Rated: PG-13 for hard-core fluffy romance (Kataang)
Summary: As Katara kisses her boyfriend, she can't help but feel that she's been there before, which prompts Aang to finally tell her the story about how the Avatar came to be.
Disclaimer: Bryke owns everything, except for my thoughts about "The Time Before The Avatar" and the Avatar's beginnings.
Edit 10/21/2013: I just wanted to make a quick update and remind everyone that this story was written years before the two-parter LoK episode "The Beginnings" was aired. This story presents an idea that I thought was a good idea for an Avatar origin story at the time. "The Beginnings" was amazing, epic, and totally acceptable as canon, so I'll gladly label this as a fanon story now. So, just remember... this story is totally non-canon now and I know and accept it. I just hope you enjoy this story even in the face of the awesomeness that we got from "The Beginnings"
Katara loved kissing Aang.
Even after three years of being together as a couple, she never tired of him or his lips. So any moment where they could get away and simply enjoy each other's company was more than welcome.
A time like now.
Aang and Katara were on yet another diplomatic run to the Fire Nation, and the rest of the Gang had opted to stay behind at the Southern Air Temple, meaning that Aang and Katara were travelling alone. Which was all the better, because the teenager's relationship had recently progressed into the physical realms, and if Sokka, Katara's over-protective older brother, found out, he'd skin Aang alive for sure.
But, so far, Sokka had been kept in the dark about the new step in Aang and Katara's relationship, and still allowed them to travel together with the assumption that, since Aang was fifteen, nothing would happen.
They were currently staying in Aang's private villa in the Fire Nation capital, which was probably the second most guarded location besides the palace itself. Not that Aang needed the protection. The number of Ozai-fanatic assassins that had come after him had learned the hard way: it takes more than an ordinary person's abilities to even pose a minor threat to the Avatar. Only one person on the planet had seriously injured Aang, and she was currently locked in a padded cell babbling nonsense.
And if one good thing could be said about the Fire Nation, they certainly knew how to design a room to accommodate a couple's passions. Everything in the Fire Nation was built for two, including the couches, of which Aang and Katara was using at that very moment.
Katara strattled the young Avatar, kissing him passionately. Aang returned her kiss with equal force. Aang groaned into her mouth as she began to push off the fabric that covered his chest and she pressed her hands against the firm muscles, massaging them lightly.
"Katara…" Aang whispered pleadingly, his fingers tangling themselves in her hair. "I love you."
"Love you too." Katara whispered back, pulling him back into the kiss and coaxing his tongue to play with hers.
Aang caught on quickly and quickly tried to gain dominance over her. He flipped their bodies over so that now he was one top, and plundering her mouth with his tongue. Not that Katara really minded.
She was overcome by a feeling of timelessness as they kissed, like a thousand years could have passed in the blink of an eye, and she would still be here kissing Aang. She also felt that she had always been here, in her lover's arms. She also felt perfectly content with her sexuality.
For a moment, that struck Katara as strange. After all, she and Aang had only been intimate one time. Yet, even when they did make love the first time, the act was incredibly familiar. She had forgotten feeling that way because Aang had effectively made her lose her mind. But she recalled it again. She felt comfortable being intimate with Aang, which was surprising for a sexual novice to think.
Aang began to suck delicately on her throat and Katara whispered. "I feel that I've known you forever."
"I know." Aang responded, kissing her tender flesh. "I've always known you, and I've always loved you."
"Aang… that's not really what I meant." Katara breathed hoarsely. "I meant forever. As in actually forever… since the beginning of time."
"Not quite the beginning of time, but close." Aang answered distractedly. "That's just the way it is. You know that."
"Huh?" Katara suddenly sat up, forcing Aang off her body. "What do you mean by that? What should I know? I don't understand."
Aang sat up, staring at her, a little shocked. "You… you don't know?"
"Who you are." Aang said.
"What do you mean? Of course I know who I am! I'm Katara!" Katara said.
"No… I meant… kind of like me. I'm Aang, but I'm also the Avatar. You don't know who you are?" Aang asked.
Katara stared at Aang. "What are you talking about?"
"You never heard the legend about how the Avatar came to be?" Aang clarified.
Katara's mouth fell open. She had never heard of any such legend. All she knew was that the Avatar was created when the Spirit of the Planet decided to take on a mortal form and watch over the peoples of the planet from among them as the Avatar: a spiritual being inside a mortal shell. "I… know that the first Avatar was literally the Planet's Spirit in mortal form, not a reincarnation like all the rest, and that his name was Ananta."
"You mean they don't tell the story anymore?" Aang asked.
