Authors note: Just for the sake of the contents in this story, we're just going to say that everyone is about three years older. The story is placed right after the first episode of the new season. This is a ZukoxKatara fic, so if you're a KataraxAng fan, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed ;;;;
Oh and of course I don't own avatar, that should go without saying XD
Got your heart in a headlock
Chapter 1: Rain
Thunder crashed and was echoed by its brother lightning that lit up the sky and the heavy black clouds that surrounded the three human companions on the back of the avatar's flying bison. The storm clouds were an angry black color flecked by flashes of lightening as they disgorged their watery loads onto the fliers. The water drops stung Aang's eyes and pattered off his bald and tattooed cranium as he sat on Appa's head directing his spirit companion as well as he could through the storm, dodging lightning as they went.
Behind him on the bison's large saddle Sokka was getting thoroughly drenched as he held onto his sister to the best of his abilities. The siblings slid willy-nilly in the wet saddle as the flying bison was battered back and forth by powerful winds. Katara moaned in her brothers arms each time they slid. The waterbender clutched her side, obviously in intense pain. Sokka looked at her, worry echoing in his blue eyes as he clung to his sister, doing his best to keep them both still. He turned his head and shouted up to Aang, hoping the young avatar would be able to hear him over the noise of the storm.
"Aang! We have to land! Katara's in too much pain! I think she really broke something during that earlier jolt!" he screamed as loud as he could.
The wind nearly blotted out his words, but Aang managed to hear them.
"I can't! There's no land and the seas are too rough to land in them!" He yelled back over his shoulder. His brow was furrowed with apprehension at the news about Katara though. He knew they'd have to land soon lest Katara receive a further, more damaging battering from the ruthless storm. The young monk fought to keep down his panic.
Sokka began to feel desperate as his sister moaned in pain again, eyes clenching closed tightly, her breath coming in shallow gasps. She couldn't concentrate enough to even analyze what might be wrong with her, and if she could heal it. The constant rain, noise, and wind would have made it nearly impossible as it was.
"Sokka…It hurts…" she whimpered.
The waterbender's brother narrowed his eyes in grim determination, wrapping one arm around his sister protectively. "I know, just hang on a little longer! We'll find someplace soon, I promise." He told her, hoping his sister could hear him over the elements, despite their close proximity. The water tribe warrior looked around, squinting his eyes against the storm. He saw a light far below them and off to the right. At first he thought it was only yet another flash of lightening, sending chills through the teen's spine as he recalled the multiple near misses they'd already had. He thought twice about the light though when it did not fade from view, but remained small and constant in the dark of the storm, like a beacon…
It suddenly struck Sokka as to what it must be.
"Aang! Down there, to the left! I think that's a light house!" he yelled, pointing to help get his message across.
Once again the avatar had to strain to hear what his friend was saying, he caught only a few words, but when Sokka started pointing, Aang looked off to the right and also spotted the light.
"A light house!" He cried joyfully, immediately pulling Appa's reigns to direct them towards it.
Sokka couldn't help but roll his eyes. But he was distracted from his sarcasm by the immense relief he felt though now that they had finally found someplace to land and care for his sister.
Somewhere far below, on the ground in the general vicinity of the same lighthouse that Sokka had spotted, crouched an angry, wet, and disheveled ex-fire nation prince. He sat back to back with his uncle, the once great general Iroh. Together they had sought sanctuary from the storm under the low hanging branches of a weeping willow, which was doing more than its fair share of weeping thanks to the torrential downpour falling from the dark sky.
"What I wouldn't give for some nice, relaxing ginseng tea." Iroh said, rubbing his chin with one hand while he kept the other in his sleeve to keep it warm.
"This is no time for tea, Uncle. Or have you forgotten that we're on the run?" Zuko demanded of the elderly man that he was currently sitting with his back to. The ex-prince shivered slightly as yet more water dripped from the thick branches above his head and onto his neck where it proceeded to run down his spine until it was soaked up by the cloth of his shirt. He rubbed his wet head irately with one hand to get some of the water out of his hair. Since the nineteen year old had cut off his top knot; a motion representing the fact that he was not longer part of the fire nation; the rest of the hair on his head had begun rapidly growing back now that he no longer took the time to shave it regularly. Already he had an inch of black hair where there had once only been pale, shiny skin.
Water droplets flew out of his hair as he rubbed one calloused hand through it rapidly. Zuko settled back down into his crouch, knees brought up to his chest to avoid as much of the dripping water as possible as it seeped through the tree's thickly knit leaves.
"If you are cold, Zuko use your breath of fire, it will warm you." The prince's uncle reminded him, demonstrating. It wasn't as strong as usual when the fire exited the old mans mouth thanks to all the rain, but it clearly warmed Iroh enough to make him able to relax a bit more against his nephews back.
Zuko rapidly followed suite, inhaling air to fan his inner fire, and then exhaling a small burst of flames through his mouth. The technique did indeed warm him substantially, making him less miserable than before. He settled back against his uncle, sighing. He closed his eyes half-way; the constant rhythm of the rain hitting the leaves lulled him into a calm state of mind for the first time in several weeks after being constantly on the run.
