a/n: waaah! I'M SOOO SORRY! ! ! ! Dx i've been schlepped with mountains of semester projects and online classes so i have absolutely NO TIME for my poor babies!

alice: not to mention her grandma going into the hospital

me: shhh! but yes... anyways, enjoy the chapter please. i dunno when i might be able to update again. again: I'M SUPER SORRY! Dx


I followed Neytiri and Jake up the stairs they were standing next to. Once there and in a room full of hides, Neytiri put Jake in a loin cloth (after my laughter at his expression. Talk about priceless!) and told him to wait down the stairs. She then turned to me and gave me a skeptical look.

"What is it?" I asked but Neytiri held up a hand.

"You are of higher spiritual rank, seeing as the spirit guides you," She motioned to the spirit hanging out on my shoulder again, "So you need to wear proper clothing. No proper woman of higher spiritual rank must walk around being scantily clad."

I watched with an arched eyebrow as she rummaged through a large pile of hides and brightly colored fabrics. After a moment or two, I heard something similiar to an 'A-ha!' and watched Neytiri bring forth a light flourescent purple leaf skirt that wrapped around my waist nearly twice, a soft baby blue piece of fabric that fit around my bust like a second skin and cut off just above my belly, red beads that draped around my neck that brought a bright 'pop' to my cool-colored attire, and leather straps that wrapped tightly around my waist to keep the skirt in place.

"Thank you," I said softly, smiling at her, "It's beautiful."

"It highlights your own beauty," She smiled as well and I couldn't help but blush.

"I'm not that pretty. You, however, are very beautiful," I said and laughed when she did a double take.

"Me? No, I'm not pretty at all. Many do not give me even a glance," She said softly and looked down as we walked towards the stairwell.

"It looks like Jake took a liking to you. And I bet there's a lot of guys here that would love to be with you."

"Really?" She looked at me.

"Really," I smiled and nodded. She returned it and looked down as we stepped down the stairwell. She didn't seem so cold and docile when it was just her alone but when we stepped down and she saw Jake, Neytiri straightened and her nose went into the air.

"Come, you two. Everyone is awaiting you," She walked straight past him and he gave me a shrug. Giggling lightly, I followed the two into a large cavern with a bright fire in the middle of rings and rings of Na'vi crouching, eating their dinner. There was a woman singing and they all were chatting quietly until we walked in. Many of them glared at us, for the exception of the Tsa'hik and (to my surprise) Hilswan, and Jake laughed nervously.

"No, no. Don't get up for us," He said, trying to break the tension. A few just sneered and others sent him steely stares. Jake laughed nervously again and walked behind Neytiri, very clumsily at that. He stepped on more than a few tails (more like 8 or 9) and I managed to salvage everyone but 3. They swiped out their tails in an attempt to trip me but I just ended up stepping on them (not purposely, though). Neytiri sat me and Jake next to another and I felt something tap on my shoulder. Looking to my right, I smiled when I saw Hilswan sitting there. He returned it with a small head bow and looked back towards the fire. I followed his gaze and watched as everyone returned to their quiet murmuring and the Na'vi woman began her singing once again. Neytiri brought me and Jake a piece of meat apiece and we ate quietly. Once we were finished, she began to lead us towards, what I assumed to be, where we would be sleeping when I felt a light touch on my shoulder. Turning, I smiled once more when I saw Hilswan there.

"Hilswan, I see you," I smiled and bowed my head.

"I see you, Sophie," He said in return. He then looked over my shoulder at Neytiri, who was standing there impatiently, "If you don't mind, I would like to show Sophie around."

"I don't care. Just have her in a pod soon," She waved her hand dismissively and turned, Jake following her like a puppy. Hilswan grabbed my elbow lightly and gently began to pull me. Laughing softly, I gave into his pulling and followed him. We wove through throngs of Na'vi as he showed me several levels of 'Home Tree', as he called it. He showed me the rooms where clothing was made, where food was prepared, where the children were taken care of when their parents were away. A lot of the rooms reminded me of things I had back home when I was a child.

