Okay so hello everyone. This is my first ATLA fic. I love the show too much not to try and do something for it. This is more of a test story to see if I got the characters in character. So if you read this please do take a few minutes to review and tell me how I did, honestly. If I did well, I want to expand this into an adventure that has been cooking in my head for the past week. Enjoy ^-^
"Welcome to Ba Sing Se, Avatar Aang. Master's Katara, Sokka, Suki and Toph, you as well. There is a table reserved for you with the Earth King and King Bumi of Omashu. My name is Ling Le and I will show you to your table. If you will follow me."
Aang and the others followed the Earth Kingdom man to a table at the far side of the ball room. Nice slow music was being played and half of the party attendees were moving slowly to the rhythm. Green linen was strung up along every wall and tables of stone, bended from the floor, were dotted throughout the place with green tablecloths and assortments of food and drink on them.
All music and dancing halted, however, as the group moved through the room. An eruption of cheers and applause assaulted their ears. Even a week after the war ended, people were still cheering for them. Waving to the crowd like they were told to, they made it to their table, where King Bumi sat waiting for them in his fancy purple get-up. Aang sat to Bumi's right, Katara next to him. Toph chose to sit next to Katara while Sokka sat to Bumi's left with Suki next to him.
"I call for a cheers for the Avatar and his friends for the great deed they have accomplished. Fire Lord Ozai has been brought down and the war has been ended!" Said Bumi loudly, raising a glass of grape goat milk, his favorite drink.
In unison, everyone else raised a glass and, as one, drank in their honor.
"Oh please, no need for all that. We were happy to help." Said Aang bashfully scratching the back of his head.
"Speak for yourself! I for one am enjoying this greatly." Said Sokka, raising his own glass and drinking.
"Sokka, they're drinking to us! You don't drink to yourself! That's self centered!" Scolded Katara in a low voice.
"Well obviously you don't know me." Smirked Sokka. Katara grunted and sat back, crossing her arms, and pouted.
"Cheer up Katara. Remember our little surprise to liven this place up?" He reminded her. Suddenly her eyes lit up.
"Yeah, they should be here any minute actually!" She said excitedly.
"Wait what?" Asked Bumi, confused as to what the kids were talking about.
"We knew this would be a bit too formal of an event for us, rock head." Said Toph, earning a grunt of frustration from the king.
"You do know who you're talking to, don't you?" He demanded.
"Yeah, the king who couldn't even beat a blind, twelve year old girl!" Toph gloated, leaning back in her chair and causing the King Kuei to suppress a laugh and Sokka to outright go into hysterics at the memory.
"It was a draw." Stated Bumi softly, causing everyone except Aang -and Sokka who was already laughing- to chuckle. When had that happened? Katara promised to tell him later and that he needed to go and meet the 'entertainment'.
"Right! They'll be coming in the back way." Said Aang, standing up quickly.
"The palace doesn't have a 'back way'." Said Kuei apprehensively.
"You will in a moment." Said Toph. The sound of earth being brought down drew everyone's attention to the throne room doors. Dust had risen up and begun to disperse. Aang came in and ushered the band off of their playing area. Aang then flattened it and rose it up in a similar way Toph had when they threw the dance party for the Fire Nation kids. Speaking of which...
"Come on guys! Ladies and gentlemen of the Earth Kingdom! I present to you... The Flameos!" He shouted out, drowning out the 'O' in the band's name. The Fire Nation kids ran to the stage with their instruments and took a moment to prepare. When they were ready they looked out at the crowd of both confused and intrigued faces and started to shuffle nervously. Aang just smiled reassuringly and motioned for them to start playing. They obliged and the music began much as it had the first time he'd had them over for a dance party.
As the music moved on, the rest of the kids that had been at the party appeared from the throne room and began to dance, in unison, the Ba Sing Se dance that Aang had showed them. At the center of the ball room, they broke out into free style.
Aang, grinning wide, jumped up using airbending and earthbended a thin, tall pillar to stand on.
"Why don't we liven things up?" He shouted happily. And to his great pleasure, he noticed that some of the earthbenders, even though dressed for formal dancing, began to dance in sharp sporadic moves to to beat of the new music. Soon, everyone was up dancing, even King Bumi.
Aang made sure to dance with as many people as he could. From complete strangers, to some of the Fire Nation kids. He even got Toph to dance with him for a bit. But a dance party wouldn't be complete without Katara.
