The final moment has come and gone, and for once things did not turn out fine.
He was surrounded by the bodies of those he had killed while in the throes of the Avatar State. The temple was almost completely demolished, torn apart in his rage. He stood alone, the only one left.
At his feet was Katara's body, the source of his rage. Even in death, she was beautiful. A large red spot was soaked into her clothing around where the knife had thrust into her, killing her and their unborn child. But her face was unblemished, and seemed almost peaceful.
Aang fell to his knees, weeping as he cradled her body in his arms. He hadn't been able to protect her, and now she was gone. They would never again argue or duel, never again make love under the moon's watchful gaze, never see their child grow up and make his or her own mistakes-
It was not going to end like this.
"/Roku!/" Aang shouted as loudly as he could. His voice echoed through the burning ruins. He called again, and again, until at last he heard a voice over his shoulder.
"I am here, /boy/," Avatar Roku's spirit said. His voice held nothing but contempt. "What do you want of me?" Aang turned to face him, and pointed accusingly.
"You did this to us!" he shouted. "This is your fault!"
"I did warn you about what might happen if you continued on this reckless course of action. It is hardly my fault that you were too big a fool to heed my advice."
"Tell me how to bring her back."
Avatar Roku looked shocked for a moment, but he quickly composed himself.
"If the dead could be returned to life, Aang, there would be no end to overpopulation. You have lost her through your overconfidence, and you must learn to live with that."
"Don't tell me that shit! I know just as well as you that there's a way. Tell me how to do it."
For a moment, they glared at each other.
"No," said Roku at last. "I won't. Bringing someone back from the dead is a gross violation of the natural order, and preserving that order is your duty as the Avatar. And mine. I won't abandon that so you can avoid the consequences of your actions."
"Tell me!" Aang shouted.
Aang reached down to Katara's body, and pulled the dagger out of her body. He held it up in front of his face.
"Are you seriously trying to threaten a dead man?" Roku asked, mildly amused.
"Tell me, or I'll kill you. I'll enter the Avatar State and plunge this dagger into my eye. You'll cease to exist."
"Are you mad? If you do that, it won't just get rid of me. You'll cease to exist as well, and the cycle will be broken! Are you really willing to throw away the fate of the entire world for the sake of making a point?"
"I don't care about that! Tell me, or I'll do it!"
Roku considered the threat for a moment.
"Go ahead," he said quietly. "If you're going to do it, do it quickly."
Aang focused on painful memories. Gyatso's body. Appa's kidnapping. All the times he'd thought Katara was about to be killed...and then, at last, the time when it came true. His eyes and tattoos flared with white light. He raied the dagger up to his right eye.
Roku watched impassively.
"I'll do it!" Aang said in a hoarse voice. His hands were shaking, and tears were streaming down his face.
"No," Roku said, "you won't."
Aang's hand hovered in front of his face. The knife shook wildly. For a moment, he seemed to be teetering on the edge, and it could go either way. Then, with a wrenching sob, he threw down the knife and began weeping into his hands. The glow faded from his eyes.
"You are not the first Avatar to try that threat," Roku said, "nor will you be the last. Do you truly believe your tragedy unique? Hundreds of Avatars have lost their loved ones, and many of them lost them through their own foolish mistakes. You must remember, Aang, that although you are the Avatar, you are also human, and vulnerable to the pitfalls that that brings with it. Death. Loss. Pain. As the Avatar, you must be strong enough to survive these times of trial and move forward."
Aang looked up at the former Avatar. "Please..." he pleaded quietly.
"I cannot help you, Aang. She is lost, and you cannot have her back. I hope that you will find the strength to live without her."
Roku faded away, leaving Aang alone once more.