A/N: I don't own avatar... don't sue me :)
"Tomorrow is the day," Sokka repeated out loud for the benefit of nobody. They all knew what tomorrow was; everything they had done for months had led them up to this point.
Hakoda looked grim as he stared into the light of the camp fire. His men were scattered about camp, keeping themselves busy by sharpening weapons and repairing armor. Not a single one of them appeared at all confident about the guerrilla campaign that they were a part of.
At the edge of camp, Longshot was checking the tension on his bowstring; Smellerbee tucked neatly under one arm, both of them sharing a quiet moment of peace. It made Sokka smile to see it – he hadn't known there was something between them, but was glad that there was.
He looked to Toph, who was busying herself by instructing Haru on some of the more advanced earthbending techniques, and then to Katara who was taking a mental inventory of their supplies. Both of them looked as if they were just biding time until the inevitable.
Visibly missing from the rag tag rebellion was their reluctant leader, the young air bender having long since disappeared into the night in search of solitude. Sokka frowned to himself. It wasn't right.
"You should go check on him, you know," Sokka said to his sister. "Tonight of all nights, he shouldn't be alone."
"Don't you think I know that?" Katara snapped back, her mouth set in a grim line. The truth was that she had already tried to follow him, only to have the stubborn air bender send her back to camp.
"Go find him... and don't let him send you away this time," Sokka said knowingly, drawing a glare from Katara.
Katara turned from her brother in a huff, and headed into the woods. 'This is pointless', she thought. If the Avatar didn't want to be found, she wasn't going to find him. After all, he had made it abundantly clear that he wanted to be left alone.
She spent the better part of an hour searching for him, deep into the unfamiliar forest, no answer to her calls save for the sound of the wind whipping through the branches of the trees above her. It seemed poetic that just as she was about to give up and head back to camp, she found Aang sitting quietly by the bank of a small fresh water stream.
He was staring into the night, a solemn and resigned expression on his face. Something in her heart tugged loose and came free when she saw it. He was facing his mortality, and she knew it. Sokka was right; she couldn't leave him to face it alone.
Quietly, she sat down next to him and grabbed his hand, idly wondering over the differences between them as she held his hand against hers up to the moonlight; his calloused and pale, hers soft and dark.
"I thought I told you to go back to camp," Aang said tiredly. The expression on his face betrayed his words as he looked at her, eyes luminous and a small smile playing about his lips.
Katara snorted. "Did you honestly think I would leave you all by yourself to mope, tonight of all nights?"
Aang sighed and leaned his head against her shoulder. "I wanted to spare you... I didn't want you to know that I was scared..."
Katara turned to him and frowned. It didn't seem fair that the weight of the world should rest solely on his shoulders, and yet he bore the burden well and with little complaint. He smiled at her, and yet his eyes were tired and lined; the dark shadows underneath them making him appear much older than he actually was.
'And that is the problem', she thought to herself. If there was one thing Aang no longer had, it was his childhood. It had been stripped away from him in stages, the last of it leaving him with the realization that in all likelihood, not all of them will make it through tomorrow.
She shuddered to think about it.
"It's okay to be scared. I'm scared too. We all are." Katara replied, pulling Aang into an embrace.
They sat together in silence for a while, taking simple comfort in each other's presence, the sound of the stream and the wind whipping through the tops of the trees instilling in them a feeling of peace that they both knew wouldn't last. They cherished moments like this, so few and far between, and both of them recognized that this could be the last.
Aang was idly tracing patterns into her palm as he looked at her, his voice suddenly urgent when he spoke. "Listen Katara, I don't want you to go anywhere near the Fire Lord's Palace tomorrow. Stay away from there... for me."
She looked at him incredulously for a moment. Her eyes narrowed in aggravation. "No. I won't, Aang. This is my fight too."
"But that's just it, Katara... I don't think I can fight the Fire Lord, knowing that you might be in danger. I won't be able to focus... please, Katara..." He squeezed her hand tightly, the look in his eyes almost desperate as they spoke the words his lips could not.
'I can't lose you, it'll kill me.'
She remembered the heart-stopping moment when he was struck down in Ba Sing Se. She remembered how her only thought had been to get to him, regardless of the danger... and how she had forgotten how to breathe when she couldn't find a pulse. She felt as if she was dying right along with him... and then she thought about him fighting the Fire Lord, and her not knowing.
"Aang, you can't ask that of me."
His lips trembled and he looked like he was about to cry, reminding her that underneath all the power and responsibility was a young kid, just like her. They were too young to fight, too young to die... and old enough to know that they didn't have a choice.
