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What I Learned at SRU -130- (FIN)

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THIS IS THE FINAL UPDATE.

We made it, folks. Here we are.

I will keep this space updated with relevant information going forward, but you can always follow my DeviantArt or my Tumblr (Destiny-Smasher on both) as well as the Facebook page for What I Learned at SRU for updates.

SRU has been an eye-opening experience that has helped me realize where my life's passion really lies: in telling stories. But I can't go much of anywhere doing that solely in the realms of fanfiction. And in so many ways, I've almost fooled myself - and all of you - into thinking that SRU was just some fanfic, when it really evolved into so much more, and with some more work still, it could stand on its own two feet with its own identity, the same way its characters have.

Thanks to everyone who has given this story a try - especially those rare few who have never even watched Avatar. I hope at least some of you will be there when this project is reborn unto its own, or even look into the new, original projects I will be working on going forward. Over the past few years, some of you fine folks have left messages talking about how my words have moved you, have helped you deal with reality, understand it, let go of the pain, hold onto the present, and move on to the future. I sincerely hope that here, at the end, I will hear the good, the bad, and meaning that SRU has brought you all.

But a very special thanks are in order for the one whose generosity made this whole project evolve into something truly special.

While you're taking a moment to leave a comment/review, please consider dropping a line toward DeviantArt user Eevee445 and sending her some love. Without her kindness, much of the SRU art gallery would not exist, and I would not have been able to devote as much time to this work as I was able to.

And also, thank you to Tina, my Sister-Face, whose kindness and encouragement picked me up when life was broken - and continues to do so.
You are my lighthouse, my sister-from-another-mister that I longed for throughout all of college and never found while I was there -- but you found me, so I have you now, and am entirely grateful, as our friendship epitomizes so much of what this story is about.

One person really can make all the difference - and both of you have indeed done so in my life in your own ways.

Thank you all for the good old times we've shared.
Thank you for indulging my cyclical story, for peering into the parts of my real life I've attached and mixed in with these characters.


What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 130 - What I Learned


"There is a universal truth we all have to face, whether we want to or not: everything eventually ends. As much as I've looked forward to this day, I've always disliked endings. Last day of summer, the final chapter of a great book, parting ways with a close friend...But endings are inevitable. Leaves fall, you close the book. You say goodbye. Today is one of those days for us. Today we say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable. We're moving on. But just because we're leaving, and that hurts, there's some people who are so much a part of us, they'll be with us no matter what. They are our solid ground. Our North Star. And the small clear voices in our hearts that will be with us, always."
~ Castle


- December - Two Months Later

My cheeks felt rosy from the cold, but my ears were toasty from the puffy muffs keeping them safe.

I loved the way the snow collapsed before my boots.

I was in command of forging my own path through the fluffy mess of white.

I spent about twenty paces thinking about how to describe walking through snow in a way that would sound interesting.

Then I spotted you through the pasty scene.

Aang's black tie and hat were easy to spot. There's something about those blue arrows that always puts me at ease and excites me at the same time.
What direction are we going in? Sign me up. Let's be off!

Aang was leaned up against the stone wall of the music building, right beside the make-shift tunnel carved into it.

My pace quickened, and I waved up my hand, calling out his name.

His face had been sleepily lingering over a cup of coffee in his hands, but he perked right up at the sound of my face, instantly finding my gaze with a twinkle about him that cleared up his groggy haze.

If anyone ever reacts to you like that, I'd say it's something worth appreciating.

"Hi, Sweetie," he murmured dreamily, letting his eyes slide closed as I pressed myself against him.

With my journal in my hands, tucked behind my back, I squished our winter coats together as we exchanged our customary greeting kiss with an eskimo kiss signature.

I let him continue drinking his coffee - he looked in sore need of it, poor guy.

"How're you holding up?" I wondered. "Get everything finished?"

"Almost," he replied with some dread. "Seems like as soon as I think I'm finished, there's just a bit more to work on. A bit more to work on, a bit more...-" He trailed off with a disgruntled sigh, taking another sip.

I reached up one hand to his head and squirmed my fingers beneath his woven hat with the arrow. I ran my fingers against his sweaty scalp for a moment, hoping to encourage him with the gesture.

"You've got this," I insisted in a whisper, letting my palm linger against his cheek for a moment. "Just get it done and over with."

"Yea, then I can...go on that trip," he mumbled.

"Oh, the museum?" I vaguely recalled.

"Yea, it's what we're doing for our final."

"Well, hey, better a trip than a test, right?"

"True enough," he conceded.

I allowed him another drink before I asked him, "Where's Toph? I thought she'd be here with you."

Shaking his head, he hummed, "Mm-mm." While pointing his finger off to the campus center, he explained, "I saw her at Appa's."

"I'm going to go grab her," I announced, "get our drinks real quick, and we'll meet you out here in a few minutes."

"Sounds good," Aang complied, tipping up his cup.

I could tell he was about to run out.

"You want me to get you more while we're there?" I offered.

He paused, and I could see his body squirm with uncertainty.

"That's a yes, then," I decided.

"Some hot cocoa," he specified sheepishly. "That would...really hit the spot."

"You've got it," I chirped, pecking his cheek. He lightly pushed my loopies of hair (I've seriously decided that my brother is right, I don't know what else to call them) up and out of my face before kissing me on the nose with his lips. I couldn't help but giggle a bit - he wasn't prone to doing that, and it felt a little funny. He was attempting to catch me off guard more often, and it was these little things that counted.

