|More from AvatarBeau96||Tragic Drama||PG-13||Positive||No update page|
|That Tragic Night|
August 5th, 2012
This is unlike any story I've ever written, albeit most of the stories I write end in the death of a least one major or minor character. As stated before, this story demonstrates how even the most moral of souls can fall apart after the loss of one very close individual. This is the story of Aang, and his struggle to continue living without his soul mate. I hope you all enjoy it.
Soft flakes of snow fell down over Republic City, covering the capital in white. It had been going on like this for days, and the city was practically buried in snow. The water was as cold as ice, so not many boats were out at sea. Not many people were on the streets either. The city was practically paralyzed, but in honesty, the city was at its most beautiful. I loved the city when it was like this. I always loved how the snow rested on Air Temple Island. It was like living in the South Pole, in the home that Katara and I had lived in for so long. I had finished building Air Temple Island about ten years ago. And now look where I am — age twenty-eight with a baby on the way...
Yeah, you heard that right — a baby. Katara was eight months pregnant. Her brother, Sokka, and his wife Suki was here with Hakoda watching over her. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous. How could I not be? We had been waiting for this moment for so long... And to think that soon I was going to be a father! Luckily, as I mentioned before, Sokka was there to help me keep my sanity.
At the time, I stood on the docks of the island, looking out onto the sea as the fluffy snow rained down softly, wearing my traditional Air Nomad robes with a small beard resting on my chin. I had this huge but calm smile on my face as I waited. I knew that Katara wasn't due for another month, but I just couldn't wait. I even had some of the best healers in the city here as well, making sure that everything went the way it should. Katara claimed that I was paranoid when I did stuff like that. She assured me that everything was fine... but sometimes, I got the feeling that everything was not fine.
"Aren't you cold out here?"
I turned and saw the love of my life standing just behind me in her thick blue parka and the orange scarf I had bought for her a while back. Her stomach was huge, as it was carrying our child. We had picked out two names for it—one fit for a boy, the other fit for a girl.
I smiled at her, "Nothing compared to winters down south..." I answered while approaching her.
She invited me into her arms, which I accepted as she replied, "You are right about that."
Suddenly I felt something move down near my chest and I jumped softly. I immediately realized what it was as I looked into my wife's beautiful, crystal blue eyes.
"Looks like Kya's kicking mighty strong, huh?" she said joyfully.
I made a playful smile as I raised a brow, "Kya? Surely you mean Tenzin, don't you?"
She playfully crossed her arms at me, "Even you and your Avatar powers can't predict whether it's a boy or girl."
We were toying with each other, just as we had done when we were just dating. Our love hadn't weakened at all since they became an official couple. Sure, we had our own ups and downs, but doesn't every couple? Even were weren't perfect...
"Neither can your waterbending! How can you tell it's a girl?"
She began to rub her belly, "I just have a good feeling, that's all..."
Again, I smiled as I leaned down onto the ground and began moving my hands gently across her belly, feeling for more kicks. Katara grunted softly as the baby kicked inside her, and all I could do was smile gleefully.
"The baby's strong..." I commented. "Feels like an airbender to me!"
Katara playfully crossed her arms again as she stared down at me, "And how would you know what an airbender feels like inside a woman's stomach?"
I got up and gave her a peck on the lips, "I wouldn't... But I'm hoping it is."
"And even if it isn't an airbender?" she questioned with worry in her voice and eyes.
"Airbender or not, I'll love it either way," I reassured her with a promise.
I meant what I said. Although one of our reasons for having a child was to try and repopulate the Air Nomads, that wasn't our reason for wanting a child. We wanted to raise a family—whether they were airbenders, waterbenders, or even non-benders, we would love the child that we brought into this world. Katara wanted to have three children, and I had hoped to have twice that amount, but Katara had firmly stated that, for now, we should just stick with three. But I didn't complain a bit. I completely agreed with her—three children even remotely related to me would clearly inherit their father's wild side from my days of youth.
