Well, here's the last one. Hope you enjoyed it! I'm not entirely sure I like it anymore, so it's a good thing I put it up when I did.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar
She couldn't sleep. She never could when he was in a comatose state like this. After they had escaped Ba Sing Sei, she hadn't slept in four days, remaining by his side constantly until her brother had to forcibly remove her from him.
Granted, this wasn't nearly as bad. She watched him sleep with a sort of concerned curiosity. Emotional stress… had he always been under this much emotional stress? Had he just always been able to hide it from her?
Katara frowned and reached toward him, carefully brushing his hair up from his forehead. How much did he hide from her?
Appa grumbled at her and she jumped. She glanced back at the bison in alarm. "Sorry, didn't realize I was keeping you awake," she said quietly, smiling a little. She put out the small campfire she had made on the floor of the temple and lied down beside Aang.
She continued studying him silently, only able to see him by the moonlight streaming in through the crumbling roof. She smiled a little when he sighed in his sleep.
"Good night, Aang," she whispered, leaning toward him and kissing his cheek.
Aang didn't wake until the sun had just begun to rise. He opened his eyes, and the first thing he saw was her. He smiled a little. Then he sat bolt upright.
The Eastern Air Temple? How did he get there? He looked around wildly. Appa was asleep nearby. There was a small campfire smoking a few feet away. Katara was lying next to him on her bedroll. It was dawn.
He had been in the Fire Nation. It had been nightfall. The last thing he remembered was leaning toward Katara. They were going to kiss. He had really, really wanted to kiss her.
So how had he ended up back at the Eastern Air Temple?
Aang thought seriously of waking Katara so he could get that kiss, but he let her sleep and got to his feet. As soon as he was out of hearing distance, he began calling for the guru.
"Guru Pahtik? Guru Pahtik, where are you?"
"Ah, Aang! Lovely to see you awake!"
Aang turned around and saw the guru out on a wide balcony flooded with morning sunlight. He was in some complicated yoga position. Aang took a moment to stare. He had only seen yoga once, and another guru had been performing it. It was a very old art, and Aang had thought it lost.
With a brisk shake of his head, Aang bowed. "It's good to see you again, Guru Pahtik," he said quietly.
"And you as well," the guru said with a smile, untangling himself with considerable ease and sitting in the lotus position. "Please, sit."
Aang sat down in front of him, looked awkwardly at the ground for a moment, and launched into an explanation before he could stop himself.
"I'm sorry I really did try to get into the Avatar State I just couldn't and I know it seems like I would actually not try because I would have to give up Katara and now you've met her and you know how amazing she is and nobody in their right mind would give up someone like her but I actually did try more than once in fact you were there the first time and the second time I was struck by lightning and then-"
"Aang, stop, please," the guru interrupted, laughing helplessly and allowing Aang to take a breath. "Katara has told me what happened to you. You may calm yourself."
Aang nodded, taking long, deep breaths.
"Good," the guru said serenely. "Katara informed me of your apparent death and revival. I told her that either the Avatar State was damaged beyond repair, or you would have to give her up. She did not take it very well at all."
Aang smiled in spite of himself. He could just imagine Katara sitting with the guru, shouting like she always did when she was passionate about something. Passionate about him… the thought made him smile even more.
"Barely two days later, she is back, but this time she brought you as well," Pahtik said, smiling. "She told me what you said about the broken path. I have come to the conclusion that the Avatar State has been damaged. Perhaps permanently."
Aang's eyes widened a little.
"I do not know if future incarnations will have access to it. I am fairly sure, however, that you do not. But," the guru was grinning now. "Katara informed me that you are very strong without the Avatar State, and that as long as you are with her, everything will be okay."
Aang grinned as well. "Yeah… she's right."
The guru smiled faintly, looking at Aang in a reserved sort of way. "You do love her, don't you Aang?" he asked quietly. "Because I have known her for precious few days, and already I can tell that she should not be hurt again."
Aang nodded solemnly. "Yes Guru Pahtik, I do love her," he said simply. "And you're right. She deserves better than she's gotten so far in her life. That's why I think we could be so great together. She makes me happy, and I feel like… I can make sure she never gets hurt again."
"A noble cause," the guru said, satisfied. "But you have another cause to attend to first. Do not forget."
"I know, I have to learn to firebend and defeat the Fire Lord before the comet arrives," Aang rattled off automatically. He allowed himself a smile. "But I'll be honest. For the first time in a long time, it seems possible."
