Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The last Airbender, it is property of Bryan and Mike and all the other dorks at Viacom and Nickelodeon who totally butchered the ending of this lovely story.
Also I do not own any of the songs used in the fic unfortunately. They belong to the credited artist. This fic is purely fan made and for my own and yours amusement.
"I still remember the World from the eyes of a child! Slowly those feelings were clouded by what I know now. Where has my heart gone? An uneven trade for the real World, Oh! I want to go back to believing in everything and knowing nothing at all! Where has my heart gone? Trapped in the eyes of a stranger. I still remember! "
Field of Innocence-Evanescence
She was the first to wake up that morning. Not that she slept anything the prior night, but she could always pretend. Her strategy was to keep her head busy, astray from thoughts that would most certainly start eating her from the inside. She soon found the day was not as welcoming as the night. It filled her with a comfortable sense of protection, as if the tears that were shed would forever remain a well kept secret between her and the darkness. The Water Tribe girl was joyful that her father was there with them, safe and sound, and she also let go of the guilt she was feeling for trusting Zuko back in Ba Sing Se. Everything should be perfect, but it wasn't. It wasn't the fact that the comet was coming. It wasn't the fact that they would all too soon be fighting the Fire Lord and his psychotic daughter for the good of the world. No, those problems had long burn themselves into the depths of her mind and soul. It was a totally different subject that was now causing her lack of sleep, a subject that she never thought she would have to deal with, something that was still bleeding inside her. She had had a close encounter with the man that killed her mother. She remembered his voice, rough and demanding, every word spitting venomous poison. She remembered his smell, very intense and vile. It had made her stomach revolve and her head ache. But most of all she remembered his eyes, filled with intolerance and hatred and deprived of goodness. She rubbed her temples, willing away the dull ache that had installed itself behind her eyes. A sigh escaped Katara's lips. This was going to be a long day. She rose from the bed, the coldness of the ground sending a shiver up her spine deepening her headache further. Her mind was spinning and so was the room around her and she gripped the wall in order to sustain herself.
She dragged her feet out of the chamber and headed to the bathing grounds. It would sooth her throbbing whole.
The birds chirped on the outside, blissfully unaware of her night. Once again she massaged her temples.
It was incredibly bright and hot even in the early morning.
The bath houses weren't overly big, but they were good enough for the small population of airbenders that had once inhabited it.
There were disrobing cabins on the left side of a wall, the side that faced whoever entered the place. The maiden pushed herself inside the little bunker. Inside there was nothing but a shatter mirror and the remnants of a clothing basket.
Katara slowly opened the sash that kept her robe from showing her still growing curves. Her body had been changing over the last few months. Once her robes had concealed her mounds and her rounded hips but now it was impossible. Her legs had also grown in length. She tossed the sash aside, the white fabric hitting the far wall and then falling towards the dusty ground. She cringed.
"More work for me!" She sighed as she tugged at the little knots on the side of her robe, kept hidden by the white sash. It took her a while seeing she was too tired for her delicate fingers to work expertly. With a gentle, sluggish motion, almost a caress, the Waterbender slid the robe from her shoulders. It tumbled noiselessly to the ground near her, enticing her skin in the process. Katara kicked to where the white fabric binding piece lay. The girl got down on one knee to open her boots. She let out a heavy breath as her feet kicked the boots from them. Her fingers laced around the hem of her pants and slid them down to her middle thigh. She wiggled from them, her hands busy, freeing her hair from the pins and the beads on her loops. Once more she kicked the fabric. She was too exhausted to think straight and that was unnerving her.
The Water Tribe girl took in her image in the mirror. Her hair was disheveled, her eyes were puffy and the dark circles prominent. She was clearly the epitome of a sleepless night but she didn't want anyone asking her what was going on. Forgetting about anyone else, she opened her breast bindings and let them fall onto the ground. She accessed herself, avoiding her face. "When have they gotten so big" she wondered cupping them and frowning. Soon she would be an adult. On early September she would be fifteen and after that only one measly year kept her from marriage. Her Tribe was more liberal than their brothers and sisters up North but she was sure her father would want her to marry. It was still considered a privilege to marry and bear children, blessed by the ocean spirit La with the fertility the sea itself offered. Katara shook her head, willing the thoughts away. She wouldn't marry without love, of that she was sure, and she was also sure that she wanted to do a lot more with her life before settling.
