Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender.

And this is how it looks when I am standing on the edge
And this is how I break apart when I finally hit the ground
"Breathe Into Me," Red

Katara was concentrating on her breathing. With her hands stretched apart and bound to the wall, there was little else she could do. Deep breaths aggravated her broken ribs, two on her right side and one on her left, and it hurt to breathe through her nose. She was pretty sure it was broken.

Aang and Toph were safe. They hadn't been anywhere nearby when she and Sokka had been ambushed, and she had refused to call for them. That was what had earned her the broken nose, if she remembered correctly. It wasn't enough that it was just her and Sokka against Azula, the knife girl, and the one who could take away bending—Ty Lee, the girl's name was, she had heard the knife girl call it in monotone while instructing her to stop flirting with Sokka.

No, the ambush had been far more clever than that—the lead of information on airbenders that Aang had insisted they stop to investigate had proven every bit as false as Sokka had suspected, and he would be unbearable once they got back to the others. To think that she had accused him about being paranoid when he had insisted they split up to investigate the rumors without endangering the Avatar.

The fight had come down to her and Azula, but the princess just didn't play fair. While Ty Lee had taken Sokka down with a few well-placed jabs, the knife girl kept Katara from devoting her full attention to the firebending master. If there hadn't had been a well in the center of town, there was no way Katara would have lasted as long as she had. When it came down to it, she had been forced to resort to the octopus form and hold her ground. Her brother was down behind her, and she was going to hold.

Then Azula sent a blast of lightning into the water, and Katara couldn't help but smile as the water channeled the electricity, flashing bright and becoming even more dangerous.

"We don't have to do this, you know," Azula said as she motioned for the knife girl to circle around to Katara's blindspot. Katara shifted, trying to keep both women in her line of vision. "You can spare yourself a humiliating defeat and surrender now."

Katara hadn't stopped bending the water, not for one moment, as she allowed her eyes to meet Azula's. "I'll never give up without a fight."

Azula examined her nails, "Why does the fight matter, if you give up in the—"

Katara used Azula's pose to strike out with a water whip while her enemy was distracted. The water was still charged with Azula's lightning and seared a path along the princess's knuckles as she dodged the full impact of the blow.

Azula began to sarcastically clap, "Very noble. But like most acts of nobility, ultimately pointless."

Before Katara had a chance to respond Azula snapped her fingers. A hidden team of the fire princess's pet earth benders stepped out of hiding and moved in unison to shove dirt into Katara's water. The ten seconds it took for Katara to bend the water out of the earth was enough for the other girl to have a knife at Sokka's throat.

"Surrender, or he dies," and by the tone of her voice, Katara knew that the girl didn't care one way or another. But this was Sokka and he was her brotherfatherfriendworld. Even so she cast one calculating glance around—there was no way to push that bitch (she held a knife to Sokka's throat, she didn't need a name anymore) away before Azula killed them both.

She dropped her water.

Taking no chances, Ty Lee was behind her, immobilizing her unresisting body.

Azula smirked and stepped in front of her, "And if I choose to kill him now, what will you do?"

Katara's eyes widened.

Azula exulted in her fear. "Where are you meeting the Avatar?"

Something in Katara snapped, "What made you like this? How can any one person become so hateful? What happened to you?"

It took two steps for Azula to reach her and yank her up with a simmering hand that belayed the calm tone of her voice, "Nothing made me like this. I choose to become who I am. A perfect leader, a perfect warrior. The fire nation is going to rule the world, water peasant, and nothing is going to stop me."

"A perfect leader has honor. A perfect warrior has compassion."

Azula's nostrils flared and her eyes narrowed as she drew up one leg in a sharp kick that caused Katara's ribs to break. In the beating that followed, Azula did not once use bending. Katara was glad when she blacked out.

She had woken up chained to the wall of a fire navy ship. Katara could feel the water pulsing outside, beyond the reach of her bending.

She didn't know where Sokka was. And that was what had her concentrating on her breathing, because she would not allow worry for her brother to destroy her and wear her down like she knew Azula had planned. Azula would try to use them against each other. She had to find a way out of this.

In. Out.

Jeong-Jeong had said that the power in firebending comes from the breath. Katara was not a firebender, and she had never wanted to be. But she had heard that firebenders didn't need to use their hands to bend, that because they called their element from the breath they could call it out from their mouth.

Waterbending needed a source.

In. Out. Push. Pull.

Yogoda had said that waterbenders could heal because life came from water. She had said that water was what 'carried us, what birthed us, and what sustains us.' She had taught Katara to join the water, the life within the body, to her will so she could bring wholeness and unite it with life once again.

In. Out. Push. Pull. Tui. La.

Katara did not look up when the door opened.


She heard footsteps banging softly on the metal and saw three pairs of slipper-clad feet on the ground in front of her.


"I know you're awake, peasant."


"If you ever want to see your brother alive again, you will answer my question now. Where do I find the Avatar?"


Katara raised her head and met Azula's triumphant, cold eyes. This was the girl who wanted to rule the world. This was the one who would kill Sokka—Katara saw it in her eyes. Her cooperation was irrelevant, Azula would kill him anyway just for the pain it would bring.

Tui. Help me

Katara exhaled a deliberate breath. And she found the life, the water, in Azula, and reached deep, deep, to the very capillaries, and froze Azula's blood in her arms.

Forgive me.

"If you ever want to bend again," Katara's voice was harsh and raspy when she spoke, "You'll have me and my brother safely off your boat and free in the next five minutes. I'll let it go when we're out of sight. If not, the next thing that brushes against your arm will snap it off."

Azula's face froze in an expression of disbelieving horror. Ty Lee had stepped forward with a concerned expression, but the knife girl held her back, keeping her from reaching the fire princess.

Katara watched as the fire princess tried to move her arms and simply continued to breathe. In. Out. Every breath enforced her hold on the water inside Azula's body. Azula's eyes widened with the realization of her helplessness and she took a deep breath, preparing to force fire through every part of her body.

Katara's own eyes widened and she spoke quickly, "I wouldn't. Even if you manage to break my hold, exposing your arms to such extremes will make it so even I'm unable to fix them. You'll be crippled forever."

Azula dropped her gaze and stared at the ground. She swallowed and Katara could feel the shift and change inside Azula's body in response, and she allowed the princess a few more heartbeats of thought even while a small part of her mind whispered at how easy it would be to stop the blood from flowing in Azula's body all together. She recoiled from the thought.

"You'd better hurry," Katara said. "The longer they're frozen, the worse the residual damage will be."

When Azula's gaze met Katara's, her eyes were filled with molten hatred. "How do I know you'll keep your word?"

One side of Katara's mouth slipped up, and her lips cracked again and she tasted her own blood. "I guess you'll just have to trust me."

AN: So, here it is. Because if you're not watching Avatar, what are you watching? This is just my take on a Katara kidnapping fic, and in the watertribe, you don't mess with family. I hope you enjoyed my first venture into the Avatar fandom! I'm not sure if I'm going to continue this or not, because something in me doesn't think Azula will just let them go without a fight, and yet I really like that last line.