*Peeks in* Oh hai everyone. :3 I gotta say, this one took a really long time to write up, but I loved how it turned out. Anyways, this fic is actually the result from a request by Jokermask18, so this story goes out to him. Hope you like it, my friend. :) Alright, enough of me, on with the fic! Enjoy and review, everybody! ^_^
Also, I will try to get back on track with "The Promise: Part One" as soon as I can. No more delays, I'm going to strap myself down and force myself to produce a chapter. Expect something from me within the next week on that story.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own "Avatar: The Last Airbender". The show and its characters belong to Mike and Bryan, the brillant geniuses behind one of the greatest cartoon shows in the history of cartoons. Their work is legendary, and I salute them for it. I also do not own "The Legend of Korra" or any of the characters associated with it. I am merely a fanboy with a passionate love for this series.
The Past Touches the Present
Korra slowly paced her way around the Yin-Yang symbol in the center of the Air Temple's training courtyard, hands raised as if in preparation to ward off an attack, side-stepping as she went along and compressing the snow underneath her heavy boots as she continued her circle-walking drill. The morning sun was hidden behind dark, opaque clouds that continued to endlessly produce snow. The cold winter air failed to penetrate her Water Tribe parka, though the fire that burned inside of her was already more than enough for her not to feel the stinging chill of the late winter season.
Spreading her arms wide, Korra ducked down, as if dodging an attack, and brought her arms back up as she righted herself again. Spinning around an invisible attack, her gaze fell outside the training courtyard for a brief moment, which was when she saw Tenzin walking towards her. After she had finished her spin, Korra dropped her arms, facing towards Tenzin as he stepped into the perimeter of the courtyard. Sporting a pleasant smile, she cheerfully said, "Good morning, Tenzin."
"Good morning, Korra," politely greeted Tenzin in return, stopping when he was within a few feet of Korra. "I hope you don't mind me interrupting your training for a moment."
"Not at all," assured Korra, placing her hands on her hips as a light layer of snow began to accumulate on top of her head. "What's up?"
"Follow me," simply replied Tenzin. The Master Airbender turned around and began to walk, the Avatar following closely behind him without further questioning. Tenzin was silent the whole time while they walked, leaving Korra to wonder what her Airbending teacher had in mind for her. Her mind began to work through the possibilities: maybe they were moving on from just the movements of Airbending into a bit more advanced levels of Airbending training. Whatever Tenzin had in mind for her, Korra was sure that it was to help her with her Avatar training.
Within a few minutes, the two of them arrived at the Meditation Pavilion, where Korra would occasionally try to meditate with Tenzin and the kids, although most of her attempts proved to be unsuccessful. Tenzin entered the Pavilion first, situating himself on the far side as he sat down, facing towards the open entrance of the Pavilion as he took his usual meditative stance. Korra sat opposite of Tenzin, giving her teacher a curious look as she placed her hands on her knees. "More meditation training?" she asked, venturing a guess.
"Somewhat," admitted Tenzin. "Korra, do you know what today is?"
"Your birthday?" teasingly joked Korra, breaking out into a hearty chortle. After a few seconds, she noticed the unamused look on Tenzin's face. Quickly composing herself and sitting up perfectly straight, Korra cleared her throat. "Sorry," she sheepishly apologized, flashing a timid smile at Tenzin.
Heaving a heavy sigh, Tenzin said, "No, today is not my birthday. Today is the Winter Solstice, a time when the boundary between our world and the Spirit World lessens to the point where neither is indistinguishable from the other." Gesturing to Korra, he added, "It's the perfect opportunity for you to try and cross over into the Spirit World for the first time."
The reality of the situation suddenly hit Korra like a Probending clay disk to the gut: she was really going to connect with the Spirit World, maybe even her past lives. It was the one day she had been looking forward her whole life, even more than the day she would complete her Airbending training. However, there was something about the whole situation that was gnawing at the back of her mind. It just seemed…way too easy. "But I haven't mastered Airbending yet," pointed out Korra. "Since Airbending is the most spiritual bending art, wouldn't I need master it before I enter the Spirit World?"
