Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender or any of its characters.

Painted x Blue

It all started with a wish, an inner need of helping someone. To be the one who heard the prayers. So how could it have ended like this?

She was pushed to the muddy paddle on the ground. Her disguise torn apart, the red paint from her face was washed away by the pouring rain. She coughed as she tried to pull herself up with her tied hands only to be dragged on her knees facing the sneer of one of her attackers.

He was rather harmless looking, really… the weaker from the two men. But fury shone in his golden eyes above a bruise on his face that was caused by her previous water whip. A failed attempt to get away.

„You're not that brave now, are you wench?" He hissed angrily only inches away from her face.

It was her fault she ended like this. She should have listened to her brother and simply turn her back on them. But this man was so desperate… she found him and his friend in the middle of the forest and he was pleading loudly to the spirits for help while he knelt next to the bigger one who – she knew now – was his brother. The man laid unconsciously on the ground, she thought he was ill or badly wounded… but she was tricked.

„Easy, bro…" Murmured the other. „She won't get away now."

Katara had a peek at the bigger man before turning her head away from both. None of them realized as a shadow appeared between the trees…

The bully's grasp hardened around her arm then he raised his other hand slapping her with full force for a while making her see the stars. „You look at us when you're talked to!"

„Now you must be proud of yourselves." The two turned in alert as a third spoke before stepping into the light only enough for them to see his mask's white parts that seemed luminescent through the shadows. „Hitting a woman when her hands are tied… it shows how low your honour is."

„The Blue Spirit…" Whispered the man further from her and she was about to turn there but the other man grabbed her hair. He turned her fully in the newcomer's direction but pulled her head mostly upwards so that the moon's light showed on her face.

„You've nothing to do with us!" Hissed this one, shaking the girl as she tried to squirm away. „This witch is a water bender! She'll get what she deserves for faking our guardian spirit…"

The masked man frowned behind his mask as his eyes wandered to the swollen-cheeked girl. Oh yes, he recognized her… „Let go of her." He said on an ordering voice.

The muscular thug brought his hand to the handle of his axe. „Bro, he's that guy who's wanted for freeing the avatar."

Katara's eyes slightly rounded as she finally had a peek at the third figure. That voice…

The man finally let go of her hair as he drew out a dagger from his boot. „Then this is our lucky day." He said and in a blink of an eye threw it towards the Blue Spirit.

They only saw as his mask moved and in the next moment a flash and the sound of metal meeting metal showed that the dagger did not hit.

The disguised prince narrowed his eyes as he took a step towards them. „You shouldn't have messed with her…" He said darkly and lifted his swords closer to his mask. The thugs gasped as the blades were set aflame. „Spirits never walk alone."

The duo's eyes widened as the prince charged towards them. He headed for the dagger-thrower knowing he's a bigger threat from the distance.

Before the guy could have thrown another dagger the flaming swords whirled aiming at him and he dropped the object that splashed into the mud.

The Blue Spirit aimed another hit towards his opponent before he also needed to jump away from the heavy axe of the second guy. When the axe's second strike hurried towards him he danced away and gritted his teeth as the next thrown dagger cut his right arm.

As the dagger splashed in the mud she knew her attackers made a mistake when they only tied her wrists before her. It was enough for her to wave with her arms to reveal the blade. A smile spread across her face as her wrists were free once again.

Zuko swore circling his wounded arm's shoulder then finally threw fire at the axed man making him fall back. But he didn't have any time left to move away from the dagger that flew towards his back…

The Blue Spirit was the most surprised when with a cracking sound the object stopped in an ice shield behind him. His eyes fell on the Painted Lady who stood straight in her stance with a smirk.

„You…" Was all their standing enemy managed to whisper because in the next moment a wave of water whirled him around slamming him to a tree where it froze.

The masked man took deep breaths as he lowered then put away his swords.

She eyed him warily before narrowing her eyes. She took some steps and raised her hat from the mud. With a wave of her hand it was cleaned and she put it back on her head before turning back to him, still remaining silent.

He lightly scowled. „Aren't you going to say something?" The girl only watched him through her veils. „Spirits are not used to waiting."

She narrowed her eyes even more as she crossed her arms. „You're not a spirit."

He made a slight smile. „And how do you know that for sure?"

„I've met spirits, I know." She said then made a smirk pointing at his wounded arm. „But most of all: spirits don't bleed."

He turned his head so that he could see his wound through his mask. He made a pout before looking back at her. „So… will you at least thank your saviour?"

She frowned at his masked face before she turned her head away. „I won't thank to the one who gained then threw away my trust…" His eyes widened for a while and when she looked back he knew she recognized him too. „He'd do the same with it anyway." She said with hurt in her voice.

He hardened his face. „The Painted Lady…" He started on a colder voice. „You've chosen a spirit close to my nation." He frowned behind the mask. „To get close to them and awake their hopes…" He turned away from her. „Their false hope they should cling onto…"

Katara's face concerned as she took a step towards him. „Hope is never false Zuko…" She said to him and raised her arm halfway towards him but stopped it in mid-air then pulled it in a fist to her chest. „You could still help us." She said and he almost felt as her eyes bore into his back. „We could still help you…" She whispered.

This time he tensed and looked back at her after straightening his back. „The prince of the Fire Nation needs nobody's help."

She frowned hardly at the tone of his voice then turned away from him with clenched fists and teeth. She couldn't even find the words she'd yell at him. Damn him!

„But a soul called Zuko…" He started and she relaxed immediately from the softness in his voice. „Is still searching for redemption…"

She didn't dare to move until his whisper flew away with a sudden breeze and she felt like she'd awoken from a dream as a chill ran down her spine.

„Zuko…" She whirled around reaching for the spot where he stood a while ago only to find no one there. He disappeared.

She drew her hand back, this time reaching in her pocket holding the familiar cold medal of her mother's necklace.

„We'll meet again." She whispered into the night as a concerned smile appeared on her face. „Blue Spirit…"

A/N: Just a short I thought about... Now Zutara/Blutara/PaintedBlue/PaintedZuko are four ships if we count well... :) Love them all:D

Comments are more than appreciated!