Title: Over Troubled Waters
Prompt: Great Escape
Original/Fandom: Avatar: the Last Airbender
Pairings (if any): Kanna/Pakku
Warnings (Non-Con/Dub-Con/Underage: Slight AU that's only noticeable if you've seen the show.
Summary: The problem with an escape is someone somewhere always spots you.
Kanna’s ship is waiting just outside the wall and around the bend. It is small, but it is enough for her and her few bags. Three bags are all she is taking away with her, to her new life. She’s running away, very bold and a little foolish because truly, the Earth Kingdom could have the same ideas as home. If that is the case, she’ll find out when she gets there and simply not live that way. She’s always been a rebel, but the Northern Water Tribe is not the place for a wild woman.
She makes her way down the steep hill, sliding most of the way with practiced ease in the moon’s light. Soon, she’s on her familiar path to her little dock. Everything is going according to plan. No one has noticed her absence and by the time they do, she’ll be long gone.
Then she rounds the bend and Pakku is there, crouching near the ocean’s edge. For the longest time, she simply stares at him. He watches the moon's reflection play over the water and ignores her. There is suddenly a terrible feeling that threatens to overtake her as she tries to determine by the set of his jaw and the tension in his shoulders what his silence means. Is he giving her a chance to escape quietly? Has he come to tell her goodbye? Are there others hidden to drag her back? Does he expect her to speak first and explain herself? Or does he think his mere disapproving presence will send her scampering back home?
Likely the last one.
She should say something but is at a loss. It’s a novel experience for her, being speechless. She wonders how long he’ll squat there, brooding. She suddenly thinks that perhaps it’s a coincidence, that he hasn’t discovered her boat. Unless he’s suddenly come blind – physically, that is – then that is highly unlikely. When she’s just thinking of trying to walk past him, he speaks.
“I doubt you’d understand, Pakku.”
He looks at her for the first time and, blue eyes holding her gaze, stands. He strides towards, arms folded behind his back and deliberately calm. He’s close enough he could reach out and touch her. He doesn’t.
She doesn’t like the authority in his tone and lets it show.
“All right. I am sixteen years old, and I have had to listen to my father, my brother, and the elders always telling me what I have to do. That I have to get married to a man who will continue to dictate my life to me, as if I don’t have any sense of my own. I want a chance to live before I resign myself to that.”
"And marrying me would kill you?"
She resists rolling her eyes. Of course he’d pick that and focus on just that.
“That’s not what I said.”
“Your actions say everything, Kanna,” he throws his arms out to his side and bends waves to push her boat into view. Her heart jumps at the sight of it floating away, but it doesn’t drift any farther than the rope tied to it allows.
"You don't understand,” she shakes her head sadly.
"You're right. I don't. It's very confusing when the girl who agrees to marry you is sneaking out of the village in the middle of the night with no intention of leaving you with an explanation. Because she thinks that you’ll kill her,” he adds sardonically.
“I have tried to tell you, but you never listen to me or try to understand how I feel or what I think. You dismiss me, Pakku.”
None of the men at least.
It’s not so much the word – overreact – that gets to her. It is the way he said it, as if an obvious conclusion she should have realized herself before engaging in such nonsense as sneaking out of the village. His condensation is too much.
“That is exactly what I’m talking about! I am speaking, expressing how I feel, Pakku. And you are standing there, telling me about my emotions. And I think I know them a little bit better than you do!”
Every point she makes is accompanied by a sharp jab in his chest with a finger. She restrains herself from punching him in the face because that would be overreacting, she has no desire to prove his point, and that would hurt her hand.
“So all of this –“ he gestures, encompassing the ocean on one side, the barren winterlands of the North Pole on the other “ – just to get away from me.”
“Not everything is about you,” she replies slightly, crossing her arms and eying him scornfully.
“No, but apparently it is about you. Did you bother to think of anyone else when you decided this?”
“You mean you?”
“Yes, I mean me!” he is all but yelling at this point. His anger outweighs his hurt at the moment, and it is that anger that she focuses on and uses to fuel her own. It’s familiar territory, this bickering of theirs. She tells herself they never would have been happy and shrugs off his outburst.
“I did think of you. I was trying to avoid this entire scene, but it seems you’ve been spying on me.”
“You’ve been avoiding me.”
Quiet accusation fills the sudden silence, broken only by the waves and shifting ice.
“I don’t think there’s anything left to say. Either try to take me back or get out my way.”
“You can’t do this, Kanna,” he shakes his head, so very disapproving.
“What I can and can’t do is no longer your concern. I am not bound to you.”
"Then why are you taking my necklace with you?"
She opens her mouth and finds that she doesn't have a ready answer. It's embarrassing because up until then, she thought she’d been doing rather well. As she flounders for a reply, he starts to smirk, foolishly thinking he's won something.
Kanna simply cannot abide letting his smugness reach full bloom. Her fingers work to undo the clasp at the back of her neck, difficult with gloves, but finally it's in the palm of her glove. Her neck feels cold and bare.
His smile is gone, and he stares blankly at her hand. She holds necklace up, dangling between her fingers. Slowly, he extends his hand to take it. She merely has to drop it. A simple release and an enormous moment that she can't easily take back.
Swallowing hard and holding the inside of her lip between her teeth, she lets go. The fine ribbon of leather curls into his palm, the blue carved stone reflecting dully. He stares at it then her with dawning realization, finally getting it; as if everything before has only been another of their commonplace arguments. He sees that she's serious, and there's actually none of the satisfaction she thought she'd feel.
She still has no idea what to say and everything that comes to mind seems trite. She knows for certain that Pakku has never looked at her like this before, but it hurts to look at him, and a moment’s regret. It isn’t supposed to be this hard. She nods and averts her eyes as she finally walks past him.
He calls her sharply, and she only pauses before walking on. She keeps her eyes fixed on her bobbing boat. If she does, he'll see that she's crying and say something about over emotional women with no common sense that will make her turn around and scream at him, hit him, or insanely ask him to come with her. She would only be in the same situation, different location. She will not turn back. She feels stupid for crying because of, for him, and bites her lip harder. But she doesn't turn around. So she doesn't know that she left him standing there with a broken promise and tears of his own.