"Katara! Katara!" Zuko shouted into the darkness all around him. How he lost her in an open field astounded him. Wasn't he trained better than this? He shot several bursts of fire for light, but it revealed nothing as he stared blankly through the vacant meadow. He was infuriated with Aang. How dare he speak to Katara that way? Especially when Zuko suspected Aang of liking Katara more than just a friend. It left him with a minor headache and utterly perplexed. "Katara!" He continued to shout her name, but felt that his voice was drowned out by the crashing waves of the ocean nearby. Ocean. Cocking his eyebrow, he glanced at the moonlight as it danced upon the water. Pivoting, he gingerly made his way to the cliff side.
Katara sat on the sand letting the waves crash before her, the water made its way to her soaking her dress. She did not care as the warm water was soothing against the frigid sand. In the distance she swore she heard someone calling her name, yet she ignored the sounds. Aang had kicked her out of the group. Officially. She knew she could never give up waterbending, and so it was made evidently clear to her. She hugged her knees closer to her chest as hot tears flooded her eyes. Her best friend, her brother, Toph, Zuko, Suki…she was forbidden to travel with them any longer on their journey.
What made matters worse, was that anytime she closed her eyes, all she could see was the dead body of her mother's killer. Oh, what she would give for her mother's comforting words. Would she stroke her hair and tell her "You did nothing wrong Katara. It's okay." Or would she possibly scold her like a young child who had just misbehaved? Katara couldn't contain the hurt any longer. She openly sobbed into her knees crying out into the night. The moon shone brightly upon her, lighting up the dark blue ocean. It used to mean a lot more to her before this. The moon's illumination once brought her joy, and guided her like a light in the dark. Now, even though it was just as bright as ever, it led her to no joy. Instead of guiding her, she was mocked by it. Yue gave her life. Katara took one.
"Katara!" The voice was right behind her. She knew it was Zuko now, but had no motivation to turn around and face him. He leapt onto the mounds of sand behind her, and approached slowly. He heard her weeping. The last thing he wanted to do right now was further upset her. "Katara?" His voice was a murmur.
"What do I do Zuko?" She asked him much to his surprise. He hadn't been expecting that.
"What do you mean?"
"Aang evicted me from the gAang, I have no purpose now." He sat down beside her, even though the sand was thick and soggy.
"Yes you do; to become the best waterbender in the world. And even though Aang does not want you to accompany us, I do. I need someone to be by my side for when I eventually face Azula. I want that to be you." He took her hand and intertwined it with his own. It was quite intimate, he thought. But at that moment, he didn't care. It was the truth. There was nobody else he would have wanted by his side in his destined battle against his deranged sibling. Katara sniffled, and leaned her head on his shoulder. Another unanticipated action.
"Of course Zuko," was all she said. Maybe it was all she had to say. In a matter of less than one sundown, their bond had reformed just as quickly as it had formed in the crystal catacombs. Sure, when he initially betrayed her and joined Azula, he had thought in an instance that any trust he and she shared would have been lost. However, here it was again, shining as brightly as the moon. Katara's eyes felt heavy, and she soon drifted off into a light sleep. Zuko heard her breathing deepen, and he gazed at her face only to find its features finally relaxed as sleep overtook her. He gently laid her on the sand, water still cascading up towards them but not as greatly now. He too laid down, one hand still clasped with hers, the other tucking behind his head as he stared up at the white pearly moon.
Zuko naturally woke up with the sun shining brightly over him. It had taken the place of the moon merely only hours ago. He glanced to his left to see Katara still deep in her slumber. Her dark skin set her apart from the light sand all around them. The sand, which had been cool, was now heating up from the sun. Soon she would awaken. Would she even remember all that she had been through the day before? It may possibly go down as the worst day in her life, next to the day her mother was taken away. She stirred, and her eyebrows pinched forward as the brightness was too overwhelming.
"Morning." Zuko rolled onto his side facing her. She turned her head and smiled. It was good enough for him. "We should get back to camp." Her smile vanished as quickly as it appeared.
"I can't go back." Her voice cracked.
"Now that Aang has cooled off, I'm sure it'll be oka- -"
"No! It won't ever be okay. Even if he had cooled off, I know what he thinks of me now. I cannot trust him ever again."
"You trust me again Katara," Zuko nervously pushed a strand of her hair out of her face.
"That's a different thing. I should have expected you to betray me."
"Ouch," and he meant it. That did hurt. A lot.
"I'm sorry. But when you think about the situation and the time, we were enemies. Why would I have expected you to suddenly change out of the blue, just by talking with me?"
"Because it's you, and you have a way with people."
"Apparently," her voice trailed off. She sighed and sat up, with Zuko following suit. She rubbed her eyes slowly, meticulously. "I'm hungry." He stifled a laugh at this.
"I can bring you something back from camp if you'd like?" She looked at him and smiled. "All right, stay here." He got up, and brushed the sand from his clothes. She stood as well, and before he could hike back up the small cliff, she wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. His arms instinctively went around her waist, his eyes closing, savoring the moment.
"Thank you," she whispered so softly he barely caught it. Before parting, she kissed his cheek. He turned quickly and scurried up the hill, almost tripping. He wouldn't have been able to keep his dignity had she seen the deep flush of red that stained his cheeks. It took a decent amount of time to return to camp, of which he saw Suki and Sokka sitting together, their faces panic stricken. They stood abruptly as Zuko came into view.
"Where's Katara? Is she all right?" Zuko had never heard Sokka more nervous and scared.
"She's all right. I stayed the night with her to make sure she was fine." Under other normal circumstances he would have waited for Sokka to punch him square in the jaw for saying such a thing. However, Sokka just looked relieved and even, happy? He whispered a small note of gratitude, and sat back down. Suki had double duty, being both concerned for Sokka and Katara. Toph and Aang were no where in sight. "Where's Toph?"
