|Dragons Taking Flight
Author: Princess Animeiija PM
On the way back to the Fire Nation from a peace summit, disaster strikes, sending the Gaang back onto the road of adventure. Zuko uses this as his chance to continue his search for his mother But in doing so...full summary inside.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Katara & Zuko - Chapters: 6 - Words: 64,329 - Reviews: 36 - Favs: 22 - Follows: 47 - Updated: 12-29-12 - Published: 10-03-10 - id: 6371313
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Full Summary: Takes place a few months after the end of the show. Katara begins to question her decision to date Aang when, on the way back to the Fire Nation from a peace summit, disaster strikes. Sending the Gaang, and a few new additions back onto the road of adventure. Zuko uses this as his chance to continue his search for his mother and everyone readily agrees to maintain their search. But in doing so, they discover so much more about themselves than they ever could have hoped.
Author's Note: Hi, this is my other last airbender fanfic. It is, in no way shape or form related to my AU, though that does give me an idea. Anywho, here it is. Let me know if you see anything wrong so I can fix it. Well, RnR!
It had barely been a few months since Zuko had been crowned Fire Lord and already he and the GAang had to leave. Zuko and a hand full of ambassadors and elders, six in total, were being summoned to Ba Sing Se for negotiations of peace. The original plan had been for the talks to take place within the fire nation capitol, but there was to large of an outcry against that plan since no one was ready or willing to set foot within the fire nation.
Zuko tried valiantly to not take offense to this, knowing better than most people the damage that his nation had created, but it still hurt. It was okay though, the war was ended and his soldiers were withdrawing from occupied earth kingdom villages. He couldn't erase the damage, but he could at least stop the wounds from festering.
Zuko sighed as he overlooked the city of Ba Sing Se from the balcony of his assigned housing. He, like the rest of the fire nation delegates, weren't allowed to stay within the palace walls. It was another slap in the face, but one Zuko suffered unflinchingly even as his entire party complained.
"What are you doing out here so late?" Mai inquired, her husky voice slicing through the silence as swiftly as one of her daggers.
"Just thinking," Zuko responded, hoping his words would bait her into a conversation. He watched her through the corner of his eyes, taking in her aristocratic beauty with veiled eyes.
"That's nice," she replied. She approached his side with smooth, even strides before she looped her arms around one of his. She waited a few moments longer, her eyes watching the sunset in an attempt to discover what was so captivating about it. Seeing nothing of interest, Mai turned to her love with a bored expression. "I'm bored, come to bed."
"In a moment, Mai," Zuko sighed, watching as she walked away with an exaggerated sway of her hips. He watched her move for a moment longer, his eyes honing in on her hips, but strangely lust did not overtake him. I must be more stressed than I realized, Zuko thought with a rueful grin. He turned his eyes back to the horizon, his eyes searching for anything out of the ordinary before making his way into his chambers.
Mai had come to Ba Sing Se with her family since her father was one of the delegates, but she was rooming with Zuko. Her family didn't mind her leaving them. It was the opposite entirely. Her family hand insisted that she become inseperable from the new Fire Lord Zuko's side in hopes that she would be named their next Fire Lady. To most it would be a risky gamble, but Mai and her family had faith that any and all premarital acts would further ensure their place within the Fire Nation, so long as she didn't become pregnant.
"This bed isn't going to warm itself," Mai purred, her fingers crooked in a come hither motion. Her clothes lay in a heap on the floor and her hair was loose and falling about her shoulders in cascades of ebony.
Zuko grinned to himself, finally feeling himself stir, before he made his way onto the bed, kicking off his shoes as he went. Slowly he crawled towards Mai with a roguish smirk tugging at his lips. Zuko hovered over Mai's body as she lay back beneath him, but just before the two's lips could meet…
A knock at the door sounded, interrupting the two before they could partake in their fun.
"Just ignore it," Mai commanded as she reached a hand into his hair in an attempt to tug him down.
"Zuko," a very familiar voice called.
"Open up, Sparky," another voice shouted following the first.
Zuko flashed Mai an apologetic smile before he quickly dismounted the bed and exited the room. He slid the door shut behind him as he made his way to the door, barely reaching it when it was opened by none other than Toph and Katara. Toph grinned mischievously as she warped her space metal back into an armband.
