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A/N:If you think you might be interested in giving me some commission work, please feel free to e-mail me at that address or send me a message through this website with what you have in mind. I am incredibly grateful for all of the support you guys have given my work across multiple websites and wrote a journal about that here:

I'm just not sure what I can be doing to help myself out of this whole situation, but felt that it couldn't hurt to ask.

With that business out of the way, I hope you all enjoy this heavy chapter - I put a lot of myself into it and it's probably the chapter I have combed over and tweaked the most so far (something I actually don't do a lot). It's one of the most important chapters in the whole story.

What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 64 - Collide

- Monday, February 21st, 2011 -

Jane sighed as she set the prepared wrap on a plate, dropped a pickle spear next to it, and placed it on the counter. She dully announced into the speaker system.


From their normal booth at Appa's, Aang and Sokka were having a lunch break together, having both just gotten out of class. Sokka's food had been finished first, and he was already partway through eating it. He had cautiously watched Jane's uncertain expression as she'd announced Aang's name, and the way she'd suddenly turned away as soon as he moved from his booth. By the time he went to go get his food, she was back at the grill, adjusting her cap and uneventfully ignoring him.

"Thanks!" he called to her over the counter with a bright smile. She didn't respond, tending to a batch a curly fries that had been in their oil just long enough. Aang shrugged it off, still puzzled about her friend's attitude. He just couldn't comprehend all of the women around him lately. As he sat down with his veggie wrap, his back to the workspace Jane resided in, he took a large bite of out his pickle.

"You go ahead and eat your vegetable sandwich," Sokka scoffed. "She's made me a burger, so I'm gonna have to tell her how it is. Ginger's still trying to work out the kinks."

"Mm," Aang nodded, his jaws slicing the pickle absentmindedly.

He'd been considering asking Sokka about this for a while. After all, Sokka was her brother...and he knew her better than anyone, right? After he swallowed his pickle, he paused.

"So, Sokka...You know some stuff about ladies, right?"

"Some stuff?" Sokka went wide-eyed. "Come to your senses about what I was sayin' huh?" A sly grin formed. "You've come to the right place, my friend." Sokka waggled his eyebrows in a way that made Aang slightly uncomfortable. "What can I do ya for?"

"Well...So, I mean, I know we've been talking about it really vaguely and all," Aang huffed, then spoke in a clear voice. "I have been having some awkwardness with this girl, right?"

Sokka's eyes had wandered away from his roommate while he was speaking, planting themselves suspiciously on the red-headed grill-cook.

"Ya know, Bud, I've thought on it a bit more, and I think I know who ya mean," Sokka cockily assured, keeping his voice low. You can keep denying it, Bud, but I know what the deal is here.

Aang's jaw went agape. Had Sokka finally figured it out?

"You do?" he choked out in a loud spat. "And you're...OK with it?"

"Of course I am," Sokka spewed hastily, keeping his tone low. His gaze averted back to Jane, who was gawking at them, having apparently overheard Aang's outburst of shock. She looked disconcerted. This made Sokka amused. "And, to tell you the truth," he went on, voice lowered, "I've been picking up a subtle vibe that she likes you, too."

"She...She does?" Aang whispered, matching Sokka's decibel level. Aang practically couldn't eat anymore at this point.

"Oh-yea - she's crazy about ya," Sokka was quick to insist, like it wasn't anything at all. "All ya have to do now is not mess it up." He jabbed a finger at Aang's chest.

Sokka's right! I can't ruin this, it's such a complicated situation...

"W-well, how do I do that?" Aang's eyes were blinking furiously. Finally! Maybe he'd get somewhere this time in a talk with Sokka on the matter.

"The number one mistake nice guys like you make?" Sokka shook his head slowly. "Being too nice."

"You can be too nice?" Monkey-feathers! Maybe that's why she was avoiding me before? I'm being too...'into' her? Giving her too much attention?

"Oh, yea. If you wanna keep her interested, you have to act aloof - like you don't really care one way or the other."

Huh, I guess that...kind of makes sense...? Katara has been saying how she needs space, and...everything.

"Well...OK..." Aang ruffled his hair, contemplating it all. "Hm..." He got up with his cup, which was still empty, and paced over to the soda fountain, in a mental daze.


Jane placed the next meal on her list onto the counter, then shimmied down the window to where Aang stood, addle-brained, filling his cup with raspberry tea as Sokka observed with delight.

"Yo," she greeted, suddenly interested in interaction. Aang was too lost in thought to pay her much heed. "Everything all right over there?" Jane grunted out with curiosity.

Aang simply shrugged to this, popping the cap on his cup as he scratched at his head feverishly, beginning to walk away.

"Er...R-right, cool," Jane called back. "I've got my own stuff goin' on, anyway. Catch ya later."

"Mm," Aang hummed back with a zombie's shrug.

"Wow...That-kid-is-good..." Sokka muttered to himself, going to stroke his beard, only to realize it wasn't there, having been shaved off the night prior. It was rough and scratchy, like sandpaper. This bothered him. Sandpaper-face wasn't manly. And yet shaved was what it needed to remain if he wanted proper make-outage that night.

- Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 -

Sokka's search was proving to be unyieldingly frustrating. An hour of internet searching and he couldn't seem to find very many leads on jobs he felt confident he could actually apply for, but he tossed some applications out there, anyway. Grah, everyone wanted work experience that he didn't have. What was he supposed to do with that? He was relieved when his sister arrived, catching him off guard without any previous contact.

"Yo," he greeted with nonchalance from his desk, trying to mask his underlying stress.

"Hey, Sokka," Katara nodded as she lingered in his open doorway, her attention distracted as she glanced down the hallway.

"What's up?"

"Nothing, I was...just around." She stepped into the room.


"Aang's, um...-" Her hands were wedged in her coat pockets. "-...out working on art...stuff. Huh?"

"Uh, actually, I think he went out for a jog." Sokka thumbed to the window of their room.

"Oh. Right. Well...That's cool." Katara nodded.

Sokka rubbed at his fleshy stomach from beneath his wrinkled, greenish-plaid button-down. He pinched at a bit of flab.

"Startin' to wonder if maybe I oughtta follow his lead..."

Katara shrugged at this, pulling her hands out of her coat.

"Erm...I dunno. You look fine to me."

"Meh..." I'm your brother, your opinion doesn't count in these things.

"Suki's been badgering you to get in shape. That's it, isn't it?"

"Yea..." Sokka huffed through his nose, running his hand through his hair, which was tied up in in a tight tail. Now that Katara thought on it, he'd been wearing it like that when he wasn't with Suki, and had his hair down when he was with her. Normally he had been leaving it down all of time, so...what was with the change?

"Well..." Katara shrugged. "That sort of thing is up to you...You know?"

"Right." Sokka's jaw slid to the side in contemplation while Katara's hands fidgeted with one of her tied locks of hair that hung over her shoulder. There was silence for a moment.

"Rockin' the hair droopies a lot lately," Sokka remarked with a slow gesture of his index in her direction.

"Huh...?" Katara's hands popped off of her hanging locks and onto her temples in confusion.

"The, uh...-" Sokka waggled his finger across his sideburn. "The hair droopies." Katara suddenly realized Sokka was referring to the tied locks she'd sometimes set in front of either ear.

"As opposed to hair loopies," Katara dully sought clarification. Her brother needed a stupid name for everything. She flicked one of the hanging locks with her wrist. "These?" she grumbled.

"Exactly. You've been wearing the loopies and the droopies a lot lately. What's up with that?"

"Uhh...-?" A raised brow and a shrug while she checked to ensure her forehead 'loopies' were still in tact. "Just...feel like it, I guess..." I remember Aang used to say that he liked them - thought they made me look 'unique.'

"Ah." Sokka rubbed at his chin, which was bare.

"You shaved your little beard off," Katara observed with impatience, almost as some weak-willed counter.

"Yea," Sokka sighed. "Suki doesn't like the scruff..."

"You look nice, though."

"Thanks. You, too."

More silence, as both pondered their own circumstances.

"I, uh...haven't heard much from Aang lately...Is he doing OK?" She hadn't gotten any messages from him since their last encounter on that walk from the art building.

