It was with an intense feeling of despair that Katara pushed into Aang's room on a dark, stormy night in mid-winter. He had taken to his bed nearly a week before, and nothing she had tried would heal him.
He's a hundred and sixty-six years old now. The time in the iceberg probably caught up to him...
Deep down, she knew he was going to die. She just didn't want to accept it yet.
In the light from the torches on the wall, her husband's face on the pillow was pale and twisted in pain, his eyes closed. Katara dropped into the chair where she'd been keeping vigil for the past week, only leaving Aang's side when she herself was on the verge of collapse.
Wordlessly, her hand found his. She had always relied on him for support—and even when he was at death's door, that didn't change,
Aang's eyes fluttered open, thunderstorm-gray over deep circles. He looked so exhausted, yet he still smiled at Katara. "Hey, beautiful."
"Shh, Aang..." Her voice broke, splintering like ice. This can't be happening... "You need rest."
"I've been fighting for a while," he breathed. "I have finally met a battle I cannot win, Sifu."
It took everything Katara had and more not to burst into hysterical sobs, but a few hot tears splashed down her cheeks nonetheless. She felt Aang reach up and wipe them away with his thumb, then let his hand fall weakly back to the blankets.
"It's my time, Katara," her husband whispered. "I know it is. And you will join me someday... but not too soon, do you hear me? Someone's going to have to stick around and annoy the kids with overly-concerned speeches."
She laughed weakly, despite the situation. "You're still good for a joke, aren't you?"
"What can I say?" For a second, the old mischievious gleam was back in his eyes. "Sokka's been rubbing off on me for fifty-four years."
With a contented sigh, Aang settled back on his pillows. "I love you, Master Katara. Even when I'm gone, I will always love you."
She swallowed back the panic and sadness building in her throat and smiled through her tears. "As I love you, Avatar Aang."
He smiled and closed his eyes for the last time.
His tattoos glowed white for a brief moment, then faded back to blue.
And in the Southern Water Tribe, a newborn baby wailed out her first cry.