He had expected the blue eyes across from him to be wide and filled fear. But they weren't. Instead, they were narrowed and filled with anger. The girl's dark face was flushed with the intensity of the emotion, her nostrils flaring as she breathed. She had spirit; that much was obvious.
"So?" Azula asked with a smirk as she looked back at the seething water tribe girl, whose arms were chained behind her back and was flanked by several guards. "What do you think?"
Zuko looked between the girl, whose dark glare was settled solely on him, and his sister, whose eyes were shining the way they did when she was at one of her schemes. Something was off… Azula wouldn't just hand over one of the Avatar's friends to him on a silver platter. She had to have some sort of ulterior motive.
He didn't dare say anything against his sister. He knew the young woman too well. While she didn't have the volatile temper that he had been plagued with, she did have an eerie way of enjoying another's suffering. He did not want to be at the receiving end of her lightning again.
"I thank you, my sister, for your most considerate gift," Zuko replied after careful consideration and bowed to his sister respectfully, his hands pressed so close together that his knuckles turned white with the intensity of the grip.
Azula grinned. "Excellent," she murmured, and Zuko felt his skin crawl at the tone of her voice. She was plotting something, and he only wished he knew what it was. For the hundredth time since Iroh had been taken as a prisoner, Zuko longed for his uncle's guidance.
"Mai, Ty-Lee, escort the water bender to Prince Zuko's chambers," Azula instructed, and the two girls nodded briefly to their friend, acquiescing as they always did to Azula's commands. Zuko felt sorry for them in a way; those two girls were more trapped than he would ever be.
Mai took one of the girl's arms, and Ty-Lee took the other before the two proceeded to drag the water bender to the room that Zuko had been assigned on the ship. Thankfully for the pair, they were in a ship made of steel and the girl had no access to water.
If she had… Zuko didn't want to think about what could have happened. She had fought like a master when he had faced her in the North Pole, and Zuko wasn't eager to face her again. Of course, he had won the battle the second time around, but now he was willing to admit that it had more to do with the element of surprise than actual skill.
Azula paced around the room for several minutes, leaving her brother to watch her out of the corner of his eyes. She was thinking, Zuko knew. Her fingers tapped together in a repeating sequence, the tips of her nails lightly scraping those of her opposite hand. Zuko wasn't quite sure when the trait had developed, but he did know what it meant: trouble, usually for him.
"How long has it been since you've been home, Zuko?" Azula asked after a few minutes of carefully studying her brother.
Zuko swallowed back some of the anger that he felt rising within him, and swiftly regulated his body temperature back to normal. "Three years," he replied briefly. Zuko knew full well that Azula had the amount of time he'd been gone counted down to the day.
"Hmm, such a long time, isn't it?" his sister replied, a note of sympathy in her tone. It was forced of course. Zuko had never known Azula to have true feelings towards anyone. As his Uncle had once said, Azula had a deadly calm about her. It was why she had been able to master lightning at such an early age.
"Yes," Zuko replied curtly, pushing the thoughts of his uncle to the back of his mind.
Azula studied him for a few more moments, circling around him, the constant tapping of her nails beginning to wear on Zuko's already stretched nerves. The calm that he had experienced in Ba Seng Se was nearly completely eroded away now, courtesy of his sister.
"You could be such a handsome man, Zuko. It is a shame about that scar. It makes you… less desirable." Zuko detected a hint of mockery in Azula's voice, and he gritted his teeth.
"Yes, it does," Zuko replied quietly. He neglected to mention the girl that had gotten Uncle Iroh to convince him to go on a date with her. He also failed to mention the fact that she kissed him before he had kissed her. It was better to let Azula have her fun.
"At least, I'm sure that father will see it that way. It will be a constant reminder to him of how weak you once were once we arrive at the Fire Nation," Azula continued with a cluck of her tongue. "Of course, he doesn't know you the way I do."
Zuko let out a pent up breath and resisted the urge to glare at his sister. Azula smirked slightly, as though she could see his inner struggle. "He doesn't understand how tough you've become. You betrayed the one man who has cared for you during your exile in order to prove your faithfulness towards our father's cause."
Zuko felt his shoulders tense and he looked straight into his sister's eyes. From the smile that blossomed onto her face, he knew that she saw the anger and self-loathing that burned within him. He had changed since he had been exiled; he saw things much differently now than he ever had before.
