((AN: So yay, I'm not dead. x3 At least I've written a new story to -one- of my Avatar bits, even if it's the series rated M. :B But hey, my muse can be picky sometimes, especially when she wants to be romantic. x3

Don't worry, I'm also trying to work on the other stuff...a new chapter of Comet's Wake is about 3/4 of the way done, and more info on that will be there when I put it up. Also started another one-shot for Between the Pages, and I've still got some ideas for that as well. I'd like to thank all of you for your patience and your encouragement, and all the new faves and alerts. Really, I'm -still- amazed that my writing gets as much attention as it does, and I only hope that what I keep doing entertains all of you as much as it does myself. ^^

Anyway. x3 On with the passion. This one leads more towards canon-like directions, as I had an overhead picture of Air Temple Island on hand while I was writing to discern things, but things like their ages and whatnot might not still be consistent...but may hopefully be easily fixable. xP Also it was hard to write for a while, as I kept stewing over just what things these two could ever argue about...but I had help from a scenario I'd seen somewhere before in a few sitcoms. Good grief, what does it say about me that I sometimes get my inspiration from sitcoms? xP


Also, Mike and Bryan own these two, as always, so they get all the cookies.))

Life's Gifts

At their island home of the new Air Temple, still undergoing some construction, the weather was mild and the air crisp with the smell of the ocean. Each cool breeze through the open windows and rooms of the ornate building, and whistling through the trees, brought the prediction of a night without rain. The clouds that now were catching the last of the sun's light would also probably catch the moon's bright, white glow and illuminate the edges of their otherwise invisible stark blackness against the sky. At the other horizon, he knew that the lights of the swiftly-growing Republic City would soon cast upon the ocean.

Aang had barely noticed the sight of the sunset; the twenty-year-old Avatar sat upon one of the tallest windowsills with a new project in hand, a circlet made of newly-blossoming flowers and braided tufts of soft bison fur. He paused in its creation and shortly smiled, suddenly remembering words of Sokka's from what seemed like so long ago: "Maybe instead of saving the world, you can go into the jewelry-making business."

He recalled that he wasn't really kidding when he replied to his future brother-in-law that he could probably do both. The Airbender loved crafting things even in his youth, and even now, he liked having a hobby...something to do whenever he had the spare time and peace to himself. He'd gotten comments from his friends that, perhaps, his crafts could be sold; surely something made by the Avatar would fetch a good price.

"No thanks," he'd said with a humble laugh, "It's just something I like to do."

And he did, especially whenever his little creations turned themselves into gifts for his beloved Katara. He'd given her necklaces, bracelets, circlets; things he'd made either out of randomness or to show her how much he cherished her...treasures left by their bedside in the morning or slipped into her hand when she passed by...and she'd kept them all, for his things were always made with care and precision, and with her in mind.

He took a long breath and let it out with a sigh, returning to make some finishing touches with his work. He did indeed have his wife in mind with this latest project...but in a different way than usual. He was hoping to end the distance between them caused with a recent fight.

It was a small disagreement, really...but any disagreement with Katara felt like a big deal to Aang. He closed his eyes and paused, the words from earlier coming back to him in a flash.

"...But Aang, think about it...it's still a real possibility!"

"I don't want to think about it, that's the thing. Why would you think we wouldn't be there for our child?"

"I'm not saying we won't...I'm just saying, we should be prepared. Who would take care of it if we're not here?"

"Well, you can worry about that. I refuse to see things that way."

"Stop being stubborn! This is for our child...!"

Aang's eyes snapped open, and his heart burned. Katara, who was currently five months pregnant, had come to him earlier that evening with a sudden concern: what if something would happen to both of them? What would become of their children? What if she were to die in childbirth?

It was all too suddenly depressing for Aang to think about...to him, losing Katara was a stark impossibility. He wanted it to be...to lose her would feel to him like he had lost his entire world, all over again; he felt that he'd never recover. He'd adamantly dismissed the notion, and felt so hurt that she'd even consider it possible...and yet, he knew, she was only pleading with him to think of being prepared for such a scenario.

He wiped the moisture from his eyes and looked again at his finished gift, running his fingers over the delicate white petals. "I'm so stupid..." the Airbender murmured to himself. Maybe I was a little too quick to dismiss this. As much as I hate to say it...it is possible, even if we live so safely now. We have to think about this for our baby.