I handed him my journal to safeguard as I went on a coffee run.

"Protect this with your life, Penguin guard, and stay at your post," I commanded.

He made a 'wonk' sound, imitating a certain cartoon penguin.

"That's a good boy, Gunter," I snickered back over my shoulder as I marched off.

"That makes you the Ice King," Aang taunted in a shout.

"Ew!" I called back.

As I briskly made way through the light, fluffy snow that afternoon, I fancied myself more of a Princess Bubblegum - which led to an inner monologue comparing my friends to cartoon characters.

+ youtu.be/C3FRcBM1wcw +
(The Story Begins in the Usual Place; Satoru Kosaki)

Down in the campus center, I descended into Appa's.

Jane was working behind the counter that afternoon - I hoped it was her last shift of the semester, but figured she probably crammed in one or two during finals week, the loonie.

"How are things going?" I checked in with her.

Business looked slow, and she was manning the shop on her own at that moment, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

Her face brightened a bit at my presence - likely a friendly beacon in a dreary day.

"Survivin'," she honestly replied.

"When do you get off work?" I asked.

"'Bout an hour," Jane said with a yawn.

"OK. Well, that's when I'll be about to head off to a study session, but...how about dinner? Can you do dinner?"

"Sure," Jane shrugged. "Sounds good."

"Ah, great," I sighed with some relief.

"Tsh, not like it's the last time we'll ever hang out," Jane stated. She was coming over for Christmas break again, as she had the year prior.

"I know," I mumbled with a shrug. "It's just been a while, and I...hate eating by myself. Everyone else is busy, and...-"

"Ah, so I'm the last resort," Jane wryly remarked.

I remember my stomach twisting with regret at my words, so caught up in thought I was that I couldn't realize her jest.

She must've noticed the shock and alarm in my face, for she giggled and assured, "Just fuckin' with ya, Kat."

"Aren't you always?" I snidely came back.

"Nah, that's Toph," Jane retorted. "Speakin' of the devil, she's over there-" Jane nodded her head off. "Said she's waitin' on ya."

"Oh, right." I took note of my roommate's position across the way. "Thanks."

Jane straightened her arrowed uniform hat and flicked her finger at me like firing a cocked gun, accompanied with a "Tch-tch!"

"You care, Hun," I chuckled as I left her to her duty. "I'll see you soon."

"Later."

On the other side of a quiet, all-but-dead Appa's, I found Toph scarfing down scraps of curly fries. Such a little piggly-wiggly, that one.

Seated across from her were Meng and Douglas - hands latched together across laps. That was an 'ah-ha' moment for me, as the two still didn't seem 'official', and I had yet to see them engage in such a gesture in a casual setting.

"Hiya, Katara!" Meng greeted with her usual pep. "Please make Tophie stop eating all our food."

Meng's line delivery was unsettlingly passive-aggressive, and Toph nearly choked. I had to pound at her back a few times as Meng and Douglas had a giggle fit - and tittered something in each other's ears.

"But...-!" Toph panted out between coughs. "You said...-!"

"Joh-king~" Meng teased.

I made Toph thank her cousin for the leftovers before I dragged her butt to the Jasmine Dragon.

Ty-Lee was working the counter - it seemed like she was there all of the time now.

Bubble-cheeked, dimply Ty exuded a waning degree of vim that afternoon, no-doubt wrecked by work hours loaded onto finals week. But she fought her excuses to be grouchy and gave us a warm smile all the same.

"How are you?" I asked her.

"Good, good," she answered in a half-truth. "And you?"

"We're in the mood for some damned tea," Toph barked, pounding her fist against the counter and eliciting a startled look from Ty.

"...Uh...Uhm...-!"

Toph cackled at Ty's squeaking reply. It was evidently one of those days where sarcasm and 'fucking with you' were contagious.

In the time it took for our drinks to be prepared, Toph inquired Ty about the music CD that was playing through the shop's sound system. As she did so - amazed that Toph was actually conversing with Ty-Lee of her own accord - I spotted Mai in her usual cranny in the corner of the shop.

"Hey," I said to her, trying to hide it.

"Hey," she said back, trying to detect it.

I let it slip, though, and she raised her brows at me expectantly.

"You got it, I see," she observed.

With a hushed embarrassment, I leaned over and whispered sternly, "The next time you send me one, you really oughtta...um...label it."

"...Label it?" was puzzled. "It was just a poem."

"N.S.F.W.," I specified, half-jokingly.

With a tightened jaw, extended open in bemusement, Mai nodded stiffly.

"You're just embarrassed," Mai said with a grin, "because I guessed right on the money. Didn't I?" And there were those narrowed eyes and that smug, smarmy look behind red highlighted hair and purple eye makeup.

"He doesn't...talk...about those things with you, does he?" I murmured my question.

"Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't," Mai dryly replied.

This only riled me up a bit more.

And I still don't know for sure.

"It's weird," I said, trying not to whimper - and failing miserably.

"La vie est drôle," Mai airily answered, her syllables crackling like so many dying embers. "Aang's gotten a taste of sweet, sweet apples," Mai murmured, practically to herself. "And he's ready to build himself a treehouse. Funny guy. Good kid."

I was fairly confused, but by then Toph was badgering me in her attention-mongering way to 'not leave the cripple to her own devices of destruction,' or some such, so I bid the ladies adieu. With a tray of three drinks in hand and an impatient Toph around my arm, I cautiously opened the glass double doors, their bell chiming its farewell to us.

"Was that Mai?" Toph wondered.

