A.N.: Oh my gosh I completely fell in love with this couple watching the show. Zuko and Katara are adorable together and let's face it Aang is just a little kid (and defiantly not as good looking as Zuko). I was in class one day when all of a sudden this idea popped into my head after I saw that old episode of the Gaang in the desert and I just had to write this out. I laughed a couple times just writing it. It's defiantly pure Zutara fluff. Hope you guys like it.
Disclaimer: I defiantly don't own Avatar. If I did Katara wouldn't be paired with EVERY available man and would just settle down with Zuko. And Zuko would never be with Mai. Maybe friends but that's all they could ever be. But since I don't own the show I can only dream and write things like this.
Zuko walked alone in the dark, having just gotten back from scouting out around the group's latest site. When he reached the camp he found Aang and Toph already asleep snoring. It didn't surprise him that Aang let out soft barely noticeable snores and it was even less surprised, abet still very annoyed, to find Toph making sounds that made him wonder how half the Firenation wasn't awake. Although the youngest of the group were already sleeping soundly, Sokka didn't look like he was planning on joining them anytime soon. He was pacing around the fire with Suki watching him exasperated.
"Sokka she'll be fine, let's just go to bed." Suki told him rolling her eyes.
"Are you crazy?" Sokka demanded. "I can't go to sleep while she's still out there somewhere!"
"You know she's not a little kid anymore." Suki replied. She seemed to just notice Zuko as he walked over to the little fire they had made. "Zuko there you are. Did you find anything?"
"There's a lake east of here we can use for water." Zuko told her adding another log to the fire.
"Oh that's great. I'll fill up the bottles tomorrow. "Well that's if I get any sleep tonight." She added the last part as a glare at Sokka.
"I can't go to sleep until I know she's safe." Sokka said stubbornly crossing his arms.
Suki frowned and let her eyes drift around the camp. Her eyes widened as they landed on Zuko again and her lips turned up in a smile.
"Sokka you trust Zuko right?"she asked innocently.
"Of course I do."
"I'd trust him with my life." Sokka said slowly not understanding.
"Well it's settled then. Zuko will go get Katara while we go to sleep." She said happily.
"What?" Zuko asked taken aback.
"Oh Zuko please! Sokka and I were keeping watch most of last night. I'm so sleepy." Suki begged him giving him puppy dog eyes.
"Suki we can't just send him after Katara." Sokka said uneasily.
"Why not? Zuko wanted to talk to her anyway." Suki said winking at Zuko, an action that was completely missed by Sokka.
Zuko's face gained a pink tinge making him thankful it was dark. "Fine I'll go." Zuko told them resigned as he got up once again.
"Thank you so much!" Suki squealed happily. "She went into town to hear some news." Suki told him as she pushed a still uneasy Sokka towards their bed roles. Zuko nodded and took off to the south.
It wasn't much longer when he entered the dark city. Most shops were closed and he looked through windows looking for any sign of the water bender. The town was small and most of the inhabitants were home in bed already making the streets eerily deserted. It didn't bother Zuko though, he enjoyed the quiet atmosphere. Ever since he had joined the "Gaang" every moment of every day seemed to be filled with noise whether it be Katara and Toph arguing or Soka goofing off, there were very few times he could describe as peaceful. So he strolled down the street glad to have been given the chance to recover the group waterbender.
He finally caught sight of her in the only lit building on the street. He peered into one of the pubs dingy windows and realized she was surrounded by a group of men. He charged into the building and shoved a couple men aside to reach her and turned to face the men. "We don't want any trouble." He told them putting his hands up submissively, but steeled himself for a fight.
"What are you doing?" Katara asked blankly from behind him.
"I'm protecting you." He whispered sizing the men up.
They're not attacking me." Katara told him slowly. "They were just buying me a couple drinks." He glanced back at her to see her looking at him like he was an idiot, which he sorta was. He shouldn't have been surprised that the men had no intentions of hurting her. Katara after all was very beautiful, although he'd ever tell her that, and this was probably not something new for her.
Zuko straightened up, his face burning as he looked around at the four men who were staring at him like he was unhinged. There was something about the look of these men Zuko didn't like, not least of which being the way that they eyed the girl beside him. "It's time to go Katara." Zuko told her, grabbing her arm and pulling her off her stool but she wrenched her arm out of his grasp and glared at him.
"No I don't think I'm ready to go yet." She said stubbornly as the bartender brought her a drink. She didn't care how good he looked as he turned to face her, his shaggy hair falling partly in front of his eyes; there was no way he was going to boss her around. She had enough of that from Sokka.
