Disclaimer: I don't Avatar.
No One Else
Chapter Three: Maybe Tomorrow
Houses were burnt to rubble, the entire plain dead and wiped clean of what used to lay in place; trees, families, barn animals… everything was consumed by the mass fire that was spread as far as the eye can see. Aang looked around, realized he was lying on the dirt, his clothes torn and open wounds and burns every where on his arms and on his legs; smoke was rising higher and higher up the sky, so he couldn't even tell where he was and which way to go.
He heard laughter, the sound of a maniac going on a rampage; he felt a ripple of fear stir within him as he remembered, clearly and loudly, like something pulled out from a nightmare, just where he'd heard that voice echoing soundly in his head. Aang turned around, saw the silhouette of a man standing in hellfire's path, his arms raised as flames rose from his open palms and his legs, destroying every thing he touched. As if he knew where he was, he turned to face Aang, his face obscured by shadows and the glare of the fire; then he started to laugh, his shoulders shaking as he threw his head back and laughed.
The Fire Lord: Ozai.
"You're too late, boy," he said, his yellow eyes glinting. "You can't save her anymore."
Aang heard a scream emanating from behind him, where a house was on fire and crumbling with each passing second. Without thinking, Aang dashed toward the house; he pushed through the flames, trying to find his way through the smog and the darkness. It was then that he saw her… lying in midst of the flames, her back to him so he couldn't even tell if she was still alive or not, but he recognized the familiar braid, the blue dress and the soft, tanned skin…
He ran forward, his heart hammering with fear as he drew closer. He took her in his arms and held her.
"Katara!" he yelled, trying to shake her awake, but to no avail; her head lulled to the side, her eyes firmly shut tight. "Katara! Katara, open your eyes!"
She remained immobile. Aang felt numb, incredibly numb… as though he'd lost all sense of feeling. He dropped to both his knees, feeling tears sting his eyes and his heart breaking one little piece at a time. He pulled Katara close to him, pressing his face into her hair and letting out all his agony, screaming and crying and hating himself that he had not made it on time to save her.
He felt a presence come up behind him. Aang felt his hands shake uncontrollably, felt as if every bit of control he had over himself slipping little by little as his anger grew, burning inside him, wanting to be released.
The Fire Lord laughed. "I told you that you're too late, Avatar," he said. "The woman you love is dead!"
Aang whipped his head, his eyes flashing white. The ground began to shake, the flames getting larger and wider. The Fire Lord shot a missile at him which he deflected at ease, taking a step forward and letting the ground beneath his feat sizzle and crack from the sheer power emanating from his body.
Ozai shot and shot and Aang deflected them all, drawing closer and closer until he was almost of reach. The Fire Lord, by this point, was looking fearful now that his attacks weren't being effective and stumbled backward, his hand outstretched for Aang to stop. But Aang couldn't stop – his thoughts kept straying back to Katara and the fact that he'll never get to see her smile, laugh, talk to him ever again – no, he couldn't stop, not now… not until he had his revenge.
"Wait… stop! STOP!"
Aang raised a single finger, unleashing an inferno which engulfed the Fire Lord in flames. He watched with vindictive satisfaction as the man shrieked and cried with pain until he was no longer but ashes. However, the power radiating was too much, way too powerful for him to just stop right there; he had to keep going…
His feet lifted off the ground as he was surrounded by a cocoon of his own supremacy. He was going to destroy them all; if it meant stopping from his own heart from beating he'd gladly do it. But then he felt gentle hands touch his arm, coming down to take his hand. When he looked, he did a double take… obviously not expecting Katara, of all people, to be standing there right before him.
Her eyes were wide with fear but she held on to him, her grip unwavering.
"A-Aang," she whispered, "that's enough. It's okay."
Aang couldn't quite believe it, feeling tears fall down his face. "K-Katara?" he said, his voice choking. "Y-You… but… how?"
"It's okay," she said again, pulling him towards her. "I'm here now. I'm here…"
Finally, he felt his energy drain from him, along with his anger; the cocoon he'd wrapped around himself depleting in an instant as Katara held him in her arms.
"It's okay, Aang," she murmured soothingly. "I'm here." He sighed in relief, his heart light as he encircled his arms around her waist, tightening their embrace; he buried his face in her hair, taking in that deep flowery scent that was Katara and trying to lose himself in it, all the while vowing to never let her go again.
When he pulled away, he smiled at her, touching her face as if to convince himself she wasn't a ghost. "Katara… I…"
"I love you, Aang," she said, leaning against his touch. "I always have."
Aang felt his heart beating rapidly, but it was now more from happiness than from the anger and the hurt he'd felt earlier. "I love you too, Katara," he murmured.
Katara's smile soon disappeared and she wrenched herself from him. There were tears running down her blue eyes.
"But you're too late," she whispered.
The scene had changed; the burning houses, the smoke and just the massacre was gone, replaced by a beautiful, lush garden with arrays and arrays of beautiful flowers. Katara stood before him, her hair done up high with tresses coming down to frame her face; she was wearing a midnight blue gown with a pale lavender sash which had tiny blue stars dangling from it and was wrapped over her shoulders. On her head was a silver white tiara with matching silver necklace and heals.
She looked stunning – no beautiful! She would have looked so much more if not for the sorrowful gaze she held for him. When he took a step toward her, she stepped back.
"You're too late, Aang," she said, her voice full of regret. "I'm marrying Zuko now."
"Zuko?" repeated Aang faintly. With this, Katara held out her left hand, revealing the silver ring wrapped over her third finger. He looked at Katara, shaking his head with disbelief. "Do you love him?"
Katara looked surprise.
"O-Of course, I do," she said. "H-He's my fiancé." She didn't look too sure about it herself however. Aang saw this and grabbed her by the arms, forcing her to look him in the eye.
"I want to know…do you love him."
For a moment Katara didn't speak. Then she shook her head. "No… I don't."
"Then why, Katara? Why?" Aang pleaded. "I…I thought you loved me, Katara."
"I do!" she cried, pulling away from him. "I have been for years! I've waited for you – nearly gone crazy with waiting for you… but you never came… you never said anything! I thought I was always just going to be your best friend." She sighed, turning her back to him. "And well…eventually I got fed up with waiting…"
Aang felt numb again, his heart sinking to his stomach. "But… Katara… I do love you! I always have!" he cried. "There has never been anyone else! There can never be anyone else!"
