Aang awoke with a start just before dawn. He looked around the room in search of what could have caused him to wake up so suddenly, and he was surprised to find that his two children were not in bed with him and his wife. This was slightly unnerving, as Kya and Bumi joined them nearly every night, and on the rare occurrences when they didn't, it usually meant they were already awake and misbehaving. Though as far as Aang could tell, he could hear neither the usual screaming and crying, nor the smash of another priceless artifact falling to the floor. The only sound he heard was Katara's slow, even breaths as she lay beside him.
Try as he might, Aang could not fall back asleep. He watched Katara for a moment, thinking on how beautiful she looked as she lay there. Aang pulled back the blankets and raised her shirt just enough to expose her large pregnant belly. He marveled at the way her body could stretch to fit a whole other person inside her. He placed a hand very gently on his wife, searching for any sign of movement. It wasn't long before he felt those tiny kicks and breathed a small sigh of relief.
This pregnancy had been much harder on Katara than the others. She'd been very sick throughout, and even though the baby wasn't due for another couple of weeks, she had been having contractions for the last two months. Katara was put on moderate bed rest, and though Aang knew she hated it, he also knew she was willing to do anything to bring their child into the world as healthy as possible.
Even though they were still quite young, Aang and Katara decided that after such a difficult pregnancy, it was probably best if this child were their last. His wife's health was the most important thing to him, so it had been an easy decision for him to make. But as he felt the kicks of the last child he was likely to ever have, he couldn't help but think that this baby was the last hope to prevent the extinction of the air nomads. The thought that he could truly be the last airbender saddened him greatly.
Aang worried constantly about the future. He thought of the beautiful air temples that could forever go unused. He thought of the art form and techniques of airbending that could be lost to the world forever. He also thought of the future Avatar who would be called after his death. Who would teach her how to airbend? How could she ever truly master it without a teacher to guide her?
Just then, the baby gave a sharp kick. Aang raised his eyes to Katara's face, sure it would have woken her, but her eyes remained closed. Aang thought of his other two children then. Kya would be five come winter, and she was proving to just as talented at waterbending as Katara was at that age. She was a very sweet and even-tempered child, though quite gifted at getting into trouble. She seemed to have inherited Aang's spiritual side as well as his nomadic, as she was prone to wandering.
Bumi, on the other hand, was an exceptionally loud, funny, and boisterous kid. He reminded Aang of himself at a young age, though he felt Bumi was much more mischievous. Aang and Katara couldn't be sure, as their son had only just turned three earlier that summer, but they both suspected that he was a non-bender. The possibility hadn't really occurred to them, as Katara was a very powerful bender in her own right and with Aang being the Avatar, it only made sense that any child of theirs would be just as gifted. Even though he would probably not be a bender, Aang knew his son was still special. He would not change a single thing about his children, as he loved them just the way they were, even when they could both be unruly and exhausting. Even so, Aang couldn't help but put all of his hopes on this child inside Katara, the world's last chance to revive the air nomads.
Aang closed his eyes again, his hand still on Katara's belly. His mind continued to spin furiously. Just as he'd finally resigned to get out of bed for some much needed meditation, he felt Katara shift. A slender finger softly traced along the line of his arrow from the crown of his head to its point between his furrowed brows. He smiled widely at the familiar gesture, her touch relaxing his features immediately.
Aang opened his eyes and pulled her shirt down over her belly, but he didn't answer her question. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?"
"No, it was the baby. He's really active this morning."
"I noticed," Aang smiled. Having now had one of each, Katara was certain this baby was another boy, and Aang didn't dare question her instincts. "How do you feel?"
"Very pregnant." Katara told him, elaborating no further. The truth of the matter was, she was feeling a bit uncomfortable, but she didn't want to worry him unnecessarily. She then looked on either side of her and was just as surprised as Aang had been to find their bed empty. "Where are the kids?"
"They never made it in here."
"Considering this is our children we're talking about, shouldn't we be worried?"
Aang laughed, "Usually I'd agree, but it's so quiet that they must still be asleep."
"Hmm, I'd feel better if you checked on them, just to be sure."
"Okay, okay," Aang grunted, rolling out of bed. He felt too stiff and old for a man his age. Aang pulled on his robes, and when he turned around he found his wife watching him.
"Like what you see?" he joked, sitting beside her again.
"If I didn't then I wouldn't look like this," she said. A booming laugh escaped from Aang's mouth, and she gave him a knowing look. "I prefer this man over the brooding one I found this morning."
Aang only nodded and looked away. She gently grabbed his chin and turned his face toward her again.
"You shouldn't worry so much. We're over the worst of it now. I'm going to be fine, and so is the baby. He's strong Aang. I can feel it. I know everything is going to be okay."
"I know, Katara," he said softly. "I trust you."
Katara studied her husband, noticing how his smile didn't quite reach his eyes. She knew the only other thing that could be bothering him. They had talked about the prospect of this child not being an airbender many times, but she'd never managed to ask him what she did next."Will you be disappointed if he's not an airbender?"
