
"It was game night," he said quietly.
"What? Speak clearly," said Lin in a louder voice.
"I said it was game night," Negi nearly shouted. "At least it was supposed to be," he added in a lower volume.
"What are you, oh," Lin froze, the memories that she'd obviously forgotten rushing back to her. Negi had figured that was the case, but a part of him still held out hope. That hope died when his mother opened her mouth and sighed.
"I'm sorry Negi, but we're going to have to put off our little weekend again. There is a Triple Triad case that has my entire department working overtime and some new group that's been running around too. Everyone is looking at us to get results and I can't spend time at home right now."
"Then how are you here?" Negi asked accusatorily. This made Lin's tiredness vanish as it was replaced by a harsh glare that made Negi regret his tone immediately.
"I'm only here to take a short break before heading back to work. I'll probably be gone before you wake up."
"Like that's new," Negi muttered.
"Don't take that tone with me young man," Lin scolded before her face softened. She bent down and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry Negi, I really am, but my duty is to protect the people of Republic City and as Police Chief sometimes that means making sacrifices. I can't ask of my men what I'm not willing to do myself. You'll understand when you're older."
Negi didn't say anything and just kept looking at the ground.
"Look, if we can take care of all of this as soon as possible, then maybe I can still go with you to visit Tenzin if you want this Sunday?"
"Really?" Negi could hear the restraint in her voice. He knew she and Tenzin didn't get along, but at the same time she knew how much Negi admired him. Her willingly interacting with the man was definitely a rare sight to behold. Interacting in a civil manner even more so.
"Yes," was the only response she could muster before retracting her hand and placing both on her hips. "Now get to bed mister and if I don't hear snoring in the next ten seconds it's lock up for you."
Negi giggled as he ran up the stairs, across the carpeted halls and disappeared into his room. The door shit behind him and once he was knew his mother was satisfied, judging by the fact she didn't shout any more commands, Negi's joyful expression faded. This wasn't the first time his mother had to work overtime. It's like the entire city itself was against him having just one day of quality time with his mother.
Republic City clearly didn't respect her either, considering how many people were either calling for her resignation or moaning about how ineffective the police were. It's not their fault so many people were running around committing crimes when nearly a tenth of the citizens could literally shoot fire from their hands or tear apart entire streets by stomping their feet.
That wasn't even accounting for all the higher profile families and politicians that were constantly hounding his mother in order to get her in their pocket or enact some kind of specific change on their behalf. You'd think they would learn their lesson after that one manufacturing plant owner tried bribing his mother with a large sum of yuan, nearly 100,000 if Negi remembered right, to let his business partake in some not so legal intimidation tactics with against Sato Industries.
In Negi's opinion, 100,000 yuan was a lot to pay to have his mother sucker punch him, tie him to the back her squad car and drag the man behind it all across town to the precinct, and get locked up in a jail cell, but Negi wasn't one to tell others how to spend their money.
He changed into his pajamas and slid into bed, realizing just how tired he really was. It wasn't often he stayed up this late, but his mother was worth it. Negi just hoped that the rest of his week wouldn't be as disappointing as tonight turned out to be.
The next morning, Lin was gone before Negi had even gotten out of bed. It was exactly as she had said, but that didn't mean Negi wasn't saddened by it. With the rest of the house staff gone for the weekend, Negi got himself ready for the day with a quick shower and made breakfast. Without Rosa there to supervise, it consisted of only fruit and cereal. His black hair was a wild mess as always as he ran out of the back door and into the surrounding forest that gave the hills their name.
The thick woodlands rested a good distance away from the actual backyard, where the gardeners had worked painstakingly to create a beautiful flower garden next to a fountain that featured the Beifong family seal, a flying boar. Negi often opted to ignore those efforts in favor of the all-natural feel of the Forest Grove itself.
The trees grew more thick and covered the land in more dense pockets the further Negi went. It had taken him quite a few trips mapping out the area without getting totally lost, but it was worth it as Negi discovered so many hidden wonders. He'd have invited his friends to join him if they were around, but sadly after all his bragging about the spectacular week he'd set up that would never be, they had already made plans.
