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23 July 2013
Aang's been busy with meeting after meeting, paperwork on top of paperwork. He's sleepy, and Katara is going to make sure he rests...
Not every 15-year old has to contend with this load of work.
It's just a bit different when you're the Avatar and, although it had been three years since its end, you have a world still reeling from a war of one hundred years that ripped at every piece of its delicate balance.
So was the case for Aang.
Sitting in his icy South Pole home, the Avatar sifted through several scrolls; appeals from people all throughout the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation, arguments about continued Fire Nation colonization in parts of the country. There was all the talk about adjusted trade routes and the formation of this so-called "fifth nation" which would comprise all the colonies.
Aang had to answer these people in debates at the peace meetings - which he just had two weeks of - and then afterward in these written appeals. He also had to figure out the proper plan for the world to balance itself.
So goes the Avatar's duties.
The young airbender had been up for three days - almost straight. He could sneak in an hour of rest here and there, but other than that, it had just been straight paperwork. He felt that he had to it for all the world's leaders and all the people he pledged to serve in his position.
However, one couldn't help but wonder when he could put his own basic needs into view. Sure, he had his duty to the world...but that didn't mean he couldn't skip sleep and throw together everything at once.
If there was anything Katara wanted to see the most at any point in the last three years, it was to see that Aang was in his best personal state while performing his duties. Back before the Day of Black Sun, she had been the first one to desperately get Aang to rest as he attempted to stay up for multiple days straight.
Thus, when she last saw Aang the night before, and found out of his current sleep drought, she quickly tried to get him to rest - alas, this was to no avail, as he quickly dismissed her and said that the work needed to be done as soon as possible, lest protests begin.
But this waterbender has always been determined.
That doesn't change.
Today - she vows that Aang will get a good night's sleep.
As night fell on the Southern Water Tribe, a bright moon illuminating a clear sky, Katara left her igloo and made the short walk to her boyfriend's home. Seeing the door closed, she assumed that he was continuing his paperwork. Still, she would not go home without the Avatar at rest.
Aang continued to fill out a response to a series of delegates from the Earth Kingdom, his eyes continuously closing as he fought off sleepiness. He was about three-quarters of the way through what he needed to do, and was hoping to finish it all, risking yet another lost night. He heard the knock at the door and turned his head. In the best voice he could, he muttered, "come in."
Katara opened the door. "Aang. How are you --" she stopped as she moved closer and saw Aang's tired look. She saw bags under his eyes, which kept threatening to shut themselves up for several hours. She also saw himself almost falling off the chair as his head drifted downward. "Oh my...Aang, how long has it been since you've slept!?"
"I took an hour-long nap about 12 hours ago," the Avatar mustered up.
"Just an hour?" The waterbender question, her voice dropping into a tone of worry. "Come on, let's get you out of this chair before you fall off it..."
Aang complied with this, getting out of the desk for what seemed like the first time in ages. What he had failed to mention was that he fell asleep right at the desk, which had given about a full day just sitting there in total. He knelt on the ground, Katara across from him, her hands on his shoulders.
"Aang, you look like you're about to fall onto this floor and sleep for about the next week," Katara said. "You really need to get some rest."
"But Katara," the Avatar began to protest. "I have to respond to those Earth Kingdom delegates, I have to tell the Fire Nation colonials about the pending republic, I have to also let Zuko know how well the conversations are going, establish future meetings with Kuei --"
Katara placed a finger over his lips. "Sweetie, it doesn't all have to be done tonight. I'm sure they'll all understand. You've been working tirelessly for the last three days and have gotten a lot done. You deserve to have a good night's sleep," she spoke calmly.
"Katara, I get what you're saying and all..." Aang mused, "but you know I have a duty to the world to make sure this all flows smoothly."
"That is true," the waterbender answered, "however, you also need to keep yourself in mind, Aang. You can't just go without sleep for days on end. If anything, not sleeping is making it worse. You're really tired and, after a while, you can't think straight. Remember before the Day of Black Sun? Or that time when we ran from Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee all night?"
Aang rubbed his eyes. "I suppose you're right, Katara. There's just so much to deal with..."
"You didn't have to master the elements in one day, did you?" Katara questioned him with a slight chuckle.
"Sometimes, it just felt like that..." the Avatar mused, thinking back to the fact that he had just nine months to at least get decent training or else the world would end in fire. "I don't want to let everyone down, though..."
Katara shook her head. "Stop worrying about letting everyone down. Getting sleep won't bring about the end of the world."
"I didn't tell you, Katara," Aang began. "During my nap before, I dreamed I had a full night of sleep, but when I woke up the next morning, I was getting word that the Earth Kingdom citizens were in full rebellion against the Fire Nation, and a new war was beginning. It was getting like the Battle for Yu Dao, but even worse...people were dying, their town was burning down...and I knew I had to get back to business or else that might happen."
Katara pulled him in for a hug, and dropped her voice to a whisper-quiet tone. "You know that won't happen just because you get some sleep. Everyone will understand, Aang. They aren't expecting you to solve anything overnight. This is why you have these meetings. Don't worry so much...you need to get rest...you and the world will be better for it. If you go much longer, it will really begin to hurt you..."
Aang nodded his head but quickly pulled it off Katara's shoulder, feeling himself drifting off. "I don't know..."
The waterbender cupped his right cheek in her hand. "Please, Aang..." she then smiled as she thought of something. "I'll tell you what...if you sleep, I promise that I will cuddle up with you."
"You'd do that?" Aang said, his looks brightening at the idea. "But, what about your brother or dad finding out?"
Only a light chuckle came from Katara. "Aang...I'm 17...and how many times have we cuddled up in the past? Sokka tells me he's surprised if I'm not laying next to you nowadays. So is Dad. As long as we're not doing anything else..." she thought back to stern warnings she had been given about her being with Aang. "...we'll be fine."
The airbender nodded, and the two got up. "Okay...I'll try to sleep."
Katara grinned, and the two made their way upstairs to his bedroom. Without hesitation, Aang fell onto the bed, right on his back. Katara came around to the right side, causing the Avatar to shift a bit to the left, allowing his girlfriend room. She placed herself in, throwing her arms around him, and lifting her head onto his shoulder.
Aang wrapped an arm around her back, trying to relax. Still, he murmured the words, "Earth...Fire...war...no...must help..."
"Not tonight," Katara whispered, kissing Aang on the cheek. "It's sleepy time. Take your rest. The world will not collapse...you've done your job the best and longest you can for now. Everybody needs to sleep...I'm here for you, Aang...sleep." She gripped him tightly.
"Katara..." Aang whispered back. "Guide me..."
The waterbender gently shut his eyes. "There. Now you can drift off. Don't worry about a thing...sweet dreams."
"I love you..." The airbender muttered as he rested his head on top of hers.
"I love you too," Katara replied with the same low voice. "I always will. You are my world, Aang...and tonight, I'm safe."
Perhaps that was the assurance he needed, because at that moment, Aang drifted off to sleep, smiling brightly once more...how Katara had missed that smile. She could only return it as she too drifted off to the world of dreams alongside him.
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