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The One You Love is Sick
Chapter information
Series

Ghosts of the Past

Chapter

8

Written by

Katherine Rebekah

Chronology
Last chapter

It Came to Me in a Dream

Next chapter

Listen to the Council of the Wise

Katara drove through the menacing neighborhood, an unending string of broken streetlights, decrepit houses, and garbage littered lawns, the only light came from the stars and the occasional surviving streetlight that still flickered, hanging on for dear life, determined to bring light to the darkness.

She gripped the steering wheel and let out a sigh. Why had she flipped like that? It was completely irrational, completely uncharacteristic of her, completely... awesome. Katara couldn't help but feel some small satisfaction at her spastic behavior as she let the events of the past few hours sink in. She had run out of the house in her pajamas in the middle of the night. She had gone to a horribly dangerous neighborhood by herself. She had vandalized a house. She had been a complete lunatic, and it was actually feeling pretty good.

Katara's thoughts were interrupted when she took notice of something warm and wet covering her hands and running down her arm. She pulled over to the side of the road and parked the car by the first illuminated street light she had seen for a while. It cast a dirty yellow light down on her and it didn't take long to realize that the warm wet stuff was, in fact, blood. A few bloody gashes penetrated her hands and feet where she had thrown and kicked the glass bottles, she had just been on such an adrenalin high that she hadn't noticed until then. She also plucked a needle from the sole of her left foot which, from a medical standpoint, was not good at all. The injuries just added a whole new level of bad to the situation. Now Katara realized that she wouldn't be able to go home with no explanations or consequences, which made her little adventure seem that much less of a good idea then it had a few moments ago.

If Katara had been in her right mind she would have driven to the ER at that second, but then there was Yagonda and her co-workers. What would they say if they saw her like this? Katara didn't even want to think about it. So, wrapping a T-shirt that she had found in the floorboard around the hand that was bleeding the most, she put the car in drive and headed for the nearest convince store.

Being in the bad part of the island, the first convince store that she stumbled across wasn't what you would call ideal. It was probably the worst looking place you could go at that time of day, but Katara was bleeding profusely and didn't seem to have any other options. But just before she got out of the car she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the rear-view mirror: hair hanging in matted tangles around her face, eyes hollow, cheeks streaked with dirt and tiny flecks of blood. If she walked into the gas station looking like that, and bleeding out of her feet and hands, someone would call the police, or worse, pull a gun on her. Besides, she had no money and, no matter how desperate she was, Katara wasn't about to steel from honest, working-class people. So, even though she was already regretting it, she backed the car out and headed for the hospital.

The look on the receptionists face was priceless as she gave Katara a once over and stammered.

"K-Katara? Wh- what can I help you with?" Katara felt a sudden page of humiliation and attempted to swipe some of the dirt from her face, only succeeding in replacing it with a smear of crimson.

"I have some cuts on my hands and feet." She could hardly look the woman in the eye. "They're about a half an inch deep. I will need some stitches probably." The lady looked at her with concern and a hint of terror in her eyes.

"Just give me a second." She got up and slipped into the back, with a single over the shoulder glance at Katara. When she came back Yagonda was at her heals.

"Come on around." She addressed Katara with the same smile as usual, as if nothing out of the ordinary was taking place.

Katara went around, as she was told, only to be met by Visola, who gave her a look of pure shock (which was rare for the coolheaded blacksmith), but she soon regained her composure. Visola got Katara changed out of her clothes, which she now realized, under the blinding brightness of the florescent hospital lights, were not only stained with blood but caked in dirt as well. She changed into one of those surgical gowns and sat down on a hospital bed, paper crinkling and tearing beneath her.

Visola was only there to prep her, sponging away the muck from her wounds with an alcohol drenched cloth. Katara bit her bottom lip, trying to distract herself form the fiery pain of the alcohol against her open flesh.

"How on earth did you get like this?" Visola didn't look at her as she questioned, but focused intently on her work.

"I-" Katara sighed. "I don't really need to tell you, do I?" Visola shrugged.

"Medically, I don't really think so, but as a friend I would like to know." She finally put the alcohol soaked cloth down, sat back in her little rolling stool, crossed her arms, and stared intently at Katara with those striking violet eyes.

They sat there for a while, the two giving each other a stair down, neither willing to budge, but thankfully Yagonda walked in and dismissed Visola. The tattooed girl put a firm hand on Katara's shoulder.

"You don't want to tell me, I get it, and that's okay. Some things are better left unsaid anyways. I just want to let you know, if you ever need me you can give me a call." She was about to leave but then a crooked smile graced her lips. "And if it means anything, I have a shop full of knives and swords totally at your disposal."

"That's quite enough." Yagonda cut Visola off. The surfer gave Katara a quick wink and then left. With the nurse out of the way Yagonda got strait to business. She grabbed Katara's hand and gave it a once over.

"Good, they're not as deep as I thought, but you will still need stitches. Do we need to numb you for this?" Yagonda asked as she got out the tools. Katara nodded.

"I've felt enough pain for one night."

"I knew there was something odd about your eyes on Sunday," Yagonda mumbled, more to herself than to Katara, as she swabbed on the numbing medication. Katara puffed out a burst of air, making the mangy hair fly out of her eyes, slightly ticked at the comment. "What were you up to, Katara?"

"I just. I went for-" Katara sighed. "Can I please call my husband?"

"I already contacted him. He might already be here, but he has to stay in the waiting room. Now are you going to tell me how you got these gashes?"

