Longings of a lonely heart

i.

She accidentally calls in sick that day, her head pounding and her throat emitting a rather rough and violent cough much like how her sick brother started with yesterday. She feels bad, almost guilty, at having him put up with the trouble of taking care of her and her lousy brother when, in the first place, they should be the one taking care of him. But even as she tries to wave off his concerns and tells him that she's fine and that she can help him get some medicine and supplies, she knows he knows better, and she no longer insisted when Aang firmly told her to stay put and get some rest. He says goodbye and reassures them he'll be back in a while, and in a flash he's gone with nothing but a map and some coins.

A few hours have passed and she expected him to be back ages ago, but still no sign of him appears in the distance. Sokka is shaking and whispering ludicrous things and she begins to get scared as the skies darken more and streaks of lightning blink beneath the clouds. "Water," the madman beside her whispers, and she tries to open her canteen only to find it empty and dry.

"Momo," she calls out weakly, beckoning the wide-eyed lemur to her. He obediently crawls to her, and she tells him to get them some water. She assumes he knows what she means, so she hands him the canteen and lies back down to rest on Appa's furry back. She closes her eyes.

She was on a small boat in the middle of a raging storm. The ocean was wild and untamed, and huge waves were repetitively crashing and rocking her boat. In front of her was a much bigger barge carrying Aang and Sokka, both boys screaming her name.

"Katara, help us!"

They were drifting farther away from her and she tries to calm the waves. They resisted, continuing their soulful dance. Soon the two boys were but a small dot in her vision and she screams; the ocean lurches and a huge wave tumbles on top of them and by the time the waters rose up once more they were nowhere in sight. Only piles of broken oars and floating driftwood.

She screams once more.

And then suddenly she's falling, falling, falling-

"Prooo?" she opens her eyes and finds Momo hovering on top of her. The place was filled with semi-darkness and silence. She tries to sit up but doesn't find the strength to; her arms and legs were all feeling limp and lifeless. Beside her was Sokka who was fast asleep, still wrapped up in his parka and occasionally shivering. "Prooo," Momo croons again, and he shows her a bug.

"No, Momo," she tells him, voice small and strained. "We need water. WA-TER." she pantomimes, and Momo scurries away again.

How long has it been since Aang went away? Judging by how the light was falling towards the ruins, it must be around five in the afternoon, roughly three hours since Aang had left. He said he'd be back in a while. Where was he?

She doesn't remember falling asleep, or having another nightmare, but when she wakes up the second time Momo is hovering on top of her once more, this time a trinket hanging in his mouth. Sokka is awake and mumbling away, chanting water water water and she is annoyed because she wants water too but Momo can't seem to understand what they want.

"Water, Momo. Water. Drink," she pantomimes once more, "Rivers, lakes. Water."

Momo drops the trinket and runs away again for the third time. The sky is dark and heavy with stars and she thinks once more, Where is Aang?

He has been gone for six hours now and still he hasn't come back. Had he been caught by Zuko and his men? Was he currently napping somewhere? Did he lose his way again?

She sounds like a worried mother but she doesn't care. It was supposed to be their duty to protect him and yet here they were lying on Appa sick with fever and madness. She worries for his safety; she always has been ever since day one and she misses his presence too, because the walls weren't usually echoing his laughter and partly because Momo can't seem to understand the word "water".

Katara misses him, and he needs to come back to them (to her) soon.

ii.

After that day she and Sokka got terribly sick, she didn't think he'd ever be away from her sight for more than a day again. Apparently she thought wrong.

Physically he was present, fast asleep in one of the bedrooms below the deck of the Fire Nation galleon her father and his friend Bato had conquered. Spiritually he was away, somewhere between life and death and she's worried for him again, and horribly missing his presence.

It had been weeks since Azula had shot him with lighting and killed him while he was in the Avatar State. His heart would've completely stopped beating were it not for the spirit water she had gathered from the oasis at the North Pole. But even if his heart was beating and his lungs were breathing his wounds were still a terrible mess, and judging by the way he hasn't woken up ever since Ba Sing Se, she thinks he's still in limbo, lost in the Spirit World and somewhere between life and death.