"No," he answered without hesitation, "Never disappointed. But I would be . . . sad. It hurts to think that I could be the very last airbender. They're all gone, Katara, and there's a good chance there might never be another one."
She pulled him to her and held him as close as her belly would allow. She hated to hear the pain in voice every time he spoke of the genocide of the air nomads. When he was a kid, Aang could distract himself easily from thinking on the horror of it for too long, as he'd had more pressing matters at the time. Katara began to notice that the past was having a bigger effect on him once he became a father, and he realized that his children would never truly get to know their heritage in a way any other child could.
"You won't be the last," Katara said, suddenly impassioned. "I have faith in that. And if this baby isn't an airbender, we can keep –"
"No, we've already made our decision."
"Katara, we agreed that our family is complete. And I don't want you to go through another pregnancy like this one. If it doesn't happen this time, then I guess it just wasn't meant to be."
Her big blue eyes filled with tears. "And you can really be okay with that, Aang?"
Aang closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to come up with the answer that felt the truest to him. "I don't know that I'll ever be okay with it. But I think in time I can learn to accept it."
He rose from the bed, kissing Katara before leaving. Katara watched her husband go, her heart heavy. She put her hands on her protruding stomach, in her mind somehow willing the baby inside her to be an airbender. The only response she got, however, was a sudden tightening across her abdomen that made her gasp. She'd been feeling these twinges off and on since she'd woken up, but it was the first one that was slightly painful. Katara made sure to breathe slowly and evenly, refusing to allow herself to get scared. She told herself that this could be another false alarm like all of the others. So far these twinges didn't even hurt nearly as much as the ones she'd had earlier in the pregnancy. And in her head she knew that if it was the real thing, she was far enough along now that the baby could be born now and be perfectly healthy.
Meanwhile, Aang opened the door to Kya and Bumi's bedroom, relieved to find them both still sound asleep. He simply stood there and watched them for a while. When he returned to his own bedroom, he found Katara perched at the edge of the bed, facing away from him. He could tell from her posture that something was wrong.
"The kids?" she asked.
"They're still asleep. Katara," he said, sitting beside her. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Despite her words, Aang thought her voice sounded shaky.
"Maybe you should just stay in bed. I can bring you some breakfast."
"No thanks, I'm not very hungry, but I should make the kids something to eat. They'll be up soon."
"No, no, no," Aang said as he gently pushed Katara back onto the bed when she tried to stand. "I've been on breakfast duty for weeks now. I can handle it."
"But I don't think I can handle being in this bed anymore," she sighed. "I think I need to get up for just a minute and move around a little –"
Before she could finish, Aang put a hand on her belly, surprised to find it oddly hard, the muscles tight. "How long has this been going on?"
She took a moment to respond, her expression sheepish. "All morning."
When Aang opened his mouth in reproach, Katara stopped him before he could get the words out. "Really Aang, I'm fine. They're just little twinges, hardly painful at all. Trust me, I know what the real thing feels like, and this isn't it. Not yet, anyway."
Katara knew her own body better than he did, so he trusted her judgment. That didn't mean he didn't keep a close eye on her. Soon the children were awake and being rowdy as ever. As they tended to them, Aang noticed her wince every once in a while, but there was no consistent timing as far as he could discern. Before noon she returned to their bedroom, but her restlessness told him the twinges weren't going away like they usually did. After a long struggle of trying to get his children to go down for their naps, he heard Katara call for him.
When he walked into their room, he found Katara standing near the door, a large puddle between her spread feet. "Is that –?"
"Yes," she said, her whole body shaking with nervous energy. "Now it's definitely happening."
"Okay, I'll get Nima," Aang said, speaking of a very kind Air Acolyte who would also be acting as Katara's midwife. "Everything is going to go fine."
"I'm the one who told you that this morning, remember?"
"Yes, but I figured you needed to hear it too." When he started to go, Katara stopped him. She had tears in her eyes, but she was smiling.
"Aang, we're having a baby today."
He grinned widely, all of the fear momentarily going away, leaving only the excitement and joy at the prospect of being a father again.
"We're having a baby today."
Once real labor kicked in, Katara's contractions came fast and hard. Between contractions Aang would quickly update the kids, or he and Katara would try to finally decide on a name, as she was still insistent there was no need for a girl's. During the contractions, Aang did his best to comfort her, though there was little he could do. He gave her his hand to squeeze and told her what a great job she doing as she groaned and tried her best not to scream. After seven hours of hard labor, Nima told Katara that she could push. Their tiny baby boy was born only twenty minutes later, just as the sun was setting behind the skyline of Republic City.
"It's a boy," Nima announced, swiftly cutting the umbilical cord that connected him to his mother.
Katara smiled weakly at Aang. "I told you he would be."
"You did," he said, positively beaming. He kissed her damp hair. "You did great, Katara."
"I want to see him." As she struggled to sit up, she noticed Nima doing her best to hide the baby from view. "Is he okay? Aang? Aang, he isn't crying!"
