Credit to kittypirate17 for help on the fifth installment.

Disclaimer: Avatar belongs to Nick and its creators.


1: On an Ice Woman's Revenge

I will freeze his fury-driven heart.

I will freeze his bones and shatter them to icy chunks.

I will freeze his heart and tear it from his ribcage. He will know what pain truly is; he will know what it is like to have your still beating heart stop cold.

My lover's wide grey eyes haunt me. My heart stopped long ago.

But it will beat again as I hold my enemy's heart tightly in my hand.

Once I tear it from his chest.

Once I freeze his beating heart.

.


2: On Being Alone in Love

The unconscious gestures. I cherish them the most.

The enchanted fashion she possesses when her mouth closes, when she smiles at me.

The lovely and warm hugs around my neck, the smell of soap beneath the fur coat; she hugs with her entire body.

Her kisses. Something magical. Light. Feathery. Brief.

I am no more than a child in her eyes, someone to nurture… to protect…

What I want doesn't matter anymore… not sure if it ever did… The only girl I've ever known so closely won't understand…..

When grim tears fall from dismal cerulean eyes, it's my job to wipe them away. Not daring to touch them with something other than my fingertips.

When the ground breaks beneath our feet, it's my job to hang onto her hand. Not daring for a moment to allow my muscles relief by letting go.

It's my job to protect her, not the other way around.

I love her.

Complicatedly.

Utterly.

My adversary… my utter complicated Watertribe girl doesn't.

.


3: On Losing A Mother

Everything seemed to glow faint and tawny around the edges. Warmth touched the trees curling skyward and their sun-grieving faces peeking out from underneath them. In the courtyard, near the fountains, a mother and son sat together in the cool shaded grass. Matching, easy smiles outlined their pale faces.

"- And that is when I fell through the ice pond and almost drowned… f it hadn't been for your father."

Her baby boy smiled, rapture and excitement flickering in his amber-liquid eyes. "Did you love him?" he asked.

Ursa stared down into her son's eyes, her enthusiasm for her story waning but it never showed as she nodded solemnly, slipping an arm around his little back to support him. "I did," she told him.

Zuko began snickering. "Do you think if Azula fell through an ice pond that anyone would save her?"

She spoke with a warning tone, narrowing her darkly-lined eyes gently, "Zuko…"

He apologized with a quick and hushed, "sorry, Mother," though not sounding very convincing. Something in the way he had said it had his mother believe that deep inside himself he harbored an inescapable resentment towards his sibling…these reasons unknown to her… and it would become into a burn on his heart.

"You must never speak that way about your family." Her ocher eyes glowed with a sense of melancholy. "It's all you have, my child."

The silence stretched out like miles between them before Zuko kicked his legs, breaking it with a hopeful grin. "Is it true what dad said? Will uncle come home soon?"

"Maybe…"

Ursa began tickling her son's ribs as he squirmed in her grip, laughing and pleading for mercy.

His joy was her joy. Her worries were his worries. She didn't want him to be thinking of troubling subjects, he was much too young. She blamed herself for his proneness to moments of solitary depression and dependency; she relied on him so much and sought to shelter him from every imaginable thing, even from herself.

Her husband was a corrupt man. She never believed in such mannerisms that were his beliefs of using violence for domination.

That is why she left.

She couldn't take her son with her. Believe it or not, he was safer in the Nation than traveling with her. They wouldn't let her go alive. She had a mission. She had to find the Avatar, exactly where he disappeared 93 years ago. She had to wake him from his icy slumber. Visions, dreams came to her, telling her where her duty laid.

Even if it meant giving up the thing she loved most in this world.

That night she held her half conscious child in her arms for the last time, she had kissed her rock of a daughter's forehead goodbye, her nerve almost slipped. If only she wasn't so strong-willed, she might have stayed to hold him through the night, to chase away the monsters that would creep into his nightmares.

As he cried out for her, half asleep, tears tasted like ash in her mouth.

The morning Zuko awoke, after Azula spoke of his mother's disappearance, he ran out into the courtyard, their courtyard to find his Father staring out at the horizon.

"Where is she?" he demanded, voice breaking.

His voice was as cool as his steel eyes. "Your Mother was killed by Earthbenders in the evening. She was caught stealing an Ostrich-Horse and trying to outrun them. Thirty miles out of the Nation."