Her eyes wandered to her stomach, when had it gotten so flat? She was thin yes, but not overly. Her hand massaged her kidney area. Muscle. Not as much as that woman she once saw…Jun, yes that was it. Still it kept her stomach flat and well defined, even though her hips were large. Her mind drifted to Earth Kingdom girls and Fire Nation ones. None had hips as large as her and Yue. Come to think about it, most women in both Water Tribes had big, round hips. Once again her mind drifted to her mother. She was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen and she would always be. Her eyes started to water again but with a crude, swift motion she wiped the unshed tears and untied her loin cloth. Grabbing the bath oils and hair products she headed to the bath. On the far side corner, near the wall, there was a boiler to heat the bathwaters. She grabbed the spark stones and swiftly lit the fire. The metal structure shook, the rusty engine unused for a hundred years. She stepped inside the bathing area. There were holes on the ground big enough for two, water coiling inside, fresh and clean. The water came down from the lake above. The monks had built mini-waterfalls that provided fresh water every day, the tubs provided with a safety device that drained some of the liquid to keep it from over flowing. The holes were divided by small walls, supplying some privacy to the users. Steam already rose from them. Katara picked the one furthest away from the entrance. Placing one foot inside her element, she sighed, the water just perfect for her. The Waterbender slid in, sighing in contentment when the element she controlled surrounded her being, relaxing the once tense muscles. The girl opened the bottle of oil she had brought, inclining it into the water. Three drops fell into the liquid bless, the aroma spreading throughout the bathing area.
"I guess aromatherapy really works." Katara said to no one in particular, sinking further in to the water, trying to cover every inch of skin except her eyes and her breathing holes. Unconsciously she wanted to mingle with her element, transform herself into water, so she wouldn't have to face reality. The maiden inhaled deeply, taking in the smells of freshly picked orange flowers.
The waterbender started rubbing herself, the dirt that covered her body being washed away. She grabbed the hair product and washed it thoroughly, it would be easier to comb it if it was fully washed.
Once again she entered a state of nothingness.
The campsite was quiet. Everyone was still sleeping soundly by the time she walked out of the bath houses. For the first time since Zuko joined their group of bravados he had slept in late. "Curious" She thought, shrugging her suspicions away. It was true she welcomed him more, but she still hadn't fully kicked her suspicions away, especially after hearing what Mai had done.
Aang woke up, stretching and yawning as he did. He didn't have time to notice her walking towards them, as a bomb came flying from nowhere. Katara ran towards them. They were under attack and they were all sleeping.
The Avatar swung his staff around, the air around it forming a vortex that send the bomb flying away into the unknown. Aang sighed, that had been close.
Three more bombs came flying, after them a few more, and in no time a shower of deadly objects was surrounding them. The group barely had time to get up after the first explosion, confusion but alertness taking over them. They knew this was a possibility, and they had mentally prepared themselves. It did nothing to help them in the actual situation. The source of the bomb shower was still unknown, until the Fire Nation war balloons came into view, from deep within the canyon. Aang seethed, but the airbenders had prepared themselves for situations like this, they weren't stupid. Once again using his staff to create a rush of winds he airbended metal shields in front of the building. The exploding devices kept falling, weakening the temple's structure. Katara stood, waiting for something to happen, her tiredness evident in her lack of the defensive and slow movements. A piece of the ceiling gave in and collapsed upon her oblivious form.
"Watch out!" Zuko cried.
The Fire Prince jumped onto her, rolling them on the ground, saving her life. His hands gripped her chest, protecting her from the fall, and he place himself partially on top of her, using his body as a shield just in case.
"What are you doing?" Her tone was angry. She was still in a bad mood, despite their situation.
"Keeping the rocks from crushing you!" His tone was filled with sarcasm, and he frowned. How could she be so unthankful?
She matched his frown. He couldn't be talking to her like that, she wouldn't admit it.
"Ok. I'm not crushed! You can get off me now!" She pushed him away from her and ran to join her brother. Zuko was dumbfounded. He thought they had past the hostility point.
"I'll take that as a thank you!" His voice was sore from the hurt gripping his heart. He got up joining the planning Gaang.
The two Earthbenders opened a hole into the cliff walls, providing them a path to the forest above it, in order to use the stolen War balloon for their escape.
"Come on! We can get out through here!" Toph exclaimed, her unseeing eyes filled with masked worry.
They run into it, unaware of the great bison that refused to budge from his spot. Zuko stood glued to the ground as Aang realized he too was not going.
"What are you doing?"
"Go ahead" His eyes fixed somewhere. "I'll hold them off. I just think this is a family visit." His tone was quiet. He darted forward in the direction of the enemy.
Appa still didn't move, using his strength to keep the Avatar from dragging him into the dark tunnel. Sokka and his sister tried to help their friend but the bison was too strong.
"Come on! We got to get out of here!"
The Fire Prince ran, darting away from the oncoming attacks. His fist dashed forward and a big fireball ran in the direction of the enemy. His eyes narrow as his sister's war balloon rose from the deep end. Her face held her characteristic smirk, her eyes deprived of all emotion but mock.
"What are you doing here?" The male Fire bender's look was fierce.