"Mm-hm."

"Goddamn, I gotta get on her ass. We've got a song to finish."

"Oh?"

"Yea..."

"You should...um...get around to doing that," I remarked, the bright white of sun on snow nearly blinding me as we were back outside.

"Well, doy, but...That shit's kinda hard. Writing's a balancing act," Toph declared, "between taking your sweet ol' time and kicking yourself in the teeth."

"It sure is," I whole-heartedly agreed, laughing at her realization.

Aang spotted us from the distance, his coffee cup now gone - cast aside into a nearby waste bin, I presumed.

Toph shivered from the chilly breeze, digging into her coat's pocket and shoving a floppy winter beanie over her disheveled hair.

The wind picked up, nearly causing the pair of us to slip up, but we held fast.

I divided up our drinks: a raspberry coffee for me, a minty tea for Toph, and hot cocoa for Aang.

I clasped Aang's hand tight, and Toph clutched at her tea for warmth. My journal rested in Aang's messenger bag on a dry patch of salted sidewalk feet away - I still had business to attend to with that book, but it could wait a few minutes.

"It's colder than a witch's tit out here," Toph sighed before taking a sip of her steaming tea. "I like it."

We leaned against the music building for a while that brisk, bright afternoon, regaling tales of our oh-so-important escapades in education.

And they were oh-so-important, because they were being shared.


Winter, spring, summer, and fall
Four seasons; four loves

I love you. And I also love winter.

Right now, as I write this entry, you aren't here. But winter is.

Another semester is ending. This could be the very last time I get to see SRU's campus in the snow.

People complain about winter - about snow. It's too cold, they say. It's too wet.

It's true that winter can be quite miserable. I have horrid memories of shoveling out our driveway at some ungodly hour of frigid fright just so Dad could get his car onto the road.

But when it snows, the world is quiet, peaceful, elegant.

It gives us time to think, you know? I'm going to miss that when we move out to where my brother is.

When it snows, you can see your breath. You can literally see the heat inside you, escaping out into the world.

Winter also has this habit of bringing out the good in people. We're all in the nasty muck together, or enduring the bitter cold, or just enjoying the silent white blanket over the earth.

The thing of it is, people have a tendency to let that good out when the season calls for it, right? And I love that, I do.

Still...I can't help but ask, every winter season: Why can't we be like this all the time?

After all, we are alwaysenduring the unrelenting world, weather aside.

As harsh or as cold - or as stubborn - as winter can be, though...You have to admit, it makes coming inside that much more pleasant.

We put on so many layers just to endure the elements of the outside world.

This makes it that much more comforting, then, to be able to strip them away and soak in the warmth of good company.

And that's how it will be when I go inside in a few minutes, and sit down to watch Toph sing.

It's how it will be when you come back from your museum trip, and we snuggle together for warmth amidst the lingering rays of sunrise on a winter morning. You won't have much to say. And that will be just fine by me. You let your hands do the talking, in more ways than one.

Or when Sokka sends me a photo of our necklace, linked around his neck by chain and ribbon fused as one - accompanied with a text message whining about its girliness and bragging about his chest hair. Which I certainly did not ask to see. Ever.

Or when Jane notices the way my nose wrinkles and flares with the ebb and flow of my mood, and acts accordingly. She touches her eyebrows, chews her lip, her eyes dart about self-consciously, she mumbles, and is altogether an awkward and adorable mess: but she figures out a way to make me feel better.

When Korra and I share a drink at the bar, and she bristles when I pick on her uncertain love life, to which she counters by teasing me about what a nerd I am. I don't think she's figured out that such remarks don't phase me anymore. She is still such a teenager, but she has her moments of serenity.

When Mai leaves me a haiku in my mailbox. It makes some reference to some recent conversation, and the next time I pass her by, she gives me that inquisitive look, I smirk in reply - and she knows that I read it, lifting her brow while smirking back, as if daring me to counter with my own poem.

When Ty-Lee squeals at how Neville and Luna 'should be canon.' I see what you mean about her, and that I've misjudged her for too long. Beneath her airy surface, there is a funny but acute understanding of human sensitive she hides within the understanding of people she gleans from TV.

When Meng helps me bake cupcakes for study group. The dimples on her cheeks when she smiles - which she does all of the time now - the glint in her eyes when she gets excited, the way she hums and laughs while scarfing down the first cupcake, so readily enjoying the simple things.

When I see photos on Facebook of Zuko and Azula, enjoying each other's company as they travel on business. They share a grouchy seriousness that comes through even in photographs. There's very little smiling, but I can still tell they're doing well.

When June does her same old routine - always with the sarcasm, with the frump and grump to it all. She tries, though. I see her trying. It must be so much harder to make even those slight adjustments in attitude once you're older and have become more stuck in things.

When I don't even need to tell Iroh what kind of coffee I'd like because he already knows what 'the usual' is. His diamond-checkered sweatervest stretches at the seams when he laughs at my timid reaction to another metaphor of his.

Four seasons; four loves
Winter, spring, summer, and fall

And like the cycle of the seasons, our lives will run in circles, becoming anew, thriving, running their course, dying out, and repeating themselves.

I repeat myself. Far too much, perhaps. You've gotten really good at letting me know when I'm doing it.

I talk and yammer away while you quietly play along. You've gotten a little better at speaking your mind, and a little better at something you're not already good at is a lot better than what most will do.

