A/N: Wow! Mega fast update! Well, as the last chapter, I hope this lives up to everyone's expectations!
Soulreaper46: Maybe he is! I guess we'll never know…
Wannabeanauter: Yeah, he is. Oh poopy…XD
DuHSPaZZiNGFeL: Oh well! Like I said, I like this pen name just as well as your other one. I know what you mean! I'm telling you, when I first saw the trailer, I started squealing really loud, and my aunt who was visiting told me to calm down. But I didn't! Aang and Sokka look so hawt!
Shadowsole: Meh, I like sad stuff. Thanks for the review!
Swimstar: Here's the end for ya!
firehawk101: Habakku didn't die, if that's what you want to know. Was this a fast enough update for you:)
kataangfan22: Yay! You're back! Did you have fun…wherever it is you went? Yes, Akatora is dead. So sad!
goldenwing57: I know! I can't wait either! And for my birthday, I can't wait to show you this cool trick I can do with the trailer. I can change the music! How you say? You'll just have to find out!
Member of the Aang Fangirl Squad: Kumori Doragon, libowiekitty, Aechigo, TTAvatarfan, Invaderk, Twilight Rose2, KataangNutyBabe, and goldenwing57
"Oh, Habakku, this is terrible," Katara said with the utmost concern as she sat by his bedside, Aang beside her.
"Don't worry, Katara," Habakku assured her in a whisper, "I'll be okay."
"But those wounds are so deep," Katara continued, her voice rising slightly, "And you lost so much blood…"
Her eyes filled with tears and she took his hand in hers. Aang nuzzled her arm.
"You're acting like I'm going to die," Habakku said with a slight smile.
"But you could," Katara told him softly. She paused, taking a shuddering breath before finishing, "I don't want to lose you, Habakku. I love you."
Aang's ears pricked, but this time, he felt no jealousy. He knew by the way Habakku looked at Katara that he loved her too.
"I promise, you won't lose me," Habakku said, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. "I'll still be alive when you come back."
Katara nodded, tears running down her cheeks as she stood up.
"C'mon, Namyu," she said in a shaky voice. "Time to go home. I need to ask Sokka something."
Aang followed her out, his steps slow and deliberate.
"Are you sure you want to go?" Sokka asked later once Katara had gotten home that evening. "It's dark out, and I won't like the thought of you going out alone."
"I won't be alone Sokka," Katara assured him, a tinge of annoyance in her voice, "I'll take Namyu with me."
Sokka raised an eyebrow at her, still not convinced.
"Sokka, please, this is important," Katara begged, "I have to go. I just want to visit him."
Her brother finally sighed after a moment, giving in.
"Fine, but be careful," he told her as she put on her coat and pulled her hood over her head, "We're still not sure if Kaibutsu truly died in that rock fall Namyu led us to."
"I highly doubt anyone, even Kaibutsu, could survive a cave in like that," Katara said in a matter of fact voice, leaving her brother shaking his head at her as she grabbed a small lantern and headed out of the tent.
Aang trotted at her heels, wondering where exactly they were going. What could demand such importance when it was already so late? Aang looked up at her face worriedly, though it was concealed from his view by her hood. He became especially concerned when Katara kept walking even when she reached the end of the village. But from the determined way she was walking, Aang knew that she knew where she was going.
Soon, a small light appeared in front of them, and shadows began to take shape. Before he knew it, Aang found himself standing in front of an archway made of ice, guarded by two totem poles that held the faces of water spirits. Katara walked through, so Aang followed.
The young tiger wolf found himself dodging different-shaped blocks of ice that upon further inspection had certain inscriptions on them.
Headstones, he realized. We're in a cemetery!
However, Katara didn't stop walking, not until she reached the very back of the cemetery. But when she did, Aang's mouth dropped open in shock.
A small version of a cathedral of ice stood in front of him, sporting intricate carvings all along its outside. Two mighty glass doors guarded whatever might have been inside, and they looked impossible to open. However, Katara seemed unfazed by this. She merely blew an icy breath into the locks on the door which stood eye level with her. The locks turned and the door opened in front of them. Katara them walked through, Aang following her warily.
