This Oneshot takes place sometime between "Ember Island Players" and "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King".
This is my first story so any and all feedback would be great.
Aang's sleep was restless.
His mind wandered throughout his subconscious, bouncing between thoughts of fighting the firelord and simultaneously protecting his friends and everyone else on the planet. His friends. It was nights like these where he would worry so much for them. He would worry how they may get hurt, captured, or even killed.
And that there could be nothing he could do to prevent it.
He tossed and turned in his sleep. He couldn't stop his scattered and incoherent dreams from drifting to them…to her. Katara. She was the one most of his dreams…and his nightmares…centered on. It was during these nights where he so desperately desired to just be close to her. She was always so distant, so out of reach in his dreams. Whenever he had a nightmare, he was always just far enough from her to be helpless as she was carried off into whatever cruel demise that night decided to unleash upon her. But fate always made sure he was just close enough to see the fear, pain, and betrayal in her beautiful blue eyes.
He tried pushed his subconscious to go to her. To be closer to her so he could protect her, save her from the demons that infected his own night visions…
But he could…only push…so…hard…
His eylids slowly fluttered open as the morning sun calmly but painfully pressed against his eyes.
He was laying on his side, face towards the closed glass window, surrounded by the familiar wooden paneling that was consistent throughout the whole beach house. It appeared to be dawn outside, which meant Sokka would be knocking on his door soon to get him up for early Earthbending practice.
Usually Toph would be the one to happily yet forcefully pound on his door at the crack of dawn, yelling about how the Firelord could easily take a small child who couldn't even get out of bed on time. But Sokka, trying to live up to his self-proclaimed team leader status, had recently taken over the task. Aang and the others were acutely aware that this abrupt change in habit just so happened to coincide with the addition of Suki into the group. Aang and Katara discussed this during one of their waterbending training sessions, and they came to the conclusion that he was trying to prove how dedicated he was to the cause, and trying to exemplify his own leadership role in an attempt to impress Suki. Unfortunately for him, they laughingly noted, his efforts were immediately counteracted by his persistent grogginess every morning. He had been caught several times falling asleep in random corners of the house and on the lawn chairs situated on the deck underneath the warm beams of summer sun.
Warm…why was it so warm in his room?
He usually left his window open at night to let the thick, hot air of the summer afternoon filter out and be replaced with the cool and refreshing nighttime breeze. But if his eyes, still heavy with sleep, were to be believed, his window was definitely closed. That would be the logical reason for the unwanted heat, but it seemed to Aang that the bed itself was warmer for some reason, more than could be explained by the simple lack of ventilation.
Aang was puzzled by this, but not nearly enough to care right now. After all, he had a few precious moments of rest on his comfy pillow before Sokka would barge in unapologetically. So, he decided to simply move the thin sheet off his body to cool him-
His hand hit something.
He froze with a sudden sense of consciousness. He had only slightly tapped whatever it was as he moved the sheet off behind him, but it surprised him so much he felt as if he must have hit it with the force of a Earthbending rock smash. Whatever it was, it was warm, maybe even warmer than he was right now. It felt like a silky fabric on the surface, but it was covering something much firmer underneath it, disproving any theory he had that it might just be a pillow that had lost its way. Despite its firmness, it still had a little give, much like the human body would. Aang's face went pale as he quickly realized that the something on his bed could actually be a someone.
Then it moved.
Aang's previous instinct of "Don't move and maybe it won't notice" was immediately replaced with the all too familiar instinct of "FIGHT! SURVIVE! GET THE HECK OUT OF HERE!" He used his Airbending to quickly fling himself out of bed, get into a fighting stance, and turn around to face the intruder.
On the far side of his bed, facing him, was the face of a peacefully sleeping Katara.
His eyes widened as he, for the second time in the last 10 seconds, completely froze, still in his battle stance. He could not believe the sight before him. Katara was in her red silk nightgown, which she had found stored in a closet of the house, with her hands placed neatly between her head and his pillow. Aang's face quickly regained its color, and a lot of extra color as well, as he suddenly realized that they had been sleeping inches from each other.
Aang shook his head to clear it. "Stop it." he thought, trying to establish some sense of clarity. He couldn't be daydreaming about Katara right now. What he needed to do was figure out why she was in his room, and more importantly, in his bed. He strained to quickly remember what had happened last night.
The group had eaten a late dinner, followed by an intense arm wrestling competition between the three guys and Toph. After that, he recalled, Katara had talked to him for a few minutes on the balcony about what waterbending should be practiced the next day. But they had said goodnight to each other, and went to their separate rooms, which were two doors away from each other. Aang had meditated for a while, then settled in to sleep.
