Scars

Katara sat silently on the uncomfortable cot. She stared across the room at the cold metal wall with venomous hate in her eyes. Her hands tightened on the edge of the cot in anger. Anger at herself.

It was her fault she was here. It was her fault she was on his ship. Zuko's ship. Prince Zuko's ship. The one she…well, had feelings for. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. She couldn't even fight him off.

Her fingers twitched remembering how she'd gotten there. The previous night (or a few hours before, she wasn't sure) the temperamental prince had captured Katara yet again. She was tied to a tree and interrogated as she'd been before. Only this time, there were no thieving pirates. A shiver slinked down her spine as she remembered the tone of his voice on the occasion of the pirates. He'd sounded…flirtatious. She blushed. A flirtatious Zuko hadn't seemed possible when she had first encountered him. But then again, Zuko wasn't what he'd seemed.

Flashback

"Where is the Avatar?" Zuko said harshly, standing in front of his hostage with hands behind his back. Before him stood Katara, bound to a thick tree trunk. She stared to meet his unnerving copper gaze. Zuko felt as if the peasant's eyes were piercing him; stabbing him. Katara was scared. She was tied to a tree with no one around but Prince Zuko. She was at his mercy. Still, neither person refused to break the stare.

The angry Fire Nation prince took a step toward the girl, not blinking once. "I asked you a question." he said slowly, fighting to keep his temper under control. Katara's eyes narrowed in determination.

"You expect me to tell you where he is? You actually expect me to hand over the world's hope in a package?"

"Yes." Zuko replied, smirking. From his belt, he pulled…

"My necklace." she breathed. Zuko kept a straight face, examining the piece of jewelry. He held it to the light of the moon. He peered over the ribbon, straight into his prisoner's eyes.

"Do you want it back?" he asked mock-innocently. Zuko stepped around the tree, just as he had done in the pirate incident. He draped the necklace around the girl's tanned neck, looking as if he was admiring it. Katara's breathing hitched as she felt the prince's breath on her cheek. She swallowed and turned her head just enough to see the prince's eyes.

"You're a monster."

"I understand if you don't." Zuko whispered in her ear, lips grazing her earlobe. Katara's pulse quickened. He pulled back, taking her precious heirloom with him. Around the tree he went, stopping in the front. He looked the necklace over again.

"It's a piece of junk, anyway." he said with a shrug. Zuko tossed the item over his shoulder carelessly. The waterbender's eyes widened and closed, but she said nothing. "So where is he?" Even with her eyes closed, Katara could tell Zuko was getting closer. She didn't answer. Maybe if she could stall long enough, Sokka and Aang could escape. But they wouldn't leave you behind. The back of her mind whispered. She hoped they had enough sense to leave her behind. She didn't want Aang to get captured just because she couldn't handle herself during a midnight walk.

"Come on, Katara." Zuko said. Katara opened her eyes to meet his. He knew her name? He stooped in front of her and took her face in his hands. "Tell me." The waterbender was too shocked to speak. Was he…was he holding her? And he wasn't hurting her? 'Because he knows he won't get answers if he hurts me.' She told herself. But she was void of all logical thinking.

She stared into his eyes. They were a gorgeous copper color. They danced with emotions now, other than the usual anger and hatred. Despite the scar, his face was rather handsome. She fought an internal battle to snap out of her trance.

"No."

"Katara, I need him to restore something I've lost." Zuko breathed, inching closer to his hostage.

"What could that possibly be?"

"My honor."

"How can you lose your honor?" Katara spat.

"Do you really want to know?" the firebender asked. The tips of their noses touched. The water tribe girl kept her crazy teen girl heart in check. Silence. Zuko sighed, pulling away. "I spoke up in a war council. I was challenged to an Agni Kai, a firebending duel. Thinking I'd be fighting the general I spoke out against, I accepted." The prince snorted. "Well, I wasn't fighting that general. I was supposed to fight my father. When I found out, I refused to fight him and for that, I am scarred and banished from the Fire Nation until I bring home the Avatar." Zuko said, looking to the girl with his piercing gaze.

Katara was speechless. How could a father do that to his own flesh and blood? His father had burned him and sent him away on a fool's chase! Until a few months ago, the Avatar was thought to have disappeared! Her jaw hung slightly, eyes full of sorrow. "Zuko, I-"

"If you're going to pity me, don't." Zuko commanded, looking up with newly lit anger. "Tell me where he is." Katara's sympathy evaporated into thin air.

