Chapter Four: Aang

"So I was sick, Toph was sick, Katara was sick….Look's like you're next, Aang," said Sokka over dinner the next night.

"I'm not going to get sick!" Aang declared, "We airbenders have excellent immune systems!"

"Uh-huh," said Toph, "Riiiiight."

"Are you sure you don't feel sick, Aang?" Katara asked.

"Of course not," Aang proclaimed, swallowing the last bite of his berries. "I don't feel sick at all!"

(-+-)

"So, what was that about 'excellent immune systems?'" Sokka asked Aang the next day, after Katara piled yet another blanket on the airbender.

"Haven't….been sick….since I was…..six," Aang gasped, sweating and shivering.

"Leave him alone, Sokka!" Katara demanded, glaring fiercely at her brother. Sokka backed off, wary of yet another female rampage.

Katara turned her attention back to Aang. "Just rest, Aang. I think you got a worse case than the rest of us had – " Her words were punctuated by another one of his heavy, horribly dry coughs. "It sounds like something's wrong with your lungs. Take it easy today."

"I'm way behind on earthbending….."

"Too bad. You're not – "

Aang's eyes suddenly widened in alarm, and he sat up and shoved her away from him. Katara realized why a second later.

"ACHOO!" With the loudest sneeze Katara had ever heard, Aang shot straight out from under the blankets and careened straight into a large tree behind him. Sokka, who had been standing ten feet in front of Aang at the moment of the sneeze, was now fifty feet away. The blankets laid strewn between them.

Aang sniffed and sat up. Katara ran to him, but he shook his head panickedly. "Ah – "

Sokka dove behind a tree, whimpering. Katara dashed behind the tree nearest her.

"CHOO!" Aang launched thirty feet into the air, landing softly with a bit more airbending. He laid flat on the grass, still shivering, and groaned.

"You are definitely not going anywhere." Katara repiled all the blankets on him.

"I'm sorry," Aang said weakly.

"It's not your fault," Katara said, "But we need to figure out how to keep you from blasting into the air."

The ground suddenly lurched, encasing Aang from the neck down in a cocoon of earth.

"That's how," Toph said, appearing from behind a boulder. "Sheesh, Twinkletoes, I could hear you sneeze from the cliffs."

Aang wiggled helplessly. "Thanks, Toph…..I'm stuck."

"Does that happen every time you sneeze?" Sokka demanded.

"At the temple…..we just had someone else…..reverse the air flow…..so we didn't….go flying….."

"No more talking," Katara declared, "Aang needs rest."

Toph shrugged and walked back off towards the cliffs. Sokka followed her, muttering something about "crazy sick airbenders."

Katara felt his forehead as he drifted to sleep. It was even hotter than it had been an hour ago, and he still wouldn't stop shivering. She sighed, frustrated. Aang was getting worse.

(-+-)

Aang had just woken up when Toph and Sokka came running back.

"What happened?" asked Katara. Sokka didn't stop to talk, but hurriedly began packing things onto Appa.

"Firebenders coming!" said Toph, earthbending Aang free from the earth cocoon. "A lot of them."

"Firebenders?!" Of course, thought Katara, of course they would come now.

"And they're close!" Sokka called. Appa was only half loaded. Momo perched on Appa's head, chattering frantically. "They came by ship on the river – that's why Toph's just noticed them!"

Katara helped Aang to his feet. They could already hear the sounds of a swarm of soldiers approaching.

"They're…..too close," muttered Aang worriedly. Katara climbed onto the saddle, pulled Aang up, and forced him to lie down.

"We'll be fine, just lie down and – SOKKA!"

A fireball sprung from the forest and hit the ground next to Sokka's foot. Toph immediately launched a boulder straight at the culprit's head. She hit him, but his companions swarmed through the woods, surrounding them and cutting them off from Appa.

"What hap – " Aang started, trying to get up.

