When Katara finally awoke, she was in a far more comfortable position, and despite her tiredness, she could feel two people beside her, one on either side and she grinned through a false frown.
"Guys I told you it would take to long to save me, why did you come back after I-" She cut herself off when she opened her eyes to see an obviously fire nation guard standing over her. He seemed to stare at her for a moment before he left her alone in the plain metal room she found herself in. With a sense of urgency, she sat up, pulling hard against her left wrist which she discovered was shackled to the bed she lay in.
Blood seeped from the bandages around her wrist and reminded her of the ropes that once bound her to a tree. Then, at least, there had been hope of escape.
Aang and Sokka sat on the forest ground where Appa had had to rest.
"There needs to be a way to get to her!" Aang exclaimed. It was clear that Zuko had taken Katara to his ship, when they had gone back to search for her, they found nothing, not a trace. No rope to signal her escape, no blood to signal...Sokka shivered at his own thought.
"There needs to be. But, much as I want to, we can't charge in. That's what he wants, he'd capture you and who knows what he'd do with Katara." He placed his head in his hands, breathing deeply.
"But we need to save her!" Aang didn't attempt to stave off the tears the way Sokka did. Even Appa seemed upset at the loss of the girl.
"I- I think we need to just...She said that she'd escape and catch up...If we just..." Sokka stumbled over what he hoped would be comforting sentences to the crying boy. He took a deep breath.
"Aang, Katara is my sister. I'm sure that somewhere in that not-quite-right brain of hers, she knows what she's doing. And there's really no other option but to continue on and hope that her plan works out. We can't risk you getting captured. Besides, can you imagine what she'd say if we rescued her before she had a chance to try and escape?" Sokka attempted to amuse Aang with his silly, lighthearted joke and either way, Aang gave a minuscule twitch of the side of his face, a poor excuse of a smile.
"The prisoner is awake, sire." A guard grunted and Zuko immediately sprung up from his chair.
"You know, if you go now, she will be stressed and unwilling to speak." Iroh murmured.
"And what do you suggest? Two weeks to settle in? She is my prisoner, not my guest!" Zuko burst at his uncle, flames lighting themselves on his fists, but the old man didn't so much as look up from his tea.
"Well..." Began Iroh.
Iroh made his way through the corridors and down into the bottom of the ship where the sound of panicked sobbing was heard. He slowly opened the door and stepped inside, attempting to look less threatened.
Blue eyes fixed on him as her entire body went rigid, completely paralyzed with fear.
"I don't know where they are! They've moved! We didn't talk about where we were going next!" She fired at him, he simply gave a gentle smile and held his hands up, a key dangling from one. Katara eyed him carefully and shrunk away as he came closer.
"I'm here to show you to your room. This one is not of a high enough standard for a young lady such as yourself." He smiled as he unlocked the shackles from the bed and her wrist, tutting at the blood on her wrist.
"My room?" She mumbled confused. Iroh smiled wider and once she stood, he offered her his arm and led her up the stairs.
Katara had no idea how he could possibly know where he was going, everything looked the same, the walls were metal and every few meters, there was a door. The odd fire nation flag hung on the wall but other than that, everything was grey.
Their footsteps echoed along the corridor so Katara tried to step lightly, mostly on her toes. Much the way Aang moved. She wiped at her eyes again.
"You may like to wander around, though I would suggest you are careful. My nephew is easy to anger and can become...hostile quickly." A soft whine from beside him told him that Katara understood this already.
"If there is anything you need..." He said as he led her into a room not much better than the first "Let me know." He gave a kindly smile before leaving, shutting the door behind him. Katara launched herself onto the bed, burying her face into the plush black pillows and stiffing her sobs. Iroh's indirect warning ringing within her ears.
"A new room, mealtimes with us, new clothing, jewellary? This is how I'm to capture the avatar?! By spoiling a water tribe peasant?!" Zuko seethed as Iroh threw ideas at him.
"If you gain her trust she will be more willing to tell you what you wish to know."
"Trust!" Zuko threw his hands up in frustration, steam rolling off of his muscled arms. "You've lost it, uncle. Completely beyond help!" he seethed.
"So you won't be willing to have tea with us?" Iroh ventured. "I was hoping you would...well..." A small smile appeared on his face.
"What?" Zuko demanded.
In her room, Katara leapt a foot in the air at the enraged shout of 'WHAT?!' that resonated through the ship. It was Zuko, without a doubt and her fear increased tenfold when she heard footsteps coming increasingly closer.