"What did I tell you about picking locks," Katara chided, giving a stray lock of Toph's black hair a flick.
"What are you guys doing here," Zuko inquired, pleased to see them after their week long separation. Aang and the rest of the Gaang had to leave a few days after Zuko due to a small uprising that popped up around one of the Earth Kingdom border towns. Zuko had wanted to go with them and help, knowing that he would have been more than fine even in the probable situation of a scuffle, but his advisors were against it. They needed him in the Fire Nation to deal with pre-summit concerns and such, but Zuko knew that they didn't want him to leave in case he got hurt and left them without a ruler.
"What, no hello?" Toph gave Zuko's arm a punch before she allowed herself in. She located one of the low couches before throwing herself onto them and propping her filthy feet up on the low table.
"Hello," Zuko greeted with a happy half-grin. He stepped to the side to let Katara in before closing the door behind her.
"We heard that you weren't allowed to stay in the palace, so we decided to stay with you instead," Katara began. "If it's okay with you, that is."
"That's perfectly fine," Zuko smiled softly. "Where are the others?"
"The guys are getting Appa settled and Suki is explaining to the Earth King that we'll be staying with you," Katara explained, her eyes leering down at Toph's feet.
"You really don't have to stay with me," Zuko offered while giving Toph's ankle a tap. Reluctantly, Toph removed her feet from the table only to begin picking the lint and dirt from between her toes. It wasn't much better, but at least the risk of ruining furniture that wasn't his was reduced.
"But we want to, it'll be like old times," Katara grinned before plopping down onto the couch next to Toph. Zuko claimed the only remaining space next to her with one leg propped against the back of the couch. The other leg was stretched out, his toes poking at Toph's foot. Katara brought both her legs up onto the couch and turned to face Zuko. Her back rested against Toph's, who had also turned so that the both of them were leaning against each other.
"Who am I to deny you what you want." Zuko's statement made both Katara and Toph giggle, since they new the extent of truth within that statement.
"Zuko," Mai interrupted them, only wearing a robe and leaning against the door jam. "I didn't know we'd be having guests." She shot Katara a look, not really knowing what to think about the fact that she was inadvertently between Zuko's legs.
"Hey needles," Toph waved once she flicked a large lump of lint and dirt over the edge of the couch. Her 'clean' foot draped over the arm of the couch before the other foot was pulled up for the same treatment.
"Hello Mai, I hope we didn't interrupt anything," Katara said, her expression set in a smile but her eyes holding a slight edge of nervousness. She and Mai didn't have much of a relationship to go by and all the two shared together were memories of fights and suspicions against each other.
"No worries, we weren't really doing anything," Zuko answered in Mai's stead. For some reason, or for reasons Zuko did not want to delve into, Zuko didn't want two of the most important women in his life to know about the extent of his relationship with Mai. Not that he was ashamed of being with Mai; he just didn't know how they'd react.
Mai shot him a dirty look before a mask of neutrality melted onto her features. "I'll be getting dressed," she said, just as Sokka, Suki, Ty Lee and Aang barged right in with their bags. Momo glided in after them before settling onto Toph's knees.
"Hey, Zuko," the two males greeted before tossing their things into the nearest corner.
"How've you been?" Suki added before claiming one of the cushions on the opposite side of the couch.
"Hi Zuko, I'm gonna go see Mai," Ty Lee informed while she cart wheeled in the direction of the bedrooms.
"Hey, help yourselves to whatever you want," Zuko presented, waving his hand in a flippant fashion.
"Will do," Sokka answered before he made his way into the kitchen.
"So, which room is ours in," Suki asked, scanning the room and counting all the doors in her mind.
"The first door is mine, but the others are free game," Zuko informed.
"Thanks Zuko," Suki grabbed the satchel that was hers before making her way down the hall. Sokka trailed behind her, his movements slow and almost completely silent. No one else noticed but Zuko since he was facing Sokka directly.
"So what plans do you have for tomorrow, before the talks and stuff?" Katara questioned with a blush. Even though she couldn't see her brother she knew exactly what he was doing and where he was headed. I know where I'm not sleeping tonight, Katara groaned.