"Not necessarily," stated Tenzin. "When my father contacted Avatar Roku for the first time during the Winter Solstice seventy years ago, the only element he knew how to bend was Air. However, seeing as how my father was born and raised as a monk, he was already highly spiritual, allowing him much easier access to the Spirit World."
"So then how am I supposed to get to the Spirit World?" incredulously questioned Korra. "Like I said before, I can't Airbend, and the last time I checked, I'm not a monk, so wouldn't it be impossible for me to get to the Spirit World even with the Solstice?"
"The reason why we're doing this on the Solstice is to make up for your lack of spirituality," reasoned Tenzin. "The intense spiritual energy that's flowing all around us right now will make it much easier for your own spirit to cross over." Korra dubiously raised an eyebrow but otherwise said nothing. Seeing Korra's clear disbelief, Tenzin said, "I know what I'm doing, Korra. As an Airbender, my father taught me to be spiritual in all things. He taught me everything he knew of the Air Nomad's spirituality and the Spirit World. Is there really any reason to doubt me?"
After a few seconds of consideration, Korra shook her head. "No, it's just...I've never done anything like this before." She anxiously bit her lip. "I'm kind of nervous about the whole thing."
"That's completely understandable, Korra," assured Tenzin, "but I promise you that I wouldn't be doing this with you unless I was absolutely certain that you would succeed." Korra's shoulders dropped slightly as she relaxed, a soft smile overcoming her face. "A quick word of warning," advised Tenzin. "While you're in the Spirit World, you won't be able to use your bending." Seeing a glimmer of panic flash through Korra's eyes, he quickly added, "You'll regain control of your bending when you return to your body." Korra heaved a relieved sigh, calming the anxiety that had suddenly risen in her until it was gone.
Sensing Korra's new state of calm, Tenzin began his instruction: "Close your eyes and assume your meditative position." Korra did so, closing her eyes and bringing her fists together. "Now, in order for you to enter the Spirit World, you must be at peace with yourself. Relax, and let your worries float away. Detach yourself from your earthly concerns, and let your spirit be as free as the wind. Feel the flow of the universe around you; embrace the life energy that swirls around you, that embodies you. Breathe in….and out…in…and out…"
Korra did as Tenzin instructed, her whole body loosening and relaxing in a way she never thought possible. All tension was gone from her heart and soul, all anxiety cast to the ethereal void of tranquility. Something began to fill her...a pure, surreal, yet inexplicably tangible influx of energy that both invigorated and soothed her to her very core. Never before had Korra felt such a life-giving, untainted energy that seemed to be present in the world around her, as if a curtain was being raised for the first time, revealing all the true wonders that lay beyond the mortal confines of her world.
When Korra opened her eyes, she found herself in an entirely new world, strange and magnificent yet at the same time…familiar. She was sitting in the middle of clearing, surrounded on all sides by trees so tall that their tops utterly disappeared into the void above. Sunlight seemed to stream in between the tree trunks, making the titan trees glow with a vibrant energy. Even the light itself seemed to be much brighter than the sunlight in the physical world, and yet Korra was still able to see with perfect clarity. Not a sound stirred in the hollowed forest, not a single animal seemed to be stirring. Absolute silence and peace were all that existed.
The young Avatar stood up, breathlessly taking in the new sights with an awe-struck expression of absolute wonderment. "Oh my gosh…" she amazedly whispered to herself as she gazed upward, eyes glimmering with the brightest of joy. "The Spirit World is so beautiful."
"It certainly is, isn't it?" asked a strong yet playful voice from behind her. Korra yelped as she whirled around to face the direction the voice had come from, holding up her fists and spreading her feet apart in a practiced fighting stance, only she found no one standing behind her. The voice mirthfully chuckled, as if endlessly amused by Korra's reaction. "Relax, Korra. I'm not going to hurt you."
