Narrator here. Well, this is my first (official) foray into Avatar fandom, so please regard me kindly! I ship Zutara, mainly because one of the first episodes I ever saw was the season one finale. That, I dig couples who start out hating each other only to fall in love (Love conquers all, etc. I'm such a fluffy marshmallow at heart, it's embarassing...)
Disclaimer: Just a fangirl - don't own it!
"Let me get this straight," the Fire Lord, sovereign of the vast and powerful Fire Nation, master of firebending, skilled warrior, cunning statesman (etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…) said, glowering from majestic height down at the cringing boy before him, "You have a crush on a Water Tribe girl, who not only doesn't care you are the son of the Fire Lord, but has on occasion, snubbed you in public, and…"
The air became unbearably oppressive.
"… you still want to somehow make her like you?"
"Uh-huh," the boy replied sullenly, not daring to look his father in the face.
The crackle of omnipresent flames filled the otherwise strained silence.
Zuko grinned evilly. "I think I have an idea."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. And for Agni's sake, don't drop it."
"Look, all you have to when the "bad guys" grab her is swoop in -"
"'Swoop'? Like the Avatar?"
"No, not like the Avatar! Like a bad-ass -"
"Mom doesn't like it when you use words like that."
"… Who's helping you, me, your honored father, or your mother?"
"… you. Honored Father."
"That's what I thought. So you swoop in like a bad-ass warrior - if you can, swing in on a vine from the tree branches -"
"There's going to be trees?"
"You'd rather do it off the main palace gate, with all the court watching? Of course there are going to be trees! So… you swing in-"
"On a vine."
"… on a vine - I thought we covered that already - and knock at least one of them out by landing on them, got it?"
"Ummm… I'll try, but with this on my face, it's kinda hard to see. Honored Father."
"Don't worry, we'll practice it. Just give me a chance to hunt up my old swords -"
"WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE MOON-SPIRIT IS GOING ON HERE?" The shout crashed down on the Fire Lord and the Crown Prince with all the fury of a winter squall at sea as the study door flew open with a bang.
Father and son whirled to face the storm, nearly identical expressions of surprise and guilt etched into their faces.
"Katara…" Zuko noted as calmly as possible, forcibly reminding himself that his wife, master of water-bending that she was, could not throw lightning bolts with her eyes (even though he could a have sworn his hair was standing on end). "What brings you here?"
Katara's eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared ('She also can't breathe fire, she also can't breathe fire, she also can't breathe fire…'). "Hand it over, Ran," she said in a quiet, dangerous voice.
Ran glanced at his father, who could only nod. The game was up. Reluctantly, the boy drew forth the item he had hidden behind his back at his mother's abrupt, tempestuous entrance.
Katara took it without a word and inspected it. Her face softened into fondness as she turned the object in her hands. "Is this because the Ambassador's daughter keeps ignoring you?" she asked her son kindly.
"Um… yeah," Ran admitted, digging his toe into the thick vermillion pile of the rug.
"You should have come to me first, then. I can tell you much more about getting a girl's attention than your honored father, since I used to be one."
"Really?" Ran perked up hopefully.
"Mmm-hm." Katara nodded. "Now, go harass your uncle - he just got back from his trip, and I think he has a special present for you. I'll join you later, and we'll talk."
Grinning like mad at a carte-blanche opportunity to torture Uncle Sokka, the ten-year-old heir to the throne of the Fire Nation bolted from the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
"Err, Katara -" Zuko ventured after the pattering echo of his son's footsteps faded.
"Let me guess," Katara interrupted coldly, her former tenderness evaporating like steam in a high wind; Zuko could swear his breath came out in a fog. "You were going to arrange for a couple of the palace guards to kidnap the one and only precious daughter of the Northern Water Tribe's ambassador, drag her to some godforsaken spot, and have our son play the rescuer, wearing this?" Katara brandished the item in her hand like a sword.
Zuko took a hasty step back, his hands raised defensively. "No, not exactly… I was going to ask Jee and a couple of the old crew to -"
"Zuko…" Katara growled warningly, lowering the temperature of the room another couple notches with a baleful stare of ice-blue eyes.
The Fire Lord shut his mouth with a snap.
Katara raised an eyebrow… and suddenly, inexplicably… began to laugh.
Zuko could be excused for being slightly confused. "Katara?"
"Ahahahahahaha! Oh good grief…" she gasped through the giggles. She happened to glance up at Zuko's befuddled face and burst out laughing again.
"Katara…" Zuko, upon realizing his wife probably could not slay him while doubled over with laughter, was becoming miffed.
"I'm s-sorry!" Katara finally managed to regain control of herself. She held up the item she had taken from their son. "Resurrecting the Blue Spirit? That's your solution to our beloved son's girl trouble?"
"… I thought it was a good idea," Zuko muttered under his breath, crossing his arms across his chest.
Katara grinned, stood on tiptoe, and placed a gentle kiss on his pursed lips. "What is it about men thinking that everything has to be so complicated?" she teased.
"It would have worked," Zuko insisted stubbornly, "Girls… are impressed by that sort of thing."
"I'll admit, I certainly was," Katara allowed, playfully raising the blue-and-white lacquered mask to her husband's face, "But only at first. I loved the man behind the mask. He impressed me more, once I got the chance to know him."
"Hmph." Zuko took the mask from her. "I wasn't going out of my way to impress you back then, you know."
Katara's eyebrow quirked again.
"At first," Zuko added grudgingly.
"You get so snarky when your plots get foiled, but it's cute, so I forgive you," Katara said, kissing him again.
She was about to turn and follow after her son when her husband grabbed her and swept her into a deep passionate kiss that only a Firebender, and the Lord of them all, could have pulled off.
"Tell you what," Zuko said huskily once they came up for air, "how about I let you play the Blue Spirit tonight?"
I have no clue where the muse came up with this one, unless it was all the KataraxBlue Spirit-fanart that's been posted lately on the LJ Zutara comm I belong to.
I wanted to name the kid "Iroh," since I like the idea of naming progeny after respected elders (is named for an aunt), but figured it might be confusing. "Ran" is Japanese for "orchid," if you were wondering. Also the name of a kick-ass Akira Kurosawa samurai flick modelled on Shakespeare's King Lear.