Title: In The Spirit Of Christmas
Summary: At a Christmas party, Zuko and Katara get caught under the mistletoe.
Notes: I own nothing.
"Uncle," Zuko's voice was grave and on the verge of being threatening. "I am not wearing the hat."
"Oh come on," Iroh pleaded, a red and white hat in his outstretched hands. "It's for the Christmas spirit!"
Zuko glared at his uncle and crossed his arms. "You have enough spirit for the both of us." He grumbled, taking in his uncle appearance. He had volunteered to be a mall Santa for the night, and hadn't even waited before putting on the red and white suit. Iroh grinned at his nephew.
"And I have so much, I want to pass some on to you. You can't just go to a Christmas party without some indication of Christmas spirit."
"I'm wearing red, isn't that enough?" Zuko grumbled, uncrossing his arms enough to show the tight red shirt he had pulled over his head just an hour ago, and the black worn jeans that covered his legs.
"You wear red every day, it's not the same."
Zuko sighed, already knowing he couldn't win against his uncle. This was the man who cared for him throughout all the hardship. After Zuko's mother was driven out of the house to gods-knew-where, who took him in after his father kicked him out, and when the same father was sent to prison, and his sister to an asylum. Amazing family he had there. But Iroh loved him like a son, and was one of the greatest men Zuko had ever known.
Zuko knew him so well, so he knew he wouldn't be able to come out on top in this argument. Sure, the man would eventually leave, not wanting the children waiting for Santa to be left without him, but he would inevitably leave Zuko with that horrible sense of guilt that Zuko really didn't want. The party would only be going on until midnight anyway. He was already late, so he just had to spend a few hours at Aang's house. In a Santa hat.
After a few more silent seconds, Zuko heaved out a long sigh and grabbed the hat from Iroh's hands, the old man's face splitting into a cheerful grin as he did so. Zuko jammed the thing on his head and walked over to the door, where he paused to slip on a pair of sneakers and bid his uncle a good time.
"Toph, I'm pretty sure I'm overdressed." Katara said, a hint of anxiety in her voice as she twirled her dress in front of the mirror in Aang's guest room. It was a deep, Christmassy red, with a turtleneck neckline and no sleeves, the back drooping down past her ribs. The fabric reached a couple of inches above her knees, where it was trimmed in white fur, and she had on a pair of black pumps.
"Oh, Katara," Toph said from her position lounging on the bed. "I think you look amazing!"
Katara glared at the other girl, though the effect was lost. "I'm serious. Suki came over to do my makeup and she said it looked great, but people have totally been staring at me all through the party."
Toph sighed, exasperated. "What kind of people?"
Katara frowned, trying to remember. "Well, there was Haru and Jet and Aang-" Toph's laughter stopped Katara from making any further comments. She put her hands on her hips and waited for Toph to stop, but it didn't seem like it was going to slow down at any moment.
"Oh screw this." She groused, turning around. "I'm going back to the party."
Toph's laughter just echoed through the halls until Katara found a spot that drowned it out with chatter and 'Jingle Bells'.
If Zuko thought the drive up to Aang's house had felt kind of awkward, the moment he entered the noisy den was a level of awkward he hadn't even known existed. He wasn't a great friend with anybody there, though it wasn't as though he didn't know anybody.
Aang was their school's resident thirteen-year-old genius, who was in grade eleven. Zuko was pretty sure that if Aang tried, he could move up another year and end up being in most of Zuko's classes, but it was pretty obvious he had a massive crush on Katara, and so stayed in her grade level. He'd even get her to tutor him in some of the classes, since she was pretty smart herself.
Not that Zuko cared. No, he only knew because of all that time spent trying to beat Aang in any sport the kid would join. Totally. That was it.
Aang was a popular kid, and the sheer number of people invited to his party showcased that. Zuko was sure that he was only here because he had eventually given up on trying to beat Aang at everything and stop being so mean to him. A little civility, just a little. Aang seemed to take that as an indication they were friends now, and so Zuko had found the kid last week walking up to his table at lunch. He had handed an invitation card to him, Mai, and Ty Lee, the only people that really seemed interested in sitting with him at school. Zuko hadn't even planned on going, but Iroh had found the card and insisted.
He sighed, scratching the back of his head under the Santa hat. There were too many people milling about. Maybe he could go find out if Mai or Ty Lee came. Ty Lee would definitely be here, she would never miss a party, and she may have dragged Mai along. At least then Zuko would have someone to talk to.
He heard the background music switch from 'White Christmas' to 'Jingle Bells' and began weaving through the various people, backing up once he managed to squeeze through a stream of bodies. He took a few steps back, reaching the doorway into the kitchen, and began to turn around when he felt something collide with his back. He let out a small 'oof' and heard a feminine voice give a soft yelp.
Zuko turned around swiftly, finding Katara sprawled on her behind, an embarrassed and sour look on her face. "Watch where you're going." She muttered quietly, and Zuko wasn't sure if it was directed at him or herself. He still offered his hands to her and bent over a little.