"She went after Aang to talk him down." Suki took her seat back next to Sokka. "By Kyoshi, I hope she can."
"If anyone can speak sense into him, it's Toph. I know it is," Sokka rambled into his hands. Zuko grabbed two pieces of cooked fish that had been cooling next to the fire.
"I'm taking these for Katara and myself. She wants to lay low until Aang gets figured out. We're on the beach if you two or Toph wants to speak with her. For now though, I will not leave her side." He hoped his reassurance would help ease Sokka. As Zuko walked back to Katara, Sokka held Suki around the waist.
"Suki?" She stroked his hair and asked him what he was thinking about. "I'm a little scared Suki."
"Part of me almost agrees with Aang. Katara killed another person, and that is almost unforgivable."
"Well, that's when the other part of me is glad she did it. That man that took our mother away from us, I feel he deserved whatever Katara gave him. And I'm even jealous that I couldn't have been there to either help or watch as he begged for his life…" He looked up into the hazel eyes of his girlfriend. "I want to talk to Katara today." Suki just nodded her head in agreement with him and continued to stroke his hair back. She hadn't expected Sokka to say something like that. However, as a warrior of Kyoshi, she didn't really want to recall all the times she was forced to defend her country, and ultimately take others' lives. Sometimes Suki even felt like an outsider here with this group that traditionally used their abilities in a non-violent way. Apparently though, she was not alone anymore.
Zuko walked back to the beach only to not see Katara. He searched for about fifteen minutes until he genuinely got worried. He dropped the fish and sprinted up and down the coast, but she was no where in sight. Surely she would have stuck by the water, right? Keening all five of his senses he attempted to locate her. He could smell the salt water, taste the bit of fish he munched on, see only the landscape, feel the hot sand squish between his toes, and hear…hear strange noises coming from the woods across the meadow.
He dashed up the small cliff side and ran across the grassland. The woods were dense, and so if Katara was in here it would take some time. But he honestly couldn't think of anywhere else she'd be…he'd checked everywhere else. He navigated well through the trees, almost getting tripped up by the large roots that seemed like claws reaching for his ankles. He heard a continuous thudding noise and quickened his pace. He could see a small clearing that held a small pool of water. He burst forth into the clearing, only to have a huge rock blast him in the chest.
"Who's there?" Toph's voice rang out in a demanding tone.
"Zu-ko," he could barely catch his breath after the rock knocked him off his feet.
"Oh. You. Sorry." She continued to bend the earth around her ignoring him slightly.
"What are you doing in here?" Zuko sat up holding his chest. Damn, that hurt.
"I'm practicing bending. Aang is so mad he doesn't want to see anyone doing it really."
"Where is Aang?"
"I don't know. I tried to talk to him, but he just blew me off. I figured he should blow off some steam, why?"
"Just wondering I guess. Sokka and Suki are scared about what's going on right now. I even feel that this group might separate soon…" He trailed off soon after that thinking about what he just said.
"I suppose." Toph blasted another rock, this time splintering a tree. "I guess though it could be for the best. You and Katara splitting up from us might be beneficial in a number of ways."
"Wait, what? How?"
"Well, Aang can finally get over her in a healthy way. You two can take care of your crazy sister. And you can finally do what you've been wanting to do since joining us."
"What? Put an end to my family for once and all?"
"No, get with Katara." Zuko was rising to his feet, but he felt like another rock just hammered him back down. "Oh don't even try and deny it. I felt the vibrations on the first day. Aang went around the group asking us if we minded, and both your and her heartbeats kicked it into high gear when it was her turn to speak. She chose her words carefully if you hadn't noticed."
"She threatened to kill me Toph."
"Yeah, but she didn't now did she? And clearly if Katara wants to, she can get the job done. She probably did do that out of concern if you'd betray us, but that wasn't why her heartbeat picked up. Even a couple days ago, when you saved her from the rocks that fell in the Western Air Temple, her heartbeat thumped faster than a jackrabbit."
"Yeah but what do I know? I'm blind."
"Sometimes I think you're the only one that sees clearly Toph." Toph dropped the rocks she had currently been shaping. A smile appeared on her face, and Zuko thought he may have heard a 'thanks' but it could have been the wind. He wasn't sure. "Well, I have to find Katara."
"Yeah, I left her this morning to get us food. I've been looking for her ever since, well, until you knocked me on my ass."
"Yeah…whoops." Then, Toph's face went from bemused to serious. "Oh no…"
"AANG!" Katara's voice rang out over the empty field. The bald monk turned to face his former crush and Waterbending Master. He did not have any words for her. She walked closer to him, a band of swirling water encircling her. "We need to talk…" The water suddenly split into several ice daggers that were suspended in the air around her.
"Katara," he spoke solemnly. "I thought I instructed you not to bend."
"See, that's the thing Aang, and I've been thinking long and hard about it. You are not the boss of me." Aang's feet suddenly felt wet, and then cold. He peered down to see dead grass, and his feet encased in ice; strong ice. "Now, let's have a little chat Avatar."
A/N: Well, that's part 2. I hope it's good! My apologies to one reviewer who didn't like the dialogue in the first chapter, you said it was out of character. This is mostly due to the fact that I haven't watched Avatar in such a long time. One Piece has been consuming my life, along with Psych. In addition to that, I was thinking that this whole situation is a little "out of character" so the dialogue might seem it too.
Leave me reviews! They're like writing fuel. And a thank you to Band of Horses for being excellent writing background music. I was going to have this be only a trilogy, but now I'm thinking 5 chapters should be decent enough. Leave your comments, questions, concerns and even praise and flames for me in your reviews!! Xoxo Vessa