"Man, I am getting worn out with all this dancing." Moaned Aang good-naturedly. He fell into the seat next to Katara. She and Suki were sitting talking to On Ji about their travels.
"What's the matter oh high and mighty Avatar?" Said Suki mockingly, "Can't handle a few dances?" She grinned showing she was just messing around with him.
"If by few, you mean about a hundred than yeah, I can't handle it." He laughed.
"We were just telling On Ji all about our travels." Said Katara. Aang smiled at On Ji and chuckled slightly when she blushed. Seeing this, Katara moved things along.
"We had just gotten to the dance party actually." She said.
"That's nice." Said Aang nonchalantly. Looking out at the crowd, he suddenly stood up looking frightened. Toph was stomping angrily their way.
"Sorry ladies, this guy's gotta run!" He said, and made to run, but found he couldn't move. Looking down, he saw his feet had been trapped in earth. Toph came right up to him and grabbed him by the collar.
"If you ever leave me out somewhere alone to dance with some random kid who shows an interest in me again, I'll break every bone in your body, Avatar or not, you got that air head?" She demanded. Aang just laughed nervously.
"Yes ma'am. Never again." He said.
Toph grunted and stalked off, releasing her prisoner. Aang fell back into the chair and sighed. But then he began to laugh, causing those around him to laugh as well at the strange scene that had unfolded.
"So, uh, Aang..." Started Katara, "If you weren't all that tired, I was wondering if... maybe you would..." She trailed off, staring out at the dance floor almost longingly before blushing slightly. Grinning and rubbing the back of her head she dismissed the idea, but Aang had already stood up and offered his hand to her.
"No, no it was a silly idea. I can't really dance. And there are so many people here." Stammered Katara, waving her hands in front of her.
"You danced with him back at the cave." Said On Ji.
"Well that was in front of a bunch of kids our age and younger. Here it's those kids and a bunch of adults, not to mention my Dad and the rest of the water tribe warriors watching. I couldn't." She explained with a nervous laugh.
"Hey, it'll be just you and me out there. I'll tell you like I told you last time. Just dance as if we were doing our training together only with a little more finesse." Said Aang supportively.
Katara blushed and smiled up at Aang. His smile never failed to lift her spirits, as well as her confidence. Taking a final look, and subconsciously noting that her father was leaning on a fountain near the dance floor, she accepted Aang's hand and allowed him to pull her up.
Moving through the crowd, Aang found a spot where they could dance. They started exactly like last time. Aang looked over at The Flameos and winked. One of the girls giggled and said something to the rest of the group. The playing stopped, causing the couples to stop and look at the band. They started to play a beat similar to the one they knew back in the cave. It started slowly, getting higher and then lower.
"Just remember, follow my lead. it's only you and me." Reminded Aang softly. Katara blushed and nodded as they circled each other, moving to their lefts. The music suddenly stopped and so did the Aang and Katara. Suddenly the music fluxed up and began a fast tempo.
With the music Aang and Katara began a series of kicks and jabs, all fluid in motion and eventually, as the music slowed to a steady tempo with the occasional few second bump up they began the really fluid movements used for show rather than for attacking with water.
Around the ball room, people watched the pair with interest. Hakoda, who had just finished laughing at something Bato had said, looked over to see what the commotion was and his eyes lit up. Katara was... dancing? She had always been so... bashful? Not outright shy for sure, but bashful seemed to describe her. And after her mother's death, she'd all but lost her old playful nature. It was wonderful to see her doing something like this. He smiled wide and stood up straight to get a better look.
Across the room, Suki and On Ji were joined by Sokka and Toph.
"I can see they're at it again." Said Toph with an amused snort.
"You gotta admit, they dance really well together." Said Suki.
"Yeah, but those are waterbending forms for the most part. I've seen them practicing them before." Said Sokka. Unimpressed by the display, he leaned back in his chair.
"I still can't believe you guys were actually the infamous Team Avatar the whole time." On Ji put in, causing Sokka to sir right up and grin wide.
"You mean the name actually caught on?" He cried excitedly.
"Sort of. It was an unofficial name among your supporters." Laughed On Ji.
"Still counts!" Said Sokka happily, taking up a cup of Punch that Suki had been drinking. Sending him a glare, she spoke to On Ji.
"So some of the Fire Nation had people who supported Aang?" Asked Suki.
"Mhmm. A lot of the kids in the schools disliked the new systems and when we all heard the Avatar would defeat the Fire Lord and end the war, thereby ending the old school system, he gained a lot of support from us!" Explained On Ji, taking a bit of jerky from her plate of food and gnawed in it. Sokka, seeing this, sneakily attempted to grab a piece, only to be smacked away by the Fire Nation girl. He backed off, feigning hurt. This earned a few giggles from Suki and Toph.
