Sparring Practice
By Hikaru

Ship(s): Zutara

Summary: Aang hears something that he shouldn't.

"You do not expect me to just do whatever you say without question! I can take the lead!" Aang winced as he heard Zuko's voice carry through the forest. They were at it again.

"Because you've done so well on your own in the past!" in the distance, Katara loftily replied.

With a long sigh, Aang picked up his staff and headed in the direction of where their voices were coming from. Honestly, couldn't they gather firewood without squabbling? Those two, especially in the last few weeks, had been fighting nonstop. It was getting to the point where he was considering getting earplugs for the rest of their journey to the Fire Nation. But it was his duty, as the Avatar, to keep peace-- most of all with his traveling companions. He followed the path that the two had taken a few minutes earlier.

"Oh, now what are you doing?" Katara asked, sounding a little breathless. Aang blinked to himself. Why did Katara sound so winded?

"...Wanted to try this at a new angle," Zuko said with a loud grunt. "You're still new at this."

There was another loud grunt, this time, distinctively female. "Oh because you're so experienced with this sort of thing. It took you how long to get to the second?"

"Hey, I don't insult your technique do I, water bender?"

Another groan, this time it was definitely Zuko's. "That's because you like it," Katara replied.

Aang's jaw dropped. There was no denying that they were doing Things. Things that the required precise angles and techniques. It was times like these that he wished he hadn't actually asked Iroh what a certain joke on Zuko's behalf had been. Because the old man broke down those Things play by play, in horrific detail that had left the Avatar scarred for weeks. He still couldn't look at Iroh without the old man winking at him.

However, Aang was simply too shocked to feel his heart breaking. I mean, this was Katara. His Katara. There was no way that she would be doing Things with Zuko of all people. Katara had a wandering eye when it came to guys, but this was Zuko. Aang shook his head. No, there had to be an explanation. A very logical explanation that would explain all the grunting and rustling.

"Ow, Zuko! Not so hard!"

"You're the one that's being hard!"

Aang fell over. So much for that.

"Aang, what's going on?" Aang looked over his shoulder to find a very confused looking Sokka. "Aren't you supposed to be setting up the tent? What are you doing out here?"

"Sokka!" Aang scrambled to his feet. He had to get Sokka away from there before he too heard Things, and it turned really ugly. Aang knew that Sokka was much more experienced with these sorts of Things, and if he heard any of it, especially when he realized what his sister was doing, someone would probably end up dead. And that someone would probably be Zuko. And as much as Aang would have liked that at that moment, he still needed Zuko to be alive. For the time being. Of course he could always ask Iroh to help him with Fire bending. Aang shook those thoughts out of his head. "Nothing! Nothing! I just thought I heard something, that's all. But it was nothing and I was just about to head-"

"Oh, Katara!"

Sokka was running to them before Aang even had the chance to try to stop him. But the Avatar still tried, chasing the water tribe warrior closely trying to calm him down by shouting things like "I'm sure it's not what you think! Sokka, stop!"

But it wasn't as if Sokka actually heard these things. All he knew was that he had just distinctively heard Zuko's voice moan (yes, MOAN) his sister's name. And it was not in a bad way-- which is the way that if he ever heard Jerk Face moan Katara's name, it would be acceptable. No, this was in a good way that he never wanted to hear again.

"Zuko, stop- stop. I need to catch my breath." Katara's voice was much closer now. And definitely not yelling. They were close.

"You can't stop now," Zuko said, panting for air.


"AH-HA!" Sokka exclaimed, finally reaching the two suspects. "You have been caught!"

Aang raced up behind him. But he noticed long before Sokka just what the two were doing. Both Katara and Zuko were standing in defensive stances, their elements surrounding them, in attack formation. Zuko's shirt was thrown to the side, and Katara had taken off her over robe, leaving her chest bindings exposed. He could see a large red welt on Katara's stomach, where Aang deduced that Zuko had hit her. Zuko too had odd welts up his arms. "Uh, Sokka?" Aang squeaked.

"Sokka, what the heck are you doing here?" Katara demanded as the water stream around her retreated back into her flask. She stood up straight, with her arms crossed against her chest.

Slowly Sokka was beginning to process the scene in front of him. "I- well I-" he fumbled for words. Finally, with a firm nod, he indignantly said, "I was about to ask you the same thing!"

Zuko's flames disappeared and he took stood up straight. "What does it look like we're doing? We're sparring." Katara nodded in agreement.

"But we heard some Strange noises, Katara," Aang chimed in. "We just thought you were in danger, that's all."

With an eyebrow raised, Zuko cleared his throat. "You mean you thought I was attacking her?"

In a matter of speaking, Aang replied silently. But he smiled widely and said, "No, no, Zuko. Honestly, we just wanted to make sure that you guys were okay."

"We're fine," Katara replied, sounding a bit annoyed.

"Sparring," Zuko repeated, sensing that they weren't convinced. "That's all we were doing."

Numbly Aang nodded while Sokka still stared on, his eyes wide. Aang patted him on the shoulder, understanding his embarrassment. "Come on, Sokka. We need to finish setting up camp."

It had been a while since Toph had laughed so hard. When Sokka and Aang came back to camp they told her what they had just stumbled upon in the woods. "Sparring?" she flipped her head back and let out another very loud laugh.

"Yeah, that's all they were doing," Sokka said again, as if to reaffirm it in his own mind.

"Oh that's rich! I bet you two felt like idiots!"

"You don't have to rub it in," Sokka grumbled.

Toph laughed again. She might have been blind, but she wasn't deaf. She had discovered Zuko and Miss Sunshine's little secret a long time ago. She knew exactly what they went to go do when they left to "collect wood." But she'd be damned if she was going to break Aang and Sokka's illusion of them "sparring."

Katara snuggled up to Zuko's bare chest, a smug smile on her face. "Sparring, huh? You are a genius."

Fin XD

HIGHLY inspired by a CCS fic by Tin called "The-Closet's-That-A-Way," which never fails to have me rolling on the ground. You should read it, it's awesome.

This fiction was written for entertainment purposes only. Characters of Avatar: TLA belong to Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko and Nick. Standard disclaimers apply. We'd like season 3 now KTHX!