The Sky Bison's Rebirth
Rated: Teen for romance (Kataang)
Summary: The Sky Bison are saved in the most surprising way. Story inspired by a piece of art in the newly-released Avatar Art Book.
Disclaimer: "Avatar: The Last Airbender" belonged to Bryke, and it still belongs to Bryke. After all, they're making a new Avatar story!
LES: Based on a picture in the new Avatar art book. It's from an idea that Bryke had for post-series, but something that they never were able to follow through in the series. I still have no idea how this could work, but whatever, this is a straight-up Bryke idea! THEREFORE IT MUST BE CANON! Oh… takes place after the Jasmine Dragon. The Gaang has taken up living at the Eastern Air Temple.
It was another beautiful morning at the Eastern Air Temple, and sunlight began to stream through the window, dancing across the form of the young girl lying on the soft bed. As the warm sunlight fell across her face, Katara began to wake up with a leisurely stretch.
She slowly sat up, stretching the sleep out of her muscles. Then she looked out the eastern-facing window with a smile. It looked like it was going to be another beautiful day at the Eastern Air Temple. Aang had told her when they arrived a few days ago that a hundred years ago, the Eastern Air Temple was also called The Temple of the Rising Sun; and it certainly lived up to its name every morning. Every morning, when the sun struck the Temple, it always seemed to glow.
Katara got up out of the bed and began to gather her clothes. She may be picking out her usual outfit, but she was unusually conscious of her looks as she put on the clothes, making sure that each article was perfect. Today was a special day. Today was her first date with Aang since they arrived at the Eastern Air Temple. She and Aang were going to take Appa flying, since Aang wanted to show her the mountains from the Airbender's point of view, and show her the last remnants of his culture.
She was looking forward to learning more about Aang's culture. Aang didn't talk about the Airbenders a lot. And while she had learned some things about their culture by observing Aang, he wasn't the representative of his race. She wanted to learn everything there was to know about the Airbenders, and in turn… him.
After all, what girlfriend wouldn't want to know everything there was to know about their boyfriend?
As Katara began to fix her hair, she was suddenly interrupted by the sound of someone running down the hall outside calling her name loudly. Katara spun around in shock just in time to see Aang rush into the room.
"Katar—oh!" He paused when he saw that she was still getting ready. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean… I'll…" He stuttered.
"No, it's fine." Katara said, smiling at how cute he looked when he was embarrassed. Before they 'hooked up' they had no problem being in front of each other in their underwear. Now everything was more complicated. But being with him was worth it. "What do you want, Aang? What's wrong?"
"It's Appa." Aang said. "Appa's missing! I've looked everywhere, but…"
"Aang, calm down." Katara said. "Don't worry. We'll find Appa. You just need to calm down and look. Where have you looked all ready?"
"All over the Temple." Aang said. "All the places where Appa could fit."
Katara nodded. It wasn't like there were many places in the Temple where a ten ton Flying Bison could hide. "Okay, then let's check the areas around the Temple. She knew that the Temple was surrounded by fields and mountain caves and other hidden locations because Aang told her about them. "You'll have to lead the way, because I'm still not familiar with this place."
"Okay." Aang said. He had calmed down slightly, but he still looked worried. Katara couldn't blame him. The last time Appa 'went missing' was when he got stolen by the Sandbenders. It had taken them months of looking and had nearly killed them all to get Appa back again.
He led her out of the room, through the Temple corridors, and out into the open air of the Temple's exterior. Without hesitating, he turned and began to run towards the overgrown fields were the Air Nomads once raised their gardens.
Once they reached the first field, Aang and Katara spread out to cover more ground quicker, as the fields were quite large, and so overgrown that one could overlook a ten-ton bison if they weren't looking hard enough.
A half-hour later, they still hadn't found Appa, so they moved on to the next field, and then the next.
It was nearing mid-day when they finished checking all the fields with no luck. "Appa's not in the fields." Katara pointed out. "What about the caves you told me about?"
