It had taken some time to figure out what Katara wanted to do once she settled into their new home on Ember Island. Sitting around doing nothing was not an option so she enrolled in nursing school but quickly discovered that while it was just "okay" it wasn't what she wanted to do after all. Then seeing the help wanted ad at a local exercise studio piqued her interest and it was love at first day of work. According to Katara the owner was a lovely young woman about their age and they got along splendidly and was enthusiastic at Katara's suggestion to teach waterbending style routines. It combined her love of her culture with her love of teaching. Apparently in their little corner of the Fire Nation, the bending forms of her people seemed so exotic that the locals flocked to try it for themselves. It had taken barely three months for them to have to create a waiting list. She offered different classes from beginners that focused on the slow movements to advanced techniques that blended waterbending with firebending. Of course Zuko was her guinea pig whenever she had to come up with a new routine and new routines turned into other things that left them sweaty, naked heaps on the floor. "I think we'll keep that routine to ourselves," Katara would pant, glazed eyes staring at the ceiling with an equally exhausted Zuko by her side.
Then she got requests from the parents to teach the kids and naturally she couldn't say no to the kids. Eventually the owner grew bored of being "the boss" and signed everything over to Katara with the stipulation that she could continue teaching. Katara had been tickled pink to become the proud owner of the fitness studio. Of course, the books had been a mess but Katara had a good head for budgets and such and managed to put the company in the black.
As for Zuko, more and more he found himself growing further away from his career with his father's company and with his commute to the city bordering over two hours round trip he found it especially appealing when he didn't have to go in to that staunchy office building in Capital City. At least once or twice a week though he did have to go in and today was one of those days and it had been hell. There had been a major snafu with one of their clients and if it hadn't been for his "never give up" attitude it would have been beyond disastrous for the company. Then he missed his train, having to wait another hour and half before the next one. By the time he made it to the station, walked the mile or so to her shop, he was done for the day. He wanted to rip off the suit, grab a cold one (and a beer), plop down on the couch, and enjoy some mindless television or maybe destroy some alien horde on the PS3. Through the front glass window he could see that she was nearly done with the last class of the day. Hooking a finger through the collar of his jacket, he slung it over his shoulder and watched with a certain sense of pride and admiration at how successful her venture had been as she closed the stance, led the class through the final cleansing breaths, and then thanked everyone for coming. He smiled and nodded as the class exited the small studio and made his way inside to find Katara packing away the mats.
"Good class?" he inquired, waiting until the one-room space was emptied before coming in and kissing her.
"Yes," she replied tightly, "And you missed it. I was really counting on you being here tonight. You could have at least let me know." He was supposed to have helped out for tonight's class and he hated having to miss it.
"I sent you a text and left three messages," he answered, thumbing through the receipts and bills from the day making a mental note of each one then headed to the little back room that made up the office and supply closet.
"No, you didn't," she countered, yanking her phone from her purse, pressing a few buttons, and frowning. "Okay, fine. You're off the hook this time. What happened?"
Zuko sighed and rolled his eyes, his cue that it had been utter chaos. Katara patted him on the chest and gave him a sympathetic look, "You can tell me all about it when you take me to dinner. I'm starving and I'm really craving barbeque."
He glanced up briefly from the paperwork to see her slipping off the last leg of the workout pants then bending over (purposefully inviting, if he hadn't known better) to grab her jeans. He had to blink back dirty thoughts as the material slid over one luscious tan leg then another, then wriggled past her hips, and finally hid those white cotton panties from his appreciative view. Of course she smiled at him and winked when he unconsciously made a disappointed whine.
Locking up the shop, they walked down the block to their favorite barbeque place. They specialized in an Earth Kingdom regional cuisine and their marinated pig-chicken was finger-licking good. Boxing up the leftovers, they headed home in much better spirits.
Setting down their things and putting away the leftovers, Katara smacked Zuko in the butt as they headed upstairs to shower and change when Katara's phone rang. "Hey, Sokka," Katara started, and then her face went pale. Zuko's brows knitted together as he watched her nod silently then finally say, "We'll be on the next flight out." Ending the call Katara explained that Gran Gran was back in the hospital. The doctor's had missed something major when she had complained about the chest pains and it didn't look good.