"Would it always be this way," she wonders, as he delves into another healing session with her. "Would missing him also mean constantly worrying for his safety?"

She doesn't think she can take so much anxiety. It might just be the death of her.

iii.

"I am going to kill you, Aang!" she fumes, kicking every little thing that was on her way. The others were way ahead of her, frantically calling and searching for the missing Avatar while she stayed farther behind, heavily frustrated and mentally kicking Aang's small behind.

"First you kiss me," she mutters angrily to herself. "Then you leave me confused. Then you distance yourself away from me for the remainder of the night and then the next day you and your stupid lemur leave without even a note, and now we're left searching for you and wondering whether or not you deliberately decided to get away from us. From me." She thrusts her foot upon a rock in her exasperation, and she pains her small toes. Tears well up in her eyes and she bites her lip.

"I miss you, you big idiot," she whispers to the winds, hoping they might carry her message to wherever the hell he was. "And I love you. Whenever you are gone I am always worried about you and I don't know if I can take so much tension anymore," the tears, previously perched on the edge of her eyes slide down her red cheeks. She looks up into the blue sky.

"Come back, Aang. Come back to wherever you decided to rest your stupid butt on. Please. Just. . come back to me."

iv.

"Where is Daddy, Mommy?" Her little girl whispers, climbing on their bed and resting her small body beside Katara's. She wraps her arms around her daughter and gives her a gentle squeeze.

"He's out on a mission, honey," she says, voice laced with just a bit of longing. "But he'll be back by tomorrow, I promise." She presses a kiss on her forehead and touches her dark brown hair.

"I missed playing with him today," her daughter yawns, eyes barely open. "He used to play this air ball game with me every Friday, but he's not home right now. Do you miss him, Mommy?"

She stares out of her window where the moon hung on the inky black sky amidst the twinkling stars. It reminds her back to the day when he was in the middle of life and death, and she had wondered whether or not she would always be missing and longing for him and at the same time worrying for his safety. That was so long ago now, back to the days of war and uncertainty. But even if more than a decade has passed since the end of Ozai there was still some truth to her musings, except that the weight of anxiety she had felt every time wasn't as heavy as it was before.

"I miss him," she whispers more to herself than to her already sleeping daughter. "But he'll come back home, my love. He always does."

v.

After she catches Korra trying to run away and gives her her complete blessing, she retreats back into her room and does a silent vigil. She lights up a single candle in remembrance of her dearly departed husband and says a quick prayer, before she sits back on her old rocking chair and stares at an old photo of him back when he was still healthy and alive.

"Hey," she whispers to nobody in particular. It had been her routine ever since he died; lighting candles, staring at his old photos and imagining herself talking to him.

"I just gave Korra my blessing and let her go," she says quietly, the light of the candle casting an orange glow around the room. "She needed to be free from this cage and she needed to persuade Tenzin to teach her air bending too. I know I shouldn't have done that, but I don't regret my decision."

The room remained silent and she smiles to herself.

"She is completely different from you, my love. She is impulsive and headstrong, impatient to get things done and very aggressive. She's going to have a hard time learning how to air bend," she pauses and laughs quietly. "But I see you in her sometimes; her desire to help build back the world, to put the people's needs in front of her own, her fun and carefree nature. She does lack a calm spirit, but I have faith in her. I know someday she will achieve it."

Pause.

"I miss you," she says softly, extending her hand to feel the photo perched on top of the mantel, wishing that it was really him instead of an oiled painting. "I remember when we were young, and you would always get yourself lost or captured and I would always be so worried about you, wondering whether or not you were alright or if some pirates captured you and whatnot. And then Sokka and I would always try to find you and bring you back to us, even if it meant risking our lives. That was so long ago now," she falters, and unwanted tears slide down her old and wrinkly cheeks. "But I can't bring you back now. I can't bring you or Sokka or Toph back here with me. I'm all alone now." The candlelight flickers, and a cold breeze enters the room through the shutters. She wipes the tears with the back of her hand and she breathes in.