"Stay here and don't move, Aang!" Katara commanded, springing down from the saddle. "Go, Appa!" Appa took to the sky with the sweating and shivering Aang, leaving the other three to face the firebenders.

Aang pulled himself to the side of the saddle anxiously to see what was happening. Katara had summoned the soup she had been cooking from over the campfire, bending the still-boiling soup into a stream to strike at the soldiers. Toph lifted walls from the earth to block fire, then advanced the wall quickly to hit her opponents. Sokka hit soldiers with his boomerang and distracting others so the girls could get a good shot at them. A couple of firebenders attempted to blast Appa flying overhead, but his friends were quick to attack them before they attacked Aang.

But it wasn't enough. From Appa's saddle, Aang could see more soldiers marching towards their campsite and – was that Azula? It was. The fire princess, palms blazing blue, was joining in the fray.

That was it, Aang could no longer sit safely on Appa and do nothing. He found his glider, wobbly stood to unfurl it, and jumped off, despite growling protests from the bison.

Upon landing, Aang was greeted with ten fire blasts from different directions, which he dodged by lifting a circular wall of earth around him, and promptly shoved it outwards, just as Toph had taught him. Then, he lashed out, whipping blasts of air at whatever soldiers his watery eyes could see. As the throbbing in his head increased and his vision grew blurrier, Aang felt the last of his strength ebbing away. He wobbled unsteadily, growing more and more lightheaded. He was already utterly exhausted, and the fight had only barely begun.

He ducked just as a stream of blue fire passed directly over his head. Chest heaving with effort, Aang slashed his staff through the air, cutting a swathe of air straight at Azula. She jumped over it expertly, punching a series of small fireballs through the air. Aang struggled to dodge them, but in his weakened state failed to be fast enough. A fireball hit him in the back, sending him tumbling to the ground with a grunt. He rolled over onto his back, putting the fire out, and struggled to push himself back up, but collapsed, too weak to stand. His vision blurred further, and he barely recognized Azula as she stepped onto his chest triumphantly with one foot. Distantly, he heard Katara scream his name. Azula loomed over him, grinning evilly, a cerulean flame forming in her hand as she took careful aim for his head……

And suddenly, Aang felt his nose twitch. "Ah – "

At the sound, Toph jumped to Katara and Sokka's side as she opened the ground to swallow all three of them completely.

"CHOO!" Aang sneezed. It was the biggest sneeze of his life, and it had terrific results. Every solider within a fifty-foot radius of the sick Avatar was blasted off their feet into trees or each other. The leaves of the closest trees ripped from their branches and rained on their heads. And Azula, who had been directly over Aang, was blasted fifty feet straight into the air screaming, sounding more terrified than she ever had or ever would be again.

Toph collapsed the earth that had shielded the three from Aang's terrific sneeze just as Appa landed. Abandoning the rest of the camp, the three quickly helped Aang back onto the bison. They took off just as Azula finally crash-landed into a newly barren tree. The last thing they heard as Appa took to the sky was the normally composed fire princess wiping the snot off her face and shrieking, "AAH! AVATAR SNOT!"

(-+-)

"Well, my nose is clear now," Aang said cheerfully hours later, after a good long nap. It was late, and the group was still aboard Appa, putting as much distance between them and Azula as possible.

"You sound better," Katara said, relieved, "And your fever's going down. Just keep resting and no bending, and hopefully you'll be better by tomorrow."

"That's a relief," said Aang. Suddenly, he scrunched up his nose. "Ah – "

Sokka shrieked like a girl and hugged Toph. Momo buried his face with his ears.

"Just kidding, guys," Aang laughed. Katara giggled as Toph shoved Sokka away from her.

"I hope you're not allergic to anything," Sokka sighed, and they flew into the beautiful sunset laughing.

_____

A/N: Aang sneezes are hilarious. This entire story was based off the idea of one of Aang's sneezes blasting Azula up into the air.