His friend Hanzo was visiting relatives in Ba Sing Se for the entire week, Sora was busy helping her mother with a wedding event, and even his best friend Jason was stuck taking care of his little sister while his parents worked overtime at the scrap yard.
He kept going until he reached a large tree that stood nearly thirty feet high in the center of a small clearing, just a small distance away from his favorite cliffside view. He'd visited this spot often, as it gave a much better look at Air Temple Island. Sometimes he could see Tenzin's sky bison flying around if he was lucky, shooting through the sky with all the grace a two ton animal could possess.
Sometimes he wished to be like that, able to just fly away from all his troubles. He could do without the massive weight gain though.
Negi focused himself and approached a slightly smaller tree and circled around it, patting the side until he found the carved grooves he'd cut into the trunk. Using them as grips, he left the ground and began steadily climbing the tree. Climbing was a skill Negi had perfected after many hours of practice, both here in the forest and also at school. It was one of the reasons he'd gotten sent to the principal's office when they found him in the school's air ducts trying to search for his classmate's lost pet that she'd brought in for show and tell.
Boy had he gotten an earful from his mother after that incident. Rosa even took to calling him her little spider monkey, which sounded cute until Negi saw a picture of one. How that creature came about he had no idea and frankly had no interest in learning.
"Almost there," he supported himself mentally as he physically supported himself by tugging on various branches he passed on his assent. A few rings higher and he pulled himself onto the first branch sturdy enough to hold his weight. He stepped lightly as the branch began to thin, pausing whenever even the smallest gust of wind touched his skin, naturally shifting his balance to flow with the air instead of allowing it to knock him around.
When Negi reached the farthest he could, there was only one thing left to do.
Using all the muscle in his tiny body, Negi leapt through the air and snagged a higher branch on the largest tree in the clearing. He latched his right arm and leg around the branch and used his momentum to swing the rest of his body around.
Negi fought the urge to look down as he waited for the branch to stop shaking and when it did he quickly inched his way closer to the tree's powerful body, all while still upside down. It was only when he was right side up and on a more stable branch that he dared to look. The young Beifong's green eyes blinked as he forcefully swallowed both his fears and a large amount of saliva before daring to continue farther up the tree.
It would be well worth the effort. It always was to visit a friend.
Negi scurried like a beaver squirrel as he finally made it to the top and pushed a few meddling leafy branches out of the way to see what all this fuss was about. Nestled comfortably between two crossed limbs was a large nest with three of the cutest little Lion Hawk chicks he'd ever laid eyes on.
Each one was about a foot long, recently hatched no more than a week ago. They were covered in a mix of feathers and fur, all sharing the same golden, brown, and red colors of their parents. Their feline like bodies were supported by four legs, each ending in small talon like feet and while their heads looks quite similar to that of a hawk, the tiny cat ears and round, life filled eyes dissuaded anyone from finding them threatening. At least in their current state that is.
Negi had been quite terrified when he first discovered the nest after meeting the chick's parents, who nearly caused him to fall from the tree. Their massive wings relative to their size made them look quite intimidating.
Thankfully when he climbed further away, they seemed to settle down though they watched him like… well, like Lion Hawks.
Despite nearly dying, Negi couldn't help but return the following day, this time keeping his distance as he simply sat there high in the forest canopy and watched the two parents care for their unhatched children. They continued to watch him just as carefully, but as his visits became more and more frequent the larger pair began to ignore his presence or at least tolerate it. At the very least Negi did nothing to antagonize them or overstep their generosity.
He even snuck snacks out from under Rosa's careful watch to help feed the Lion Hawk parents. He could tell they appreciated it, even if they didn't show it. They reminded him a lot of his mother in a way. At least these parents made time to be with their kids.
Negi knew it wasn't a fair comparison. These creatures were wild and free of responsibility to anyone or anything, free to come and go as the winds would take them. His mother was the Police Chief of an entire city, one that relied on her constantly, regardless of all she had to put up with. He was the son of Republic City's Police Chief. That role came with some added responsibility whether he liked it or not.
That still didn't make him feel any better about it. A small, but often wrong part of him thought that maybe if he were an earth bender like her she'd make more time, but sadly that wasn't the case. Negi had never shown any aptitude for bending in any form, including both fire and water if he inherited the gift from his father. Whoever that was.
