A/N: Here it is, the sequel to Lava! If you haven't read that story, go and read it! This starts right after that one ends, and please, please, R&R. If anyone is OOC, please let me know, and thank you everyone!
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar
Katara watched the new couple from her seat next to Aang. Zuko and Toph looked so at ease with one another as they drifted off to sleep at the rear of Appa's saddle. The morning light reflected off their faces and she almost didn't see Zuko's scarred eye as it lay in the shadow of his face, covered by his hair.
Toph shifted further into Zuko's shoulder and sighed as Katara watched them. She envied the closeness the two shared after only knowing each other a little over a week. She still didn't trust Zuko after all he had done, but she was starting to forgive him, or at least speak reasonably with him.
Zuko still wore his black ninja suit from when they had infiltrated the balloon in their spirit personas, though she could see several holes where he had been burned while fighting his sister. Toph was in her usual green and white garb, with her healthy layer of dirt, though she seemed more disheveled than usual, with black hairs sticking out of her bun here and there. They looked so happy and content as they lay there, resting on each other.
Katara was interrupted from her observation by a touch on her elbow. She glanced to her right and saw Aang looking intently at her. His grey eyes held compassion and understanding as he smiled slightly at her.
"Let them sleep," he whispered. "They've had a long night."
She nodded and smiled back. She was about to turn back to watching the two when Aangs' hand slipped into hers. She stared at their joined hands. His was larger than hers now and had several calluses where almost a year ago was none.
The difference in shades was also less distinct than when they had first met. The time they had spent traveling the world had darkened Aang's light skin and changed them both.
"You ok?" he asked her.
Katara felt a blush come across her cheeks and ducked her head, trying to hide it. He squeezed her hand slightly and separated his hand from hers when she didn't answer. She felt sad and shame rose up within her as he turned to whisper to Sokka.
She felt a wave of weariness come upon her as the boys whispered to each other and lay her head on her arms as she turned to watch the clouds pass them.
Katara woke abruptly as Appa started descending. She glanced around and saw Zuko and Aang talking in low tones, Sokka still at the reins. Toph sat next to the firebender, but kept her misty gaze on Katara. The sun had moved and by the light, Katara could tell it was afternoon.
"Where are we?" she asked her brother.
Sokka turned his head and shot a quick smile to his sister.
"We're close to Omashu"
Katara sat upright. "But doesn't the fire nation control that?"
Sokka didn't turn his head to her, but she could hear a smile in his voice.
"They used to, but the word on Kyoshi Island is that King Bumi finally did whatever he was waiting to do, and he retook Omashu. We're going to check it out."
"That's why we're heading down now," Aang said from the rear. "We'll check it out tonight."
Katara turned and saw Aang grinning and Zuko and Toph smiling at the Avatar's excitement.
"So who is this King Bumi?" Zuko asked Aang.
"He's an old friend of mine, from when we were kids. He became the strongest earthbender in Omashu and therefore their king."
Zuko's eyebrow rose and Katara thought he looked impressed. "Then he must be at least a hundred years old."
"Yep," Aang replied, grinning. "A hundred and nine."
"So what's the plan?" Katara asked them.
Aang turned back to Katara and she made out a hint of a blush on his cheeks before he answered her.
"We'll make camp, and then Zuko and I will check out the gates tonight. If it's all clear, we'll head in tomorrow morning. If it's not, well, we can go in the same way we did last time."
"No way! I am NOT going in through that way again!" Sokka said angrily from behind Katara.
She smirked as she thought of the last time they had entered the city through the sewers. Toph and Zuko glanced from Sokka to her and finally to Aang.
"So, what is this other way that Sokka hates so much?" Toph asked as she kept her gaze on Aang. A smile tugged at the edge of her mouth.
Katara's smirk grew. "The sewer," she said.
Zuko and Toph turned to stare at her, shock on their faces.
"The sewer?" Toph asked as she stuck out her tongue in a look of disgust.
Zuko had a look of controlled disgust on his face before he glanced at Toph and started laughing.
"What?!" she said as she turned to face him, punching him in his shoulder.