Katara smiled sadly. "I'm sorry," she said. "But…I…I can't." She came close to him, so close, that he could practically hear the sound of her heart shattering against him… or had that been his own heart? Katara closed her eyes and gently brushed her lips over his, before pulling away just as he leaned in to do the same. "Goodbye, Aang…"
He watched her go, unable to do anything as she was taken into the arms of another man. All he could was simply watch… watch as she walked away from him, never looking back again…
Aang bolted, looking around wildly at his surroundings. The fire, the rubble, the garden… everything was gone, and he was back in his room, safe and sound, save for the sound of someone shuffling around the room. For a moment, Aang was blessed with this crazy notion that it was the Fire Lord and blew a great gust of wind, watching as the unknown person fell flat, face-first, right on the carpet floor.
When they regained balance and some dignity, they shot up right, throwing Aang an irritated glare. "What," said Sokka through gritted teeth, "the hell was that for, Aang? Can a person walk in his own room without being knocked down? Geez."
Aang scratched the back of his head. "Sorry… it's just I thought you were…" he trailed off, realizing that voicing his thoughts out would only ensure a question of 'are you an idiot?' from Sokka, followed by a lengthy lecture on how it was theoretically impossible for the Fire Lord to be alive when he, Aang, had already defeated his sorry ass to the ground a few months back. And so, Aang settled with simply saying nothing and allowed Sokka's heated mutters of complaint for being so rudely shoved to go on without objection.
Aang allowed his mind to drift elsewhere… that had been some crazy dream – most of it had felt so real; it was almost like peering into a window and seeing events that had long since passed. He could still feel the sting of the flames burning his skin and the heat and the smoke suffocating him, but nothing could ever compare to what he felt when he saw Katara, lying in midst of all the chaos, completely motionless. The pain had been wrenching, like a knife digging deep into his flesh and going deeper still. The sight had nearly damn killed him as well as had nearly killed everything else; he remembered the anger he'd felt … so incredibly angry… that nothing else seemed to matter anymore.
Needless to say it had been a terrible dream… no, more of a nightmare actually than anything else – it was downright scary to think of the possibilities of it actually coming true. After all… he DID have the tendency to dream up events of the near future; it went with the role of being the Avatar.
The worst part of it would be if Katara really did decide to marry Zuko. Aang shuddered, not wanting to think of how painful it'd been for him to watch her go, watch as she forced her all smiles and pretended to be happy when really… she was just dying inside because she knew she'd have to live a lie for the rest of her life; being with Zuko while knowing she loved another. And as for himself… he couldn't even imagine what he'd do if that'd ever happened.
"Aang? Hello, earth to Aang? I'm talking to you." Sokka was waving a hand over his face. Aang shook out from his reveries and looked at the other boy.
"Sorry, what did you say?"
Sokka rolled his eyes. "I said: do you want to go to the festival?" he said. "It's still early."
Aang rubbed his eyes and looked out at the terrace, where the lights were still dancing and the music and the sound of people laughing gaily could be heard as clear as if he'd been standing amongst them.
"What time is it?" he asked.
"Too early to spend time sleeping," said Sokka, grinning. "C'mon, let's go."
As they exited their room, Aang had a moment to realize something. "Hey, Sokka, how did you know this was our room?"
"Well, you left a pair of my underwear lying in front of the door for everyone to see," said Sokka, who was looking particularly displeased by the memory. Aang smiled apologetically, which Sokka waved off over his shoulder. "Forget it. It turns out girls like seeing guys' underwear all the time."
"Really?" said Aang, sounding genuinely surprised by this "I always thought Katara hated it when you walked around the place half naked—"
"Okay, okay," said Sokka impatiently. "I meant other girls who aren't my sister like it."
And speaking of Katara… Aang turned his head toward the door opposite to them. He walked up to it, waited for a moment to decide whether or not he should knock before raising a hand to knock against the wood.
"Forget about it," was Sokka's voice to his left. Aang turned and saw Sokka looking at him and at the door, his arms crossed over his chest. "I've already tried. She ain't responding." He sighed. "Poor kid… she must be really tired…"
Yeah… said Aang with a pang, or… just really, really sad…
They left the palace just as the sun had finally set, leaving the sky dark, starless with small whisks of white clouds hovering just above them. The weather was warm, like a cool's summer night with the breeze blowing passed them and feeing just right. The festivals were louder inside it than it was when he'd been standing just outside the gates. There were tents all lined in rows with lanterns lit at every tree post, glowing and lighting the entire place as everyone went from station to station, whether it be for duck dumplings, toy prizes or forms of entertainment.
"I promised I'd meet Suki and the girls by the Shrimp Sushi Dip place," said Sokka after a few minutes of walking and looking around. "You want to come?"
Aang thought for a moment; if he didn't go, he'd be wandering around aimlessly, probably get caught in a mob of over-zealous fan girls and other obsessing admirers he might have and find himself getting lost in the process when running away. And then he'd have to search for Sokka, who'd have retired to their room long before then, totally forgetting that he, Aang, was still somewhere out there, trying to fend for his dear life. However, if did he went he'd be surrounded by Kyoshi Warriors and – possibly – the rest of Kyoshi population, which most likely meant Koko and her giggling friends. Meng probably wouldn't be too far behind, keeping her ever watchful eye on them, making sure that they didn't accidentally run into him along the way.
Hm… over-zealous fans … or giggling Kyoshi Island girls…?
"It's okay, I'll just stay here… look around for a bit," said Aang finally. Sokka shrugged, stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked off in the opposite direction, leaving Aang in the middle of the busy pathway. He decided to begin his walk, passing by many of the shops and restaurants that were there.
People who'd passed by him didn't notice him at first glance – perhaps they weren't expecting him to be there, thinking he'd be regaling like a king up at the palace – until they did a double take, looking behind them as he continued to stroll away from them. Other people waved hello, some wanted to shake his hand and children were begging him to show them his glider. He smiled and waved at those who did first, he stood for pictures and did demonstrations of his bending skills. And as if it wasn't enough that he was already doing all those things, girls from every corner of the festival (he was pretty sure they'd abandoned whatever it was they'd been doing at that time and boot the first sign they heard he was there) were demanding hugs – tight embraces that he'd have to leech himself free – while some of the even braver ones requested he'd kissed them.
Of course, he ran away before he had to resort to that. He dashed into a random booth, waited as the girls ran off; screaming after him for more hugs (and kisses). When they were gone, Aang sighed with relief, sagging against the side of the booth as though that crazy experience had totally knocked the wind out of him, rendering him completely exhausted.
