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4 days ago
I’m a professional ice cream woman. Stfu
2 likes
4 days ago
A lot of people like ice cream, milk, and seltzer. It’s called an ice cream soda and it’s disgusting.
22 days ago
@LadyAnnaLee As someone who’s familiar with the Scholomance series, it isn’t popular but, if you can explain the concept and make it accessible, a check could do well. People love dark magic schools.
3 likes
28 days ago
@SteelLegion I’m actually a regular at the gym, but I shouldn’t have to say that to earn respect AND that’s insanely rude to say to someone else when they complain about being called names.
10 likes
28 days ago
joining no job november after my boss called me fatty one too many times
12 likes

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_______________________________........
Tu Zin · In collaboration with @ExitTu Zin · In collaboration with @Exit
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canaryrose   

The rest of their journey passed with little incident. Though, after a full 48 hours of dread and panic, Chu found that she couldn’t let go of her paranoia. Always looking over her shoulder, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the next disaster was just ahead of them. At Vasra’s insistence, however, she spent most of the next two days seated in the truck, trying to get as much physical rest as possible. She tried not to look at the trunk too hard. The last few days had taken their toll on her body, and, although she would never admit it, Chu knew she needed to recover.

Every night, she probably badgered Feyi with the most questions. Where exactly was Tu Zin? What was it like? How many benders were there? She couldn’t believe the place even existed, let alone thrived as Feyi described it. It sounded like a fairy tale, a trap. She kept her thoughts to herself, but privately doubted what Feyi was telling them. It was too good to be true.




Chu found herself staring out the window of her tiny room in the inn that morning, wondering if she was hallucinating. It certainly didn’t seem so, but she had to check one more time. The town was lackluster, but she was mostly clean of blood and dirt for the first time in days, warm, and, most importantly, safe. She didn’t know how to feel about it. Kanna had been right after all. The thought made her queasy, so she pushed it away and tried to see what she could out the window.

The glass was flecked with grime and dust. Chu tried opening it, jimmying the lock with her bandaged hands, but found she couldn’t. Age had stuck the window in place. She sighed in frustration, but she’d leave it well alone. It would be better to explore than be stuck in this room, anyways.

She left the tavern (such a funny word- there were no taverns in Ba Sing Se, just bars and hotels), and emerged onto the street. She shielded her eyes almost immediately, hissing from the bright glare of the sun. She coughed. At least the awful air quality was familiar. Chu began a stroll down the street, but she couldn’t help herself from looking over her shoulder every few moments, paranoid of what might be following her. But there was nothing. No one. She walked among people going about their day, attracting stares and whispers, yes, but no danger. In her life, reverent stares were normal, but she couldn’t shake what they meant now. They didn’t recognize her for being Chu Hua, the legendary sports star- they recognized her for being their newest firebender. It was an ugly feeling, but… gratifying, maybe.

Chu came to a small market and slowed. Something smelled delicious. Her mouth watered, and she turned, looking for the source of the meaty smell. Her eyes settled on a small, ramshackle food cart, and she found her sneakers moving across the dusty ground of the crowded market towards it of their own free will. She stopped before the stall, appraising what the old woman tending it was cooking. Some kind of meat. It smelled good, and she was hungry…

The older woman (really, she couldn’t’ve been older than 60), raised her head. “Gonna buy something?” She said this with the strangest accent Chu had ever heard.

Chu blinked, short-circuiting for a moment. “Um, yeah,” she said. “Hold up.” She dug in her pockets for a moment, pulling out a few crinkled yuan. 10, 20, 30… she presented it to the shopkeeper. “What’ll this get me?”

The woman looked at the money, surprised, and then looked back up at Chu. A certain look dawned on her face. “You’re one of the arrivals from last night!” she exclaimed. “No, no, I can’t take this. Keep your money, it’s free.”

“I- I really can’t-” Chu protested, but the woman was already shoving meat skewers at her, and she was holding them awkwardly now, and she couldn’t give them back. “Thank you very much, miss,” she finally managed to say, blushing.

