Test Run

By: Light-Eco-Sage

Rated: Teen for romance (Kataang)

Summary: She was just testing the waters, that's all. And Aang had no reason to believe that her being in his bed in the middle of the night was anything more than a dream. Post-Sozin's Comet, Pre-Zuko's Coronation.

Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender is owned by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Nickelodeon, and Viacom.

Dedication: To my beloved Sierra, the best dog I've ever known. May she rest in peace. T_T

LES: This is the first story I've written since my beloved dog passed away. I'm still really torn up about it, but I want to get back into writing. Writing is something that I truly love to do, and I can't allow myself to become depressed to the point where I'm withdrawn from doing things that I love. Sierra wouldn't want that to happen to her family.

I'm nervous about posting this story. Under normal circumstances, it would probably never see the light of the internet, but I really need to get SOMETHING out to get me writing again, even if it is sub-par.

To say that her day had been busy would be an understatement. But, then again, the last few weeks had been extremely painful, like a constant assault on her spirit.

Everything had gone wrong after the Day of Black Sun. The Firelord was supposed to be beaten. Zuko should have been made to pay for his crimes. And Aang should not have had to carry the burden of the war any longer. Instead the Firelord had escaped their grasp, Zuko had joined their group (under much protest from Katara), and the war was still going on. The last few weeks had so much stuff going on that Katara hadn't even been able to keep track of her thoughts most days. And that's why Aang's confession the night of the play on Ember Island came as such a shock.

She knew that Aang had a crush on her almost as long as he did. He probably thought he was being subtle, but Aang wore his emotions on his sleeve, and Katara could see how he felt about her.

But when Aang confessed to her… well, to be frank, it was the straw that broke the camelphant's back.

Aang's confession of love was something that she had been expecting for a long time, but the awful timing of it sent her mind reeling and, she confess, was partly responsible for her less-than-enthusiastic reaction to his confession and his kiss.

There was just too much going on. Too much to worry about. Romance could wait when their very lives were at stake.

The last few weeks had left her drained, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but it was over now. Aang had defeated the Firelord, Azula had been put in her place, and the world was enjoying its first night of peace in a hundred years.

They had all reunited in the courtyard of the Fire Nation palace, and there had been cheers and hugs to go around. It seemed that everyone had taken turns hugging everyone else, but none seemed to hug more or longer than when Aang and Katara were drawn together.

Of course, hugs were not new things between them. Katara hugged him all the time, and he hugged her all the time in return. But the way that they lingered against each other definitely caught the other's attention. Katara could feel their gazes.

Perhaps the only person who didn't notice was Aang himself, but Katara couldn't blame him for that. It was her fault. In her frazzled state, she hadn't been able to explain herself clearly on Ember Island and, looking back, Katara knew that Aang probably felt rejected.

She also knew that it was her job to prove him wrong if that was the case.

That wasn't the reason that she was creeping through the Fire Nation palace in the middle of the night. Aang had been exhausted and gone to sleep as soon as he was able to politely pull himself away from the others. Thus, Katara had no time to talk to him. But it was okay. She wanted a little time to sort out her own feelings.

She had given so much thought to Aang's feelings that she'd barely given thought to her own.

She cared for him a great deal, that was a given. She knew that she felt something more for him than just friendship. She knew what friendship felt like, and what she felt for Aang was not friendship. Family was closer, but still did not match the depth of her feelings for the young boy. Love. Romantic love. That felt right, but was terrifying in more ways than one. She cared about Aang and he loved her so completely that she knew she couldn't just date him for a few weeks than call it off. No matter what, she wouldn't hurt Aang like that. A relationship with Aang had to be either one hundred percent, or she should let him down as gently as possible.

So that was what she was doing walking the Fire Nation Palace hallways in the middle of the night… testing the waters.

She made her way to the door of Aang's room, one of the nicer guest bedrooms in the palace, and slowly pushed the door open. The hinges moved silently, a testament to the palace wait staff.

Once the door was open large enough for her to stick her head in, she did and gazed at the bed. As she expected, Aang was all ready asleep. He had been deeply worn out when he returned from his fight with the Firelord. He was lying on top of the covers because of the hot Fire Nation summer night, and dressed only in his worn trousers. But, then again, the rest of his clothes had been destroyed during the battle, so his pants were really the only clothes that he had left.

Katara felt a blush creep across her face as she watched his chest rise and fall with each slow breath he took. He was young, so his chest was still a little thin, but the lines of his developing muscles spoke a great deal of future definition. It was easy to imagine Aang growing into a handsome young man.

She pushed the door open a little more and slipped silently into the room, closing the door behind her. Quietly as a shadow, she moved over to the bed and climbed on, taking care not to jostle the bed and wake the young boy sleeping on it. She gazed at his face. He looked more peaceful then he had in months. She could only hope that his dreams would never be troubled by the Firelord again.

Katara's hand moved up and she gently caressed the skin of his check. She watched him intently for signs of wakefulness. He did not wake up, but he did sigh and lean into her touch slightly. Katara smiled, leaned down, and kissed him softly on the lips.

It only took a few moments for the sleeping Avatar to react on instinct to the soft lips pressed against his. Katara sighed as their lazy kiss deepened. It was not passionate, for Aang was still asleep, but it was intimate and soft. It was exactly what she imagined kissing Aang… really kissing him, would be like.

She moved against him, pressing closer to his body without even thinking about it. But it turned out to be a mistake. Aang took a sharp inhale through his nose, signaling his return to wakefulness. Katara tried to pull away from him guiltily, only to find that his arms had wrapped around her and she couldn't go anywhere.

Aang slowly opened his grey eyes, clouded over with sleep and fatigue. He gazed at the young Water Tribe girl in his arms uncomprehendingly for a few moments before he spoke, his voice thick with sleep. "This is a dream." It wasn't a question, but a statement of fact.

Katara regained herself and leaned down against him. She whispered, "Yes," before she pressed her lips against his again.

Aang responded with more passion now, confident in the fact that this was a dream, his dream, and that Katara wouldn't be scared off.

This was even better, Katara realized as Aang wrapped his arms tightly around her and kissed her with the sort of passion that she only suspected that he possessed and rarely seen.

She had been kissed by another boy before, specifically during her brief… thankfully very brief, crush on Jet. Kissing Jet had been the most passionate moment of her life at that point. But now… kissing Aang even in his near-sleeping state, absolutely blew Jet's kiss out of her mind.

What she felt for Aang was so much stronger than whatever feelings she had for Jet. He was her friend, her savior, her Avatar… and her love.

Love… Katara now knew, beyond a doubt, that she loved him. It was scary and exciting at the same time. In that moment, she was absolutely sure that she was going to spend the rest of her life with him.

She felt Aang's responses starting to slow down as he drifted back to sleep. Katara slowly pulled away from him, smiling down at him. He was smiling as he drifted off. "Katara…" He whispered. "I love you."

Katara smiled. She had known that he loved her, but there was nothing like hearing the actual words fall from his lips. She leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. "I love you too, Aang. Don't forget that." She whispered.

He sighed happily as he finally drifted off to sleep. Katara eased herself out of his arms and off his bed. She silently crept out of his room, down the hallway, and back to her room.

In just a few days, she would gather the courage to tell him that she loved him while he was fully awake. They would both be too busy for a quiet moment together during Zuko's coronation, but after that, the future stretched on endlessly.

A future filled with the one that she loved, and who loved her… Aang, the Avatar.