Negi recalled asking his mother why he didn't have a day on bring your parent to school day the year prior, an event she had miraculously been able to attend. He'd never thought much about it before, but seeing so many mothers and fathers made him wonder.
She'd gotten very flustered that night as she was tucking him in. Negi had never seen his mother act in such a way. When she finally calmed down, his mom had explained how she didn't quite know who his father was. She almost seemed embarrassed to admit it.
After what she described as a falling out with Tenzin, something she refused to elaborate on no matter how he pestered her, she had gone out and made some hasty decisions that resulted in Negi.
Negi might have only been five at the time, but he was smart enough to understand what she meant by that and no more questions were asked.
One of the babies squawked and Negi broke from his lamenting as it tried to crawl out of nest towards him. He chuckled, reaching into his pocket and threw a small handful of breadcrumbs behind it. In a matter of seconds they had vanished into the mouths of all three chicks, who all looked towards Negi with big, begging eyes.
"Sorry guys, but that's it," said Negi as if speaking to a person. "Your mommy and daddy won't want you to fill up before breakfast."
A trio of squawks and purrs filled the air and Negi laughed again. He sat there for hours, staring out at the city and talking with the chicks as their parents returned every now and then to both feed and check up on the babies. He only left to grab lunch for himself and offered the adults some food when he returned, but neither accepted. Negi guessed they had something against handouts now that their chicks were watching. He could see the way they looked at their parents whenever he tried to feed them, looking for an excuse.
It was nearly dinner by the time Negi decided to leave for good. The sun was getting low and brightened the skyline with hues of orange and red against the clouds and ocean. Some people might not like how industrious Republic City had become, but none could deny it had its beauty.
He turned to begin his slow descent, but was stopped by the babies cries.
"I've got to get going. Don't worry, I'll be back soon." Negi's reassurance did nothing to calm the three chicks. Their whining was becoming more and more frantic now. Negi was starting to get worried their parents would blame him.
The chick's whining was then interrupted by a loud shriek and Negi's head shot up in the direction of the unwelcomed noise. Another shriek filled the air, one he was more familiar with as the parent Lion Hawks flew through the clouds with another creature on their tails.
It was a massive Cat Owl, over twice as large as either Lion Hawk, with black and silvery feathers that at night would have made it impossible to see. It snarled and yowled as the smaller female Lion Hawk dove for it, narrowly avoiding the blow before circling back towards the tree.
The chicks were going crazy and Negi realized the Cat Owl must have come out early to hunt. They usually relied on stealth, but one of this size didn't really have to wait for the cover of night. And it had set its sights on the babies. This was bad, he thought. That Cat Owl was way too big for either parent to fend off. If it reached them…
Negi moved without thinking. In a quick motion he snatched all three chicks from the nest and stuffed them into his shirt. Their tiny claws and beaks hurt as they squirmed, but that didn't matter now.
Wasting no time, Negi traced his shaky steps across the tree's roadway of branches. The winds around him picked up, propelling him with greater speed as he climbed across another far gap between this and another tree. It took longer, but there was no room for error here. All the while he could hear the howls and shrieks overhead, but he didn't dare lose focus.
A final leap and Negi was once again earthbound, his legs not pausing for an instant as he rushed through the forest back towards the estate. He heard the chicks crying increase and noticed a dark shadow overhead just in time for him to duck. Sharp talons the size of knives swished overhead as the Cat Owl flapped its wings to pick up speed.
Negi immediately changed directions, wondering where the parent's were. Hopefully they were alright. He made a right as the Cat Owl swooped down once again, missing by mere inches. Panic was beginning to set in and Negi took a second to look behind him at where the flying nightmare had gone. This was a mistake.
A rock that definitely wasn't there before caught Negi's foot and he went tumbling onto the ground, rolling with enough control so the chicks weren't crushed beneath him. Two fell out of his shirt, while the third held onto him for dear life. Negi hurried to his feet, a little wobbly after the fall, but righted himself fast when he found himself at the edge of a step cliff. It was the same one he so often enjoyed looking out over, but right now it was more of a hindrance.
