His World Goes Dark
Rated: T for Kataangst Romance!
Summary: Aang gets out of the battle with Firelord Ozai with his life, but still suffers the loss of something valuable to him. Can Katara help him recover? Is Aang even capable of recovering? Written for the Kataang Fanfiction Raid!
Disclaimer: "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and all related characters are owned by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. I just borrow and torture them for my own pleasure.
LES: This was written with supreme love for the Official Kataang Raid! The folks on Kataang Forever noticed that the ratio of Zutara to Katara fics was nearly 5:1. Personally, I don't have a cow over stuff like that, but I'll take ANY excuse to write Kataang! Good Kataang fics don't need an excuse! Kataang is good for soothing my soul. It's pretty much one of the only things keeping me going at this point.
It had been nearly three weeks since Aang's battle with Ozai, and he still wasn't fully recovered.
But, I suppose, that's not such a surprise. Katara thought to herself as she made her way through the halls of the Fire Nation's palace to check on Aang once again.
Aang had returned whole, but not uninjured. Firelord Ozai had really managed to do a number on him before Aang had managed to subdue him and take away his Bending. Katara sighed, thinking about the horrifying moment when she had seen Aang the first time after his battle with Ozai, his face horribly burned and scarred.
From what Aang said as she was sedating him for a healing, he had managed to bind Ozai's hands to prevent him from Bending. But the evil Firelord had one last trick up his sleeve. He had breathed fire right into Aang's face, causing the horrible burns. It was Firelord Ozai's last action as a Bender. Aang fought through his considerable pain and managed to take Ozai's Bending away in a method that Katara didn't fully understand, despite his attempts to explain it.
Just knowing how hard it probably was for him, having to fight Ozai's spirit while he was in that much pain… Katara admired the young Avatar all the more.
Katara reached the door to Aang's room and knocked softly.
"Who is it?" Aang's voice called from within.
"It's me." Katara answered.
"Oh. Come in, Katara." Aang said.
Katara accepted his invitation and stepped into the room, making extra care to make a bit more noise than she would normally. She remembered why she developed this habit when her eyes fell on Aang.
The young boy had bandages firmly wrapped around his eyes and forehead, where the fire had gotten him the worst. The bandages also meant that Aang was temporarily deprived of his sight, and could be easily spooked if someone stepped into his room without announcing their arrival.
She kept her eyes on Aang as she walked across the room. He was following her movements well, even though he couldn't see her. Katara smiled. He was definitely on the road to recovery!
"Good morning, Aang. How are you feeling?" Katara asked, placing a bowl of water down on the dresser in case Aang needed some more healing.
"It doesn't hurt so much anymore." Aang said reaching up to touch the bandages wrapped around his face. "So, when can I take the bandages off, Katara? I can't wait to be able to see you again."
Katara felt her face heat up with a blush. Of course, Aang couldn't see that. Once his healing process had begun, Katara had confessed to him. On Ember Island, she wasn't confused about her feelings for him, but rather the effect that the war had on those feelings. She confessed to him that she was in love with him. Aang had tried to kiss her then, but had missed her lips and failed miserably.
But Katara didn't mind. It wasn't like it was his fault he missed. So she simply took the initiative and kissed him herself, properly.
Ever since then, they had kissed a great deal. Katara only had to warn him before she kissed him, and direct the kiss herself, but she didn't mind.
"I think we can try taking the bandages off today." Katara said.
At that news, Aang sat up straighter. "Really? That's great!" His fingers flew up to his bandages in an obvious attempt to rip them off.
"Aang, wait, no!" Katara cried, rushing over to him and stopping his hands. "Aang, please, listen to me. It's been three weeks since you've given your eyes a chance to work. I know that it's hard, but we need to do this slowly. If you rip them off, and try to see everything at once, you'll just end up hurting yourself."
Aang sighed. "Okay, Katara. I trust you." He said, smiling brightly at her.
"How about one last kiss for good luck?" Katara asked hopefully.
"I'm ready." Aang replied.
Without further ado, Katara leaned down and pressed her lips into Aang's. He responded to her kiss instantly and eagerly. He pressed his tongue gently to the seam of her lips, begging for entrance to her lovely mouth. Katara quickly accepted and moaned in delight at his tongue brushed against hers, sending jolts of pleasure through her body.
Several moments later, they developed the will to separate their lips, but did so very slowly. It took several more minutes for the kiss to actually come to a stop.
Katara sat on the bed next to him and quickly found the end of his bandage, ready to start unraveling it. "Okay, Aang, I'm going to start taking off the bandages. I want you to let me know as soon as you see light through the bandages."
"Okay." Aang said.
