"Hi. I'm Aang...and I'm a chosen one."
By now, The Bard had the routine down. "Hi, Aang."
"It's been six months since I saved the world. Man, you should see the place now. Omashu and Ba Sing Se are rebuilding, Zuko's done wonders with the Fire Nation, and...oh yeah! Sokka and Suki are getting married!"
Anakin clapped his gloved hands together. "That's wonderful! when?"
"In September. Zuko's offered them the royal palace for the ceremony, but...I got no idea what to get them for a present. They've both got the best swords money can buy, and The Earth King has made sure they have the best place to live. What do you get two heroes who have everything they could ever need?"
"Well you know," Harry said, "Wedding gifts aren't about need, really. You want to give them something that will...show your support to the union."
The Bard sneered. "It's only not about need to the rich and powerful. To everyone else it's to make sure they can start a household without dyin' in the first year."
Paul shrugged. "On Arakis, it's easy. for a wedding: Water. And for a birthday? Water. State functions? Water. Tuesday? Water." He smiled. "Simplicity has its perks."
Anakin said, "Well...maybe something to remind them of you. Maybe a suveneir from your days fighting Fire Lord Ozai?"
John grimaced, and seesawed his hand in the air. "Ehhh...Come on, do they really want to remember being on the run from relentless pursuit, hiding out alone in a strange land..." John's face took on a gray palor, and his eyes a frightening defocus. "...never knowing if...the enemy was...just around the corner--"
Faster than The Bard's eyes could track, Link's left hand flew out and slapped John up the back of his head. John jolted forward under the surprise. Sheepishly, John turned to him. "Thanks."
The door opened, and a two foot tall creature with wrinkled green skin and batlike ears leaned in on a gnarled wooden cane. "Hrrrm?"
Anakin slumped down in his chair and hid his helmet-covered face behind a Time magazine.
Harry pointed. "Magi is seventh floor, room 713. Say hello to Professor Dumbledore for me."
"Hrrrm! Hrm hrm hrm!" He ducked out and closed the door.
Anakin lowered his magazine. Paul sighed. "They're doing this on purpose now."
"He was too short to read the sign," Link said, turning to Aang. "Baby bassinet."
"They need baby supplies. Your world is devastated by war. The southern water tribes are well into their survival threshold, and they're about to have to start breeding with outsiders to come back to steady-state population. In fact, if they want to preserve the gentic base for water-bending, they're going to have to take non-bending mates and hope for the best. Do you happen to know if water-bending is a dominant trait?"
Aang squinted. "What?!"
"Just something to consider. Also, the fire-nation is above its own carrying capacity. You're going to see a lot of migration, and therefore, you're going to see firebending start appearing in the other cultures. With the water-tibes looking for mates and fire-nation looking for places to live, you're about to see the Earth Kingdom become a very eclectic place. An economic center, a cultural hub...In fact, I'd look for your next despotic attempt at world domination to start in Ba Sing Se."
Aang blinked, leaning back in something like confused horror. The Bard looked to Harry hopefully, but Harry just shrugged. When he looked to John, John looked as confused as Aang.
Paul raised one finger. "You were talking about baby bassinets."
Link nodded. "Right. Since Sokka and Suki are heroes to this era, having been major parts of ending the war, and the world is having to recover from the devastation of said war, there's going to be a lot of pressure on them to produce healthy offspring. Focus your gifts on that idea. Fire Lord Zuko and the Earth King are going to make sure they have the best medical support available, you just see to the moral support. Let the world see that The Avatar cares about the impending baby boom."
Anakin sat forward in his chair. "That's...brilliant."
John looked mortified. "It's insane!" He looked to Link. "You don't know these people! You don't just talk about their families like that!"
Link shrugged. "It's a pattern, just like everything else. Look, John, you're going to have to deal with this too--"
"--When you face your fate, one of your chief problems is going to be to make sure that enough healthy adults of breeding age--"
John shot to his feet. For a moment, The Bard thought he might take a swing at Link. "Shut up! What the hell is wrong with you?!"
Link sat back a bit, watching John curiously.
Harry raised one hand. "Link, I'm going to have to ask you to respect John's boundaries."
John went on. The Bard thought he detected a hint of impending tears in John's voice. "You're talking about the fate of the human race! It's not a fucking math problem!"
Anakin nodded. "Link, John takes his destiny very seriously. He's got a heavy burden on his shoulders. We all do."
Link nodded. "When I was seven years old...my mother told me that raising me was like making sure I was outfitted for war. She had to make sure I had a breastplate, greaves, pauldrons, a helmet, and if she accidentally sent me into the world without gloves, and I got my hands cut off, that was on her."
Anakin glanced at his right hand, clenching and unclenching a fist.
Link looked to him, then back to John. "I've spent my life gathering tools of all kinds. If I have gloves for any of you..." He pulled them off his hands and tossed them onto the floor in the center of the circle of chairs. "They're yours."
John sat down. "My mother's taking care of that. I come here to get help with this crap, not live it all over again."
Aang smiled wanly and sat down. "I think a baby bassinet is exactly the right message to send. If the world is rebuilding, we'll start with the people."
But The Bard could see that John was not okay. He sat slumped in his chair, his head in his hands.
Paul leaned forward, as if trying to see his face. "John?"
John sobbed loudly.
Anakin tilted his helmed head. "Oh John..." He reached for his kleenix box.
John shuddered. "So many people...They're all gonna die..." He looked up. "It's not so simple for me. Every week you all come in here and you've already saved the world. I can't say that. It hasn't been a week, or a month, or a year, for me. I haven't done it yet!" He fell into himself again. "I have the future deaths of millions on my mind! I can't stop it!"
Harry nodded. "John, that's what we're here for. Look around you. We all feel it."
Paul put one hand on his back. "John? Listen to me."
John looked up into his blue-glowing eyes.
"When it's all over, and you've helped ensure the survival of the human race, you'll give someone a baby crib for a wedding present."
John nodded. Paul pulled him into a hug.
Anakin stood up, walked over, and joined the hug. With one hand, he motioned everyone over. "Come on."
Harry rolled his eyes, but smiled warmly. The Bard groaned theatrically. "Ohhh, if we must." And without reservation, he joined the hug.