"Here for your fortune, young Avatar?" said a voice, causing Aang to fall backwards in surprise. When he regained his balance, he half expected a group of girls to be standing before him, with their arms outstretched, ready to receive their hugs (and their kisses), but that wasn't who was sitting there.
"Aunt Wu!" said Aang, feeling a wave of relief that it wasn't another crowd of girls who wanted him to hug and kiss them. He cleared his voice and when he spoke, his voice was lower so as not to be heard, "I mean… hi Aunt Wu, long time no see."
The elder woman looked amused. "Hello, Aang," she said, smiling. "Hiding from someone?"
"You could say that," said Aang.
"Well, take a seat! It has certainly been a while – my, my, have you grown!" she said. "You look so handsome!"
Aang rubbed the back of his head bashfully. "Thanks. Um… so how's the fortunetelling business coming along?" he asked.
"It's going just splendid actually!" said Aunt Wu excitedly. "I'm making my own line of fortune cookies now, isn't that great?"
"Yeah…" said Aang while he shifted in his spot, "that does sound great."
"But… why do you look so unhappy then?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.
Aang blinked. "Huh?"
Aunt pointed at him. "Your face… I don't need to read your palm to be able to tell that there's something bothering you," she said knowingly. "Is there anything I can do? Would you like a fortune maybe? It's free." She held up a deck of tarot cards, smiling hopefully at him. "Or would you prefer the bone cracking method or perhaps consulting the crystal ball for some guidance?"
Aang shook his head at all of these suggestions. The last time he'd asked to receive a reading on his future she'd only told him about something he'd already knew, the world he had to save and his role in its survival – he knew that all. And furthermore, her predictions of the volcano not erupting had certainly gone up in smokes, and he was most certain that the computation she'd given him concerning his love life was simply a line she'd drawn at random; another hocus pocus pulled out from under her sleeves.
"No, it's okay," he said.
"Then what is it?" she asked as she stashed away her things under the table. "Maybe I can still be of some help."
"Um… well… it's complicated," he admitted as he squirmed uneasily in his seat.
"I know complicated," said Aunt Wu, folding her hands under her chin, "I have been here for a long time, my boy, and I've seen many things."
"Well," Aang began apprehensively, "it's… just… m-my friend… well, you see, I – I mean he's in love with this girl – my – his best friend; they've been through everything together… and well… h-he doesn't know… I mean… he can't seem to find—"
"He can't seem to find the words to tell her how he feels?" supplied Aunt Wu helpfully.
Aang nodded. "Y-Yeah… I'm – he's crazy about her, has been for years actually…" he said as he looked down at his lap. "He doesn't want to lose her, but every time he lets her pass without her knowing… he… feels…"
"Like she's slipping away each time he lets her go," said Aunt Wu, nodding knowingly.
"Yes," said Aang, swallowing. "A-And just recently I – he found out that she… she's not happy… and well… he doesn't know why."
"Ah, that does sound complicated," Aunt Wu agreed.
Aang nodded. "W-What should I – I mean he do, Aunt Wu?" he asked.
"Well, tell your friend to tell the girl he loves her," said Aunt Wu simply.
"But… I'm not… he's not exactly… well… he's kind of a wimp you could say," said Aang lamely. "I mean… what if she doesn't feel the same way? What if he tells her but winds up losing her anyway?"
Aunt Wu sighed. "My dear, if everyone was too afraid to do anything then nothing in this world could move on," she said. "Your friend has to tell this girl how he feels, before it's too late. What if she does feel the same and he doesn't know – they'd only both wind up hurting one another and themselves. And if she does feel the same… she might get tired of waiting and move on and your friend would only be blaming himself for not telling her sooner."
Aang had a sudden flash of his dream a few hours ago pass through his eyes.
"Aang, love waits for no one," said Aunt Wu sadly. "Nor does it wait for them to have enough courage to say what it is that's in their hearts. So, do not fear that she may not feel the same way, just fear what might happen if she does and you do not tell her." Aunt Wu smiled. "And I'm pretty sure that Katara will understand, Aang, no matter what you tell her."
"Yeah… I guess." Then Aang looked up, wide eyes, realizing what he'd just said – what she just said. "H-How do you… I mean… I don't remember ever—"
Aunt Wu smiled. "Conflict isn't the only thing that's obvious on your face," she told him.
"W-What? If you knew who I was talking about then why didn't you say so instead of making me talk on and on like a total moron?" he grumbled as Aunt Wu laughed. "But… that doesn't explain why she looked so sad though," said Aang after a moment of intense embarrassment.
"You're the Avatar," said Aunt Wu, "shouldn't you know by now?"
But Aang had no clue; he kept drawing blanks until finally his brain exploded with all the unneeded question marks.
"Here," said Aunt Wu, who noticed the pained look on his face. She pressed something into his hand as she stood up. "It'll help."
Aang watched as she went into the back of the booth and he looked at what she had given to him; there, in his hand, was a cookie, with a slip of paper in its pleat. He took it, unraveled the paper and read its message:
Follow your heart and you will be with the one you love…
Aang smiled as he got up and left the booth. Then he noticed there was something else scribbled on the other side, the handwriting splotchy like it had been done in the last minute:
If that fails… there's always presents! And beside that was a drawn picture of a smiley face.
"Thanks, Aunt Wu," he said, glancing back at the shop once more before walking off, but not before grabbing a hat off the rack and yanking it tightly over his head.
However, as easy as that bit of advice had been to read, it certainly wasn't as easy to find, especially in a wide range of thrift shops that had everything from smelly perfumes to overly-sweetened cupcakes. Aang went through each of these, one by one, with his hopes depleting each time he saw one particular present he thought Katara might like before finally disregarding it as another reject and moved on to the next item that was on sale.
He was just about to lose all hope until he came across the last store of that district of the festival. He walked through the veil that covered the entrance to the booth, and he stepped inside, adjusting his hat quickly and pulling down his sleeves so as to hide the conspicuous arrows coming down his forehead and his arms.
Inside the shop were all kinds of an unusual trinkets and looming near the back he could smell roasted duck being cook under a hot stove. Aang moved around, looking up and down at the various shelves and glanced at a few items here or there. Then he saw something near the side, where there was a whole stash of different colored stones – some were even braided together to form a necklace or a bracelet, others had added accessories onto them like beads or threads of silver and gold. Aang picked up one with a blue stone woven at the middle and was briefly reminded of Katara again and the azure haze of her blue eyes.