While Katara hastily packed their things, Zuko made a few phone calls and booked their flight to the South Pole. Before the evening was out, they were on board the plane with Katara's small hand tucked tightly in his. Pressing the rental car perhaps faster than he should have along the snow covered roads, Zuko made it to the hospital in record time. It was Suki who greeted them in the hallway hugging her sister-in-law with Sokka right behind them pulling his little sister into a big bear hug. Zuko stood in the doorway feeling that strange pull of family from these future in-laws. It never ceased to amaze him how her family worked. He still remembered his own grandfather's passing and it was nothing like this. It had been clawing and backstabbing other family members to squeeze whatever assets from his tight fists. Zuko watched the love and devotion over the next several days that surrounded the elderly woman as she slipped into the next world. She was so lucky to have these people around her. Katara folded into his arms, burying her head in his chest when Gran Gran took her last breath.
The funeral three days later wasn't what he expected either. There was music and laughter and almost joy despite the somber events. Suki must have seen his look of wonder because she sidled up to him and said it was weird to her too being an outsider as well. He clicked his beer bottle against hers and they watched as the family made their final goodbyes to their matriarch.
A week after her grandmother's passing they were in what had been her childhood bedroom, now a guest room, Zuko exited the bathroom to find Katara bundled underneath the blankets. He knew now wasn't the time but he half wondered if she was naked under there. He desperately tried to rid that thought from his mind, but as he slipped under the covers and spooned up behind her he discovered with his chest and arms she was in a camisole and an old pair of his boxers. Again he tried to shoo away the desire for her. She rolled over and he held her tight as she cried against his chest. He had no intentions of making love to her given the situation but she had looped her leg across his hip inadvertently opening herself to him, kissing him so tenderly it nearly broke his heart. She had whispered her need to feel their connection, to be reminded of being alive and loved. And spirits above, he loved this woman. Though they hadn't yet officially wed, she was his wife in his heart and soul and he her husband. Gran Gran in her last moments had approved of the match and blessed the couple. For Katara, that was all she needed. That little slip of paper to make it official didn't matter. To have her family's blessing was good enough.
It wasn't until they get home and unpacked that Katara found the little case sitting in the bathroom shelf a week and a half unused. She was a bit frantic, "I'll make an appointment and get a new prescription and-."
Zuko blushed slightly, gathering the dirty clothes to put in the wash. "I don't think you should."
"What do you mean?" she asked just about ready to press the call button on her phone.
It took all his effort, but he met her puzzled eyes. "What if we… let nature take its course? If it happens, it happens."
"Yeah. I guess I am." Zuko smiled at the thought of being a father and to have Katara be the mother.
"Are you sure?"
"Well yeah. I mean if it's what you want too." His voice trailed off, half expecting her to argue against what he was saying.
She bit her bottom lip apprehensively, "So we might be parents now, you know?"
"Well it might not happen that quickly"
"And it was just that one time," she added.
"Exactly," he repeated, strangely disappointed that he might be right.
"And you're really, really sure?" Katara smiled.
Zuko nodded, pulling her into his arms. "I've never been more sure about anything."
It had been nearly six months later when Sokka, Suki, and Kiana stayed with them for the a couple days. Seeing Katara with Kiana confirmed their desires and the same could be said of Zuko with the little girl, now a precocious toddler. She was a joy to be around and they babysat her one evening so Sokka and Suki could have a nice evening kid-free. Zuko couldn't help but smile with the little girl.
Katara had run to the store to get a few items before the big game on TV but traffic had made her late. When she got home, she ran upstairs coming back down after several minutes.
"What'd I miss?" she asked, passing Zuko a beer and a kiss. Sokka proceeded to give her the rundown of the game. Zuko glanced over to where she sat on the loveseat, feet tucked under, but her eyes seemed red. Like she had been trying not to cry. He was about to ask when the player on the screen made a killer move and everybody shouted enthusiastically and Kiana banged on the coffee table.
