Aang offered me some of his food later on. I apologized again for trying to take some, but he told me to forget about it. I could tell by the way Sokka looked at me that he didn't trust me. I tried to shrug it off, but it really rubs me the wrong way when people feel that they can't trust me. Even if it might be true...
After we ate and talked a bit Sokka announced we should head out. Trying to be a good sport, I helped out with the packing, only to have Sokka rip things from my hands and tell me I was doing it wrong. It was all I could not to Firebend the crap out of him. I just pretended to appreciate his help.
"I'm sorry about my brother." Katara said sweetly. "He can be a little... skeptic, sometimes." I just smiled at her and nodded. He had a right to be like that with me. I was apart of the Traitor Nation. My own father was leaving the next day to fight in the war. I don't believe in wars. But, of course, being Fire Nation, everyone assumes you're supporting it. I wanted nothing to do with the Fire Nation, anymore. That's why I was hoping that maybe I could learn Earthbending. Earthebnders are about strength and stability. Firebenders are intesity and passion. Intense and passionate about the war...
Aang and Katara helped me up ontop of... I think Appa, was the flying bison's name. A little lemur was perched on Aang shoulder, cowering away from me. Aang looked at him curiously.
"Momo," he said. "It's okay. It's just Mei. She's wont hurt you." I heard Sokka scoff. I kind of glared at him, but tried to ignore him. I turned back to Aang and held my hand out to Momo,
making clicking noises.
"Here, uh, Momo." I said, feeling weird about cooing to a monkey. "It's okay. I wont hurt you." Momo grumbled and moved farther away, moving from Aang's shoulder to Appa's head. I lowered my hand and sighed.
"Strange," Aang said. "He usually takes very well to srangers."
"Yeah, what did you do to him, Mei?" Sokka asked. I opened my mouth to speak, but closed it quickly. I didn't want to blow my cover by telling them I almost burnt Momo to a crisp.
"Stop being so mean, Sokka." Katara snapped. "She hasn't done anything to you."
"Yet." Sokka retorted. I sighed and leaned back, folding my arms. Siblings...
"Look," I started. "I can go, if you guys want me to. If I'm going to cause so much trouble, maybe I should travle to the Earth Kingdom alone."
"Okay!" Sokka said. "Aang, bring us down." Aang scowled at him and put his hand on my knee.
"Don't worry about it, Mei." he said. "You're with us now. Sokka's just being a baby." Me, Aang and the girls snickered. Sokka folded his arms, pouting and turning away. I liked them. They were kind and accepting. Well, other then Sokka, that is. I knew I could get used to hanging out with them.
"So," I said, facing Toph. "Earthbending. I've always wanted to learn."
Toph opened her mouth to speak, but Aang spoke first.
"She's an awesome teacher!" he cried, throwing his arms in the air. "She's teaching me!" I paused. Toph's teaching the Avatar Earthbending? If anything, it should be the other way around.
"Oh?" I asked. Aang nodded.
"Yeah, I am." Toph said. "I can try to teach you, if you want. Since you're obviously Earth Kingdom." I hoped it work, considering I'm a Firebender. But, truth be told, I'm also Earth Kingdom. My mother's mother was Earth Kingdom and she married a member of the Fire Nation. But, Fire is my dominant half. I have golden-orange eyes and almost black hair. And I'm a natural born Firebender. But, I wanted to asked Toph to teach me Earthbending. I even thought that maybe, even if it was only to get him to trust me, I would ask Sokka to teach me to fight unarmed.
I mean, he has to be a warrior, right? If he doesn't bend, he has to do something.
"What do you do, Sokka?" I asked bluntly.
"If you must know," he said, arms still crossed, still looking at me cross. "I fight with my sword and my boomerang." I nodded, pretending to be much more interested then I was.
"Wanna teach me?" I asked. He paused and looked at me.
"Er, uh... sure." he answered. His face softened. I'd done my job. Aang and Katara excepted me right away, Toph accepted me, and now Sokka had. I was in. And I didn't need to worry anymore.
We landed a few hours later to give Appa and the rest of us a rest. To eat and relax. We stopped by a small pond so Aang and Katara could Waterbend. We climbed off Appa and pulled down food for lunch.
