Hello again! So here is another pretty long chapter with a little Zutara (Blutara?) action, as promised!

If you like this story and/or don't find my writing absolutely horrendous, please go check out the other Zutara fic I just posted! It's called 'Never Let Me Go' and while it is currently rated T, I'm thinking it will probably turn into an M later on..

I just want to take a moment to thank the lovely people who have graced me with reviews thus far. You guys are the bestest (:

Hope you enjoy this chapter!


June cursed, looking down at the assassin. She hadn't thought it would be so easy to take him down. Once Nyla had paralyzed his body, all it took was a quick strike to the temple to knock him out. Though, June knew he wouldn't be out for long. She pulled some rope out of the pack on Nyla's back; she just needed to buy some time to wait for the Prince's instruction.

When she finished binding the man's arms behind his back and his ankles together, she nudged him with her foot, wondering how many lives he had taken. It would be so easy to end his life right now – to save so many people in the future from the Fire Nation assassin – but June was not a murderer, she was a bounty hunter, and it had never been a practice of hers to go around saving people. Instead, she resigned to rolling his heavy body off the ledge on which she stood and watched as the body slid down a steep rocky slope, coming to a stop at the bottom of a valley.

Katara sat in front of the fire pit, her chin resting in her palm, watching the flames lap at the pot. Vegetables sizzled and sputtered inside the pot as she absentmindedly gave it a stir with a wooden spoon. She hoped that Aang and Toph weren't in trouble; it was getting dark and they had been gone for hours. What would she do if they had been caught?

Just when she had started to consider heading back into town, she heard footsteps approaching the campsite from below, followed by a jingling of coins and Toph's laugh.

"Those guys didn't even see it coming."

Aang laughed, "The look on their faces was priceless."

Katara turned just in time to see her two friends climb over the ledge, "Where have you guys been? I was getting worried."

"Calm down, mom," Toph replied with a dismissive wave of her hand, "We're fine," she dropped a couple coin purses on the ground and plopped down beside them.

Aang chuckled at Toph calling Katara 'mom', then turned to face her, smiling innocently ,"Don't worry, Katara, we were just having some fun."

"Something you wouldn't know anything about," Toph added, snickering.

Katara fumed, "Ok, these scams have gone far enough!" She stood up abruptly, "If you keep doing them, something bad is going to happen."

"Can you for once just lighten up? We're just having some fun. Stop acting like my parents!"

"That's what it is, isn't it? This is about your parents."

"Whatever."

"They were controlling over you, so you ran away and now you act like your parents don't exist. You act like you hate them but you don't, you just feel guilty."

"I do hate them."

"I don't think so. I think you miss them but you just don't want to deal with that, so instead you act like this crazy person. But all you're doing is putting us in danger!"

"What are you going to do? Send me to my room?"

"I wish I could!"

"Well, you can't! Because you're not my mom and you're not Aang's mom!"

"I never said I was!"

"No, but you certainly act like it! You think it's your job to boss everyone around but it's not. You're just a kid like the rest of us! So, stop acting like you can tell me what to do!"

"I don't act that way. What do you think, Aang? Do I act like a mom?"

"Well, I-" Aang reached up and scratched his eye, unsure of how to respond.

"Stop rubbing your eye and speak clearly when you talk!"

"Yes, ma'am!" The airbender responded, straightening up.

Toph yelled in frustration, "I can't be around you right now!" She turned on her heel and crossed the campsite, throwing herself down and bending a tent around her from the ground.

"Well, I can't be around you!" Katara responded storming off towards the water in the valley below.

Removing her tunic and leggings, Katara waded into the cool lake in only her bindings, grumbling about the blind earthbender. How could she be so… so blind? Didn't she realize these scams were putting them at risk?

She sank down into the water, enjoying the weightlessness it granted. Thinking back to what Toph had said, she did feel a pang of guilt in her chest for being so hard on her. Katara was perceptive; she knew that the girl missed her parents and perhaps she was right about Katara acting too much like a mom. Aang certainly couldn't deny it either.