"Hello!" greeted a girl, who had long, dark hair, held back by single braid. Aang thumped his head on a nearby shelf – surprise was not even close to the word he was looking for and humility was far from how he felt when he resurfaced, red face and a sporting bump on his head. The girl gave Aang an apologetic smile. "Can I help you with anything?"
"Um… well, that is…" he floundered for what to say, feeling more ridiculous now and thinking this girl was probably rubbing her nose in disdain at how totally inept he was by doing that. However the girl simply smiled at him kindly.
"Are you looking for anything in particular?" she asked.
"Yeah, I am," said Aang, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "Um… I was just wondering… um… what would be the best suitable gift a guy could give to a girl?"
"Oh!" said the girl brightly. "I could help you with that." She moved across the table to search through the piles of boxes laden everywhere. "So, what is this girl to you?"
"Pardon?" said Aang, who'd been distracted by a rather strange statue at the corner and had barely heard correctly.
The girl came around the front with a few boxes in her arms. "The girl you want to give a present to," she said. "What's you're relationship with her? Is she your girlfriend?"
Aang blushed red. "Um… no," he stuttered, "s-she's not my girlfriend. She's, uh… my best friend."
"Huh. That's new," said the girl, tapping her chin thoughtfully. "Most of the guys that come in here are usually looking for something that they can give their girlfriends."
Aang's face, still red, shook his head. "No, she's not my girlfriend," he repeated, his voice slightly hoarse. "S-She's just a friend… a really close friend."
"Okay," said the girl cheerfully. She opened the boxes that were in front of her, shuffling her hand inside it for a bit, before speaking again, "Now, describe to me what she's like, your friend."
"Um…" began Aang awkwardly, wondering how one can compensate in a few words to describe Katara – the list was endless and would be long and meaningless if he went on about her because, really, he could. Not to mention, it'd probably give this girl the creepy impression that he was some sort of stalker – which he wasn't.
"Is she smart? Is she pretty? What does she love to do? Things like that," said the girl helpfully.
"Uh… well," Aang stammered. What was wrong with him? He wondered. He was so tongue-tied that evening – get it together, Aang! You need to do this! "Well, she's… just… extraordinary," he began softly.
"Like how?" asked the girl patiently. "Is she an actress? Is she a painter? A writer? What makes her so extraordinary?"
She's just… Katara…
"She's… always so caring; she always listens to my problems and is always there whenever I need her," said Aang, looking at the blue-stoned bracelet he was still holding. "She's just… amazing… I-I don't even think I could describe just how much, but she's…like no one else… one of a kind. She's so beautiful, so brave, so strong… she never holds down at what she believes is right. She's the only who'd never stopped believing in me even when most people had…" He sighed. "She… she means a lot to me, more than anything… a-and I want to be able to tell her that."
"Wow…" said the girl quietly, her face in complete awe. "You must love her."
"I do," Aang agreed softly, unhesitant.
The girl cleared her throat and smiled again. "I have just the thing," she said. She went to the back again and when she returned she was holding a small brown chest. She placed it in front of him before opening it. Inside was a silver chain with a heart dangling in the middle; at the centre of the heart was a painted image of a lock. The girl took the necklace from where it laid on the velvet cushions and delicately lowered it into his hands. "This is an antique which used to belong to one of the earth-benders in my village before it was entrusted to me. I want you to have it."
"W-What?" Aang shook his head. "I can't take this."
"Sure you can," said the girl. "By giving this to your friend you'd be giving away your heart as well, as if to tell her that she is the only one who holds the key to it." Aang looked at the necklace in awe – he had to agree, it was a beautiful trinket and was, by the far, the best out of anything he'd came across. There was no possible way he could find something this perfect as this.
"I'll take it," he said finally. The girl grinned, pleased.
"Song?" Someone from the back called to her. An elder woman poked her head through the door. "Do you mind – oh!" She saw Aang. "Hello! I'm sorry… I didn't know my daughter was busy."
"I've just about finished, mom," said the girl Song. "I was just giving this boy the perfect gift to give to his best friend."
Aang smiled, feeling weird as the woman said brightly, "Oh that's wonderful, what did you give him?"
"This," said Aang, holding up the necklace.
The woman seemed to recognize it almost instantly. She looked to her daughter for a moment and a few minutes passed by them where they said nothing, as if they were having a silent conversation with their eyes. Aang felt immediately uncomfortable, thinking maybe the mother didn't want to give this old necklace away and was silently berating her daughter for trying to sell it. He was just about to put it down when the woman finally spoke:
"Oh, that's wonderful," she said. "That girl must be really special."
"She sure is," said Song with a grin. She looked at Aang. "Anything else you'd like?"
Aang shook his head. "No, this is all," he said.
"Alright, that will be one hundred gold coins!" she said cheerfully, causing Aang to blanch, nearly falling forward. Song laughed. "Kidding! For you, I'll charge it only twenty, how's that sound?"
"Alright," said Aang, relieved. If he DID have to pay that many gold coins he'd have dried his wallet clean for the next million years. He purchased the necklace as Song packaged said item in a small, black velvety case. Before he walked out, he realized that he was still holding the blue-stoned bracelet in his hand and went back to return it immediately.
Song simply shook her head. "Take it," she said. "It's free."
"Oh! Wait!" said the mother, who'd returned the front of the store, carrying a bag that smelt of duck dumplings. "Take these too."
"Thanks," said Aang with a smile. "See you around!"
As soon as he left, the mother rounded on her daughter. "Honestly… he can save the world, do those incredible bending, and yet he can't even tell a girl how he feels? Hm… boys these days, not like how they were forty years ago, I can tell you that."
Song simply covered her smile with her hand. "Oh, I'm pretty sure things will work out," she said confidently. "I have no doubt."
As he left the shop, Aang felt even more lighthearted – his hand wrapped around the velvet box for reassurance – and furthermore his disguise had worked, a complete success!
Aang turned around and saw Sokka running toward him, waving. Not too far behind him was Haru. As soon as they reached him, Sokka took one good look at him before scrunching up his nose in disgust.
"What," he said, his voice emphasizing each syllable slowly, "in the world are you wearing?" Both he and Haru were gazing at his hat with identical expressions of someone who'd just been hit in the face, pained and undeniably repulsed.
"This?" said Aang, looking at his hat. "It's my disguise; I borrowed it from Aunt Wu. What?" he snapped, a little indignant when their expressions didn't waver. "Girls were going crazy, I needed something! What would you've done?"
