Set after episode, the Firebending Masters. It was dinner time after Zuko and Aang arrived back from the Sun Warriors’ community. Aang, Sokka, Katara, Toph, Haru, the Duke & Teo wait for the arri...
Summary: Set after episode, the Firebending Masters. There are many secrets that mortals in the past have long forgotten. Ever wondered how the War started? How the mortals in the Avatar world learned to bend the elements from the help of the Gods themselves? And how did the mortals then defended evil that wanted to take over the world? What happened to Aang’s friends before the War, after he disappeared? How is Zuko related to Avatar Ruko and Kuzon? Is Ursa still alive or she is dead? How did Iroh became a member of the Order of the White Lotus? What really happened to Iroh’s son Lu Ten? What really became the airbenders 100 years before? Ever wondered what became the other characters in the story after we never see them again?
What secrets would be discovered? And what is the cost to know them?
The next day was a cool morning. Everyone went to bed earlier then usual the day before. Katara walked down the dark halls as she approached Aang’s bedchambers. She knocked on the door, receiving no answer. At first she didn’t thought anything could be wrong. Maybe he’s sleeping? she thought as she knocked again, but louder this time. Still no answer.
She slowly opened the door and gasped at what she saw.
Aang wasn’t there! The bed wasn’t made, telling her that Aang had slept in it. But where was he now?
She ran out of the bedchamber and into Zuko’s. She jumped, her fear growing. Zuko, too, was gone.
Quickly she ran into Sokka’s room, where she found him sprawled on his bed, his mouth open and snoring away. She ran next to the bed, shaking her brother.
“Sokka! Sokka, get up! Aang’s gone!” she yelled into his ear. Sokka opened his eyes slightly, moaning.
“Katara, let me sleep!” he whined at her, flopping himself back under the covers. Katara hissed, grabbing the covers off her brother. “Katara!” Sokka yelped, as the cold air touched his warm bare skin.
“Didn’t you hear me?” Katara snapped at him. “Aang’s gone! Zuko betrayed us!”
Sokka shook his head, grabbing the covers from his sister’s hand. “Chill out, Katara. Didn’t Zuko say last night, that he and Aang were going to do some firebending at the crack of dawn?”
Katara bite her lip. “Yes, but--”
“And is it morning?” Sokka asked.
“Then they are outside, doing their firebending,” Sokka snapped, covering himself back to try to go back to sleep. “Now go away and let me sleep!”
“Fine! If Zuko did betray us, then I’m blaming you!”
“Fine! Now get out of my room!”
“Fine!” Katara screamed, shutting the door with a loud slam. “Argh! Sometimes I hate my brother,” Katara muttered to herself. She looked up and saw Haru standing in front of her.
“Ah, are you okay, Katara?” he asked.
“Yes- I mean no! I can’t find Aang or Zuko.”
“Oh, they’re over there, doing firebending moves or something,” Haru said pointing at a cliff behind him. “I watched just a minute ago. I don’t like to admit it, but that Zuko guy’s pretty good at teaching Aang, for a firebender. I think they’re meditating right now. Anyway, I‘m going to wake up the others for breakfast.”
Katara nodded. “Okay. Tell them breakfast will be done in ten minutes,” she called towards him, watching after Haru as he walked down the hall.
“Okay!” Haru called back, disappearing from view as he turned a corner.
Katara sighed again. Why did she think so low of Zuko? She had to find out if Aang was alright. She walked outside of the temple, heading where Haru said they were.
Zuko and Aang sat cross-legged in front of each other. They both were meditating, or, in Aang’s case, trying to. Many would think meditating would come easy to Aang, as being an Airbender they meditae also, just like firebenders. However, both nations’ forms of meditation were highly different.
In Airbending, meditating was to calm the mind and body to become one with the wind and air. In Firebending, meditating was also to calm the mind and body, but for different reasons: to calm the fire within themselves, to take energy from the sun and to control their breathing. According to what Zuko said, meditating would take either minutes or hours, depending on the firebender. To harness fire, one had to control and harness one’s emotions, which was why most firebenders seemed overly emotional to other nations.
