Mai wonders when Zuko will stop looking at her like just another thing to lose.
I think about you all the time.
I imagine your touch (warm, soft, hesitant).
I imagine your smell (a rainstorm in the summer).
I look at myself the way you used to look at me.
At night I close my eyes and tell myself you're there.
When I'm sad I pretend you're around to hold me.
I think about you when I think about love, and friendship, and a slow heartbreak.
I think about the perfect feeling of holding the thing you love most in your arms, away from the pain of the world, close to you, where you can keep her safe.
I wonder if you think about me all the time. How it would make you feel to know exactly what I think.
I'm trying not to love you, Kana, but I still do.
Katara looks at the young Avatar training and for once doesn't look away; she knows that when you love someone so much it feels right when you know it's wrong.
Bumi points toward the mail delivery system and smiles devilishly. Aang can hear the Queen of Omashu calling them ("Kids, wash up for dinner!") but chooses not to listen.
Clean hands forgotten, duty forgotten, arrows forgotten, he climbs into the cart after his friend and pushes off, screaming from joy the whole way down.
Because if they call him a child here, then that's what he'll be.
Sokka sits with his son in his lap and thinks of the best way to explain to him why his hair is white; he finally settles on 'First love is beautiful, first love is painful, and in the beginning you never expect the end."
"I'm so afraid."
He meets her eyes, and she tells him "I've already lost you once. I don't want to lose you again."
The first few nights Katara stays with Aang in his room she avoids Sokka's gaze and keeps her eyes on the ground at night, but not for the reason everyone assumes. Her brother and the moon just remind her that things are so perfect, but even prefect things can't last.
The two children sit near the edge of the cliff, legs dangling over.
Katara looks at Aang's worried face and gives a small smile, reaching out to rub his arm. "I'll be your best friend forever." she tells him, and Aang knows she understands his fear of dying during the final battle and moving on to another life. And suddenly he realizes that all of his lives have had a Katara, have had this moment when they know they are never going to be alone again.
Aang understood. "I'll be your best friend forever." (even though a week is all we have.)
Sometimes Aang forgets the state of the time he now lives in. After waterbending practice one day he shoots Katara a grin and exclaims "Wow Katara, you were on fire today!" and watches as her smile drops.
Oma curls her knees up to her chest. "My darling, my love," she says, "We cannot let them out of the cave."
Shu reaches to smooth out her hair and tells her "We must."
Oma's sad stare returns to the Avatar and his companion. "But look at the way they argue; surely if their love was pure they would understand."
"My Oma, my beautiful," Shu says, taking his love into his arms, "You must remember that a boy and a girl are not a man and a woman," and he pauses to smile at the memories that cross her face. "Not always."
Sokka travels around the world healing destruction and nursing his broken heart, and every once in a while he will admit that he is glad that Yue was the one to die instead of him. She will never have to know such things.
Katara died with the knowledge that she never told someone she loved them if she didn't mean it. She had asked so much of the world in her time, but found that this was the only thing she could really ask of herself.
"I'm broken." he confesses to her late one night after he has given her up. "I can only hope that I'll come out of this smarter and stronger, but still so wildly wounded."
Katara stares at Aang's face and doesn't recognize it. "Things will get worse before they can get better." she tells him, and her arms stay empty for many nights to come.
"It's risky." his sister warns, but Sokka waves off her doubt with a flash of his hand.
"No no no, this plan will work."
"How can you be so sure?" Toph asks, and Sokka gives a confident look to his friends.
"Because after all we've been through, it's about time things start going right."
Sokka never knew what to say when people asked what his relationship to Lady Bei Fong was; they could never quite call each other just friends.
One day Meng was being particularly pouty about her fortune telling training. Aunt Wu told her to look at the tree outside of the window; there was a bird's nest in it. The old woman took a sip of tea, studied the leaves at the bottom of her cup and predicted that within the next week the baby bird living in it would take it's first flight.
All day long Meng would stare out the window, watching the bird teeter on the edge of the twigs, scared, indecisive, clumsy. Toward the end of the week Aunt Wu took her by the hand and guided her to a spot in the grass under the tree. Lying there was a small bird with a broken neck.
"You are a true fortune teller when you realize that it isn't magic, it's hope." she explained to a girl whose broken dreams lay nestled in the grass at her feet.
"You can't knock me down!"
And Pakku's breath left him for a moment as a memory flashed through his mind of a girl who looked so much like this one; just like in her in fact and- could it be? No, no impossible.
Kana was dead.
His little sister grieved for the world; Sokka spent half his life trying to teach her that on this earth the end of one person's life can be nothing but a happening in the day of another's.
Aang stood in the crumpled remains of his bedroom and asked the world cruelly "Who said only a lover can break your heart?"
On the subject of Zuko, Mai is confused.
On the subject of the present, she doesn't know what they are.
On the subject of the future, maybe they'll be something (she can hope) or maybe not.