Katara began to slowly unwind the bandages from his head, revealing more and more of his skin in the process. His face was pretty badly scared. Zuko had one eye scared, but both of Aang's eyes had been affected by Firelord Ozai's final act of Bending. His scar, however, wasn't nearly as predominate as Zuko's because Zuko didn't have an experienced Water Tribe healer overlooking his healing process like Aang did. However, the scar was still there, for scars were something that could never be completely healed.
Katara unwound the bandages slowly. Eventually, she got to the point where she thought that Aang should see some glow through the bandages. "Can you see anything yet?" She asked.
"No, not yet." Aang answered.
Katara shrugged. The bandages were a bit thicker than the ones she was used to. Maybe it wasn't a surprise that Aang couldn't see anything yet. She unwound the bandages some more.
A few minutes later, and Katara had grown more concerned. His bandages were nearly all the way off now, and he still hadn't given Katara the signal that he could see anything!
She stopped without only a single layer of bandages covering Aang's face. She was too horrified to consider the implications of what was happening in front of her. "Aang…" She began slowly. "Are you sure that you can't see anything?"
At first, Aang didn't answer. "Yes, Katara. Everything is still pitch black. Katara, what's…?"
"Oh, Aang…" Katara began, barely stifling a sob. "There's only one layer of bandages left."
At first, Aang didn't understand what she meant. But then, the implication of Katara's words crashed down on the boy like a tidal wave of horror. He should have been able to see something by now! Something was wrong!
Ignoring Katara's earlier warning, Aang reached up and ripped the last of the bandage off his face. There was the scar, a now-permanent fixture on his face. But the scar wasn't the problem…
Katara stared in horror at his eyes. His eyes were once filled to the brim with life. Now they were dulled and empty. His eyes were once the color of the clouds caught in a storm. Now they were the overcast morning on a gloomy day. But what was worse than that was the look of horror on his face and he looked around the room, unable to find what he was looking for.
"Katara…" Aang said, horror creeping into his voice. "Everything's still dark! I can't see anything!"
With no other option left, Katara pulled the frightened boy into a fierce hug, burying his useless eyes into her shoulder.
The Firelord's final act of Bending had taken away the Avatar's eyes.
It only took minutes for Katara to run and get Toph. Toph was the only person who could come close to understanding the horror he was going through. She, herself, was blind, but had managed to find a way to not only live with that, but become one of the greatest Benders in the world.
But, at the same time, Toph couldn't understand. Toph had been born blind. Aang, however, could still remember what it was like to have his eyesight. Toph had never known the feeling of having her world suddenly go dark.
Aang was understandably in tears, and Toph was uncharacteristically doing her best to comfort him.
She had him in a semi-embrace, allowing the boy to lean on her shoulder. "Come on, Twinkletoes." She said softly. "I know that it seems bad right now, but I promise I'm going to work with you until your Earthbending vision is as sensitive as mine. It won't be the same as regular eyesight, but at least you won't be completely blind." Aang, it seemed, was inconsolable at this point, despite Toph's attempts.
Katara waited outside the door, feeling useless tears run down her face. She couldn't possibly imagine what Aang was going through right now. But she could imagine that this was probably one of the hardest things he's ever had to face. Aang was a Nomad at heart, and he lived his life to see new sights. And, now he had lost that at the tender age of 13. He wasn't going to just 'recover' from this.
It was just her luck that Sokka and Zuko stopped by to see how Aang was doing, and they were shocked to see Katara outside the door crying, Aang inside the room sobbing, and Toph, of all people, trying to comfort him.
"Katara, what's going on?" Sokka asked. "Did something happen?"
"Is Aang all right?" Zuko asked, concerned for his friend.
"No." Katara sobbed. "Aang's not all right. I took the bandages off him just now and…"
"The scar?" Zuko asked, knowingly. "I know how hard it is to live with a scar like that, but we are his family, and we won't care…"
"It's not the scar." Katara sobbed. "It's his eyes. Ozai damaged Aang's eyes irreversibly. Aang's lost his eyesight."
At first, neither Sokka nor Zuko responded. "No." Sokka said, sounding just as horrified as everyone else. Without warning, he burst into the room. "Aang!"
The young Avatar looked up in shock as Sokka burst into the room. But that was only because Sokka's entrance had scared him. Sokka stared into the young boy's eyes as Aang 'looked' at him. Aang was looking right at him, but his eyes were clouded, and he gave no sign that he could see Sokka at all.
"Sokka? Sokka? Is that you?" Aang asked, imploringly.
"Oh, Spirits…" Sokka said, stomping across the room and pulling the surprised Avatar into a fierce embrace. "Oh, Spirits, Aang. I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry this happened to you!" Sokka said.
