Eventualities Are Inevitable - A Zutara Story
Summary : Whilst settling into every day Avatar routines at The Western Air Temple, Zuko and Katara must learn to get along in close quarters. But do they learn more than they bargained for?
Possible Spoilers : The Western Air Temple, The Fire Bending Masters, Burning Rock part one and two and The Puppet Master.
Authors Note : Well folks. This is it – the end of 'Eventualities Are Inevitable'. I can't thank you all enough for all of the amazing support that you've given me throughout writing this fic.
I only hope that the sequel will prove just as popular...
"There it is!" Katara shouted, pointing from her seat on the Ostrich-horse.
Zuko followed to where she was pointing. But already he could see the large chasm in the distance. They were finally here – The Western Air Temple.
He felt Katara hugging at his back as he nudged the Ostrich-horse forward.
It wasn't because she was worried she'd fall off, he knew that for sure.
"Home..." she sighed, her voice was filled with something he hadn't heard before.
"Yeah...home." he repeated, though not really believing the words.
If they're even still there...
The dual swords clinked against each other quietly, hanging from the saddle of the Ostrich-horse. Zuko hadn't realized just how much he had missed them.
As long as he could remember, sword fighting and close combat had been just as big a part in his life as his bending.
They had helped him as The Blue Spirit, while he travelled through The Earth Kingdom, in Ba Sing Se and now, he had them back in his grasp again.
Now I just need to find my knife...
Zuko had been enraged when he had found out that the Sila Vatra had simply passed on his most important possessions down through the ranks as a...a trophy!
Zuko turned his head a little in the saddle, not really bothering to hold onto the reins.
"You realize that when we get back...when we have to start this all over again...I just want you to know..." though Zuko couldn't really see her face from the angle he was at, he was almost certain that she was blushing.
"Know what? What's wrong?" he asked.
For a moment, Katara remained silent. But then he felt the cool sensation of her fingers on his arm.
"I wanted you to know that, I'm sorry."
Zuko raised an eyebrow, but then realized that she couldn't possibly see his face.
"Sorry? For what?" he asked instead, making his surprise a little more obvious.
"Sorry that I judged you. Sorry for what I said. Sorry that I didn't accept you. And sorry that I got you into this whole, awful mess in the first place."
Zuko pulled on the reins, halting the Ostrich-horse to a stop. Lifting his leg over the saddle, he dismounted and looked up at Katara. He held up his hand to her.
He couldn't help but think just how beautiful she looked in the bright sunlight.
Hesitating for a moment, Katara took his hand and jumped down from the back of the Ostrich-horse. When she stood up, Zuko placed both of his hands on her shoulders, so that he looked directly into her eyes.
"Katara. I don't want you to say that ever again. You have nothing to be sorry about. Everything you did, everything you said, it was all for the best. If we hadn't been captured in the first place, then we'd never have known about this secret weapon. We would have been unprepared and the worst could have-"
His words were stopped when Katara pulled him down by the front of his shirt and kissed him.
At first, Zuko was surprised and didn't know how to react. Then he remembered exactly what his lips were for and kissed her back.
His mind raced with sensations. Her cool body was pressed up against his own warm one. Her brown skin resting on his own pale skin. Fire Bender and Water Bender...
Opposites attract...he thought stupidly.
Zuko drew her in close to him, his hand resting on the back of her hair and the other on her waist.
She felt her own hands against his chest, gripping into his shirt.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Zuko wished that he'd never taken the shirt from Chan...
When Katara finally pulled away from him, a brilliant smile crossed her face.
Zuko realized that he was smiling back.
This is right. This feels so right!
"There's nothing in the world that will ever stop me thanking you now, Zuko." Katara beamed.
"Well, if you really want to uh, thank me again...I definitely wouldn't mind." Zuko grinned down at her.
A playful smirk crossed her features and she lightly hit his arm.
"If someone had told me this would happen a few months ago, I would have laughed." she said, looking at the floor with the gentle smile still playing at her features.
So would I...
"I guess none of us really expected...well, this." Zuko gestured to them both. "But I'm glad that it happened."
Reaching out her hand, Katara gently curled her fingers around his own and looked up at him.
"You know we can never tell Aang about this, right?"
Zuko sighed, his shoulder heaving. He had expected her to say something like that...
"I know. I expected as much. I just thought that you,well...you didn't know about Aang. Everybody else seem's to, but you never really showed any sign that you knew anything about it."
Katara bit her lip uncertainly.
"I've always had a hunch. But lately, it just seem's more...obvious."
She laughed gently.
"Maybe it's because we're all about to die in a horrible inferno of fire and brimstone."
Zuko smiled back down at her.