"But you know what? I'm not worried about you anymore. I used to worry a lot when I missed you, you know, wondering if you were fine or not. But right now, I know you're safe somewhere in the Spirit World. You guys are all at peace now, resting. I hope to join you guys someday. I especially hope to be with you soon, my love." She whispers, and she closes her eyes and sighs, and without knowing she drifts off to sleep with the memories of their youthful days haunting her mind.

vi.

Somewhere in a place filled with seas of white light sparkling blue eyes open and wander cautiously around her surroundings. Lying down on the soft white ground she stands up and tries to get a better look of her surroundings, which were vaguely familiar, as if she had been in this cold, white place before. She stretches her hands and sees shades of coffee brown wrapped delicately around long and youthful fingers. She flexes them. Slowly and surely like a newborn child she places them on her face, and feels the smooth surface of her skin, the fullness of her lips, the thickness of her hair and the odd hair loopies that dangled effortlessly on her sides. In the aftermath of examining herself she twirls and gets a feel of her surroundings, which she gathered was somewhere cold because of the blue parka she was wearing and the snow that sloshed under her feet. She feels like she's in dream, like she's been here before, except that she can't remember what it was exactly.

So she decides to walk around.

For what seemed like forever all she saw were piles of snow high on the ground; sometimes sleds and footprints but otherwise nothing that helped her remember. Until she saw a little girl running around with a boomerang in her hand did any more signs of civilization and recollection entered her mind.

A name. Sharp, and beautiful. Like a dagger's.

Katara.

She walked faster. Nearly ran, actually. She saw more signs of life as she whizzed past. A mother and a daughter. A father bent over a kiln with a little son. Igloos, tents, pots and pans. Memories were threatening to enter her mind, pushing and pushing until her head ached with the knowledge that was threatening to burst inside her.

When she reached the edge of the neighborhood all she saw was a small, homely tent that looked even more familiar to her than anything else. A bonfire was lit outside the tent, but nobody was stationed outside. She took steps forward, tentatively opened the flap of the tent and saw them.

And instantly, the memories flooded back.

Hundreds upon hundreds of images and memories ran through her head like water running down a stream, and at the sudden recognition of the many faces of her loved ones in the room (which were still quite undaunted by her presence), she gives a watery smile and fights the urge to run and squeeze the life out of them.

Twenty years. Twenty years of loneliness and solitude, and one day changes all that.

No longer wanting to stay invisible by the entrance of the tent she gives out a soft cough in order to make her presence known, and all of a sudden heads swivel to her direction, their faces all initially painted with surprise. She gives them an even bigger smile as the tears fall down her eyes, and she takes several steps forward.

He stands up first amongst the rest of them and meets her halfway. For a while they stood there like statues in the middle, drinking each other in; the reality that she was finally reunited with them after all these years sinking very fast. For a while there was pin-drop silence in the room and nobody dared to breathe, and the tension in the air was heavy that it nearly choked her. Thoughts ran in her head, unpleasant thoughts of loneliness and rejection and betrayal that she stood in shock when she heard a soft rumbling beginning in his throat followed by an explosion of laughter. The Avatar chuckled, embraced her petite frame as the rest of them cheered at their awaited reunion. She was home, finally home in his arms.

"Welcome home, Katara," he whispers, his voice filled with warmth, love and happiness.

Yes she is home. Home forever and ever.


A/N: I almost, nearly didn't post this one, since it had been sitting in one of my folders unfinished for quite some time. But since I haven't posted anything new since God-knows-when, I tried to find the time and inspiration to finish this one. And er, I did. I'm just not quite sure if it's perfect, but nonetheless I hope you guys liked it. Reviews, criticisms, corrections = very much appreciated.