"I haven't the slightest to be honest." Zuko took the time to look up to see Mai re-enter the room, fully dressed and with her hair back up in its usual style. He noted her refusal to look at him but decided not to do anything about it since he knew it was either because of the fact that he didn't admit to anything that was happening between them before everyone came in or because she didn't really care for his friends. Why she didn't really care for them he didn't understand, since they were good people. But for some reason, even in light of a few minutes ago, Zuko had a feeling that it was the later. I hope she can get over it.
"Well, Snoozles and Fans are going on a da~te," Toph sang loudly. (I don't remember Toph's name for her.)
"I have to sit in for the meeting between earth kingdom delegates before the peace talks," Aang whined. He stared at the couch, or rather Katara, with longing. He wished to sit next to her, but there was no room for him. Aang sent Zuko a look since he knew he wouldn't be able to get Toph to move.
Zuko caught Aang's eyes with a twitch of his brow. He knew what Aang wanted, but he wasn't inclined to move. He suspected it was because he wanted be near Katara as well since her presence always made him feel…good. She made being good easy for him. It was something he needed right now since he knew that the reminder of Katara would keep him from doing anything that he would later regret during the peace talks. Zuko immediately broke eye contact with Aang and squirmed forward a bit so that his back rested more comfortably against the couch's arm.
Aang frowned, but thought nothing of it otherwise. He dropped himself onto the cushion Suki had previously vacated and sat with his legs crossed. "Why don't you guys go to the Zoo?"
"Sounds like fun, but I can't, I'm visiting mom and dad since they'll be part of the peace talks," Toph admitted, a strange twinkle in her eye. "So that just leaves Sparky and Sweetness."
Mai cleared her throat.
"And Needles, I guess," Toph added as an after thought.
"Or, we can go to the spa. We can have a girly day," Ty Lee beamed before pulling Mai into an awkward hug.
"You guys would love the Fancy Lady Day Spa," Katara offered. "Toph and I had a blast when we went."
"You bet we did. Remember that scary canyon crawler lady? We almost gave her a heart attack," Toph laughed in agreement. "Ah, those were good times." Toph pressed against Katara's back in silent warning before she hopped over the arm of the couch, giving Aang the chance to claim her spot by Katara. "I'm going to claim us a room."
"Alright Toph, please pick one away from-"
"I know, I know, away from Snoozles." Toph bent over to examine the bags, her small hands going over the fabrics before she found the bags that belonged to her and Katara. Secretly she was grateful to them. Some time after Toph joined the Gaang, Katara made the effort to change all their bags so that they were made differently, be it in fabrics or stitching. This enabled Toph to locate what she needed without anyone else's help and allowed for her independence to bloom.
"So, about tomorrow," Zuko continued as if they were never interrupted. "I am not sitting around waiting for you guys at some spa."
"I'll be exploring the city, you can join me. It'll be better than being alone all day." Katara stretched in place before unfurling her legs. She stretched them out and let them drape over Zuko's leg, her feet touching the floor. She peeked outside at the darkening sky, stifling a yawn as she did so.
"Tired?" Zuko breathed, fighting a yawn of his own.
"Why don't you sleep for a bit, I'll wake you when dinner gets here," Zuko promised, predicting that the Earth King's chefs would have some food sent for all of them within the next hour or so.
"Thank you." Katara rose up from the couch and made her way down the hall. I hope I get the right room Katara thought as she scanned the doors in hopes of figuring out which one was hers.
As promised, Zuko was at Katara's door and waiting patiently for Katara to answer his knock. Behind him joint complaints echoed, no one willing to start eating until everyone was present at the table. This resulted in people rushing Zuko to hurry up and wake Katara up. Zuko ignored them all however and waited patiently. He knocked again, his fist rapping against the door more firmly than before, thinking that she did not hear him the first time.
"Coming," Katara's groggy voice called, followed by the rustling of fabrics and a crash.
"Are you alright," Zuko inquired through the door, almost tempted to risk entry to see if she was okay.
"I'm fine," Katara replied as she opened the door. Her hair fell down her back in a cascade of curls, her signature hair loopies undone. She only wore her tunic, still too tired to put her leggings back on so it was a shock to Zuko to see her bare legs. She made an attempt to tame her hair, but realized mid-pony tail that she didn't have anything to fasten it in place with. She grunted to herself and made a move to turn back into her room, but Zuko stopped her.
