Rated: Teen for romance (Kataang).
Summary: What wife wouldn't worry when her husband has been missing for six months?! Aang has been missing for half-a-year, and Katara goes to find him.
Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender is owned by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Nickelodeon, and Viacom.
LES: This is a challenge fic from catstatave on Tumblr. Here's the challenge:
"Aang becomes missing for 7 months during a sea voyage and the Gaang goes looking for him. Katara and Momo goes to a small, yet very beautiful island and a hurricane strands them there. She soon wakes up in a cave with none other than Aang; however he is in the Avatar State. The Avatar is not hostile towards her; instead, he confused and puzzled yet gentle and loving to her. When she touches him, he just becomes confused by it. She has to deal with this for a week, and they would make love."
I'm making a few changes to the original challenge with permission from catstatave. Instead of seven months, Aang will go missing for six. And, sorry for it taking so long to get this out. Challenge fics always seem to take me longer.
Katara went into her marriage with Aang knowing one thing… that she was marrying Aang and the Avatar at the same time. She loved Aang, adored him like no other man… but being married to the Avatar wasn't easy. Especially when he took his semi-annual trip around the world.
She had been prepared for these trips, and was even prepared to be left behind more often than not. He was normally gone for only a few weeks at a time, just a quick stop around the various capitals and then back to their home on Air Temple Island near Republic City. But she wasn't prepared for this… not when Aang had been missing for nearly six months!
She had begun to grow concerned after one month of absolutely no word from her husband. He normally wrote to her every few days, and the fact that he didn't worried her sick. Her brother, of course, just thought that she was being paranoid, citing the fact that Aang was the Avatar and could take care of himself, and that he'd probably got caught up with something while in his travels.
But the months passed and now even Sokka had to admit that there might be something wrong. In the entire time that Aang and Katara knew each other, they had never been separated for this long. And even Sokka knew that Aang loved Katara to the ends of the earth, and that there was no way he would 'forget' to write to her for so long.
"I think we should go search for him." Sokka said one day.
Katara, who had been keeping herself busy with laundry in a futile attempt to distract herself from her husband's absence, turned on her brother with an incredulous look and dropped all the soggy clothes to the ground, not caring in the slightest that all her work for the last hour had been ruined. "I said that five months ago!" She hissed at him.
Sokka flinched, realizing that he had screwed up. "Look, Katara, I just thought that you were being paranoid, and don't deny that you are, but I think you're right… nearly six months is too long. But at least we haven't heard any bad news. He is the Avatar and the last living Airbender. If something bad happened to him, you'd think word would get around fast."
"What if something happened to him in the wilderness?" Katara demanded. "No one would know about it then. I'm not waiting another moment." She completely forgot about her ruined laundry and set off at a brisk walk down to the Temple's bison stables. Thankfully, Aang had managed to find and domesticate a herd of Sky Bison. Aang had taken Appa with him, of course, but there were plenty of other Bison for Katara to use.
When Katara entered, one of the Bison reacted with excitement, slapping her large tail on the ground as Katara approached. Katara, of course, was not an Air Nomad and couldn't form a bond with the Bison like Aang had with Appa, but this one liked her well enough.
Katara was just to the point of tying the reins on the beast's horns when Sokka stumbled in. "Wait. Toph and I should go too."
"You should take one of the other Bison and we should split up. There's a lot of ground to cover." Katara said sharply.
"Well, where was he seen last?" Sokka asked.
"The last letter I got was from the Crescent Island in the Fire Nation. He was going to make his way to the Palace City from there." Katara said.
"Okay. I'll go get Toph and we'll cover the islands close to the Crescent Island. You can take the islands near the Palace City." Sokka said.
Katara nodded tensely. He flicked the reins and said "Yip yip." The female Bison took to the air on command. As Katara flew away from the island on the back of the female bison, a smaller figure flew up to join her. Katara recognized him as Momo. Momo had almost been as depressed about Aang's extended disappearance as Katara was. It was like he knew that Katara was going to search for his master and friend.
The small lemur curled up in Katara's lap, and she stroked his soft fur. "I know, Momo… I miss him too, but we'll find him."
Many days passed, and Katara was still no closer to finding her husband. She had been searching every island that she came across on any possible route that Aang might have taken from the Crescent Island, but she'd seen no sign of him. To make matters worse, there seemed to be a storm brewing on the horizon.
