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A/N: This chapter definitely took more time and work than others up until now. I hope it was worth it.

What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 15 - An Angry Girl

- Saturday, September 25th -

"Nope. Not since Tuesday."

"You've just been...ignoring them?"

"Yep. I told them at the funeral: I'm done."

"Well, er..." Sokka shrugged, passing Jane her a white cup with a simplified dragon printed around its surface. "Good for you, eh?"

"Good for me," Jane dryly agreed, taking a sip of her coffee.

Ow. Fuck. Almost burned my tongue.

She popped off the lid to her cup and stared at the liquid for a moment, inspecting it. It looked like Sokka had administered enough creamer, at least - nice and light brown.

"So...What happens now?" Sokka wondered.


"Well, like...I-I thought I heard Katara say at some point that, couldn't just leave the Freedom Fighters..."

"Hmph," Jane snorted, avoiding his curious gaze. "That was back when we had a leader."

"What about that gang that attacked you? Aren't you scared of them?"

"If I have to deal with them I can do it on my own," insisted Jane, gently blowing at her coffee. Store-bought coffee was always too fucking hot. Damn. If she wanted to burn off her tongue she'd lick an electric stove.

"Well, aren't you just the big tough girl?" Sokka teased with a grin, nudging up his mug in a casual toast, leaning back against the wall behind him.

"Damn straight," scoffed Jane, still wary of her coffee's temperature. Sokka slurped a bit at his own. How could he drink his? Was his tongue heat-resistent?

Am I being a pussy, or something? Wimpy little prep boy here can drink hot coffee and I can't.

"Sooo...What did you want?" Jane wondered, her pale eyes finally glancing up at Sokka. He lifted a brow at her across his travel mug.

"Mm?" he hummed out through his sipping.

"You wanted meet? And have coffee?" Jane mumbled expectantly. "What wanna talk about?"

"Oh." Sokka shrugged, setting his mug down. "I dunno. Whatever."

"Whatever?" she repeated with a flat irritation.

"Yea," he replied with nonchalance. "Just wanted to chat, Freckle-Face. Get to know ya."

"A-huh." Jane wasn't terribly amused by this. She let Sokka wallow in silence for a minute or two, letting her coffee cool. At last, she asked, "What do you want to know?"

"Errr..." Sokka was obviously beginning to notice her grouchy disposition. "I don't-...Ehm. What should I know?"

Jane sighed, rolled her eyes, and drank a small bit of coffee.

Hmph. Too much sweetener. God damnit.

"You should know that I'm not a very patient person," Jane gruffly explained.

"That's something we share in common," Sokka jumped on the chance. "At least, when it comes to people."

"People are assholes."

Sokka's enthused face cracked a bit, his mind's gears cranking to come up with a segue-way.

"Whh...Y-yea, I mean, they can be, but not all of them."

Jane bobbed her head to the side in a half-shrug and sipped a little more this time.

"Like your sister," Jane conceded quietly, staring off at a random student behind Sokka.


"Katara's pretty cool," admitted Jane meekly, running her finger around the edge of her cup.

"She certainly is," concurred Sokka with a hearty smile.

"Even if she can be a little crazy," Jane muttered. "But everyone's at least a little crazy," she mused with a smirk.

"I know I sure am," Sokka chuckled, slapping his palm on the table.

"Not as crazy as me," Jane concluded with eyelids half open and brows lifted.

"You strike me as more...angry than crazy."

A laugh escaped Jane at this comment.

"Ohhh, I am a pretty fuckin' angry person. But also crazy."

"Why's that?" Sokka wondered as he leaned forward on his elbows, curiosity pulling him.

"I've got my reasons," Jane affirmed coldly before drinking some more of her overly sweet coffee.

"Most people do," observed Sokka with a solemn shrug.

"Most people don't have my reasons," Jane insisted with a narrow glare.

"Fair enough." Sokka sucked down the last of his drink.

"What should I know about you, Sokka?"

"I like food. A lot."

A thick sarcasm dribbled out through Jane's lips. "You're shitting me."

"I like history. Especially wars. How people have mindlessly murdered each other in the past...But more importantly, the strategies they used to do so."

"That's...probably the manliest thing I've heard about you so far."

"I haven't heard a single womanly thing about you," Sokka teased. Jane's fist tightened around her cup at his comment.

"Guess you don't know very much about me, then."

"Well," Sokka tapped his fingertips against his forehead. "Clearly there is much we have yet to learn about each other, Ginger."

How many nicknames does this guy have for me, anyway?

"From what Katara's told me about you I'm not really so sure how much I want to learn..."

"She's my sister - come on. She's going to paint me in a bad light. With ugly paint."

"Weren't you just saying how cool she was?"

"Well yea, but I'm more gracious than she is, so of course I'd say that."

"Fff! Yea, OK..."

Sokka grinned at her doubt, polishing his fingernails on his button-down shirt.

"I can be very sensitive," Sokka advised. "Like, ehm...-"

Jane stared at him, eyes wide with amusement and expectation.

"I'm sorry about your parents," he tossed sympathy out bluntly. His tone's sharp wit had rapidly dulled. "I know how hard it can be." His wandering gaze quickly leapt back to her slightly flushed face. "An-and I guess we were lucky, a way," he injected. "We still have our dad, at least."

Jane's bowels rotated at the sudden twist in topic. What the hell was up with this guy, suddenly trying to be all sentimental and crap?

"That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Jane recited with a shrug.

"Or it...ya know...makes you angry," Sokka theorized touchily.

"Both," Jane swatted down what she perceived as some kind of offensive against her attitude.

"At least your boyfriend seems pretty mellow."

"Yea," Jane mumbled. "He...he's super chill. Keeps me steady."