Zuko smiled at Katara's tiredness as he held out the tie that held his topknot in place. He pocketed the crown that would usually be placed on his head and he allowed for his shaggy hair to fall loosely about his head.
"Thanks," Katara smiled.
"Anytime," Zuko shrugged before linking his arm with hers and leading her back to the dinning room. She fell into step next by his side, or he fell into step by hers, Zuko couldn't tell. Discreetly, he peeked downwards and noted that he had matched his step with hers, or she with his. He decided to switch his steps up a little and smirked when Katara's steps altered to match his.
Katara looked at Zuko through the corner of her eyes suspiciously, noticing how he reacted to her legs. At least she thought that was what he was looking at. This suddenly made her feel self conscious, making her want to head back to her room in hopes of finding her leggings and putting them back on. But Zuko held his arm fast around hers, offering her a reassuring smile as if sensing her nervousness. Sighing, Katara looked down and noticed their steps were in sync. This bothered her almost as much as it entertained her, so she altered her step and watched in fascination how Zuko subconsciously changed his step pattern as well to match hers.
To two locked gazes and chuckled at themselves and how silly they were being, neither really caring who was following who.
"Took you long enough," Sokka whined, finally deeming it okay to start piling his plate with food.
"Yeah, what were you two doing anyway," Toph added, accepting the plate offered to her by Suki. She didn't know what half the foods presented to her were, so she trusted Suki's judgment as to what foods she'd like.
"Nothing," the two answered, watching each other's feet and trying to walk differently from one another as they made their way to the remaining cushions. They claimed their seating across from each other and by their significant others and were locked in a playful stare down.
"What are you two doing?" Aang didn't know how to take the expressions his two teachers shared, their eyes locked as if sharing secrets through their eyes.
"I think he copies me," Katara offered off handedly, filling her plate and trying to break the synchronization between them. Their motions coordinated as if by some outside force even as they tried to stop it.
"That is where I beg to differ; you are copying me," Zuko argued happily.
"So you finally realized that you guys do stuff at the same time?" Toph grinned, interrupted their playful spat with words of her own. "You guys have been doing that for ever."
"Really?" Katara and Zuko shared a glance and a shrug before they began to eat. They thought about Toph's words while idle chatter erupted around them, both wondering if what Toph said was true. Had they always been in sync with one another?
Mai and Ty Lee were the first to finish eating, their chatter minimal in comparison to the others. They then excused themselves from the table since Mai wanted to talk with Ty Lee alone. Ty Lee was reluctant to leave, enjoying the story that Sokka and Toph were telling about their adventures. Even the stories that involved her were funny due to the commentary that was shared between the two. But one look from Mai prompted Ty Lee to get up and follow her friend almost reluctantly.
"What's with her," Sokka pointed, jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction Mai and Ty Lee vanished into.
Zuko merely shrugged, figuring that if it was important he'd find out about it later. "Girl talk …?" Zuko offered finally, not entirely sure if that was it but unable to come up with much else. He leaned back, bracing his arms against the floor behind him and stretching his legs out under the table. His feet bumped into someone's ankles, the skin smooth and uncovered. Instantly he figured it was Katara since she was the only one with her legs bare and he started to pull back.
Until Katara gave him a gentle and subtle kick under the table. Her entire face was a mask of perfect innocence as she listened to Aang preach about why Sokka shouldn't eat so much meat. She shrugged her low ponytail over her shoulder and glanced over at Zuko mischievously before returning her gaze onto her boyfriend.
Zuko smirked to himself, heating his foot with very light firebending and tapping Katara's foot. She jerked away from the sudden warmth, chilling her foot in a similar manner to Zuko and sending another light kick in Zuko's direction. She missed, her foot grazing his inner thigh. Zuko felt his pupils dilate and his breath spike at the sudden contact. This made Katara realize her mistake and she sent him an apologetic glance, thinking she might have hurt him. Zuko smiled, controlling his breathing while he did so and letting her know that there was no harm done. Both turned their attention back to Aang, their faces painted red by the accidental slip.
Both were oblivious to the impish smirk that spread across Toph's lips. "I think I'm gonna turn in for the night," Toph announced finally, scratching Momo behind his ears as she rose to her feet, her smile refusing to leave her face. Nervousness filled the thoughts of all present at the table, their minds trying to find a reason for Toph's expression which usually lead to humiliation and pain. The instant she disappeared down the hall that lead to all their rooms, everyone jumped from the low table as if something nasty would strike at their feet.