After devouring the mystery meat in a short amount of time, Chu wandered down yet another strange path, away from what she thought of as the center of town. This place was incredible. People lived here, this far out from Ba Sing Se. There were children playing, couples laughing… a young couple that she passed on the street in particular made her sad. If only An was here. She stuffed her hands into her pockets as she thought it, digging her fingernails into her palms. They could’ve made a life here, maybe. All these people had.

While trapped in her melancholy thoughts, Chu came to a small clearing among the buildings. Again, she slowed to a stop, staring at the makeshift field before her. There were children, playing, laughing… holding sticks. Dumbfounded, Chu Hua watched as the little kids played some form of a stickball game, organized into little makeshift teams and throwing around the ball between them. Sure, they had the rules almost entirely backwards, but it was something familiar in such an unfamiliar place, and she stopped to watch, mouth open as she stared. She leaned against the nearest building, watching their game with pleasure in her gaze. Her eyes sparkled.

Exit   

Not unlike the game in the city, players were split into two teams of similar size and used ‘sticks’, although these were very obviously made of whatever they could find that resembled the same shape. Surprisingly, despite the difference in design, players here could still balance and serve the ball. The major difference between this variation of the sport and that of the city was the inclusion of obstacles on the field. There was junk between the two goals including a dilapidated car and a rusted fridge that the kids would often climb over or even through and would also use as a surface to ricochet the ball off of. There was a very strong element of parkour involved it seemed and some very surprisingly accurate banked shots.

”A-... are you one of the people from the city?” Came a voice next to Chu. Standing next to her was a boy that looked to be in his early teen years. He was a little scrawny. A little dirty. But you couldn’t tell just by looking at his bright green eyes. There was a bit of life behind them that refused to be snuffed by the dirt in the air. His short matted hair was pushed to one side and sliced at the air whenever he moved his head to speak.

In his hand was a stick that was slightly bent at one end. There was no flat surface.

canaryrose   

Chu turned to the boy, smiling slightly. “Yeah. That easy to tell?” Her eyes flicked over him, trying to gauge what the kid wanted. He didn’t look like he was gonna ask her for anything. “Nice game you got going here. I’m Chu.” She didn’t ask his name, instead letting hers hang in the air.

Exit   

He smiled back. ”I’m Twig! I thought I recognized you from Yesterday. I uh… ran up to the car you were in and saw inside… and got in trouble…” He laughed sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head. ”Anyways… is it… uh… is it true you can Bend?”

canaryrose   

The question made Chu instinctively jolt, a look of terror crossing her face before she realized that it was safe to be a bender here. More than safe. They practically worshiped them here. She wouldn’t die for it, or even go to prison. She was safe. She looked at the kid- Twig- and nodded. “Yeah. Wanna see?”

Exit   

Twig’s eyes brightened. ”YEAH!”

canaryrose   

Chu’s lips quirked upward, almost out of amusement. “Alright, get ready… and maybe step back?”

Tentatively, she held out both of her hands, and then… woosh. A small flame surged up in between them. This was getting easier, she thought. She tossed the crackling flame upwards into the air, making a small, careful arc above her head before bringing it back down into her hands. Her smile grew until it filled her entire face. This was what had been missing her entire life. Bending was fucking awesome.

“Cool, huh?”

Exit   

That same light in the boys eyes seemed to grow as he watched in awe at the display. The warmer light danced on the dust covering his face, illuminating the shape of his cheeks and nose and the smile spread across his lips. He remained silent during the entire demonstration and only spoke up after Chu was done.

”Gu- GUYS!” He suddenly yelled out, waving at the other kids on the field and getting their attention. While most of them stopped, one was a little slower than the rest and smacked another kid in the back of the head as they turned around to look. He got a shove in reply.

”SHE’S A FIREBENDER!”

”WHAT?”

”Hey! Isn’t that the lady you saw in the car?”