It seemed to be getting closer, and her Bison rumbled out a warning to her rider. Katara leaned over and stroked the fur on her forehead. "I know, girl, I know. I can see it." She was all ready looking for a place to land.
If she knew one thing about her husband, it was that he never flew in a storm. Never. Of course, he was a fully-realized Avatar, so he probably was powerful enough now to control the storm to avoid any mishaps like the ones of his youth, but he never quite recovered from the fear of having a repeat of being stuck in an iceberg. Aang wouldn't be flying in this weather, so she wouldn't either.
She gazed around the ocean, looking for any sort of land for her to take shelter on. Thankfully, the Fire Nation was made up of many islands, so one could not be too far away. Sure enough, she came up upon a small island, and not a moment too soon. It was starting to rain and the wind was picking up. She had minutes to find shelter before the storm hit full-force.
A quick circuit of the small island revealed that there was a cave whose entrance faced away from the wind, so that none of the rain would be blown it. It would be dry. Katara's bison automatically went for the cave.
The female bison landed just inside the cave's entrance and waited for Katara to dismount before she shook the water off her fur. Outside, the rain and the wind picked up, making Katara glad that she had found shelter when she did. It was quickly becoming a tropical storm outside.
The cave seemed to be a fairly large cave, with many chambers that branched off the main cavern. She was just on the verge of seeing if she could gather any kindling for a fire when a loud growl from the entrance caught her attention. It was the growl of a male bison.
Katara froze and turned around, her eyes going wide. "Appa!" She gasped. It was, indeed, her husband's animal guide. She was pleased to see that Appa looked just fine and seemed pleased to see her. He roared in greeting and launched himself across the cave towards her. Katara calmly accepted the great bison's greeting, patting his nose and rubbing his fur. "Appa, I'm so happy to see you here! Where is Aang?" She asked him.
Appa huffed and gave Katara a little push with his nose towards one of the many chambers that lead off the main cavern. Katara carefully moved across the rocky cave floor towards the cave that Appa indicated. She gazed inside and froze in shock.
Her husband was, indeed, in the cave where Appa indicated he was, but Aang was not there at the same time. Her husband's physical body was there, but his spirit was not. He was sitting in the lotus meditative position, and his eyes and tattoos were glowing. He was in the Avatar State, probably in the Spirit World judging by his lack of activity.
She moved closer to him and, sure enough, he gave no sign that he knew she was there. She took in her surroundings. She was not a tracker like Sokka, but she still learned some of the basics from watching him over the years. The tracks that Aang had made before sitting down and meditating were very old, at least weeks or even months old.
That left one explanation, but one that Katara could hardly believe. He had been in the Spirit World for these six months! She gazed at his body as best as she could, but didn't see that he was malnourished in anyway.
She knelt down in front of him. "Are you in suspended animation again?" She asked. "I'm not going to have to wait here a hundred years, am I?"
"No. Only a few more days." Aang's body suddenly spoke, but it was not his voice. Katara knew that voice; it was the voice of the Avatar State, the combined voices of his many thousand past lives. Katara jumped away from him, frightened by his sudden awareness. "Don't be afraid. I will not harm you." The Avatar said, watching her calmly with his eerie glowing eyes.
"Where… where is my husband?" She asked.
"He is here. And he is in the Spirit World as well." The Avatar answered. "You are worried, and that is understandable. Any wife would be concerned with her husband missing as long as I have been. Rest assured, I am safe. I have been protecting this body from malnutrition for the past six months, and Aang's spirit is currently occupied with a very important meeting in the Spirit World. You see… every couple hundred years, the Spirit World has a gathering, much like the physical world's Gathering of Nations to discuss problems and come up with solutions. The current Avatar is always required to be present, but the meeting does last from the winter solstice to the summer solstice. On the evening of the summer solstice, Aang's spirit will return and we will be whole once more."
Katara thought briefly. The summer solstice was three days away. She only had three more days to wait before her husband came back. "I suppose I'll just wait, then."