"Maybe we should all turn in for the night," Suki offered, giving Sokka a meaningful glance before she continued. "We have a long day ahead of us and we'll need all our energy and resources available for the coming summit."
"Good idea," Sokka nodded, catching on to Suki's not so subtle hints swiftly. "Night guys."
"Night," the remainder of the group replied. Zuko, Katara and Aang then made their way to the low couch, grabbing what was left of the dessert and tea as they did so and reclaiming their former seating.
"Sokka must be pretty tired if he's leaving food behind," Aang beamed before shoving one of the remaining custard cakes into his mouth. He sat closer to Katara than necessary, leaning against her in hopes of prompting her to cuddle with him.
"Yeah, tired," Zuko agreed even though he knew otherwise. He and Katara shared shy glances as they both understood completely the silent message that was shared between both Suki and Sokka. The three sat in a comfortable silence, enjoying the sweets and the warmth provided via Zuko and the fireplace.
Aang ignored the statement in favor of readjusting himself next to Katara, figuring that she wasn't comfortable with his current position. He turned in his seat and leaned back against the couch's arm in a fashion similar to Zuko. Still Katara remained as she was, enjoying her pastry and watching the dancing flames of the fireplace a little ways away behind the cushions. He watched enviously as Zuko and Katara silently signaled to one another; Katara gesturing to her cheek to let Zuko know that he had some jelly at the corner of his mouth and Zuko smiling his thanks and licking his lips. Suddenly, an idea came into Aang's head and he was more than happy to whisper his thoughts into Katara's ear.
Zuko watched with hooded eyes as Katara's expression morphed from a sweet flush and smile, to shocked and then to sullen in a matter of seconds. Whatever Aang said greatly disturbed her and because of it Katara excused herself for the night, leaving her half eaten pastry and chilling tea on the low coffee table. She parted with them after a quick 'good night' and left the two boys to ponder what was wrong. Zuko couldn't help himself and glared at Aang. Deep down Zuko knew that whatever it was that Aang said to Katara is what made her leave his side.
"What did you say," Zuko demanded sternly.
"Nothing," Aang argued in his own defense, his eyes sad and confused. "I just asked if she wanted to go to bed."
Zuko doubted that Aang was telling him the entire truth. But he also knew that that was the only truth he was going to get for now. He rose from his seat after another moment of silence in order to clean up the plates and cups, his experience as a waiter compelling him to do so. He then took them to the kitchen and set them aside to be picked up by the maid in the morning before turning in for the night.
Katara found herself rooted to the spot as she listened in on the conversation between Mai and Ty Lee. She didn't know what prompted her to listen in, whether it was suspicion or curiosity born from the sound of their words. But there Katara was, listening in on a conversation she had no part of.
"So what ideas do you have in mind already?" Ty Lee's voice was clear as day, even through the thick wooden sliding door that separated Katara from her two former enemies.
"That's just it, I don't have any," Mai sighed. "I want to do something special for his birthday tomorrow."
There was a long stagnant pause that filled the air as thoughts and ideas raced back and forth within the minds of the two girls in Ty Lee's given room. "Why not have sex with him," Ty Lee offered finally. Katara almost choked on her own spit, Ty Lee's response startling her with its nonchalance. But what shocked her more was Mai's response to such a lewd and indecent proposal.
"We're already having sex," Mai answered plainly. She was clearly comfortable with discussing the topic with her best friend as compared to Katara who was finding it difficult to breathe by just thinking about the word, let alone Mai and Zuko engaging in the act.
"Well, you can try something new. Then, when you guys get home, you can set up a real celebration in his honor. He'd be sure to propose to you then," Ty Lee presented. The sound that followed led Katara to believe that Ty Lee had flipped or jumped onto the dresser, which wasn't such a farfetched assumption given Ty Lee's personality.
"I'm a lady," Mai snorted, "I will not behave like some harlot."
"Are you sure, I know of quite a few things that would drive a guy wild," Ty Lee baited. Katara leaned against the door in hopes that the closeness would enable Katara to hear Ty Lee's next statement more clearly.
"Katara," Zuko's voice called, startling Katara and making her jump away from the door as if it had burned her. "What are you doing?"
