Summary:Aang and Rukia met when they were both very young and became best friends, now that the war is finally over they've been reunited once more by Aang's role in an attempt to rebuild the honor of the fire nation. But when Zuko accidentally releases a murderer along with the war prisoners he puts Rukia's life, his friendship with Aang, and the future of the fire nation (possibly the world) at risk. Can they still find a way to work together and fix his mistake before everything they've fought for gets ripped to pieces?
Authors Notes: This crossover/fusion takes place in the Avatar World just after the War with the Fire Nation although it does jump around in time and show scenes from Aang's past as well as the past of one of his best friends from the Old Days just after he disappeared. I will post updates once a week. I hope you all enjoy.
Chapter 1: The Simple Act of Kindness
Hanging Dog (a poor and tiny village in the southern part of the Fire Nation)
108 years and 6 months ago
Rukia was six years old the day she met him. She had lived in the small village of Hanging Dog for three years at that point, ever since her older brother had abandoned her and left her to starve as a lonely orphan on the streets after their sister’s untimely death.
Her brother had probably expected her to die there… to succumb to hunger and the elements like so many of Hanging Dog’s disturbingly high population of homeless orphans… Still, somehow, though she was just a little girl, she had managed to survive. She’d found food and shelter wherever and whenever she could, some of the kinder adults would occasionally leave trays of food out for the children and she always made sure that she got her hands on at least one.
She didn’t keep all that food for herself though, she shared it, but only with the kids who were even littler than she was. When she had to she fought the bullies who hoarded them and then she would share the spoils out equally with everyone else, this way, they all survived…
The last six months though, had been even more difficult than usual. The weather the previous year had been uncharacteristically harsh and the harvest had failed miserably, which meant that for once even the adults and the children who had families were starving too. Because of that, there hadn’t been any trays left out for a while… and as a result of that, she and all the other street children had begun to starve once more.
Rukia’s resolve was starting to weaken, she was so hungry that she hadn’t been able to feel how hungry she actually was for weeks now. The longer she had gone without food, the more her body had adjusted to not expecting food. Yet her body had been deprived for too long and she was quickly realizing that water wasn’t enough to keep her alive after all. It was gradually getting harder and harder for her to find the strength to move, much less firebend. She knew just how badly she needed food but she it was becoming increasingly obvious that she was in no condition to fight for it.
So there she was, sitting in the fetal position on the hard dusty ground, against the stone fence that surrounded the property across the dirt street from the abandoned house she’d decided to make her home. Her dark violet yukata, her only garment, was dirty, thin, and ragged-looking. It was torn across the bottom, and the seam that attached her sleeve was popping out. She shivered as a cold burst of wind left over from winter ran right through her, chilling her tiny, emaciated body down to the bone. At this rate, she wasn’t going to last much longer. The thing was though, that she didn’t actually care anymore…
Elsewhere in Hanging Dog, an elderly man in orange robes was traveling with a small child. They had stopped at a local shop to buy food. Just like every other building in this town, the shop was a mess of old, splintered, weathered boards and cracked plaster… the dead trees outside and the dust from the dirt road didn’t help things any. The village itself seemed to be crying out for help.
As the boy peered out the shop door at the unmistakable suffering going on in front of him he was totally overwhelmed by it. Why were these people so poor and hungry? Why was almost everyone wearing thin and tattered clothing not fit for the cold weather outside? More importantly, how in the world could he somehow help them? He was just a little kid but he felt compelled to do something… anything to make someone’s life a little less hard and lonely…
This so consumed the child’s thoughts that he didn’t really even realize it when his elderly guardian leaned down to give the boy his lunch.
“Aang…are you listening to me?” The old man asked kindly.
“Oh, Monk Gyatso… yeah…I was listening…I just… this place seems so different from everywhere else we visit. Everyone here seems so sad, I want to help them but… I don’t know how…” he admitted.
“You will find that the greatest help can come from the smallest deeds... Perhaps if you explore a bit more, you will find a way…” He replied to his young pupil, handing the boy a loaf of bread. “Now, go on and play…”
“OK…” The little boy replied happily. Then he ran off to explore the village. It wasn’t long after that, that he spotted her for the very first time. There she was, a little girl probably not much older than he was, sitting by the side of the road. He saw that she was incredibly thin and there was a sad, worn out look in her dark blue eyes. Her black hair was dull and stringy. For reasons neither of them understood until much later, more than anyone else in that entire village… she was the one who screamed the loudest as she cried out for help, without saying a single word. So he went over and sat down beside her.
At first, she didn’t acknowledge that he was there… he thought for a second and decided what to do. “Here…” he told her, holding the bread out in front of her. “I want you to have this…” he offered. “Take it…”
“No thank you…” she replied.
Aang was bewildered, it didn’t look like this girl had eaten a decent meal in a very long time, so why on earth would she refuse? Then he saw the look in her eyes… it had changed from a look of despair to the look of someone who was holding back. She wanted the bread, but something in her wouldn’t allow her to accept it. Maybe she didn’t like the thought of taking charity, maybe she thought he was only offering out of pity instead of real kindness, or maybe she just didn’t want to rob a kid who was even younger and smaller than she was of his lunch… either way… this was going to be a little harder than he’d first thought.
“What if we shared it?” He asked, ripping the loaf into two equal halves and handing her one.
Her eyes lit up immediately with a mix of joy and surprise. It was then that she finally looked at him directly. “You…you’d really share your lunch with me?!” she asked in shock.
“Of course…why wouldn’t I?” he asked.
“Nobody around here would ever do that, not that I’ve met anyway…” she explained, taking a bite of the bread.
Once Aang was sure that she was really going to eat it, he started chowing down on his portion as well.
“You’re not from around here, are you Kid?” she asked.
“Nope…” he replied.
“Well then what in the world are you doing here? We don’t get many visitors in this town and I can’t think of a single reason why anybody would ever wanna come here…” she told him.
“My guardian, he’s kinda like my father, brought me here because he came to visit his friend who lives here…” Aang explained. Then he stood up and took just one step away from her. “I’m Aang, what’s your name?” he asked.
“My name is Rukia…” she replied.
“Well Rukia, do you wanna play?” he asked happily.
“Sure…” she said with the first genuine smile to cross her face in a long time.