Disclaimer: I don't own 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'
Drabble Title: Pain
Drabble Rating:
K+
Categories:
Angst/Romance
Word Count: ??
Pairings: Zuko x Katara (Zutara)
Notes:
Inspired by listening to 'Straight-Jacket Feeling' by All American Rejects. Part 2 of a two-part drabble.

This may later be incorporated into 'Smoke', depending on how long that will take and if I see the situation in a different light. You might want to read 'Smoke' first but it isn't at all necessary. It just provides some background information. Please note that at the moment, this is in the far future of 'Smoke


INFERNO OF ICE

A KataraZuko drabble collection.

Flowerperson
© 2007


Pain

She holds him by the scruff of his neck, both submerged in her element. For her, it comes to her midriff. For him, kneeling before her in defeat, it comes to his neck. He shudders; she holds tighter, eyes burning.

Let him be cold, she thinks; just like his heart.

Her vision is beginning to go blurry but she tries in vain to stop the tears.

"I thought you had changed," she whispers.

She has changed; changed for the worse. Her heart is full of people

(Sokka)

(Mom)

(Dad)

(Gran-Gran)

(Aang)

Him

that should take equal places so that she does not feel guilty; he, however, has broken that rule, taking up so much of her heart that the thought of him hurts. Is he worth it? He'd done good things, yet bad too.

"But then, does anyone deserve that? He was doing the right thing. He spoke out against a heinous Fire Nation plan, but... what he's become now, just reflects his disfigurement. Sometimes I get the feeling he's a good person—he saved a whole village from annihilation—but then he just contradicts himself by threatening to destroy an innocent town in order to capture the Avatar so he can return home. But you know what? After hearing so many stories about the Fire Lord, I don't think that he'll ever welcome Zuko back… Avatar or no Avatar."

Her fists clench at the unbidden memory of what she had said to the prince himself without even realising. When he had deceived her. She does not need to remember all that they've been through together – Jet, the thunderstorm, the Spirit World… – when she is oh-so-close to giving it all up, giving up the world, just so she can be with him. She just wants to forget his warmth, his scent, his touch, his kiss. These memories she can't ditch, irritating her like an itch.

His eyes are closed. Is he disgusted with her? With how she has changed?

"Can't you even look at me?!" she asks, hysteric. He does not reply.

She's crying.

Now his eyes are open, staring at her in confusion. With a heart as cold and dead as his, he probably does not understand the concept of misery and has probably never cried in his life, anti-emotions drilled into him as a child from his dictator of a father. Her arms are quivering, remembering all the struggle he has gone through with a family that does not want him and a backstabbing nation that were glad to get rid of the one person that wasn't totally bad.

She wants to hug him, to tell him that it will be okay because she loves him.

She's always known it. Ever since she has escaped from his clutches, there had been eternal loss in her heart, yearning for him, her captor, although it took a while for the rest of her to catch up with the feelings she had for him. This is so bittersweet: her unreciprocated love, as he could never love her, not while he was part of the Fire Nation. He could never kiss her like he had because he put his honour before that.

The taste of him – hot and spicy, just as she had predicted – materialises upon her tongue. It is addictive, and she is almost overwhelmed by the need to try him once more. Just once. That's all I want, please.

Now they are broken apart; two different sides of a violent war, threatening to destroy every soul involved in the frantic struggle between the Fire Nation and those that remain of a splintered world. But she's willing to give up, to leave her side, for him. She would sacrifice anything and everything for him; couldn't he do the same?

She needs to tell him how she feels, just so she can be certain that he will reject her so she can follow Aang with no doubt.

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you…

"I love you, Katara."

She is surprised, to say the least. She wasn't expecting it and is totally unprepared. What does she do? What does she say? Now that there is no doubt – he loves her – can she really forsake the world for him?

Even more unexpectedly, he begins to laugh but this time, she has a response. Indignation. "H-How can you say that? How can you say that you love me and then laugh? How dare you! Because of you, I have to choose between Aang and you; choose between saving the world and saving my heart! Make a sacrifice… For the benefit of our world, in honour of my mother's memory!"

Even though she would feel so guilty, her heart would not allow her to lose him. Him, who feels the same as her.

"It would have been so easy if you just didn't say anything then I could have pretended that you didn't share my feelings and gone with Aang, knowing that you would not accept me into your world if I chose you! Why did you do this? Why do you tear me down like this when I think I'm at my strongest? Why do…"

She takes a breath, her hands relaxing their hold. She needs to calm down, needs to think, needs to plan. There's no time. Aang needs her. Sokka needs her. The world needs her.

But Zuko needs her too.

When she speaks again, her voice is almost silent. "Tearing my heart in two… Is this your pleasure?" It is so silent in fact that she doubts that he can hear her.

Just give up, her mind tells her. You can't take anymore.

So she does. She lets go of him, stepping back and turning away. His laughter proves that he did not mean what he says and she is right to believe that his heart is nothing but stone. Go back to Aang. Go back to Sokka. Go back to saving the world.

Suddenly a warm hand grips her wrist tightly. Katara stops breathing.

She stares at his hand holding her wrist – white upon mocha – and remembers a similar situation, hidden in smoke. However, this time, his words are different.

"To see you torn in two, to see you hurt because of me…" Her blue eyes' focus moves from their point of contact to his face, so solemn that she feels her previous resolve crumble. "No, this is not my pleasure." He pushes himself to stand, towering over her by a good few inches. Her lips are tingling, pleading for the prince to kiss her.

"This is my pain."