He hated himself for re-uniting with the man who was causing so much suffering in the world, and even more, he hated himself for turning his back on his uncle, the one man who had ever really loved him as a father loved a son.
"I'm going to go back to my room and meditate," Zuko informed his sister, never breaking eye contact.
Azula's grin widened a little. "You have a feisty girl waiting for you in there. I have a feeling she won't take kindly to you ignoring her for hours."
"She'll deal with it," Zuko replied, knowing that his sister probably was counting on the fact that the girl would stab him in the back with one of his broadswords the second he glanced the other way.
"Well then, go," Azula said when she saw Mai and Ty-Lee heading towards her. Mai blushed slightly when her gaze landed on Zuko, but then her eyes were drawn to the scar that spanned from his right eye to his ear, and she looked away quickly, as though she no longer saw the person behind the mark of shame.
Zuko watched the three leave, all as different as fire and water. Azula was beautiful, but she was ambitious and had a heart of stone. When she walked, she walked with purpose and fire. Mai, garbed in her dark clothing and with her glossy black hair shining down her shoulders cut a somber figure. She walked with a shuffle to her gait; a daughter of the war. And then there was Ty-Lee, a smile on her face, her heart on her sleeve, and a bounce in her step.
Zuko knew why Azula had chosen these girls to be her friends- they obeyed her. He wondered, however, what it was that drew the other two to his sister. Perhaps it was her beauty that drew others to her like a moth to a flame.
Abruptly, Zuko turned on his heel and headed down the corridors of the ship to his room, which he was sure was much smaller and less ornate than that of his sister's or those of her friends. He realized that he would be treated as a second-class citizen for the rest of his life so long as he remained with the Fire Nation.
As he continued down the hall, he thought on why Azula would have possibly made a gift to him of the water tribe girl. It was well known that she traveled with the Avatar, but Zuko would have thought that Azula would skip pass capturing the Avatar's friends and kill the boy right off the bat. What could she be up to…?
Once he reached the doors to his chamber, the answer hit him. The Avatar would follow the girl to the ends of the earth. Azula was reeling the boy in. But why? Surely the Avatar would come after the girl before they reached the Fire Nation. With the flying bison, the boy made very good time. And if Zuko had the girl, the Avatar would fight him and not Azula. Surely his sister would want the glory.
If he were to capture the Avatar, the Fire Lord would be forced to recognize Zuko as his rightful heir, and the boy knew without a doubt that Azula coveted the position. She would never relinquish it without a fight, especially to her scar-faced brother. So why was she pushing the Avatar right into his hands?
He was drawn from his thoughts by a loud crash against one of the walls in his chambers and was called back to the problem on hand. The water tribe girl. Zuko pushed all thoughts of Azula from his head and straightened his spine as he turned the handle.
Katara growled deep in her throat as she grabbed another vase and hurled it with all her might at the nearest wall. She gained a small amount of satisfaction as the shards flew everywhere and littered the ground, but not enough to significantly improve her mood.
"Of all the stupid, asinine things that I've ever done, this one takes the cake!" she exclaimed, looking for something else to throw. The room was devoid of all breakable objects; the thousands of pieces that had once been priceless decorations were now all over the room, courtesy of the water bender's anger.
"Yeah, Katara! Insist on taking watch duty when you haven't slept for four days straight. Sokka could have done it! He wanted to do it! But no, you thought that he'd fall asleep on you. And now look what happened! You're the gift to some spoiled, rotten, scar faced, two timing, banished prince!" She kicked the wall that she had just thrown the vase against with every insult.
"Anyone I know?" The breathy, deep voice startled Katara, and she whirled around.
"You!" She exclaimed with some shock at his sudden arrival, and ran to charge at him.
Zuko easily caught her wrists in his hands, and the girl glared at him as she went to jerk away. Zuko held fast, and she struggled violently, but Zuko was stronger. "Let go of me!" Katara shouted as she continued to thrash.
"Calm yourself," Zuko hissed lowly, glancing towards the door.
"Calm myself? Calm myself!" Katara yelled, and Zuko released one of her arms to clap his hand over her mouth. That had been a mistake. Katara used her newly freed arm to elbow Zuko as hard as she could in his gut, and he let out an oomph of pain.
Quickly, he pinned her arms behind her back, and held them fast with one hand before swiftly covering her mouth with his free hand. Katara bucked and writhed, but he refused to let go.
"I guess this means I won't get to meditate," Zuko commented wryly, and the shouts that Zuko was currently struggling to stifle swelled in intensity.