"Who are you anyway?" one of the men questioned shooting him a look that clearly said 'get lost.'
"I'm…. a friend of her brothers." He told them glaring back not liking the way the man had been leering at Katara and resisting the urge to punch him.
"Do you want us to get rid of him?" Another of the men asked Katara.
It looked like she was tempted by the offer but she shook her head "No. he's fine."
While Katara's back was turned from the counter Zuko saw one of the man's hand flash to her drink.
Katara turned back and grabbed the cup, about to raise it to her lips when Zuko caught her arm. "Don't. He added something." He told her indicating the smallest man and with his free hand reached for the knife in his belt.
"You're always so paranoid." She told him rolling her eyes and tried to turn away.
"You're hanging out with strange men in bars and you're telling me I shouldn't be?" He said indignantly.
"They wouldn't do that. We were just talking about the latest gossip." Katara told him and Zuko wanted to bang his head against the counter because of her complete naivety.
"Of course we wouldn't." The middle one said smirking at the others.
"I think it's time for you to go." The man to his right said. "You've out worn your welcome." The three men started towards him but stopped abruptly as he let go of Katara arm and grabbed a knife in each hand.
"I don't want to go through the trouble of killing you." That was untrue. He wanted nothing more than to hurt them right now, but that would mean the group would have to pack up and leave to avoid being caught. And with the way Suki was acting earlier, she might just snap and kill him.
"Stop it." Katara told him putting her hand out.
"We'll settle this right now." Before Zuko could stop her again, she picked up the glass and downed it.
"No!" Zuko yelled, than held his breath hoping he had been wrong.
Katara's face went blank for a moment "This lemonade is very thirst quenching," she randomly declared to the pub.
Zuko frowned at the strange choice of words but he sighed in relief. She seemed to be fine. For now at least. "Ok Katara you've proved your point. It's time to go now, Sokka will be worried."
"You need to try this!" she told him in amazement, looking in the empty cup like there was more. "It's the quenchiest!" She held the cup out to him.
"Umm… ssuurree." He took the cup from her and set it back on the counter, turning to face the men. "What did you guys give her?" Zuko asked in a quiet but deadly voice.
"I don't know what yo-" started the one who seemed to be the ringleader but he was cut off as Zuko grabbed the front of his shirt and slammed him into the nearest wall.
"Woah dude calm down. I'm sure you've done it before too," One of the guy's friends tried, his hands up.
"No. No I haven't." Zuko growled and slammed the man into the wall again; happy to hear his head bounce off the wall.
"Alight! It was just cactus juice." The man choked out blinking rapidly as he obviously had stars exploding in front of his eyes from the impact. Zuko let go of him and slid down the wall rubbing his head. From the way the man was blinking rapidly, Zuko was pretty sure the man was seeing stars.
"Oh he's not happy." Katara whispered loudly to an imaginary person next to her, hiccupping.
Zuko groaned and walked back over to her. "Come on Katara we're leaving NOW."
"Okay." She told him hopping down from the stool. "Bye!" she said cheerfully waving at the men as Zuko took her arm and led her out.
"They were nice." Katara told him conspiratorially. Zuko grunted in answer and led her down the street.
"Grunting is not a response." Katara told him glaring as if he had mortally offended her.
"Sorry." Zuko said sarcastically and rolled his eyes.
"No you're not I saw that!" she pouted jutting out her bottom lip. "I don't wanna walk with you anymore." And with that she plopped down on the ground in the middle of the street.
"Katara lets go. Don't you want to get back to camp?" She stuck her nose in the air with a 'hhmmpphh.'
"Katara I'm really sorry." Zuko told her trying his best to sound sincere in such a ridiculous situation.
"You are?" She asked her eyes wide.
"Yes I am. Very, very sorry. Now how 'bout you get up so we can go back to camp?" Zuko asked hopefully.
Katara thought about it for a moment but shook her head.
"Why not? I told you I'm sorry." He growled throwing up his hands exasperatedly.
"I'm too tired." Katara whined.
"It's not that far." Zuko reasoned trying to pull her up, but she wouldn't budge.
Zuko sighed in frustration but then he had an idea. "I could carry you."
She nodded happily and began to get up eagerly. He turned around and knelt down, giving her easy access to his back.
Katara climbed on and he tucked his hands under her knees standing up. Zuko was surprised how light she was, as he started off again. She felt so fragile against his back, her head laying on his shoulder and her arms hanging loosely around his neck.