"I guess not." Katara said. "I've never heard the story about how the Avatar came to be. I thought it just… happened."
"No, it didn't just happen." Aang said. "I should tell it to you, so that you can understand who you are and what we are together. But… I've never told this story to anyone, so you'll have to forgive me if I get a little… emotional."
"I am the Avatar, Katara." Aang said. "And I have a strange connection to all of my past lives. When I talk about or hear about something bad that happened to me in a previous life, I can feel the emotional pain like it's my own. That happened the first time I heard this story… I was ten. I started to cry and didn't understand why." Aang sat up more, and took a deep breath. He felt himself being transported back in time to when he was ten years old and he heard the story for the first time at the Southern Air Temple from Monk Gyatso. He told the story as Gyatso had before him. "The Avatar is the most powerful Bender in the world, capable of great feats of strength and possesses an unmatchable skill with Bending, but the Avatar was not always a mortal. Once he was the Great Spirit Ananta, the Infinite One, who ruled over the Spirits of the Heaven and Earth, and all the elements. He alone had dominion over the earth, the oceans, the sky, the plants, the animals, and the people of the world. He alone created the world and gave it shape and determined the order of the natural world. This is the story of the Great Spirit Ananta, and a minor Spirit Devika who was, and always shall be, his lover."
Katara gasped, but Aang did not hear her. He was transported back in his memories.
It was a calm, clear, autumn night at the Southern Air Temple, where the monks of the Southern Temple and the nuns of the Western Temple had gathered to teach their young ones the story of the Avatar. It was a very special night, because it was nearly ten years ago today that Avatar Roku died, and among these children were the possible Avatars, though the head monks and nuns all ready knew the child's identity.
But there were more than Temple wards in the crowd. Several of the truly nomadic Air Nomad families had gathered with their children. For this was one of the few times of the year that the entire Air Nomad nation gathered in the Temples
This was Aang's first time attending the celebrations. Ten was the age that children were allowed to attend the festivities, and even though Aang's actual birthday was still some days away, the monks had allowed him to attend since he was a newly tattooed master.
It had only happened weeks ago, and Aang was still mostly bandaged from the ordeal. He got a lot of curious looks from the nomadic families, and the word prodigy was tossed around a lot.
Just as the nomadic families were curious about him, he was curious about them. Aang was content with his life as a Temple ward, and he loved his mentor, Monk Gyatso, like a father, but he still could not help but wonder what it would be like to be raised like those children, with their families.
He was curious about the relationships the nomadic families shared with each other. He had seen people kissing a few times, but it still always shocked him to see the married couples wrapped so tightly around each other that he could not tell where one ended and the other began. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out what was so great about eating someone's face.
He caught glimpses of the parents teaching their children Airbending, which was very different from the monk's methods. The parents allowed more room for error and didn't scold their children for making a mistake.
Another thing that interested him was the girls. Having grown up in the all-male environment of the Southern Air Temple, Aang rarely got a chance to see girls. In fact, the last time he had seen so many girls in one place was when he visited the Eastern Air Temple to adopt Appa.
And, to his surprise, the girls seemed more interested in him too. Although, it was mostly because of his tattoos. Over the last few days, girls who were much older than him, as old as sixteen, kept asking him if they could look at his tattoos. Aang would always oblige, pulling back the bandages that covered him to show off the fresh tattoos.
But he figured that, since a majority were Air Nomad nuns-in-training, they were close to mastering Airbending themselves and would soon go through the tattoo ceremony themselves. Aang couldn't blame them for being curious, because he had been curious himself once he learned the monks were going to make him a Master. And the nomadic girls… they were probably just interested in him the way all nomads were interested in Master Airbenders.
It was night, and the sights and smells of the Air Temple intoxicated Aang. Since he was a Master now, as soon as his tattoos healed, he would be able to travel the world as a true Airbending master. He did long to see the world, but he knew that the Southern Air Temple would always be his home.
The fires had been lit, fruit cakes of all flavors had been passed around, and merriment filled the air. But silence fell over the Temple as Monk Gyatso stood, facing the crowd.
The reveling Air Nomads quickly took their seats, pushing their children to the front of the crowd. After all, this was their first time hearing the story that was such an important part of the world's history: the beginnings of the Avatar.
Aang found himself pushed to the forefront also, almost directly in front of Gyatso, sitting between another one of the Southern Temple wards and a young nomadic girl.
As Aang predicted, the girl's eyes fell on his bandaged limbs and forehead. "You're a master?" She asked, sounding awed.
"Um… yeah." Aang said. "I got the tattoos just a few weeks ago."
