Author's Note: This is going to be my own version of what happened after the Season finale. Enjoy.
Chapter 1: Arrival
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The Eastern Air Temple was peaceful, a monument to the tranquility the Sisters of the Air had held to the highest importance. The towers, the graceful bridges connecting the various parts of the temple, the vegetation and flowers clinging to the crumbling structures, the waterfalls and fountains - each a reminder of the temple's former beauty.
Aang had been insistent on them hiding there before sliding into unconsciousness once again and the group was in agreement that whatever the boy wanted he would get. Besides as long as she had a good water source, Katara could heal Aang anywhere. But she had a feeling the boy's injuries extended into his mental and spiritual well-being and as much as she wished she had the power to take away that pain, she knew his only hope for a full recovery could be the 150-year old Guru.
Upon their arrival, Sokka and the Earth King had gone from room to room within the air temple and collected as much bedding as they could find. They found Katara and the injured Aang huddled in the corner of one of the lower rooms, Toph sitting near them with Momo curled around her shoulders. Appa and the Earth King's pet bear were outside, both stretched out in the night air, the bison exhausted from flying and with worry for Aang.
"Will this do?" The young warrior asked, as he and the king laid down several blankets, dust and a slight musty smell emanated from cloth as it hit the stone floors. A small, weary smile passed over Katara's features and she nodded.
"Yes. Thank you." She watched as Sokka folded the blankets into something of a mattress and pillow, leaving one blanket to cover the injured boy with. The waterbender gently laid Aang on the make-shift pallet, the boy's brow furrowing as even her careful movement sent pain coursing through his battered body.
"Uhhnnn…" The young Avatar groaned and clenched his eyes tight, tears beginning form beneath his long lashes.
"Shhhh…" Katara gently touched his cheek. "Shhhh. It's okay. It'll be okay."
The girl hated causing him any discomfort but just knowing he was reacting was a relief. She gently placed her hand on his forehead and sighed heavily.
"He's got a fever." Katara said. "Sokka, can you find me some water? I don't think what I have in my waterskin will be enough."
Sokka nodded before turning to Toph and taking her by the hand, silently pulling her to her feet. The boy didn't know why, but he had this odd feeling that his sister wanted privacy, that she needed a moment alone with Aang. He could never quite put a label to the special bond his sister shared with the airbender, but he knew it was deep and he knew to respect it.
"C'mon Toph, you can help me carry whatever water we find." He said, tossing the girl a couple of water skins. She happily complied, the opportunity to explore new earth was a gift after all the flying they had just done. Momo remained curled around her shoulders, chattering excitedly. The Earth king joined them, stating that he was going to find some food for his bear, as the animal was very particular.
The waterbender waited until she was alone before beginning the process of inspecting Aang's wounds and attempting to heal him.
Katara felt a warm blush spread from her cheeks to her ears. She was going to have to remove Aang's clothing in order to heal him and as many times as she had swam with the young Avatar, both wearing barely anything, the idea of being that close to him was a little unnerving.
'When did that happen? When did being around him suddenly become embarrassing?'
Katara decided that her embarrassment was caused by a heightened sense of awareness to his presence. It was as if almost nearly losing him had made her more aware of him. She began carefully pulling what remained of his boots off and then his tunic, her blush deepening.
'He's growing up.' The girl's rather traitorous mind called attention to the changing planes of his chest and shoulders. She shook her head furiously. 'No. This is Aang. Sweet just-my-best-friend Aang. You are not attracted to Aang. Besides he's hurt. He almost died. And here you are staring and blushing like an idiot.'
She was thankful no one was around. Her brother would have undoubtedly teased her and Toph, despite her blindness, could see just as well as anyone. The earthbender proved that the night of the Earth King's ball.
"You liked that."
"Liked what." Katara was thoroughly confused, her voice held a touch of irritation. Her head hurt from the weight of the headdress she was wearing and the last thing she wanted to do was play guessing games.
"Liked the fact that he complimented you. I could feel the change in your heart beat and you were blushing." The earthbender smiled wryly, her hands grasping at the ornate gown in an effort to keep it away from her feet.
"Don't be silly."
"Oh! There's that change again." Toph laughed.
Katara shook her head and smiled. That night she had made a vow never to underestimate Toph's abilities again. Now she was glad that the girl was not here to feel her blushing and embarrassed nervousness.
The smooth, pale skin of his torso was now covered with bruises and cuts, his back and the blue tattoo that ran down it now marred by a large, gaping wound. The waterbender pulled the tattered pants off of him, leaving the boy clothed only in his underwear. Aang shivered, his eyes opening to mere slits.
"I'm cold." He whispered, his voice barely audible.
Katara smiled and gently caressed his cheek with the back of her hand. "I know. I'll cover you up in a minute. I just want to see how injured you are."
Aang's lips formed a faint smile and he yawned, seemingly oblivious to his near nakedness and Katara's hands hovering over the length of his body.
There was a deep gash on his leg and several smaller cuts. A large bruise had begun to appear on his upper thigh. She could tell that she was going to have a lot of healing to do and she hoped she had the strength to do it. Katara was exhausted, not only physically but emotionally. Her mind had yet to process the enormity of what had occurred beneath Ba Sing Se.
When she was finished assessing his injuries, she gently covered him with a blanket. The boy opened his eyes again.
"Is everyone okay?"
"Did we stop Azula?"
Katara felt tears sting her eyes and she wiped the back of her hand across eyes.
"Oh Aang, I…" She stopped herself and smiled at him. "Don't you worry about that, okay. I just want you to worry about feeling better."
A low growl came from outside causing the injured boy to smile. Katara took his pale hand in her own and squeezed it gently.
"See, even Appa wants you to feel better."
Aang yawned again, his eyes closing. She felt his grip on her hand loosening.
"Thank you for saving me. I knew you would." He whispered before drifting into unconsciousness.
Katara felt the tears well up into her eyes and when she was positive he was unconscious, she clutched his hand tightly and sobbed.
"He will get better." A soft accented voice said from behind her. The girl turned and saw the thin, old man in the crumbling doorway. Katara let out a small gasp. She knew that the temple was where the Guru called home, but with all of the commotion over Aang, it had not registered that the man had not been there to welcome them. She sniffed and let go of Aang's hand before standing and offering the man a respectful bow.
"You must be Guru Pathik. Aang was so excited to meet you when he got your note in Ba Sing Se. I hope all went well here with his training, because as you can see…" Katara gestured her hand towards Aang's sleeping form. "It didn't go well in Ba Sing Se."
"Yes, I was afraid that this would happen." The man knelt down by the make-shift pallet and placed a hand gently on the young Avatar's forehead.
"There is much goodness in Aang. But there is also much confusion." He sighed, Katara taking note of the sadness in his eyes as he regarded the sleeping boy. "I suppose we didn't do as well as we thought, young one."
The waterbender stood silently. Aang wasn't the only one full of confusion. She had no idea what this man was talking about and he was beginning to frighten her a little.
"Guru Pathik, what are you saying? Please. You have to tell me."
The old man smiled up at her. "In good time, young waterbender. For now your mind must be focused on healing. Aang will need your support and you abilities."
Katara sighed. She wished Aang would wake up and explain everything to her. She wished Sokka and Toph were back from getting water. She wished most of all for this nightmare to be over.
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Author's Note: Chapter 2 coming soon.