((AN: There's nothing quite like writing a one-shot that's like a well-prepared sandwich. You got the characters that are the meat of it, the emotions, humor, fluff and passion, and it's all held together with a good bread-plot...actually, maybe it's more like a well-prepared salad, with the bowl as the plot. :p But in any case, that's how I write a mature story, and I swear before you all now that I shall never, ever forget the plot of one, nor shall I admit crude vocabulary into it. x3 Best it be better than that, don't you think? Ignore the silly metaphoring, I'm submitting this at 2 AM. xP

Anyway, yep, I decided to write another one of these. Due to amazingly good feedback from everyone for my previous story, and a newfound pride for being able to write a pseudo-lemon that focuses on true love in moments of ecstasy, I thought hey, maybe once in a blue moon I'll give 'em out. See if they're just as enjoyed as the first try. :3 But be warned that if I manage to invite comments from creeps/flamers because of the content, they'll be promptly reported. x3

That said. This idea came to me quite a while ago. There are a few wedding-night scenarios out there, but what about waking-up-after-the-first-time scenarios? Thinking of these two, it oughta be quite sweet, if a little awkward. x3 This also takes place in the same continuity as Chapter 6 of To Muse On Parenthood, sort of a continuation you might say, but I tried to make it so that you don't need to read that one first to get this one. There's a little reference to The Comet's Wake as well.

Without much further stalling, enjoy the Kataangy love-fest and a little banter in the middle with a few other characters. Yes, I'm sorry, the very old but well-referenced Jackie Gleason comedy line just kinda wrote itself outta Toph before I could think twice. :B "One a' these days..."

May Mike and Bryan look upon this humble fanfic writer with mercy for doing this with their creations.))


The Morning

Aang awoke slowly to the warmth of the sun on his face. He had barely registered the fact yet that the light of mid-morning was coming through the window to touch the darkness of his eyelids; he was only just crawling out of the last remnants of his dreams.

The sixteen-year-old Avatar blinked a few times to bring the room into focus and released a rather wide yawn, shifting a little in the blanket draped low over his waist. He let out a quiet sigh and dared to close his eyes again to see if there was any remaining traces of winks left to catch; he couldn't remember the last time he'd woken up a little later than usual, and by no accord but his own. He only figured it was time to get up when his eyes popped open halfway automatically again.

The chamber in which he had slept was familiar enough when he propped up on his arm to look around. It was the room that occupied one of the highest spots in the Southern Air Temple tower; which he and Katara had chosen and remade for their own master bedroom not a few days ago. There was a lingering smell of scented ash in the air from when the candles, set in stands high on opposite ends of the walls, had burned out during the night. The wide bed was situated underneath a windowsill with curtains that gently billowed with a warm breeze through the slightly-open glass panes. Except for the low whistling through those panes, it was comfortably silent all around.

A smile crept to the Airbender's face when he thought of Katara; as it had always done on reflex since the day they first met. The Waterbender he loved, and had asked to be his wife…

…She IS my wife now, he remembered with a quick exhalation and shook his drowsy head to make the memories from yesterday return faster. He smiled and closed his eyes again, reliving it all as his heart took a few extra leaps for joy. The wedding was absolutely perfect…he was so nervous (Katara more than likely just as much), but it had gone amazingly well in the end. The party was great fun, even if a few of their friends had taken the liberty to test their limits with the drinks.

And then the remaining night hours when the two of them retreated to their bed…

Aang gasped quietly and blushed, darting his eyes down to notice his current state; completely naked, beneath the very rumpled sheets of the otherwise elegant bedspread, with their wedding clothes strewn in various places. Even though nobody was there to see, he pulled the sheets back up a little over himself, trying to suppress a nervous grin. I wonder if the self-consciousness goes away later, he thought as images from the night before danced across his memory and—in a rather good way—made him squirm.

It was then, turning over, that he chanced a glance to the space next to him. The sight he beheld brought a boiling warmth to his face.

The subject of his memories and his dreams lay still fast asleep, turned away from him. The blankets were pooled around the gentle curve of her hip, the rest of her olive skin covered by nothing more than the tussled waves of her hair. Her quiet breathing, undisturbed, gave a slow rise and fall to her sun-kissed body.

Even though Aang had innocently shared beds with the Waterbender before, looking at her in that morning felt entirely new to him. She was so peaceful…there was a look to her that he could not describe. It was something like an otherworldly elegance, felt somewhere in her sleep-tangled features. Katara, his savior, friend, beloved...she looked entirely too wonderful to be real; and yet there she was, lying next to him in their wedding bed.

His face softened into a loving smile, though his shy blush hadn't disappeared; he figured it wouldn't for a good long while. He scooted close and carefully laid beside her again, reaching up for a tentative brush of his fingers against the skin of her shoulder. He kept his gentle touch over her unclothed form reverent and chaste, admiring her, and bathing in the feeling that seeing her like that brought to him.

I can't believe this, he thought as he carefully brushed the strands of hair away from her sleeping face. We're married. I'll be with her forever.