"I'm pretty good at Airbending." The girl said. "But, I doubt that I'll ever be a master. I don't think I could bear to leave my parents to learn Airbending from the nuns. Wasn't it hard?"
"To leave your parents." The girl clarified.
"I never knew my parents." Aang answered. "I've lived at the Temple for as long as I can remember."
The girl gasped and looked away, probably horrified that she had made him think about not having parents. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude. I was just curious."
"It's okay." Aang said. He couldn't explain why, but he didn't like the fact that he had upset her. "Monk Gyatso takes care of me, so I'm not without love." Aang paused, fussing with his bandages. "Um… what's your name?"
"Oh, it's Shanti." The girl answered.
"Peace and quiet." Aang translated out loud. "Does it fit?"
Shanti smirked. "Not really. What about your name."
"Peaceful soaring." Shanti translated. She looked him up and down. "You look like a peaceful soaring boy to me."
Aang couldn't explain the blush that suddenly heated up his face, and he quickly looked away from her, turning his attention back to Monk Gyatso, who had just finished the introduction to the story.
"Before the beginning to time, Ananta was the only thing that existed. But he grew bored of his tired existence and decided to create the world. Out of nothingness, he alone created the world, and filled it with people.
But even a Spirit as great as he could not watch over the world alone, so he broke off pieces of his power and created more Spirits and assigned them the duties best suited to the power given them. Earth, Fire, Air, Water, the Sun and Moon, Good and Evil were all created this way. And, for a time, the world lived in a golden era of peace ruled over by the Spirits who in turn were ruled over by Ananta.
But, alas, it could not last. The human race began to discover for themselves the sacred art of element bending from the Spirits and their mortal representatives. Earthbending was learned from the Earth Spirit's physical servants, the Badgermoles; Firebending was learned from the Fire Spirit's physical servants, the Dragons; Airbending was learned from the Air Spirit's physical servants, the Sky Bison; and Waterbending was learned from the Moon and Ocean Spirits themselves.
The world plunged into a dark war, the likes of which will never be seen again. For hundreds of years, the four groups of element benders fought and killed each other, lusting for power and the will to dominate all the other elements under their command.
In the Spirit World, events mirrored the physical world. The Spirits of Earth, Fire, and Air fought constantly. The Moon and Ocean Spirits hated all the fighting, and so came to our world, taking on a mortal form to hide themselves from the Spirits who would wish them harm. The Spirit of Evil, Koh, inflamed the situation by pitting one spirit against the other for his amusement. Out of all the Spirits borne to Ananta, only the Spirit of Good and her daughters restrained themselves from the fighting.
Ananta watched this and wept, for he loved the world, its people, and the other spirits as he would love his own children. His only comfort was the Spirit of Peace, one of the daughters of Good, whose name was Devika. Though Devika was a minor Spirit, she loved Ananta with all her heart, and longed to see him happy. But the war left her greatly weakened, for peace is fragile, and she suffered for many centuries of pain and agony as the war continued.
Eventually, the day came that Ananta realized that he had fallen in love with Devika, the day that her long suffering caused her to become ill. Devika, the Spirit of Peace, began to die, and it drove Ananta mad with grief."
During a pause in Monk Gyatso's story, one of the boys spoke up quietly. "Uh… Master Gyatso? I think Aang is crying…"
Those closest to the young Airbender looked around at him. And saw that he was, indeed, crying.
None of the other boys were crying. Certainly, the story was a sad one, but most of the boys saw crying as beneath them, and would fight tooth and nail to stop a tear from falling. But Aang wept uncontrollably, a sign that he was in true misery.
Monk Gyatso gazed down at his small charge, understanding the reason for his tears more than any other in the room. He remembered Avatar Roku being reduced to tears the first time he heard the story, and he had been seventeen at that time. Aang was the Avatar, the newest in the line of reincarnations that began with Ananta thousands of years ago. He was feeling Ananta's pain as if it were his own.
Monk Gyatso also looked at the young girl sitting next to Aang. He knew her name from the Head nun of the Eastern Air Temple. Shanti had been one of the girls tested to be the Avatar, but she had failed the test, but passed another, lesser known test. He wasn't shocked to see that she was nearly as inconsolable as Aang was, though people didn't make comments about her since she was a girl.
Gyatso knelt before Aang. "Aang, are you all right?"
"Yeah, Aang, why are you crying?" The young novice boy next to Aang asked.
Aang sniffled and wiped the tear tracks from under his eyes. "I don't know. I'm sorry for interrupting, Monk Gyatso. Continue."
Gyatso stared into the face of his charge. He did seem a little better now. "I assure you…" Gyatso said quietly. "The story has a happy ending." With that Monk Gyatso stood up, and began his story again as if nothing had happened.