Luckily, they didn't have far to walk. The inside of the cathedral was very small, and the only thing it contained lay right at its center, a small stone coffin protected in a coating of ice so that no one could steal the precious body that laid inside.
The light from Katara's lantern stopped on the coffin, and Aang heard her heave a misty sigh.
"It doesn't feel like Aang died a year ago, Namyu," Katara said sadly, "It seems like only yesterday we rescued him from that iceberg."
There was a pause as Katara adjusted her lantern so that it illuminated a small inscription carved into the ice on the bottom of the coffin.
"No matter where you go, we'll always be with you," Katara read, "We'll keep you in ourhearts forever"
It was then that Aang realized this was his grave. Katara must have engraved that inscription herself, trying comfort him even in death. He remembered very well the terrifying feeling of leaving his friends as everything had faded into darkness.
"I just hope that wherever he is, he's happy," Katara continued, her voice cracking slightly. "I hope he doesn't miss us too much…"
The waterbender sniffled, and Aang turned around to press his nose into her hand. He didn't want to see her cry. So instead, he tugged on her sleeve in the direction of the door gently, trying to suggest that they leave. Katara seemed to get the message, because she followed him out, sparing one last look at the coffin before she shut the door behind her.
However, as soon as the doors locked behind her, a terrible snarling noise was heard that made Katara freeze and Aang's hair rise on the back of his neck. Another growl sounded in the distance, and then all was silent. Suddenly, a huge shape loomed in out of the shadows, standing at the other end of the cemetery, and they both recognized it to be none other than Kaibutsu.
Aang heard Katara gasp in fear as the cougar leopard opened his jaws in a challenging roar. He was clearly looking for revenge on the Southern Water Tribe for what they had done to him. His wounds stood out ominously against the light of the moon and Katara's lantern.
"Namyu, go get Sokka," Katara whispered, her eyes still not leaving Kaibutsu.
Aang turned to stare at her, his face a mixture of surprise and fear. He raised one fore paw to run, then hesitated.
"Go Namyu! Run!" she said more forcefully, pushing him towards the entrance. Aang raced forward, then stopped as he heard Kaibutsu's enraged roar. Turning to survey the scene, he saw Katara take up a defiant waterbending stance. Kaibutsu charged forward. Reflexively, Katara summoned a large portion of snow and froze into ice in front of her. Kaibutsu merely reared up and batted it away with one fore paw, sending Katara flying in the process. She landed a good yard away, the shards of ice cutting her skin. Kaibutsu padded slowly over to her, baring his teeth. Too stunned to defend herself, Katara merely braced herself for death.
Suddenly, Aang appeared in front of her, standing between her and Kaibutsu, his head low and teeth bared savagely. Kaibutsu backed away a few feet in surprise.
"Lay one paw on her, and I'll kill you," Aang growled in a dangerously low voice, his body shaking with fury.
Kaibutsu laughed. A cold, heartless laugh. "You, kill me? You ignorant little bastard. I've survived every attack the Water Tribe has thrown at me. I've defeated a mammoth caribou bigger than you've ever thought possible. I've taken out an entire tiger wolf pack before! You couldn't even kill me in a rock fall, and you think you can kill me now, when you're all alone?"
"I'm not alone," Aang said with ferocity, "I have the spirits of everyone you've killed beside me, the spirits of my past lives within me, and all the hope and love of the South Pole in my heart. That is more than you'll ever have, Kaibutsu. I'll tear you to pieces!"
Gritting his teeth, Aang charged forward, his feet thudding hard against the packed snow. Kaibutsu smirked and lowered his head, preparing to grab Aang by the neck. At the last second, Aang leaped into the air and sliced his teeth down Kaibutsu's side before landing in the snow on the other side. He turned and jumped again, raking his fangs against Kaibutsu's body once more. Kaibutsu took the attack, stunned.
Aang didn't let up, though. His attack only got faster, his fangs sinking in deeper, but not too deep.
"Remember," Catali said to Aang in a voice full of wisdom, "You mustn't allow your body to get pinned in a fight, or it's all over for you. Cut with your fangs and don't allow your opponent to move. Then move in for the final blow."
Aang sliced the back of Kaibutsu's neck as he recalled Catali's advice. He couldn't let her down, and he couldn't let Katara get hurt.
