Book Two's finale was very much WTF? So I'm writing this to
process it, if just a bit. Plus, I haven't centered a fic on Katara
yet. I'm not so sure how well I write her, but I think I do a half
decent job. After writing from Zuko's perspective, as well as Aang's,
and I think Toph's somewhere in there, I think I can write Katara. And
I remember a saddle on Appa at the end of the finale, so if it's not
really there in the show; well, it's here in the fic.
Setting; Post Season finale. On Appa. Everyone's sleeping, however
lighty, after the shock of Ba Sing Se falling into Azula's hands. Some
of the passengers can't help but wonder what happened.
Katara sighed and looked down at the young boy in her arms. He was breathing; good. She'd been alternating looking forward to the horizon, and making sure he was still breathing.
In, out. In, out. Steady breaths.
Appa lowed softly, and Katara rubbed the bison's head.
"I know. It scared me too, Appa. He'll be okay, I promise"
The bison breathed out heavily, as if agreeing with Katara.
In and out. Like water flowing. Katara shifted her hold on the boy, to keep her arm from falling asleep.
He didn't look like the one destined to save the world. He looked tired, worn out. She tried to lay Aang down across her lap, and his head lolled to the side, like an infant's. She caught it in the crux of her elbow, and sighed. He was still cold.
She knew it didn't bother him; he wasn't shivering. But he'd been so
close to..to dying, the heat was only starting to come back to him.
Katara held the young Airbender in her arms and sighed again. The Earth King was curled up next to his bear near the rear of the saddle, sleeping a little soundly. Toph was next to Sokka; again.
Katara held back a soft laugh; oh, that was one thing she could see right through the earthbender on. Toph was absolutely smitten with Sokka, it was why Toph teased him.
As Katara watched, Toph muttered something and balled a fist around part of Sokka's top. Sokka snored lightly, and his hand came to rest on Toph's back. Katara couldn't help but laugh now--Sokka was dreaming of his stuffed leapordseal toy.
The waterbender trained her eyes on the horizon again, smiling softly. She turned her mind now to Zuko.
He hadn't lied when he told her about his mother. The golden eyes that met hers didn't lie on that. She kicked herself mentally; of course he was right; she wouldn't have been able to heal a scar. Not something that big, or that old. (Or so she assumed; it felt years old, like the prince had learned to live with it; it was a part of him; like the small white scars across Aang's hands from handling Appa's reins, or the thick line of skin running down Sokka's thumb for getting two fishhooks stuck in his finger).
Anyone else; including Sokka, but he never liked Zuko; anyone else would look at the young man's actions and claim he was insane, he was...selfish. But, as she thought about it--he had hesitated. He was lost, confused.
Aang and Zuko are more alike than either of them know, she mused. She
wished the Fire Prince had made a different choice. She had seen the
look of utter dissapointment in Iroh's eyes. The old man knew that Zuko
was just lost, wanting of ...something. Now Katara knew it too. But it
still didn't excuse his choice.
Sokka would disagree; he'd whisper later that Zuko was a whole new kind of low. But the warrior would claim immediately after that there was no hope for Azula. She'd almost KILLED Aang.
A bitterly optimistic thought drifted through Katara's
mind; if Aang had let go, and slipped away from her; well, the Fire
Nation would have to go and look for the new Avata...
No. There'd be no one; she knew it.
Aang shifted in his sleep, and Katara held the young monk's hand as he slept. The cold fingers flexed around hers, warming slowly. This too she'd been doing on and off for most of the night, mostly because she would need the other hand to lead Appa. The grip was strangely comforting to her, though it belied Aang's sleeping appearance. It was infanitle as his fingers curled around hers, yes, but he held her hand protectively. The feelings would process through her mind, even if words for them didn't.
He wasn't going to let her go. She smiled, watching Aang momentarilly again. There was so much strength in him--far more than she could see. It was odd how she noticed it now.
Eyes back to the horizon.
A while later, Katara leaned up to prod the sleeping Sokka.
"What?" he asked, rather loud. He looked down at Toph and shrunk away from the sleeping girl, earning a laugh from Katara.
"Your turn. I'm getting so tired, I can't see straight."
The warrior obliged, pushing himself over the top of the saddle to slide down and take the reins. Katara stayed in place for a moment.
"I thought you were tired"
"I am...but I don't want to leave Aang down here."
For once, there was no snappy comeback, only
"Appa, can fly steady for a minute?"
The bison growled softly at Sokka.
"I meant, just keep going. We need to get Aang to the...oh, you know".
The Watertribe siblings moved the airbender carefully to the saddle. Katara stroked Aang's cheek softly.
"What did Dad say about Aang?"
"Nothing, really," Sokka responded, "but he looked proud that we were helping him."
"We'll see him again, Katara. Somehow, we'll meet up with him again".
"That'd be good"
Katara rested her palm on Aang's forehead; there was warmth now. More than before; the rest was helping.
I'll be here, Aang, she thought. She softly kissed his forehead before laying down across from the Avatar. Whatever was next, it would be a long fight to get back to where everything once was. With Ba Sing Se fallen, there was no bastion against the Fire Nation left.
But the 'family' was back together again (with stories that would have to wait 'till morning to tell), and they had each other. Building on that would be what would prove the hardest.