Author's Note: This is my first posted story! I hope you like it. It takes place during The Southern Raiders. I always thought that it might be fun if Katara turned to Zuko for comfort in that episode a little more than she did. I also figured it would be a good reason for her "confusion" when she speaks with Aang in The Ember Island Players. So, enjoy! Please let me know what you think!
It was dark.
Katara shuddered at the sound of the rain outside her tent. Under any normal circumstance, being surrounded by her element would soothe her. It would give her a sense of security and happiness.
Not that night.
That night, all she wanted was for the rain to go back from where it came from. High up in the sky where it belonged. Away from where anyone (except for Appa or possibly Aang) would be able to see or hear from it. Her legs were curled up tightly against her chest. So alone, she felt. So completely and utterly alone.
She should have killed the bastard.
The look on his face was something she didn't think she would ever forget. She'd fully intended to murder him. To stab him every which way using all of the might the water would give her – but she hadn't. Aang would say she was strong. That it wasn't the right thing to do. She wasn't sure if he was right, or if she was simply too weak.
She agonized over her decision again and again. She hadn't slept much in the past two days, and didn't think that was about to change that night. Perhaps she would be able to once she was back with the others, and there was a sense of normalcy again. But as it stood, there was no way she was going to be able to sleep any time before that. Her mind was going in too many different directions to allow for relaxation to set in.
Anger washed over her. Why was it that she was so lost? After facing him, she should have felt relief. Instead all she felt was misery.
As she stretched out on top of her sleeping bag, the pain in her chest grew worse. "Mom, I'm so sorry," she sobbed quietly, gripping the fabric close to her face.
Her muffled sobs did not go unnoticed.
"Um, Katara?" A voice called out to her from outside the tent.
"Are you okay?" he asked, still standing awkwardly outside the fabric doors. "Because I, uh, could hear you..."
She sighed and sat up, slightly wiping her eyes. There wasn't much use in that, since he had quite obviously known she had been crying, but still.
"I'm fine," she called out to him.
There was an uncomfortable silence. Katara peeked upwards and could still see his shadow lingering outside the tent. She felt a little guilty. He had accompanied, even encouraged her on the most important journey of her life. She supposed she needed to be a little bit nicer to him. He had helped her out a lot and he seemed to be genuine about it this time...
So, instead of telling him to get lost and mind his own business she crawled over to the tent opening. "Really, Zuko, I'm fine," she said, eyeing him. He looked pathetic, sitting out there in the rain.
"I just wanted to make sure, I know you went through a lot today." He didn't look at her, instead he kept his eyes placed firmly on the ground underneath him.
A lot didn't even begin to cover it. Though Katara still wasn't sure how she felt about him, she had to admit to herself that Zuko wasn't wrong. Maybe the best thing to do would be to actually talk to someone about what she was feeling, instead of crying alone in her tent.
Unfortunately Aang, Sokka, Toph and anyone else were all back at their camp. The prince who had hunted them down and betrayed her trust time and time again would have to do. She opened the curtain slightly to allow him in. Crawling back over to her spot on the sleeping bag, she curled her legs up to her chest once more.
Zuko was hesitant at first, but followed her after a moment and sat beside her. "Look, I know I'm probably not the person you want to talk to-"
"I don't understand why I couldn't do it," she cut him off, feeling fresh tears start to brim in her eyes. "He killed my mother, and I just couldn't..." Her voice cracked, and she took a few deep breaths to steady herself.
Zuko didn't say anything. Instead he just listened to her. He was sure she probably didn't want his advice anyway.
"I don't know why I couldn't, I just looked at him and I saw myself. I didn't want to become who he was, the type of person who I had hated for so long. The type of person who would take someone else's life without even thinking about it."
He still didn't say a word. He just watched her as she trembled with sadness and confusion. Her eyes were still pointed downward, and she didn't dare look at him.
"I keep going over what Aang said in my head. That I didn't need to kill him and that I needed to face him and let it go," she paused, shaking her head, "but I did face him, and I didn't let it go. I feel just as awful as ever. Now all I have to think about was that I should have killed him, but I was too weak to do it."
Zuko watched as Katara continued to shake her head, obviously still so lost. "You're not weak," he said quietly.
"What?" Her head snapped up and her eyes met his.
"You're not weak. Trust me, I've seen the way you fight and I've seen you stand up for what you believe in," he said, feeling a little awkward to be saying such things to her.
She scoffed. "Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I put too much faith in other people."
Zuko shook his head. That was one thing he knew she was wrong about. "No," he said sharply. "You always see the good in people. Being able to do that is what makes you strong. That man was weak and he was a coward. Standing up to him took strength and courage."
