My first Kataang! I bet all the Zutarians who put me on author alert will be seriously shocked, or relatively surprised...I hope this isn't absolutely awful. I was never that great at writing fluff, and I tried my hardest, although I'm still wondering is Aang or Sokka are OOC. Or even Katara. Please tell me what you think...
Diclaimer: I do not own Avatar, because if I did, Mom would talk, Zuko would be the main character, Yue wouldn't have died, and the only REAL Canon shipping would be Jetzula.
R and R!
Dark grey eyes closed as a contented sigh escaped the avatar's lips. "Ah, this is the life, isn't it, Momo? No feuding villages…not a peace treaty for miles…." The flying lemur gave a huge yawn and curled up on Aang's chest, and the airbender chuckled softly, absently stroking his pet's fur.
"I wonder what Katara's doing right now," he said aloud. Even six years after the war, Aang had not gotten a chance to explain to his oldest friend how he felt about her. It seemed every time he built the courage up, he discovered her new boyfriend (fortunately, her relationship with Zuko had lasted less than 24 hours), or he received news of some sort of rebellion in the south (he never ceased to wonder why they couldn't just direct all his mail to Firelord Zuko).
Gently lifting Momo off his chest and placing his in a patch of buttercups, Aang folded his arms behind his head and slowly leaned back down into the grass. It was amazing that this small, southern Earth Kingdom island was as warm as it was – the winter solstice was approaching, and the mainland was covered with white, fluffy snow.
"Hey – Aang! AANG!" Jerking his head upward at the sound of his name, the young avatar saw Sokka running towards him, waving a parchment scroll around wildly. "We've been invited to a celebration of the Winter Solstice at the Northern Water Tribe! And I'm guessing that Toph and Zuko are coming as well - everybody will be there. Well….except Katara." Sokka shot a meaningful glance at Aang. "She's with Haru, her precious boyfriend….I think he's a sissy."
A small smile formed on Aang lips. "I wouldn't go around insulting Katara's boyfriends if I were you. Remember Teo?"
Sokka shuddered. "She still hasn't forgiven me for that….talk about grudges."
Aang stood up and stretched. "Where are Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors?"
"Training." There was an edge of disapproval in his voice – Aang very much doubted Sokka wasn't rather put out by the idea of his fiancé being tougher then him.
"So…the winter solstice, hmm? Is there going be anything about Yue?" he shot an anxious glance at Sokka, but to his surprise the warrior seemed unchanged by the mention of the white-haired princess.
"Maybe. They were talking about having a memorial at the Spirit Oasis." He glanced at Aang once more, and commented, "You're still crazy about my sis – I mean, Katara, aren't you?"
The young airbender shrugged and smiled wryly. "As always. I mean, she's perfect – beautiful, strong, compassionate, hopeful…." He trailed off. "That's why I don't deserve her." Aang looked up at the sky, commenting, "I think Appa will be back in a few minutes."
But his effort to change the subject was wasted on Sokka. "What!" he exclaimed. "You're the avatar, for Pete's sake! Who wouldn't want to be with you?"
"That's exactly why," Aang replied quietly. "I could lose control at any time…I'm like a time bomb, just waiting to go off. I can't risk hurting her…how could I ever forgive myself is I did."
"Well, you certainly are pretty powerful," Sokka admitted grudgingly, "But is there's anyone I'd want to marry Katara, it'd be you. Besides, we've been through that whole 'I'm-the-avatar-so-it's-not-safe-to-be-with-me' thing. Remember the Fire Nation?"
"Like heck," Aang muttered, gazing at the ground.
"We didn't desert you then, because we trusted you. And we still do. Would I honestly have let Toph, who's like a sister to me, marry that scarred little hothead – well, Firelord Zuko – if you didn't say you trusted him with her first? Really, Aang, it was you who got me to attend there wedding! Suki couldn't convince me – Suki!"
He sighed. "The point is, Aang, you're our friend. And if you think that we will just leave because you tell us to – well, we didn't then, and we aren't going to now."
Aang was silent for a moment. "Thanks, Sokka. That meant a lot." Straightening up, he removed a bison-whistle from his pocket, evoking a sigh from his companion.
"You still have that thing?" rolling his eyes, Sokka sat down on the ground Indian style, head propped on his hand. "Go ahead and blow….it's not like it makes any noise."
Aang smiled, blowing with all his might into the silent whistle. Suddenly, Appa appeared as a dark shape in the distance. His long-time companion sighed and sank down onto his knees. "I can't believe how many people need help negotiating! You almost think there was a war –" he stopped suddenly, whirling around to face Sokka. "Wait, you said Katara's visiting Haru – that means I won't get to see her! It's been six months…you'd think that as the ambassador to the Water Tribe and the avatar, our paths would cross at least once…"
Sokka shrugged. "I don't know, Aang. I mean, Katara – has a lot to do – not that I'm saying you don't have a point. Half the stuff she does is useless – she took a week off just to help plan Toph's wedding shower!"
"Wedding shower?" he looked up, confused. "Why wasn't I invited?"
"It's girl stuff," the water tribe warrior replied dismissively. "I don't think Toph liked it much, either. She said she was ready to murder Katara after the week was over…"
Aang grinned. "I can imagine. So, when are we leaving?"
Sokka sighed. "Whenever Suki wants to. I honestly don't get that woman."
"Sokka….you're engaged to her." Aang reminded him.