"I don't know." Aang said. "The caves weren't really used for anything except as a place to play hide-and-seek. And only a few of them would be big enough for Appa to go in."
"Still, we should check." Katara said.
"Okay." Aang said, beginning to lead her down a mountain path that went further into the mountains. It must've been a game trail, because there were no humans around to make a path like this.
It took a while to reach the caves that Aang talked about, and when they got there, Katara realized that he was right. There were only about three caves that would be large enough to fit Appa.
As they got closer, however, they both began to hear Appa's soft rumbles coming from one of the larger caves.
"Appa!" Aang cried out in excitement and relief as he rushed towards the cave where Appa's growls were coming from, with Katara right behind him. However, before they could enter the cave, Appa's growl changed into something much more threatening, and the couple came to a halt outside the cave. "Appa?" Aang repeated, worried this time.
The threatening growl continued from the darkness of the cave, but it calmed down as Katara instinctively took a step back.
Aang noticed this. "Maybe I should go in alone. Appa might be hurt and scared."
Katara nodded. Appa certainly didn't seem to want her presence at this time. But she was sure that Aang would be able to help. After all, they had been together since they were both children. "Okay. Go on." Katara said, back up further and sitting down on a rock some distance from the entrance of the cave.
Aang gave her a reassuring smile before he stepped into the darkness of the cave, calling out Appa's name softly.
Outside the cave, Katara crossed her legs and resolved to wait patiently. It didn't matter to her anymore if her date with Aang had been messed up because of this. Appa was much more important than their date. If the Sky Bison was hurt… Katara wanted to do anything she could to help Appa. But, right now, it seemed that Aang was the only one the Sky Bison wanted to see.
She got pulled out of her musings when she heard Aang gasp from inside the cave, and she sat up as he came rushing out of the cave again, a look of excitement on his face, and he was babbling nonsense.
"Katara! I can't believe it… I never thought… Appa… I didn't know! How could I not know?"
"Aang! Calm down! What's going on in there?" Katara demanded, hoping to calm him down.
Aang didn't appear to be listening to her. He suddenly pulled her into a passionate kiss that she was quite unprepared for. Before she could react, he pulled away just as quickly and began to pull her towards the cave. "Hurry, Katara, you have to see this!"
"Aang! What's going on?" Katara hissed quietly.
This time, there was no warning growl from Appa as Katara was dragged into the cave. Apparently, once Aang had seen what was going on, Appa trusted Aang's judgment enough to know what was the right thing to do. The cave was deep and dark, but Aang quickly lit a small fire in the palm of his hand in order to light their ways. The cave was relatively deep, and had a few twists and turns. But they eventually reached the back.
Aang lifted the flame higher so that Katara could gaze upon the scene before them, and Katara let out a gasp of shock.
In the back of the cave, Appa was curled up on the ground. The large Sky Bison appeared to be just fine. But that wasn't want caused Aang and Katara's shock. What was really shocking was the relatively tiny bodies curled up next to Appa, partially covered up by the Bison's large tail.
Katara took a cautious step forward until she could see the little bodies clearly, and she gasped again. They were little newborn baby Sky Bison! A lot of them! A quick count told Katara that there were ten of them.
A sudden realization hit her. "Wait… Appa is a female?" Katara gasped, looking around at Aang.
Aang looked back at her with shock. "You didn't know…?"
"No. You never said anything." Katara said quietly. "I always thought Appa was a male."
Aang thought for a moment, and realized that he had never said anything about Appa being either male or female. And he could understand why Katara would be confused. After all, he had always called Appa 'Buddy' out of habit. "Appa is female." Aang said. "But… this… I didn't know that Appa was going to have babies! It doesn't even seem possible! We've been here for nearly a year, and there are no other Sky Bison here…"
"Appa… must've been pregnant before you left the Southern Air Temple." Katara said. She slowly moved closer, and this time, Appa allowed her close to the newborn Sky Bison. "Oh Spirits… they are so cute and tiny!"