"Who are you and how do you know my name?" demanded Korra, narrowing her eyes as she glaringly searched for where the voice was coming from. Even if she couldn't bend, she could still fight using the motions of her bending arts. A dark figure suddenly appeared next to a tree slightly to Korra's eyes, drawing her immediate attention to it. She faced the figure as it came closer, stepping into the light to reveal itself to her.
As the light struck the figure, Korra's eyes widened out of total shock. The figure was a tall middle-aged man, wise in his years and at the peak of his physical prime, his head completely bald his chin sporting a finely-shaven beard that hugged his firm jawline. The man was dressed in the robes of an Airbender, much like her own training robes, though this Airbender's outfit seemed to be custom made, distinguishing him from all others. His bald head was adorned with the familiar blue arrow of a master Airbender, the same kind of arrow that Tenzin wore on his bare cranium. His stormy gray eyes were full of warmth and love, yet also full of unbreakable resolve and strength, his smile kind, caring, and just.
Dropping her guard, Korra lowered her arms, standing up normally as she stared at the man coming towards her, not sure if she had stepped into a vivid dream or if this was really happening. The man stopped a few feet away from Korra, staring down at her with a warm smile as he amiably said, "I've been waiting for you, Korra. What took you so long?"
Finally recognizing the legendary man standing in front of her, Korra cleared her throat, trying to compose herself. Closing her eyes she clasped her right fist with her left hand, she respectfully bowed as she reverently said, "It's an honor to finally meet you, Avatar Aang-"
She cut herself off when she felt herself being lifted off the ground by a pair of strong arms. Snapping her eyes open, she saw that Aang had picked her up in a massive bear hug, the former Avatar's face bright with genuine friendliness. Korra couldn't help but feel her face flush slightly out of unexpected embarrassment, though she did find herself smiling at Aang's actions.
After a few moments of his bear hug, Aang dropped Korra down to the ground, chuckling as he placed his hands on her shoulders. "Look at you," he proudly smiled, moving his hand to her face so that he could hold her chin in his fingers. "You've grown into quite the young Avatar, Korra. So full of power and beauty, all wrapped up in the heart of a young teenage girl." Aang chuckled as Korra's smile widened, dropping his hands back to his sides. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Korra."
"Likewise, Avatar Aang," replied Korra, inclining her head slightly.
"Please, call me Aang," joked the former Avatar as he held up a humble hand. "I got enough of the 'Avatar' treatment during my lifetime." Flashing a teasing smile, he added, "It's time you got that treatment instead."
"Gee, thanks," dryly deadpanned Korra as she childishly pouted, eliciting a bout of hearty laughter from Aang. Korra's past life was…interesting, to say the least. Sure, Katara had told her all about Aang during her time training in the South Pole, but to actually stand in his presence, to hear his laughter, to see his friendly smile…it was a lot for Korra to handle, but she was incredibly happy that she was such a wonderful man in her past life.
After he was done chortling, Aang wiped away some of his merry tears, a bright smile enveloping his whole visage. "You know, I was only kidding."
"I figured you were," smiled Korra, playing along with Aang. She looked up and down Aang, sizing him up and trying to think of what else to say to him. "Well, you're certainly taller than I thought you'd be."
"Well, Tenzin's height had to come from somewhere, am I right?" slyly grinned Aang, a knowing light gleaming in his eyes. Korra's only response was a face-palm accompanied by a 'seriously?' type of groan. Aang just laughed at Korra's reaction, obviously enjoying himself. Once Korra had dragged her hand down on her face, Aang cleared his throat, somewhat composing himself but still keep that mischievous grin on his wizened face. "I take it that Tenzin told you to take advantage of the Winter Solstice so that you could enter the Spirit World?"
"Yeah, he did," nodded Korra, folding her hands behind her back.