"Pff," Sokka tossed his arm. "Totally. If anything happens, I'll report it straight to you, Miss Madame Lady All-Seeing Overseer Lady." When I hook these two up, I am gonna so rub it in your face, Sis.

"Uhm..." Katara's jaw slid to the side with some irritation at his foolish name, but she decided to let it pass this time. She sighed and rolled the topic off. "So...Sokka, when you have a big, super stressful decision you have to make...What do you do to help you decide?"

"I make a list," Sokka had immediately replied, like it was nothing. Like it was so simple.

"A list." Katara was thoroughly unimpressed with this answer.

"Yea. Ya just...write down the pros and cons of the choice you're thinking of making."

"Hm..." Katara twirled her finger through a hair 'droopie' for a moment. Gee, lotta freakin' help, Sokka...

Sokka's eyebrows furrowed. "Why? What's up?"

"You don't want to know," Katara wrote off the matter, still a tad bitter about his insistence on not hearing her out earlier in the week.

"Ah. Gotcha..." His eyes remained suspicious for a moment before his gaze was averted back to his computer.

"So..." Katara's eyes rolled across the room, and she found herself regretting her impromptu visit. No Aang, and no help from her brother. "How's things going with getting Korra that place?"

"Good," Sokka obliged, clicking at his USB mouse. "She's pretty much set up now. Just needs to...ya know...move out here."

"Oh. Cool. So...we're helping with that, right?"

"Yea, next weekend."

"Neat. That's...just so crazy. She'll be right nearby."

"I know. I'm actually kinda stoked. It's funny how things work out sometimes, am I right?"

"Yea..." Katara nodded. She wasn't as enthused as Sokka, but then again, she and Korra didn't mesh quite as well. Now that she thought about it, she realized that maybe if Korra was nearby, they'd get more acquainted with each other, and feel more like family. Katara liked that prospect. "OK, well...Anyway..." She nodded, stepping back to the door. "Just thought I'd say 'hi.' I actually have some homework and stuff to do."

"Oh." Sokka was actually a bit disappointed, but he let it roll off. "Sure thing. Good seein' ya, Sis."

"Yea. You, too, Sokka."

As Katara turned around, Sokka caught her with his words.

"Would it hurt to call me 'Bro?' Eh? I mean...I call you 'Sis' all the time..."

Katara stopped in midstep and looked back over her shoulder with an amused smirk at his mock-puppy-eyes. She could see through the layer of glazed sarcasm that there was actually some intent.

"No, it wouldn't," she said with a warm smirk, her eyelids sliding just a tad closed in endearment. "Have a good night, Bro," she teased.

{"The consequences of our actions are so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed."}

Her classes were complete. Her reading for Wednesday had been read - well enough, at least. Her homework was finished. Her roommate - recovered from illness, elsewhere, probably being a stupid stick in the mud.

Katara stared at her paper, surveying the two columns she'd scribbled down.

I can't believe I'm actually doing this...

{+ Sweet}
{+ Thoughtful of others}

{- Hurting Toph}
{- Awkwardsauce}

She tapped her pen against her lips thoughtfully before writing more.

{+ Cute}

Hm. Cute. Did that...count? Wasn't that obvious? If she was considering dating a guy, wasn't that supposed to be a prerequisite? Then again...she had dated Jet. And Jet hadn't been 'cute.' It was very different. Hm...Even her boyfriends back in high school hadn't really been 'cute,' either...Sure, that counted for something...If anything, it differentiated Aang. Her attention went back to the {Cons} section.

{- Hurting Jane}

Was that fair? Would she really be hurting Jane if she decided to date Aang? It would kind of be, like...going back on her word, in a sense. Crap. She had been saying there was nothing going on like that...Urgh, but...that was just because Jane had been so forceful about it. A-and that's really what she had thought at the time! Right? So, if Jane got hurt, it wasn't her fault. She'd never asked for any of that. Gah, no. This did not count. No, no. She scratched lines through the words in frustration.

{- H===ng J===}

Bleh...But if Jane didn't count, why did Toph? Well, because...because. It just did. That was a different matter...Yea. Urgh, but...What about what Meng had said?

[fortuneteller114 - i love her but she's been making stupid choices. her feelings aren't your rsponsibility right now.]
[fortuneteller114 - YOURS are.]

Katara amended the first item on the {Cons} list.

{- Hurting Toph (?)}

Hm. What else was there?

{- Insecurity}

Aang had seemed pretty down on himself a lot lately. Toph had taken things he was already self-conscious of, dragged them out into the open, and stomped on them. Over and over. Although, Katara found herself wondering exactly what Aang was feeling insecure about these days. He had been wary about the sexual aspects of his relationship with Toph - about how needed to "take it slow." For Toph this had been horrible, she couldn't stand it. Katara found herself wondering if this was really a bad thing for her, though. Maybe taking things slow was what she'd been missing this whole time with past guys - she found herself just...kind of jumping into the physical side, and so that was what had become the basis of things.

Aang wanted to take things slow, but...did that really make him insecure? Especially when he seemed to sure about what he could for others? Hm. Katara knew Aang was unsure of himself in some regards, but this was a decision from her perspective, not Toph's or Sokka's, who would call him "un-manly." In this regard, she altered the writing.

{- Insecurity (?)}

She moved back to the {Pros} section, having covered what had come to mind for negatives.

{+ Brave}

The word spilled out on the paper before Katara really thought about it. Brave? Aang? Really? Why'd she put that down? Aang was a cuddly teddy bear, and-...Well, wait...

Because he stood up to Toph - which wasn't easy because damn, she could be pretty cut-throat and tear you down...Because he had the courage to end such a close romance that he knew wasn't working, even though he'd risk losing one of the few friends he had. Because he was going to college in the first place, despite no safety net, practically no outside support. Because he was pushing to use his art to help others, which meant putting it out there and opening the floodgates for criticism. Because, despite all of the social awkwardness, he'd expressed his feelings to Katara through action, putting yet another of his few friendships at stake. Because he was learning to stand up for himself, and what he believed in, and not take crap from people, even - especially - the people he loved.

Because he strived to keep his friends in balance with one another.

Yea, he was brave.

{"There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."}

Katara caught herself biting on the end of her pen when she'd reached the end of this thread of thought. Another word tumbled out.

{+ Wise}

Because he was constantly thinking of his own faults and how his choices affected those around him. Because despite his past, he didn't let himself be consumed by rage and regret and pain. Because he could be humble and learn from his mistakes, and thus was growing and becoming confident in his abilities. Because he could tell the difference between an argument that would actually get something accomplished and one where people simply got hurt. Because he understood that power wasn't a goal in and of itself, but rather a tool to be used in finding peace. Because he never accepted the notion he knew enough but instead accepted that there always more to learn.

Because he understood that the variety of people he specifically put in his life - each element they brought with them - was something he could learn from.

Yes...Aang was wise for his age, huh?

{Prov. 18:15}
{The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.}

{+ Tenacious}

Katara bit her lip as she surveyed this word. (In doing so, she slipped into the puddle of recalling the taste of his lips - it was that physical spark, that action of his, that had generated the word in her mind. He'd gone out and kissed her - that had been brave. And then he'd kissed her again when she expressed uncertainty. OK, that hadn't been so wise, was also irregular for him. And it had shown tenacity, either way - despite her wibbly-wobbly stance on the whole thing, Aang seemed rather insistent on trying to win her over in his own way, because...well...Katara wished she knew, actually. Then again, Aang had been so determined to work things out with Toph, as well. He was this when it came to loving someone, it seemed.

But it wasn't just that - the romance. Aang had come to be so...unrelenting when he actually decided what he wanted to do. He'd decided he wanted to get in shape, and he'd been running - every day, it sounded like. He wanted to do something with his art, and he was dead-set on continuing the United Republic project with Zuko. Most importantly, Aang worked so hard to maintain his connections to everyone - he was insistent on staying friends with Toph through the pain, through her pulling and pushing and fussing. It reminded her of how she was like this, herself - refusing to give up on people.

