I wrote this at like midnight on serious lack of sleep, so it might seem a little strange. It takes place right after the Avatar: Escape from the Spirit World game, so if you haven't played it, it won't make sense. However, you can look up transcripts and screens at AvatarSpirit, so don't worry about that.

Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar

"You almost died today."

Aang opened his eyes, alarmed. He looked around quickly. There was still no one else on the dark mountaintop, just him, cross-legged on the rocks. He had been meditating here for some time, trying to get out of the Spirit World. Avatar Yangchen had told him that his physical body still needed to heal, and apparently he was stuck on top of this mountain until then. Hei Bai had left as well, returning home. Aang was very much alone.

So… where did that voice come from?

"Hello?" he called, not rising from the ground just yet. No response. He shrugged, closing his eyes again.

"I said, you almost died today."

His eyes snapped open. Before him was a slightly transparent image of a young woman. She was sitting in front of him, smiling sadly. He had never seen this woman before, but… he recognized her eyes. And her smile.

"You… you're Katara's mother," Aang said slowly. She smiled again, and this time it spread to her eyes.

"Yes, I am," she replied. Aang noticed her voice sounded far away, and she seemed kind of… blurry.

"Are you… uh…" Aang began curiously.

She laughed a little at his hesitance. Her laugh made Aang's breath catch in his throat. That was Katara's laugh.

"I am a dead," she said simply. "But unlike your past lives, my spirit does not reside here. The spirits of normal humans go to a place parallel to this."

"There's another Spirit World?" Aang asked tiredly, not exactly enjoying the idea of yet another world to protect.

"Not another Spirit World, just a kind of... spare room," she explained gently, recognizing the tone of his voice. She could read him, just like Katara. "Normally, we can't come to this part of the Spirit World. But apparently, I'm needed here. A young lady named Yue came to me…"

Aang watched silently as she looked down slightly. "She… told me she loved my son…" she continued quietly.

The young Avatar looked down a little as well. "Yes… she's the Moon Spirit," Aang muttered. "When she was a human… just a few months ago… she and Sokka fell in love."

"How is he?" she blurted out suddenly. She blushed a little. "I uh… promised myself I wouldn't ask, but… how is he? How's my Sokka?"

Aang smiled. "He's good. He's great, actually. He's really strong, and he's smart… sometimes," he trailed off slightly, and she laughed. "He keeps us all on track. He protects us."

"Good, good…" she murmured thoughtfully, losing focus on him for a moment. She shook herself briskly and looked at him again. "But no time for that. Yue told me you need to be healed. You almost died today."

"Yeah… I did," Aang nodded slowly. "Do you… know who saved me?" She shook her head. "Katara. She saved my life."

Her eyes widened and glazed over with tears. "…Katara? My… my little girl… my daughter…" Aang smiled and nodded. She smiled and closed her eyes. "She saved you… she's strong…"

"Very. She's stronger than me," Aang said immediately.

She laughed a little, looking at him thoughtfully. "You're really something, aren't you?" she said quietly. She gave herself another quick shake. "Okay… so what happened?"

Aang wasn't sure where to start, so he started at the beginning. When Katara broke him out of the iceberg. He didn't know how long it took to recount the tale, but he had gotten all the way to the flight to the Eastern Air Temple to meet the guru before she interrupted even once. But interrupt she did, and rather dramatically.

"You are in love with my daughter," she said levelly while Aang took a breath. He inhaled sharply and choked. She gave him several moments to cough. "You okay?" she asked quickly. He nodded mutely, blushing. "Good. As I was saying, you are in love with my daughter."

"Uh…" Aang began, not sure how to respond. She wasn't asking, she said it as a statement of fact. So he just looked down. "How can you tell?"

"Every time you mention her, you smile," she continued, sounding amused. "When you told me about the arguments you've had, you smiled. And when you told me about how she snores sometimes and keeps you awake, you smiled. You told me she is maddeningly stubborn, and you smiled. You could be telling me she murdered your lemur and ate him for breakfast, and you would smile." She leaned her chin on her hand, smirking. "You are in love with my daughter."