At the end of the day, Toph was her friend and she did truly care about her. Maybe she needed to approach this differently; she could show Toph that she likes having fun, too. Then an idea popped into her head – she could kill two birds with one stone. She could put an end to the scams and remind Toph that they're friends and that she doesn't just act like her mother. Smiling at the thought of her scheme, she got out of the water and dried off her sarashi wraps with the wave of her arm, returning the water to the lake.

When she got back to the campsite, dinner was done. Aang was feeding Appa some lettuce and Toph was still in her earthen tent. Katara dished out the meal and walked over to Toph's tent.

"Hey, Toph?"

There was a moment of silence, before she spoke, her voice muffled by the tent walls, "Are you here to scold me again, Sugar Queen?"

"No, I have your dinner, and… well, I thought you and I could do a scam together tomorrow."

The earth fell from around the earthbender and she turned to look at Katara with surprise, "What? Really?"

"Yeah, come eat some dinner and we can plan it out."

Toph eyed her suspiciously for a moment, but took the bowl and followed Katara to the fire pit where Aang sat, gaping at them.

"Ok, so here's what I was thinking…"

Zuko watched from the bridge as the island came into view on the horizon. They had traveled through the night and now it was nearly dawn. He motioned to the captain to slow down, he was going to have to leave the ship anchored outside of the harbor; the last thing he wanted was to draw attention to himself with a steamer from the Royal Fleet. Following his orders, the captain slowed and made for the Western side of the island.

All was going as planned; the steamer made great time getting to the island and Zuko would be there before the village streets busied with people going about their day. Perhaps he would even be able to find their campsite before they woke up. Then, he could deliver the message and leave to be back in the palace just after dinnertime.

He strode through the iron corridors until he reached his room. As he had expected, the servant he had brought from the palace was waiting patiently outside the door. Startled at the sight of the Prince, he clambered.

"Oh! Prince Zuko, I- I thought you would be in your chambers."

Zuko ignored the man and opened the door, motioning him to follow.

When they were inside, he turned to the servant, "I'm going to need you to row me to the harbor," He opened a chest near the foot of the bed and threw the man some clothes, "Wear these. I can't have anyone recognizing us."

The man bowed with a "Yes, Prince Zuko" and took the clothing.

"I have a message for you to deliver to the Bounty Hunter. You are to find her, deliver the message, and return to wait for me at the Eastern dock, is that understood?"

Bowing again, the servant nodded, "Yes, your highness."

"Good," Zuko replied in a cold tone, "You will meet me on deck at dawn. Leave me, now."

Silently, the man bowed again and slipped out the door.

Crossing the room to a black bag in the corner, Zuko tipped the contents out onto the bed. He held up the Blue Spirit mask and examined it in his hands. If she saw him, would she attack? Last time he had caught her off guard, but she had every intention of whipping water at him. Would this time be any different?

The sun was blazing hot, burning her pale skin. She frowned and her eyes fluttered open. Surprised to find herself sitting cross-legged in a clearing, surrounded by tropical foliage, she stood abruptly. The sudden movement made her dizzy and she immediately toppled over, having lost her balance when her vision went blurry. What was going on? Where was she? Was she in the spirit world again? Confusion clouded her mind.

Bracing herself, she sat up and tried to regain her balance. It was unbearably hot and the air was thick with humidity. Somehow, she couldn't remember how she had gotten here. Thinking back, she remembered clinging to the upturned boat for dear life; she remembered her grandmother's voice; then, nothing. Miku frowned at her surroundings, before noticing her canvas sack behind her and the glider it was tied to.

Relieved that she hadn't lost all her supplies, she dug through the bag and retrieved her gourd of water; she was so thirsty. Crawling to the edge of the clearing with her bag in tow, to take shelter from the blistering sun, she collapsed at the trunk of a large tree.