Without replying, Aang buried his face into Sokka's chest and continued to sob. Without a word, Toph joined the embrace, followed by Katara and then Zuko.
All four members of Aang's family embraced him, telling him it was going to be all right, as they shared this moment of misery together.
The weeks passed, and Aang finally seemed able to go outside. His lack of will to go outside had nothing to do with his mobility. Once he put his feet on the ground, he was able to use Earthbending to see the general placement of objects. His Earthbending vision wasn't nearly as acute as Toph's, but it was still workable. His unwillingness to go inside was due to something that was bothering Aang that he wouldn't tell anyone, not even Katara.
After weeks of this, Katara was pleased to suddenly find him outside. And, not only was he outside, but he was Bending! She stopped to watch his graceful movements.
He started with Earth, and did perfectly fine with that. Next, he moved on to Water and everything still seemed to be going fine. Then he tried Fire, which seemed to be a little bit harder. Lastly, he started a technique from his birth element of Air. He flipped, sending a blast of air arching forward. However, he wasn't able to complete the move because he landed wrong and fell hard on the ground.
"Aang!" Katara screamed, rushing over to him, and helping him up off the ground.
But, to her shock, Aang shoved her hand away and stayed on the ground, weeping bitterly. He completely refused her help.
"Aang, please tell me what's wrong!" Katara begged, kneeling down next to him. "Please, I want to help you!"
"You can't help me, Katara! No one can help me!" Aang said bitterly. "Just leave me alone!"
"No, Aang, I can't do that." Katara said firmly. "I love you, Aang. I love you!" She repeated. "It hurts me to see you hurting like this. I want to help you so badly, but I can't until you tell me what is wrong."
"Do you want to know what's wrong with me?" Aang demanded. "I don't think you do."
"Of course, I do." Katara said.
Aang buried his face into the grass, gritting his teeth. "I should just die, Katara."
"How… how could you say something like that?" Katara demanded.
"I'm useless." Aang said bitterly. "For just a few moments… I was a fully-realized Avatar, the Master of all Four Elements and the Master of the Avatar State. Now I'm useless. I'll never be an effective Avatar again."
"You are not useless." Katara said, placing her hand on his back. "Toph will teach you how to see with Earthbending more effectively."
"Earthbending vision is not enough for me!" Aang said. "Earthbending vision has its flaws. I can't see something if they were not connected to the Earth. What if an assassin approached me from the air? I would never see them coming… let alone be able to defend myself. And… I can't Airbend anymore."
"But… I just saw you Airbend…" Katara began.
"…And fail at it." Aang said. "Airbending is not connected to the Earth. The second I lose contact with the earth in a jump, I become completely blind. I can't see where the ground is anymore, and I can't land properly. I'm stuck to the earth for the rest of my life. I can't perform Airbending unless I want to hurt myself, and I definitely will not be able to go flying for the rest of my life. I should just die and let the next Avatar take over."
"Aang… please don't say things like that. Please." Katara begged, tears running down her face. "I can't bear the thought of losing you." Against his protests, Katara pulled him into an embrace. She went further by pulling him into a passionate kiss, pouring out all her feelings for him in a tidal wave of emotion in a single kiss. "I love you, Aang. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Please don't give up on life so easily."
Aang burst into tears, and fell into Katara's embrace. "I'm sorry, Katara." He cried. "I won't give up on life. I'll stay with you."
Katara wrapped her arms around Aang and lifted him up off the ground. "Come with me." She said, starting to lead him away.
"Katara? Where are we going?"
"We're going flying."
"I'm going on Appa. You're going on your glider." Katara said.
Aang suddenly dug his heels into the ground, forcing Katara to stop. "No." He said; a look of fright on his face. "I can't. I can't see in the sky! I'll crash into something and really hurt myself!"
Without a word, Katara turned around and blew a small puff of air in Aang's face, causing the boy to flinch. "What did I just do?" She asked.
"You just blew some air in my face. Katara, what…?"
"The point is, Aang, that you are not just an Earthbender, so you aren't limited to Toph's Earthbending vision." Katara said. "Why can't you use Airbending to feel the currents of the air and judge where objects are in the sky? Why can't you use Waterbending to feel the push and pull of energy around you? Why can't you use Firebending to feel the heat in the air and know if you are being attacked by Firebending?" Katara pulled him into a hug. "You may have lost your eyesight, but you haven't lost your ability to Bend all the elements. With a little practice, I'm sure you'll learn how to use each and every element to see the world around you."
Aang didn't respond at first. Then he reached out and gently brushed his fingers across Katara's skin. "It will take years to master using the elements like that."
