|More from PSUAvatar14||Hurt, comfort||PG (Mild violence)||None yet|
27 July 2013
The scar still stings physically for him, and mentally for her.
The War was over for about a month, and a few members of Team Avatar were still lurking in the large apartment. Zuko and Mai had already left so the former could see to his duties as Fire Lord, while Toph left to start an earth, or potentially even a metalbending academy. This left just Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Suki to stay together.
It was early in the afternoon on a sunny day, and Aang and Katara, having just recently become a couple, enjoyed the day with a quiet walk down the streets. Aang remained in his formal robes he had gotten just before Zuko's coronation, while Katara had put her green dress aside and returned her Water Tribe clothing that she first donned just before the failed invasion of the Fire Nation.
Nothing seemed awry as the two had a conversation.
"Well, Katara," Aang said, "it's certainly something I'd have to think about. It'd be a big shift for me, culturally."
"I understand," Katara answered. "Take your time, it's not a decision you have to make now...though I'd prefer we settle it sooner rather than later."
Aang nodded and said, "I know you must be really anxious to see your family and old friends again."
"I am," Katara said. "Dad went back home after the coronation, as did Pakku...plus, of course, there's Gran-Gran..."
The Avatar knew he wanted to be around her as much as possible, but he wondered if he could make the adjustment. "I definitely don't want to keep you apart from your family. I know that --" his words were cut off as a sharp pain stabbed inside his back. "Ooh! Ooh...that didn't feel good.," he said as he came to a stop, coming down on his knees.
"Aang?" The waterbender asked with worry, kneeling down to his side. "Is everything okay?"
"Just..." Aang answered, trying to turn to her. "My back...I think that wound is flaring up..."
Katara quickly knew what her boyfriend was talking about. "Oh...do...do you want to go home, and I'll give you a healing session?"
Aang wanted to just go on as if there was nothing wrong, but the pain was as if someone had just come up and stabbed him from behind. It wasn't the first time he had felt this since that unfortunate night under Ba Sing Se, and it likely wouldn't be the last. Grimacing in pain, he was able to get a nod out along with a quiet "Please..."
She could only imagine the type of pain the young airbender was in as her look grew upsetting. Katara hated to see Aang in this type of pain, whether it be physical or emotional. She gave him help getting up off the ground and moved her arm around his back as they turned around and began a slow walk home.
They arrived back and Katara led Aang to the floor, helping him kneel down. The Avatar removed the upper half of this robing, exposing his back and the ugly wound that still left a mark right in its center. He could feel it throbbing and let out a soft hiss at the pain.
Katara grabbed her water skin from the kitchen and took a seat behind Aang. She covered her hands with the water and placed them over the wound. "You know what to do," she said softly. "Tell me where it hurts the most." The waterbender always dreaded these moments, as memories constantly rolled back to her...
As the cooling water came over his body, Aang felt Katara's hands come across the wound's upper-center. He felt that area especially throb as she made contact. "Right there," he said with a gasp. "Right there..."
Katara concentrated on the area that Aang informed her of, rubbing the bulk of the water over that upper-center. As she did, the memories started coming back...
That sharp physical pain he was feeling...
The mental pain she felt.
She was looking at the wound, and could remember the moment that lightning was entering Aang's body...
"He's going to save us all..." She thought happily as his Avatar State-induced form rose into the air, coming up over all their opponents - the Dai Li, Prince Zuko, and Princess Azula. He was about to unleash its power on all of them, enabling him and Katara to escape.
"I'm so proud of you, Aang..." her thoughts continued.
But then, tips of light escaped from Azula's fingertips, and chased themselves right toward Aang.
Aang lit up like fireworks in the night sky, and began to fall.
That look of pure happiness turned to one of shock and fear for Katara.
Tears streamed down her face as she turned her octopus form into a large wave of water. Fueled by sadness and rage, she rode the wave as fast as she could, washing out many along the way, but not caring...it was all about Aang at that juncture.
Her path came to an end just as the Avatar's body was about to hit the floor. She caught him in her arms as the wave crashed down and washed away from them.
There he was...
There she was...
Without Aang, she was nothing...and she knew it.
She looked at that burned flesh on his back and saw the now ugly sign that he was gone.
Tears fell down her face as Azula and Zuko surrounded her.
But just as Katara was about to face her own fate, Iroh swooped in and cut his niece and nephew off, allowing the waterbender enough time to flee from the catacombs. Snapping back into events, she made sure the old general's sacrifice would not wind up in vain.
Finally, after escaping, Katara brought herself and Aang's unliving form as Sokka arrived on Appa with Toph, the Earth King, and his pet bear.
As they flew away...she could only focus on Aang.
That mark on his back...the blood flowing from it, the flesh still smelling of its burns...
Most importantly, the fact that he was not living...
Her best friend...
What could have been more...
Aang breathed a sigh of relief as the cooling sensation began to dull the pain on his back. "Thank you, Katara..." He finished as a smile took over his face. "You're the best healer a guy could have asked for."
"Thanks..." Katara uttered, as tears stained her eyes. "Y-y-you're so...complimentary..."
Now it was Aang's turn to grow worried. "Katara?" He said softly, turning to her.
"I'm sorry, Aang..." she whispered, quickly throwing her arms around him. "I...I just can't help but think about what happened the last time we were here..."
Aang quickly knew what she meant, and he too felt his eyes water up. That was one of those awful moments where he felt like he had failed the entire world. He recalled how that moment made him want to go on his own just so his friends wouldn't get hurt. "No, Katara...I'm sorry for what happened that night..."
"You don't need to apologize," the waterbender said tearfully and softly. "It's not your fault, what Azula did...she surprised us all...there was nothing you could do."
"I let you all down that night," Aang lamented. "The pain I put you through..."
"That pain was and still is my own fault," Katara replied, holding him tighter. "I just...you mean the world to me, Aang...when I lost you...I felt that I had lost everything...oh, thank the spirits you came back to me..."
"You were the one who brought me back," the airbender reminded his girlfriend. "I thank you for bringing me back."
"I still thank the spirits for it..." Katara uttered. "Aang...please, let me just hold you right now...that night was worse than anything I have ever gone through...and I just need to feel you right now..."
Aang complied with this request and pulled her in closer. "Take as long as you need, Katara...and thank you..."
"Thank you for always being here," the waterbender said, absorbing Aang's embrace. "I love you so much..."
"I love you too," the airbender replied. "I hate seeing you in this much pain..."
"It will be fine," Katara said, still shedding tears but, at the very least, relaxing a bit. "Because I have you..."
"I can say the very same," Aang answered.
As the two embraced in their quiet home, the sun shining in on them, the facts were quite apparent.
They both needed time to heal.
Even in peace, the scars of war continue to sting.
For the collective works of the author, go here.