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Author Topic: "Aang's Christmas Gifts" by A6, divsalley, seluna (T - Kataang, Maiko, Sukka)  (Read 2957 times)

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Offline A6

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Title: "Aang's Christmas Gifts"
Authors:  A6, divsalley, seluna
Commissioned for: Lionheart
Rating:  T – Kataang, Maiko, Sukka romance
Summary:  AU. One shot. The three canon ATLA couples experience Christmas as college students in the modern world.  Aang has a interesting spiritual experience.

Notes:  Divs, seluna, and A6 responded a year ago for a request by Lionheart for a college age, contemporary Kataang Christmas.  The three writers had collaborated before, but weren't modern ATLA AU fans before, and we certainly never thought we would ever write one, but this story gave us the opportunity to try something that turned out to be more fun than we ever expected!  Lionheart also asked us to honor combat veterans in this fic, so we made Sokka and Suki both Army vets, which - as warriors in the ATLAverse - is actually perfect for this AU.  Thanks Lionheart for letting us take this fun ride!

So we wanted to share this story with you here this year!

Scene 1: The Star (click to show/hide)Scene 1: The Star
Sparks from the bonfire curled upward into the star-filled night sky.  It took the chill of the air from the Winter Solstice away from the three young couples sitting together on the beach, gazing at the flames and each other.

Zuko broke the silence, "There was a time when I never thought we would ever sit together around this fire as friends again, Aang."

"Those were hard times, Zuko, but I am so glad I never had to fulfill your ‘Promise'."

Mai cuddled closer to Zuko, shivering at that thought, as Katara smiled and stroked Aang's neck in admiration.

"Now look at us - building a city together from the history of an old one.  The world finally is calm.  We can celebrate this solstice in peace."

Suki shot an annoyed glance at Sokka as he fiddled with something hidden in the pocket of his tunic. 

"What're you looking for there, Mr. Subtlety?" she asked with a snicker.

Sokka's face paled as he hastily stuffed what he was working with back in his pocket and smiled at her meekly.

"Nothing! Have I told you how pretty you look today? 'cause it's true!" he said.

Suki simply snorted quietly as she scooted closer to him.

"You might wanna be a little more careful, Sokka... Nothing escapes Suki's notice! Believe me, I know!" Zuko remarked with an edge to his voice that made Sokka gulp.

"And how would you know that?" Mai asked with a slight smirk.

"She's a trained warrior! And she's guarded us at the Royal palace!" Zuko said defensively, although with a smile.

"Guys, you got a minute?" inquired Aang. 

Zuko and Sokka got up and went with him, with all three girls looking at their men quizzically. 

Out of earshot from their women, they whispered and conspired.

"If you're worried Aang, I got mine. I am more worried about you, ‘Mr Absent Minded Master of the Universe'," smirked Sokka, holding his blue/green betrothal necklace meant for Suki.  It was a little crudely made, but still nice.

"Wrong again, future brother-in-law!  Got it right...uh...here!" 

Aang fumbled, but pulled out a beautiful blue and saffron betrothal necklace, with a shimmering gemstone holding the joined images of the symbols of air and water exquisitely engraved into it.

"Zuko?" Aang asked as he looked at the young Fire Lord, who simply smiled and produced an intricately made hair piece.

"That looks beautiful, Zuks!" Sokka commented, slapping his friend on the back.

"Thanks! It was my mother's. She gave it to me so I could pass give it to the woman I'm going to marry," Zuko said with a smile.

"OK, let's go!"

They all sat back down, but their knowing smiles betrayed them.

"What?" quizzed Katara.

Aang cleared his throat, and said, "Well, we thought how beautiful it was tonight with all the stars out, and about the future, and well..."

Suki interrupted Aang, pointed to the sky, and said, "The stars are beautiful tonight.  Look at that one!"

A single star started to glow a brilliant blue-white, with four rays emerging from the center like a cross.  The light from it was brighter than the moon and getting brighter.

Zuko tried to bring everyone's attention back to the moment the boys had planned as a group engagement announcement, "As Aang was saying..."

"Sorry Zuko, wait a minute.  Look at it now!" said Katara, half-amazed and half-fearful.

Aang said, "Good grief, Yue, you wanna dial that thing down a bit for us?"

The star continued to grow in brightness and expanded.  It was far brighter than the moon, becoming even brighter than the sun.  The cold brightness became so extreme that they all tried to shield their eyes.  All around them the world was turning completely white. 

Katara grabbed Aang by the arm and shrieked, "Aang!"

And they all lost consciousness as their world turned from white to black instantly.

Scene 2: Let the Games Begin (click to show/hide)Scene 2: Let the Games Begin
"Aang wake up! Wake up now!" yelled Sokka directly into Aang's ear.

"C'mon dude, are you gonna sleep in all day? You're gonna miss everything.  And her."


Aang awoke slowly, but did see Sokka's familiar face staring at him.  But it was different.  A small soul patch growing on his chin, and close cropped hair – no wolf's tail. 


"Sokka? Your hair?"


"No different than yours, man."

He sat up with a start and felt his scalp.  "I...I have hair! Was I in another coma?"


"Aang, what are you talking about?"
 

Sokka eyes widened as he pointed an accusatory finger and stomped, "WAIT. "


"I told you I didn't want you drinking when you go out - especially not with my baby sister! Everyone knows you're a lightweight! No wonder you were acting so weird when you came home this morning. I thought maybe you two had done something I don't want to hear about!"


Aang fretted, pulling at the raven tufts of hair now matted against his head from sleep. "Sokka, knock it off! What's going on? Why in the world do I have hair?!"


Sokka crossed his arms and scowled, stroking his soul patch as if it were a full-grown beard - a gesture Aang knew well from their time in Fire Nation Disguise.


"Aang, listen. We've been over this before. You were never really bald, and I'm sorry if my comical genius has scarred you. While it's true I did shave your head the first time you had a little too much to drink, the mind games were all Zuko's idea."


Aang's eyes widen as he listened to the man who claimed to be Sokka and his ridiculous account. "WHAT?" 


Sokka bit his bottom lip and looked down bashfully. He raised a finger as he spoke, feeling further need to account for his actions.

"Zuko started telling you that you'd always been bald, and I kinda sorta might have gone along with it, but so did the rest of our friends... the photo-shopped pictures I made of middle school didn't help ease your fears."


Aang rubbed his eyes, tossed the sheets off of him completely, and poked Sokka's chest rather forcefully. He needed answers.


"I have always been bald! It's customary for my people!"


Letting out a deep sigh, Sokka cleared his throat.


"Alright, let's clear the air. You've always had hair, okay?"


Sokka motioned his hand in the direction of Aang's desk, which had a stuffed monkey and bison on top.


"There are no flying versions of monkeys or buffalo."


Turning back to Aang, Sokka tried his hardest not to laugh and spoke slowly.


"And most importantly, you were never in a coma after battling a maniacal and evil princess who usurped the throne of a powerful king."


Sokka punched Aang's arm playfully, hoping to lighten the mood.


"Any more concerns, airhead?"


Aang grabbed his friend by the shoulders, "Sokka, I think... I think something happened. Last night, what happened? You remember the bonfire at the beach, don't you?!"


"Uh. I hate to break it to you, loverboy, but that bonfire was last year. I remember specifically because you couldn't keep your hands off my sister."