"Sorry about that." He said, and Katara looked up at him. Her face was red, but she took his hands and let him help her up. She smoothed out the folds in her dress and tucked a waving strand of chocolate hair behind her ear.
"Thanks." She muttered, blue eyes looking off into a corner of the room. Zuko nodded, and neither of them moved. They stood there in silence for a little while, neither sure what to say or what to do. Katara pursed her lips and fiddled with her dress a little more. Zuko awkwardly rolled up his sleeves. Finally he spoke.
"Are you okay?" he asked, and Katara's gaze flickered to his face, above it, and to the sides. She bit her lip gently, then looked back into his golden eyes.
"Do I look weird?"
Zuko paused. "Huh?"
Katara sighed and tucked more strands of hair behind her ear. "Do I look weird? I think I'm overdressed for this party. I'm in a dress. And heels. And some of the other girls are in dresses and heels, but… I don't know…"
Zuko blinked and furrowed his brow. "Uhh," he began, rather eloquently. He liked to make it a point not to stare at girls, and here she was, asking him to look at her and state his opinion. He flushed and scratched his cheek, the sensitive skin of his scar tingling. "No, I mean… I think you look nice, y'know? Ummm, red looks good on you…"
He wasn't sure what to say to girls in situations like these, but his words seemed to have a positive effect on Katara. Her lips formed a small smile and her dark cheeks pinkened a little. The worry lines on her face smoothed away and she looked up at Zuko with a much calmer face.
Then they heard a voice from somewhere in the kitchen. "Dude, you don't have to flirt with her! You're already under the mistletoe!"
Both Katara and Zuko flushed, and he immediately glanced up. There was the little plant, green leaves and white berries stapled in the doorway with a bright red ribbon. Zuko's face reddened ever further and he looked down at Katara. She was looking back into her little corner.
"I kinda saw that… When I fell down…" she muttered, fingers finding their way back to her red dress. Zuko stammered out a few attempts at a sentence he wasn't even sure was about, then covered his face with one hand. He peeked out from between his fingers, noticing quite a few people were watching them, waiting. Katara looked about ready to run away.
He exhaled deeply, bringing his hand away from his face and using it to cup Katara's cheek. She stilled in her movements, bright blue eyes staring into Zuko's, until she slid her eyelids closed. Zuko took a deep breath, willed as much red out of his face as he could, and brought his lips down onto Katara's.
The students around them were making catcalls and wolf whistles and various cheers. Katara was almost certain that Toph was among them, though she would admit that Zuko kissing her was a bit distracting. After a second, she tilted her head a little and pressed her lips closer to Zuko's. His kiss was like fire, burning through her body and making her lips tingle in a harmonious buzz that drowned out the noises of the other students.
After a few seconds, Zuko began pulling away, but Katara followed him, her strawberry painted lips remaining flush against his. She pressed her body closer, usually cool flesh burning hot under the heat of embarrassment and pleasure. She pressed one hand against his chest while wrapping the other around his body, and he gripped her jawbone firmly as he splayed fingers against her shoulder blades, his back pressed firm into the doorframe behind him.
The need for oxygen was minimal, and the two did their best to breathe through their noses. The catcalls died down, and the pair found themselves just leaning on the doorframe, kissing to the tune of 'All I Want For Christmas Is You', when it just had to be ruined.
"Katara!" Sokka yelled, arm crossed and in full big-brother mode. Suki stood beside him, biting her lip gleefully and watching the two as Sokka surprised them. Katara jumped a little and tore herself away from Zuko, giving her brother a sheepish, if annoyed, look.
"We're going home now. Come on if you want a ride." Katara sighed and rolled her eyes. She took a step forward, then turned back and flashed a smile at Zuko.
"See you at school when the break's over, yeah?"
Zuko smiled. "See you."
Katara grinned and turned back to her brother, who was giving Zuko the Ultimate Death Glare. Suki patted his arm to get his attention and gave him a light peck, wishing him a Merry Christmas and safe driving. Sokka smiled at her as she left to go chat with Ty Lee, and then the two siblings left the house.
Zuko smiled to himself and moved out of the doorframe. A few students grinned at him as he made his way over to the buffet spread out, and Toph slid over to him.
"So," she said, a wide grin on her face.
"So," Zuko replied, grabbing a cookie and adjusting his Santa hat. Toph snorted with laughter.
"I guess you finally beat Aang at something." She said nonchalantly, and Zuko paused, the thought sinking in. He absently wondered how long it would be until Aang found out about the mistletoe kiss. Probably not long, it was his house after all.
"Must feel nice." Toph continued, biting the head off of a cookie snowman. Zuko smiled.
"Yeah, I guess." He said, and Toph nodded, a soft smile on her lips. She knew what he was thinking. Sure, it was nice to have finally beaten Aang at something. But the feel of Katara's lips pressed against his own, of her cool hands wrapped around his body, felt a lot better than any kind of victory he could have.
He'd have to thank Uncle for forcing him to go. The Santa hat was definitely an unnecessary touch, though.