But there had to be something else, he reasoned. Katara had to have come into the room sometime, for some reason, but he couldn't remember waking up to her entering. She wouldn't have just walked in and slipped under his covers without saying a word. No, Katara would have awoken him to talk, about whatever was going on. Besides, he would have noticed her come in anyway and then woke up, and remember in the morning.
Aang's mind raced and his forehead became covered in a thin veil of sweat, and it wasn't because of the heat. His mind was going a million miles an hour and in just as many directions. What could have happened last night that would cause him to lose his memory? It could have been some unknown spirit, or some attack that had hit him hard enough to give him some form of amnesia. Or maybe something happened that was so crazy, so unexpected that his brain had disregarded as a dream? Maybe he…maybe she…maybe they…
He shook his head clear again. He needed to focus, but the whole situation made it impossible to do so. He needed to stop the speculation in his mind and look at the facts. For the first time, Aang scanned the room. It was the typical guest room in the house, and there was no obvious signs of a battle or struggle. But there was something different. For starters, his staff was laying unceremoniously on the floor to the right of the door and Katara's stolen fire nation robe was hanging on the coat hanger just beside it. And next to that was Katara's favorite blue Water tribe robe. And on the dresser was Katara's supply bag, and her sleeping bag was rolled up on the floor next to it. Katara's hairbrush was on the small table with the mirror. On the bed stand was her mother's betrothal neckless and Kartara's water pouch was laying on its side just beside it, and…
This was not his room.
It was Katara's.
Aang subconsciously took a step back and gulped. This wasn't possible. How could he go to sleep in one room and wake up in a different one? Did Katara know he was here? Had she somehow brought him here? For all he knew, this could be waking up for the first time in days, or even weeks! His fevered thinking was suddenly overcome by one pressing fact.
He could feel footsteps coming.
Toph had been trying to teach him to see like she did, using Earthbending, the last few days. Aang had resisted at first, seeing no use to supplementing his perfectly capable eyes, but quickly realized the benefits of knowing the positioning and footing of those around him, especially behind him. He had nowhere near the range or accuracy of Toph, and he knew he probably never would, but it was a start.
And he was starting to realize he should probably get out of here, because judging by the size and speed of the footfalls, it was probably Sokka. The last thing Aang wanted was for grumpy Sokka find him in his Sister's room, in the early morning, with the door closed, right next to a still sleeping Katara, with absolutely no explanation as to why he was there.
Adreneline pumped through him as he used his Airbending to quickly and quietly swing open the door and slip out onto the shingled roof below. He scooted to the side just as he heard a pounding at the door, quickly followed by the squeal of the hinges as it swung open.
"Goooooood Moooorning Kataraaaa!" The familiar voice of Sokka exclaimed loudly, but still somewhat muffled by sleepiness.
"Ok, that's all the enthusiasm you are going to get out of me until lunch." He continued, with his voice more noticeably drawn out.
Katara mumbled something, then Aang felt her shoot up in bed suddenly.
Sokka yawned. "Also Sis, might want to crack a window, it's kinda hot in here."
Katara took a second. "But…But it is open." She stuttered slightly.
"Huh, well, too tired to care about your ventilation issues right now, I still have to wake up Aaaaa- " Sokka's voice had trailed on as if he had noticed something odd.
"Aaaaang's staff, why is Aang's staff in your room!" He suddenly snapped suspiciously.
Aang cringed. How could have he forgotten to grab his staff? Nonetheless, he strained to hear Katara's response.
"Ummm-I-I-I don't know" She stuttered with an obvious nervousness in her voice.
"Well, there can only be one answer to this," Sokka began with an accusing tone-" Aang gulped, and was sure Katara was doing the same.
"The hot room, Aang's staff, the open window, it all makes sense!"
Aang was sweating now.
"YOU HAVE BEEN MEETING WITH THE FIRE NATION!"
Aang almost fell off the roof.
"ohthankheavens," katara muttered faintly, followed by, "Wait, what did you say?!"
"Quit trying to play dumb with me Katara, I had known you were up to something for months now! I knew you had watching Aang more closely now that we have landed on Fire Nation shores!"
Aang blushed slightly. He had been wondering if it was just him imagining things or not.
"You obviously are trying to find out his weaknesses to pass onto the Fire Nation Spies!"
"So are you accusing me of being a traitor? Or-" She sounded more dumbfounded than offended.
"The puzzle pieces all fit together now! You stole Aang's staff to give it to the firebenders you met right here in this room! What other explanation would there be for such a warm room if the window is open? Speaking of the window, I bet your spy friends are listening to this whole realization right now!"
Aang figured this was his cue to finally Airbend quickly back to his room before Sokka could investigate his suspicion. He hastily entered his own room and slipped under the covers of his own bed. He could hear yelling back and forth through the wall, but could not make out any words. About a minute later, the yelling stopped and a moment later his own door creaked open slowly to reveal a soaked and unhappy looking Sokka holding the Airbending Staff.