Aang gripped the side of his head, feeling dizzy. "What's happening?," he thought, his fear palpable with every heart beat.

Suddenly, it occurred to Aang that Sokka's garb was drastically different than normal - not even his clan colors were present. Strange symbols adorned the shirt he wore, which oddly enough, were a language he somehow knew: "I'm With Stupid."

Aang scoffed at the sentiment, feeling that way about himself. He realized he had better play it more coyly, realizing he was in a place – and maybe time – that Sokka knew everything about and didn't remember where he was from.  It was time to quietly learn what was going on without causing upset.

Until his cell phone rang.

"Gahh! What's that?"


"C'mon Aang, you are acting like you fell out of the sky yesterday.  It's your brand new cell phone you've been coveting for months.  It's just a new ringtone for pity sake."


"Ok, ok.  But can you help me?  It's so new.  I can't remember how it works." Aang asked cleverly.


"Sigh...OK...That's why you Philosophy Majors have Engineers as roommates. To help you figure out the simplest technology.  Honestly, I don't know what Katara sees in you!"


"Katara...well, that's easy Sokka, philosophers have more fun than engineers!"


"Don't tell Suki about that, dude. She's having plenty of fun with me."


"We all know that far too well." thought Aang.


Sokka explained all the features of the new phone. Aang surprised himself that he did know so much.  Especially reading a language he had never seen before and shouldn't possibly understand, but did.


"See Aang, Katara left you a text.  You read it.  I have my suspicions you two are sexting, and I for one don't want to see it."


Aang gave sokka a nasty look. What he said must mean something immoral, and that was not Katara's nature.  He scrolled through the list and popped up a picture message.


MSG FM: Watergirl01. Subject:  Swim Suit.  9:31 AM.  Hi handsome!  ;) Just wanted to show u a pic of my new swimsuit. Will be wearing at the swim meet today! Wanted u to see it first.  Don't be late to cheer me on! Bring my worthless bro with u.  Cya <3


Aang opened her photo and saw Katara wearing a one piece skin tight competition swim suit with deep thigh cuts and a deep back cut.  He nearly fainted.  He'd seen her swim in her white bindings for years, and as revealing as those were, it was nothing compared to this suit, which clung to everything of importance on this pretty 20 year old woman.  He broke out in a sweat.


Quickly he said, "So Sokka, what time is it? Are we late for her ‘swim meet'? "


"We're good. Grab a pop tart and let's head over. I wanna go over with you and watch her whip some Indiana University Hoosier butts."


He replied to the text, wondering how he knew to do so, especially knowing how to type text message slang:


MSG FM: Airhead112:  9:45 AM.  RE: New swim suit.  u look great, Kat... w00t! i have the prettiest gf evar! ;) i will be there soon, wouldn't miss it.  :*


He started to get dressed, changing out of some kind of loose short pants and a shirt like Sokka's. 

"Wait." He thought.

He looked at his hands.  Something was really wrong. His tattoos were gone. He went to the mirror and saw his head, neck, and legs – they were gone everywhere.  What manner of evil spirit had done this?


He would have to find out, but not before seeing Katara swim.  He got dressed in some rough, stiff blue pants and put on a shirt similar to Sokka's.  It had a picture of a leering mechanical person on it holding a beverage, and was labeled "Bender".  Well, at least that part was still right for him.  He pulled on a long sleeve hoodie.


"This feels good," he thought, and he looked at himself in the mirror again, and experienced yet another shock. 


The long sleeves of the hoodie had blue arrows extending down the sleeve terminating in arrows at the wrists.  Instantly, he flipped the hood over his head. Sure enough, a blue painted arrow was painted down the middle of the hood, which looked almost normal hanging over his forehead.  He had to admit, that although it wasn't natural, it did look good.  He vowed to find the earliest opportunity to see if he could bend in whatever world he was in.


This sick joke had to be the work of Koh. Only Koh could have transported them all to whatever this reality was, allowed him alone to remember, tease him with his own tattoos on clothing, force amnesia on everyone else, and make this world natural to them. 


As they strolled across the campus, it was good that Sokka was leading him to Katara.  It was a vast complex, as big as any Air Temple, with huge brick and stone buildings.  All around were youth about his age.  It was like the Ba Sing Se University, but so very different, with technology far beyond anything in their own world.  He saw bicycles, scooters, and cars - things like the Fire Nation and Mechanist's tanks and vehicles, but not weapons.

They arrived at the University Natatorium. The place was crammed with swimmers and spectators.  The swimmers were stretching and readying themselves for the meet.

Then he saw her.  She was a true vision, prettier by far than her picture, with the swim suit following every curve.  Unlike her peers, she still had very long hair, though it was tightly braided down her back like in their earliest days together.  No swim cap covered her head.

She saw him, waved, walked quickly to him, hugged and kissed him as they always did, posed, and said, "Like?"

"Oh yeah, Katara, I like. A lot. Your finest suit yet."

"Oh really? You just... like it?" she asked him with a smirk.


"You know you're beautiful to me no matter what you wear!" Aang said truthfully.


"You're sweet Aang. Wish me luck, I gotta swim now," Katara said with a short peck on his lips.


He watched with total fascination the way she chewed up the water against her opponents in no less than five races.  She won every one, cheered on by hundreds of fans, usually by a wide margin.  It looked like natural talent, rather than anything water bending-enhanced.

It seemed to Aang that like Sokka, Katara had exactly the same relationship with Aang as in real life, but she had no idea that she was anything but a college student, and ignorant of her real past or what her true abilities there.


After a thorough drubbing of the perennial swimming powerhouse IU, the team celebrated by all jumping in the water, but she quickly went to Aang where he gave her a hug and kiss despite her being dripping wet, "That's my girl! Always leading the team into battle successfully." 


Which actually was true.


She hugged Sokka, and said affectionately, "Now it's your turn big brother, at your fencing match.  I'll hurry; it's almost time for your warm-ups, and to meet Zuko and Mai there for his match too."

She ran off to change. Aang watched those beautiful hips swing as she walked to the locker room.

Sokka caught Aang staring and gave him a swift punch to the shoulder, "Dude, stop staring at her! I know you guys are dating, but she's still my little sister!"


"Oh come on, Sokka! You know it's not like that between us!" Aang retorted, though his eyes never strayed from her as she disappeared through the door.


"Yeah, I know. Just yanking your chain, Aang.  Anyway, I gotta go get ready for my fencing match! See you there, bud!" Sokka said as he made his way to the locker rooms.


"But..." Aang began but stopped himself, knowing he'd end up sounding completely stupid. Luckily for him, Katara strode in at just the right moment.  Katara looked beautiful in the outfit she changed into. Aang was amazed at how she could make simple jeans and a white t-shirt look so appealing.

"Ready to go cheer Sokka and Zuko?" Katara asked him, noticing he was admiring her.


"Yep! Just one little problem." Aang said with a sly smile as he draped his arm across her shoulder.


"And what might that be?" she asked him just as slyly.


"You look so pretty that I forgot where the fencing arena is!" he said with a smirk.


Katara laughed heartily at first, then kissed him lightly. "I'd better lead us there, then," she said slowly.


There was just something in her voice that made him squirm in a good way.


"That would be best," he said.