"It is more than possible, Aang," the guru said gently, beaming at him. "I have the utmost confidence in you."
Aang stood up and bowed. "Thank you."
"You are welcome," the guru said, bowing his head sagely. "Now go. You have already been prevented from kissing her twice. Don't miss out on a third chance!"
Aang stared at him for a second, reddening from his ears to his toes, before letting out a laugh and running off into the temple.
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Katara opened her eyes slowly. She was very comfortable for some reason. She sat up and yawned, stretching her arms over her head. Only then did she notice Aang sitting several feet away, leaning against Appa's leg and watching her. She jumped. He smiled.
"Sorry, I was just watching you sleep," he admitted instantly.
She smiled back at him. "Why? I can't be that exciting of a sleeper."
"I don't know… you just seem so peaceful," Aang continued with a shrug, excitedly noting her standing up and walking toward him. She sat down beside him and smiled.
"I'm peaceful now, too," she said quietly. "Now that you're okay."
Aang blushed and grinned. "You're wonderful," he said quietly, nudging her shoulder. She laughed a little, but didn't respond. "So… what happened to me exactly?"
"Well, you told me you couldn't go into the Avatar State," Katara recounted slowly. "And we were about to… uh… we were…" She trailed off, blushing. "You just sort of collapsed. So I brought you here."
Aang smiled a little in amusement. "Did the guru say why I collapsed?"
"He said it was because of emotional stress," Katara paused and looked at him. "Aang… are you always stressed like this?"
"Well… not like this," he muttered evasively.
"Aang… why didn't you tell anyone?" Why didn't you tell me?
"It's my problem," he said quietly, avoiding looking at her. "I don't want to burden anyone else." He jumped a little when he felt her fingertips on his cheek. He turned and looked at her. She was smiling again.
"Well it's my problem now too," she said softly. "You can always come to me. Okay?"
Aang nodded, impulsively taking her hand in his as he did so. "Okay."
Katara looked away from him for a moment, restraining the urge to kiss him with great difficulty. "Um… Aang? What's the uh… last thing you remember before you collapsed?" she asked, unable to keep her voice casual.
Aang smirked. "Well," he began, leaning toward her. "We were right about here." He stopped when their faces were just inches apart. Her eyes were wide, and he laughed a little. "Right?"
"Right," Katara replied simply. He was so close to her… she could practically taste his breath. She felt herself blushing, but she ignored it and smirked back at him. The hand that he wasn't holding slid up to his shoulder, steadying herself. She tilted her head a little. "I love you."
Aang couldn't take it anymore. Holding those inches between them was almost physically painful. He closed the distance.
Her eyes slid closed instantly and she sighed, her arms finding that comfortable place around his neck and his hands settling on her waist. He felt his heart rate increase alarmingly, but the taste of her lips shoved any thoughts of his heart right out of his mind. They had kissed once before… just a brief contact of the lips in the Cave of Two Lovers, but it had been enough to leave them both wanting more. This was definitely the more they both wanted.
Katara felt his lips move against hers and blushed. She laughed a little, amazed that she could be blushing right now, and she felt him laugh as well. In a few more moments, however, she was no longer blushing. Nor was she thinking about the fact that she wasn't blushing. She was too caught up immersing herself in him entirely.
After several minutes and with a great deal of difficulty, Aang pulled his lips from hers. She simply moved forward slightly, following his lips with her own out of instinct, but he stopped her. She let out a groan of protest which made him smile.
"I love you more," he replied. She burst out laughing and didn't fall silent until he kissed her again.
Appa let out an annoyed grunt and they both jumped, looking over at the bison in surprise. He was glaring at them. They both blushed in embarrassment.
"Sorry, Appa…" Katara muttered. "We didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
"We should probably go back to the Fire Nation," Aang pointed out. Katara nodded and they both got to their feet. Katara was about to climb up onto Appa's saddle, but Aang grabbed her hand and pulled her into a swift kiss. When he pulled away, she looked a little dazed.
"What was that for?" she asked with a grin.
Aang shrugged. "That first one was great," he said simply. "Just wanted to give it another try."
Katara laughed as she climbed up into the saddle, unable to keep the dreamy smile from her face. Aang couldn't stop grinning either as he sat on Appa's head and took the reins. Unfortunately for Appa, it was a day's flight back to the Fire Nation, and Aang spent much of that day facing backward on Appa's head while Katara leaned forward out of the saddle.
After all, that first one was great.