"Everyone could use someone to ground them," Sokka acknowledged.

"Heh, especially me."

"I feel like your drill sergeant will probably keep you so grounded your legs will be buried."

"Pah, I'd like to see him try."

"Do you get a lot of crap from them?"


"From...ya know. From the other guys in training."

"Uh...for what?"

"I've seen you guys jogging around campus. Aren't you the only girl?"


Sokka shrugged in defense.

"N-nothin', I just...I would figure they might give you a hard time or something."

"I can keep up with them just fine."

"I bet," Sokka agreed. "But, I mean...There would be certain things that they'd be able to do easier than you...right?"

Jane glowered at his entirely valid point, utterly infuriated by this truth as Sokka stated the obvious.

"'Cuz they're just bigger than you, is all I'm saying."

"And bigger is better, is that it?"

"N-not at all! I'd just...I just wonder if that becomes an issue."

"I get everything done that I need to," Jane specified. "I don't need anyone's help."

"And...So that's why you needed Katara's help bandaging that head," Sokka observed, nodding up and glancing at the band of white cloth around Jane's head. Katara had been helping replace it with a fresh cloth each day all week, in fact. Her eyes narrowed further and she opted to glare at her coffee as she drank some more. "And you needed that bandage 'cuz that's the same attitude you had the night your friend died."

Jane's jaws were grinding together.

"What's your fuckin' point?" she hissed in a whisper through grit teeth.

Sokka frowned back for the first time in their exchange. His misted blue eyes gazed into the recesses of her olive pools of rage.

That Jet might still be alive if I hadn't tried saving him on my own. If I had gotten help.

"My point? My point is that if you're going to fit into our group, 'Smellerbee,' your attitude isn't gonna work out."

"Excuse me?"

"No one cares about this 'tough-girl' act. I get that you're not exactly into unicorns and fairies and believe me, I respect that. But this loner thing? I don't like it."

"And why the hell should I care what you think?"

"Because what I think is that I don't want to see my sister get hurt because of the crap you get yourself mixed into."

Their eyes remained locked and intense, like two swords sparking against one another.

"She won't."

"She'd better not."

"Why?" Smellerbee spat irritably. "What the fuck do you think you're gonna do about it? Huh, Abercrombie?"

"If my sister ends up in the hospital...or dead...because of you and your gang, it's gonna be on your hands-"

"They're not my gang, anymore, Sokka. I'm done."

"Then why are you still acting like you have something to prove?"

Another heated moment of silent stares passed before Smellerbee tore her eyes from his, arms shoving themselves across her chest.

"This is who I am, Preppie."

"That's great," Sokka grumbled, cocking his head slightly to the side as he stared at her averting eyes. "As long as you don't get my friends pulled into any shady business. For all I care, you can go on with your nonsense nickname. What the hell does 'Smellerbee' even mean? Go head, keep on acting like you're a thug, pretending that you're a freaking boy, always trying to-"

Don't you fucking dare.

"-make sure everyone knows how tough you are all the damned time, being angry at the whole freakin' world because-"

"Stop." Smellerbee flashed up her palm at him. "You don't know a fucking thing about me, man. Just...shut the hell up." She gruffly rose to her feet. She glance at him briefly, his gaze still locked onto her. She immediately pulled away and shoved the chair against the table, causing her coffee cup to splash a bit. He could drink the damned sugar water for all she cared.

"What are you trying to prove?" she demanded, ignoring the various coffee-drinkers around them who were uncomfortably staring or fidgeting about.

"That I love my friends, and I don't want to see them get into trouble," Sokka replied with a collected simplicity. "That you rub me the wrong way, and that I don't trust you, Freckle-Face. Not yet."

"I don't need your fucking trust," seethed Smellerbee viciously. "I don't have anything to prove to fuckin' assholes like you."

Having said the few words she needed to say like a blunt club against Sokka's face, Smellerbee stomped out of the coffee shop, brutally shoving the glass double doors out and rushing up the stone steps out into the sunny afternoon. Jane paused a moment to soak in what had just transpired. Her gut had been right: Sokka hadn't just wanted to talk, he'd wanted to try and get inside her head because he had a problem with her.

Shit. Katara is not gonna be happy with us...

"Jay-mee, Jay-mee! Little Cousin It!" jeered the boy with the chunky frame.

"Shut up!" hissed the bully's victim, a lanky child of twelve.

"It! It! It!" was the countering chant.

"I said shut up!" Jamie screeched through the taunting, punching the opposing child in the arm. The chubby boy absorbed the hit with nary a problem, Jamie's puny little fist leaving no sign of impact. The larger, brutish kid fiercely shoved his opposition, knocking them down into the grass beside the flower patch in the back yard. "I hate you, Nils!" Jamie growled, ignoring stinging elbows.

"Everyone hates you, freak!"

"No, they don't!" defied Jamie, slamming a fist into the ground.

"Wanna bet?"

"Leave me alone! Already told you, Nils: my cousins are in the house." Jamie was scrambling backward nervously as Nils slowly approached, towering above. Nils was a friend of Jamie's older cousins and lived down the street, but as of late he seemed to have taken pleasure in tormenting the youngest child of the household when he visited.

"But this is so much fun, Jamie," Nils chuckled. "I'm just trying to teach ya how to be tough."

"I can be tough when I wanna..."

"You're too girly to be tough."

"Shut up! Go away!"

Jamie kicked out a slender leg at Nils' fat shin, and he grunted as the sneaker heel rammed into him. Hands pushing through dirt now, Jamie finally flipped over and crawled across the small garden, crushing a couple of flowers in the escape. Nils laughed and stomped right into the thin garden that ran alongside the wooden fence of the backyard. Jamie had inadvertently knocked over a flower where a bee had been harvesting pollen. The bee swerved and landed on Jamie's hand - the child froze and stared at it as it scurried along the pale, freckled wrist. Jamie could clearly see in that moment its chubby, round shape and distinct black and yellow stripes - it was a bumblebee.

