Cloud: Behold! Blatent Kataang fluff, and maybe a dash of Zutara if you stare at it long enough. After all, why can't we all live in harmony? Who cares for shipping wars, they both have their ups and downs, can't we all just get along?
A one shot by Cloud Strider
"Aang, what are you doing?"
"Just trust me Katara, it's something neat that Zuko taught me."
She almost mentioned the last time he had learned something neat with firebending and she had been burned for it, but that was different. Aang had a solid teacher now, a solid teacher that she was finding a bit hard to forgive, but still a solid teacher nonetheless.
"Just watch," he told her softly with a smile, "Well… Zuko didn't teach me, but we both learned it together." Katara sighed and smiled, slightly resisting the urge to step back a bit further.
"When Jyong Jyong was teaching me I really didn't know what I was doing, but now…" He took a deep breath and put his hands out as if he were holding something. A second later a spark occurred and his hands did hold something, a flame about the size of her fist, burning brightly. "Here," he said, stepping forward slowly. "Hold your hands out, you can't hold it, but you need to feel it."
He couldn't blame Katara for being a bit weary, but her trust in him shined when she stepped forward and held out her hands as instructed. Aang stepped forward again and planted his hands in hers, the heat from the flmame was intense as the hot air burned up, but she quickly adapted when she felt what he had been talking about.
"It really is like a little heart beat," she said, a smile forming on her face.
Katara was almost sad when the flame had died, but Aang's grin spoke volumes of how excited he was. It wasn't the carried away excited like when he had burned her, but the kind of excited he was whenever she taught him new waterbending techniques. Katara blushed and pulled slowly away when she realized how close they still were, "This is great Aang," she said, trying to cover her embarrassment.
Suddenly, the Avatar's grin faded, "Do you believe Zuko?" he asked.
Katara bit her bottom lip.
One slip up and I'll make sure your destiny ends right there, permanently!
"I want to, but he's just done so many horrible things in the past. To be honest with you Aang, I hate him."
Aang nodded, "Thank you."
"For believing in me when I trust Zuko, even when you don't."
If Katara was blushing before, she was a steaming pot now, "Hey, it's what friends do," she said with a smile.
By the time dinner rolled around Katara was reluctantly handing Zuko two fish and walking back to her spot around the fire, grumbling the entire time. "What's her problem?" asked Sokka to Zuko.
"She's just mad because Princess here gets to eat, I agree, maybe we should starve him, it could be funny," said Toph, a malicious grin on her face.
Zuko's eyebrow twitched and Aang was desperately trying not to laugh, "Yeah Katara, you've been pretty snobby lately," said Sokka, a smirk now forming on his face, "Are you jealous? Zuko has been hogging Aang after all."
The aforementioned prince began to choke on the fish he was eating and Katara glared at her brother. 'If looks could kill…' thought Sokka. He decided to lay off the teasing for the rest of the meal and keep it to himself, which caused a tension so palpable you could almost see it.
"The fish was good," said Zuko simply, "It was seasoned?" He got up and began to gather everyone else's discarded bones, and Aang's fruit bowl.
"Yes," said Katara, trying not to look at him.
Zuko sighed as he washed out Aang's bowl with a wet cloth and threw the fish remains into the ravine below. It was a really long drop, Zuko never liked heights. By the time he sat down again everything was still silent, as it was much too awkward to try and carry a conversation, "So…" drawled Toph, "Anyone wanna talk? I know, let's hear Zuko's story, we all have our own little stories."
"I'll go to bed," said Katara simply, worming into her sleeping bag as Toph glared at her, "I've already heard it."
"Okay, since Sugar Queen isn't exactly sugary anymore, let's hear Zuko's little tale."
The last thing Zuko wanted to do was talk about his past, but it wasn't like he had a choice in the matter. These were the people he'd be traveling with for the next month, there needed to be some sort of link for it to continue.
"As all of you can probably guess, I grew up getting pretty much everything I wanted. If it wasn't for my mother I would've turned out even worse. She was always the one who reminded me being a prince isn't always fun and getting what you want, there's also a level of responsibility with it. She loved my father, but as he began to worm his way into palace affairs he began to neglect her. He was so consumed she even started to fear him.
"By the time he became fire lord… whatever he had been before was dead. Azula started declining as well, and eventually the sweet little girl became as oppressive and manipulative as her father. I grew up under constant fear and admiration of him. One day Uncle invited me to a war meeting, the plan was to sacrafice new recruits as a distraction. I spoke out against this.
"Next thing I knew my father and I were in an agni kai, and he nearly killed me. Afterwards I was banished and I thought the only way I could restore my honor was to capture you, Aang. Uncle went with me, the entire time he was trying to get me to see that I was the only one with honor in that entire meeting."
"What about your mom?" asked Sokka.
"She… left, I don't know where she is, or even if she's still alive, but I have a feeling if she didn't leave I would be dead now."
"I've heard your sob story before…" began Katara, sitting up and glaring at Zuko, but she froze in mid sentence. His eyes… like when their mother had been taken from them. She bit her bottom lip, not going on with her distaste, but not quite to the level of apologizing.
"It's fine if you hate me," said Zuko softly, "It's my fault Aang almost died, and a lot of stuff is my fault. However, I'm here for one reason, to do the right thing and that's it. I could care less if you all despise me, but as long as I walk away knowing I helped the Avatar, then I don't need anything else."
"Wow Princess, you really have changed," said Toph, bonking him on the head and receiving a glare from the prince.
"Stop calling me that! And what are you laughing at?!" he shouted, pointing at a snickering Sokka.
"He really does have the mood swings going for him," said Sokka.
Zuko growled and punched him on the arm, and Katara couldn't help but smile… just a little… not even a smile… more like a twitch. 'Yeah, I still hate him,' she thought to herself, laying back down and rolling over again.
However… Zuko wasn't done chipping away at her conscience yet. "I'm the fire prince!" shouted Aang, standing up and bashing his chest with the best Zuko impersonation he could muster, "I must find the Avatar and restore my lost honor, and you can't berate me like that! I'll be fire lord one day!"
Toph and Sokka began having laughing fits, while Zuko simply glared at Aang, "Oh yeah! Well at least I'm not bald!"
Aang blushed and Sokka and Toph only laughed harder.
Okay, maybe the twitch of her lips was a fully fledged grin, but Zuko didn't need to know that.