"Katara, wait!" Aang called after her as she ran down the hall. She stopped, and turned to look at him with a certain amount of dread in her eyes.

"Something's wrong, isn't it?" Aang said. He put a hand on her shoulder tenderly. "Lately I feel like you've been avoiding me."

Katara wavered. How could she tell him? His eyes were so big with trust and love for her. "I just need some time," she said, hating herself.

"You know that no matter what it is, I'll always be there for you, right?" Aang said. He smiled at her warmly, and moved in for a kiss.

Before she realized what she was doing, Katara evaded him. They both froze, and Aang looked down at her hands on his chest, keeping distance between them. His expression was undeniably hurt. Very softly he said, "There's someone else, isn't there?"

Katara couldn't speak around the lump in her throat, so she just nodded. She couldn't lie to him any more.

"I wasn't good enough for you?" Aang said. He couldn't quite hide the bitterness in his voice.

"I tried," Katara said, "I really did. My head wanted to be with you. But in the end I had to follow my heart."

Aang wouldn't look at her. "Go," he said.


"Just go."

As much as facing Aang had hurt her, Katara felt liberated. It marked the end of the fear and secrecy, the end of skulking around in dark corridors meeting for desperate, fevered trysts.

...well, actually, the fevered trysts part of it hadn't been so bad. She hoped their passion wouldn't fade now that they were free to love each other openly.

As she walked to his room in the Fire Nation palace, Katara couldn't help but marvel once again at how much things had changed between them. She'd never imagined, back when he'd been chasing them all over the Earth Kingdom, that she'd be gazing into his golden eyes with such longing a few scant months later. She hadn't even found him physically attractive at first, but now she found nothing sexier than his firm, strong muscles, his masculine scent, his turgid, aching...well, anyway, she found him attractive. Katara blushed.

But really, she hadn't explained everything to Aang. He knew that things were over between them now, and that she loved someone else, but she had never actually told him who it was. How would he react to that? He might not be able to understand their love. And worse, would he feel betrayed that it was his own newfound ally to take her away from him?

Sokka might not be so understanding either. But Toph would get it. Toph was cool like that.

Her stomach full of butterflies and her heart aflame with desire, Katara knocked on the door to his royal quarters. "Come in," came the strong, masculine voice from the other side, and Katara was wet for him already.

He took her into her arms and kissed her tenderly. Katara returned the kiss, wrapping her arms around his broad, muscular chest and grinding slightly in her excitement.

"I told Aang," Katara said breathlessly when he released her lips. "I think he's hurt, but I know he'll be able to get over it. He's strong."

He nodded. "That's probably for the best. I did not like deceiving him."

Katara just about melted. "You're so noble. And brave."

"Not to mention handsome," he said modestly.

Katara snuggled up to him happily and kissed him again. "Anyway," she said, "how could Aang really expect me to be happy with him? I'm a woman, and he's a boy. You're a man. It makes sense."

"It does," Iroh said, "and I'm happy to have you. Besides, not like my nephew was doing anything about it."

Then they had steamy, hot, wet...tea. All night long.