Suddenly, we both heard a voice call out to them.
"Are you guys trying to get colds?" called Sokka, the representative for the Southern Water Tribe on the Republic Council, from the other side of the docks. He had what little hair he had on his head in a Warrior's Wolf Tail and has a short, thinly trimmed beard on his chin. He was also wearing a parka, but his was in a much darker color.
Suki stood beside him, wearing a similar parka but in a dark, grassy-green. "Come on, dinner's ready!" she told us both.
"All right," I called back as I held out my hand for her to take, which she gladly did as we headed down the docks and up onto the island.
Back up in the dining room of the temple, our entire family sat at a low, dark brown polished table on brown pillows. Sokka and Suki sat on one side of the table, Hakoda sat at one end, and Katara and I sat at the other end. The table had been set with bowls of rice and plates of various types of vegetarian food. One thing Sokka had learned to deal with while staying with Katara and I was eating vegetarian food. Hakoda had gotten used to it on the first go, and found it really helped him keep in good shape at his increasing age. Suki didn't mind it at all either—it wasn't much of a change to her old eating habits. Katara had committed to eating vegetarian food shortly after she and I had started dating. Actually only a year passed before she was insisting to become a vegetarian. I tried to convince her that it wasn't necessary and that I had nothing against her eating habits since it was part of her culture. But, of course, she stayed committed to the idea. Sometimes she was stubborn like that, but hey, I'm not complaining...
As always, before eating each meal, our family said a prayer. We bowed their heads before each other and our meals and joined hands.
"We are grateful for this delicious food, for our happiness, for compassion and life," said I in prayer.
After that, we began to eat, sharing small conversations that led from one thing to another. The subject of mine and Katara's upcoming child was a major topic in each conversation. No matter what, they all somehow led up to our up and coming child.
"So, Katara, you ready to become both a housewife and a mother?" Sokka unexpectedly asked.
I raised an eyebrow, "Hey, I do my fair share around the island! I don't make her do all the work."
"Good," Sokka crossed his arms, "Because if you did, me and you would need to have a little talk."
Hakoda couldn't help but laugh, "Sokka, you're her brother, not her father."
"I'm just looking out for my little sister..." he said defensively, crossing his arms.
"I can look out for myself, Sokka. Besides, Aang and the Acolytes take good care of me..." she turned to me, "Especially the healers that you have hovering over me after every meal and activity."
"I do it because I care," I assured her with a childlike smile.
"Sometimes a little too much," she murmured with a grin.
"So...?" Suki questioned.
"So... what?" her sister-in-law questioned.
"So, are you ready to become a mother?"
Katara acted like she was searching her mind for an answer, grasping her chin and looking up into space. "Eh, not really..." she answered. "This entire pregnancy was a mistake."
"WHAT?!" I cried aloud, horrified, as I practically jumped into air. The entire table laughed, catching on to Katara's intentions.
"I'm kidding, Aang!" she reassured me, giggling.
I frowned grimly, "Not funny, honey..." I retorted. "Hey, that rhymes!"
Suki rolled her eyes, "Nah... really?"
I then eyed his sister-in-law, "You are becoming a lot like your husband, you know that?"
Sokka quickly wrapped his arm around the woman beside him and pulled her closely against him, "Isn't that great?!"
"More like a nightmare come true..." Hakoda retorted in a smiling mutter.
Sokka's eyes popped out at his father, "And now you are becoming a lot like them!"
Everyone laughed. Just an average night on Air Temple Island... One big happy family—that's exactly what we were. We had all gone through some pretty rough times together. Like, a year or so ago, Sokka and Suki tried having a child themselves. But just ten weeks into the pregnancy, Suki apparently had a miscarriage. Sokka and I had some of the best healers try and figure out what went wrong. In the end, they found nothing and just found the miscarriage a twisted act of nature. When it happened twice again, that was when Katara stepped in, as she was now known for being the best healer in the world. Unfortunately, Katara found the problem. For some strange reason, Suki couldn't have kids. There was a lot of twisted energy in her stomach. Katara couldn't really explain it, but the feeling of the energy just sort of told her the bad news. Then, when Katara found out she was pregnant... Well, Sokka wasn't exactly the most thrilled about the news, and I admit, for the first time in my life, I had never been so afraid of him.