{"Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open."}

{+ Virtuous}

Yet another word simply poured itself out from her pen, seemingly on its own, too. Katara stared at it for a moment. She recounted the many discussions she had shared with Aang after he'd come with her to church, about all manner of things - talks that would spill from church to the ride home right into lunch. They'd discuss so many matters of the world, of life - and how to live it. Early on, she'd been surprised at how such a seemingly naive boy could possess such strong beliefs hidden by his sweet exterior. But by now, she expected their values to line up. How she viewed the world, what she believed was "best" and "right" and "just"...Aang consistently felt the same way. When it came to the things that mattered, Aang's sight matched her own.

The last person she'd given her heart to - Jet - had lost so much...and he had let the pain consume him. He let it excuse him to do horrible things, to spread that pain to others. Good intentions or not, it had caused pain.

Aang had lost far more than Jet. He hadn't just lost his parents - he'd lost everyone - and yet he chose, so deliberately, to still spread love and kindness, instead.

The world had robbed him of a mother, a father, brothers, sisters, It had shoved hurt, and neglect, and abuse down his throat.

And yet, when he spoke, peace emerged. Heh. When he wasn't all adorably stuttering. Heehee.

God, if Aang wasn't virtuous, then...who did she know that was?

Katara's brain was buzzing, a hive of pride at her friend's qualities. She enhanced what'd she'd written.

{+ Virtuous}

How could she have been so stupid before? Dating a guy like Jet? A brooding, selfish, arrogant man who had only acted out of desire. He'd acted on what was best for him. Y-yes, he...had been pretty hot. With rippling muscles, and an utterly throbbing-...Ahem. But...but still! Seriously? Yes, the sex had been so the same way that...a filling meal was. Nothing more. A...biological need, and nothing more. Looking back, the physicality of their relationship had been driven by hormones and lebido, not-...Ugh. She didn't know. Nothing that mattered? love? Or affection, maybe? Mutual respect?

She remembered how insecure she had been back in high school, worried about her looks - people would make fun of her frizzy hair and her fat nose and how she'd carried her books, and how she'd dressed, and how she was a klutz sometimes, and how she'd stutter when she got nervous, and how she'd fuss over everything, and be a "teacher's pet."

Jet - Haru, even - had made her feel...pretty and elegant. Something she had wanted to feel for so long. And what a petty, childish thing to focus on that had been. Her body, their bodies...that had become the focus. But with Aang, he made her spirit feel beautiful. Just her existence, her words - that what was brought him joy and comfort. Other guys would gawk at her breasts, or her hips, and Aang would stare at her face, and listen to her words with baited breath. Katara had...done a lot with Jet, more than she had ever thought she would have. And she regretted it now. But with Aang...they would touch each other in so many subtle, small ways that meant so much more, even when romance wasn't even on the table. The motivations, the source of the contact, it meant so much more than the actual physical touch did.

Jet had been practically her opposite, and she had poured so much attention into him...He had been such a broken...child. Lost and confused, misled and uncertain of his own identity in the world, lying and scheming and being paranoid about losing all of that social power he'd horded. And being around him - dating him - had made her paranoid. His anger, his obsessiveness, his overreacting and selfishness, it had rubbed off on her, and pulled her away from her friends. But despite that, she had thought she could...fix him. Ugh. Such a weakness of hers, always wanting to fix everything and everyone...

Aang was just as broken as any person. But the difference was that he didn't need any fixing. When something was wrong, he 'fixed' himself.

With Jet, Katara had struggled to make him grow up into the kind of guy she could respect. She'd pushed to make him realize how the people around him could help him become strong.

Aang already was the kind of guy she respected, and he'd made himself that way because he already knew how to gain that strength from those around him.

Katara was rapping her pen against the paper in a mental frenzy, stupidly giddy with how she had never really matched these pieces up in her own mind, having let herself get deluded into seeing Aang for what he had been instead of what he had become in just a year and half's time.

But...but, whoa, wait up here. What if they dated? What if she made a mistake? What if - God forbid - she somehow managed to really hurt him? The way Toph had? How would he react? Well...How had he reacted to Toph?

{+ Tenacious}

Aang had tried so hard to make things work, even when his heart had been cracked down the middle and she'd blasted his 'manlihood' into the ground. He had refused to give up on their friendship...

{+ Brave}

...but Aang had also learned to stop letting Toph push him around, and he'd stood up for what he'd felt. How much he'd been hurt, how wrongly she'd treated him. He'd let his anger out at Toph...

{+ Wise}

...and then he had let that anger go. He didn't punish her or pursue any kind of revenge. He'd done nothing in retaliation...

{+ Virtuous}

...No, that wasn't entirely right. It was easy to do nothing. But it was hard to forgive. And he had forgiven.

{"Soon the time will come when you must make the choice between what is right and what is easy."}

Aang had chosen to forgive Toph without a second thought. That was...just how he was. He had chosen to keep Toph in his life when - in many's eyes - she didn't deserve it. And in making that choice, he'd made himself stronger, and Katara had faith that - as soon as she pulled her head out of the dirt - Toph would become stronger, too.

Another concept joined the others now.

{+ Natural}

Aang didn't make Katara feel uneasy and wary like Jet did. She rarely had reason to be upset with him. She had never doubted putting trust in him. She never was putting on an act around him, she never felt like Aang wanted her to act any differently than she already did, and vice versa. Jet had wanted Katara to change, and Katara had wanted Jet to change. Toph had wanted Aang to act differently, and Aang had wanted Toph to act differently.

But Katara and Aang never seemed to run into this issue.

When Katara had conversations with Aang, even when they stumbled and stuttered, somehow their words flowed like water.

When either of them were feeling down, the other would uplift them like wind under their wings.

Bent over her notepad on her bed, cross-legged, Katara was at this point sipping on a mug of tea she'd brewed at the start of this process. It had cooled down during her brainstrorming, an indicator of how long she'd actually been contemplating all of this. Her brain full of vigor and realization, Katara surveyed the list.

{+ Sweet}
{+ Thoughtful of others}
{+ Brave}
{+ Wise}
{+ Tenacious}
{+ Virtuous}
{+ Natural}

{- Hurting Toph (?)}
{- Awkwardsauce}
{- H===ng J===}
{- Insecurity (?)}

Katara scratched her head with the back end of her pen. Was it lopsided like that? All of the {Pros} were things she found herself...attracted to. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually...and it made her friend, who she had always found kind of cute but dorky, all the more attractive - in a way she couldn't explain. But...Grah, most of the things she'd put in the {Cons} she wasn't even so sure deserved to be there. Bleh. Was her judgment really so clouded? Whenever she thought of a problem, a had nothing to do with her. It was...something that impacted others.

When Jet had problems, he'd let pride, his perception of 'honor,' get in the way, and he'd pushed Katara - and Jane, and Johnny, everyone - outside. When Aang had problems, he let people in because he knew that admitting humility was the first step to overcoming his mistakes.

Aang was always pulling in people all around him - all different kinds. He seemed to be able to get along with anyone, even those who were so opposite of him, like Toph. Katara, likewise, worked to hold those people together. They always seemed to be working as a team to keep everyone in balance, now that she thought about it.

Katara always found herself running around trying to 'fix' everyone's problems, especially the men - no, the boys - she had dated.

But Aang was the one person she did not have to fix.

Drawing in a deep, peaceful breath, Katara looked over at the drawings she had hung on the wall, above the foot of her bed and beside the doorway and light switch.

An Otter-Penguin, waving its four fins out, curiously staring at her with the cutest button eyes as it waddled along - the drawing she'd received for Christmas.

A willow tree, swaying in the breeze, with stars inexplicably hanging from the tips of some of its branches. It rested on a small hill, alone, a large crescent moon arching over top from the left - the drawing she'd received when she was depressed over her breakup with Jet.

With everything that had been going on this schoolyear, and for all of her attention to details, Katara had lost sight of the obvious. She'd lost perspective on the bigger picture.

{"Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end - if not always in the way we expect."}

- Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 -

{It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.}

[To: Aang]
[So...What do you think? Are you free tomorrow morning, or was 8 too early?]
[Sent: 6:12pm]

The day had gone by in a blur. Still no response from Aang all day. Katara could feel her heart sinking inch by inch as each hour had passed that day with no word back from him. Suddenly, in a day's time, what had been so confusing and uncertain and muddled was so...clear.

