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What I Learned At SRU by tifa-lockhart55

SRU by katie-kay


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October 31, 2010
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A/N: Words that are {written in these} represent something in print, like a book or a newspaper article/flier/poster, etc. Yes. I am using these to add a little visual flair but also because I want to use lots of other media through the story and am too lazy to go through the standard motions. Huzzah for the Internet. Also, the fact is that in The Last Airbender Katara is flustered and obviously attracted to Jet early on. I wanted to explore that a bit in this chapter.

What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 3- Easygoing


-August 28th, 2010-

Katara scuffed her socks against the drab carpet of her dorm room, back and forth, analyzing the pages of her first week's assignment in Children's Literature. She had been greatly anticipating this class. A cursory glance at the curriculum indicated that for an upcoming project she could easily squeeze in a paper about the Harry Potter series - just the thought made her a bit giddy. But for the time being, she was plowing through a handful of quick books for earlier ages, writing out a paragraph piece on her thoughts on each. She affectionately gazed at the current page she was on, letting her finger dance over the artwork, recalling memories of her late mother reading to her in her younger years.

{"Let the wild rumpus start!"}

"Yo," a raspy voice interrupted her reading. It was fortunately not too jarring, as the girl had been making some noise across the hall in the background. Their doors were both wide open, producing the effect of two connected rooms in the same house.

"Oh, hey." Katara closed her book and set it atop the pile on her bed beside her desk chair. "What's up?"

"It's almost three," the boyish red-head girl informed, wrinkling her nose at the smell of Katara's potpourri, contained within a small wooden bowl that rested on the shelving propped over her desk. "You ready to go?"

"Oh, gosh," Katara gasped shamefully, pressing her palms over her head. "Is it that time already? I lost track, I'm sorry."

"Whoa, hey. Chill, Kat," the freckled girl eased her with a shrug. "It's no problem. I got your back."

"Thanks, Smellerbee," Katara expressed her gratitude, using the girl's preferred nickname. She sprung from her seat and rushed around the room in a mild panic. Tight-fitting jeans: check. Tight-fitting T-shirt: check. She gave her hair a quick inspection - looked fine, bobbed into a thick, trailing ponytail. Jet liked the ponytail. "It's been a long week," she hurriedly explained, ensuring that her phone was in her pocket, "And I'm all...-" She huffed, scanning the room for her 'nice' shoes.

"Nervous," Smellerbee observed. "Yeeea. I can tell." She leaned against the doorway, lifting an eyebrow at the flustered girl. "What are you looking for?"

"My shoes," Katara groaned, ducking her head down to peer under bed. Katara didn't believe in owning more than a few pairs of shoes: sneakers for any occasion, flip-flops for warm weather, boots for cold weather, and flat-tops for...whatever else. This fell into the latter category. She fluttered across to Toph's end of the room, the side opposite the entrance. Nothing.

"Right here," Smellerbee grunted, kicking a pair of black sneakers into the middle of the floor from the space behind the open door where they had been wedged behind.

Those weren't the shoes I meant, but...it doesn't really matter. Yea. He's not going to care. You're being stupid, letting yourself get all worked up. Get a grip, girl.

Katara steadied her trembling hands, took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly.

"You gonna make it, there, Kat?" Smellerbee checked, holding in a chortle.

"I'm...Yea," Katara assured, arms relaxed, mind cleared. "I'm fine, just needed a sec there."

"OK." Smellerbee cocked her head to the side. "You just need to keep it chill, Katara. You're making me nervous. And I'm in military training, for Chrissake."

"I'm good." Insistence was the response she was going to keep drilling out. If she kept at it she'd force herself to not let her insecurities come through. Honestly, what was the point, anyway? Jet wasn't one to care about the chaff.


The drive to Wayward was therapeutic - the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains were their companions this Saturday afternoon, the cloudy sky watching over them. Wayward was only about ten minutes off campus, the only source of easily recognized civilization for miles. This made it the common weekend getaway location for SRU students, whether for shopping, eating out, or watching a movie. Jet was a young man who had grown up in Wayward his whole life, and Katara had met him completely by chance at the local Wegman's grocery store. She reflected on just how funny it was, how a single chance meeting with a person could change so much. She clearly remembered the moment they had met.

