Pairing/Characters: Aang, Katara, vague shippiness.
Theme Set and #: Fire, #02: Nightmare
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Rating: PG for mentions of violent death.
Disclaimer: Wish it was mine.
Notes: Thanks to sugarland31 for the beta! :D
Aang knows that he has died a thousand times and a thousand ways, but it's one thing to know it dispassionately and another to dream of it every night.
It begins the night after the failed invasion, curled up on Appa's tail by the dying campfire, still miles from the Western Air Temple. He dreams of a volcano, choking and gasping for breath as the fires rise around him; of the rock burning beneath his skin and the smoke rising up into the night.
It's not much of a surprise, but it's still unpleasant. What's even more unpleasant, though, is that it doesn't seem to stop there. The next night he dreams of ragged breathing and heavy blankets - a weariness so deep it pierces his bones. A man standing by him, promising, "We will remember you, Kyoshi."
When he wakes up, he's severely tempted to just not sleep, but he's tried that before and no good came of it - and on the bright side (at least there's a bright side), in each dream so far he's kept his pants.
Next is Kuruk, who is captured in the Spirit World and kept there until his physical body wastes away - what Aang remembers when he wakes is a sharp and nauseating hunger, and the feeling of being hollowed out. Yangchen is gorged by an angry spirit, and Kena drowns trying to calm a typhoon.
The next night, Aang puts off going to sleep as long as possible. The Western Air Temple is soothingly familiar around him, but as he sits by the fountain he can't help but wonder how he will die tonight.
Katara sits by him, and Aang shrugs. "Not really."
"Too bad there are no koala-sheep around here," says Katara with a smile in her voice.
Aang smiles at her, and Katara scoots closer, so their shoulders touch. Aang lets his head fall onto her shoulder, and Katara rests her cheek against his temple.
They sit like that for a while, until Aang finds himself drifting off and Katara's slow breaths tell him she's already asleep. "Thanks, Katara," he says, which is apparently just enough to wake her up. They go back to their respective beds (Appa and a very tattered Water Tribe blanket), and Aang sleeps soundly through the night.