"Ya gotta stand up for yerself, stupid."

Nils laughed as he stomped on Jamie's back, eliciting a gasp from his victim as he plastered the redhead's body flat into the ground. This caused the bee to fly from Jamie's hand and spiral through the air in fury. It angrily buzzed and whirred around Nils, causing him to lift his foot off of Jamie in a panic, fumbling backward. He frantically thrashed his hands at the insect, eyes wide and afraid.

"Agh, go away!" he cried, oddly horrified by the pudgy bug. The more he swung his arms, the angrier the bee got, until it finally landed on his arm. It jammed its stinger into Nils' skin and he shrieked, swatting at his tricep only to miss. The bug swerved away and landed on his shin, injecting its stinger at him once again. Another roar of pain, and Jamie realized that the 'bully' problem for today just fixed itself. Jamie forced skinny legs onto skinny feet and scuttled right behind Nils, who was fleeing the garden.

"It stung me, it stung me," Nils was repeatedly gibbering, limping away to the back deck.

"That's what you get!" Jamie declared in furious retribution, following him closely, savoring the moment.

"I'm allergic, you ass!" the chunky boy snarled. Sure enough, upon observation, it could be seen that the spots where Nils had been stung were swelling and turning bright red. "Why didn't it sting you?"

"'Cuz!" Jamie blurted out immediately. "It...It could smell your fear."

"Bees can do that?" Nils whimpered, clambering up the patio steps.

"Of course!" Jamie went along with this fanciful idea. "It could smell that you were afraid. It could smell the evil coming from you."

It was probably the delusional state of shock and pain that the boy was in, but Nils seemed to buy in to this embellished explanation.

"Friggin'...-" He was gasping out now, his voice wheezing as they entered into the living room through the back door.

"Uncle!" Jamie yelled out irritably into the house.

"What is it?" the mustached man wondered, thumping down the stairs. "What happened?"

"Friggin'...Smelling...bee..." Nils was panting out. "Did I...smell bad...?" Definitely delusional at this point. "Dohn wanna...smell evil..."

"What?" spat out the only adult present, baffled. "What happened, Jamie?"

Jamie's arms were crossed, accented by a frown. "He got stung," Jamie replied with a shrug, hands tucked behind the back and words lathered with innocence.

"By what?" demanded the uncle.

Nils offered the answer in a drawling moan, his eyes squint shut in pain.

"Bai uhh...Ssssmellerbeeee...Ulgh..."

A smirk formed under olive eyes, which glared across patches of freckles at the coughing boy as he sat on the couch, choking on the dish of revenge. For months Nils had been grieving Jamie, but today was the day of his first defeat. That small yellow and black insect, that harbinger of this long-awaited revenge, had a name all its own now: the name assigned to it by Jamie's fallen nemesis.

Katara sighed and shook her head, tossing her arm out dismissively.

"No, it''s all right, Jane. He can...My brother can be a real pain sometimes, I know." She collapsed into their booth at Appa's. "He seems to always think he's right," she muttered. Her expression dulled as she added, "And more often than I'd like? He is right..."

"Well, he sure as hell ain't right about me."

"No," Katara vehemently agreed. "He definitely isn't." She paused to contemplate the situation and the cracks in her armor of determination became apparent as she thumped her head into her arms on the table and groaned miserably. "Urgh, why is it one thing after the other?"

"That's life, Babe," Jane apathetically informed her, slapping Katara playfully on the back of her head, stirring her out of her exasperated stupor.

" should tell him. Tell the whole group."

Jane could tell that Katara's suggestion had been carefully considered, simmering around in her mind for time before this conversation, waiting for just the right time to come out.

"N-not sure that's such a great idea," Jane grumbled dubiously, her pale face flashing like a stop light.

"Come on, Jane," Katara pleaded softly, latching her hands onto her arms with a shiver. She grabbed her Aqua hoodie from beside her on the booth's cushion and slipped it on.

"You cold?" Jane inquired, perplexed.

"Little bit," Katara admitted, rubbing at her arms before stuffing her hands in her waist pocket. "Why wouldn't you do it?" Katara continued, not letting the subject go so easily.

"Ach," Jane grunted, rolling her head about indecisively. "I don't know, Kat, it's...-"

"It's very sensitive," Katara knowingly acknowledged. "It's very personal. I know, Jane. But you can't expect people like my brother to know any better if he doesn't know the truth. And-and maybe if you open up to them, they won't feel so intimidated by you."

"They feel intimidated by me?" Jane was both perplexed but pleased with that idea.

"Toph was a little at first, but you two are alike in a lot of ways, so I know she really likes you by now. Sokka is totally intimidated or else he wouldn't have said any of that stuff to you. And Aang and Suki?" Katara shrugged, her expression nervous. "They just don't know what to do with you. You've been very...antisocial. And quiet."

"But...But I'm fucking trying, here," Jane declared defensively, "What more do they-?"

"No, you're right," Katara quickly eased, palms out. "You are, I know you're trying, Jane. I know it's...not natural for you."

Jane's heartbeat turned irregular and her breathing went sharp for a couple of moments, a swell of emotion seeping out for reasons she didn't comprehend. Just dwelling on this idea was stressful, bringing back pain and confusion and hatred and rage.

"I don't even...What is natural for me, Katara?" Jane demanded in an oddly desperate growl. She smacked herself in the forehead and huffed, fiercely restraining her recently disturbed inner turmoil from escaping the thick shell she bound it within. It felt like a dormant dragon of unspeakable power being awoken and she was being tasked with keeping it at bay in its cave.

