A/N: *wistles* Wow. Long time no writey. I'm not gonna b*tch to you all about how crazy my schedule has been because I'm sure you all get the point by now x(. Believe me when I say that if I had all the free time in the world though, this is all I would be doing. I've missed it so much. In any case, it's been ages. Merry Christmas! I won't make any promises about the next chapter, but I will say that I am determined to get to chapter 100 and mark this as complete before starting my next oneshot series. Thanks for sticking through all of this craziness with me! You all are the best.
Aang sat with Kya, gently stroking her hair until she fell asleep that night, smiling just slightly when her breathing evened out and her lips parted just slightly, indicating that she had drifted off at last. It had been difficult to get her to sleep these past few evenings. The six year old was frightened, for her mother had been bedridden, too weak to get up after the birth of the avatar's third child. Needless to say, he was more worried than anyone. Bumi was too young to understand anything that had happened, and Kya, while old enough to know that there was something wrong, hadn't quite grasped the severity of the situation. Aang had been worried sick and would have spent every waking moment by Katara's side were it not for the fact that her condition left him to care for their other two children and the new baby. Rubbing an eye wearily, he crept out of his daughter's room, leaving her door open just a crack, and made his way to the room he shared with Katara. Two healers emerged, looking almost as tired as he was.
"How is she?" He asked, suddenly wide awake. One of them smiled at him.
"It is safe now for us to leave you, Avatar Aang. Your wife is stable and should recover within the next few weeks." Aang fell back against the wall in relief, drawing in a deep breath, face lighting up with joy.
"Thank you." He said breathlessly, bowing deeply to the two women. "You have no idea how grateful I am…if you ever need anything, anything, just let me know. I am forever in your debt." He withdrew a sack of gold coins from the pocket of his robes. The woman's eyes widened and she held her hands out in front of her, shaking her head.
"Avatar Aang, you have already paid us so generously. We can't possibly accept anymore. We have only done our jobs." Aang however, took the woman's hands and folded the sack into them.
"No." he insisted. "Your job was to save one person, but today, you've saved a whole family. I can never repay you enough and I'm sure you have your own families to provide for. Please, it's the least I can do." He said earnestly. The women looked at each other and then bowed.
"We have heard of your generosity Avatar Aang, but we never could have imagined you to be this kind. Do not hesitate to send a message if you are ever again in need of our services." Aang nodded.
"Thank you." He said again, escorting the two women to the nearest exit and bidding them one last, sincere farewell before running as fast as he could to his and Katara's room. To his surprise, she was awake, and he didn't hesitate to leap to her side and pull her into a fierce embrace, squeezing his eyes shut against the tears that formed in them. When he opened them, he saw his three day old son sound asleep in a small cradle beside the bed, the sight warming him inside. Both his wife and child were alive and well and he couldn't have been happier.
"Thank the spirits you're okay." He breathed into her hair, nuzzling his face affectionately against her neck. "I was so scared I was going to lose you…" He heard her give a choked sob into his shoulder, trembling in his arms. He released her gently back onto the pillows and climbed into the bed beside her, wiping a tear from her cheek.
"Hey." He murmured. "What's wrong?" Her lip shook.
"I'm not okay." She whispered. Aang paled.
"What?" He asked, quickly growing frantic. "You have to be, the healers just told me you would be! Hold on Katara, I'll call them back, I'll-" Katara shook her head tearfully.
"Aang, don't. It's nothing they can fix. They tried. I will get better but…" She averted her eyes in a way she only did when she was ashamed, a tear curving down her cheek to drip off of her chin. "I can't have any more kids, Aang." She said so quietly he almost missed it, but nonetheless, he felt overcome with relief. Katara would live.
"That's…" He sighed. "I'm sorry, Katara." He cupped her face, tenderly brushing away a tear.
"No." She said, to his surprise sounding almost…angry. "No, it's my fault! Tenzin might be an airbender but even then he's only one. You were so happy and now…I've hardly made any difference at all…and I won't ever be able to again. Now I'm useless to you." Aang swallowed. Though Katara's anger was directed at herself, it hurt him deeply to hear her talking about herself this way.
"Katara…" His wife was trembling, staring at the wall across from her as tears made their way silently down her face. She looked exhausted. "You know that's not true at all. You and the kids are my whole world. Sure, I would've welcomed more, but you've done more for me than anyone ever has. Just knowing that you're alive and safe makes me happier than I ever thought was possible." Katara's jaw quivered and she sank back against the pillows, her face pale. For a moment, Aang thought she would faint and he maneuvered her so that she was leaning back against him, his legs on either side of her.
"Are you warm enough?" He asked. Katara released a shuddering sigh.