Katara found herself meandering to the ACC, aimlessly. Wait, wait...No, there had been some reason...Man, her brain was so addled and giddy. It was like being drunk, in a way. Heehee.


[From: Jane]
[yo yo. you down for dinner tonite?]
[Sent: 6:17pm]

Katara grimaced at the message as she stood in a hallway of the ACC. Some students were passing her by, grabbing their coats off hooks from the rack attached to the wall. Katara sheepishly squirmed out of their way, having been engulfed by her phone.


As they all romped off, she contemplated a reply, heading downstairs to Appa's.

[To: Jane]
[Sorry, I'm eating alone tonight. I'll catch you back at the dorm.]
[Sent: 6:19pm]

In Appa's, things were rather busy, as it was All-You-Can-Eat-Pizza Night. Katara found herself weaving around fellow students and even some members of the community who'd migrate with their families for the occasion.

"Hey, Sis!"

"Wha-?" Katara flinched from the slap on the back she received, her shoulders tightening as she was ripped from her thoughts. "Sokka?"

"Yo! Here for dinner?" Sokka stretched his arm out to 'their' booth near the counter of Appa's. Aang was sitting on one end, nearly finished with a plate of pizza, while Toph was-...Toph? Wh-what was she doing here? Neither seemed to be paying her presence any heed.

"Uh, n-no, I was just, um...-" she sputtered in a delayed response to Sokka, when he'd started easing to the table.

"Our voodoo magic summoned you here, didn't it?" Sokka concluded with a smug grin. "Me and Aang were just chillin', and who comes grumpin' about but ol' Dead-Eyes, here." They reached the side of the table. "She had been lulled here, just like you, unable to resist our spell."

"Bite me," Toph grunted, leaned back in her seat with a sour expression.

"Oh..." Aang finally acknowledged her presence with a dulled expression befitting of him. "Hey, Katara. I didn't see you there."

"Ya really oughtta get in line," Sokka advised, dragging her into the thankfully short row of people lined up in front of the register.

Katara's mind was mush. It was like a stream-of-conscious except her entire body was 'streaming,' just carelessly moving from one place to the next. She'd been this way all day. After a couple of people in line had check out, she turned her head over her shoulder to see Sokka and Toph discussing something. Whatever it was, Sokka seemed rather serious, which was curious. Aang was just eating his food like he had been, without a care in a world, it seemed.

Pff. Hello? I'm right here. You're not...looking at me, Aang. Come on.

No amount of telepathy seemed to be working.

"Hey. So whatcha want?"

"Eh?" She whirled around to see the bleak, half-dead expression of Sokka's boss staring her down with unenthused impatience.

"Your order?" June elicited, her tone dead as a door nail.

"O-oh, just...the pizza deal."

"Shocker," June sighed, ringing her up and taking her money, which she paid with her debit card, having forgot she didn't have any cash on her at the moment. "Next up!"

Katara whisked herself out of the line and headed for the food. Her heart hopped when she saw Aang with his plate empty - haha, he always ate the entire pizza crust - approaching the line.

Butterflies that she had never known were in hiding were suddenly fluttering like mad through her stomach, and she could feel her face turn hot, so she struggled to play it cool and just...get her food. Yep. That was all she was doing. No big deal.

"Sooo..." Aang placed his crumb-riddled plate on the serving counter and leaned his back up against it, setting his elbows upon it. He watched her set a slice of Hawaiian pizza on her plate with a shaky hand and remarked with tired tone, "Pineapple, huh?"

"Um...Y-yea." Katara blinked at him. What what his deal? "You...want some?" she muttered, backing off to give him space to take one.

"Erm...You know me," Aang shrugged with as much nonchalance as he could muster, grabbing his plate casually and swiping a slice from the next pizza over, keeping his eyes on Katara all the while as she scooted down, taking a mushroom piece. "I don't care what I eat..."

"Uh," Katara sputtered out, confused. "OK, then," she grumbled, staring him down curiously. Her eyebrows twisted in confusion. "W-wait,'re a vegetarian," she pointed out, jabbing a finger at his plate.

"Whuh...?" Aang blinked down in shock, only to see he'd picked up a meat-lover's piece.

Katara frowned, craning her neck over her shoulder to see that Sokka and Toph were preoccupied with some kind of conversation that seemed to involve Toph getting irritated at him. What else was new?

"Aang," Katara firmly called in a lowered tone. "What's going on with you? You're acting all...stupid."

Aang gawked at her frustration and shrugged, scratching his head as she picked up the incorrect slice from his plate and put it on her own.

"I...I, uh...-" Aang shrugged, off-put by her sudden burst of attitude. He'd been...backing off, and giving her space, like she'd asked - like Sokka had suggested. What was the problem?

Maybe 'aloof' isn't really my style...

"And why are you ignoring my messages?" Katara demanded with a hint of anger. Aang watched her expression flicker with regret as she stared down at her food for a moment. "It's...not like you," she mumbled with a softer tone.

"Sorry," Aang pushed out an apology. "I-I thought...that you wanted me to leave you alone, and...then Sokka said I should...-"

Katara's heart skipped a beat. She blinked at Sokka and Toph and feared that Toph's annoyed expressions were in fact due to her and not her brother - that he was spilling the beans about things.

"Sokka? Wh...Wh-what?" Her head cocked forward with intensity. "Does he know about this...our...situation?"

Aang was slack jawed.

"He...he said he did...?"

"Crap," Katara grunted in a panic, her heartbeat elevating. How could her brother be such an insensitive ass and just blab something like that? "No, no," she bemoaned, pounding at her forehead. "We can't go letting everyone think that...that we're doing something like that!"

Aang's face drained and he took a step back. Katara instantly wanted to just suck up what she'd just said and spit it back out differently.

Damnit, why do I keep doing that?

"I-I meant...because it's all...up in the air," Katara explained. Aang shrugged, occupying himself with pizza selection. "No, seriously, I-...See, this is why I've been trying to find out if we can meet tomorrow morning."

Aang's gray eyes regained some of their spark.

"You have...?" He scratched at his arm sheepishly.

"Yes," Katara growled. "So we can actually talk about this stuff now that...-" She pushed hair back behind her ear and shrugged. "-...I've had some time to think. Haven't you been checking your phone?"

"I-I've been...kind of ignoring it lately," Aang mumbled with a wary grimace. "Sh-sure, yea...I can do that."

Katara sighed, running her hand through her tamed thicket of hair. Argh, it was such a mess right now, she hadn't...thought she'd run into him, she would've...brushed it, or...something.

"Well...Okay. Then...let's meet. And eat breakfast. Eight o'clock?"

Aang nodded feverishly at this as they regrouped, ready for the worst. Toph was backlashing at Sokka, continuously pushing her baggy bangs out of her face as they refused to stay off of her nose.

"-don't get why the fuck ya don't just break up with her if you're so unhappy," Toph was spitting out, uncaring and unsympathetic.

Sokka gawked at Toph's blunt words while Katara and Aang sat down - both girls on one side, both boys on the other. The tension was heavy - they'd walked in on some kind of minefield, it seemed. Pff. But that was just typical with Toph, wasn't it? Hmph.

"Toph...!" Sokka finally managed to squeak out, appalled. "How could you say that? I love Suki..."

"'Cuz breakin' up just seems like the proper thing to do around here when the shit hits the fan," Toph's words cut through the group like knife. "I mean, these two-" She fluttered her hand to her left, Aang and Katara's direction. "-both called it quits as soon as things got tough with their Signif's, and Old Smeller ditched her man, too, so why the fuck not, Sokka? Huh? Then we can all be a club. The 'Break-Eachother's-Hearts' Club."

All three who were listening to this were just staring at Toph with confusion. On one hand, Katara was relieved that they had not been discussing what she had thought. But on the other, Toph was even more off-kilter than she hadn't stopped.

Sokka rolled his eyes, biting his lip with a "Snrk."

"What?" Toph snipped.

"It's just that...'The Heartbreaker's Club' has a better ring to it."

"You and your stupid-ass bullshit.." Toph buried her face in her palm, clawing at her bangs, all patience lost.