The memories of last night flashed through him again. He could practically hear the sounds of ecstasy in their voices—in hers—their limbs entangled around each other, bodies pressed tight, the way she clutched him with all of her strength, the way he cried out that he loved her, again and again and again…

She's all mine for real now; he sighed, slowing his touch to a warm caress of his palm over her arm. And I'm all hers. I never imagined it would FEEL like that.

I can't believe it; I just can't believe it. But, I can, I must. This is real. She is real. She's declared to me and me to her.

Even her very presence while asleep made him feel like he was being drawn closer; and he wasn't about to fight that pull. He leaned over her and lay soft, slow kisses on her shoulder, closing his eyes and just losing himself in the feel of her warmth and the scents, some familiar and some not, surrounding them both.

When Katara finally began to stir as well, she barely stiffened at feeling those affectionate touches and caresses of her soul mate; she was used to it, after all, but had yet to even grow tired of it.

"Mmh…Aang…?" she murmured. Her eyes still closed, she felt as his kisses drifted up to her face and his arm wound warmly around her. She smiled slowly, wondering if she was dreaming.

His cheek nuzzled affectionately in her hair, and he spoke drowsily next to her ear. "Good morning, my wife."

At that, her eyes blinked open to face the almost-blinding light of day streaming onto her side of the bed. She noticed her surroundings—and her own state of undress—a little faster than Aang had upon waking, and shyly reached down to draw the sheets up over herself.

His head tilted in concern, but his smile was an understanding one. No matter how passionate the night before had been, how ready they both were, the morning after seemed to leave them speechless at the very idea. They had given themselves to each other for the first time, all but cementing their marriage and their love.

The way he caressed her face was comforting, though, and Katara was reminded of how tender and caring he was. With a tired grunt, still holding the sheet up around her, she turned around so that she was facing him. The Water Tribe woman was instantly calmed by the shy dart of his wide eyes back and forth from hers, and the way his cheeks were completely flushed red.

She reached up to cup his face and hummed a laugh quietly. "You know…someday I'll get used to being called your wife."

He smiled back and reached behind Katara to stroke her hair, leaning in for a kiss to her forehead. "And I'll get used to being called your husband. Doesn't mean I'll stop loving it."

"My husband…" she echoed quietly with a short yawn and lowered her head to his shoulder. She inhaled his scent, slightly musky but still Aang all the same. "Wow," she murmured. "This is real."

"I've been convincing myself of that all morning too," he chuckled, pulling her a little closer and holding her gently, as if this precious woman would break if he didn't. "I love you so much."

"I love you so much," she replied, still keeping her eyes hidden. Shy though she was in front of him right then, seeing him in such a different light knowing so intimately that he was hers forever, Aang was still her greatest source of comfort. She'd wanted nothing more in that drowsy morning to lay in bed with him in complete silence, musing over the start of their new lives, and he felt the very same.

He kept up his affectionate combing through her hair with his fingertips, kissing her temples every so often while he listened to her hitched breathing and felt her palm tracing up and down his upper arm. She could hear and feel his heart drumming a steady beat where her other hand lay against his chest. They needed no words, no awkward talk between them; they just needed each other and the quiet peace.

After a few moments, he looked into her eyes again with that eternal bright smile. "You want something to eat? I could probably get up and fix some fruit juice with breakfast, or tea…"

She hummed and started to sit up, still clutching the blanket over her torso. "Breakfast sounds amazing, actually. I could probably make some—ooh," she suddenly hissed, laying herself back down again.

Aang's eyes widened. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she grunted, turning herself comfortably to lie on her side while biting her lip. "I think I'm just a little…sore, after last night," she confessed, blushing as she glanced back up to her nonplussed husband.

"Oh…Oh!" The Airbender thought on that for a split second, and then winced. By the look in his eyes, she guessed that he was also reliving the moment. He glanced away and scratched the back of his neck. "Oh Spirits, I'm sorry…I must've…I didn't mean to…"

He was interrupted by her quiet laugh as she reached up to squeeze his hand. "Aang, it's okay. It was the first time, you know…there was probably bound to be a little, erm…discomfort." Though I forgot about this part, she added silently.

"A-are you sure you're okay?" he stammered, taking her hand in both of his. "I-I didn't want it to be uncomfortable for you…"

"I promise you, it's fine; it's not even that bad," she argued, carefully hiding another wince as she sat up again and captured his gaze with hers. "Trust me," she smiled. "It'll go away…and in time I probably won't feel it much again. Besides…" she shyly broke their shared look. "It was completely worth it."

Aang's face softened, his worry replaced with a timid smile. "Really?"

"Yes," she softly confessed. "It was…you were…just…" she blushed. "Amazing."

"Huh," he breathed out, his worry gone and replaced with content, and even a minute amount of pride. He looked back to Katara and cupped her face, turning her back to him so that he could place a small kiss on her lips. "You should know…you were amazing too."

She flushed crimson. "Really?"

"Really. And you'll never be anything less than amazing to me, even if it hadn't gone as planned."

Charmed by the thought, and relieved that the night had been just as perfect for him, she laughed a little and shook her head, returning the kiss. "Is this ever not going to be awkward?"