There was something strange about this place, her intuition told her. Something wasn't right. This wasn't the spirit world, she could feel it. However, the suspicion was pushed from her mind when the water touched her lips. She gulped the cool water down so fast, she nearly choked, gasping for air as she coughed. The dull memory of nearly drowning in the ocean returned and she sighed. She was lucky; whatever this place was, she had been saved.

Feeling like she could finally stand, she held onto the tree for support as she stumbled up onto her feet. Miku looked back out to the clearing and, from this height, realized that it was a hexagon with strange markings in the center. She walked back out to the edge of the clearing and bent down to run her hand over the ground; it wasn't rock. What was this place?

Frowning, she went back to the tree where her bag of supplies lay. At they very least, she could try and figure out where she was; maybe there were other islands nearby. Her boat was surely destroyed – she silently vowed to pay Ahn-Shu back when she returned home, if she ever returned home – but perhaps there was another island close enough for her to swim to when she regained her strength. Or maybe she would be able to see a ship and get their attention?

Her limbs were still sore from swimming and her skin was raw from the burning sun, but she had to do something. Miku jumped, grasping onto the lowest branch of the tree and shimmied herself upwards, walking her feet up the trunk. She was grateful for her strength; surely it was her daily journey up the mountain to the temple that had toned her muscles. Climbing the upper branches was much easier; the foliage was dense and branches protruded out of the trunk every couple feet.

After pulling her body up onto one of the higher branches, she stood and stopped when the ocean around the island came into view. Shielding her eyes, Miku scanned the horizon before her; there were no islands in sight. Careful not to lose her footing, she turned to look in the other direction. Again, nothing. That was when she noticed the wake at the surface of the water, following the island. She gasped and bit her lip. The island was moving.

Zuko parted with his servant when they reached the dock. Pulling his hood up, he ducked into one of the alleyways in the outskirts of the village. Even though it was still early, he couldn't risk being recognized. The island was far from the capital, but the story of his Agni Kai all those years ago and the scar he received upon his banishment had captured the attention of many in the Fire Nation.

The message from the bounty hunter had said their campsite was in the mountains to the North; he decided he had time to take the long way around, through the alleyways, to get to the Northern side of the village. He scanned the street in front of him, preparing to cross into another alleyway. The street was mostly empty, but something posted on the wall of a building across from him caught his eye.

A wanted poster that resembled the blind earthbender that they traveled with was pasted on the wall. He approached it and noticed others; the poster had been put up on walls all along the street. He tore down the poster and read it, cursing under his breath – they were being reckless. He couldn't do much to help them if they couldn't even help themselves. Rolling up the poster, he resolved to leave it along with his note when he got to the campsite.

"So why are you doing this, Sugar Queen?" Toph asked, eyeing her.

"Well, I guess I miss having fun," Katara shrugged, "I do like fun, I just- I feel like I have all of these responsibilities and I don't really have much time for fun anymore."

Toph looked down at her bare feet, with a thoughtful expression and they continued in silence for a while.

They had left Aang at the lake, practicing the bending form that Katara had taught him the previous morning. He hadn't liked the idea of being left alone to practice while they went into the village, but he did seem pleased that they were getting along again.

At length, Katara broke the silence, "You remember the plan, right?"

The blind girl nodded, with a mischievous grin; she had been pleasantly surprised with Katara's plan. "Yeah, yeah, don't you worry. This will be quick and easy."

"And then we can be done with the scams for a while?" Katara asked, hopeful.

Toph sighed, "Yeah… I promise."

The village was still pretty quiet and they decided to wait until the marketplace opened. Toph sat down on the edge of the fountain in the center plaza that they had been in the day before. Katara paced, going over the plan in her head, as Toph was preoccupied with picking at her toes.

Eventually, more people started pouring into the marketplace; vendors with their wares, setting up shop for the day, children presumably on their way to school, and early birds acquiring food for breakfast. Katara and Toph waited, apathetically watching the stores open for business around them. Neither of them were paying attention when someone yelled, "That's her!"

Suddenly, a crowd began to form around them and the change in pace caught Katara's attention. A man was pointing at Toph, who was still engrossed in her toes.

