While slowly reading my way through the mountain of compiled work that is Gaang Jr., I came across this story (community.livejournal.com/gaang_jr/19849.html#cutid1
) entitled "Drunk Hayoda". I was immediately captured by the plot and idea behind the story, but found its execution rather lacking. Being the nitpicker that I am, I decided to polish up the story to the best of my abilities. So without further ado, my rewrite of the story "Drunk Hayoda".Drunk Hayoda rewrite
Hayoda woke up with a throbbing headache, his hands and feet bound in rope. In his foggy mind, he entertained the idea that he was in the Blue Flame’s storage room, locked there because he had played a prank on Tseng and went too far. Only, if that were the case, there wouldn’t have been a need to tie him up and knock him out. As his brain started to catch up to his consciousness, he realized that the headache was not going away. In fact, it seemed to be pulsing with a rhythmic beat. He considered this as he started to thrash against his bonds, checking to see how tight they were. Thrashing turned out to be a bad idea as he found out the hard way that there was a crate right next to his head.
A muffled “clunk” sounded throughout the cell. Pain bloomed afresh and it felt as though hammer blows were echoing against his the inside of his skull. Slowly, through the haze of agony encompassing his reality, he remembered that earlier that day they had bumped into Ching the Wild. The pirate went to the same old routine of trying to unnerve him by drunkenly going about flirting with him. He never saw the point in it. She was too old to be his type and he was too young to even think of it seriously.
Or maybe the flirting wasn’t meant to provoke him. Stuck in a dank, wooden cell, hogtied, a realization formed sluggishly through the cotton that seemed stuck between his ears. It was always Irah that seemed more agitated every time Ching ‘flirted’. He remembered the princess flying off the handle during their last private conversation. Just the three of them alone on deck with Ching drunkenly cooing all over him, Irah had misinterpreted his amusement for reciprocation. It all ended and began when the agitated princess decided to go toe to toe with the crazy pirate. That’s why he was now stuck in this rotten cell.
Hayoda tried to stand up and failed, the bonds making him unable to maintain his balance and causing him to hit the floor hard.
“Ow…” Hayoda grumbled. He rolled to his sides to alleviate some of the pressure from his shoulders. He recalled that Ching had hit him when he pushed Irah out of the way to save her from a nasty strike. Then nothingness. He must have been captured then, he decided. That idea was proven to be true when he saw that distinctive form outside his cell.
“S’ya wakin’ up yet, lad?” Ching declared in her trademark slur. Hayoda followed the source of the sound and found the pirate across the room, sitting on a barrel and holding a bottle as if it was the most prized treasure in the world.
“Hrm…” He grunted in reply. If she was stationed there, then escaping had just gotten ten times more difficult. Still, it would be near impossible to escape if he didn’t get these ropes off first. He decided to trade banter with her as a distraction while he freed himself. “I wondered why it smelled like bourbon. You look like you’re close to passing out, Ching, didn’t get a good night’s sleep? And why are you chocking that poor bottle? Scared it’d run off or something?”
“Issims t’be ya git y’wits ‘bout.” Ching removed one hand from the bottle and drew out her sai. “And I ain’t takin’ no chances. Ye gotsa reputaytion fo’ takin’ sumtin’ from ev’ry cap’n ye come ac’oss.” She rested the blades on her lap and gripped both items tighter.
“Lady, if I wanted that, I could’ve just bought some myself. Of course, alcohol makes people stupid, so I don’t drink. Unlike you.” He smirked when he noticed her stiffening for a bit.
“’ey now. Tha’ be ungen’le man-like o’ you. Tah hur’ a lady whe’ she lives ih a low blow. Y’don’t see me throwin’ barbs ah’ y’girlfriend.” Ching took a swig to wet her throat and continued. “Nah wai’. Yeh I do. Toush-no, tuch…not that. Ah, right. Touché, that’s it. Touché. I do insul’ yer girlfrien’.”
“Irah’s not my girlfriend!” Hayoda said with a touch of what he hoped sounded like embarrassment. His exclamation had come out a bit louder than he had anticipated as he dislocated his thumb, slipping his hand free of the bindings. Hayoda ground his teeth, his face red with pain as he popped his thumb joint back into place.
“She ain’t? Tah way ya two bic’er on teh deh’k yes’er’ay coulda fool’ me.” Ching tilted her head slightly.
“Like I said. She’s not my girlfriend. At least, I think she’s not.”
