Aang still wasn't quite sure why he had been willingly wrangled into this. Perhaps it was the promise of Katara's bronze, silken fingers gliding over his skin. Perhaps it was the simple fact that he could never refuse anything that Katara asked of him, no matter how self-sacrificing, no matter how strenuous, no matter how torturous...and in this particular case...humbling.
All he knew was that when she touched him, he felt it. No, really felt it. He didn't quite know how to describe it, really...It was more than a mere sensation...an electrifying, insatiable shiver...It was as if she was holding a candle a hair's breadth away from his skin, the warmth permeating him with its tranquil, beautiful flame, yet untouchable for fear of the flame's burn. Sometimes he felt like a moth drawn to that flame, not caring if everything in his life thus far would have amounted to nothing, if only to be able to embrace that alluring flame without fear. He would have gladly sacrificed his little insignificant moth life, even if only to be lethally scorched with a sizzle by the flame in the end. But, then again, he was not a moth. He was the Avatar. The great and almighty Avatar, the powerful, spiritual being destined to sacrifice everything in order to save this pitiful, war-ravaged world from its fumbling, blundering occupants. Oh, how the tone of that word itself within his reluctant ear weighed him down. His name is Aang, not some being known as the Avatar!
But despite all his divinely-gifted powers as Avatar, he still could not refuse anything uttered by that angelic voice.
Thus, he had agreed to adorn himself in the likeness of Avatar Kyoshi, one of his more refined and...feminine...past lives.
He said a fervent prayer to the spirits that this experience would be as fleeting and painless as possible, before Katara entered the sanctuary.
Her footsteps were soft and musical as she entered the room, various jars clutched within her grasp. She gave him a warm smile, her unspoken way of letting him know that everything was going to be ok, that nothing would happen to him as long as she was there.
Looking into those shockingly blue eyes, he was more than inclined to agree with her.
Crouching before where he sat huddled on the ceremonial cushion, she began the ritual of the warrior's face paint.
As she thoughtfully dipped a finger within the white base paint, she faintly remembered these similar rituals of the southern water tribe, from so long ago...
As a young girl, she would eagerly and studiously observe as her father applied the starkly contrasting colors upon his face, majestic and awestriking. She later observed as her father applied Sokka's warrior paint for him, giggling as her brother wriggled and squirmed at first, contorting his face into the oddest expressions and whining about how cold the paint felt on his skin, how it smelt funny, what a weird sensation it was, blah blah blah... After all, he was very young that first time. But as the years passed, he seemed to fully comprehend the profound significance of the ritual, transforming into a gravely serious young man as the colors were applied. She herself had never seen such a transformation come over her brother in all her life. With their father's departure, Sokka began to apply the paint himself, despite the tradition that a young warrior could only apply it himself when he turned sixteen, as a symbol of the warrior's newfound manhood and self-earned honor. But, of course, he had been hurtled unwillingly into manhood the very day he witnessed his father's ship receding into the distance, enshrouded by the vast, forbidding icebergs and relentlessly descending snow, a beginning of the unknown.
Her father had taught her the significance of the colors in a warrior's face paint, and the symbols they conveyed...She silently uttered a prayer to the spirits that she would do her father justice in this ritual.
She gazed into Aang's smoky eyes with a grave, yet somehow warm seriousness, her hand trembling slightly as she ruminatively traced a line of the starkest white, as white as luminous fresh-fallen snow, across his cheek with a feather-light touch. She could have sworn she felt him shudder beneath her fingertips, but continued, offhandedly noting how soft his skin was. She dismissed the thought, surprising both herself and her subject by abruptly breaking the resonating silence that heavily enshrouded the room.
"White is the color of purity. It represents the warrior's reverence, humility, nobility, and sacredness. It is the absence of all colors of the spectrum; a symbol of light, peace, innocence, redemption, sanctification, and heaven."
As she murmured the words of her father, the stark, blinding white was spread, as she tenderly stroked the velvety cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead that were so familiar to her, as if her own. For a moment, she regretted concealing the beloved arrow tattoo upon his forehead, but proceeded with the ceremony, dipping a finger tip into the rich crimson paint, as red as the last drop of blood from a broken heart. She again broke the silence.
