Finale spoilers incoming!
Oh. Your. God. The finale BLEW MY MIND. I could ramble on forever about the music and the pretty and the kiss and HOSHIT. I just loved it. LOVED IT. But the best part, I think, was the end when they were all at Iroh's tea house. Because that was it, right there. That was what they had been working so hard for. Peace. Time. And they got it, and it was so... I dunno... satisfying?
So here's this oneshot. And it's just that. All of them together with all the time in the world.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar
Katara was immeasurably content. In fact, she couldn't remember ever being this happy. Not once in her entire life.
It was over. All of it. The fighting, the running, the war. They had all done their jobs, all met their destinies. Iroh and the other old masters of the White Lotus had taken back Ba Sing Sei. Sokka, Toph, and Suki had destroyed the fleet of airships. She and Zuko had stopped Azula.
Katara smiled as she watched him walk away from her, turning back and holding up his index finger in a gesture that clearly said, "Wait right there, I'll be back in a second." She leaned back against the wall of Iroh's tea house and slid down to sit on the floor. This was the way things were supposed to be. Mai, Suki, Sokka, Toph, Zuko, and Iroh, all together sharing a pot of tea, telling stories, laughing.
This was the life she had been waiting for. This was the life they had been fighting for.
Her eyes fell on Aang again as he took two steaming tea cups from Iroh. The two of them were exchanging quiet words, and Iroh seemed to be offering congratulations to a grinning, blushing Aang. Katara smiled, eyes never leaving him.
In the week or so since the battle and the coronation, she and Aang had spoken precious little. They were all so busy, it was impossible for them to get a moment alone together. Katara would be eternally grateful to Iroh for demanding Team Avatar take a vacation to his tea house in Ba Sing Sei. After all, they were still kids. Saviors of the world or not, they needed a week to blow off some steam. Still, she missed talking to him.
But in the few minutes since Katara had kissed him, they hadn't spoken at all.
She sighed blissfully, closing her eyes. She hadn't planned it. She hadn't thought it through. She had just followed him outside because she missed him, and she hadn't gotten her hug yet.
After the Siege of the North they had hugged. After the Fall of Ba Sing Sei she had hugged him. It only made sense that after the greatest fight of their lives she should have a few moments in his arms.
He seemed to feel the same way, because neither of them spoke a word as they turned and embraced.
And neither of them spoke a word when she kissed him.
It wasn't quite an impulse. It wasn't quite a conscious decision. She just knew he had kissed her twice now, and she wasn't going to wait around forever for him to give it another shot. Not after Ember Island. He had to know that she wasn't content to just be his friend anymore. He had to know that now was the right time.
But this kiss… this kiss was something else entirely. It effectively blew the first two out of the water. She had never been kissed like this before, never felt something like this before. It was perfect. No other word for it. Perfect.
The two of them remained outside for a while, in no hurry to do anything other than get used to this delightful new pastime. But soon the sun was setting and the others would wonder what they were doing. Aang took her hand and they walked back inside together, not a word passing between them.
Katara sighed contentedly, making herself more comfortable against the wall. Iroh gave Aang a thumbs up, which made him blush as he turned back to her, tea cups in hand. He sat beside her without preamble and handed her a cup. She smiled warmly in thanks.
They sat in silence for some time, sipping their tea side-by-side and watching the others play a very heated game of pai sho between Zuko and Iroh. Every so often Mai would distract the young Fire Lord, giving Toph a moment to earthbend the pieces around the board. Katara leaned her head on Aang's shoulder without thinking about it. He snaked an arm around her waist just as easily.
Katara smiled and closed her eyes. She had never been so happy, never been so… content.
"Katara… do you love me?"
She lifted her head from his shoulder and turned to look at him, surprised. She hadn't heard his voice in a while. Not since right after the battle when he had arrived at the Fire Nation palace and she threw her arms around his neck, sobbing with relief, and he had just patted her back and whispered, "I'm glad you're okay too."
"Aang, I…" she trailed off thoughtfully. Did she love him? The answer was instant. Of course she loved him. But…
"I love you," he said hopefully, smiling at her a little sadly. She was surprised again, not expecting this simple, quiet admission. He loved her. But she had known that already, somehow. She knew he loved her. It was just nice to hear it.
"I…" she began again, but she couldn't quite bring herself to say any more.
"I think you do," he continued lightly, frowning a little. "In fact, I know you love me." She glanced at him rather miserably. "You couldn't kiss me like that if you didn't."
Katara looked away from him. He had her. He knew. So why couldn't she just say it?
"If you know, then why are you asking?" she finally said, staring at the floor.
He looked so serious, it made her shiver.