"In time, I think," he gave her a mirthful grin and shrunk his head into his shoulders. "Now we've got forever to get it right."

The Waterbender snorted. "Let's get back to the subject of breakfast."

"Aw, fine," he feigned a disappointed pout and laughed, watching her. "How bad is it, though? Can you walk?"

"Well…" she hummed thoughtfully and tried to move to the edge of the bed, only to find herself wincing again when weight was put on her leg. "…Maybe not right this second."

Biting his lip, still feeling a little guilty on the matter, Aang gave his wife a patient, loving smile and wrapped her back up in the rest of the sheet and the blankets. "Stay in bed for a little while longer, then, and I'll get breakfast for us. We can eat up here, too, if you want. We don't have anywhere to be right away today."

Katara had to admit, staying in bed and enjoying the quiet of that sun-drenched morning was a very enticing prospect. That she had awakened next to her new husband, and he was willing to share the start of the day with her, made it more so.

"I'd like that," she murmured and found his hand, entwining their fingers. "You're far too sweet to me, my husband."

"I can never give you enough, I think," he replied, kissing the back of her hand.

"You gave me you," she argued with a tired yawn. "That's enough."

He only answered with another soft chuckle and proceeded to get up off the bed. "Anyway, whenever you feel okay enough to get up, I got a change of clothes for you in the wardrobe over here, and you can clean up in the bathroom right through that door, and…OOP!"

As he suddenly doubled over onto the floor, Katara looked over the edge at him (trying not to stare at certain parts) and watched as he tried to get back up on a rather shaky leg.

"Oho-kay," he laughed and rubbed at his calf, which had been close to cramping, "Maybe I need a second, too."

Katara sputtered and fell back on the bed, laughing along with him. "I never once thought in my entire life that I'd see you cramp up, Mr. Four Bending Disciplines."

He peered up and grimaced. "Well, I never thought that you had to stretch out before doing…that."

"Well, you still got your exercise, all right," she snickered.

Aang rolled his eyes and blushed with a smirk as he tried again to get up and get dressed in his own more comfortable robes, still all too relieved that the tension was, for the most part, broken.


Once he was at least halfway decent, the young Avatar made his way down the winding stone staircase to the main temple and the living quarters, where the reception party had taken place from last night. He suspected that most of the guests had left as soon as it was over, but perhaps a few of their friends and Katara's close family members had lingered.

Sure enough, coming upon the doorway, he heard conversing voices on the other side. It was Suki and Hakoda, the former half-yelling and half-whispering.

"I can't believe he did that…"

"I can, sadly."

"Still though, such a beautiful, romantic day, he ends up passing out drunk right here!"

Holding back a snicker, Aang peered inside. Everything was intact for the most part, though the couches and chairs were a little askew, and Sokka was draped completely over the arm of one of them. He was snoring, with a drop of drool hanging from his chin. Watching over him with exasperated looks were his wife and father, and Toph was fast asleep over another chair nearby.

Barking a quick laugh, Aang stepped inside and waved. "Glad to see some of us are awake."

The two turned around, regarding him with smiles. "Well, if it isn't the blushing groom," Suki quipped, and then turned back to her own husband with a sigh. "Yeah, and this idiot's getting a nice talking-to when he wakes up."

"Would everyone please shut up!" Toph suddenly growled from nearby, propping herself on the back of the chair. "My head's pounding, and I need to rest it off."

"Er; sorry, we'll keep it to a whisper," Aang replied nervously.

"You'd better," the Earthbender yawned and flopped back down. "By the way, congrats again, Twinkletoes. Say, where's the new little wife, anyway?"

"I think she'd hurt you if she heard you call her that," the young monk pointed out and flicked his eyes away briefly. "And…she's still resting."

Though he couldn't see the blind girl, he just knew that she had a taunting grin on her face. "Aha…wore her out, didn't you, Loverboy?"

Aang blushed profusely and bit his lip, unable to form a better response. Suki rolled her eyes. "Well, she's pretty blunt when she's hung over."

"She's always like that, actually," he muttered, scratching his head while his eyes were set on the floor.

The Kyoshi Warrior's hand fell on his shoulder, her smile comforting. "Hey, don't worry about it. If it makes you feel any better, everyone kinda expected it to happen, being your wedding night and all."

"Not too much better," he chuckled nervously and shook his head, wanting to abruptly change the subject. "A-anyway, are you guys the only ones left?"

"Yeah," Hakoda answered after giving up on another attempt of trying to wake up his prone son. "Fire Lord Zuko had to leave on the airship with his followers earlier this morning…but he told me he wishes you two congratulations and all the best."

Aang smiled. "Good; I'll send him a letter later to thank him. What about you, though?"

"Well, as you can see, we're not in a big hurry to leave," he stole a glance back to Sokka. "My mother's still resting herself, and I'm certain that Katara would want to see us all off before we head back south."

"She would," he agreed with a nod. "I don't know when she'll be ready to come back downstairs…"

"—Oooh, you really wore her out…" Toph interrupted with a laugh.

"Don't you have a headache to suffer through?" Suki growled, intentionally loud.