“Ya t’ink? So wha’, it’s jus’ I-t’ink-sorta-maybe-girlfrien’?” Ching took a long drink and rubbed her temples. “Aaow. Too many wor’s.”
“I don’t know, okay? I mean I like her and she seems to like me, but nothing’s official,” Hayoda huffed and added. ”And why should you care, huh? It’s not like it’s any of your business.” He shifted to hide the fact that he was unraveling the intricate knot still binding his other hand and ankles together. With any luck it should simply appear to onlookers as though he was squirming in discomfort.
“Tha’ it ain’t, I gi’e yah tha’. Bu’ teh lady’s frus’rated. Ih be wha’ ‘appens when teh man don’t do nuffin’,” Ching nodded philosophically and pulled out a second bottle from somewhere. “Sure I can’t tempt ya wih a chug?”
“No. And she's ‘frustrated’ because you piss her off! Do you get a kick out of leaving me with an angry fire nation princess? She’s got a short temper when it comes to you and she particularly likes to brood over it,” Hayoda glared at the woman, trying to prevent her from noticing that both his hands were now free.
Ching stood and glared at the boy in turn, setting the second bottle inside the cell and pushing it closer to him. “I know yah arms are free lad, so drawp t’act. Beh a man an’ share ah drin’. Spirits know ya’need t’it, espe’cially fer tha thumb.”
Hayoda was shocked for a moment, marveling as to how she knew. He slowly sat up, not grabbing for the bottle. “Mhhhmm,” Hayoda intoned, not believing a word of it, “Drinking won’t help you know. It’s only an escapist vice that helps no one in the long run.”
“Ty’ical talk. On’y a virrrgin lieh y’self spou’ such ig’nant slur.”
“Hah, slur indeed!” Hayoda crowed as he pulled his legs out in front of him so that he could better work on loosening the bindings. Ching didn’t seem to mind anymore if he was tied up or not. “So says the wench that mumbles through her vocabulary.”
Ching huffed and plopped in front of him, still far enough away that he couldn’t lunge at her and catch her off guard. Not that he would have. The pirate captain was wickedly fast with those sais of hers and Hayoda, at some point while unconscious, had been stripped of Space Sword. Not a fair fight in the least.
“Pira’e ale is ah man’s enabler, don’ yah know. Ih numbs teh baw’y tah ignore tha’ pain. Ih clears teh min’ tah t’ink clearly. An’ ih ‘elps ah man face up tah sometin’ he canno’ face up tah sober.”
“Now that’s a load of crack. It only makes people do stupid things,” but Hayoda’s resolve was waning. Ignoring pain was something that sounded pretty darn tempting at the moment. Hayoda’s thumb still ached and his head felt like an impending explosion with every heartbeat.
“Suit y’self boy, be li’e tha’. Have fun sortin’ yah ‘ead sober.” Here she took a long drink, then smacked he lips in appreciation. “Nahw tha’ ‘its teh spot!”
Hayoda looked at Ching for a moment then down at the bottle laying in the dust before him. So far as Hayoda knew, for most people being drunk only impairs one’s thinking ability, Ching being a strange exception to that rule. But thinking ‘sober’ hadn’t helped him before… and now was not the time to be considering this. He had to get out of here somehow. Then what? Swim away? He could be anywhere, for Spirit’s sake and he didn’t think Ching’s ship had any lifeboats he could commandeer. It didn’t sound good, even to him. It was best to sit tight and wait for rescue.
Having long sense freed his legs from their bindings, Hayoda got comfortable and reached out for the bottle. He had nothing else to do and if Ching was right, maybe the swill would give him the clarity of mind needed to think his way out of this mess. Knowing it was a weak excuse, Hayoda uncorked the bottle and drank. Immediately the amber liquid began searing the inside of his mouth and he had to fight not to spit it out, swallowing the whole mouthful in one huge gulp. It burned all the way down his throat, finally settling in his stomach like a pit of burning embers, warming him from the inside. He gasped and cool air rushing into his scorched throat.
Ching guffawed at his display. “Nahw,” She raised her bottle, “we talk ‘til we pass ou’. Cheers!” She grinned and took another swig.
“Cheers.” He rasped out, raising his own and smiling his own dare devil smile, trying not to think of what had had just gotten himself into.
