Title: Fighting for You
Pairings: ultimately Zutara
Warnings: Language (lots of language), violence, some citrus later on, modern AU
Summary: Katara is the Princess of the SWT, a branch of The Tribe, a waterbending mafia based out of the North Pole, establishing themselves in Ba Sing Se with her brother and father. Zuko, the banished son of The Nation, a firebending syndicate, fights to get rid of the demons in his past and to supplement his income as a waiter at Uncle's tea shop. Katara takes a financial interest in Zuko's abilities and together they go far in the world of MMA getting closer physically along the way as they realize how alike they really are. All that attention brings back Zuko's past in a very bad way. Little do they know that messing with those that Katara loves is a very bad idea.
"Porn!" Sokka shouted out, perhaps a bit more enthusiastically than he should have given they were at the breakfast table. Katara nearly spewed a mouthful of coffee all over her cell phone. Their father, Hakoda Kuruk, dropped the paper low enough so that his blue eyes could question his son.
"We've talked about this, son. It's too expensive to maintain, and it's just… messy."
Both siblings had to giggle at their father's choice of words. "Yeah but it's the most profitable," Sokka tried to defend.
"Sokka, we're not going in to the porn business. We'll keep it as a thought but good effort." Katara hardly lifted her eyes from the screen of her phone, her fingers flying over the little keyboard. It was times like these that made her wonder who the younger sibling really was. "Jet's been talking about some guy at his gym who fights. Says he's small time now but with a few more wins under his belt he'll be a hot commodity."
Sokka spoke through a mouthful of eggs, "Who?"
"Hold on." A few quick types on her phone and she had the answer. "Zuko Long?"
"Oh, yeah! I've seen him a few times. He's really good," Sokka confirmed.
Hakoda set down the paper and crossed his legs contemplating his two children. Looking at him no one would ever think that Hakoda, a solidly built man of 43 years with piercing blue eyes and a smile that would melt the ice caps of their homeland, was the head of the SWT, an organized crime syndicate from the Water Tribes of the south. They were a small, yet powerful branch off The Tribe, their brothers from the north who were more old-fashioned in their dealings. He and his family resided in the great Earth Kingdom city of Ba Sing Se and running a good portion of the city. The SWT had been accused of a whole laundry list of crimes from illegal arms trades, drug smuggling, and other capital gains to murder, extortion, and bombings. Of course they were excellent at covering their tracks so charges were typically reduced to some petty trumped up charge or flat out dismissed. Of course it certainly helped that Sokka was romantically involved with the head of the regional police, a lovely girl named Suki.
His son, Sokka, now 25, had a brilliant head for planning, strategy, and invention and had made Dean's List every semester while attending Ba Sing Se University of Technology even graduating a year and half earlier than expected. He had the charm of a teddy bear with the ladies, yet a total lack of desire to be a leader, preferring to be behind the scenes.
His daughter on the other hand, 24-year-old Katara, was as beautiful as she was deadly. As much as he had wanted her to be a proper Tribe woman- docile, pretty, subservient to the men- he learned early on that was not in the cards for her. She was most certainly pretty. How many punk boys had he wanted to take out back and castrate for just looking at her the way they did? But docile not even close. Subservient- never. Unlike other fathers in their misogynistic social circles, he encouraged and helped her develop those skills. Then he discovered she could bend water when she was eight and it was all over. There were none like her in their organization, in the Northern Tribe certainly, but not in theirs and she was would be an asset. She could charm a snake out of its skin. Bat her lashes prettily at a snitch while putting a bullet in their brain. She could manipulate and delegate with the best of them. She was the perfect person for taking over when it came time for him to retire. It was just a shame that she was a girl.
"We've never promoted people before, why start now?" Hakoda inquired only semi-interested in the conversation.
"Dad, the Dai Li are putting a lot of heat on the, uh, imports and I think it would be in our best interest to perhaps have a least a few more things that look legit." Sokka rested his forearms on the table and looked earnestly at his father. "Plus, if things go right, we can skim off the top of the winnings a heck of a lot easier this way."
Hakoda mulled it over for a moment knowing full well his son wouldn't mention it if he hadn't already had everything planned out. Sokka always planned.
"Fine. See what you can find out about this guy. I don't want to be throwing money at a bad investment." Hakoda rose from his seat, kissed the top of his daughter's head, and left for one of the endless meetings with his second in command leaving this new business venture in his children's very capable hands.