So they made their way to the arena hand in hand. As they climbed up the bleachers to get suitable seats, Katara yelled.


"Mai!" Aang followed her line of vision and sure enough, he found a girl with piercing, amber eyes and long, raven hair smiling at both of them. She was wearing a black Iron Maiden t-shirt with grey jeans that Aang thought fit her personality perfectly.


"Hey, Mai!" he said with a smile.


"Hey!" Mai replied with a slight smile.


"Excited about watching Zuko compete?" Katara asked.


"Fencing is so boring! But it's a big day for Zuko, so... I guess I'll try and give a few cheers or whistle or something..."


"That'll be the day!" Katara said with a wink to Aang, at which Mai simply smirked.


"Guys, it's Sokka's match!" Katara yelled happily as she watched her brother enter the arena in his protective suit.


The match was a close one. Sokka's opponent clearly knew what he was doing. He blocked effectively and dealt some good blows, too, which had led to him winning one round and Sokka winning the next.


Fortunately for Sokka, his own quick thinking gave him an advantage, having landed two hits on his opponent, and only needed one more for the win. He watched closely as his opponent tried to jab him on the right shoulder, which he blocked by disarming him in one, swift motion. He'd won!


Aang and Katara erupted into loud cheers as Sokka was awarded the gold medal, while Mai simply smiled and clapped.


Aang was even more surprised when Suki walked into the arena for her match, but smiled all the same. And sure enough, she beat the snot out of her opponent easily.


Aang looked sideways to see Mai sitting with her arms crossed, but her fingers clenched around her arms involuntarily at something. Aang then looked at the arena and saw Zuko in a thick, black protective suit wielding dao blades, that immediately reminded him of the Blue Spirit.


But nothing shocked him more than his opponent. The scruffy, brownish-black hair and slightly tanned skin reminded him of a friend he'd lost to Long Feng's brutality. His jaw clenched at the thought.

The match was an interesting one. Both Zuko and his opponent were clearly even. Zuko was probably showing a little more skill in his attacks, though. After three nail-biting rounds, though, Zuko was able to disarm his opponent and win. It was only then that Mai finally relaxed.

"I'll be right back," she told them as she made his way to him. Both of them knew that even though they didn't show it, Zuko and Mai meant the world to one another.


"Hey! Let's all go and get some pizza! It is time to celebrate, after all!" Katara suggested once everyone had gathered all together after the match.


Aang didn't have the slightest clue as to what that was, but decided to go along with it without complaint. He'd find out soon enough anyway.


On the way, they all chatted about the fun of the day so far – everyone had won their events. It was very satisfying.   All three couples were hand in hand and kissed as they went, very happy for each other's victories.  Mai and Zuko were a little more discrete, but even they were caught up in the celebration.


Sokka was excited, "Aang, don't you just love coming here?  It's perfect for us – great pizza and even better are the games to play afterward.  There's nights when I just don't want to leave."


Suki retorted quickly, "Sokka there are nights when I've seen them throw you out of there!"


Aang played along, laughing with the rest, "And there are nights you come home so late to the dorm room afterwards and make so much racket that I want to throw you out of our place, too!"

"Good one Aang!" chuckled Zuko, joined by the others.


The pizza place was packed, but they wanted to go anyway. While they waited, Aang was fascinated by the aromas coming from the kitchen.  But the noise and rock music was very loud.


"That's the thing I hate about this place – too crowded and too noisy, but at least the food doesn't suck." shouted Mai over the din.


They got their favorite booth, and all sat close, and ordered a pitcher of soda and some breadsticks.


Aang had his first carbonated drink and Italian garlic breadstick.  He savored the popping and fizzing feeling in his mouth, and the sugar taste.  He took another swig, but unexpectedly burped loudly, "Braaaaappppp!"

"Oh, excuse me!" he blushed.  All his buddies laughed.

"Ten!" announced Sokka.

"No man, nine and a half.  It had volume and vibrato but no duration." corrected Zuko.

"What?" puzzled Aang.

"C'mon Aang, you know we score burps." scolded Suki.


"Yeah Aang. We always have cola." said Sokka.

"But guys, remember, Aang always has tea - he doesn't know." scolded Katara.

Aang thought fast, "Thanks guys.  Wow, this really does taste great!  I switched tonight ‘cuz I wanted to celebrate all your sweet victories!"

"I'll drink to that Aang," emphasized Sokka, raising his glass as a toast.

The ten page menu was daunting to Aang.  Everything looked great, but almost all were meat items, although it was alright for him to eat cheese. A salad seemed boring.

The waitress came by, "Hey guys what'll it be tonight? The usual?"

"Yep, the Meatgrinders Delight for me, Sally - the big one! I am hungry tonight," bragged Sokka.

"Make that two ‘Delights, Sally, I don't want to have sword fight with Sokka or Suki over who gets what slice.  Both of them have been in the Army!" 

They all giggled as Suki flexed her taut muscles at Zuko!

It was true. Sokka had joined the US Army right after high school, and served in the Far East and Afghanistan.  Suki was a Taiwanese Army soldier – an island nation. They'd met in a joint US/Taiwanese combat exercise and fell for each other immediately. Both were in college together now, paid for by each country's equivalent of the GI bill. They both chose the same college, and their relationship grew stronger since. Suki had fretted terribly, becoming close with Katara through many skype conversations, when Sokka was in combat in Afghanistan.  He fought well and smart, was some degree lucky, and so lived to tell the tale.


Mai said quietly, "I'll just share with Zuko, I don't need that much."


Katara fretted, "You OK, Aang? You look a little confused."


"You know Katara, it's always hard to find something that works for me. I wanted to try something different tonight.  And I don't see a ‘Veggiegrinder' on the menu."


"Well let's just do what we always do and order it special. I know you love the bell peppers."


"Let's go for it Katara, and make our own ‘Veggiegrinder' – all three kinds of hot and mild peppers, onions, mushrooms, dried tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, parsley, oregano. Every vegetable on the menu!"


"You sure are adventurous tonight, but it sounds good, Aang.  Can I share?"


"I figured you'd go for the meat kind like your brother."


"You know I'm trying to live more like you," she said  demurely and squeezed his hand hard below the table and smiled.

He gave her a quick little kiss in response.  She responded back by discretely hooking her leg over his, out of sight beneath the table.  He was thrilled!


"Knock it off you two – did you come here to eat or to make out?" teased Sokka.


Aang got a gleam in his eye and said, "You mean I have a choice?"


Everyone laughed hard with Aang on that, while Katara blushed and winked at him. And playfully kicked his shin.


"Just you wait ‘til later Aang. You get both choices," she whispered into his ear, and electricity ran through him like only she could create.


At last the pizzas arrived, and started to disappear in a hurry. 

Aang and Katara toyed with each other, feeding each other the veggie pizza slices. They tried to distract each other by tickling each other, and sneaking in little kisses between bites too.  It was so good to play with his girlfriend, just like they did at home.


The other couples were having the same fun in their own way.  How different and yet how much the same they all were in two completely different worlds.


Aang was astonished with the taste of pizza.  The zing of the peppers and savory flavor of the tomato sauce was like no spice or veggie in his world.  He loved how Katara was adopting his practices.  But in fact he knew he loved everything about this young woman – together for nearly five years now in the old world, apparently only two here.