"Toph," Katara said, nudging the girl, "I think something is going on."

She looked up from her feet, "What?"

"Yeah, that's definitely her," Another man was saying in the crowd.

Katara scanned the plaza and noticed Fire Nation soldiers weaving through the crowd towards them. She grabbed the earthbender's arm, "Come on, we need to go."

"But what about the scam?" Toph whined.

"I don't think that's a good idea, Toph," She responded, "There are Fire Nation soldiers coming towards us. Let's go this way."

The two girls ducked into an alleyway, but Katara noticed eyes following them.

"They went that way!" Came a gruff voice from behind.

At this, Toph understood what was happening. She grabbed Katara's hand and yelled, "Run!"

They dashed through the alleyway and when Katara saw officers heading to cut them off, they took a sharp right into another alley. The alley opened into another street adjacent to the plaza and they ducked back into the crowd, hoping that they could blend in.

They moved towards the center, hand-in-hand, thinking perhaps they had escaped notice.

Katara turned to Toph as they approach the center of the plaza again, "Let's get out of here. We just need to get to the other side of the plaza and we can take that alley to one of the side-street markets. Then I think we'll be safe and we can get back to the campsite. This is too risky."

The other side of the plaza, however, was much more sparsely populated as few of the shops had finished opening. Katara bit her lip, searching for any sight of the soldiers that had been following them. When she couldn't see them, she decided it was best to hurry.

Casually walking through the plaza, they ducked their heads and whistled, trying to appear as nondescript as possible. When Toph yelped her name from behind, she knew the gig was up.

She whirled around to see two village officials holding Toph's upper arms.

"Excuse me? Unhand my cousin!" Katara put on a shrill voice.

"Your cousin is wanted for theft and fraud."

"How can that be? She is blind, sir. How do you expect a blind girl to steal?"

"It's not my job to answer questions, just to bring in criminals."

"You have the wrong girl! My cousin would never do such a thing. She's blind!"

"The poster says that she's blind," the other man replied, holding up a wanted poster for Katara to see.

"Poster?" Toph asked.

The drawing on the wanted poster was indeed Toph, though the artist – if one could even call them that – drew her with pointy teeth and demonic eyes. Katara cursed herself then for not listening to her intuition; she had known this was a bad idea from the start. Of course, Toph couldn't have known there was a wanted poster with her likeness out because she was actually blind. What were they going to do now?

"How does it look?" the earthbender asked.

Katara frowned and brought her palm to her face, "Really good, cousin. It looks great." Then she turned to the officers, "This is a mistake. She didn't do anything, she's just a kid!"

"You'll have to take that up with the magistrate," The taller officer replied, rolling up the wanted poster.

"And how long will that take?"

"Depends," The other officer shrugged, "Sometimes you can get in to see him in a week or so."

Katara cursed under her breath again. They were giving her few options. She couldn't let them lock up Toph for two weeks; they would need to be nearly at the capital by that point and that was assuming the magistrate would find her innocent, which of course, she wasn't.

"I can't wait that long," She finally replied, then reached for the bag of coins in her shoulder bag, "Is there another way that we could resolve this?"

"Are you trying to bribe officers of the law, ma'am?"

"Bribe? Oh, no, sir. But in a hypothetical situation, what would it take, if you don't mind me asking?"

"We do not accept bribes, ma'am," The taller officer replied, "I suggest you put your money away before we take you in too."

Katara sighed, looks like she had only one choice. As she put the coins back in her bag, she uncorked her water skin that she had nestled in the bottom and before the officers were fully turned away from her, she froze their feet to the ground.

The taller officer gasped and yelled, "A waterbender!"

Shit. Katara thought, as she recognized the soldiers from before heading their way.

Toph stomped her foot and the earth under the two officers holding her crumbled, knocking them off balance. They let go of her arms and she ran. Katara tuned and water whipped one of the approaching soldiers, following Toph through the plaza. This was not good.