Katara and I were making a visit to the South Pole to see Katara's father, Hakoda. Sokka and Suki also took time off from their jobs in order to come as well. Katara had been more thrilled to see her father than previous times. Sure, she was always happy to see her own flesh and blood, but unknown to everyone else, she had come because of something... well, life-changing.
Katara and I walked through the door of the large igloo, where we found the chief and his son waiting for us.
"We're here!" I called as we set our suitcases down.
"Well, it's about time!" Sokka exclaimed as he got off his seat and approached his sister and me, his brother-in-law. He gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, then moved on to me. "Hope you haven't been giving my little sister any problems..."
I had shrugged, "Eh... Not lately."
Sokka raised a questioning brow, "What do you mean, 'not lately'?" he asked threateningly.
"He's kidding, Sokka... When will you learn that?" Suki spoke up as she approached her husband from the kitchen.
Sokka moved away from us both so that Hakoda could greet us. He gave Katara and I hugs and welcomed the two of us back home, adding that Suki would probably be done with dinner some time soon.
"So, how's things in Republic City, Aang?" asked Hakoda as we sat down.
"Eh, pretty good, I guess. Crime's been pretty low... Really, we've just been focusing on a bunch of witnesses claiming that they were being 'controlled by a mysterious force'."
"Sounds like bloodbending if you ask me..." stated Sokka. "But really we've got no proof and most of these 'witnesses' are a bunch of supposed criminals—ones we got no evidence to prosecute them with. So for all we know they could either be getting paid off to do this stuff, or their really is some 'force' controlling them."
"What's weird is that it seems that these acts are being performed in broad day, so we can almost immediately rule out that it's bloodbending," I explained to my father-in-law.
Hakoda made a contemplative hum, then turned to his daughter, "What do you think of it, Katara? I mean, no offense, but you are the only bloodbender we know."
Katara just shrugged as she broke eye contact, "In my experience... you'd have to be a very experienced bender, and it'd have to be while your bending is at its most powerful, moreover during a full moon," she turned back to them. "That's what I learned from Hama. But, personally..." she broke eye contact again, "I don't exactly study it..."
I knew how hard this was on her. She hated bloodbending, and ever since these claims began, people have been coming to her about it. I rested a hand on her shoulder to comfort her, "We know... We understand."
"Thanks..." she said woefully before getting up, "I'm going to go help Suki in the kitchen."
With that she headed into the kitchen, leaving us three guys to sit around and talk.
"So, any children on the way?" Hakoda suddenly asked me.
I had been completely struck by the question with awkwardness. As far as I knew, were weren't expecting any children, but still... How was I supposed to answer a question like that after we had been married for about ten years now?
"Not that I'm aware of..." I answered awkwardly.
"Huh... I'd think that by now you two would be multiplying like rabaroos..." Sokka retorted with a grin as he crossed his arms.
"You know, this is your sister we're talking about!" I cried out.
Sokka just shrugged... then all of a sudden we had heard a crash come from the kitchen, with the sounds of pots, pans, and whatever else clashing against the floor. The three of us immediately got off our butts and rushed into the kitchen.
"What happened?" Sokka immediately asked right before I came up behind him.
"Katara!" I cried her name as I saw my wife crouched on the floor with her hand on her head, seemingly dizzy.
"I'm-I'm okay... Just-just a little nauseous," she stated as she looked into my eyes reassuringly, "I'm fine..."
I came up beside her and helped her up, "Are you sure?" I asked, not convinced that she was alright.
"She's fine..." stated Suki. "Just three weeks pregnant."