"I need to hear you say it," he said simply. There was no asking in his tone, no wondering. It was a statement of fact. He needed to hear her say she loved him.
"I… I can't," she stammered, surprising even herself. He was visibly stunned.
"What?" he asked, voice cracking in shock.
She looked horrified. "I can't say it," she whispered, covering her mouth with her hand in panic. She closed her eyes and shook her head. "Oh Aang… I can't…"
"Why not?" he replied, bewildered. She didn't want to look at him. Didn't want to see how hurt he was. This wasn't fair. Not after all he'd been through. All he wanted from her was to hear her say she loved him, and she couldn't.
She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes and took a shallow breath. She felt one of his hands slide down her back and bit back a sob. He was comforting her. She was breaking his heart, and he was comforting her.
"Why not, Katara?" he whispered. He sounded more concerned than sad, and it made her love him even more.
"Because the people I love get hurt," she blurted without thinking. "The people I love die."
His hand stopped moving, resting on her lower back. She could feel him staring at her. She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her dress and glanced at him. He was just looking at her, watching her, and the look on his face was one of infinite compassion and understanding. She looked down.
"I can't lose you," she whispered. She felt him shifting beside her, and all of a sudden his hands were on her shoulders, turning her around to face him and pulling her into his arms. She exhaled a shaky breath into his shoulder and wound her arms around his torso. One of his hands kept sliding up and down her back, the other held her head to his shoulder. He turned and kissed the top of her head, and she sighed. This was home.
"I know it's hard to let yourself love someone after all the things we've seen," he murmured. "I'm scared too, you know?" And he sounded scared when he said it. She tightened her hold on him and felt him smile. "But I love you anyway. I have since day one." She shivered and kissed the top of her head again. "Because I know that you and I will fight to the very end to be together."
Katara was silent for a long time. Aang didn't push her. He just held on to her, waiting for some kind of reaction or response. But as the minutes dragged on, she could feel his heartbeat speeding up in fear that he'd said something wrong. So she gently moved out of his embrace and looked up at him, eyes meeting his. He wasn't smiling, he wasn't frowning. He was just waiting.
He had been waiting for so long. Too long.
Without another word she reached up, took his face in her hands, and kissed him. She was vaguely aware of Toph falling out of her chair in surprise and drawing the entire room's attention to them, but it didn't matter. There was no one to run from, no one to fight. No war, no deadline. Because of what they had done together, they had all the time in the world.
And she was going to spend every moment of it with him.
When she drew away from him, his eyes fluttered open and he remained silent. Still waiting. They didn't move from their position with his hands on her hips and her arms around his neck. She just held his gaze and took a breath.
"I love you."
It was quiet, gentle, the way she said it. It wasn't anything more than what it was. She loved him. Simple as that. The sky didn't fall. The world didn't end. He smiled. She smiled.
"Wow," she said, a little breathless. "That felt good."
"Yeah it did," he replied, grinning.
Iroh cleared his throat loudly. Aang and Katara jumped, startled, and looked over. Iroh jerked his head toward the pai sho board next to him. Everyone was gathered around the board, staring at them. Zuko's hand was still poised to move one of his tiles. Suki was doing a lot of blinking as though she couldn't quite believe what she was seeing. Sokka's mouth was hanging open. Toph had never recovered from falling off of her chair and was lying on the floor with her feet in the air so she wouldn't see any more. Mai, however, seemed wholly unaffected.
"What's the big deal?" she asked, sounding bored. "So the two of them finally got around to sucking face, it's not like we didn't all see it coming."
Aang and Katara took on similar expressions to Sokka's.
Zuko shrugged. "It's about time," he muttered before returning to the game. Iroh just chuckled and resumed his focus as well. Toph crossed her arms over her chest, feet still sticking into the air.
"I'm not moving," she declared grumpily. "I've seen enough already." Then she pointed firmly at the two of them. "Though Fire Lord over here is right, you two did take your sweet time."
Suki was poking Sokka's arm, trying to revive him, but it didn't seem like he was quite ready to stop being in complete shock.
Katara glanced at Aang. He was blushing furiously. He looked at her and frowned.
"You aren't blushing," he pointed out. She laughed and lifted a hand to his burning cheek.
"I'm not embarrassed," she replied lightly. "I'm… content."
He grinned after a moment. "Me too," he said, sighing. He closed his eyes and placed a hand over hers, still resting on his cheek. "I never thought I'd feel like this."
She smiled endearingly. "Feels nice," she murmured. He hummed in affirmation and she leaned forward, meeting his smiling mouth with hers in a long, soft kiss.
When she pulled back just a fraction and whispered that she loved him, and he answered just as quietly that he loved her too, Katara knew for sure that she had never been this happy in her life.