The waterbender in question meanwhile had stood up, watching in awe as Aang risked his life for her. She also didn't fail to notice that Aang was winning. Could it be possible that he could defeat Kaibutsu?
"That's enough!" Kaibutsu shouted forcefully as Aang crossed over in front of him. He reached down with lightening fast reflexes, and grabbed Aang by the tail before slammed him down into the snow.
Katara gasped, her eyes widening. Kaibutsu would almost certainly kill him.
"Spare his life," she prayed desperately to whatever spirit that might have been listening, "Please. I don't want to lose Namyu too."
The huge cougar leopard reared up and slammed Aang again onto the opposite side. Realizing he had control of his opponent, Kaibutsu reared and slammed once more, before his attack grew faster.
Finding some strength, Aang curled his body forward as he was being lifted into the air and brought his jaws crashing down onto Kaibutsu's skull, his bottom fangs right between his eyes. He knew that this was a weak point on any opponent, and if he cracked his skull it would be all over.
With a scream of pain and outrage, Kaibutsu smashed his forehead against the ground, trying desperately to dislodge him. Aang only held on tighter, digging his teeth in harder.
"You son of a bitch!" Kaibutsu roared before slamming his head down again, this time feeling the teeth let go. Crying out in fury, he tossed Aang against a headstone, letting go of his tail.
There was a moment of silence, before Kaibutsu staggered, showing that Aang's attack had done its damage. However, the cougar leopard forced himself to walk over to where the fallen tiger wolf lay, glaring down at him with hatred as rivers of blood make their down his body.
Seeing Aang stir, Kaibutsu whispered manically, his face no more than a foot above Aang's head "Go on, cry, scream, beg for mercy! Surrender and I'll end your life quickly and easily."
Aang raised his head shakily, blood from his wounds turning the snow beneath him red.
"You sick bastard," the former Avatar whispered, his voice dripping with hatred and defiance. "I'll n-never surrender to a sick bastard like you!"
His face twisting in rage, Kaibutsu grabbed Aang viciously by the neck and tossed him into the air before catching him again by his tail, slamming him nonstop into the snow.
Katara could only covered her mouth with both hands in horror, her blue eyes filling with tears as she watched the tiger wolf who had fought so hard to protect her be beaten to death.
Kaibutsu tossed Aang hard into the ground before grabbing his neck. He paused for a minute, panting, and then ran forward before he let go of the body in his teeth, letting it sail through the air and then fall to the ground in front of Katara.
"Namyu! No!" she cried, falling to her knees at his head. She pulled his head into her lap, ignoring the blood that spilled heavily from his body.
"There goes your last hope," Kaibutsu said coldly, an evil smile forming on his face. "You're mine now."
Katara gazed up at him fearfully, too scared to remember that she was a master waterbender, and too grief stricken to care. All she could think about limp body beneath her. Snow began to fall, as if to tell Katara that this was truly the end.
Suddenly, the air began to ring out with the sound voices chanting in a language Katara had never heard before. A few howls mixed in with voices, and wind began to blow.
Kaibutsu raised his head, scanning the cemetery for any new signs of life. A movement of white, black and red caught his eye, and he turned his head to see Aang struggling to his feet.
Katara and Kaibutsu watched this seemingly impossible feat in amazement. However Katara noticed that Aang's legs were trembling, but he didn't falter. Blood ran down his forehead and sides, but he paid no attention. Instead, his gaze was fixed on Kaibutsu as he panted with the effort to hold himself up.
Soon however, his breaths shifted from being light and fast to slow and heavy. Aang's eyes narrowed and he growled, baring his teeth. The wind blew harder, the snow flying around furiously. Kaibutsu squinted his eyes against it.
Aang's breathing grew heavier still until the beginnings of a war cry sounded from him. A bright flash of light was visible, forcing Katara to shield her eyes. Once her eyes adjusted, she opened them to see that Aang's eyes and black stripes were glowing white, a spiritual energy coursing within him.
The Avatar State? Katara thought inanely.
A moment of complete silence passed, before Aang charged forward with a war cry at lightening speed, his paws barely seeming to touch the ground. Kaibutsu could stare in shock. He didn't move until Aang had leaped into the air and come down again onto the other side, ripping a piece of flesh from his body. Kaibutsu howled in pain.
