I'm having serious issues with the two ations: inspir and motiv. Yeah... new term, work, school, and no new TV. Which includes NO NEW AVATAR. What the hell.
I did, however, write this last week and wasn't going to post it until after I finished the next chapter of Parlor Tricks, but... that might take a little while. I'm having a touch of trouble introducing Toph and Azula to the gaang. Buuuuuuuut I digress...
Here's my second oneshot sequel. It is the companion to NOTHING, that really depressing one, remember? Yeah... I didn't want to just add it to that one, because I hate twoshots. I think they're tacky. YES I SAID IT. So instead I made a sequel that you can read if you want or not if you want to draw your own conclusions from the original. Because I must warn you... this one is depressing too. You do have to read NOTHING for this one to make sense, so... yaaayyy product placement.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar
As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, Aang began to return to his old self. The shock of mastering the Avatar State and losing such a big part of himself without being consciously aware was wearing off. With the help of his friends and his newfound power, he succeeded in defeating the Fire Lord. He was nearly back to normal during the celebration. He ate and drank and danced and talked and laughed with everyone else.
But Katara was not returning to normal.
She didn't cry. She was too strong, too proud to allow herself to cry. But she certainly wasn't herself. She could feel his absence where he couldn't feel hers. And it pained her, every day. She never laughed. She rarely smiled. She slept longer and longer each day. Her eating habits changed, her temper cooled. She had to practice waterbending more and more often, as it no longer came as naturally as it used to.
But through it all, through the final battle, the celebration, and beyond, she remained by Aang's side. No matter how much it hurt her.
It was mere days after the end of the war that Aang began to feel regret. And as the weeks wore on, Katara quietly at his side, the feeling only grew. They traveled together on Appa's back, cleaning up the aftermath of the war. But despite their constant company, Aang finally began to feel her absence.
He began to change, just as she had. He couldn't sleep, he barely ate, he became agitated and quick to anger. He frequently lost control of his bending. He had trouble meditating and refused to enter the Avatar State.
Together, they were both very much alone.
After a year of traveling, they settled down at the Southern Air Temple. Aang asked her if they should get married, but she flatly refused. This irritated him slightly. He hoped that if they were married, he would escape this horrible indifference to her. But it was because of this indifference that she wouldn't marry him. They kissed on occasion, when one of them was feeling exceptionally hopeful that Aang would feel something. They shared a bed, but never did more than sleep beside each other.
However, in her sleep, Katara would often curl up beside him, unconsciously craving contact with him. He would lie awake, trying to make himself feel. He knew he should be happy to be so close to her, knew he should be proud and even smug that she had chosen him. But all he felt was regret, regret that he had rashly and recklessly opened the seventh chakra without truly understanding it.
So one night, as he tried to fall asleep beside her nearly two years after the war, he wondered.
He knew there was something off about the last chakra, something he hadn't learned. The guru had been so vague, it didn't make sense. The last chakra contradicted the others, went against the lessons of the previous Avatars. He had been told that he was supposed to be human, he was supposed to experience love and loss. Avatar Kuruk had been in love. Avatar Roku had married and had children. So what did they know about the last chakra that he didn't?
What did he do wrong?
Could he still love someone without being attached?
He thought love was about belonging to someone, someone belonging to you. But maybe he was wrong. Maybe it was possible to love her without feeling the need to possess her. Maybe love wasn't about possession at all.
"It's been a long time, Aang."
Aang opened his eyes in surprise. He'd fallen asleep and drifted into the Spirit World. Before him stood Avatar Roku, a tired frown on his face. Aang looked at him for a long time before he slowly knelt before the old man, bowing his head.
"Please… I need your help," he said quietly.
"Why didn't you come to me sooner?" Roku asked patiently.
"I couldn't," he admitted, still speaking in barely more than a whisper. "I don't even know how I got here now." He looked up at the previous Avatar, tears in his eyes. "I've lost her, Avatar Roku. I was reckless with the last chakra, I didn't know what I was doing. She makes me feel nothing but regret, but she won't leave my side. I'm killing her."