"Augh, hey, one more outburst and I'll rock-alanche you right to the moon!"

"An-y-way," Hakoda sighed, breaking the arguments with a commanding tone and crossing his arms.

A blushing Aang cleared his throat. "As I was saying; go ahead and make yourselves at home as long as you need. It's no bother."

"I figured it wouldn't be," the older warrior chuckled warmly. "I like the work you guys have done with this place, Aang. It isn't the South Pole, but it's comfortable; and it's a flight away, so that's good enough for me. As long as Katara will be happy here."

The Avatar nodded, smiling. "She says she's happy here; I promised to keep her happy for the rest of our lives…and I hope you know, Chief Hakoda, I'll stick to it. I would never make her live anywhere that she did not wish to."

Hakoda gave his new son-in-law a fatherly smile and clapped a hand to his shoulder. "I've known it since the day you told me you were in love with her, boy." His eyes softened. "I know I've said it before, but, congratulations. I could see it in your eyes, the way you feel for her, I am reminded of how I felt for her mother. And I have never seen her happier, either. I could have never imagined a better man for my daughter…and I'm not talking to the Avatar, here; I'm talking to her best friend, and a member of my family." He held his other hand up to him and laughed. "So quit calling me 'Chief', huh?"

"Sorry, old habits," Aang grinned humbly, but nonetheless gripped the man's forearm in the tradition of the Water Tribe. "And it means more to me than you know to even have such a wonderful family, and Katara's heart."

"It's good to know," Hakoda returned the grip firmly and chuckled. "Just try not to make me a grandfather far too soon for my liking. I already feel old."

"Ohhh, I'm already taking bets on that," Toph drawled.

"Betsa what now?" another voice suddenly muttered, as a wobbly body sat itself up from the couch. Sokka blinked at the others, unfocused. "Wha happened?"

"Well finally," the chief sighed.

Suki poked him in the chest, eyes narrowed dangerously. "You didn't come to our room last night like you promised me."

"Really?" the swordsman wheezed. "I thought I did." He looked over himself. "Oh, no, wait…this is the couch. An' I'm wearin'…stuff that isn't what I sleep in. Ugh…" he slapped his forehead and fell back. "M'sorry."

Having lost her anger some time ago, Suki sighed and helped to prop him up again. "I didn't even realize you were such a lightweight."

"Hey, I thought I told everyone to shut up," Toph grumbled.

"You shut up," Sokka shot back.

"Don't make me shut you up for you, snot-brain…"

Aang's eyes rolled. "Okay, okay guys…you know what I think everyone needs? Breakfast."

"Oh good," Sokka groaned as he was helped up to his feet. "Lemme at that kitchen. Oh, by the way," he paused upon ambling past the Airbender and lightly knuckling him in the shoulder, "Congrats. Your wedding's today, pal."

The others snickered, and Aang gave him a confused smirk. "You mean it was yesterday, brother-in-law. Your head's still scrambled a bit."

"Oh, right," he drawled. "Yesterday. Gotcha."

He started ambling off again, only to come to a screeching halt. "Wait. Wedding yesterday." He whirled around on one foot. "Where's Katara?"

"Still up in beeeeed," Toph sang before Aang, his face in his palm, could answer. "And I bet she had fun…"

"ACK!" Sokka held the sides of his head and ran into the kitchen. "There's stuff in my brain that wants OUT now!"

Aang felt like he wanted to bury himself deep into the mountain and never come out again, after that.

Hakoda stuck beside the embarrassed young man while the others shuffled into the dining room. "Don't worry, son, the awkwardness goes away after a while," he chuckled. "Can I give you some advice, though?"

The Airbender wanted to wince, wondering what kind of talk Katara's father wanted to have. "What's that, sir?" he inquired anyway, not wanting to be rude.

The warrior's voice lowered to a whisper, and despite his earlier concern, his look was an understanding one. "Go take her breakfast, and spend as much of the day as possible together. All things considered, I think you two feel more comfortable with each other right now than with all the gawking relatives and the like."

Aang released a short laugh at that. "Yeah…true. I-I was planning on it, anyway. Thanks, Hakoda."

"I was newly married once too, you know," Hakoda said with a wink before heading in to help with the food. Aang shook his head, still smiling.

What a family.


Back upstairs, while everything else was going on, Katara managed slowly to get onto her feet. She placed their wedding outfits onto the dresser to be taken care of later, smiling fondly as she folded them; hopefully, she thought, the beautifully-made garments would see the light of day again in the future. She mused that she could give the dress to her daughter, if she were to have one.

Still, in the wake of that morning, she felt a little lazier than usual and settled for putting on a soft silk gown and comfortable robe once that was done. As she settled back onto the bed with only a small wince to acknowledge the dwindling ache, and busied herself with brushing the knots out of her hair, the Waterbender's mind drifted back to the events of the day before.

She had always felt that many moments with Aang were like living through a dream from which she could never awaken. But during the wedding, when they were speaking their vows, she could never remember feeling so fulfilled, so happy—so warm, when before she had lived so many facets of a frigid life, afraid and uncertain, waiting for the next time that someone close to her could be taken away.