"N-No…you're lying!" Zuko accused, tears blinding him.

A nearby tree branch suffered a Firebender's wrath but otherwise Ozai remained unruffled. "You dare speak that way to your new Fire Lord, to your King?"

Violent sobs bubbled up through his throat as Zuko wept still standing, snot running down his face and hot tears scalding his cheeks. Even as he felt numb and weightless, he did feel the pressure and warmth of another human being as his Father abruptly picked him up as if the nine-year-old were no more than two and embraced him in a way he thought was comforting.

"Dry your tears," came a gruff whisper into the boy's ear. "For the sake of your Mother."

Whimpering, Zuko obeyed, struggling to keep the rest of his tears at bay and the worthless lump in his throat down. Absently, Ozai ran a hand through his son's ponytail with peculiar rarity, speaking in a much softer tone than normal, "Be a good boy and go play with your sister."

Moist eyes lifted up, staring at the tall and proud figure in front of him with unconditional love.

Unconditional.

But ignorant.

.


4: On Being Alone In Love (2)

I wasn't interested in him. Not at first. At first he was my ticket to freedom. If anyone could help me, it had to be the Avatar, right?

Right.

But my parents wouldn't have it. I was their little treasure, their pretend toy.

Even after escaping the overbearing clutches they had on me, being the good little parents they were, they send other people out to 'retrieve' me while they lounged in their riches.

I should have left years ago. I don't care that I'm twelve.

Girls my age don't think about boys, and if they do, it's all wishy-washy. Never serious. Of course, girls my age don't purposely get into fights with grown men and play with rocks.

Twinkle-Toes has got a crush on Sugar Queen. Not surprising. I don't think it's mutual but that doesn't stop him from being goofy when she talks him.

I want to puke every time he smiles at her.

I can't see it.

I can feel it.

I'm not jealous.

I'll bet he's goofy-looking too with big ears, a big nose, and has got a weird shaped head or some kind of deformity. The lemur is probably cuter than him.

Okay, so Twinkle-Toes has got a nice voice. What about it? It's not like a girl, a twelve-year-old girl, can fall in love with a voice.

Even if it is warm… sweet… and there's this little devilish quirk to the end of it.

Definitely not attractive at all.

Definitely.

It's just that when he gets flustered around her, a part of me gets angry that it's not me.

He tries to be understanding. When I'm not screaming at him during Earthbending practice. Sometimes, I swear…I want to beat the rocks into his skull…

When we talk, it's more soothing and it feels tranquil. Like he doesn't want to push into an awkward subject. Nothing feels awkward. I'm still very much like a kid, I'm cocky and a big-mouth, I laugh at the worst possible times, and I don't care about my physical appearance. Not like I can look into a mirror at any rate.

But I'm not jealous.

Not when I feel the pressure of the back of his hand skimming mine.

.


5: On An Ice Woman's Revenge (2)

The slimy vines whipped around her faster. With a final lash of water, she severed the largest of the greenery… within seconds, the water at her feet quieted.

Nothing else came at her. Panting, the young girl dropped the water to glance around at the silent nightfall surroundings of the mist.

Save the scream.

It sounded right above her head and Katara seized her body to a rooted standstill, flesh shivering until the noise died. Whatever creature could produce such a noise…

Her brother and Aang weren't in her line of sight, and she was pretty sure they were far off from where she was.

Hopefully not captured by the crazed forces of this mysterious place. Knowing them, they would keep fighting until the opposing side would give.

She treaded through ankle-high murky water, wincing at how her boots filled and soaked with excess moisture as she trekked forward, eyes searching for something familiar. An unnatural whooooosh of air, perhaps a shadow of blue cloth. Why did they have to come down here? And where did that tornado come from?

It wasn't quite dark enough to blur her vision but in the span of five feet ahead of her, the swamp became strangely obscure.

Katara hurried onward before stopping to catch her breath. The warm muggy air began to affect her. Her robe sticky, her limbs grew drowsy with weight and she tried to shake it off, shooting an arm to the side only to have her palm touch something solid. And scratchy. Right next to her was one of the biggest trees she had ever seen in her life, and probably would ever see. At the moment her skin came on contact with the bark, she became very aware of how hot everything seemed to be.

"Auughhhhhh… …"

She could almost taste the sweat forming off her face. Wiith both hands, pushed away the perspiration beading.