Then he saw it, hiding in a bustle of leaves, a slender shape moving from side to side. Two big, yellow eyes pierced through the green, staring hungrily at him and the babies. Cat Owls had been known to try flying off with kids if they were big and/or hungry enough. This one checked both those boxes.
Negi flinched as the parent Lion Hawks suddenly made their presence know, flying in from above and snatching the two chicks that had fallen free, flapping hard and vanishing behind the tree line. That left Negi and the remaining chick alone with the beast.
He could hear it clicking from the darkness and the tiny Lion Hawk chick grew quiet, curling up into his chest. Negi's heart filled with anger. This would not stand and neither of them would be that things dinner. He grabbed a large rock and held it above his head while taking a defensive posture his mother had shown him when they tried to practice earth bending forms.
"Ok, that's it. You want a piece of me? Just try it!" He shouted to the world. There was a moment of silence and Negi could no longer see the Cat Owl hiding through the leaves. His green eyes scanned the forest, but there was nothing there. Another two, then three minutes passed and still nothing.
He was about to lower the rock when…
Scraaaaaaaw!The Cat Owl burst from the tree's in a frightful fury, zooming through the air like a loosed arrow. Negi's eyes widened in terror as he threw the rock, only to watch in horror as it went sailing overhead and the Cat Owl tackled him off the cliff.
Negi screamed as the wind rushed all around him, the world having been turned upside down. The hillside and city were a blur as the only thing he could focus on was clutching the baby Lion Hawk tight as they plummeted towards the ground. Tunnel vision was setting in and Negi couldn't hear or see anything other than the spot they'd land. The spot they'd die.
All of a sudden, a new sound filled his ears. It was a roaring of sorts, but not of any beast or person Negi knew. Time slowed down as the winds whipped into a frenzy, screaming in his ears to do something, do something, do something…
Instinct taking hold, Negi swirled his arms together and thrust them out towards the ground. Everything sped up again and Negi felt a surge of air erupt from his open palms, striking the earth in his place and propelling away from certain death.
It was a surreal moment as Negi floated inches above the ground with a current of wind shooting from his hands and a baby Lion Hawk poking out of his shirt, wondering what was happening. Then, without warning, the airflow stopped, and Negi crashed onto the ground in a crumpled heap.
"Oww," he groaned, picking himself back up and brushing off the dirt. He looked back up at the cliffside he'd just survived falling from. He didn't see the Cat Owl anywhere. Perhaps it decided he wasn't worth the effort after seeing him survive that fall by… by…
Another few seconds passed before what had just happened fully connected in Negi's brain and he couldn't stop himself from breaking out into a massive grin. He did it. He was a bender, an airbender. How that was possible, he hadn't a clue, since the only other airbenders alive were Tenzin and… no that was it.
It didn't matter to Negi though as he continued running around and shouting, having to physically express his excitement in some way. Sure, it may have been a total accident, but hey, he wasn't complaining.
A soft chirp ended his celebratory chanting and Negi pulled back his shirt collar to find the last baby Lion Hawk still clinging to his chest. It popped its head out again and looked him with curious eyes.
"Well, we did it. We showed that dumb bird brain who's boss."
The baby chirped again and Negi sighed. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a breadcrumb. The sight of food made the Lion Hawk chick trill with joy.
Another, louder cry made Negi's heart leap into his throat as he thought the Cat Owl was back for round two. Thankfully that turned out not to be the case. Instead, two Lion Hawks landed on the ground next to them, both eyeing Negi closely. Negi understood and removed their child from his shirt.
"Go on, get," he said soft as he nudged the baby towards its parents. The chick took one last look at Negi before scampering back to its mother and father. The mother immediately snatched her child in her front talons and launched into the air without delay.
The slightly larger Lion Hawk didn't move as quick, meeting Negi's eyes like his child, but unlike the baby, his eyes were sharper and held a clear intelligence. They stared at one another for a full minute until the Lion Hawk nodded in his direction and with a single flap of its mighty wings, flew off into the sky.
When Negi returned to the large, empty manor, he wasted no time trying to airbend. He was so excited to tell his mother, but he was even more excited to do it again. Since throwing himself off another cliff was a no go, he had to figure out another way to make it happen.
