Avatar: The Legend of Imahiro

Book 67 - Opening up

“Did you complain this much about the heat when you were Firebending?” Josha asked as a shivering Imahiro returned to his feet, drenched in water.

“I am so sorry!” Rezurii called to him, her face having just recovered from looking stunned.

“No no, it’s…fine” Imahiro replied through chattering teeth. “I was supposed to block it.” He felt the strange sensation as Josha Bent the water from his clothes; Imahiro staggered slightly.

“Still the same problem,” he said to them. “Rezurii, you’re using too much power and Imahiro, you’re not using enough.”

They both lowered their heads a little. It had been two days since Eina and the catastrophe; he and Rezurii had been training with hardly any improvement. Rezurii let out an annoyed noise and kicked at the snow beneath her.

“There’s your problem Rezurii,” Josha called to her.

“Huh?” She asked, turning to look at their Master.

“What are you bottling?”

“E-excuse me?” She asked, her cheeks red.

At that moment, Imahiro remembered. The conversation they had a few days ago. He had been so caught up in the disaster and training that he had completely forgotten. He cursed himself at how terrible of a friend he had been. Maybe if he had spoken to her, she would not be acting the way she was now.

“You’re using too much power which means you’re bottling some emotions,” Josha explained. “It would work when you need a lot of power, say for bending those vines of yours but if you want to master the rest, you need to master yourself.” He did not speak unkindly and yet Rezurii still looked as though she were a girl in class who had just been caught drawing on the table.

She did not speak.

“Imahiro,” Josha turned to him and Imahiro flinched, not expecting the conversation to come to him. “Your problem.” He grinned. “You need to work out for yourself.”

“Wait what?” Imahiro whined. “Why did you explain Rez’s problem but not mine?”

The grin turned into a smirk. “Because she already knows, I’m just confirming it for her.” He laughed at Imahiro’s agape expression. “Okay that’s enough training today, be back same time tomorrow!”

That cannot be right, they still had a lot more time left. They were supposed to stop when it was getting dark and yet the sun was still high in the sky. Josha walked past Imahiro and winked. After Imahiro looked over at Rezurii sweeping the snow with her foot, he understood. He returned Josha’s wink with a smile, which turned nervous when their Master left.

He took a few steps forwards towards her, only to stop. What was he supposed to say?

“Why did he make us finish early?” Rezurii asked.

So, she has noticed, Imahiro thought. “No idea.” He lied and immediately began to wonder if maybe he should not have.

“Oh…” was all Rezurii said, before she began to walk away.

“Wait!” Imahiro called after her, his hand outstretched. She turned to face him, a quizzical look on her face. Imahiro spluttered, trying to think of something to say, forgetting to lower his arm.

“What?” She asked, clearly befuddled.

“Hang on,” Imahiro told her, took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He searched through his mind, finding something, anything to say to her that would help her. He thought about what she had said. She called herself a coward. She clearly was not one but how could he prove it to her? He needed to be truthful and not just say words that she believed to be false.

He opened his eyes. Her look had not changed.

“Why are you afraid of your mother?” He asked her.

Her face paled. He swallowed, keeping his face straight.

“I uh-excuse me?”

“The other night,” he continued. “You told me you were running from her. Why is that?”

“Y-you want me to answer this now?”

He did not like the fact she seemed uncomfortable but he had to keep going. As her friend, he had to help her any way he could. Rezurii was not the kind of person to open up often so he figured, he would have to make her. Not force her but coax her into telling him.

“I want to know,” he said gently. “Because I feel like a crap friend for not talking about this with you sooner when you spoke to me that other night. And I want to know, because I care about you and I want to help in any way I can.”

The colour in her cheeks returned slightly. “Oh…”

“The thing is.” He said after she was silent for a while. “You’ve done a heck of a lot for me. Hanging with you has been amazing and I’m thankful every day that you ran from that woman because if you didn’t, well things would be very different for a start,” he smiled, “I’d probably have died in Baruko’s dungeon if you hadn’t reminded me that I could Metalbend.”

He only just caught her lips tugging upwards for a split second. The rest of her did not move. He decided to keep talking.

“I used to be scared, all the time. I couldn’t speak in front of anyone other than Riki. I’d just freeze up. Then I found I was the Avatar and I immediately felt invincible, until Piao Li almost beat me to death so my fear returned and it nearly messed with my Firebending. I was okay, I had learnt to stop being anxious and to be free. Then my father stood above me, with my Bending and everything I had learnt. Felt. Drained and I honestly thought I was dead. I actually wished I was.”

He saw her eyes widen but she did not interrupt him.

“If I didn’t have you and the others, not only would I not be here but I would’ve given up a long time ago. I would’ve taken the fact I was Avatar and never returned, I wanted to run so many times too and then I actually did run away. I did the most selfish and thoughtless thing possible and left you all and believe me, I still hate myself for that. You’re different. You may be running from her but your running found us. And even after you saw her again, you still came in time to find me. You would’ve come for me no matter what.” He lowered his head. “So, what I’m trying to say is, you’re not the coward. I am.”

He lifted his head to see his friend, standing before him, her hands raised, resting just in front of her mouth.

“I’m still afraid.” He admitted. “All the time. Afraid that I’ll mess up. I tell myself that all will be okay, that I have my friends but what about you, will I be able to protect you all? Will I be able to protect the world and return Peace and Harmony? Will the fight ever end?” He gulped. “Will the Avatar line end with me. That was one of my greatest fears and for a while. I thought it. Did.”
“Ima…” Rezurii said softly.