"So listen," Jet began, watching Zuko alternate between kicks and punches against the heavy bag. "I've been talking to Katara-"
"Who?" Zuko panted. It was stifling hot that morning in the gym. The lone oscillating fan in the corner not doing much good and the windows barely opened to allow in the outside breeze. He had already been here for three hours training for tomorrow night's fight and the layer of sweat clung to him like a second skin. He was half-tempted to end the cardio and go hit the weights.
"Hands up. You keep dropping them after you land. Keep your hands up. Protect that pretty face," Jet critiqued loudly getting a frustrated grunt, then continuing from earlier. "Katara. The brunette who comes in time to time. Gorgeous tits. Tight ass. Perfect 'blow me' lips. You've seen her. Anyways, not the point. I've been telling her about you."
Zuko's gloved hands stilled on the bag long enough to take a breather then continued. "About what?"
"About what a fantastic fucking fighter you are and how with a little investment into your future you could be making bank."
Zuko took a step back and brushed a strand of hair from his forehead with his forearm then returned to pounding away at the heavy bag. "Why would she care?"
Jet pulled the toothpick from his mouth and pointed it at Zuko, "Because, my friend, she's fucking loaded. She's got more money than King Kuei and she could help sponsor you so you can get out of this shithole and start playing with the big dogs."
"I don't need help." Each word punctuated with a heavy jab against the bag. He had never asked for help before and he sure as hell wasn't starting now.
Jet stepped forward stopping Zuko mid-punch, his normally sarcastic expression was replaced with concern over his friend. The pair had met at Zuko's uncle's tea shop when they were both 16 and they had quickly become good friends. They had gone through a lot together over the past ten years from stupid kid stuff to the major adult issues. Knowing Zuko had needed quick (and legal) money a couple years back Jet had gotten him into the fighting scene. It had taken time to simmer down and to realize it was more strategy that beating the crap out of his opponent that Zuko was rose in the ranks of the amateur circuit quicker than either of them imagined. What Zuko really needed, unfortunately Jet couldn't provide.
"Zuko, don't BS me, man. I know why you do this shit and it's not because you like hurting people. You need the money and she's got it. She's coming to tomorrow night's match to see you for herself then she'll decide whether to take you on."
"I don't need the help," Zuko repeated, roughly pulling the gloves off and tossing them over his shoulder then ripping away the tape from his palms. He downed the contents of the water bottle and together they made their way to the locker room.
"Tough. She's coming tomorrow night," throwing a towel at Zuko, "and you're gonna win like you always do and she's going to make you a deal. And," Jet pursed his lips together, "You'd be a fucking idiot to tell her no."
Zuko sized up the words trying to get a read on what that meant and frankly he didn't really care. As long as he won, as long as he earned that extra money each week, none of it mattered. What mattered was what was at home waiting for him.
"Damn girl," Jet leered appreciatively at Katara as she exited the luxury sports car giving Jet a nice view of sinful length of her legs. Gripping her hand in his, he helped her out of the vehicle as her brother exited the other side. "How am I supposed to watch out for my buddy when you look like that?"
Katara gave a playful shove against his chest, smiling smugly at Jet offering her cheek to kiss. Unable to help himself, Jet brushed her long brown waves from her shoulder then lowered his hand to gently graze her ass. His mouth lowered to kiss the spot between the strap of the metallic blue dress and her neck but was immediately interrupted by a slap to the back of the head from her brother. "Don't feel up my sister while I'm right here, man."
"Sokka relax," Katara chided, slipping her arm into Jet's elbow, beaming at both men, trying to distract both. "We're going to be late."
Katara could practically hear Sokka growling behind her as they made their way to the small stadium. Her father and brother disapproved of Jet immensely, citing his shady origins and even shadier dealings. Katara of course had to remind them that Jet had proven repeatedly his loyalty to their organization and his "shady dealings" had brought them a lot of money and had helped them get a foothold in Ba Sing Se.
As they approached the arena, Katara soon realized that this wasn't the big time events she was used to attending. She was horribly overdressed compared to the shoddy attire the rest of the crowd wore. The way Sokka shifted in his expensive suit as they waited told Katara he felt the same way. The few odd looks they received didn't help any and she cautiously noted the few glances from those who recognized the siblings.