"Corn bread?" his gruff voice had inquired skeptically from her right. It almost frightened her with its brash, sudden delivery. She had whipped her head from the blue box of mix in her hand to the man standing no more than ten feet away.

"I-I beg your pardon?" Katara stammered, studying his casual pose with suspicious eyes. He had dark hair like brush in the woods, his bronze skin accented with fierce copper eyes that were cold and sharp. He was dressed in a pair of torn denim jeans with cowboy boots emblazoned with an ornate rose-based pattern. A leather vest was tight around his chest, his body slouching, hands in his pockets. As soon as their gaze met, he pulled his eyes away.

"Disgusting stuff," he decided. "You should make chocolate chip cookies instead, Ma'am."

Who is this creep and why does he care what I'm baking? Why is he calling me 'Ma'am?' And why does he have to be so damned good-looking? Agh!

Just as Katara was trying to convince herself that she didn't didn't like cowboy boots, the very shoes in question started clopping against the tile floor as he sauntered over to her side with confident strides.

"Oh, really?" she pointedly countered his suggestion. "And why's that?"

"You're studying for finals. Your friends will want chocolate chip cookies." He leaned down, scooped up a couple of bags of cookie mix, and casually dumped them into her cart. "Trust me," he coolly insisted, eyes like dying embers.

"How do you know I'm a student?" Katara wondered, even more uncomfortable now. She put the corn bread mix back on the shelf where she had found it, but kept her narrowed eyes attached to his every move.

"This is the first thing you picked up," he observed, removing his hands from his pockets and folding them over his chest. "But you passed this aisle by, looped around, and came back. If you lived here, you would've come straight to Aisle 4 because you'd know where the baking supplies were." He said it with such a matter-of-fact tone, as if it were so obvious. Katara snorted through her nose, unsure of whether to be impressed or disturbed.

"Also." He pointed a loose finger at her shoulder bag. "You're wearing the college logo."

Katara cast a quick glance down to her bag, noted the SRU embroidery, and bashfully looked back up to him.

"Oh, right," she muttered, her face heating up. "I, uh...yea. I'm baking some snacks for our finals cram session."

"Like I said, Ma'am." The man nodded slowly. "Chocolate chip cookies."

Arrogant little-...Who does he think he is, just barging over and telling me what to bake? OK. Stop looking at his eyes. Stop, Katara.

Despite what her mind told her, her insides were tingling and her eyes just wouldn't look away from his calm expression.

"That your grocery list?" He asked, nodding his head at her, eyes fixated on the scrap of paper she had been grasping in her hand.

"Uh...Yea," Katara raised it up and passed it into his open palm. He surveyed it carefully, humming approvingly.

He reached into a chest pocket and pulled out a pen, pressed the list against a shelf - just below the gelatin boxes - and scribbled an addition to the end of her list.

"Good luck with your tests, Ma'am," he encouraged with a sly smirk, passing the list back to her and heading off down the aisle. Katara stood, aghast, her eyes wandering downward at his lithe motions whilst he rounded the corner and vanished from sight. Her stomach was full of butterflies, her face hot, and she sighed in spite of herself. A glance at her notes brought her attention to the addition: the word 'Jet' followed by a phone number. At first she managed to wear a mindset of being repulsed, but later that evening, in retrospect, she had found their initial meeting exhilarating, mysterious, exciting...and she wanted more. So the very next day, she gave the number a dial, and the two spoke for nearly two hours about all manner of local topics, from which restaurants were better to eat at to what life was like in a woman's dormitory, to some underground indie bands that played in Wayward. Due to the busy time that was Finals Week, Katara didn't have too much trouble sneaking time off of campus alone with Jet in-between studies. Unlike her friends, she was well-prepared and had finished her projects early and knew her material well, allowing for extra time during that crazy week to get to know this bold young man, a few years her senior.

He had introduced her to his organization, shown her to parts of town she had never known existed, and their relationship was intimately physical quite quickly. Things never escalated beyond some intense kissing during that time, but Katara had surprised herself with how open she was to even that kind of behavior with a boy she had only known for a week. It was something she had always feared going into college - being swept off her feet by a dashing boy who somehow pulled her strings in such a way that inhibitions gave way to hormones. It was frustrating and taunting, but she kept coming back to it. The bonfire had been started at the end of the school year, but the summer was a slow burn full of e-mails, text messages, and plenty of phone calls, and Sokka was there to criticize her every move regarding Jet. In just a matter of minutes, that glowing fire that had been in the distance for so long would be piled with more wood and light up once again, but Katara was now plagued with doubt as to whether this was a good idea.