"You mean it's not obvious yet? I'm about to celebrate becoming an only child!" She jumped from the balloon her feet shooting deadly blue fire in the direction of her brother. The teenage boy moved out of the way, his train of thought currently pinned on beating her. His body hit the cold hard ground, the pain spreading through his still sore being.
The floor started collapsing. It was obvious the temple wouldn't hold out long. The Prince rushed from the floor running in his sister's direction. He propelled himself off from a falling pillar, his body flying through the air. Azula's grin grew wider. Zuko shoot at her, never relenting on his attack. He had to show her he had become stronger. His momentum ended and his body started plummeting into oblivion.
Toph tried to hold the ceiling from collapsing. Appa wasn't relenting on his endeavor to not enter the makeshift tunnel.
"I can't get him to go in there!" There was despair in the Avatar's voice. "Appa hates tunnels!"
"Aang, there's no way we can fly out of here!" Katara felt like she was about to lose it. This was turning into something she couldn't bear.
"We'll have to find a way!"
"We need to split up!" Sokka's demanding voice echoed from their side, his eyes focused on the giant air bison. The Water Tribe warrior suddenly ran into the cave looking at everyone still in there. "Take the tunnel and get to the stolen airship!"
"No!" He jumped. Katara could be frightening in certain states of mind. He looked at her. She was hugging her body, her oceanic orbs facing the stone floor. She looked him straight in the eyes, the anger and tiredness deep in the core of her orbs. "The Fire Nation can't separate our family again!" Her tone was resolute, dripping venom and emptiness.
Her father's eyes softened. He felt the same but he wasn't willing to risk his children's lives.
"It will be okay!" His powerful voice echoing with proud and tenderness. "It is not forever." He let the words drift, gripping Katara's shoulders tightly, as if trying to comfort her.
Her eyes were still downcast as she was pensive. After a while, her blue orbs locked with his and she hugged him intensely, all her love spoken in a silent whisper.
The Waterbender stood by Aang as her brother mimicked her actions and took hold of his lover, whom he was not willing to give up.
After a brief hesitation, Hakoda lead the group, Haru, The Duke and Teo into the tunnel.
"I can clear that away and we can fly out through there!" Toph's demanding voice took them out of their respective reveries as she rubbed the rugged stones that are in their way.
"Hm….there's an awful lot of fire in that general direction" Suki claimed, a soft hesitant smile gracing her lips in hopes of dissuading her friends.
"We'll get through!" Aang's voice was determined. "Let's go!"
They mounted onto Appa as the Earth bender's arms shoot up and the rocks around them fell, using only some of them as a shield. The great sky beast flied from their spot passing through the Fire Princess' ship. Her smirk came back and she tried to wound the beast only to have her attacks deflected by the shield, which collapsed after they are far from her.
Azula's orbs of molten gold grew hard as her brother came up, his body resting gracefully atop of an airship. His eyes mirrored hers in determination, his hair rustling in the calm breeze. With a slick motion he jumped onto her airship balloon meeting her dead on. The Fire girl once again smirked and with a swift movement of her arm a fire ball is dancing towards her brother but he quickly blocked it. Meeting her, he also thrust his arm and a cascade of fire balls started flying as they play the game of cat-leopard and mouse-snake.
Appa moved with uttermost dexterity as he deflected the bombs of fireballs that flew their way. They looked at Zuko his battle continuing, the siblings balanced in their movements. Their fiery hands met, blue versus red, a giant explosion arisen, a clash of titans bringing them both rendered to the other. Their bodies flew from the airship, falling into the deep end.
Zuko knew it was it. He had survived his father twice, survived years of navigation, hardship, poverty, the deadly water bender's fury and the Boiling Rock beating and he had survived them all. Agni could only bless one with a limited amount of luck and he was sure his had expired.
Chocolate colored hands grabbed his wrists, pulling his body onto the saddle of the Air bison. She hugged him unconsciously, holding him close to her body. Katara had saved his life, as well as Appa of course.
Once she noted their awkward position she pushed the Prince away, disgust and weariness evident in her features. He sighed.
"Girls are crazy!" Was the thought in his mind when he saw his sister, the almighty Azula plummeting to her death.
"She's not going to make it!" He spoke ever so quietly, his eyes sad. His saddle companions turned to where the Princess was falling. With a burst of blue fire from her feet, the raven haired beauty propeled herself onto the cliff side, using her hair pin to grip the wall tightly, keeping her from falling. She faced the group, her being swollen with pride in herself and her smile more evident than ever. She truly was a prodigy.
"Of course she did!" His voice was now jealous, and he turned his head away trying to mask it with indifference.
Appa got as further away from the temple as they could. They would head to the Fire Nation again. The day had been worse that Katara ever imagined it would be.