All I know is...I just want to see her.

With another sigh to lighten his heavy heart, Aang sat up and looked out along the darkening horizon. As his eyes followed the ocean in an invisible path back down to the edges of the island, he nodded once to himself. The cove. If I were her...I'm certain she's down there on the beach somewhere at least.

And so, he bended himself on a cushion of air down to the courtyard, and took off at a short run...hoping and praying that his beloved Waterbender still wasn't too angry with him.

She sat in the warm white sand encircling the south-eastern end of the island, still and quiet as she took in the smell of the wind and the sound of her element crashing upon the beach. Her right hand rested upon her rounded abdomen, rubbing comfortably over the surface where she knew her baby was nestled...warm and still growing...sharing her health and breath and blood.

Katara loved the beach at that hour of the evening, when the sky was dark and the stars winked into view one by one and two by two. It was serene...one of those places where you could go just to feel like there was no strife, or a responsibility to tend to the rough edges of a peaceful world. The breeze was cool on her skin, billowing through the expansive folds of the Air Nomad-colored robe that her beloved had given her for comfort while pregnant.

Her disagreement with Aang had been forgotten long ago. The Waterbender truly did understand his state of mind after thinking about it; she didn't want to imagine a world where their child would never know the love of their parents, and she knew that it tore him apart to hear of the possibility. Now she wished that she hadn't shouted...hadn't pushed him away.

But, she wouldn't be alone much longer. Far behind her and coming closer, slowly, was her husband. His light footfalls didn't even register in the soft, shifting sand, and so he was free to watch her undisturbed and peaceful countenance. Her eyes, bluer than the ocean itself, held free-floating and unburdened thoughts behind them as he came around to her side and could see her face.

He almost didn't wish to bother her right then...but as she caught him out of the corner of her eye and turned slightly to grace him with a small smile, he was frozen to the spot anyway, giving a sheepish smile of his own with his hands behind his back. "...Hey," he greeted softly.

"Hey, yourself," she responded, her gaze awkwardly turning from him and back down to her pregnant girth.

Tilting his head, he knelt beside her and tentatively held a hand out to touch her stomach. Her heart couldn't help but start to race when she saw the soft look of warmth and love in his eyes.

"You know...I think you've got the right idea to sit out here," he observed. "The ocean air should be good for the baby."

Katara hummed. "Well, it was always good for me. And what's good for me is good for him, I think. Or her."

He chuckled back, looking fondly back to his wife. "I always trusted that. Can...can I join you two?"

She chuckled at the use of "you two", but it also warmed her heart. It was always such a new and wonderful feeling when she observed that Aang's love for their first child, even before it was born, was equal to his love for her. She patted the sand next to her. "Of course you can."

He took the invitation and sat down close, his leg touching hers, but no closer than that...lest she was still feeling a tiny bit cross with him. Still, Katara's eternally-sweet smile gave him a little more relief for that quiet moment with her.

She watched him curiously, noticing his slight nervousness nonetheless. He took a breath, and his hands came from around his back to produce the circlet of woven bison fur and flowers, presenting it. "Oh..." she breathed, her eyes widening at the unexpectedness of the little gift.

"I made this for you," he smiled hopefully. "Sort of...a peace offering. I'm...I'm sorry for overreacting earlier." He hung his head. "You were right...it's a possibility that can't be ignored. If something were to happen to us...to you...I didn't want to think of what it would do to me, and could do to the baby..."

His words were halted by the feel of her hands upon his own. "It's okay, Aang...I'm not mad anymore. I know why you felt the way you did...I do too. It's hard for me to feel like I have to think about that, but...I probably shouldn't. I'm sorry for even bringing it up."

Aang breathed out a sigh and shook his head, pulling her carefully into a close embrace. "Don't be. I want to talk about this, Katara. If not now, then at some point at least."

At that moment, any kind of wish to argue with him disappeared into an exhausted haze of emotion. She sighed out his name quietly and laid her cheek upon his shoulder, letting herself be drawn closer into one of his loving holds that was impossible to get out of. It had been a half-day's time that passed since the fight...and yet she had missed the feel of his protective arms around her body, the sound of his even breathing, and the scent of his robe. As for Aang, his thoughts drifted away just at the feel of her, and being able to hold on to her and their unborn child as if to protect them from the world; just as she had long protected him. His fingers wove through her hair, his other palm caressing a large circle on her back...and the ocean became the only sound of their own shared world.