What am I doing? This guy's a bad influence. My friends don't even like him. I always have to go to him, he never comes to me...

"You OK, Kat?"

"Wh-?" Katara's mind had been so lost that all that she had been processing in the physical realm was driving straight ahead.

She turned down the radio volume a notch and gave Smellerbee as potent a smile as she could muster.

"Of course. I'm great. I'm about to finally see him again."

"Good. Jesus, all the guy's been talking about all week is is 'Katara-this' and 'Katara-that.'"

"Really?"

"It's annoying. No offense."

"Heh." Katara bit her bottom lip just a bit and smiled. "Once Jet sets his mind on something, he doesn't drop the case, does he?"

"Nope," groaned the girl from the passenger's seat. "At least you're better than his last girlfriend."

"Oh?" Katara chuckled. "That's good to hear...I guess?"

"Man, she was just a crazy-ass bitch," Smellerbee grumbled bitterly.

"I guess I'm a little more tolerable, huh?"

"Just a little."

"Thanks, Bee," Katara chortled, shaking her head and guiding the car past the "Welcome to Wayward" sign.

"Still remember the way?"

"Go down this road, take a right at the main plaza...-" Katara trailed off, her memory failing her. She'd only come this way a few times.

"Haha, don't sweat, I'll get ya there."


It was a Saturday afternoon at the Treetop Pub, a surprisingly cozy place on the outskirts of Wayward, and the place was expectantly dull given the time of day. Katara immediately was uneasy, but with Smellerbee at her side, the familiarity of the pub washed over her after entry and she remembered how polite and welcoming a place it was. When Katara thought of bars, she was always wary and uneasy, but the Treetop Pub was nothing to be afraid of.

"What can I get you ladies?" the bartender called out from behind the counter as they passed by. He was a stout man with a wide face and seemed to always look a bit grouchy whenever Katara laid eyes on him.

"They're with us, Sneers." That collected, gruff voice - it was him.

In the back corner of the bar, huddled over a large, round table of wood, Jet sat with a few of his compatriots, tall glass mugs full of beer strewn about the table - though Jet himself had only a glass of water. One of them rose to his feet and approached them, his tall, bony face perking into a smile. A Caucasian, he had an almost beak-like nose and incredibly short brown hair.

"Hey." Smellerbee's normally jagged voice lost its edge in that single word and she pecked the boy on the nose before clasping his hand and leading back to the table. Katara followed, grinning at the quirky couple. Of everyone she had met in Jet's group, they were the only two she felt any kind of connection with - besides the leader himself, of course, who stood up, the seat beside him noticeably empty.

"Glad you could make it, Kat," he said, like spreading butter with words. "We missed you."

"Yea," Katara replied simply. The words, 'I missed you, too,' were on the tip of her tongue but something was forcing them from escaping. She stretched out her arms and welcomed the Latino man into a hug - his hands attached themselves around her hips and he tilted his head, immediately diving in for a kiss. The contact was intoxicating and her resolve crumbled, giving in to his bold advance. Tongues slithered together briefly and quickly retracted, and Katara's heart pounded in her chest from the swiftness of it all - the goading catcalls from the table didn't make her any more comfortable. She wanted to regret what she had just done, but the will simply wasn't there to genuinely do so. Katara may not have been in that bar to drink alcohol but she was already feeling drunk on something else.

She couldn't help but gawk for a moment at the unlit cigarette hanging from Jet's lips. It seemed like at every possible opportunity he always had one in his mouth but rarely would ever light it - as far as she could ascertain he would keep a cigarette in his mouth all day, consuming it in the evening, if at all. He never smoked in her presence, she had come to realize, as if in some attempt to spare her of his habit.

Feeling somewhat like a trophy of sorts, Katara sat herself between Jet and Smellerbee at the table, wondering what it was that was going on.

"All right, guys, since Kat's here we oughtta wrap this up." He gave her a wink. "We've got some catching up to do."

"A'ight," one of his members piped up, "So whadda we gotta do next, then?"