"Quiet," he ordered, but that served to do nothing to ease her struggles. "If you promise you'll stop shouting, and that you'll let me speak before attacking me again, I'll let you go," he assured Katara, hoping that a different tactic would work. Miraculously, she stopped struggling.
Carefully, Zuko released his hold on the girl and sighed with relief when he noticed that she was standing still. "Kaya, right?" Zuko asked after a second, and winced when her glare grew darker.
"Katara," she muttered, and Zuko nodded slowly, repeating her name in his head to make sure that he would remember it the next time that he ran into her. He glanced the girl over, and he noticed that her shoulders straightened when she realized what she was doing. Yes, she certainly had spunk, and she was much stronger than she looked.
The girl's braid was in the process of falling out, and strands hung over her eyes, which were filled to the brim with loathing at the moment, giving her a sort of crazed look. Her clothing was dirty, as though she had been sleeping in mud, and she certainly didn't smell like a basket of roses either. More like one of the petting zoos that his mother had taken him to when he was little.
Her wrists were raw, and Zuko could plainly see where the irons had cut into the skin. They looked painful, and Zuko recalled with a wince how tight he had held them in order to restrain her. They must hurt her, he realized abruptly.
Leaving Katara to stand there, Zuko crossed over to a large chest, thankful that she hadn't gotten into the pitcher of water inside. He dipped a handkerchief into the water, and warmed it a bit with fire bending. After a moment's consideration, he heated the entire pitcher to the point where the water was boiling. She wouldn't be able to touch the container and reach the water inside that way.
When he returned with the wet cloth, Katara sneered. "What? Do I smell too bad? Well, you should have expected it. I'm just a peasant, after all," she exclaimed, spitting out the word peasant as though it were a curse.
Zuko ignored her, and took her arms into his hands again, careful to avoid the red, raw areas where the chains had rubbed them. Gently, he placed the cloth over her wrists and Katara hissed in pain. Zuko frowned, and then led the girl over to the bed, where he promptly sat her down and then kneeled in front of her. "This might hurt," he explained as he dabbed softly at the area.
Zuko hadn't lied, it did hurt, and Katara felt herself on the brink of tears as he continued to wash the wounds. She was dimly aware of the pain receding, and then Zuko was sitting in front of her again, binding the wounds with two more wet cloths that he had pulled out of the wardrobe.
Then, he simply got back up and went over to a small table, where he proceeded to meditate. Katara frowned, and looked down at her wrists and back up at Zuko again. "Why did you help me?" she asked after a moment's hesitation, and Zuko didn't even bother to turn around.
"You offered to help me once. I thought that I'd return the favor," he replied without opening his eyes as he continued to count breathe, the flames flickering with each breath that he took.
Katara's eyes widened, and she chewed on her lip. She remembered. She had been about to heal Zuko's scar with the water from the sacred pool in the North Pole when Aang and Iroh and crashed into their prison. It was a good thing that she hadn't, she realized now. If she had, Aang most certainly would have died.
"How is the Avatar?" Zuko asked as though following her train of thought.
Katara's eyes narrowed. "Why do you want to know?" she demanded. She had trusted him after a very short time down in the remains of the old Ba Seng Se, and he'd betrayed that trust. She wasn't about to make the same mistake twice.
Zuko was silent, unable to answer the question. In all honesty, he wasn't quite sure why he asked. He skipped a breath, and the flames flickered around him. Quickly, he regained his grasp on meditation and he continued to breathe.
The silence in the room wore on Katara's already shot nerves, and served to add to her exhaustion. She hadn't slept for days; afraid of what would happen when she finally let her guard down around a group of Fire Nation soldiers. They hadn't touched her, thankfully, but how did she know that Zuko would be honorable? He betrayed his uncle for a sister that was quite obviously using him. And hadn't he been banished for dishonorable reasons?
Her tension was all the more obvious to Zuko as he meditated, and made it nearly impossible for him to concentrate. Finally giving up, he rose, and crossed back over to the wardrobe, pulling out a shirt of his Uncle's, as well as several extra blankets. When he turned to face Katara, he noticed how heavy her lids were and sighed.
"Here," he said simply, handing her the shirt. "You need to get out of those rags," he informed her, gesturing to the worn, stained clothing that she was wearing. Instantly, Katara's eyes snapped open and then narrowed in suspicion.