Whatever game had been happening was immediately forgotten as all of the players abandoned their positions and began crowding around Chu. Their impatient questions and curious comments drowned each other out until the noise became a sea of small voices from the kids clearly enamored with the woman.

”She’s so cool looking!”

”She bends fire?! I wanna see!”

”Do you have a boyfriend?”

canaryrose   

Chu first looked startled at all the small children crowding around her, and then laughed, still holding the flickering flame in her palms. At calls from the little children, she drew her hands apart, letting the flame grow and then shrink back together as she brought her hands back together. Several children reached forward to touch it, at which she clicked her tongue. Finally, she clasped her hands, letting the fire die out. “Happy?” she teased.

At that last question, she paused. The happy look melted off her face. The kid probably meant no harm, but… “No, I have a fiancee,” she explained. She held out her hand, pointing at the gold engagement band. “It’s like… a girlfriend who’s gonna be your wife soon.”

Exit   

One of the girls stared wide eyed at the gold ring, the light of the sun glinting off the dusty metal and dancing in the brown of her eyes. She was speechless. The curious boy next to her was not. He placed one end of the stick in his hand into the ground and leaned on it with both hands.

”You ain’t afraid someone’s gunna cut yuh finger offa that?”

canaryrose   

Chu raised a brow, then laughed. “I’m not afraid of anything, kid. I’d just firebend at them until they gave my finger back, yknow?"

Exit   

The boy shut up, his eyes widening too, this time in fear.

Twig, who was standing next to him, spoke next, seemingly emboldened now by the mention of Chu being ‘fearless’. He moved a little closer, pushing the other boy to the side. ”What about ghosts? Are you afraid of those?”

canaryrose   

“Don’t believe in ‘em,” she replied evenly. “Why? Are you haunted?”

Exit   

The girl responded first, shaking her head. ”No, there are… there are ghosts stealing people...” Twig nodded and the other boy continued to eye the gold on Chu’s finger. Twig stepped in front of him, breaking his line of sight with the trinket and pointed in the direction of the main gate.

”Outside. Are you guys here to help? I know Benders are powerful but we only have one!”

”Nu UH. We have three!” Came the boy’s voice from behind Twig.

Twig turned to the boy. ”Feyi’s sister is just a kid, you idiot. And Tikaani… well… he never came back…”

”What?”

”I think he’s gone, Desh.” Twig turned to Chu. ”There’s a man who usually brings Benders from the city. He’s in charge of it I think. Was he with you?”

canaryrose   

Chu frowned. So many people had died, and she had never learned their names. No Tikaani had come back with them. “Who you saw is who made it, kiddo,” she told them. “I’m sorry.”

Exit   

”So we’re down to two and one of them can’t fight.”

Desh peered around Twig and stared up at Chu. ”Can you fight?”

canaryrose   

Chu Hua looked down at the kids, bemused, fighting the urge to laugh. Ghosts weren’t real. Spirits had been real once, maybe, but ghosts? Nah. Instead, she kept a serious look on her face, crouching down to their eye level. Stealing people... now that was serious. Maybe the RSF had made it this far after all. Her face didn’t betray the fear she felt at that notion. “Hell yeah, I can fight,” she said, not admitting that she really couldn’t. Playing stickball and doing martial arts were wildly different. “Stealing people, huh? Tell me more about that, and maybe I can help.”

Exit   

Twig stepped to the side, shooing another one of the kids away from him with a wave of his hand and creating some space. He then took his stick, pushed the end into the ground and began drawing something in the dirt. A long circle became a head with two shallow holes for eyes and out of the top of its head, Twig drew two long lines that resembled a shape not unlike horns.

”Ghost.” The girl said when Twig was done. Twig nodded at the drawing, satisfied with his work.

”Some people are afraid to leave. But some of the adults say it’s not ghosts. It’s just dangerous to travel.”