“You’re not a coward Rezurii.” He said to her, looking up to so he was facing her. “Far from it. You’re most certainly one of the bravest people I know. Being afraid doesn’t make you a coward. It makes you human. Whatever reason you have for running from your mother, it brought you here, to us and I know we’re all grateful you’re here. So when you’re ready to tell me why you’re running from her and when you’re ready to face her, if you wish, I’ll be there.”

He spoke a lot more than intended. He even surprised himself when he admitted he was cowardly. All this time, he was lying to himself and he never realised but it was true, he was a coward; a coward who abandoned his friends.

He heard the crunching of snow and looked up at Rezurii. His face fell when he saw her expression. She grabbed onto the front of his coat and for a moment, he thought she was going to slap him. She twitched. Lowered her hand but did not release him. Imahiro stared at her.

“Coward? You? Don’t make me laugh!” She said sternly. “Wanting to be alone and running away are two different things! You didn’t abandon us, you went through your worst nightmare and needed time to adjust. We would’ve left you alone, we all understood, that’s why we left for the Chambers and allowed only Josha to search for you.”

Now it was Imahiro’s turn to stare at her with his mouth open.

“After all that, after believing you lost everything, you didn’t run when you heard you could still fight. You always a have a chance, you always have hope and so you always keep fighting and I admire that. You even took Aippaq down and saved us all! I remember how you were when I first met you and then I saw you floating in the sky, holding down Aippaq with that dark energy-whatever-it-was so don’t let your mind lie to you! You are not a coward. You’re possibly the bravest, most valiant, courageous and bold person I know! I trust you with my life, even when you didn’t have all your Bending!”

Her face relaxed and Imahiro blinked at her. Not expecting that outburst. She sighed and continued, letting go of his coat.

“My mother is a whore and was trying to convince me to join her and her friends.”

Continued? More like blurted.

“SHE WHAT!?” Imahiro screeched, way louder than intended.

Rezurii nodded. “So. I left. I mean, she raised me but…barely. I learnt from a young age to do things for myself. I had a neighbour I would run to and she would make my food and help me go to school, then the person…lady, fell ill and I knew it was only a matter of time. I was turning eighteen soon and I had done nothing with my life. My grades were terrible. I knew I could Bend water but, I grew up in Omashu so there’s was no one to teach me. I only had one choice. I ran. Now thinking of her, seeing her. I remember how I felt. How I’m convinced I’m an idiot who is destined to never get anything right. Who could never Master Waterbending fully and I’m terrified that someday, I’m truly going to mess up…” her voice trailed away.

“Rezurii?” Imahiro asked. She looked at him solemnly. “Why did you agree to teach Cap-Jahn how to heal?”

“Well because, I knew how to and thought…oh…”

He smiled. “And weren’t you the one who screamed that I could Metalbend when I forgot? And the one whose control over her vines saved us more than once, who became a Firebender in a few minutes and aided in saving my life, who mastered the silent chambers. Who, despite letting her emotions cloud her thoughts, is able to heal. Grades are nothing but letters on a paper. Point is, you define yourself by who you are, not your past. Running from your mother doesn’t make you a coward. That was the bravest and smartest thing you could’ve done. You survived. All that time and you’re a vegetarian for goodness sake, how did you find what you could eat? Even in the winter!?”

A small smile escaped her lips. “Umm…well, before I ran, I took a bunch of books with me so I knew what I could and couldn’t eat, and the weather is always fairly pleasant in the Foggy Swamp. Just some rain here and there.”

“You see,” Imahiro said to her. “I never thought of running from my father. I was too afraid to, I only ran after that mayhap in the Courtroom. You left to make your own life and you survived. That makes you a genius and a hero in my eyes!”

He smiled as her cheeks began to glow red.

“You can do it! I know you can. Believe me, I know how hard it is to master an element but once you get it, you really get it. If you can swing those vines and heal, you can do anything. Remember, you saved a life with your healing and you helped me and the others with it.” He smirked. “And I remember when you threw Riki and Jiaki up to Pali that day back in Republic City, using those vines.”

At that, Rezurii laughed. He heard her laugh before but this time, it was different. More gleeful and full of life. He smiled to himself. Realising he had succeeded.

“A genius and a hero huh?” She giggled. “Didn’t I just pelt you with cold water?”

He smirked. “Ah, but it was an intellectual and brave move. I was the moron who didn’t evade it.”

She snorted, covering her face with her hands; he could see the tears of laughter in her eyes; the sight warmed him.

“Thanks for that,” he said after she had recovered. “For what you said it…it was I needed, wanted, to hear. Maybe, I’m not a coward after all.”

She nodded. “There’s no ‘maybe’ about it. And I’m not a coward. Or an idiot.”

He shook his head. “Far from it.”

Smiling, Rezurii held her hands out in front of her and closed her eyes. Knowing what she was doing, he took a step back. She opened her eyes and lifted her hands. Some snow raised from the ground. She held it above her head and the snow melted into water, remaining where it was as it swirled before she threw it across from her. It flew and landed a few feet away from them. She gasped, turning to face Imahiro.

“I did it!” She shrieked. “I actually did it!”

He opened his arms and caught her as she leapt into him, saying the words ‘Thank you’ repeatedly.

He hugged her back, laughing whilst thinking. Now I just have to figure out what my problem is…