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08 March 2008 @ 02:28 pm
Goldfish Eyes  
Title: Goldfish Eyes
Character: Koh, with mentions of other characters & pairings
Fandom: Avatar the Last Airbender
Genre: General, Introspection, Future!fic
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,197

Author's Note: For empath_eia as part of avatarflashfic's Dec/Jan 2007 round. Sorry it's so late!


Goldfish Eyes
 
…how lifetimes dissolved and died…
 
Koh had a secret thing hidden within the fat rolls of his centipede-body (had a knowledge—knowing—how things would come to be). Centuries fluttered by outside his tree, above the ground, and over the harsh-beaten decaying ruins. And Koh knew that the end was coming, sanguine and just, innocent, clad with the triumphs he abhorred.
 
And so, the world erupted in flames. Blunt-stretched fire came lapping up trickling down sweat and formed puddles of flesh on their mother’s sunken laps.
 
And so, Koh laughed. Because he was safe and concealed and nailed (martyred, crucified).
 
—Saw the filth that became mountains and mold, and laughed at their sickened hearts and hellish fights.
 
When all the world was a stage.
 
Outside his doors, nothing ever changed.
 
-x-
 
Iroh poured out tea, jasmine for him and oolong for her. Sweet like him, and bitter like her. The war had been hard, suffered his bones into sticky saps and spongy wastes.
 
“Everything going well for you?”
 
“Oh yes,” Toph replied, shifting her weight in his direction (pretending like she could see his face-soul). “And you, Old Man?”
 
“Wonderful! Couldn’t be better.
 
And this was the one who lost her sight, and that was the one who went slight (in plight). And together, they thought they might—
 
Regain what was lost, rebuild, remake, New Whole & Once Again.
 
“Look,” Iroh pointed to the east (where things begin) up the hill to the gnarled tree, blooming, just in spring. “The flowers are exceptionally beautiful this year.”
 
He said.
 
Before realizing she couldn’t see. And couldn’t know.
 
And Koh laughed, perched contently inside that tree (as a butterfly—fat and spinning, and colorful). Maybe she could see, he thought. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
 
Maybe didn’t matter now because his time was over.
 
Overspent.
 
-x-
 
The next morning, Iroh was buried. And the sun shined brightly over them, cast long shadows over the figures. And no one cried (odd, Koh remarked).
 
“He lived a good life,” Toph said and smiled. And tossed her head into the sky, dug her toes down into the dirt, and enveloped the moment in her arms.
 
-x-
 
And another tried to kill him once, in the spirit swamp where all things came to rest, tried to strangle him in his sleep.
 
A game, the other proposed. And Koh smiled.
 
He liked games.
 
“The west,” he said (where things end).
 
-x-
 
This one bears me a grudge, Koh thought, amused. Nostalgic. For the past, for Kuruk & Ummi and the swelling hearts of stunted love.
 
Aang slept on the ground, motionless and fetal, his chest rose and met with the air and cloudless furs. Covered his arms and neck, and the skinless areas where he was burned.
 
Koh was amused.
 
This one owed me a debt.
 
Lightening flashed in the far-off distance. He listened to the storm’s punitive wail, a vindicated woman arrived naked and shrewd—ready to battle, to wage another war. There was a creak and then a moan. And the little Avatar-boy awoke.
 
And there was a crack of thunder in his ears (all on his own, alone).
 
Then, he was lifted and freed. No more burdens left to swallow.
 
-x-
 
This one was a leaden reminder from long ago.
 
When he was young, he loved once too. Just like them.
 
That girl and them. Two boys, tall and short. Thin and thinner, identical in their blind, hollow aches.
 
In the summer, Koh sifts through his collection of faces and dolls. Some have broken strings, he sighed. And others look withered and gray, soft and malleable, like melted silver. But this one (he picks up the ancient girl) was near-perfect, just like him.
 
And so, he treasured that one most. Now, then, and for all skeletal exhumed death: Two Boys & A Girl—
 
Held tight in his grip.
 
-x-
 
He was there the day Ozai kissed his new bride. He was there when Ozai smiled happily and she recoiled in defeat. In dejection. And he heard the plaintive fissure when her lips twisted up to smile.
 
Ozai reached to unveil her face, to unravel her life and force her dry.
 
Up up, his hands crawled to her face (trembling) and down down the cloth fell to the floor. The crowd cheered, his parents beamed, his brother narrowed in hate, and he felt so damn invincibly good.
 
And Koh chuckled along, harsh, unrelenting like sores on a sun-scarred back because he knew (the future better than anyone else). Knew that this would repeat, decades later when he was still young.
 
Because nine hundred years was nine days gone, gone for him but not for them. For them, this was the finale: and tomorrow, Ursa would be persuaded.
 
To elope—with another.
 
-x-
 
…the world seen through goldfish eyes…
—never disappoint—
real and hurt
 
-x-
 
The new Fire Lord was as ugly as ever, his face disfigured and soul mutilated. And his tiny wife was just as hideous, on the inside of course.
 
She was a sneak, a clever one. And asked her husband time and time again: Where is it? (Where is what?) You know, that thing. That…
 
And soon, she was lost for words. Aphasia.
 
Fire plus water equaled steam, boiling hot. Smoldering, with nobody declared the victor.
 
But when winter came, they retreat into the warm halls of cadaverous wood and silk (red and black and gold make…a putrid, disgusting brown). Holding hands. Them.
 
That boy & girl.
 
Leaving Koh behind to devour himself.
 
The nights gather and echo thoughts not his own, and he is left miserable.
 
-x-
 
Some day will come, when he will die. But that is not today because today, he will take his revenge.
 
Today, the Avatar visits him and promises his face (when the Avatar—Aang—is ready to depart).
 
And Koh agrees, all too pleased, thinking he is so discreet.
 
-x-
 
Ba Sing Se was poured empty, empty years before. But people survived and came stumbling back, arms bony and knees knobby, and always hungry.
 
The years were displayed, sprawled on their cheeks. Crowded and stabbed (gaunt) they stood.
 
Sokka turned, Sokka lived. As one of them, waiting for the miracle to save them all. Sure, surely it will come.
 
But for now, he ran a shop: keeping the demons out and mouths full. And thinking of moons and fans, and a pregnant wife.
 
-x-
 
Full of dearth, muck, and earth. Autumn leaves frost over, cold, pretty and gleaming with a musty mist.
 
This one betrayed him his life, that one could never stand, and all of them folded one by one like fish speared through the liver.
 
Seasons alternated their names, and humans grew old—as mortals were supposed to do.
 
Frangible, asunder, limbs cleaved off clean. That was life, that was how they chose to live. Despite what he taught, hundreds of thousands of years ago.
 
But he kept his door open for them, for when they stole some sense and came rushing back to him, to the place where ends begin and beginnings end.
 
I told you I could be kind, he will say.
 
(And murder them with loving intent.)