Back with Aang and Katara, their dance had only heated up. A circle had formed around them as their moves got more sporadic and spontaneous. But at the same time, they seemed to be in balance. Should on move off to the left, the other would move to their own left to match it. After a back-flip, which Katara matched with a front-slip he moved forward. Aang grabbed Katara's wrist and spun, slowly at first but he steadily picked up speed. Finally he let go, sending Katara in a dazzling spin. The crowd cheered for a moment at the display.
With her Earth Kingdom dress spinning around her, she decided to add her own touch. She had bended some water from one of the fountains nearby and wove it in an intricate pattern around her as she spun. This sent the crowd into hysterics.
Coming to a halt after a moment, the water stood still in midair. Katara pulled her hands together and the water all returned to a single orb. With a push she sent it Aang's way. Catching on, he caught it and sent it right back. Soon they had what looked to be a game of 'catch the water' going. Eventually it evolved into tossing and catching several of them in a two person juggling match.
Finally after bobbing and weaving through a field of floating water, Aang felt the song coming to an end. The tempo slowed way down to an ominous low. Aang prepared for the finale. He cartwheeled toward Katara, who back flipped and kicked out. Aang did a low dodge, his back brushing her foot and, as the tempo flared once more, shot out several balls of fire at the same time at each of the water orbs.
The crowd gasped with fear and delight as the orbs were engulfed and evaporated with a loud hiss as the song ended. Meanwhile, Aang and Katara had essentially fallen back next to each other panting but smiling with mirth nonetheless.
The applause was thunderous as Aang and Katara stood. Katara blushed furiously. Seeking a little solace, she latched onto Aang's arm. At this gesture, Aang also flushed a deep red. People began to move back onto the dance floor, still commenting on the amazing show they had seen.
"See that wasn't so bad." Said Aang, leading the way back to their table.
"Not at all. That firebending ending was quite the finish." Complimented Katara.
"Well that waterbending game thing you thought up was genius!" Aang threw back at her.
They both laughed as they reached the table where their friends were waiting.
"Um, Katara..." Said Aang nervously.
"Yes Aang?" Asked Katara absentmindedly, replaying the dance in he head.
"You can let go now." Aang chuckled, scratching his head. Katara's eyes went wide and quickly withdrew, laughing bashfully.
"Katara! That was amazing!" Boomed a voice. She spun around to see her father and Bato approaching them. She grinned and seemed to retreated into herself at the praise.
"It wasn't my idea." She giggled shyly.
"Yes it was." Said Aang in a sing-song voice. She shot him a look.
"Well Aang did all of the leading. I just followed." She said to her dad.
"I didn't start the waterbending thing." He said with a grin, enjoying making his friend uncomfortable. She mumbled something before her dad caught her up in a hug.
"Your idea or not, it was nice to see you actually having some fun." He said, holding her tight. Katara smiled and melted into the hug. Letting go, he simply gazed at her. He laughed and pulled up a chair.
"Any chance on informing us on what happened after you all left us back in the Fire Nation before the invasion to find Aang?" He asked, "I know it's sudden and not what you want to talk about, but I'm curious. You never had time to before." He explained the seemingly random question. Sokka groaned.
"We were just in the middle of telling On Ji!"
"I don't mind if you start over." Said On Ji sweetly.
"Well then I suppose we should start with finding Aang washed up on that island..." Started Sokka. Aang grinned. He made his way through the crowd again, shaking the occasional hand. Finding a table with salad on it, he smiled happily. Placing some of the food on a plate, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning around, he saw someone with a hood on.
"Can I help you?" Asked Aang.
"No, but that was some nice firebending." Said the familiar voice. Aang's eyes got wide.
"Zuko? What are you doing here?" He asked.
"Shhhh." Zuko shushed him, "I came because my Uncle invited me. He has a tea stand set up in here somewhere. I'm trying to find him without causing a problem. The Fire Lord being here would be sure to cause trouble." He explained. Aang nodded.
"Well I haven't seen Iroh anywhere in the hour or two we've been here. But I haven't been over that way yet. Maybe he's over there." Said Aang, pointing off to one of the far corners of the room.
"Thanks. Oh, here." Zuko handed him a slip of paper, "My uncle is allowing us to stay at his tea shop for the night after the party ends. This is how to find it. See you around." With that, Zuko slipped off to find Iroh.
