This is one of my favorite pieces, not gonna lie. I really, really like how this turned out. I hope you guys do too!

Prompt: #85 - Strength
Rating: PG-13
Author's Notes: Not gonna lie, I bummed the idea for this off of some shoujo manga called "Chain of Pearls." It's not very good, so don't rush off to read it or anything. Just thought I'd give due credit. Also, I'm still working on the next 'chapter' of that last miniseries of mine, so don't think you've seen the last of it!

She laughs the first time he offers.

"I'll come with you," he suggests casually.

"Zuko," she says between giggles, "I'll be fine. Really."

"But it's dangerous for a girl to be out alone at night," he points out. "Especially in this kind of place." He motions towards the street, where drunks are meandering clumsily and abundantly, where merchants who were somewhat respectable-looking during the day are now leering lechers, where scantily-clad women are giving suggestive looks to any passerbys of the male persuasion.

It's one of their rare stays in an actual room, in an actual inn with an actual roof, not just a makeshift campsite with trees for walls and leaves to protect them from the rain. They're in an actual town, too, not in the middle of some no-name forest. A town with actual shops and bakeries and inns. It's a nice change of scenery.

And really, Katara thinks, it's no big deal. All she wants to do is go buy a loaf of bread. So what if it's the middle of the night? She can't sleep anyway, and she knows Sokka wouldn't be the only one who would appreciate a fresh meal in the morning.

"I'm just going down the street," she protests.

"Have you looked at the street?" He retorts hotly. "It's not safe."

She rolls her eyes. "Look, Zuko. I know you haven't been with us long, but last time I checked, you didn't give the orders. Now move," she commands, annoyed. She whips the door open and steps back in surprise as Zuko slams it shut, his palm pressed against it firmly. She jiggles the handle, tries to pull it open, but it doesn't budge.

"It's dangerous," he mutters again. Now Katara is angry.

"I'm a bender, Zuko," she growls, her glare and her tone icy. "And I'm strong. I can take care of myself."

In the blink of an eye, he has her pinned against the wall, her wrists held at eye level and her head spinning. She panics only slightly when she realizes that she can't loosen his grip.

He leans close and whispers, "Don't underestimate a man's strength."

Zuko's breath is hot in her ear and there's something strangely threatening in his voice, but all Katara can think about is how close his body is to hers, how she can feel the heat radiating off him, how completely helpless she is in his grip--

And then he lets her go.

"I'll come with you," he repeats, his voice husky and his eyes dark.

Katara doesn't argue.