AN: Inspired by The Puppet Master, took me about an hour to write, but I'm rather pleased with the result.

Disclaimer: Alas… Alack (Gasp, did someone say Alec?) I do not own Avatar…

(Kudos for those who have read Swordspoint and know who Alec is though…)

Shades of Grey

She takes a step closer and he takes a step back. Katara pauses in her advance, the distant sounds of battle barely registering in her ears, as she looks Zuko up and down. He's changed, maybe a bit more mature, maybe a bit sadder. His eyes are unreadable. The eyes she had always assumed were killer eyes, now were watching her with a weariness that makes Katara think of a kicked puppy. They no longer sent a shiver a fear down her spine.

"I used to think," she begins, eyes searching his, "that the world was made of black and white,"

Zuko nods a little uncertainly, glancing nervously toward the body of the soldier, his soldier, he has slain.

Katara notices the glance and looks too at her would be attacker. "But I think that I've never been more wrong about anything… ever." She turns her gaze back to Zuko, and he thinks he sees a flicker of pain in her eyes, but he can't be sure. He never has been about Katara.

"I met… I met a woman who was from my home." She continues and takes another careful step forward. Zuko's back hits the trunk of a tree. "I had always thought that water was best element, that no evil could ever come from bending water."

"You were wrong?" He speaks so softly that Katara barely hears him, but she nods softly. She's surprised to hear the soft question in his voice. Zuko has fallen so far from the once arrogant prince; Katara has trouble finding him even as she looks at the scarred face.

"Yes. I think now…" She stops herself and looks down at her hands, and Zuko sees them clench into fists.

"I think now that water must be the most destructive element. You can do such terrible things…" She shudders, and wraps her arms around her body, as if trying to hide herself from the truth.

Zuko sees the faint glimmer of tears at the corners of her eyes, and his stomach lurches in a way he doesn't recognize.

"Every element…" he trails off, not sure where he is going, but then Katara's eyes are on him, and Zuko finds himself compelled to finish.

"No element is any worse than the others. I think it's people that make the element good or bad."

"Yes," Katara suddenly says. "Yes, that's exactly, that's what I've come to think too." She's taken a few steps toward him again, and Zuko tries to find the alarm bells chiming within him that declare danger, but there are none.

"The world is painted in shades of grey." She's so close now that Zuko could reach out to touch her, run his fingers through her hair, or trace the gentle slope of her cheekbones. It's Katara, however, who reaches out first.

"You were always black," she says, but the gentle pressure of fingertips on his cheek seems to counter the harsh words.

"Not anymore…" Zuko whispers, a question hidden within his words, a plea for forgiveness, for redemption. Katara nods.

"I… I am not good at reading people," She sighs, "I've learned this recently, but you. I have been the most mistaken with you."

"It's alright." Zuko says before he can stop himself, but it's true. He was wrong about Katara too.

She smiles at him, fingers moving down his face, tracing his jaw line and ending up resting just below his lips.

"Yes. I know that now."