I can't remember where the hell I got the idea for this. It's very random and very haphazard. I was... in a weird mood.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar
"Would you like to dance with me?"
Katara looked up in surprise. Haru was smiling down at her, holding out a hand. She forced a polite smile to her face and accepted the gesture. He pulled her from her seat and led her out to the crowded dance floor.
The young waterbender only kept her smile in place when Haru was looking. She didn't want to be at this party. And yet, here it was, the fourth anniversary of Aang's defeat of the Fire Lord, and she had somehow been roped into it yet again.
The first year hadn't been so bad, she thought with a sigh as one of Haru's hands found her waist and the other found her hand. She absently rested her other hand on his shoulder, drawing rather closer than she would have liked so she wouldn't have to look at him.
Haru was nice enough, but he had never gotten the hint. She couldn't count how many times she had shot down his advances, but he just kept trying. She preferred to ignore him now, which she could do even while dancing with him.
She looked over his shoulder, taking in the party with little interest. There were about a hundred nobles within the Fire Nation palace, as well as some familiar faces. Sokka and Toph were there, of course, hoarding the buffet table. The whole Invasion Force was there, scattered throughout the room. Fire Lord Zuko and Mai were dancing nearby, both looking rather stiff, as usual. Katara sighed again, her gaze moving over the door.
She froze, hands clenching painfully on Haru's shoulder and hand.
There was someone staring right back at her from across the room.
"Are you okay?" Haru asked, failing to hide his discomfort.
"I uh… no," she stammered, releasing him and backing away several steps. Her eyes were wide and cheeks were flushed. "I mean yes. I just… need some air." Without another word, she swept past him, moving quickly through the crowd. By the time she reached the door, she was practically running. Nobody noticed someone slip outside after her.
"Katara," the someone called, breaking into a jog to try to catch up with her.
"No," she called back, refusing to look over her shoulder at him. "No, you stay away from me." She didn't even know where she was running to. The long hallways of the Fire Palace were like a maze.
"Katara, wait," he shouted, now practically running.
"Leave me alone," she snapped, dodging into an empty room. She looked around quickly and found it to be a storage room. There was no exit. She groaned in frustration, turning and slamming the door.
"Katara," he called through the door. "Can I come in?"
"No," she shouted, backing helplessly into the room. She took a deep breath, turning her back to the door and fanning herself with her hands. Oh, she hated this. She hated that after three years, he could still do this to her just by looking at her.
"I'm coming in," he said roughly.
"Don't," she shot back, running her fingers up into her hair in frustration. "I mean it."
The door swung open and Katara closed her eyes. She still faced resolutely away from him. No… she wouldn't look at him. She couldn't look at him. Not if she got so hot and bothered just from a passing glance across a room.
She bit her lip, closing her eyes tighter. She could feel him drawing closer, could feel herself reacting.
A gentle hand was on her shoulder, and her muscles tensed immediately.
"Katara," he said again, squeezing her shoulder.
"Stop," she gasped finally. "You can't do this. What gives you the right to do this to me?"
"The right?" he laughed. "What are you talking about?"
She finally couldn't help herself. She turned around and gave him a shove, pushing him away from her. She looked up at him and knew immediately that turning around had been a mistake. She hadn't seen him in three years. He was so tall… his shoulders were broad, his face had lost its youthful roundness, and his eyes had darkened. Oh no… her breath caught in her throat. She shook her head, reminding herself that she was still angry at him.
"You left me, remember?" she said bitterly. "Things were finally looking up for us, and you decided that you couldn't be with me. You had to go off and be the Avatar all by yourself."
"I know…" he began, looking down.
"So you can't do this to me," she continued edgily, flattening a hand against his chest when he tried to move toward her again. "You can't look at me like that… you can't make me feel like this. I'm not yours anymore."
"You're not mine anymore?" he asked quietly.
She looked away from him. "No," she said under her breath.
"What, are you Haru's now?"
She scowled at him. "No," she snapped. "I don't belong to anyone."
"Well… I'm still yours," he said lowly, grabbing the wrist that held him away from her and stepping closer.
"Stop it," she shouted, pushing him again. "It's not going to work this way. You hurt me, I'm not going to forgive you just because you show up all of a sudden after three years. And you're… looking at me like that."
He smiled, holding up his hands in a gesture of surrender, but still stepping closer and keeping his gaze fixed on her.
"Like what?" he asked quietly.
