Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The next morning, Zuko walked out of his room to find everyone still sound asleep. Aang stretched and yawned. Then the first firing came. He used airbending to deflect it. A bunch of war blimps became visible as shots of fire came out. Everyone was awake now. Aang shut off their part of the temple and looked to the others.
"Watch out!" Zuko lunged at Katara and they just missed the rocks that would've crushed her.
"What are you doing?" She glared up at him.
"Keeping rocks from crushing you." He looked down to her with a calm expression.
"Ok, I'm not crushed. You can get off me now." Katara stood up.
"I'll take that as a thank you." He sighed and did the same. As they went to take an escape route, Zuko stayed away.
"What are you doing?" Aang asked.
"I'll hold them off! I think this is a family visit." He ran off.
"Zuko!" Ty Lee went to run with him but Sokka grabbed her by the waist. "It's too dangerous." There were tears in the backs of her eyes as they went through a small passage. They heard the temple outside begin to crumble.
"I can't get him to go in there! Appa hates tunnels!" Aang said as he, Katara, and Sokka tried to move the ten ton bison into the small tunnel for safety.
"Aang, there's no way we can fly out of here." Katara tried to reason.
"We'll have to find a way." Aang stopped trying to force Appa and looked around.
"We need to split up." Sokka said seriously. "Take the tunnel and get to the stolen air ship." He pointed to everyone that stood in the tunnel.
"No!" Katara said quickly. "The Fire Nation can't separate out family again!" She walked up to Hakoda and Sokka.
"It'll be ok, its not forever." He put a hand on his daughter's shoulder. She hugged her dad and went to run with Sokka and Aang, Sokka stopped running and looked back.
"Are you coming, Ty Lee?" He saw her eyes light up and she nodded and ran to the bison. Sokka grabbed Suki's hand and they got on. Toph used her earthbending to jump on Appa.
"I can clear that out of the way and we can get out through here!"
"But there's an awful lot of fire in that general direction." Suki said concerned.
"We'll get through, let's go." Aang said the magic words and they were flying. Making a helmet of earth around Appa's head, they flew right to the blimps that were attacking.
"It's Azula!" Ty Lee pointed. They all looked for Zuko but couldn't find him. Then one of the blimps went up and he appeared standing on top, facing the blimp Azula stood on. Their jaws dropped. He ran and jumped on blimp Azula stood smugly on. In the air, she punched fire at him and he cancelled it out by kicking. He punched fire at her and she flipped to avoid it. Every punch of fire was cancelled out by a kick and a kick was cancelled out by a punch. It went on for minutes, but it seemed like hours. Then, Zuko formed an orange flame on his fist and Azula did the same with her blue flame. The fists hit each other and there was an explosion. They were both blown to opposite ends of the blimp as they fell off. Aang stayed busy avoiding the fireballs that came his own way. As they went under Zuko, Ty Lee grabbed his hand and pulled him in. She wrapped her arms around his neck. He returned the embrace but quickly looked back to his sister that was falling down the cliff. She let go and did the same.
"She's…not going to make it." He whispered. Ty Lee clapped her hand over her mouth. Azula used her blue flames to steer her to the cliff and she held onto it and smirked at them. "Of course she did." He glared forward as they flew off.
"Wow, camping. It really seems like old times, doesn't it?" Aang smiled.
"If you really want it to seem like old times, I could…uh, chase you around a while and try to capture you." Zuko smirked as he bit into his piece of bread. Everyone laughed, except Katara.
"Ha. Ha." She looked to her lap.
"To Zuko!" Sokka held up his cup. "Who knew after all those times he tried to snuff us out, today he'd be our hero!"
"Here, here!" They all toasted and sipped their drinks. Toph punched his arm.
"I'm touched. I don't deserve this." He smiled.
"Yeah, no kidding." Katara stood up and walked away.
"What's with her?" Sokka asked.
"I wish I knew." Zuko got up and followed her. Ty Lee frowned, he looked so hurt.
"What's with him?" Sokka asked.
"This isn't fair!" Zuko walked up to Katara. "Everyone else seems to trust me now, what is it with you?"
"Oh, everyone trusts you now? I was the first person to trust you! Remember back in Ba Sing Se? And you turned around and betrayed me! Betrayed all of us!"
"What can I do to make it up to you?"
"You really wanna know? Hm, maybe you could re-conquer Ba Sing Se in the name of the Earth Kingdom. Or I know; you could bring my mother back!" She walked back to the camp.
That night, after finding out what happened to Katara's mother from Sokka, Zuko sat outside the water tribe girl's tent.
"Watcha doin'?" Ty Lee sat on the side of him.
"Waiting for Katara." He frowned as he tried to keep his eyes open. It was so late.
"Why?" She asked curiously as she played with her braid.
"Because isn't an answer." She winked and he rolled his eyes.