"I'd have let them take me," said Sokka, grinning. "I wouldn't mind being held hostage for the rest of my life if it'd meant being around beautiful babes!"
Aang rolled his eyes. "Trust me," he said firmly. "These girls would have definitely driven you mad."
"Speaking of girls," spoke up Haru suddenly.
"What?" said Aang, looking at him. "Girls?" Haru simply cast a side-ways glance over at Sokka, grinning slyly while the other boy jerked his head away, his cheeks slightly tinged with pink. Aang raised a brow at him and then looked to Haru again. "What happened?"
"Well," said Haru slowly, looking at Sokka as though he half-expected the other boy to take over. When he didn't, Haru sighed, "Sokka kissed a girl at the kissing booth."
Aang's curiosity was rising fast and he briefly gazed at Sokka again, as if waiting to confirm this. Sokka didn't reply, but merely scowled, his cheeks growing a darker shade of red.
"So," said Aang finally, not sure he was getting this, "is this… um… supposed to be a problem?"
Sokka's scowl grew deeper.
"The girl he kissed was Ty Lee," said Haru, who was now grinning.
"Ty lee?" Aang's eyes exploded, remembering her long thick braid and of course, her affinity for anything pink. "Are you serious?" he demanded. He looked at Sokka, whose face was like nothing he'd ever seen – so red, and the fact that his scowl had reached impossible lengths down his face had proven that Sokka and Haru couldn't have gotten anymore serious than this. Finally, Aang allowed a little smile to reveal. "Was it that bad?" he asked, looking at Haru for an explanation.
However, this time it was Sokka who chose to reply, his voice begrudging, "No, it wasn't," he said. "It was… incredible! And the fact that I enjoyed – err – not entirely hated it… well…" he trailed off and glared down at his shoes, as if it was simply killing him to admit this. "I can't believe… out of all the girls, arrgh! Why did it have to be her? She made my arms all limb once damnit!" he added finally, as though this last cry of indignity was enough evidence that what he'd done was a crime.
"Is that supposed to be the bad part?" asked Aang quietly.
"No, oh no… that was only the beginning," said Sokka. "Suki saw me with her and she flipped out! And trust me, I didn't stick around to watch those two try and kill each other."
"Oh…" said Aang.
There was silence as all three of them simply stood there. As usual, Sokka was the one who broke the tension.
"C'mon," he muttered, "let's go grab some booze."
Haru frowned. "Are you sure you're allowed?"
"I'm nineteen and you're what – in your twenties?" Sokka shrugged. "We're adults now!"
"Uh… what about Aang?" said Haru. "He's still not of age."
"What? What do mean he's not of age? He's 116 years old for goodness sakes! I say he's more than qualified," said Sokka. "Besides, he's the Avatar; they're bound to let him off easy."
Aang made a face. "You rely on my title too much, Sokka," he said. "I swear it's not going to get to you everywhere in life."
"Well, you're not the one who just kissed the girl who used to be our mortal enemy," Sokka retorted. "Now, all I want to do is get bloody drunk so that I can forget this traumatic experience had ever happened, okay?"
Both Aang and Haru watched him wearily as he stormed away, muttering to himself. It wasn't long until they sighed, having no choice on the matter but to follow Sokka.
An hour later, they were sitting on a table park bench with about ten-fifteen – probably more – cans of beer splayed everywhere, most of the drunk by Sokka, who seemed to think drowning himself in alcohol, was the only way to stop himself from thinking about Ty Lee and their "forbidden kiss." Now, he was lulling from side to side, totally and utterly drunk, just about ready to keel over and call it lights out, but he kept drinking as if by going beyond the very threshold of tolerance he could permanently forget about his so-called crime. Aang never knew a single kiss could drive someone to do the craziest thing imaginable.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the part which was still aware of their surroundings and was not singing tunelessly to a song Aang, Haru – or the whole bloody human race for that matter – could hardly understand, Haru was biding his time with his own drink, having a already a few, however knowing where his limit stood; his eyes kept warily wandering back and forth to Sokka, as if expecting the other boy to fall over backwards any time soon. Aang on the other hand could barely ingest the stale, not to mention the not so-satisfying and slightly gagging, substance, let alone gorge it down his throat at such gusto speed.
And, what's more, as if the night wasn't strange enough already, sitting next to him – of all people – was King Bumi, who was consuming beer can after beer can as if he expected to exceed Sokka's limitation on the consummation of alcoholic beverages; even singing along with to Sokka's nameless, tuneless song.
"Aww… maan," Sokka slurred as he leaned forward on the table, "…I… caandt berrlieve… I'm… still… tinkin' 'bout… 'err…"
"'Bout whoo?" King Bumi asked, his eye twitching as his head quirked to the side, almost as though one side weighed more than the other. "Isshee a gurrl, Sokut?"
Sokut? Aang thought, staring at the two with disbelief. How the heck was possible these two were still able to converse after drinking so much alcohol, and moreover how was it they were still alive?
Sokka opened his mouth, his finger raised as though to make a point before he swayed onto the side, shaking his head slowly.
"Yuh knoo… I… 'ave… no ideeea…" he muttered. His brows creased and for a minute he looked like he was in pain. Then he spoke up, his voice more slurred than ever, "I wanna… forget…'bout err… butt…I caandt… yuh knoo wut I mean, Bum Bum?"
Bum Bum? Aang cleared his throat.
King Bumi threw his head back and snorted. "Heheh… yuh said… yuh said… Bum Bum!" he giggled. "Bum Bum! Hahaha!"
Sokka seemed to realize this too. "Ooh… yeh… I did, didndt I?" he said and began to smile widely. "Hahaha! I called yuh a bum!"
"Letserr 'ave 'nother round," said King Bumi, raising a beer can up high. "Terr… love… an' may… man… uhh… find therr duckees!"
Aang looked to Haru, who didn't look as though he understood that either. And Aang was sure Sokka didn't know; much less understand half of the things he was saying. Sure enough, Sokka stood up, staggering slightly as he fought for whatever balance he still had left in his legs and raised an empty beer can to the sky.
"Yuh… terr love!" he cried passionately, scaring several flocks from their nest as he did. King Bumi was at his side in an instant – a motion Aang wasn't sure he thought was possible – and placed a hand over Sokka's shoulder.
"Yuhr… da… best… Sokkut," he said.
Sokka grinned and placed a hand on King Bumi's other shoulder. "Yerr duh best too… uhh… what's yerr name 'gain?" he asked, looking at the old king confused.
