A/N: Because I know Katara's not that oblivious.
This was just something I thought up out of nowhere. It's really short - under 700 words - but it's alright. I just wanted to try my hand at some Kataangst (I love that word! xD).
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Don't Ask Me
If the words slipped out of his mouth, whether in casual conversation or in a slurred jumble of embarrassed fragments, she wasn't sure what she'd do. After all, it weren't as if she didn't already know. How could she not, between the blushing and the hints that he'd dropped over the last couple months? She'd played her part all along, concealing her feelings behind a motherly front and carefully selected words.
Even after all of that, he was dragging her away from the camp and into the woods, where she would have to face him for the first time. When they reached a clearing, he let go of her wrist and turned to face her with a familiar blush rising in his face.
"I have something to tell you," he began.
She wished he wouldn't. Oh how she wished he would just keep his everlasting mouth shut! Didn't he realize that he carried the fate of the world on his shoulders, and that holding onto her would keep him from doing what he needed to do in order to complete his task? Peace in the world was more important that any one person's feelings, including her own. And as hard as it was to accept this fact, she was trying with all of her might to let him go.
"Katara, I've tried to tell you a million times…"
Here we go. Katara bit her lip and tried to keep a blank expression. No matter what, she mustn't let him know how she really felt. If he knew how she really felt about him, he would never pass up the opportunity, and then everything would be ruined. How dare he do this to her? She breathed a sigh with hope that maybe he would quit while he was ahead.
But no, the ever naïve Aang continued on with what Katara knew was doomed to be a confession. "…but every time I try to talk to you something gets in the way. So I'm going to say it now."
The following silence lasted an eternity. Strained, Katara closed her eyes to try and get a grip on the world. But before she could open her eyes again, she felt soft lips on her own in a fleeting and innocent kiss, and then Aang's whispered confession.
"I love you." He waited for her response, and when he got none timidly asked, "Do you –?"
"Please don't." Her voice was quiet and with a sad, pathetic quiver. Katara opened her eyes and looked into Aang's.
His expression turning less hopeful and more confused, Aang cocked his head to the side and frowned. "Don't what?" he asked.
She had been too open with her feelings, Katara thought. That had to be the only reason that Aang had seemed so sure that she loved him back. And she did, she really did. It was just too complicated, too risky. Guilt like none she had ever felt in her life flooded inside her, from the tips of her fingers to the pit of her stomach. What a terrible thing it must be, to never be able to love freely and be loved in return, she thought.
"Don't ask me if I love you."
You need to save the world, Aang. Don't waste your time with me, don't waste the little time that you have. The clock is already ticking…
Yet another silence passed in which Aang stared at her, looking a little hurt and very confused. "Why not?" he asked.
Katara turned and walked back in the direction of the camp so that he couldn't see the tear roll down her face and splash onto her front. Even so, her voice still shook enough for him to understand what she meant.
"I don't want to have to lie."