Katara hoped to never lose that feeling of fulfillment, now that she was married to him. It was a new future to look forward to, and new ups and downs to live through; it would be exciting and harrowing, but she was ready to face it…now that Aang could only ever be taken away from her in death. And not even then, for she was sure that she would join him if it were to happen.

It wasn't too much longer into those thoughts before they returned with vivid clarity back to the night before, their first as husband and wife. She wanted to giggle upon remembering how nervous they were, and how they brought each other out of their shells eventually. She blushed with the memory of how she had repeated his name like a mantra, crying out with sheer bliss. How he groaned out her own name as if he were calling out desperately for her. She shivered, remembering how it felt like everything in the world she ever wanted was wrapped all around, protecting and giving and making her want to give back just as much, just as powerfully.

Katara let out a deep breath and pressed her legs together, wanting to soon relive those emotions. It feels strange to think that we actually did that, she mused, but it feels natural, too. She had to smile to herself, feeling the heartwarming waves coursing through her blood again. And we'll be able to have that between us forever now. If we can stop being so nervous about it.

It was at that moment that she heard the door open again, and looked up to see Aang poking his head inside. It made her want to swoon, the way his face lit up when he saw her. He carried a silver tray inside by two handles, full with plates of food and drinks. "Still hungry, dear?" he grinned theatrically.

She laughed and inhaled the delectable scent of breakfast, which consisted of a couple of types of soup, rice, fruit, and sweet bread. "As ever, dear. What took so long?"

Rolling his eyes, he lightly kicked the door closed and set the tray in front of them on the bed. "The others were awake, so I had to show them where things in the kitchen were. By the way, guess who woke up on the couch with a hangover."

Katara grimaced. "Easy guess; I half-expected my brother to start dancing on someone's table at the party. I suppose Suki wasn't too pleased."

"Nope," Aang snickered. "Toph was in a pretty bad mood, too. But, get some food in their stomachs and they'll be back to normal."

"A bad mood isn't normal for Toph?"

"…Point."

They both laughed and dug into their breakfast. "Anyway," the Airbender said upon swallowing his rice, "Your family and Toph are staying for another day or two to rest up before heading back. They figured you wanted to see them off. Zuko and everybody already left though, but they send the best."

Katara nodded with a sigh. "One of the reasons I hate getting up late. I miss all our friends leaving."

"They understand," Aang assured, reaching out to tenderly rub her shoulder. "At least they were at the wedding…they're always so busy otherwise. And we'll see them again, anytime we want."

"That's true," the Waterbender admonished as she poured the tea in her cup. When she reached up to take a sip, though, she caught a strong herbal scent from it.

Aang noticed her pause. "There's a little bit of medicine in that tea," he explained, nervously scratching the back of his head. "For pain."

A little blush crossed her face, and she leaned in to kiss his cheek. "I don't think any other man would have been half as thoughtful."

"They could have been," he chuckled, "But, I got here first."

She barked a laugh and nudged him. "I'd better not regret it."

"Oh, you won't," he grinned and returned his concentration to the food.

They ate in silence for a few moments more, content as always to enjoy each other's company. But Katara could hardly keep her thoughts away from her new husband and what it meant to the both of them that they were finally a true family; she stole glances at him every so often, wondering what he was thinking. She wouldn't have been surprised to know that it was all the very same, thanking the spirits eternally for him even being able to have that morning with her after everything he had to endure.

And of course, she had to keep from blushing when last night's memories still played incessantly again in her mind and couldn't at all be turned off. She took a long sip out of her tea and took a calming breath, gaining his concerned attention again while doing so.

"You know," she started, "We should go on a honeymoon."

Aang paused and carefully set his bowl back down onto the tray. "Yeah, we should," he agreed, glancing at her with an apologetic look. "Don't hate me, but…actually, out of all the craziness and rushing around with the wedding, I didn't even think of planning it. I thought we'd just be right here."

The Waterbender shook her head with a sheepish smile of her own. "I don't hate you at all…as a matter of fact, I hadn't thought about it either. Don't get me wrong, I love what we've done with the Southern Air Temple, and it's perfectly as quiet and out of the way as any place would be…but, I think we both also deserve even just a week or two to get away and visit some favorite places. And just have each other to ourselves."

Aang had to admit, after the awkwardness with the others and having Toph pick at him, a good time away with just the two of them would be perfect. It was just like Hakoda had inferred; they needed to have time to become comfortable with each other as newlyweds; to bond anew. And though he couldn't yet find the strength to admit it to her, it was hard for him to wait until the next time they could have a repeat of the night before.

"Yeah; it's a great idea, I think," he smiled after a pause. "We'd need it too; there's never much rest for the Avatar or a Water Tribe Master. At least for a while."

"Don't remind me," she sighed, shaking her head. "But I'm glad you agree. So, the next question is, where do you think we should go?"

"Well…where would you like to go?" he said. "I don't want to take you anywhere that you'd hate."

"The same goes for me to you," Katara hummed, and laughed quietly. "We usually don't have a problem with agreeing on things together. How about this…we go to the place I want for a while, and the place you want for another while."