"Above all else, Ananta wanted to restore peace to the world so that his love would live. So he made perhaps that hardest choice that anyone would ever have to face: to stay with the woman he loved and see her die, or to leave her forever and know that she was alive. His heart set, he made his decision: he stripped himself of his immortality and descended to the physical world. And thus, was the first Avatar born.
Ananta was the father of all the elements, so his powers of Bending them far outmatched the watered down version passed down to the humans by his children. It only took five years for him to gain dominance over the lands, and once he did, he declared the war over and declared peace in the name of his one true love: Devika.
In the Spirit World, Devika recovered from her illness, but became distraught when she discovered from her mother, the Spirit of Goodness, that Ananta had sacrificed his place in the Spirit world to roam the physical world forever to maintain balance and peace.
She longed to join him, but did not possess the power to strip herself of her immortality and cross over into the Spirit World, for she was still recovering from her long weakness and illness. So she begged her mother to do it for her. Good wept at the thought of losing her daughter to the ravages of the physical world, but she could see the pureness of her love. After one last embrace, Good agreed to transform her daughter into a mortal and send her down to the physical world to be with her one true love.
Good did as she was bid and turned her daughter into a mortal human and sent her down to the physical world, never to return.
Ananta wandered the world aimlessly. He had restored peace and thus saved the woman he loved, but he was also trapped in the physical world forever. When his mortal body died, the immortal spirit within him would simply be reincarnated into a human body, unable to return to his place as ruler of the Spirit World.
But he could not truly regret his decision. Devika was alive, and that was all that mattered to him.
It was therefore a surprise to him when Devika appeared before him one day, alive and whole, but completely mortal.
Devika told him that she could not live without him, and that she would come live with him in the mortal realm forever, even at the cost of her immortality.
Ananta wept, embraced, and kissed her, his heart filled with joy for the first time in centuries. He used the last of his Spiritual power to grant her the same gift of reincarnation so that, even after they died, they could be together for all time.
And so it was that the only hope for the world's continued balance and peace was created: balance and peace working together for all time. The Avatar is reincarnated, and right alongside him, his Lover is also reincarnated, the incarnation of the Spirit of Peace. Every time the Avatar finds his Lover once again, Ananta and Devika cry with happiness, for they are together once again."
Aang finished the story, wiping some tears from his eyes. He glanced at the woman across from him and saw that she was in tears too.
She leaned closer to him, giving him a gentle kiss. "So… we've always been together?"
"For thousands of years, in different forms." Aang said. "Our love is the incarnation of the love shared between Ananta and Devika, a love stronger than the immortality they gave up to be together." He paused thoughtfully. "I met her."
"Your previous incarnation." Aang said. "When I was a boy, I met the girl who was supposed to be my lover. Her name was Shanti; she was from a nomadic family. She sat next to me the first time I heard the story of the Avatar and perhaps cried as hard as I did. Then, I met her again when I was told I was the Avatar, except it was her identity being revealed that time. For all intents and purposes, it was a meeting between Gyatso and her family to arrange a marriage between us."
"Did you… love her?" Katara asked.
Aang hesitated in answering. "Yes. She was the Avatar's Lover, so I was falling in love with her. But we had only kissed one time before I ran away. That… was probably the hardest part of running besides leaving Gyatso." He caressed her cheek. "I can't explain how I felt when I first saw you after you broke me out of the Iceberg. You weren't Shanti, since she had been dead for decades, but I could tell that you like her. It was quite an emotional shock to have the feelings of love that I was feeling for Shanti shift to you so suddenly. It took me a while to come to grips with it."
"I also can't explain how I was feeling the first time I saw you." Katara said. "I guess you could say I had a… immediate attachment."
"You were willing to leave your tribe forever for me, even though we had only known each other for a few hours." Aang pointed out.
"What can I say; love makes people do crazy things, especially when that love is thousands of years old." Katara said.
"So, now that you know who you are… Devika, will you be willing to help me keep peace once more?"
"I would be honored, Ananta." Katara answered, kissing him passionately.
LES: Name meanings:
Ananta: A Hindi myth name meaning "infinite; without end". This is the name of another incarnation of Vishnu.
Devika: A Hindi name composed of the Sanskrit elements devi "goddess" and ka "little", hence "little goddess"
Shanti: A Hindi name meaning "peace, quiet"
Well, I hope that you all enjoy this piece of fiction! I'm really proud of it. Hey, Bryke, why don't you make a show based on "The Time before the Avatar"? I'd be very interested in learning the truth about that whole age.