"Nothing," Katara answered guiltily, backing away before making a hasty retreat to her room.
Zuko watched her go with a sense of suspicion, sensing that something was bothering her; something that had to do with what was happening beyond that door. Zuko approached the door and pressed his good ear to the smooth wood of the door. He heard nothing but faint and giddy whispers that could only be coming from Ty Lee since Mai was never giddy about anything. Shrugging his shoulder and sending Katara's door a parting glance, Zuko walked back to his room.
Katara awoke to an empty room the morning after. Toph must have gone already, Katara decided as the grogginess slowly began to leave her.
Katara slowly managed to crawl out from under her thick coverlet and place her feet onto the cold ground. The sharp frigidness shot through her like lightning, making Katara groan as she dropped herself back onto the raised bed. So cold, Katara thought with a whine. Katara tried to get up again, this time prepared for the frigid onslaught against her feet.
Quickly, Katara scuttled to the door in order to slide a pair of velvet slippers over her feet. She then located her tunic and leggings that she wore the previous day and slipped them on over her under clothes. Katara then made her way out of her room. The silence was deafening, but not all that unexpected. The others must have left while I was sleeping. Katara made it into the main room and sighed. She was all by herself with nothing much to do. She approached the couch with heavy steps as she tried to figure out what she was going to do.
Without looking, Katara grasped the top edge of the couch and jumped over it to lay down with a solid 'oomph.' The next thing Katara knew was she was being rolled over and dropped onto the ground with something deliciously warm pinning her arms overhead. She'd know those hands, and this heat, anywhere.
"Morning," Katara greeted sheepishly. "You really like pinning me to things, don't you?"
"Katara…? I'm so sorry," Zuko apologized, rising up to straddle her waist and releasing her wrists.
"No worries, I wasn't looking where I was going." Katara blushed profusely as she took in the sight of a half dressed Zuko hovering over her, his warmth caressing her skin and heating places the warmth had no place being.
"Again, sorry about that. One can never be too careful," Zuko admitted before helping Katara onto her feet as they both rose from the ground.
The two stared at each other awkwardly, not because of the fact that they were alone together, but because their minds had gone to improper places due to Zuko's actions.
Katara fiddled with the skirt of her tunic and combed her fingers through her hair, the coloration on her cheeks refusing to leave as her mind kept returning to the image of having Zuko over her. He was so warm and it was always a treat to see him without his shirt. The way his hands were firmly clasped around her wrist and the way his warmth radiated from his form brought back so many memories, both good and bad. But all memories filled her with such a strange and foreign longing.
Zuko scratched the back of his head and looked in every direction that didn't have Katara. I really do have a bad habit, Zuko agreed silently to Katara's statement. Memories of trees, walls and floors coming to mind, all of which revolved around him having her pinned in some way, shape or form, it's no wonder uncle wouldn't leave me alone about it.
Looking at Katara now, her face flushed as she turned away from him. Her fingers combed through her hair as she tried to calm her deep breathing, her chest rising and falling with deep shaky breaths. Zuko licked his lips as the memories assaulted him. Now that he thought back on it, his actions weren't entirely innocent.
"So…" Katara began after a few more long moments, "It's you're birthday today, right?"
"How did you know?" Zuko inquired, finally getting his wayward thoughts in check.
"I heard Mai and Ty Lee talking about it last night after dinner," was Katara's reply. Her blush returned tenfold as she recalled everything else they said as they spoke. That was too much information for me, Katara thought with an edge of jealousy. I'm not jealous, Katara chided herself when she realized the tone of her thoughts. I'm just worried that something bad will happen since they've been…doing that out of wedlock.
"Oh, yeah well, it's not a big deal." So that's what Katara was doing. Zuko rolled his eyes at Katara's nosiness as realization dawned. Mai will probably insist on spending the night with me and Ty Lee will probably get me something for my aura or something. Zuko shrugged before turning on his heel and striding over to the kitchen. "There's some breakfast left, would you like for me to heat it up?"
"Yes, please," Katara answered. She walked over to the low dining room table and claimed one of its cushions so she could watch Zuko prepare her breakfast. "So, what do you want to do for your birthday? How old are you now anyway?"