"Whatever you desire." The Avatar spoke, unfurling his legs and standing easily, with no sign that this was the first time he had moved in the last six months. "Are you cold?" He asked, but did not give her time to answer. He used Firebending on the rocks around the small cave, heating them up until they glowed red and filled the cave with a steady supply of heat. Katara had to admit, it was far more warming and comfortable than a simple wood fire.
Appa and Katara's female bison edged closer to the cave, seeking the warmth provided. The Avatar obliged them, heating up some of the rocks closer to them so they could have heat too. Unlike Katara, Appa did not seem at all put off by the state his master was in, and treated the Avatar like normal.
The Avatar sat again, gazing wordlessly at Katara. Katara tried not to meet his unearthly eyes, glowing eyes that still unnerved her and filled her with memories of when the Avatar State was full of nothing but violence and anger.
"I can feel your discomfort." The Avatar said. "But I assure you that you have nothing to fear at all. I will never hurt you, and I will never allow anything to hurt you. It has always been this way, has it not?" Katara did not reply. "Katara, my love…"
"Don't call me that." Katara finally said.
"My love?" The Avatar repeated.
"Yes. You are the Avatar Spirit, but you are not Aang." Katara said.
"But you must surely understand that your husband and I are one and the same?" The Avatar asked. Katara made no reply, and the Avatar sighed heavily. "If it truly makes you feel uncomfortable, then I will not call you that. That is the power of the Avatar's love." He settled down and made no more comments after that.
The next three days passed with very little in the way of communication between Katara and the spirit of the Avatar currently possessing Aang's body while he was busy in the Spirit World. Every few hours he would ask if Katara needed anything, providing her with food and warmth every time Katara desired these things, but did not take for himself. He assured the Waterbender that Aang's body was perfectly safe within his care, and did not require any physical sustenance.
Most of the time, he did these things without asking. Katara would wake every morning to a warm cave and fresh island fruit laid out for her. She hadn't seen him sleep one moment since she arrived, his meditation non-withstanding.
In truth, he confused her a great deal. The unbridled Avatar State of Aang's youth had always been wildly violent, lashing out at anything that was threatening him or his loved ones. Once Aang gained control of the Avatar State when he turned thirteen, it had become far less violent, but that was because she assumed that it was because he had it under control.
But right now, Aang's spirit was not there to control the fury of the Avatar State. He should, by all rights, have been on the rampage for the last six months, but he seemed content to just sit in this cave for months on end. Not only was he without violence, but he was just as helpful as Aang always was.
She literally could not understand him, so she spent much of her time staring at the meditating Avatar, trying to figure him out. She came to the realization that she might not understand how the Avatar thing worked at all, which was a hard thing to swallow because she felt that she understood her husband more than anyone else. Who else could say that they had seen him at his greatest moments and his lowest, most embarrassing moments?
Finally, the Avatar opened his glowing eyes and noticed that Katara was staring at him, and probably had been staring at him for the past hour. "You keep giving me those funny looks. Is there something on your mind?" He asked.
"I'm just trying to figure you out." Katara said simply.
"A sweeping, general statement." The Avatar commented. "If you could be more specific, then I could try to explain whatever is confusing you."
"I didn't want to overstep my bounds when it comes to secrets about the Avatar."
"There are very few such 'Avatar secrets'." The Avatar said. "Many things about the Avatar should be common knowledge, but has been lost over the century that I was absent from the world. And there should never be any secrets between the Avatar and those he loves. Ask away."
"Okay." Katara said uncertainly. "I remember when I first met Aang… and he would enter the Avatar State. The Avatar State was always so full of violence and rage that it scared me… it scared me for him. Back then he couldn't control it. But he gained control over it… over you… and the violence stopped. But Aang's spirit is not here right now to contain you."
"Ahh. You were expecting me to be a raging monster, lashing out at everything around me, right? Only I'm not being like that, and it's confusing you." The Avatar said with understanding.