"And this is my favorite room," He got a gleam in his eye and led me into a vast room, a dim fire barely illuminating it. There were several older Na'vi women sitting around the fire, each had something in their hands: a few were weaving baskets, a couple were making dolls for the little children, and one was painting on a long piece of parchment. It reached one end of the room and rolled out another opening. They all looked up when Hilswan walked in and suddenly I felt shy, hiding behind him and peeking over his shoulder.. I heard many "I see you"'s and the woman painting on the scroll looked at me.

"Hilswan, who is the lovely with the beautiful eyes behind you?" She asked, smiling broadly at me. Hilswan moved to the side and pressed a hand to the small of my back, pushing me forward. Chuckling sheepishly, I moved a few strands of my hair behind my ear and looked down shyly.

"My name is Sophie. I see you," I bowed my head and the woman laughed boisterously.

"Well, Sophie! C'mere and let us get a good look at you! We're old women and cannot see very well," She gave a wide gesture and the women sitting around her nodded, all smiling kindly. Gathering a shred of confidence, I stepped closer to the half circle and into the light of the fire. A few of them nodded with kind smiles and the woman who had spoke before stood up, shakily, but she got to her feet. She then gestured with her hand for me to come closer, "Here, girl. I'd like to get a good look at you."

"Yes, ma'am," I said, stepping in front of her. She gave me a 'really?' look.

"Ma'am? I am no ma'am! My name is Mu'ama! Not ma'am!"

"It's close, though," A woman beside her said with a smile and the half circle laughed. Even Hilswan chuckled a little.

"Hush, Jianu," The woman, Mu'ama, reached out and ran her fingers through my loose hair, "We'll have to braid this tomorrow."

"Agreed," Jianu said, standing as well. Both women were the same height and shared many of the same characteristics: Thin mouths, long noses, wide and wise eyes. They bore brightly colored wraps and their braids were bundled together and bound with a leather strap.

"Are you two sisters?" I asked, looking at the two of them. Both smiled and nodded.

"Twins," They both replied.

"Very rare," Jianu said.

"Very rare, indeed," Mu'ama agreed. The two both now played with my hair, twisting it this way and that, "Such beautiful hair."

"Should be very fun to braid!" Jianu giggled lightly. More of the women got up and they all began to play with my hair, "Oh, Mu'ama, can't we braid it tonight?"

"Yeah, Mu'ama! Please?" I heard more women ask. Looking at the woman in front of me, I saw her sigh and look at the rest of the women.

"Not tonight, I'm afraid. We can play and bundle her hair tomorrow. I'm sure she's tired."

"Thank you," I said. The women all groaned but returned to their seats. Only Mu'ama and Jianu stood.

"Come back to us in the morning. We'll do your hair," Jianu smiled.

"I am not sure if I can do that."

"Oh? And why is that?" Mu'ama asked.

"I am supposed to train with Neytiri tomorrow. I don't know how long that will take."

"Oh... In that case... just come see us after. Maybe after dinner will work?" Jianu shrugged and the women all gave their sounds of approval.

"That's perfect," I smiled and nodded.

"Well, have a good sleep, Sophie," Jianu smiled.

"Thank you. You all have a good sleep as well!" I said while turning to Hilswan. He held out his hand and I took it gently. He led me out of the room and up a random stairwell I had never seen before (well... it wasn't there a second ago!). I realized I was still holding Hilswan's hand and slipped mine from his grip. I saw his ears turn slightly purple and I figured that he was blushing, just as I was. We eventually walked up to a section of the tree that had no flooring but we used the large branches of the Home Tree instead. Below the branches hung long shaped pods, transparent and very flimsy looking. Hilswan easily swung into one and I followed suit, clumsily however. Stretching out on the thin material, I looked over at Hilswan, who looked more than comfortable in the hammock-like structure, "So... Who were those women?"

"Those women are the wise women of the People. Whenever you have a problem, you go to them. Some are psychic, others can read your aura and whatnot, but the last two, Mu'ama and Jianu, are the ones who are rumoured to be direct links to Ewya-"

"But I thought that was the Tsa'hik?" I interrupted.