It was silent for a few moments as Zuko began walking down the street once again, but the quiet was broken by Katara.
She raised her head off his shoulder and studied the top of his head. "You know I never liked that pony tail you used to have." She told him critically.
"Hhmm?" he asked glancing over his shoulder.
"I never liked it. It made you look like you had a stick up your butt." She told him seriously.
He couldn't help himself from snorting as he remembered his old hairdo. "Well what do you think about it now?" he asked curiously.
"I like it. It makes you look like a bad boy."
He laughed again, knowing Katara would have never admitted such a thing normally.
"How about mine?"
"You're what?" Zuko asked confused.
"My new fire nation hairdo. Do you like it more than the one I had before."
"I do." He told her without thinking. "You're hair looks beautiful down." His face heated up but he determinately kept walking, refusing to look back at her again.
"Aawwhh. Thanks Zuko." She said happily and ruffled her hair. "oh your hair is soft." She told him "I'm gonna braid it." She told him happily before grabbing a tuft of it and getting to work.
"Wait what?" Zuko asked sharply.
"Ssshhh you'll look pretty."
Zuko groaned but let her, just wanting to keep her happy. He continued on and soon they were back to the camp, Zuko having braids sticking out in every direction from his head.
"Here we are." Zuko told her letting her down. He began walking over to his sleeping bag when he realized she was following him. He stopped and turned around to face her.
"Don't you want to go to sleep? Your sleeping bag is right there." He told her slowly pointing to the other side of the fire where her own bedroll lay.
She shook her head "Nu uh. I'm not sleepy."
"Weren't you just tired a second ago? Isn't that why I carried you?"
"But I'm not tired anymore." She said like the idea was crazy.
Zuko shook his head and gave up on the idea of getting any sleep that night.
"I wanna go swimming."
Zuko was apprehensive. She wasn't in her right mind and he didn't want her drowning. But on the other hand, he reasoned, he'd never heard of a water bender drowning. Plus he would be there to keep an eye on her. "Alight." He finally said, giving in. "There's a lake to the east." He pointed in the direction.
Katara nodded then her eyes lit up with an idea. "Let's have a race!" she told him excitedly.
"I don't think that's the best idea-" Zuko started but Katara took off into the trees and he had no choice but to follow her.
He could see her hair, as it fanned out behind her, darting though the trees. He quickly caught up to her, his legs being so much longer then hers, it wasn't very difficult.
He grinned at her and she looked annoyed trying to run even faster but he kept pace with her. She turned her head and stuck her tongue out at him. He smiled and face forward to doge a tree and when he turned back she was gone.
He skidded to a stop and his eyes darted around the forest in panic. "Katara?" he called.
"Nnnhhgg." He heard her groan and lowed his eyes to find her a little way back lying on the ground.
He rushed over to her and turned her over cradling her head. "Are you alright?" He asked worriedly looking her over for injuries.
She looked up at him curiously. "How did I get down here?"
Zuko chuckled. "I think you might have tripped. Just a guess thou." He grabbed her arms and got her up.
"You feel alright?" Zuko asked dusting her off.
"My knee hurts."
Zuko looked down to see that the left leg of her pant had rolled up reveling a skinned knee. "Can I see your flask?" he indicated the one she always wore.
She took it off and he poured a little water on her knee, cleaning off the scrape.
"Does that feel better?"
"It still hurts." Her large blue eyes big and innocent.
"Well let's get you to the lake so you can heal it." Zuko started to get up but Katara grabbed his shirt and pulled him back down. "What?" he demanded when she stared at him expectantly.
"Excuse me?" he asked in his most dignified 'I am the son of the Fire Lord' voice.
"Kiss it and make it better."
"I am not kissing your knee." Zuko told her affronted. Katara's eyes welled up with tears. The tears began leaking out, cutting trails down her face.
"Wait don't cry!" Zuko's hands fluttered around uselessly. He had no idea how to comfort a girl! The only two he had ever spent time with, apart from his mother, was a psychotic madwoman, otherwise known as his sister, and a girl who thought emotions were beneath her, Mai.
"You don't like me." She wailed.
"Yes I do." He told her patting her shoulder awkwardly.
"No you don't! You hate me!" she cried louder.
"That's not true! I like you very much." He told her blushing furiously.
"You do?" she asked looking up at him with tear filled eyes.
"Of course. How could I not? You're so kind and smart not to mention beautiful." Now he was really, really hoping she didn't remember any of this in the morning. He would have to die of embarrassment.