Aang bit his tongue for the hundredth time. It seemed like he had been sitting here for hours,. “This is boring,” he muttered out loud.
Not opening his eyes, Zuko replied, “You are thinking too hard, Avatar. Sink into your emotions, and let the energy of the sun flow through you.”
“I’m trying, but it doesn’t seemed to work!” Aang said, shutting his eyes in frustration. After a few attempts, Aang gave up. He slowly uncrossed his legs and laid on his back. “Tell me again why I’m doing this?”
Zuko then opened his eyes. “Meditating to balance and calm your emotions and body is the key to firebending. A calm, balanced mind and body controls the fire. The fire must be controlled, or the fire will control you and hurt not just yourself but everyone around you.”
Aang gulped. Then he saw Katara in the distance. Watching her, he could tell that she was angry. Aang almost smacked himself. He had forgotten to write a note to her, telling her where he went. She probably thought Zuko kidnapped him or something.
Zuko stood up onto his feet, just as Katara came into in earshot. Looking at her, Zuko knew that she was pissed at him. What did he do? He was only teaching the Avatar firebending.
“Breakfast is almost done. Aang, can you get some water for me? I need to talk to Zuko alone,” Katara told Aang as she approached them. Aang knew that it might not be a good idea for Zuko and Katara to be alone together, since they might kill each other. But he also knew that they need to find some common ground.
“Oh, okay, Katara. Zuko, can we continue our lesson after breakfast?”
Zuko nodded. “Breakfast is good for fueling the sun’s energy. Yes, we can continue our lesson after.”
Aang nodded, bowed, and leaped off the cliff, jumping from wall to wall as he headed to the others below.
There was silence.
Zuko and Katara eyed each other, Katara’s eyes narrowed in hatred. They stood in front of each other, waiting for the other to speak first.
”What do you want to talk about?” Zuko asked her, trying to be nice.
Katara gritted her teeth. “Next time you will tell me that you took Aang to practice. Finding you two not in your beds is not right!”
Zuko cocked his head, folding his arms. “You went into my room?”
“I had to know if you kidnapped him!”
“I didn’t kidnap him! It is dishonorable. And if I did, where would I go? My father has a price on my head, dead or alive.”
Katara couldn’t believe him. He had told her so many lies before. “I don’t believe you.”
Zuko roared, “Fine, don’t! You never did. Can’t you see I am trying to be good?”
“You’re Fire Nation. You and your people can’t be trusted!”
Zuko got a weird look, a look that Katara couldn’t place. “You believe my people are evil.” It wasn’t a question. Katara flinched at how Zuko said those words, so hurt and filled with dread.
“Yes,” she said, not knowing if it was true or not.
“Then there is no hope for you.” Zuko walked away.
“I’m not done talking!”
“I am!” Zuko yelled back. Katara watched as Zuko disappeared. Shortly after, she followed him, heading towards the others.
He was not to be trusted. Not ever.
Breakfast was done.
Everyone sat in silence beside the fireplace. Zuko and Katara sat furthest away from each other. The group knew that they had had a fight, but guessing that Zuko wasn’t wet nor Katara burned, they hadn’t used their bending on each other. They had all heard some animal roar from the cliff and yelling, but nothing else.
They were shocked to see Zuko coming to them, in such disgust. And Katara, who glared at Zuko with such hatred- if she were a firebender, there would be smoke coming from her ears.
None dared to talk to them nor say anything in front of them.
Zuko sat at his usual place in the circle. He tried to calm himself, his legs crossed, his hands on his knees, his eyes closed. At first it was hard, but after a while, his meditating state slowly but surely calmed him, enough that he wouldn’t snap at anyone- although he was angry enough to feel some hatred each time he looked up at Katara.