"You don't have to wear it. It was just a suggestion," he muttered in his defense, and laid out the blankets on the ground before tossing a pillow from his bed down onto the pile. "I'm going to sleep," he informed Katara, and fixed a severe eye on her. "You should sleep too."
Katara's stare didn't waver, but she stood and crossed over to her blankets. Zuko then turned his back to her, stripped himself of his outer clothing, and climbed into bed. Using fire bending, he dimmed the lights to nearly nothing.
It was only then that Katara made herself busy arranging the blankets into a nest for herself on the floor. After a quick glance in Zuko's direction proved that his back was to her, Katara wriggled out of her clothing and slipped into a shirt that fell below her knees. With one last glance at the fire bender, Katara slid into the nest of blankets, pulling the covers up to her chin.
The lights dimmed down to nothing as soon as she was settled, and Katara jumped slightly. A quick look back to Zuko showed that he hadn't moved. Had he really kept the lights dim for her sake, and lain awake in consideration for her? Katara pushed the thought from her mind angrily, wriggling deeper into the blankets.
The young water bender closed her eyes, but as tired as she was, sleep eluded her. Why is he helping me? She wondered, her blue eyes staring straight up to the ceiling in the blackness. He didn't have to wrap my wrists or give me blankets… he should have yelled at me for trashing his room, but he's done nothing. Why?
Katara rolled over to her side with a groan, and then looked back at the fire bender to be sure he hadn't heard her. The boy's back rose and fell as though he was slumbering, and Katara sighed with relief that she hadn't been noticed.
He's like how he was down in the cave. Quiet and… lonely? Katara frowned at the thought, and then pushed it away again. The boy had changed since she had first met him, Katara had to admit. He was a different man now than he had been at the North Pole. She had no doubt that he would have killed her then with no remorse. Now, he was helping to heal her torn wrists.
But he had still betrayed their cause. He had the chance to join them against Azula, but instead he had returned to his sister's side- the same sister that had tried to kill him a few short months before. And because of him, Aang had nearly died.
The thought of that day caused Katara's chest to constrict with pain. Azula had killed Aang when he was in the Avatar state; that much Katara was sure about. She had held the boy close to her chest as she felt for a pulse, and her heart had stopped when she realized that there was none.
Katara squeezed her eyes shut as she felt waves of anguish wash over her as her mind wandered back to that moment. Since Aang had been killed in the Avatar state, his spirit had been unable to be re-incarnated. So it had hovered by his lifeless body as Katara ran with the boy in her arms to Appa, Aang's flying bison.
When she had placed the sacred water on the charred, black wound that seemed to be a whole straight through Aang's back, his spirit re-entered him, and he lived. It was nothing short of miraculous. Katara only hoped that the sacred waters wouldn't demand as great a price for its saving waters from Aang as they had from Yue.
Katara wondered how Aang's healing was coming. He had still been incredibly weak when she was taken, and she prayed to the Spirits that the boy would remain safe until she could return to him. Hopefully, Sokka would show some responsibility for once in his life and make sure that Aang stayed in bed until he was well.
Thinking of Sokka caused a wave of homesickness to wash over her. She had never in her life been separated from her brother before. Of course, there were times when she wished that they weren't related, like the time when he humiliated himself in front of the entire village by getting two fish hooks stuck in his thumb, or when they were in Kyoshi and he nearly got himself killed by insulting the group of female warriors, or the time when he drank the cactus juice…that had been pretty bad. He had been flirting with the empty space beside him on the sand speeder, for the Spirits' sakes.
However, as humiliating as he could be at times, she loved him. And although his bottomless hole of a stomach and sarcastic remarks drove her crazy, they also made her laugh. She'd do anything to have Sokka grabbing her food out of her hands and eating it right now. Or even to watch him try and roast Momo like he had wanted to at the Southern Air Temple.
Katara rolled over again, bunching the blankets closer around her. Not that she was cold, but the warmth offered her some measure of comfort in this foreign place. To distract herself from further thinking, Katara began to count Zuko's breaths.
She breathed in and out as he did, and the concentration that she put on such a mundane task finally coaxed her eyes closed and pushed all thoughts away. For the first time in days, the water bender slept.
When Zuko awoke, it was just past dawn. His dreams had been troubled the night before, as they nearly always were. Either he dreamed about the day he had received the scar, or his mother, or his Uncle. On several, terrifying nights, he had dreamt of all three. Thankfully, last night wasn't one of those. He raised the flames in the lights slightly so that he could see, and then climbed out of bed.