"Jane, Hun..." Katara extended a hand across the table, but Jane refused to take it, keeping her arms stiffly straight at her sides. "Whatever you feel is right. That's what's natural for you." She retracted her hand and frowned with regret and sympathy, unsure of what to do to help. "I'm sorry. I'm not meaning to pressure you into it. I think it'd be healthy to do it - to let it out. And I know that they'd be supportive. It'd help them understand why things are so difficult for you, and...and they'd probably be more receptive to you if they felt like you trusted them. Does that...Does that make any sense?"

Jane bobbed her head back and forth with a quick glance, the doubt clouding her eyes receding.

"That's how I feel about it, Jane. And as your friend, I'm letting you know that. But...If you aren't comfortable with it, then you shouldn't do it. I just don't want you to think that this is something you need to hide from them. They want to be your friends, they-"

"Your brother sure as hell doesn't..."

"Ehhh..." Katara scratched her ear, tucking a loose locke of hair behind it. "He does, Jane. He knows there's more to you than meets the eye and he wants to get along with you. I know he does. He wouldn't have been so rash with you if he didn't care."

I don't trust you, Freckle-Face. Not yet.
Not yet, he had said. She'd overlooked that specific addition to his phrase in the heat of the moment.

"Sokka's different from me in that way," Katara explained. "We're kind of like opposites. You really have to earn his trust. But once you earn it, he is always going to look out for you." She informed Jane of this with specific deliberation, and Jane couldn't deny the very strong bond between the two siblings just based on the tone of her voice, regardless of all she had witnessed between the two in person.

"Hmph," Jane puffed out, barely affirming Katara's guarantee. "How are you like opposites?" she questioned, confused.

Katara grinned and rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly.

"I, um...I trust really easily, but..." She shrugged. "I kind of have a lot of trouble getting over stuff when that trust gets broken. Ya know?"

"Yea," Jane murmured, all too familiar with faith being shattered. She found it somewhat admirable how Katara openly tossed out this flaw of hers. She just threw it out there. Jane recalled when they had been getting to know one another months prior. Katara would let Jane peek into the windows of her life with such ease and honesty. At first Jane had wondered what was true and what wasn't, but everything Katara had told her during that summer seemed true - even the flaws she had admitted to, like the over-worrying and trying to fix everything.

"Anyway, like..." Katara showed her friend a confident and encouraging smile. "I don't want to bother you about it, I'm just asking you to think about it."

"OK." Jane nodded, rubbing her eyebrow with her finger.

Maybe I should just...get it out of the way, then?

"Let's, erm...Let's do it, then," she decided weakly. Her words were muddled with uncertainty.

"Wh-? Like...Right now?" Katara was taken aback. "Are you serious?" She was not convinced, keen to Jane's hesitancy. "You sure, Jane?"

"Serious? Yea. Sure? No," admitted the redhead, her face pinkened again, her entire hand of fingertips running over her brow now. "B-but it's not like they're not gonna find out eventually..." She sighed and dropped her arm, wedging her hands between her legs as her foot bounced habitually. "I trust you, Kat. If you...If you think this is a good idea, maybe they should know." She let slide a smirk to her blue-eyed friend who reciprocated, and Jane was glad to see it.

I'm not exactly a Freedom Fighter anymore. Don't really have anywhere else to go, but Katara seems to want me around. And Johnny wants me to stick with these people...I still don't get why he thinks they're so good for me, but...

"Besides," Jane amended with a chuckle, "This way if anyone says any shit about me I have every right to kick their ass, no questions asked. Right?"

"Baha!" Katara slapped her leg in concurrence. "You sure do."

"Then let's get this over with."

"Shhhhuuure," Katara awkwardly agreed, still thrown off by Jane's eager disposition. She fumbled around and whipped out her cell phone. "I'm, uhh...I'll let them know." She froze, staring at her phone with a blank expression. "Wait, so...Who am I...-?" She glanced up with a raised brow.

"Oh, er..." Jane's eyes darted to the left as she considered her options. "The whole...gang. I guess."

"You sure you're comfortable with that?" Katara double checked.

"Yea," Jane immediately spat. She wasn't entirely comfortable. She was pretty pissed at Sokka and she still knew next to nothing about Suki. But she had faith in Katara's decision. The more Jane seemed to trust in this girl the more Katara seemed to prove how trustworthy she was.

"All right." Katara's face exploded into a grateful and relieved grin and she began to feverishly punch numbers into her phone.

Jane pulled out her own device and sent a message.

[To: Johnny Longshot]
[hey im thinkin of tellin my new friends bout...THAT. what do you think?]
[Sent: 3:12pm]

"Hiya, Sis, what's going...-?" Sokka froze in his tracks when he noticed Jane spread across Katara's bed to his right. The two practically drew swords with their eyes. "Oh, hey, Smellerbee," Sokka demeaned.

"Hey, Asswipe," Jane hissed back.

"Did she tell you-?" Sokka immediately began, his concern having crumbled into rage as he jabbed an accusing pointer finger at the aloof girl on the bed.

"Yes," Katara interjected, sweeping by Sokka and pushing his shoulder to ease him into her desk chair, which was pointed to face her bed. "Now, stop it, you guys. Come on." Her words sparked with disappointment.

"Is this some group therapy session, Katara?" Sokka grumbed, kicking off his loafers and leaning back in the chair. "You the mediator or something?"

"No," Katara groaned, her lids squinting in frustration for a moment. "Just...Quit it. Where's Suki?"

"What do you need her for?"

"But...I thought she was with you when I called."

"Yea, but you said you needed me for something."

