It was night. Aang lay on his back on top of his giant bison Appa, looking at the many bright stars in the indigo-colored sky. He listened to Sokka's even snoring and tried to fall asleep. But all his jumbled thoughts and worries about his avatar duties kept him awake. He wondered if he would ever be able to stop the war and bring peace to the nations. According to Sokka, there was only about five to eight days until they were to reach the north pole where Aang would master waterbending. The problem was, deep down, Aang had some doubts.
Getting up and climbing down off Appa, Aang tiptoed over to where Katara lay asleep in her sleeping bag. Being very careful not to wake Sokka or Momo, he bent down to Katara and gently shook her awake. Katara groaned, rolled over, then slowly opened her eyes.
"Aang?" She sat up, rubbing her eyes and looking around, worried.
"Aang, are you OK? Is something bothering you?" Asked Katara, having seen no firebenders or kidnapers in sight, she knew something must be bothering Aang for him to wake her like that.
"I'm fine." Aang repiled hastily, "I just can't sleep. Will you take a walk with me?"
Katara was tired, but she streched, yawned, and got up anyway.
They walked side by side along the water's edge in silence for awhile, until Katara suddenly grabbed Aang's hand and said, "Something's up. You're never this quiet. I know something's bothering you." She paused, still holding his hand. "If you want to tell me about it, I'm here for you."
Aang felt his stomach do a back flip when Katara slipped her soft hand in his. He took a deep breath and looked up at her.
"I...I'm just, well, nervous about the north pole. What if I can't master waterbending fast enough? I still have earth and fire to learn by summer's end. Even if I do manage to master the elements, what if I fail to succeed in my destiny as the Avatar?" Aang finished, sniffling and trying to hold back tears of frustration.
"Oh Aang..." Katara pulled Aang into a tight embrace and squeezed his shoulder tenderly. "Of course you'll be able to, I mean look at you, you've hardly done any waterbending before and you're already perfect at the moves I taught you."
Aang looked doubtful. Katara continued. "It's not like you to worry so much...are you sure there's nothing else on your mind on top of this?"
"No...everything's OK." Aang muttered, looking at the ground.
"Just remember, whatever happens, Sokka and I will always be there for you. And I know we're going to have a blast together at the North Pole. Learning all those amazing waterbending moves..." Katara whispered, cuddling Aang tighter.
He lifted his head from her shoulder and smiled. "Just don't steal any waterbending scrolls from anyone." Aang joked, a sparkle of happiness returning to his voice.
Katara laughed, "I won't, I promise."
"Let's go back to the campsite now," Aang suggested.
"Sounds good to me."
They began to walk back to the campsite together, then what Aang did next not only surprised Katara, but surprised Aang himself too. He found himself reaching out to Katara and taking her hand in his.
"Thanks," He murmured, "For always being there for me."
Katara smiled at Aang and held his hand tighter, "No problem."
Once back at their campsite, Aang climbed a top Appa, pulling Katara with him. They lay side by side, gazing up into the night sky.
"The stars are just so beautiful." Katara said dreamily, starting to get comfy on the warm furry sleeping bison. The constant steady rising and falling of Appa's back from his slow, deep breathing, was gently rocking Katara to sleep.
She yawned and scooted closer to Aang. Somehow being close to him always made her feel safe.
All of a sudden, her mind did a double take; 'Katara, what are you thinking?' The little voice in her head scolded her, 'You know you like him but It's stupid to show it like that. He's the Avatar, he has a job to do and your feelings for him can't get in the way.'
'Wait,' Another voice popped up in her head, '...what feelings?...'
'Admit it Katara,' said yet another one of Katara's thought's, 'You love him. You always have and you always will. You were jealous of those girls in Kyoshi and if anyone else fell for Aang, you would freak.
Katara sighed out loud, without realizing it.
"Hey what's the matter Katara?" Aang asked, blushing at the fact that his side was pressed against hers. "What're you thinking about?"
"Oh I was just thinking about my mother..." Katara lied, feeling ashamed for doing so. "The stars make me think of her sometimes." She added.
'Well,' thought Katara, 'that was half-true.'
They lay in silence for what seemed like a long time, Katara's face buried in Aang's shoulder.
He had wrapped his arms around her after she told him what was 'supposingly' bothering her. Katara, still feeling a little upset for lying, was beginning to feel awkward wrapped up in Aang's arms...it felt somewhat wonderful...yet...not right. They were just friends. Wasn't this taking their friendship a little too far?
Katara forced herself to break free of Aang's grip and sit up.
"I better get back to my sleeping bag now." She said hesitantly, "If Sokka wakes up tomorrow and sees us asleep next to each other, who knows what he'd think."
She slid down off Appa before Aang could say anything.
"Um, yeah..." Aang called after her, trying not to sound disappointed. "Goodnight Katara, sweet dreams!"
"Goodnight Aang." Katara muttered, forcing a smile and walking back to her sleeping bag.
