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Aang slowly awoke with a low groan.
Looking around, he found himself back in his bed as if nothing had happened. It was... a dream?
Aang sat up and saw Sokka in a chair next to his bed, snoring loudly.
"Sokka." Aang attempted to rouse the Water Tribe Warrior from his slumber, to no avail. He continued to snore. "Sokka!" Aang poked him in the stomach, waking him with a start.
"Huh? Wassumatta?" Sokka quickly recovered, finding his bearings, and looked around to see Aang staring at him. "Oh, good. You're awake."
"Yea. I had this really bad dream. I dreamt Katara was taken in the night and I couldn't find her." Aang looked down, disappointment beginning to wash over him. No, it was only a dream. It had to be.
Sokka paused for a moment, contemplating how to best explain what had happened. "Aang... It wasn't a dream. Katara... she... well... we don't know where she is."
"What!?" Aang's expression turned to worry as he jumped out of bed and began to make his way toward his door before feeling a hand grasp his arm. "Sokka! Let me go! I have to find her."
"Aang... we looked. She's gone. In fact, you looked, but there was no sign of her anywhere."
Aang turned to stare at Sokka in disbelief. "What do you mean? I don't remember anything after I left the village."
Sokka let go of Aang's arm and sat back down. "Well, I'm not surprised. You did seem pretty out of it." Sokka saw the confused expression on the airbenders face. Aang opened his mouth to speak, but Sokka decided to press forward. "You went in to the Avatar State. Your tattoos began to glow and everything. You began to bend all the elements around you and..."
"And what?" Aang couldn't believe what he was hearing. First Katara... and now this. "Sokka, what did I do?"
"Well... maybe it's better I just show you." Standing up, Sokka made his way to the door, closely followed by Aang.
The two made their way down to the exit of the village as Aang pondered the situation. What could I have done? If I was in the Avatar State...
"Here..." Sokka stopped suddenly as they exited the village, almost making Aang bump into him.
Aang looked up and around, but it didn't take long to find what he was supposed to be looking for.
A huge crater stood before him and Sokka. Aang approached the edge and looked down, seeing nothing but darkness below.
"Did I do that?" Aang turned to look at Sokka, who approached to stand next to him.
I did this... Aang looked away, unable to stomach the thought. What if someone got hurt?
Sokka saw the troubled expression dawn on the airbenders face just before it turned out of his sight. He placed a hand on Aang's shoulder in an attempt to reassure him. "Hey... I know this looks bad. But don't worry, nothing happened. I just thought you should know..." Sokka paused to let Aang take it in, before continuing on. "But right now, we need to focus on getting Katara back."
Aang looked up in shock. Katara! How could I forget... "I have to find her!" Aang turned away and sprinted toward Appa's makeshift shelter.
The bison was sleeping, but soon awoke with the approach of his lifelong companion. Aang leapt on to the bison's head as Sokka approached.
"Just remember, Aang. I want to find her too but... we don't know where she could be, or if she's even..." Sokka stopped himself, not wanting to voice his thoughts out loud, to himself or Aang. Sokka climbed on to Appa's saddle and sat down.
"I know, but if anything happens to her..." His voice faded as he began thinking like Sokka had tried to avoid. Different scenarios entered his mind, each playing out worse than the last. This is my fault. I have to fix this, I have to find her.
Aang looked down and found his hands clenched in fists, his nails digging into his skin. Aang relaxed his hands to grab the bison's reins and cracked them to signal to the bison. Appa roared in response and stepped out from the shelter, before taking flight.
After traveling with him for over a year and knowing him for even longer, Sokka knew Aang was taking this all on himself. Sokka opened his mouth as if to speak, ready to convince him otherwise, but the warrior knew it wouldn't change Aang's mind. Not when it came to something like this.
Sokka could only continue to watch his friend from the saddle, following his gaze to the horizon ahead, as an unseen expression threatened to spread across Aang's face.
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