"Never."

"Fine, Katara." said the prince, striding over to her. He took a knife from his belt. "Have it your way." The waterbender's eyes widened in horror of what he was about to do. But, contrary to his beliefs, he didn't stab her. He cut the ropes that bound her.

Seeing her chance, she attempted to flee. She made it only a few steps before Zuko's arm wrapped around her waist. "I don't think so." he whispered in her ear. A shiver ran up her spine at the tone of his voice. Zuko lifted her up like a sack of flour. As he carried her away, she was just able to grab her precious necklace from the dirt.

End Flashback

Katara sat on the cot, running her fingers over the blue stone of her necklace. She leaned her head back against the cool metal and closed her eyes. They snapped open as she heard strong, confident footfalls echo down the hall outside of her door. She wrapped her arms around her knees, laying her head down. She planned to ignore the prince should he come in.

And he did. He unlocked the door and stepped through the threshold. Closing the door behind him with a thud, he took a seat on a rickety stool across from the girl's cot.

He said nothing. He only sat and watched her sit there, unmoving. His eyes wandered across her flowing chocolate braid and what little bit of her curves he could see. He would not deny the fact she was beautiful. She had tan skin and mesmerizing blue eyes. Her hair was long and gorgeous, her frame small but curvy. Not that he cared…

After a few moments of silence, Katara decided to speak. "Are you going to ask me something or are you just going to stare at me all day?" She didn't look up. And Zuko noticed what dangled from her hand.

He stood and snatched the necklace from her. "I'll ask you something. How did you get this?" She stood up and reached for her small treasure. He held it above her head like an older brother tormenting his little sister.

"Give it back!"

"How'd you manage to grab this?"

"You carried me like a sack of flour so I was close to the ground! Give it back!" Katara yelled, shoving his chest. She didn't care if he burned her to a crisp. She was getting that thing back! His eyes narrowed and he gripped her chin firmly. He forced her to look up into his fiery eyes.

"Don't ever push me."

"Don't ever take my necklace!" she yelled back, shoving him again. He pushed her back, causing her to fall onto the cot.

"And I said don't ever push me." Zuko hissed. He didn't expect what happened next.

"I'm sorry. Just please, give it back…" Tears welled in her eyes. His heart cringed at the sight of her tears. Had he done that? 'No. Don't be soft.' His conscience kicked in. His face hardened.

"No. Good luck in salvaging this after I burn it, wench." Zuko turned to leave, but he was caught off guard by Katara's arms wrapping around his stomach.

"Zuko, please!" she cried with a wrenching sob. Why was she so upset over a damn necklace? Zuko pushed her off of him. She fell to the floor, hands laced together. "Please…" She was begging him! The prince's heart twisted again in pity for the girl.

"Why should I?"

"Please. It was my mother's! It's all I have left of her!" Zuko's heart panged as Katara's face fell to her hands. He knelt beside her and set the necklace in her lap. She looked up, clearly surprised. She took it in her hands and ran her fingers over the silky navy ribbon. When she looked up at the prince she threw her arms around his neck.

"Thank you!" she sobbed. The firebender's eyes widened. What was she doing? Almost as quick as the hug had begun, it was over. Katara wiped tears from her face and sniffed. She looked toward her captor and let a grateful smile grace her lips. "Zuko, thank you. You aren't as much of a monster as I thought."

Zuko turned his face from hers slightly. He didn't deserve that compliment. He was horrid and he knew it. "Don't say that. No matter what I do or how I treat people, I'll always be a monster because of my scar." What? Where had that come from?

"Zuko, it's what's on the inside that counts." Zuko looked up and met her gaze. He couldn't help but wonder why she was comforting him. She scooted over so she sat in his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck once more. Zuko's eyes widened. Should he…

"And I don't think you're a monster." Katara smiled behind the prince's back as his arms slowly enclosed around her waist. She closed her eyes, savoring the moment. In the few months she had had feelings for Prince Zuko, she had never believed fire and water could coexist much less share an intimate moment. She pulled back and smiled at Zuko.

"Thank you, Katara." he whispered in his usual husky tone. He leaned in and kissed her lips lightly, both savoring the tender moment.

- - - - - - - - - -

A/N: There you go! My first one shot! Go me! Go me! It's my birthday! Not really! Party-

.:gets hit by Zuko with baseball bat:.

Anyways…

Let me know how you liked it.

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