Aang had realized that very fact just before she'd said it. Katara clutched his hand tightly as he tried to get a better look at the baby. What he saw made him feel as if all the air had been bended from his lungs, as his son was a very surprising shade of blue.
"Nima, what's happening?" Aang asked. His own voice sounded oddly calm and very far away to him.
"The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. I got it off as fast as I could, and he's breathing now. He just needs more air."
"But he's blue," Aang continued in that far away voice.
"What?!" Katara cried, struggling even harder to see her baby. "What do you mean he's blue?!"
"Aang, I need you to hold her back so she doesn't hurt herself, okay? I know this looks scary, but you just have to give me a minute. Blue isn't bad. Blue I can work with."
Aang held onto Katara tightly as she cried, and they waited for those first signs of life. It felt like an eternity, but their son finally started crying, softly at first but then grew into an angry wail. They had never heard such a welcome sound in their lives.
Nima cleaned him, wrapped him up, and placed him in Katara's arms. Katara held him tight and kissed him on his little bald head. Aang and Katara cried in relief and happiness as their son's skin turned pink. The baby they had worked so hard to get to this day was finally here, and he was okay.
"Aang, why don't you take him," Nima suggested. "I need to tend to Katara now."
He took the baby from Katara, surprised at just how light he felt. "He's so small, almost weightless."
"He didn't feel that way to me," Katara said.
"No, I guess he wouldn't," Aang smiled. He looked at his newborn son, so much smaller than his siblings had been when they were born. He also noticed that while Kya and Bumi had Katara's darker complexion, this baby had his coloring. In fact, he could see quite a few of his own features in his son's face. Aang felt his eyes filling, but he did nothing to stop the tears. Instead, he let them flow freely. Whether this baby was an airbender or not, it was his last child, and he wanted to remember every moment, as he knew he would never have this experience again.
The baby started to fuss, and Aang rocked him gently back and forth. For such a little baby, he already had such a huge weight on his shoulders. The rest of the world would be waiting to see if he was an airbender. And if he was, then he would also inherit Aang's burdens of being the last – the responsibility of passing down the customs and traditions, the pressure to produce more airbenders, and the very important task of teaching the new Avatar after Aang was gone. Aang tried not to dwell on those things, as they were so far into his son's future. The only responsibility he wanted his son to have in that moment was to get bigger and stronger, and for him to live as happily as he was able.
He looked around and saw Katara resting comfortably. He'd been so enraptured with their son that he hadn't even noticed when Nima had left the room.
"Where'd Nima go?"
"She's giving us a minute alone. Come sit with me." She patted the bed, and he sat beside her. "Hi."
"Hi," he said, smiling so widely it hurt his cheeks. "How are you?"
"Really tired, but I'm okay otherwise. I see you two are already bonding."
"Yeah, but I think he misses his mom." He put the baby back in Katara's arms. She took him gladly, and a smile broke out across her face that rivaled her husband's.
"He's so beautiful. He looks a lot like you, Aang."
"He does. He really needs a name, you know."
"Right, a name," she mused, thinking on it a moment. "I think we should call him one of those popular air nomad names you mentioned. Even if he isn't an airbender, it's still his heritage."
"How about Tenzin?" Aang offered.
"I like Tenzin," she said, looking down at her baby happily. "It suits him somehow, doesn't it?"
"It really does."
"Aang," Katara said, both her voice and expression suddenly serious. "He'll be an airbender. I know he will. Looking at him, I just have this overwhelming feeling like everything is going to work out."
"That might only be wishful thinking."
She took his hand. "Maybe so, but my wishful thinking has gotten us further than we ever thought possible."
"That's very true." Aang smiled and stood. "Are you up for a quick visit? I bet the kids can't wait to see him."
"I'm sure you're right," she said. "Go and get them already."
Aang kissed them both before turning to leave. Just before he walked out the door, he stopped and looked back to watch Katara with their son. He saw her brush a gentle hand over his head again and again. There was such a look of love and devotion on her face that it made his breath catch in his chest.
"Katara . . ."
She looked up, giving him a radiant smile. They simply looked at each other, and Katara's eyes filled with happy tears. The love they shared for each other was so evident on their faces that neither one of them had to say the words.
"Go on," she said. "They're waiting for you."
As he went to retrieve his children, Aang thought back to that morning and how much he'd been fretting over being the very last airbender. He still cared, of course, he always would, but it was amazing how a brand new baby could give its father such perspective. All that really mattered was that his family was happy and healthy. Anything else was an added blessing to all of the others he'd since had the privilege to receive.
He blew through the large double doors, knowing how much his children enjoyed his theatrical entrances. "Kya? Bumi?"
"DADDY!" Bumi yelled, running full force at his father. Aang caught the excitable, wild-haired little boy in his arms.
Kya also ran up to him and began tugging on the long sleeve of his robes. "Daddy, is the baby here yet? Can we see him?"
"Yes," Aang said, taking her hand in his. "Let's go meet your little brother."
A/N: I know this is probably a very popular story idea, but sometimes the heart just writes what the heart wants. Hopefully it was different enough for you to enjoy it. Thanks for reading.