After 81 years, Ty Lee's life comes to an end in 167 AG. Remembering something she promised, an elderly Katara comes to the Fire Nation to bid her sisterly best friend goodbye.
The story Edit
Southern Water Tribe compound Edit
Hands folded in her jacket, the grey-haired Katara watched as 14-year-old Korra tuned up on some of the master waterbending moves. The Avatar had not done much waterbending practice as of late, and had become a bit rusty. Not a problem for the old master.
After Korra finished with a series of ice spikes hitting a target dead-center, Katara simply chuckled. "You say you are rusty, Korra? You look better than I did at your age."
"Thanks, Katara," the young Avatar responded. "I don't know, I was trying on my own the other day after earthbending training, and something seemed like it wasn't clicking."
The old master placed her hand over Korra's shoulder. "Don't worry; you are doing just fine, child." Katara couldn't help but give a beaming smile, her mind somewhat drifting to picturing a young Aang standing there at a similar moment 67 years ago, when she was just a girl herself.
"Can we do a couple more moves today?" Korra asked.
"If you really wish to, Korra," Katara replied.
However, before the elderly waterbender could start the skill set, a messenger from the Order of the White Lotus came to her. "Master Katara...a message for you. It's from the Fire Nation, specifically, Fire Lord Zuko."
Katara looked a bit off-guard for a moment, but then took the letter from the messenger. Her aged blue eyes began reading it:
I am afraid to be writing to you with more bad news. About five days ago, Ty Lee took quite ill at Mai's old home. We had her taken to the hospital, but, at this point, we doubt she is going to make it. It is reasonable, sadly, to believe that she has five days left at most. She told me yesterday that she hopes to see you before her end. If you are able to make it, please write to my grandson, who is currently training men at a navy base in the southwestern Earth Kingdom, and he can bring you here to see Ty Lee. If not, please respond to me.
The waterbender's head fell upon finishing the letter from her old friend. Tears pooled in her eyes as she began thinking about losing her last closest friend; the girl she had considered to be a sister for the better part of six decades.
The curious Avatar drifted over to her master. "Katara? You okay?"
"Korra," Katara answered. "I am afraid I will not be with you for about a week. My close friend is on her deathbed...and I must go see her."
Korra nodded her head in understanding and gave a sympathetic look. "Oh, spirits...you go right on ahead then. I guess the White Lotus masters can help me out in your absence."
"And I'm sure you will continue to succeed," Katara replied, forcing a smile at her student. "The best of luck, Korra."
The two then embraced. "May the spirits ensure your friend hangs on..." Korra said.
"As much as I would hope for that," Katara answered, "I think it is her time. The spirits know these things...much like they did with Aang."
Korra could only sigh, thinking about being the reincarnation of her master's husband, and how much she still missed him. She couldn't even think what losing her best friend would leave her with.
The two separated, and Katara then made the White Lotus aware of the situation. She then went home and wrote a letter to Zuko's grandson, General Iroh of the United Forces, who got it the next day and arrived at the South Pole another day later. A third day passed, and Katara soon found herself back in the Fire Nation.
Fire Nation Edit
At the shores of the capital stood the old Fire Lord. He would soon not own this title, having declared an intent to retire within the month about two weeks ago. Like Katara, Zuko also was without his beloved; his wife of 61 1/2 years, Fire Lady Mai, passed away two years ago, an event that had also taken a toll on his now-dying friend.
Katara quickly disembarked from Iroh's ship and walked up to Zuko, a look of hurt all over her face.
"My servants will take your belongings to a guest room in the Royal Palace," Zuko informed Katara. "We will take right off to see Ty Lee." He then turned toward his grandson. "Thank you very much, Iroh. I'll be seeing you soon enough."
"Take care, grandfather; the base administrator prefers I be back as soon as possible," Iroh answered. "I hope the best for Ty Lee."
"As do I..." Zuko mused.
After Iroh's ship departed, Katara and Zuko took a palanquin to the Capital Hospital, wherein Ty Lee was resting. The two shared stories about their friend, while also taking some time to catch up. Mostly, however, their talk focused on Ty Lee.
They arrived at the hospital, where visiting hours had just started. Waiting up for them in Ty Lee's room would be her daughter, Mayor Talia of Kyoshi Island. As Zuko had seen Ty Lee before Katara's visit, there was no need to ask the nurses where her room was. The waterbender and Fire Lord made their way up the stairs to the second floor, and eventually to room 214 on their left.
The hospital room was kept lit by a small light to the left of Ty Lee's bed. On either side were a couple of chairs, and to the right was a small table for food, drinks, and other various items to be held. A small bed was where a weary Ty Lee now lay, blankets covering her up to her neck, and her arms and hands outside them, resting over her stomach. Her face was wrinkled and pale, and her braided hair remain a snowy white.
Talia rose as Katara and Zuko entered. She quickly embraced the old waterbender. "Katara...it is great to see you again...though I wish the circumstances were better," she then said, trying her hardest to fight back tears but clearly losing.
"I know, Talia..." Katara mused, returning Talia's embrace, while tears also pooled in her eyes. "Your mother will soon be in a better place..."
They separated before Katara made her way over to a chair on the right side of Ty Lee. Katara finally was able to lay eyes on her "sister" before her final departure. The aging, former warrior shifted her eyes to the waterbender, forcing a smile as she grew weaker.
"H-h-hello Katara..." Ty Lee finally spoke. "It's...great to see you again...s-s-ister..."
It did not take long before the first tears escaped Katara's eyes as she surveyed the gravely ill acrobat. "Hello, Ty Lee..."
"D-don't be sad, sis..." Ty Lee tried to speak. "It's like...you just said to Talia...I will be in a better place."
"I lost the only man I will ever truly love," Katara replied. "I've lost my brother, and my sister-in-law. I can't stand to see you go..."
"Unfor-tunate-ly..." the dying woman spoke, "Th-the spirits have decided that this is...the end of the line." Her breathing grew more strained. "Come..." she then turned to her daughter and Zuko. "Pl-please...Talia...Z-zuko..."
The two complied with the request and sat down on the other side of the bed, across from Katara.