Disclaimer: the following story is a work of fanfiction. I in no way claim ownership to anything in this story or the Avatar Universe…
Chapter One- Meditation
Location: Western Air Temple
"Hey, Zuko, it's my turn to train Aang," Katara called as she sauntered over to the Firebender and Firebender in training. "You're free to wander off and be moody somewhere."
"The Avatar has mastered water bending," Zuko said holding Aang in place. He did not appreciate her tone. "He needs to keep practicing."
The Avatar was still struggling in his grasp. Aang was all too eager to go and splash in the water with the half naked girl. Zuko still could not comprehend how Katara could wear such skimpy clothing as for north as they were. The only reason she even tried it was because her father was not there. Hakoda and Chit Sang had headed to a nearby settlement to "liberate" some food for them. They would be back by the end of the week. If the Watertribe chief only knew that his daughter ran around in her underwear, the little tart.
Zuko growled and smoke came out his nose.
Aang gave him a frightened stare. "Katara, I'll meet you in the fountain once I finish these sets with Sifu Hotman."
"If you do them correctly," Zuko said, his annoyance reaching a higher level as he attempted to ignore his new nickname.
"Um, yeah," Aang echoed him, a hand behind his head shyly. "If I do it right."
Katara shrugged, cast Zuko an angry glare, and then turned and headed to the fountain, jumping in and making all sorts of fun, splashing sounds. Aang groaned loudly.
"Again," Zuko barked.
Breathing deeply Aang bent his knees and pushed his fists outward. The flames extended like snakes, and he swirled them about his head, wrapping the flames against a far pillar, he pulled and the stone crumbled to the ground. As soon as Zuko nodded his approval Aang rushed forward he restored the rock, not wanting to cause permanent damage to his temple.
"Very good," Zuko said firmly, he was rewarded by a wide smile from Aang. The teen looked to the sky then and saw the sun at midday. "You can go to your water bending master now," he told him gruffly. "I'm going to meditate."
Aang jumped in the air, "Yippee!" he called as he spun. On his feet once more he exchanged a bow with Zuko then took off in an incredible pace towards the fountain.
"Tsk," Zuko scowled as he passed the fountain. The monk and Watertribe girl were having more of a water fight then a training session.
Spotting Toph by a nearby stove he went and sat next to her, her feet resting away from the flames. He saw the lightest trace of scabbing still there. At least when she wasn't interrupting the Avatar's lesson, Katara was helping the blind girl's feet heal at an alarming rate.
"Maybe you could be free of it," Katara had told him underneath Ba Sing Se. He touched his scar knowing how willing she was to help everyone. Well, except him. She hated him now, had even threatened to kill him. Zuko was pretty sure there would be no more offers to heal his scar.
"How come you touch your face all the time?" Toph said aloud. He gave her an odd look and then remembered the Avatar telling him something about her feeling vibrations and movements through the ground. She pulled her foot to her and picked at a scab. Zuko coughed so he would not gag. He ignored her question.
"How are your feet today?" his tone was a guilty one. Each word uttered to the earthbender was laced with an underlying apology. She smiled and punched his arm.
"Much better," she stood then and scrapped her feet along the stone floor. "I'm resuming training with Aang today," she said triumphantly.
"Good luck getting him away from Katara," he scoffed, though secretly he was pleased Toph was pretty much healed.
"No problem," she said bringing her hands together and cracking them loudly. "TWINKLETOES!" she bellowed, walking off in the direction of the other benders. Zuko was amazed when the splashing stopped and a perturbed Katara walked past him in a huff. He smiled at the sharp tone he heard Toph using, though he had to concentrate then, and not let his eyes follow the wet water bender, whose white linens stuck to her like a second skin.
Damn that water, he thought. He needed to clear his mind and meditate, focusing away from the girl. Or he would need a very cold shower.
Katara was not exactly sure why she was following Zuko through the temple. She was bored, she supposed, and she still did not trust him. No, not a bit. But what she did not want to admit was that she was also curious. He told them every day that he was going to meditate, today was no exception, and Katara wanted to see what exactly he did.
So she stayed a few yards behind him as he walked deeper into the temple and settled under a large archway. He shrugged out of his black shirt and crossed his legs. Placing his palms facing upward on his knees, he breathed deeply, closing his eyes. He was completely still, save the breaths that entered his body. Katara watched his alabaster chest, his perfectly toned torso, and an odd feeling penetrate her belly. Suddenly she felt as though she was doing something wrong.
Not content to simply observe any more she stepped from behind the pillar she was hiding and walked over to Zuko. If he noticed her presence he did not reveal it. His breaths were so deep, as though he was sleeping. Katara noticed that Aang often got like that when he was taking a journey to the Spirit World.
Ever so gently she leaned forward, only inches from Zuko's face, she could not comprehend his deep concentration. Perhaps her proximity would scare him when he came to. That thought made her chuckle lightly.