He went through his stances, first earth, then water, then fire, but none of those worked. He tried to meditate like he'd seen Tenzin do countless times before, but that just made him sleepy. He even spent ten minutes just breathing in and out as fast as possible, hoping to create some sort of gust. All that last one did was make him light headed.
It was late at night by the time he finally called it quits and that was only because he heard the front door open from his room. Leaving the mess he had created, Negi ran downstairs to find his mother lumbering into the manor. She looked even worse than yesterday, with her hair all frazzled and her uniform covered in mud.
"Mom, mom, mom," Negi yelled, too excited to wait. "You'll never guess what I did today."
"Not now Negi, mommy's tired," was Lin's only words for him as she headed for the kitchen.
"But mom," Negi whined as he followed her, "it's super important."
"Whatever it is, it can wait till after I've gotten something to eat and a shower. I've been running around all night after Triad thugs and now we're getting reports of small masked group running around that knows how to chi block." Her complaints were interrupted by a yawn.
Negi followed her into the kitchen where she grabbed a bowl of oatmeal and a large glass of whisky. "I'm sorry Negu, but I'm going to be staying at the office all week to get a hold on this one. We can talk when I get…"
"I bended today!"
It was a good thing his mother had reached the table because both items fell out of her hands and spilled across the wooden surface, thankfully without any glass shattering. She turned to look at Negi, who wore the largest shit eating grin ever.
"I bended today," he repeated slower. His mom stepped forward and kneeled down to eye level with Negi.
"You're serious? You really earth bended? That's fantastic! Oh I'm so proud of you Negi." All of her worries seemed to melt away as she offered Negi one of her rare smiles that only he was able to bring out.
"Actually I didn't earth bend," he corrected. Lin raised an eyebrow and dawned a frown.
"You didn't? Well, that's ok," she said, though Negi could hear the small amount of disappointment in her voice. "Was it water bending or fire then? Even if I can't teach you myself, I know a lot of other benders who can help you."
"Actually, I airbended," said Negi.
The instant he said it, Negi saw the change on his mother's face. She leaned back further, her raised brow now lowered into a scowl. She then stood up and regained her usual intimidating posture.
"Negi, that isn't funny." Negi watched as all the fatigue and irritation that had vanished from his mother's face came back in full force, stronger even. "I told you that I don't have a lot of time, so why are you wasting my time with these silly games?"
"But mom it's the truth," he argued, not allowing himself to be corralled by a look that had left many grown men shaking. "I did do it. I was watching the Lion Hawks and…"
"Negi, my patience is wearing very thin. I don't want to hear another word about this." Normally that would be the end of the conversation, but Negi was not having any of it.
"No," he yelled firmly, for the first time openly defying his mother. She looked down at him, stunned by his outright refusal before the anger multiplied.
"Negi stop this nonsense right now," His mother commanded, but Negi shrugged her off.
"I did airbend, really. Maybe when we see Tenzin tomorrow he can…"
"You are not going to tell Tenzin anything!" Lin's voice was getting louder now too. "This is not funny and the last thing I'll have you do is embarrass me further. Don't you cause enough problems as it is when you should just do as your told." Negi stepped back, a look of shock stuck on his face.
"That isn't fair!"
"Life isn't fair, but I will not tolerate this kind of insubordination from…"
"From your son?" Negi demanded. "That's what I am, you son, not some soldier or petty officer for you to boss around. You don't even want to listen."
"Young man there is nothing to listen to other than your games which I do not have the time for right now. Now go to your room and we'll talk about this when I get home."
"So what, in another week? Two? You'll be gone so long you won't even remember we argued and just tell me to stop talking about it, like you always do!" Negi was shouting now at the top of his lungs, all those pent up feelings bubbling to the surface whether he wanted them to or not.
"Negi do not speak to me like that or I'll…"
"You'll what? Lock me up? Treat me like a criminal?"
"Negi you're acting like a spoilt brat. Stop this whining and go."
"Why? Because you don't like it when I tell you the truth? You're never home, you're never around. You're always out working and when you are home it's just to tell me how busy you are and promise not to do it again at best or tell me everything I'm doing wrong. Sometimes I think you like being at work more than you like being here with me." Negi's eyes were shut tight, the words just came pouring out.