A screen of white fell over her eyes, a garbled protest vibrated in the swelling fragrant evening. With no one to watch, her body seized up in the same manner it had previously, back bending as if something imperceptible was crushing her. Blindly, she rasped out her helplessness as gravity won out.

It sent her with a subdued SPLASH! into another realm of her psychological mind state.

.

Summer sunshine on his skin, as if somehow the rays sank underneath his skin and combined with his scent when she pressed her petite nose against the soft satin of his shoulder.

His brows cool to the touch. Lips a bizarre pallor blue. Despite what she could imagine, what she knew, of sweet grass and amiable warmness that once could be felt beneath his collar, it was cold as granite, as marble. All of it, the floor that held them, the suffocating air thickening, the blood slowing in her veins.

Brown arms had curled themselves within the folds of a useless coat, shielding her. Something, her insides shivered at the prospect she couldn't yet come to face with.

Without her, he laid alone.

What was left laid in a boy who challenged a dictator, who challenged a nation to promote peace instead of manslaughter, failed in his own morals.

He gave up what he believed… for them… for her…

Not keen, not awkward, and certainly not in a motherly gesture, her lonely arms had hoisted him tightly to her being, enveloping him in her coat, touching her face to his. The heat of her tears did nothing to lift the mask of Death. Freedom never came to him. Somehow a part of him had been protected and she blamed herself, ever the optimistic believed there was goodness in every living thing.

We could find forgiveness and empathy.

The same couldn't be said for his murderer.

This creature, this fallen soul, deserved not this end surrounded by blood-red walls encased with tapestries and deadly weapons, his figure bleeding on glass terrazzos, burnt, damaged.

Her blue eyes glittered fiercely.

This Avatar was no more. The next in the cycle would be reborn within days. The world would move on.

Her heart began to slow painfully; it would cease to beat. Metaphorically speaking. She would live for years to the prime of her days but her hope, her spirit, everything went with the boy she fell in love with.

With a sob, she childishly kissed the tip of his nose and prepared to lift him, to carry him out of the Fire Lord's war chamber. After a fruitless effort, her thought of his body being light enough to lift had been wrong. He seemed heavier somehow, much heavier. After taking several breaths for her own sake, she collapsed onto the hem of her robe, bowing her head in a silent confirmation of defeat.

No, she would not let anyone get their hands on his body, much less the loyal guards of the now deceased Fire Lord. Once everyone discovered what happened, a riot would ensue from all sides.

With a determined kick, she knocked the twisted corpse of the Fire Lord out of her path and examined the room desperately for an idea.

Blue eyes landed on the gigantic furnace on the other end of the chamber.

Taking his limber body up under the armpits, the waterbender dragged the young boy across the way, his heels digging into the floor. It was barbaric, it might have been a appalling decision, but she would have rather burned him herself than tolerate anyone displaying his remains for all to see, if not the Fire Nation then someone else.

In a selfish act, she ripped a piece of his yellow collar off and tucked the scrap away. Something to keep his memory alive, something to clutch helplessly in the tormenting nights to follow.

She croaked, clasping his cool hand, bothersome eyes beginning to sting, "Aang… I couldn't….. sorry….." Her words jumbled together in an obsolete plea. Her strength waning in her arms, she cradled and dropped him into the incinerator. Slamming the grill behind her, shutting her dampening eyes forcefully, she would not watch the cremation taking place.

Betrayal choked her throat.

The moment she reopened her eyes, lashes clumped together from wet, her weeping quieted, her humanity silencing, replaced by an eerie and knowing silence. She would weep no longer when she had done her share. She was not alone. The world would weep for him. The world would weep for the Avatar. Even if she had to -make- them.

Dismay and rage meshed together in her heart to create the monstrous notion.

Wiping her jaw and cheeks, she walked. Right down to the protection walls where a dam connected serendipitously to a hallway. All she needed was a big leak. Summoning her inner resources, the young woman willed the undetectable water to slip through the too-tiny cracks in the cement; the leaks became wider within seconds. With a perfectly controlled hand gesture, the result was a giant swirl of ocean swarming through the many corridors of the Fire Nation fortress.

The guards gazed around confused as a foot of water gathered up to their knees then ahead at the stranger parting the stream from her course, unconsciously. Their fire blasts only roused her. Without pity, her sharp ice daggers pinned their withering frames to their beloved fortress walls.