She watched, as if in slow motion, as another official turned a corner out of an alleyway and shot a net at Toph, like he was trying to catch a fish in the marketplace. The weighted net knocked her off her feet and she fell with a thud, wriggling in the ropes. Indignant, Katara whipped water at the officer, but was shortly grabbed from behind by two more soldiers.

"A waterbender, huh?" One said, "What are you doing in the Fire Nation?"

"That's none of your business." Katara stated curtly.

"Perhaps not," He replied, "But you will have to see the magistrate. I'm sure he will be interested to know."

"On what charges?" She frowned as the other soldier bound her wrists.

"Disturbing the peace." The soldier snarled.

Zuko was nearing the city center when he heard commotion on the street over. A girl was yelling and people were crowded around the outskirts of the marketplace. The sensible voice in his head told him to avoid crowds at all costs; they only increased the likelihood of him being recognized. But his intuition told him there was a chance that this might have something to do with the wanted posters he had seen posted throughout the Eastern side of the village, and if that were the case, heading off into the mountains to find their campsite may be a waste of time. He was dismayed to find his intuition was on point.

He followed another alleyway to one of the more crowded streets, keeping his face down. Then he heard it; it was the waterbender's voice. Katara.

"This is corruption!" She yelled, as a couple of Fire Nation soldiers dragged her bodily down the street. "Who paid you to do this? You're just doing someone else's dirty work, you know that right?"

The soldiers seemed to be trying to ignore her, but Zuko could see they were both struggling to restrain themselves from spitting insults back at her. Something about the waterbender hurling baseless insults at a couple of soldiers made him want to laugh, but Zuko rarely laughed, so he didn't. Instead, he cursed under his breath at the realization that he would likely have to break them out of the holding cells at the local jail. This was supposed to have been an easy trip to warn them of the impending danger of the Fire Nation assassin, not a jailbreak. Zuko returned to the alley and figured he would give it an hour or so – he would wait until they were not so heavily guarded and things had fallen back into routine. Only then the Blue Spirit would show up.

Katara struggled against her fetters, muttering curses under her breath. How were they going to get out of this one? And if they ever did, what would Sokka say? She would surely never hear the end of it from her older brother. She could almost hear him now, 'I was gone for 2 days and you let the blind girl talk you into getting arrested'; frowning, she looked over at the two guards standing on either side of the iron door.

They had placed her and Toph in 'special rooms', knowing that they were benders. Katara was in a large iron-walled room with a high ceiling. In the middle of the room, protruding from the floor, was a thick iron pole, which they had chained her to, her arms wrapped around the pole and bound together in iron handcuffs behind her back. They had also taken her bag along with her water skin. The two men standing guard on either side of the door stared at her with blank expressions.

She growled at them, "Don't you have anything better to do?"

These last couple of days had worked her up into a frenzy. She had been left alone to take care of the two youngest members of the group, who immediately embarked on a crime spree then ridiculed her for being motherly. She couldn't help being motherly, it was in her nature – and regardless, who complains about having their dinner made for them all the time and their clothes washed and mended? The whole situation annoyed her to no end and she had absolutely no gripes about taking that annoyance out on the two hapless guards that were unlucky enough to be assigned to stare at her blankly from across the room.

"Don't you have, I don't know, any actual criminals to stare at? Or do you make a habit of arresting innocent people for no reason? Is this what you do for fun?"

A groaning noise echoed from outside of the door and she saw concern briefly flash across the expressionless faces. This shut her up; what was going on? A moment of silence ensued before a muffled yell reverberated off the metal walls, then a loud crash against the door. The sound was coming from right outside of her cell. She bit her lip; could this be Aang coming to save them? How would he even know where they were?

The two guards were looking uneasily at one another, not sure what to do, when the iron door burst open. The guard behind the door was knocked off his feet, crashing backwards into the wall behind him, while the other one jumped. She immediately recognized the man that stood in the doorway and her breath caught in her throat.