"Good, very good," proudly commended Aang, his smile a clear reflection of his heart. Gesturing to his right, he politely said, "Walk with me, Korra." The Water Tribe teen nodded her response, keeping close by Aang's side as the two Avatars walked through the ethereal forest. "So," began Aang, looking over at Korra, "how has my family been? I assume that they're all well?"
"You mean you don't know?" questioned Korra, curiously looking up at Aang. "Since you're a spirit and stuff, shouldn't you be able to cross into the physical world in order to check up on your family?"
"Normally I would be able to," responded Aang. A slightly troubled look came over his face as he said, "But for some reason, ever since I passed on from my mortal life, I've been…disconnected from the happenings of the physical world. I have only the faintest idea of what's happening to the world right now." A look of contemplation plastered itself onto his visage, his brow furrowed in concentration. "There is unrest in Republic City because of a group that wishes to bring about a revolution. That much is certain to me. As for my family…I don't know."
Seeing Aang struggle to gather his thoughts, Korra decided to help him out. "Well, Katara's still alive and well. She was my Waterbending teacher when the Order of the White Lotus began my Avatar training."
"Was she now?" asked Aang, his face brightening so much that Korra was sure that it had just become the sun itself. "You don't know how much it means to me to hear that, Korra." A fond smile graced his lips as he said, "Katara was the best friend I ever had, and I'm glad she was your Waterbending teacher."
"She's more than just my teacher," stated Korra. "She was my best friend growing up in the White Lotus compound."
Aang heavily sighed, and Korra knew he was trying hard to contain his emotions. From the way Katara had talked about Aang, he had cared immensely about her and wanted nothing but the best for the love of his life. Hearing that his own reincarnation was a close friend of his beloved Katara obviously hit him with a surge of indescribable feelings that Korra knew she could never possibly understand. Korra thought she saw a couple of tears leak into Aang's eyes, but she said nothing, simply letting Aang work out his feelings.
Sniffling just a little bit to maintain his composure, Aang wiped his eyes with one hand. He shakily sighed as he dropped his hand, looking over at Korra as he softly said, "Thank you, Korra…for being Katara's friend. I know that my passing hurt my wife in ways I couldn't possibly imagine, and I'm touched that you grew to be such close friends with the woman I love with all my heart."
Korra softly smiled up at Aang, her gentle expression soothing the former Avatar until he too smiled along with her. Korra continued her conversation: "As to what your other two children Kya and Bumi are doing right now, I don't know, but I can tell you that Tenzin is married with three children and a fourth on the way."
Aang stopped so abruptly that Korra didn't even notice until she suddenly found herself walking alone. Stopping herself, she turned around to see Aang standing stock-still, shock written all over his face. "…M-Married?" Aang managed to choke out, his voice so strained that Korra was surprised that he was even able to say anything.
"Yeah," nodded Korra. "He's got three kids: two girls and a boy, all of them Airbenders." She could have sworn that she saw Aang's face pale with utter astonishment, his eyes so wide that not even the full moon could hope to compare in size. "Katara believes that Pema's next baby is gonna be an Airbender as well."
"Wait, Pema?" asked Aang. "That young Air Acolyte girl who always had the hugest crush on Tenzin but was too shy to say anything? She married my son?"
"That's right," affirmed Korra, placing her left hand on her hip. "They're so madly in love with each other that it's not even funny." An overjoyed smile blossomed on Aang's face, his eyes gleaming with unshed tears of absolute happiness.
Wiping away his tears as he sniffled, Aang managed to shakily say, "Korra…I have a request for you."
"What is it?" curiously inquired Korra, wondering what Aang had on his mind.
"Let me take control of your body for a little while so that I can meet my grandchildren," said Aang with a completely straight face, as if he were asking her to pass the salt.
An uneasy queasiness settled itself into Korra's gut, every instinct on alert as she cautiously said, "Umm…is that even possible? As you probably already know, I'm not that spiritual. I don't think I could pull off something that complicated, even if it is possible."