I admit, I used to think that I would be the one supporting you, having your back, boosting you up to be something greater than what everyone else thought you were. And it's true - that you are greater than what others think. But I've been surprised by how you continue to keep pushing yourself behind the scenes. By that token, though, you've enabled me to realize that I was capable of more than I used to think I was.

Que sera, sera.
Whatever will be, will be.
C'est la vie.
That's life.
La vie est drôle.
Life is funny.

I guess that unless you're the lead sled dog, the view is pretty much the same, isn't it? But I'd like to think that as quiet and humble as you might be, we're sledding side by side, even if you let me win the race. I see you, even now, doubting yourself. Putting yourself down because you stand on the sidelines, because you don't take the lime light and 'rise up.'

It's all right, though, my Penguin. You shouldn't be trying to be someone you're not.
And I never should've pressured you into that.

You are not some super-hero, some savior with some epic destiny.

But no one in this world of ours actually is.

You are my hero. My savior. And whatever our 'destiny' might be, I only hope we can meet it together.

You don't need to talk so much if the words that come out when you do speak actually mean something worthwhile.

And they so very often do, Aang.

I love you.


Sometimes, I hate you.

You can be so infuriating. You always have been this way, since we were little. Someone can literally say right to your face what the correct way is to do something, and you'll go and do it the wrong way, just for the hell of it. I still remember the way you wore a tuxedo to prom and took two separate boys out on a date even after your Dad expressly forbid you from even going to prom in the first place.

You've always been a rebel.

You've hurt me, you've broken my trust, but - at least, after you came to this community of ours - you've shown me a taste of what true redemption must be like. The way those kids have bonded with you...and the way my friends here have taken to you...That means something. You struggled and suffered, and even when I shunned you outright, you kept fighting.

You just might be more stubborn than me and Toph combined. But now that we're both a bit older, and we actually talk and spend time together, I've come to actually understand where your stubbornness comes from. I can see that so much of what you do comes from the same place I come from.

We're both trying to make good on promises we've made.
We're both trying to protect the people we love.

And it makes me so happy that because of our involvement with SRU, many of those people we love have become mutual.

I know that we'll both keep fighting, each in our ways.

We'll never turn our backs on people who need us.

We are, in the end, Kesuks. It's in our blood, but more importantly, in our hands.

There's hope for you yet, Korra.

I love you.


I decided I'd write about you today, because I miss you especially more than usual.

I realize that there are just some parts of you that will never change, and you get hung up on that lately.

But, oh foolish brother of mine, you fail to forget that you are not the only dual-sided being in existence:
That the whole of humanity is akin to a coin, flipping from one side to the next.

You just happen to flip at a higher frequency than most.

My brother's just an idiot sometimes.

And sometimes, you're not, Sokka.

I love you.


You'll never read this.

I know you won't, because, well...you can't. You don't see the world the same way the rest of us do. Maybe some day I'll read this entry to you.

I'm writing this because I really admire how strong and confident you are. Some people think that just because you're blind, and you need help with things - you can't get by on your own - that it makes you weak, but we both know that's not at all the case. You've been through a lot, made so many mistakes, but you've come out a better person. You're more self-assured than ever - and I know that beneath the sarcasm and the jokes, you really have learned to love yourself more than you used to.

You are beautiful, exactly as you are, and you've only become moreso with the things you've learned.

But you know what? I'm not writing this for you. I'm writing this for me. I want to make sure I capture in words what I witnessed tonight while it's fresh in my mind.

Your talent is beautiful. The way your words can stir hearts is...important. It's something greater and more meaningful than just your own desires, but it's because it comes from your desires that is such.

Your performance tonight - the song you and Mai have been working on for so long? I was so honored that you played it for me first. But it was even better when you played it for that crowd at the Jasmine Dragon.

I'm enclosing a typed copy of the lyrics which Mai provided. I'll probably coerce you into letting me record you performing it some time.

Three years ago, I couldn't have imagined we'd become so close.

But I sure am grateful that we have.

You're the Yin to my Yang.

I pray every day that things stay the same
And that our hearts will never falter
And that my love will always matter

It matters so much, Toph.

I love you.

+ What We Learned +

I see you, but I can't see
What could someone like you
See in someone like me?

Friends for life, you decree
Do you really?

Can I really?

They say I'm rough, n' they say you're kind,
But none o' that gives me peace o' mind
Yet you do
You always do
Even when you don't try to
But I know that you try, too
Always tryin'...
N' I'm always tryin'...
'Cuz you keep me flyin'
Your breathe leaves me sky high n'
I'm all about the timing

Except when I'm not

Too much swimming in my own head
Always drowning in my own head
Drowning, drowning

Drifting down to my bed
Where words sleep, unsaid

'Til I say 'em
Here I'll state 'em
Hope they can mend
All your pain in the end

N' what we learned is...-
To have hope, to hold on, to save faith
To help each other carry on
How to cope, 'n how to breathe,
Open hearts to possibilities
Enjoy the ordinary
What we learned is...
We're our own sanctuary

I hear you but I can't hear
Your cries lost in our fear
Don't forget that I'm here
Always near
N' I'm always near

Too much digging in the dirt
Clawing, scraping 'til it hurts
Digging out my own bed
Where words sleep, unsaid

'Til I say 'em
Here I'll state 'em
Hope they can mend
A little pain in the end

They hurt ya, they crushed ya,
I broke ya, I rushed ya,
I hear you, I get it
Please don't think I meant it
To fall, crash, n' burn

And it does burn
I know it does burn

But let's salvage the wreckage
N' see what we learn

N' what we learned is...-
To have hope, to hold on, to save faith
To help each other carry on
How to cope, 'n how to breathe,
N' save ourselves from insanity
Slay our inner adversary
What we learned is...-
We're our own sanctuary

What I learned is...
...not gonna do much at all for me
Without You, Without Us, Without We
Without our stitched up, patchwork Family

What we learned is...
To move on, to let go,
That 'yes' means 'yes,' and 'no' means 'no'
So simple and dumb
I'm stupid and numb

Except when I'm not

What we learned is...
To grow up, to endure,
To make each other feel secure
We're all fine, we're OK,
We're all alike, all insane
But we're different, all the same

So simple and plain
But it keeps us sane
Enjoy the ordinary

What we learned is...-
We're our own sanctuary


You piss me off. So often, so deeply.