He watched as Katara scooped food into bowls and handing them to everyone. Like usual, Sokka and Aang were the first ones to be served, and him last.
Zuko was slightly bored. He ate some food, but mostly played with it with his fork. After a few unsuccessful attempts to eat, he set his bowl on the ground and stared at the fire. He could feel the energy from it beside him. Slowly he reached out his hand into the fire itself. Everyone watch in amazement at what happened next.
The fire itself from the fireplace licked Zuko’s hand as if it was flowing water. Surprisingly, the fire did not burn him, like fire does to those who are foolish enough to touch it. Everyone stared as the fire trailed up his left arm, then across his shoulders and then back down to his other arm. The fire did not hurt him nor burn any of his clothing. It was a sight that none of them had ever seen.
“Wow, how did you do that?” the Duke asked Zuko, his eyes widening like a child after seeing a cool magic trick.
Zuko smiled. “It’s a little game that I used to play when I was younger, learning how to control my firebending. It helps me to calm down and also to control fire that I didn’t create. Why don’t you try it, Avatar?”
“Ah, I don’t think I can,” Aang said.
“It will be fine, Avatar. Its just a little game that my people play.” At these words, Zuko glared at Katara, who blushed and looked away.
“Okay. I can try,” Aang said, getting closer to the fire.
“You will, or you can not. There is no try, Avatar,” Zuko quoted, trying not to remember how many times his uncle told him that. It was ironic that he used the same proverbs when teaching Aang, that his uncle told him countless times before.
Aang and everyone else gave him a weird look. “Okay, I will do it,” Aang said. He stuck his hand into the fire. He hissed in surprise as the fire licked his hand, slightly burning it. “Ouch.”
“Aang!” Katara yelped, bending some water and healing his hand.
“Thanks, Katara,” Aang said, smiling.
Zuko laughed slightly, making the others to stare at him. “You are far too impatient, Avatar. Wait for my directions before attempting the trick.”
Aang felt foolish. “Yes, Master Zuko.” he said. Oh, the irony of calling Zuko that.
Zuko did a double take; he hadn’t been expecting that. Come to think of it, he never thought anyone would call him that.
“Listen closely, Avatar. If you do, I promise you won’t get hurt,” Zuko told Aang, after he got over his shock.
“Slowly stick out your hand towards the fire, but do not attempt to put it in the fire, not yet, but beside it.” Aang did so. “Let the energy of the fire flow from your arm, and store that energy within yourself. Now control the fire.” Everyone watch as Aang did so, his eyes closed. The fire swirled around Aang’s right hand. “Steady your breathing, Avatar. In and out. In and out, slowly, just like I taught you. Good.”
Aang breathed. Each time he inhaled, the fire grew small, and when he exhaled, the fire grew larger. Aang opened his eyes. His eyes widened as he felt the fire’s energy in his body. It felt like a life flowing through him, something he did not expect fire to feel like. The energy went into his soul, fueling it with such warmth. It felt wonderful.
As if by instinct, Aang reached into the fire and touched it. The group watched as the fire slowly went up his arm like water, just like Zuko had done a moment before, going across his shoulders and then down his left arm. Aang had done it.
Zuko smiled. “Very good… Aang.” He and everyone else was shock. Aang smiled. It was the first time Zuko ever called him by his name. Zuko himself was shocked. Saying the Avatar’s name was weird, but in a good way.
Aang watched as Zuko grabbed his bowl from the ground. He heated his food with firebending and started to eat. Maybe he could became friends with the firebender, just like Kuzon, Bumi and him were before the war.
Besides he felt connected to Zuko, somehow. More than just a former enemy. More than a newfound friend. Even more than just his teacher. But he couldn’t put his finger on it.
He felt like knew Zuko from somewhere. He had had the same feeling since the moment they met in the South Pole when Zuko first captured him. But where did he know him from? It was like they knew each other in a different time.
(End of Chapter)