Zutara Week. Day Seven. Caught.

Today is the last day of Zutara Week! Nooo! :(

I own nothing! Zuko, Katara, Sokka, Aang, Toph, and anything else recognizable belong Mike/Bryan/Nickelodeon/Viacom!

Zutara Week 2011 is, of course, run by the lovely trishna87, senbo-sama, AnimantX, and Irrel on deviantART. Best wishes to GreenifyME, who unfortunately couldn't participate in ZW this year.


Zuko wondered how he had gotten roped into this. It was not his idea of fun, nor was the "manly bonding" necessary. His arguments were deemed invalid. Sokka had slung his arm around Zuko's shoulders and announced that they'd be back before dinner.

An hour later, under the blazing sun, Zuko found himself bobbing in a little rowboat in the middle of a lake. The sun-bleached wood had protested under their combined weight, but as they settled on the benches, the boat remained sound.

"It's all in the technique," Sokka boasted, reeling in a fish. It flopped underneath them for a few moments before the Water Tribe boy dropped it into a sack.

Zuko shot him a sidelong glance, staring at his murky reflection. "Technique. Right," he muttered. Really, he didn't see how fishing called for much of anything but patience. Not that he had that either.

The tiny, optimistic part of him had tried to convince the rest of him that it would be a good thing to go on the stupid trip, since he and Katara had been arguing about the "proper" time to tell Sokka that they were together. Out in a tiny boat together with Sokka's space sword, he decided that that topic of conversation would be best left untouched.

His fishing pole—actually, it was nothing more than a smooth, thin branch with leftover line tied to the end—wiggled next to him, and for a second, he was really excited. The exhilaration simmered down quickly when he pulled at the line and felt minimal resistance. A tiny fish no longer than his forefinger thrashed pitifully in the air.

"Alright! Good job, buddy!" Sokka cheered, elbowing the firebender in the ribs. Zuko gave him an exasperated groan. After shuddering and almost asking Sokka to do it, he eventually managed to let the little thing go. Somehow, it would have seemed too pathetic if he were to take the guppy back to fry up for supper.

After several very long hours, Sokka proudly strode into camp with Zuko sulking next to him. Sokka whistled tunelessly (which, among other things, was driving Zuko insane), carrying his woven sack with much more fervor than really necessary. His fishing partner trailed his stick-turned-rod through the dust behind him.

"Hey!" Katara called as they neared. "How was your fishing trip?"

"Perfect!" her brother said, reaching into the sack to pull out a glistening fish. He situated himself next to the fire Aang had already started and laid a spit with his catch over the flames. Katara grinned and went to grab the bag. The grin vanished when the rough fibers of the sack hung limp in her hands.

"Sokka," she began sweetly. "Where are the rest of the fish?"

"In the lake," he replied, poking at the sizzling flesh of one fish. "What?" he questioned when his sister glared at him. He delicately peeled away scales to check its progress.

"There are six people in this camp and you catch dinner for yourself?" she seethed incredulously.

"Aang doesn't eat fish," Sokka pointed out.

Katara threw her hands up, letting the bag fly into the air and land seconds later with a deflated plop. "Dear Spirits! That's not the point!" she exploded. "And what about you?" She spun to scowl at Zuko instead, the fury in her voice unintentionally carrying over to him.

"I, well...uh, didn't—" Zuko faltered.

"He couldn't catch a cold," Sokka explained, "let alone a fish."

The waterbender let out a long, exasperated sigh and pressed her fingers to her temple. Zuko suddenly wanted to reach out to her, to kiss away the deep frown lines that blossomed on her forehead.

"Fine," she muttered. "You, come with me." She jerked her head toward Zuko, who was simply staring at her. He silently followed, leaving that stupid stick on the ground.

Zuko allowed her to storm through the forest, not knowing what she was doing and not daring to ask, until they were out of sight of camp and hopefully out of Toph's earshot. He reached for her hand; she accepted gratefully and slowed her pace.

"Thanks," she said at the same time he said "sorry."

She smiled gently and stopped walking altogether. With her own apology for snapping at him, she tucked herself against him and pressed her nose to his neck. The thrum of his pulse against her cheek eased her out of her irritation.

He said nothing as she pulled away from the solidity of his body but curled his hand around her smaller one again. As she started leading him once more through the trees, she rested her head against his arm.

"Now what?" he asked when they reached the same Agni-forsaken lake that he had wasted his entire day on. Almost unwillingly, he let her hand go as she moved to stand at the muddy shore.

"Now I'm going to show you how I fish," she said, a bit smugly. She planted her feet at the lake's edge and closed her eyes. She could sense how deep the lake was and, more importantly, all of the darting forms of life below the surface.

"Seriously? You couldn't catch anything?" she asked, feeling the pinpoints of life submerged in the calm water. "That's sad."

Even though it was just light teasing, Zuko frowned. Seconds later, with a theatrical splash, Katara bent a globe of water up from the depths of the lake. Swimming confusedly around the small sphere were eleven lively fish.

"Guess you're not much of a fisherman," Katara said with a small shrug. She gasped in surprise and dropped her whole catch back into the water when he trapped her against his chest, his arms crossing around her stomach. The waterbender laughed breathlessly as Zuko pressed his lips to her shoulder.

"Hey, I caught you, didn't I? That should count for something."

So...I know nothing about fishing, cooking fish, or fish in general. Except for my pet goldfish, I've always been kinda freaked out by fish. I much rather prefer warm-blooded sea creatures.

"Fishing is boring, unless you catch an actual fish, and then it is disgusting."
-Dave Barry

"It is to be observed that 'angling' is the name given to fishing by people who can't fish."
-Stephen Leacock

Anyway...I dunno. I had several ideas for this prompt, but I wanted to do something out-of-the-box. I assume that most people did/are going to do something involving them actually getting caught, whether it be kissing or in the middle of the act or whatever. (You know, like last year's Date prompts, where people either had an actual date or the fruit and I did due date instead.) So here's this, that actually isn't completely Zutara, but it's still kinda fluffy...and fishy. xD *brick'd*

Review, please?
Tchao, Zutarians.