Jane popped an aspirin as Katara mumbled a response.

"Oh...I-I guess I just assumed...-"

"She had a thing with some friends this afternoon," clarified Sokka.

Sokka seemed to be in a fairly irate mood - Jane recalled him telling her earlier that day about his lack of patience with people. She knew full well that his state of mind had more to do with herself being present rather than his sister.

"We can still...go ahead, then - don't you think?" Katara turned to Jane, who shrugged, crossing one leg over the other. She was kind of relieved - she barely knew Suki at this point and wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea of that girl knowing about this, anyway.

[From: Johnny Longshot]
[ ;D ]
[Sent: 3:47pm]

"What are you talking about?" Sokka demanded in a growl, slapping his knees impatiently.

"Jane has something she needs to tell you guys," Katara firmly explained, glaring at her brother with pleading eyes, begging him to calm himself down. Her expression served its purpose well as Sokka's hostile stance faltered.

"Fine," he gave in with a huff. "I don't see why this couldn't have wai-"

"We're heeeeeere~" sang Toph from the hall as they approached. Her voice could be heard singing from the hall: "~Shave and a haircut~" There was a brief pause before Toph thrust herself dramatically in front of the doorway, expression wild as she finished, "~Two bits!~" flailing her arms out.

"Wha?" Aang blurted from her side as he grabbed her arm to prevent the wobbly girl from toppling over in her crazed drama.

"I could use a haircut..." Sokka muttered to himself thoughtfully, running his fingers through his floppy bangs.

"Oh, hi, Meathead," Toph enthusiastically cried, fumbling into the room and tripping over his loafers. Aang instinctively reached an arm out as if to once again prevent her from hurting herself, but she had gone off on her own at this point. She laughed and shoved the shoes aside with the side of her foot, slipping her sandals off and heading to her bed, only to bump into her desk chair, which had been moved in lieu of Katara's own chair being rearranged. She rebounded from her chair and finally fell into her bed. Her hair had been styled into pigtails, which she quickly undid and united into a ponytail as Aang joined her, shrugging sheepishly to his friends.

"Hey," Sokka greeted at last.

"'Sup, Toph?" Jane made her presence known.

"Heeeyyy, JayBee."

"Hi, Jane!" Aang waved his hand at her with a wide grin. The ginger girl couldn't help but smile back and lift a hand in reply, charmed by his innocent eagerness.

"Thanks for coming, guys," said Katara as she gently closed the door, locking it from the inside. "Sorry I wasn't specific about what was going on - Jane wanted to talk with us about something."

"Is everything OK?" Toph immediately wondered. "Is your head all right?"

Jane smirked, amused by Toph's slightly more-off-kilter-than-usual mood.

"Fine," she replied.

"Didn't seem so fine to me just a little while ago," Sokka grumbled.

Noticing Aang and Toph's expressions rapidly change from relaxed to confused, Katara quickly laid out the situation.

"Sokka and Jane had a bit of a spat today, and it made us realize that there's something Jane wants you guys to know."

Jane sat up as Katara took a seat beside her brother. The frustrated Irish girl took a deep breath. She ran her hand through her dirty hair - she'd been avoiding washing it for fear of worsening her injury, but Katara was helping keep it disinfected with each change of bandages, at least. Every time she'd receive the same scolding for refusing to go to a hospital, but Jane was simply not going to put herself through that process.

"This doesn't leave this room," Jane issued her condition. "Got it?"

"Y-yea, sure," Toph agreed instantly.

"Promise." Aang crossed his finger over his heart.

Jane's glance cast itself to Sokka, who was hunched in his chair, stroking his patch of chin hair contemplatively.

"What about Suki?" he wondered. Jane shook her head with firm resolve.

"I'll tell her myself when I feel like it."

Sokka sighed and shook his head with a shrug, as if he had little choice in this matter.

"All right," he gave in. "Your secret's safe with me."

"OK." Jane folded her legs up in her chair. Her tight black T-shirt had started to ride up from laying on the bed so she tugged it down, taking a moment to appreciate the bumblebee symbol stitched into the left chest. Her throat dried up, a knot bound her guts together, her heartbeat quickened...

She met Katara's gaze and was calmed by the sapphire eyes that radiated confidence and courage, fueling her to be strong, assuring safety. She cleared her throat and wrapped her hands around her waist, olive eyes shedding their rough shell, grit teeth loosening behind frowning lips.

"I told you guys that my parents died when I was little," Jane reviewed. "And that I ended up moving in with relatives...What I didn't tell you is that my parents left all of their savings to me for two reasons." She lifted up her thumb. "One: to pay for my college education." She raised her index finger. "Two: to let me have surgery done when I was old enough to decide what I wanted." Jane at last looked up at the puzzled expressions of the group - Katara's, of course, being the exception. They seemed speechless, unsure of what Jane was getting at.

"I was born an intersexual," Jane announced, knocking her voice down a couple of decibals.

"So you like boys and girls?" Aang whispered, his face beet red at the topic. Toph laughed through her nose and shoved an elbow into his side.

"That's bisexual, Twinkle-Toes."


"Like...a hermaphrodite...?" Sokka muttered quietly.

"Intersexual," Jane specificed irritably, obviously disinterested in the particular word Sokka had used. "When I was born, I...-" She twitched her shoulders. "-...wasn't really a boy or a girl. I was...kind of both."

"Whoa." The word slipped out of Aang's lips, his eyes wide, though Toph's brows were furrowed, her face pensive. A look at Sokka's face revealed that he was likely regretting some of the comments he had made up until that point, avoiding her gaze, fidgeting with discomfort.

"My parents didn't want to make me be one gender or the other, so...they decided they would let me decide on my own when I was old enough."

