Note: This was done for the post-ATLA drabble contest on the Zukaang comm on LJ. The prompt for this one was "Katara does not approve of Zukaang".
Warnings: Spoilers for end of Avatar: the Last Airbender. Also, my first ATLA fic. x_x;;
Disclaimers: ATLA belongs to Mike & Bryan, not me, yadda yadda.
"So, uhh.. you and Aang, huh?"
Katara looked up quickly at the casual question, feeling the heat rush to her cheeks. "Um--" Oh, hell, there was nothing to be embarrassed over. "Yes," she said firmly, tearing off another chunk of bread and tossing it into the pond for the turtleducks.
"I thought I saw you two holding hands the other day." Sokka offered a congratulatory smile that looked a little tense.
"Well it's not like we're trying to keep it a secret," Katara muttered, wishing she would stop blushing. She kept her attention firmly on the family of turtleducks happily snatching up the bread crumbs from the water's surface. "It's just... new, you know?"
She sent him a suspicious look, wondering at his twitchiness. He was tearing his bread into itty bitty pieces that practically disentegrated as soon as they hit the water, and was carefully not looking at her. Or at the pair on the other side of the pond.
Her eyes lifted towards the two young men seated on the bench under the shade of a tree where they were in deep discussion, speaking in low tones. Aang's laughter made her feel warm inside. They were often seen together now as they discussed how best to heal the wounds left on the earth by Zuko's father. She could not help but see their friendship as a symbol of the new alliances being made between the Fire Nation and the rest of the world. The Avatar and the Fire Lord, working together to make the world a better place. It was gratifying, to see physical proof that all of their fighting had not been in vain.
"I don't know why you seem so surprised about it," Katara pointed out, looking towards her brother with a puzzled frown. "I mean... even I could tell how Aang felt about me."
"I'm not surprised," Sokka said quickly. "Well, I mean... Not completely surprised. I just...uhhh..."
"Sokka, just spit it out already.
"Toph just used to say some weird stuff, that's all, it wasn't my idea, I just couldn't help but think about it after all she said--"
"Sokka!" Katara put her hand on his shoulder to stop his nervous babbling. "What on earth are you talking about? Toph said what?"
"It's just, well..." Sokka ripped the bread in half and dumped both halves in the water, barely noticing what he was doing. "We knew how Aang felt, but it was always hard to tell how you felt. I mean, I know you kinda liked Jet and Haru--"
"Th-that was nothing," Katara sputtered, flushing. "I told you not to bring that up again!"
"And then Suki had this idea in her head that you liked Zuko--"
"I know, I know," Sokka said hastily, still not quite meeting her impatient stare. "You always act like a blushing, stammering idiot around guys you like, and you weren't ever like that around Zu--"
"HEY, do I need to remind you that Suki isn't your first girlfriend? Or did you forget about Yue?"
"I'll never forget Yue," Sokka said with surprising heat, finally meeting her eyes. "But this isn't about me. Though you did kinda make my point for me. There's been plenty of opportunities to meet people we're, uhhh, compatible with..."
Katara groaned. He was steering towards passionate lecture mode. "Spare me the theatrics and just tell me what's on your mind. Or I swear I will drown you in this pond."
"Toph thought Zuko had the hots for Aang," Sokka blurted, voice low.
Katara could only gape at him. Sokka squirmed uncomfortably. "I didn't say I agreed with it," he muttered defensively. "She said it, not me--"
Katara burst out laughing. "All right, that has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Are you serious? She was just pulling your leg."
"That was my reaction," Sokka admitted. "But, well, she had some interesting arguments."
Katara's amusement shifted towards annoyance. She put her bread aside and crossed her arms, leveling her brother with a hard stare. "Oh, did she? This I have to hear. Go ahead, what could she possibly have said to back up her insane 'theory'?"
"Never mind, it's stupid, and you don't wanna hear it." Sokka tried a strained laugh.