For a long time, they didn't speak. His head lay against hers, and his eyes closed, breathing her in.

Soon enough, he was about to think of suggesting that they move back inside and to their bed, with no more talk on the matter at hand if she so wished. But her tentative question came first.

"...I just want to know one thing right now..." she whispered. "If...if I were to die after giving birth..."

His arms tightened around her, gentle and yet possessive. "I would be devastated," he answered.

"I know you would. But...would you still try to live on, for the child? You wouldn't...resent him?"

The Avatar's eyes shot open, and he broke the embrace shortly to look at her in hurt shock. "Katara...of course not...I could never resent our child for anything. He...or she...is a gift. A true and innocent miracle, no matter what." He reached down to rub her belly, still looking her in the eyes. "Why would you ever think that I would?"

She sniffed and buried herself closer to him again. "I don't know. The thought just came to me, along with this fear of leaving him without parents that love him."

As Aang held her, taking in her words, he slowly came to the hidden meaning behind her pain. He remembered how her mother's death and her father's leaving for war had affected her...he remembered feeling the curiosity of his own lost parents and the pain that had followed. "Like us," he finally guessed.

Katara took in a shaky breath and forced the unshed tears in her eyes to dry. "It's probably just the pregnancy talking, all these rushing emotions; I know it's stupid to worry about now, but...I just wanted to be sure that if something did happen..."

"Shh..." he hushed, and held her face in his palms. "Katara, I'm going to promise you something right now, okay?"

Watching him, seeing how serious he was, she could only nod. His thumbs stroked her cheeks as he spoke. "It would be a hard life if I had to live it without you. But I would live. And I would make sure that I could be there for our baby. Finally, if I too were to die, I would make sure that he would be taken care of...and given the best that I could give. This I swear, on my love for you both."

Her jaw quivered, and her eyes closed to the haze of moisture clouding them. It seemed impossible, the depths that his sincerity seemed to reach whenever he promised and professed anything for her...but yet it was there, she could feel it, and could never deny it. It was more than she ever wanted to hear.

Aang leaned her forehead to hers. "Do you promise me that too?"

Her eyes opened to his steel-gray gaze. "Aang, you know I would. It would be hard to live without you too...so hard...but for the life we created together, I would. I promise."

"Good...then no more talking about this. Promise me once more," he demanded in a soft whisper, nudging her nose with his and giving her a tiny grin. He took the flower circlet from her hands and placed it on her head. "It's not likely that either of us will die. I want my optimistic Katara back. The Katara that I know will be the best mother ever."

She couldn't help but mirror his smile, laughing through her tears. "Okay, okay."

"Come on, say it," he pressed, kissing her cheek. "You promise to be happy."

The Waterbender laughed and gave him a little shove. "Aang..." she giggled when he nipped playfully at her ear. "Okay, okay...I promise."

"Good," he smiled and pulled back, unable to tear his eyes away from hers...not when he saw the light had returned to them and made them shine as brilliantly as the stars above. "I love you so very much, Katara," he breathed.

She leaned in and tenderly pressed her lips to his, entwining her fingers with his and laying their joined hands upon her belly. "I love you too...and I know I definitely want to live to see our baby call you 'daddy' for the first time."

"It won't be half as cute as you being called 'mommy'," he pointed out with a gentle laugh, returning the kiss with fervor and relishing the sound of her cheerful voice laughing and humming against his mouth. He lived to make her happy...and those sounds felt like they'd extended his life tenfold.

It seemed like ages before they parted again, and just quietly took in each other's expression of bliss...that sleepy half-eyed look from her husband told Katara thousands of words about his emotions without her having to even guess. Never would she grow tired of it. And just so, to Aang, that same look coupled with the luminous splash of red on her cheeks made her impossibly more beautiful than ever.

He broke the silence with a chuckle as his hand reached up to tuck loose strands of hair behind her ear, brushing the circlet in the process. "Looks like I haven't lost my artistry. You look like royalty."

She scoffed and gave him a little shove in the chest. "I'm not, though."

"Daughter of the chief," he pointed out with an amused eyebrow quirk.

Her head shook. "I don't think the title holds the same power in the Southern Tribe though. Dad was always more like...leader of the warriors. Gran-Gran took care of everyone more."