"Well that's a relief—WAIT, WHAT!" Sokka cried out in shock.
"Katara's three months pregnant—Aang and Katara are having a child," she announced as she took my hand in hers, "Congratulations."
"Wait, by saying they're having a child you mean that they have been going at it like rabaroos!" Sokka practically yelled in his wife's face.
"Well, um, I wouldn't exactly put it that way but..." Katara said nervously, "We have, well, you know... had sex quite a couple times."
"Katara was telling me that she hasn't had her period in about a month when she collapsed. So as far as we can tell, she is pregnant."
I couldn't help but stutter. This had happened so fast. Sure I was expecting the time to come at some point, but never did I anticipate becoming aware of it in front of our whole family.
Sokka growled as he grabbed me by the collar, "Little creep!" he shouted as he pressed me against the wall, "You're deeeeeeeeaaaaaad," Sokka growled with eyes of insanity. My face was struck with fear that my insane brother-in-law was going to seriously hurt me. Just the look in his eyes told me that much.
"Sokka, lay off your brother-in-law," Hakoda told his son as he laid a calming hand on his shoulder.
Sokka's growling began to die down before his face completely twitched to one of stability, "I mean, congratulations, kid..."
"Uh, th-thanks..." I managed to say, still a bit shocked by the current situation.
Sokka's grip loosened to the point where he had completely let go of me, but you could tell by the look in his eyes that he was still on the verge of having another mental breakdown.
Then I practically jumped into the air when Hakoda's hand rested on my shoulder. I was now even more afraid than I had been with Sokka. Sure, Hakoda stopped him from strangling me, but for all I knew he was only doing that so that he could strangle me himself.
"Congratulations, you two," congratulated the chief with eyes of pride.
"So... you're NOT going to kill me?" I questioned confusedly.
Hakoda stared at me weirdly, "Now why would I do that?"
"Because... well, you know... I—oh, please, don't make me say it," I shrugged awkwardly.
"You are excited, aren't you, Aang?" asked my waterbender worriedly.
I answered immediately, "Of course I am! It's just—well, you're father's right here and..."
The chief chuckled, "No need to be so uptight. I'm happy for you both—we all are. In fact, how about I take over in making dinner and make a special Water Tribe dinner just for you two?"
I smiled gratefully, "Thanks, that sounds nice."
"I'll even prepare my infamous stewed sea-prunes!"
I grimaced, "Great..." I said flatly, causing everyone to laugh.
Suki and I were in the kitchen of the Temple washing the dishes. Normally, I would be the only one doing the dishes since Katara became pregnant. I actually took on a bunch of house-wife jobs when she became pregnant, even before any of the bodily changes came to the surface. I just couldn't help it. I felt an urge to help and do whatever I could to make it easier for Katara.
"Hey, Aang. Why don't you go and be with Katara. I got these," Suki told me.
I continued to wash the dishes, "You sure? I could stick around and—"
"I insist. Besides, I got someone to fill in for you," she said before crying out, "Sokka!"
Just like a trained polar-dog, Sokka came right up into the kitchen, "Yeah?"
I wiped off my hands and approached the exit, laying a hand on Sokka's shoulder, "Fill in for me and finish the dishes, will ya?"
"What? So you can just go and be lazy?"
I turned around, "No, so I can go find my wife and spend some time with her."
"We're twenty-eight years old, Sokka. We're not teenagers anymore," I assured him as I ducked out of the room.
"Yeah but a part of you is still that goofy kid we found in the iceberg..." muttered Sokka right before being handed a wet dish by his wife. He groaned and started to help, but the look on his face made it clear that he had better things he wanted to do.
"Katara?" I called out my wife's name as I came down a small flight of stairs to where the sky bison caves were located. It had been the only place that I hadn't checked yet, and I was honestly very uncomfortable with her being down there alone. Sure, Appa and the other sky bison were there, and surely Appa would alert me if anything happened to her...but still, something at the bottom of my stomach was twisting and turning, and I was certain it wasn't the dinner she and Suki had prepared.