Jet however was oblivious to the awkwardness, dressed in a warm-up suit fitting a trainer and pseudo-manager of an amateur fighter. He nodded and waved to the guards at the entrance and led the siblings to the box seats, which were nothing more than padded metal seats that were just a little bit closer to the ring. It was pretty gross and Katara wrapped her coat a little more closely around her body when several older men began eye-balling her.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get my boy ready," Jet kissed the top of Katara's hand suavely, "I will see you later though."
Katara tilted her head and smiled, "Of course." Jet smiled back and left to wherever it was that the fighters came from. Katara had hardly a clue about fighting or the rules and regulations. She just knew to keep her eyes on Zuko, the tall guy in red shorts who would be fighting last.
As soon as Jet was out of earshot, Sokka asked, "I thought you and Jet broke up." Sokka waved down a popcorn vendor and nabbed a bag along with some gummies.
"We did," she replied casually, dipping into his popcorn bag.
He swatted away her hand but she still managed to take a handful and pop them in her mouth. "But you still talk to him?"
"Duh, he's my personal trainer so I can look good," she flexed her bicep and placed a hand over it as if trying to show off like a guy. "Plus he's great in the sack."
Sokka sighed heavily sliding down in his seat. "I so did not want to know that. Shh, it's starting!"
After the first event, Katara watched in amazement as the competitors brutalized each other while the crowd, including her brother who was now standing and shouting next to her, went wild. Some of the moves she tucked away in her head in case she might ever need them for future dealings gone wrong. Then the lights dimmed, the music pumped, the announcer got overly excited announcing the main event and Katara sat up straight in her seat watching Jet and his entourage approach the ring. Finally, what she came here to see.
Zuko loved this moment. The pulse of the crowd as they laughed and shouted eager to watch the two strangers kill each other. His opponent across the ring mentally challenging him, sizing him up, trying to pinpoint his weaknesses before the match even began. The feel of the open-fingered gloves itching to inflict damage. The smell of testosterone and victory. He chewed on his mouth guard only vaguely listening to Jet behind him reminding him of the basics, use his head, no bending, blah, blah, blah. He knew all this. It's what he trained for in the Agni forsaken gym.
The cutman, Smellerbee, a petite, tomboy who could beat the crap out of men three times her size, had already taken off his robe leaving him bare-chested and in the red shorts adorned with black dragons, checking and rechecking the straps of that annoying headgear required by the amateur fighting commission. Then the referee called out for the fighters in the middle of the ring. Bumping gloves they waited for the bell then it was on. All his aggression, all his rage, his anger from a lifetime of disappointment and abandonment, channeled into this moment. The opponent turned into his father, his sister, his life. He was a stand-up fighter, preferring the kicks and punches of his natural bending without adding the internal fire associated with it. The first round was always about finding weaknesses and Zuko was quick to find the other man's. Fists landed against padded jaws, legs sweeping the other man to the ground. Zuko flew to dominate over him, blow after blow landing as the man rose his arms to protect himself until the bell rang indicating the end of the round. The second round went just as quick with his competitor landing some solid blows but he was sluggish and Zuko made quick work of him. By the third, Zuko was on his bloodied and exhausted prey like a moose-lion until the other man smacked the mat hard tapping out.
Exhaling, Zuko rose from the mat looking down at the man beneath him mentally puffing out his chest in pride. He was stronger. Tougher. He'd been through worse than tonight. His father had made sure of that. After the other man was cleaned up a bit they met again in the middle, the ref grabbed both their wrists and lifted Zuko's arm in triumph to the crowd's roar of approval.
Zuko bobbed his head and smirked victoriously. He looked up from the mat to the crowd as he always did. In a sea of eyes on him, he caught hers. Blue and cunning. Coy yet bold. She stared right at him like he was hers and he almost forgot to breathe. Jet caught him in a hug and patting his back and when he looked up again, she was gone.
Katara attended three more events just to make sure that he was the real deal and that that first night wasn't some fluke. Each time she watched him win though she could already count the stacks of bills he could bring them and she beams.
It had been a hard sell getting her father to approve of sponsoring Zuko. She had done her research and had found out all sorts of juicy details about the man that if he declined could be used to "win" him. She wasn't a fan of blackmail but would use it if necessary. Having Sokka confirm that this was a win-win situation certainly helped
The heels of her Manolos clicked against the hard cement as she made her way to the locker room where the star should be. The security guard outside the door instantly recognizes who she is and allows her to enter the locker room much to the dismay of the throng of girls waiting to catch a glimpse of Zuko Long or better yet be the one allowed inside for private time with the rising star.