"Red is the color of power. It represents the warrior's passion, ferocity, vivacity, and perseverance. Representing all things intense and passionate, it is a symbol of fire, love, desire, exuberance, vitality, and prosperity."
Her father had also casually mentioned that the color red symbolized lust and sexual arousalhowever, at the moment, she really preferred to forget about that awkward, not to mention provocative, connotation for now, the faintest blush manifesting upon her copper cheeks.
The rich crimson was spread, as she traced her fingertips over an eyelid, across the bridge of his nose, and over the other eyelid, culminating in an ornately elegant, upward curving arch upon either side. She momentarily fathomed that she had never touched him so intimately, once again dismissing the thought as a warm, uncomfortable, almost tickling sensation formed in her stomach.
Aang silently thanked the spirits that the starkly white base paint concealed his increasingly florid blush, her delicate, silken touch eliciting bolts of electricity coursing fervently through his every nerve.
He observed in fascination as the artist before him dipped a brush into the crimson paint. He wondered faintly what it would be used for, but his unspoken query was soon answered as he felt the brush's tip against his lip, exquisitely light and tickling. Oh...this might be awkward...
Katara forced herself to only concentrate upon his lips as she traced the brush over the curves, suddenly mortified of peering up into those stormy gray eyes as she arched over, staring acutely. Somehow, these thoughts were even more distracting...
She silently voiced a prayer to the spirits, chiding herself, pleading desperately for forgiveness for thinking such thoughts about Aang. About Aang, of all people! The Avatar!
Once satisfied that his lips were painted perfectly in startling blood-crimson against snow-white, she hastily turned from him, dipping another brush in a deep ebony paint, the color of the deepest midnight without a single glimmering star breaking through the darkness. She turned towards him, almost sighing in eased relief as she perceived that his gaze was fixed stolidly upon the cushioned earth. It was as if he had fixated his gaze upon Koh the face-stealer himself, his countenance as unforgivingly still as stone. As she raised the brush, she broke the increasingly tense silence.
"Black is the color of elegance. It represents the warrior's sophistication, formality, knowledge, and self-cultivation. It is the presence of all colors of the spectrum; a symbol of depth, style, mystery, composure, mystique, and intrigue."
The deep ebony was spread, as she prudently outlined in ebony above the crimson shade, tracing in elaborate, purposeful strokes. With a final upward curving sweep of the brush, she paused to critique her art. It was intense and majestic, as perfect and passionate as the colors themselves.
White, Purity. Red, Power. Black, Elegance.
"It's finished," she sighed, more than a hint of pride apparent in her voice. She had done her father justice through his teachings. She stifled a gasp as Aang glanced up at her with those eyes. Oh spirits, he was beautiful! She continued to gawk in awestruck silence as he slowly stood up, smiled that trademark smile of his, and casually proceeded into the adjacent room.
His entire body still trembling and shivering uncontrollably, he hastily dressed, fumbling with the strikingly emerald kimono yet somehow amidst the intricacy, knowing its proper and orderly arrangement by instinct. He mused for a moment that perhaps Kyoshi herself was guiding his hands. Adorning the gleaming golden headpiece and innately grasping the beautiful yet deadly golden fans, he returned to the sanctuary, only to discover Katara...giggling?
Blinking innocently and perplexed, he voiced, "What's so funny?"
Nervously stifling her laughter in vain, she responded, "Oh, it's nothing, Aang...(giggle)...It's just...(chuckle)...it's just that...(gasp for breath)..."
She paused, and smiled mischievously, sapphire eyes sparkling and dancing in delighted amusement.
"You're a very pretty girl."
A blush as crimson as the paint with which he was embellished manifested upon his cheeks, despite the concealing starkness of the white's pure color.
A/N: This was written off of the Avatar Day episode, in case you didn't know. It was inspired simply by the fact that Aang is a very pretty girl, and the lack of Kataang lately. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Reviews appreciated...