Borrowed Time

Disclaimer: I do not own anything Avatar The Last Airbender related.

A/N: This is what I imagine might have happened before the Legend of Korra, several years before it. I hope all of you brought your tissue boxes.

Update: Okay so apparently I was way off with Aang's age, thank you to my lovely reviewers for correcting me!

The large house was silent, save for the clunky clock in the hallway that ticked away - a wedding present from the Mechanist. Katara sat by a large fourposter bed holding a steady gaze with her husband. Nearby a healer sat at the foot of the bed, taking measurements and burning healing herbs. "How are we feeling today, Avatar Aang?" the healer asked.

"Oh much better," Aang smiled weakly, turning his gaze to the healer and hoping Katara would be fooled by this. By her frown it didn't seem like she was.

"Really?" The healer asked, also not convinced.

Aang squirmed slightly and then sighed in defeat. "...I can't fool you, can I? I'm just feeling tired, that's all..." he glanced at his wife again and nodded, letting her know he wasn't lying about this. He could see her relax only slightly.

"More than usual?" The healer questioned.

"I suppose a bit more than usual, yes, but that's not unheard of, is it?" Aang asked.

"Sir, with you condition, none of this is known, all of it is unheard of, but yes, I suppose if we're talking about an elderly man, yes, none of this is unheard of," the woman explained.

"That's... good," Aang frowned slightly and rubbed his eyes tiredly.

"There isn't much more I can do, Avatar, I suggest you get some rest, we wouldn't want our defender wanting to take a nap when trouble strikes!" The healer smiled.

"Yes," Aang chuckled. "You're right, I'll do that, thank you," Aang nodded at the kind old woman.

Katara kissed the knuckles of Aang's hand that she was clutching and followed the elderly woman out.

"How is he? Really?" Katara asked as she wrung her hands in anxiety.

"He is as well as he can be. I'm sorry, Mrs. Katara, but there isn't anything I can do for him."

"Nothing at all? Did you even try?" Katara hissed angrily. The healer said nothing, just stood there looking lost and hurt. The truth was, the healer was right, there wasn't anything anyone could do for Aang. Katara ducked back in shame and glanced at her hands. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have attacked you like that, I know you tried your best."

The older woman placed a hand on her arm and gave her a look of pity. Katara didn't want anyone's pity but she kept her tongue. "I truly am sorry," the healer said softly. Katara nodded slowly and showed the woman out. Katara slumped against the door after she shut it and stared off into space. She jumped when she heard a soft knock on the door. Opening the door revealed her brother and Suki standing there with identical sad smiles.

"Hey sis," Sokka said, not at all surprised when his sister slumped into his arms and burried her face in his chest.

"Sokka..." Katara's muffled voice was laced in tears.

"No change, huh?" Sokka guessed, smoothing the back of his sister's hair while his wife patted her back gently.

Katara pulled away slightly, her aging face showing much more strain than Sokka remembered seeing. "He's dying, Sokka, dying, and there's nothing we can do about it!" Katara turned her back to them, not wanting them to see her cry but Sokka wouldn't let her leave. Sokka ushered Suki in, shut the door, and pulled Katara back into his embrace.

"Isn't it better that you got to spend the time you did with him, that you got to have three awesome kids with him? You shared a love with him some only dream of having, isn't that worth even a little smile from you?" Sokka gently asked.

"Not right now..." Katara answered.

"Katara, we know that we can't even begin to understand what you're going through, but we're very sad about Aang's condition too and we just want to let you know that we'll always be here for you, okay?" Suki said.

"Thank you, you two... but if it's okay with you, I think I'd rather be alone right now." Katara felt so tired all of a sudden, like she was winding down too.

"Okay, sis, we'll leave you be. Oh, by the way, Tenzin stopped by a few days ago, said he was worried about you, should I send him here later?"

"No, that's alright, please tell Tenzin and his siblings that we're doing fine," Katara wiped a tear from her eye and turned to smile weakly at her brother and sister-in-law.

"Alright, well get some rest, Katara," Sokka leaned forward and gave his sister a soft kiss on the forehead before he and Suki bid their goodbyes. Katara wandered back to her and Aang's bedroom and found him just as she left him, laying on his back over their large bed, his arms on his stomach, and dozing off. She clutched a hand over her chest and padded quietly over. She no longer jumped when Aang opened his eyes and zeroed in on her, even when she was trying to be as silent as she could.

"Hey, did I wake you?" Katara asked softly.

"It's okay, want to join me?" Aang asked with a smile. Katara nodded and climbed into bed. She slid up to his side and caressed his cheek, stroking his short beard tenderly and gazing sadly into his deep smokey eyes. "Hey," Aang began, reaching up to wipe away the tears that slid down Katara's cheeks.

"Oh Aang," Katara collapsed into her husband and willed herself not to have another breakdown.

"Oh Katara," Aang answered back with a sad sigh and held her close. "Everything's going to be alright, you'll see," he told her.

"No it won't," Katara answered, her voice once again muffled.

"Sure it will! Look, you're strong, the strongest person I know. It's one of the reasons why I fell in love with you. You'll probably out-live us all you're so strong. You'll probably even meet the next Avatar!"

"I don't want to be strong! I want you to be strong and fight this... this... this thing you have that's kill you!" Katara nearly yelled as she pulled away to face him. Aang pressed his lips into a thin line and frowned in thought.

"You know I can't do anything about this. It's not something that's killing me, Katara, it's me that's kill me... I just spent way too much time in the iceberg... by body was in an unnatural state for one hundred years, I should be in my one-hundred-sixties right now, not my sixties," Aang explained softly. "I'm not so young though, you understand, right? I could have died when I was much younger. We all have our time, we're all dying, I just got bumped up ahead of schedule, that's all. I lived a good long life filled with friendship, love, adventure, and joy... I'd rather have had that than lived a hundred more years without those things. Besides, we'll see each other again," Aang smiled.

"Do you promise?" Katara asked tearfully.

"Nothing can keep a love this strong from fading away, we'll see each other again and spend the rest of eternity together," Aang promised and pulled his wife down for a kiss. When fatigue struck them both, each a different reason, they settled back into the bed and dozed off together.

'I... may as well enjoy the time I have left with him...' Was Katara's final thought before she drifted into sleep, feeling warm and secure as she always did in Aang's strong arms.

End A/N: I'm sorry this oneshot was so short and sad, but it wouldn't leave me alone so I had to write it down... I might write a happier one some time too lol. Read and review!