'Tiny' was a relative term, of course. Each newborn was about the size of a full grown Polar-dog, but they were tiny compared to Appa. While Katara busied herself cooing over the newborn Bison, Aang moved over towards Appa, petting the Bison's head just above her eyes. "Are you okay?" Aang asked softly.
Appa let out a soft groan of content, and Aang took that as a yes.
"Aang, I'll go tell everyone else the good news." Katara volunteered, carefully making her way out of the cave, which was easier than going in because she could just follow the light at the end of the tunnel.
Once she was gone, Aang wrapped his arms around Appa's massive head, embracing her the only way possible. "I've known you for five years, and you never stop surprising me." He whispered to the Bison. "Congratulations, Appa."
(Three years later…)
The once wild and overgrown fields of the Eastern Air Temple had finally been tamed after months of hard work, and now farms and fields of flowers now replaced the overgrown crops and weeds.
Aang had considered turning all the fields back into farm land as it originally had been, but Katara talked him out of it. The crops that they had now were more than enough to support the family living at the Eastern Air Temple for years to come, and Katara wanted more than anything… a field of wildflowers. So Aang gave it to her.
It was a beautiful place, soft grass underfoot with petite yellow flowers to break up the green, and a bright blue sky. A sixteen year old Aang strolled into the field, taking a deep, calming breath.
However, as it always was, before Aang could fully relax, he was ambushed by a gang of flying lemurs. Shortly after Appa had given birth to her litter, Momo had found himself a mate, and had proven themselves able to breed like rabbiroos. Within three years, there were now nearly three dozen flying lemurs living at the Eastern Air Temple.
Aang laughed out loud as the young lemurs scrambled all over his body. Eventually, they all settled down on their favorite places on the Avatar's body. Aang could tell them all apart simply by where they liked to sit. Three hanging from his arms and two on each of his shoulders.
Once the lemurs had settled, Aang moved further into the field, looking for his oldest friend. "Appa." He called.
However, his call was not answered by Appa, but by Appa's litter.
Aang smiled at the sight of the young Sky Bison. They were still too young to be without their mother, but they were growing rapidly. They were much larger than they were on the day they were born, and many of them had mastered the Sky Bison's original form of Airbending. Several of them flew through the air, chasing or being chased by Momo's offspring.
Finally, Aang found Appa. And, from the looks of things, she was watching over a whole group of Momo's offspring. They sat on her back and hung off her horns, but she never minded. Being a mother had raised her tolerance for the childish antics of the lemurs.
Aang walked over to Appa and petted the Bison's nose. "Good morning, Appa. Everyone doing okay?"
He glanced around, smiling as he saw all ten of Appa's litter either flying around or playing on the ground with Momo's offspring.
"It seems like our family's getting bigger every day." Aang commented.
"Aang!" A new voice called out, and Aang grinned as he turned around to face Katara.
"Are you sure you should be walking around?" He asked, playfully scolding her.
"I'm fine, Aang." Katara said, walking over to him. "Women are built tough. Not even childbirth can keep us down for too long."
"I believe it." Aang said seriously. His eyes fell on the little bundle in Katara's arms, and he felt himself overcome with joy once again. Katara had just given birth to their first born son the day before yesterday, and she all ready looked nearly back to her old self.
He pulled her into an embrace and kissed her, being careful of the infant in her arms.
It was here, surrounded be the new beginnings of the Air Nomads, Sky Bison, and Flying Lemurs, that Aang felt like he was home at last.
LES: The image of Aang standing in a flowery field surrounded by Sky Bison and Lemurs is directly inspired by the picture that inspired this one-shot. If you have the art book, it's on page 179, under Comic-Con Exclusives. It one of my favorite pictures in the entire book. And, yes, the idea of Appa being female and giving birth to a litter of Sky Bison is a Bryke idea.
Bryke: We often joked about Appa turning out to be a female in the last scene of the series, giving birth to a litter of baby flying bison—much to Aang's surprise! We never implemented the idea, but we entertained the notion that somehow the flying-bison and winged-lemur populations were restored after the events of the series.
LES: I couldn't help myself writing this one-shot. It came too easily. Peace out!