He pulled his red robe back over him, and tied it closed with a small, very thin version of a black Obi. A glance downwards showed him that the girl… Katara, he remembered…was still asleep. She was curled into a tight ball, the blankets bunched around her. Her braid had come loose, and her hair was splayed out everywhere. A corner of his lips turned up ever so slightly at the sight. She certainly wasn't the most attractive sleeper that Zuko had ever seen.
His attention shifted from her to the clothing that was folded neatly on the floor beside her. Before he could change his mind, he picked up the articles and stuck his head out the door, hollering for a guard as he did so. A man rushed around the corner, and gave Zuko a little bow once he reached the prince.
"Have these cleaned and repaired," Zuko ordered, tossing the clothing at the guard. "They are offensive to me in their condition," he explained with a wave of his hand, and the guard bowed again.
"Of course, Prince Zuko," he replied before turning and hurrying away.
Zuko closed the door, and glanced at the water bender. She was still sleeping, thankfully. Zuko took a seat at his meditation table, glad for the chance to be able to meditate. He needed to find out what his sister was thinking, and quickly. It would be a difficult task, for Azula was brilliant. She was a prodigy, after all.
Zuko lit the candles on the table, and then began to breathe, the candles flickering with every breath and exhale. What could Azula be doing? Why would she be dropping the Avatar right into my lap? It's not like she can't take him. Breathe in; breathe out.
She said that the girl was a gift to me; that I deserved her after all of my hard work. But she didn't say anything about the Avatar. Breathe in; breathe out. Azula always lies.
And then Zuko realized the truth. His sister was setting him up. She had separated him from his uncle so that he wouldn't have the guidance that he needed when the time came. She didn't capture the girl so that he would destroy the Avatar. She did so because she wanted to destroy the boy on her own. And by proving that Zuko had ample opportunity to kill the Avatar and had failed, their father would have no choice but to kill Zuko once he reached Fire Nation waters.
Zuko felt his breath catch in his throat, and he withdrew from his meditation. She had calculated all of this, Zuko knew in that instant. On that day at Ba Seng Se it had already been planned. He had fallen neatly into his little sister's trap.
Zuko swore, and pushed himself up from the table, knocking over one of the candles as he did so. Before the table could catch on fire, Zuko harnessed the energy of the fire, and made it disappear. His hands clenched into fists, and he struggled to regulate his body temperature.
"Zuko?" A small voice asked, and Zuko whirled around to see Katara sitting up, her blue eyes glassy with sleep and her hair everywhere. "Is something wrong?" she asked, pushing her hair behind her ears and drawing her knees close to her chest.
Zuko studied her for a second and then frowned. "Do you want to get back to your brother and the Avatar?"
Katara's eyes narrowed. "What do you think?" she muttered, glaring at him.
"I wasn't mocking you," Zuko replied evenly, and then leaned his hip against his meditation table. "I just needed to be sure."
Katara's glare didn't waver. "Wouldn't you? Apparently you did miss your family, since you teamed up with Azula," she spat, her eyes gone dark with anger again. Zuko didn't blame her.
"I miss my family," he replied softly, and Katara's eyes widened with understanding.
"Your uncle." It was a statement, not a question.
Zuko nodded briefly. "That's what I need to talk to you about."
Katara's gaze dropped down to her lap, and then she studied Zuko. He seemed sincere enough. And his genuine desire to re-unite with his uncle explained his behavior the night before. Toph had told her how Iroh had helped with her rescue. It seemed that he was a man with a heart. Maybe he had rubbed off on Zuko during their time together.
"You'll have to go against Azula to get him back," Katara replied after a minute, and Zuko walked over to the door and checked to be sure that the coast was clear.
Katara stared into his eyes. "You'll never be able to go home," she reminded him, and Zuko sighed.
"The Fire Nation is no longer my home," he replied simply, and Katara didn't ask for him to clarify that statement.
The pair sat in silence for several minutes. "Your home is where your uncle is." Katara said after a while, and Zuko nearly jumped he was so surprised.
"Am I right?" Katara probed, and Zuko shrugged.
Katara nodded, and then glanced back down at her hands. "I thought so." After a second, she glanced back up again. "Where do I fit into all of this?"
Startled at her intuition, Zuko's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
Katara sighed, frustrated. She pushed a stray strand of brown hair behind her ear and stood up, suddenly feeling at a disadvantage while she was sitting down. "You wouldn't tell me all of this unless you had something planned for me to do."