Aang jumped and landed again, staying on the ground for no more than a second before he repeated his attack, tearing flesh from Kaibutsu's body with each strike.
The cougar leopard swung around to attack, but Aang leaped onto his back and bit down hard onto the back of his neck, feeling it crunch slightly. Kaibutsu roared as pain ran through his body. He was even in too much pain to realize that Aang had jumped off. However, upon turning his gaze back in front of him, he noticed that the tiger wolf in question was now racing headlong towards him.
"This is for you Catali!" Aang cried, jumping into the air. His body did a few front flips that only increased his speed, and a burst of wind drove him forward, right towards Kaibutsu's head. A furious scream escaped him as he sped forward; before it was cut of as his teeth were driven into his target: Kaibutsu's skull.
The impact lifted Kaibutsu's front feet off the ground. His eyes bulged and a strangled cry escaped him before Aang let go, flying over Kaibutsu's head. The mighty cougar leopard's face was frozen in its pained expression, and then he toppled forward, unmoving.
Aang lay behind Kaibutsu's limp body, the glow from his body gone, panting. Using that spirit…or whatever it was, had taken just about all of his energy. He barely had enough strength to lift his head off the ground. The wind quieted down, and the snow fell softly this time.
I did it, he thought triumphantly, I defeated Kaibutsu…
But then suddenly, a weak growl of effort was heard, forcing Aang to look in Kaibutsu's direction. The cougar leopard was trying to heave himself off the ground, but obviously possessed very little strength to do so.
"I won't…I won't die," he said determinedly.
Aang couldn't believe it. After all of that, Kaibutsu still refused to admit defeat. Well, if he wasn't going to give up, then Aang wouldn't either.
The tiger wolf summoned what little strength he had, and focused it into forcing his legs to work. However, he soon realized that his back legs were completely numb, and useless. So, Aang was forced to drag his hind as he made his way over to Kaibutsu's head, determined to finish the vicious beast once and for all.
Kaibutsu glared at Aang once he came up beside him, his icy eyes holding an unfathomable amount of hatred.
"You…you little shit," he growled softly, although his words were filled with resentment, "When I get up…y-you're….you're finished."
"Call me what you want," Aang countered in a hoarse whisper, "But you're done, Kaibutsu. You won't take one more life." He drew in a gulp of air as he finished, "I'll send you straight to hell."
With that, Aang lunged forward, throwing his weight into this final attack as he clamped his teeth onto the back of Kaibutsu's neck. The cougar leopard made an awful gurgling noise as Aang tightened his jaws, feeling his adversary's spine crack satisfyingly. He didn't let go until he heard him draw his last breath, shudder, and become still.
Kaibutsu was dead.
Aang drew a deep breath before he forced his front legs underneath him and threw his head back in a howl of victory.
Katara could only stare in shock, her eyes wide. He had done it. Namyu had done it. He had defeated the South Pole's greatest threat, all by himself. Everyone would be so proud of him…
Aang's cry of triumph suddenly broke off into a horrible gurgling sound, and he collapsed into the snow, his eyes shutting.
"Namyu!" Katara cried, racing towards him.
When she reached him, she knelt down beside him, touching his shoulder gently in hopes of rousing him.
"Namyu?" she asked hopefully. No response. She tried again, her voice softer and more tearstained. "Namyu?"
"No! I…don't want to…go. I'm scared Katara …"
Katara shook her head, feeling tears well up in her eyes as she remembered the same words Aang had said so long ago. Something about this was disturbingly familiar…
A bright flash of light burst from Aang's arrow, and he opened his eyes, turning his gaze towards the beautiful waterbender who had come to him once again.
"It's alright, Namyu, I'm here," she soothed, "I'll heal you."
She turned herself halfway around, preparing to turn some snow that wasn't soaked in blood into something she could use to heal with.
Katara turned around, her eyes wide. Aang stared up at her. Had he just spoken?
"Did you…how did…?" Katara stammered.
"It doesn't matter," Aang whispered weakly. "Some trick of the spirits I guess. But don't bother wasting your time trying to heal me. I'm going to die, whatever you do. But this time I'm not afraid."