He chuckled. "I like that idea. Then we'll both be happy."

"Aang, with you, I'll always be happy; you know that," she gave him a sweet smile and leaned her shoulder to his. "So…where would you go?"

He had to think for a moment on that. Even as a young nomad, he'd seen so many amazing places to choose from, it was hard to pick one as his favorite…but then he had to remember that many of them would have changed in a hundred years. Most of his traveling after the iceberg had been done for the purpose of running for their lives, or needing to be somewhere; never just for the journey. There were few perfect places that he could remember.

Finally, he resigned himself to a choice. "The Eastern Air Temple, maybe? We both liked it there when we went after the war, and it's a beautiful place. Very spiritual and calm."

Katara hummed with a thoughtful smile. "Yeah…it was amazing. We have some nice memories there…" she blushed.

"Absolutely," he said with confirmation in his tone, pulling her in for an affectionate kiss on her forehead. "Now, your turn."

"Hm…" she mused. "Well…you'll probably think I'm crazy, but I always thought the Fire Nation had some beautiful spots. Remember the place with the giant waterfall?"

"You're not crazy," he assured, beaming. "And you're right; the Fire Nation has some amazing natural areas. We could hit Ember Island at the beach, maybe…or if you want, somewhere a little less populated."

"Yep; though I do love the beach," Katara sighed. Sometimes it was a little difficult being a thoroughly recognizable world hero. "I don't mind just camping out at a beautiful spot, like we did in the old days."

Aang had to laugh a little at that. "I did turn you into a nomad."

"Only a little," she snorted, poking his rib. "But it would be easy for us, since we know what we're doing."

"True, true," he grinned proudly. "It helps to know a true world traveler."

"Quit boasting and say it's a good idea," Katara quirked an eyebrow, grinning.

He straightened up. "Yes ma'am, it's a good idea," he softened and hugged her again with a quiet laugh. "And I do think so, not just because you told me to agree with you."

"Well, thank you," she laughed back. "We can take about a week in each place I think…maybe counting the days it takes to get there. If the world can live without the Avatar that long."

"I see no reason why it couldn't," he assured. "We do have to be easily reachable, though."

"Tell Zuko he can send messenger hawks," Katara shrugged, and then pointed in his face. "But only if it's life-or-death urgent. We're not skipping our honeymoon for silly diplomatic meetings and such."

"Duly noted," he nodded in full agreement, picking up her hands in his and squeezing them lovingly. "That's my solemn promise; for two weeks, I'm all yours."

"And I make the same promise," she murmured, leaning in to peck him on the lips. "Just you and me."

"Perfect," he said, sealing it with a tender kiss right back.

They then remembered that there was still food left to eat and went back to it, only sparing little glances and secretive giggles, knowing very much that if they were to get caught up in each other now, that there was no way they would stop. And neither of them wanted to stop…an agreement which soon managed to again enter the newlyweds' minds.

When they were finished eating, Katara gathered the empty pottery onto the tray and stood up with the almost-involuntary intent of taking them to be washed; but she was stopped with the gentle grip of an arrow-clad hand on her wrist. She turned back to him, questioningly, and her breath caught in her throat.

Aang's smile was rather hypnotizing, she thought right then, as the gentleness and pleading behind his eyes kept her frozen. Stay with me, she knew he was saying…and she found herself unable to find a reason not to. Without much hesitation, he took her hands on the tray handles and guided it to sit on the nightstand. "Leave it, for now," he whispered.

Katara acquiesced and was pulled closely back down next to him into the bed with her hands still in his. For a reason she couldn't yet pinpoint, her heart was racing.

Thoroughly entranced just as his wife was, the Airbender reached up to run his fingers gently over her cheek. Her eyes drifted closed with the warm contact of his skin, and she leaned closer into his embrace, a set of fingers clasping his and the other drifting behind his neck, and herself very much lost. Staring deeply into his eyes, and he into hers, they couldn't fight the pull; the very need to banish every inch of space separating them.

They laid themselves back down to the pillows, facing one another, keeping their gazes locked and their loving, shy smiles giving them a sort of perpetual glow in the other's presence.

It seemed like a long time before the silence was broken again. "Everything's gonna be different, isn't it?" Aang whispered tentatively.

Katara knew what he'd meant by those ironic words, without even asking. Marriage, life together, a family, a future…everything seemed different. And yet she knew…just by waking up with him, speaking with him, laughing, eating, all the little things that they were used to together in that short start to the day…she knew that little if anything had to change.

"I don't think so," she murmured back.

"No?" his eyebrows rose slightly.

"No." Her hand found his again. "We've always had such a strong connection. We were always close. As friends, as a couple...I don't see a big difference even after we're married."

She intertwined their fingers and brought her face closer, touching her nose to his, speaking so quietly that only the two of them could possibly hear in the small space they created there, away from even the sunlight of the world outside. His eyes went half-lidded, listening to her continue. "I think, really, all that's changed now…is that after last night, we can know each other in much more intimate ways. Deeper ways."