"Anything's possible when you're the Avatar," sagely stated Aang. "Besides, it's not as hard as you think it is. Both Avatar Roku and Avatar Kyoshi have taken control of my body in the past, so it's entirely possible for me to do the same with you." Sensing Korra's hesitancy and uncertainty, he gave her a gentle, reassuring smile. "I'll take care of everything, alright? I promise that nothing bad will happen to you. You'll just temporarily look like me back in the physical world; once I cross back over into the Spirit World, your body will return to normal and you'll full control of yourself again."
Korra was still extremely apprehensive about the whole idea, but seeing the longing desire in Aang's eyes for him to look upon his grandchildren, to hold them in his arms just once, was too much for her heart to take. Building up her courage, Korra closed her eyes and took a deep breath, preparing herself for what was to come and surrendering control of her being to Aang. "Let's do this," she confidently said in a deep chorus of voices as she snapped her eyes open, all fear and trepidation gone from her voice as her eyes began to glow the purest of white. Aang smiled at her, his eyes also aglow with a bright white light.
The world began to shift around them, a mighty wind blowing through the forest and bellowing a thunderous roar as it circulated amongst the trees, swirling around Aang and Korra as all faded into nothingness…
Tenzin's eyes snapped open when he realized that something was happening. Korra's entire body was being engulfed in a sphere of air, blocking the young Avatar from his view entirely. Tenzin quickly stood up, shielding his face with his arms as he cried out, "Korra! Can you hear me? Korra!" He had only been sitting with Korra for about an hour, her eyes glowing white and her body completely still until just now.
The wind began to howl and scream, furiously whirling around Korra and forcing Tenzin to shut his eyes, his robes roughly rustling from the violent gust. After a few more seconds of the windstorm, the air began to settle and calm, a strange quiet permeating the atmosphere. Tenzin uncovered his face and opened his eyes, which immediately shot wide open and his jaw going slightly slack with astonishment when he looked down at where Korra was sitting…only to find someone a man sitting in her place.
Tenzin found himself unable to breathe, unable to think as the newcomer stood up, easily reaching Tenzin's height as both of them locked eyes with each other. "Tenzin!" exclaimed the man, rushing over and tightly embracing Tenzin. "It's so good to see you!"
The man let go of Tenzin, keeping his hands on Tenzin's shoulders as Tenzin struggled to understand what was happening. "…Father?" disbelievingly asked Tenzin, still not certain if what he was seeing was indeed real. "Is that you?"
"Aww, come on, son," playfully chided Aang, "is that any way to greet your old man after he's been gone so long?"
"Where is Korra?" demanded Tenzin, regaining his composure as a stern look came across his visage. "What have you done with her, Father?"
"Relax, Tenzin," calmly said Aang. "I can assure you that Korra is completely safe right now. I'm merely using her body right now, just as Avatar Roku and Avatar Kyoshi used my body in the past. Now, how about a hug-"
"Why are you doing this?" Tenzin was curt and terse in his questioning, any trace of affection being reserved for the moment. "Why are you using Korra's body to project yourself in our world?"
"Because," replied Aang with a warm smile, "Korra told me that you got married to Pema and that you have children of your own now. I asked Korra if she would allow me to use her body for a little while so that I could meet my grandchildren. Since I'm here right now, you can pretty much figure out that she said 'yes'." He embraced Tenzin, resting his chin on his son's shoulder as he whispered, "Oh how I've missed you, son. It really is good to see you again after being gone so long."
Tenzin hugged Aang back, embracing him as tightly as he could, happily sighing as he remembered the familiar warmth of his father's strong, caring arms around him, the security and comfort Aang's embrace gave him. "I…I've missed you too, Father," Tenzin softly whispered, his heart aching with a familiar pain, the pain of being reunited with a long lost loved one. "I've missed you so much."