"Here," Sokka began in a defeated voice, "It was in Katara's room. She said you left it there when you were talking to her last night – IS THAT TRUE?!" He suddenly lurched forward with a maddening look.
"Uh…yeah…must have forgotten all about it…whoops… "Aang answered nervously.
Sokka raised an eyebrow. "Hmmmm, this must go even deeper than I thought…" He said in a thoughtful yet suspicious tone. He walked backwards towards the door, still facing towards a sweating Aang.
"I have my eye on you, little Avatar…" He then quickly whisked out the doorway. Aang collapsed on his bed with a sigh of relief. A moment later he heard a pair of familiar footfalls approached his door, and Aang turned his head to see an embarrassed looking Katara, still in that beautiful red nightgown.
"Umm…hi Aang." She began, and finally looked up to meet his gaze.
Aang sat up in his bed. "Uh…hi Katara."
There was a moment of silence between them, and they instinctively began to avoid each other's eyes.
"Sooo-" Aang began, gathering the courage to look her in the eye, "Can you explain why I woke up in your bed without remembering how I got there?"
Katara inhaled deeply breath and took a step closer to him.
"You slept walked into my room last night."
"I-I slept walked?" Aang had never slept waked before, and was a bit confused at the prospect.
"Yeah," Katara giggled a little and a light blush formed on her checks, and finally looked at Aang directly. "You were murmuring something about trying to get to me."
Now they both were blushing lightly.
"Um, oh, well sorry about that." Aang knew he could have come up with something better than that, but his mind was doing many things right now, and thinking straight was not one of them.
"Don't worry about that." Katara replied with a playful inflection on the last word.
She was eluding to something and he knew it. It couldn't have been that bad or crazy if she was acting so flirtatious about it. Wait. Aang blinked. Did he just call Katara's actions flirtatious? She was blushing, he knew that much, but she also was biting her lip slightly, had a hand on her hip and was looking him right in the eye with the most mischievous eyes he had ever seen her have. Not to mention a large smile that seemed to be forming on her face without her knowledge. It was objectively flirtatious, but if she was acting this way, that meant-
"Um, what else happened?" Aang asked nervously without putting much thought into what the answer might be before him mind took him down the wrong path.
Katara looked at him for a moment, and looked up for a second in thought. Aang could have sworn he saw her hand shake for just a second, but he was distracted.
"Well, it might be better if I show you what you did." She said warmly, and then bringing up her hand towards him, she continued, "Just take my hand".
Aang's head instantly cleared of all his distractions. He was there in the blink of an eye, and she turned him so his back was to the door and he was facing her. She began to slowly lead him forward while she walked backwards, with her two hands holding his.
"Well, as soon as you got in here I was a bit confused as to what you were doing, but since I know you so well, it didn't take much to figure out you were completely out of it," She said softly, never breaking eye contact with him.
"So I got up and tried to stop you or wake you up, like this." She suddenly moved her hands to his elbows and was pretending to try to hold him back.
"But you were a stubborn one, as always, and you kept going, and tripped right over me." At this she quickly wrapped her left leg around his knee and pulled, pulling them both down to the ground. Usually Aang would be able to be light enough on his feet to avoid such a takedown, but he decided to go along with it, that and his knees were already a little weak for reasons unknown to him.
They were much closer now, just inches apart, and they were both still staring unblinkingly into each other's eyes. Aang was suddenly feeling hotter than he had felt in Katara's bed.
"Then what?" It sounded like it was more of a statement than a question.
"Well um, then the darndest thing happened," She said playfully, using her hand to gesture while breaking eye contact to roll her eyes sarcastically. "In your weirded out dream state you had the audacity-" She paused to think for a second before relocking eye contact with Aang, who hadn't breathed since he last spoke. "To kiss me."
Aang withdrew slightly and his face turned fully red. "I-I kissed you? Really?"
"Yes, yes you really did."
He didn't know if he was more surprised that it had happened or angry that he didn't remember it. But that made him think, think about being right here, on the floor, and, asleep or not, kissing Katara. That was now the only thing running through his mind. He was jealous of his subconscious for stealing away a moment that he could never experience himself.
Or could he?
Aang suddenly became very aware that the space between them had subconsciously shrunk in the last few seconds. He finally inhaled, and made sure it was a deep breath, and with every ounce of reason in his body going against him, he gathered up his courage and said softly,
He closed the distance between them and shut his eyes as he nervously put a light kiss on her lips before retreating back to safety again. He felt his face somehow grow hotter than it was before, and as he opened his eyes again, he noticed Katara's face was bright red as well, and he could feel the warmth of it radiating off. She looked in his eyes again, and if eyes were indeed windows to the soul, her soul was estatic. But his mind filled with doubt again when she confidently shook her head.