"…That's true," he whispered, caressing the back of her hand with his thumb. "No matter what's happened, I still love you as much as I always have, with all I could give. To be honest, I still don't think that a ceremony was needed to confirm that."

Katara giggled. "Then why did we have one, I wonder?" she teased.

"Well…" Aang shrugged one shoulder. "I think it was to show the rest of the world that we only belonged to each other. And to celebrate it with our families." He gave her a shy smile. "And besides all that, if a night like that had happened without one, to the world, you'd be disgraced. I would never have done that to you."

She blushed and closed her eyes, sighing. "Aang, you know I wouldn't have cared what they thought…"

"Still," he leaned his forehead to hers, "You would have rather waited."

"…Yes," she admitted, opening her eyes to his again, connecting to his soul in that way. "But I wouldn't have regretted it if it happened otherwise."

"I'm glad to know that…but it didn't, so we don't worry about it." He smiled. "Besides, I did like the ceremony…and the vows I made, which you know I'll stand by."

Katara felt on the verge of tears, remembering those vows and how hard it was to keep her composure upon hearing them. "I know. So will I."

"I know. There's nobody more that I trust in this world."

It was his soft words, and the gentle look that had stolen her heart so long ago, that made it threaten to leap from her chest. "Aang…Aang, Aang, Aang…" she sighed the simple but strong syllable of his name longingly, curling up against the Airbender and holding him tightly to her as her cheek brushed his own. His grip tightened around her as well, and he never wanted to let go.

"Katara," he breathed back, his voice low and smooth in her ear…soft, beckoning, loving. He littered slow kisses on the side of her face, until she lifted her head and fervently met his lips with her own.

The kisses were tender and lingering, a slow caress of lips and tongue and breath and voice, serving to break the two of them out of all manner of barriers that their coherent thoughts had put up before. The deeper they went, the closer they became, until nothing lay between.

So entangled as they were, the heat in their blood rose all the faster. Her palms roamed all along his back and gripped the fabric of his robe. He groaned when her legs wound around his, and she only started pressing closer when his hands, flat to her body, roamed downward to her hips and further still…

Aang was only brought back to reality for a moment when he felt her hands at the sash around his waist, tugging at the knot. He broke the heated kisses and held her forearm, giving them pause for their minds to catch up. Even through the sudden glaze of lust, his expression held concern.

"…Are you sure you want this right now?" he asked lowly. "You might still be uncomfortable."

With a soft grin, Katara exhaled and shook her head. With a questioning Airbender watching her, she sat up over him and undid the knot in her own robe. He bit his lip and blushed, staring as it fell off of her shoulders to reveal the silk gown that fit so well over her, and it wasn't hard to imagine what lay underneath.

He was nearly knocked out of his mind at the sight, but was still coherent enough to expect an answer to his question. "Katara," he pleaded, sitting up as well to meet her eyes evenly.

She reached up and cupped his cheek. "It's okay; I know you're concerned, but, don't be. It's gotten much better, and especially after your medicine, I hardly feel it," she said, reassuringly kissing him on the cheek and nuzzling his face as she leaned closer against him. "I…I want this right now; I want you, Aang. And I want the discomfort—all of it, for both of us—to go away."

Aang couldn't find the will to argue. He wanted to allow his resolve to slip away, and it did, when she tentatively reached out for his robe again. Her fingers trickled down the exposed middle of his chest. The garment opened as she moved lower, slowly, waiting for him to stop her again and finding that he wasn't. He was only breathing a little harder.

"…I want that too…" he finally sighed out as her lips came up to his and from there trailed kisses to his ear. He could barely feel when the robe finally slipped off his shoulders; there were far too many sensations to concentrate on. He focused on her, the feel of her chest pressing to him, and how the silk felt over her skin when his hands caressed up and down her sides.

She moaned a small whimper when he reached down to the edge of her robe and under it, moving up the skin of her leg to her hip and over the curve to the lower spine. All the while, a torrent of shivers raced along her nerves. And for him, feeling that she indeed had nothing on underneath, he was overwhelmed with ecstasy and anticipation; with it there came a familiar tightening in his loins.

When the nightgown was drawn up to her shoulder blades, he caught her gaze questioningly, and she answered in kind with a shy but reassuring smile. "Go on."

With that, the silk was pulled away over her head and dropped to the side. She straddled his legs, bared completely before him, except for the single little betrothal necklace that he'd made resting over her collarbone. The memories from the night before had returned their assault on his mind…and now it was like he was looking upon her anew, with the morning light giving more clarity to her form than the candlelit shadows did.

He reached up to her, his thumbs moving sensually across the top of her chest, and his drifting touch on her was as reverent as it was exploring. "You're a goddess," he murmured.

She hummed a small laugh, blushing as she crawled closer over her husband and wrapped him in her arms. "That's new."

He shortly grinned. "I know, it's corny…could be true though." He leaned his head to her neck and delicately suckled the sensitive skin, smiling as he felt her shiver as a result. When the attentions of his mouth moved further to her chest, he was graced with a short, breathy moan.

