His World Goes Dark (Author's Cut)
Rated: M for Kataangst Romance and Lemon!
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? This is the multi-chaptered Author's Cut of my one-shot "His World Goes Dark"
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 originally as a one-shot for the Kataang Raid on . But, as I worked out the concept, I realized that this was a story that needed at least six or seven chapters to tell. But the Kataang Raid was only asking for one-shots. So I, in the words of an online friend, "killed my baby" by making a ton of cuts until it was a decent-sized one-shot. But, I felt that the cut stuff really added to the story, even though it wasn't strictly necessary, so I decided to make this Author's Cut. This is the fanfiction's original form before the cuts were made.
Chapter I: His World Goes Dark
It was the final battle, the battle that would determine the fate of the entire world. It all had come down to only two people: the Avatar and the Firelord fighting for the fate of the world.
The battle had begun in Ozai's favor, with Aang only managing to get in a few hits every once in a while. But that was before Ozai had unwittingly helped Aang reactivate the Avatar State. Now Aang was the one with the upper hand.
All four of the elements bent under Aang's command at once, a feat that was difficult even for Avatars to accomplish.
Aang finally managed to bring the Firelord low, entrapping his limbs in Earth. The plain terror on Ozai's face was a gratifying sight for the pure essence of the planet's spirit as it channeled itself through Aang's body, completely out of Aang's control.
"Firelord Ozai," The Avatar Spirit spoke, using Aang's voice and the voices of all the previous Avatars in one commanding and layered voice. "You and your forefathers have devastated the balance of this world. And, now, you shall pay the ultimate price!"
The Spirit of the Planet passed its judgment on Ozai, moving his arms in a circle, and mixing all four elements together into a massive blade with the intent of piercing Ozai's heart. The Spiritual Being roared, bringing the blade down, heedless of the look of terror on Ozai's face.
But, suddenly, the Spirit stopped his motion, and froze in midair. The elemental blade lost its deadly form and fell on Ozai, completely harmless. Ozai sputtered through the water that landed on him, and stared up at the Avatar in awe. The glow of his tattoos faded, and he closed his eyes calmly. The sphere of air that protected his body from any attack slowed and came to a stop, depositing the boy on the ground.
As soon as Aang's feet touched the ground, the earthen shackles around Ozai's limbs broke and fell apart. He sat up swiftly.
Aang turned away from Ozai, his eyes closed. Ozai didn't know it, but Aang was still keeping an eye on him with his rudimentary Earthbending vision. "No." Aang said firmly. "I'm not going to end it like this."
Ozai glared at the Avatar, contempt etched into his face. "Even with all the power in the world, you are still weak!" He made a move to rush at the Avatar while his back was turned.
Aang, however, easily picked up on Ozai's movement and, with a few sure and swift movements, he trapped Ozai's limbs in earth and forced him to his knees.
However, the Firelord still had a last trick up his sleeve. Aang was close to him now… too close for him to react to a sudden attack. So the Firelord did the only thing that he could. He channeled his chi through his mouth and breathed fire right into Aang's face.
Aang had not been prepared for that sort of attack, and it hit him just as planned, right on his eyes. Aang screamed in agony, feeling his skin burn and blister as if the attack was happening in slow motion. He closed his eyes, but a moment too late. He was in excruciating pain.
"Take that, you weak-minded fool!" Ozai growled in triumph, but too soon. The next thing he knew, the boy had his hands placed on both his chest and forehead. Ozai stared at the boy in shock. It was clear that he was in a lot of pain, but something told Ozai that the boy's determination to beat him was stronger than the pain he was enduring. "What are you…?" That was the last thing that Ozai remembered before the battle of their spirits, a clash of will on will, began.
Several moments past, and the only thing that Ozai was aware of was a titanic mental struggle against a force so massive and incomprehensible that he could barely understand it, let alone defeat it. Ozai gained the upper hand at first, because the other being was distracted by his own pain, but the Avatar's power could not be completely subdued. Ozai felt the Avatar's massive spiritual energy enter him and change something within, something that could not be given back.
And then, just as quickly as it happened, it was over. The Avatar stumbled away from Ozai, and collapsed on the ground, pressing his hands to his eyes as he quivered in pain. He tried to open his eyes, but could not. He was in too much agony.
Ozai was the first to recover, pulling himself out of his bonds, and attempting to Firebend at the Avatar while he was down. However, the flames that he expected to manifest from his fist did not manifest as he expected. Filled with a sudden weakness, he collapsed back on the ground. "What did you do to me?" Ozai demanded.
For several long minutes, Aang did not answer. Once he recovered enough to Bend for himself, he quickly gathered some water and pressed it to his eyes, and the water began to glow with his own Healer's Touch. He could not heal himself completely, but at least he could ease the pain. Aang sighed with relief as his pain eased, but he found that he was still unable to open his eyes. Instead, Aang gazed at the Firelord with Earthbending. "I took away your Firebending." Aang said. "May this be the last time you ever hurt anyone with Firebending."
Once the shock of being without his Bending had worn off, Ozai glared at the Avatar, taking in the full extent of Aang's wound. Ozai smirked to himself. "It doesn't matter. I have left my mark on you, Avatar. You will never forget me."
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.
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.
LES: Obviously, I added the actual fight with Ozai in the Author's Cut. The next chapter will also be a mixture of the old and the new. But then the next few chapters after that will be completely new. Yes, I cut out whole chapters.