She leaned in and kissed him. She didn't know what made her do it... the look of desperation on his face, maybe. Or perhaps the desperation she felt in her heart. It was a compulsion she couldn't ignore, and in a feather light brush of her lips against his, she changed the nature of their relationship forever.
He took a shuddering breath, his eyes startled and wide, and he looked at her in surprise and confusion.
"Katara?" He asked, her softly spoken name carrying so many questions.
She leaned her forehead up against his and met his eyes; sapphire blue to silver.
"Kiss me, Aang," she whispered, her own lips parting slightly to accept his. He swallowed, and she followed the movement of his throat with her eyes.
"O-okay," Aang stuttered nervously, his cheeks flushed and bright red as he leaned in, meshing their faces together in a harsh and clumsy kiss.
"Ow!" Katara winced and pulled away, worrying her upper lip with her teeth in an attempt to soothe the spot where Aang had accidentally bit her.
Frustrated, Aang turned his head away and moaned. "I can't even kiss a girl without messing it up... how am I supposed to defeat the Fire Lord?"
'Well, you could try kissing him,' Katara thought, annoyed. She sighed, and gently grabbed Aang's chin with her fingers, pulling his face back to hers. He looked embarrassed and wary, and yet hopeful all at the same time.
"It just takes confidence," Katara breathed, this time initiating the kiss herself. Aang's lips were soft and pliable, yet they barely moved at all as she pressed her own against them. She chanced a look at him and almost rolled her eyes when she saw the panic-stricken expression on his face. He was so sure that he was going to muck it up again that he was afraid to respond. So she nipped his bottom lip with her teeth, eliciting a startled yelp.
"There. I bit you too. Now we're even," she said, smiling.
He looked at her, bemused, the panicked look slowly melting into one of playfulness.
"But what if I don't want us to be even?" He said with a shy smile as he leaned forward and caught her lips again. His lips slid against hers assuredly, nipping slightly at her bottom lip, causing her to gasp. He took the opportunity to probe her parted lips with his tongue, seeking purchase against hers, stealing the very air away from her lungs. When he pulled away, his face was flushed and his eyes alight with a knowing look that unsettled her.
"I'll find you, you know. No matter what happens... I'll find you. I always do," Aang said cryptically, a hint of dark blue peeking through the silver of his irises.
"Don't talk like that, Aang. Tomorrow, you are going to defeat the Fire Lord... and then we'll have the rest of our lives together," Katara whispered, placing a gentle kiss against the shell of his ear.
"What if we don't?" Aang replied, his voice low and urgent. "What if this time, all we have is right now?"
He reached for her, hands tugging at the hem of her top, his eyes burning with a need that defied his age. Placing feather light kisses against the side of her neck, his hands stole underneath her top to caress her back and work their way up to her shoulders, taking the soft cotton fabric with them.
Katara threw her head back with a gasp as he pulled off her top, allowing him better access to her neck, which he continued to pepper with open mouthed kisses. She didn't know why she was going along with this... perhaps because of the sense of urgency Aang instilled in her with every touch of his lips. They had barely started kissing, and he was already removing her clothes. This was wrong, she should stop this, they were not ready for this, they were too young...
And yet, they were old enough to die.
She did not protest when she felt his hands slowly unravel the fabric that bound her breasts, nor did she cry out when she felt his trembling fingers gently explore what he had uncovered.
His voice carried a breathy, vulnerable tone; thick with desire. She wondered if he really knew what it was that he was seeking from her, or if he was just going on instinct. His lips sought hers again, his tongue slipping into her mouth as he fumbled with her skirt.
She mumbled his name between kisses, reaching for his tunic and pulling it off. A large bandage was wrapped around his chest and back, covering the wound he had received from Azula. She dragged her fingers over the lean expanse of stomach left uncovered by the bandage, noting his response as the skin seemed to jump right underneath her touch.
His hand skimmed her thigh and rested against her hip as he gently pushed her back onto the soft, moss covered ground. There was a large pebble just underneath her shoulder blade, but she hardly noticed it as he leaned his head against one of her breasts, exhaling a heated breath over the other.
"You are so beautiful," he whispered, nuzzling her chest as a calloused fingertip lightly brushed over one of her nipples. "You have no idea how long I've wanted to touch you."
Katara couldn't breathe, let alone reply. Her whole world had contracted, and now consisted only of his hands and lips as they alternately paid homage to her breasts. A low groan escaped her, drawing Aang's attention to her face, her eyes lidded with passion.
