Asleep

By Seniya


Zuko had never been a dreamer. Not even as child, save for a few restless fantasies which would occasionally invade his night time peace. Even those would only be rough exaggerations of his daily escapades. He lacked imagination, so he assumed, and there was precious little that he could do to fix that fact. Besides, he had been a prince! What did a boy who had everything need to dream of?

These dreams had snuck up on him. They had started innocently enough with a few exaggerated scenarios, perhaps they lingered over certain passages a bit longer than others—but nevertheless they had been simple—uncomplicated.

He was standing in the centre of an empty forest clearing. It wasn't unfamiliar, for over the past few weeks he had grow accustomed to these endless chasms of green and brown; now in his mind these places were as good as home. But he was alone, and that was different, worrisome even. "Zuko?" His name, her voice and he turned about to watch her as she rushed forward, concentrating more on her dress (or lack thereof) than on her words. "K-Katara…" he had stammered, for she was touching him. Oh yes, her long arms around his neck and her breath on his chest and he was deep inside the confines of her perfume.

"They're gone," She had continued as though his racing heart and trembling limbs were the least of her concerns, "oh Zuko they're all gone."

She was crying, he realized and sadness was the cause. He had never been very good at stalling a woman's tears, although he felt or rather he knew that he must be the one to vanquish hers. "It's all right Katara. We'll find them." He was rewarded for his diligence with a beaming smile. He noticed too that her tears were gone. "You're so brave Zuko." She purred and he felt his heart leap. "I-I am?"

"Oh yes…" She licked her lips and he gulped before taking a large step backwards, "And you're so very, very strong." She followed him into his retreat, running her palms along his arms slowly. "I was so very afraid Zuko."

"Y-Yes…" He stammered and then noting the immaturity of that statement he attempted to cover it up, "What I mean is…there's no reason to be."

"But I was! Oh Zuko! I could be dead! I wouldn't be able to be here to feel this to know this…"

"Well, I'm very certain that you know enough already."

"I want to know you."

He would attempt to convince her that she already possessed enough knowledge of him but the words stilled in his throat, hormones, long neglected wrapped about his better judgment, reigning it in. "K-Katara…"

She kissed him. Yes, his lips on hers, her tongue in his mouth. Heat, unlike any he had even known seared through his being, stagnating in the pit of his stomach and tangling around his loins.

He chose that exact moment to awaken.


It hadn't been by his own doing. From across the camp in her stone hut, as if to prove a point, Toph bellowed, "And stop tossing around like that Princess! You're driving me crazy!" She made a very unladylike sound before apparently drifting back to sleep.

Zuko however, didn't have things quite so easy. His entire body seemed to be drenched in sweat and apparently on fire. It was an entirely unpleasant sensation—and—Agni…what was wrong with that!

Well of course he knew what was wrong with it…he'd lived with sailors for over two years, not that he'd fraternized, but still bits and pieces of their lewd conversations had filtered over to him. Yes, he definitely knew what was wrong with that. He also knew that if anyone awoke to find him in such a…predicament, it would be the end of it.

He wasn't in any immediate danger, he presumed. The moon was still perched in the sky, atop a lilac background now, with touch of pink at her feet—his camp mates were still all fast asleep. The only one who might presumably give him any trouble any way would be that water knave Sokka. Presently he was snoring hardest of them all and the only immediate danger he posed was that he might soon inhale Appa.

Now was his chance! Yes, he needed water, nice cold water—and not water benders. Definitely not water benders. Taking great care to wrap his blankets about his lower half, Zuko scampered off into the direction of the river, stumbling over several stones in his unprecedented haste. Upon first sight of the water he threw off his blanket and plunged head first into the ice-cold haven – clothes and all.

It was difficult to maintain any heat in these surroundings, and so his discomfort began to fade to nothing more than a dull ache. It was a glorious sensation, chattering teeth, racing pulse and all.

Once he'd dried the water out of his clothes himself, he'd proceeded to walk towards the camp, now sedated. There had to be a reason that he'd had such lucid dreams about Katara—there had to be a reason why they'd had such an effect on him. Certainly, she was his friend, and he was—fond of her, he supposed. But that dream; no it was more than mere fondness.

There were other things too. Sometimes when she'd smile at him, a sweet little grin that he knew that she saved up just for him, and he could feel his insides quiver. And just yesterday her hand had brushed up against his and his skin had exploded from sensation. He'd passed such things off as mere coincidence; the latter especially had been deemed a side effect of his uncle's special "curry".

But maybe there was more…maybe there was…something else.

"Zuko?"

Oh no. What was she doing up? She was never awake this early! How would he explain his absence? Flattery! "K-Katara. Well, you're looking…well."

Her eyebrows drew together, and there was a slight, imperceptible tilt of her head. "What are you doing up so early?"

"I…errr…m-meditating." He forced his voice to deepen, to carry out the threat of masculinity that he knew he had in him.

"It's not even sunrise yet."

He nodded, feeling his insides shift suddenly when a touch of a smile curved her lips. "Yes, yes I know."

"Oh, I see." And she lowered her voice to a whisper, "a secret."

"What?" Did she know? He felt his face reddening. His gaze plummeted to his feet, "I…No…It really isn't any…"

And then she did the best possible thing: she laughed. Light and bubbly he truly relished in the music of her laughter, and just like that his humiliation crawled into the back of his mind and a pure, simple joy warmed him. He found the courage to look at her again. "Well, I had a bad dream." She explained her own presence. "I couldn't sleep."

Feeling bold now, and hoping somehow that he could again wring another laugh from her lips, Zuko pried onwards, "what was it about?"

"I was being attacked by an Artic hen." She shook her head with mock sadness. "Have you ever seen one of those?"

He had been distracted by the movement of her hair, now loose and tangled—he wondered if he could somehow convince her to always wear it that way, "no. I haven't."

"They're viscous. It's silly…I don't know why I even had that dream."

"Maybe you're homesick." For a second he had been considering that perhaps her dream could have involved him but that would be foolish. Girls weren't made that way. There was something in the curve of their hips and the slant of their smiles that made them immune to such lusty thoughts.

Katara seemed to consider his suggestion for a short while, "maybe." She replied.


Author: Just a short, unoriginal piece I wrote what seems like centuries ago but never posted here. Enjoy :)