Standard spoiler disclaimer applies. A bit more angsty than the past few. It's also kinda…I dunno, weird, I guess. I like it, though. It's just different from what I had planned at the start, but then it started to write itself, so here you go!
There was something horribly different about Zuko, Katara noticed, and it showed in everything he did. Gone was the spirit of her (supposed) age-old enemy, and in his stead had come this boy.
For that was the real problem Katara had in accepting Zuko as a new member of their growing group: He was now no longer the enemy, no longer an easy target for which she could place all of her problems onto.
Instead, he was a boy, with short black hair, tawny colored eyes, a scar and a past too tragic to talk about.
She didn't know how she was suppose to react to that.
Aang trusted him, obviously. The boy had been positively giddy to hear of their former enemy's change of heart. He had clung to Zuko like a lost puppy, eager to have yet another new friend. Toph had been accepting of Zuko as well, which was a surprise to Katara. Toph didn't really seem like the sort of person who made friends very easily, but she was more than willing to try.
Sokka was the complete opposite of the two children. He wanted nothing to do with Zuko, and kept as far away from the firebender as humanly possible, only associating with him to insult him or berate him for doing something wrong. If it had been up to Sokka, Zuko would have been thrown over Appa's back a long time ago.
It was Katara who didn't know what she thought.
On one hand, you could tell he had gone through a lot. When they had found him, he looked rugged, almost unrecognizable by his gaunt face and choppy hair. When asked questions about his past, he almost always found an excuse to change the subject—and yet, Katara had noticed the dark look he got whenever certain things were mentioned. (Like Turtle-Ducks—he always got this really sad look in his eyes when someone mentioned Turtle-Ducks.)
"Have you decided whether or not I'm going to kill you in your sleep yet?" His voice came out of the shadows, with a cool air of boredom, causing her to jump three feet into the air. It had been the first time he ever spoke directly to her, and she wasn't sure how to react.
She stared at him, curiously. How did he know…?
"You've been staring at me for the past thirty minutes." He said, reading her thoughts easily. His feet were steady on the ground, leaning against a tree tirelessly. She was surprised she had not realized he was there—the fire was dancing in his palm like stars in twilight.
"Are you going to kill me in my sleep, then?" When she said these words, she meant it as a joke, but the coy, pretentious look in his eyes begged to differ. "It would save me the time and trouble of figuring it out if you just told me."
He smirked at her. "That would depend on you, Katara. What do you think?"
She frowned, biting her bottom lip in thought. "I don't think you mean us any harm," she whispered, taking a step closer to the boy with the flame. "As to whether I trust you or not…"
"I don't need your trust." He snarled, glaring at her. "I don't need anyone's trust."
In spite of herself, she smiled. "I think you do, you just don't want to admit it." She took another step closer to him, and noticed something on his arm. "You're hurt."
"I'm fine." He pulled his arm away, bitterly. "I just got caught on a tree limb, that's all." He was bleeding.
"Let me heal it," She unscrewed her canteen. "Please?"
Reluctantly, he held his arm out, allowing her water to place smooth, gentle kisses along the scratch, healing it softly.
"There," she moved away from his arm. "All better." At least the red bloodstains would be gone; she was so sick of red she would be happy if she never had to see the color again.
She turned, ready to leave, when she felt his hand grab her's—"You can't go wandering around at night by yourself, it's too dangerous." His other hand glowed even brighter, "Especially with as dark as it is. You'll get lost."
She smiled. "Come with me?" And to her surprise, he nodded.
It was a start.
One word: Turtle-Ducks.
I want one.