CHARACTERS: Aang


It was rare to wake up to a morning so silent.

Aang lifted his arms over his head, taking a moment to stretch out his body. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, looking up at the sunrise feeling lighter than he had in a long time. Despite the fact the comet was closing in on them, being at the Western Air Temple gave him an inner peace he'd been missing since he'd left home. Even if the halls weren't crowded with monks, and the air wasn't littered with sky bison and laughing airbenders, it still gave him a sense of serenity.

Leaning up from his spot on Appa's tail, he looked over at his companions. It was always so funny to him, how everyone slept differently. Sokka sprawled out, his leg hooked over The Duke's head in what looked like an uncomfortable position but he didn't budge. Haru was flat on his back, still as could be. Toph, naturally, was snuggling with a rock hugged closely to her body, occasionally murmuring in her sleep. Katara always seemed to sleep on her right side, curled up so her knees were almost to her chest. Teo couldn't toss and turn with his legs in the way they were, but he managed to make the most noise out of all of them - his snores were legendary with the group.

Realizing that someone was missing, Aang whipped his head around to search the nearby area. Every time Zuko was out of his sight, he still questioned the prince. Was he really there to help? Did he really regret his actions? Any moment now, he would leave or turn on them.

That feeling was short lived, though, when he saw the young firebender sitting on the very edge of the ledge, right in front of the fountain. He didn't move, his stillness jarring compared to the energy he had when he was training Aang on his firebending.

Once he was reassured that everyone was there, Aang leaned back against Appa, staring at the sky in thought. Every now and then he would stop in the silence and marvel at where he was. He never imagined being in this position, with all these people at his side. He was the physical embodiment of the world's hope, and that was a lot to carry on such a young set of shoulders. Sometimes he felt every year of his life, even the century in the ice, right down into his very bones.

A few short minutes later, the noises of everyone rousing brought Aang to his feet, Sokka moaning call for "Fooooood" bringing everyone from their peace. Katara sat up, patting her hair down before sighing at her brother. Toph promptly rolled over and stomped her foot on the ground, jutting a pillar right underneath Sokka so he flew into the air with a scream. Aang looked over at Zuko, wondering how he was still mediating with all this noise. He could see Zuko's shoulders hunched, his irritation practically rolling off him in waves.

After a moment, Sokka finally landed on the ground in a half dazed crouch, falling to his knees as he blinked before shaking his head, clearing out the sleep from his brain. He glared at the blind earthbender, an expression she couldn't actually see but she smirked like she knew it was there.

Katara went over to the fountain, wearily bending the water into a pot to boil it. She looked up at Zuko, raising an eyebrow at him. She said something, but Aang was too far away to hear what it was exactly. He growled at her and she snapped at the prince, stomping back to the group and dropping the pot on their makeshift fire pit.

Aang's shoulders drooped just the slightest. Even if he found himself silently questioning Zuko, he still wanted to give the firebender the benefit of a doubt. Toph was willing to do so, and even Sokka seemed to grow used to his presence. Katara, though...

His eyes were sad as he watched his friend stir the beginnings of their breakfast more vigorously than usual. As he walked over to the group, he stole a quick peek at Zuko to see if he was going to join them. They never really asked him to, but it wasn't out of maliciousness or to punish him (anymore). They just figured he would join them when he was ready. Aang winced when he realized how they must look to their newest addition - huddled in a group, laughing and arguing with him just on the fringes.

So the young Avatar went over to his new friend, knowing that Zuko heard his approach. When he sighed, looking over at Aang quizzically, the boy smiled at Zuko.

"Come on, Zuko. Let's eat."

Zuko blinked at Aang for a moment, clearly caught off guard. Inhaling deeply, he nodded. Aang held out a hand to help him up, patting the prince on the back as he started to babble about who was better at cooking and whose food to avoid.