"In a way. The Tsa'hik interpret's the will of Ewya. These two are the one's that can directly talk to her. They are known as a rare 'race'."

"Rare race?"

"Yeah. They're not from here. They were abandoned when little, our Olo'eyktan's father found them and took them in. They were only 9 seasons but they seemed to remember a lot about where they came from however they remembered little of their family. Come now, sleep," Hilswan yawned, "This is quite comfortable once you get used to it. The pod is much better than the dirt and it keeps us up and away from predators. Just relax and it will keep you warm and comfortable."

"Okay. And I won't let go of that topic. I want to know more about Mu'ama and Jianu. Have a good night's sleep, Hilswan."

"As you, Sophie. You will need it, for we start early and Neytiri enjoys working you to exhaustion."

"Joy," I rolled my eyes and Hilswan laughed. I let the spirit that had been hanging out on my shoulder lie down next to my head and I smiled. Watching Hilswan touch the top of his open hammock and seeing the top close, I did the same. The material formed around me and it created warmth like a blanket. Hearing nothing but the sounds of the forests, I finally allowed my eyes to close. Behind my eyelids, I saw the swirling vortex of colors that appeared to me when I travel to and from my Avatar body. Then I saw nothing but black.

"Sophie? Sophie, c'mon back to us! Please!" I heard someone's voice calling to me. My vision was very blurry and there was a bright light. I blinked a time or two before my vision finally cleared enough for me to see Grace's flaming red hair staring back at me before I was crushed in a vice grip hug.

"Grace... too tight... can't... breathe!" I gasped out before she let me fall back into the jelly of the pod. She heaved a heavy sigh and smacked me upside the head, "Ow! What the hell was that for? !"

"For scaring the shit outta me! Don't do that!"

"I'm sorry!"

"Jake already came out of his comatose state but when you stayed in it, it worried me. I was afraid..."

"Don't be, Gracie. I was fine. Hilswan just wanted to show me around," I groaned lightly as I pulled my stiff body up from the jelly.

"Who's Hilswan?" Grace asked, an eyebrow raised and a glint in her eye. I shoved her lightly and she laughed, holding out a hand. I graciously took it and allowed her to help me to my feet just as I got tackled in another massive hug.

"Dear Lord! Will you people let me breathe? !" I wheezed against Norm's shoulder and he released me, holding a sheepish expression.

"Heh, sorry Smiles. I was worried, y'know?"

"I guess so."

"C'mon, I bet you're hungry," Grace smiled and waved a hand for me. Shrugging, I began to walk after her into the Mess Hall, my head swimming a bit. I wasn't exactly looking forward to food, loud voices, or talking at all. I just wanted to sleep.

"Hey, Smiles, you okay?" I heard Norm ask and I glanced up with a shaky smile.

"Yeah, just... tired," I said softly. Norm nodded cautiously and we walked into the Mess Hall. Sitting down with half a tray of food, I picked at some chicken looking stuff before I heard my name being called.

"Hey, Sophie, why were out longer than me?" I looked at Jake with a shrug.

"Hilswan showed me around. That's all."

"Hilswan?" Norm nudged me with a smirk and I rolled my eyes with a smile.

"Yes, Norm, Hilswan. He's just a friendly Na'vi who helped me get a bearing on Home Tree."

"So you're in the Home Tree as well? The Avatar's safe?" Grace interfered.

"Yep, Gracie, she is. Apparently I have a new little friend, too."

"I saw that," Jake pointed out, "Why was one of those dandelion puff seed things hanging out on your shoulder?"

"You had a seed of the Sacred Tree follow you?" Grace asked, her eyes wide as I nodded, "Ewya has something in store for you."

"I know. What, I don't know," I shrugged, yawning. Grace laughed with a nod.

"Norm, take her upstairs. I bet she's tired. Jake, you need rest, too. Na'vi life starts early," Grace stood up as Norm did, holding out a hand for me.

"Great," I groaned sleepily, "Just what I need. Waking up early again."

They all laughed while Norm led me out of the Mess Hall and to our Dorm. I didn't even bother changing or taking a shower.

I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Grace had woken me and Jake up extra early so we could be fully awake for the tribe. I was still griping even though it had been an hour ago.