"I know you have," smiled Aang as the two Airbenders came out of their embrace, smiling at one another with the deepest of familial love, smiles they hadn't shared in seventeen long years. After a few silent moments, both Airbenders heavily sighed. "Well," said Aang, lifting his chin up a little higher, "are we going to stand here all day, or are you going to show me your children?"
Tenzin deeply chuckled, glad that his father hadn't changed in the slightest since his passing. "Follow me," he gently beckoned, leading the way out of the Meditation Pavilion, walking back towards the Air Temple itself. It seemed almost unreal to Tenzin, walking besides his father as if nothing had happened all those years ago, that Death had not taken his father away from this world. He still had that same loving, doting, care-free smile that brightened everyone's day, that jovial glimmer in his eyes that made countless people smile, that all-knowing look on his face that all fathers had. It was so comforting to have his father back, even if it was only for a little while. The two of them walked for a little while through the winter stillness, talking just as they had in the old days, full of laughter and jolly smiles.
The sounds of laughing children emanated from the training courtyard where Korra had been practicing her Airbending earlier caught Tenzin's attention. Guiding his father towards the area, Tenzin found all three of his children chasing each other on their Air Scooters, laughing their little heads off as they raced around the courtyard. Aang heartily laughed to himself upon seeing the three children whirl around on their spheres of air. Korra had indeed been telling the truth (not that he ever doubted her, of course); Tenzin was no longer the only Airbender in the world. "I can't believe you taught them the Air Scooter!" he exclaimed, looking over at his son with shimmering eyes.
"I've taught them many things, Father," stated Tenzin. "They're all exceptional Airbenders, worthy of sharing the same heritage as their grandfather before them."
"Well of course they are," chuckled Aang as the two of them stopped just the courtyard. "They are your children, after all. Everything they know about their heritage is because of everything I taught you when you were growing up."
Flashing one more smile at his father, Tenzin turned his attention to his own offspring. "Children, could you all come here please? There's someone I'd like you all to meet." One-by-one, Tenzin's children all scootered over to him, hopping off their Air Scooters as they let their air balls dissipate, landing in front of their father.
"Oooh, who's that, Daddy?" curiously asked Ikki as she looked up at Aang, excitedly bouncing on her feet. "Why does he look like you? He's really tall. Why are you so tall, strange man? Can you Airbend? I bet you can Airbend because you got tattoos just like Daddy." Meelo stared dumbfounded at Aang, as if he wasn't sure of what to do.
"If you would just be quiet for a minute," sighed Jinora, "Dad would be able to tell us who he is." Ikki stuck her tongue out at her sister, but eventually settled down enough for her father to speak.
"Children," began Tenzin as he gestured to Aang, "this is your grandfather, Avatar Aang." Motioning to his now slack-jawed children, Tenzin added, "Father, these are my children: Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo."
Aang crouched down so that his eyes were level with the heads of the children, his smile warm and inviting. "It's a pleasure to meet all of you," he cheerily greeted.
Jinora was the first to step forward, respectfully bowing as she said, "Hello, Grandpa Aang. I'm Jinora."
"Very nice to meet you, Jinora," smiled Aang as the girl came out of her bow. "And such a pretty face to go along with such a pretty name." Jinora shyly blushed, a timid smile taking hold of her lips as she glanced down at the ground.
"Wow!" gasped Ikki, leaping in front of Aang and startling him slightly. "Is it really you, Grandpa? Wait, I thought you were dead? Korra's the Avatar now, which means you're dead. Wait, where's Korra? She's not dead too, is she?"
"Ikki, please calm yourself," tiredly sighed Tenzin, pinching the bridge of his nose.
Aang couldn't help but boisterously laugh, patting Ikki on the head as he lightheartedly grinned. "You're certainly a curious little girl, aren't you…what was your name again? Ikki?"
"Uh huh," affirmatively nodded Ikki, folding her arms behind her back.