Zuko studied the girl for a minute in silence. She looked ridiculous with his Uncle's shirt hanging down past her knees and her voluminous hair hanging everywhere. "You need a brush," he noted absently, and Katara's hand flew to her hair.
"That was rude," she muttered with a scowl as she began to attack the tangled mass with her fingers, wincing with distaste when she found burrs imbedded in the strands. Thanks to Azula, she was a mess.
Zuko watched her with apparent boredom before uncrossing his arms. "I don't have a plan yet," he admitted. Katara rolled her eyes as she continued brushing her hands through her hair.
"Figures," she muttered under her breath, and Zuko stiffened when he heard her. "One question. Why the change of heart? Last time I saw you, you were all too eager to attack your uncle."
Zuko looked away. "I didn't think as hard as I should have."
Katara fixed a severe eye on the boy. "Don't make the same mistake twice," she warned, and Zuko got the distinct and utterly unnerving feeling that his mother was scolding him again.
"I don't plan to."
Katara nodded, and then she planted her hands on her hips, her hair momentarily forgotten as determination shone in her eyes. "I'm helping you, and you're returning me to Aang and my brother." Zuko got the impression that she wasn't about to take no for an answer.
Zuko turned back to his meditation table and re-lit the candles. "I'm not going to take you back to them," he replied as he sat down at the bench again, and he could practically feel Katara's glare boring into his back.
"Why not?" she shouted, wishing there was some sort of water in the room so that she could bend it into a whip. Of all of the…
"They're coming to you," Zuko replied, cutting into her thoughts. All was silent for a minute as Zuko proceeded to meditate. "And I need for the Avatar to be on my side when he arrives. That's where you come in." He candles flickered as he breathed, and Katara felt slightly unnerved by the sight.
"You want me to convince Aang to fight with you against Azula."
"Yes," came Zuko's short reply. Katara was learning that the boy usually spoke his mind, but in as few words as humanly possible.
Katara nodded briefly, and began to twirl a strand of hair around her finger. "I'll agree on one condition."
Zuko's meditation was broken by her demand, and he whirled around to face her. "You are not in the position to be making demands," he reminded Katara, who gave him a half smile.
"You said yourself that they were coming for me. Trust me, you don't want to be around Aang when someone he loves has been hurt… unless you're on his side. If you don't agree to do what I say, I'll make sure Aang believes that you're the enemy." It was an empty threat, Katara knew. She was angry with Zuko, beyond angry, in fact. However, his kindness confused her, and she wouldn't be so quick as to condemn him to death.
Zuko, however, didn't know that. "You!" he spat. "I've been nothing short of decent to you, and…"
"If you'd listen to my request, I'm sure you'd find it reasonable," Katara insisted with a calm that she didn't feel. She was at a disadvantage, and if Zuko decided to lash out in anger… she didn't want to think about what could happen.
"Fine," the boy muttered, reigning in his temper at last, and feeling like he was letting his uncle down by letting it go in the first place.
Katara took a deep breath, and then plunged ahead. "Aang needs a fire bending teacher."
"You want me to teach him?" Zuko demanded incredulously.
"No. You two don't exactly have the best of relationships." Katara paused. "I want your uncle to teach him."
Zuko stared hard at her. "You'd have two fire benders traveling with you. Both of which have been hunting you for the past six months."
Katara smiled slightly. "I'm willing to take the risk."
"Will the Avatar?" Zuko asked pointedly.
Katara sighed. "He doesn't really have a choice, does he?" she replied softly, and Zuko had to admit that the girl had a point. With the war, there wouldn't be many fire bending masters who would be willing to take the Avatar on as a pupil. Iroh… he was the perfect candidate.
"Fine." Zuko agreed, and then returned to the meditation table. "I'm meditating," he informed the water tribe girl, who was grinning in triumph.
Zuko grit his teeth. "To figure out how I'm going to get Uncle out by the time the Avatar gets here." He closed his eyes and breathed, and was once again pulled from meditation by Katara's voice.
"How long do you think we have until they get here?"
"I don't know," Zuko replied in a carefully neutral tone as he attempted to re-establish the connection.
Zuko scowled, and struggled not to lash out. He had gone through a period where calm was his middle name, but this girl was quickly bringing out the temper that he had tried to abolish. "What?"
"Where are my clothes?"