"She wasn't alone, if I recall," Aang hummed with mirth and lowered his forehead to the back of her hands. "Royalty or not, you're worthy of respect, Master Katara."

"Weeelll, when you put it that way, Avatar," she grinned and flipped her hair with a fancy air, making fun of herself, before laughing and placing a kiss on the crown of his head. "Really though, thank you, Aang...it's beautiful, as always. You didn't have to make anything for me...you know I'd forgive you."

"I wanted to." He raised his head to look at her again. "If only to see you smile."

She laughed, unable to stop the warmth from crawling to her face. "Charming as always." Her eyes darted from his after a pause. "Speaking of the tribe...and of family...I'm wondering who you think would be best for taking care of the baby if we can't."

His eyebrows rose. "Didn't you promise not to dwell on that?"

"I promised I would be happy," she corrected, poking him on the nose with a smirk. "I just want your opinion."

Aang sighed, his eyes rolling upward with a hum. "I don't know...we know a few good families. I'd say Sokka and Suki. Maybe your dad, now that he spends most of his time at home."

She nodded. "That's what I think too." She took a deep breath, looking down at the bump of her stomach and running her palm over it. The Waterbender's head shook. "I really was being silly," she whispered. "I can't believe I doubted this about us...about our families."

"Katara..." Aang breathed as he pulled her to him again, immediately wishing to soothe her aching heart. At that moment, he wished that he could bring her closer, into his lap, his arms holding her as tightly as he could. But he also feared jostling the baby, which he could barely feel small movements from as his palm pressed flat to the growing bump. "Katara," he said again, "You're breaking your promise now."

She let out a tiny laugh into his robe that came out as a half-choked sob. "Not anymore. It's...it's just a wonder how we can ever fight, when you make me so happy."

He laid a kiss against her head, breathing the scent of salt and sand that had caught in her hair on her long stay out on that beach. "It just happens sometimes. But I love you far too much to let any disagreement keep me from you. Ever."

Katara tilted her head up to look at him, opening her mouth to say something...but no words could come in response. It was one of those beautiful moments that came when she saw the sincerity in his eyes, as clear and loud as the words he spoke. Her lip quivered, as did her fingers as they brushed up against his face. He needed to hear nothing from her...he saw the emotion in his beloved's eyes, and saw no more need for words. He knew her feelings were the same.

His lips took over hers, and she was willed to calm yet again...her mind erased of doubts, fears, and reality. His hand held the back of her head, pulling her further and deeper with him as she took every caress of his lips, every breath, every loving hum against her skin. She gave back in full, breaking from him only to take in air. As his other hand wandered over her back, hers flexed on the muscles of his arm.

Neither Katara nor Aang could remember when they last took their time kissing, making their private moments linger. Her racing heart calmed under his touch, and would start again when she heard his melodic voice groaning with pleasure and affection. He pulled her closer, pressing her to him, and she responded with a calm sigh. Eventually, he broke apart but still lingered close to her, gauging the emotion in her eyes.

The sun had finally set by then, and all around them night had fallen. There were still lights: the stars and the moon, and whatever the lanterns scattered about the island gave off. But by the way he watched her, held and touched her, Katara knew that it wasn't just the night's shadows that made his eyes look just a little darker. And she knew that hers certainly didn't look any different.

He lowered his head and placed a kiss on her cheek, littering the touch of his lips across her face and down to her neck before she had even thought about stopping him. Her fingers scrunched the fabric of his top and felt along the muscles of his bare shoulder, and she giggled when he nipped at her ear in response.

"My Katara..." he murmured in a very familiar tone, silky as his touch on her bare arms under the robe she wore...the tone that always invited her into the deepest intimacies they could share. He moved just a little, and she felt herself sinking back into the sand. But a few blinks later, her mind lifted itself from the foggy haze that she knew they'd be lost in soon.

"Aang..." the Waterbender had started to say, but found herself speaking in the same beckoning tone. She cleared her throat and tried again, turning her head to deter any more kisses. "Aang, love, wait."

"Mm?" He halted and pulled away, watching her with concern. "What is it?"

She took a deep breath and sat up again, her look apologetic. "I just...I'm not sure how often we should be doing...you know, that, right now." His gaze caught the movement of her hand, resting protectively over her extended womb. "The baby."

Her husband glanced away, uncertain. With this being their first child, they hadn't yet known how safe it would be for them to engage in more rigorous activities. His hand lay next to hers on her stomach, thoughtfully, and he looked up to her with a kind smile.