”Maybe ghosts are afraid of fire…?” Desh surmised.

canaryrose   

Creepy. Chu stared at the drawing for a moment, furrowing her brows. It didn’t look like anything from the city. But these were kids. Unreliable sources. She looked up at Twig and the girl again. “Well,” she said, standing up. “I’ll keep an eye out for horn dude here and let you know. Promise.” She ruffled the kid’s hair affectionately. “I’m gonna get going. Thanks, kid.”

With that, she turned and walked off, leaving the kids to play their game. Ghosts… now that was something.
In Decibitus 10 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

In Decibitus 10 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
@PapiTan Now that I think about it, you definitely did, I just apparently can’t hold more than one thing in my brain! Whoops! Will classify them and then put them in the CHAR tab.
In Decibitus 10 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


@PapiTan Here are the updates!
In Decibitus 11 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


@PapiTan @ERode Here for your consideration!
You’re tempting me. Stop it!

… Do I need to resubmit or is Carmen good
👀 I’m thinking about it…

Location: Kobra Facility, New Mexico Interacting with: The Team



“Team, I'm pursuing one of the large ones. Mirage, on me! Everyone else, continue taking out the others.”

“On it!” Alisa said into her comms, watching Kass and Viktor out of the corner of her eye as they left the main room, following… whatever it was they were following. She had seen a few of the “large ones”, and they freaked her out. What was Kobra doing here to make those things? She continued working on her group of mercenaries and hulked-out teenagers, punching and kicking. They were starting to get nervous. They had stopped shooting at her and had instead resulted to hand to hand. Every so often, they got her down, but she just got up again and again.

Alisa was the aware of Zach’s smoke as it spread across the large space and heard his call over the comms.

“Hey guys… I know the rest of you are really good with this fighting stuff… but… uh… I’m not… Could someone get these losers off my back so I can focus on actually damaging these idiots?”

… Poor Zach. He really wasn’t good at this at all, was he? Alisa looked over to him, worried, seeing him surrounded. “Don’t worry! I’m coming!” With one last punch, she left the skirmish she was part of, making her way to Zach. She ripped one of the guys off of him, throwing him to the ground. “Hurry up, do something! I can cover your back, and Aleena is… wherever she is, I guess.” She glanced up. She really didn’t know where the other girl was, huh?



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Si Wong Desert · In collaboration with [.@Abstract Proxy][.@KillamriX88]Si Wong Desert · In collaboration with @Abstract Proxy@KillamriX88
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canaryrose   

Chu Hua buried Kanna in the sand. When the truck stopped, the sandstorm gone and the skies clear and quiet, she had wordlessly stepped out of that gods-forsaken trunk, taken the first shovel she could find, and had started digging.

She hadn’t uttered a single word since. Chu, normally talkative and brazen and effusive, simply had a blank, ravaged look in her eyes as she dug that pit. Kanna’s body lay beside it, covered in drying blood. Her eyes had mercifully been closed (Chu was not sure who had done that, the minutes after her death were blurry only hours after, filled only with wailing and maybe with a vomiting episode), but she couldn’t get the vision of her last moments out of her mind. Her terrified eyes, meeting Chu’s with awful intensity. The vice-grip of Kanna’s hand on hers, her last delirious smile. Chu had a feeling it would haunt her forever. What had she thought, in those last moments? Had she been cursing herself for saving Chu’s life, for dying senselessly for a person she hated? She wanted to ask, but the dead body beside her feet would never respond again.

Despite the awful pain in her blistered and bloody fingers, Chu Hua kept digging. She wasn’t sure when or even how she had done it, but at some point she had taken off her jacket and laid it over Kanna’s face, revealing a white tank top underneath. Of course, it was no longer white. Although their trek through the forest last night had been freezing, the desert was unbearably hot. She felt the sun beating down on her bare arms and knew she’d have sunburns to go with the burns mottling her skin. She couldn’t bring herself to care. She just kept digging with a mindless intensity, almost as if to distract herself from the dead girl beside her and the tears stubbornly stuck in her eyes. When she brushed her black hair from her eyes, she just spread the blood staining her broken hands and the blood splattered across her face.

