Title: Believe
Summary: The war brought them together, but now the war is over and there is oh-so-little holding them together.
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender.


Things are changing
It seems strange and
I need to figure this out
You've got your life
I got mine

On the darkest hour of the brightest night, Katara finds him lying hidden at his turtleduck pond.

He hears her long before she actually approaches him. She isn't loud, announcing her presence to him, but neither is she silent, trying to muffle any sound that would give her away. But she stops before she reaches him, as if she's unsure of whether or not to actually go to him. It only takes a few moments before he grows annoyed by her lingering.

"Is there something you need, Katara?" Zuko asks, his best attempt to hide his irritation.

There is a slight pause before he hears her sigh. A moment later he feels the grass beside him shuffle ever so slightly as Katara takes a seat beside him. "What are you doing out here, Zuko? It's late. You should be in bed." She says, as if she isn't actually outside and beside him.

He snorts. "And you shouldn't be?"

"I can't sleep. There's a full moon out tonight."

Zuko is silent for a moment, but then shrugs. "Is there something you wanted?" He asks again.

"No." It is the only thing she says and after a few moments, he thinks she will leave. Get up, go back to her room, and leave him alone until the morning. "We're leaving at noon." She finally mumbles. "You're staying here, of course. But Sokka is going back home with Dad, Suki back to Kyoishi, Toph is finally going to see her parents, and Aang says he needs to go on a spiritual journey to only Spirit's know where."

"And you're travelling to villages to help restore the damage from the war. This isn't anything new, Katara."

"I know. It's just strange. Everyone going their separate ways after so long. It's going to be so different without all of us being together."

He pauses, trying to figure out how to phrase his next words. "But isn't that what we wanted? For things to be different?"

She's silent for a moment and with his eyes closed, he can't tell whether or not he's said the wrong thing and gotten her angry. "Yes." She finally says, but her voice betrays her. "The war is over, we won, it's done. And now everything has to change."

"Even us." Zuko says, finally voicing the thoughts that are the reason for his current inability to sleep. "All of us. We're needed in separate places."

"Yes." She agrees. "We have to go."

The war brought them together. Even despite all the battles, the tears, and all the pain, Zuko's learned that the one thing war is good for is showing you who people really are. Without the war, he would have never seen the truth about his father or found the only people he has ever really been able to call his friends. Because one thing about the war Zuko can truly be grateful for is that it brought him closer than he even thought possible to the one group of people he never expected befriend. The ever-fun-loving Avatar, the stubborn-as-a-rock earthbender, the sarcasm-and-meat warrior, the mothering-and-nurturing waterbender. The war brought them all together.

But the war is over. Of course they all smile and laugh about it, everybody only seeing the victory. They all joke about their departures and the distance, but plan their reunions. They talk about what they will do when they meet again, where they will go. But nobody stops to think about what it will be like, meeting after so long apart. Their lives will have moved on and without the war, their main connection – their biggest bond – will fall apart. Because what does he actually have in common with Aang who would love to spend his days playing pranks, or Toph who could be content to live among the rocks for the rest of her life, or Sokka whose dream is to become Chief of a land covered in nothing but snow and ice, or Katara who sometimes almost seems to care too much? So after everyone leaves in the morning, there is no way in Agni's name of knowing what will happen. Because the war is over and there is oh-so-little holding them together now.

"We'll see each other again." Katara says and he doesn't have to open his eyes to see her ever-so-hopeful smile shining. "All of us."

And though they know the truth, they still choose to play innocent. They choose to ignore the inevitable and will probably even continue to do so even when they finally all stand face-to-face, unsure of what to talk about after so long. They like to believe that even despite all the changes, their bond will remain strong enough that they will be able to find something – anything – to keep them together. Because they like to pretend that time and distance really mean nothing.

"Yes." Zuko mumbles. "We'll all be together again soon."

Because pretending to believe hurts a little less than facing the truth.

Where has all the time gone now
I'm left alone somehow
Growing up and getting older
I don't want to believe it's over
Say Goodbye, Skillet


Note: I don't know how many of you know, but I am currently one of the 23 exchange students through my program living in Istanbul, Turkey. And Monday I fly back to America. In these past two weeks I have had to say goodbye to anyone who has meant anything to me here. Less than five hours ago, I finished the last of my goodbyes to all of my friends and it finally hit me. For so long I had been so excited about going home, that I completely neglected the thought that the chances of me actually seeing these people again are next to nothing. And it sucks. Because of course we all like to pretend otherwise, but that just isn't realistic.

I have no idea if Zuko and/or Katara are OOC or IC. They were the ones that I just thought this storyline would fit best with. More than anything else, this is therapy to help me. I'm not expecting many (if any) reviews.

Dedication: To anyone who has promised to keep in touch, knowing that it will probably not happen.