"That is a very complicated question, and the answer is buried within the truth of what the Avatar really is." The Avatar said. "The first thing that you must understand is that the Avatar and the mortal who carries the Avatar Spirit within them are not simply two beings inhabiting the same body. When the Avatar Spirit enters the soul of an unborn child and that child becomes the Avatar, the Avatar State attaches to that person's soul and becomes a part of them. This attachment does not affect the personality of the unborn child, but it does amplify certain traits… Bending ability and spirituality, of course, inner strength, courage, and many other character traits that are essential to being the Avatar. After the Joining, the Avatar and his mortal vessel becomes the same person. The Avatar Spirit will remain hidden inside the bearer's soul until such a time that the Spirit needs to be revealed. That's when most Avatars run into the same problem…"
"Most of the time, when the new Avatar discovers their identity, they reject it. They cannot believe that they are the Avatar and they try to deny it and the responsibility it brings them. Some can remain in denial for a long time, even long after they start to learn the other elements. They reject a vital piece of themselves, and push that part away from them rather than accept it. This separation causes a great deal of pain and frustration within the Avatar State. The Avatar Spirit longs to join with its host and become one, but the host tries to reject it. Feeling yourself being torn in half is more painful than many people know or can understand. When the Avatar is not at one with himself or herself, the mortal and immortal coexist in disharmony, causing pain to both. That pain is manifested as the violence of the Avatar State."
"Then why are you not violent now?" Katara asked.
"Your husband did not dominate the Avatar Spirit when he mastered it. He became one with the Avatar Spirit. Our souls joined together and became one. Without the pain of separation driving the Avatar Spirit mad, there is no reason for violent outbursts. Even with his soul gone in the Spirit World, we remain connected through our joined souls so that we feel no pain."
Katara could never imagine that this might have caused Aang pain. She'd never noticed when they were traveling the world trying to end the war. "But I never remember Aang being in pain before…"
"The separation manifests itself differently in the mortal host. Fear, indecision, hate… these are the hallmarks of the mortal unbound to the Avatar Spirit." The Avatar said.
Katara nodded in understanding. That sounded more like Aang. During their journey, he had often been wracked with fear, indecision, and occasionally hate.
"So… you really are the same as Aang?" Katara asked.
"It is always a tough concept for the husband or wife of the Avatar to accept." The Avatar said. "Just like you, when you did not want me to call you My Love, the spouses of the Avatar have always tried to rationalize a difference between the person they love and the immortal spirit within them when, in reality, there is none."
"Then what about your love for your previous spouses?" Katara asked. "When Aang is… will you just forget about me and love the next person who comes along?"
"Love is energy, Katara. It can never be created or destroyed. It transforms. I still love all my past spouses with the same amount of love as I did when they were alive. The Avatar can never, and will never, forget a person they loved. That is why Avatars can experience love and friendships that last more than one lifetime."
"Like Monk Gyatso." Katara said.
"Indeed. Roku's friendship with Gyatso was so great that Aang also felt an immediate kinship with him as soon as they met. So it has always been, so it will always be."
"I never want to experience that." Katara said.
"It is perfectly understandable." The Avatar said with a slow nod. "For an immortal being such as myself, loss means very little in the grand scheme of things, but mortals… your husband is deathly afraid of the possibility that you will die first as well. He knows that Avatars often have a longer life than that of a normal person, and he doesn't want to imagine living on without you. But you will have to face the reality that one of us will die first. Even those who love each other so dearly cannot pass into the Spirit World together. It is a journey every mortal takes alone."
"Can you see…?"
"Who will go first?" The Avatar finished. "No, Katara, I cannot. Precognition is not an ability that I possess."
"But what about your hundred year slumber?" Katara asked. "You must've had the power to get yourself out of the ocean and the storm, because you did it for us when we were traveling together. But you froze yourself and slept a hundred years until a time when you could save the world. You didn't foresee that?"
The Avatar laughed. "Fate controls the course of events in the world, and none can escape its decrees… not even the Avatar. When I went into the ocean, the spirits told me that suspended animation was the only option I had, so that's what I did. I did not see the outcome of such an action myself, but I put my trust in the Fates and the spirits. And it worked out, as you know. Surely you cannot be upset that I froze myself in the ocean rather than just Bending myself and Appa out of the water?"
"Of course not. If you had, I never would have met Aang… or he would be a hundred years old if I did meet him…"
"The Fates know what they are doing." The Avatar said. "They have no interest in small matters and individual destiny, but when it comes to the fate of the world, they always do what is best."
"Even the destruction of the Air Nomads?"
For the first time, the Avatar's face fell. "The fate of the Air Nomads weighs heavily on my heart, just as it does Aang. The Fates had a reason for that too, but even I cannot fathom what that is. I'm just a humble servant, and I must trust that the Air Nomad's destruction will be fixed or the world will become a better place for it."