The night had settled in. It was warm but not stuffy. The waves crashing against the rocks below increased the scenery's eerie beauty. The bright green grass rustled in the wind, the gentle breeze as warm as the night. There were tents set out in a circle around a small campfire. The flames crept, the swollen wood sometimes bursting, making a small popping sound. The Gaang was sitting across the fire, them too surrounding the beautifully alluring flames that danced in the wind. Katara's azure eyes were engrossed on the blazes, the movements and colors mirrored in them. It seemed like her body was there but empty, her soul roaming somewhere else.
"Probably her father." Zuko accessed as her stared into her face. His eyes drifted to her and he had to summon all the will power to not be agape. There he saw it, his element dancing in the deep pools of her ocean, a sea uniquely her own. His element and her element entwined in a beautiful eternal dance.
"I've never thought after all this time chasing us around and making our lives living hell that I would ever live to see Zuko save the day! You're the hero today!" Sokka said his cheerful tone gaining his sisters attention, her deep pools of blue setting on his figure. The Fire Prince groaned inside his mind, but smiled as the group erected their glasses at him. For the first time he felt like he actually did belong, like he had a family.
"I never thought we would camp again!" The Water Tribe boy spoke out of the blue. "Just like old times!" His features reminiscent.
"Well if you want Aang can run around the camp and I'll pretend to chase after him!" He offered well naturaly, trying to crack a joke. "Just like old times!" Everyone burst out laughing, Sokka hollering lauder than everyone else.
"Ha! Ha!" Katara spoke, her tone sarcastic, her voice quiet.
"What's up with you tonight?" Her brother asked, concerned.
"That's none of your damned business!" She hissed dangerously.
"Gee, did a mosquito-fly bit you in the neck?"
"Stop being so stupid Sokka!" She stood up her hair and clothing flying in the suddenly cold breeze. Her eyes were narrow as slits, her forehead crinkled and her lips pursed her nasolabial lines more defined than ever. "We don't know what happened to dad or the others, the day the comet will pass above our heads is nearing and the Fire Nation gets worse than they ever were and you sit here cracking stupid jokes? What's wrong with you? "Her cold eyes drifted to Zuko. "How did they found out where we were?" She was more than angry now.
"They must've followed us!" He spoke calmly, adjusting himself under her critical gaze.
"Liar! You spent a whole day with your ex-girlfriend, who just happens to be Azula's best friend and then she appears where we are supposed to be hiding! Too many coincidences don't you think?" Her tone was low now, her body shaking slightly and her knuckles three shades lighter than her skin.
"Well that is all they are! And if you are calling me a traitor and Mai a snitch, well, I guess you aren't as smart as I thought you were!" His voice was still quiet but he was now standing facing her dead on.
"Azula is a psychotic murderer. She killed Aang! If…." Her demeanor changed. "If I hadn't been there he wouldn't have survived." Her eyes were rimmed with tears. "The Fire Nation kills and destroys and they ruin our lives and we sit here laughing as nothing ever happened. Azula killed my best friend. And your father killed my mother." Some tears were now falling. The shadows the firelight cast made them impossible for the group to see them. "Who are you going to kill?" With that she turned and left. Zuko's golden pits were on the floor, as if the shaking grass was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. His fists were closed and his heart had clenched. The Prince hesitated for a moment but after a courteous bow and an apologetic look plastered on his expression he left after her. She was near the cliff side, the waves beneath them crashing violently against the shoreline. The breeze was stronger here and her hair shook violently in its will. Her right hand was gripping her mother's necklace, her tears now gone, but the ones that were shed still clinging to her face.
"Please leave." Her voice was quiet.
"No! I listened to you and you'll listen to me!"
She didn't turn and asked again, her voice constricted, as if she were trying to maintain herself.
"I thought you knew I'm here because I've changed. I thought you had come to grips with what had happened under Ba Sing Se and accepted me now!" He was stressing his throat, the muscles on his shoulder hurting from the effort and the soreness of his beating.
She quietly turned around, the oceans on her face never leaving the floor. Katara inhaled deeply and held his gaze steadily. With one look deep inside her, he knew what was coming. Almost.
"I once told you, you were the face of the enemy. You always will be!" Her demeanor and tone were nonchalant and all traces of emotion had fled her.
"You are the Prince of the Fire Nation and as much as I would like to detach you from all it's done you are at the base of everything. You symbolize all your Nation is and has done over the past hundred years and you will always be what was born out of evil and deception over every human value."
The Prince cringed. He wasn't expecting that. It hurt him to know she would never seem him as an ally or a friend. At the moment he wished he was born under a different household, a different name and a different Nation. He wanted her to regard him the same way he did her, with admiration and respect. For the tinniest of moments he wished he had never left home. That he was still with Mai, drinking in her kisses and her love, her willing admiration of him.
"I'm sorry!" He whispered his head downcast and his pride bruise. More importantly his heart ached.