King Bumi tapped his chin, unsure as well. "I dunno… somethin' badass I tink…" he said with drunken certainty.
"OK… I'll juss caller yuh… Bum then…" said Sokka. "Isser dat fine?"
"Suure, I liker dat name, Sokut," said King Bumi, nodding. He raised his can again. "Cheers!"
"Cheers!" said Sokka, just as enthusiastic and knocked beer cans with him before bring said beverage towards his lips. When nothing came, he immediately became annoyed. "Whaterr hell? Lookers like we raan out of 'em beers, Bum!" He began to get off the bench, but didn't get that far before tripping over on the pavement. "Oof!"
Haru and Aang were by his side in an instant, helping him to his feet. King Bumi was clutching his stomach, laughing hysterically.
"Okay," said Haru firmly to Sokka, "I think that's enough drinking for you."
"Nuuuu!" Sokka protested, doing his best to throw them aside. "I err need summore!"
Aang made a face; Sokka reeked of alcohol and it was not becoming.
"C'mon, Sokka," said Aang tiredly, "We have a big day tomorrow and I don't think you'd like to start it off by having a killer headache in the morning."
However, Sokka didn't appear to be listening. Instead, he cried out some more, his voice practically echoing throughout the district, causing several of the people nearby to stare at them in alarm, "I wanna beeer! Summore! Summore!" He was beginning to sound like an over-emotional toddler with a tantrum.
Aang sighed heavily, thinking this was definitely going to be a long night for the both of them. He looked at Haru. "What do you think we should do with him?" he asked. "He's obviously not going to come willingly."
Haru smirked. "Are you saying we knock him out?"
"No!" Aang objected, looking horrified that Haru had even suggested such a thing, but then seeing Haru's risen brow, he admitted, softly, "Well… if nothing else works."
"Yuh knoo wut… I tink?" said Sokka, pointing an accusing finger at Aang's nose. "Yerr a poooo, Aaaang."
King Bumi was dying now, banging his fists onto the table as he laughed and snorted uncontrollably. He pointed a shakey, ringed finger at Aang – actually it was pointing toward Haru but Aang knew Bumi was indicating at him.
"Hehehe yerr a poo, Aaang!" he said with glee.
"Thanks, Bumi," said Aang flatly as the old king continued doubling over in violent fits of mirth. "C'mon, Sokka," he added, looking to other boy at his arm, "let's get you cleaned up."
"Nuu…" he moaned, shaking his head. "Ierr need terr say dis…" He was holding himself up by gripping onto Aang's robes with a tight fist.
"Whatever its, Sokka," said Aang, "it can wait. Now let's get you back to the palace—"
"I said nuu damnit!" Sokka snapped. He waddled a warning finger at Aang, nearly jabbing him in the eye. "It's 'bout Kataraa…"
Aang looked at him, as did Haru.
"...whatserr keepin' you, maan?" said Sokka, looking lazily into Aang's eyes, however despite his drunken state Aang had never seen him so serious before. "Why dun yeerr jus' teller how yuh feel 'bout 'err?"
"Um… what?" said Aang, shifting his eyes at Haru, completely aware that he could hear everything. "I don't… I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."
Sokka scowled and the grip on his robes grew tighter. "Whu are yuh foolin', Aaang?" he demanded. "Me orr yuh? Stopper denyin' it aready… I know 'bout it… every one duz… so whaterr yuh waitin' ferr?"
Aang reached into his pockets where he could feel the velvety case against his fingers and then at Sokka, who was struggling to keep his gaze at him.
"Let 'err know…" he said, "other wise… yuh'll lose err ferr good…an' Ierr definitely dun want Zu Zu terr be my broder in laaw…"
"Zu Zu?" said Haru, his brows disappearing behind his bandana. Sokka began to keel over again and Haru quickly grabbed his arm, keeping him firm on his feet.
Aang watched as Haru helped Sokka back on the bench, and this time, the other boy did not protest, instead welcomed the solid support. It would seem that that last outburst had taken a lot out of him, but it was the first time Aang felt that his eyes had properly been opened. He realized that Sokka and the rest of the world may not be as ignorant when it came to his feelings for Katara as he'd thought they were, in fact they seemed to know more about it than he did. Sokka was right however, Katara wasn't going to wait forever for him to make up his mind.
King Bumi took a seat beside him on the concrete with a beer in his hand. For a moment, they didn't say a word, until he said, "It's not too late, you know. You could still tell her how you feel."
"What if I make a mistake?" said Aang, staring down at his hands. "I don't want to screw things up, not with Katara…"
"You're bound to make mistakes some time, Aang," said Bumi, taking a sip of his beer. "It's part of being human. Being too afraid to take chances and make mistakes it's like saying you're too afraid to live life." He looked at Aang and smiled. "Being an air-bender, I think you know that better than anyone."
Aang didn't reply, merely kept his eyes on the ground.
"No one's perfect, so it'd be impossible if Katara is expecting you to be. And anyway, I don't think Katara is that kind of girl," said Bumi. He looked at Aang again, and this time he placed a hand on his shoulder. "And who knows?" He shrugged, smiling. "She may even feel the same."
"How do I know though? What if—"
"You don't know, that's the thing," said King Bumi firmly. "That's the reason why chances exist, because they are there for you to take despite not knowing what awaits for you on the other end. And enough with the 'what ifs' already – if you let that stop you then you'll never get anywhere." He handed Aang a can of beer, who took it without protest. "You know what they say… it's better to have loved than to not have loved at all."
Aang frowned, suddenly noticing something. "Hey, I thought you were drunk?" he said.
King Bumi snorted. "I've told you already: messing with people is fun!" Aang rolled his eyes. "C'mon, drink, drink!" he said, prodding his chin at the drink. "Hell… you look like you need it."
"But I'm under aged," said Aang. "Aren't you supposed to be telling me not to drink?"
"And since when have I ever told you what to do?" said King Bumi, raising a questioning brow at him. "You're old enough to make your own decisions. Just don't forget this." And he placed a hand over Aang's heart.
Aang stared and then smiled. "Thanks, Bumi," he said.
"Yeah, yeah, don't get sappy," said King Bumi. "Now drink!"
Aang lifted the can to his lips and drank; mulling over Bumi's words of taking chances, making mistakes and what it meant to truly live life… he was an air bender, wasn't he? To flow with the wind and go wherever it may take him; to be alive and free… without fear, nor without regret, that was who he was.