"I guess I'm a little cold." Aang encircled her with in his arms, pulling her close and kissing the top of her head. They sat quietly for a moment, the silence punctuated only occasionally by Katara's sniffles. "You know what?" The airbender murmured. Katara looked up at him.
"I think this is one of the happiest days of my life." He said simply.
"What?" Katara asked tiredly.
"It's true." Aang insisted. "I was so scared I was going to lose my wife, but I didn't. We just had a beautiful, healthy son and now when the kids wake up in the morning I can bring them in to see their brother and tell them that their mother, the woman I love more than anything, is going to be just fine. I couldn't have possibly asked for more." Katara leaned her head on his shoulder, still frowning and looking to be only half there.
"But he's the last one, Aang. And if…if I'd taken better care of myself, maybe none of this would've ever happened. Maybe I would've been just fine and we could've had more children, more airbenders and then you would've been even happier."
"Maybe if I hadn't been so scared of being the avatar when I was twelve I would've stayed at the Southern Air Temple and stopped my people from being massacred and prevented the rest of the war before it even started, and then you could've grown up in peace." Aang retorted gently, but firmly. Katara stiffened.
"That's different. You were only twelve and you would've been killed if you'd tried to face the entire Fire Nation army at once back then." Aang shrugged.
"Not necessarily. I could've escaped and gotten help, or at least warned the other temples before the Fire Nation arrived there. I could've gone into the avatar state and blown them all off the mountain…though you're right, it's not quite the same because there are so many different things I could've done. You're the best mom in the world and you were so careful. There was nothing you could've done better in terms of taking care of yourself. You can't blame yourself for things like this, Katara. You were the one who taught me that." He said confidently. Katara dropped her head against his shoulder, giving a defeated sigh.
"I know…" She admitted quietly. "I just…keep thinking about how happy we were when I found out I was pregnant with Kya and Bumi and Tenzin, how exciting it was. And now we'll never have that again. I'll never be able to give that to you again." She averted her eyes as they began to well with tears once more. Aang frowned.
"Don't say that. You and the kids make me happy every day. It's our family Katara, and I'll be happy no matter how big or small it is. You've already given me so much more than I ever hoped for. Heck, I thought you even liking me back was out of my reach. You have no idea how happy it makes me just to see you and hold you when I wake up every morning. All of this is more than I'd ever dreamed about. Every day I'm with you and our kids I'm the happiest man in the world. The only thing that makes me happier is seeing you happy too." Katara was poised to reply when a soft cry came from the cradle next to the bed. She attempted to push herself off of the cushion of Aang's chest, but immediately felt lightheaded and fell back. Aang climbed out from under her, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
"I've got him." He assured with a gentle smile, leaning over to lift his mewling newborn son into his arms. Katara reached for him, and Aang settled the infant gently into his wife's grasp before climbing back into his original position, bringing Katara with him, placing one hand over hers to help her support Tenzin. He couldn't help the gentle flutter in his heart as Katara rested her head on his chest, Tenzin's cries quieting as she rocked him and whispered soothing nothings to him. The infant's fist curled around a lock of his mother's hair, and for the first time that day, Katara smiled. In Aang's mind, nothing could've made the scene more beautiful. It was only when the baby's eyes closed that Katara lifted a hand to her own eyes, brushing away the moisture that had gathered in them and letting out a long breath. "See?" Aang pointed out quietly. "Even Tenzin wants you to be happy." Katara let out a teary laugh.
"Okay." She conceded. "It's hard to argue with both of you." Aang grinned.
"I love you. Both of you, so much." Katara tilted her neck upwards, and Aang met her lips in a soft, slow kiss, drinking her in, relishing in the fact that she was alive and with him. Silently, he swore to himself that he would never let anything change that.
"I love you too. And I want you to be happy, more than anything." She leaned up to place a kiss on his cheek. "It's just gonna take some time to accept. And I'll need you to help me." Aang nodded, giving one of her hands a squeeze.
"Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere." Katara smiled weakly.
"Thanks. I don't know what I'd do without you, Aang…" Aang nuzzled her affectionately in response.
"You'd figure something out. But considering I am here, I suggest you get some sleep. You're still recovering and I know you're tired. Here, I'll take Tenzin." Katara held out the small bundle, placing a kiss on her son's head before handing him back to Aang, who deposited him as carefully as he could back in the cradle so as not to wake him. He had learned from Kya and Bumi that a sleeping baby was a blessing, and should most certainly not be taken for granted. He then curled around his wife once more, pulling her back against him and sweeping her hair out of the way so that he could place a kiss on the back of her shoulder. He knew that it would take time for her to fully recover from everything that had happened, but he was determined to see her through all of it.
"Everything'll be okay, Katara, I promise." He murmured against her skin.
"I know." He heard her answer. "I trust you."