"Katara," As he spoke, Aang placed his lips against hers in a soft, barely there kiss. "I was yours since the moment you found me in that iceberg." His words were punctuated by soft kisses against her jawbone while one of his hands sought out the heat between her legs. "I love you, Katara," He probed her sex through the wet cotton of her undergarments. She shuddered as he massaged her through the sodden cloth, sending an electric current straight to her brain. Did he even know what he was doing to her? He had to, and yet...
The air bender pulled back for a moment, and she whimpered, keenly feeling the loss of his hands and lips.
"I need you," Aang whispered in near desperation, his eyes locked on hers as he waited for her response.
She was more than halfway naked and was breathing hard, her hair loose and messy and framing her face like a dark halo. Tenderly, she ran a hand through the short dark locks that Aang sported, absently noting to herself that she would miss them when they were gone. Shaving would probably be the first thing Aang did in the morning. After all, he'll have no more need to hide his identity. It was a chilling thought.
Katara was so caught up in her thoughts, she neglected to respond to Aang's breathless request. He groaned, low and even, and buried his head into the hollow between her neck and shoulder. The sound sent a jolt of desire all the way down to her toes.
"Katara," he began again, softly caressing her side. "Please."
She nodded her head slightly, idly wondering when this situation became unreal. Hungrily, he caught her lips with his again. The clumsiness and hesitation he had shown earlier was now gone as he drank from her lips eagerly while his hands worked to strip them both of the last few articles of clothing that separated them.
She found herself gloriously naked under the light of the full moon, Aang trembling by her side and looking at her shyly. She felt his arousal pressed against her leg and she blushed, suddenly very aware of the position they were in. A jolt of reality caught her and she grabbed Aang's tunic in desperation and tried to cover herself with it.
Aang frowned and looked at her in confusion.
"We're much too young for this," Katara said under her breath. "Especially you, Aang." She wasn't even going to ask him how he knew as much as he appeared to anyway. She had a feeling that she'd be strangling her brother if Aang told her.
Aang's eyes darkened briefly and he sighed, pulling her flush against him. She could feel the heat coming off of him in waves as every inch of her was covered by some part of him.
"We're too young for this, but old enough to go to war," Aang responded with a hint of sarcasm, unknowingly echoing her own thoughts. "If you don't want to, that's okay. We can stay like this... just let me hold you."
Aang just looked at her with eyes that were far too mature as he continued to gently caress her thigh. She felt a warm flash of heat between her legs as his lips brushed against her collarbone, and she let out a small whine.
"No, Aang... you're right... there's no time," Katara whimpered urgently, as Aang's dark red fire nation tunic fell from her hand, leaving her completely bare to him. She knew she was contradicting herself, but at the moment she could care less.
He pulled back and drank her nakedness with his gray eyes, his lips parted and his face flush with desire. His eyes seemed to follow a trail as he looked at her appreciatively, never lingering in one particular spot for too long. It was intoxicating and naughty and infinitely arousing.
"You really are beautiful..."
He really needed to stop talking, Katara decided, because she couldn't think when he talked to her like that. And she really needed to think.
"I can show you," he said as he kissed her again, leaving her breathless and cutting through her restraint with an inaudible snap. The heat of his body was nearly scalding her as his arms surrounded her. His lips trailed over her own, hot and plush and wanton. "I can show you how much I love you."
Perhaps thinking was overrated. Trembling, she explored his body with her own hands, a strange wash of emotions passing through her as she caressed the sinuous muscles, all the while veering away from the large wound on his back. Gingerly, her hand made contact with his arousal. It was surprisingly warm and silky and solid, and she gave it an experimental rub, drawing a shuddering breath from Aang.
"Show me, then," Katara demanded. If they were only to have this moment, then dammit, it was going to be special.
Aang groaned as he caressed her, dragging his nails through the sparse, wispy hair that surrounded her sex before allowing a finger to gently slip inside of her. She made a sound like a mew that skipped his ears, and traveled straight to his groin. Her hot breath was scalding his ear as she pulled the lobe between her teeth and gently bit down. One of her hands was wrapped around him intimately, alternately stroking and squeezing, the other grasping at his bottom in an attempt to pull him closer. He couldn't get much closer to her than he already was; not without being inside of her. The thought tore the air right from his lungs... he had never before had such trouble regulating his own element.
Katara felt a second finger enter her, the pressure strange yet arousing as he pressed them inside of her. Every soft stroke of his fingers brought with them a pleasurable spike that grew in intensity each time. His other hand cupped her breast, rolling the hard nipple against his palm. She wanted more, but if she moved she would dislodge his hands and nothing, nothing at all would make her risk that. He seemed to know, however, because he pulled back and met her eyes with his own.