"I'm down here!" she answered, confirming that she was in the caves.
I almost immediately pinpointed which cave she was in. Not much to my surprise, I found her in Appa's cave—well, actually it was more of a shed, considering Appa's fear of caves—feeding the bison a bale of hay as she pet the long-time friend. I then leaned against the entrance to the shed, watching while she enjoyed the comfort of the large animal's skin as she lied against him. She was laying on her side, her eyes closed as if she was sleeping, with that relaxing smile on her face that was contagious to anyone watching her.
I quietly lied down beside her, resting my hand atop hers as I gently ran my thumb across the back of her hand. Just moments later, she took hold of my own hand and opened her eyes halfway to see me, her loving husband.
"Hey, sweetie..." she said to me with a soft, gentle voice.
"Hi..." I whispered back.
She nuzzled her head against the fur she was laying on as I scooted closer to her, wrapping an arm as far around her waste as I could, trying to be as close to her as I could without squeezing her stomach. I stared into Katara's half-lidded eyes with as much love as a human-being could possibly show. My arm that had been wrapped around his wife's waste began to travel back down to her stomach, where I gently rubbed it in a circle.
"Aang..." she began to whisper as water began to trickle down her skin, "...we're gonna have a baby!" she whispered with excitement.
I continued to smile, "I know... And I couldn't think of anyone else I'd be happier to have it with."
"Me neither..." she replied. She broke eye contact, but returned just a moment later, "Do you...do you think we'll be good parents?"
My gaze of love transformed to one of curiosity and wonder, "Why would you even ask a question like that? Of course we will," I reassured her. But to be honest, I had been asking myself that very same question for months. I knew that Katara already had her own maternal instincts and that she had practically taken a motherly figure after Kya's passing. But me, I wasn't so sure... Would I be a good father? The closest thing I ever had to a father was Gyatso. Don't get me wrong; I know he did a good job raising me. But would I do just as well? I have always worried about that... What if my Avatar duties got in the way and I were never around? Or worse... What if something happened to me? Would Katara be able to raise our child on her own?
I forced myself to throw away those thoughts. All they would do is make me even more paranoid than I already am...
All of a sudden I felt the baby kick hard and Katara yelped in pain.
"Are you okay?" I immediately asked worriedly.
She had her eyes clenched in pain, but thankfully the pain subsided. "Yeah, I'm fine. The baby's just kicking really hard is all."
"You think that maybe we should get out of this cold?" I asked, still a bit worried.
She shook her head, "No, I'm fine. Really..." she continued to assure me, but I still wasn't convinced.
"Are you sure?" I asked again.
She looked up at me and smiled, "Yes, I'm sure. Remember, I have a lot of experience with pregnancies," she told me. "Remember when we had to take the Serpent's Pass in order to help those refugees get to Ba Sing Se and Ying suddenly went into labor?" she reminded me.
"Yes, I remember..." I replied, thinking back on those days when I had practically abandoned all hope and care in the world. That was just one of the many times that Katara had tried to help me through something that I otherwise couldn't have gotten through by myself. Although it was actually the family that helped me get through my depression, she was still there, trying her best to help get me through it herself. Sometimes I even ask myself who's wiser—me or her? Either way, Iroh was wiser than the two of us combined. That I knew for sure.
"Still," I began again, "We should probably get back inside and be getting ready for bed."
She sighed deeply, "Alright, if you insist," she said before smiling mischievously, "That is, if Appa wants us to leave..."
I knew immediately that she was teasing me.
"Maybe Appa wants me to stay with him tonight. I'd be happy to oblige," she continued.
I chuckled softly, "I'm sure Appa wants to get to sleep as much as I do right now," I looked up at the bison, "Isn't that right, buddy?"
My trusty sky bison agreed with a loud groan, causing Katara to scoff at him. "Why do you always take his side, Appa?" she demanded.
