Disclaimer: I don't own any of the character, just some of the plot. God, I can't believe I'm doing this….

Author's Note: Ok, here's the deal. Some of you might know me, some of you might not. For those of you who don't know me, I'm mostly known on for my Lord of the Rings fics. And I really hoped it would stay that way, but things happen…

So now, I'm hooked on this cartoon--Avatar: The Last Airbender. Someone kill me. Avatar fans—take no offense—the show is great…I just can't believe I'm hooked on a show that's airing on Nickelodeon for pete's sake. And by the time any of this is posted, I'll be eighteen years of age. I'm so unbelievably embarrassed about it that it's unbearable. Sorry.

But…my creative juices are flowing, and I feel I need a break from Lord of the Rings. My fellow LotR fans, don't start chucking stones yet—I'm not stopping any of those fics. This one is just another creative outpost. It's just an idea, so I can't guarantee an ending or a ton of updates. But I'll try, and I hope you enjoy it anyway!

PS: If there are any peeps out there that are around my age and still loving Avatar, please tell me! You'll make my day, and help me feel sooo much less foolish.

Ohmigod, here we go…

Summary: Takes place right after ep. 13.In an attempt to capture the Avatar once again, Admiral Zhao instead captures Katara. Aang and Sokka know it's impossible for them to rescue her on their own, and the only other person who will know how is Prince Zuko.

Into The Fire

Chapter 1

Prince Zuko awoke to the smell of Ginseng tea drifting into his room. He turned over and ignored the scent, pulling the covers up over his head just like any normal sixteen-year-old would.

Of course Zuko was far from normal.

His limbs and joints ached from the previous night's excursions. Rescuing the captured Avatar from his hated rival Admiral Zhao had not been an easy task, and his tired muscles would not let him forget it.

Groaning unpleasantly, he finally threw the covers off himself and got up. He bathed, dressed, and fitted his armor, all while images of the Avatar were playing in his head.

If we knew each other back then, do you think we could have been friends too?

A stupid question. Zuko knew his response had been less than encouraging for the young Avatar. He didn't care. He didn't need to make friends with anyone—in his opinion, the sooner you made friends the sooner they betrayed you and became your enemies.

The Prince strode out onto the deck of the ship. Most of the crew members were out, and the sun was set high in a turquoise sky. It was late. He harshly scolded himself for sleeping in. He'd lost time to train, and to continue the search for the Avatar. Worst of all…he'd left his Uncle Iroh in charge.

"Ah, good morning to you, nephew!" The old man appeared as if on cue, a cup of tea rested between his hands. "How did you sleep?"

"Just fine." Zuko replied heatedly. He was in no mood for his uncle's cheery conversations.

Iroh moved to stand beside the Prince, grinning and sniffing the air. "Wonderful weather we're having today! I wondered if we could--"

Zuko clenched his teeth and his fists. "I don't want to hear about it." He declared, pivoting on one foot and promptly turning around.

He headed towards the ship's helm. His uncle happily followed, all the while babbling on about the weather and nursing the tea in his hands. Zuko reached the helm and immediately began barking out orders.

"I want this ship running aground in two hours! All hands be ready to search for the Avatar once we reach the Earth Kingdom!

"The Avatar, Prince Zuko?" Iroh inquired. "Do you know where he is?"

"No." Zuko answered flatly. "But he couldn't have gotten far."

The old general eyed his nephew quizzically. "Just what exactly were you up to last night?"

"I don't want to talk about it." The Prince turned around to face his uncle. "I'll be in my room. Don't disturb me."

Iroh shrugged. "As you wish."

Zuko stalked back to his room and slammed the door. He stood still for a moment, listening to the sound echo off the walls. There were a few clanks and then a low hum. Zuko knew then that the crew had followed his orders. They would reach land soon.

He moved across the room and crouched in front of the large dragon motif he kept. With a flick of his wrist he lit a few incense that his uncle had purchased at some market. For once the old man had bought something occasionally useful. Of course Zuko would never admit to enjoying any of his uncle's purchases, but it was better than breathing in the fumes of oil and smoke all day. He closed his eyes and began to meditate.

But his thoughts were still fixated on the previous night.

Evading Admiral Zhao's guards had been easy enough. The fortress was easily navigated, and he had discovered the whereabouts of the Avatar in no time at all. All he had had to do was disarm four blundering guards and then walk right in.

A grimace formed on Zuko's marred face. He remembered walking into that room and seeing the famed, powerful Avatar chained to two posts, looking more helpless than ever. The prince's heart had flamed with glee at that image.

But his thoughts had changed since then.

If we knew each other back then…

Zuko clenched his fist and sucked in an furious breath.