"Really?" She asked happily, completely forgetting that she had been crying, tears still on her cheeks. "You're so sweet!" She squealed as she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him, taking him by complete surprise and knocking him backwards so he landed on his back with her on top of him.
"Uuhh…" he stuttered as she looked down at him. He shook his head trying to clear it and focus, not on her body pressed up against his, but on what he should do. It was definitely not an easy thing to do.
"Come on Katara let's get up." He urged her gently moving her off of him, cursing his conscience the whole time.
This time she obliged and she stood up brushing off her clothes. "Where are we going?" she asked blankly, her face screwed up in confusion.
"To the lake." He told her slowly.
"To the lake!" the declared and began marching in the wrong direction.
Zuko sweat dropped and took her by the shoulders bringing her to a halt and turning her in the right direction. "The lake is this way."
"I knew that!" she spun to face the tree to her to her right. "You told him I didn't know which way it was! I know it was you!" she accused, sticking her finder out at it. "You traitor, last time I ever marry you!"
"Okay…" Zuko slung an arm over her shoulders and led her away from the tree.
"I never liked him anyway." Katara huffed next to him shooting a glare over her shoulder.
"Why would you marry him then?" Zuko asked trying to keep a straight face.
She thought for a moment. "He's tall?"
Zuko snickered "Everyone's taller then you, well other than Aang and Toph, and they're like what, five years younger right? It doesn't seem like a very good reason to marry someone."
She glared up at him. "You're just a hater."
Zuko let it drop and within a few moments they made their way out of the trees into a clearing with a small lake in the middle. Katara clapped her hands in delight; she began peeling off pieces of clothing stumbling her way to the lake as she refused to stop to take her pants off and was doing it while in motion.
Zuko turned around hastily but when he heard a splash he turned to make sure she was alright. He was relieved to see she still had her under wrappings on. He followed in her wake picking up the articles of clothing she had discarded as he went. He sat down on the edge of the pool and watched as Katara happily swam back and forth, diving under the water and popping back up at random places. He smiled, watching her obvious joy at the simplest thing.
Soon she was swimming back towards the bank he was sitting on. "Join me!" she called smiling.
"I'm fine here." He told her making no move to get in.
"Awh come on."
He shook his head
"What's the matter? Too chicken Zu Zu?" Katara asked smiling evilly.
He glared at her. "No. I'm just pretty comfortable here."
Katara frowned for a moment before she seemed to get an idea and smiled again. She swam closer, til she was almost at the bank where Zuko was sitting. She giggled but before Zuko could wonder why she brought her hand in a sweeping arch slamming it into the water (apparently forgetting she could bend the water) causing Zuko to get sprayed. His jaw dropped in surprise and he was left gasping and dropping wet.
Katara laughed her head off, doubling over and clutching her stomach as she watched him. He regained his composer after a minute and smirked back at her. "You really shouldn't have done that."
He stood up, kicked off his shoes and pulled his shirt over his head. He took off running towards her and she shrieked and tried to run farther into the lake.
He caught up to her and splashed her back causing her to laugh happily. She spun to face him and soon they were in a water fight both yelling and splashing. Without her bending, being smaller Katara was at a disadvantage and Zuko was winning, drenching her with water every time his hand came down to strike the water. In a last attempt to win, Katara lunged at him grabbing his shoulders and yanking them downwards but Zuko kept his footing and laughed.
"Is something wrong?" Zuko asked in his most innocent voice.
She growled and yanked repeatedly, throwing a little tantrum as he refused to move.
"So I guess I win then."
Katara snorted and aimed a kick at the back of his knee which took him by surprise and sent him forward dragging her down with him.
Zuko sprang back up spluttering and Katara surfaced beside him coughing and pushing hair out of her eyes.
"I think that's enough water." Zuko said spitting out water and taking her arm leading her back to the shore.
Katara followed stumbling a little and when they climbed out of the water she flopped down on the grass, lying on her back.
Zuko walked over to their piles of clothes and grabbed his shirt before following Katara's lead, and laying down next to her. He threw his shirt over her and she smiled at him appreciatively as she drew the shirt around her more tightly to block out the night air. Zuko hid a smile by looking up at the stars twinkling down on them.
"You know," Katara broke the silence. "I never would have imagined myself being in a place like this a couple years ago before I met Aang."
Zuko listened silently.
"I always thought I would have a quiet life, getting married to one of the boys in the tribe and having kids."
"Do you miss him?" Zuko asked his jaw clenched not knowing if he really wanted to hear the answer.
Katara shook her head back and forth. "No he didn't treat me very well. There was such a limited choice thou, I had resigned myself to my fate."