"It's okay, Katara; I agree with you," he whispered and took her hand, entwining their fingers. "You know I'd be as careful as I could though, right? I never want to hurt our child."

She smiled. "I know you would, Aang. I guess I just worry a bit too much right now."

"It's fine," he said and pecked her on the lips. "Still...I feel like making up for the time we lost fighting. Even if it's not with making love. I want to make it up to you."

Katara couldn't help her blush at his sentiment. He was always doing so much for her, even stepping it up quite a bit now that she was with child, and sometimes going above and beyond his vows...and she too wanted to make up for that lost time, anything at all, for the man she loved and the mirthful Airbender that she admired.

"Well..." she finally breathed out. "I have been a bit stressed out lately; it's been hard to do any Waterbending." Katara looked up at him hopefully. "Help me up and over to the pool?"

"Of course," he grinned and stood up, pulling her with him, and they turned to the little freshwater lake that sat just a small distance into the cove, away from the beach.

The night seemed to be just a little darker around that secluded area of water and trees overlooking it. But the lake still caught the illumination of stars in its shifting swells, and the lapping sounds it made against the bank was softer compared to the rougher crashes of the ocean, still heard on the beach somewhere behind the two benders.

Only a little less than five months into pregnancy, Katara didn't need help to walk really, not yet...but Aang still held her hand as they stopped at the shallows. It only took a glance from his wife to convince him to let her go, stepping into the cool black and silver-blue water with her bare feet. He sat upon a nearby rock and resigned himself to watching her Waterbend, a smile on his face nevertheless.

The Water Tribe woman sighed with the relief of the cool water on her legs the deeper she waded in, until the robe she wore was touching the surface. Aware of his eyes on her from the bank, and still feeling the tickling, teasing heat of her blood from the earlier events, she grinned to herself and began to remove the loose garment from her body. The sunrise-colored fabric slid easily from her shoulders to be lightly tossed to the side, and leaving her in her white bindings.

Aang blushed, his eyes frozen to her form. He always thought that she looked ravishing when she took to the water, her long hair flowing with her movements and her dark skin contrasting starkly with her pale bathing clothes. And somehow, the sight of that naked rounded abdomen only added to the beauty of the creature he watched carefully bending columns of water...with the circlet of flowers to complete it, she looked akin to a spirit of life, carrying their child and moving with the utmost care...and it warmed him to the core.

It was like a slow dance, moving through the basic Waterbending stances and slowly moving up to the complicated ones. The clear, shimmering water moved in circles around her head and body, snaking and morphing and streaming, and it only got easier the more she relaxed and breathed. Watching her, Aang felt like he was growing hypnotized. He felt the need to join her, although he chose to wait for her invitation.

Katara meanwhile didn't know whether it was the pulling energy from the moon, or the quiet and still darkness, or the force of her Waterbending coursing through her muscles after a long period out of practice...perhaps a combination of the three was what made her breathe a little faster, and feel a little warmer. She couldn't help but keep glancing at Aang, and wishing to feel his protective embrace from before, and his sensual touch...

Her last pass with the circle of water from the lake grew slower and then stopped. The Airbender watched the way she stood with concern, wondering if she was growing tired. She lifted her arms and simply let the water rain over her head, wetting her hair and dripping over her skin. The cool showering quelled the heat, but only marginally. Heat...and yet she rubbed her upper arms as if cold, muscles twitching. She didn't want to be in the water alone, in a place that now felt so full of an unnamed, claiming energy.

It feels unnatural, even now, to fight against what I want...

Aang stood up, having decided to see what the matter was after observing her standing frozen for more than a few moments. But he barely took another step before Katara turned her head and fixed her eyes on him.

He blinked, and gulped without knowing it. The way she was looking at him...a gleam behind those deep sapphire irises showing up with a suggestive curl of her lip...it was calling to him, making him want to inch closer. Always, since the first day she'd ever given him such a look...the first night...it never failed to beckon to his heart before his mind could stop it.

"Aang?" she called with a genuinely soft, sweet voice. Her eyes dropped almost bashfully to the water. "Could you come in?"

Her husband was hesitant but for a moment, his head tilted as he shortly smiled back. She watched him pull off his torso wrap and shoes, then stepped through the sapphire waves toward her.

