Some fics I wrote. Drabbles, short oneshots, and more, all of them at least sort of depressing. I figured it was time to post these so that I can stop thinking about them and work on happier fics instead.
“But I fixed him,” Kairi said, staring at the thing in front of her. “He isn't a heartless anymore.”
The thing stared at her. It didn't speak. She knew it was Sora. She could feel his heart in there, somewhere. It wasn't corrupted. But there was a stench to the thing, something entirely unlike Sora, and it occurred to her that while Sora might be in there somewhere, that didn't mean that the thing was Sora.
Riku had talked about being able to smell darkness before. She'd thought he meant it metaphorically. But the smell of the thing that Sora had become was not metaphorical at all. It was almost like the smell like tar, but cloyingly sweet. She gagged on it.
“Sora?” Riku said.
The thing turned its head towards Riku. It didn't speak. It didn't move towards them. Slowly, it nodded.
Kairi took a step forward. “Are you in control of yourself?” she asked.
Again, a slow nod.
She rushed forward, and embraced him, and hoped that he would change back. He didn't. The feel of his skin was strange- not oily, not really, but as though he wasn't quite there under her arms, and might disappear if she squeezed too hard. She ignored the tar smell, though she felt slightly ill.
“Sora,” she said.
Riku stood just behind her, watching, ready to summon his keyblade if he needed to.
It was long, long moments before Sora returned to normal, the scent of darkness still clinging to him.
“Sorry,” he said, as though what had happened were embarrassing rather than horrifying. “That happens sometimes.”
He didn't use Drive Forms around them much after that. They didn't see that particular form again.
But sometimes, when Sora had been fighting alone, he'd return to them with darkness clinging to him, and Kairi wondered what exactly she had done, when she'd fixed him.
This is what it feels like to be fake. Namine knows she isn't real. She knows she can never be, that she doesn't deserve to be, that she is a shadow of a person and not a person herself, that she will never be a person.
But even shadows have dreams, and Namine dreams that she is a princess waiting in the top of a tower, and that a brave hero will come to rescue her.
She isn't sure that what she feels is really hope. There is no heart beating in her chest, no physical clues to tell her what she is feeling. But there is something echoing in that empty spot, and if it is fake hope, that's alright- she's fake, too. A fake princess waiting in a fake tower, only there is no fake prince to come and rescue her. There never will be.
The villains are as fake as she is. They threaten her, and she obliges them with fear. They tell her they will make her do evil things, and she believes them because there is no reason not to. And even though she knows that she could kill them with a thought- Nobodies are nothing but memory, and she could erase them so thoroughly that no one would even remember they had existed- she doesn't.
If she can feel something echoing in that pit in her chest, maybe they can, too.
She does not know who she was, before she came here- but she knows that if she kills them, she will no longer be that person.
She remains in the tower, and draws pictures. She thinks: I am alone. And she wonders if the almost-feeling bouncing around in her hollow chest is loneliness.
Sora's memories glow like sunshine, and when she looks into them, she finds herself- not as she is now, a washed-out watercolor painting, hollow and empty and one-dimensional and fake- but as she was, when she was a full-color person, body, heart, and soul, back when her name was Kairi.
When she looks away from those memories, there is water on her face, and she realizes she has been crying without realizing it. She can almost hear a heartbeat, worlds and worlds away, saying come home, Namine, come home and be me again.
If she knew a way, she would go.
She wants to be Kairi.
Sora makes her feel more than she has ever felt before. The feelings echo in her chest, and even though they are as fake as she is, she wants to feel more of them.
She draws herself into his memories, not because she is told to (though she is) but because some stubborn part of her thinks that being remembered will make her more real.
She is the princess at the top of the tower, and she is so tired of waiting for someone who will never come.
So, carefully, she makes him into her hero.
At first she only inserts herself into his memories alongside Kairi. But when he can't even remember the name Naminé, over the color and noise and life that is Kairi, she realizes that her true self will always overshadow her. He will never know Namine, as long as Kairi is still in his heart.
After that, she just washes the color from his memories, turning all the memories of Kairi into memories of Naminé, and she tells herself that he isn't losing anything, because Namine is Kairi, after all.
(She tries thinking of herself that way- saying, in her head: I am Kairi. But she knows it is a lie, even if it was once true.)