"Oh, right, and you don't do dumb crap ever," Sokka retaliated, tilting his head.

"No, see, I do dumb shit all the time, apparently-" she cocked her face so it was pointing in the general direction of Aang and Katara, "-but I don't go fucking flip-flopping and trying to act like I'm all high-and-mighty and smart one second later."

"I'm...not doing...-"

"And ya know what? At least when I go after someone just because I want some ass, I'm...pretty clear about it," Toph continued, words carelessly tumbling out with seemingly no structure.


"I mean, for fuck's sake, Sokka, we all know you've just been dating Suki 'cuz ya can't get over whats-her-face movie-star chick and having someone to bone makes it all feel better."

It was as if in all of her avoiding everyone she'd just been biding it all to really hurt someone, and Sokka happened to be the one catching her wrath today.

Katara read Sokka's face. His jaw was clenched, and his eyes stung with indignanation. Toph had really gotten to him this time.


Toph stubbornly sat in her seat like a stone, despite knowing full-well what Sokka meant, and who he was talking to.

"That was out of line," Aang asserted his opinion as Katara removed herself from the booth, allowing Toph - who hadn't even gotten food, anyway - space to exit.

"Not my fault the truth hurts," Toph snarled. "You all wanna rub in my face what makes me tick, huh? This is how it feels. Pretty unfair, huh? You can all sling your mud but at the end of the day, I'm just gonna sling it harder."

"Why would you say something like that?" Aang demanded, unfazed by her attitude and writing off her attempts at power-asserting.

"'Cuz Sokka here's so fuckin' lost in La-La-Land where everything's a big joke, and he wonders what the problem is. Maybe Suki's having so many issues with you 'cuz you are a Fucking. Moron. Or didja not figure that one out yet, Mr. Genius?"

"That's-!"Aang spit out, but Sokka lifted his arm, cutting off Aang's words.

"No, no. She's right," Sokka testily conceded. "If anyone here knows how to mess things up, it's her. Right?"

"Yup!" Toph cawed sarcastically, grasping for her walking cane, blowing at her bangs. "That's me, Queen of the Cunts!"

Katara could feel the presence of others around them staring at their social mishap - which felt like such common problem this semester - and she couldn't believe what she was hearing. Sokka and Toph never had gone at each other like this.

"What is your-...?" Katara began, but adjusted her track with a huff. "See? This is why we can't do this right now, because't know when to just stop!"

"I never stop," Toph sneered, sliding out from her seat. She forcefully jammed her shoulder against Katara's on her way to leave, drawing up her hood over her face as she clattered her cane along the tiled floor of Appa's.

In the wake of their friend's unsettling wrath, the three spent a few moments of silence trying to shake off the tempers that had been flared.

"God, what is...wrong with her?" Katara finally groaned. Her eyes were watering. "Urgh, she's trying to fit in one day, and the next she's such a...bitch. Tch..." She wiped at her face and took a deep breath.

Aang reached a hand across the table and rubbed her shoulder in a wide, sweeping arc as he often did. Her heart glowed at the contact.

"Hey, it's OK," he assured as he took his hand away. When Katara's eyes were cleared up, she noticed he had his arm around Sokka in a moment of brotherly love she rarely ever saw. Katara knew when Sokka was holding back tears, his eyes flickering, and this was one of those moments.

"Don't let her get to you," Aang advised. "She's just acting this way because she's in a bad place."

"Psh," Sokka made light of it, in-taking a sharp breath as he eyed his half-eaten slice of pizza. "Yea...In...the Kingdom of Cunts, apparently. I'm not surprised they made her their queen." He bit into his food.

"She's just projecting her own stuff onto you, Sokka. Come on. You know that."

"But she's right, I am a moron." Is she right about the rest, though? "I'm a screw-up, I have to turn everything into a damned punchline."

Katara was going to deny this, but paused to see what Aang's reaction would be. She was giving in her to newly discovered deep interest in what he had to say.

"OK...Well...Maybe she knows that's how you feel about yourself, and that's why she said it." Sokka was chewing at his dinner with dull melancholy while Aang spoke. "But if you keep letting yourself think that way, that's what you will turn into..."

Aang let his arm fall, and Katara found herself staring at the determined spark in his eyes.

"As long as you keep working at all of this stuff, everything's gonna turn out fine, Sokka. Just keep at it."

"So now we just ignore the Psycho-Bitch?" Sokka moaned between bites. "Heh, sounds like a plan to me. I'm sick of her bullshit." He huffed. "This week, I've been trying to hang with her-" He stuck his palm out to Katara. "-like you told me to, and ya know what? It's pointless. I try to just forget the drama, and she gets all silent and pouty. I try to be more serious and...that shithappens." He pointed angrily toward the hall Toph had ventured off to. "All she has to say about anyone lately is trashtalking. And if that's how she feels, then maybe we oughtta think about going back to having a Foursome."

Sokka snorted through his nostrils like a bull, and there was a pregnant pause, as the innuendo dawned upon all three of them.

"Wow, Sokka," Katara jibed with wide eyes of mock-disgust. "That's pretty disturbing given that we're related."

"Shuffubb," Sokka whimpered out a half-laugh, half-whimper, his mouth packed full of pepperoni and sausage. He swallowed, coughed haphazardly, and pounded at his chest, clearing his throat, while Aang and Katara snickered. It was kind of amusing how ironically rare this particular joke came up given the name of their self-assigned 'group name.' "I meant...-" He put up a dominant index. "I meant that if Her Majesty Beifong wants to rule over a kingdom of bullshit and immaturity, then screw it. I say let her."

"Sokka, you're just saying that because she was a jerk to you for a change," Katara decided, adding in a bit of teasing, striving to scrub off his frown. "And let's face it, you are kind of a wuss like that."

She grinned stupidly, glancing at Aang for approval. See? I can be funny! I can!

Aang smirked a bit at Katara's efforts to lighten the mood, but he seemed more interested in going back to the seriousness.

"Sokka, Toph...can be really destructive, and can hurt the people she loves, but...-"

"But nothing!" Sokka grumbled. "That's such crap."

"She needs us, Sokka," Katara insisted, joining Aang in his rally in her defense - quite ironically. "We can help her get through all of this."

"Katara, you're got a heart of gold, and all that good stuff-" Sokka turned up his palms to concede this notion, "-but you can't help someone who won't help themself."

Aang sighed, scratching his head as he flashed Katara a thoughtful glance. She became aware of the fact that her cheek was in her elbow, and that she'd been gawking. Aang continued, looking off into the crowd of people enjoying their evenings.

"She will, though," Aang expressed his belief. "I know she will. It'll just take some time."

"I'm not sure you noticed, Aang, but Toph doesn't really seem to accept the idea of changing herself."

Aang sighed, rubbing his finger under his nostrils to relieve an itch. He paused after this, his eyes sharp the whole while with thought, then presented his case.

"Toph's life has...changed so much recently, and...she's going through some...pretty difficult times. You know? She's...just trying to figure out who she is, and...she needs to be on her own to do that. It' she works."

Katara nodded in agreement while Sokka shrugged at this, his mood clearly derailed by Toph's malicious words. Aang concluded his thought.

"We can't just...lock her out, though. Don't get me wrong, she is totally being a jerk, and she obviously doesn't want us around right now, but...if she needs us, we have to be here for her...Because no one else will be..."

The butterflies in Katara's stomach had settled, replaced with the tingling warmth of a campfire. God, Aang's...Aang-ness. God. Just, all of it...It was Somehow. Was that...even allowed? For a boy to be this...that it was sexy? Katara could practically feel her loins burning as Aang's contemplative eyes crossed hers for approval, his lips hanging open just a tiny bit.

Likewise, Aang felt his own nether-regions tingle with elation at how deeply she was staring at him, her smooth chin sitting in slender fingers, her eyes glowing with pride at his words.

"Meh," was Sokka's reluctant response, ignorant of the sexual tension hanging thick in the air mere inches beside him. The two quickly cleaned up the mess they'd made from having sex with their eyes and ate a bit of their food while Sokka finished his thought. "I guess you're right, Aang. Frick, man, I'm sorry. That devil-woman has done you way worse than me..."