Silence fills the little room, the stench of man sweat, blood, and victory overshadowing her expensive perfume. She finds him sitting on a bench, dark head down unwrapping his feet and rubbing just above his ankle where he had taken a hefty blow earlier.
"I have a proposition for you." she begins. The way her arms are crossed in front of her chest amplifies the swell of her breasts beneath the dress that surely cost more than his monthly rent and Zuko smirked to himself knowing full well what she's propositioning. He glanced up at her then stood and sauntered over to the sink where he began treating a cut on his lip. "You can just turn around on those expensive 'fuck me' shoes of yours and wait outside like the rest of the ladies out there."
Katara blustered for a moment, unbelieving what he just said to her. "Excuse me?"
He turned to face her leaning back on the sink and folding his arms across his still bare chest an empty look in his golden eyes. "That's what you're propositioning, right? You want me to sign your tits, I get to feel you up, and then you drop to your knees and give me head." To Katara this sounded as routine as saying "I'm going to store to buy milk" and frankly she was disgusted. She growled in disgust that he could possibly think she was one of "those" girls. But if that's what he thought then why not use that to her advantage.
"You don't know who I am, do you?" she breathed, sliding up close to him. She caught the hitch in his breath and thought smugly, still got it.
He caught her eyes and recognized them from a couple weeks ago. "Should I?"
She smiled brightly as she ran a finger up his bare chest, noticing the bruises already forming, his eyes following her finger. "I'm someone who can help you."
"No thanks." He gripped her hand and pushed it off his chest, watching her eyebrows furrow in displeasure.
"That's not what Jet said."
"Jet?" Katara watched the wheels click in his head. "Oh, you're his girl, right?"
She laughed, eyebrow lifting. "More like he's my boy, but that's not the point. I saw you out there and you fight very well. Or so everyone says." She turned and walked over to the bench giving a nice sway of her backside in the tight dress that Zuko couldn't help but appreciate. Delicately placing herself on the edge, she crossed her legs, giving a purposeful little display in the process. "How much do you make here?"
Zuko rubbed the back of his neck thinking. "I don't know. Maybe 50 silver for each win, about 20 for a loss. Give or take."
"Well that seems like so little for what you do."
"It's enough." Grabbing the shirt that laid next to his bag, he yanked it over his head. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get home."
"I'm offering to promote you. You've done about all you can in these rankings I'm told. With my connections I can get you out of here. Surely Jet has talked to you about this?" She was going to beat him if he hadn't. Jet had promised her that he would convince this Zuko person and it would be unwise to break a promise to her.
He stared at her for a moment then let his eyes slip away. "Yeah. He did."
"And I need time to think about it."
She frowned for a brief moment unaccustomed to being told no. "You have till Wednesday to decide. I expect a yes." She pressed a business card in his palm sliding her nails against his skin then brushed past him leaving her perfume lingering after her.
"Fuck," he breathed as the door slammed behind her staring down at his hand. What was he getting himself into?
At Jet's apartment later that night making out like two teenagers on his couch, Katara frowned at her favorite shoes that dangled precariously off a pedicured toe. "Are these really "fuck me" shoes?"
Jet took her foot in his hand tugging the four inch heels off her and rubbed along the instep, then brought the foot to his lips, tossing the expensive shoe over his shoulder. "Well, I don't know who said that, but they sure as hell make me want to do despicably naughty things to you." Katara could only laugh as he in fact did despicably naughty things to her much to her delight before she redressed several hours later.
"Stay with me." He didn't even bother hiding his nudity as he reached for her across his bed.
"I have an important meeting in the morning." She replied, then lifted her hair and turned around wordlessly demanding that he zip up the back of her dress.
"You talk to Zuko?" He attempted to kiss her neck after getting the zipper. She ducked away knowing full well that if he continued she would never leave.
"Yes. I'm giving him a few days to think." Slipping on her coat, she leaned down to give him one last kiss and tapped him lightly on the nose. "Bring him to the club at 9. I expect a yes from him."
AN: this is a little story that's been playing in my head for a while now. What'dya think? Should I continue or quit while I'm ahead?