And as she goes through every memory, putting herself into them, she feels almost as though she has lived them herself. She learns every detail of his life, as she twists and changes the chains that bind his memories together. She sees the friendships he has formed, the worlds he has been to.
And then she erases them, leaving only room for his role in this play: the hero, come to rescue the princess.
She watches him change. He becomes obsessed. He wants to find her, no matter what. He forgets about Kairi, forgets about the island, forgets about going home. All he remembers is Riku and Namine.
She has washed him out as surely as she herself is washed out. They are both faded watercolors now. She is afraid she might have gone too far.
When her captors congratulate her on her good work, she looks up at them, and realizes that she has done exactly what they wanted.
After the end, when Sora is sleeping, she gets out her crayons.
It's harder putting Kairi back where she belongs than it waswashing her out, but not much harder. Namine colors over blonde hair with red, makes the white dress purple. It's sort of like a coloring book, except that every page she finishes hurts, in a way that feelings shouldn't be able to hurt when she didn't have a heart to break.
He won't remember her.
She strings the memories back together quietly, and remembers that the sadness she is feeling is as fake as the rest of her.
SUPER DEPRESSING AVATAR AU
The invasion went almost according to plan. Katara was the one who reached the Fire Lord, and she killed him.
Aang had frozen, and someone had to do it, no matter what the Avatar's role was supposed to be. So she'd stopped the Fire Lord. It wasn't exactly bloodbending, (she told herself later). She hadn't so much bent him as she had just stopped him.
She'd stopped him right as he'd been bending, in fact. It turned out that wasn't very healthy for a firebender who was trying to bend fire from his mouth, especially when you forced their mouths closed. His end had been gruesome, to say the least. But he was gone.
In that respect, the invasion was a success. In almost every other respect, it was a failure.
Everyone else had been captured.
Somehow, they had expected the Fire Nation to fall when the Fire Lord did. But the war hadn't stopped. They went into a town one day, and announcements of Azula's coronation were everywhere, and Katara just wanted to scream. What had it all been for? They'd fought, and they'd lost so many people, and Katara would never forget the smell of Ozai burning. And Aang could never forgive her for not being the pacifist he had somehow assumed she was, and everything was wrong.
All that had changed was the name of the enemy.
And then Zuko showed up, burned and tired and broken, and if he had a reason, Katara wasn't sure what it was, because he passed out as soon as he had crash-landed his war balloon near the temple.
Well, she'd seen enough burned and broken people lately. So she fixed and tied him up, and sat there until he woke up.
“Why are you here?” she asked him when he was finally conscious again.
“Azula tried to kill me,” he said, staring at the ceiling. “I went to confront my father, and she was there waiting for me.”
“But why here? Why did you come?”
He turned away from her. “I decided I had to teach the Avatar firebending. It was the honorable thing to do.”
He didn't say more, then. Katara let him sleep again.
She hated him. She wanted him dead. She wanted to take the pillow from under his head and smother him, because it would mean one less Fire Nation royal to deal with.
He was burnt to the point that parts of him didn't look human. It would be a mercy, to kill him as he slept. And it would be easy. He was weak and injured. He wouldn't be able to put up much of a fight.
But she wasn't ready yet to have another life on her conscience, and part of her liked the idea of making sure he lived to feel the pain.
(That part of her was why Aang didn't look at her the same way anymore, and she couldn't bring herself to blame him)
She let the pillow stay under Zuko's head, and worked to fix as much of the damage as she could, because she wasn't a murderer.
Zuko taught Aang firebending, and Katara watched with a scowl. She didn't like the idea, but once she'd decided not to kill Zuko in his sleep, it seemed like they ought to at least get as much use out of him as possible. The lessons were about all he could do, though he did make a passable cup of tea.
He had trouble showing Aang the forms, because one of his arms didn't do much besides dangle uselessly by his side these days. Katara was working to fix that, but some things were too much even for her healing. So training was slow.
“Why did you side against Azula?” she asked him one day.
“Because she's a monster,” he said, slowly. “And I can't agree with what my country is doing. If I don't do something to fix it, I'm as bad as she is.”
Zuko had always been an awful liar, so she believed him.
The comet was coming, and Aang wasn't ready, and he disappeared off to who knew where.
And there was a fight, between him and Azula, because he had to beat the Fire Lord or this war would never end. Katara was far off, fighting a relatively easy battle against Mai and Ty Lee.