Katara was not amused. "No, let's hear it. I could use a good laugh."
Sokka was beginning to think he'd just kept his big mouth shut. "Well, uh, obviously there was Zuko's obsessive cat-and-mouse thing with Aang, where he was constantly chasing him and trying to capture him."
"That was because he wanted to regain his father's love," Katara reminded him patiently.
"Hey, I'm just repeating what she said, okay?" Sokka cleared his throat nervously. "Then there was the whole 'Blue Spirit' thing."
"And Aang is the one person in the group who's been trying to befriend him from the beginning."
"And Toph says Aang's heart always speeds up when Zuko walks in the room or he gets close. Oh, and vice versa."
"Vice versa. Zuko's heart goes faster when Aang--"
"ALL RIGHT, I get it," Katara interrupted irritably. "None of that is proof of anything other than a tentative and new friendship! They didn't used to fully trust each other, and now they both can finally be friends. None of this is proof enough to back up her claims."
"She never really insisted that it was fact," Sokka admitted. "She thought it was, um, funny. Besides, she said she had lots of little instances, but I didn't wanna hear anymore."
"I can't blame you," Katara snorted. "It's ridiculous."
"Yeah." Sokka laughed again, too loudly.
Katara rolled her eyes, picking up her bread again. "Just drop it. Toph likes messing with people, that's all. Zuko is with Mai. And Aang and I are.. together. End of story."
"Right." Sokka fidgeted another minute, then jumped to his feet. "Well, okay, just thought I should let you in on the joke. I'm gonna go find Suki, see ya!" He hurried off before Katara could get a word in edgewise.
Muttering to herself, Katara began viciously ripping off chunks of bread and tossing them into the pond to the impatient ducks. The rare sound of Zuko's laughter drew her attention to the two boys on the bench, and she studied them with a small frown.
Toph was being ridiculous. And Sokka, well... he could be gullible.
Aang and Zuko were good friends. Nothing more. The very idea of anything else was... was ludicrous.
Zuko glanced up at that moment and caught her staring. He edged a little farther away from Aang, careful not to look at her again. Aang reached out to touch his sleeve, thinking he was leaving, and they returned to their quiet conversation.
Ridiculous, Katara told herself firmly, staring at the bread in her hand.
"Maybe we should talk about this later," Zuko muttered flicking another uneasy glance Katara's way. She was glaring at her bread as if it had personally offended her somehow.
"Huh?" Aang blinked at him in confusion. "This is important stuff, Zuko!"
The young Fire Lord's mouth twitched in a wry smile. "We came out here to discuss treaties with the Earth Kingdom," he pointed out. "We haven't talked about anything productive in the last fifteen minutes."
"Oh yeah." Aang grinned a little sheepishly. "Well, it's still kind of nice, just talking about nothing, isn't it? I mean, we don't have to constantly plot and plan now that there's peace." He leaned back on his hands on the bench, lifting his face to drink in the sunshine. "I like just sitting with you and talking about nothing." He sent the older boy a quick smile. "I told you we could be good friends."
"Yeah..." Zuko stared down at his hands in his lap. "It's... nice."
There was a long moment of what should have been comfortable silence, but somehow had an almost tense edge to it.
Zuko snuck a quick peek at his companion, and caught the Avatar looking away quickly, his cheeks a bit flushed. "So, uh, about these treaties," Aang said lamely.
"We can talk about it later," Zuko said hesitantly. "It is relaxing. Just... talking, I mean."
Aang's mouth spread in a pleased smile. If he noticed Zuko's own attempt to hide his uncomfortable blush, he was polite enough not to point it out.
It's just because we're not used to being friends, yet, Zuko told himself firmly. That's all.
Aang stubbornly scooted over so they were practically pressed hip to hip again, and cheerfully returned to their interrupted conversation about the best swimming spots he'd run across in his travels.
Zuko could feel Katara's suspicious eyes on him the whole time.