Another groan came from Appa's enormous mouth and my wife sighed in defeat as I got up. I knew she'd have trouble getting up herself, so I created a small, revolving ball of air and positioned it under her, causing her to softly float up into the air and back on her feet.
"Thanks for the lift," she joked, causing us both to chuckle. We started to head out the shed, hand-in-hand. The snow had begun to fall down even harder than before. Before we knew it, the island would be covered in sheets of snow about two feet tall.
We were halfway back to our room when Katara had once again cried in pain, except this time, she appeared to be in even more pain than before. In fact, her cry was loud enough to have Hakoda, Sokka and Suki rushing out into the courtyard; where Katara was doubling over onto her knees as I tried to ask her what was wrong.
"My water just broke," she managed to say.
I had never been so shocked in my life. I practically did a demonstration of Sokka's reaction when Ying had announced that her baby was coming.
"But you're not due for another month!" I cried in panic.
"Well, apparently the baby has it's own damn schedule!" she snapped at me. I didn't take it personally. I realized that when she went through all the mood swings. She was just in a lot of pain—pain that I'd probably never understand.
Luckily some of the Acolytes were nearby and knew what to do when this time came. They quickly got a gurney and placed her on top of it and rushed her to our room. Sokka and I followed closely behind. I still couldn't believe that she was a month early! How might this affect her, or the baby for not matter? Was it even safe to deliver a month early? All these questions and more passed through my mind. I barely even remember the rush to the bedroom. I was in such a shock and panic that I didn't even notice Hakoda stop me before I entered the room.
Apparently, he had stopped me just before I followed my wife and her brother in the room, clearly noticing my state of mind. He had this calm look on his face, but in his eyes, I could tell he was just as surprised about the current situation as I was.
"Aang, before you go in there, there's something I have to tell you."
"Can't it wait?" I quickly replied, "Now isn't exactly the time for chit-chat!"
He rested a hand on my shoulder, "No, you deserve to know this. I know exactly what's going through your head right now. You're worried for Katara and the baby's health, and how this early delivery may affect them both," he quickly said to me, and of course, he was right. "Look, when Kya went into labor with Sokka, she was a month early as well—just like Katara is now."
All of a sudden, I heard my wife scream in agony. Without hesitation, I attempted to rush in there, but was stopped by Hakoda. I remember turning to him with eyes of question. Was this really that important? Okay, fine, Kya was a month early, too. What difference did it make? Sokka turned out fine, right? Why was this so important that I wasn't allowed to be with her at this very second?!
"You have to know that, after Sokka was born, Kya had suddenly become very weak—weaker than most women after giving birth."
It was then that I started to pay attention to Hakoda's words. Where was he going with this? Katara was a strong woman—one of the best and most skilled waterbenders and healers in the world. I hadn't realized it at the time, but at this moment, that strange twisting-and-turning feeling at the bottom of my stomach had grown larger than before.
I heard her scream again. I couldn't explain the worry and panic on my face after hearing her scream with such agonizing pain just twice in the last five minutes.
"Hakoda, get to the goddamn point!" I shouted into his face without thinking.
"We almost lost her, alright!" he cried out, water coursing down his cheeks.
That was the first time I ever saw Hakoda cry. I'll never forget the pain and panic in his voice when he shouted those five words. Even today, I do believe that I've never seen him in such a state of emotion. He was always so calm, so easygoing, so...strong. But for the first time ever—that I'd seen at least—he was the opposite of all those at the exact same time.
"W-What did you say?" I asked, struck by the shock of his words.
He tried to avoid eye contact, but I bet a part of him just wouldn't allow it. "Look, immediately after Sokka was born, Kya became very weak. She fell into unconsciousness at least twice. Every time her eyes closed, I was afraid that they'd never open again."
"Are—You're not saying that...the same thing might happen to K-Katara?" I demanded with a soft, but shocked voice.