He smiled slightly, saying, "I've died before."
"What?" Katara whispered disbelievingly.
"I thought you would have recognized me by now, Katara," Aang continued on, "Remember when you first found me? I could have gone to any other person in the village, but I chose you and Sokka. And, the spirits gave me this…" he trailed off, leaning his forehead towards her so she could see his arrow more clearly.
Katara gaped at him, still not believing what she was hearing. Could it really be…?
"I didn't want to leave you before, and I guess I got my wish," Aang finished. Finally, in a voice barely audible, he said, "It's me Katara. It's Aang."
Aang watched as the tears in her eyes spilled over. The moon seemed to brighten, a beam illuminating Aang and Katara.
"A-Aang?" she choked.
Aang smiled in confirmation before he sighed and closed his eyes.
Katara gasped in horror. "No!" she cried, shaking his shoulder slightly, "Aang! Don't go! Please, I just got you back, don't leave me again! Aang! AANG!"
Katara buried her face in her hands, mourning the loss of her friend for the second time. Amidst her crying though, she didn't notice that both Aang and Kaibutsu's bodies disappeared, and the blood that soaked the cemetery vanished as if it were never there in the first place.
Suddenly, she felt a light tap on her shoulder. Her eyes filled with tears, she turned her head to see none other than-
"Aang!" she cried in delight. Although it was clearly not just Aang. His body was blue, but his eyes were still their familiar grey. It was Aang as she remembered him; thirteen and confident. He held out a hand and pulled her to her feet. Once she was up, Katara threw her arms around his neck, overjoyed at seeing him once more.
"I missed you," she murmured.
"I missed you too," he told her earnestly.
They separated, and stared at each other in silence for a minute before Katara asked, "So that was really you the whole time. Why did you come back?"
"I didn't want to leave you," Aang answered, "And I think it was my destiny as Namyu to defeat Kaibutsu. That's why the spirits sent me back."
He turned his head off to the side, a slight blush rising to his cheeks. "But there's something else," he admitted.
"What is it, Aang?" she asked.
Aang turned towards her, but kept his eyes on the ground. He took a deep breath before he continued. "I just wanted to tell you that, I love you Katara. I have since I first met you. I was just…afraid you didn't feel the same way."
He finally found the courage to meet her eyes, and when he did, he saw adoration and tears there.
"Oh Aang," she whispered, her throat tight with emotion. "I-I…"
She couldn't finish. Between one heartbeat and the next, Katara had brought her lips crashing down on his. Aang's eyes widened in shock before they slid closed.
They could have been like that for 20 seconds, a minute, or a year, Aang didn't which. But either way, Katara pulled away, smiling, and Aang was left staring at her hazily. Spirit or not, that was the most amazing thing he had ever experienced in his thirteen years.
Suddenly, Katara's smile fell, forcing Aang to drop his love struck expression.
"What's wrong?" he asked, concerned.
"It's just…" Katara started to say, "Habakku…I love him too Aang. I can't love you both, can I?"
Aang just smiled and told her, "Katara, I'll always love you, but let's face it. I'm dead. You can't let me get in the way of your love for Habakku. Besides, I trust him with you. He'll make a great husband, when you're older."
"So, he'll live?" Katara asked hopefully.
"He'll be fine," Aang assured her. "I'll make sure of that."
Aang looked up as a soft voice sounded from somewhere above him, and he knew what it was immediately.
"I have to go," he said. "They're waiting for me."
"But Aang," Katara pleaded softly, "Don't go. I still need you."
She pulled him into a tight hug, as if this action alone would keep him with her.
"I need you too, Katara," he answered. "But you'll die someday. And when that day comes, we can be together forever in the spirit world. Alright?"
Katara nodded, and watched as Aang backed away from her, their hands lingering in each others before they let go.
"Goodbye, Katara," Aang said softly. "Oh, and tell Sokka he needs to get a dog, or else he'll get himself killed hunting by himself."
At this, Katara smiled, and watched as Aang's spirit faded away into the moonlight.
And on the way home, a tiny little tiger wolf puppy had found its way into Katara's arms. A star shot across the heavens, and she could almost sworn she heard Aang laughing in approval.