This wasn't how she envisioned her first time – deep in the woods by the side of a stream – but now that she thought about it, it couldn't be more perfect.
Gently, he withdrew his fingers from inside of her and she frowned, mourning their loss. Aang grabbed her hands, lifted them both over her head and held them there. In that brief moment between them, a silent conversation took place, worded with eyes and lips and intent.
'Are you sure?' Aang's eyes seemed to say, alternating with 'please' and 'hurry'. Katara answered with a nod and a kiss so passionate, it nearly dislodged Aang from his position on top of her. 'Now' her kisses said to him, languid and wet, and their foreheads met. His eyes were lidded heavily, the silver almost eclipsed by deep pools of black, his long, soft lashes brushing against her own. His face was so close, she could feel every soft exhale of breath against her skin. It seemed as if their hearts were beating in sync as she held him, her arms wrapped around his waist, his chest pressing against hers. She could feel him at the threshold to her body, seeking entrance, waiting for her. She parted her legs to give him better access, her chest rising and falling with each heavy breath she took.
There was no resistance from her body when he entered her, as if she was made especially for him. His eyes did not break contact from hers as they slowly came together, a slight burning the only discomfort she felt. His skin was hot and salty as she placed open mouth kisses all over his face, breathing in his unique scent of charged air right before a thunderstorm. She shuddered when he sunk as far inside of her as he could go and their lower bodies met; his so hot he could have been on fire.
"Are you okay?" He asked, the words sounding strangled as they fell from his lips. His face was taut with an expression of pain or passion or perhaps both, and his hands fevered as they released hers; one supporting him so that he could look at her, the other trembling as he caressed the side of her face.
Her body was throbbing with arousal as she nodded, pulling his face back down to hers for a heated kiss. He pulled back slightly and then pushed forward again, this time deeper than before. He groaned and then plunged into her again and again, into the narrow wet heat of her body, each time deeper and faster than the one before.
She felt full; a hollowness that she did not even know existed left her heart with a shuddering sigh, and she welcomed him inside of her, each stroke bringing with it a burning wave of pleasure that stole her breath away.
He whimpered her name, clutching her tightly against him, wondering how it could be this good. He felt raw and uninhibited and completely free for perhaps the first time in his life. Her nails dug into his side and she moaned loudly as the narrow passage of her body suddenly clamped around him, forcing his eyes open wide. He watched in fascination as she came apart underneath him, pulling her bottom lip into her mouth in an attempt to keep from screaming. He could feel her toes curling against the side of his legs as she clung to him, her plush red lips parted in passion.
"I love you," she whimpered, the unexpected words enough to send him over the edge. A shudder rocked through him and he held her tight, pulling her hips hard against him as he came, sobbing her name over and over again; "Katara, Katara, Katara..."
A sob rose in her throat and she wrapped her arms around him, holding him as the shudders of his orgasm slowly died. Her own body continued to throb and tingle and she buried her face in the crook of his neck, feeling raw. He raised his face to look at her, disheveled beneath him, and was sure that he had never seen a sight so beautiful in either this life or any other. He kissed her gently, exhausted and happy, and collapsed into her arms, unwilling to move from his position on top of her.
Eventually, however, she nudged him and he pulled back reluctantly, wanting to stay in the moment forever but knowing it wasn't possible. He smiled at her softly and pushed her sweat sodden hair away from her face before getting up and pulling her to her feet with him. He yanked her into an embrace so tight she could hardly breath, and held her there for several long moments, his head buried in the crook of her neck.
"I need you to stay away," Aang said again, his voice alternately pleading and sobbing, "I can beat him, I know I can... but not if you are in danger... please, Katara..."
Katara pulled back and looked at him, her body still humming from the intense pleasure he had given her along with the new awareness of how very much he meant to her and nodded.
"Okay... but you better come back to me, Aang. In this life, not the next..."
There was nothing he could say, no answer he could give to reassure her, and he wouldn't lie. Instead, he caught her lips with his in a gentle, languid kiss and held her for as long as he dared, before they both fell together onto the soft ground, locked in an embrace that neither one was willing to break.
In the early morning when she woke, he was already gone. She gathered her clothes together and dressed before hiking back to camp, her chest aching from the pressure of her rapidly beating heart. 'You better damn well come back,' she said in her mind to no one, the words feeling forced and leaving her hollow.
She hoped and prayed that they would be successful. But regardless, she had one perfect night to hold onto. For now, it would have to be enough.