Aang's hand reached for her face, and his curled fingers caressed her flushed skin. "Is everything alright?" he asked, his voice low and soft.

Katara didn't answer for a moment; her eyes closed to his touch, her own hands laying themselves against his chest. Her left could feel his heartbeat...her right drifted over his creamy bare skin, up and down again. Her breathing stilled, while his own started to hitch. The Waterbender wanted to allow herself to become immersed in his very presence...his voice, his touch on her body...she wanted all of it. The water lapped at them in a broken, soothing rhythm and only added to the atmosphere.

"Yes," she finally whispered an answer, leaning in closer and resting her body to his, a kiss pressed to his shoulder. "It just...feels more comforting with you here to hold me."

The smile that Aang gave her was a teasing one, but he wrapped his arms warmly about her nonetheless. "I guess you couldn't stay away from me for long, huh?"

She breathed out a laugh, her lips drifting to his neck. "You're one to talk. You came looking for me first tonight."

"Mmmm..." he sighed with bliss as her hands continued to drift over his body, occasionally using Waterbending to place flowing droplets over all of the sensitive areas and making her touch all the more sensual. His fingers combed reverently through her damp hair and his other palm drifted in circles over the bare skin of her back, waist, and the short dome of her womb. "I'm glad I did, too," he admitted with a kiss pressed to her cheek, his breath feathery on her ear. "There's one thing I never try to forget, after a talk like we had...even in death, I will be close."

A few sentimental tears freed themselves from Katara's closed eyes as she was wrapped up closer, tighter, against his body. His kisses continued to drift, as did his hands, causing her to shiver. Her thundering heart couldn't be stilled...she briefly wondered if the Avatar too could feel the way her blood coursed and warmed areas of her body that were for his knowledge alone.

"So will I," she promised, her tone sincere and coupled with quivering need. As if of their own volition, her fingers drifted to his belt and left themselves there, pressing to the skin of his abdomen. She felt a breathy sigh on her neck as a result.

They were content to stand like that for the longest time, littering one another with tender kisses and sensitive, teasing touches. Her lips claimed his, and he hummed with a passionate fervor. He wanted to be so close...so warm...to show her his deep love, and hear her voice break in ecstasy.

The Airbender's fingers slid up her spine, and then underneath her top bindings. She swallowed a light gasp as she felt his touch over the skin of her shoulder blades. He broke their kisses and searched her gaze, pausing...but not moving. He recognized the soft, almost sleepy look of pleasure and wanting...but he remembered her earlier concerns.

His nose gingerly touched hers. "Do you...want to?" he murmured lowly.

She took in a long, deep breath...but it only served to make her feel the hammering pulse and the burning heat in her loins all the more. "...Yes," she finally whispered...almost a whimper. "But...carefully."

He nodded once and briefly rubbed a hand over her belly, nestled and pressed between them. "I promise, Katara."

Aang's smile again warmed her heart, as did the repeat of that promise in the tender kiss that followed. One thing that she was thankful for when it came to the man she had married...his foremost thought in their intimate trysts—whether tender or quick—was always of her, dominated by love. Lust was there, but only secondary, the mere messenger of primal instinct. He felt like he was giving himself all to her...and she was giving to him in return...and it was deemed a moment sacred and special.

The kisses resumed, slow and thorough, but heated. His hands drifted over her, lifting water to her body and rubbing along her arms and shoulders...at one point, he used the Healing Touch with his impromptu massage, and she gave him an amused grin. Had I ever known that he would use his Waterbending knowledge for this...still she couldn't deny, it was blissful and soothing...any stress left in her muscles drifted away with the water. She did the same for him, playfully tracing the arrows on his arms and over his spine. His old lightning scar tingled, as if reliving the memory of her life-saving healing.

Their clothes drifted away soon enough too. His hands had slowly drawn her bindings off to unravel down her limbs, and she shivered when the water touched her naked body. She felt his desire pressing to her, and with a tug, helped to free him from the confines of his pants. He gasped and purred on her collarbone, holding her still and tightly to him as his tongue took water from her skin wherever he could reach. She held back the desire to lean back and invite him downward, lest she'd fall...though his hold prevented that worry. The haze returned, promptly settling them into a world that held nothing but each other.