Aang pocketed the slip and went to find the others. The day was still young and they still had a few good hours of partying to do!
"Well I think you all look perfect!" Exclaimed Toph. Everyone laughed. Aang, who had walked outside, grinned in amusement. The party had ended an hour ago and everyone was just relaxing at Iroh's tea shop The Jasmine Dragon. Aang had stepped outside to watch the sunset. Hearing soft steps behind him, he turned to see Katara walking out, smiling. Leaning back over the wall, he stared out at the sky. Katara joined him.
He looked over at her and she looked at him. As if natural, they melded into a hug. Warm, long and real. Letting go, the two stared into each others eyes.
This was it, Aang thought, he was finally going to tell her. As if she didn't already know. But now he would be telling her for real. He opened his mouth to say something but she just shook her head and, still smiling, moved forward ever so slightly. It was at that moment that two other pairs of footsteps could be heard. Blushing hard, the two turned to see Toph and Sokka making their way over to them.
"Everything is back to normal then, eh." Stated Toph.
"Yep." Said Katara, her face returning to normal. She guessed that her and Aang's moment would have to wait for now.
"Better than normal. Normal these days had been fear and war. Now it's back to balance and peace." Said Aang.
"Yep. Guess it's time to start living rather than preparing to die." Said Sokka. Everyone nodded in agreement and they stood there in a comfortable silence, enjoying their being together. The moment was broken however as Sokka's stomach rumbled. With a nervous sound he laughed and blushed.
"Guess that whole roast duck just didn't cut it for me." He said.
"Oh go and get another. Iroh won't mind, I'm sure." Laughed Aang. Katara just scoffed as Sokka took off back to get another duck to fill his belly.
"Hey guys... I have something to say actually." Said Toph. Aang and Katara looked at her with interest.
"Yeah Toph? What is it?" Encouraged Katara.
"Well I am going to be going home now. Like tonight. The Boulder and The Hippo are going to be heading out and I figured I should probably pay my parents a visit." Said Toph quickly, "And they said they would be going by sunset so that we could get there by morning. So I should be leaving soon..."
"Well Toph, it's really been a pleasure." Said Aang, "I hope you and your parents are cool with each other now." Toph grinned and nodded her head, sharing his sentiment. But then she frowned and bit her bottom lip, as if holding something back.
"Anything wrong Toph?" Asked Katara.
"Well... it's just that... you guys were my first real friends. You are basically my family! And now we gotta go our own ways. I always knew we would have to, but now that the moment's here... I don't think I want to." She confessed with a shaky voice. Katara laid a supportive hand on her shoulder.
"We all feel that way. In fact, my dad wants me and Sokka to go back to our village with him. All of us arriving back home for the first time in so long is something he wants to do." Said Katara.
Aang smiled sadly. Of course he would. Suddenly, Aang's mind reeled back to when he'd first woken up in that iceberg. Seeing Katara's face. Noting that he'd only ever been alone once or twice in the past year, he realized that it would be happening again. He had Avatar stuff to do, Toph would be wanted back in Gaolin, Suki would probably go back to Kyoshi and Katara would go back to the South Pole with her dad and Sokka to live together. He would have no one...
"Toph, you'll be with your parents. And you'll see Boulder and Hippo around. You'll have people there for you." Said Aang, trying to get him mind off of his thoughts.
"That's true..." Said Toph. Suddenly, she lurched forward and hugged Katara tightly, "But they aren't you guys!" She half sobbed.
A stab of pain went through Aang's heart, seeing Toph like this. She had become a great ally in the past and and even greater friend.
"Toph, you are so much more than an ally and a great earthbending teacher to me. After all of this time, you have become one of my greatest friends." Said Aang sincerely. Toph removed herself from Katara, looking over in his direction, tears streaming down here cheeks and a big grin on her face.
"Get in on this, Twinkle toes." She said, offering him one of her arms. He was more than happy to comply, bringing the girls in close to him.
"You too, meat head." Said Toph. Aang laughed at Sokka's expression as he walked out of the tea shop, both in surprise of the group hug and that Toph had found him out so early. He'd been planning to try and sneak in on them. Oh well. Sokka smiled and came into the group. They held together like that for a minute or two, eyes closed, some tears flowing among them, and just glad to be together. Team Avatar.
Breaking apart, Toph wiped her eyes and smiled at them.