Okay maybe when Bumi had said to make decisions using his heart, maybe he also meant to add a bit of intelligence to those decisions while he was at it.
It was too late, however, and by the time he'd finished with the first can – the stale taste non-existent to him – he'd moved onto the next one, and then the next one, and then another after that. Soon, upon his fourth or fifth can, his visualization became slightly hazy around the edges, contorting into different shapes Aang no longer recognized.
He was slightly aware that he'd gotten up to leave at some point because now he was staggering blindly down the halls of the palace. He wished the minor spinning of his world would stop, at least for a moment; it was making him feel sick not to mention making it difficult for him to navigate.
"Bugger—"he muttered when he bumped, rather unceremoniously into the wall…or was it another door? He couldn't really tell anymore. This wasn't the first time he'd run into something solid, however, and he was beginning to get impatient. Finally, for what felt like hours of blind search (and painful bumping) Aang reached the corridor where just further down it was the door to his room – at least, he thought this was where his room was.
He fumbled with the door, but – like everything else – it was being extremely difficult and wouldn't open for him. Finally, he got fed up. He leaped to the side, stretched his palm just beneath the handle and lit a tiny flame just next to it; he watched as the handle gradually grew hotter and hotter, until it was sizzling and cooking and became nothing more than a scorching piece of metal on the floor at his feet. Maybe, if he was a little more sober (well, he was… but the haziness wasn't helping in the least) he'd have thought better to use a key; in the meantime, however, Aang was quite pleased with his handiwork, grinning proudly as he pushed the door open.
Inside was dark and cool. The window just across from him was opened, the silver white curtains flowing along with the breeze. Had they left the window open? He wondered, but he didn't think too much on it, simply assumed that they did and proceeded to walk further inside. He threw his shirt off, letting it fall onto the floor before throwing himself onto the mattress, tugging the sheets over his waist and enjoying the feel of soft pillows against him. He was just about ready to fall asleep when he heard – no felt – someone shuffle next to him.
There was a pause and then:
"A-Aang? I-Is that you?"
Aang opened his eyes and looked beside him, feeling as a prickle of fear, surprise, shock – whatever – overcome him and suddenly he wasn't so sleepy anymore. Sitting beside him, looking like she didn't know what he was doing here, was Katara. Aang had to squint a bit, because her face wasn't so clear in his vision, but when he peered closer – to the blue nightgown and her hair, which was down… and those familiar blue eyes – he knew that, yes, this was in fact Katara who was lying next to him in bed.
He should have been embarrassed, should be blushing to the very roots of his – head and muttering blatantly his apologies, but something about her just being there with him had pushed any kinds of feelings of shamefulness behind, leaving him with feelings of complete happiness.
"Katara…?" he mumbled. "What… are you doing in… my room?"
She looked puzzled. "Your room?" she said. "T-This is my room."
There was a pause as this finally registered to him. "Oh…" That would explain why the door wouldn't open for him before. Aang looked away, the shame coming back at full blast. "S-Sorry…I'll…g-go…"
He staggered to get up out of bed, but he couldn't – the spinning had gotten worse and he winded up on the floor. Katara gasped and jumped out of bed, coming to his side and shaking his shoulders for him to open his eyes.
"Aang? Aang!" she whispered frantically. "Are you okay? Aang!"
Aang peaked one eye open and saw her face clearly; she looked so worried, her blue eyes round and her long hair falling over her face. He had a sudden impulse to brush it away, and so he did – an action he wouldn't have dared in the world try if he was fully aware of himself. Katara's expression (he couldn't tell, it went blurry again) shifted slightly, her eyes becoming softer and her breath suddenly faint. Then she frowned.
"A-Are you drunk?" she said, her voice exasperated.
Aang shook his head and did his best to sit upright. "N-No…" he muttered. "Not drunk… just a bit… tipsy is all."
Katara didn't look too sure, her frown deepening. "You're not of age," she said, looking at him suspiciously. "How did you get—"
"Sokka," Aang said, his head swaying a little, "he…got the booze…"
"Sokka," said Katara under her breath, "I should have known." She sighed and helped him to his feet nonetheless; her arms coming around his waist and hoisting him up (with immense difficulty) to stand. "C'mon," she said, "I'll take you to your room."
She kept her arms around him, however, to ensure he didn't collapse again and prodded him gently to take a step forward.
As he did so, he mumbled, "Katara?"
He looked at her, but she didn't seem to be paying too much attention and kept her eyes trained up ahead of them. Even in the darkness, Aang thought she looked very beautiful, and so whether he'd remember it or not he told her that. Katara nearly stubbed her toe on something; she looked at him, her eyes growing wide again and her cheeks pinker than he'd ever seen in his life.
"I…" she began, and then she shook her head vigorously, muttering repeatedly to herself, "He's drunk! He's drunk!"
Aang shook his head, just as strongly. "No!" he said. "Not drunk…"
Katara took a few moments to calm herself down, before she said, her voice slightly shaky, "C'mon, Aang…l-let's get you to bed, okay?"
He protested and for a second he felt sad. "Are… you mad at me?" She looked surprised. He felt fueled on (probably from the beer) to continue, "You… won't look at…me… a-and… you looked so… sad… are…are you mad?" Katara was no shifting uncomfortably next to him. "'Cause… don't… I-I can't… take it when… you're… sad, Katara…"
Katara helped him walk forward again. It seemed that if she distracted herself and kept walking, she wouldn't have to mull over all the crazy things he was saying, which in his opinion was not crazy. When they reached the foot of his room, she said, finally, "N-No…I'm not mad, Aang. I…I'm sorry… I was just…" she sighed, as he waited expectantly, despite his vision spinning all around him. Then she shook her head. "It's nothing. C'mon."
Aang wondered briefly what it was she was going to say, however the idea was lost him in an instant as Katara's strong arms held him upright.
"Aang," she said. "Aang."
"Huuuh?" he mumbled, jerking.
"Your keys," she said. "I need it to open the door."
"I…I don't 'ave it," he slurred slightly, patting his pants pocket for emphasis. "Must…be with Sokka…"
Katara cursed, muttering incessant promises to kill her brother the next time she saw him.
"S'ok," Aang told her and lifted his hand near the handle, "I've got it… covered." He lit another flame beside it and watched as it melted onto the floor, much in the same fashion as the other one. He pushed the door open and grinned at Katara goofily. "See? Easy."
