My very first Avatar fan fiction, the result of sitting at home on New Year's Eve. Please no flames, but constructive criticism is welcome. Basically Katara's thoughts at the end of Crossroads of Destiny (220) as they fly away from Ba Sing Se, or Na Sing Se, as it should be called. Some Kataang, but it could probably be interpreted as friendship if you want.

One shot.

Rating: K

Not sure why…depressingish? Just to be safe.

Word Count: 740

Disclaimer: Ok, this is the part where I'm supposed to say something funny…does that count? Didn't think so…I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. If I did, Zuko's nickname would be Sunshine Boy.

Yeah, because now you're gonna put me on Author Alert so you can read my "if I did" punchline at the beginning of every story… :D

Enjoy!

P.S. Also, I've made a sort of New Year's resolution to work at least one vocabulary word from school into every fan fiction. There's just one in this fic. Kudos to anyone who can guess it!

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I didn't want to look back as we flew away from Ba Sing Se. I wanted to leave that city and everything that had happened there forever, so I kept my eyes trained straight ahead, thinking. Watching me, you never would've guessed how much was going on in my mind.

It was all so screwed up! Ba Sing Se was supposed to be the solution to all your problems. No war, no worries. They even called it the Inpenetrable City. How could things have gone so wrong?

Normally, I would've let out a yell of frustration at these thoughts, or at least clenched my fists and pouted. But I couldn't find it in myself to express any emotion, especially negative feelings. It seemed like such a waste of energy, and all my focus had to be on Aang. Jet was dead. Suki was missing. Ba Sing Se had fallen. And for the time being, there was nothing I could do about those things, and dwelling on them would just be a distraction from working on the things I could change.

I let out a single, heavy breath. With it, I tried to let go of all these emotions. It seemed to work, but I knew it wasn't permanent. My anger, confusion, hurt, and whatever else was in there wasn't gone, just hidden under the surface. I knew from experience that they would come back to haunt me without warning for the smallest and stupidest reasons. Like the sight of Ba Sing Se.

Don't look back. Don't look back. I squeezed my eyes shut, but I couldn't fight the temptation. I turned my head, and when I opened my eyes, there it was. Ba Sing Se. Heaven on Earth, right? A place of death, and destruction, and corruption...I shuddered violently, and Aang stirred.

Aang...I looked down at the unconscious figure in my arms, the 12-year-old boy who had been through so much, but somehow could usually keep his emotions in check. Even when he had woken up a few minutes previously, he just smiled at me. Of course, it was probably just because he was so weak...but he had stayed amazingly calm for someone who had just been shot with lightning, been dead moments before, and was probably in incredible pain. He was so strong, and I loved him for it.

Why is it that you only realize how much someone means to you when you lose them? I felt my grip on him tighten involuntarily. If I hadn't been able to revive Aang...I would have lived the whole rest of my life knowing how much I cared about him, unable to do anything about it. I found it hard to believe there could be a bright side to all of this, but there it was. The night's events had completely changed how I thought of him.

I stared at the horizon and wondered what was going through Aang's mind. Was he dreaming at that moment? Was he having more nightmares? Could you dream when you were in a coma? I almost hoped not. His nightmares had always pained me more than him being depressed or hurt physically. Those things I could fix, or at least mitigate, but I couldn't reach him when he was dreaming. At that moment, I had never felt closer to him, but in a way I was farther away than ever.

I felt Sokka put his hand on my shoulder, but I didn't even blink. I realized I was so emotionless and still, I must've looked like I was in shock and unresponsive.

"I know you probably don't wanna talk, and that's fine. But I know how much pain and confusion you're going through. Just know that I'm here for you if you ever want to talk."

He started to pull his hand away, but I reached up and put my hand on top of his, just for a second, to show that I had heard him and to express my thanks. Then I let my arm drop and he went back to his spot on the saddle, where no doubt Toph was holding onto his arm.

We certainly had a long road ahead of us. Things were definitely going to change after all that had happened, but maybe some changes would be for the better. Ba Sing Se was probably now almost out of sight. I gazed blankly ahead and held my fallen hero close.