A/N: Day 7 Spark! This is me trying to do a PaintedBlue fic! I say trying because, yeah. I fully blame a lot of this particular one on the Catching Fire trailer and going "oh yes, sparking rebellion".
Disclaimer: I don't own.
Please come at your earliest convenience, as the Fire Nation seems to be plagued by a spirit called The Painted Lady. She is apparently healing and destroying. I don't want you to take care of the healing part, that's good and if you could tell her I appreciate it that would be great. I just want her to stop destroying military bases and factories.
Fire Lord Zuko
Have you asked Katara to stop? She did that for a village we passed through before the Day of Black Sun.
Zuko stared at the letter. It couldn't be Katara; he'd asked her to tour the hospitals around the Fire Nation to see what needed improving. She'd offered her services after she's completed months of study in the Northern Water Tribe. She wouldn't be sabotaging-
Zuko swore and shuffled the papers on his desk to find her itinerary. Everything matched. He should have made the connection sooner. At least it was at an end and she was coming back to the Capital today. He would make her admit what she had done. Or, a devious voice whispered in his head, you could catch her in the act.
He eyed his dao swords that were ceremonially mounted on his wall. Yes, catching her would be much more fun.
The guards and police presence in the Capital was up to the standards Zuko liked, he noted as he jumped from roof to roof and tried to avoid blasts of fire. He could feel his sweat collect on the inside of his mask and he made his way through the city to the main military base (he hoped she wouldn't be stupid enough to attack the one closer to the palace).
Earlier he happily welcomed Katara earlier in that evening. He'd tried to persuade her to join him for dinner but she declined citing exhaustion from travel. She did promise to go over what she thought needed improving in the morning.
He saw a chance to lose them. He jumped down to a lower roof, inwardly cursing at the harsh landing. He quickly hid behind the shack on the roof and watched her pursuers jump to the next roof. He counted to ten before scrambling up and making his way back to the ground. He'd keep to the shadows and when he got back he'd remember to actually remove the price from the Blue Spirit's head and make sure there were no more outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Really his alter ego could get him in more trouble than it was worth.
He made it to the military base without any trouble and no one trailing him. Then he waited. Either he'd catch her entering or exiting and he didn't really care. He'd prefer entering (less damage done) but it was still catching her in the act.
He kicked a pebble. Maybe she really was tired and she would wait till tomorrow, he reasoned. Then he spotted a flash of white out of the corner of his eye. There she was, she was sneaking around the perimeter trying to find a way in. He began to follow her, getting closer and closer until he finally pounced. She shrieked and he immediately clapped his hand over her mouth while as he held her tightly to him.
"You are very loud for a spirit," he whispered in her ear.
"Have you ever met one before?" She hissed.
"Perhaps you've heard of the Blue Spirit and if not he's the one who's captured you."
"Haha, let me go," she said as she elbowed him in the stomach. As he stumbled away he made a grab for her hat. He felt the material slip through his fingers and land in-between them. He smirked at Katara's stunned painted face before triumphantly pulling off his own mask.
"I knew it!" He declared.
Katara crossed her arms and glared. "Who told you?"
"Aang, after I wrote him asking for assistance."
"Why would you do that?"
"I was getting numerous reports of the Painted Lady terrorizing people! What do you even think you're doing?"
"I'm doing what's right! Do you know how many of the bases I destroyed are dens for criminals? How many of your soldiers are daily threatening the very people they are supposed to protect?"
"I had that taken care of!"
"Well you didn't and people are beginning to whisper about a rebellion-"
"They're using you as the figure head! You're the one sparking it!" Zuko yelled. He ran his hands through his hair. "Look, let's go back and we can discuss this. I've been updated on everything and been trying to work with people I trust to make the changes that need to be made and you're going in and just, just creating a bigger mess!"
"If you promise to apologize for yelling and spying on me then I'll go back with you," she bargained.
Zuko mumbled "fine" before turning to head back to the palace. They walked back in silence and Zuko tried to think of a way he wouldn't have to apologize. No one even batted an eyelash as they walked through the palace gates and made their way to Zuko's office.
Once safely inside Katara pounced. "You should understand about helping people in need, you keep saying that's what you're trying to do-"
"Yes Katara," Zuko began warily, "trying to do. I get two weekly reports from every base. The first is the official one and the second is the one from the spy that Uncle helped me plant there." He paused to throw a stack of bound letters at her. "I know full well what they are doing, but I also know that they are backed by powerful people I need on my side. So I'm working on trying to discredit them and make things better for the people living in these towns. That's why I asked you to go to these specific towns."
Katara fingered the string the bound the letters. "So what you're saying is you were using me in a grand scheme and didn't inform me?" He nodded. "You should have done that." He shrugged. "Did you know they begged me to not tell the Blue Spirit about them?"
"Apparently you have a reputation you're not aware of."
"So," she said slowly. "If we team up we can probably scar enough of the bad guys to make them stop for a little. Then you will have more time to gather your needed information. But you have to apologize first."
Zuko's shoulders slumped. "I'm sorry for not telling you the whole story."
"That's a start. Now how are we going to make these men run for the hills?"
"Well I know where they live..."
"That's a start."
"Maybe we should get you a mask too, that way you won't have to do the make-up every night."
"But then I wouldn't be the Painted Lady." Zuko had to admit she had a point.
All right this fic isn't over! I won't be updating everyday but I am going to write more the typical Zutara tropes. So face I still have high school AU, slave!/concubineZutara (which may or may not be two different fics, suave!Zuko, secret affair!Zutara, Over protective Sokka!Zutara, and awkward turtleduck!Zuko. I'm taking suggestions too!