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Fic

Title: Never Quite Discussed
Author: myfebruarysong
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Rating: G - pure fluff, my friends
Pairings: Zutara
Summary: Zuko can't sleep because he's got something on his mind and Katara is the lucky one to hear him out.
Characters: Zuko, Katara, Sokka, brief mentions of the others.
Warnings: If you have a sweet tooth, this may send you into a sugar coma.
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters. Sadly. Also, this is my first fanfic EVAR! Be gentle.

There was a general feeling of weight on those around the fire that night. They'd all gone to see a ridiculous play in town that made them all look like cartoon characters, and everyone had come away with different feelings about it. Being the newest member of the gang, Zuko liked to observe rather than speak most of the time. It was a new role for him, more submissive than he'd been before, but he was slowly learning that thinking before speaking, letting others have their say first gave him less opportunity to get himself in trouble.

Toph was the only one who'd been truly happy with her portrayal; a big muscular man who could squash anyone under his foot. She talked animatedly with Sokka and Suki as they'd all made their way back to their camp. Aang and Katara were the quietest he'd ever seen them, and Zuko didn't quite know what to make of it.

Now, as the fire was turning to embers and the embers turning to coals, everyone began drifting off to their own tents. Katara and Aang still seemed melancholy, and somehow Zuko knew it wasn't about the characters they'd been portrayed as that night. Still, it was none of his concern, and he needed sleep.

Except sleep wouldn't come. He tossed and turned, getting irritated when the only thing he could see behind closed eyes was the sadness of Katara's face. With a frustrated growl, he threw his covers back and left his tent. As he walked across the open ground to another tent, Appa opened one big golden eye and started at Zuko. In return, Zuko whispered, "Go back to sleep." The bison sighed heavily and did just that. Glad no alarm would be raised, Zuko glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then tentatively pulled back the flap of Katara's tent.

She lay beneath her covers, long dark hair fanned out behind her on her pillow. Hearing the rustle of fabric, she bolted up and reached for her water skin.

"It's me!" Zuko whispered hurriedly.

"Zuko?" She set the water skin back down and looked up at him with question. "What are you doing?"

"I..." He ran a hand over his head, suddenly feeling awkward. "I couldn't sleep." His brow furrowed, showing obvious frustration with himself. After taking her to the man she'd wanted revenge on and seeing the growth in her, Zuko felt like he had gained some real ground with Katara. She no longer looked on him with hatred, but with almost the same amount of trust and compassion she did with the rest of the gang. Now she was looking at him like he was crazy. "Doyouwanttotakeawalkwithme?"

Katara raised an eyebrow, giving Zuko a calculating look. "What?"

"Do you want to take a walk with me?" He shrugged, feeling utterly foolish but seemingly unable to stop his mouth from forming words. "I can't sleep, you're awake..." She thought a moment, still staring at him. It made him fidget. "Unless you want..."

"Okay." He stopped talking at her answer and looked into her eyes. There was no sadness there anymore, just reservation.

"Okay," he repeated. He waited for her to slip into her boots, then held back the tent flap to let her exit first. They were silent as they walked, Zuko not the only one feeling awkward anymore. When Katara began looking around at their surroundings like it was the first time she'd seen them, he began to wonder if this had been a good idea. "So it's, um...dark...at night."

Blinking, Katara looked at him. A breath later and she was giggling behind her hand. "Very."

Zuko couldn't help but chuckle at himself. "Yeah." They'd walked far enough away from camp to be able to talk in normal tones and found a place to sit. With legs hanging over the edge of a short drop off to the ocean, they sat together and looked up at the stars above them. No words were spoken for a time, but the silence grew comfortable after only a few moments. When the silence was finally broken, it was by Katara.

"Zuko, why did you come to my tent tonight?"

He wet his lips, keeping his gaze upward a second longer. When he looked at Katara, he felt himself sigh. The sadness had returned to her eyes and he wanted to take it away somehow. "I went to your tent because I couldn't stop thinking about you."

His answer, quiet and throaty, made her blush. She wanted to look away but couldn't. Not when he was holding her gaze so evenly. "You...why?"

