If you haven't heard the song IF I DIDN'T CARE, you should listen to it immediately. Unless you've recently seen MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY, it's very likely you haven't heard it, as it's from the 30s and not exactly in wide circulation. But both the movie version and the original are beautiful, the original being by The Ink Spots and the movie version being by Amy Adams and Lee Pace (I know, dynamite, right?) and were the inspiration for this oneshot. I'm not a songfic person, as I have mentioned before, so I kind of weave the lyrics in. In my delightfully clunky way. Whatever.
As for Parlor Tricks... it's giving me difficulty. As you can probably tell, considering the expanse of time post-update pre-update... what. Um... sorry about that. Work is the suck, as is school and generally my... like... life. Inspiration is like... nonexistent. Stupid Nickelodeon, releasing the futzing DVDs before they air the episodes. Anything for a buck.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar
He was looking at her again. She didn't need to look back at him to know. She could feel it when he looked at her. Because when he looked at her, she felt as though there was entirely too much air in her lungs. Or perhaps not enough… she couldn't decide. Either way… when he looked at her, she felt something extraordinary and frightening and incomparable to anything else she'd ever felt.
So she knew he was looking at her. Again.
They had been at the Western Air Temple for nearly two weeks. Zuko was teaching him to firebend, Toph was training him in earthbending, Katara got a chance to touch up his waterbending every so often. Other than that, the two of them hadn't been alone since the invasion. Not once. And Katara couldn't decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
She missed him, ridiculous as that seemed. Her chest ached when he watched her like he was doing now, ached with all the space between them. But she was afraid to approach him… afraid to confront him. It was too much for her to take, too much to handle on top of everything else.
She jumped. When had he moved? She was a short way from the fire around which the others were gathered, and he had been with them a moment ago. But all of a sudden he was right in front of her, kneeling on the ground and looking warily into her eyes.
"Oh… yes, Aang?" she asked quietly. He was probably aware that this was the first time they'd been alone. No, he was definitely aware judging by the nervous look he was giving her.
"You've been avoiding me," he said bluntly, crossing his legs beneath himself to get more comfortable.
She blushed and looked down. "No, I…" she began, trailing off before she could finish lying.
"I miss you," he continued recklessly before she had time to think.
"I miss you too," she said abruptly, the words coming out of her before she could consider them.
"So why are you avoiding me?" he implored her, leaning forward a little.
"Don't you care about me?"
Katara looked sharply up at him.
"Aang…" She glanced away from him again. "You've changed," she muttered.
He frowned as though frustrated that she didn't answer his question. "How do you mean?" he asked slowly.
She still refused to look at him. "Since you started firebending, you've become more like a firebender," she continued. "It sounds stupid, but… you're so… I don't know… direct now. The way you're talking to me is different."
"You mean how I used to get so nervous when I spoke to you?" he asked calmly.
Katara flushed and looked up at him. "Hey…" she began in a warning tone.
"So I'm growing up," he continued stingingly. "I'm sorry if you got used to me being a… what was it… a cute little guy, just like Momo?"
He said it in a mocking tone, one she'd never heard from him before, and she felt herself getting angry.
"That's not fair," she snapped. "We've both changed since then."
"We've changed into people who avoid each other?" he demanded.
"Aang, stop," she said firmly. "I'm not… I'm not…"
"See? You can't lie to me," he said hastily, pointing a triumphant finger at her.
"Alright," she burst out, frustrated. "Alright… fine, I've been avoiding you."
"But why?" he asked, a touch of hurt in his voice as though he hadn't just pressed the truth out of her.
She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. He got to her so easily… got under her skin. But usually it was in a good way. Usually he made her laugh and smile. She had no idea he could turn her temper on so effortlessly. It frightened her a little.
"You're busy…" she muttered evasively.
"I always have time for you, Katara."
She looked up in surprise. The edge had left his voice, and he was smiling at her. She frowned, confused. He laughed a little.
"What?" she asked, annoyed.
"It worked," he replied simply, grinning.
"What worked?" she demanded, frustrated.
"I got you to act like you care," he replied, smile becoming a little sad.
Katara stared at him, eyes wide. "To act like I care?" she asked at length.
He looked down. "Well… I guess it just seems like you don't care for me like you used to," he admitted quietly. She inhaled sharply, eyes still wide. "I miss you. Did I mention that I miss you?"
"You did…" she sighed, looking down. "I mentioned that I miss you too…" She glanced up at him. "But you're wrong. I care for you more than ever."
"So why are you avoiding me?" he asked for what felt like the hundredth time.
"I'm scared," she finally blurted. "I don't know how to handle you."
He laughed a little, confused. "What?"
"You kissed me," she said abruptly, a heavy accusatory tone in her voice that made him laugh again. "And it… it scared me…"
"I thought maybe you were just kissing me because you thought you were going to die… you just wanted to know what it felt like…" she muttered. This seemed to surprise him, because the smile vanished from his face and he stared at her. "But if I had kissed you… it would have been because I've gone ahead and fallen in love with you."
His mouth fell open.
"If I didn't care, Aang, I wouldn't feel this way," she continued quietly. "I wouldn't be thrilled like I am every time I see you. I feel like… my head is just spinning, the whole world is just whirling around me…" She smiled a little sadly. "But my heart… it's perfectly still. You keep me steady. If that isn't love… I don't know what is."
He just kept staring at her. She frowned, a little annoyed. She had just told him everything. A reaction of some kind would have been nice. So she sighed, grabbed him by the shoulders, and pulled his lips to hers. She didn't let it last too long, keeping it as brief as their first. He looked just as shocked as he had before, if not slightly more.
"There you go," she sighed. "That's definitely not avoiding you." He blinked. "So um… quit being all… firebender…ish…" She let out a groan of frustration and buried her face in her hands. "Oh… There goes my head again…"
"I know the feeling."
Katara glanced up at him between her fingers. His eyes were as wide as ever, but he appeared to be smiling at her. He laughed a little.
"Firebenderish?" he asked quietly, and now she knew that was no smile. That was a smirk. He was baiting her again.
"If you want me to kiss you again," she said haughtily, smirking right back at him. "You can just ask."
He shrugged. "Eh… I don't really care that much," he said carelessly.
She laughed. He kissed her.