"Katara, wait!" Aang cried out loudly, jumping down off of Appa and racing to Katara's side.
"There's something I really really need to tell you."
"Sure, what is it Aang?" Katara turned to Aang and looked him in his dazzling gray eyes.
"Promise you won't be mad if I tell you?" Aang bit his lip nervously.
"I promise. What is it?"
"Well...well...there is something else that's been bothering me lately." He stopped and looked into the flickering campfire that was just beside them.
"No..tell me." Katara insisted, resisting the urge to place a hand on Aang's shoulder.
"Well, I, um..." Aang stuttered hopelessly. He stopped, took a deep breath and continued, "I think that...I'm in love with someone."
Katara's eyes grew wide. She felt her heart drop. "Oh? Are you still thinking about Koko?" Katara asked, trying hard not to look sad.
"No Katara, I think that I'm in love with you." Aang blurted out quickly, his face feeling warmer then it should, even in the firelight.
The two stood in silence for a few seconds, not knowing what to say.
Finally, Aang broke the silence. "I guess I'll just go back to sleep now." He muttered, looking at the ground and turning away.
Katara, who had been frozen in shock all that time, regained her confidence, reached out toward Aang's shoulder and turned him around. Before either of them could think, Katara leaned in and kissed Aang lightly on the lips.
It wasn't a long kiss, just a soft, sweet, and simple one, though still full of passion.
Katara looked into Aang's huge shocked eyes and asked, "Does that answer everything?"
Aang nodded still in a daze, then rubbed his eyes and shook his head as if to try and believe what had just happened.
Katara smiled at Aang's response.
"I liked it too."
"So you really love me back?" Aang smiled his biggest grin at Katara and she laughed.
"Yes... I always have, Aang."
"So that kiss you gave me-"
"Can you have another one?" Katara interrupted Aang, finishing his sentence for him.
"Well, actually I was going to ask you if it was your first kiss, but sure, I'll go for another one." Aang grinned again, trying to sound all macho.
Katara giggled at this. "Yes, that was my first kiss. And I'm guessing it was yours too?"
Aang nodded as Katara beamed with joy and delight.
"So...did you want to try again?" Katara asked, trying her best to sound casual, as she gazed up at the moon.
Aang answered this for her by placing his hands on her waist and smiling a huge smile...
Both of them were so wrapped up in their love for each other that neither Aang or Katara noticed Sokka sneak up behind them. At this moment they had their arms tangled around each other as Katara placed a few light kisses on Aang's neck and he rubbed her back tenderly.
Sokka took this opportunity to tap Aang on the shoulder while saying, "It's great that you two have finally confessed your love, but making out is where I draw the line."
Aang and Katara immediately jumped away from one another, both blushing and looking extremely embarrassed. Sokka was standing right there, a lopsided smirk across his face.
Aang stared at the ground and kept quiet, but Katara decided to face her brother.
"How long were you watching us?"
"Since Aang was so smart enough to yell, Katara wait!" Sokka mimicked Aang's calling after Katara so accurately, that he cracked himself up and began laughing.
Sokka regained himself and grinned good naturedly at his sister, who did not seem to find this amusing at all.
"Anyway," Sokka continued, "I saw the whole entire gushy love scene. But like I said, making out is where I have to draw the line."
"Aang and I were not making out." Katara insisted, "Besides, who said you were the boss?"
"Um...Gran Gran did," Said Sokka, being serious this time, "She told me to take care of you and letting you make out with Aang, or anyone at that, is NOT taking care of you."
"I don't recall Gran Gran saying you were the boss," Katara argued, "And I can kiss whoever I want."
Aang was starting to really get uncomfortable with this whole argument. He decided he should at least try to put an end to it then and there.
"Come on Sokka, It's not like Katara and I were going to go any further then just a simple kiss." Aang insisted hurriedly, hoping that would work."
"Yeah right, come on." Sokka said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "You two have been practically madly in love for the past two months, don't pretend I haven't seen you both flirting with each other...ALL THE TIME."
Katara and Aang were now both looking at the ground, failing to think of anything else to say to this.
"Well, I'm gong back to sleep now." Sokka called as he turned to leave. Then he apparently thought of something else to say, because he turned back.
"I suppose you two do make a cute couple...Just don't do anything you wouldn't want me to see, 'cause I'll be watching." Sokka punched Aang playfully on the arm, but hard enough to be a warning that clearly said, don't do anything to my sister or you'll regret it. Then he turned and collapsed on his sleeping bag, almost instantly falling asleep.
Aang and Katara looked at each other shyly, their faces still slightly flushed.
Aang rubbed his sore arm. "Leave it to Sokka to ruin our fun." He commented, though not in a mean way at all.
"Yeah." Katara agreed, "But I do think he means well deep down."
"VERY deep." Aang grinned.
Katara smiled back. "Now remind me... where were we?"
"I think," Aang whispered in Katara's ear, "Right here."
He pecked Katara's cheek and she wrapped her arms around him, their faces lifted, looking up into the starry night sky.
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