"Wouldn't...that make things super confusing when you were growing up?" Toph theorized.

"Yea. It would," Jane confirmed. "But I'm glad I was given the choice. Not everyone like me is so lucky - a lot of the time there's health complications, and...Sometimes they just aren't given a choice."

"Soooo, like, how does that work out, then?" Sokka asked, flopping his hands around as he spoke. "I mean, with the kinds of organs, and stuff, how would-?"

"Sokka," Katara snipped, slapping his leg.

"Ow. I'm just curious!"

Jane groaned and rubbed her eyebrows, mentally exhausted as it was.

"Isn't 'Jane' a girl's name?" Sokka followed up.

"They named me 'Jamie'," Jane illuminated. "All you need to know is that it was really awkward growing up, and that when I started going through puberty, I decided I wanted to be a girl. And I had surgery done, and I...became a girl. Changed my name."

"So...everything works, then?" Toph asked, fairly concerned, it seemed.

"I...I guess. Far as I can tell," Jane confessed, cheeks shimmering red. "I mean...we're not really sure if I can have kids or not yet." She huffed through her nostrils, considering whether or not this was something she even wanted. "Not that I've tried or anything."

"I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this is probably why you keep getting mad at me when I pick on you about...being...not so girly," groped Sokka's words hesitantly.

"Ya think?"

"I do."

Toph, hand on her chin, piped up with the question, "How come you chose to be girl?"

"Yea," Aang concurred. "I mean, ya just...You're...really tough, and...and everything..."

"I was raised by men," Jane flatly informed. "I guess they rubbed off on me..." She sighed as her mind fought to damn up the cavalcade of memories that were piling up in her consciousness. "And I got sick of them. Wanted to them." She removed blue specks of blanket lint that had stuck to the bee logo on her shirt.

"Makes enough sense," Toph conceded.

"Not all guys are assholes, though," deduced the redhead, rewarding Aang's polite courtesies with a smile before deliberately sharpshooting Sokka's now guilty slump with her glance.

"Jane hasn't exactly had it easy," Katara concluded to her friends. "She was afraid of telling you this because other people have treated her badly in the past." Jane knew what Katara wanted to add to that: 'People like Jet.'

Damnit, Katara, I don't need them thinking I'm some fucking wilted flower in need of watering...

"Bottom line is," Jane announced, "Don't go sayin' shit about me." Olive daggers pierced the pale blue iris pair on Sokka's face.

"O-of course not," Aang assured. "That' Like, I can't even imagine..."

"This doesn't make you think of Jane any differently, right, guys?" Katara threw out.

"No, that just makes me think you're even more bad-ass," Toph complimented with a grin. "That must be tough to deal with. No wonder you're such an awesome chick - you chose to be one."

Sokka clucked his tongue.

"Man, Jane, you made the wrong decision on that one," he advised, waggling his index finger. At first, Jane's instinct was to kick him in the groin, but she quickly realized he was trying to use his humor to lighten the mood between them now that he had new material to work with. She wasn't entirely sure how she felt about this. "What were you thinking? You probably regret it by now, doncha?" He winked her way, his index poking in her direction. 'Work with me, here,' was the sentiment his demeanor implied.

"Sometimes," she slyly went along. "About..." She rolled her eyes up in mock contemplation. "A few days every month." A round of chuckles brightened the pity party, much to Jane's relief.

A/N: I could discuss a great many things here. But I'll let you figure out what you think on your own. There is more to Jane's backstory which we'll see as the story progresses. Speaking of which, yes, I know I need to move the plot a bit more forward. Will be working at that as best I can soon.

[link]<--Previous Chapter
Next Chapter-->[link]
[link]<-<--Chapter 1

Where would a nickname like that COME from, anyway?
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Sangeline Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2013
Love the humor at the end! :3 Sokka's been a real ass tho. <3 the twists you put to Jane's past!
popwiz15 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
o_O I... I have no words... none... at all.
MetalAnimationFan96 Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2012
Thank you for your great story so far and probally the most "out-of-left-field" plot twist i've ever read in my still young life.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, I feel like this is such a minor plot twist compared to other stuff, but yea. ;P Glad you're enjoying the story.
PatriciaC123 Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2012
You know what I love about this whole SRU thing? The fact that the A:TLA characters still retain their main traits while being modern. Like how Johnny still hasn't talked this whole time. Or how Aang is just openly nice to everyone. It's awesome.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! That is certainly the main goal with the characters - update them to the modern era and make them feel older, but still capture the essence of their character.

Johnny DOES talk once in a great while - but he also DID talk in the show (once).

I hope you continue to enjoy the story.
PatriciaC123 Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2012
Ooh! When did he talk (in the story and otherwise). I own the whole A:TLA thing, so I'll make sure to try to catch it. :)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Longshot speaks during his and Smellerbee's last appearance in the show, near the end of season 2.
PatriciaC123 Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2012
Great! I'll watch it right now. Thanks! :dance:
ShodanAllen Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2012
Indeed, my favorite part is your origin for her nickname.... great explanation and a really bitterfunny, triumphant moment.

I also love when Jane calls Sokka" Ambercrombie". It's funny enough on it's own, but it reminds me of Lost when Sawyer calls Jack "Metro", and then I end up laughing twice.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
As well it should. The nicknaming trend in SRU is -highly- evocative of Sawyer from LOST (which is what I often thought of when Toph did it in ATLA), and that is most obvious when the nickname "Freckles" comes into play for Jane. ;) That is a very deliberate nod to Sawyer.

