the_codex: (Horror)
[personal profile] the_codex
Intended for the [livejournal.com profile] katara_zuko Halloween thingy, but it's more in tune with All Souls' Day than Halloween. In any case, here you go:

Title: After the Fall
Fandom: Avatar
Rating: G
Pairing(s): Zutara, Jetara


She knew she was dreaming. It wasn't anything specific that tipped her off, only that sensation that nothing around her was real. And thus, unpredictable. She both hated and was fascinated by it, afraid of some of the images she was capable of conjuring, but at the same time curious how far she could push the envelope.

Her surroundings were peaceful, if dark. A long, stretching meadow reminiscent of the Fire Palace gardens. But rather than the bright colors of tropical wildflowers, everything was awash in shadoes of blue, black, and gray. The moon hung overhead, full and far larger and closer than she ever remembered seeing it, and gold like it was around harvest time.

Footsteps sounded behind her, shuffling over the dry grasses. She turned around, gasping and clutching her dress as the barely discernible figure approached. Cowled in white, in his hand a long staff with a distinctive hook at the end that she found disturbingly familiar. He approached slowly, long robes rustling behind him. She opened her mouth, about to speak when he raised his hand in greeting.

"You have nothing to fear. I can't harm you. Nor would I if I could."

She bit her lip a moment, swallowing thickly. "Who...Who are you?"

He smiled beneath the hood. "I'm...just someone you knew. But nobody important."

That voice sounded far too familiar for her to agree with that statement. "...What do you want?"

"To help you," he said. "To see that you move on, and enjoy the very long and very happy future you have ahead of you."

She shivered. "What on earth are you talking about?"

He stepped closer, and she found she could not shrink away as she wished to. He held out his hand, gently taking hers, holding it in such a way that the moonlight shone upon the band around her finger. Gold and gleaming, etched with a pattern of dark blue dragons along the outside. "This future," he said.

It was true, she knew. She was in reality sound asleep beside her new husband, curled against his chest and smiling and content. "What about it?" she whispered.

The man sighed. "You're happy with him. I know you are. But...it's bittersweet in a way. Like you're not sure if you deserve it."

She swallowed thickly. "It's the end of a war. There are lots of things I had to do that I"m not proud of and I wish I could take back but I can't..." It was a slight lie.

He seemed to know this, thumbing her hand comfortingly. "You wronged many, yes. But such is the nature of war. Most of those you wronged would have done you far worse in return." He paused. "Except one."

Her knees trembled a little. "I can't ever stop regretting that."

"It was a long time ago," he said. "And it has long since been forgiven." He smiled again. "He didn't lie, you know. When he said he was going to be all right."

She blinked away the tears, shaking her head. "What are you saying? He--"

"He's okay, now. Just because he's no longer alive doesn't mean he can't be all right." At her look of confusion, he continued. "He's happy, now. Much more than he ever was while alive."

She sucked in a breath, trying not to cry as her hand trembled. "H-How do you know?"

He smiled knowlingly. "I speak to him, quite often."

She finally chanced a look up, close enough to the man that she could see further under the cowl. "You...You said you're not important. But I can't find myself believing that. Really...who are you?"

He sighed. "If you really must...see for yourself."

She bit her lip, raising the hand he wasn't holding up to his face, carefully, almost reluctantly, pushing back the hood of his robe. Her breath caught as it fell to his shoulders, and she might have pinched herself if she hadn't been fully aware that she was in fact dreaming. She backed away, hands to her mouth, cheeks growing hot and her vision starting swim.

He stayed back for a minute, as though to let it sink in, before reaching for her shoulder. She looked away, covering her face finally. "Oh God, Jet... I'm sorry. God, I'm sorry..."

He shook his head, gently pulling her in close. "There's no need to be. It's all right, now."

"H-How can it be? I was--"

"What I did to you was horrible," he said. "It was wrong and I'm not proud of it. But...you forgave me, if over time. And that's all I wanted, really."

"I should've done it sooner. If I had maybe you would s-still be here..." She sniffled a bit, wiping her eyes.

"What makes you think I'm not?" He smiled. "Dying isn't the end. It never has been. If it was, there wouldn't be a Spirit World. It's just the next stage, the next step. The next great adventure."

He reached out, smoothing her hair back. "You need to move on. You have way too good of a life ahead of you to be bogged down by this."

She bit her lip. "But I don't want to forget you."

"You don't have to. Just...forget the guilt. It's all settled, it's okay."

She raised her arms up to his shoulders, shaking and burying her face against his collar while he stroked her hair.

"I love you. I always have. Please, just...go on. Be happy with your new husband and family and don't live in the past anymore. You've spent your whole life caring and looking out for other people...it's time you did some of that for yourself. You deserve that much."

She nodded, pushing away from him after a moment. "Will I see you again?"

"At some point, yes." He smiled wanly again, stepping away and bowing slightly. "Take care, Katara."

With that, he turned around, shuffling away into the distance, until he vanished from sight.


FIN

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the Fall
by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Time
Only time
Could never take me away from you
And why
Should it try?
Time never cares just what we do

It just sits on a star and gazes down
Dropping its moments all around
And if I could wish upon that star
I would find what you dream
And then ask God to grant it

I wanted
To say this
Long before this dark could fall
At night I
Would pray this
And wonder if God heard at all
But the chances I've had are now long gone
And that star is no longer wished upon
For on this night it seems too far away

Try
I have tried
To pretend that I don't care
But then
Sleep arrives
And in every dream I find you there

But I don't want the past to be my life
And I don't want to live inside the night
And I don't want to see your shadow fade
So I sleep and I dream
But I don't understand it

I wanted
To say this
Long before this dark could fall
At night I
Would pray this
And wonder if God heard at all
But the chances I've had are now long gone
And that star is no longer wished upon
For on this night it seems too far away

You can live your life in a thousand ways
But it all comes down to that single day
When you realize what you regret
What you can't reclaim, but you can't forget

If I could just fall back into my life
And find you there inside this night
And let eternity just drift away


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