Aang sat cross legged on the ground. Kya and Katara stood in the shallows of the nearby lake, reviewing basic forms. Bumi was digging a hole in the sand. Aang held Tenzin's hands, balancing him atop a small air scooter. Tenzin was giggling uproariously as his unstable legs wobbled back and forth.
"Dad!" Bumi stood in the hole, his eyes and the top of his head the only part of him visible.
"Woah," Aang said, "How are you going to get out?"
"I'm going to dig to the other side of the WORLD!" Bumi said, throwing his arms up.
"We should have packed sandwiches," Aang replied. He let the scooter dissipate and Tenzin sat on the ground, driving his chubby fingers into the sand.
"Dad, I bet this hole is deeper than you could bend!"
Aang stretched out on his stomach to look in.
"It's very impressive!" he said.
"Pull me out," Bumi demanded, holding his hands up, "Please," he added hastily.
Aang rose to his knees, grasped his son's hands and hauled him out of the hole. Bumi's eyes were wide.
"Will you bend it shut?" he breathed.
Aang grinned, "Sure. Stand on the other side."
Bumi dashed around and stood on tiptoes, peering down. Aang spread his arms wide and in one movement, brought his hands together. The hole collapsed on itself. Katara glanced over at them, a smile on her face.
"Dad you're the best! Earthbending is so cool," Bumi marveled, "Can you bring it back?"
With a downward punching movement, Aang created another hole. Bumi jumped down into it, his whole head still sticking out.
"My hole was deeper!" he roared triumphantly. Without turning her attention away from Kya, Katara flashed her husband a thumbs up.
Aang bent down and scooped Tenzin up, blowing his hands clean with a gentle puff of air. Tenzin laughed again, kicking his legs.
"When will Tenzin learn to airbend, Dad?" Bumi had found enough purchase with his fingertips to scramble out of the hole, "I want to watch you teach him like Mom teaches Kya."
Aang shrugged, "We probably won't start forms until he's about your age. He's already learning every day, though." They walked together to the edge of the lake. Bumi marched back and forth, high-kneed, splashing water.
"Good, Kya," Katara affirmed when they finished the rotation, "Maybe in a little bit you can do a session on Bumi's foot."
Bumi froze and pivoted, sticking his leg out to display what had been a nasty cut on the bottom of his foot. Katara had healed it but it was still pink and tender.
"Gross, Mom, I don't want to touch Bumi's feet."
"They're clean!" he objected.
"There's a leech between your toes," Kya deadpanned.
"AUUUUGH! Mom!" Bumi hopped, single-footed, to his mother. Katara removed the tiny leech and tossed it back into the water. Bumi held her arm to steady himself as she healed the pinhole sized bites in his skin. Meanwhile, Kya turned to her father.
"Dad, will you go through the rotation with me too? You explain things differently than Mom does."
He smiled, "Sure."
Bumi returned to splashing on the water's edge behind them. Katara held her hands out and Tenzin squealed, reaching for her. Aang passed him off and blew the remaining sand off of his bare abdomen. Kya began her forms again and Tenzin stared, enraptured, a grin on his face.
"He's already so excited by bending," Katara tickled his stomach. Tenzin giggled and reached toward his mother's face, "You'll have tattoos just like Daddy before long," she said.
"Are you going to do Tenzin's tattoos, Dad?" Kya asked.
"Yes," Aang said a wistful smile on his face, "I'm the only one who can."
"Are they going to look JUST like yours?" Bumi asked. He stopped kicking water. Aang glanced over his shoulder before returning his attenion to Kya's stance.
"All airbening Master tattoos look the same," he said.
"Will his have a hole, too?" Bumi asked, poking the scar on Aang's back.
"Oh, yeah. I mean, no. No." He adjusted Kya's shoulders, "Open your chest up a little more," he explained.
"It feels kind of vulnerable," Kya said.
"Then you need to work on defensive forms next," Aang replied. Kya nodded once, her mouth a tight line.
"Did any other Air Nomads have holes in their tattoos?" Bumi asked.
"Most Air Nomads weren't hit by lighting," Aang replied offhandedly.
"Whaaaaat," Kya stopped her exercises, eyes wide.
Aang sucked in a breath and grimaced, turning to his wife. Katara rolled her eyes.
"Sorry, sorry," he said, hands up with his palms out, as if he were worried he might need to defend himself.
"Dad you got hit by LIGHTNING?" Bumi jogged around and shoved himself between his father and sister, "When?!"
"A long time ago. Keep going, Kya."
"Was it during the war?" Bumi asked as Kya resumed practicing.
"Yes. A long time ago."
"Tell us about it!" Bumi begged, "You never tell us war stories!"
"Those stories are a little adult for you," Katara said.
"You weren't even adults when they happened," Kya put in.
Aang smiled, "She has a point."
"Besides," Kya went on, "It's been kind of embarassing to hear about some of this stuff for the first time from other people." She stopped again and turned to face her parents fully, "Why won't you tell us about it?"
Aang reached out and squeezed Kya's shoulder. He took her hand and reached out for Bumi's, leading them out of the water to shore. "Sit down," he said. The children plopped down on the sand and he sat across from them. Katara joined him.
"You know I was raised by monks and your mom lost her mom when she was young." The children nodded, "What you can't understand completely is what things were like for us back then. I found out I was the Avatar before I was even a teenager. There was a war going on long before your mother was even born. Your mom and I didn't have proper childhoods. If we've avoided telling you about our experiences it isn't because we think you aren't smart enough to learn from them. We just don't want to burden you."
Bumi picked at his toes, "I want to hear about the fighting, though!"
"Well, that's the other reason," Katara said.
"It's just..." Kya scratched her nose, "I hear those stories and I feel so..." she looked upward, as if searching for the right words, "I feel so proud of you guys and proud to be your daughter." Aang could see tears creeping in but she blinked them away, "And I just want you to know that."
"Thank you," Aang said softly, surprised and impressed at the maturity of what she was saying. Katara handed Tenzin off to him and leaned forward to embrace her daughter.
"How about this," Katara offered. She sat back, "One story a night over dinner, but we have veto power. You guys pick, but have a backup choice ready."
"Yesssss," Bumi hissed, pumping his fists, "I want to hear about Dad's scar, please, Kya." He turned to his sister, "I want to hear that one first."
Kya grinned, "I've always wondered about it, too."
"Oh, THAT one," Aang said, mock-nonchalant, "I GUESS we could tell you about the time your mom brought me back from the dead with spirit water."
"Don't tell them the end first!" Katara objected while the kids gaped at them, open-mouthed.
"It's the best part!" Aang protested.
"Dad, you were DEAD?" Bumi stage whispered, awed.
"Mom, you're the greatest healer in the world!" Kya burst out.
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Katara replied. She stood, brushing the sand off of her clothes, "Come on, let's go inside."
Aang stood and Bumi reached up, "Dad, can I carry Tenzin?"
Yes. But no running and-"
"And no stairs," Bumi finished, "I know."
Aang knelt and made sure Bumi had a good hold on his brother. He followed Kya and they walked on ahead. Aang stood and Katara caught his hand. They watched their children in silence for a moment. Aang turned to face her and Katara smiled.
"Sometimes I still can't believe how lucky I am," he said.
She smiled, "I love you," she said.
"I love you, too," he replied. They followed their children inside.