"I need to talk to her." He said seriously.
"Did you figure out why she was mad at you?"
"Yeah…sorta." He smirked at her, she still had the biggest smile on her face, but her eyes looked tired. "Why don't you go to sleep?"
"Its ok, I'll stay here and wait with you."
"You don't need to do that."
"But I want to." She rested her head on his shoulder and he sighed. He wrapped his arm around her waist and she nuzzled up to him.
"Zuko?" Katara blurted as she walked out of her tent. "What are you doing here?" She grabbed a brush from her bag and ran it through her hair.
"Hi!" Ty Lee waved.
"Katara, I know who killed your mother." She faced him.
Katara, Zuko, and Ty Lee had their bags over their shoulders. Katara lead them to Aang.
"I need to borrow Appa." She said seriously.
"Why, is it your turn to take a little field trip with Zuko?" Aang joked.
"Yes, it is." Aang's face showed pure shock as he faced her. Katara and Zuko had scowls on their faces, but Ty Lee was still smiling.
"Oh, what's going on?"
"We're going to find the man that took my mother from me."
"Sokka told me the story of what happened. I know who did it and I know how to find him." Zuko explained.
"Um, and what exactly do you think this will accomplish?" Katara scoffed.
"I knew you wouldn't understand." She shook her head and walked away.
"What's going on?" Mai whispered to Ty Lee.
"Katara and Zuko are going on a field trip."
"And you're going because…?" The girl just shrugged in response.
"Wait, stop. I do understand." Aang stopped Katara. "You're feeling unbelievable pain and rage. How do you think I felt about the sand benders when they stole Appa? How do you think I felt about the Fire Nation when I found out what happened to my people?"
"She needs this, Aang." Zuko said bluntly. "This is about getting closure and justice."
"I don't think so. I think it's about getting revenge."
"Fine! Maybe it is! Maybe that's what I need! Maybe that's what he deserves." Her last words were a whisper.
"Katara, you sound like Jet." Aang said seriously.
"It's not the same! Jet attacked the innocent! This man…he's a monster!"
"Katara, she was my mother too." Sokka stepped forward. "But I think Aang might be right."
"Then you didn't love her the way I did!" She snapped.
"Katara…" He gave her a sympathetic look.
"The monks used to say that revenge is like a two-headed rat-viper. While you watch your enemy go down, you're being poisoned yourself." Aang frowned.
"That's cute, but this isn't air temple pre-school." Zuko rolled his eyes. "It's the real world."
"Now that I know he's out there. Now that I know we could find him…I feel like I have no choice."
"Katara, you do have a choice." Aang put his arms out. "Forgiveness."
"That's the same as doing nothing." Zuko cut in.
"No its not. It's easy to do nothing but it's hard to forgive."
"Its not just hard…it's impossible." Katara walked away.
That night Katara tied her hair back in front of Appa. She, Zuko, and Ty Lee had on black, stealth-like outfits.
"So you were just gunna take Appa anyway?" Aang jumped over the rock he and Sokka hid behind.
"Yes!" She said harshly.
"It's ok." Aang looked to his feet. "Because I forgive you…that give you any ideas?" He looked up with a smile.
"Don't try to stop us!" Katar said seriously.
"I don't plan to, this is a journey you need to take, you need to face this man. But when you do, please don't choose revenge. Let you're anger out and then let it go. Forgive him."
"Ok, we'll be sure to do that, Guru goody-goody." Zuko rolled his eyes and Ty Lee put her hands over her mouth as she giggled and looked down to them from the saddle.
"Thanks for understanding, Aang." Katara grabbed the reigns and they flew off.
"We need to fine the Fire Navy communication tower." Zuko said as he sat with Ty Lee. "All the Navy's movements are recorded by a messenger hawk." Ty Lee clung to him as she looked down. Before, she had been so focused on making sure he was ok, she wasn't that afraid. He securely wrapped his arm around her waist and she smiled. "And every tower has to be up to date on where each other is deployed."
"So once we find the communication tower, we bust in and get the information we need." Katara said from Appa's head.
"Not exactly…we need to be stealthy and make sure no one spots us. Otherwise, they'll warn the southern raiders long before we reach them." They reached land and ran around the walls. Katara formed ice on the water and they all jumped down on it. Katara guided it across the small amount of water until they got across to the land on the other side. They hid behind a building and watched as a few soldiers walked out. They sprinted for the door and got into the vents. They looked down to the guard that was writing something. Katara used waterbending to spill the ink. The man groaned and got up. He walked out of the room.
"Ok, Southern Raiders." Zuko looked through the slots. He pulled out a scroll and unrolled it on the table. "There!" He whispered and pointed. "They're on patrol near whale Tail Island."
"Whale Tail Island, here we come." Katara glared at the map.