"I don't know, I just want you to know that if it does, you gotta hold onto the hope that she will open her eyes again," he encouraged me, relieving me of some of my panic. But still, just hearing that she might do the same was enough for me lose it.
I heard her scream again, but this time, it was a name. "AANG!" she screamed at the top of her lungs in another release of audible pain.
This time I wouldn't let Hakoda stop me, and thankfully he didn't even try. I rushed in there with all my speed, taking her hand in mind the second I reached her. She gripped it with all the strength she could muster. I won't lie by saying that I didn't feel a thing. Believe me, the grip might as well have almost broken every bone in my hand, but I didn't let it bother me. I tried to ignore it the best I could as I stood by her side, watching as her eyes clenched as tight as she could while screaming loud enough to shake the room.
The bed was surrounded by some medically-experienced Air Acolytes and some of the healers I hired. Furthermore, Sokka was gripping his sister's other hand. Every now and then, we'd look up at one another. I could tell just by looking in his eyes that he was just as worried for his sister as he would be if it were Suki being the one giving birth. Honestly, I can't explain the feelings that were building up in my body. If I had to try, I'd say that I felt like a whole part of my life was changing right in front of my eyes; that after today, the entire world would be changed forever.
Seconds, minutes, even hours passed by without awareness. It felt like an eternity had passed. It had to be, at least, seven or eight when she first went into labor. And now? I wouldn't have even known what time it was if I hadn't to have happened to look up at the clock on the wall across the room. It was now around midnight. She'd been in labor for about four hours. If I hadn't looked at the clock, a month could have gone by and I wouldn't have even noticed. It was a torture watching her in so much pain. The pain was so great that I think she even passed out and woke up numerous times without me even noticing. I wanted to look away because I just couldn't stand the sight of her being in so much pain. But I didn't, and I wouldn't either. After every scream, she'd look into my eyes with an indescribable emotion. In some ways, she seemed happy, but in others, she was going through more pain than I ever could have when Azula shot me.
The voices that filled the room were so indistinct that they were practically garbles. The only sound that passed clearly through my ears were her screams. When would this end? Why wouldn't our child just relieve her of so much pain and hurry to be born? It already decided to come a month early, so why did it insist on prolonging their own birth? Why couldn't this just end?! Why did this have to go on for so long?! I wanted it to end; I pleaded for it to end. Each time I heard her scream, it was like something was tearing me apart bit-by-bit. I felt like passing out just so that I didn't have to go through it any longer than I already had. I thought that maybe I could run and hide, but then I'd be leaving her side, and that was the last thing that I ever wanted to do.
Another eternity passed, and that force that had been tearing me apart, finally reached my heart. My heart couldn't take it anymore. I felt like I was running out of hope—that hope that Hakoda told me to hold onto...it was slipping away from me. I thought I had reached my breaking point. But...then...the most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life passed through my ears.
All other sounds vanished from the would, and all I could hear was that beauty that lit up my entire face.
It was the sound of a baby—our baby! Katara's screams of pain had ceased. I could tell by that smile on her face that she was hearing it too. Before I could even collect my thoughts, Hakoda handed our child to me. It was a girl! Beautifully wrapped in a pink towel as it cried loudly. It was our daughter, Kya! We had done it! She had done it! She was so beautiful! I didn't need to pay attention to her exact description to know that.
"Katara..." I called my wife's name softly as I stared at our child with joy. She didn't answer, so I called her again, "Katara?" When she didn't answer again, I looked down at her and was struck with panic.
Her eyes were closed! "Katara!" I cried out her name, taking her hand and grasping it firmly. I heard her breathe softly as she opened her eyes. I had never been so thankful in my life. That hope that had almost slipped away from me was now in my tight grasp.
"Aang..." she said to me softly in a weak manner.
It was now that tears began to flood my eyes. Even today, I cannot tell whether they were from the worry that she wouldn't open her eyes again, or if they were tears of joy that our child had finally been brought into this world.