The beer went right through him and he went upstairs to pee. It wasn't until he was drying his hands that he saw the plastic stick sitting on the edge of the tub. He knew that she was late and they had hoped. His heart raced yet his breathing slowed. Picking it up, the two pink lines that should have been there... weren't.
In a daze he went back downstairs. He met Katara's eyes and he could see the sadness in them. Leaning over he grabbed her hand and gave a squeeze.
When everyone had left, she immediately began cleaning, more out of nerves than anything. Zuko stopped her and it was then that she burst into tears. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. We'll just keep trying." He tried to joke that the trying was the fun part. Wiping away her tears, she agreed.
Zuko fiddled with his car keys and checking and rechecking his hair in the hall mirror as he waited for Katara to come out of the bathroom. It was a knee length black cocktail dress with a cowl neckline that dipped enough to expose her collarbone but unfortunately not enough to expose any of that cleavage. It was when she turned around modeling for him to get the full view his heart stopped as his jaw hit the floor. Her hair was pinned up not allowing any of it to hide away the expanse of her back the dress exposed.
"Why do you do this to me?" he growled.
Tears started to well up in her eyes turning to face him. "You don't like it?"
Approaching her like a dragon to his prey, he ran his hands over the black silk enjoying the curves beneath. "How am I supposed to schmooze with the people at the company when I won't be able to keep my hands off you?"
"So you do like it?" Katara winked, fiddling with Zuko's tie.
"Uh, yeah. Just a little bit." He made a quick glance down to his watch. Damn, no time for a quickie. It would be dishonorable for the son of the company's owner to be late. It was a boring affair, mindless chatter with kiss-asses who were loosening their lips just a bit thanks to the free alcohol. There was a dance floor that several employees and their spouses were using and Katara led him to it. Dancing together closely, Zuko's thumb ran along the border of the dress and her skin.
"You know I've never seen your office."
The comment so nonchalant that Zuko hardly paid attention. "There's a desk, computer, chair, normal stuff. I think I have a half dead fern in the corner unless the cleaning staff finally tossed it."
"Mmm. A desk, you say?" The hitch of her eyebrow sent his pulse racing. Discreetly they made their way to the elevator that took them to the top floor. It took all his effort not to stop the elevator and take her right there, but she was sneaky avoiding his kisses and hands that tried to paw at her. It was maddenly frustrating but managed to add to his arousal. Finally arriving at his office, she sat on the edge of the desk while he made sure the door was locked and the blinds shut tight. Hitching up her dress so that he could easily get between her thighs, he kissed along her neck, his hands roamed over the bared flesh of her back while she casually unbuttoned his shirt pulling it off his shoulders. He loved when she did that, dragging her nails over his chest all while kissing him so sweetly. Slowly, so slowly, he slid the top of her dress over her shoulders to find that the entire night she had been braless. He didn't think he could get any harder, but he did. Those breasts just begging to be touched as dusky nipples hardened in the cool air. But Katara pushed him away with her foot so that she could stand letting the dress fall in a heap over the high heels revealing the black garter belt that held up her lace-trimmed stockings and the matching panties. "Shit," he breathed. He loved her fetish for sexy lingerie.
Katara giggled. "You like?"
"Uh, huh," he confirmed, watching her unhook the stockings and shimmy out of the panties leaving her in nothing but the black pumps, garter belt and stockings. She bent over the desk, gripping the edge, and looked back over her shoulder wagging her bare ass at him. Zuko ran his hand over her flesh enjoying the trail of goosebumps and the giggle when he lightly spanked her. He sunk to his knees wanting to dive between her thighs to eat her but he couldn't very well return to the company party with her flavor still on his lips. Or could he? No, definitely not a good idea. Instead he kissed the back of her thighs above the stockings, licking and nipping along her sensitive flesh rubbing himself on her backside as he suckled on her earlobe and rolled a nipple between his fingers. When she finally moaned for him to "fuck her" he couldn't undo his pants quick enough. With a soft thump they fell from his hips and he yanked his boxer briefs down to trace the head of himself along her waiting body. She was so wet that he slid inside her with ease. He loved when she moaned like that, but he had to tell her to be quiet. But with each thrust the louder she became. Sliding his hand up her back, he covered her mouth with his hand, hissing a "Shh." He must have angled just so within her hitting a sensitive spot because she cried out in pleasure through his fingers, "Oh, Gods, yes, right there."