His loose pants were the last thing between them, and now that she knew that he'd also wanted her, Katara wasted no time in pulling it down his hips. Aang groaned lowly on her skin, closing his eyes with what little timidness on the matter was left; she never had anything negative to say about seeing all of him for the first time, but it was still too new to him.

Seeing his reaction, she left his trousers around his knees and tilted her head up to kiss him with the tenderness that he always knew she had. She felt him shiver and let go of his tension, giving in to her comforting gesture and only pulling her closer. He sat up against the wall, and she was draped over his front, knees to either side of his hips, her body against his feeling warmer than any blanket could be.

"I hope you know, this still feels new to me, too," she whispered against his lips, peering through her eyelids to see him doing the same. "But it still makes me happy to be sharing it with you."

"Me too…" he murmured, his voice deep and gentle and passionate. She felt his breath on her lips as he spoke. "With you…and only you."

With that, Katara felt no reason to keep either of them waiting any longer. "Only you," she echoed back, taking him in a kiss deep and thorough enough to drown them both. They both shuddered when she ground her center to his…he loosed a low groan when she slipped over him…her breath held a primal cry of ecstasy when he, with a swift movement of his hips, sheathed himself completely in her warmth.

It was just like they had done the night before; trying to be as close to one another as they could possibly get, skin upon skin, heat upon heat, buried in each other's very essence, limbs entwined, hearts beating as one…and yet, it just wasn't enough.

But it struck them again as it had done before: there was no holding back. They had forever. They had each other.

As she fell into a rhythm with him, guiding herself back and forth again along his length, she pressed her body firmly to his and held him as if dreading to let him go. She wanted to grace him with all the passion and love that she could, all while knowing and feeling how real he was. Aang returned that passion in kind, moving his body what little he could with her, clutching her around her waist and shoulder, her name moaned without hindrance from his lips.

Neither of them could believe how the feeling of raw passion felt with their soul mate; they were certain that nothing could compare. That nobody else could give them that sort of passion, or of love. He kissed his new wife all over where he could, worshipping her. She returned his affections with tender kisses of her own, grinding against him with a steady pace.

"Kata-AH! Katara," he groaned out after a moment, breathless and ensnared in continuous pleasure, his back pressed further to the wall as she sped up just a little more, "I love you."

The way he said those words, with purpose and depth and sincerity, had nearly driven her to the edge. "I love you…so much more…than you know," she gasped out, panting and reeling from the feelings overtaking her. "I'll never…let go of you…" she murmured lowly as she kept moving against him, feeling his hands running all across where they could reach. "Ohhh…if you don't…let go of me…either…"

Her words cut to his heart, and he held her still, almost to stopping. She was becoming a little winded, he knew then, and that they were both so close to the end…so close, yet at the same time, he never wanted it to end.

But, now, it was his turn to give back.

"Katara…I never intend to," he promised before rolling them both over so that she lay flat on the bed, he flat to her, still within her depths. He took over the pace, fitting to her and flowing with her so very easily. She clutched his sweating body to hers, overpowered and all too happy to accept it.

"Aang…oh…AANG!" she roared, holding tightly onto him as she braced herself for the approaching climax.

He felt the wall of pleasure rushing headlong and thrust forward one last time. He felt her nails in his skin…she felt him lower his head to her shoulder and cry out…and they were taken out of all reality for just a few seconds, shuddering against one another.

The storm within held powerfully for just a moment more, and then released them to fall back into reality. The two benders still clutched onto their other half like there was nothing else to hold on to, slumping slowly onto the bed.

When they opened their eyes again, breathing labored, they beheld happiness in the other the likes of which they had never seen. Happiness and trust forged a million times over; bared completely at one another's mercy and yet knowing fully that they were in the safest place in the world: she in the arms of her husband, he in the arms of his wife.

A shy, but content, smile drew itself slowly over Katara's features as she touched her warm cheek to his. "I can definitely get used to that," she said with a quivering laugh.

He laughed with her, utterly too comfortable to even move; only to hold her tighter. "Me too," he whispered. "But it'll still be special to me."

She drew in a shaky breath, barely containing her tears of bliss as she felt like drifting comfortably along with the warmth his body offered in the aftermath. "I feel the same, my love."

Beaming softly, he kissed the side of her face, closing his eyes and lazily drifting his lips over her skin. Her fingers on his back ghosted over the stripe of his tattoo along the spine, lingered on the deathly scar that broke it, and together they were nothing if not grateful that death had never found either of them in the nightmarish wars of the past. Here in their bedchamber, nesting amidst the soft, tussled sheets, there was only peace. Hopefully, there would only ever be peace.

After a moment, Katara chuckled. "Well…I suppose we should try moving now."

"We probably should," he agreed, monotone.

"But we don't want to."

"…Yep."

She looked into his calm, dark eyes, sheepish and sultry at the same time. "You don't mind if I stay here a while?"

He smiled back and stole a short kiss from her lips. "If you don't mind me doing so too."

She kissed him back. "Not at all."

"Good. I can't move," he snickered.

"Do you want to?"

"Absolutely not."

And so with the sun making its rounds over a new morning on the earth, warming them with a steady stream of light through the window of their room, they didn't move, not until life urged them to live on, forever, together.