"She's right here. You can hear her, right? That's our baby—that's our daughter crying! Look, I was the first to hold her, just like you wanted!"
"Hey, Kya..." she said weakly, her gaze returning to me, "She-she turned out so cute!"
"This is our little baby, Katara. You did a great job!" I cried softly with the widest smile a man could possibly create.
Katara smiled as well as I showed her our baby, "She...has your eyes..." she stated happily.
"And your beautiful hair," I couldn't help but add as water trickled down my cheeks.
"Aang..." she began, her eyelids beginning to drift closed, "I'm feeling a bit tired... Could you let me rest a bit?" she asked as she finally closed her eyes.
Part of me couldn't help but become worried by that. What if she had fallen unconscious? Or maybe she had just fallen asleep... If that was the case, I had no right to wake her after all the work she had done to bring Kya into this world. But something inside me took over. Hakoda's words pounded at my heart and I couldn't help but try and get her to stay awake.
"Wait, Katara...please. Let's talk for just a little longer..." I pleaded. "Look, I'm gonna try calling her name," I looked down at our crying child. "Kya, hey, it's Daddy..." I said to her, but her cries continued and I sniffed softly as I saw Katara's eyes open again. "This is Mommy..." I told our daughter as I showed her the woman that had brought her into this world. But she turned away, her arms waving at the air while she cried even more. She was ignoring me... I don't think she understood a word I said.
Thankfully, Katara's eyes opened once again and she stared into mine. "I...love you, Aang. Please...take care of Kya." Her eyes then drifted closed once again.
That hope that I had gripped firmly then began to slip away again as her words struck my heart. "Katara...no, don't say that. You're gonna be fine. We'll raise her together, as a family, just like we wanted! She'll have parents who will love and support her forever, right, Katara? Soon we'll go clothes shopping. She'll go to school, make all sorts of wonderful friends," I managed to say, the words clawing my throat as they exited my mouth. I brought Katara's hand that I had been holding and brought it to Kya's cheek. "Do you feel that, Katara?" I asked her. "It's Kya's cheek! Come on! Don't you feel it?"
Then, without any warning, her arm dropped to her side. At the very moment, the hope I tried so hard to hold onto, vanished forever.
My eyes widened larger than ever before as hot tears dripped off my cheeks. "Katara...Hey, come on. Wake up!" I cried loudly. "Wake up!"
The realization hit me as I heard Hakoda's voice, "Aang..." he called my name as Kya was taken from my arms by someone I didn't even bother to identify. My whole body was engulfed by sadness and rage as I suddenly snapped at my wife's father.
"YOU SAID THAT'D SHE OPEN HER EYES AGAIN!" I shouted angrily before my head jerked back to Katara, taking her hand in both of mine as tears dripped onto the bed sheets. "Open your eyes...please, Katara! PLEASE!"
It was hopeless... She'd never open her eyes again. Before I knew it, I'd gone hysterical... throwing myself at her, wrapping my arms around her as tightly as I could while screaming up at the ceiling, "WHY! WHY'D YOU TAKE HER FROM ME! SHE NEVER DID ANYTHING WRONG; SHE DOESN'T DESERVE THIS!" My gaze returned to her closed eyes, "KATARA!"
I screamed her name hundreds of times while tears poured out of me. I don't remember much after that. I faintly remember some of the Acolytes pulling at my arms, trying to calm me down. Eventually, my anger rose to the surface and I went berserk. I don't remember who I took out my anger on, but I do remember that at some point, I ran out of energy and collapsed on the bed, crying uncontrollably as I gripped her lifeless body.
We said that we'd always be together... That's what we promised each other, right? You promised me, the moment I proposed to you. We-we knew it the moment we laid eyes on one another. Remember-remember all the great times we spent together? All the laughs, the smiles, the joy... We saved the world together, we built a nation and a city together! We-we were supposed to raise a family together. You...you can't leave! We have to do it together!
"Katara...please, don't leave me..."
For the collective works of the author, go here.