Zuko's laugh ended abruptly, though Katara could tell he was barely holding it in as he grinned at the earthbender.
"Your face," he told her.
Toph smiled at him with a wry grin and punched him again. Katara could tell it was softer than her initial punch and smiled as Zuko rubbed his shoulder while he smiled along with Toph.
Appa landed with Zuko and Toph still smiling at each other, and Aang trying unsuccessfully to hold back giggles. Katara smiled at them before she turned to jump off Appa. She surveyed her surroundings and saw that they were in a familiar place.
"What made you pick this place?" she asked Sokka as she turned to the exit of the cave of two lovers.
Sokka shrugged after he landed beside her. "I dunno. It seemed the best place to stay out of the way."
"What is this place?" Toph asked once her feet were planted firmly on the ground. She smiled at Katara as Aang and Zuko jumped down behind her. "There's a huge network of caves. And Badgermoles!"
"This," Sokka stated dramatically, "is the exit to the Cave of Two Lovers."
Katara let Sokka tell of what happened as she turned back to Appa. Aang turned with her and airbended the saddle off of the bison and to the side. She smiled at him and went to get her bag. She started frowning as she rummaged through the bag and saw only a handful of fruit left. They would have to get into Omashu by the next morning if they were going to get any more food.
When she turned back to the group, Zuko had already started a fire, Sokka was bringing an armful of wood and Toph was creating a second earth tent. She got up and started passing around the small amount of fruit. Toph smiled at her and Zuko thanked her as she handed them some fruit. Sokka immediately bit into his apple as soon as it was in his hand.
Katara shook her head as her brother continued to eat and handed the last melon to Aang before sitting down next to him with the smallest apple. Aang looked at his melon and then at Katara.
"Here," he said as he tried to hand her the melon. "You need this more than I do."
"No," she said, feeling the heat of a small blush coming onto her cheeks as Zuko and Toph turned towards them. "You need it more."
Aang grinned and brought his hand down over the melon, splitting it in half with a wave of air. He then split one of the halves again and handed Katara a quarter.
"Then at least take this."
She smiled her thanks to him as she took the quarter and bit into its' soft, sweet flesh. She noticed Zuko and Toph exchange a look as Aang smiled, starting to eat the other quarter.
"If you don't want that, I'll take it," Sokka said as he chewed his apple.
Katara frowned at him.
"What?" he asked as he swallowed. "I'm a growing warrior. I don't want to see food wasted."
"Yeah, you're growing all right. If you don't slow down, you'll grow out more than up," Zuko said with a smirk.
"That's a good one," Toph said as she started laughing.
"Hey, I am NOT growing out!" Sokka yelled at the two as they both burst into laughter. He glanced at Katara and Aang. "Am I?"
Aang appeared to be studying the warrior for a minute. "I don't know Sokka. You do seem to be getting a little bigger around the middle."
Sokka looked dejected and turned a puppy dog face to Katara as Toph and Zuko fell onto their backs laughing harder than before. Aang started laughing and Katara finally couldn't keep it in any longer. She started laughing along with everyone else as Sokka stared at her, indignant.
"No," she said between laughs as she tried to breathe. "You're fine, Sokka."
He growled and turned away from the fire, but not before he mouthed a thank you to Katara. She smiled at how hurt he looked as the others' laughter started subsiding.
"Well, we should get going," Aang said as he stood up, looking towards the setting sun.
Zuko nodded and started to get up as well. Katara saw him squeeze Toph's hand once before he rose and walked over to Aang. The Avatar turned to face Katara.
"We'll be back as soon as we know. Don't worry, we'll be ok."
He gave her a small smile before he turned to walk with Zuko down the path that led to Omashu. Katara tried to smile back, but it wouldn't come to her face. Sokka got up once the two were out of sight and headed into the larger of the two tents. Snoring soon came to Katara and she knew her brother was fast asleep. Toph got up and walked over to sit next to her as she stared at the fire.
"Sooo, what's going on with you and Twinkle toes anyways?" the earthbender asked after they had sat in silence for a while.
Katara felt a blush come onto her cheeks again, and was glad Toph couldn't see it.
"I don't know. Just before the invasion, Aang…well, he kissed me."