What happened afterwards was a mixture of serious introspections upon his life up to that point interspersed with comedic anecdotes and lots of bad puns. They both laughed so hard they cried over the story of the time he tried removing a hook with another hook, and the time his mother made him wear the Kyoshi uniform for a party. When it came to the subject of him and Irah:
“And it’s not like I’m outright saying that I love her, NO! Nothing that serious. I just wanna make sure she’s impressed,” Hayoda gestures wildly, halfway through the bottle now. He found that as the drinking progressed his tolerance for the burning sensation grew and he was starting to appreciate the subtleties in the flavor warming his tongue. The experience was actually turning out to be quite enjoyable.
“If ye ask me, she’d be too dense tah notice. And wha’ were yah shootin’ for tha’ time, anyway, in’erpra’ive sword figh’in’?" She laughed and went on,
“Yah got ah long way tah learnin’ haow tah impress ah laydie! It’s only idiots ooo t’ink women geh impress’ by tha’, yah know. Ask meh, it’s all in the presentashion! Yah gotta be smoo’h, sway – nah wai’, tha’ not it – suave, tha’ the wor’, suave! Women likeshs ah man ooo knows wha’ he’s doin’…” Ching continued on for a while longer with Hayoda drunkenly trying to remember the advice, for it was good advice. But he was having as much success as one would have trying to catch slippery fish barehanded.
After a few more shots and swills, Hayoda, in his drunken haze, felt a rising sense of clarity about his and Irah’s relationship. If they both felt that same romantic tension and they were both attracted to one another, then all he needed to do was act upon it. Just tell her and be done with it!
“Yes! What we have is different with other people! The hero and the damsel routine, that’s how we show we love each other! We can’t gauge our relationship using their standards! It only works for us and no one else. We should just accept it for what it and move on from that! Me and her!” Hayoda gestured and struck a pose using only his arms, as he was flat on his back by this point. “It’s her fault we’re stuck in this rut so it’ll be my job to get us out of it!”
“By the spiri’s, I t’ink he’s got it!” Ching laughed as he clapped. “Well naow tha’ yah clear wi’h tha’, my wo’k ‘ere ih done!” At this moment, a member of Ching’s crew ran into the room.
“Cap’n! A Fire Navy ship is chasing us! We believe it’s come to rescue the prisoner. What will we do—gurk!!”
Ching stood up slowly, one of her hands wrapped around the crewmember’s throat, choking his windpipe. “Furhst, yah shu’ up. T’en tell the crew tah brush t’eir ‘air, clean up t’eir clothes and polish t’eir swards. We’re havin’ ah party! Pai’ fuh by the ‘ire Navy, o’ course! Naow go!”
As the crewman left, she turned towards the drunk young man locked in the cell. “As fuh yah young man… yah sit tigh’, yer dates gunna be ‘ere soon!”
Hayoda could only nod as he watched Ching leave, her head thrown back in maniacal laughter. The time spent with her had been surreal to say the least, but he couldn’t deny the fact that she had helped him with his problem. Now the only problem left was to formulate the words to say. He looked at the bottle, shrugged, and downed some more liquid warmth. It had proved to be helpful to him so far, best to go all the way…
When Irah burst into Hayoda’s holding cell, she was all set to rip him a new one for babbling about their ‘relationship’, or whatever they had, with Ching. The cunning pirate used the shock of hearing familiar and secret nighttime skirmishes from an enemy’s lips to distract her a bunch of times. She had sustained several unnecessary wounds as Ching retold a particularly tense moment that had occurred under a waterfall after the Cabbage Flower Island incident. But when the first thing she heard after reaching Hayoda’s cell was a slurred rant that began with:
“The is all your fault because I like you!” from their obviously inebriated leader, the anger that had slowly been building during the fight with Ching and the trek to his cell evaporated.
“And… you’re drunk,” Came the princess’ bemused reply. The silly sight of Hayoda clutching a bottle of alcohol possessively was absolutely adorable. And now she knew how Ching had gotten all of that information from him.
“S’pose to be simple, I tell you.” His brow furrowed comically and he was pouting like a baby. “Me. The hero. Save princess.” He raises his chin and uses that to point at her. “ You. The princess. Gets saved.” He took a swig of bourbon and finished. “That simple.”
“Except you’re drunk,” Irah pointed out as she went over to pry him off the floor and help him to his feet. Throughout Hayoda was still talking.
“You get in trouble. I get you out of trouble. You say ‘my hero!’ and hug me like you mean it.”
“And I say ‘you’re drunk’ and drag you out of here,” She half smiled as she slung his free arm over her shoulders, supporting his weight with a shoulder in his armpit.