It wasn't difficult to take out the guards in the hallway. In fact, they had made it far too easy, rushing at him one at a time. He sliced one across the chest on the upswing – not a deep cut by any means, but debilitating enough – and with the downswing, disarmed the next guard, kicking him in the chest so he flew backwards into the iron door at the end of the hallway. The man groaned and slumped over, his back against the door. Zuko approached and, with his foot, nudged the guard to fall out of the way to the side. In one swift motion he unlatched the door with the tip of one of his broadswords and kicked it open.

And there she was, though, for an instant he almost didn't recognize her. He paused as he took a moment to look her up and down; her hair was mostly loose, flowing over her shoulders in shiny brown waves. She was no longer wearing her frayed, scruffy tunic and leggings, but had changed into Fire Nation attire; shades of red and gold. Her midriff-bearing top hugged her chest, following the curve of her breasts, and giving a much better view than her baggy Water Tribe attire had ever offered. Her waist was so small, accentuating the curve of her hips under the red skirt that she wore over a pair of loose-legged pants. Her gaze met his and he noticed a hint of fear in those lustrous blue eyes.

Before he could think on it further, a guard who was standing just inside the door rushed out towards him, weapon raised, then hesitated to gasp, "The Blue Spirit?"

Using the blunt end of his broadsword, Zuko swung into the guard's wrist, forcing him to drop his weapon, then with a high kick to the temple, sent him flying. He sheathed his broadswords and started to turn towards Katara when he noticed the other guard that he had knocked back with the door was getting to his feet and raising his sword. With a hook-round kick, Zuko struck the sword from his hands, then connected with the side of his face, send him crashing back into the wall.

"The Blue Spirit… Is that what you're called?" Her voice came from behind him.

He turned to see her straighten again under his gaze, rigid with apprehension. Taking a step towards her he nodded. She bit her lip. Zuko tried to ignore her lips; they were very distracting. Lately he found himself imagining her lips quite often, in a variety of situations that would be best not to think of now, lest his body betray him.

He realized then that he had forgotten something and walked back through the threshold into the hall, holding a finger up to her as if to say, one second. Kneeling down next to the unconscious body of the guard he had push-kicked against the door, he picked up the woven red bag he had seen her with earlier.

He entered the cell again and she didn't take her eyes off him as he approached. He stopped just inches in front of her, watching her chest heave as her breathing became uneven, then dropped the bag on the floor in front of her. Did she honestly believe that he would hurt her?

Katara's expression was hard to read; it was some mix of disquiet, curiosity, and acknowledgement. Her lips parted, like she was about to say something, but silence persisted; she did this a couple times until Zuko's instinct took over. He reached up brushed some loose strands of hair from her face, grazing his fingers down her cheek until they curled under her chin. She let out a breathy gasp as he tilted her face towards his and brushed his thumb along her bottom lip.

His mind drifted back to Ba Sing Se, wishing that he had just kissed her then and there – how things could have been so different. He could have ignored the Avatar and his uncle; he could have taken her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers, wrapping his arms around her slim frame and holding her close. Her jaw quivered under his touch and it brought him back to reality.

For what seemed like minutes, the masked man stood motionless in the dark hallway staring at her. His black clothes, in conjunction with the blackness around him, almost gave the appearance that the mask was disembodied, floating in the hallway like a ghost. Then her eyes were drawn down to the blood that dripped lazily off the tip of one of his broadswords to puddle on the concrete floor.

The guard who she had previously berated reached for his sword, preparing to attack the masked man standing just outside of the threshold. However, when he turned and saw the figure in the hallway, he paused.

"The Blue Spirit?"

The masked man did not wait for the guard to regain his composure, swiftly disarming him with the blunt end of his weapon and delivering a powerful kick to the head. His speed and precision was simultaneously admirable and terrifying. To her relief, he committed his broadswords back to the sheath on his back, but the feeling was quickly replaced with concern when she saw the other guard regain his footing. All it took was a kick to disarm the man and send him flying back into the wall.

"The Blue Spirit…" The words surprised her as they poured out of her mouth, unbidden. "Is that what you're called?"