He was going to lose it soon, barely hearing the garter belt tear as he gripped onto it tight, the other hand over Katara's mouth muffling her erotic noises as she came. "Quiet," he ordered, she whimpered in agreement, only allowing breathy pants to escape, but Zuko kept his hand over her just to be safe. Her body pulsed around him a second time, then a third (he was always amazed how quick she could orgasm), then he couldn't take any more. He should have put a hand over his own mouth because he practically roared as he felt himself so close. "Shh," Katara called over her shoulder, gripping the edge of the desk tight. Leaning forward, Zuko buried his face against her shoulder trying to muffle his noises as he unleashed inside her, body quaking violently against hers.
Lost in the afterglow, Zuko tried not to crush her beneath him, raining kisses against whatever bits of her skin he could reach. Finally pulling away, always enjoying the view of her post-coital body, he sunk into the chair while she went to his private bathroom to clean up the mess between her legs. A moment later, Katara came out tossing a handful of paper towels, kissing him a few more times as he wiped himself off.
"You know, I'm not going to be able to look at this desk the same way ever again, right?"
"Well, as long as it's me you're thinking of, then good." She wagged an eyebrow and slipped back into her dress making herself presentable once more.
Trying to hide their private smiles following their rendezvous upstairs but failing miserably as they got some fresh drinks, Zuko was quick to notice his sister heading their way. Her black hair up in a neat twist with two strands framing her heart-shaped face. Her red-tinted lips held that smirk that always said "trouble."
"Zu-Zu," Azula called out. Zuko clutched his beer bottle a bit tighter. She must have felt his tension because Katara gave a reassuring squeeze on his arm and smiled at him. "I'm so glad you made it. Oh, this must be your girlfriend. Pleased to finally meet you."
Katara smiled back warmly, taking the proffered hand, "Glad to meet you too."
"I've heard all about you. Some kind of yoga instructor or something. No wonder why he comes to work tired."
"Well, he does have a long commute," Katara bypassed the crude comment.
Azula lifted an eyebrow as her eyes zeroed in on their mother's ring now on Katara's finger. Nodding her head towards the hand Azula asked, "So when is my brother going to make an honest woman out of you. You've been together for what two years now and you're still living in sin."
Katara smiled saccharine sweet, curbing Zuko's inevitable outburst of telling his sister to piss off. Lifting her wine glass to her lips, glancing over the rim at her future sister-in-law, "I wouldn't call it that, thank you very much. We're very happy together and haven't felt a need to get that little slip of paper telling the world that we're together."
The two women were at a standstill until Azula laughed sharply. "I'm just shocked that he would pick someone like you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Zuko demanded. Katara glared.
"Oh, you know," Azula examined her nails as if the whole conversation was trivial, "She's obviously not one of us. Kind of like oh, what's that story, Cinderella was it? With the filthy peasant falling in love with the rich prince and he's stupid enough to allow it? Probably because she was a peasant yoga instructor or whatever and men are idiots when it comes to sluts."
Katara just smiled politely and nodded her head, placing her barely drunk wine glass on the table and walked away from the siblings. "Katara! Wait!" He reached to grab her arm, but she shrugged it off and stormed out of the room. Zuko glared daggers down at his sister. "If you ever talk to my wife like that again, so help me I will destroy you." A flame lit in his palm, angrily flickering in time to his elevated pulse. Azula just stared back at him nonchalantly, taking his wrist between her fingers and lowering it dousing the angry flame within.