"I know. But, honestly, who can understand girls? Well….except girls themselves, I guess." He reasoned. "Let's go back to town. I told everyone I'd be back by sunset." Just as Sokka finished his sentence, Appa came crashing down next to him, immediately giving his old friend a lick on the face.
Trying desperately to shove Appa off, he said, "I've missed you, too, but can we stop with the slobbering?"
"Come on, boy," Aang ordered as Momo hopped up on his shoulder. "We've got to get going." Taking off a brisk pace, he called back, "Sokka! Aren't you coming?"
Sighing, the 21 year old man raced to catch up with his friend. "I'm here."
The walk back to the village was filled with a long, but not uncomfortable silence. As the brown buildings came into sight, Aang commented, "Being here sure brings back old memories."
"I'll say," Sokka agreed. "It really takes you back to when it all started…" he trailed off.
Aang squinted into the setting sun, and replied. "You know, it really does. Bring back memories, I mean."
Suddenly, the remnants of his last visit to Kyoshi Island came flooding back.
"You don't have to go with us, Aang."
"Yes, I do."
"No, you don't." Katara argued as she struggled to keep up with the constantly speeding up Aang. "I don't need you to be at the South Pole…for the funeral. I know how it's been for you, and I don't want you to feel like you have to take the blame."
"Take the blame?" Aang skidded to a halt and turned to her, his face uncharacteristically livid. "Of course I have to take the blame! You're father is dead because of this. He'll never know your kids….be at your wedding…I'm going to say something for him. I want to be there for your father….for Sokka…for you." By the end of his speech, Aang's voice had softened and lost its hard edge. "Please…I don't want you to think that I can't handle this."
"But Aang," Katara said desperately, "I don't want you to be there. Don't get me wrong – you're like part of my family. But I've seen you lose control…I just don't want it to happen again."
He felt a sharp stab of pain – why didn't she trust him? "That hasn't happened in a while. I just…I don't want you to be alone…Not now, when you've just lost your only other parent…" he trailed off. "You helped me when I found out about Gyatso. Helped me to understand that you're never really alone…not when you have someone who you love. Someone to love you."
Suddenly, tears were sparkly in Katara's ocean blue eyes. "I…I'm so glad I helped you like that, Aang. There will never by anyone like you. You're so special to me…" Embracing him, she whispered to him (as her lips brushed his ear, shivers went running down his spine), "I'm sorry. I trust you more then anyone, Aang…more then anyone."
"Aang! Earth to Aang!" he blinked, and was suddenly jerked out of his flashback. "I'm going to find Suki," Sokka explained, eyeing his friend strangely. "You stay here, all right?"
Nodding, Aang sat down cross legged on the ground, propping up his chin on his hands. He and Katara had grown so close during those last weeks before the eclipse, but it seemed like that bond had evaporated like morning dew against the blazing sun. How did it happen? He wondered. Perhaps it had been Katara's new string of boyfriends; the times at all those parties where they searched for each other in vain; the weeks, months they had spent apart as the peace conferences lessened and problems became fewer but more widely scattered…
Maybe it wasn't such a surprise, Aang reflected. I guess Katara started to grow up…and so did I. He remembered only too well how much he had gone through even after the war – the strain and stress was hard to handle, especially in his early teen years. "Maybe," he whispered to himself, "We weren't meant to be. Maybe…maybe we grew apart for a reason. Maybe I should just let go of my feelings for Katara." Aang laughed. He had tried that once, and it hadn't worked.
Standing up and leaning back against Appa, he contemplated all that had happened so quickly in so little time. Let's see, Toph and Zuko were married last year…Sokka just proposed to Suki a few months ago…And then there's me and Katara, the odd ones out.
Sighing, Aang contemplated his so-not-average lifestyle. Sleeping on a sky bison every night; never staying in one place for longer than a week; constantly suffering sleepless nights and weary days…what kind of life was that for Katara? He wanted her to be happy; it seemed that that could not be if she were to marry him.
Smiling slightly, he thought about what each of his friends would say if they were here right now. Toph, surely, would say, Why are you sitting having an angst fest, Twinkle Toes? Go out there and get her! Sokka would just tell him, Alright, be her boyfriend – better than Zuko, anyway. Katara would act surprised and hurt while concealing a smile, scolding, Don't you think I'm tougher than that?
And Zuko, he was pretty sure, would just sigh and request, Just don't get mushy while I'm around.
It really was too bad that his friends weren't here right now. Especially Katara.
With his luck, Aang wouldn't get to talk to her until she was married, wrinkly, and in the process of becoming a great grandmother.
But if his luck were to suddenly change for the better, Katara would dump Haru and go to the North Pole for the Winter Solstice celebration, causing a surprise meeting for them both.
Ah well, he thought, shaking his head with just the hint of a smile on his face, I never did quite learn to believe in the impossible.
EDIt: to make things clear, Aang feels uneasy about the whole avatar state thing because he never quite mastered it. Also, at Hakoda's funeral, the site of his corpse flooded Aang with so many emotions he was nearly forced into the avatar state. Naturally, he felt all guilty about that thing with Katara, and hasn't told anyone yet.
About Hakoda's death: a Yu Yan Archer shot him during the final battle, and Aang blames himself because he feels he could have stopped the arrow if he had reacted faster. Of course, the feeling is only intensified because of Aang's lov for Katara.
...Does that clear things up at all?
Is it just me or was that the suckiest ending ever?