"Haha, it's OK," Aang laughed weakly, his knees still weak from that rather pleasant moment of admiring Katara's face.

"Nah, I mean...I still care about her, too," rambled Sokka. "I'm worried about her - girl's going freakin' insane, I swear."

"I...think we all have been, a little bit," Aang sighed. "We wouldn't have all of this drama if we weren't all super close, though. You know that, right?"

Sokka shrugged, disinterested in ever acknowledging any good-side to 'drama.'

"But, anyway, I don't even care, even if Toph wasn't a part of the group anymore, I'm still going to be here for her when she does come to her senses, because that's what real friends do."

When the heck had this happened, huh? When had little freshie Aang grown up under her nose like this? She didn't know how or when, but...she was glad. And she was also glad she had finally figured out how much she appreciated it.

"You know, Aang," Katara pressed out affirmation with that admiring smile she hadn't been able to remove, "Toph's really lucky to have you as a friend...even if she doesn't really know it..."

{Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.}
{Philippians 4:8}

+ youtube(dot)com/watch?v=91mTH0ROqno +

Aang yawned, rubbing sand from his eyes. Steam seeped up from his hot cocoa. He gazed out the open cafeteria window. Winter was gradually fading away.

~The dawn is breaking, A light shining through~

But the beauty of the sunlight paled in comparison to her, robbing his attention completely as she sat down across from him with her breakfast.

~You're barely waking and I'm tangled up in you~

Words began to flow like water and they lost themselves in each other - like always.

~I'm open, you're closed~

Katara smiled at Aang's tentative reservations.

~Where I follow, you'll go~

He spoke of unity - between their friends, between all the students.

~I worry I won't see your face light up again~

Her heart stung at the guilt he expressed about their affections, how they could others.

~Even the best fall down sometimes~

"I never meant for Toph to feel so...lost."

~Even the wrong words seem to rhyme~

"But...Aang, l-like you said, it's OK. I-I mean...-"

~Out of the doubt that fills my mind~

"But Katara, the more I think on it, the more I worry...-"

~I somehow find...You and I collide~

"-...but I guess that doesn't change how things are..."

~I'm quiet, you know~

A timid freshman, scribbling art on a couch by himself.

~You make a first impression~

A cheerful introduction from a blue-eyed angel.

~I've found I'm scared to know I'm always on your mind~

All of the ways she'd touch him, talk to him, always so concerned for him.

~Even the best fall down sometimes~

"I didn't mean to leave you hanging, Aang..."

~Even the stars refuse to shine~

"No, it...makes sense. It was my fault for going about it that way..."

~Out of the back you fall in time~

All of Katara's memories of Aang, running together.

~I somehow find...You and I collide~

Their worries and doubts were discussed, hiding their desires.

~Don't stop here~

Aang, heading down the sidewalk for class after their meal.

~I lost my place~

Katara, contemplating how they hadn't decided on anything, merely hashing technicalities and potential downsides.

~I'm close behind~

"Aang!" She called out, traveling down the steps. "Wait up!"

She crossed the distance in the morning sun as a few students trailed the walkways around them.

~Even the best fall down sometimes~

They stared at each other, their eyes locked in a pleading, longing balance.

~Even the wrong words seem to rhyme~

"Wh...What's...up?" Aang squeaked out. "You...forget something?"

~Out of the doubt that fills your mind~

"Yea," Katara teased. "I did. Come here." Katara spread open her arms, wiggling her wrists inward.

~You finally find...~

Aang let himself fall into her arms, and their embrace was tight - more so than usual. and I...~

They managed to pull their chests apart, hands still grasping at hips, eyes melding together.


Katara arced her neck, doing what she had wanted to all morning.

~You finally and I collide~

She was the one attackingwith a kiss, for a change.

~You finally and I collide~

And another. And another. Slow, gentle, slight.

They lost themselves in each other for a few moments - their lips, their arms, their hopes, intertwined.

{When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; neither will the flame kindle upon you.}
{Isaiah 43:2}

A/N: Special thanks to DA user watson4795 for the conversations we've had this week, her intense, open support, and for helping me refuel my own faith in myself. And for helping come up with one of this chapter's more poignant lines. ;D

So many sources of reference here. From episodes like Fortune Teller to Southern Raiders to nods to Iroh's {Wisdom} in Bitter Work, I'm obviously alluding to themes and elements from the show but in different contexts. Hopefully at this point, you can kind of see how I'm approaching Aang, as a character, from the "mastering all the elements" angle, in that SRU Aang 'bends' people, in a sense. That idea will become more important closer to the end.

What's that, dear reader? Me, analyzing why Kataang would logically make sense and in doing so indirectly (and maybe a bit intentionally) knocking on how Zuatara doesn't make as much sense from a literary standpoint because it relies on Katara acting opposite of her character? ;D WHAAAAT? No way...


Oh, but, ahem. The text-based quotes - in line with Katara's literature-theme, are taken from two sources: the Bible, and the Harry Potter books.
Song is by Howie Day.

Yes, I worked in hella nods and references to the elements, and that biblical quote at the end feels so perfect to me in regards to Katara's affection for Aang.

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GOOD LORD this chapter took SO MUCH work, and time, and I literally lost HOURS of sleep because it seemed like it was only at the wee hours of the morning that inspiration came.

I haven't bounced around, re-worked, re-edited, added to, modified, or edited any other chapter of SRU so far this much.

But I hope the results are worth it. I wanted to at once have subtle things happening AND developing Sokka a bit more (and reminding you of how Toph keeps acting stupider and stupider) while also trying to make VERY clear and obvious how much this relationship between Katara and Aang has been led up to since the beginning of the story.

Thumb is from an image depicting an upcoming scene.
Add a Comment:
DieHard-Kataanger Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013

I LOVED this chapter, not just for the Kataangyness (although, that was great too ;) ), but also for all the subtle references to ATLA and I loved Katara's I guess "realization" scene or whatever when she was listing the Pros about Aang. LOVED IT.


P.S. I laughed wayy harder than I should have at "having sex with their eyes." LOL xD

Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I still am sad that ATLA treated Katara's romantic feelings as like a 'prize' or an object in Book 3, and did not take the time to develop things from her perspective in this regard, so that's the motivation behind that scene. This chapter kind of lays it on and makes Aang out to seem all super attractive and such, but the point is that it's from Kat's perspective.

Thanks for reading, glad you're enjoying it.
DieHard-Kataanger Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013
I agree that there could've been more of Katara's side of the relationship, but I wouldn't say there was nothing. Some things were subtle, like her constantly hugging Aang and kissing him on the cheek. But then you have things like The Cave of Two Lovers where a)it was her idea that they kissed, and b)she was blushing at the end of the episode, obviously about the kiss. There was also the part in The Headband when she was clearly jealous of Aang and Onji, and I also feel that episode really helped in balancing out Kataang. But I loved how you read deeper into the relationship in this chapter and I felt it was better than a lot of soley Kataang fanfics I have read. So, well done! :)
Shinobi120 Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
How have you managed t turn my favorite character from the series into my least favorite?
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Can't say I know exactly who you're referring to here, because at various parts of the story, different characters make bad decisions and act in ways that aren't likeable.

Because real people do that. You do that. I do that. Everyone does at some point or another. No one is perfect, we all have our good points and our bad points.

And that's part of life -- and learning how to grow through that is important and critical to What I Learned at SRU. It's in fact the core premise of the story, I'd argue, and where the story gets its title from.

If you are upset or annoyed or frustrated with a character, that is probably what I intended for you as the reader to feel. Because, like real friends, people we care about will make dumb mistakes in life, and if we just cast them aside the second we don't like what they're doing -- instead of being patient, understanding, and helping them work things out -- we betray what genuine friendship is.
Shinobi120 Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh dear, no. I love the story. I as making a joke, but I was not clear enough. I was referring to Toph. Very sorry.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Sarcasm can be hard to translate over the internet sometimes, especially when one can't use italics. :P
Toph is the most common character who receives this complaint, and it's very biased, of course. She's a fan favorite, but people often forget to acknowledge her flaws as a character. So when I lead those flaws to long-term conclusions it makes people uncomfortable to see this character they've idolized in their heads actually being human and making mistakes. That's part of the whole point, but the grand purpose is to watch her grow and learn through those mistakes and be a better person at the end of the story than she was at the beginning.