It wasn’t fair. It was the only comprehensible thought Chu could think beyond her swirling despair and rage. None of this was fair. Kanna wasn’t the bender. Kanna hadn’t even done anything wrong. But she was still dead, and Chu Hua couldn’t even give her a proper grave. Thanks to the sandstorms plaguing this stretch of desert, any marker of her final resting place would be gone within weeks. Her body would be lost to the elements. Chu could’ve cremated her, collecting her ashes, but she couldn’t bring herself to light her body on fire. The thought made her physically ill. Her bending had brought them into this, after all, had killed Kanna- why would she want to do that?

After the long grave had reached three feet in depth, Chu Hua dropped the shovel, taking a greedy breath and staggering over to her backpack, resting against the truck. She took a sip out of her water bottle, angling her eyes to the massive rock on the horizon. She wanted to collapse and sleep for a thousand years. Digging a grave in loose sand was harder than it looked, and she hadn’t slept in over 24 hours. Her eyes drooped, although it was unclear if it was out of sadness or exhaustion.

KillamriX88   

Weiyuan had effectively completely shut down once it was clear what Kanna’s fate was. This was beyond what he was ready to handle. He’d crammed himself into the far corner of the Kyoshi’s trunk space and curled into a ball, eyes wide but vacant.

He wasn’t really sure how long it had been, when they’d made it out of the storm, or even when or how long the vehicle had stopped moving. He just felt himself slowly coming back to awareness. Kanna’s… body… was gone. Perhaps that was why he’d finally “woken up” again. It was still him so he figured he must not have truly passed out.

Even so, there was still blood coating the floor. Just looking at it made his head begin to spin. He edged around it as best he could before climbing back over the rear seat and effectively collapsing out the side door. For a moment, he just lay on the sand, trying to catch his breath and wait for a sense of steadiness to return to his legs. As he picked himself back up, he saw Chu Hua nearby, just leaning against the side of the truck, looking distant, if not on the verge of passing out herself.

She looked filthy and exhausted. Scanning the area, he saw a shallow grave had been dug. He must have been nigh catatonic for some time if she’d been able to do all that in sand like this with only a shovel. He slowly walked over to it, trying to avert his eyes from Kanna’s body lying nearby.

The sandstorm was gone, but even so, the constant breeze of the open desert was slowly causing rivulets of sand to pour back into the open grave. He glanced back at Chu Hua, but she wasn’t paying attention at all. No doubt she’d completely worn herself out digging. If she’d already been anywhere near as tired as he was, it was a wonder she’d done as much as she had.

For some reason, he felt like he should help. Not that he wanted to, but that he was obligated somehow. Was it that he felt he hadn’t done enough? That he could have done more? That because he could it would be wrong not to?

He stepped over to the bottom edge of the grave and pushed into it with his bending. The sand began to flow out of it. Again and again, in a careful rhythm, it began to deepen. He had no way to measure it, he just knew as it was it wasn’t deep enough.

He also knew that it was just going to fill in again if he didn’t do something. Once he’d about doubled the depth, he focused on compacting the sand. He knew he was capable. He’d done it to plug the hole in the Kyoshi. He somehow had to do that again, but he’d been so distracted at the time he wasn’t really sure how he’d done it. It was different from what he’d done to start up the sand screen with Chae-

He felt like his body flipped upside-down and inside-out. Without really realizing it, his breathing became labored and everything started becoming blurry.

Stop. Focus. Just do. He bit his lip hard and just focused on compacting the sand as much as he could until it seemed like it wouldn’t just collapse in on itself.

He wasn’t sure what more he could do, but he could still feel that horrid sensation clawing at the back of his mind. He needed to do something before it overtook him again. As it was, the grave was unmarked. That would work.

Just keep moving and everything would be fine.