Zuko opened his eyes as the sun went up. He fell asleep on the saddle with Ty Lee, who his arms were wrapped around. He was careful not to disturb her and crawled to the front of the saddle where Katara sat on Appa's head.
"You should get some rest." He suggested. "We'll be there in a few hours. You'll need all you're strength."
"Oh, don't worry about my strength. I have plenty; I'm not the helpless little girl I was when they attacked.
They reached the island and quickly ran in. Zuko used his swords to fight off soldiers and Ty Lee used chi. Katara ran ahead of them. Zuko took the front and kicked the door down. He blocked the firebending attack that came at him with his own.
"Who are you?" The masked man asked.
"You don't remember her? You will soon, trust me!" Zuko held his stance. The man's body began to swing out of control. His face hit the ground and Ty Lee gasped when she realized who was doing it…Katara. She was bending his…blood. Zuko looked back to her but seemed unfazed. "Think back. Think back to your last raid on the Southern Water Tribe." He demanded.
"I don't know what you're talking about." He struggled to talk. "Please, I don't know!" Zuko got on his knees in font of him.
"Don't lie!" He shouted. "You look her in the eye and tell me you don't remember what you did!" He pointed to Katara. Ty Lee felt out of place. Katara was taking control of another man's body and Zuko was losing his temper…she hated it when he lost his temper. Katara's eyes showed rage as she lifted the man and made him face her. Then she dropped him.
"It's not him. He's not the man."
"What? What do you mean he's not? He's the leader of the Southern Raiders; he has to be the guy!" Katara frowned and walked out of the room. Zuko picked the man up by the neck and pressed his chest against the window. "If you're not the man we're looking for, who is?"
"You must be looking for Yan Rah." The man replied nervously. "He retired four years ago."
"Zuko…" Ty Lee said from behind. He let go and saw the saddened look in her eyes. He had scared her. He frowned and followed Katara out. She followed him but gave the man a sympathetic look over her shoulder.
As the rain poured, Zuko punched fire in front of the old man's face as he walked. Yan Rah jumped back.
"We weren't behind the bush." Zuko said; referring to the bush that was just burnt. He took a few quick steps forward while holding his stance. "And I wouldn't try firebending again."
"Whoever you are, take my money, take whatever you want. I'll cooperate." He held his hands up as he lay helpless on his back.
"Do you know who I am?" Katara pulled down the black cloth that masked the lower half of her face.
"No…I'm not sure." He hesitantly answered.
"Oh you better remember me like your life depends on it! Why don't you take a closer look?"
"Yes, yes…I remember you now. You're the little water tribe girl…" He gulped.
"She lied to you! She was protecting the last waterbender!"
"What? Who?" Katara glared through the corner of her eyes.
"Me!" She bended the water from the ground and formed a bunch of daggers out of ice. She made them all got at him, but then stopped short. The ice returned to water and splashed on the ground.
"I did a bad thing! I know I did! And you deserve revenge! Why don't you take my mother? That would be fair!" The man pleaded.
"I always wondered what kind of person could do such a thing, but now that I see you I think I understand. There's just nothing inside you. Nothing at all." She walked closer to him. You're pathetic and sad and empty."
"Please spare me!" The man sobbed.
"As much as I hate you…I just can't do it." And they left.
Katara kicked the water as she sat on the dock. The sun was setting.
"Katara, are you ok?" Aang ran up to her.
"I'm doing fine."
"Zuko told me what you did…or what you didn't do I guess. I'm proud of you." He smiled.
"I wanted to do it…I wanted to take all my anger on him, but I couldn't. I don't know if it's because I was too weak to or too strong not to." She frowned and stood up. "But I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive him." She stood in front of Zuko. "But I'm ready to forgive you." She hugged him and he returned the embrace.
"You were right about what she needed." He smiled to Aang.
"Violence is never the answer."
"Then what do you plan on doing when you face my father?"
Zuko sat up when his tent opened. Ty Lee smiled as she crawled on the side of him.
"Are you ok?" She whispered.
"When you got angry before…" She frowned and looked to her lap. "Were you thinking of your own mother? About how you wanted revenge for losing her?" She looked up to him and his eyes were soft.
"I'm not sure…"
"Zuko, we'll find her. After the war, we'll find her together." She smiled and he couldn't help but do the same himself. She was always so positive and he admired her for that.
"Can I stay here tonight?"
"Yeah." He lay down on the side of her and held her close. "I won't lose my temper around you again." He whispered.
"Sure." She smiled and rolled her eyes. "And you'll stop blushing soon, too, right?" She twirled his bangs with her index finger and thumb.
"Yup." He kissed her forehead and drifted off to sleep.
A month? Holy shizz, I didn't even realize it was that long! So, so, so, so, so, so, so sorry! Ah! Promise you will never wait that long again! But I won't update until after august 8th…when I get back from camping. Sorry again, please review! XD