The water girl fingered the pendant against her collarbone. She was aching. She knew only a remote part of what she had said was true, but was that remote part of truthfulness that made her pumping muscle churn. It was unfair toward the scarred teen. He had proven more than once that his main role was a healer to the world. His job would almost or even more challenging as Aang's. He would have to heal and mend and make anew what Sozin, Azulon and Ozai had broken, and that took will and goodness. Still she wanted, needed to hate someone for the time being. Her mother was once again present in her mind and as much as she tried to stifle it she could still hear her murder's voice in her mind. So Zuko would have to do to take her anger out on.
The waterbender looked at him her gaze hard and walked past him. She would need some sleep. Maybe tomorrow her attitude had changed and her anger and grief subsided. At least Katara hoped it would.
The Firebender saw her fingering her mother's necklace. And it hit him like a tsunami hitting the shore.
The fire had slowly died as the wood crackled its last breaths of life. The wind was now stirring with a new found force and its screeching sound could've made grown men give out shrieks. Every tent was closed and no one was left outside. No one excluding him. The blue tent was just two meters away and he swiftly moved not wanting to wake anyone up. The fire light inside the fabric flickered as a shadow read some parchments. He opened the flap and entered the wind momentarily dancing with the tiny hot flames.
Sokka looked up just as the scarred Prince closed the tent and sat abruptly on the floor, his back stiff and straight.
"I want to know about your mother! How did she die?" He cut straight to the chase his eyes demanding.
The warrior of water suddenly realized his mouth was opened and his mind had stopped. Regaining his composure the boy let out an indignant snort.
"That's none of your business!"
"It would mean a great deal if you told me." Sokka's resolve didn't waver.
"You owe me for today! I saved your sister from rocks and I saved all of you from Azula!" He hoped this cheap stab at the sword boy's honour would do the trick.
"I was eight. Katara was seven." His voice was quiet and he was looking at the flames flicker as in a trance as his mouth kept moving, words flowing. "The day was quite normal and we were playing snowball wars outside. I was the northern tribe and she was ours. I was winning!" He smiled jadedly. "Our father was somewhere near the fishing boats and our mom was home making lunch. It all came as the swift July snows. It hardly rains around those parts. We all thought it was snow. Until it landed on my mouth and it tasted nothing like cool water. I saw Katara analyzing it in her hands. We called it the «Dark Snow». We didn't know then they were ashes." Zuko stood still, his breath caught in his throat: "Of course the older men were on alert, but there was no reason to fear just yet. For the last sixty years no fire nation men were seen around those parts, so we just kept on with what we were doing. As soon as we had looked the other side ships were docking, invading our village, some of the huts and tents shattered in their pass.
"Our men fought bravely even though there were no waterbenders. But we are men of life and experience would not fail us. As quickly as they came they had left, or so it seemed. I think it lasted about three hours but to me it felt like minutes. Katara had gone to find mom. It didn't even register in my mind that she or mom might have been in danger. Dad came to find me and he asked for my sister and as soon as I knew he was darting towards our ice hut. Everything was out of place and mom was on the floor. I didn't see much, my father kept me from taking in that horrible sight but we couldn't find my sister. She was outside, hidden in a small cave we had found near our house and she was shaking. Dad asked what she had seen but I never had the courage." The icy blue mirrors still held the flame like he was trying to make the light go away. A meek smile crossed his lips and he faced the other adolescent. "So what is this all for?" Pain was badly masked.
"It still doesn't' do me any good. Can't you remember any distinct characteristic about the fleet, anything at all?"
"Their armors were black and dark red. They all looked the same, and they had an helmet with some type of red hair coming out of it."
"You're describing every single fleet that was on duty seven years ago!"
Sokka scowled at him. What was it that he wanted to know? He looked through all of his memories trying to see if he was missing anything then it dawned on him.
"Their banners. It had a sea crow on it. Does that help?" Zuko gulped.
"That's not very good!"
Sokka gave him a look.
"The Corvux Corax fleet. It's not a crow you saw it was a volcano raven. They are the Garuda. He is the King of birds and some Fire Nation legends say that when he was born he was so brilliant that he was mistaken to be Agni. Since then he has become Agni's link to this realm as he eats the unworthy." Zuko flinched. "The dishonorable." The scarred firebender sighed. "It is still to this day the deadliest Fire Nation fleet. Seven Years ago Kong was the admiral of the fleet. I saw him once when I was younger when he went for a meeting with my fa…Ozai. He was said to be one of the most promising admirals. Admiral Kong must be my uncle's age, maybe a little older." Sokka eyed him as his fists shook beside him. The banished prince gave him a sympathetic look. "Thank you!"
Sokka smiled and pushed him out of his tent. "I don't know why you needed all that but you should be heading to bed and leave me to sleep. I'm tired, it's been a much too long day!"