They will die for their country, she thought hazily.

Her sight and mind drowsy with power, unconnected, needed all she had for concentration as soldiers increased in numbers. As did the carnage.

- how am I doing this -

they deserve it -

- I didn't know -

- this isn't right -

not to kill -

- where's Zuko?

Her heart completely froze at the memory of amber narrowing with satisfaction. He led them here. He led them to the Fire Lord.

He's the reason why he's dead.

Traitor.

Traitor.

Vengeance swelled in her chest as she switched routes, coming out into a double-ended passageway. To her left, her brother and Zuko battling each other clumsily. Sweat bejeweled and glistening down the crevices of their necks. To her right, catching her empty consideration, the stealth knife warrior Mai swooping down in the direction of the attack. Maybe to kill them both. She could have none of that.

The waterbender blocked her descend and the woman skidded to a stop right in front of her, about three inches from ramming bodily into her.

Gently, she raised her hand in an almost salute, palm thrust out and cupped the woman's hidden forehead beneath thick, curled, black bangs.

Mai jerked back from the tender-like contact but did not break it; the magnetism, the utter abandonment of sanity discharging from the detached stare drew her, picked at some weakness in the back of her character, and captured her resistance with no mercy. Just as unmercifully, a splinter of solid crystallized ice impaled itself into her abdomen.

Astonished taupe came back to life just in time to gawk down at the crawling red contrasting to the darker maroon colors of her dress robe. Bulging, pupils rolling skywards, Mai fell into a dead faint.

Her head gave a sluggish glance at the two boys who paused from fighting. Sokka's disbelieving protests did nothing to calm the smoldering wrath churning in her stomach. She stretched a finger in level with Zuko's good eyesocket. A very long icicle formed before everyone's eyes, patiently hovering before the strike.

The scarred boy had a good sense to be afraid but Sokka didn't flinch as he wadded through the flooding water, taking his baby sister by the shoulders, and saying firmly, "Katara, this isn't you. You have to stop this." He didn't flinch when the spiky tip prodded his breast. Her voice issued growling from between her lips.

"He killed Aang."

"Killing everyone else won't bring him back."

Blue eyes widened, a fraction of reason coming to surface. As if reason was heat, the icicle dissolved into nothingness.

When they weren't paying attention, Zuko shoved past them to race splashing away, not even sparing a sad glance at the floating carcass.

She spun around to go after him and Sokka seized her around the waist. She struggled screaming wordless curses and animalistic cries but he would not yield until he was sure there were no more fight left in her. With a last ditch albeit vain approach, she kicked his shins with the back of her heels. Sokka held her bridal-style over the water.

"You need to wake up."

He released her.

Dirty water invaded her nostrils.

I want to die.

.

Blue eyes flew open underwater. With a sputter, the girl jerked from her watery grave, heaving and rubbing her stinging eyes frantically.

Loosened strings of mahogany-colored hair plastered over her mouth. She hunched over, relieved tears dribbling down her now freezing cold cheeks.

Sunlight filtered over her head.

Daybreak.

The swamp suddenly came to life.

Silky plants grazed her, winding around her legs and tightening her blood circulation. With a furious Raaah! one of the vines slackened its embrace limply. Ice daggers cut down her mindless attackers.

Right back to where she started.

The heat was coming back. But this time it wasn't uncomfortable… somehow it was better then lying face down in a swamp.

Eventually she dried up. Eventually she met up with her companions after being tricked with an image of her Mother which caused a rupture in her system already stressed to break apart. Now, as guests to the swamp dwelling waterbenders, Katara sat alone from the group with her backside to a mound of rock. Her braid slumped over her shoulder.

Hunger did not come easily that night.

Her downcast expression did not twitch as a soft thump sounded beside her, her dear friend smiled nervously. "This place is really something, huh?" He chuckled, expecting to hear a comment back and when one did not occur, Aang blinked. "Katara, what's wrong?"

"Nothing…" The far-off look still present. "Nothing is wrong." Her smooth, brown hand cupped his tattooed. Her other hand pressed warmly into his shoulder. "Just..."

She struggled against her initial thoughts and whispered, her smile transparent and her lower lip trembling, "…I don't know."

The dumbfounded boy felt overwhelmed by how cold her touch seemed to be. "Why are you smiling at me like that?"

"I was smiling?"