"It's that time of year, Jim - time to pick up some fresh meat."
Fresh meat? That certainly doesn't sound good.

"Freshmen," Jim realized with a grin. "That's good, Jet - that's good. We could use a coupla extra pairs o' hands 'round here."

"I already found a couple that I think would work," Smellerbee jumped in, wiping her nose with her sleeve. "Gimme 'til next weekend and I bet I can convince 'em to show up for an orientation."

"Who are they?" Jet inquired, leaning back in his seat.

"They're neighbors of Longshot's," she bobbed her head to the boy whose hand she clutched on the table's surface. "They've got the kind of spirit we're lookin' for, I can tell." Longshot nodded his head approvingly, saying not a word, his face solemn.

"All right, then," Jet conceded with a shrug. "I guess that's settled. You get 'em to come here next weekend and we should be golden - we only need a couple."

Katara couldn't help but wonder how good an idea it was, pulling in freshman kids into an environment like this, but this wasn't her organization, so she wasn't going to say anything - for now. Knowing Jet and the way his group worked, if he was pulling in someone new it was probably entirely innocent. Yea. Had to be.

"Anything else, folks?" Jet wondered, glancing around the table. Shrugs and head-shakes. "Well, OK, then." Jet knocked his fist into the table, declaring, "Freedom Fighters adjourned!"

The Freedom Fighters were a group of young adults who were constantly fighting against big business in one way or another. Their mission statement entailed instilling Wayward with a stronger sense of local community, free of oppression. They were always trying to support small mom-and-pop places, promote indie bands and artists, and help out struggling small-time restaurants. It seemed like every week there was a fundraiser of some kind they were facilitating.

Jet led Katara out of the bar and to his motorcycle - nothing fancy, just a dinged-up old two-wheel creature with a strong sense of loyalty. Jet grabbed the plain black helmet from the handlebar and passed it to Katara. She strapped it on and slipped herself onto the bike behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist securely. Neither said a word for the duration of the couple of minutes they spent driving back to Jet's apartment, a small but surprisingly neat abode that peered out onto a business avenue. They made small talk for a few minutes, catching each other up on more minor events of the past week. Jet poured himself some scotch but knew better than to offer her some. Very much like his smoking, drinking seemed to be something Jet fortunately kept in check - she only ever witnessed him drink one glass of anything at a time, and generally only within the confines of his home. The mid afternoon seemed an odd time to drink, but Jet wasn't exactly a terribly consistent young man, making it all the more tricky to get a good read on him.

"So, that's why they won't let me on campus now," he grunted out in conclusion to his story.

Katara sighed, sprawled across his plain brown couch, her head in his lap. Their proximity was refreshing.

"Just because of some spray paint?" Katara wasn't entirely sure which side of this argument she was on, but in the presence of her boyfriend, a certain bias took hold.

"I guess the administration didn't appreciate the irony in my work," he chuckled, taking a sip before running his hand across the top of her head.

"Graffiti on the windows of the president's office might have that effect."

"Weird part is, the guy had his secretary take a picture of it. He was laughing. Like he thought it was funny."

"Well...Didn't you mean for it to be funny?"

"Not to him! I was insulting him, Kat."

"Ha." She winked at him with a sly grin. "You must not know our president very well, then. Anyway, at least you didn't get in more trouble."

"True." Another sip. "Agh. Yea, I mean...guy let me off easy, just said that if I cleaned it up and stayed off campus he wouldn't press charges."

"He's a pretty easy-going guy like that."

"Unlike you," Jet teased.

"Wh-what? I-I'm easy-going," Katara insisted, obviously flustered. "I am!"

"Yeeea. That kind of reaction?" A wide grin poured out. "Just proves my point, Kat."

Katara felt her insides squirming around in discomfort.

Who am I kidding? I'm anything but easy-going...

"How about we watch some TV?" Jet offered. He leaned forward to pick up the remote from his coffee table. On his way back, he gave pause, his head hovering her face. He pressed his lips against her neck and her nerves ignited, like coal set ablaze. Time became a blur as logic was drowned by hormones. No clothing was removed and nothing more sensual than their previous interactions transpired, but what did was fueled by physicality and repression bursting free.

Rrrmmmm.

Everything skidded to a halt, their lips dangling open across one another.

Rrrmmmm.