And so the banter went on through the meal.  As they finished, they looked behind them at all the customers playing all the video games, pool, skee ball, and darts.


Katara said happily, "Well that was yummy, but now it's time to play some games as long as we're here!"


Sokka and Suki leaped up out of their chairs instantly, and headed straight for the first-person shooter games without even looking back.

Katara observed, "Well you can take Sokka and Suki out of the Army, but you can take the ‘Army' out of Sokka and Suki."

The rest laughed – it was so true.  They wouldn't be happy until they had each bested each other a dozen times in their favorite war games.


Mai stood and said with purpose, "You guys know exactly where to find me for the rest of the night."

Mai walked slowly towards the dart boards and watched as a few people competed. She simply stood there and watched as a few guys sloppily tried to hit the mark, cursing every time they missed. She almost snorted as one of the guys actually swung his arm to hit the bullseye.

Or so she thought.


"Hey! You got a problem with the way I play this game?" he asked her smugly, holding up a dart.


Mai simply shrugged and said, "Not if it gets you frustrated and gives me a chance to play."


The man simply stepped aside, holding out the darts for her to take.


As she took it from him, the guy said, "Let's see if you can do any better."


Mai simply smiled and aimed. The dart zipped out of her hand and right on the bullseye mark.


"Beginner's Luck," the guy said contemptuously. "Let's see if you can do it again."

Mai sighed and sent three more darts right into the same spot, savoring the delight of seeing the shocked look on his face.


More people came to challenge her. Some out of idiocy, and some out of sheer fun! Zuko waded through the crowd only to see his girlfriend thoroughly beat another girl at her own game. He simply had to smile. By the end of the hour, everyone had been beaten by Mai at the dart range. Even the rest of the Gaang enjoyed a sportive match with her, which she appreciated.


"I guess you'd want to challenge me too?" she asked as she looked at her boyfriend.

Zuko simply wrapped his arm around her shoulder and said, "I know better than to challenge my girlfriend at her own game."


"And that is why I love you!" she whispered so only he could hear, which made him smile.


"Love you, too, Mai," he whispered in the same tone.


"Time to get back, guys!" Sokka declared as he put on his jacket and helped Suki with hers.


So the three couples left hand in hand; each knowing exactly how lucky they were to have one another.

Aang and Katara could hear Sokka and Suki bicker about their video battles, "Suki, I so had you at that ZombieBattle IV barricade with my Kalishnikov rifle!"

She smirked and said, "Yeah you did, until..."

She made gun shapes with her hands and fingers.

"...you met my little friends...Smith...and Wesson!"  cackling evilly.

"I'll get you next time..." threatened Sokka in mock anger.

"We've truly become family to each other," Aang thought as he looked at all his friends. "Just like we promised. Even in this world."

All too soon, their comfortable walk ended as they reached the parting hallways that led to their respective dorms. Suki and Sokka shared a quick kiss goodnight and left. Mai and Zuko decided to stay back in the common room just for a little while by the fireplace just to rid themselves of the chill. Katara seemed to be just a little bit sleepy, so she kissed Aang and headed towards her room.

"See you at the dance, sweetie," she called before leaving.

"I can't wait!" Aang said, although he had no clue about this dance. But the prospect of having to dance with her again was exciting enough for him... Soon, he went to bed.

Scene 3: The Fellowship of the Rings (click to show/hide)Scene 3: The Fellowship of the Rings

Aang woke up refreshed and ready for another day.  The dorm bunk bed was surprisingly comfortable.  He pounded noisily on the bunk above him.

"So Sokka, what are we doing today?" Aang intentionally whined like an eight year old child.

"Aang, you airhead. You and me and Zuko are headed to the jeweler at the mall to get the girls' engagement rings.  I swear, Aang, the past two days you have really weirded me out.  It's like you walked off the plane from Tibet yesterday, not two years ago!"

Sokka went on, "Remember?  Gaang group engagement for Christmas?  A surprise right after the International Students Winter Dance on Christmas Eve? It was your idea, dude!  Even cranky old Zuko thought it was romantic!"

"Oh. Yeah.  I got mixed up.  Must have slept too well last night." It was a lie, but it was convincing.

They showered and got dressed.  Aang happily put on a "Kung Fu Panda" T shirt with his jeans.  He was more convinced with each hour here that the spirits were deliberately playing mind games with him.  Maybe it was Hei Bai's turn to torment him today?

When Aang got back from the shower, there was a text message waiting for him:

MSG FM: Watergirl01. Subject:  Winter Dance.  10:03 AM.  We're getting our hair done and dresses ready today, so I won't see u til the party starts. I don't want to spoil the surprise! Miss u though *hugs* TTFN <3

He replied:

MSG FM: Airhead112.  Subject: RE: Winter Dance. 10:23 AM.  *hugs back* Hey babe  :*  To see that gorgeous bod of yours will be worth the wait. :D

An immediate reply came back:

MSG FM: Watergirl01. Subject:  RE: RE: Winter Dance.  10:24 AM.  Now that's the Aang I know and <3

They hopped on the university shuttle to the mall. Zuko was already on it, wearing a black T shirt with a picture of a sleek black dragon and human companion. It was labeled "How to Train your Dragon".  Aang smiled at how inadvertently appropriate that T shirt was on Zuko.  It was crowded with students doing last minute Christmas shopping.  Some of them were pushy and rude.

They entered the mall.  They were bombarded by gaudy lights, tinsel, banners, ribbons and bows, giant ornaments, and loud piped in music.  Sales signs were everywhere.

They walked by the extravagant Santa house, with a line of toddlers and their parents trailing halfway down the mall.  It was clear to the trio that all of "Santa's helpers" were eager to part all the parents from $20 bills for photos and treats.

Aang said in a low voice to his friends, "I'm not really sure I like this ‘Christmas season'.  It seems like it's all about buying and ‘how much can I get?'. Santa Claus seems to be the spirit of greed and consumption."

His friends nodded agreement as they headed to the jewelry store.

"It's not so bad when you're giving and not receiving though, Aang, like we are," offered Zuko.

They entered the store, and chatted with one of the jewelers, and inquired about their order.  A clerk returned with just two tiny boxes – one red for Zuko and one green for Sokka. They opened them, saw the gleaming diamonds, and smiled.

Aang stammered, "Uh, ma'am, how about my order?"

The clerk checked the order sheet, and said glumly, "No sir, there is no ring order for you."

Sokka's jaw dropped and his eyes bugged, "You didn't order it?  Aang, you are hosed now, buddy.  Katara is gonna kill you if she doesn't get a ring and Suki and Mai do."

Aang suggested, "Umm...guys, you wouldn't consider waiting on doing this after Christmas, would you?

Sokka rolled his eyes at his naïve friend, "Not on your life, airhead.  Tonight's the night – Christmas Eve is a tradition for Americans to give engagement rings.  If we're gonna live with them, we gotta act like them.  It may have been your idea, but if you aren't ready, we're going ahead without you."

"Now what am I going to do?" he worried to himself.

Aang swallowed hard, and said, "I would like to look at your engagement ring collection please."

The clerk laid out dozens of rings - large and small, gaudy and simple.  He looked for what seemed to Zuko an eternity.  Then one jumped out at Aang.  It was a very large stone, blue-white in hue – her colors. It was surrounded by a simple swirl pattern of white gold that could either be interpreted as a wave of water or a gust of wind, or both together.  It would be perfect for Katara.