Katara took in his calm features and his scar. That horrible scar that marred what she was sure would be a perfectly sculpted face. It did make him dangerous looking though, if you were into that sort of thing, some would call him handsome. She remembered his golden, piercing eyes and shuddered. Yes, Katara would call him handsome as well. But she would never tell a soul. Even considering him in such a way angered her. She was still mad at him. She didn't care that he was training Aang, or that he helped free her father from the Boiling Rock. To her, he would always be that spoiled Prince who chose his manipulative sister over her and Aang. He chose evil over good. An unforgivable mistake.
Stupid, evil, handsome Prince, she thought. You still haven't apologized to me personally. That would help me consider forgiving you.
With that she placed a cold hand upon his face, his scar. She gasped as something pulled her then, a bell was heard and the world around her became fuzzy and tinted beige. Automatically she realized she was in the Spirit World.
Zuko felt positive about his meditation. Since his move to join the Avatar his aura had never been clearer, he had never before felt so calm. Zuko knew he was so close to his goal of entering the Spirit World he could taste it. If one could taste the Spirit World of course. He deepened his breaths and removed himself farther from the physical world. Silently he thanked his Uncle for the relaxation tips the old general had offered over the years. The light beyond his eyes disappeared first, then the sensation of the cool breeze. Finally the smell of the air around him, which had suddenly taken on a very sweet aroma, like flowers and water. But he left that behind as well. He was in complete darkness, nothing was around him; perhaps it was he that had intruded on the nothing. He felt it then, the slightest pressure on his cheek. His whole body was jerked upward and his eyes opened to the dim light. A swamp of some kind lay before him. Still seated he raised his palm and attempted to produce a small flame, it did not come.
Grinning ear to ear, he stood quickly and turned, only to be tripped by a dark pair of legs in white shorts.
"Huh?" he managed, looking up. Red took over his sight at who he lie on top of. "What are you doing here?"
"Gerroffme," came the muffled reply.
"Not until you tell me why you're here."
"I don't know," Katara mumbled. "I found you meditating, touched you, then bam, I'm here," she took in her surroundings once more. "In the Spirit World."
At that moment they both became aware of their close proximity. Zuko's hand was at her waist, touching her bare skin, and only inches from her breast. He looked, from his hand to her chest, and then blushed fiercely. Jumping up once more, his gentlemanly manners emerged and he offered her a hand.
Katara glowered at his hand and pulled herself up on her own. Her action caused him to sigh loudly.
"How did this happen?" she asked quietly, not wanting to look at him.
"Deep concentration," he said told her, a little smug. "I've been attempting this for weeks, and I finally made it."
"Why did you want to enter the Spirit World?" Katara had promised herself not a moment before she would speak to him as little as possible, yet still found her curiosity getting the best of her.
"Why do you care?" he retorted, though instantly sorry for the tone he used. Her eyes looked injured. "You hate me, remember?"
"I don't hate you," she said, almost in a whisper, so he had to strain to hear her. "I'm just very angry with you, and hurt by your actions."
Zuko wasn't sure what to say to that, so he nodded.
They both took in their surroundings; the swampy water went on for miles in each direction. Only their little island and the trees stuck above the water.
"I'm looking for a spirit," he said a few minutes later when they both had sat down on the ground. Katara placed a thin finger in the swamp water and removed it, with a look of disgust. She raised an eyebrow at his words. "On the day of the eclipse my father told he me that my mother was still alive, but refused to tell me where. When the Avatar kills my father, I doubt he will tell me with his dying breath, so I am going to look for her on my own. But I'll need directions."
"Okay?" Katara said. "But why come here?"
"During the first siege of Ba Sing Se, my cousin Lu Ten was kidnapped on the front lines. He was kept for weeks in the wilderness of the Earth Kingdom. My Uncle went mad with worry. Finally, not knowing where else to turn he made a journey to the Spirit world and contacted a spirit named Itom. Itom is the unofficial keeper of the census of the natural world. He knows where all mortals are at all times."
"Did your Uncle find him?"
"Yes," Zuko's face grew sad. "And Itom told him where his son was. My Uncle stumbled upon his grave a week later. Apparently he would not reveal Firenation Battle plans, so he was killed. I don't think they knew he was a crown Prince though," Zuko said, speculating.
"So you want Itom to tell you where to find your mother?"
Katara looked thoughtful as she gazed past him. He stared at her calm face, tensing as her eyebrows creased. "Something is coming."
Standing, Zuko turned and looked behind him. A lone figure in a row boat floated slowly towards them. A minute later they were met by a toothy grin.
The spirit wore very little clothing, though both Katara and Zuko preferred the opposite. He was rather old and heavy set, with a great amount of hair, covering, well…everywhere.