"Far be it for me to tell my big brother what to do with his life, right? How silly of me. Well, I wish you two the best of luck and long life, lots of half-blood kids, and all that bullshit. Now if you'll excuse me, I have important people to talk to." Before Zuko could say anything further, he headed outside to find Katara. She was sitting at the fountain in front of the building staring intently at the engagement ring as if trying to find all the answers within. He could see that she had been crying from the way her mascara smudged beneath her lashes.
"Katara? I'm so sorry," Zuko gritted, sitting delicately next to her. He hated his family. Aside from Uncle, they were all a bunch of assholes who thought they were superior to everyone else on the planet. Why couldn't they just pretend to be normal? "My sister is bitch. I don't know what the hell is wrong with her…"
"You don't think that do you?" she finally asked.
"What?" He tried to take her again, but again she brushed off his advance.
"That I'm just a filthy peasant after you for your money and whatnot." He heard her gulp back a sob. "That I'm trying to entrap you?"
"How can you say that?"
"But its true isn't it?"
"Katara look at me," he touched her chin forcing her to look at him. Though he could turn her face she still wouldn't look at him. "Katara. Look at me." Finally her eyes met his. "I don't want you to ever think that. I love you for you and I hope to all the spirits above that you feel the same. I can't imagine you not in my life."
"Then why aren't we married yet? Am I not good enough?"
"No. No." He squeezed her hand tight, "I don't know why. I just assumed that we were good. That's what you keep saying."
"I know that's what I said. But I want it to be official. Especially before…" she bit her lip hard as a fresh stream of tears flowed. "… the baby comes."
"What baby?" She looked at him and smiled just slightly and placed a hand on her belly.
"What? Wait, you're pregnant? Why didn't you tell me? How far along? Holy shit!" His words were a big slur that all seemed to come out at once. He was happy for sure. But a bit pissed that she hadn't told him and that this was how she chose to tell him.
"I'm sorry. I just found out today and I was waiting for the perfect time to tell you."
Zuko ran his hand through his hair sighing loudly, "Well, this was sure as hell far from beyond the perfect time to tell me."
After a moment to let everything sink in, Katara burst out laughing, "It is, isn't it?"
Zuko looked at her puzzled then joined her in laughing pulling her close to him. "You are a crazy chick, you know that right?"
"You still love me right?"
"I do." His eyes fell to her belly and his hand followed. "So I'm going to be a dad then?"
Katara hiccupped, "Yeah. In about 32 weeks."
"Well then, we better get on that wedding, Mrs. Zuko." He took the ring back from her and once again put it on the proper finger, kissing her soundly with all the feeling in his heart.
This was to be the most wonderful day of his life. The sun shimmered off the waves behind him. Only their closest friends and family waited in anticipation. He smiled and laughed as he watched his now two and half-year-old niece be led down the aisle by his soon to be sister-in-law petals flung from the little basket, some getting put in her mouth. He had visions of his own child doing the same thing and it made him smile wide. Once the little one arrived to where Sokka stood beside Zuko he scooped up his daughter while Suki took her place on the bride's side. Katara was stunning in the simple white sheath dress, her five-month round belly filling out the dress nicely, a simple halo of flowers adorning the brown waves that cascaded down her back.
The ceremony itself was quick, but the party afterwards lasted well into the night. A celebration of love and family and all the blessing that it brought.
In their marriage bed, Zuko snuggled against his new wife, feeling their child move within her.
"Happy, Mr. Sozinaka?" she asked.
"Very, Mrs. Sozinaka," he beamed.
"Good. It's kind of funny to think it all started with a webcam."
"Well, I do aim to please." Zuko smiled up at her, massaging her legs.
Leaning down to kiss him, Katara smirked against his lips, "Yeah, well aim a bit lower, my feet are killing me."
Well that's it folks. It's definitely been a long, fun ride. Thanks for sharing the ride with me, everyone. Thanks to all those who helped with ideas and plot points and grammar/spelling issues (I still need to remedy some of those I know). I may do a preggo Katara story to follow up. Maybe I won't. Who knows what little plot bunny will pop up next. :) Take care and happy reading!