You frustrate me more than anyone else.

I find it so difficult some days to accept you, who you were, what you will become.

It's so hard for me to find it in myself to love you as much as the others.

So damned aggravating, seemingly impossible, to keep you in check.

But I must learn to do so.

How can I hope to bring balance, peace, and love to the people around me,
if I cannot bring balance within myself; be at peace with myself; love myself
love you?

You used to always be so consumed in your books, your small escapes from the responsibilities you'd undertaken.
You were clinging to the future - an imaginary future.
But you've learned to stop clinging, and start accepting what actually is.
Because there is more than enough beauty in what actually is.

You would get so attached, so wildly fixated on objects, on symbols, your links to things you've lost.
You were clinging to the past - an irreplaceable past.
But you're learning to stop clinging, and start letting go of what is no more.
Because there's no good that comes in carrying dead weight.

You continue to latch onto the people around you.
You are clinging to the present - an imperfect present.
But you will learn to stop clinging to those people, and start holding on to them.
Because there is a difference, and you will figure it out.

I know sometimes it hurts more to hope, and it hurts more to care...

But I promise that I will never stop caring, Katara.

I love you.


{- January 1st - New Year's Day}
{ ~ Katara Kesuk}

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?

Those were the lyrics we sung tonight, just like last year. You were slurring the words. Maybe I was, too. There was a lot of laughing, and a lot of alcohol.

You kissed the right girl this year, though - good job on that one.

When I think about it, though, I suppose I can relate with you: everyone around us is pretty beautiful. When you spend time with someone, you learn to see that beauty, and some times it can manifest into something material out of the spiritual.

I suppose friendship really is the bridge between those two worlds.

For each New Year's I've spent with you - two now, but I expect more - I become that much more impressed of how much you have changed, and how much you are still who you once were.

I've heard a saying: what's past is prologue.
But it isn't.
There's no prologue, no epilogue - not unless we make them ourselves.

New Year's is just a day. It only means something because we make it.

I wonder if that's part of why I love books so much: because I get to make of them what I want with what's given to me.

They are divided into chapters because someone made a choice to separate one part of the story from the next.

You did that, too.

And I am so proud of you. You grew so much over a single year.

From a scarred victim and criminal alike to a compassionate friend.

For auld lang syne, my dear.
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

For old times since, my dear,
For good old times,
We'll drink a cup of kindness yet,
For good old times.

Here's to the next chapter, Jane.

I love you.


"I know sometimes it hurts more to hope and it hurts more to care, but you have to promise me that you won't stop caring."
~ Katara; Avatar: The Last Airbender

"It is important to draw wisdom from different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.
Understanding others — the other elements, the other nations — will help you become whole.
It is the combination of the four elements in one person that makes the Avatar so powerful.
But it can make you more powerful, too."
~ Uncle Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender


+ youtu.be/9fAZIQ-vpdw +
(All Of Me; Jon Schmidt)


{ aang }

{your head was bleeding. there was smoke everywhere. i couldn't breathe and my back was on fire. but i wouldn't let you go. no matter what.
that was the day i learned how precious your life is. so precious that i'd be willing to do anything to protect it.}


{ -Sokka Kesuk }

{Girls are all right some times. Especially the squishy parts.}

{That's it. That's all I'm writing down.}


{ 北方拓芙 }
{ ~ Toph Beifong}
-I remember writing this for her...-

{It's embarrassing to have you sitting in the same room, transcribing what I say to paper for some dumb book.}

{But when I think about it, I really have nothing to hide, except when I make myself hide it.}

{And I ought to stop doing that.}

{You've helped me learn a lot.}


{ KORRA }

{I learned that I am a fucking}
{moron!}


{ jane fitz }

{you want me to write something down? fine. i will.}

{you gotta let me go, kat. i got my own person to be.}

{good bye.}


{ aang }

{we were attacked in the park. there was blood. shouting. bruised knuckles.}

{violence is never the answer.}


{ Mai Chiao }

-Ha, another haiku, huh?-

{Writing the words down}
{Sounds so easy on paper}
{'Til they float away}


{ toph } -Is that Jane's handwriting?-

{you shouldn't leave your sappy book of secrets out in the open when you go to take a shit.}

{love you, sister face.}


{ ty-lee }

{zulie's sooooo much better now! i'm glad we got on her back about therapy! it's so good for her! she told me that for a long time i was the only person who believed in her! so that's my lesson i'm writing down for you! all it takes is one person to make a difference for somebody!}


{ Zuko Kurosawa }

{We finally made amends. I still can't quite believe it. You and Uncle were right: there's still good in my sister. Maybe anyone really can make use of a second chance. My Uncle gave me one, and now I've given Azula one...and it's worked out both ways. Our father doesn't dictate how we live our lives.}