"Howdy Mortals," he addressed them kindly. "Names Loki, who might ya'll be?"
Katara and Zuko exchanged puzzled glances. This caused Loki to frown.
"No sense in being rude," he stepped from the boat onto their island. "I know who you are; I was just being polite in asking for your names. Zuko, prince of the Fire Nation, outcast, traitor. And you," he turned to Katara and leaned toward her. "Nearly a princess yourself. Katara of the Southern Watertribe, and companion of the Avatar."
Very slowly, Zuko moved in front of Katara, shielding her from the strange spirit. He cleared his throat to speak.
"It's a pleasure to meet you spirit Loki," he said, offering a slight bow, but never removing his eyes from him. "I wonder if you could assist me in locating another spirit, by the name of Itom."
"First of all, I ain't a spirit," Loki said, rolling his eyes. "I'm a god. Get it? Second of all, I'm not too keen on your attitude mortal; I'm not a directory or a map."
Zuko frowned at that. A god?
"God of what?" he managed. Katara peeked around his shoulder to look at the god herself.
"Oh, many things," he said, a dangerous smile found his lips. "Though I'm most well known for my mischief."
"Zuko," Katara started, punching his arm quickly. "We should leave now, this is not going well."
"Shut up, he can hear you," Zuko hissed back. "Keep your water bending mouth closed."
"Don't tell me to shut up, you arrogant firebender, I'm sick of you speaking to me in such an egotistical tone."
"I'm arrogant, says the girl who has to be the center of attention at all times, 'look at me, dancing around in my undergarments. I hate the Firenation and especially Zuko, who hasn't redeemed himself in any way' I've had just about enough," he spat, forgetting the god that stood before him.
If either of them had been paying attention at the time, they would have noticed how Loki's smile doubled, or how he moved beside them placing a hand on both Katara and Zuko's shoulders.
They both turned to him with angry eyes and were startled by his touch.
"In my extremely benevolent nature, I've decided to give ya'll a gift," Zuko opened his mouth to say it was not necessary, but bit his tongue in fear of angering the god further. "It is the gift of understanding."
Without another word, he squeezed their shoulders and pushed them backwards. Both Katara and Zuko braced themselves to hit the swampy water, but the wetness never came.
Instead they opened their eyes to the dim lights of the Air bending temple.
Katara was lying completely on top of Zuko, who again, had his arms about her waist.
"That was so weird," she said slowly, prying herself loose from the Firebender.
"Um, yeah it was," Zuko followed. He groaned. "That ended up being completely pointless, thanks for ruining it," he spat at her.
"Excuse me," Katara stepped forward, pointing a finger in his face.
"You ruined my spirit world journey. Who knows the next time I'll get back," he growled, pushing her finger away and headed towards the passage way that led to their rooms. "Just leave me alone."
But Katara only followed closely behind. "What did he mean, 'the gift of understanding'?"
"How should I know?" he said facing her, he rolled his blue eyes in her direction and her breath caught. "What now?"
"Zuko, your eyes."
"What about them?" he muttered, still not looking at her.
"Your eyes are blue, as blue as mine."
He looked into her eyes and his breath caught as well. Gold. He grabbed her face and jerked it to the nearest window. The fading daylight offered just enough sun to see her face clearly. Yes, her eyes were indeed golden.
"I don't understand," he whispered. Katara pried her face from his hands and sighed.
"The gift of understanding," she muttered once more. An idea came to her. "Zuko, Firebend," she commanded.
His panic caused him to obey her at once. He snapped his fingers, a move she had seen him do many times before. No fire emerged from his finger tips.
"Crap," he said slapping his forehead. "I just got my bending back and now it's gone again. There's no way I'm going back to the Sunwarriors. I'll return to the Spirit World before I take that journey again."
During his rant Katara began to snap her fingers, trying to imitate his movements. On her fourth attempt she managed to produce a small flame. She nearly fainted from surprise.
"No Zuko, I have your bending now," he looked at her and groaned even louder.
"Well, what about me?"
"I suppose you're a water bender now."
The way he reacted, one would think she told him that he had turned into a hog monkey. He leaned against a nearby wall and bumped his head furiously.
"I can't believe this…"
/Introducing fanfic numero tres. This is just a preview. I won't be working on this again until I finish Promises, which will be in the next few weeks.
The gist of the story is that Loki (the Norse god of mischief and all around naughtiness) has decided to switch Katara and Zuko's bending to teach them a lesson in getting along. If it wasn't clear in the text, this is between episode 3-15(boiling rock pt.2) and 3-16 (the southern raiders).Definitely AU.
You can imagine all the shenanigans these two can get into with their bending switched around. This story iwill be rather short and is just for fun and light fluff, nothing to hot and heavy, I will keep the rating T this time.
As always, thanks for reading, please review if you like it and want me to keep going with the story!