Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender is not mine! Quit asking! Does Zutara look like canon to you?
A/N: I really should shoot my muse; he's having too much of a Zutara heyday. Make that heyweek. I even had a Zutara dream last night (which was, admittedly, pretty cool. I do so enjoy dreaming in cartoon.). Apparently, though, my muse has tired of honorable!Zutara and has since segued into dishonorable!Zutara. Oh noes. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. Also, this is rated T largely for all the whatnot left unwritten, i.e., all the implications of future adultery. But not any present. Too bad if you wanted any, I suppose. So please read, enjoy, and REVIEWS would be LOVE.
He was too close.
She wanted to know how it had happened—this, standing here like this, not just close enough to feel the heat of his body but close enough to imbibe it and confuse it with her own. Layers of silk and other, less regal fabrics separated their skin, but the heat bled through easily without an additional barrier of air.
She was pressed tightly against the wall, caged in by his shoulders, pinned by his torso, intertwined with his legs. His arms, though, were not immobilizing her in any way; they hung at his sides, his hands only just resting on the curves of her hips, as if he did not want to take proper hold.
He didn't need to. He had her trapped.
Not in any physical sense—a flicker or two of her fingers, and she could bloodbend his body from hers. And somewhere in the back of her mind, where thoughts were still processing, she wondered if that were how it had happened—if on some unconscious level, she had bent him here against her.
But no, that wasn't right, and she knew it. No matter how much she needed to feel him, he had ended up here on his own, just as he had never forced her to the wall. Nothing had brought them here, to this place, but shared desire.
His head was bowed next to hers, his forehead resting on the wall, and she couldn't see his face; she wouldn't have been able to read his eyes anyway, what with his shaggy hair blocking the view. This close, she could smell him with every shallow, intermittent breath, and the musk of his body combined with the spice of some royal cologne and the sharper scent of smoke intoxicated her beyond reason.
But she, too, was passive here, leaning into the wall, as if she wanted to escape his touch, even though every cell in her body screamed for more. Her arms did not embrace him, her hands did not clutch fistfuls of his shirt; her palms were simply flat to the wall.
She swallowed after that tiny eternity, the reflex requiring more concentration than it ought. Her mouth was so dry, and her tongue felt thick and useless, as if she were lost in that desert again. She thought maybe she should glean some water from the air—spirits, she was so thirsty—but she couldn't quite manage…
"Zuko…" she breathed, her voice raspy and rough and deafeningly quiet.
It was a plea. She wished she knew for what.
He shifted, ever so slightly, but in no way retreated. It was almost as if he were settling, assuming the most comfortable stance, like a man who intended to remain where he was indefinitely. His hair tickled her cheek as he tilted his head, and she shuddered as his breath trickled down her neck. The air was so hot…but fire was in the breath, wasn't it?
"Katara…" he murmured, his lips very nearly shaping the syllables on her skin. His hands adjusted minutely on her hips, his fingertips curling to root in her flesh.
She thought maybe that should mean something, that maybe it was some sort of sign: how many people, after all, could conduct an entire conversation and convey volumes of emotion with the simple exchange of names?
Her slender frame tensed, but barely, as if only her edges had tightened. "Tell me this is wrong," she whispered, at once both commanding and begging. "Tell me to shove you away. Tell me you don't want me. Spirits, Zuko, tell me anything to make me leave…"
He did not answer, and only the flexing of his fingers indicated that he might have heard. They dug in deeper.
"What if Aang, or Mai…?" she asked incompletely. "I…I…I shouldn't stay. Here…with you. I…I shouldn't…"
She knew her diction betrayed her. Not can't or won't. Shouldn't.
As if she just might anyway.
"Tell me to go," she pleaded, desperately. "Tell me it's wrong to stay. Please…"
She had no resistance anymore, even though she wasn't sure if she'd had any in the first place. If he didn't pull away, she knew that she would be unable; if he didn't turn aside, she knew that they could very well be tangled against this wall for all time. And who really cared that he was the Fire Lord and she was with the Avatar? She wanted so badly not to care about political ramifications and the outcry of the world. For once, she wanted to follow a whim—although the way she felt could hardly be dismissed so unimportantly—regardless of duty, uncaring of consequences.
Another searing and slow exhalation, and despite the warmth of his breath and his closeness, she shivered again. One of his hands disengaged from her hip and encountered her limp one, and she was acutely aware of each individual sensation as his fingers laced carefully through hers, every brush of flesh and transfer of heat. Her fingers tightened suddenly and fiercely on his, aching for any scrap of connection and granting wordless approval.
And finally, he answered her, his voice as husky as hers. She felt her heart crumple into submission with a soft sigh, and she let her eyelids slide shut with something too relieved to be resignation as he whispered it again.