{ JUNE }

{ Remember that time I played that dumb game on your friends' Facebook wall? }

{ That's when I figured out }

{ you kids are fucking nuts. }

{ Now stop distracting my star fry cook. }

{ Get out ma face. }


{ KORRA }

{It's ok to be scared. It's not ok to hide it. I've been fooling myself into thinking I have nothing to lose. I have everything to lose.}

{I just didn't find it until I knew what to start looking for.}


{ jane fitz }

- Oh, brother. What kind of drawing is that? Some kind of...awful penis-butt monster? -

{i'm glad we're friends again but if you want me say something sappy then i'll do it in person.}

{over a guinness.}

{AND MY AXE}


{ KORRA }

{I feel like a new gal.}

{Thank you for giving me some tough love when I needed it.}

{Thank you for believing in me.}

{I tried telling him myself, but could you let your Little Man know some time how much it means to me that he helped me out?}


{ aang }

{size doesn't matter. it's your actions that count.}

{even if they're small, it's ok. you can still make the world a better place.}

{sometimes it just means one person's world becomes a much better place.}

{and that's good enough.}

-There's a little doodle of a cat wearing a witch's hat with a crescent moon in the background.-


{ Dad }

{You've grown so much, Katara.}

{Your Mother would be so proud of who you have become, and who you've chosen to spend your time with.}

{Regardless of what she would think, I know that I am so proud.}

{In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it's only fair for me to remind you of how thankful I am to have you around.}


{ Meng Beifong }

-Geez, there's...all kinds of weird emoji-thingies scribbled all over this page. And gratuitous stars and swirlies and...man. It's crazy.-

{I learned to believe in me}
{who believes in you!}

{Next Time On}
{The Misadvantures Of Meng-Meng}

{Senpai notices me!}
{Or maybe doesn't!}

{On behalf of the Moon,}
{Watch it,}
{Or i'll take your soul!}

{See you later}
{Space Cow== girl}

{One is All, All is One}


{ Iroh Kurosawa }

{You handed me this book. You asked me to write in it. You resigned from the White Lotus today, and I was a bit sad to see you leave. But you are not gone at all. You started crying when you explained to me your reasons for joining the newspaper, and for quitting.}

{I suspect that you were hoping for some kind of advice. But you have already learned the most important lesson I can think worth teaching. You've learned to love learning, to love understanding, to love growing. One does not start a book like this without that desire.}

{You complained to the effect that you feel as if life is passing you by. That you are stuck. That you do not wish to make a life out of doing things which are not 'you.'}

{I hope you realize that life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not.}


{ -Sokka Kesuk }

{Real-talk.}

{I miss you lots.}

{Like a lot a lot a lot}
{a lot}

{A LOT}

{A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOVE YOU A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT A LOT}

{Oh, you probably wanted the other side of the coin, eh?}

{Too bad, I'm tired and lazy.}

{But I am wearing this girly necklace just for you.}

{It may not be enough, but it's something.}

{That's the best you'll get out of me until you see me again.}

{You hang in there, Sister.}


{ aang }

{all worlds share the same sky.}
{one sky, one destiny.}

{let's share the same world, then.}
{you and i, one ecstasy.}

{sifting our strife into a single heart}
{drifting through life in one shared mario kart}

-Did you try to write me a poem, Aang?-


{ 北方拓芙 }
{ ~ Toph Beifong}

-Whoa, this is...really sloppy handwriting...I can barely read it.-

{ AL| _ Y 0U /\/e eD |5 /_oUe }

-Oh, I get it. That is all we need.-


{ Mai Chiao }

{One final haiku}
{Canada eskimo glue}
{I've learned to care, too}


{ ~ Katara Kesuk }

{The more I keep trying to write down what matters, what things I glean from my time in college, the more I come to understand that it really is more what you learn outside of the classroom than in it, and that you can never understand too much.}

{I could continue to run circles over my own words, writing everything down as best I can.}

{But I could never write it all down, and it would never be perfect.}

{I'm not even sure exactly why I'm writing this all down. For all I know, you'll never read it. Maybe no one will ever read this. But I'm OK with that.}

{It's not whether you read it or not that matters - it's that I wrote it down in the first place.}

{Life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not.
But you should make it. You should make the most of it, with whatever you have.
With whoever you have.}

{That, and so much else, is what I learned at SRU.}


剧 终
- The End -

fav.me/d7gdey8 <--- Chapter 129 (Part 3)

SRU - Keeping Warm by nymre SRU - Homecoming by Destiny-Smasher SRU - The Cycle Begins Anew by Destiny-Smasher SRU - Happy Holidays by Destiny-Smasher SRU - Lost Themselves by Destiny-Smasher SRU - The Unbroken Circle (Close-up) by pineapplefactor
You can read about SRU's impending revision into an original series here.
The entire project's art gallery is located here.
You can follow all updates on the Facebook page.
You'll find a smattering of stuff on my Tumblr blog, as well, including occasional previews of what I'm working on.

:icons-r-u:

This project is FINISHED -- onward to revising it into an originals series, and working on other stuff, both original and fanfiction alike. You can find some links to info on that here.
© 2014 - 2021 Destiny-Smasher
Comments26
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A little late to the party I acknowledge, but this has got to be one of the most well written pieces of LITERATURE I have ever read. This in my humble opinion transcends "Fan Fiction" and has become a separate entity. Though it may have started out as a fan fiction for Avatar, its so much more than that now. That is why I shall eagerly await whatever you make next. I shall frequent your deviantart page hungry for more.