"Negi, not another word or…"
"Sometimes I wish you never even came home!"
It was quick and loud as skin struck skin, but it made all other noise go mute as Negi's head jerked to the side. A sharp pain now filled his left cheek. His hand immediately went to clutch his now red, stinging face as tears began to well in his eyes.
His mother stared down at him, her grey piercing eyes filled with such anger as her hand went back to her side. She quickly recomposed herself and breathed deep.
"Go to your room and stay there for the rest of the night. We will discuss your behavior when I return home. Am I clear?"
"Yes ma'am. Thank you ma'am." Negi's voice was soft and ridged and he wasted no time dashing from the kitchen, slamming the door to his room when he reached it. It was only then that he allowed the tears to flow as he pushed his face into his pillow. It hurt and not just because his face still stung.
Negi cried himself to sleep that night because no matter how much he tried to stop, there was nothing that could correct what had transpired between mother and son.
The next day Negi didn't leave his room for anything other than using the bathroom. It wasn't until Rosa arrived that evening to take him to Air Temple Island. She wasn't surprised by Lin's absence, but immediately knew that something was wrong when Negi first made his appearance. His usual inquisitive and energetic nature was replaced by what could only be described as a living statue. Try as she might, no amount of jokes or bribery would get Negi to crack. The usually lively boy was dead silent even as they took the local bus to the harbor, where the White Lotus were waiting with a boat to transport the two of them across.
When the ship docked, a couple dressed in orange and yellow robes were waiting to greet them. One was an older man who looked far more aged than he actually was. He was bald and had a long, slightly greying beard. The other was a slender woman with dark brown hair and a warm smile that could melt almost any trouble. Seeing Pema again sadly did nothing to improve Negi's attitude.
The day went by a lot slower, as both Tenzin and Pema noticed their Godson's sudden reclusiveness. He showed little interest in doing anything other than sitting outside and watching the sky bison, barely saying anything other than a few words when prompted. Even at dinner he ate very little and asked to be excused early.
"I just don't know what's wrong," he heard Rosa whisper to Pema and Tenzin from outside his room. After they'd all finished eating, Rosa had informed the master airbender and his wife about his mother's long expected absence and they had wholeheartedly offered to let him stay with him for the week anyway. He was a member of the family after all, no matter what his mother said.
"Don't worry yourself about Negi. We'll see he's taken care of," Pema assured her as Rosa boarded the boat home. The airbending couple, sans Pema, tried to speak with Negi again, but were met with mostly silence before they too, retired for the night.
It was late when Negi heard the noise that awoke him from deep slumber. He sat up, thinking Pema was checking up on him as she usually did, but found the room devoid of life. Then he heard it again, a faint breeze rubbing against his ear, not quite a voice, but something he knew was speaking to him.
Hesitantly, Negi crawled out of bed and stepped out into the halls, still wearing his purple pajamas. He crept quietly through the Air Temple pathways, doing his best not to alert the White Lotus guards or Air bending acolytes that also called this place home, and brushed through the courtyard with ease.
He felt the direction of the winds change once again and this time lead him to a closed door. Negi placed an ear to the thin divider and after confirming this room was empty, slowly slid inside without a sound. It was dark and hard to see, but as Negi approached the far walls, he realized this was a library of sorts. All manner of scrolls and books lined the walls, each detailing some aspect of airbending.
A few held comprehensive diagrams of people in various poses and stances, while others were older records excavated from what must have been hundreds of years ago. A few trinkets littered the shelves, from clay pots and vases, to a pretty neckless with orange carvings etched into it. Negi sat down in the only chair and looked at the paper spread out on the desk.
"Poems by Master Lagi… Laghimama…"
Negi sprang out of the chair upon hearing another deep voice behind him, only to relax when he realized it was Tenzin, holding the candle, now lit and looking down with some mild amusement. "Now what are you doing in my private study Negi?"
"Oh, is that… I'm sorry," Negi apologized, bowing his head to the floor. He flinched when a firm hand rested on his shoulder.
"It's ok, I'm not mad, though a bit surprised. You seemed so down today I was worried you'd just be hold up in your room the entire week."