Roku sighed and closed his eyes. "I pushed you, Aang, and for that I am sorry. The world was running out of time, and not everything could be explained to you," he began sagely. "But the final chakra was one thing I meant to explain to you. You made a mistake, and I hope that you learned from it."
Aang stared at him. "Are you saying this is punishment?" he asked lowly, seething. "She's doomed to love the one man who can't love her back because I was impatient?"
Roku sighed again. "If it is a punishment, then you can end it now," he said, sounding endlessly tired. "Love is not possession. Love is something else entirely. It cannot be compared to anything else, because it is what it is. You cannot aim to keep her, Aang. Just to love her. You must let her go."
"I thought I already did that," Aang replied, frustrated.
Roku shook his head. "You forced her out, Aang. You closed yourself away from her," he said slowly. "You have been punishing yourself with this indifference."
"You feel you don't deserve her, so you keep yourself like this in hope that she will leave you."
Aang stared at him in mild horror, silent.
"That is not letting go," Roku said sternly, sounding as though he was reprimanding a child. "That is giving up. Stop punishing yourself, Aang. Let yourself love again."
"But if I love her… won't I be attaching myself to her again?" Aang asked at length.
"Love, in its simplest and most beautiful form, is not mired by greed," Roku replied, finally smiling. "You were just a child when you fell in love with her. You felt jealously and fear that you would lose her. Your aim was to have her to yourself. But after all you've learned, can you honestly say that is important?"
Aang looked down, silent. "No," he finally said. "I don't need to own her… I need to trust her."
Roku grinned at him, extending a hand to pull him to his feet. "I do hope you won't wait so long to return here next time." Aang smiled and bowed respectfully. "You still have a lot to learn."
Katara woke up, startled. Aang was tossing and turning in his sleep beside her.
"Katara…" he groaned. "Katara!"
She sat up abruptly. She hadn't heard him say her name like that in a very long time. She reached for him hesitantly, flattening a hand on his chest to calm his thrashing.
"Aang," she said quietly. "I'm here."
He struggled to wake up, finally opening his eyes and focusing on her. She looked down at him carefully.
"Are you okay?" she asked, exhausted.
He was breathing hard, staring at her, suddenly very aware of the hand on his chest. He sat up so suddenly, she jumped.
"Kiss me," he demanded abruptly.
"What?" she asked, bewildered.
He grabbed her by the arms and pulled her toward him. "Kiss me," he repeated firmly.
She stared at him, frightened. He knew he would hate himself for scaring her later, but that didn't seem important at the moment. She looked away, tired and blushing.
"Katara," he practically snapped at her, shaking her slightly. She looked back up at him, wide-eyed. He was ashamed of himself already, seeing the fear in her expression. But she would understand. She reluctantly leaned toward him, hesitating for a moment. He waited, still breathing rather heavily. She sighed and closed her eyes, leaning in those last few inches and placing a soft, careful kiss on his lips.
It was only a few moments before she pulled away from him, looking, as usual, a little curious but not expectant. He, however, was staring at her as if he'd never seen her before. She frowned.
"You… felt something," she said slowly, doubtfully.
He nodded. Her eyes narrowed and she tilted her head, studying his eyes. Aang's eyes. She inhaled sharply in surprise. He tightened his hold on her arms and kissed her, pulling her close to him for the first time in so long. She wrapped her arms around his neck and tilted her head so she could get closer, so she could really feel it.
She pulled her lips from his, eyes closed. "Do you love me?" she asked quietly.
"What?" he replied distractedly, shaking his head a little to clear his mind and focus on her.
She looked at him, a dark, earnest gaze that he felt went right through him. "Do you love me?" she asked again, her voice barely rising above a whisper.
"Yes," he answered without hesitation. She still stared at him.
"The way people are supposed to love," he murmured, leaning forward and whispering in her ear. She closed her eyes. "I don't own you. I love you." She exhaled slowly. "If you could still love me, somehow…"
She smiled. "I never stopped."