"No," She whispered, and Aang felt a rush of panic as her grip suddenly loosened around his elbows.
"It was more like this."
Her arms flew around his neck and head as she brought him down for a long, deep, passionate kiss. All of Aang's nervousness and doubt that had flooded his mind were quickly replaced with love and happiness. He was right now, in this moment, kissing the girl of his dreams. Not just a quick peck, this was a real kiss, one he had been waiting to receive for so long. Right now nothing else mattered. Not training, not breakfast, not Sokka, Toph, or any of them. Not even the war or the Firelord was a concern. All took a backseat to this. To Katara. To him and Katara. Ah, that sounded nice…Him and Katara…
After a long time, but somehow still not long enough, they both pulled away. They laid there for a minute, catching their breath and enjoying the close embrace they had found themselves in.
"We should, uh, do this again sometime." Aang said flirtatiously as he finally stood up, with a small but obvious smile on his blushing face.
"Well, only if you insist." Katara jested as she was helped to her feet by Aang. They stared at each other for a second before giggling together.
"Well that just happened." Katara laughed as a smile showing unrequited happiness shone across her face.
"Yes it did, and I miiiight have been looking forward to it for a while." Aang replied lightheartedly.
"I think I have too." Katara stated genuinely, then turning to plant a quick peck on Aang's cheek, causing the blush to return.
"Real quick before I forget myself entirely, why didn't you bring me back to my own room?" Aang asked curiously, though she could have said anything for the answer to be satisfying to him.
"Well, I did try, by the way, but when I left you there you started murmering to yourself again, and I knew you couldn't sleep like that all night, so I figured it would be best if you slept somewhere where you could actually get some rest." Katara explained as they turned and walked side by side to the door.
"Oh, thank you Katara. That was really nice of you." Aang was always amazed at the thoughtfulness and care Katara treated everyone, especially him.
"And by the way," She continued in a semi-serious tone as they crossed the threshold to the hallway. "Not a word to Sokka or anyone about any of this, his head would fall right off his shoulders."
An all too familiar voice barged in from the hallway. "Tell Sokka what?"
They both whipped their heads towards the all to smug looking Toph, who was leaning against the wall of the hallway, and could only freeze in place at the realization they had been caught red handed by the biggest troublemaker in their group.
"YOU WERE SPYING ON US!?" Katara finally exploded after standing in shock next to Aang for a moment, whose face had drained of all color entirely.
"Wouldn't dream of it Sugar-Queen. In fact I was trying to dream when you two lovebirds woke me up with all your racket last night."
Katara was still fuming when Aang reluctantly took a step forward and said, "Well, ok Toph, you caught us, you win, now will you do us both a big favor and not tell anyone. I don't want there to be any drama going on in the team before Sozin's Comet arrives."
"Sure thing lock-lips, but I don't think I'll have to." Toph replied rolling her eyes.
Aang was caught off guard. His worry returned, but it was an entirely new type. Had others hear or seen them, and if so, who? He was getting nervous again, though noticibly less so than before. After all, kissing one's crush seemed to do wonders for overall anxiety.
Nevertheless, Katara sounded concerned when she asked, "Um…Why?"
Toph Laughed, "Hahaha! Oh wow you two, and I thought and you people call me blind! Ahhh this is gold! You two do realize you are holding hands right now right?"
Aang and Katara both flew their heads to their sides, and noticed that, somehow they had, indeed grabbed onto each other's hand subconsciously. They both instinctively let go and pulled their hands to their side with great embarrassment.
"Hahaha, you two won't hold out a week before everyone in the Fire Nation catches on at this rate!"
Katara began to start walking pass Toph. "Well, anyway I'm famished, Aang, want to grab some breakfast?"
"Uh, yep!" Aang replied quickly as he began to bound toward Katara.
"Not so fast twinkletoes." Toph said as she grabbed his arm. Aang was a bit disappointed by this, but decided not to fight someone who was holding a lot of information over his head.
When Karara had made it out of view, Toph turned to Aang and said,
"Don't worry, I'm trying to help you out idiot. Do you remember when Katara said to you that you had kissed her when you fell over last night?"
Aang smiled dumbly as he thought back to that moment and the ones directly following it.
Toph moved closer to his ear, and was smiling smugly the whole time.
"Yeah, well I was listening when she said that, and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the kiss she was talking about? Didn't happen. Complete baloney. She played you real good Twinkletoes. Real good."
Aang took a second to process this as Toph walked proudly down the hall. She had played him. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized one thing.
He didn't care at all.