"Oh shut up and tell me who this is," Grace said with a smile, holding out a holographic handheld in front of me and Jake. We had already gone through several of the Na'vi and I had pointed out Hilswan to Grace. Apparently he was a archer prodigy, being able to hit a bullseye from 50 meters by the age of 8 seasons. I had my doubts about it, mainly since Hilswan seemed gentle and couldn't harm a fly (or whatever tiny insects going flying about here. I know about plants, not insects!). That and that seemed awfully young for someone to shoot an arrow that far. But I guess things on Pandora are a bit different.

"Mo'at, Dragon Lady," Jake said, rolling up to his pod.

"She's the Tsa'hik," I inputted quietly.

"What's the difference between her and Eytukan?" Jake asked, hopping up into the jelly of the pod.

"Eytukan is the leader of the clan whereas Mo'at's the spiritual. She's a link to Ewya," I said simply.

"Who's Ewya?"

"Who's Ewya?" Norm asked, incredulous, "Only their deity! Their goddess! The very thing that makes up all living things on Pandora! You'd know this if you had any training.."

Geez, jealous much?

"Next," Grace shook her head and changed the screen. Jake grabbed it and gave it an odd look.

"Tsu'tey," I said quietly.

"Right, Tsu'tey," Grace nodded, "He'll be the next Olo'eyktan. Next."

The screen changed and I saw Jake's eyes light up slightly, "Neytiri."

"Correct. She'll be the next Tsa'hik. The two will become a mated pair."

"So... Who's got a date with the leader's daughter?" Jake joked and I rolled my eyes while Grace and Norm voiced their complaints.

"Gracie just said they're a mated pair. Which means: Hands off!" I said, pushing Jake down and closing the lid on his laughter. I turned to Grace with a smile, "I'll take 13."

"Alrighty. Good luck," Grace smiled back with a nod as I climbed into the softness of the pod. Closing the lid, I closed my eyes and saw the swirling vortex of colors flash behind my lids as I felt my mind being tugged hard from my human body and slammed into my Avatar.

I really need to work on my landings.

"Sophie. C'mon and wake up. Neytiri's looking for you!" I felt someone shaking my shoulder and my eyes flew open, focusing on the face before me.

"Huh? Oh, sorry, Hilswan," I smiled sheepishly and sat up.

"Don't worry about it, but I think I'd hassle if I were you. Neytiri's a bit impatient," Hilswan chuckled and held out a hand (which I graciously took). He helped me to my feet and onto the branch, following me when I began to walk through the branches slowly, "She's on the base level near the entrance of Home Tree."

"Thank you," I looked over my shoulder with a smile. Hilswan nodded with his own small smile and stopped at the top of the stairs.

"I have some things I need to do today so go on without me."

"Okay," I nodded and walked down the stairs. Sure enough as soon as I got down, I saw Neytiri at one of the openings of Home Tree with her arms crossed and a foot tapping. I walked up to her with a sheepish smile, "I see you, Neytiri."

"I see you," She replied, not really putting much emotion behind it. We waited an uncomfortable minute until Jake stumbled up.

"Sorry, I overslept," He laughed nervously and Neytiri just turned with a huff. Jake looked at me with an arched eyebrow and I just shrugged.

"Dunno. I don't think she likes us being late."

"You think?"

"I do. You don't."

"Shut up."

"No, you!"

"No, you!"

"Children!" Neytiri turned sharply to us. Both me and Jake closed our mouths and looked at her menacing form. With a slight growl, Neytiri stalked up to the two of us, glaring at us both, "You two will behave whether you like it or not. I have better things to do than teach two bumbling Sky People how to live like us. Don't waste my time!"

"Yes, ma'am!" Jake retorted stupidly, saluting her. Rolling my eyes, I just gave her a nod. With a slight sneer, she turned on her heel and stalked forward. Me and Jake decided to keep quiet, nearly feeling the anger she held rolling off her back. We followed Neytiri for about 5 minutes, picking our way through the thick underbrush of Pandora, and stumbled into a wide field. There were several direhorses wandering the field, eating out of orchid-like flowers like a hummingbird. I'd have to look at those later.