At her dazed reply, flames of red erupted on his face. Momo jumped out of the shadows patiently to land in Aang's lap, interrupting discomfiture.

Katara apologized under her breath as he excused himself, a slight grin gracing his pale features.

'I'm not sorry.'

Her bronzed lips curled.

'And I won't be sorry.'

.


6: On Your Kiss

She got away.

That little waterbending brat.

The ice covering gave out with a loud groan of effort before his lean form fell onto the forest grass with a graceful arch. Deep set and menacing eyes glanced up into the afternoon horizon with pure venom.

Out from the undergrowth, Smellerbee and Pipsqueak came running smelling vaguely sickening sweetly of lichi nuts. "Jet- Ponytail got away-!"

Their leader murmured, lowly, "Not next time. Or the brat."

"What are we-?"

"We need reinforcements, Pipsqueak. And I know exactly who."

His ex owed him a big debt. Besides... he missed those red tattoos.

.


7: On Growing Up

The desert stars shone abnormally brighter than usual. Watery blue eyes glanced up at another clear evening as the owner burrowed into her sand-bed a little deeper.

They flicked quietly to her companions curled up in their weightless dreams. The Sandbenders had given them all they could, whatever food and water they desired, but they would not travel with them. Not after suffering the passionate wrath of the Avatar. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Katara had applauded his actions.

Her brother was stretched out on his back, snoring lightly with Momo sprawled out on his chest, both dead to the world.

Meanwhile, their female friend squeezed up into an awkward ball nearby, unconsciously resembling a vulnerable position. It was very lucky on them all that Sokka had regained some sense when the Avatar State had been triggered and led Toph out of its destructive path. Katara had pitied her uncertainty. The poor Earthbender didn't know what to think of what had occurred.

But… it was in the past. They had three days ahead of them before reaching Ba Sing Se. Now was the time to focus on bigger matters.

Somehow, the twilight would not let her troubled mind be eased.

Not too far away from where she laid, the Avatar sat crossed legged in an upright sleeping arrangement.

From where she could make out from the light from the crescent moon, his eyelids were half closed. His mouth an unyielding firm line. He was never at peace.

A part of her was not surprised at the least of Aang's recent behavior: the anger, the bitterness, the pure malice choked in every syllable. Most of all, not surprised when it shown itself clearly in her face.

Frankly, Katara was tired.

Tired of fighting.

Tired of listening to complaints.

She was so tired that she had not been traumatized by the Avatar State, merely her blue eyes stared back lifelessly into fierce glowing, forcefully wrapping her arms around his floating body.

Searing tears burned her cheeks, dissolving into the sharp wind. For this child of destiny, this child who would save them all.

Who feared being alone… losing them all…

When the winds had stopped throwing sand into her eyes, when he had calmed, she discovered that his own contorting face slicked with mud and damp. Before his body lagged into a stiff faint against her.

As the fourteen-year-old rose up from her sand-bed, Katara realized quite suddenly that it was not a child she was crawling nearer to. The child in him ended long ago. Someone stronger carried this burden, and he probably didn't know how much strength he possessed to have gotten so far without a crack.

In his sleep, Aang began to rock back and forth, groaning a few incoherent words, face twisting up softly. To her horror, a distressed wrinkle forming.

She hiked up her robe and scooted closer to catch his shoulders as he fell backwards, still very much asleep.

"Aang… I'm sorry." She situated his head face up in her lap, skimming her fingers over his forehead. An ill attempt at pacifying his slumber. "I know it isn't my fault but I can't help feeling this way. I can't help feeling how unfair everything's been for you,. You deserve to be mad at everyone, you have all the right in the world to scream and cry. If it will make you feel any better, I'll cry with you."

Her sun-burnt lips convulsed. "I did cry for you, you know. I don't know if you knew that but I felt your pain, Aang. It felt like a black hole was sucking me down… something terrible was eating at my soul little by little. I can't know what you're going through but you have to know you don't have to go through it alone. Sokka, Toph, and I will always be here for you, we'll take care of you. We'll get Appa back."

Her dry lips now hovered over his closed eyelids, her breathing warm and gentle if he had felt it. "Please don't push me away," Katara murmured her threat bravely. "I won't kiss you anymore."

She would gave given up her bending to have had him awake, to hear the insistent rhythm of her pounding heart.

Tired.