With the fire teen moving out of his line of sight Sokka sighed. A long day indeed.
She lay silently in her bed, the lulling sound of the wind caressing the fabric of her warm tent, not having much effect on her. She still wasn't able to find the land of Shui.
Her digits were still laced around the blue disc that was her mother betrothal necklace, Gran- Gran's betrothal necklace and now he heirloom, the only link she had to her female parent.
She was torn between guilt and anger. The more her mind lingered around her mother the more she thought how greatly unjust she had been towards the Fire prince. But she wouldn't apologize even if she knew Kaya, her mother, would be gravely disappointed in her.
The footsteps sounded like gongs being struck against her delicate ears, her head bursting with ache.
She heard someone tap against her tent's fabric as if knocking on a door. The lights were all out now except for the moon's fair glow and she could not determine who the person was. It was at times like these Katara wished she had Toph's ability to see with her feet.
The water girl sat up, her mouth curled down into a frown. She just wanted to be left alone.
"Katara, are you awake?" The tone was low and it was almost impossible to discern someone's voice when they were inaudible, but by the hurt tone she knew who it was.
"What do you want?" She screamed in a whisper, attempting not to wake anyone else.
"I know where you can find your mother's killer!"
It hit her like a fire blast to the face. Her esophagus went dry, her tongue flicking around in her mouth trying to moisten everything. Her globes burned with the tears that were threatening to shed. Her whole being shook and her mind was at a blank. She blinked twice and imagined herself above his body, her hands enveloping him e a deadly grip as his soul left his body. He deserved nothing more. She opened her tent and jumped outside her indigo eyes hopeful, dubious and mad at the same time.
"What do you know about my mother's killer?"
"Well you are the only one who can recognize him, but the fleet is the Garuda, the admiral in charge then was Kong. If we find the fleet we will be able to find Kong. Maybe he was the one, maybe he knows who did it. The new admiral is Jeng and he was a kitchen boy back when Kong was in charge."
She looked at him her eyes still doubtful, but this was something that had to be done, or so she told herself.
"According to the papers my father had on the every fleet's locations they must be in the Minguant Bay. It is five hours away from here. We can take…."
The waterbender shoved past him and grabbed a few supplies, then she head to Appa.
Zuko's head hang low, defeat setting in his heart.
"Well… what are you waiting for? How am I supposed to know where Minguant Bay is?" She scowled.
His head snapped up and she thought she had seen him smile. He couldn't be could it? He ran towards the great beast and with a vigorous "Yip Yip" they were on their way.
Tomorrow would be a full moon. She just hoped she got to him in time of bloodbending his ass back to creation. She had once stood against the evil form, the destructive part of her element. But she was not above Ozai or Azula, she now saw. She was just like them and she was willing to wipe out this man off the face o existence with her crude power.
The ships laid anchored, the water unmoving, the moon surrounding them as if saying "Here she comes, the waterbender will destroy you!"
Katara couldn't care less. Zuko stood behind her. He was apprehensive she knew, but she didn't need his sudden guilt. She needed not add things to her mind. Only revenge would quell her grief. She moved stealthily between the darkened rocks of the cliff side, the prince always right behind her, making her way to the shore.
The water was calm and the sand was white. With a fast circle of her upper body a tiny wave became bigger and froze, the waterbender jumping on with. Zuko thought about this. Maybe there was a better way to mend her heart. He had once felt just like her, hollow and empty, and it took him long enough to understand that love was the only thing that could mend a broken heart. Still if this was what the blue eyed girl wanted, then he would obey her wishes.
He blinked. "What the…." His mind reeled.
"Come on!" She rasped. He joined her on her newly made surf board, and as her arms started o move about her they started to head directly toward the main ship.
"Fire Nation soldiers can swim?"
"Well the marine divisions have a strict discipline, and to be part of it one's specifications must be the ability to swim."
She nodded, her eyes unseen.
The girl climbed onto the ship, Zuko leading her through the halls he knew were maintained unwatched. Three years on a ship let gave him the advantage.
Soon they reached the admiral's quarters, and the Fire teen awaited his companion for any motion. She stood, thoughtfully, and uncorking her water skins her water flashed around her and drove the metal door to the far corner. He winced. For a moment he had forgotten that she was that strong.
Her water surrounded the man, freezing over his hands and ankles, shackling him.
She shoot him a dirty glare. This man had nothing to do with her mother's killer.
"Where is admiral Kong?" She spat, her temper in check.
The man eyed her, hatred burying into him in the form of a piercing glare.
"He hasn't been in the fleet for two years now. He's retired."
"Where is he?" Her water darted towards him, hitting the new admiral in the head.
"Huo-Wang village." He begged, his eyes mirroring his fear.
She shot a look at Zuko.
"It's not far. We can be there by sunrise."
