Author's Note: This is just my take on the end of "The Desert." Get the hankies ready. I wrote this while listening to "Protect Life" from the Fifth Element Soundtrack.


SURVIVE

The wind around her screamed, stung her face, and whipped through her hair. Katara couldn't get the sound of the wind's screams out of her mind as the sand whirled around them. The screams the young Avatar should have been making, the wind was making for him.

The glow lighting Aang's eyes and skin would have looked beautiful to someone who was not aware of his destructive capabilities. And perhaps it was beautiful, like the pain he was experiencing. Pain itself was agonizingly beautiful, raw and primal emotions spilling out. No pretext, no hiding. Just feeling.

He was just feeling.

The waterbender took his hands and pulled him into her arms. There was no fear. Nothing Aang would do could ever make her afraid. It was the one thing she was sure of in their relationship. She could never fear him.

As the winds died, screams replaced with the sounds of sobbing, Katara held him tight against her. She pressed her face close to his as her own tears fell, landing on his sun-burned cheeks and mingling with his own.

The glow faded and the young Avatar was no longer an all-powerful being, just a shell of human boy. A devastated human boy who was now leaning wearily against her. They sank down in the sand, her arms wrapped tightly around him, sandbenders and friends watching with a mixture of awe and sadness. But the girl was no longer aware of their presence. The only thing she was aware of was him and his pain.

As she held Aang her mind voiced a thought she was well aware of: it wasn't the world that needed protecting, it was him. And she realized that just as he had a destiny to one day live out, so did she. And this moment was just one stop on her destiny's path.

Katara's fingers lightly trailed up and down the length of Aang's spine and she could feel his sobs subsiding as the blessed gift of sleep finally overtaking him, the peace in him now a sharp contrast to the chaos occurring just moments before. She looked down at his face, no longer hard with anger and rage, now just showing its usual sweetness and innocence she loved so much.

Exhausted and emotionally battered, Katara did something that she had only done once before on that horrible day her mother died, she sobbed, her whole body heaving with her emotions. She suddenly felt Sokka's warm hand grip her shoulder, she felt Toph's head lean against her arm. She felt their silent support, knowing that they would be there for Aang as well. She would have help with fullfilling her destiny.

She felt Sokka lift Aang's sleeping form from her arms and with an arm wrapped around Toph's shoulder's, she followed her brother to the last remaining sand cruiser. Their little family would survive, of this she was sure.

They had each other, Aang had her, he had all of them.