And thanks, it was interesting, coming up for a reason behind such an odd name.
Midnight4568 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012
Hrmm, it seems like you use a lot of similes that involve swords and sparks.
So that's how she got her nickname! I like the originality of the ministory.
I like the comparison of Jane's inner turmoil and a dormant dragon.
Ew. "Jaybee" reminds me of Justin Bieber.
Wow, Jane's backstory wasn't at all what I thought it would be. It made me want to keep reading.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Jane's backstory is further fleshed out in a later chapter. ^_^; I'd like to think it's very...impactful, if anything.
ShodanAllen Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011
That.... was a great move in the story development. Your fanfic really holds it's own.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks. ^_^ You ain't seen nothin' yet. ;D
I hope you enjoy where the story goes...
Qwerty606 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2011
That's weird, kinda gross, and all at the same time, BRILLIANT!
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
What's kind of gross?
Qwerty606 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2011
The intersexual thing. I dunno. It was unexpected.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Ohhh, OK. Yea, I did a lot of research on that. The inspiration was how Smellerbee doesn't look very feminine and how one of the ONLY scenes with her involves Iroh mistaking her for a boy and her getting offended and expressing some insecurity from this.
ariatwi Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
i had a FEELING jamie was jane...
jane's wayy more bad-ass now
ValexCanto00 Featured By Owner May 5, 2011
omgosh aang xD " SO YOU LIKE BOYS AND GIRLS??" haha
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner May 5, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Heehee. ;) Funny how Aang said that...
Fallonkyra Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
i love Toph reaction, Toph thinks like I do, very open mined, very well written
Vessica-de-Leone Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, okay! That's what I was thinking when Nils called her Cousin It.

Is Nils a canon character? If not, what the heck kind of name is Nils? xD

( offense if your name is Nils...)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
That's cool if you actually did think that during that scene. You probably also picked up on the fact that the kid's name was 'Jamie' back then.

No, no, Nils isn't a canon character, my own creation.

My name isn't Nils, no way I would give my name to such an evil person. We haven't seen the last of him yet.

Nils' name was derived from a character in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as homage, seeing as Jane's character is like a combination of Lisbeth from that film series and the original Smellerbee.
Vessica-de-Leone Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I've never read or watched The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo xD I'm 13 and my mom would never let me read/watch the series (heck she probably wouldn't want me reading this because of the language, but oh well) because she has and there's all kinds of sexual situations in it. Or so I'm told.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
This is VERY true. Depending on your maturity you may be too young to be comfortable watching it. I would advise waiting until you're older.

If your mom wouldn't want you watching that then she likely wouldn't want you reading this, no. xD Especially when I think about some of the stuff that will happen later. That and, well, all the language. =P

Ah, well. Not my place to decide such things. I'm just writing what needs to be written.
Vessica-de-Leone Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Too bad for my mom, I like A:TLA, Smellerbee, and this fanfic too much xD
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
HAHA, well, I guess I'm glad to hear that. I hope you are liking my interpretation of Smellerbee.
MEl0N-l0Rd Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
did that kid die?? :O great improv on Jane's part. Definitely surprised me! Oh Sokka...i betcha feel bad now, don't ya?? :XD: But poor Smellerbee has to deal with all his new jokes...cripes. Oh, and awesome back story on her nickname! Very clever.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
You're asking about Nils, right?

Nils and Jane will have further backstory (at least one more critical scene) that takes place when they are older, so I can tell you that no, Nils didn't die at the end of that scene. xD

Yes, Sokka has good reason to be skeptical of Jane BUT I also wanted to show that he's being kind of inconsiderate, also. He's inconsiderate because he is protective.

So, basically, both Jane and Sokka have good reasons for being the way they are (protection) but they are both also going a bit overboard.
7StepsToHell Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010
Whoa, theres a new direction :p

You made it make sense though, so great job! Some writers go ways like that, and whoa boy, not good. This however, fits nicely. You really have made Jane your own with this story, and its REALLY awesome.

Great chapter, DS. See you next update! :D
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks. I'm not entirely sure what you mean though, "Some writers go ways like that, and whoa boy, not good."
7StepsToHell Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010
I mean, some writers I've seen who take on a plot device akin to what you've done with Jane, haven't been able to pull it off in a convincing, logical way. Sometimes they put in stuff like, in this case, Jane being born intersexual, for flash or unneeded character development or something, and it doesn't work because it was questionable if it was needed in the first place.

It's a fairly common thing done with established characters, with some FF writers trying to spice up the story by giving an outlandish trait or condition that just doesn't fit what everyone knows about the character already.

My point was, you took an intriguing subject and used it for a character who makes it plausible that she could really have the condition, just from the little bit of personality shown in the show. To me, THAT'S a proper use of a plot device, when you can make something out of a reasonable assumption because of a characters known traits.

But, all in all, Smellerbee having very little airtime in the show, and people knowing very little about her, has given you a perfect canvas with which to really make her your own, and you've done a great job with it.

But in short, I like what you did, found it a very cool and interesting twist with her story, keep up the awesomeness. And sorry if that still didn't make any sense :D
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
We've been re-watching the series recently and it reminded me of the single scene that inspired this entire backstory.

It was when Iroh mistook Smellerbee for a boy, she got super offended and started to stalk off, and Longshot stops her, and she says something like, "You're right, I should be comfortable with who I am no matter what other people think."

It was that one scene that was the spark that led to all of this. xD
7StepsToHell Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2010
That's awesome! I love it when little things like that can spark something far larger and more in depth and profound. Really cool when that happens :D
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
That made complete sense, and I appreciate the comment.
I think I know exactly what you mean. I've read a few things where bizarre plot devices were introduced that didn't really make and felt forced.

One of the reasons I wanted to do an AU was because that gives me legit excuse to use plot devices that I think make for interesting character development without worrying about lining everything up to established canon.

