White on white; were it snowing any harder, one might not be able to see them. However, were it snowing any harder, they would not be out riding their sky bison. He hoped they were cold. It did look cold outside, at least from the other side of the pane of glass. His dejected sigh – one of many – added to the tapestry of ice crystals on his bedroom window.

Meelo was 12; 12, and he still did not have his own sky bison. Jinora had been 12 when she had gotten hers, and Ikki got hers the same year, at the age of nine! It was monumentally unfair – or so Meelo thought – that this year he had, once again, been denied a flying bison. They were traditionally the lifelong companion of an airbender, and his own training would be stunted without one. As much as he wanted to continue his training, and go beyond the basics that he had mastered, more than that, he wanted the companionship he knew his sisters currently enjoyed. He was rarely allowed in the city, and the only people on the island around his age were his sisters, who were not all that much fun by the bald boy's standards. Even pulling pranks on the rest of the residents of Air Temple Island got old, after a while.

However, today was a rather conspicuous occasion. It was the Winter Solstice, the longest day of the year, and consequently, one of the days that the spirit world and the material world overlapped. It was an idea he had been toying with for many months, but he could not do it alone. "That's it," he decided. "I'll ask her."

He padded quietly down the halls to the women's dormitory, deep in thought. Passing air acolytes offered him questioning looks as they went about their work, perturbed by his unusual behaviour, though he hardly noticed. His destination was Korra's room, where she happened to be staying during this visit. Now a fully realized Avatar, Korra rarely spent time at the island, but did occasionally make it back for visits. The room she had stayed in during her airbending training was always kept up, in case of a visit like this.

Meelo hardly seemed to have left his room before he was in front of Korra's door, glowing warmly from the light within. Good, she was awake. He knocked lightly before pulling aside the screen.

"Hey, it's the master fartbender himself!" greeted Korra, exuberant as always. She hopped off the bed and grabbed the younger boy around the neck, rubbing his bald head with her knuckles affectionately. "Y'know, I was just thinking of stopping over at your room and asking for some fartbending tips: I love Pema's cooking, don't get me wrong, but it's making me a bit gassy and-" Korra stopped short, realizing that the energetic, mischievous airbender was not even trying to escape her hold. Releasing him, the Avatar closed the screen, guided the boy over to her bed, and sat him down. "What's got the Magnificent Meelo so low?" she inquired, her crooked smile kind.

"I – I want to talk to Grandpa Aang," the boy confided in her.

Korra sat up a bit straighter at this revelation, shocked. It was the last thing she had expected to hear from Meelo, and certainly didn't explain his long face. "Well, it is the Winter Solstice, that shouldn't be too hard – but that's still not telling me what's got you so upset."

Meelo looked at his hands for a moment, considering how to explain his situation. He was sure she would not sympathize, being so much older and wiser, but he knew she would not make fun of him, either. He looked up, his grey eyes meeting her blue, and told her about his flying bison predicament. He explained that his father had told him he was not responsible enough for one yet, but that he could not figure out what would make him responsible enough. Korra nodded at his explanation, understanding dawning on her features. To the young airbender, if anybody would know how to prove responsibility to Tenzin, it would be his own father. Korra thought to herself that a few live individuals that Meelo knew could also be of help, but she could not bring herself to deny the boy this small comfort that she could provide.

Korra nodded at the boy, a small smile tugging at her lips. She leaned forward to whisper in his ear conspiratorially, "Meet me at the stables shortly before midnight. That'll be the best time, and then we're guaranteed a bit of privacy." Meelo's excited agreement and thanks as he rushed to his own room to wait the next few hours out warmed her heart. If nothing else was accomplished, she knew the meeting of grandfather and grandson would be appreciated by both parties.

With the approach of midnight, Meelo watched his breath mist in the air, waiting impatiently for Korra. If she took too long, he would miss his chance to talk to Grandpa Aang! He took up pacing to pass the time, though quiet enough to keep from disturbing the sleeping sky bison. Fortunately, moments later a dark figure ghosted through the entrance, and an errant moonbeam revealed the figure to be Korra. She gestured him over to a cozy-looking spot on the ground to sit, and asked him to assume a meditative position. While neither the airbender nor the waterbender had been particularly adept at meditation when they met, time had granted them both patience and skill.

It seemed to be both a short and long period of time before Meelo heard a masculine voice call his name. Meelo felt his eyes draw open, and his gaze fell upon a man who looked identical to the one in the pictures by Gran Gran. The boy's eyes widened in disbelief - he may have been raised to be spiritual, but that did not make meeting a spirit any less surreal.

"Grandpa Aang – is that really you?" he asked, lacking the presence of mind to even feel embarrassed by asking such a silly question.

Aang checked himself over in amusement, and replied, "Well, it looks like everything's there. I'm just a visual manifestation of my spirit and not actually here, but you are talking to me, Meelo. And what a fine boy you've grown into!" Aang smiled at his grandson. He kept track of his family, but he had never been able to directly interact with any of his grandchildren. The former Avatar was grateful for this opportunity, although he feared the reason for his grandson seeking him out might not be just familial. "What brings you to see me, grandson?" Aang inquired. "No, wait, I think I know: you've come to learn one of the final airbending tricks! Tenzin's holding out on you, isn't he?"