"When do you want to get started, Toph? I'm ready whenever." I said. Toph shrugged.
"I'm read now, if you are." she said. I nodded. As we started to walk away, Sokka called after me.
"Save some energy for your training with me, Mei!" he cried.
I waved to him, letting him know I heard.
Me and Toph walked to a more private area where there was plenty of rocks. She told me about how she learned to Earthbend from Badger Moles. She said they were blind like her. She also told me
about how she sees by feeling the vibrations in the Earth. She said she doesn't like flying on Appa because she can't see. She said even though she's blind she has no problem seeing. She
actually was very interesting. I enjoyed talking to her very much. She was also very amusing. She was loud, she was funny and she was such a free spirit. I was glad to be working with her.
"What first, sifu Toph?" I asked.
"We'll start with something simple, pupil Mei." she told me. "Just try to move a rock." I nodded in agreement and understanding. She grabbed two boulders and moved them infront of us. She placed herself infront of one and told me about stance. How if I wanted to move a rock, I needed to be unmovable, like a rock myself. I was nervous, but I was ready to start.
"Really try and focus on it, Mei." Toph told me. "Really try and feel it." By this time I was very frustrated. I was sweating, my heart was beating rapidly, and I felt a bit light headed. I had been trying and failing for about two hours to move this simple boulder. I was so angry. My hands had actually started steaming at one point and I hid them. But, then I remembered Toph was blind, and I didn't think she would be able to see that.
I took a deep breath, assumed my stance, and focused. I took in a sharp breath and thrust out my fist. Nothing happened. I screamed and grabbed the top of my head with both hands. Throwing them
down I grunted and flung my hair into my face.
"I can't do this!" I cried. "I'll never be able to do this!" My hands were steaming very much then and I shook them violently to cool them down.
"Relax," Toph said. "Try again. You need to face it head on. And when I say 'head on', I mean like this." She jumped into the air, and with a grunt, smashed her head into the boulder and shattered it. I gasped and stepped back. That was amazing! I couldn't believe she did that!
"Wow, Toph!" I said. "That was great!" Toph smiled and put her hands on her hips. I looked up from her and saw Aang, Katara and Sokka walking up.
"Hey, guys." Katara said with the same sweet smile and tone she had all day. "How's training going?" That immediately upset me. I folded my arms.
"Awful." I answered. "I'll never be able to do this..." Katara gave me a comforting smile and put her hand on my shoulder.
"It's okay, Mei. Don't give up so fast." she said.
"Yeah," Aang agreed. "It takes time."
"It didn't for you." Sokka said. Aang wacked his stomach with his glider. Sokka grunted and doubled over, clutching his stomach. I sighed.
"We need to go," Katara said. "But, we'll be ladning again. You can try again when we do, okay?" I looked up from the ground and nodded at her. She wrapped her arm around my shoulder and we headed back to Appa. Katara filled her canteen and we climbed onto Appa. I sat in the back of saddle and slumped in the corner, watching as we passed clouds and looking down at the Earth so far away. Aang sat on Appa's neck, holding tight to the reins. I could feel Katara and him watching me with sad eyes.
"Mei," Sokka said. I didn't turn. I just waited for him to talk. "When we land again, how about I teach you sword fighting? Anyone can do that!" I turned and looked at him. That made me feel a whole lot better. 'Anyone could do that! Even a stupid monkey, like you!' Katara scowled at him and slapped the back of his head.
"Don't say that." she hissed in a quiet voice. I shook my head slightly and turned back around. I wanted to give up Earthbending, but it had only been two hours. And I need bending. If I don't find a different bending outlet, I'll have to resort to Firebending and that'll blow my cover. I tried to relax and get my heart to beat a little slower. But, being me, when I get angry I start thinking of everything that makes me angry. So, I started thinking of my mother and father. I closed my eyes.
I could see their faces as they grew more and more angry at me.
"Do not talk to your father that way, Mei Kozai!" Mother cried.
"I'm sick of you guys treating me like property!" I cried at the top of my lungs. "I'm my own person! I need some freedom!"
"It seems to me," Father said in an unusually calm voice. He folded his arms, making his big build look even bigger. "That you have had too much freedom, Mei." My eyes widened and my jaw dropped.