"Like… that…" she muttered, finding herself unable to look away from him. She shook her head and pushed him for what must have been the millionth time. "No! You stay away from me!"
"I'm sorry, Katara," he said sincerely, taking a step forward anyway. "I can't help it."
"Can't help what?" she snapped, backing up to maintain distance. "Looking at me like that or… or getting near me like this even though I told you to stop doing both?" She felt her back hit the wall and inhaled sharply. Oops.
"Both," he replied lightly, clearly making an effort to stop moving toward her. He finally managed to halt himself, barely a foot away from her. Her hands were on his chest again, about to push him, but he took her wrists gently in his hands to stop her.
"I'm sorry," he said again. "Ending things with you was the dumbest thing I've ever done. And I've done a lot of dumb things." She didn't respond, nor did she move. She just watched him, very aware of her back against the wall.
"These past three years have been awful," he continued.
"Then why didn't you come back sooner?" she asked, her voice quiet but containing an obvious edge.
"I was trying not to come back," he admitted. "But uh… I'm selfish."
Katara sighed. "Aang, you're the most unselfish person I know," she said tiredly, looking down.
"No, that's not true," he muttered. "You're better off without me, yet here I am, looking at you and getting near you and basically begging you to forgive me."
"I don't understand…" Katara said slowly, looking up at him again.
"I spent those three years telling myself I was doing the right thing by letting you live your own life, away from me," he said quietly. "But I couldn't do it. I came back because… even though I'll be dragging you down with me, I need you."
"You need me," she repeated under her breath, staring at him with wide eyes.
"I need you," he said again. "I'm a complete mess without you. You're the only reason I was ever any good at being the Avatar."
"Oh…" Katara sighed, her arms going limp in his grip as she looked down. "Oh Aang, don't say that to me."
"Why?" he asked, confused.
"Because you're too wonderful," she whispered, still refusing to look at him. "I can't stay angry at you if you're saying such wonderful things… and you're looking at me like that… and you know I can't think straight when you're this close…"
"Oh, right… sorry," he muttered, letting her wrists go and taking a step back. But then her hands were on his chest again, and instead of pushing him, she grabbed two fistfuls of his robes and pulled him closer.
"Don't you dare," she whispered.
"I'm confused," Aang admitted nervously.
"So am I," she consented, gazing up at him, hands still fisted at his chest. "I guess this is me trying to forgive you."
"Well… I'm glad," he said slowly.
"How can I trust you?" she asked quietly. "How do I know you won't leave me again?"
"You don't," he replied. "And I don't know you won't leave me. It's a risk everybody has to take."
"Oh," she sighed. "There you go again. What's a girl to do?"
"So… are you done being mad at me?" he asked tentatively.
"No," she said simply. "I'll be mad for a while. I can't help that. But it'll wear off."
"And in the meantime?" he smiled hopefully.
"In the meantime," she said quietly, sounding tired. "You'll keep looking at me and getting close to me and saying wonderful things and getting me all hot and bothered."
"Me?" she laughed lightly. "I've never had any resistance at all when it comes to you. You know that, and I know that."
"I do know that."
"So you took advantage of me."
"Not yet I haven't."
The next moment his hands were on her waist and he had her effectively pinned to the wall. Her eyes were wide as she looked up into his face.
"Although I suppose it's technically not taking advantage if I'm willing," she added quietly.
"Technically, no," he murmured in response, their breath mingling as his lips hovered over hers. He was about to kiss her for the first time in three years. The same thought seemed to be occurring to her.
"Three years was long enough," she growled. "Hurry up and kiss me, would you?"
She didn't wait for him to do anything. The fists still clenched in his shirt tugged him the last inch or so. All of the hunger and passion, all of the longing the two of them had built up over the past three years, all of it was far too much for one kiss.
But they tried anyway.
Suddenly, Aang was everywhere, his hands sliding down her back, peppering kisses across her lips, jaw, cheeks, neck, collarbone.
"Aang…" she breathed. His mouth was smothering hers again a moment later, silencing her.
"You're right," he panted between mouthfuls. "Three years was long enough."
"You're too much," she laughed breathlessly.
"Will Haru be disappointed that I stole his dance partner?" he asked, a smirk evident in his voice as he lowered his mouth to her neck again.
"I can't say I'm… too worried about… Haru right now," she admitted between breaths, smiling rather wickedly.
Oh, she did not hate this at all.
Have you ever thought of how much can be conveyed by the word "Oh"? It's rather remarkable, really. Sorry, totally unrelated, but still...