"I was-"

"You know what?" Yagonda suddenly cut her off. "Never mind. I suppose it's none of my business. Just make sure you don't do it again. Okay?" Katara nodded, not planing on it any time soon.

Yagonda was silent as she started the stitching and, with nothing to distract her mind, all Katara could focus on was the strange sensation of feeling the needle being pulled through her flesh, but not being able to feel the pain. She wished that her emotions were like that, seen but not felt, just gone into an abyss of numbness.

When she was gone Yagonda pressed on a clean white bandage and gave Katara unnecessary instructions on how to use it, her voice turning into an incoherent mumbling to Katara as she slipped into a twilight zone of thoughts.

"Katara." It was Yagonda's uttering her name that pulled her back to the present, back to reality.

"What is it?" She mumbled.

"I'm going to set up an appointment with you for next week. I expect you to be there."

"What right do you have to do that?"

"As your teacher, your general physician, and your friend, I am concerned for your well being. I'm asking you to please come to the appointment."

Just then a figure appeared in the door way. She looked up to find Aang hovering there in basketball shorts, a tattered gray shirt, and flip flops. His face held a mixture of emotions, and he stood there for a while with his mouth gaping open a little, searching for words. When he finally found something to say it didn't seem to be quite appropriate.

"That's the last time I listen to Toph."

When she was discharged they wordlessly loaded up into Sokka's truck. As they drove home the sun began to peek over the water and Katara so wished that Aang would say something, about the sunrise, about her leaving, about a turkey sandwich for all she cared, just something. But there was nothing, just the occasional sideways glance in her direction. She could see the emotions swirling around in those stormy gray eyes of his. Fear, pain, anger, sadness, concern, confusion, they were all there, muddled together in a blur, but still he didn't say anything.

When they got back to the house Aang parked and raised one finger, gesturing for her to wait in the car. He went inside for a moment and then reemerged with everyone. They all looked tired, haggard, worried. Katara knew it was her fault and she braced herself for the aggression that was coming her way. They all walked toward the car and Aang gestured for her to get out. Katara swallowed the lump in her throat and clamored out, but instead of being chastised they all threw their arms around her, and for a long while they were all a tangle of arms, hot breath, and tears, but still no words. Then they all loaded into the truck and drove off and Aang took Katara's wrist, not wanting to hurt her bandaged hand, and led her into the house.

It was the same house Katara had left earlier that morning, of course it was, but something seemed so wrong about it. The beat up old couch by the bay window, the huge TV that Sokka had gone into debt for, the squeaky boards, and the haggard Christmas tree that had hand made ornaments from her childhood perched all along its plastic branches. These things belonged to a different Katara. Aang continued to lead her by the hand into the bed room. He wordlessly motioned for her to lay down and then left. He was back in a moment with some water, crackers, and a wash cloth.

He took the cool, damp wash cloth and, ever so gently, as if she were made of porcelain and could crack at any moment, he washed the muck as best as he could from her face, arms, and hands.

He fed her the crackers and made sure she drank the water, then he had her lie down and tucked her in as a mother would a little child. He kissed her forehead and uttered the his words sense he had picked her up.

"I want you to get some sleep." Katara nodded, a sigh of relief escaping her lips upon hearing his voice, and he flicked the light off as he exited the room. Aang hadn't got two steps out of the door before Katara felt all the tension she had been caring in her chest escape in one desperate word.

"Aang!" He ran in like a whirlwind, flicking the light back on.

"What? What is it?" A steady stream of tears was already making their way down Katara's cheek.

"Don't leave me. Please, stay here." She sat up in the bed and tried to wipe the moisture from her eyes, but to no avail. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." She choked the words out between sobs.

"It's okay." Aang went to the bedside and enveloped her in his arms. "It's okay. Whatever's wrong, you can tell me." But she didn't say anything, just sobbed into his T-shirt and whispered "I'm sorry"over and over and over. And all Aang could do was rock her and whisper back.

"It's okay. Shhh. It's okay." Katara grabbed fistfuls of his shirt and let herself sob violently into the crook of his neck. He smelled like he always did, a mixture of incense, spices, and his shampoo. The smell was calming, it was so familiar, so warm, so safe, but it hardly did anything to soften her suffering at that moment. She felt this enormous pain in her chest and, unlike countless diseases she had encountered before, she had no idea how to cure it.

Eventually, the sobbing subsided into weeping, the weeping into silent tears, and the silent tears into sleep.

Aang hadn't loosened his grip on her in the whole time and once she was sleeping he placed her down gently on the bed, pulled the covers over her, and lied down beside her. It pained him to look at her like that. Even in sleep her face had no sign of its usual serenity, no hint of the woman he married, but even then, even when she had acted like a lunatic, even when she was only a fragment of her normal self, he didn't love her any less. He saw her pain, he knew the source of it, and he knew that he would do whatever it took to make her whole again.

Aang took Katara's bandaged hand, the nail beds still covered in dirt, planted a kiss on it and held it.

"It'll be okay." He whispered as he gazed at her face, contorted in a fitful expression. "It'll be okay." He spoke it more to himself then to her, murmured it like a monotone lullaby. Eventually, he too fell asleep, the comforting lie still hanging on his lips.

"It'll be okay."

Notes

Song is California (There is No End to Love) by U2. Can you tell I like them?

This is about as much romance as your going to get out of me, for this story, so enjoy it while it lasts. And, as always, please please please give me feed back, good or bad I love to hear from my readers. :)

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