Excuse me!?" I cried.
"You are not going anywhere without a gaurd with you from now on."
I narrowed my eyes.
"That's just going to make me run off more!" I cried.
"We will have Kodai be your gaurd." Father said. He stayed calm, which actually made me sort of uneasy.
"You think I can't fend off one gaurd? I'm a Firebending prodigy!" Mother's face grew very angry. Father's did too. He shot his fist to the right and set a plant on fire.
"You will do as we say, young lady!" he shouted in a loud, booming voice. "You are our daughter and we are your parents! You do belong to us!"
"I hate it here!" I screamed. I turned and started storming away, leaving flames with every step.
"You walk out that door then don't you dare return!" I heard Father cry just before the door slammed shut.
"Mei," I heard. I was forced back to reality by the sound of Katara's voice. I turend and faced her. "You okay?" she asked. I forced a smile and nodded.
"Just thinking." I answered. She didn't seem convinced. "So," I started, trying to start a normal conversation. "What are you guys doing, anyway? Something to stop the war, I hope." Katara nodded.
"Exactly." she said. "We have information on the Fire Nation that we're trying to get to the Earth Kingdom. It could help us win the war." I was immediately intrigued. I wondered what kind of information they had on us.
"Oh yeah?" I asked. "What?"
"We learned that all of their powers dissapear during a solar eclipse." she told me. I froze. My eyes widened a bit, but I tried to hide my shock. We try to keep that a secret from everyone. It's the most frustrating thing when you can't bend.
"Oh yeah?" I asked, as if I didn't know. "That could help quite a bit, huh?"
"Oh yeah!" Aang cried. "We could win this thing!"
I slowly opened my eyes. It was dark. For a second I forgot where I was. I quickly sat up with a gasp, looking around frantically. Then I remembered. The saddle. Appa's heavy breathing. I was with the Avatar and his friends. I realized I must have fallen asleep. I wondered why they didn't wake me to help unpack everything. I looked down over the saddle. Sokka and Katara were tucked into their sleeping bags, and Toph and Aang were aon the ground. Curled up and sleeping soundly. I yawned and rubbed my eyes. I lept off of Appa and went for a walk. We had stopped by a beach that was blocked off quite a bit by rock. I trudged through the sand, watching my feet push it aside. In a way I missed home. I missed my sister, Shoza and her twin brother, my brother, Shoa. I didn't miss my parents. I missed my warm bed and soft blanket. I didn't miss the rules. Being away from home had it's ups and downs. It had more ups when I was angry, and more downs when I was sad. I stopped and sat down on a rock, watching the moon splash the sand. Katara would have the most Waterbending ability right then. Not only because the moon was out, but because a full moon was out. Waterbenders got their powers from the moon. A full moon makes them most powerful. Firebenders get our powers from the sun. It's strongest at noon. But, Firebending is taken away during a solar eclipse. And Waterbenders lose their powers during a lunar eclipse. Earth and Airbenders don't need to worry about that kind of stuff. Deep in thought I heard rustling. I quickly stood and looked over. It was Toph trudging through the sand.
"Hey." she said. "What are you doing up?" I sighed, realizing it was her, and sat back down.
"Just thinking." I answered. "I woke up and felt like taking a walk." She walked over to me and sat down.
"I know something's going on." she said. "Just tell me what it is." I looked away.
"You wouldn't understand..." I muttered.
"I might. Try me." she insisted. I sighed and looked at her.
"Family problems." I said. "My family has big problems."
"Trust me," she said. "I know all about that." I stared into her eyes. So blank. They were very light green and all foggy. She looked like she was staring at the moon. Of course, I knew she wasn't. It was actually kind of eery to really pay attention to the way her eyes looked.
"You do?" I asked after a second. She nodded.
"I do." she said. "I ran away from home, too. My parents were too controlling. They didn't understand me at all."
I paused. She was exactly like me.
"Me too!" I said. "They told me I needed a personal gaurd everywhere I went to make sure I didn't run off."
"My parents said the same thing!" she cried. "So, I left."
"Me too... I needed more freedom."
She nodded. We sat there for a while in silence, listening to the ocean.
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