"What if it's a stillborn?" he asked her as he rubbed his hand over his beard.
She could give no answer.
Aang paced, hands fidgeting and clutching his robes and clapping together and linking behind his back. He couldn't stop moving. Katara, however, had been standing perfectly still, and her hands did not fidget. They rested on the small of her back, supporting the extra weight.
The sky bison roared from inside her cave on Air Temple Island, her pain loud and clear, and Aang flinched. He looked up at Katara, then into the darkness of the cave, then back at Katara. He wanted to help, that much was obvious; worry was etching creases onto his face. Aang had been very worried throughout the entire pregnancy, but his concerns seemed to have multiplied sevenfold once he realized that Pamo, the only female bison he'd discovered in the herd, had gone into labor.
It was probably the worst time it could have happened, too. Both Toph and Sokka had come to the island that night to enjoy dinner and to spend time with them. They hadn't even had time to eat yet, but thankfully, Kya and Bumi were there to keep Sokka adn Toph's hands full.
"There's nothing we can do, Aang," Katara said, for that was all she could say. Her walk was slow and patient and difficult as she approached him from behind and wrapped her arms around his waist for a hug. That is, she tried to hug him. Katara's own nearly-finished pregnancy seemed to be getting in the way of what she wanted. "It'll be okay," she mumbled.
Aang turned and leaned down, pressing his forehead against hers. Both his hands drifted towards Katara's swollen belly, a familiar resting place for them these days. They rubbed slowly, gently, calmly, and Katara smiled at his touch. With her first two children, both had been excited inside her, bouncing and shifting and kicking whenever they could, it seemed. With this one, though… this one seemed to be a lot quieter. She felt its life, yes, but there was something else… not wrong, just… This child was different.
It hadn't kicked.
Sometimes she worried, but she did not want to bring up her concerns with Aang. She didn't want to worry him more than he already was.
Pamo roared once more, louder and scarier than before, and Aang tensed and Katara frowned. It resounded over the whole island.
Katara had only seen Aang this nervous twice before: at Kya's and Bumi's births. She knew why his fingers shook and his heart raced, but he still insisting on voicing it all, and his fears poured out, and Katara took them upon her own heart.
"What if this is the end of the line? What if they can't make more sky bison? What if there is something wrong with this breed?" His worries tumbled out, and her heart caught them easily, just as easily as she caught his hands in hers and kissed his fingertips. He closed his eyes. "What if they're really the last ones?"
"Please, Aang. Please stop worrying."
Pamo howled and bellowed and cried and Aang just shook his head and Katara opened her mouth to speak once more, but all the sudden, there was silence. It was there, full of hesitation. It was there for but a moment, cutting through time like a sigh of relief.
The baby bison's roar was high-pitched, like a squeal, as it entered the world.
Aang's eyes lit up, and his robes fluttered with excitement. He grabbed Katara's hands, and his lips were on her mouth, her cheeks, her nose. "It's okay!" he said between kisses. "It's okay!"
"Now, what did I say?" she teased, arching up an eyebrow, and he silenced her with yet another kiss. This one had a laugh tucked away inside it. "Look!" she said, pointing to the cave's entrance. The baby stumbled out, legs shaky under the new weight, and his eyes blinked at the sunlight. His mother followed him out, licking him clean.
"I can't believe it!" Aang said, clasping his hands over his mouth and kneeling down where he stood. "They're not going to die out!" He tugged on Katara's robes. "C'mon, sit down, sit down, let them come to us." He airbended himself up again, and steadied Katara by her elbow as she lowered herself down to the ground with a groan. Aang kicked the ground, and a slab of earth rose up behind Katara. She leaned back against it, and placed her hand on her stomach as she waited quietly for the bison to approach, grinning at her love's happiness.
Aang, however, was not quiet.
"What are we going to name him? He looks healthy, doesn't he? It is a he, yeah? I think so, I mean, I know this breed looks a little different, but I think it's a he. Anyway, what should we name him?"
The baby stumbled on over to them, nearly tripping over every one of his six legs, nostrils flaring as he sensed the world, as he smelled their presence. Aang held his hand out expectantly, and the baby sniffed him once, twice, but then approached Katara.
"Hello," she said, and the bison stretched forward, rubbing his head against her belly.
She gasped as her baby kicked.
And she knew. She knew why this child felt different.
It was an airbender.
She bit her lip, but that couldn't contain the smile or her revelation. "I don't think the sky bison are the only line that isn't going to die out…"
"Aang… Oof!" She clutched her stomach. "Aang, I think the baby's an airbender."
The bison growled and the baby kicked and Aang stared at her, mouth agape, eyes bright and welling with tears. He touched her shoulder.
His voice was shaky. "Katara… are you… sure?"
She nodded. "This one felt… different. And I'd hoped, of course, but now…" The baby bison rubbed against her once more, and her child kicked twice. She laughed.
"Katara!" Aang cried, blinking the tears out of his eyes as he reached down for her hands.
They were flying then, floating in the air, suspended above it all. Aang wrapped her up in his embrace, laughing and crying all at once, and she couldn't help it, she started crying too. She was sobbing and smiling and the baby was kicking so hard that it hurt but Katara had never felt so light, so free.
Aang pulled her as close as he could, and his lips crashed down on hers, opening his mouth up and breathing her in. Her fingers traced the tattoo on the back of his head, its mark memorized from many love-filled nights, and her knees bent beneath him. He held her up strong, though, and he kissed her hard. It was a kiss full of relief and want and tears and smiles.
It was the most perfect of kisses.
A familiar voice came, breaking their peace and passion. "Did somebody get eaten? That roar did not sound like a happy roar!"
Katara opened one eye and peeked down to see Sokka running up to them, Kya clutching his leg, laughing.
Aang began to lower them down from the sky, and Katara wiped the tears off his cheeks. They landed lightly, and he pressed his lips to her once more, just on the tip of her nose.
"Aw, oogies!" Sokka grumbled.
"That's it!" Aang cried, letting go of Katara and turning to the bison. "Welcome to the world, Oogi!"
Katara leaned her head against Aang's shoulder and felt another kick.
"Welcome to our family."