djsoliloquy: ([Mighty Turtleducks] PARTY HARD)
DJ ([personal profile] djsoliloquy) wrote2012-08-13 11:21 pm
Entry tags:

[original] childhood meme

Fandom: Legend of Korra / Mighty Turtleduck OC probending team
A young Tuo has trouble sleeping. Basically my headcanon that some earthbenders are like cats about earthquakes.

Tuo opens his eyes under the covers, to the enclosed security of darkness and warmth. The house is cool and quiet. Too early to be awake.

If he listens he can hear his mother up and pacing in his parents’ room. His sisters slumber contentedly a few feet away in their own bed. Tuo takes a deep breath and burrows against his pillow, listening. He thought at first it had been distant thunder that woke him, but there’s a stillness to the air and no wind against the window like there usually is before a storm.

When the jittery coil in his belly won’t let him sleep, Tuo yawns and climbs out of bed. If he leaves early he can bring his good radio with him to the fields—and conveniently forget to wear his shoes before his father has a chance to remind him.

Adults baffle Tuo sometimes. He’s ten and he already knows going barefoot is better.

He dresses in the chill of his room and grabs some bread from the pantry before heading outside, the radio clutched under one arm and the dirt and grass dry between his toes. He pads towards where he last saw the flock, jumping between the big flat stones set in the path from their house.

Koala sheep are too sedentary to need much actual shepherding, but looking after them has been Tuo’s job since he could earthbend enough to safeguard them and himself. He’s proud of his responsibilities though he’s never had to fight anything off before. The dangerous things in the region—people and creatures alike—may not know Tuo but they do know his mother, a formidable earthbender herself. Tuo’s pretty sure he could handle it, though.

Chirps and calls rise from the birds that nest in the prickly bushes. There’s a promise of sunrise on the edges of the sky, faint grey light blending through the morning’s blue shadows. A smile pushes at his cheeks when he senses the flock around the bottom of the hill.

He doesn’t really think about where’s he’s going. Tuo could find his way around blindfolded. His feet know the way by heart.

Tuo walks amongst the flock, checking on them. Like he knows the land he knows the koala sheep too, and all of them by name. They were his earliest babysitters. Sometimes, if it’s cold or Tuo is still tired in the morning, he finds a close-knit group and curls up with them to doze. Their wool is soft as any pillow or blanket and keeps him plenty warm, even on chill mornings.

Today Tuo doesn’t feel like sleeping. He pulls his coat around his shoulders and pumps water for the trough by hand, with no breeze to work the windmill. It takes a few minutes. Gives him something to do that isn’t preoccupied with the strange unrest he can’t seem to shake.

Like his sisters and father, the koala sheep are undisturbed. Perhaps one or two more are awake than usual, lifting their heads briefly to nibble on grass within reach before tucking down to doze again. None of them appear tempted to get up despite Tuo’s effort to get them water.

The air is utterly still and calm, yet he fights down a feeling of anticipation. There might as well be storm clouds on the horizon. And it isn’t anxiety as much as it is distraction. Tuo paces a little ways off from the flock, looking everywhere, checking everything. He doesn’t turn on his radio and keeps turning his head like he’s straining to hear, and the lack of noise only makes him listen harder. It takes a moment of noticing he can hear his own heartbeats before he realizes the birds have gone silent too, suddenly hushed.

Tuo stomps down, launching up a rock the size of his chest. He holds it steady in front of him. Even if he has nobody to aim at yet, he’s ready.

And because he anticipates an attacker, he is almost entirely unprepared when the earthquake finally hits.

For one terrifying second Tuo’s imagination is sure it is an attacker, then the scope of it overwhelms him. Beneath his feet everything is shifting, solid earth moving like it isn’t, and a sense of depth opens up under his feet that he doesn’t understand.

Tuo drops to his hands and knees, dizzy with vertigo. He can feel under the ground, one giant set of rumbling vibrations extending deep and stretching for miles, and he feels it all. He sees, understands with frightened and humbling insight that till now at best he’s bent dirt and stones. The uncompromising mass around him that extends so far out and so far down he can’t detect where it stops—that is earth. It’s too much. It scares him. Nothing in the ground is stable. He’s never seen an ocean, but he thinks that this is what it would be like to try and stand on one.

He closes his eyes, fingers clutching at the ground like he can hold it still. When he looks up the hills are rolling, actually rolling—not by much, but with stone and dirt and grass undulating gently up and down in waves, Tuo and the koala sheep rising and falling with them.

The koala sheep give him pause. A few are giving out confused sounds and looking around them. Concerned that something is disturbing their rest, but otherwise not especially distressed.

Though koala sheep probably aren’t the best judges of safety, it reminds Tuo of his job. He swallows and stands up, wobbling and constantly adjusting his feet to keep from falling over, but surprising himself with how steady he can be. He isn’t sure what to do, not strong enough to have anything of significance to add to the opus of the earth bending itself, but he stands strong, looking after the koala sheep and riding it out, and when the quake finally ceases—a minute gone by in total, if that—Tuo is still a little shaky, but not as afraid.

The earth settles, the last slight tremors shaking themselves out. With no trees or tall buildings around to topple the area looks much the same, if at different heights here and there. The koala sheep turn on their grass and go back to sleep. The birds in the prickly bushes begin to sing again. Tuo takes a deep breath and finds the sense of distraction is gone. The tension is gone from the earth.

Somehow he’s sure it won’t happen again, at least not that morning. Gradually his heart stops pounding and he stops breathing as though he’s run miles. At last he feels at ease enough to rest with the flock, and he snuggles down and props his head back on warm wool, digging out his bread from his coat for breakfast. By the time his mother has made it from the house to make sure he’s safe, Tuo already has the radio on to catch up on the previous night’s pro-bending matches.

Some thoughts??

Tuo’s personal style deals a lot with first manipulating the environment first rather than attacking directly—keeping the opposition off balance, immobilized, or changing the field to put them at a disadvantage. Embarrassingly indirect for an earthbender! More strategic, maybe (and makes pro-bending kind of a challenge for him, haha). Even if he’s outgunned he’s always aware that more often than not he’s the one in control of the battlefield itself—bending forms tend to suffer if the other person’s constantly off-balance because their footing keeps getting disrupted! (He’d be in a world of hurt against an airbender. Or someone who jumped around a lot.)

But this is probably where that got its start. As well as his fondness for that sand sinking technique.

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