He turned back to her and she went rigid under his gaze, watching as he nodded slowly. Then he was taking a step towards her. The Blue Spirit, she repeated in her head. Remembering their last encounter, her lip found its way between her teeth. Had she known this man was so lethal, she might have been more frightened when he had pinned her down to the bed on the ship. She couldn't deny that something about his power and skill in combat was extremely attractive in a dangerous kind of way; but that was her lizard brain talking. She suppressed the instinctual urges and the unconditioned fantasy that danced in the forefront of her mind, which mostly amounted to an image of him between her legs. She was still frightened.

He held up a finger to her and walked out of the cell and, much to her astonishment, her heart dropped as she watched him leave. Was he really just going to leave her like this? Moments later he returned with her red shoulder bag and she understood. He strode up to her, his footfalls barely making a sound, and dropped the bag at their feet when he was mere inches away.

Her breath caught in her throat at the proximity and she struggled to keep her breathing even. He was watching her so intently – even though she couldn't see his eyes, she could feel his gaze dragging over her features again. She opened her mouth, expecting words to come out and fill the silence; she had so many questions, but words were beyond her. She wanted to ask him who he was, why he was here, why he was helping her, and why he wanted her to keep it a secret. Would she get any answers, even if she were able to form the words?

At length, he reached up towards her face and she bid her body to remain still. More gently than she would have ever anticipated, he brushed some loose hair from her face, tucking it back behind her ear; the gesture was so familiar, it made her want to shudder. His fingertips were hot, leaving a pleasant trail of warmth in their wake as they grazed her cheek and down her jawline. Then his fingers were curling under her chin, lifting her face towards his. Vaguely, this gesture reminded her of the Catacombs under Ba Sing Se and Zuko's face surfaced in her mind. Slightly annoyed at the connection her brain made, reaching into the depths of her mind to pull back a memory she had been actively trying to repress, she pushed the image of the crown Prince from her head.

When his thumb made contact with her lips, the intimacy of the touch sent her into a hazy confusion. He tilted his head, as if deep in thought, while he slowly ran his thumb along her bottom lip. Suddenly, she was dizzy and hot, like an intense warmth was gathering in her core. Who was this man and how could he possibly make her feel this way with just a simple touch?

But it was less of a feeling and more of a need. She needed him to touch her, she needed him close. It was an overwhelming realization and she felt herself shudder under him. He removed his hand and strode around the back of the pole she was chained to. She actively stifled a whimper at the loss of heat from his fingertips, cool air stealing away the warmth he had given her.

Behind her, she heard the metallic squeal of swords being removed from a sheath and for an instant, she was certain he was going to hurt her. But then her hands were falling limply to her sides and the chain that had bound them together was dangling, knocking against her thigh. Katara picked up her bag and turned to look at him. He motioned for her to hold out her wrists and she complied, watching in amazement as he struck off her fetters with a single blow to each arm.

"I, um, need to find my friend, Toph. Do you know where she might be?" She said at length, rubbing her wrists. He gave her a curt nod in response.

He motioned for her to come with him as he walked back into the darkened hallway; she followed, close at his heels. They turned down a number of corridors and went up a flight of stairs, before he led her to an iron door, similar in appearance to the one in her cell. For a long moment, they just stood and stared at each other, then he pulled out a rolled up note from the neckline of his shirt and placed it in her palm. She knew he was turning to go, so before he could, she placed a hand oh his upper chest, her thumb resting on his collar bone. Muscle rippled underneath the skin and clothes as she got on her tiptoes. Leaning in, she placed a gentle, lingering kiss on the lower lip of the grinning mask and shuddered again when she felt the heat from his palm as it glided over the bare skin of her waist and down to her hip.

"Thank you, Blue Spirit." She whispered, and then he was gone.


Woo! I'm sort of building myself up to write some intimate scenes here in the future, so I would very much appreciate some opinions on this Zuko/Katara interaction - did it seem forced or pretty natural? awkward?

Please let me know!

Also please go check out my other zutara fic! It needs reviews haha ;)

...

With love,

A Storm