I never thought anybody would still be interested in my story since the Avatar hype is long over. But every now and then a review proved me wrong, thank you so much for that
My dear, precious Appa, I missed you the most. To see that you still care makes me so happy I almost cried. Thank you so much for your continued support and the offer to be my beta again.
Yep Arraye, you got that right, I've been almost 5 ½ years away…
Sorry guys for keeping you hanging for so long. I have to tell you it's not so easy to get back in.
So please bear with me if I don't get the hang of the characters like it should be, or if the plot, especially when someone talks, is a bit rugged. I hope I get better with time and even more I hope I won't stop again until I finished this story. I make no promises for the other one "Know your Enemy" though.
Azrael, you wanted to know if Zuko's dreams in chapter 19 were foreshadowing something. You might be onto something there, but mostly it were his fears combined with past experiences and upbringing. Talking of dreams, did anybody notice that the vision Aang had was the moment Zuko awoke from his terrifying dream of losing Katara (in two ways literally most probably to death since she fell from a fairly great high, but also as a (girl)friend with her last words full of hatred) – no wonder Zuko had such an unpleasant look on his face …
Break your Silence on your Way to me
Finally Aang was done with his training to master the Avatar state. He and Toph said their goodbyes to Guru Pathik and mounted Appa. As they flew towards Ba Sing Se, his concentration shifted to his concern for Katara and worry hit him with full force.
"I had a vision of Katara," Aang tentatively disclosed. Usually when he was feeling troubled Aang would seek solace from Katara, but this time she was the source of his worries and also very far away. Remembering the candid talk he'd had with Toph the other night the Airbender hoped he could find some good advice and hopefully some much needed comfort from the girl.
"What did you see? Do you know where she is now?" she prompted.
"No, the vision didn't give the location, but I know now, that she was captured by Zuko," Aang sighed deeply.
"Who is Zuko? I think I've heard the name before."
Toph listened intently while Aang heatedly filled her in on how Zuko had followed them all over the world for the past few month and on all the different approaches he'd used to try to capture Aang.
"So, if this guy is so intent to get you and used to follow you wherever you go, how come I never met him?" Toph inquired.
"Actually I wondered about that myself. The last time we encountered Prince Zuko was at the Northern Water Tribe during the Siege of the North. I assumed he might have died in the battle since we never heard of him since. But it seems that I was wrong about that. I should be relieved since he is a human being and I never wanted him to die, but frankly, I can't bring myself to feel that way. You should have seen the way he'd looked at Katara. He's probably torturing her right now, demanding she tell him where we are, but how should she know?! We got separated before we decided on this route, before we knew about the 'Day of the Black Sun'. What if she …"
"Whoa! Calm down Twinkletoes!" Toph cut off the babbling. "What good do you think you'll do Katara by freaking out over things you don't even know for sure? Shouldn't you focus on how to find and retrieve her instead?"
Though it had felt good to vent all his fears, Aang knew Toph was right; he should focus and he would find Katara. And when he did, Katara better be unharmed …
If Zuko has laid a single finger on her, he'll be in for a severe punishment. For a brief moment the arrows on the Avatar's body began to glow before he regained control of his emotions.
At sunrise Appa finally crossed the outer wall of Ba Sing Se. This was the signal for Sokka to head home. The streets were still empty and the light in the houses he came by indicating that most people were up and preparing for their daily work. Soon the streets of Ba Sing Se would be full of life. Sokka took a moment to enjoy the scarce tranquillity. It gave him the chance to think, to focus on the upcoming task.
When a lone figure suddenly dashed out of the shadows and headed straight at him Sokka almost had a heart attack. Realizing who the person was made him only slightly feel better.
"Not long enough no see," he taunted. "Actually, I would have preferred to meet you again one day after never, Jet!"
"It's always nice to see that you are welcoming," Jet replied dryly. "But as much as I'd like to stay out of your way, I have an important message to deliver to your Avatar."
"Nice try, but no thank you! We are on a very crucial mission right now and I won't let you interfere. Go home and leave us alone!"
"Come on Sokka, I have changed. Just hear me out."
"Yeah right and I stopped eating meat. I haven't forgotten how convincing you lie. I won't listen to anything you might have to say."
"Even if I tell you where your sister is right now?"
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO KATARA?! WHERE IS SHE!?"
"Whoa, whoa! Calm down buddy. This has nothing to do with me. I haven't laid a finger on jour precious sister, I just happened to stumble across her whereabouts."