"It's very nice to meet you, Ikki," smiled Aang, keeping his hand on top of Ikki's head. "And yes, I really am dead. Korra is just allowing me to use her body for a little while so that you all can see me here." Just as Ikki began to open her mouth, Aang said, "And no, Korra isn't dead. She's just not here right now."
Ikki closed her mouth as Meelo came forward, drawing Aang's gaze towards the youngest of Tenzin's children as he dropped his head from Ikki's head. "And you must be Meelo," guessed Aang.
Without even answering Aang, Meelo vaulted himself over Aang's head, landing on top of the former Avatar's shoulder. Meelo began to gnaw at Aang's bald head, eliciting a panicked look from his father. "Meelo, no! That's your grandfather! Don't bite his head!"
"It's fine, Tenzin," chuckled Aang as he waved Tenzin off, Meelo still gnawing away at his head. "I really don't mind him doing this." Smirking up at Tenzin, he slyly added, "You did the same thing when you were about his age, if I do recall correctly." Jinora and Ikki both giggled as their father's face embarrassedly flushed, awkwardly coughing into his hand as he glanced away from all of them. Taking Meelo off of his head and placing him next to his sisters, Aang said, "So I saw all of you using Air Scooters just a minute ago. What else has your Daddy taught you?"
"We get to show Grandpa our Airbending?" excitedly asked Ikki, clapping her hands together as she bounced up and down again. "Can we show him, Daddy? Huh? Huh? Please, Daddy?"
"Yes, please let us show Grandpa Aang what we know," pleaded Jinora, clasping her hands together.
"Please, Daddy?" begged Meelo, adding his voice to the plea. "I wanna show Grandpa how I can be the leaf!"
"Very well," nodded Tenzin. "Show your grandfather what you know."
Cheers of "Yay!", "Woo-hoo!", and "Yes!" arose out of the children as they assembled in the middle of the courtyard. In a flurry of flying legs and arms, the three children demonstrated their knowledge of Airbending, from the most basic principle of circle-walking to manipulating streams of air with their hands to acrobatic feats achieved by jumping high on bursts of air. Each move, spiral, and spin was flawlessly executed with the smoothest of grace and the most flowing of elegance.
A single tear trailed down Aang's cheek as he looked on at the unbelievable sight in front of him. Slowly but surely, Airbending was being restored to the world, and these three children were living proof of that undeniable truth. For so long, this had been the dream that he and Tenzin had shared. Now that that dream was being realized, Aang knew that all of his sacrifices and hardships had indeed meant something for the future of Airbending.
Aang wiped away the solitary tear as he continued to watch the three children, recognizing the countless forms and stances they went through as they continued to Airbend. Suddenly, a sharp gasp sounded from behind them. Aang and Tenzin turned around to see Pema standing about ten feet away, her hands clasped over her mouth and her eyes wide with shock. Nervously uncovering her mouth, she hesitantly said, "Aang? Is…is that you?"
"Why hello, Pema," cheerfully greeted Aang, kindly smiling at the young woman. "Tenzin and I were just watching your children Airbend."
"Dear," cautiously said Pema as she walked over to her husband's side, "why is your father here? I thought he was-"
"Dead?" interjected Aang. "Yes, I'm still very much dead. However, Korra has allowed me temporary control over her body so that I could meet my grandchildren." Giving Pema an approving wink, he added, "I must say that they're all fine children indeed, and they have a wonderful mother to thank for that."
"Oh…" sheepishly smiled Pema as she blushed, Tenzin wrapping an arm around her shoulder, "why thank you, Aang."
"Please," humbly said Aang, holding up a hand, "I'm merely speaking the truth." The children all stopped their Airbending and flocked back towards the adults as Aang looked up at Tenzin and said, "You've found yourself a wonderful young woman to call your own, son. Even when she was growing up, I knew that Pema had very strong feelings for you, feelings that I'm sure drove her to prove her love to you no matter what."