Aang nodded mutely, blushing furiously. This seemed to entertain her. "Please, continue," she said suddenly. Aang continued his story nervously, but she didn't interrupt again. Not even when he told her that he had told the guru he loved Katara. He got to the lightning, the darkness, waking for a moment to Katara's smile, and then meeting four of his past lives. She leaned back a little, contemplating him silently.

"You've been through a great deal for one so young," she said simply. "I don't think your back is the only thing Yue wants me to heal, but it's a start." She leaned toward him, and he felt her breath faintly on his skin. He was reminded instantly of Katara and felt himself blush. She graciously pretended not to notice.

When her hand touched his shoulder, Aang got a very strange feeling. It was as if someone was touching him, but just barely, as though they were stretching to reach him from far away. She leaned over his shoulder and looked at his back.

"Um… it's not my spirit that's injured, it's my physical self," Aang pointed out quietly. "How can you heal me?"

"The spirits of humans are closer to the physical world than the spirits here," she explained quietly, running a gentle hand down his back. "I can see your physical self within you."

"You can?" Aang blurted. "Can you see where I am? What's going on?"

She closed her eyes, and exhaled slowly. "Someone is caring for you… I can't tell where you are, but there is someone beside you…" she smiled softly. "My daughter… my Katara… she's trying to heal you as well."

Aang felt a thrill somewhere within him. Katara was trying to heal him. She was trying to get him back.

"Well, isn't that something," her mother murmured, smiling. "You couldn't let go of her, and she can't let go of you."

Aang smiled a little. "Oh come on, I know you want to smile more than that," she muttered distractedly as she leaned over his shoulder to reach his back again. He laughed a little and let himself grin. "Much better…"

Both of them fell silent for a short time. Aang found he liked her company. Her presence was so similar to her daughter's. It made him feel very safe, and very loved.

"Ah, here it is," she breathed. "Now hold still…" He did as he was told, not moving a muscle. He felt her touch on his lower back, once again feeling far off, but then the pressure increased, and he felt the warmth of her skin. He glanced over at her, and for a moment, she wasn't a hazy outline of a woman he'd just met. She was the solid, living, breathing body of Katara. His eyes widened in surprise, but it passed in a moment.

"There," she sighed, exhaling slowly and pulling away from him. "My daughter should be able to finish up now."

Aang looked at her thoughtfully. "Will I remember this?" he asked quietly. "I mean… Avatar Yangchen told me I wouldn't remember meeting the Avatars, but… I don't want to forget about you."

She smirked at him. "Now Aang, save the flirting for my daughter," she scolded gently.

Aang blushed. "That's just it. I want to remember you for her," he muttered, embarrassed. "I want to tell her that she's just like you. That's what she wants more than anything. To be like you."

Her eyes were shining with tears again. She bit her lip and tilted her head a little to the side, looking at him carefully. "She loves you," she said simply. "She must love you. If she doesn't… well, she's certainly not the daughter I raised."

She moved toward him and pulled him into a hug. It was a hug unlike any hug he had ever experienced. This was the first large difference he felt between Katara and her mother. This hug was the hug of a mother, something Aang had never known. It was kind and gentle and warm, and he felt safe. When he hugged Katara, it was different. It was full of unexpressed emotions. They communicated with each other when they hugged, saying everything they couldn't say aloud.

"I don't know much of mothers," he mumbled. "But… I think you were a very good one. Your children are amazing people. I couldn't survive without them."

"Thank you," was all she said before pulling away from him. "You have to be strong, Aang. My daughter… she won't always be able to be strong. So you have to be strong for her, okay?"

He nodded. She began to fade a little, and his eyes widened. There was so much more he wanted to ask her, so much more to say.

"It's okay," she said quickly, once again recognizing what he was feeling. "If you do remember this when you wake up, tell them I love them." He nodded again. She disappeared from sight, but he still heard her voice for a moment. "Don't you break her heart."

"I won't," he sighed, now quite alone again. He smiled a little. Katara was so much like her mother, and he hoped desperately that he would be able to tell her.