You don't need a war or superpowers or saving the world to become a better person, and that was one of the motivations of writing SRU in the first place -- to take these character personalities and explore them as human beings, stripped of their powers. It's also one of the reasons I'm not as happy with some of the less-realistic twists my story takes later on. I will have to modify that stuff heavily if I ever re-tell SRU.
Shinobi120 Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I apologize for my ignorance and impatience. I suppose it would be more difficult to defend yourself if you can't fling the earth itself at the opposing side, so Toph's character here just does it with horrible words, and those can just be slung right back. I found myself doubting she'd ever get any better, and incredibly sad in the deeper slumps. CHARACTERIZATION, FOLKS!
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You've pretty much got it with Toph. The show never really developed her character as much as the other primary cast members, so we never really saw any of the negative consequences of her attitude other than in The Runaway, which didn't even conclude its setup in regards to her conflict with her parents because the show just didn't have time, I guess.

Since my story isn't limited by that sort of thing I'm trying my best to integrate more full-bodied characterization where I can. Toph is one of the characters who definitely gets the most, I'd say, due in part to there being more to explore because she didn't get quite as much in the show.
Odysseus-of-Ithaki Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Your editing did indeed pay off. You did an excellent job analyzing why this relationship is so natural. It always made sense to me, and personally I don't think Taang makes sense (though you certainly made it make more sense to me over the course of SRU), so I'm glad to see how thorough your transition was from the chaos that was going on to Kataang. You took the show, gave it steroids, made it mature seven years, and took what was between the lines and put it in the spotlight. You, sir, should keep writing things, so that I may keep reading them. Also, did you just know these bible passages? I will be really happy if you say yes. Also #2, Luna quote? Awesome.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, thanks a lot for the comment, glad you enjoyed it!
popwiz15 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
No onto series chiz, I really enjoyed your summary of Aang(now I have to try and live up to that so thank you for the extremely unrealistic goal). Also Toph may be a bit bitchy but that argument seems a bit out of character. Maybe I just need to see her point of view. Altogether a really good chapter.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Toph's character is in fact pretty bitchy, and can be hormonal, so it's really not that out of character for her.
Aang, likewise, is not unrealistic in any way. I know real-life people like him. I have been compared to him, as well.
popwiz15 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Harry potter quotes AtLA = BLECKIN AWSEOME!!!!!!!!!!!!
ZHUY Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I just loooove the sexual tension you put between aang and katara ;p
Midnight4568 Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012
O_O Events from "The Fortuneteller," but with Jane instead of Meng...
Sooo, when will the panda lily come in?
Hah, I always wondered what Sokka would call Katara's Fire Nation hairdo. Hair droopies. :XD:
You know, with Sokka insisting that Katara call him "Bro," it reminded me of something funny my classmate does. My classmate just recently started calling everybody "Cuz," at the end of pretty much every sentence.
Heehee, "awkwardsauce."
I like how you wrote, "The word spilled out on the paper..."
Aang followed his own lesson from the episode "The Southern Raiders." I recognize the line that said how it was easy to do nothing, and hard to forgive.
Ooo, if Katara joins Sokka for dinner, then she'd have lied to Jane about eating alone.
It makes sense again! Aang and his aloofness. THAT's why Katara had been feeling ignored by him.
Sokka seems to really like coming up with nicknames that have better rings to them.
Based on Toph's and Sokka's big argument/blowing up at each other, this is a completely different, almost opposite, relationship than in your other story, Worst Field Trip Ever. I like how you can write about one thing and another similarly, but way different.
Going to read the next chapter now.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for your comments - I always read them and enjoy it, I just don't know how to respond sometimes, since it's more you directly replying to parts of the text. =P

Yes, Toph and Sokka's relationship here will have a similar base mechanic - Toph having a crush and stubbornly trying to hide it - which is also borrowed from the show, but the end result and dynamics will be totally different from either WFTE or the TV series.
ElementalReflections Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012  Hobbyist
One comment:
"It's about fricken TIME!"
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
windywords123 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay, so I don't actually like Katara that much. I think it's because in the show she doesn't feel like anything to me. She gets angry at people and then she hooks up with Aang and she's a good character, but I really didn't feel her development. She feels like 'let's insert generic caring character for mc to hook up with and to be a nice person to balance things out', even if there's a lot more to her than that. But you portray a lot of what I feel was missing and I can really get behind her character here. Thank you for that!
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I think she was developed pretty well in the show, but she was also the LEAST consistent of the main characters in terms of seeming to swap moods a lot - The Southern Raiders being a BIG example of how out of character she could get.

In SRU, I broke it down from the beginning with what I felt were the qualities Katara most commonly displayed, good and bad, and then kind of exaggerated them here, partially because I am a lot like her when it comes to how I view my social life.

Katara is viewed as the "mother" figure, she's the one who is always thinking about what's best for the group, and she shows more outward affection (in her words and specifically her body language) than any other character in the show, really. I really wanted that concept to be explored in depth in SRU (and actually she will be the last one to face her own character arc/inner conflict by the end), this idea of someone who cares so very much that it can sometimes annoy others, or even cause problems because she tries too hard.

Anyway, now I'm just rambling, BUT you are not the first person to tell me this about my interpretation of Katara, and I love that people have come to feel this way. This chapter was all about trying to show how much I have developed both Aang and Katara in SRU and what makes both of them relatable characters. Thank you for this comment, it means a lot.
Ald-on-a Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011
Wow. This is the best chapter so far. The. Best. I LOVE how you wrote Katara doing her little list and how she came to realization what Aang means to her, I LOVE how you summed up Aang's... aanginess ;) (Thank you for giving me extremely high/unrealistic expectations of men, haha :P) I love how you described their relationship and this special bond they share, it reminded me of relationship I once had.

Toph really shocked me, I knew how jerkish she was being before and all, but now she's just a real... bitch, seriously. I feel for Sokka... Poor guy didn't deserve it.

But, back to the things i love: I love Aang and Sokka's brotherly love (I'm a sucker for bromance)
Also: She grinned stupidly, glancing at Aang for approval. See? I can be funny! I can!
That was cute :D
Oh, and I love how oblivious Sokka was despite all this sexual tension around him :P

Aaand this:
I'm still going to be here for her when she does come to her senses, because that's what real friends do.
This part means a lot for me. It's something I want to believe in lately and I'm glad that I'm not the only one.

Great, great chapter :)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
But that's just the thing - it's not unrealistic expectations of men. There are men like this that get overlooked by women all the time. To be frank, I've felt I've been one them in the past. All guys have flaws, and Aang isn't without exception. It's just that, to Katara, Aang's strengths mean the world, but his flaws...don't bother her much. That's important.

Thanks for leaving your thoughts, I'm glad all of those different parts reached you in the ways they did.
Ald-on-a Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2011
I know there are men like this, of course there are :) I was joking ;) It's hard to find them sometimes though.
Lantis-Erin Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful chapter! :clap: Finally some Kataang resolution, and I love how you've made them feel so absolutely perfect for one another, even more so than they already did. As always, love your use of quotes and songs - it really adds a great dimension to the story. :) Wonderful job; like others have said, the extra work really shines in this chapter, which is great considering this is such an important point.

Keep up the good work, and I hope you have some resolution with your RL troubles soon. :) It always makes me happy to see a new chapter of SRU in my messages. :)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks a lot! I am happy with how it turned out. Now I am working on the first short-story project to kind of give myself some SRU-cooldown as I plot out everything else that needs to happen between here and the end of the story.
QuillArtist Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Professional Writer
Ooooooh, that was gooooood. :D SO satisfactory. You've presented Kataang to perfection.

And commence crap hitting the fan next chapter. XD (Is it just me, or are Toph and Sokka going to have another knock-down-drag-out fight before the end? Because right here? Toph just drew first blood. Retaliation is imminent. Also her jerkwadness hurts my soul. So, so much.)