Turning towards the children and stooping down, he drew all three of them into a tight hug as he said, "It was so very nice meeting all of you, little ones, but I'm afraid I have to go now."
"But…" whimpered Ikki as Aang let go of them, the former Avatar rising up to his full height, "you just got here, Grandpa."
"Why can't you stay?" asked Meelo, looking like he was about to cry.
"Because," stated Jinora, her voice tainted with restrained melancholy and sorrow, "Grandpa's not the Avatar anymore; Korra is, and it's her time to be the Avatar."
"Exactly, Jinora," commendably smiled Aang. "My time as the Avatar has passed, and it's time for Korra's story to be told." Seeing the disheartened frowns on all of their young faces, he added, "Don't be so sad, children. Be happy that you got to spend at least a little time with your old Gramp Gramp." He gave them a secretive wink, brightening their faces just a little. Looking towards Pema, he said, "Pema, take good care of my son. Not that I need to tell you that, but I guess it's just my fatherly side getting the better of me again."
"I completely understand," assured Pema with a knowing smile. "And don't you worry, Aang. I'm not about to let Tenzin get away from me anytime soon."
"I should hope so," jokingly chuckled Aang. Looking up at Tenzin, he seriously said, "As for you, Tenzin, I expect you to treat your wife the same respect and dignity that I told you all woman deserve."
"That is how I have always treated Pema," stated Tenzin as he placed a hand on Pema's bulging stomach, his wife smiling as she placed her hand on top of his.
Aang firmly nodded, satisfied with his son's response. "And Tenzin?" Seeing his son giving him a regarding look, Aang tenderly smiled. "It really was good seeing you again, son. Give my love to your mother when you see her next, and tell her…tell her that I miss her so much, and that I look forward to the day when we're reunited."
"I will, Father," promised Tenzin, dead-set on keeping his promise to his father.
Looking over at the children, Aang said, "I can tell right now that you're all going to get your arrows someday, and when you do, I'll be watching you from the Spirit World. I promise." Excited smiles blossomed on the children's faces, eliciting a soft chuckle from Aang. A slow gust began to flow around Aang, the wind picking up as everyone stepped back from the former Avatar. As a sphere of air began to form around Aang, he proudly said, "I love you, Tenzin. I'm so very proud of you, my son. Never forget that."
"I love you too, Father," said Tenzin, his eyes tearing up slightly as he watched his father's signature smile disappear behind the veil of rushing wind. "Goodbye," he quietly whispered to himself as his tears flowed, watching the sphere as it shrank slightly in size. Soon the sphere disappeared, leaving Korra in the same place Aang had been just moments before, the young Avatar's eyes closed tight. "Korra?" called out Tenzin, trying to get her attention.
Korra was being overwhelmed with so many emotions that she had to force herself to keep her eyes closed, otherwise her tears would come flooding out. She felt everything Aang had felt: love, pride, regret, loss, sadness, and emotions so vast and deep that not even she knew what they were. Something compelled her to open her eyes, to look upon the family she had come to know and love, to let spill her tears as she rushed forward and embraced Tenzin, sobbing into his robes as she let her and Aang's shared emotions overwhelm her.
Tenzin and Pema were both startled for a moment, but soon the two of them hugged Korra back, Pema soothingly whispering, "Shh, sweetheart. Everything's going to be alright." Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo all joined in on the hug, wrapping their arms around Korra's legs as they lent their love and comfort to her.
As Korra let her tears be soaked into Tenzin's robes, she truly realized how wonderful of a man Aang had been, and what a loss the world suffered at his passing. Her grief for Aang's loss was overbearing, but even in the midst of her mourning, she could feel Aang's gentle hand on her shoulder, his presence always felt and always recognized. Despite her tears, Korra managed to smile, knowing that no matter what, Aang would never abandon her, and neither would Tenzin and his family. Not even death could stop Aang's love for his family, for it had been reborn in Korra.