"I'm now seventeen, and no, I don't want to do anything for my birthday. It's just a day like any other and I need to focus on the peace talks tomorrow." Zuko prepared Katara's plate with precision, knowing from his travels with the gaang what Katara preferred. Once finished, Zuko heated his palms under the plate and blew heat over the top. He stopped when he was satisfied and then grabbed two apples on his way to the table. Zuko then placed the plate before Katara with a sudden flourish that gave rise to a little giggle.
"Thank you," Katara smiled, taking a deep breath of her food's scent and accepting one of the apples that Zuko held out. The two began to eat without a moment's hesitation.
"So what do you plan to do to day, are you still planning on exploring the city?" Zuko asked in between bites.
"That's the plan," Katara answered once she swallowed. "You're still welcome to join me."
"That sounds good to me." Zuko ate the last few bits of his apple before tossing it in the rubbish bin.
"Um, Zuko," Katara stuttered as the memories of last night's request from Aang entered her mind. It had been bugging her most of the night and had kept her up most of the night even though she was extremely tired.
"Hm," Zuko hummed in response, his attention focusing solely on her due to her sudden change in tone.
"I need some advice." Katara found herself losing her appetite as she stared at the last of her eggs and bread. She shoved the plate towards Zuko, hoping that he'd finish it for her and the food wouldn't go to waste.
"What about?" He accepted the plate, even though he wasn't hungry anymore and devoured all that remained in hopes of cheering her up, if only a little. Zuko knew how much Katara hated to waste food. She hated it almost as much as she hated to ask for help, so he was curious to know why she was asking him of all people for help because, even with their flourishing friendship, asking him for help made her feel weak.
"Well, you see, Aang and I have started dating a while ago and…" Katara started to twiddle her fingers as a warm hue painted her cheeks.
"And…" Zuko pressed, not knowing how he felt about Katara and Aang being an item. Suddenly, the conversation held little interest for him and part of him wanted to stop it in its tracks right then and there. But he stilled his tongue and waited patiently for Katara's coming words.
"Well, he has it in his head that we should be…I dunno, like you and Mai, or Sokka and Suki are. I think that he wants to move really fast without understanding what he's asking me for, but at the same time, every time he asks me why I just…I don't know what to say to him."
A spark of anger ignited within his belly, but Zuko managed to maintain a neutral mask as his mind flashed to last night. "Like Mai and me, could you be a bit more specific?" Zuko didn't want to jump to conclusions about the young monk, but he highly doubted he was wrong in his assumptions.
"Well, you know…sleeping together and stuff. But I don't think he understands that there's more than just sleeping involved." Her eyes darted between Zuko's face and her the wood of the table beneath her clenched fists. She didn't realized she had curled her fingers, the sudden stress of her situation distracting her to her own actions.
"Is that what he asked you last night?" At seeing Katara's nod, a wave of heat flashed from his form before vanishing as quickly as it came. "Would you like for me to…talk to him?" Zuko offered reluctantly once he had calmed himself. The very thought of having 'the talk' with the young airbender sent chills down his spine. Granted, Aang was about the same age when he, himself received 'the talk' from his uncle and later from his advisors. But it was so awkward just to hear it. Zuko could only imagine how much worse it would be for him to give it. Awkwardness was suddenly thrown into the mix and Zuko wished Katara had gone to someone else with her problem, even though he understood why she chose him.
"Could you please," Katara pleaded. "But what should I do? I mean, I know I can't do that. I know he doesn't understand, but I'm fifteen years old, I know what happens and, well…"
"Don't do anything," Zuko answered simply. "What he's asking for is something you shouldn't have to compromise on, not even for him."
"I know, but he always looks so betrayed when I tell him no. I just don't know what to do with him." Katara rested her forehead onto the table. She hadn't planned to come to anyone with her little problem, especially Zuko, but it just came out and now she couldn't stop her call for help. This was too much too soon in their relationship. They'd only been together for barely three months.
"Come on, why don't we get cleaned up and explore the city," Zuko suggested, pushing his own anger at Aang's ignorance aside so that he could help Katara feel better. "I'll have a word with Aang the first chance I get, so don't worry so much."
"Thank you," Katara sighed, glad that she came to Zuko with this bordering on embarrassing issue. It's not like I could've asked Sokka about it…
Author's Note: So, did you like it? Did you not like it? Let me know