Aang's lips took hers again in a feverish kiss; deeper, always deeper, always closer. His palm smoothed over her backside and pulled against the back of one thigh, lifting her leg around him. But, even with her husband keeping her aloft, Katara could barely keep her balance in the water. She gasped upon feeling the pull of gravity, and broke their kiss as a result. But where her eyes held sheepishness, he still kept their shared gaze with a gentle smile.

"Don't move," he murmured. Planting his feet as best he could, he held her against him with one arm and thrust upward with the other. From the water, a flat, smooth wall of rock rose behind her. She gasped in surprise, feeling the tremor through both earth and water.

Before she could ask anything, his lips were upon hers again, and she felt herself being carefully, slowly pushed back against the stone. She kissed him with fervor, her body warm and pressed with his, his every wandering touch against her skin only serving to ignite her desire more and more.

He heard the Waterbender's breath shuddering along with her, and that was his wordless command. Ever so slowly, one of her legs wrapped about his waist and she was lowered onto him.

Feeling his stiff warmth inside of her, the heat of his body contrasting with the cool breeze and remaining droplets of water over them, he released a breathy moan on the side of her face and began a slow and steady grind.

Her voice, moans and whimpers thick with ecstasy, became his guide...as was the desperate gripping and flexing of her hands on his back in time with each stroke and thrust. He kept his word, his pace easy and gentle...her trust in him had no room to falter, and once again she was completely, blissfully lost in her soul mate's tenderness.

As it always happened, the waves of pleasure he felt from her every caress, every movement countering his own and breathless murmur of his name as the minutes passed, caused Aang to only want to give more to her.

He fought to keep his steady pace, and his lips lingered near her ear. "Katara," he started in naught but a whisper, "I wish...this would last forever. I love you, so very much...so much..."

Katara heard him, and yet, barely did. The overwhelming rush of ecstasy over every inch of her body, through her very core, mingled with pure love and came out as a stream of blissful tears from her closed eyes. He paused upon feeling the stark moisture and cupped her cheek, wiping it away. "You're alright?"

She let out a laugh that was more of a happy sigh, trembling under him. "Aang...How can I not be alright, when I love you more than you'll ever know..."

"I know...I know," he lovingly murmured and silenced her with a deep kiss, continuing his slow movements over and within her. He barely noticed tears escaping his own eyes...all that they both knew was that they could never, ever bear to be apart again; mind, body, soul.

In almost no time at all, the Airbender felt himself nearing his end. He concentrated hard on his control, but just after him, she too couldn't hold on any longer. Her other leg ensnared the back of his body, and she clutched what she could hold with her arms. "Aang...Oh, please, Aang..." she groaned.

His name on her desperate voice was the final push. Holding her as if it meant their lives, he arched his body against hers, his final thrust beckoning his release. She bit her lip against a loud cry as her world exploded into overwhelming heat, her pulse beating rapidly in her ear as everything rushed through in a barrage of tremors. Rise...and slow fall.

An immeasurable amount of time passed as she caught her breath after coming down from it, feeling Aang's body heaving against hers. His own heartbeat sounded in waves throughout her every sense of the world.

Only when she felt his fingers combing tenderly through her damp hair did Katara remember where she was...the waters of the lake soothed the heat from their skin and mingled with the scent of sweat. She was still in her husband's arms, held protectively. At one point he had turned them around so that his back relaxed against the smooth rock, and she was resting what she could of her weight on him.

The Waterbender looked back up to her husband's calm gaze and soft smile, when she could, and reached for his hand to hold it to her heart. "I can never find anything to say, after that, except that I love you."

"You don't even have to say anything," he assured, squeezing her fingers. His other hand went back to the sturdy bump on her abdomen.

Katara nestled against him. "It's okay?" she asked, feeling too lazy to check for herself.

Using his own Waterbending senses, Aang could somewhat "see" into his wife's womb as he moved his fingers around and pressed a palm flat to her skin. "The baby's fine. I guess we never had to worry." He smiled and kissed her temple. "Which is good. What we do out of love shouldn't hurt what came from that love."

She chuckled. "When you put it that way...still, I'll always worry a little."

He had no will to argue, nor the strength to do anything but keep her safe with him in the soothing waters of the tiny lake. Of course she would worry...as would he. But it wouldn't dominate their lives as it had used to.

The circlet he had made was still resting on her head, though some of the petals had found their way into the strands of her hair. And for a while as they basked in the glow of one another, they had forgotten that anything was ever argued about. They were only remembering what was most important.

It was silly, after all, to dwell.