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Chapter Twenty-Six: Tears
He is not himself.
He can't even feel himself.
He is in his body, unable to control it, unable to move, unable to do anything except watch the destruction.
Far ahead, the skeleton of his Monk Gyatso lies amongst the Fire Nation corpses, ribs gathering dust the wind away blows, bones gleaming a soft white in the light, everything screaming for him to understand, to get a grip, to calm down and to look and to say that everything will be okay.
But he can't.
He can't he can't he can't he can't he can't.
The air swarms around him. He blinks, and the world is swathed in darkness. He cries out in fear, but his throat refuses to function, and he can feel himself rising. The entire world has gone dark, the entire world. Except himself. He can see himself glowing, shining, shimmering.
What—what have I—
It's not like the time at the South Pole. Then, it was quick. He didn't even have time to realize what was going on. Here?
"Aang! I know you're upset . . ."
Her voice breaks through his thoughts. The wind swirls more tightly, and he realizes that is in the air, lifted, lifted, lifted, with nothing at all holding him down but perhaps a promise of life so faint he can't hear it anymore.
Then the tides rise again.
" . . . and I know how hard it is to lose the people you love."
He fights. He struggles. He gains ground over himself.
It is terrifying.
To fight oneself.
"I went through the same thing when I lost my mom. Monk Gyatso and the other Airbenders may be gone, but you . . . still have a family."
He forces his fear down, forces his anger down, forces himself down.
He needs her.
" Sokka and I, we're your family now."
And that all he needs.
He breaks free.
The last wisps of wind clutch desperately at him, but he has alighted on the ground.
He cannot see a single thing, except for the white of himself.
And now the others, approaching. He can see their faint glow. His body tenses.
Not a threat.
Sokka is saying something.
He can't hear.
He isn't himself.
Then the soft and warmth of her hand touches his.
He undoes the chains that bind him to the horrible thing, the Avatar Spirit, the dreaded beast that lurks within.
The world comes alive with color, and he feels his exhaustion.
He collapses against her. Her arms encircle him, and he presses his body as close to hers as he can. "I'm sorry," he murmurs.
"It's okay. It wasn't your fault," she whispers.
"But you were right. And if Firebenders found this temple, that means they found the other ones, too."
The wetness of his tears marks his grief.
"I really am the last Airbender."
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