Seemingly unaware that he had changed positions, Hayoda lowered his head to take another swig and mumbles something into the mouth of the bottle.
“You were no help… swashbuckling pirates… crazy deathtraps… poking my ego to buy you tea… Why’d you want t’send me out in t’morning to buy tea anyway?... then you get pissy on me when ya see me talkin’ t’Ching…”
“And now you’re drunk.” She pointed out again, still smiling. She had to admit, this drunken Hayoda was very amusing.
“Stop saying that,” He grumbled. He tried to sound angry, but the whiny tone the words took just sounded funny. She steered him up the stairs as he continued. “You. You did this to me. I liked what we were. I had a good thing going when there wasn’t an ‘Us’. And it would’ a been fine if I let it go an’ not think ‘bout it. Let it go when I saw you ah yer p’rty. Let it go when Aunt Ty went and told me it’d be fine, ‘stead of saying I’ve no chance. Why should I care? Let it go when Aunt ‘Zula said you crying was a lightning strike to the chest…” He stopped to lean on the railing and pointed at her with the bottle, almost hitting her in the face for how close they were. “… But you smiled! You said ya like me too and you smiled! And that’s how it all started.”
“You’re so drunk.”
Hayoda looked at the top of the stairs, then around. “Who keeps saying that?”
Irah eventually managed to get him up the stairs, past the others, and across the gangplank leading to the Fire Navy ship.
And still the rant went on.
“Then came Ember Island. Then the Inn. Then the banter and the almost kissing…none of this was s’pose t’happen. Then you went and got this dress on you, no harm in that. Then came Yi Lin and her stupid idea with me and everyone else BUT you. And the L-word…and… and-and…” He wound down as he was laid out on the ship’s deck, being checked out by Tseng.
“Don’t stop now,” She said, her smile widening as she took the bottle from him.
“THAT’S IT!” Hayoda declared from the deck, arm swinging out to dramatically point at her, again almost hitting her in the face. “That's the smile! Stop doing that!” Irah would’ve thought he was serious if he wasn’t whining.
“I like you when you’re drunk. You’re cute.”
“This is your fault! This is all your fault!”
The princess leaned down to press her lips to his for a second. It wasn’t romantic. It was just a simple peck on the lips that still gave her a strong nose full of bourbon. Though she didn’t really mind, seeing as she was becoming fond of the substance that was making her crush so flatteringly honest. Then he pulled back to watch him, beaming that glowing smile.
“Liking someone isn’t that terrible a concept, is it?”
Hayoda might’ve sobered up at that moment. He blinked rapidly as though the smile produced a physical light that had blinded him. His eyes then cleared up and he instinctively wrapped one of his arms around her waist to pull her closer to him. He halted when she laid a hand on his chest.
“You’re not getting another one if you don’t answer. Now tell me. Liking someone isn’t that awful, right?” She smiled that thrice-damned smile of hers and he could only gulp hard and shake his head ‘no’.
“Good to know that we’re on the same page.” Then she leaned in and kissed him for real. A slow, languid kiss that wasn’t blocked or interrupted by anything and seemed to go on for eternity. A kiss that both had been longing for for a long time.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Sea Wolves are standing not far from the two.
“I love a happy ending!” Yue says as she dabbed at the tears streaming down hr face.
Captain Tomtom and Toph headed back up to the helm, all the while bickering about such public displays of affection.
“If her father knew of this…!” Tomtom spluttered.
“My advice? Don’t tell him. In this case, what Lord Zuzu doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” Besides what did Toph care about public displays of affection? It wasn’t as though she could see them anyway.
Tseng, who left even before Irah bent over to kiss him the first time, was now standing next to his slack-jawed sister, obviously stunned silly. “They’re kissing. That makes them girlfriend and boyfriend.” Through he smirked when she whipped around to face him, extremely flustered.
“Bu-but that doesn’t mean anything!” She pointed to the still kissing couple and gesticulates wildly. “She could come to her senses! He can say he loves Jing! He’s completely DRUNK! It doesn’t count! Anything can happen!”
“Face it sis,” he said clapping a hand on her shoulder before walking away, “as you would say: ‘You can’t deny the proof!’”
Even with the remark about Jing, Tseng couldn’t be brought down from the happiness that he felt knowing that for once his older sister’s ‘book of ships’ was wrong. And not just wrong, it didn’t even foresee this!