"I'll be right here to help you." Katara said, kissing him. "Now, let's go flying."
(Seven years later…)
This was a sight that no one had seen in over seven years. Everyone watched with trepidation as a wide variety of warriors and Benders faced off against the lone Avatar… the blind Avatar.
Some of the most powerful Benders in the world were represented, except from the Air Nomads. Toph represented the Earthbenders, Firelord Zuko represented the Firebenders, and Katara represented the Waterbenders. But there were not just Benders there. Sokka faced off against Aang as well, using a blunted training sword. Suki and Ty Lee were also there, representing the Kyoshi Warriors. Suki was an awesome fighter, but Ty Lee was especially dangerous because of her chi-blocking technique. Rounding off the group was Mai. Her long-distance attacks were vital in this fight. After all, Aang was most vulnerable from airborne attacks.
For several moments, Aang didn't move at all. He was in a seemingly meditative trance. And then it began.
Toph attacked first, sending a heavy bolder right at the Avatar. But Aang sensed it coming and was able to redirect the rock safely aside. That was the cue for everyone to attack.
Chaos erupted for those who were watching. They were hardly able to keep track of everything, let alone feel like they could keep up with the fighting. But, to everyone's amazement, even when he was fighting half a dozen people at the same time, Aang was able to not only keep up with all their attacks, but he actually looked like he had the upper hand in this fight! No one could lay a hand on him. He seemed to be more sure of his movements and agile than ever before, even before he lost his eyesight to the former Firelord.
Aang's secret was the vision technique that had taken him seven years to perfect. The others called it Avatar Vision, because it used the information provided by all four elements to allow Aang to see his surroundings with a clarity that one could not achieve with a single element. Nothing escaped his notice: from the tiniest pebble sent his way by Toph, to the small airborne darts that Mai shot at him.
All their fighting skills were useless before the Avatar's great perceptive ability.
The great fight only lasted a few minutes, but Aang emerged completely victorious.
Aang centered himself and grinned at his opposition. They were pretty much all in the same state, lying on the ground and groaning. Even though Aang couldn't 'see' them, he could tell them apart by the nuances of their bodies.
"Oh… wipe that grin off your face!" Katara growled at him, pushing herself up off the ground.
"Remember, Katara, this was your idea." Aang said.
"Yeah. And I'm starting to regret it." Katara said.
"I agree… getting beaten is one thing." Sokka said, still lying on the ground. "But this… this is just humiliating!"
"Why? Because you all got thoroughly beaten by a blind man?" Aang laughed.
"Yes, that would be it." Zuko agreed, brushing dirt off his clothes.
"Hey, don't worry guys." Aang said, shrugging. "I may be blind, but I'm also the Avatar. You can't compete with that."
"Ugh." Katara groaned. "Remind me again why I love you."
"Well, for starters…" Aang said, turning around as his biggest fan ran towards him across the field. "Here comes the first reason right now."
"Daddy!" A young three year old boy yelled, rushing towards the Avatar. The boy attached himself to Aang's leg in a firm embrace. "Daddy, you were awesome! You were all whoosh!" The young boy said, imitating Airbending. "You are the best ever!"
"Yes, I am, aren't I?" Aang said smugly. But he trailed off when she caught a look from his wife. "Err… but your Mommy's really good too. She lasted against Daddy longer than anyone."
Katara sighed. "Okay, you've convinced me." She walked over and picked up her son. "Though I have to say, Rohan does have a point. His Daddy is pretty awesome." Katara said, giving her husband a brief kiss.
When Rohan had been born three years ago, Aang had just about gotten used to living his life with no eyesight. Since the day his eyesight had been taken from him, he hadn't asked anyone to describe what something looked like for him. He broke that rule on the day of Rohan's birth. The others described his son in great detail, and Aang was able to paint a picture of the boy in his mind's eye. But it was hard knowing that he would never truly know what his son looked like.
For Aang's part, the boy was not aware that his father suffered any handicap. The scars and the vacant look in Aang's eyes had been there as long as the boy could remember, so he did not question it.
"So, now that we've proven that you're not any weaker because of your accident, are you ready to once again take your place as the Avatar?" Katara asked when she pulled away from her husband.
Aang smiled at her. "Yes. Yes, I am."
LES: Just so you know, this is the Theatrical Cut release of this fic. I originally planned it as a six or seven chapter story, but the Kataang Raid wanted one-shots. So, yes, there is A LOT of stuff cut out from my original idea. Thankfully, there will be an Author's Cut coming soon. It will be a lot longer and much more detailed! I hope that you enjoy it when it comes out!