Confused, the boy asked what the airbending trick was.

With a mischievous grin on his face, the former Avatar proceeded to explain: "It's known as the marble trick. Now, I can't show it to you, but I can explain the theory behind it –"

"Wait, grandpa! It's okay, I know the marble trick," Meelo laughed. "Dad did actually teach it to us."

"Oh. Well, that's good then. And here I thought my son was lacking in humour. What does bring you to me, grandson?"

Never one to hesitate, Meelo cut right to the chase: "What did you do to get your sky bison, Grandpa Aang?"

Aang's smile faded, and he blinked in shock. That was certainly the last question he'd expected from his grandson. "Well…" he began, "I got Appa when I was six, but I don't recall doing anything particular. All of the boys at the temple got their flying bison at the same time, when the litters were old enough." He stroked his beard, deep in thought. "It's a regular part of an airbender's training – Tenzin knows that. Perhaps there just weren't any of the right age when you were ready?" Aang asked.

"But see, that's the thing, Grandpa!" Meelo interjected. "Jinora and Ikki got theirs a few years ago, and now I'm the same age as Jinora and there are some little sky bison but dad says I'm not ready!"

"Have you thought about why your father believes you're not ready, Meelo?" Aang asked his grandson gravely, having by now assumed a more serious tone.

"I – I – well," started the boy, looking slightly abashed, "I do sometimes play pranks on the air acolytes and my family. But I've been doing really good with my airbending training!"

Aang tried and failed to stifle a chuckle as his grandson explained his situation. He knew the issue exactly – his own son, Tenzin, would believe Meelo too irresponsible for his own sky bison. While that was likely true, Aang himself had never been the most responsible of monks, and had pulled a prank or two in his childhood. Meelo took after his grandfather more than he knew.

"I think I know what your problem is, Meelo," Aang informed his grandson, a twinkle in his eye. "Your father says you can't handle the responsibility of looking after a flying bison – am I right?"

The bald young airbender gaped open-mouthed at the spirit of his grandfather – he had not even finished explaining his situation! "How did you know?"

"I know your father; after all, I helped raise him. Tenzin has always been very… serious, and I can see that you truly embody the free-spiritedness of an airbender. Tell you what: I have an idea for you."

At this, Meelo perked up considerably. "I'll do anything!" he eagerly informed the spirit. Finally, finally a way to get his very own sky bison. His very own friend.

"You're sure?" The boy's eager nod confirmed his agreement. "Alright then, Meelo. I want you to pick a sky bison, and start taking care of it."

Stunned silence greeted the apparition. "You – you want me to openly defy my father?"

"Well it sounds awful when you put it that way, boy! Yes. I want you to prove to Tenzin that you are, in fact, quite capable of, and ready to, care for a flying bison. Keep it quiet, at first; Tenzin will find out, but by the time he does, you two will have become closely bonded, and he won't dare break that bond without good reason. I know it seems wrong, but sometimes, it is better to ask forgiveness than permission."

Meelo nodded. He understood what his grandfather was getting at, and while the thought had not occurred to him, it suited his personality quite well. "Thank you, Grandpa Aang!" he exclaimed, lunging over to hug the spirit, a wide grin splitting his face. He only succeeded in hugging Korra's body, but at least the sentiment was understood.

Aang smiled sadly at his grandson. He wished he could have been a part of his grandchildrens' lives, but he had lived long and done much. It was Korra's time, now. "I need to go now, Meelo. Thank Korra, and I wish you the best of luck," he said by way of goodbye, as his spirit faded out of vision.

Meelo waved sadly, in contrast with the excitement growing within him. As Aang disappeared, Korra opened her eyes. The two crept out of the stables to go back to sleep, Meelo intending to begin Operation Sky Bison in the morning. As the two padded away, a young female bison watched them go, a soft rumble escaping her lips.

Time passed. Meelo fell in love with a playful female sky bison, whom he named Suki after the Kyoshi warrior who accompanied his grandparents and great uncle in their travels. Their time together was snatched at odd intervals, when he could spare the time with not a soul knowing. He continued to excel at his airbending training, and the entire island noted the decrease in his pranks. They also noted the aura of happiness following him wherever he went, and wondered.

Eventually, Tenzin discovered what his son had done, and was initially furious. While he could not break this bond, especially a month after it had been formed and strengthened, Meelo was loaded down with chores as punishment. Meelo's punishment could hardly weigh down his spirits, and he could finally be open with his and Suki's companionship. Tenzin eventually forgave him, although secretly he had not much minded in the first place. He had seen the change in his son, and approved. Clearly being given such responsibility had matured him greatly, but he could not be seen to reward Meelo for disobeying him. And life continued on Air Temple Island, with a particular airbender happier and less mischievous for it.