The sky was beginning to burn crimson and yellow. Not sleeping was beginning to take its toll on the young waterbender. She wanted to let the sweet unconsciousness overwhelm her; but every time it beckoned her with its sweet call, she turned away. She couldn't sleep, not when the person she cared about so much was in her lap, in a dead like sleep. She wouldn't forget what happened to him. Struck dead by cold fire and revived by her sweet touch of life. She decided to break the silence that has conquered everyone. "We need to land soon. Aang needs to be cared for properly."
"There's a spot down there." Sokka pointed to the forest below to left of the bison where the trees made a small clearing next to a cliff. He looked at his sister who was trying to comfort the young avatar, even though she new he was asleep. He could see the pain in her eyes; the same pain that they shared when their mother had been killed. He had never wanted his sister to be that sad ever again. He turned away from her pain-stricken eyes and looked at Toph. She was in a deep sleep leaning against the warmth of Bosco's fur. His attention back on Appa he made his way to the small clearing.
Appa landed with a soft thud. The earth king started to unpack their belongings while Sokka woke up Toph. "Hey, we need you to make an earth tent for us to sleep in. The normal tent we have won't hold all of us. And by the looks of these clouds, I would say it's going to rain today."
Toph groggily opened her sightless eyes. Sokka helped her off Appa to the ground where she was able to examine the environment. She found where the cliff was and started in that direction. She then took her horse stance and raised her fists into the air crating two slabs of rock that joined at the top to form a tent shape. She then placed another large slab of rock in front to seal it off. She left a gap at the top allowing light to flow into the tent. Not that is mattered to her, but she figured the others would want some sunlight. She walked toward the tent and then firmly stomped her foot creating a doorway. "Now if you don't mind, I think I will go back to sleep now." She directed her comment at Sokka with a hint of annoyance in her voice. Sokka took no notice; he figured she was just tired and grumpy.
Katara watched as Toph entered the tent. Sokka went to go find firewood to make some dinner. She grabbed Appa's reins and had him walk over to the tent. She carefully grabbed Aang minding his back and carried him into the tent. She found the earth king feeding Bosco some berries. He had set up their sleeping bags and Toph was already asleep in the corner. She laid Aang down on her sleeping bag. She knew she wouldn't be using it anyways. Aang showed some emotion on his face that made Katara feel like a thorn had just pierced her heart. His eyes were tightly closed and his face looked as if he had just been punched in the stomach with cold sweat running down his pale face. He looked as if he were trying to escape from something.
I wonder what he's thinking about. He looks like he's being hurt. Hurt more than the lightning. What could be hurting him so badly when he is safe beside me? How could someone do this to him?
Sokka walked in with the dim sunlight on his back. He went to the center of the tent and prepped the fire. He glanced at Katara who was tearing as she stared at Aang. She tried to hide her tears but it was useless. "He'll be okay Katara; you need some rest, go sleep."
"How can you be so sure? What if something else happened to him and I can't heal him?" She thought to herself, I don't think I could bear to lose you. She bent down and cradled Aang in her arms careful of the wound on his back, never wanting to let go. She wasn't aware of Sokka's gaze still on her.
He decided to speak his mind. "Katara, how do you, well, feel about Aang?"
She looked up both shocked and confused about the question just directed to her. She decided to reply, "I don't think I could bear to let him be hurt again." She knew she was dodging the real question her brother had asked her.
He raised an eyebrow at her and motioned with his hand to sit next to him. She lightly got to her feet and walked over to him and sat in the beam of sunlight coming through the small gap in the tent. "I'm not blind Katara," he quick glanced at Toph who was quiet in her corner. "I know you feel something for him, don't you?"
"I don't know. I guess I don't really know what I feel." She couldn't say she loved him as a friend or a brother, and yet she didn't truly think she knew what love felt like. And besides, she didn't even know how Aang felt about her. How would he respond if she said she loved him?
"You know he's crazy about you?" Sokka and Katara turned in unison to see Toph walking over to them. "Every time he gets near you I can feel his heart race, and so does yours…"
Katara blushed. She knew Toph was right. Every time she was near Aang she felt happy and warm inside, as if all her troubles vanished when she looked into his shining eyes. She really didn't know how to describe how great she felt around him so she just turned her head and blushed more. She noticed Momo coming in with his fur soaking wet. She shook it out and curled up next to Aang. This told everyone it had started to rain.
All of a sudden they heard a muffled groan come from Aang. He opened his eyes and sat up, starting to fell the weakness in his muscles. Katara ran over to him to lay him back down. "Katara?"
"Shhh. Save your strength. You've been though a lot and you are still weak. How does your back feel?" Aang made a look of discomfort and Katara knew it must still hut. She bended some of the pure rainwater into her hand and started to heal the wound on his back, then moved on to heal the minor cuts and burns scattered on his body.
Sokka and Toph had nothing more to say so they went to their sleeping places and let sleep engulf them while Katara was healing Aang. They also knew it would give the two a bit of privacy. Sokka let out a loud snore that assured Katara he was asleep.
Aang sat up again after Katara had healed the last burn on his left foot. She smiled at him. She could tell it had helped. Now all that as left was a few cuts and a large scar on his back. Katara started to mend his clothing as best she could, although she knew they were beyond repair.
"Katara, I need to tell you something." Aang said nervously. He had many things he wanted to say and didn't know where to begin. "I didn't master the avatar state."
"What?" she replied, putting down his clothes to pay full attention to him.
"Guru Pathik said I needed to let go of all my earthly attachments in order to let my pure cosmic energy flow. And that attachment…was you. And I just couldn't let you go." He grabbed her hand and looked deeply into her icy blue eyes. "And I never will, never again. I love you Katara. I loved you since the day you freed me from the iceberg. Nothing in the world means more to me than you." Aang felt as if the largest weight on him was set free.
Katara stared at Aang. He was willing to choose me over the avatar spirit? Love? Such a powerful word. He must be stronger than I thought to be able to admit that. Katara blushed deep red. She now knew how she felt about Aang. "I love you too." She grabbed the back of his head and kissed him on his lips, a kiss that seemed to not last long enough. Aang was overjoyed that Katara loved him back. He leaned in and kissed her again just to savor the moment more.
The two were so busy they didn't see Sokka wake up, look over his shoulder, and grin with delight.