Won't Let You Go
Rated: M for romance/tragedy (Kataang)
Summary: Further proof of how evil I am. Takes place in "The Puppetmaster". Katara is too late, and Aang gets mortally injured. Can she save him?
Disclaimer: "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is owned by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.
LES: I am so evil. This idea has been floating around in my head for months, but I've never taken the time to write it. But, I figured I might as well. It seems every time I like a character, I just have to make them suffer. What is wrong with me?
Muse: You're a sadist.
LES: No… I don't think that's it.
Even though Katara was in the middle of a fight, she still couldn't believe that she was here. In all of her travels, she had never had a serious fight with another Waterbender.
Certainly, her duel with Master Pakku months ago and been quite intense, but it was different now. Neither she nor Master Pakku were intentionally trying to hurt each other, but now she was facing off against an insane Waterbender who was more than willing to hurt her… or do something much worse.
Because Hama wasn't an ordinary Waterbender… she had invented an evil technique that she had called Bloodbending, using the water in someone's body to control them. Thankfully, Katara's superior powers at Waterbending protected her from the dark Waterbender's controlling grip.
Hama desperately shot more water at Katara, attempting to weaken her enough to let her Bloodbending work again, but Katara blocked every one of her moves with relative ease.
And then, suddenly…
"We know what you've been doing, Hama!" Katara looked up in shock. Her brother and Aang were running towards them, both looking prepared for a fight.
Aang quickly got into a Bending stance, his typical warning. "Give up, you're outnumbered!" He yelled at Hama as she got up from Katara's latest attack.
"No." Hama said, raising her bony fingers. "You've outnumbered yourselves."
With a movement of her arms, both Aang and Sokka were suddenly under Hama's control via Bloodbending. Both of the boys had expressions of shock on their faces as their bodies moved forward without their meaning to. The two boys forcefully launched themselves at Katara, but she managed to dodge them. She turned her attention on Hama, for if she were able to distract Hama enough, she could break her hold on Aang and Sokka. But Hama casually blocked her attack with a wheel of water that she absorbed from a nearby tree.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Sokka was pulling his sword from its sheath. "Katara, look out!" Sokka yelled in warning as he began to swing the deadly blade at her wildly. "It's like my arm has a mind of its own! Stop it, arm, stop it!"
Thankfully, Katara is able to use her Waterbending to knock Sokka safely away. But she is barely given a second to breathe before Aang jumped into the fray, using normal Martial Arts. Apparently, Hama's Bloodbending had a limit. She could control Aang's movements, but she couldn't force him to Bend. The thought was only a small comfort to Katara, for Aang was a gifted Martial Artist even without his Bending.
"This feels weird!" Aang cried out in confusion as he was forced to attack Katara against his will.
Katara discovered another weakness of Bloodbending as she shot water at Aang. Aang could have normally dodged such an attack, but he didn't. His ability was limited to Hama's. Katara's attack knocked him into a tree, and Katara quickly froze him in place there, taking him out of the fight.
"I'm sorry, Aang!" Katara quickly apologized.
"It's okay." Aang assured her. He was just glad to not be controlled anymore.
Sokka attacked her again, once again swinging his sword wildly and with none of the discipline he learned under Master Piandao. Katara quickly pulled some water from a nearby plant and shot it at Sokka's sword arm. He was thrown back into a tree, and she froze his hand there.
Now that both Aang and Sokka were safely out of the fight, Katara turned her attention back on Hama, who strangely was still wearing a grin.
"Don't hurt your friends, Katara…" She raised her hands. "And don't let them hurt each other!" With a violent movement, Hama regained control of Aang and Sokka, and forced them to go flying at each other. Sokka had his sword, sharp and deadly, extended and Aang was completely defenseless as he was flung towards Sokka. Both Sokka and Aang yelled in terror, but could do nothing to stop themselves.