Negi just kept staring down at the floor. "Would you like to read them?"
"Huh?" Negi asked, finally looking up to meet Tenzin's eyes.
"The poems," he clarified. "Would you like to read them?"
Negi nodded and Tenzin led him back to his seat.
"Ok, let's see here. How about we start with this one," Tenzin pointed out and upon getting another nod, Negi started to read.
"Instinct is a lie, told by a fearful body, hoping to be wrong. Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty and become wind. New growth cannot exist without first destruction of the old." Negi blinked a couple times before glancing up at Tenzin. "What the heck does that mean?"
The older airbender chuckled softly, but Negi wasn't offended. It wasn't a mean laugh.
"Well that's a matter of opinion, as is all poetry, but I believe Laghima is talking about detaching yourself from whatever troubles and failings keep you down and looking beyond the physical to achieve true enlightenment."
"I have no idea what that means," Negi said plainly, making Tenzin laugh a bit harder.
"No, I suppose you wouldn't. Most five year olds don't. What I'm saying is, focus on what gives you strength and don't allow the negatives to hold you down. Some say Laghima achieved such a state long ago, so much so that he became truly weightless to the earth and lived nearly half a decade never once touching the ground."
Negi listened intently, giving his godfather his full attention. It sounded like Tenzin was saying this Laghima could fly.
"I hope I can fly someday," he said absentmindedly. Negi realized he'd spoken allowed and quickly stuttered over his next words, trying to take it back.
"How about we make that day tomorrow and take Ugi out for a flight across the bay?"
"Really?" He'd never gotten to ride a sky bison before. Negi felt a burst of warmth refill the spot where his heart was meant to be.
"Yes really, but only if you go back to bed. Pema will have my head if you don't get your eight hours. Your mother too." Negi didn't let himself react at the mention of his mother, but calmly got up and headed to the door. Before he got there, Negi noticed one more book on the shelf.
"Hey Tenzin, can I read this?" He asked, pointing to the book titled, The Basics of Air by Master Wong. Tenzin glanced at the book quick before saying yes, though he asked why Negi wanted a book on air bending basics.
"Well I already learned a bit about earth, fire, and water bending. Might as well make it a full set."
"Just don't be too disappointed when nothing happens. If you're a bender, I'm sure it will come with time."
Oh you have no idea, Negi thought to himself as he stared at the book. His tiny hands clutched it a bit harder. As he turned to leave, Tenzin called out to him once more.
"Negi, are you sure you're ok?" Negi paused and looked back at Tenzin. Unlike his mother, there was a look of absolute care and concern. A lump formed in Negi's throat, so instead of answering he forced a smile and nodded. This seemed good enough for Tenzin, who bid him a good night. Negi ran back to his room and hid himself beneath the covers, immediately opening up his new book to the first page.
"Chapter One: The Power of Breath…"
There would be no sleep tonight.
And there you have it, my first chapter of The Legend of Negi.
A few things to clear up. First, I love Lin. She's a great character that does get a lot of good development and I can definitely relate to her in a lot of scenes. The idea to have her slap Negi was one I played around with a lot, but after trying a few different takes, this seemed the best option.
To be clear, Lin is not a good parent. She is too emotionally distant and not used to connecting with others, nor was she raised in such a way that would foster those feelings. She tries her best, but often makes the wrong choices when it comes to bonding with Negi. She cares for him, but is not good at showing it.
SHE IS NOT, HOWEVER, ABUSIVE! I can't stress that enough. Her actions here are caused by stress, exhaustion, and anger at a lot of other people, not Negi. She has never and will never again strike her son or act like violence is a tool in the parent kit. She probably feels terrible about it, but as I stated, most problems in the Beifong family are either ignored or cut out, not talked about in an open and honest way. This one act defiantly changes the dynamic between them and won't get resolved for a while, making things worse, but opening up new possibilities for Negi as he matures fast.
I've got a lot of ideas on how Negi will be learning his airbending and original plot threads and OCs that not only expand on the Avatar universe, but also enhance the stories LOK tries to give us regarding Amon, Unalock, Zaheer, and Kuvira.
If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a note as I'm always looking to improve or for new ideas.