Katara on the other hand looked exasperated; she seemed to be considering what Lord Iroh would do to them if he ever found out that they destroyed one of his exteriors. She sighed long and heavily before dragging him along inside with her. She helped him into bed before walking towards the window and opening it. Aang hummed content as he snuggled close into the pillows, vaguely aware that Katara had walked back and had taken a seat next to him.
She was watching him, her blue eyes soft. She reached her hand across and hesitantly touched his face. Aang leaned into her touch automatically, and Katara let her hand drift across his cheeks, down his chin… Aang, at last became aware she was next to him, and looked up at her, his own eyes half-opened.
"Aang," she whispered, taking his hand in hers. She seemed to be thinking over something.
"Katara?" he murmured, a little concern.
Katara swallowed – at least… he thought she did. "A-Aang," she began again. "D-Do you l-like me?"
Now, Aang thought this was a strange question to ask. His brows furrowed slightly. "Yeah… course…I like you, Ka…Katara…"
Katara shook her head. "I mean… d-do… you like me, like me?" she said again, "A-As in…m-more than a friend?"
Again… another weird question. "Course I like you more… y-you're my best…friend…" he murmured, getting sleepy.
Katara's grip in his hand grew tighter. "D-Do you love me?" she said.
There was a long pause in which he didn't say anything and where she didn't say anything; the only sound reverberating between them was their mingled breaths and the wind blowing in from the window. Aang took a moment to think, not really sure anymore what was going on around him… he was getting sleepy… very sleepy…
Then finally he heard Katara shake her head, expelling a breath she'd been holding.
"Never mind," she muttered. "I'm so sorry, Aang… I shouldn't be asking…shouldn't be taking advantage…" she sighed, squeezed his hand just one more time before she stood up, getting ready to leave.
But his hand shot out in the darkness, grabbing her back. Katara looked incredibly surprised, if not shock, by his sudden impulse.
"Don't…leave…" he said. He couldn't see what her expression was this time. "Katara… stay…"
"Aang." Her voice sounded disapproving, maybe a little nervous. "You're drunk."
Aang's eyes were closed and he shook his head against his pillows, trying to get her to come back.
"Not drunk…" he mumbled. "Come back… please…"
He heard Katara sigh and sat back down beside him. Aang moved over to give her some room, and after a minute or two of silent hesitation she joined him. Aang smiled a little as he felt her ease into the blankets. Another pause where neither of them spoke until:
"Hm?" she responded.
"Are you awake?"
"Yeah… I am," she said.
"Yes," he said, speaking clear into the darkness. He turned his head to look at her. She was staring up at the ceiling, refusing to look at him. "Yes," he repeated. And when she turned her head, she looked at him oddly.
"Yes what, Aang?" she said.
"Yes," said Aang, nearing closer to her, his voice deeper and softer, "I…do love you."
There was another moment where he simply watched her and she looked at him back, her eyes contracting and her breath cut short. Maybe in another time, where he wasn't lightheaded and she wasn't in her nightgown he'd have considered twice about voicing this. However, he couldn't control these sudden impulses to touch her, to tell her she was beautiful… and to tell her he loved her… maybe it was the alcohol that was fueling him to do the impossible, to do the things he wouldn't normally ever dreamed of doing if his head had been clearer and his vision wasn't so splotchy.
Then she looked away, her eyes distant.
"You're drunk," she stated flatly. Aang wondered just how long she was going to keep saying that he was when he wasn't…wasn't he?
Aang shook his head. "I love you…" he told her again, honestly, desperately. "I have since forever… you mean the world to me, more than life… more than anything…"
Katara's expression was unreadable, or maybe it's because he could no longer tell anymore what it was she was feeling. Whatever or however she'd looked, he no longer had possession over himself and what he was doing or thinking for that matter.
He leaned into her, felt as her breath stopped in her throat and took in that familiar scent that was no one else's but Katara before his lips captured hers in the sweetest of kisses. First it was a mere brush of their mouths touching, and then he was pressing, deeper and deeper, devouring her taste and melding it with his. Katara's restraint broke and she was kissing him back with equal fiber and yearning, her hands coming up around him and pulling him closer and closer as it was humanly possible. Years of unspoken passion shattered lose in that moment in time as their lips collided, with his hands woven into her mass of curls, down her neck and back up her face, enjoying the feel of their heartbeats beating together as one. This wasn't like the kiss they shared in the cave of the Two Lovers; that kiss had been forced under the circumstances of their situation, a light touch of her lips against his. However, not this kiss… not like this kiss at all, this one was mind-blowing, extraordinary… something he didn't think either of them could ever take back.
It felt like hours, or maybe it was really seconds – however long it had been… Katara was the first to pull away.
"S-Stop…" she said, gasping for air, "A-Aang, t-this is wrong… we have to stop…"
Aang wasn't listening though; he'd just had a taste of what it was to finally take Katara in his arms and kiss her, kiss her without thought, without regret – something he should have done before – and now he couldn't get enough of it. He leaned in to kiss her again, but Katara pushed him back firmly, her hands coming to his chest and stopping him there.
He opened his eyes and saw that she looked conflicted, so deeply anguished and guilty.
"Y-You're drunk," she whispered faintly. "I-I shouldn't have…I shouldn't have…"
"I told you," he growled, getting frustrated, "I'm not drunk! J-Just… dizzy…"
But Katara was shaking her head and looking frantic. "This is wrong… so wrong…" she kept muttering. "You don't know what you're doing! And I took advantage of you."
Aang felt hurt, probably looked it too. "Y-You don't feel the same?" he said. "You don't…"
Katara looked startled and stared at him, her face red with shame. "I-I love you…I do…" she said. And she smiled slightly. "I…always have." And with that, she leaned into him again, her lips touching his as she kissed him deeply.
Aang felt his heart lift, felt like he was on air, and soon he was back against the pillows, sleep overcoming his senses. She'd said she loved him! He thought as he shut his eyes, so unbelievably happy with this.
She said she loved him… him!
He finally allowed darkness to take him, the last he saw being her face and those clear blue eyes.
When he awoke the next day, the sun was bright through the curtains and he was alone.
A/N: Yes! Third chapter done, along with the long-awaited kiss! This was actually the easiest chapter for me to write, not to mention the longest – it was 25 pages long, but for some reason I got this finished a lot quicker before I finished chapter two! Crazy huh? Well, I hope you enjoyed this; it's my favorite part so far!
Anyway, review please and let me know what you think!
Next chapter: part four! The conclusion!