"No!" Katara screamed, reaching out…
The next sound that she heard was the most sickening sound that she ever heard in her life: the sound of metal sliding against yielding flesh. The battlefield froze, and strangely, there was no sound… only horror.
No one knew if it was because he was still held in the grip of Hama's Bloodbending or not, but Sokka hadn't moved a muscle, only able to stare in horror at the sight before him.
Aang was strangely quiet. Several long seconds passed before he moved at all, and he glanced down, staring in mute horror at the blade sticking out of his stomach.
Katara was frozen on the spot, unable to process anything except the sight of Aang with a deadly blade in his stomach. She wanted to scream in horror, but couldn't. Her lungs were frozen.
Suddenly Hama began to laugh, and she released her hold on the two. Aang instantly made a delirious and desperate attempt to remove the sword from his stomach, but Sokka had the sense left to stop him. After all, removing the sword would just make the injury worse. "No, Aang." Sokka said, restraining the boy and forcing him on the ground as he groaned and cried out in pain. "You can't take it out yet! Come on, buddy. Ya gotta be strong!"
Suddenly, Hama's laugh was interrupted by an Earthbending attack, an attack which quickly put the dark Waterbender into an earthen cage. Toph had come to the rescue, bringing the Fire Nation citizens that Hama had kidnapped. The Fire Nation citizens worked quickly. They were prepared to not give Hama a single second to recover. Before she could even think about Waterbending, she had been restrained by her own prisoners and quickly led away with the promise that she would never see moonlight again.
"Ha-ha!" Toph said triumphantly. "The Greatest Earthbender in the world to the…" She suddenly trailed off when she picked up Aang's vibrations. The Avatar was writhing on the ground, in desperate pain because of the weapon lodged in him. "Oh Spirits… Twinkletoes!" She gasped, rushing over. "What happened?" She asked.
"There's no time to explain…" Sokka said hastily. "Just help me stop him from taking the sword out. If he does, it will just make the bleeding worse." Without a word, Toph helped restrain him by locking his limbs in earth.
Without the ability to struggle, which was at least somewhat distracting from the pain he felt, the full enormity of his pain hit him, and tears ran down his face.
Sokka looked around at Katara, who had been standing in the same spot, frozen, since Aang was stabbed. Tears ran freely down her face, but she hadn't moved. "Katara! What are you doing? Get over here and heal him!"
But Katara seemed to be frozen in place. "I can't… I can't… I can't heal an injury like that!" She wept. Finally, she seemed to unfreeze. "Aang!" She cried out, rushing over and kneeling down next to him.
He cried out in pain at even the slightest movement as she quickly inspected his wound. It was a mortal wound… one that would leave Aang struggling for several agonizing minutes fighting for his life in a fight that he couldn't win.
"No, Aang, please…" Katara begged, leaning closer to him. "You can't do this to me… you can't die again!"
Aang was quivering in pain now, but he managed to open his eyes, staring into Katara's tear-filled eyes. "Ka…tara?" He gasped brokenly, his chest heaving.
Katara leaned closer to him, gently caressing his forehead. "Yes, Aang. I'm here."
"Ka—tara. Listen… please. I have… to tell you…" He broke off and groaned in pain.
"No, Aang. You don't have to tell me anything. You're going to make it through this!" Katara said desperately.
Aang grew more desperate. "Please, Katara!" He gasped. His sudden enthusiasm caused a bolt of white-hot pain to shoot through his body and make him moan in agony. "Please… listen to me… I have to…" He paused. "I have to… say it.
"Katara… I love you." He whispered, only loud enough for Katara, Sokka, and Toph to hear. Toph was the only one who didn't seem shocked. She remained quiet while Katara and Sokka gasped in shock. Their shock didn't register with Aang. He was in too much pain to be very aware of his surroundings. "I love you, Katara." He repeated softly.
"Aang…" Katara repeated softly, leaning closer to him. "I love you too." She whispered as she gently pressed her lips against his. He was in too much pain to really return the kiss or make it passionate, but to Aang, it was a brief touch of heaven in the midst of his pain. As she kissed him, Aang slipped into unconsciousness.