"These are direhorses," Neytiri said to us and I turned my attention to her. She had a rope in her hand that was attached to a direhorse. Jake looked up at it with a wide look. I just blinked a few times, startled at how much larger it looked up close, "You two will learn how to ride these."

"They're just like horses," I said softly and Neytiri gave me an odd look.

"No, no, no," Neytiri said, "Direhorses."

"A horse, no 'dire' before it, is an animal from me and Jake's planet. They're much smaller than these, though," I smiled, laying a hand on the direhorse's shoulder. The muscles tensed beneath my hand and I had a feeling that I shouldn't piss off this animal no more than should I piss off a Thanator. This thing has some power backing it! Neytiri nodded, not looking like she really cared, and turned to Jake.

"You first. Up."

"Uh.. Okay," Jake said, unsure of himself. He walked up to the direhorse, placing his hands along it's back and patting it, "Easy boy."

"Malee is female," Neytiri simply said.

"Sorry. Easy, girl," Jake grunted before he hauled himself onto Malee's back. The direhorse shifted, adjusting to the sudden weight change with a soft snort. Neytiri gave him a curt nod and grabbed Malee's queue, brushing it towards Jake. Jake breathed in a deep breath and grabbed his own queue, allowing the tiny tentacles to connect between the two. The direhorse snorted and shuffled her multiple feet.

"You feel that? That's tsaheylu, the bond," Neytiri explained to Jake, placing a hand on Malee's shoulder. Jake nodded, closing his eyes, "Feel the way she breathes, the power in her legs, her strong heart. Do you feel it?"

"Yeah," Jake said, opening his eyes and looking at Neytiri with a nod.

"Good. When you become more skilled, you can tell them to go with your mind. For now, tell her aloud," Neytiri said, backing away from Malee and motioning for him to go.

"Alright, uh... f-forward," Jake motioned with his arm. He was jerked back when Malee suddenly charged forward. He made it a total of 4 direhorse steps before completely falling off Malee and into the mud. Both me and Neytiri burst out laughing and jogging up to the man in the mud. Just as I was helping Jake up, I heard the sound of several direhorses trotting up. Glancing up, I saw Tsu'tey, Hilswan, and another warrior ride up.

"You are wasting your time, alien," Tsu'tey said in a heavily accented English. Honestly, it surprised me that he knew any, "You should leave."

"Nah, you'd miss me too much," I really doubt that, Jake, "I knew you could speak English."

"He can never learn to see. A rock See's more than him!" Tsu'tey laughed and I rolled my eyes with a smile.

"Can't disagree with you on that," I muttered and turned to Jake. I heard someone snort a laugh and figured it was Hilswan. Neytiri smiled as well and swatted the direhorse Tsu'tey was on, saying 'Go' at the same time she turned to Jake. Nodding to the direhorse Jake just fell off of, she looked at me.

"Your turn."

"Joy," I said, walking up to the direhorse and hopping up easily. I brought my queue around and took a deep breath before connecting mine to Malee's. What happened was not something I expected. I was suddenly seeing through Malee's eyes. All the colors of the forest around blurred together in a technicolor blob. Her heartbeat loud in my sensitive ears and the shuffling of her legs were like that of my own. I could barely hear Neytiri as my senses were overloaded by the suddeness of new senses. I heard 'go' and 'speak' and I looked forward with my eyes of the Avatar and said, "Walk."

Malee snorted and walked forward at a leisurely pace. After a few moments of walking, I got up the courage to get her to trot. I guess a direhorse's trot is a lot rockier than a Earth's horse because I ended up bouncing off the direhorse and into the dirt. Hearing Jake laugh, I groaned and rolled to my side with a smile.

"Guess I got a little cocky, huh?" I smiled up at Jake and he nodded at me, holding out a hand for me to take. Grasping it, Jake help pull me to my feet and we both looked over at Neytiri, who caught Malee.


a/n: well, it doesn't have much to it but i promise it'll get better!

alice: when time and school permits it.

me: yeah :/

What do you guys want to see happen next?