He moved to the head of the grave and knelt down, digging his hand down into the sand and reaching downward. The sand was deep here. He could feel himself being stretched thin as he tried to find something more solid down below the sands. Without the lingering effects of the explosion, he’d have never had a ghost of a chance to do this. Just barely, he found more solid ground down below the sand and began to pull. Again and again he’d reach down, pull, reach down, pull, until a small lump of stone finally rose above the sands.

He honestly felt faint by then, but he had to keep going. It would just get buried in the next sand-storm as it was. He stood up. Bending solid stone was different from bending sand. If he just slowed down and did it right, perhaps it would be less taxing, or at least be faster. He’d been relying too much on that unnatural boost to just bypass proper form.

He squared himself off and lifted it, the pillar of stone jutting up a solid furth more, and then again and again until it was as tall as him and hopefully safe from ever being buried. Still he felt the strain. Form or not, he was well past the point of exhaustion. Soon he’d have to stop whether he liked it or not. He was starting to dread that moment. There was only one more thing he could do.

He pressed his finger against the pillar. It wasn’t terribly wide, so he had to go vertically, from the top downward. The stone gave way beneath his touch until he was able to carve Kanna’s name into it. He couldn’t remember her surname, or if he’d ever even known it, nor was his writing terribly neat, but it was legible.

His arm dropped back to his side, and he bit his lip again, trying to just keep his mind as close to blank as he could. He didn’t know what to do now. He didn’t want to stand near the grave any longer, it was just one more unpleasant reminder of all that had happened, so he just shuffled back over to the truck and huddled up against it. He just stared down at the sand, absentmindedly swirling the sand around with his bending, watching it twist around under his influence and trying not to think about anything else…

canaryrose   

Chu Hua raised her head at the sight of the boy moving towards Kanna’s half–dug grave. She watched him do… something. She wasn’t sure. Earthbending? Would it help? She almost felt like stepping forward and getting closer, seeing what he was doing, but her feet screamed in protest and she stayed in place, gritting her teeth. So instead, she watched. The hole got deeper, and… Chu Hua opened her mouth in surprise when she saw what was rising out of the ground. A pillar. And he was carving into it.

Once Weiyuan came back to stand against the truck, Chu approached the grave again, barely containing a gasp as she saw what he had raised out of the ground. She touched the etching almost reverently. It was a gravestone. Kanna. The sand in and around the grave was compacted. Tears came to her eyes. Maybe Kanna wouldn’t go unmarked.

She walked back to the truck, limping towards Weiyuan. She stood in front of him for a moment, the wind in her hair. And then, almost falling into it, she wrapped him in a warm hug. “Thank you,” she whispered, voice trying and failing to conceal tears. They were flowing down her face. “Thank you. You… oh, god. They deserved so much better. But thank you.”

KillamriX88   

Weiyuan did not seem to react to Chu Hua’s sudden embrace except to stop his absentminded fidget bending of the sand at his feet. He went still, blank expression never changing. In a way he hated it, her breaking the fragile barrier he’d been upholding between himself and the grief and pain that had been incessantly marching after him.

At the same time, he could not bring himself to pull away. As it slowly wrapped its twisted fingers around his heart, he did not want to imagine a world in which he was alone with it.

Though he never even twitched or made any attempt to express himself, the truth leaked free all the same in a slow stream down his face.

canaryrose   

Slowly, Chu released Weiyuan from the hug. She wiped tears out of her eyes, staring at him. It struck her then that this boy looked to be the same age as her little sister. God, he was so young. “We can bury her later. I don’t think I’m ready yet.” She let that hang in the air for a second. His silence made her want to fill the space, so she rummaged through her bag. “Are you hungry? I think we might need to ration, but I have protein bars and jerky…” She offered him a cookie dough protein bar, taking one herself and splitting the wrapper open. She sat on the sand, cross-legged, putting her head in her hands as she chewed.