"Something happened tonight. Something made you look the way you're looking at me now." Looking down, he finished in a tone that was almost too quiet to hear. "I don't like seeing you sad, Katara."

"I'm not sad." The laugh she forced out with it sounded fake, even to her. Eventually, she sighed and looked at her lap. "I just have a lot on my mind."

"I've been told I'm a good listener." She looked at him with obvious disbelief, causing him to give a crooked smile and a shrug. "Okay, so maybe that's not true. No one's ever come to me to talk about anything, except for Uncle. And admittedly, most of the time I just stopped listening to him, but if you want to talk..." He trailed off, trying to express his concern without actually having to say it. "I promise I won't stop listening."

It was flattering to see the blush stain her cheeks again. She was so pretty, especially in the moonlight and when she was soft like this. Most of the time, Katara wore a scowl or irritation. Zuko liked this side of her. It was more of what he remembered from the cave the night of his last betrayal. He'd allowed her to get close enough to touch him, both physically and emotionally. Her fingers had been cool against the heat of his skin, soothing in a way he couldn't describe. That touch haunted him. He face had haunted him. He said he was leaving the Fire Nation to help the Avatar and to find a way to restore peace, but Katara had been a big part of his motivation for change. He wanted her to see him the way she had that night, not as the monster he had so quickly turned into under Azula's influence.

"Sometimes you look at me," Katara whispered, breaking his reverie, "and it's like you don't realize anyone else is around." Zuko blinked. Did he really do that? "At first it scared me, angered me, really. But since you and I came back, all it's done is confuse me."

"I'm sorry." His apology sounded angry, but it was only because he was not happy with himself. "I should have better control than that."

"Why?" Her soft question sounded pleading and he looked at her with surprise. "Because of Mai?"

"What? No, Mai..." He took a deep breath and let it go with a sigh. He cared for Mai, had cared for her for a long time. But leaving had shown him that maybe he'd only cared for her because she'd been the only person to show any care for him. The feelings were almost obligatory in a way. "Mai will always be Azula's. She is Fire Nation through and through."

"What if there was peace?"

What if there was peace? It was what all of them were now working for and was a very real possibility. If there was peace, would he and Mai be together? Would she still be under Azula's thumb, or could she love him freely and honestly. Did he even want that? Zuko was silent, picturing Mai beside him as his queen, then shaking his head when her face became Katara's face. "I loved Mai," he admitted, "but for all the wrong reasons. She was the only one who didn't look at me like I was there just to be tolerated. But now I feel differently. I have real friends now, people who have shown me kindness when I truly did not deserve it."

Katara's hand touched his and he looked down, surprised. "Zuko, we do care about you. I know I was the last to come around, but I know that everyone makes mistakes. Every uses poor judgment, especially when it comes to family. And I'm sorry it took me so long, it's just - I was fighting more than my anger at you for siding with Azula.When we were in that cave together, I thought...for a quick, stupid moment I could see..."

"Me too." They met each other's eyes, their faces closer together than they were before. "I see it more often now, when you're here in front of me every day."

"Zuko..."

He lifted his free hand to gingerly touch her face. Her skin was as cool as he remembered, and he let his eyes close to take in the sensation. When he hand lifted to cover his, he exhaled blissfully. "I'm sorry, Katara." His eyes opened slowly. "I'm sorry for betraying you and for giving you every reason in the world not to trust me. I'm sorry for looking at you the way I do, but I'm not sorry for the way you make me feel. For the first time in my life, it's like I have a purpose."

She smiled against his palm. "What's your purpose?"

"To take away the sadness I keep seeing in you. You think you hide it but sometimes I see it when no one else does. I don't want you to have a reason to be sad anymore." Without letting his brain rationalize his actions, Zuko leaned forward and kissed her. She gasped softly against his lips, then gave into the kiss and twined her arms around his neck. When they parted, he rested his forehead against hers. "Let me prove to you how much I've changed and how much I care about you."