Zuko let out a breath he had not known he had been holding. "That's never a good thing to do." Zuko said heaving a sigh as he remembered how long he had chased the avatar.
"Nope." Katara agreed "Look at us now. We're defying the Fire Lord. We're rreebbbllleesss." She drawled.
Zuko couldn't help but laugh. Katara gave a yawn and Zuko glanced over to see her eyes drooping shut.
"Hey, are you falling asleep?"
"Nope I'm awake." Katara said his eyes shooting open.
Zuko went back to looking at the stars. As he pondered his current position, he realized he felt strangely protective of this water tribe girl. He had once spent his time trying to hunt her down along with the rest of her friends but now he deeply regretted that. He felt even worse about it after he had seen Katara with her guard down and realized his true feelings towards her. It was almost unbearable to think ponder what they could have been if she hadn't seen him as the face of the enemy for so long.
"Ready to head back yet?"
Getting no reply he glanced over to find Katara had fallen asleep. He gave a small smile as he knelt slipping a hand behind her back and the other under her knees. He gently scooped her into his arms and cradled her against his chest trying his best not to wake her as he lifted her off the ground. He slipped his shoes on and bent down and picked up the rest of their clothes in his right hand as he balanced Katara's body on his arm.
He started off back to camp trying to hold the girl as still as possible. Lost in thought his foot hit a tree root and he stumbled. He held his breath and stood still, watching as Katara made a little sound and moved. But, rather than waking up, she merely snuggled closer to him and buried her face in his chest. If Katara had been able to see this her face would be bright red. Grinning, he continued on to the camp site.
When he got there everyone was still asleep and the fire was only embers. He quickly fixed the fire and skirted around the edge of it to Katara's sleeping bag.
He knelt down awkwardly and slipped his arm from under her knees and, still cradling her head, fiddled with the sleeping bag for a moment until he found the zipper (A.N.: I know there's not one but there's no other way to get a person into a sleeping bag without waking them up so deal with it.) He finally got the bag unzipped and he laid her down on it, re-zipping it around her.
He sat there for a moment watching the light from the fire flicker across her face. Her face was smooth and peaceful, void of the many emotions that flicked across it while she was awake. He was so tired of seeing a look of distrust flash across her face whenever she looked his way. He couldn't stop himself from leaning forward and pressing a kiss to her forehead. He jumped as he heard Sokka give a loud snore which jolted his back into reality. He had turned away reluctantly and stood up when he felt a hand on his ankle. He spun around to find Katara awake, gazing up at him.
"What is it?" Zuko asked his face heating up hoping she hadn't been awake when he had kissed her. She bit her lip seeming to think about something before motioning him down. Curiously he knelt next to her again and she sat up so they were face to face. She stared at him for a moment before closing her eyes and began leaning towards him. He longed to do the same, to kiss her senseless like he'd wanted to do for awhile now but couldn't.
He caught her shoulders and held her where she was stopping her from getting any closer. Her eyes opened and she looked at him confused. "I thought you liked me."
"I do." Zuko told her trying to wipe away that idea. "But this isn't you. You're drunk on cactus juice. I'd be taking advantage of you." He sighed.
"But this is me. Please Zuko, I like you." She told him her eyes glittering with emotion. "But I don't think I'll be brave enough in the morning. I've liked you ever since that day we got trapped in that stupid cave in Ba sing se. That's why I got so mad at you when you betrayed us and why I was the last to forgive you. Because you broke my heart."
"I'm sorry." Zuko looked away still ashamed at what he had done.
Katara shook her head. "I didn't mean to make you feel bad, I just wanted to prove my point."
Zuko nodded looking back at her large blue eyes which were gazing back at him intently.
"Will you let me kiss you now?" Katara asked pleadingly.
Slowly Zuko nodded again. A smile overtook Katara's features for a moment before she once again closed her eyes and began to lean in. Zuko began to lean in too but stopped as he saw Katara lurch forward and fall into his chest.
He heard her give a little sniff and noticed her breathing had evened out and deepened again. He realized she had once again fallen asleep. He groaned and pounded his fist into the ground.
He maneuvered Katara back into her sleeping bag taking a moment to brush some stray hair off her face. He turned around resigned and walked around the campfire to flop down on his own bedroll. He rolled onto his right side. A few moments later he turned onto his left. He rolled onto his stomach and screamed into his pillow. How was he supposed to sleep now?
A.N.: I really like this one so please tell me what you think. Please review I'd love to know what you think.