He pointed and said firmly, "This one."

Sokka blinked hard, and whispered, "How are you gonna pay for that dude? That may be the biggest most expensive ring in the whole display."

Aang smiled and said, "With this!"

He reached into his coat and pulled out a solid gold Tibetan pendant.  Thank the spirits he discovered it in his pockets on the way out to the mall. 

"Someone is trying to help me," pondered Aang.

The owner came over to the boys and said excitedly, "Wow! I collect Chinese artifacts. May I see that?  The jeweler examined it with a loupe.  Man, this is really rare.  Where did you get this?"

Aang stated, "Family heirloom, sir. How much is it worth?"

The jeweler grinned and said, "Enough to buy that ring for your girl. And then some."

Aang smirked at Sokka, who was still reeling, "Better to be lucky than smart, my Engineer friend."

Zuko did a face palm and Sokka grumbled, but Aang had pulled it off.  With $5000 cash by pawning the pendant, he plunked it down for that amazing 2 carat engagement ring.  Another $5000 credit from the gold medallion went into a future purchase account for him.

With the rings safely stored in their pockets, they wandered around the mall, got some lunch at the Food Court, where Aang found some vegetarian low mein noodles, Sokka got the biggest Philly Cheese Steak he could find, and Zuko bought some teriyaki.  Aang tried to remain calm when they got some enormous chocolate chip cookies, tried one for the first time, and wondered where chocolate had been all his life!

They caught the shuttle bus back to campus and got ready for the dinner and dance.

+++

"Hey airhead! You clean up pretty well," teased Sokka, seeing Aang in very nice brown trousers, with a button down ochre/rust pattern shirt, with a nice leather jacket over it. He had a couple of small gold chains around his neck.

"You too, my friend." 

Sokka wore a similar outfit in mostly blues and grays, with a black jacket, a studded belt, and a silver belt chain.

They headed over to the International Students Center. 

The annual dinner dance got started about 10 years earlier when a significant number of students from abroad realized they couldn't go home for the relatively short Christmas break, and created the idea of a buffet with foods from around the world on Christmas Eve, followed by a nice evening social and dance with American music.  It really helped the students get used to American customs, to socialize, and to not feel alone on Christmas, when all their American colleagues were with their families. 

Sokka and Aang joined up with Zuko, and stood outside the Center, anxiously awaiting the girls.

As Inuit Native American Katara walked up the steps to the building, she was the most anxious of all the girls, remembering that nearly two years ago she and Tibetan Aang met at the dance, and never left each other's side afterward. It was a special moment for them both - an anniversary of sorts - and she wanted to make the night special, not knowing how special it would yet become. 

Taiwanese senior student Suki felt much the same, having met Sokka in that Taiwanese Army/US Army exercise, then planned to go to college together.  Despite all the joking around, she dearly loved him, but as seniors, they were about to go their separate ways. She was worried about the future, not only about getting a job back in Taipei, but about her future with Sokka.  His father, Dr Hakoda, was the Chief Scientist at McMurdo Sound US Science Station in Antarctica, and Sokka was going to join him after graduation.  Not a day went by without Suki worrying about the day her love would leave her, perhaps forever.

Graduating seniors Mai and Zuko were childhood lovers, both born of wealthy Japanese electronics executives.  They would return to a life of great luxury, but savored the simpler life of college and their wonderful friends.  This was a bittersweet night for them, their last International Dance - soon to be childhood's end.

But Zuko knew, and Mai would, too, very soon, that he never intended to part from her even after their childhood was over.

They all met at the top of the steps, hugged each other, chattering and anxious to step inside and see how each other dressed, and to enjoy the evening.

They entered the Center and were greeted by Christmas lights, glitter, trees, and live rock music.  It was much friendlier than the mall.  Also greeting them were some amazing smells from around the world. 

While the boys' stomachs thought about food, their eyes and hearts were astonished with the beauty of their women. 

Mai's exquisitely tailored one shouldered, red gown left Zuko speechless. He'd always known she was beautiful even in her usual goth look, but tonight, with her raven hair styled in a typical Japanese top knot save for the bangs, she looked breathtaking.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," he whispered to her as he draped his arm across her bare shoulder.

Mai smirked as she asked, "Because your girlfriend doesn't kill you if you don't compliment her?"

"No... Because she knows that no compliment would ever do her justice," Zuko said slyly, which earned him a playful punch to his arm.

Suki chose the occasion to dress in a formal Taiwanese kimono, with intricate stitching, and her hair held up with authentic hair pieces.  Sokka's heart soared seeing her so formally attired.

Then Aang beheld Katara.  Her naturally curly hair had been turned into a cascade of beautiful tight curls, highlighted by glitter. She had a simple, sleek floor length royal blue dress, in a backless style that went to the base of her spine, held by with spaghetti straps. She wore her late mother's choker.  No matter how Aang would hold her tonight, he would be greeted by the softness of her skin, which was her intent.   She had light makeup, and long earring dangles.

She demurred, "Hi handsome, how do you like my dress? Better than that swim suit?" as she modeled it, presenting all her curves to him.  She did her best to flirt with him.

"Wow! Katara, you are the prettiest woman on campus. You look elegant and...um...hawt."

She pressed up against him very close, smiled, grasped the back of his neck, and said, "That's what I was hoping you'd say."

Aang pulled his collar nervously, and said, "Let's go get something to eat."

The food tables were arranged by regions – Europe, Africa, Central Asia, Far East, and South America. Zuko and Sokka loaded up on the Brazilian tapas, Jamaican jerk chicken, Italian sausage, and spicy Mexican dishes.  Suki stayed with Chinese.  Mai went for the tempura and sushi.

Aang frowned at most everything until he found the Indian cuisine, and instantly fell in love with the multitude of vegetarian dishes, especially the lentil/chick pea soup and Malai Kofta, a veggie meatball delicacy.

He thought, "If I am stuck here in this world, I am going to live in the Indian restaurants!"

Katara followed close beside him, taking whatever he selected, but did get some fresh salmon and mahi mahi from the Hawaiian cuisine.

They all sat and thoroughly enjoyed dinner together. The girls talked about their hair and fashion emergencies, and the boys commented about going to the mall "to shop and hang out", the rude, greedy people, and the too-commercial Christmas season.

Aang soon discovered the dessert table, and sampled the tiramisu, apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies.  He about overdosed on the Black Forest Cake and the triple chocolate cake.  He could have died happy, and wondered if he could ever go back to simple fruit pies again!

The dancing started, and the DJ played a wide variety of fun songs, including Texas line dancing, Irish river dance, and Midwest square dancing.  The Gaang was laughing and dancing with each other.  Even Mai and Zuko tried some of the dances. 

Unfortunately, Sokka got way too carried away with the high stepping line dancing, tripped over himself and crashed into a big tray of desserts.  He was embarrassed, but Suki kissed him on the forehead and said, "It's OK."

They all thought they would split a gut laughing, doing the hokey pokey and the Chicken Dance in fancy clothes!

And then a Latin number began with a thunderous beat.  Aang noticed, quickly offered his hand to Katara, and said, "Shall we?"