"You don't have to prove anything, Zuko. I believe you." She kissed him again, and when they walked back to camp it was hand in hand they strolled. Zuko stayed with Katara until she was asleep, then left her with a kiss to her temple. it wouldn't do to have everyone see him leaving Katara's tent in the morning. This was something that could wait until after the final battle was over.

Heading back to his own tent, Zuko was surprised to see Sokka propped up against the side of the tent, asleep and with his head lolling to one side. "Sokka," Zuko hissed.

Sokka jumped slightly, his eyes opening and then closing at he muttered, "No, Momo. I don't want anymore cheese covered cherries. I'm a pink bunny."

"Sokka!" Zuko shook his shoulder and Sokka startled awake, staring first around at camp, then up at Zuko. "What are you doing outside my tent?" Zuko demanded.

Wiping the drool from his face with the back of his hand, Sokka's usually vacant expression turned something close to authoritative. "What are you doing with my sister?"

"What?"

Sokka frowned. "I got up to...you know...relieve myself, and I saw you go into her tent. Why were you going into her tent?"

Zuko scrubbed a hand over his face. "Do we have to talk about this now?" He blinked, surprised, when Sokka stabbed a finger into his chest.

"Listen, friend, that's my little sister. Understand? If I find so much as a hair on her head singed..."

"Will you keep your voice down?" Zuko grabbed Sokka's finger, pushing his hand away from him. He looked nervously around the camp. "I won't hurt her, all right?" His voice was extra quiet, as if to make up for Sokka's outburst. "I'm going to prove to her that I've changed. I thought I'd already proven as much to you."

Sokka scowled. "Yeah, well...like I said. Little sister."

"I get it. So what, you'll beat me with your boomerang if I hurt her? Is that the gist of it?"

"Something like that." Sokka tried to look stern. "So, I'll be watching you, buddy."

Zuko yawned. "Great. Can I go to bed now?"

"You get in that tent, and you stay there, mister." Grabbing Zuko by the front of his robes, Sokka shoved him into his tent and tied it closed from the outside. "I'll let you out in the morning."

"Goodnight, Sokka."

Sokka huffed. "Goodnight."

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
moldycookies
Sep. 10th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)


I love my Zuko and his flustered self. :)
myfebruarysong
Sep. 10th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
I've always loved how embarrassed he gets by his own inadequacies.
marybwolf
Sep. 11th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
Awwww, Post-EIP fluff. Sweet. Protective!Sokka was a nice little touch at the end there. Good job.
myfebruarysong
Sep. 13th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
I couldn't write something without Sokka in it. I love him a little too much. Thank you!
rashaka
Sep. 11th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
Sokka scowled. "Yeah, well...like I said. Little sister."

That sounds so much like Sokka, I could picture the entire conversation in my head! Nice ficlet, very cute.
myfebruarysong
Sep. 13th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
Glad I got him right. Thank you!
jennlynnfs
Sep. 11th, 2010 09:03 am (UTC)
"Sometimes you look at me," Katara whispered, breaking his reverie, "and it's like you don't realize anyone else is around." Zuko blinked. Did he really do that? "At first it scared me, angered me, really. But since you and I came back, all it's done is confuse me."

I loved all the mixed emotions these lines carried.

I also love awkward Zuko. Hee hee.
myfebruarysong
Sep. 13th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
Awkward Zuko is my favorite. Hee. Thank you!
fadedelegance
Sep. 13th, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)
This is one of the best Zutara fics I have ever read. I am not even joking. ^_____^
myfebruarysong
Sep. 13th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's such a great thing to hear! Especially when I'm not all that thrilled with it myself. Thank you so much!
fadedelegance
Sep. 14th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
Aww, how could you not be proud of them? I really liked them!
minefloozle
Sep. 26th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
Pure fluff...hm. Yes. But also more. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I also got an undercurrent of Zuko's feelings on the Fire Nation, on his own actions, etc. "For the first time in my life, it's like I have a purpose." Besides being adorably sweet, it also tells us that his previous "purpose-" capture the Avatar to get his honor back- didn't count. Which it didn't, because it wasn't for Zuko, it was for his father. Hm.

On a lighter note, I must join in with the loving of awkward Zuko and protective Sokka. So true!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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