"It will be fixed." Katara said impulsively. "They will return through our children."
The Avatar lowered his head. "You said 'our' children."
"You just finished explaining to me that you and Aang are one person, not two separate people. So you are my husband, so they will be our children." Katara said slowly, a little nervously.
The Avatar met her eyes. "We want children so badly with you." He said. "Aang thinks about it almost constantly since our marriage, but he's nervous to bring it up to you with the marriage still being so new."
In truth, Katara all ready knew about Aang's intense desire for children. She had seen the looks that he gave other young parents with their children, and the looks that he wore on his face every time one of their friends had a child. She knew what the longing look on his face meant because it was a desire that she shared. Ever since she was a little girl she had wanted children, and there was no one that she'd rather have children with more than Aang.
"He also doesn't want to put pressure on you." The Avatar said. "He doesn't want you to feel like you are obligated to bring back the Air Nomads, because it will likely take many generations for such a thing to happen…"
"I'm not pressured." Katara said. "It's like you said… if the Fates want the Air Nomads to come back, then we'll have an Airbending child. And I believe with all of my heart that we will."
"I believe that we will as well." The Avatar said earnestly. The cave around them was growing darker and he glanced towards the entrance to see that the sun was setting. "The sun is almost set. He'll be back soon." He turned to settle down on the spot where Katara had found him. She knew that Aang had an easier time finding his way back to the physical world if his body was in the same place he left it.
"Wait." Katara said, standing before him. "I really miss Aang, but I'm glad that we got this chance to talk. I guess I didn't know that much about the Avatar at all. I'm glad for my deeper understanding."
"I'm glad too." The Avatar said. "I'm glad to know that my host continues to choose such worthy partners to spend their life with. I'm glad to have met you, Katara."
"I'm glad to have met you too." Katara responded as the Avatar fell silent for a few moments. The sun set and the glow of Aang's eyes and tattoos faded, leaving a confused and fatigued Aang in the Avatar's place.
Aang swayed and almost fell, but Katara rushed forward and caught him before he hit the ground. "Katara?" He asked, uncomprehendingly. "What are you doing…?" He trailed off, staring at her, but not staring at her at the same time. He seemed to be looking right through her.
"Aang?" She asked, concerned.
He blinked and his eyes focused on hers. "The Avatar Spirit just gave me all the memories that I missed. Have I really been gone for six months?" He asked.
"Didn't you know?" Katara asked.
"Time doesn't really work the same way in the Spirit World as it does in the physical one. It only felt like a few days to me." He sat up, pulling Katara into an embrace. "I'm so sorry, Katara. I had no idea the Spirit World trip would last so long. You must've been worried sick about me!"
"I was." Katara replied, burying her head into his neck. "But I'm better now. I found you, and I have a better understanding of who you are now. I can't regret learning more about you."
"I'm sorry if you were frightened."
"I wasn't. Maybe a little at first, but I got over it." Katara said, smiling. "You're back now, fully and completely, and that's what matters."
Aang stood up and stretched, bringing Katara up with him. "Well… I suppose that I should finish my trip. You're welcome to come with me the rest of the way now that you are here."
"I will. But… one more thing…" Katara trailed off.
"What is it?" Aang asked.
"It's probably only felt like a few weeks to you, but I haven't been with you for over half-a-year!" Katara said, slipping her dress off. Aang's eyes widened at her exposed body. "Can't we stay here… just a little while longer?"
Aang smiled and met her eyes. "You know I can never say no to you." He replied, gathering her up in his arms and kissing her firmly. Katara giggled against his mouth as they descended into their shared passion together.
LES: Sorry, cat, but I decided not to do that lemon. This thing was really turning into a monster, and it would have taken me another week to finish if that was the case. But, don't worry, my Lemon fanatics. The Promise, Part 3 is getting released very soon, and you know what that means? … It means another installment of my "Kataang Does Sexy Stuff In The Promise" fanfiction series! I ran a vote on Tumblr about what sort of sexy thing they should do, and the vote was unanimous. Sex. So that will be the next thing I post… unless I can work up another chapter of Daddy's Little Princess before then…