He and the Avatar managed to make it out of the fortress. But it had not been far enough away for one of the YuuYan archers serving under the Admiral to get a clear shot.

Just one perfectly aimed arrow, and suddenly Prince Zuko was indebted to the Avatar.

Prince Zuko felt a flicker of heat on his palms and opened his eyes. His fists were smoking. At first he didn't understand what had made him so angry.

Realization struck him like the arrow had. Zuko realized he was grateful.

"Katara? Katara, wake up." Aang leaned over his friend, worry crossing his features.

After he'd given Sokka and Katara the…um, antidote they needed, they'd both fallen deeply asleep. He'd fretted for a while, now it became apparent that it was just a side effect.

"Huh…what? Aang?" Katara's eyelashes fluttered open. A smile formed on her lips. "Aang!"

The girl sat up and rewarded the airbender with a tight embrace, and then observed her surroundings.

"What happened?" She asked. "Did I pass out?"

Aang shrugged his shoulders, relieved. "Yeah, sort of. I think it was because of the frogs though, because Sokka did too."

Katara made a face, but then turned to look at her older brother. He was still curled up in his sleeping bag, and sucking his thumb. Aang and Katara shared a few barely contained giggles, and then got up.

"Sokka, wake up." Aang chirped. "We have to go."

The boy stooped and grasped the warrior's shoulder, gently shaking him. "Come on, Sokka!" He urged.

Sokka turned over and slapped the Avatar's hands away. "It's to early," He muttered. "Go away."

Aang frowned and shook him a little harder. "Hey, hey!" Sokka cried, finally opening his eyes. "Take it easy, Aang."

Aang cringed a bit. "Sorry." He said softly.

Katara approached them. "Yeah, what's the hurry?" She asked. Her gaze settled on Aang, who looked as if he was trying to sink into the floor. "What is it, Aang?"

Aang shrugged again. "Well…you know when I went to look for medicine for you guys…" He began, but Sokka interrupted.

"How could we ever forget!" He shouted, clearly distraught. "You made us suck on frosty toads!"

"Actually, they were frosty frogs." Aang corrected.

Katara frowned. "I think we're getting a little off the subject, guys. Aang, tell us what happened."

Aang sighed. "Well, I went to the herbalist, and she said that the antidote was the frogs, and then I went to get the frogs out of the swamp, and then all of a sudden all of these arrows are flying towards me…" His voice trailed off, and he looked at his friends with a worried face.

"Come on, tell us." Sokka said impatiently.

"Well…" Aang said with downcast eyes. "These archers came after me. They were from the Fire Nation."

Both Katara and Sokka's eyes grew wide. "Zuko?" Katara guessed.

Aang shook his head. "Not Zuko. Commander Zhao."

"Commander who?" Sokka wondered aloud.

Katara looked at her brother. "That's the man from Avatar Roku's temple. The one that came in after Zuko."

"Oh, yeah." Sokka remember. "Those two didn't seem to like each other."

Aang nodded. He knew about Zhao and Zuko's rivalry all too well. After all, the last night's events had proved it. Obviously both firebenders were in a race against each other to capture him and deliver him to the Fire Lord.

"Where you hurt?" Katara asked, her eyes scanning Aang's body for any sign of injury.

Aang smiled. "Nope. But they did capture me."

"WHAT?" Both the teenager's jaws dropped. Aang nervously giggled.

"Well, I got away, didn't I?" He lied. "All by myself. But…it'd probably be smart not to hang around here. Zhao could come looking for me."

Not to mention Prince Zuko…The airbender though worriedly.

"Then we haven't got time to waste." Sokka said, standing and grabbing his things. The three worked quickly to stuff all of their belongings into bags, and then climbed on Appa's back. Aang took the reins and called Momo to his side.

"Where are we going to go?" Katara questioned.

Sokka rolled his eyes. "Anywhere but here, I hope."

Katara glared at her brother. "Oh, you think you're so funny."

Aang listened to the sibling's bickering as he urged the bison out of the ruins, not bothering to but in. He was worried. Should he have told his friends that it was in fact Prince Zuko who had rescued him? He didn't know if they would believe him even if he did, so he decided against it. Besides, if he did that then he would have to explain to Sokka about how he'd saved Zuko's life after he'd been knocked unconscious by that arrow.

Yeah, Aang decided. It was probably best to keep quiet for now.

Personal Thing

How was that? I hoped people liked it. Zuko/Katara fans, don't be disappointed just yet. Interesting stuff will happen in later chapters. Yayness. Please review, it will be greatly appreciated, and I'll try to reply to you on the next chapter! Thanks everyone!