It's strange, at first. Memories return piecemeal, bright flashes of familiarity at odd times, unexpected. They are children, and too young to understand that this is not how everyone experiences the world until later, when Ursa, the kind woman with sad eyes who is mother to them all, takes them to meet other children. These are children of earth and water who are as young in spirit as they are in body, with no other lives illuminating their thoughts.
Such a life sounds lonely to the children of the Air Nomads, taken from the spirit world and returned to the earth again, for their work is not yet done and there must be balance.
Anil is twelve years old, and he remembers his old life very well now. He keeps it safe, a treasure trove of memories that are mostly locked away, for he is young again and knows he must live in the present and look to the future. He likes running through the tree tops with his friends and helping Ursa in the kitchen - most of all, he loves to make fruit pies.
When the Avatar hears about what Ursa has done, he races over to visit, full of questions and excitement. Anil is content to wait as the others swarm around Aang, full of questions of their own. He watches until Aang has a moment to himself and walks over to sit by him underneath the welcome shade of a tree. He feels old memories unlock themselves by the force of Aang's presence.
"Hello, Avatar," he says.
"Hello." Aang beams back at him. "What's your name?"
"Anil. But when we last met I went by a different name."
Aang looks at him in wonder, then growing recognition.
"Is that ... oh, wow," Aang says slowly. "Were you Gyatso?"
Anil nods, and then the Avatar is hugging him fiercely, laughing and crying at the same time. Anil squeezes Aang tight, the onslaught of memory almost overwhelming, but good.
"It really is true," Aang says softly. "Some friendships can transcend lifetimes."