“You know,” she remarked. “She hated me. She was my ex-girlfriend and I was her biggest competition, she took every chance she could to say that. But she still saved my life when most everybody else that loved me would’ve been fine with my death. It’s not really fair that she’s the dead one, is it? Not when this is my fault.”

Abstract Proxy   

“I’m sorry about Kanna. It’s never fair,” Vasra said, approaching Chu and Weiyuan.
She’d needed to clean up. Old habits and training had taken over. She could hear Professor Vanoq’s soft voice in her head as if she was still in medical school,“The attending physician should, if at all possible, discuss the passing of the patient with the patient’s loved ones. In general, it is my experience that the patient's loved ones are given a brief amount of time to process what has occurred, before you attempt to talk to them.

Failure...and death were inevitable parts of medicine. Knowing that didn't make Vasra feel any better. She had tried. She had done the best she could, but it hadn't been enough. Maybe she'd bought the girl some more seconds, hopefully she had at least diminished the pain.

The winds had carried the end of Chu’s sentence and Vasra felt a painful reminder tugging at her heart,“She must have cared about you a lot. Nelu…my brother, he always said that in times of trouble you have a chance to discover the best in those around you. People rise to the occasion and they do great things for those they love.”

canaryrose   

“Kanna didn’t love me,” Chu said as she turned to the doctor woman. It occurred to her that she didn’t know her name. Huh. “She hated me. Or I thought she did. I don’t know. I don’t know why she did it. I think if our positions were swapped, I would’ve let her die.” Chu closed her eyes tight, trying to hold back another onslaught of tears. It was true. Chu would’ve turned her head and looked away, but Kanna had done something different. “Maybe… maybe she was a better person than me. It should’ve been me.” Chu kept coming back to that same thought: it should’ve been me. Kanna’s gruesome death, whatever had become of her fiancee… the root cause of it all was her.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” She opened her eyes again, staring at Vasra and wiping her eyes with her bloody hands. “I should at least thank you for trying to help her. You’re… some sort of doctor, right? I’m Chu Hua Yuan.”

KillamriX88   

Weiyuan became more responsive as he was offered food and the topic shifted specifically to Kanna. As traumatic as the incident had been, he couldn’t claim to personally miss her, at least not in the way Chu Hua did. It was ever so slightly easier to deal with.

He fidgeted with the bar, though not yet opening it.

It wasn’t exactly easy for him to be part of a conversation, so all he could really do for the moment was listen. Chu Hua blamed herself. Vasra joined them, saying that Kanna had been there, risen to the occasion, because she must have cared.

Didn’t that just mean that what had happened to Chae-Won was his fault? It was a twisted kind of logic, but in his state it was the first place his mind had gone. The bar’s wrapper crinkled as his hands tightened around it.

No. Stop thinking about it. Stop it.

It wouldn’t, though. He knew well enough this would never go away. He desperately wanted the day to end, for the reins to be handed back over, but he couldn’t do that either. He’d never be able to handle all this. It was already too hard as it was.

Abstract Proxy   

“Vasra, Vasra Dermok,” Vasra said, holding out a clean strip of cloth for Chu. “I have…had a clinic in the Lower Ring. Not that it matters, I don’t suppose they’re going to let me keep my medical license after, well, after all of this..”

Vasra sat down, grasping sand in her hand and letting it slip slowly through her fingers as she stared at the hazy horizon,]“It shouldn’t have been her, but it shouldn’t have been you or me or anyone else.. We didn’t do anything wrong. We didn’t ask for any of this to happen. But it did..and we’re here..and there’s no going back.”

“But it’s not your fault,” Vasra said, voice shifting with a sudden pang of weary anger that turned to sorrow. Breaking for an instant, as she looked at Chu and then at Weiyuan. They had suffered. They had all suffered. It was too much. But what choice did they have? There was only one way to survive. There was only one way to fight off the disease that threatened them. They had to keep going. They had to make it mean something. Anything.

They had to remember.

“I promise you, it’s not your fault…it never was.”