-A Happy Reader 
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thanks so much for this comment. It's been a while since SRU has gotten a comment from someone who's read it all.

Yes, I realized it was becoming its own entity by the end. I've already started workon revising the story into an original series. Editing things, revamping plot stuff, removing some characters, adding in new ones, making changes to the existing ones...

You can find the artwork for that here:
destiny-smasher.deviantart.com…

The story is on DA here.
fav.me/d899bbn

And if you want, you could even test a rough work in progress of the story in visual novel form.
Just be aware that a lot of aspects, especially the character art, aren't complete, and there could still be some bugs.
www.mediafire.com/download/114…

Aside from that, I have a sample of an original novel I'd like to develop later on down the road:
fav.me/d7asqpj
destiny-smasher.deviantart.com…

And I'm, like, seven chapters into another original story, as well.
destiny-smasher.deviantart.com…
fav.me/d84fcgf

Thanks again for checking out my work and leaving some support.
I do keep my DA updated with the content I make, even if the DA community is more quiet these days.
Sweet, I started reading Rokudai as well, and I've read Esteemed as well. I think the Visual Novel thing will be cool!
ThoughtsandWonders's avatar
This was without a doubt one of the most beautiful fanfics I have ever read (fucking late). I feel nostalgic but this is certainly something else. It has all those heartfelt references from the canonical shows and comics. But at the same time it could be treated like something entirely different and creative. Followed by brilliant use of minor characters turning very significant like Jane and June. This is the work of a true master at literature. Prior to this I actually read your "Worst Field Trip Ever" and like this it was built very climatically and suspenseful. Hope season 3 and 4 of The Legend of Korra didn't complicate your "Esteemed". Anyway I think Mike and Bryan themselves would be impressed with the work of fans. Yours in particular. Brilliant work here.
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thanks for reading through the entire thing. I hope you're enjoying Rokudai, DownRight Fierce, or whatever else you might have read since.
alleemaria's avatar
Nooo... I'm so sad to see this end...
The ending was beautiful, sweet and calming. And that part, a few chapters ago, where Sokka cried? Awesome!! :-p
I just wanted to say that, by the end of the day, I love ALL your characters. The way you developed them was spectacular ! ! I had a rough time, in turns, liking each one of them (exept Aang, who did not only have qualities but is a great dude!! :D)
The worst I think was Korra; I didn't understand her role in the story, exept for messing people's lifes up and be a pain about it. But now, now I understand it and her so much better!! I really like her and respect her now. And the way she acts with her kids - it's so cuuute!! XD
My favorite character of all, because of her evolution, is Toph. And believe me, I had a really really tough moment trying to like her. I really hated the way she treated Aang and disliked her stubborness towards her parents. But she's such a great character at the end, and realisticly so!! Oh and, the way you described her relation with Sokka made them an extroadinary pairing!!
Bravo too for Jane's character, who must have been complexe too invent!!
For Katara too, of course: she is such an important and well drawn character, and must be such an agreable person. This friend you inspired yourself from to invent her must be such great person. :)
Finally, well done for the whole story: it must have been such an imposing project to have!! That in itself is inspiring :-p. I beginned it hoping from some quality fanfiction, was never deceived, and ended with reading something so much better!! I have to admit the whole part where Korra took her importance in the story seemed to be dragging a bit, but again, I didn't try liking her so much... I would like to suggest, if you want to turn this into a novel, to limit Korra's awkwardness, for example with Bolin and Makko, and give her a few more qualities - not compkex ones like her désire to help so much, but for exemple have a scène with her helping an old lady, or trying to act friendlier to some, or something of the sort... I dunno haha^^ Dont get me wrong, I now really appréciate her as a character; it's juste so that the reader may do so a bit earlier, if they sée her the way I did ;)
Anyways:
Well done, and thank you for writing SRU!! Katara is an inspriring character, that might have taught me a few things on helping people? And even if it didn't teach me anything at all, it was a good reading all the same ;)
So, one last time, well done for this epic story, and I wish you all the best for later on (like... For turning this into a novel...? :)- )
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thanks for reading through the story and leaving comments as you went.
Yes, the real-life person who helps inspire how I write SRU!Katara / Katrina is indeed a great person and a wonderful Big Sister figure to me.

The revised version of the story will introduce Coral (SRU!Korra) earlier on and develop her a bit more evenly with the other characters, I hope, so the plot doesn't become so centered around her at the end.

This story is too big for a novel, haha! But I have started editing it to try and make it into an original story that I can publish some how some day, yes.

Thanks again for going on this journey and leaving your thoughts. I hope it helped you in some ways to read it, as it has helped me in writing it. And yes, it has been a very imposing project, but I stuck through it over three and a half years, and there's still work to do if I want to try to publish a revised version of it some day.
alleemaria's avatar
You're welcome; it was a wonderful read ;)
That sounds like a great idea ;) If I may just add, it could be good if you emphazise more on how Katara is the "Eskimo Glue" in the end (show it through action and explanations a bit more I suppose) and make sûre the reader understands through out the whole story that Aang "bends" people... It seems we understand that only near the end, whereas in the beginning he is présented more as an inspiring leader ;) I'm just saying that to help though, and I'm not sûre it's even necessary ;)
Haha indeend :-p
You're very welcome, and good luck ;)
ShodanAllen's avatar
Got off track for several months... So glad to have made it to the end of this story of your's and our's. You brought so much of your own narrative to the resource that is ATLA. You painted a thousand different pictures of smell, taste, sight, and touch. And special kudos to the art done by Eevee445 and others.
Myself... university life was never for me. I've always experienced it through other mediums... your's being one of the best!