But Mai likes the subject of the past because they were in love and that will never change; she'll have that forever and ever.
Aang asks Katara about her feelings for him, and her head spins. Her heart is all tangled up, in all these places at once.
Little by little she'll unweave the strands and figure it out until there's no more guesswork and her feelings are there in front of her plain as day, blissfully the truth.
Things will be better then.
Until then she tries to forget guilt and enjoy things as they are, when she doesn't belong to any one person.
The Guru tells him he'll have to give up Katara to defeat the Fire Lord, and Aang drops his head into his hands. He knows that there's nothing fair about love and war.
"Aang, please be careful." Katara warns as he goofs off with firebending one day, and for the first time he can feel a weight on his shoulders heavier than that of the world's safety; the burden of holding another person's happiness in his hands.
Katara cannot fight a war on her own.
She cannot heal the world by herself.
She cannot give anyone anything with her bending alone.
But every time she touches the water she's given herself something, for a few small moments; some peace.
They won the battle. Aang beat back the Fire Navy, and the moon hung in the sky once again. This was all he thought he wanted.
And every night a question beats in Sokka, right along with his heart: We gained the world and lost each other. Was it worth it?
Katara does her best to take care of their little group. She makes Toph wash her hands before she eats, and she sews up the tears in Sokka's clothes, and she holds Aang after every nightmare until he's sound alseep again. She'll rub their backs when they're sick and hug every one of them tightly when something goes wrong, whispering that things will be okay, hoping they will take some comfort in knowing she's there.
And then there are nights when Katara has learned to be her own mother, and she brushes her own hair and rubs her own arm and whispers to herself "Shh, it's okay, you're okay." when really, no one is there at all.
It's strange, Aang thinks, the way that a war can bring people together and peace can rip them apart.
But they were only kids then. They grew up. Grew apart.
He still sees his old friends at the occasional meeting or party. They say hello, catch up, even swap a few old stories now and then.
It's polite. It's nice. And the hardest part for Aang is standing there with them and remembering a time when things were absolutely, heart-stoppingly perfect, and they thought it had to be fixed.
Seashells and the sight of his face.
The ocean. The waves, and the coolness of his hands.
A salty breeze, his eyes.
Summer and his smile. Tangles of seaweed around her ankles, and his grip around her shoulders. Needy and sure.
Minnows dart. Marsh weeds, sandy mud, his laugh. His youth.
A shell. The curve of his cheek.
A stretch of beach. The stretch of his arm and fingers. The youngness of his face. Bright, the sun.
Driftwood; his eyes. Sturdy and keeping her afloat.
A gull's wing and the length of his lashes. The smooth dip in the water, the dip where his neck becomes shoulder.
A seashell. Her best friend, her summer, her happiness.
Aang, her truest love, an ocean, and Katara, so seasick.
After her mother's death, Katara didn't feel anything.
People went on with their lives while she sat in the snow, a cold breeze slapping against her; and when was the last time she actually felt it?
Sometimes she'd cry. She'd see everything all over again, and her heart would break. Just snap, blood swirling in her chest in all the wrong directions. Pitiful sobbing, tears flooding her head, and there's wasn't a damn beautiful thing about it. Not a thing.
She was lost. She was motherless and lost and instead of a breeze all she felt was the harsh slap of the truth.
And now she is found. She is fighting in a war, and though it is hard she is not alone.
She's happy. If you ask her if she is happy she wouldn't be sure, but she is.
And she imagines that breeze, if she ever chooses to feel it, is full of hope like the first breath of the day and full of relief like the last.
That night at the play Aang asks her why they aren't together; Katara resolves to wait until the day when telling him she loves him will fix more problems than it would cause.
Before they leave for the Day of Black Sun Toph gets Sokka to help her spell out their names in a rock, because this could be their last day alive and some one somewhere should know that.
"I don't know what's right anymore, Uncle." Zuko rasps at the man behind the bars, and a truer lie was never spoken.
Katara remembers how, as a young child, she would lay in her furs and wonder if she would be happy when she grew up.
And as she lies dying, she recalls her time with Aang saving the world and thinks, maybe perhaps, she was.
But she knows that hindsight makes everything smoother and more lovely, more desirable.
She also knows that her heart never stays in her chest and instead clings to those days, to Aang, against all logic, and that her mind can barely stay in her head anyway.
And she thinks, maybe perhaps, that's what happiness is.
Korra is learning to airbend when she meets a boy with blue eyes and faintly remembers something: that love doesn't change; people do.
Sokka's fought for a lot of things, but the world and his first love are the biggest.
The difference with the world is that he won.
Note: If you made it this far, wow, I'm impressed. So you know how artists doodle? This is basically my 'doodling'. I cannot commit myself to a story.
Sorry for the lack of plot, boringness, and bad grammar. I don't really care.
Did you like any of them? Click that button and tell me which was your favorite; I promise it'll make my day and then you'll feel so good about it! :)