Aang is so adorable, he deserves a fic. XD Takes place on the flight away from the Southern Air Temple.
Aang sat hunched on the back of Appa as they soared northwards, away from the remains of his old home. He was supposed to be asleep-Katara and Sokka would worry about him if they found out he wasn't-but he couldn't seem to bring his mind to calm. He would have to pretend to be sleeping when they woke up.
Which, judging from the sky, would be in a hour or two. It was just before dawn; no sun visable on the distant horizon, but a purple glow seemed to radiate from the ground and paint the world in its melancholy color. Aang looked around and saw the lilac sky, lavender clouds, and amethyst ground. Purple, purple, purple. He sighed, tucking more tightly into himself as the cold winds of the high atmosphere cut through his clothes.
Aang never really liked twilight. His favorite time of the day was noontime, just when the world was bright and awake and in action and still had a whole afternoon ahead of itself. With twilight, floating between the worlds of night and day, Aang always felt a little lost. As though the rift between the dark and the light held no time to ground him to the real world. And, in truth, it felt as though time reallyhad left him.
A hundred years. That was a really, really long time. But, being trapped in the ice, it only felt like a few days. To him, the old days were really only a yesterday away, but it was a yesterday so big he could never cross it. He couldn't turn around and find things as they were when he had left. It felt unfair, as though time had played a mean trick and jumped ahead of him...and took everything he loved with it.
When he had learned that a hundred years had passed, he knew things would be different. He knew people he loved would be gone, no matter how much it made his chest sting. Monk Gyatso would be dead...well, maybe. Monk Gyatso was a very lively old man. But he had never expected changes to be so drastic. He had never expected that the Fire Nation would launch a war, or attack his home. He had never expected that his teacher, who had lived such a peaceful life, would die such a violent death.
Flying through the surreal sky, not in day, not in night, not in anything, with the world distant and colored purple in the twilight, Aang felt his alienation more acutely than ever before. It was as if the strings that had connected him to everyone were being cut, one by one. Finding out that he was the Avatar, a being of legend who was supposed to ensure the peace of the land, had been the first thing to separate him from his peers. Then he had to get lost in the South Pole and frozen in a giant ice cube for a hundred years, placing him out of his own time. Finally, he had to discover that all the Air Nomads had been destroyed in that hundred-year gap, making him the very last of his people.
It was as if fate wanted him to be alone. Sniffling quietly, Aang felt hot tears trickle down his face. Aang had wandered many parts of the world despite his young age, and knew many people. And though he was a Nomad, Aang had never felt lost and adrift then. That was the wonderful part of being a wanderer: new friends and old ones were always waiting around the corner. And he also had the comfort of the temple, knowing that it would always be there to welcome him back anytime he wanted to return to it. But...the temple was empty now, and all the people he knew were either dead by now or too old to go riding animals with him.
He needed something, anything, he could link himself to. He didn't want to be the one and only of everything; the boy from the past, the last airbender, the Avatar. He didn't want to be alone...because without something to hold onto, he felt as though he would float away with the wind. Aang made a face at the airbender metaphor.
Aang's face felt cold as the biting high winds blew against his tears. Soaring through the dim twilight, Aang, the great Avatar, master of all elements, future hero of the world who would change the course of history and save everyone, felt very small and alone. He put his face into Appa's fur and inhaled. Trying to remember the flying bison stables, trying to remember the old times. The memories gave him small comfort. But it wasn't enough.
That was what Katara had said about the necklace her mother had gave her. It reminded her of her mother, and kept her memory from fading, but it could never bring her mother fully back. Could never be enough to fill the hole her mother had left. While Katara had lost her mom and Aang...well, almost everything, it felt nice to have someone to understand how it hurt, even if what they lost wasn't quite the same. Katara had been able to comfort Aang very well over the loss of Monk Gyatso because his teacher had almost been a mother to him. Except for the part where he was a man. And the part where he was a airbender monk.
Katara and Sokka. Aang looked behind him to see they were still sleeping in Appa's giant saddle. Katara curled in a little ball, hand placed gently over her throat; Sokka sleeping in a sitting position, arms crossed, Momo snoozing on top of his head, keeping his ears warm. Their mom gone and their home far, far away, and somehow they seemed to be able to face it all with an inexplicable strength. Aang admitted, he envied them very much. Though Sokka came across as the ultimate skeptic, he had such unwavering faith in what he knew and loved, nothing could unsettle him. And Katara...no matter where she went or how awful things got, she always had a heart, a spirit, a warmth-Aang couldn't find the word to describe it-that she carried with her, so that she was never lost or lonesome. She was always at home. She always belonged.That was why Aang liked Katara so much. Because Katara carried her home inside her, and when he was with her, he felt a little at home too. Something that he could embrace and feel a part of. Not alone. Never with Katara and Sokka.
That's right, they were his family now. That's what he was part of. Not all of his strings were cut...he was still tied to them. Aang crawled over into the saddle and snuggled next to Katara. He tried to think of an excuse in case Sokka teased him about sleeping with Katara, but decided it really wasn't that important. Aang wiped the sticky off his face that the tears had left and breathed in deeply. Smelling Appa's fur, smelling Katara. His past and present. He closed his eyes, shutting out the purple infinity streaked with tracks of cloud, and narrowed his world to Appa, Momo, Sokka, and Katara.
The Avatar did not feel so small anymore.