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Sokka's scream was a loud note of agony that echoed throughout the woods. The action ceased as everyone looked at the fallen boy, who's sound had been cut off abruptly as he hit the ground.
For a second, nobody moved. Zuko's arm was still outstretched, the guard's holds on their captives went slack, Aang stared at the body of his friend, whose face was inches away from his. Everyone was looking at Sokka, whose body had been burned red and raw by the fire that had been aimed at Aang.
Then, acting on an unheard signal, Toph, Katara, and Aang all moved. Toph made a platform of rock appear beneath herself, Katara, Aang, and Sokka. Katara threw off her captors with a well-aimed jet of water. Aang put the Bison whistle to his lips, hoping that Appa would hurry.
Zuko stared at the space in front of him where a pillar of earth rose out of the ground. What had happened? Why had that boy ― Sokka ― thrown himself in front of the fire to save Aang? Why waste your life?
Toph carefully brought together the pillars of rock until they formed a round triangle in the sky. She heard Katara rush over to a different platform, the one that weighed the most. The one with Sokka's body on it.
She heard a strangled sob come form Katara, and Toph buried her face in her hands. They had come to save the boy, not kill him. She imagined Katara's face as she looked at her (dead?) brother.
Aang screamed, not from pain but from anger and frustration and deep, penetrating sadness. Sokka was so good. He believed in their battle, even when Aang himself did not believe. He was the core of their shaky band of misfits.
Shouts from below. Zuko's men trying to climb the smooth columns of rock. Toph had a vision of Jet climbing a tree and raised the platform higher, just in case.
A whoosh as air moved past her head. Toph put out her hands, looking for Appa's soft body. She was aware of Aang creating a stretcher out of air and levitating Sokka onto the saddle as Katara jumped in. Toph hoisted herself into the steering position, hoping that Appa was smart enough to guide himself until someone with eyes could take over.
"Oh, Sokka." Katara's voice was low, her throat so swollen that she could barely get the words out. She pushed her brother's hair away from his burned face. Could she heal this? She had only ever tried mending scrapes and bruises and (when Sokka insisted on showing off for Yue) a broken arm. She had never tried to heal burns ― certainly not so many at once.
Aang's voice was soft, with the same forced quality as Katara's own. He, too, was trying not to cry. "You should try, Katara. No sense in not trying."
The pouch was uncorked. Katara drew in a deep breath, feeling the water trickle through her fingers onto the red blisters that covered Sokka's body. The water glowed blue as it's power was awakened. Katara felt some strength drain from her as she watched the blisters slowly...so slowly...disappear.
But was it enough? Did Sokka's body survive the shock of being thrown into an oven so hot in nearly melted the skin off his bones.
For a while, there was no sound except for the air going by them as Appa flew over the immense forest. Katara stared at her brother, knowing that if he died, she would too. Sokka had been her only companion for too many years.
He didn't move. The afternoon fell to twilight, with colors so beautiful that Katara felt that the world was mocking her pain. Didn't everyone on this earth know that her heart was being ripped in two? Couldn't every person hear the scream she was hearing in her own head as she gazed at the body that was lying so incredibly still?
When the first stars started coming out, Katara started crying again. Who was she to think that she could cure the wounds? He was dead, gone forever. Dead trying to save the only other person she loved.
Aang's arm went around her. He felt her thin shoulders shake with sobs as they knelt next to Sokka. He had caused this. Aang knew that. He would never be able to make it okay again. What could he do to replace Sokka?
When the moon began to fall, Katara's head dropped to her chest. Sokka sat up, sat next to her. Laughed at the expression on her face before hugging her so tight she couldn't breathe.
It was a dream, but a good dream. A dream that was worth the pain when you wake up.
A hand touched Katara's and she smiled at her brother, seeing his open eyes glazed over with fever. Another dream. A realistic one, but a dream all the same.
Until Aang started crying. In her dreams, Aang would never cry, but here he was, crying and laughing at the same time as he gazed at Sokka, whose eyes really were open, staring directly at Katara. His mouth formed the words 'I love you'.
Her brother, the one who cared so much ― the one who would die for love ― was alive.
I think that's the end. So review, 'kay? I want to know what you thought about Sokka's un-death.