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“I…” Chu shrugged, a bone-weary look in her eyes. She appreciated the speech, she really did, but even in her life before all this she had never been one for glittery, hopeful speeches. The doctor sounded bitter, too, though, and Chu couldn’t help but relate. “It is, though,” she whispered. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve known for a long time that I was… you know. But I was selfish. I had a family. I was successful. I fell in love. I was supposed to get married next week, for fucks’ sake.” Fury built in her voice- at herself or someone else, she wasn’t sure. “My fiancee and Kanna are the only reason I’m alive. They helped me escape from a very public space. But An and I got separated while we were trying to get out of the city. I don’t know and might never know what happened to her, and Kanna…” She gestured to the dead body, tears coming to her eyes again. This time, she fully started sobbing. She wasn’t sure if it was for Kanna or An or just her life. “I was selfish,” she repeated. “I wanted things that I didn’t deserve, and look where it got the people around me. Maybe everyone would’ve been better off if I…” She couldn’t finish the sentence. If she had what? Ended it herself? She had considered it before but had never had the courage. Maybe it would’ve saved a lot of people a lot of pain.

But maybe Vasra was right. But if it wasn’t her fault, whose was it? She had never been so stupid to believe that bending was as bad they always said, but had never thought they might be completely wrong. Was it Ba Sing Se’s fault? Anger commingled with her despair and blossomed into rage. None of this was right. The blame didn’t entirely fall on her shoulders, she knew, but it fell somewhere in between.

Chu looked up at the blue sky. Maybe she’d go to sleep, wake up, and today would be a nightmare. But it wouldn’t go away, would it?

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Weiyuan shut his eyes tightly as Chu Hua spoke. It all sounded so familiar. All he’d ever done any time he’d managed to wrest control from his other self was try to practice his bending. When had it ever even served him? If Chae-Won had never found him practicing that day, she wouldn’t have had to stay behind trying to protect him.

But, if that hadn’t happened, then what? Where would he be now?

Vasra said it wasn’t Chu Hua’s fault. Weiyuan wanted to believe her, because then maybe that absolved him too. He found himself clutching his own head. This was all just… too much. He was supposed to protect his other half when he was having a particularly bad day, but… who was supposed to protect him now?

No. No, Chu Hua had to be wrong!

He jumped to his feet, still clutching his head, his breathing became labored. She had to be wrong, because if she was right then…

His hands fell to his sides and he turned around, walking over to stand in front of Chu Hua, looking down at her. He looked about as stern as a scrawny, emotionally battered teenager could.

’When someone hurts you it’s no one’s fault but theirs.’ Low on sleep and in the dry, desert air, his whisper was even weaker than ever, though their surroundings were at least quieter than the last time he’d spoken to her. ’I… if you…’ He quickly threw his arm over his mouth as his dry throat gave out and he broke into a coughing fit, causing him to stumble away weakly.

She had to be wrong. If she was right… then everything he’d thought was good had been a mistake.

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Chu Hua’s watery eyes flicked to Weiyuan, watching with slight concern as he stood, starting to hyperventilate, and then stood over her. Was he going to punch her? Morbidly, she thought she might deserve it. But she didn’t know these people, and she shifted defensively, sniffling. His response… surprised her. She sat there stunned for a moment, her tears coming to a standstill, and then she became concerned yet again as he started to cough. She offered him her water bottle. “It’s alright. Breathe, okay?”

“... I wish it was that simple, kid.” She meant it. Maybe he was right, but Chu had always believed they didn’t live in a world where it was so black and white. None of this would’ve happened if she couldn’t bend, so she had to share some of the blame. But she appreciated the sentiment all the time. With a gasp of pain, she rose to her feet, legs swaying for a moment as if she was drunk. She patted Weiyuan on the shoulder, staring off into the distance. At Kanna’s corpse, lying on the ground.

She had to get it over with at some point.

“I think I’m gonna go… well.” Saying it choked her up. “Thanks. Both of you.” She picked up the shovel and went to bury her friend.
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