"You know, I still don't trust you, but I can't miss the chance of getting Katara back. I'll lead you to the Avatar now and together we'll discuss where we go from here. But be warned, if this is a trick you are so going to regret it!"
"This isn't a trick, not this time, I swear."
When the two boys finally reached their destination Sokka advised Jet to stay behind so Sokka could prepare Aang for the meeting with him. They had all been rather angry at Jet and Aang especially hadn't taken it too well having been deceived into almost killing people. From former experiences, Sokka knew how easily Aang could snap. Images of their encounter with the sandbenders came to mind, and the young Avatar was now more powerful than he'd ever been.
"Aang, you're back! Oh, and Toph too. How did it work out for you?"
"My trip was a total success; I've totally master the Avatar state now!" Aang beamed while Toph's face fell for a split moment, only to harden immediately after.
Accentuating indifference, she replied, "My jaunt actually turned out to be a trap, but those guys where no match for me."
"I have been quite busy myself," Sokka announced proudly. "Everything is set into place. The Generals are acquainted to our invasion plans and with the official seal of the King they'll be on their way when the time is right. We can just leave it to them from here on and focus on you mastering Firebending." And before anybody could comment he hurried to make the announcement of the day "But before that we have to investigate something huge; on my way here I stumbled across a person who claims he could tell us where to find Katara."
Upon waking up, Zuko instantly knew this day would be great. He didn't remember the last time he felt so refreshed. The sun was sending its first rays into the room with the promise of warm and bright hours to come. Katara stood in the small kitchen, her preparations for their breakfast almost done, smiling affectionately at him. Life was good, finally.
With a content sigh, Zuko got up and got himself ready for the day. The boy that looked back at him from the mirror had lost all his irate features while his eyes seemed to literally shine with a contentment which resulted from deep within his heart. He took a fresh set of clothing from the shelf and marvelled at how Katara always managed to get their clothes so soft and nicely scented without ever having been told to take on the chore of their laundry. And ever since, his belongings had been hole and wrinkle free, at least until he used them.
When Zuko finally entered the kitchen, Iroh had already left for work. They had decided it would be better if Zuko stayed this one day more home to stabilize his condition, but tomorrow Katara and Zuko would both go back to the shop. Their savings were almost used up, but fortunately they'd settled for a rather modest lifestyle and Iroh seemed to know just where to buy the best yet cheapest groceries.
Standing in front of the sink, Katara cleaned up Iroh's dishes. As she heard Zuko enter the room, she turned her head to greet him.
"It's good to see you up again. You look exceptionally well today."
Zuko closed the distance between them and embraced her from behind.
"That's all due to your tremendous good care. Thank you so much," he whispered in her ear before he started to nibble on her neck and earlobe.
Closing her eyes Katara leaned into his touch, relishing the feelings spreading through her body. All of this felt so much like she imagined a real marriage must be like. She could easily get lost in the sensations. And she didn't want to fight it. Something that felt so right couldn't be wrong. She turned slowly in Zuko's arms until she faced him and placed her hands on his muscular chest. She could feel his heartbeat at her fingertips, strong and just a little too fast.
She registered his hot breath on her face and raised her head to look deep into his eyes. His right hand was on the small of her back, urging her with almost unnoticeable force closer to him while his other rested between her shoulder blades allowing his thump to draw small, gentle circles on her back.
With a shaky breath Katara inched closer, while slowly sliding her hands up his chest to circle one arm around his shoulders and tangle the other in his hair and absentmindedly worried her lower lip which in return attracted Zuko's attention to her mouth, making him descend slowly. Halfway down he closed his eyes and opened his mouth slightly in anticipation. Suddenly there was a loud bang at their door.
Dun, dun, duuuunnn – I'm evil, you already knew that.
The important scenes of the next part were already written fife years ago – unfortunately I lost my notes. I remember it was full of heavy emotions, let's hope I can rewrite just as powerful in the coming week(s) – hopefully sooner.
You liked this chapter better than the previous one? Go and bow down to Appa-Appa-Away. As usually she made my writing a whole lot better by pointing out all the mistakes I made (I hope I didn't overlooked any when I deleted them in my document) and by ironing out some of my more clunky phrases. Thank you Appa, you are the best!
Please let me know what you think, feedback keeps me going. As I told you, it even brought me back from my 5 year hibernation.