She felt her blush intensify and was sure her face was red. But once she had started, it felt easier to continue.
"After that, we've been closer. I feel odd whenever I'm around him now, all fluttery. When we were on the run from Azula, we would fall asleep feet apart, but wake up next to each other. And I know it wasn't just him moving, because I was always farther from my bag. I even woke to find his hand in mine once, and it felt…right.'
She saw a smile tugging at Toph's mouth.
"You knew, didn't you."
Toph turned her gaze to the waterbender and smiled.
"Relax Katara. You two have always had a thing for each other. Now it's more open. What's wrong?"
"It's different, that's what. I've always seen Aang as like a brother, but now…now it's something else, something more. I just don't know what to do."
She sighed and leaned back onto her elbows. She sent a sharp glance at Toph when she started giggling.
"Let it flow then," Toph said. "Just let things happen and take it one step at a time. Has he told you anything?"
Katara felt her blush return full force.
"Yeah, that he cared for me, a lot. But if I wasn't sure, we could wait and see."
She sighed again before she started studying Toph.
"What happened between you and Zuko, anyways? I didn't see that coming."
Toph started blushing, and her pale cheeks turned crimson.
"I don't know. He was there for me when I needed someone, and I think I was there for him too. We became friends quickly, probably cause we're so alike. We understand each other. When I was captured, I realized I liked him. I mean really like him. I'm glad he's ok with it."
Katara smiled at her friend. "You asked him about Mai. What about Sokka?"
Toph turned and stared at Katara with her mouth open.
"How did you know?" she whispered.
The snores inside the earth tent ended, and the girls held their breaths until the sound of a snort followed by louder snores made them relax.
"I saw how you acted around him. I may have been blind to Aang, but I could see how flustered you got around my brother. Now, what about Sokka?"
Toph lowered her head, hiding her eyes with her bangs.
"He doesn't care about me the way I did about him. I realized that when Suki and Iroh arrived at the air temple. I was hurt, but Zuko was there, and he helped me get over it."
Katara remembered when Aang and Iroh were telling each other what had happened in the few months since they had seen each other. She did remember seeing Sokka with Suki, and Toph then Zuko leave. She had wondered about that, but had still been tending to one of the Kyoshi warriors at the time and couldn't investigate.
"I also realized that I like Zuko more than I had ever liked Sokka," Toph continued. She looked up into Katara's eyes, and Katara felt sorry for the small earthbender as she saw the turmoil and beginnings of tears in her milky green eyes. "I'm sorry, Katara."
Katara sat up and wrapped Toph in a hug. Toph was stiff for a moment before she hugged her back, and Katara could feel wetness on her shoulder from Toph's tears.
"Shh, it's ok," she said as she held onto her friend. "I'm not mad at you, and I don't think Sokka ever had a clue."
Toph sat up and separated herself from the hug. Katara was glad she could see a smile forming on Toph's face as the earthbender wiped her face.
"Yeah, it seems we're all blind to those who care for us, but can see everyone else's troubles."
Toph punched her lightly in the arm, smiling at Katara.
"I like Suki, and would never wish them any harm."
"I know," Katara sighed. "But we'll have to keep an eye on them when they get together again, or who knows what will happen."
Toph giggled. "Ok. Are you going to tell Aang how you feel?"
Katara blushed again. "I guess. But when's a good time?"
"Whenever you find it," Toph said as she smiled. "I found mine just before we got onto Appa."
Katara stared in shock at Toph as realization hit her. "That's why you were so flustered?! What happened? How did you do it?"
Toph blushed again. "I, um…I kissed him. He told me he was going to be fine, but I knew he was lying. He was going to wipe a tear away, and I couldn't leave him without letting him know, in some way, so, I…kissed him."
Katara relaxed and thought for a minute. "I'll have to keep that in mind."
Toph started giggling and Katara joined her. Sokka let out a loud snort, causing the girls to giggle even more. Toph stopped abruptly and frowned.
"What is it?" Katara asked, worried.
Toph turned and Katara saw worry on Toph's face.
"Aang and Zuko are coming back. They're running, and they're being followed."