"Smellerbee having very little airtime in the show, and people knowing very little about her, has given you a perfect canvas with which to really make her your own"
Yes, exactly! =) I never expected that or saw it coming when I started conceptualizing and writing SRU, but after a few chapters in I began considering potential for this character and she really is, at this point, the fifth protagonist and main character - and also the wild card that will make for some new group dynamics that never existed on the show. And yes, because much of her is a blank slate, she's feeling like an original character in many regards, inspired by the idea and concept of Smellerbee.

Anyway, I'm really glad to see people liking this plot device and it not coming across as forced or unnecessary. I spent a lot of time over the past few chapters considering if I wanted to go through with it, but in the end, it felt right.
Octopus-Zeal Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice, very nice. It all makes sense. Musta been tough to think of a reason for the nick-name "smellerbee"
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, yea, that part was the trickiest part here.
The name doesn't make sense. I knew it had to do with 'bees,' which are Jane's favorite animal.

Somehow the idea "they smell your fear" came about, which is something people sometimes say about animals. Somehow it made sense. And then the kid who's allergic is incoherent and sputtering nonsense came together to slur together "smelling" and "bee" as 'Smellerbee.'

It may not add up quite yet, as I just start the theme here, but over time you'll learn exactly why Jane loves Bees so much and why she takes the name 'Smellerbee,' but mainly it's because they are her 'weapon' against this person who grieved her for much of her childhood.
Octopus-Zeal Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Man, that's deep. You really are very thorough with your characters' backstories. I dig it. :)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! I try really hard to draw from my own real-life experiences and also come up with meaningful, (hopefully) realistic backstories to flesh these characters out. Smellerbee in particular is just a bit-character in the show, so I'm really working hard at making up a lot of stuff for her while basing it off of how she was presented in the show. Glad many of you guys are enjoying the end result!
Octopus-Zeal Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Absolutely! I can definitely tell you've put some work into it. The outcome is really great.
AlmostLiterally Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010
"That's life, Babe" Sounds like Smellerbee is channeling Jet there, heh.

And, whoof. Once Katara and Smellerbee had started talking about meeting the the whole gang, I got curious and had to scroll back up. Didn't even really faze me about Jane being called Jamie or being called It - I thought that was them just being mean to her. I got it then, though. That's some really deep stuff you dug into there, and you did so very gracefully. Not many I know of are willing to go into topics like that. :thumbsup:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Yea, I thought it'd be interesting to show you some snippets of her 'pre-female' past without explaining to make you curious, hoping that after you find out the facts you'd go "OHHH I SEE."

I was very careful in both the funeral scene and that bee scene to NOT specify Jamie's gender but not draw attention to the fact that I wasn't mentioning a gender. I had to stop myself from writing "she" and "her" a LOT of times and edit the sentence in a different way. ^_^;

The entire concept came simply from that one simple idea that Smellerbee's gender was never actually revealed until Iroh mistook her for a guy. In deciding to make Jane a main character I wanted to build that up into something more meaningful, so I did research on intersexual people, and thought it'd be interesting to explore that theme.

I'm happy to hear that it is paying off.
AlmostLiterally Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010
I'm going to have to go back and reread the funeral scene. You did a good job - I didn't even think about that then.

I've wrote scenes before where I had to be careful not to specify gender. It is pretty tough. Your passage was very fluid and didn't draw much attention to the fact that you weren't specifying gender. Kudos. :)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Yea, looking back at that brief segment I very blatantly make reference to Jamie not being born natural, and even understanding that at a young age - but I waited until now to explain it. Either it made people curious, OR they didn't even realize it. Either way works out great. Haha.

You'll notice I focus a lot on freckles, olive eyes, and red hair, Jane's defining visual traits.
She is Irish, a departure from the often Asian characters of the Avatar world. Jet was Latino, and I try to make many of the characters NOT Asian when I can, just to balance out ethnicity. Even so, I want these characters to come across as most Asians in my life have been - they look different than many people around them but still act the same.

As a matter of fact that'll be a topic of...awkwardness later - the fact that Jane is the only "white" kid in a group of Asians. :XD: I know what it's like to be the only white kid in a group, heheh.
AlmostLiterally Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010
Hah, looking back I completely see it now. I think I was too sad by all the other stuff in that chapter to think about it.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Guess I was sneaky, sneaky. ;)
I never thought about that happening, but that IS a very loaded chapter.
AlmostLiterally Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010
It is.

Hah, see, as I read, I usually drop down and write comments as they come to mind. After Sokka and Smellerbee's argument, I posted about how I can relate to the 'pretending to be a boy' bit. Erased that after I read on, since my situation is quite different. Thought I should still bring it up, though. Even though my and Smellerbee's circumstances are different, I can still relate, at least for the moment, to her. Your writing invokes a lot of emotions. Even though I knew that Sokka had a point, I couldn't help but stand absolutely against him, because what he was saying was very below-the-belt, even before knowing about Jane's past. I've had the 'quit pretending to be a boy' thing thrown at me. Mostly by my mother. But she has said that for reasons such as me not wanting cowboy boots for Christmas or because I wanted to reschedule a haircut because I had a meeting for work that day (Both of these are actual circumstances, just so you know, and in the former situation she suggested that I should get gender counseling. For not wanting shoes.). Sokka actually deserves credit, however, since what he was saying made sense. :D
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
That's cool to hear that you found yourself relating with the characters.

I wanted to portray Sokka as having a valid REASON to not be keen on Jane but at the same time he's taking kind of personal shots, also. Sokka's the type who becomes more openly confrontational and be a jerk a bit when he's defensive or angry, whereas Aang might retreat from conflict, Toph would probably flat-out curse you out, and Katara would probably try to reach a balance of expressing her thoughts but not being mean.
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