Excellent work, sir; cannot WAIT for the rest. :D
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Toph will get better!! xD I never meant for her to be so bitchy this chapter, she just...did it. xD But she has her reasons. Not very GOOD reasons, I suppose, but...
QuillArtist Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Professional Writer
It has to get worse before it gets better. She's still in the cocoon right now. Hopefully soon she will emerge an awesome rocker butterfly who knows better than to push away her friends. (I find it ironic that she does the same thing to her friends that her parents do to her. The entire time the breakup was going on and Aang kept mentioning that Toph was manipulating them into making herself the victim, that's all I could think about.)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Alas, but it's true - she DOES have to get worse before it gets better.

Toph is just too stubborn, hard-headed for her own good. It's a GREAT quality to have when you can keep it check, but as she said in this chapter, she NEVER stops. She was being kind of silly in an jerkwad way when she it, but it's true of her character.

Like in WFTE, Toph will break herself apart before she can be put back together new. Aang 'fixes' himself because of how strong he is, but Toph is actually weak in that regard, she BREAKS herself, instead, and will definitely need the others' help coming back together, but building herself back up as a stronger person than before.

As for her parents, EXACTLY. It all goes back to the theme expressed right here in SRU 64 - that some people take their unfortunate pasts, they project them onto others, they use it as an excuse to hurt others to make themselves feel better, but other people do the exact OPPOSITE.
QuillArtist Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Professional Writer
And I think I speak for everyone when I say I'm looking forward to the day when she realizes this and starts healing. :) (Goodness...I'm too attached to fictional characters sometimes. This is a little crazy. XD)
inaligrimalkin Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
Had to shove that Zutata jab in there huh? Lol, I think I might have to get you to read my two stories. I'll admit a lot of Zutara authors make one or both characters completely ooc to fit their fantasies, but not all.

About the story though, Toph did a really love blow there, but I wonder if there might be some truth to it. I mean Sokka (in my opinion) went back to Suki because they had history and she was safe. What he needed after Yue. I also think that Toph went there because she might be having feelings for Sokka, but just hasn't realized it yet or she has and is retaliating.

Very curious to see how Jane reacts to this new development, I half expected her to see Katara sitting with everyone at dinner and get upset because Katara had just told her she'd wanted to eat alone.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, yep, I sure did. ;D But like I've told you, I'm sure I could appreciate Zutara if it was done sensibly, and I imagine you probably have. I promise I will read your story sooner or later, it's just a matter of having the attention to do so. I'll want to probably read it all in quick succession and comment on each chapter, after all.

Suki was safe - this is exactly how I have always looked at it, both in the series and in SRU.
As for Toph's reasoning for continuing to be a bitch, I'm going to develop that soon enough, but the long and short of it is that she isn't the center of attention and everyone's been ignoring her, and she can't stand it. Plus, she's bitter and jaded about the idea that Sokka, someone "wimpier" than she feels she is, would be able to patch up rough spots in a relationship, etc. But this is all stuff that will definitely be developed and focused on in due time.

Haha, nope, Jane was doing her own thing. She's definitely taking a backseat right now because she had such dominance earlier on, but she still has stuff to do before the end, for sure.
inaligrimalkin Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
Lol Freudian slip. I meant "low blow" not "love blow" :XD:

Looking forward to hearing Toph's reasonings, she frustrates me to no end, but I do like knowing what she's thinking.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
HAHA, I did notice that.
inaligrimalkin Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
:XD: Can you tell I haven't had proper sleep in over a week?
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
It's OK, I'm getting there, myself. Was up until 4am last night (after less than 6 hours of sleep the past two nights, up until 4am both of those), had TROUBLE going to bed, woke up at 7:30am. And I slept horribly, waking up a lot.

So yea. And I'm still going somehow. xD I don't understand it. But I'm sure it's made me a little loopy, too.
inaligrimalkin Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
Lol I guess no one our age sleeps anymore. Oh! I forgot to mention, remember when I told you about my friend who self published and sold her fanfiction? If you do that for SRU I'm totally buying a copy or two.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, we'll have to wait and see just how many people feel that way to make it worth the time it would take to do it.

Although, when I think on it, at the very least I feel like I'd want to make a print copy for myself...
(1 Reply)
Shadocoon Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011
I don't even know what to say, but I have to say something because this is so incredible.
This has just been such a great story from the beginning, and I was hooked immediately.
That's pretty impressive too, seeing as the Taang should have completely turned me off of it (sorry). But it was worth it for so many more reasons that this chapter. The whole thing is just... it's so good, and everyone has such eloquent responses, but I don't. As a writer I'm enamored with it, and as a fan I'm just in awe. Everything you've managed to do with the characters. I've never seen anything like it.
I have to say, I could really tell how much more time you spent on it. Everything is good, but this was even better, and it wasn't just for the adorableness and the usual everything. I especially love the scene where Katara is writing about the pros and cons, that really got me in a good way, and I don't know why.
Keep being great, and good luck with your money problems. Maybe I'll be able to scrape up enough for a commission.

Nothing wrong with a little Zutara bashing.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, thank so much for your comment.
It's not about the eloquence of the comment, it's about the intention. =)
I appreciate all of your guys' comments, and when anyone takes time to write such a lengthy one to tell me what I am doing right or not, I always love it.
sweetangel1927 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah! This was so cute xD I liked the zutara-knocking, and really enjoyed that list Katara made because, as someone else mentioned, it seemed like such a deleted part of the actual show, to have them actually showing how Katara made the mental jump from friend to lover.
As for Toph.. ouch. I don't even know what her problem is anymore x)

I'm not going to lie, though, I don't really like the manner in which you changed Katara's eyes in the thumbnail, because the blue is too bright and saturated to work well with the desaturated yellow of everything else. The eye direction is trivial, but it's really just the color that's getting to me x) If you wanted to change it, the eyes should have been kept without color or, if you really wanted color in them, the blue needs to be desaturated. Would you like me to change it for you? :] It will only take a minute.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
HAHAHA I'm sorry, I just felt like tweaking it, I didn't mean to 'upset' you. :nana: I just picked an extremely bright color for juxtaposition, I suppose. You're right about the color, though.

Sure, you can change it. xD I didn't realize until after I fiddled with it just how ambiguous their eye positions are. Which is interesting. If Her eyes are actually SUPPOSED to be looking the other way, that works, too. :rofl:

As for Toph's problem, I almost didn't write that ENTIRE scene. It almost didn't happen. But I wanted to use it to develop Sokka's stance on the whole situation a bit more - since he always stays out of everything - show that Toph isn't even getting along with HIM, and also further illustrate how noble and mature Aang is acting in this mess.

Toph WILL get better, I promise.
sweetangel1927 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's alright ^^
Okay there's two versions here:

That's the way her eyes were originally supposed to be looking, so I colored it in that way, but if you'd really prefer her to look the other way I could change it xD

Anyway, I am looking forward for the next chapter. :3
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Now, if that's the way it originally should've been that works! ^_^ Neato, thanks.

And I promise that soon enough we'll hit the chapter that picture depicts a scene from. xD
sweetangel1927 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're totally welcome!
And great! :3
Anime-fan-15 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011
oh my wow....this is one the best chapters that I have read yet! I love how you've brought so much together, and how much of this is coming into a cohesive way. Keep on writing!! :D
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
avatarazula Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
At last... It has happened. That pivotal moment in a story that makes you go AH-HA! because you've reached a major climax. I was just so into it that my mother trying to talk about Christmas plans was grating on my every NERVE because I was trying to READ, gosh darnit.

I loved how you played out Katara's list of pros and cons. The scene just seemed like a deleted segment of the show, because it was just so important as to how Katara finally figures out how she feels.

I also caught that shout out to AP as well! Voodoo is very alluring, and it summons people, and it forces them to stay. Darn that voodoo. :giggle:

And LOL, Jane being the stand-in for Meng in the aloof scene. Priceless. xD
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, yep. Poor Jane. She's gotten a lot of attention early on, we need to give some of the others - namely, the boys - some development here.

Thank you. I'm really honored that so many people keep expressing that they feel like I've written Kataang parts that "could've worked" in the show, or that I've developed it "better" than the show did. It's been a long road for these two, and it feels so good to finally reach a POSITIVE climax in the story after all the junk that's been happening.
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