"You mean, that Brazilian Capoeira dance we like? Yeah, Aang, you're on!  Just you and me, right?"

They owned the dance floor, performing what was the "Kataango" in the old world. Their spins, leaps, twists, were all amazing as before, in perfect time and coordination. They kissed at their closest approach, and ended with a flourish to the cheers of entire crowd. That Katara danced flawlessly in her long gown made it even more impressive.

"Aang, that was wonderful," said Katara as he pulled her upright and they kissed. The next number was a slow dance, so they embraced and began to sway with the saxophone solo. Their friends joined them on the dance floor, enjoying the closeness.

Katara pressed up to Aang very tightly against him, and he held her close with both arms on her bare back and asked, "Like that, sweetie?"

"Yes, Katara, very much," as she buried her head in his chest and felt Aang's reaction to their embrace.

Zuko and Mai enjoyed their last dance as boyfriend and girlfriend thoroughly, although she didn't know it, yet. Zuko couldn't help but smile at the thought.

"What?" she asked him with an eyebrow quirked.

"Nothing... I'm just... happy to be here... with you... and all of our friends," he said.

Mai couldn't agree more.

The dance was coming to a close.

Aang invited, "Guys, I'm not ready to go home yet.  Let's all go to the park!  I want to go watch the stars on this beautiful Christmas Eve."

Katara thought to herself slyly, wanting to be very close to him tonight, "Hope that's not all he wants to do there."

+++

It was chilly as they walked silently toward the park, the girls wondering what their guys wanted to do, and the guys silently rehearsing their speeches in their minds.

They all walked in, and Suki couldn't hold it inside her anymore, and giggled, "Umm. Aang, Is this gonna be a group make out session?"

"Well that might be fun, but, no Suki, we actually have something more important to do.  Guys?"

They took each of their girls by their hands, smiled at them, and led them away a few yards from each other for some privacy.

There, six young people, each pair silhouetted against the foliage and lights from the University behind them, took their first bold steps to become three new families, each with their own story.

+++

"This still looks like a group make out session to me, Zuko," deadpanned Mai.  "You know how much I hate public displays!"

"Just... listen for a moment, ok?" Zuko said with a chuckle. Mai finally relaxed a bit, but still noticed that there was something "off" about him.

"Mai... we've known each other since... forever! And we always knew how we felt about each other without ever having to say it! And I love that! But there are some things that I just can't do without telling you how I feel!" Zuko said with a genuine smile.

"Zuko... what're you doing?" Mai asked as he took a small box out of his breast pocket.

"Mai... I love you... very much... and... GAH! I suck at this! Why can't I just be open for once like everyone else?" he lamented, cursing himself for ruining the moment.

"Then let me help you," Mai said with a genuine smile of her own as she cupped his cheek. "Yes, I will," she finished.

Zuko's eyes lit up as it sunk in. Then he kissed her, savoring the moment together.

+++

As the others were talking around them, Sokka smiled and approached Suki. His eyes drank her in, and that familiar goofy grin spread across his face once more.

"You know, I think Zuko's on to something..."

Suki swallowed, her eyes narrowing, "Sokka... what's going on?"

Taking her by the waist, Sokka led her a few paces further away from the group. He looked at her intently, and held both of her hands in his.

"Suki, it seems like I've known you my whole life, even though we met only a few years ago in Taiwan. You've always been there for me since, through the war and the thick and thin here at school. I know I haven't always been easy to deal with..."

"You can say that again," Suki chuckled playfully, wrinkling her nose.

"But the truth is, I've waited so long for this day because I wasn't sure if I deserved you..."

Suki moved her hand up to cup the side of Sokka's face, looking into his eyes, "Sokka, don't talk like that..."

Sokka smiled, tracing small circles around her outstretched hand.

"I still remember when we met. We were in that martial arts competition at the barracks.  I was so embarrassed when you beat me at that sparring match right in front of my whole combat squad..."

Suki grinned, winking at Sokka, "Probably it doesn't help that I tell that story to everyone we meet."

Sokka laughed, leaning in closer and quirking his brows.

"Let's not forget your other story you tell everyone. About you practicing for your special operations forces camouflage makeup class... on me."

Suki giggled, pulling closer to Sokka and kissing his cheek, "And what a pretty - I mean – brave man you were for that."

Sokka rested his forehead against hers, feeling his heartbeat grow faster.

"Suki... I... I would spend the rest of my life letting you put makeup on me.  I love you that much..."

"Oh, really?!" Suki grinned, bawling over with laughter.

Sokka waved his hands, his eyes widening. "I'm already screwing this up?!" he thought.

"What I mean is, I'd do anything for you Suki, and I want to do it all with you."

Suki's eyes glittered at the sentiment, "Oh, Sokka..."

"Suki... will you be my wife? Will you marry me?"

"YES!" Suki beamed, pulling Sokka into a deep and frantic kiss.

The two stayed there, momentarily, basking in their embrace. It was Sokka who pulled away, taking hold of her hand once more, placing a ring on her finger.

"It's about time!" Suki giggled.

+++

"Aang?  What's really going on here?" said Katara accusingly, with a serious look, looking around at the others deep in discussion.

"Well Katara, it's something really, really important."

He drew her close, and looked directly into her deep blue eyes.

"Kat', have you ever liked being around someone a lot?"

"Uh, huh. I think about that someone nearly all the time."

Smiles started to appear on both of them.

"And have you ever thought you could be with someone...um...forever?"

She held her breath, "I've only let myself dare to think that recently."  Their smiles got broader.

"Would it make a difference if that someone asking was from a dirt poor country, would be a leader there, with many responsibilities that might make a lot of demands, and make it hard sometimes to be a family?"

"Well, unless it was exactly one person in particular asking, and if the country wasn't cold, snowy, and mountainous, I'd be inclined to say ‘no'."

Aang played along, "Oh.  Well.  Um.  Tibet is kinda like that. So you're OK on that part."

"So I hear.  Interesting coincidence Aang."

Katara was enjoying the game, and her knees were shaking, but not from the cold.  Her grip on his shoulders and neck was getting tighter, not only from affection, but just to remain standing.

"Hmm. Funny how that works out, huh?" 

He could feel himself sweating.  They both overheard the girls' "yes" answers to the questions the other boys were asking. Katara blushed deeply. They both knew it was time to stop the teasing and baiting. Both took a deep breath.

"Katara, no kidding around now.  You know I love you more than anything in this world.  Will you marry me?"

She put a strangle hug on him, and said, "Oh yes, Aang. Yes! I do want to marry you!"

They laughed and kissed happily.  He pulled out Katara's ring and she gasped, "Aang this is beautiful. It's so big! Omigosh.  I thought you said you were poor? And look at this wave design. It's perfect Aang, just like you!"

Aang laughed, "Well, I'm poor now, Katara" and she hugged him again.  The ring looked beautiful on her finger.

+++

Suki could not contain herself, having heard all her friends' answers.  She practically knocked over Sokka, ran screaming happily to Mai - who just rolled her eyes, grabbed her by the arm away from Zuko, then dragged Mai over to Katara and Aang.  Suki and Katara laughed and chattered, and although Mai was reserved, it was clear all three women were ecstatic.  They showed off their rings. Mai and Suki gasped at the size of Katara's.