Katara could tell when he fell into unconsciousness because he stopped responding to her kiss. She pulled away from him slightly. "Aang, please, no!"
"Katara! Now's your chance!" Sokka said. He didn't have the mental capacity to deal with what he just saw, so he decided to focus on saving Aang's life and deal with Aang and Katara's sudden confession of love later when they were both all right. "We can help him when he's unconscious!"
"How?" Katara asked. "I've never healed an injury this bad without Spirit Water, and I don't have any left!"
"I don't know." Sokka said honestly. "But we have to try. You couldn't possibly do something worse to him than what's all ready happened."
"Okay… okay…" Katara said, thinking quickly, knowing that she only had minutes to save Aang's life. "Maybe if you pull out the sword slowly and I heal him a little bit at a time from the inside out, it might work."
"Let's do it." Sokka said. "What do you need us to do?" Sokka and Toph both waited expectantly. They were both prepared to do anything to save Aang's life.
"Um… Toph, you hold him down." Katara said. "He's unconscious, but if he twitches in pain, it could ruin everything." Toph nodded, and quickly used both hands to press down on Aang's chest and stomach, holding him firmly in place. "Sokka, you pull out the sword. Be sure you do it slowly and steadily. If you go too fast, I might not be able to heal him correctly." Sokka nodded in understanding and stood up, gripping onto his sword, ready to start pulling.
Katara pulled some more water from the surrounding plants and began to let it seep into Aang's wound. She held her hand close to him. "Okay, Sokka… now." She said as the water began to glow with her healing powers.
On her command, Sokka began the agonizingly slow process of pulling the sword out. It was absolutely sickening, and if Sokka were not so determined to help his friend, he was sure that he would be throwing up, but he held on strong.
Katara worked quickly to heal the internal damage as the sword was extracted from the boy's body. With Sokka going slowly and Katara working as quickly as she could, she was almost able to heal his flesh the second the sword was pulled away. She took the most time on his internal organs, making sure that they would still function properly, and trying to make sure that nothing was out of place. It was times like these that she wished she had paid more attention to the Healing Classes at the North Pole. She had only a basic understanding of the inner workings of the human body, but she had to hope that it was enough.
Finally, just the tip of the sword was left inside Aang. "Okay, Sokka, now pull it out quickly." She said. Sokka nodded and obeyed, pulling the sword out the rest of the way. Katara quickly set to work healing the last bit of Aang. Finally, the wound was closed up. He still had a scar, and there was little Katara could do about that except make it less noticeable. But having a scar would be a small price to pay for his life.
Katara slumped, mentally exhausted from the extended healing. Toph cautiously let go of Aang. "Is he gonna be all right now?" Toph asked.
"I don't know." Katara admitted. Off to the side, Sokka was busy hurriedly wiping Aang's blood off his sword. He couldn't stand it that his sword had injured his friend so badly. "I've done all I can do. The rest is up to him." Katara paused. "It seems like he just got better from Azula's lightning strike. And now he's very nearly killed again… Oh, Aang…" Katara moaned, beginning to sob again.
"You really do love him, don't you?" Toph asked, still not sounding shocked.
Katara nodded miserably. "I do. It's always been him."
"Come on. Let's move him back to Hama's Inn. It's not like the insane old bat needs it anymore." Toph suggested.
Katara nodded mutely, and Sokka and Toph carefully lifted up the unconscious boy and began to slowly carry him back to the Inn.
It took Aang three days to wake up from his ordeal. It was a long time to be unconscious, but it wasn't as long as the coma he was in after Azula's lightning strike.
Aang slowly opened his eyes, and the first thing he saw was Katara smiling at him. "Hey." He whispered.
"Hey, you." Katara replied. "I'm glad to see you're finally up."
"Yeah." Aang agreed his voice still weak from recovering from his injury and his weakness. He couldn't speak any louder than a soft whisper. "How long was I out?"