Katara looked up at him as he spoke. Normally his words wouldn't have affected her as strongly as they did. In fact, if it had been Aang, Sokka, Toph or anyone else she probably would have just shrugged them off. They were her friends, they were supposed to say things like that. But Zuko... he had seen her bad side more than anyone else. Surely if he thought those things, they had to be at least somewhat true, didn't they?
She studied his face. His dark hair was messy, and it was wet on account of the rain. It had always annoyed her, she constantly wanted to brush it out of his eyes. Speaking of his eyes – had they always been that amber color? In the darkness of the tent they almost looked gold.
That was when something weird happened. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against his.
Zuko was too shocked to respond – either by saying anything or kissing her back. He just sat there, frozen. Almost afraid to do anything else.
Katara pulled away from him, unsure of why she'd just done what she did. If they'd had anything to drink, she probably would have blamed it on that. Instead, she chose to go with the route that she was overtired and being in that tent with Zuko was oddly comforting.
"Sorry," she muttered, looking down at her feet once more.
"Don't be," he replied, placing his hand underneath her chin.
Katara gently turned to look at him. His eyes were soft now, and there was something in them that she'd never seen before. Compassion, was it? They were both tired, their judgement clouded. This wasn't happening.
She felt the urge to kiss him again. He must have felt it too, because Katara was certain she wasn't the only one who leaned in that time.
And that time. Agni, that time. Instead of the awkward seconds they had shared only moments before, that time they kissed like they meant it. The kiss was unlike any other she had experienced before it. Not that there had been many, really. There was that one time Aang had kissed her before the invasion – but that had been awkward and rushed. It had ended before Katara had even known it was happening.
This was anything but rushed.
His lips were so soft, which wasn't at all what she had expected. She wasn't sure what she had expected him to smell like either, but instead he smelled fresh, like the rain. It made sense, if Katara had stopped to think logically about it.
There was no logic here.
Her hands sat on his neck for a moment before daring to move upward and play with his hair. It was still damp from the aforementioned rain and the beads of water felt nice against her fingertips.
Katara shifted her weight as Zuko pulled her in closer. He was turned on, that much she could tell. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and he groaned feeling her warmth against him.
She continued kissing him, letting his tongue dance free inside of her mouth. Reaching backwards, she pulled his hand down to her lower back and continued to grind against him. The sounds she was making were muffled by his lips on hers.
Her mind was racing. As she pressed her chest up against his, she could feel his heart beating rapidly. Almost as fast as hers was. Soon the two of them toppled over onto her sleeping bag. Katara stayed on top of him, and again Zuko pulled her in closer.
"Katara," he breathed, and she pulled away from him for a second. They both stared at each other; wondering if they should continue on, and where this might possibly lead if they did. "Do you want to stop?" he asked.
She was breathing heavily now. Damn him and his logical questions! Did she want to stop? Never. Should she stop before they ended up doing something that might make the next morning anymore awkward than it was already shaping up to be? Probably.
Rarely in her life did Katara do what she should have. That, and his lips were so sweet. All she wanted was to taste them again. "No," she said, before planting another kiss on those sweet lips of his. "I don't want to stop."
Zuko didn't need to be told twice. Katara flipped over on to her back as he crawled on top of her. Again, she wrapped her legs around his waist, unable to get enough of the hardness that strained through his leggings. Agni, he just felt so good against her. She briefly wondered if he was just as inexperienced as she was. It didn't seem like it.
Feeling brave, and wanting more, she grabbed his hand and placed it firmly on her breast. Taking this as a loud and clear "yes," he shrugged himself out of the top part of his tunic and leaned down on top of her once more. Katara moaned as she felt his skin against hers. She dug her fingernails into his back and moved her kisses to his neck, just underneath his earlobe.
He continued to roll his hips against hers, not daring to take any steps further unless she made the first move. If this was as far as it was going to go, that was plenty fine with him. He wasn't so sure he was going to last much longer anyway.
Katara was right there with him. She tightened her legs around him, ignoring the pain in her thighs. Every part of her body felt like it was on pins and needles. "Oh, oh Zuko!" she cried, as he sent her over the edge.
He buried his head in her neck as she caught her breath, and he too felt it. The climax was almost too much for him to handle, but he managed to stay quieter than she did. He only moaned softly into her skin.
As they came down from their high, they continued to kiss lightly. Eventually, that turned into light breathing and looking into each others eyes just a little awkwardly.
The two of them laid there in silence, neither saying a word to each other about what had just happened. Eventually, Zuko fell asleep with his arm draped lazily over top of her.
Katara didn't fall asleep right away. Instead she was kept awake with new feelings of confusion. Before sleep finally overtook her, her mind continued to work. Still, her few minutes with Zuko had done their job – the conflicted thoughts about the man who had killed her mother were gone. Replacing them were thoughts of romance, love, and the choice she knew she would eventually have to make.