Summary: To sleep, perchance to dream. Katara and Zuko find a friendship they never expected in a place that seemed impossible.
Note: The structure of this story is very odd. It will probably be two chapters, three at the very most. It begins in a very disjointed way, but things should get clearer as you go along.
Characters not mine, opening lyrics not mine either.
Guide Me Home
Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
"Is this a dream?"
"I think it could be."
"I don't understand why you'd be in my dreams."
"This isn't your dream, it's mine. You're not really here; I'm just dreaming you."
"Then why am I in your dreams?"
"You're not supposed to be."
"Where is this place?"
"My grandfather's palace."
"Why are you crying?"
"I don't know."
"Is that your mother?"
"She's strong, to hold off so many firebenders, to fall and the find the strength to rise again."
"That isn't how it happened."
"What do you mean?"
"She didn't wake up again. She fell in the snow and she stayed there until my father's warriors came, and then we gave her back to the sea."
"Do you hate me?"
"I can't hate you, you're just a piece of my dream."
"Do you hate the Fire Nation?"
"That little boy—he doesn't belong in my dreams. Who is he?"
"His name is Li."
"Why'd you bring him here?"
"I don't know, it's a dream."
"He looks sad."
"He's a good kid. He's not usually sad."
"Why are you dreaming that he's sad?"
"Because it's easier than dreaming that he's angry."
"Where are we?"
"We're flying on Appa."
"The Avatar's bison."
"I dream of flying a lot. After all, Appa carries us."
"It's not as scary as I imagined."
"That's cause it's not real. Flying for real is cold and windy and scary."
"But you love it."
"You'd love it too."
"He would never carry me."
"He would if I asked him to."
"You would never ask."
"You can't even trust the people in your dreams, can you?"
"Don't drink that!"
"It's just tea."
"Don't be stupid. Look, your uncle's drinking it. All your soldiers are drinking it."
"It's poison to everyone but Uncle."
"Why isn't it poisonous for him?"
"Because he's strong. Would you like some fireflakes?"
"Why are you being so polite?"
"Because my mother told me to. You shouldn't put your elbows on the table."
"My elbows are not—oh. They are."
"I told you so."
"Why are we here? Why am I eight years old again? Is that really what you look like without a scar?"
"What are we doing in these ancient clothes? Are you--- are we earthbending?"
"I'm sorry. My fault. My dream."
"I don't understand. There's a war going on and… I'm angry? And worried?"
"That's not you, that's the dream. You're not really an earthbender and I'm not really staring at your lips."
"You are staring at my lips."
"It's this place. I'm dreaming of the stupid legend."
"Legend? What legend? Wait, when did I start holding your hand?"
"Is everything you dream a nightmare?"
"This isn't a nightmare. This one was real."
"But she hurt you, she really hurt you. And she lied."
"Azula always lies."
"You mean the Earthbending girl is blind?"
"Her name is Toph."
"But she can see now. She's looking at the constellations."
"That's just my mind thinking she can look at them."
"So she's really blind?"
"I forget it sometimes."
"Is it normal for tiger-seals to speak in your dreams?"
"It's more normal than to have talking princes in my dreams."
"I'm not a prince anymore."
"See, Prince Zuko would never say that."
"And you know so little about me you must be real."
"You're telling me you don't consider yourself a prince anymore?"
"I consider myself the son of the Fire Lord and the son of Ursa, but that doesn't make me the prince."
"I don't believe you."
"The next time my sister attacks the Avatar, I suppose."
"You're only saying this because none of this is real. I could ask the real you and you'd try to take my head off."
"This is my dream, not yours, remember that."
"You think we're both really here."
"We'll know when you ask."
"What if I don't ask because I don't think it's real?"
The next time they met it was in a battle, and she did not ask. He saved all his words for the Avatar and never looked her in the eye.
It was liberating. They talked freely in their dreams, because it no longer mattered.
"Aang's learning earthbending, but I don't know if he'll master it in time."
"We're moving closer to Ba Sing Se. Uncle's heart is getting worse."
"I'm so tired of running from her."
"I gave up being the Blue Spirit."
"Sometimes I wish this was real."
"Do you think I'll always be alone?"
"If Aang defeats Fire Lord Ozai, will you hate me?"
"He's dead. He's dead. He's dead. She took him from me! He's dead!"
Katara woke up with her hand over her heart. Eyes wild, she tottered to her feet. Boots, satchel, flask: everything she needed. She owned so little in this world.
Time to go.
"Where are you going, Sugar Queen?"
"Shh!" Katara hissed, too tense to be startled. She had to think: where did he say he was last? What were they going to do? "Toph, what are you doing awake?"
"I felt you moving." The younger girl crossed her arms in front of her, and said with the surety of experience: "You're running away, aren't you?"
Katara shook her head. "I'm not running away. I'll be back. I'm taking Appa, and I'll be back before morning."
"You're taking Appa?" She seemed genuinely shocked, a rare sight for Toph. "What's so important? Why do you need Appa?"
"It's just important, okay. There's something I need to find."
"Whatever. You better come back."
On impulse, Katara reached out and hugged her. The earthbender froze up like the stone of her element, but didn't push the older girl away. The waterbender smiled.
"See you in the morning, Toph."
Katara climbed on Appa's back and took hold off the reins. She closed her fingers around the leather strips until her nails dug into her palms. Three deep breaths.
Aang's groggy voice: "Hey, Katara, what are you doing up there?"