Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender; Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have me beat in that area. Those crazy geniuses.
Author's Note: Of course, I have to participate in Kataang Week! They were the first ship I fell in love with. The thing is, not all seven of these week's prompts are going to be fanfiction, so if you head over to my DeviantART page (which is listed in my profile), you'll see that "Umbrella" is art! :)
Please, review when you're done and tell me what you think! That new 'reader traffic' feature is interesting, but shows a lot of people read, but... you get the idea. Enjoy!
Kataang Week, Day Two: Smoke and Mirrors
August 20, 2008
Her reflection betrayed her.
Her eyes trailed over the lines of her face, the dips and curves, realizing that this wasn't her face anymore.
It was her mother's. It was Kya's.
She hugged herself, her arms tightly locked around her waist, trying to piece together the thoughts that were flooding through her, running through her mind. She had always believed that she resembled her father more, Sokka resembling their mother, especially in his eyes. Now, though, as she matured... the image was enough, like a slap across the face, to shock her into believing what her father saw every time he looked at her; she was the spitting image of her deceased mother, and it tore her, ripped her up inside.
She slumped down to the ground, still hugging herself, as the image etched itself into her memory.
That was the scene when Aang had stepped into the washroom. Initially alarmed at Katara lying on the floor, when he took a closer look, he frowned, heaving a sad sigh. She had fallen asleep, dried trails of tears on her cheeks. It wasn't the first time that he had found her like this, just not in their washroom. After being married for almost a year, he learned the little quirks of her demeanor that she had kept secret for so long; despite these quirks being the way they were, he was simply content with the idea that it would be him to help her through these things instead of the other way around like in the past.
Being careful not to wake her, he hoisted her into his arms and carried her to their bedroom to lay her down in a more comfortable place than on the floor. Gently placing her on the mattress, he smoothed her hair out of her face and kissed her temple. Reaching down the bed, he pulled the sheets and comforter up and over her still form, up to her chest, and placed them on top of her, tucking her in.
After he finished doing that, he walked over to the chest where they kept their clothing. On top of it, on the smooth wood, rested incense that he found to be soothing in the past, hoping it would work through Katara's dreams and help ease her anxiety. Lighting the stick with a small spurt of firebending, he allowed the incense to stay lit before slowly blowing it out, making sure there were live embers to keep the stick burning. When he was satisfied with his job, he put the stick of incense into a small holder he owned, keeping the entire process safe–and his home from going up in flames.
Walking back over to the bed that he shared with his wife, he sat on the edge, turned slightly so he could watch Katara sleep. He wasn't frowning, per se, just concerned. If she wasn't entirely happy, neither was he. He didn't know how long he was sitting there, watching her. He didn't mind how much time had elapsed and how tired he would be the next day, either.
He saw her move, shift, and then sit up, disoriented in her surroundings; the last she knew, she was on the washroom floor.
"How are you feeling?" was the first thing that flew from his mouth, despite the fact that she refused to be babied.
She nodded, looking at him for the first time, recognizing the reason she was back in her bed. "I've been better."
"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked softly, knowing she was going to decline. She never wanted to talk about what was bothering her; it was uncomfortable, he knew, but it did do some good every once in a while–he couldn't deny that fact.
She shook her head, inhaling the musky smell of the incense for the first time, smiling softly at the smell–it calmed her. "I'd rather it if you just held me for a while."
"Of course," he said, nodding at her request that he was happy to oblige. Scooting over on the covers, he moved closer, sitting up where she laid there. She leaned against his side as his arms went around her without hesitation. He felt her relax slightly.
They stayed there in silence, sure that the other had not fallen asleep; however, Katara wasn't sure where she wanted to begin, if at all, to explain her troubled mind.
"I'm afraid of what I see in the mirror, sometimes," she said after a while. "I feel like I'm becoming someone else."
"You are your own person," he spoke softly, gently playing with her hair that had fallen out of its natural hold. Her eyes slipped shut as he did this, calmed by the repetitive motion. "A beautiful woman."
"I feel like I'm my mother living through another life."
"The fact that you look like the woman whose loss has affected you so deeply should be a happy thing, not something that tears you up inside. Of course, I would love the ideal situation that she was still alive and your family still whole, but fortune isn't so kind." He frowned, sighing softly. "At least you knew the woman who gave birth to you," he said, not in a spiteful manner, but calmly as he sorted through his thoughts. "You knew your mother for all too short a time, but I never got to meet my mother or father. I'd say be grateful for what you have, despite all of life's shortcomings. Your mother would be happy that you're as beautiful as she was, even more so, if I have anything to add," he added as an afterthought, glad that–even a little bit–her lip twitched as she tried not to smile. "Her legacy lives on through you, Katara, and hopefully a piece of her will live on through our children, someday, too."
"Do you really mean that?" she asked, turning in his arms and looking up at him. "Everything?"
"Of course, Katara," he nodded, giving her a sad smile. "I mean every single thing I say to you. I only want the best for you."
"Thank you," she nuzzled into his side, her arms snaking around his waist as she snuggled against him. "For more than you know."