Zuko was getting in her way as much as he helped. Even with the “true power of fire” that he and Aang had found, it was hard to bend with only one working arm. And he seemed unwilling to hurt Mai.
“You left a letter,” Mai said to him, eyes cold.
“I couldn't ask you to run away with me,” he said. “I couldn't, Mai-”
She threw knives at him, but all of them missed by a wide margin, and Katara realized that this wasn't even a fight. It was a quarrel.
Ty Lee was looking from Mai to Zuko and back again.
“I nearly died,” he shouted at her. “That could have been you. You can't redirect lightning. She would have killed you.”
“If I'd been there,” Mai hissed, “maybe you'd still have full use of both your arms.”
Katara hoped Aang would be okay.
Aang came back with a look in his eyes that Katara had never seen before.
“She's gone,” he said hollowly.
“You beat her?” Sokka said. “That's great!”
Aang didn't look so happy.
Azula had been impaled by a huge spire of stone. Toph was the one to get the spire out, since removing the body without an earthbender would have been messy work. Well. Messier work.
Aang kissed Katara again later. He hadn't shown interest in her at all since the invasion, but apparently things were different again now.
Then he started sobbing.
“I tried everything I could to stop her without killing her, but it wasn't enough. She just wasn't bendable. How do you live with this?” he asked.
“It's okay,” Katara said. “It gets better.” She held him until he stopped shaking and pretended she wasn't lying.
When Katara thought of it, it amused her that she was known for her healing skills. She’d always been so much better at fighting. But the war was over and there wasn't much fighting left to do, and healers- well, healers were always needed.
She'd finished her healing training at the North Pole shortly after the war ended. They hadn't had much to teach her about wounds. She'd healed more of them then she ever wanted to see again. But illness, and infections, and damage to the mind- those, she still needed to learn about.
Aang taught her a little more, about the spirit-bending he had learned from the lion-turtle, just before the final day of the war. She never dared apply it directly, never dared to touch another's soul- but there were aspects of it that were useful. She could look at how badly a person's spirit had been damaged, and decide what to do about it.
And she got better at healing.
She'd taken more water from the spirit oasis, but she hadn't used any of it. She hadn't needed to.
There were whispers among the people who lived near Air Temple Island, where she and Aang had settled after years of travel. They said she could heal anything- fevers, wounds, madness, even death.
She would never tell them it was true.
She married Aang. They had children, and the children grew up. Two of them were waterbenders, both with blue eyes like their mother. The youngest child was an airbender, and his eyes were gray. The youngest two adopted their father's pacifist stance and vegetarian lifestyle. The oldest didn't. Katara and Aang loved them all.
Katara and Aang taught them all to fight, because they remembered a time when bending skills were a matter of life and death instead of just play. The waterbenders, Katara taught to heal. There was always a need for healers, because there were always illnesses.
Katara's children moved away and had children of their own. Sometimes they came back to visit her.
And people came to her for healing more than ever. Some of them from incredible distances. From Ba Sing Se, and the Fire Nation, and even from the Water Tribes once or twice- even though the water tribes had healers of their own.
It was Katara who delivered Sokka and his wife’s children, and who treated the eldest when her parents noticed that she was spending all of her money on strange drugs. It was Katara who traveled to the Fire Nation capital to treat Zuko when he'd been poisoned for the first and second and third time. It was her who kept the new princess of the Northern Water Tribe from dying of illness, when the other healers had failed and the spirits had refused to give her life the way they had Yue.
And when Aang grew suddenly old (at eighty, which was no age at all for a bender, no age at all for the Avatar), it was her who held his hand when the healing water and all her skill did nothing.
“It's not fair,” she said. “You should have lived to be so much older.”
“I already did,” he said, smiling at her. And she remembered the last time he died, and her heart almost broke. “One hundred and eighty three. Thanks to you.” His eyes were so clear and bright, as much now as the day they had first met.
The life drained out of him over the next day, and- Katara wished there had been more time. Eighty-three years old. He should have lived to be two hundred. Or more. He should have lived longer than her.
But she hadn't had time to mourn. Almost before she'd had time to close his eyes- before she'd even had time to think about crying- there had been a knocking on the door.
It was about Bato's daughter, who had come to stay Air Temple Island for her difficult pregnancy, and who shouldn't have been giving birth for another month at least.
Katara dried her tears, and went to help.
She was a healer, after all
And it was only after she helped deliver little Korra into the world that she returned to Aang's body, and let herself weep.