The sun was not kind in his wake. He shot the earth with heated rays, rendering the villagers totally helpless an hour or so after midday. So they all took breaks. Kong was heading to his house. The wrinkled middle-aged man, walked happily towards his house. His wife was expecting him. He had been at the Boiling Rock aiding princess Azula but fortunately she needed not his assistance anymore. He was retired after all, and there was much he did not know about airships. Still what she had needed from him was his expertise when it came to the seas. But the Avatar was airborne and it took her little time to see his services were dispensable. Now he was back at his beloved village, with his beloved wife, expecting his grandkids to visit him today. He always loved having the little rascals around. The day had started off cold, but now it was insufferable. As soon as the sun had settled completely in the sky, the heat wave had shaken them. His wife was going to make salad and for that, vegetables were needed, and he went into the marketplace to buy them for her. She was his life and he was her willing slave.
He spotted the trees near his house. With the money gained during his campaign he was wealthy enough to live in comfort not having to move a finger for the rest of his days. Ozai was very kind to those who served him well, but he knew it was only because the Fire Lord might need them again.
The roof of his lair was visible now, more and more coming into view. He was happy to be home at last. He would bathe in cold water and await for his grandchildren.
"Are you Kong?" A deep male voice asked from the direction of the trees.
"Yes, who wants to know?" He turned and there they stood the Fire Prince and a girl, her piercing eyes widening then narrowing.
She hadn't the need to see the man's face. His voice was enough. Still Katara waited for the man to turn around and look her in the eyes.
His had changed. They were filled with joy and peace. Her jaw clenched and her upper teeth brushed roughly against her lower ones. She needed to wait until night.
Turning around, she grabbed Zuko's arm and drove him away.
Katara would have his blood on her hands.
Her face had been etched into his mind all day. Yet that had no effect on the fun he had with the two kids he held so dear. But now lying in bed her wretched face couldn't seem to leave. He knew he knew her from some place. She was from the Water Tribes he knew that much. Her blue eyes and dark skin. He had once raided one of the tribes at the orders of Ozai to deplete them from their remaining waterbenders. He had killed one, right after her daughter was shooed by her. He was honorable enough not to follow the child but he would deal with her now. With one fast blow her face had been scorched, the smell of burned pork filling his nostrils.
Then he saw it as clear as day.
It couldn't be her could it? She was dead and he had the slight impressions she was much older that the girl he saw that day. But his memory could serve him wrong. He was old and things were not what they had seemed anymore.
His body rose from his bed, his eyes wide and his mind frantic. Kong was moving but he wasn't moving. There was something pulling him, like a puppeteer playing with their dolls.
He opened the door and headed towards the courtyard. There he saw them again, more defined by the light of the moon mirroring in them. The eyes filled with hate.
"Your murdered my mother!" Her voice was nonchalant. "And now you'll pay!" She moved her hands about and his body started contorting, his back arched his knees on the ground. Kong tried to fight it but he was just too old, or maybe she was just to strong, it did not matter.
Blood drained from his face and he felt cold and hot. His heart stopped and his mind went towards his family. His love for them. He was dead.
Tump. Tump. Tump, His muscled worked once more and he looked the girl in the eyes. She was doing this and she was the waterbender not her mother. Not the woman he had killed a lifetime ago it seemed. He smiled. At least the guilt had gone away.
Katara moved her arms up and the man got up with her. Moving her right hand she made the man's left arm soar in the air and light with fire. He cringed. Kong knew then and there he would have the same death the Water wench had had seven years ago.
Zuko stood his eyes wide. He had never seen this type of bending before. She was controlling the man's body. How was it possible? Water was life. Water was in everything that lived. Inside them. And that was how it was possible. Katara was bending the blood inside the man. He felt his guts twist. This wasn't right. He Zuko, the Fire Prince, who had once done anything to regain his honor, capture the Avatar, doom the world, kill, he knew this wasn't right. Katara could not soil her soul. This wasn't the girl he loved.
His mouth tasted foul. He looked inside the window and saw a little boy around three years of age come to the window. This man had a family who loved him, who had never knew Kong the murderer, Kong the admiral.
He stepped forward with a boldness. Katara would kill him but he didn't care. He couldn't stand to watch her kill what she was.
His had gripped her shoulder tightly.
"Katara…." His voice was hoarse, silent.
She shuddered at the feeling of his warm palm but did not advert her attention from the man she would kill.
"Is he worth it?" Zuko pleaded.
"My mother is!" Her tone was an octave higher, the screeching sound of a broken heart breaking the Fire Prince's own.
"It will only continue. The cycle of death, hate and destruction. This man has a family. Let him go. Forgive him and let it go."
Tears traced her cheeks, their salty taste like fire in her mouth. She turned and bended Zuko to a kneeling position. She wouldn't hurt him, only stop him from pushing the dagger deep and completing the kill.
