Author's Note: This chapter was hard to write, in part because some of the scenes deal with what I think the characters might feel after Ba Sing Se. Also, I've finally jumped the PC ship and switched to a Mac. I'm learning how to type on this thing and so if you find typos or anything wrong, let me know.
The moments had passed by achingly slow – the flash of lightning, the tortured expression on Aang's face as the lightning shot through his body, the young Avatar's slender form falling to the ground, the wave of water she summoned with all of her strength hurtling her towards Aang, the feel of his lifeless body cradled in her arms.
The whole scene had played itself over and over again in Katara's mind. It had been several days since their battle against Azula and Zuko and their little group had acquired a displaced Earth King and a large bear as companions. Or they would be companions at least until Aang was better and the group could journey to General Fong's base. For now they would hide high up in the mountains, in the peace and tranquility of the Eastern Air Temple.
She had hardly slept or eaten, running almost purely on adrenaline and the overwhelming need to know the Aang was alright. Any time she had tried to sleep, she was haunted by nightmares of what had happened below the earth kingdom's capital city.
Katara wiped a tired hand across her brow. The Guru was seated across the room, legs crossed and meditating. He had been in the same position for hours and had continued to be nothing but an annoyance to the girl. The man had offered no help to her or Aang, just sat there, meditating.
She was exhausted and sank down next to Aang's sleeping form. He was wrapped up in the blankets Sokka had found and much to her relief, he had managed to eat a little fruit.
O – O – O – O – O
Nothing but blackness surrounded him. He was staring up at the large glowing cosmic version of himself, his celestial twin. Its eyes and tattoos were glowing white hot and it was glaring down at him.
"You failed. I no longer exist, except in your dreams. In your own guilty conscience. Its all your fault the earth kingdom fell and the fire nation princess and prince were able to triumph."
Its voice was not his own, but the Guru's.
"I'm sorry, but I couldn't let go." Aang cried out. "I love her. Please I'm sorry."
"You failed. You are selfish. You have to let her go."
"No, please. Please. I have no one else. Everyone I've ever loved is gone. I don't want to be alone. Please don't take Katara from me."
"You have to let go or the world will be destroyed. It will be all your fault. You are nothing but a selfish, stupid boy."
"No, I'm not. I care about the world. I want the war to end. I want to help, I do. I've come this far already…" Aang sobbed, sinking to his knees. "Please, I don't want to be alone."
The celestial version of himself didn't respond, instead its face changed into Katara's.
"No! No! Katara! No!"
The boy sat up suddenly, eyes wide open, tears streaming down his face, and a scream emitting from somewhere deep within him. The waterbender was at his side immediately, a damp cloth in one hand and a canteen of water in the other.
A thin sheen of sweat covered Aang's head and torso, his breath coming in short, choking gasps. Katara wrapped her arms tightly around him, holding the young Avatar's frail, injured body close to her own. Taking the damp cloth, she tenderly wiped it across his forehead and face.
"The boy is troubled." The Guru said softly. "And those troubles are manifesting themselves in his dreams."
Katara looked at the old man, frustration etched on her face. Didn't this guy speak in anything other than riddles?
"It's okay. Shhh…" Her voice was soft and gentle. "It was just a dream. I'm here with you."
The young Avatar looked up at her. "I'm not selfish, am I? I didn't fail you, did I?"
Katara hugged him closer to her.
"No. You didn't. You were so brave under Ba Sing Se. Azula and Zuko had the Dai Li and there were too many of them. You tried to stop them. I was so proud of you."
The waterbender put a finger to his lips. "Shhhh. Don't doubt yourself. Okay. No matter what."
They sat quietly together, Katara's arms wrapped around the airbender, her lips pressing lightly against the side of his head. She felt his breathing even out as he once again drifted off to sleep.
"It's okay, Aang. Everything will be okay."
O – O – O – O – O
The food was plentiful at the temple and if Aang had to recooperate anywhere, it was as good a place as any. Sokka's arms were loaded with fruits and nuts. He had tried to find some sort of meat, but after searching for an hour or so, he had given up and reluctantly accepted that he was going to have to eat a meatless diet for a little while.
The watertribe warrior had watched as his sister continued her vigil at Aang's side, never leaving him and far more concerned about the young Avatar's well-being than her own. Sokka was amazed by her devotion and disturbed by her lack of care for herself. She was doing Aang no good by depriving herself and he was relieved to see when he had returned from gathering food that she was gone from Aang's side and that the Earth King and Toph were watching over the airbender.
"She said she had to be alone for a while." Toph said.
Sokka found his sister, standing in the middle of the shallow pool and bending the water into icicles which were then hurled at the stones surrounding her.
"Are you trying to kill me?" The young warrior asked, ducking a flying icicle.
The girl let her arms drop and she looked at him sheepishly.
"Sorry." She mumbled. "I didn't know you were there."
"Yeah, well I was just coming to see if you were all right."
Katara nodded slowly, tears stinging her eyes. She suddenly sank to her knees in the water, heaving sobs shaking her entire form. Sokka was immediately by her side, arms wrapped around her, not caring about the water seeping into his boots.
"By the Spirits, I was so stupid. So, so stupid. And if Aang hadn't…" She curled her hand into a fist and pressed it against her lips. "Oh…oh Sokka, you don't know how close…"
Her words trailed off as the sobs became harder.
"…I almost killed Aang." She managed to say, the words choked with her crying.
"What? What are you talking about?" The water tribe boy was confused. His sister had saved Aang's life using the Spirit Oasis water.
"I was just about to use the water on Zuko's scar. If Aang and Zuko's uncle hadn't interrupted…and then Aang almost dying…I…I almost killed him. I was going to waste that water on Zuko's stupid scar. That bastard. I actually felt sorry for him and I was going to try to help him and look what he did. Aang… Oh Gods, Aang could have died. I almost wasted the spirit water and Aang needed me."
Katara was nearly hysterical, all of her pain and emotion flooding out. Sokka tightened his hold on her, wanting nothing more than to do his duty as a big brother and protect her from all the bad things – even if those things were within herself. But this was one time in which all he could do was offer silent support.
"Aang needed me…" She sniffled and lifted her tear-stained face up to his. "And I need him."
Author's Note: Chapter 3 to come soon...
Also, I'm trying to keep the hormone factor to a minimum in this, but I am realistic and know full well what ages these guys are. And Aang is definitely been portrayed on the show as having a curiosity about the opposite sex. So Katara is as well. Even if you don't agree with Kataang, Katara and Aang will at some point get a bit awkward around each other. It's just the nature of growing up, I suppose.