The boys just stood together with very satisfied looks. Sokka gave his friend a "thumbs up" gesture and a wink, and Zuko crossed his arms and nodded at Aang in approval.

It all worked perfectly.

The boys were all ready to leave, but the girls hesitated.  Katara spoke for the girls, "Guys, we've been wanting to experience the spirit of Christmas giving too, and we all decided to get you something.  We could propose to you to match what you've done for us, but... we hope this'll do instead."

The guys laughed at this as Aang said, "Whatever it is, Katara, I'm sure it'll be just as special."

"You don't need to butter me up, Aang... I've already said yes," Katara whispered so only he could hear, at which Aang snickered.

Suki went over to Sokka with a small package. Sokka took it and started to open it as Suki looked on with a barely concealed squeal of delight. She was obviously very happy about what she'd got for him.

"Wow!" Sokka exclaimed as he looked at the contents of the package. "Suki, you shouldn't have!" he said as he took out what looked like coupons.

"I know how much you love shopping... So I thought I'd get you something to make it less of a hole in your pocket!" Suki said. Sokka gave her a quick, grateful peck on the cheek.

Mai placed a small, but slightly heavy package in Zuko's hand. She smiled as he opened the package with a knowing smirk. Zuko was quite partial to wind instruments and had amassed quite the collection in his dorm. The only one missing was the instrument that was now in his palm.

"A harmonica," Zuko whispered with a smile on his face. "Thank you, Mai... I love it!" he said as he kissed her.

Aang looked expectantly at Katara. But with a wicked smirk, she simply hugged him and then stepped back with the devlish grin still on her face.

"That's it?" Aang asked with an expression feigning anger.

Katara simply motioned for him to look at his neck. When he did so, he was startled to find an authentic, Tibetan beaded necklace that monks usually wore. A wide grin found its way to his face.

"Just something honor your culture," Katara said, but was cut off with a swift hug from Aang.

"Thank you," he said gratefully.

"Ready to go back, then?" she asked him. Aang looked around at all of them and nodded.

Scene 4: The Avatar's Christmas (click to show/hide)Scene 4:  The Avatar's Christmas
The three couples left the park together, each young woman admiring the rings they had been given.  Even after all the laughing and crying and carrying on between the girls just moments before, they all exchanged glances at how special this had been that their guys had planned this special occasion on Christmas Eve.  They all leaned in closer to the boys, embracing them tighter as they strolled.

They had intended to simply walk back to the dorms, but heard the soft sound of bells ringing nearby.

"What's that?" said Zuko.

"Church bells.  Let's go see." said Aang.

They walked up the block to the University Church, and there before them was an ancient scene played out on the church front lawn.  Bathed in lights, there was a replica of a long ago rickety stable, with a donkey, a cow, a man and his wife and baby boy, with shepherds and kings surrounding them all.   A reader explained the story to the audience – he called it a "live nativity".

Following this special service, the six followed what the others in the church were doing, somewhat awkwardly but felt good about everything they had seen and were seeing.  The candles, and lights, the greenery and decorations in the sanctuary gave a festive light.  A choir led the worshippers in beautiful soaring songs about angels, shepherds, wise men, about Peace on Earth, and the Son of God, adding to what they all had seen outside.

A holy man came forward and asked everyone to pray.  The Gaang all knelt, though Zuko somewhat reluctantly.  He was more used to people bowing to him now, but Mai pulled him down next to her.

Aang felt right in his element, but as he closed his eyes to pray, his world became white as the starlight.

"Oh no, not again! I'm not ready to go somewhere else. Not now. Not with all this happiness." thought Aang.

He was more and more enveloped by the blinding light, and was soon standing in the midst of a complete white out.

A deep voice came all sides of him, "Kneel, Avatar Aang, and know that I AM God."

Aang dropped immediately to his knees, but then fell completely prostrate.

"The one spirit I have never met," he thought.

Aang shook uncontrollably, knowing he was face to face with the ultimate spirit.  He was paralyzed with fear, not knowing what to do next.

"Aang, the ground upon which you kneel is holy.  Arise and behold me. Aang? Uh, Aang.  Oh to heck with it, ‘Old School' isn't going to work."

From that brilliant light a figure emerged. A kindly-looking gentlemen, ancient in appearance, and dressed in a jumpsuit the same brilliant white as the surrounding light.

"Hello Aang, come have a seat beside Me."

Aang rose from his prostrate position, and sat nervously beside the "man".

"Are you the Spirit of all the spirits?" Aang said in a whisper.

"You could call me that Aang.  I AM a lot of things to a lot of people. I'm sure you are wondering about all this since the star.  Some of my companions would call it cheap Hollywood theatrics, but I like that kind of stuff.  ‘Bruce Almighty' and all that."

"Huh?"

"Oh...never mind Aang.  I forgot you are not of this world and its culture."

"Why all this, umm...how shall I call you?" Aang dared to ask.

"Great Spirit will be fine for now, Aang.  That's what Katara calls me." 

Aang raised an eyebrow with this news about Katara's faith.

"Why? To show you your place in the overall scheme of things.  You are the embodiment of the spirit of your world – which I made by the way, as well as you. I love all those mixed up animals.  Made a bet with Gabriel on that one."

"To save this world and all the other worlds I created, I sent my Son to be born this night over 2010 years ago."

"You play an important role in your world to keep balance.  You've done better than most that I have sent into each physical world as my messengers.

"There are others?"

"Yes. You just haven't met them yet.  You have all the time in the world to discover them, Aang."

"So why did you take my tattoos and bending?" holding out his arms.

"You want to go around explaining tattoos like that in this world, Aang?  Besides, didn't it feel good to just be a normal boy?  I seem to remember a few well placed prayers about that from you."

"Oh. Yeah.  You're right."

"Besides, you'll get them back when you go home. At least I gave you that tattooed hoodie, and a couple clever T shirts.  And people say I don't have a sense of humor."

Aang laughed with the Great Spirit for a moment, but then got a very serious look.

"Why am I alone, Great Spirit?"

"You aren't alone, Aang. You are surrounded by your friends, but they just don't know you and I are talking. Especially that young woman I blessed you with, son. She will love you to the end of the world."

"I mean..."

"I know what you mean, Aang.  We'll chat about that another time. There was a reason."

"Tonight, just enjoy my love for you, your friends, and each other in different world where I started it all."

"By the way, I do know how you are feeling about Katara.  I saw how you reacted to her swim suit and dress – so no ‘funny stuff' until you're married.  Got it? I have my eye on you." 

For emphasis He aimed two fingers at his eyes, and then pointed the fingers at Aang.

"Got it." said Aang, but also thought, "Darn it."

"I heard that Aang," smiled the Spirit just to mess with Aang.

As the Great Spirit turned and walked away, the brilliant white light faded, replaced by the image of the ornate altar and colorful stained glass window remained, surrounded by his friends and the other worshippers.

A woman's hand tightly held his arm, and she whispered, "You were in the spirit world for a moment, weren't you Aang? Was it beautiful?"

He whispered back, "More than you can imagine.  The Great Spirit's world."

She startled, smiled, and squeezed his arm.  He knew.

The service finished, they all left moved by the message and the splendor, and headed back to the dorm.

Suki noticed a star overhead, "Look at that beautiful star, guys."

Katara added, "It's getting brighter."