He flinched, but he did not back down. He had to fight. For her. For Kaya.
"You will be just like him, and then, because you are a good person, the guilt will forever consume you. Let him go Katara, forgive. I know you have that in you. Your heart his big!"
"Shut up! Just SHUT UP!" She shouted the two children running to the porch.
Her heart stopped. Kong's flame roared and his hand shot p towards his face.
"I Love you Kin, Yan!" His hazelnut eyes closed tightly and he awaited his doom.
Silence. The Spirit World never came.
He heard sobs across from him and the grip that held Kong dissipated he got up and looked at the tear struck girl in front of him. She was broken, crying on the floor, her shoulders moving with each breath, tear, piece of heart that got out from her.
She was broken and it was his fault. The girl was broken and he had to mend it.
Zuko moved to shield her against his chest. He felt her tremble, heave, in his embrace and once again he felt that way he had when he had lost his mother and when he had betrayed uncle. He felt empty.
"I'm sorry little girl!" Kong's voice was soft, guilt filled but gentle. "I was obeying orders. I know it isn't much worth to you. I took your mother away and there's nothing I can do to take it back. But I know what I see and I know that my family will forever be grateful. You had the strength I didn't have. I'm sorry I was weak and stupid. I'm sorry." He was also crying, his remorse filled soul shattering and burning.
Katara looked up. Nothing he could say would make any of this better, but she had to mend her heart. She owed it to Sokka. She owed it to Gran-Gran. She owed it to her father. She owed it to Zuko. She owed it to herself.
"I-I….forgive…yo-you." She was quiet.
The man smiled. If he died that very moment his soul would be free. His wife, who had gotten up at the noise, smiled proudly. That was the man she loved.
The two little kids run towards their grandfather and hug him, realizing how the girl was sad. The girl, Kin, raced towards her and hugged Katara. She looked bewildered, tears still forcing their way.
"You jut nweeded a hug!" The girl smiled.
Zuko caught the waterbender in his arms and carried her towards Appa.
She was too tired to fight and his warmth felt good against her.
An hour later they were heading to their campsite, Katara tiredly sleeping on the saddle of the sky bison. Zuko smiled. He was proud of her. His heart swollen and pumping fast he guided them home where he could place her in her sleeping bag and whisper his pride in her ear.
The sunset was beautiful on the island. The lake water surrounded her feet. Her eyes were puffy but she felt relieved. Her mother would be proud. Zuko partially told the Gaang the events but he left something hidden. She had just smiled and left their conversation and she had sat her watching her element feed the environment around her. Water was life and she would keep it that way.
Katara could feel him behind her, could feel his smile and friendship. Her heart soared. He had been there. Zuko was the last person she wanted to see her cry. And he had no twice. But it didn't matter anymore.
She got up and turned her smile warm.
It felt nice to have her looking at him like that, Zuko mused. His heart constricted and his head felt light.
Suddenly her body was against his, after she had leapt into his arms. His eyes were widened, his mind frantic, searching for what to do. He relaxed and wrapped her in his arms.
"Thank you! Thank you so much!" She whispered in his ear, her breath moist against his skin.
He closed his eyes and rested his head in the crook of her neck.
There, with Katara, the petite waterbender in his arms, the sun setting, all felt perfect. He was perfect.
I'm Back!!!! After this long hiatus. My life changed a lot and I had problems with myself and where I stood so I was thinking about dropping this but I decided against it. So this chapter is kind of "meh" but you tell me what you think. Juicy Zutaraaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Ah! Well I will keep this short. Oh Kong means void, emptiness. And the name of the fleet came from a hindu good. The King of all brids and the story about him and Agni are also hindy legends.
pink princess 16: Here's the update. I'm sorry it took so long. Please enjoy ^^
Fae Rain: Sorry for the delay. I'm glad to hear you loved the last chapter and that it is believable. I hope I didn't disappoint you with this one. Please tell me what you think.
NorthernLights25: Thank you so much. Here's the update. Hope you'll love it. Keep the love coming ^^
ChicoCharcoal: Thanks. Keep reading a reviewing please.
Hj: Thank you. I hope you keep reading and loving this.
Inufan155687: I hope I got the name right :s Thank you for the love. Yeah I wish the story had had a more soulful ending. I'm a Zutarian but I'm also a person that easily accepts things and I had prepared for Kataang. Still there were things that bothered me about the finale, and that made it a fail imo.
ArrayePL: Here's the update. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Hope you keep loving this.
Zutarababe: AWWWWWW. Thank you so much. Here's the update. Hope you keep reading.
So with this I just have to thank you all. If it weren't for all of the people that read this fic I would have my ego on the ground. Keep sending in the love and the reviews. Critics are welcome. Love you all.