"Oh, that's...-" Katara, her body weighed down by Jet's, wormed her hand into her pocket, retrieving her phone.

Rrrmmmm.

[Call From]
[Aang]

"I should take this," she sheepishly decided with a shrug, sitting up as he sat himself beside her. She caught a quick glance of the time on his cable box: [4:42pm]

"Yea, go ahead," Jet mumbled, clearing his throat and wiping his lip.

Katara flipped open the phone and gave Aang an overly sweet, "Heeey, what's up?"

["Hey, Katara. We were just wondering, like, if you were eating dinner with us tonight, or...-?"]

"Oh!" Precisely the type of thing she was hoping for when her phone had gone off. "Right! Yea, I am."

["Great! We're just gonna meet up at the ACC at 5:30. OK?"]

"Sure. I'll see you then."

["'Kay!"]

Katara closed her phone, brushing sweaty, disheveled stray strands of hair from her face.

"I'm meeting up with them for dinner," she explained, trying to make it seem pre-planned. "Sorry," she murmured.

"Nah, it's...it's cool," Jet mumbled with a shrug. He was disappointed, she could tell. What was she supposed to do? She was thankful for the escape, conflicted by how easily she seemed to lose herself in the man's presence. Her body was saying yes and her mind was saying no - bleck. Dear God, the very fact that this was case was giving her a stomach ache.

"And, uh...tomorrow I'm going to be busy all day," she reminded him with a shaky sigh.

"Hey, it's my own fault I didn't come to dinner with you yesterday," Jet confessed. "You're a student. Life is busy. I get it." He didn't really get it. His words were drenched with the same doubt Sokka had expressed the night prior. Katara was conflicted, trying to decide whether she should let that bitterness linger in his mind or not. His broken expression gnawed away at her and she gave in.

"Tuesday," she blurted out. "Tuesday night I'm free. I have nothing going on."

"We have a small gig we'll be helping with," Jet noted. "I could pick you up - we could go together?"

"Yea!" she leaped at the chance to give him optimism before she left. "That...sssounds great!"

"Cool." Jet ran his hand through her ponytail, tugging her into a final embrace and kiss, which she almost resisted. Almost.

What is wrong with me?

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

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Hard chapter to write. I don't like Jet - I never have, I was always in the Sokka boat on that subject. :XD: But he has his role to play in this plot. The fact is that Katara fell for him pretty easily in the Last Airbender despite logic, and I want to enforce that here but of course under different circumstances.
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:iconhihereami:
HiHereAmI Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I dont understand,Bee and Longshot,are a couple?Are togheter,togheter?
Gorgeous story!
Reply
:icondestiny-smasher:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yes. They have a complicated period of time time where they're separated, but eventually they do get back together. =)
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the story, where it goes, and the many artworks made for it!
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:iconhihereami:
HiHereAmI Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
YAY!
Im reading,im reading,im in chapter 9,i have soo much to read-...xDDD
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:icondestiny-smasher:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yep, there's a lot! It's like a TV show or a comic series -- a long, involved story.
Reply
:iconhihereami:
HiHereAmI Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Now I am in Ch. 25 :3
Yep,You are right
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:iconpunker--rocker:
punker--rocker Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, where is SRU supposed to be located, again? I saw "Appalachians" and then "Wegmans" so it's definitely east coast. (Wegmans it the best grocery store ever lol, is it dorky that I have a favorite?)

PS, yeah I finally started reading this. :D
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:icondestiny-smasher:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
[link]
Thanks for giving this a read, I hope you enjoy it! I've put a lot of work into this project, and while it starts off a bit slow I think it picks up the further you get into it.

And it doesn't become important until later, I guess, but the town is a fictional town named "Wayward" somewhere in middle PA, I guess you could say. =)

And yes, Wegmans used to be my fav before I moved to the west coast. ;)
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:iconpunker--rocker:
punker--rocker Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm liking it so far! I have to pace myself though, I read the other one in like two days. :D There are gonna be Korra characters in this one right?
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:icondestiny-smasher:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, yea, pace yourself, no rush. The story's not done yet, after all.
And yes, Korra characters eventually start showing up, but it's later on. Korra herself becomes prominent in the last third or so of the story. =)
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:iconpunker--rocker:
punker--rocker Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome! I can't wait. :D
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