Disclaimer: Avatar: TLA ain't mine.
A/N: just a little short oneshot to fulfill my need for more grief (or notice at all) for Jet's death. it seemed rather glossed over in the show, but it is just a cartoon. so here goes. and oddly enough, i had a dream like this. it always kinda freaks me out when i dream in animation, though. anyway, read, enjoy, and review!!!!
"You don't have to go."
He smiled at her, a true smile, not one of his usual smirks that only twisted one side of his lips. The piece of grass bobbed gently, held lightly between his teeth, the tuft on the end nearly tickling her nose. "You know I have to, Katara. I can't change this. Not even for you." As he spoke, his voice a husky, charming whisper, he raised one hand and traced the curve of her cheek with his fingertips.
She closed her eyes heavily, willingly, content to drift for an indefinite moment in the soft caress that belied reality. "Must you go?" she finally asked, sounding small and pitiful. Voice cracking slightly with the onset of tears that blurred her vision and the image of his face.
"I wish I didn't, but I do," he replied quietly, his fingers now moving to brush away the salty drops. He cupped her face in his hands and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, his lips lingering an instant longer than a mere friendly gesture.
"Jet…" she breathed, quivering and unsteady, her glistening, ice blue eyes slowly rising to meet his dark, calm ones.
"Shh," he soothed, and he silently unbuckled his armor, laying it aside with his hook swords.
"What are you doing?" she questioned, watching with some confusion.
"I don't need these where I'm going," he told her, that smile still hovering about his mouth.
She frowned slightly, her eyebrows slanting together. "But…where are you going?"
He glanced through the empty doorway to one side, beyond which lay a vast, red-leafed forest bathed in the hazy golden rays of the evening sun. He touched the frame of the door, the white stone cool beneath his hand, and looked back at her, standing a little ways farther down the corridor. "Out there. Where you can't follow."
She slumped against the wall, her head bowing. "This is goodbye, isn't it, Jet?"
"Hopefully we're parting on friendlier terms than last time," he remarked, a hint of that smirk tracing his features.
She appeared pained at that. "Of course we are. I couldn't…I'm…I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry," he insisted, waving away her apology. "It's all in the past now, and the future…" he trailed off, gazing toward the tranquil forest again before he placed his hands on her shoulders, causing her to look up at him. "Well, it's yours to write, isn't it?" He chuckled. "Remember to put in a happy ending."
For a moment it seemed as if she were caught between laughing or sobbing, and then she threw her arms around him tightly, her face buried in his chest. He rested his chin atop her head, wrapping her in his embrace, and they simply stood there, holding each other, for immeasurable time as the sun's unmoving rays splashed down upon them. It seemed as if she were trying to memorize the feel of him, her hands fiercely clutching his shirt and then following the contours of his back.
But eventually he pulled away, although his own fingers clung lingeringly about her waist like a last attempt to remain, and stepped towards the doorway.
"This is goodbye…isn't it?" she repeated in a broken whisper, the tears welling in her eyes again.
He nodded once, paused upon the threshold. "I wish I'd had the time to become the man you wanted me to be. I really did try." He glanced over his shoulder at the fiery woodland before focusing on her. "Goodbye, Katara."
"Jet…" she whispered pleadingly, the unchecked tears streaking her cheeks, one hand lifting as if to drag him back.
But he only offered one last smile before he turned and walked away, disappearing into the long shadows between the trees.
The moon cast its pale light upon the hills of the Earth Kingdom and the slumbering campground. Aang cuddled contentedly into Appa's soft fur, too excited to relax into slumber—after all that time of anxiety and grief, his bison and last link to the past had returned to him, unharmed if hungry. Even though the events beneath Lake Laogai had been harrowing at best, traumatic at worst, the young Avatar had great hopes that everything would take a turn for the better. Indeed, he believed—
Muffled sounds of stirring distracted him from his optimistic thoughts, and he propped himself up Appa's tail, glancing around the campsite to ascertain the source. But no one was awake: Toph was enclosed in her earth-tent; Sokka was sprawled half-in his sleeping bag and snoring uproariously; and Katara…had just rolled over with some violence, her tormented expression clear even in the wan light.
Aang had Airbent himself to her side within the second, gathering her shivering form in his arms and cradling her head in his lap. He was bewildered; what was causing her such agony in her sleep? A nightmare?
Tears leaked from beneath her tightly closed eyelids, and her incoherent murmurs clarified for a brief moment into one shakily uttered word.
Aang blinked, surprised and somewhat hurt by that. She was still thinking of the Freedom Fighter? Had she thought so much of him before? Had she really liked him that much? Had she truly cared for him? He shoved the useless wonderings away; now was not the time to be jealous of the fallen warrior or of Katara's apparent feelings for him. He should comfort her, and not be childishly angry. He should act maturely like the Avatar, and even more importantly, he should act like her friend.
So he whispered soft, soothing things and stroked her hair until she quieted, and even then, he held her close and warm and safe until the morning's light crept stealthily across the paling sky.