"Time to go home, isn't it Great Spirit?" pondered Aang silently.

The intensity of the light grew unbearable and they were once again unconscious.

Epilogue (click to show/hide)Epilogue

Suki stirred first, noted only the glowing embers left of their fire, and said, "Guys.  We fell asleep.  Wake up."

Sokka was next, "Man is it late. And am I hungry.  C'mon, your Fire Lordness, let's go wake up the royal cook and get something.

"You're on, Sokka!"

"I hate eating in the middle of the night, but OK," grumbled Mai.

"You little sneaks!" snapped Suki, "Guys, look at Katara!"

Wrapped around her neck was the new betrothal necklace Aang had shown the guys earlier when they plotted to all present them to their girls.

"Suki, you have one too!" 

Katara pointed at Sokka's necklace around Suki's neck. Wide eyed, Suki's fingers traced the lines of the wonderful gift.

Equally suspicious, Mai felt something odd in her hair and discovered the ornate hair piece.  Mai, in a moment of true happiness, stammered, "Does this mean...?"

Zuko interrupted and teased, "Yeah, yeah it does. It means I ‘don't hate you' forever."

He snickered as he hugged Mai. Katara and Suki both shrieked and hugged their guys and each other, all talking at once.  Katara said, "You guys have been keeping secrets all night.  What a great surprise to wake up to!"

The guys were all pretty satisfied with themselves, so everyone got up to head to the Summer Palace kitchen.

Aang and Katara hung back, as their friends went ahead, "We'll be there in a minute."

"Oh, Aang, what a wonderful thing you all did for us girls. All of us friends are engaged together.   One big family.  How could it be any better?" as she closed her eyes, lunged at Aang, wrapped her arms around and hugged him tightly.

But it did get better.

As Katara released her grip on her new fiance's neck, the starlight glinted on her left hand's third finger.   She pulled her hand back with a gasp, and stared in wonder.  It was the diamond ring that Aang had given her at the University.

Her lips quivered, she stroked the side of Aang's face with her ringed hand, as everything flooded back, and her eyes started to tear, "Oh, Aang...I remember."
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 01:45:08 AM by A6 »
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Offline Cowboy Colt

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This is one of the very few modern fics that I like. Thanks again A6 and crew!

keeps and quotes (click to show/hide)
 ATLA keeps: Kataang lovemaking, "MY CABBAGES " line, Aangs quiet badassness
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[
Elevation requires separation.

Be thankful for each day that you have.

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Offline A6

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Thank you Cowboy!  Much appreciated. :)
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Offline Cassidy Alice

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I agree with Cowboy! It's hard to find such well written modern AUs out there, but this one was great! :D

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Offline divsalley

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Thanks, cowboy and Cassie!!! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Try and guess who wrote for which pairing! XD All in all it was a collaborative effort, but still. XD

My Keeps (click to show/hide)
LoK Keeps (click to show/hide)Korra and Naga's Friendship
Korra's Sass
Mako's Seriousness
Mako's Scarf
The Finale Makorra Hug and Twirl

ATLA Keeps (click to show/hide)Zuko's Destiny
Zuko's Finale Speech
Zuko's Honor
Zuko's Inner Fire
Zuko's Speech to Ozai in DoBS

Offline Cassidy Alice

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I'm guessing you wrote for the Maiko. :P

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Offline divsalley

  • Fire Sage Divs
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  • Posts: 570
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  • Gender: Female
  • Haters gonna Hate. :P
    • My Tumblr
What gave me away??? DX LOL just kidding... You're right. :P

My Keeps (click to show/hide)
LoK Keeps (click to show/hide)Korra and Naga's Friendship
Korra's Sass
Mako's Seriousness
Mako's Scarf
The Finale Makorra Hug and Twirl

ATLA Keeps (click to show/hide)Zuko's Destiny
Zuko's Finale Speech
Zuko's Honor
Zuko's Inner Fire
Zuko's Speech to Ozai in DoBS

Offline A6

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Any guesses on Kataang? ;3
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline divsalley

  • Fire Sage Divs
  • Councilwoman Divs / Global Moderator
  • Round 2!
  • *
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  • Posts: 570
  • Championship Pot: 85
  • Gender: Female
  • Haters gonna Hate. :P
    • My Tumblr
no prizes for the winner! XD

My Keeps (click to show/hide)
LoK Keeps (click to show/hide)Korra and Naga's Friendship
Korra's Sass
Mako's Seriousness
Mako's Scarf
The Finale Makorra Hug and Twirl

ATLA Keeps (click to show/hide)Zuko's Destiny
Zuko's Finale Speech
Zuko's Honor
Zuko's Inner Fire
Zuko's Speech to Ozai in DoBS

Offline A6

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haha. Drat...
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Cassidy Alice

  • "Laughter's the best medicine!"
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  • Championship Pot: 262
  • Gender: Female
    • Cassidy's Fanfiction
Any guesses on Kataang? ;3

Um...you? ^^'

What gave me away??? DX LOL just kidding... You're right. :P
You did. :P You're so predictable. ;)

Set from tumblr. © Respective owners
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Offline A6

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Cassie you get the magic kewpie doll!!! Now if I only had one.... ;)
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Cassidy Alice

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Heehee! :D

Set from tumblr. © Respective owners
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Offline A6

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Here you go Cassie. A kewpie doll.

signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Water Lily

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  • ~Waterbender Lily~
This is an awesome collab as always you guys! <333333 I can't stop squealing from the cuteness!!! ^^' Beautifully done with every aspect touching many hearts. Loved it!!!


~To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.~

Offline A6

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Many thanks Lily. This was a great deal of fun for us to keep everyone in character and make it bridge both worlds 'believably'.
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Cassidy Alice

  • "Laughter's the best medicine!"
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    • Cassidy's Fanfiction
Here you go Cassie. A kewpie doll.



Heehee! Thanks! ;D

Set from tumblr. © Respective owners
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Offline divsalley

  • Fire Sage Divs
  • Councilwoman Divs / Global Moderator
  • Round 2!
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  • Posts: 570
  • Championship Pot: 85
  • Gender: Female
  • Haters gonna Hate. :P
    • My Tumblr
thanks, lily! Much appreciated. :D

My Keeps (click to show/hide)
LoK Keeps (click to show/hide)Korra and Naga's Friendship
Korra's Sass
Mako's Seriousness
Mako's Scarf
The Finale Makorra Hug and Twirl

ATLA Keeps (click to show/hide)Zuko's Destiny
Zuko's Finale Speech
Zuko's Honor
Zuko's Inner Fire
Zuko's Speech to Ozai in DoBS

Offline A6

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I am hoping that in this year's holiday season you will all take a shot at reading our collaborative effort of your TKC leaders A6, divsalley, Seluna, and our best buddy Honey Badger. 

If you've read it before, thanks for re-reading.  It's a fun AU tale.
signatures - gift from my talented friends Water Lily and Honey Badger :3

Offline Water Lily

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  • ~Waterbender Lily~
It's such an alluring story that even now as I re-read it it seems fresh on my mind. It's like a new experience every time. Once again, hats off to A6, Divs, and Seluna! :D


~To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.~

 

       
CREDITS:

Forum coded by Seluna
Logo illustrations courtesy of terrik_zion and Seluna.
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