Exhaustion began to creep over her limbs. Reluctantly, the young waterbender settled him into what she thought was a comfortable sleeping position on his back and didn't bother to return to her own area. Within moments, Katara created a new sand-bed and nestled closely beside him, not caring about having to explain herself in the morning to her reasons of moving in the middle of the night.

It was worth having his wispy exhales blow lightly across her temple, worth having midnight sweats from feeling his body heat only inches out of her touch, lulling her into cozy dreams.

.


8: On Your Kiss (2)

"What are you doing here?"

His sly smile widened, the temperament of it shifting into cocky. The grungy setting was perfect for her, surrounded by drunken burly men willing to lose their money to a bet. Her dark attire made her blend into the low-lit scenery far more properly than she could have expected. And it made it easier on him to spot her.

"I need to catch the Avatar and his friends."

Her poison lips let forth her wicked tongue. Quite wicked indeed.

"That's quite a bounty. I'm supposing this is for revenge purposes other than a service to the nations."

He watched her slid into the empty wooden chair beside him, arm sleeves folded.

Her glittering and coal black eyes skimmed over his lean frame, paying special attention to the knife scabbard slung over his waist. Driven by her interest, Jet drifted to the other side of the chair to run a hand over her tattoos. At first, Jun rolled her shoulder, silently enjoying the contact before pulling his wrist in a very excruciating twist.

"I won't have any of that."

"Jun…"

She threatened to pop the bone from its joint and he chuckled, although laboriously. The bounty hunter raised a fine dark eyebrow.

"You need to learn your place before you get yourself hurt."

She released her seize.

"I've heard around you've been helping the Fire Nation."

"Only those who pay."

"Will you help me?"

"What have you to offer? You have no money, nothing of value that I want. Why should I go out of my way to provide for you?"

Curtly, the boy rebel snatched her by the face to roughly kiss her. In the background, catcalls and hisses were made at the couple. She responded by digging a hand into his unruly brown hair, fingernails included, before Jet turned his face down, breaking the kiss and held up something glittering.

The needled syringe of pink fluid. Poison.

Sensuous heat tickled her collarbone.

"I can think of something of value."

.


9: On Nature

Atoms. Particles.

All of it around them seemed to have been charged with a terrible weakening energy, sapping both figures in the candlelight darkness of their resistances to the greater forces at work.

On her tip-toes, she opened her soft mouth to level his parted with wonder.

Judging on the glazed desire within his dove-gray eyes, the trembled bobbing of his Adam's apple, he had as much restraint on the matter as she had. Crimson stained lips threatened to bump against his helpless mouth. Her words held a taunting temper to them, mixed with the warm lacquer of her breath unseemly intertwined with his shuddering.

"You want to kiss me."

He replied, brushing the back of a callused knuckle along the satin of her cheek, "Why do you tempt me?"

Crimson lifted slightly at the edges, jeering.

"Because you let me."

Regaining his good sense, the airbender gently pushed Katara back, careful not to make her stumble but with enough force to show he meant business.

"And I want you to stop. You can't keep coming here every night."

Her face tightened with annoyance. "I don't understand what you're getting upset about. It's not like we do anything, anyway."

"I'm upset that suddenly after nine years of traveling together, you decide to tell me that you've been harboring some sort of childhood crush on me, that I recall I've felt longer than you have. It's insanity, Katara. You can't just expect me to give myself over to you. What about my beliefs?"

It was an old excuse… but still plausible.

"Don't monks have lovers?" Aang shook his head.

"That's why they are monks."

The atmosphere inside the little hut out in the middle of nowhere heated with scorn, at all sides. The fully-grown Avatar narrowed his gaze at his oldest and dearest friend. "Nine years after the war. Even after you were offered a chance of security... you couldn't take it."

Brilliant sapphire flashed as a growl escaped her, "To what? Being traded to the Fire Nation?"

"You know what I mean," he said, patiently. She bared her teeth, upper lip twitching.

"I am aware of Zuko's little crush on me. I don't care for his intentions." A weighted sigh perked her hearing, the sigh of disorientation.

"Why aren't you with him?"

Silence filled the space between them. The waterbender licked her lips apprehensively, pulling on an expression that caused her companion to believe that she was painstakingly gathering her thoughts. Then after a second's hesitation, a sharp jab had caught him in the chest, though it was barely anything to his strong frame.