"Come on. After we just came through all of that without being able to use our bending most of the time, surviving torture, beach jerks, constantly under attack and with bounties on our heads, the Fire Lord should be a piece of cake."
"Zuko. Maybe...maybe someday, when the war is over..."
Zuko was incredibly glad that she said 'when' and not 'if'.
"...then we could tell Aang. And then..."
Zuko placed a finger against her lips.
"Let's just not think about it, okay Katara? Let's just...go home."
Her gaze wavered, but the smile still remained. Putting her foot in the stirrup, Katara pulled herself up onto the Ostrich-horses back and looked down at him.
Zuko beamed back up at her as he rose up into his place in front of her at the reins.
Katara hugged at his middle, letting out a sigh of happiness.
"I know we can't when we get back, but...just for now. Just for a little while."
"Just for a little while." Zuko repeated as he gently kicked at the Ostrich-horses flank and began moving ever closer to the great chasm.
Closer to home...and farther away from you...
They looked down. Everything was as they remembered it.
The tree's. The birds. The old stone ruin set upside down on the underside of the cliff.
But what worried Zuko the most was wether there would still be anybody inside of the ruins...
What if they left? Where will we go then?
"Katara, if they're not there..."
She linked her arm through his as they looked down.
"Don't think about that now, Zuko. Just...just hope."
They waited in silence for almost five minutes, neither of them daring to make the first move in case their suspicions were true.
Then, a faint rumbling noise reverberated from the chasm walls. It grew and grew as the echo carried it up and up towards them.
Zuko felt Katara stiffen with anticipation, just as he did.
"Appa! It's Appa!" she called, her eyes glistening with unshed tears "They're still here!"
Katara began to move for the vines at the edge of the temple walls, but Zuko tugged her arm back.
She turned around to look at him, her face showing worry.
"What? What is it? Is something wrong?"
But Zuko just shook his head and smiled.
"I just wanted to do something...one last time, before we go down there."
Lightly, he pulled her into his chest and kissed her. He wrapped his arms around her tiny shoulders, wishing that they would never have to do anything but stay together like this, forever.
Katara kissed him back gently, as if she knew.
Everything was going to change once they got back down to the temple.
There was no telling what was going to happen. About the comet, about the Sila Vatra, about them...
When they pulled away, Zuko could see tears shining on Katara's face, making her brilliant blue diamond-like eyes shimmer.
I still can't believe I get to do that...
"You're so beautiful..." Zuko whispered to her, stroking her hair.
"Zuko..." her voice was tiny and she looked down at the floor. Immediately, Zuko panicked, thinking that he had done something wrong.
"When this is all over..." Katara continued "..when everything doesn't just revolve around the war, or the Avatar, or even survival..."
She looked up at him, a single tear running down her cheek.
"...I'll come find you."
Zuko's heart strings seemed to pull inwards.
You won't need to. I'll never be far away...
Zuko smiled sadly and brought her close into a hug.
"You always come back..." he whispered into her hair.
Dimly, they could hear a shout. It was far away, but still audible.
They looked down into the chasm and saw on the edge of the Air Temple, a small figure pointing upwards at them.
"The Duke.." Katara smiled, wiping the tears from her eyes.
Slowly, the words began to make sense.
The plucky young boy was bouncing up and down on his feet, the large helmet on his head slipping down every so often.
"It's them! Katara and Zuko! It's them! They're back! They're back!"
Slowly, Zuko had pulled himself away from Katara. He smiled gently at her, the bright afternoon sunlight lighting up his face. He didn't care about anything now.
He didn't care what he smelled or looked like.
He didn't care about his honour.
He didn't care about his throne.
For a moment, he didn't even care about the Fire Lord.
I care about you.
"When this is over." he whispered. The Duke's own shouting was now joined by the voices of others. "You know the first thing I'm going to do?"
Katara cocked her head slightly and frowned.
"Never ever collect firewood with you again."
Slowly, Katara's face split into a smile. It grew larger and larger on her face, lighting it up.
Soon, she was laughing. Then Zuko found himself laughing too.
Everything that had happened fizzled away with their laughter.
The chasm below projected their laughing voices, echoing it above and around them, like the whole world was laughing along with them.
Zuko was still laughing as he saw the first head emerge from the chasm and run toward them in a flurry of blue, arms outstretched.
He was still laughing when Katara lunged into her brother, clasping him in the tightest, most loving hug.
He was still laughing when Aang flew past and rushed up to them, happy tears streaming from his eyes.
And he was still laughing when he was tackled to the ground by his favourite Earth Bender, hugging at his waist and yelling at him.
At that very moment, Zuko could have sworn that the war had ended right then and there.
All there was was laughter.
Peace, happiness and laughter.