The prince thought back to the battle at the north pole, how he had used his breath of fire to warm himself then too. His desperate search for the avatar, and the elation he had felt when he'd found him, defenseless and unaware of the world around him as he meditated. Of course there had been that bothersome waterbending girl that the avatar traveled with. She had put up a good fight. He found the he had to admit, grudgingly of course, that she was indeed a competent, even powerful bender. If the sun had not risen when it had, Zuko might have been defeated. But it had, and he hadn't, so, having triumphed over the peasant girl, he had carried the avatar out into the wastes of the North Pole. His plan had gone awry though when not only had a blizzard come up, but the avatar had regained consciousness as his allies arrived. This time, with the help of the full moon, the waterbender had beaten him, something the ex-prince was ashamed to admit. Adding insult to injury, the Avatar had also shown him mercy, and saved him from freezing to death in the wastes.
The prince scowled at the thought of the bald monk saving him. He had escaped though, as the moon turned red, and then disappeared all together, casting the world into darkness as Zhao killed the moon spirit. Zuko had no idea how it was that the moon had returned to grace the icy night sky, only that it had. He suspected that the Avatar and his friends had had something to do with it. He had to admit that it was a good thing they had done whatever they had done, lest the balance of the very planet be thrown off. Even now he remembered the wrath of the ocean spirit who had used the avatar as a vessel to carry out its wrath against the fire nation navy, and how it had won.
The nineteen year old held his head in his hands as he thought about all the damage that had surely occurred, not to mention the loss of lives to the fire nation soldiers. After a moment though, he narrowed his eyes at this thought. It wasn't his problem anymore, he was nothing but a banished prince, Zuko wasn't even a part of the fire nation now. He snorted angrily, steam rising off his clothes from the heat of his breath. Soon though, the anger soon faded into insecurity and uncertainty about the future.
"What am I supposed to do, Uncle? I've lost everything, my honor, my kingdom, my fathers respect. Should I even continue my search for the avatar? It's all so pointless now…"
His questions went unanswered though as a soft snore emanated from the former general, showing that he had already fallen asleep, perhaps some time ago.
Zuko could only sigh and shake his head as he settled into a comfortable position and let himself drift off into much needed sleep, lulled by the pattering of the rain.
Not so far away from the prince and his uncle, Aang landed his flying bison in a clearing outside an earth kingdom village. The two boys were debating over whether or not they should go into the village to find a doctor. Aang was of the mind that they should find another town, because he was sure that he had seen fire nation soldiers as they had flown over. Sokka on the other hand told the avatar he had seen no such thing and that even if they were there, he'd go in anyways to get help for his sister.
"Look! This isn't getting us anywhere! It's the middle of the night, and it's still pouring rain! We should find some temporary shelter and get Katara out of the rain until morning. Then we can go in and scout things out to see if it's safe." Aang said, tired of arguing with Sokka.
Sokka sighed. He couldn't argue with that. Aang was right, even if they did go into the village, the chances of finding a doctor in the middle of night in a pouring rain were slim.
"Alright, let's find some cover, and we'll go find a doctor in the morning." Sokka said, rubbing his forehead tiredly.
Between them, the two boys quickly found a rocky overhang and Aang led Appa, Katara and the supplies still on his back, over to it. It wasn't quite large enough for the bison, but they found that they could use Appa as something like a door to block out the rain and wind while the three humans lay together.
They lay Katara down on her sleeping back, which had luckily remained dry thanks to the tarp covering on it. The female waterbender shivered, her blue eyes had a feverish glow to them. The girl sneezed and curled up into a ball, wincing as something in her torso pained her.
Aang walked over while Sokka started a fire and sat down beside her. "Katara, you look pretty bad, are you going to be okay?" He asked, his grey eyes looking down at her in concern.
"I…think I broke a rib when I got tossed against the saddle during the storm." She said, shivering. "I'm fine for now, but I need to see a doctor soon." She said weakly.
"Right, we'll find one soon, I promise." Aang said, covering her with the flap of her sleeping bag. "You just get some rest and…" Aang was suddenly interrupted by Sokka's voice.
"Ah, guys, I think we have a visitor…" The water tribe boy said, grasping his sharpened boomerang in one hand and a long knife in the other. He was glaring down someone walking toward them from outside their overhang.
Zuko was awoken by the sound of footsteps outside their cover of long leafed foliage. He wasn't sure how long he'd been asleep, it was impossible to tell with all the clouds in the sky, though it did seem a bit brighter from what he could tell. The rain had lightened a little as well.
"Uncle...Uncle wake up." Zuko whispered to the old man at his back, jostling him slightly with an elbow as he kept an eye on the person just barely visible on the other side of the screen of low hanging branches.
Iroh awoke immediately and was about to say something when he saw the look on his nephews face, quickly noting the fact that the nineteen year old was in much of a fighting stance as their limited space would allow. The old man readied himself as well, leaving questions for later.
Alright everyone! Please tell me what you think of my fic! I'd really like to hear what you have to say, as well as any suggestions. Is it too long? Too short?
You'll have to forgive this chapter, I couldn't really have too much happen since I have to set up the plot and such, but I swear this is a ZukoxKatara fic! XD Just let me get around to it! And don't worry, there will be more interaction between characters by chapter 3!
PS: oh yeah, one more thing. The title I got from a song called 'Headlock' by Imogen Heap. It's a great song, look it up some time! I thought it kinda related to Katara and Zuko, and I couldn't think of anything else, so I went with it for a title.