"Three days." Katara replied. "You really gave us all a scare. I wasn't sure if I could heal you."
Aang slowly reached to touch his stomach, his fingers tracing the slightly raised scar where the sword had been. "You saved my life, Katara. Again. How can I ever repay you?"
"You could repeat what you told me right before you passed out." Katara said.
Aang didn't say anything for several moments. He had been in so much pain then that he couldn't remember what had happened between his stabbing and him waking up. He had no idea that he had confessed his love for her in his delirious state of pain. "Um… I don't remember. What did I say?"
"You don't remember?" Katara questioned. "That's quite a thing to forget, Aang. You told me that you were in love with me."
Aang didn't have the energy to have a violent reaction. But it seemed that if he did have the energy, he would have flipped out. As it was, Aang only had the energy to widen his eyes in shock. "I did?" Without another word, he rolled over so that he was facing away from Katara, his back to her. "I'm sorry, Katara." He said sorrowfully. "I know that our friendship is very important to you, and I'm sorry that I ruined it by complicating it this way. I just…"
"Aang." Katara said quietly, resting her hand on his shoulder. "I didn't tell you want happened after you told me that you loved me."
"What?" Aang asked, turning back towards her slightly.
"I told you that… I love you too." Katara whispered, kissing him.
Aang returned her kiss as passionately as he could, and then pulled away, smiling at her. "You're serious?"
"Of course I'm serious." Katara said. "I think I've been in love with you for a while now. But, Aang, you have to promise me one thing…"
"Promise me that you'll focus on the coming battle and stopping the war." Katara said. "Our relationship isn't nearly as important as the safety of the world. The world must be saved first, and you have to get yourself through this war safely. I couldn't… couldn't bare it if I lost you…" Katara trailed off tearfully.
Aang pulled her into a lose embrace. "I'll promise, Katara. I'll defeat the Firelord, and then we can be together, for real, right?" He gazed at her hopefully.
"Yes." Katara whispered. "Then we'll have our whole lives ahead of us." She leaned into him for a brief kiss, which was gladly returned by the young boy.
However, their brief moment was quickly interrupted by the sound of the door opening. Katara pulled away from Aang just as Sokka and Toph stepped into the room. Neither one could stop a blush from spreading across their faces.
"Get over it; we both know what you were just doing in here." Toph said bluntly, as always. "We heard your little confession of love just like Katara did. And, I should say, Aang… it's about time!"
Aang stared at them, shocked that he had been in such a delirious state that he had confessed his deepest feelings, not just to Katara, but in the presence of their friends. Aang's eyes nervously sought out Sokka. Aang had never really been sure how he would react to his feelings for his younger sister. He seemed to sway between it being a big joke, or ranting about how no man would ever be allowed to look twice at his sister without his permission.
Sokka met his gaze for several moments, and then his eyes softened. "I'm glad that you are all right, Aang. I don't think I would have ever been able to forgive myself if you had died by my sword… not to mention Katara would be sure to kill me." He said, moving over to the shocked boy and pulling him into an embrace.
"You're not… mad at me?" Aang asked.
"Mad? Well… maybe for two seconds." Sokka admitted. "But I also know of no one else on this planet that I'd be willing to trust my sister to. You are all ready like a brother to me, so what difference will it be if you become my maybe-sorta-future brother-in-law?"
At mention of the word 'brother-in-law', Aang's blush deepened. "We're not getting married yet!"
"Yet being the key word." Sokka said. "Seriously, Aang, don't sweat it."
The young boy could not help but meet Katara's eyes and let loose a sigh of relief. It didn't matter if his confession of love had been brought on by yet another near-death experience. All that mattered was that Katara had accepted him and his feelings.
Things were starting to look up already.
LES: This story took much longer than I anticipated. But I decided to finish it up for the Kataangiversary. Happy 3 year anniversary, Aang and Katara (even though it is a little late...)!