"I will tell you what my life would have been reduced to if I had married the Fire Lord," Katara spoke with traces of loathing twisting in and out of the rasp of a voice.

"Past aside, I would have married him only to give up my freedom, to settle into the role of a lonely Queen to his empire, the gem of his eye. There would have been children, oh yes; if I could not resist him before... how could I resist him then? And as I lay in my marriage bed, I would dream of the face of a nameless boy, drifting into a memory of what was a wasted opportunity. I would not be a person, I would be beneath him. And I swore on the soul of my Mother, I would not demean myself to a man." Even the Avatar felt how bottomless the anger and sincerity rolling off her went. "I will not be a pet."

It was worthless arguing with her. It would likely go on until sunrise, Aang knew from practice… nevertheless, he had to make her understand.

An impulse coursed through him but he stopped himself from touching her skin. It was a infuriatingly deep reaction to calming her when she was furious. Touching her would have disproved his point and it would feel as if he were lying to the very marrow of his bones.

"I would have rather seen you safe with someone else then in danger." He really did feel as if he were lying. "There are still things the Avatar needs to accomplish, that I need to do before anything else gets in my way. That's what you would do to me; you would be a distraction from my duty. I can't protect you forever."

'It doesn't mean I don't want to, Katara…'

He didn't say it out loud but Katara looked into his troubled, stormy eyes, always knowing what was on his mind, always knowing what sentence was strangled in the back of his throat, left to linger unsaid on his tongue. When he was a boy, he believed her to be psychic at times. Her slender body agitated.

"I would give up the warmth of a home, the comfort of my safety; I would throw away jewels, royals, and riches to lie in the mud and filth, cold and with you. Does that mean nothing to you, Aang?"

Her anger replaced itself with wary.

All this man wanted was to snatch her to his arms, crush all the dejection she expressed, kiss away the doubt, and give into his desires. Give her what she wanted. Give himself what he wanted. Caress that gorgeous knot of hair. Rake his clumsy hands down the length of her back until he could feel her whimpering into his mouth.

It was impossible to go against his heart and its monotonous wishes. Fortunately, he had a head start on closing his heart to others. She would be no exception.

The shadow in the fading candlelight murmured humbly, losing the coolness to her tone, "If we could, I would bear your children."

"Children have no significance to me," Aang countered, feeling ruthless doing so. "You need a family, Katara. You need love."

"I want nothing else than the title of your equal." He turned for the doorway, reaching for his staff when her stubborn grip landed on his wrist, "Do you love me, Aang?"

Aang mumbled darkly to no one particular, "More then you'll ever accept."

She grabbed his other wrist and pulled him around, insisting, "Then why are you doing this?"

"Because I love you."

Quite tenderly, her companion placed a large palm to the back of her neck and brought her bodily closer.

His loving lips touched themselves to her forehead. "Being with you would compel me to abandon reality for the happiness and joy your love could provide. I would lose myself to our love, only to lose you to inevitable death. I'm selfish, Katara. I fear losing this happiness I have with you. I can't let this become something more."

She shifted in his welcoming embrace, pausing to tilt her smiling eyes up. "I'm selfish too, Aang, you see… I know what I want," Her lustful eyes.

"And I don't give a damn about how long it takes before you realize it."

"You will be my downfall," Aang confirmed blankly as they closed the distance with their lips, she wincing when his nose banged against hers too roughly but soon forgot with eagerness, melting into his touch. Her insides turned warm when alert fingers grazed and wrapped around her hip.

He was unsure, Katara thought dully, but not so much. His tongue danced with hers, sucking, biting, knowing what she needed and how she needed it. The woman drowsily half opened her eyes when he closed his mouth diffidently to finish the last feverish kiss, resting his flushed face into a crown of russet hair.

The last of visible light inside the hut died.

Somewhere in the middle of working the courage to continue intimacy in a trail of kisess down her lovely, hot neck and wondering how he got himself into this soon-to-be-mess, there came a rude pinch as someone snaked a hand underneath his shirt and folded the flesh on his side between their fingers.

Gladly distracted, Aang peered down at her. Sapphire shined brightly back at him.

"At least I'm something to you."

.


Whoo, took me four months to get this baby out...yeah about. Yes, this was made for amusement purposes. Reviews, criticism, all that good stuff welcomed and appreciated. Hope you enjoyed the Avatar goodness!

-Miss Val