"Aang. You need to promise to come and get me in a week. I'll be done with my parents by then and will have made up my mind. Promise?" Asked Toph, suddenly up beat. There was no way she would just return to a life of sitting back and being controlled. She would go with Aang and help him out. That much she was sure of. But it was best to wait... she didn't want her little outburst to end up being for nothing.
"I promise, Sifu Toph." Said Aang, bowing. Toph bowed back and began to walk off. Turning back once more, she gave a wave and ran to the edge, using earthbending to surf a rock down to where her ride was presumably waiting.
"Katara. Dad wanted us to leave as soon as possible too." Said Sokka softly. Katara nodded and turned to Aang.
"After you get Toph, you need to come to the South Pole and get me." Said Katara excitedly.
"What about me?" Cried Sokka.
"Well I figured you would want to stay, Sokka. Be with dad, help the village, ice fish and all that." Said Katara with a sly grin, "Don't tell me that this nomadic life style is starting to grow on you?" She teased.
"So what if it is?" Said Sokka defensively, crossing his arms, "And besides, you'll need a schedule master or else you'll be late and lost all the time!"
"It's a deal then!" Said Aang brightly, "In a week, I'll go and get Toph. I'm sure she won't pass up the chance to continue her work with Team Avatar. Then we'll fly down and get you guys." Then something occurred to him. "There is one problem though, something that just crossed my mind..."
"What's that?" Asked Katara.
"Well, we have me, the Avatar, and we'll have you and Toph, waterbender and earthbender. Then we'll have you Sokka and no one can match your boomerang skills." Explained Aang slowly. At the boomerang compliment, Sokka whipped out his old boomerang and cried a victory cry. He then hugged his old weapon. He'd salvaged it after the battle. He couldn't find his sword but he was glad to have found his boomerang.
"Yes, what's your point Aang?" Asked Katara, giggling at her brother.
"Well we have one of each element. One of each except for fire. And with Zuko being the Fire Lord now, he won't be traveling with us." Said Aang.
"Well technically you don't count as an airbender here, being the Avatar, so we don't have air or fire." Said Sokka matter-o-factually. Katara smacked him hard. Sokka rubbed the spot and muttered something, but Aang just laughed.
"Well that's a special case. And it was my first element anyways so we'll count it. We'll talk about it in a week, if I haven't found someone, but the whole idea is we don't want people thinking that we're biased against the Fire Nation after all they've done to us." Said Aang. The two Water Tribe natives nodded in agreement.
"Well we're gonna go meet up with dad. Stay safe little buddy!" Said Sokka, "See ya in a week!"
"I'll catch up in a minute." Katara called after him. She looked at Aang and grabbed him in a hug.
"This isn't good-bye." She said, holding him tight, sounding as if she were trying to convince herself.
"No it isn't. Me and Toph will be down in a little over a week. Unless something happens to deter us like a storm or something." Said Aang, over-elaborating on purpose.
"Don't say that." Said Katara, smacking him lightly, "You know I'll worry."
They shared a laugh, before returning to silence.
"Okay well... see you in a week." Said Katara.
"Yep. A week." Said Aang, a lump forming in his throat. Man, if this was how they reacted when there would be a week's absence, he didn't want to think of if they ever parted for longer. But they had never been apart for more than a day or two this past year. So maybe this week would feel unnatural or something. Oh well.
Katara was thinking along the same lines. Ever since she'd found that young boy frozen in a glacier, she'd never been away from him for more than a couple of days. Well, he wasn't really a boy. He was a hundred and twelve after all was said and done. Her mind drifted off for a second before returning to the moment. But here they were, on the verge of parting, if only for a week. Acting fast, she pulled him in and planted a kiss on his cheek, much like she'd done several times before.
Blushing, she turned and ran after Sokka, leaving Aang to stand by himself with his thoughts and a blush of his own. A low moan to his left reminded him that he wasn't seriously alone. Appa stood up from his position and got closer. He licked his old friend high in the air, dropping him as he chuckled.
"Yeah I love you too buddy. We'll be seeing our friends again very soon." He added, patting the bison's head. A certain flying lemur scurried up Aang's body, tickling him as Momo made for his head. Finally getting there, he perched and chirped.
"You too Momo." Said Aang, laying his other hand on Momo's head. Tomorrow, he would probably be going to meetings to decide what to do with the Fire Nation and how to keep peace. Collapsing against Appa, Aang watched as the orange of sunset faded to the dark blue of an early night. As the first of the stars came out, he closed his eyes and made a silent wish that the next week would go by fast.