Thanks for the Tokka... it's long build-up... it's daybreak... it's gloomy sky... and it's glorious, open-ended conclusion.

Love how you finished with Katara and spent so much time with her as the axis for the story... just as it should be.

You also did the most important thing a writer can do: you made tough choices with your characters... if it doesn't frustrate the reader from time to time it means you didn't make them care.

Look forward to all your work. Keep dreaming and sharing... if you get the inclination, I wrote a bunch of Zutara and Tokka poems for their various weeks of celebration. shodanallen.deviantart.com/gal…

Cheers,

Jace
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I started work on what will be a long but hopefully rewarding editing process for this project into Rokudai. I guess we'll see where it goes, and if it can ever break free of the confines of Internet fanfiction posts.

Thanks for going on the first-draft journey and leaving comments as you went. I hope the ending offered enough closure for now.
Here we are, the end of the road for SRU. Thanks for the amazing journey. A wonderful way to end an epic masterpiece. I loved the drama, the crack up moments and the heartfelt scenes which have endeared this story into my heart, as well as the hearts of other readers. Finishing Uni last year has made me sort of feel like Sokka did, leaving friends and the student life behind to go into the 'adult world'. This final chapter has really helped me see that life continues, as one chapter ends and another one begins, all we have to do is keep writing :)

Again thank you for the work and effort you have put into making SRU and I wish you all the best. I eagerly await my enrolment in Rokudai once it is open for semester :)
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thanks for leaving your thoughts. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I look forward to beginning to shift focus onto original works.
*standing ovation* The epic journey has concluded. In the realm of fanfic writers an iintoendent authors, you are truly a master, and SRU was your masterpiece. I was in a bookstore earlier today, and I thought of you and SRU's upcoming revision into Rokudai, and I hope to see it on the shelves in the future. You deserve recognition of that magnitude. Thank you for this story, it has caused me to rethink my opinions on college and to make an effort to enjoy every aspect of it that I can. I look forward to seeing more of your epicness in the future.
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
I look forward to working on Rokudai and bringing it to new audiences in a new format with new twists in the plot for those who have already ready SRU.

I hope you do enjoy your time in college while it lasts and I thank you for spending the time to read this story.
DarkBlackArcanine's avatar
officially the greatest story ever written in fanfiction about ATLA ...sad to the point of tears that it's over but it was fucking amazing. I am so damn happy I found this story last year. Hopefully we can be buds XD Anyway again thank you for writing this whole thing

Your  friend (if ya like)
DarkBlackArcanine
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thanks for your support and comments!
Feel free to write me a DA note or send an e-mail (D3stiny.Sm4sher at gmail).
And the ride is over. What a ride....

I have words so many words in my head to convey how I feel but for now my fingers can't seem to type. I will say them but I need to let them come. However I do want you to know Eddie I am so very glad I stumbled upon your story, and stuck with it. Its been a worth-while journey and a pleasure and a joy to watch grow from its humble roots. I wish you all the success in the revising and publication attempts on the finished "original" product.

Your fan-4-life
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thanks! I look forward to editing and revising this story into an original series, so there's still a lot of work to be done, but I'm taking a break for now to focus on getting on my feet and starting original works. I hope you continue to enjoy the work I will be putting out in the future.
silversteam11's avatar
Your writing is just so beautiful! This whole series should be published! I am SO grateful for you putting so much effort in your story! I feel like crying now that there journey is over. Boo Hoo! Never stop writing because you have an amazing talent that you need to show the world!!!
Waaaah! Clap 
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Thank you. I've been giving myself time away from this project after 3 and a half long years of steady work.
But I'm excited to look into starting the editing process this summer and revising it into a better story that stands on its own and can hopefully be published.

In the meantime, I've got a couple of other original projects I hope to start work on this year, and my DeviantArt will continue to be a hub for this material.

Thanks for your support! I hope you continue to enjoy what I put out in the future.
silversteam11's avatar
I'm sure I will! Good luck!
AHHHHHH it's over! :(

I like what you did with the ending, though the poetry is average :P Just wondering--are the journal entries by other people all written after the events of the main story (i.e. after Sokka graduates)? Some of them seem like they're from before then.

I think I mentioned this back when I started reading, but last year around this time I was in deep depression. Reading your story was one of the things that helped me out of it. Even this ending, I hope, will be helpful--I'm finishing college very soon, and maybe your story has given me some ways to cope with leaving so many friends behind!

I'm a little sad that I won't have the Story Alert on ff.net to look forward to anymore... (I like commenting here because you can reply in public, though)
Amusingly, I think SRU was one of the first Avatar-related fanfics I ever read, and now I'm addicted to Avatar fanfics (well, I've read so many that it's becoming difficult to find good ones), but SRU is hardly a fanfic anymore. As you've said, it's definitely grown into a work of its own.

Thank you for all the time you've put into such a wonderful story. 
Destiny-Smasher's avatar
Almost all of the journal entries were written during the story -- there were various moments in the later parts of the story where Katara would be passing off her journal to her friends, or they'd be giving it back to her. The implication now is that they were writing entries like this in it.

I am glad this story helped you -- writing it helped me get through some depression as I worked through a divorce and started a new life.

I hope you will tune in down the road when the story is reformatted into an original series.
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