Under the Earth
Her eyes were welling with tears, I knew that, but, no matter how much I tried to go and comfort her, my legs refused to move; so I stayed, waiting for her to calm down, to see if my guilt would move my legs for me. But my guilt didn't do it, my own heart pumped and my legs moved accordingly. I had turned around.
This waterbending peasant didn't seam the one to cry, but here she was, behind me, her many tears seeping slowly over her rounded tan cheeks as she reminded herself of the mother she no longer had.
"My mother's gone too, you know," I blurted out, not able to keep my tongue in my mouth. For some reason, I had the urge to run to her, kiss her forehead and tell her that out there, somewhere, our moms were happy, watching down over us and rooting for us to make the right choices. But I couldn't; she was the avatar's—my enemy, the root of my suffering—girlfriend. Or so it looked. Some part of me hoped I was wrong.
The sobbing didn't stop, but they did turn to words, words that were more understandable. Her ears pricked up with interest. "Really?"
I frowned. I was about to tell my life's story to an enemy, a virtual stranger… but I couldn't help myself, anything to make her the happy girl I've oh-so-many times spied on, or even the vicious bender bent up to destroy me—anything but this tinny little grieving girl in bad need of comfort. I just couldn't take her sadness. Mine was nothing, but hers… hers kills. "My father…," suddenly, I couldn't bear to call that man—that villain—my father, "he banished her—I hope. If he did anything else…. La, I swear." My voice was gritted as I thought of all the horrid things I would do to my "father" if he did anything to Mom. Steam lifted out of my nose.
Katara's head lifted, her interest plucked. Her tears were still rolling down her face, but they were in slow, soft, silent waves. "Ozai is nothing but a killer, Zuko," she said, her clear blue eyes locking with mine for an instant. She turned away, but her eyes never left mine. I was captivated in hers.
No matter how lost, I heard the words loud and clear. This peasant was right, oh so right, but this—insulting my family—was something I wouldn't stand for. "And what is yours? An angel? Ha! I've heard of him. He kills my people. Fair is only fair, water peasant!" My bender's temper was flaring high.
The chocolate headed woman—I would've called her a girl, but the anger in her ocean eyes made her seam womanlier by the second—jumped to a stand. "And your people don't disserve it? Oh, La," she was looking up at the green jewels in the cave as if yelling up at the god, "tell me he's not thinking that!" Katara turned to me, her eyes still spilling with tears and something that could only be described as hell. She took a few steps toward me. "Prince Zuko, you don't know what pain is. Until you've seen your mother's burnt corpse demolish into ashes—until you've sacrificed your life for that of the world, until you've healed you're dying son with nothing but a shaking hand—you won't know what pain is!" Son? She had a son? The avatar, perhaps? Her teeth were cutting into the think skin of her lush lips. Some blood spilled out, but she let it be.
"Don't play that!" I called back, stepping up to be nothing less than a yard from her. "Oh, the pains of seeing someone die. I've seen it millions of times—before I was even twelve! Do you know what pain is? No! Not until your face has been burned off by your 'loving' father because you were trying to help one of your people from execution." My voice softened at my last sentence, from being ready to kill to being ready to cry.
Katara's face softened. "Zuko…" she said, closing the last three feet between us. Her tears ran faster, crying for me, something I've yet to do. Her hand reached to my scarred cheek, stroking it as only a—
I wasn't even going to finish that thought.
"Ozai caused that? Oh, Zu…." She stopped short at the middle of my name. I liked it. It was a good nickname, better than Zu-Zu. "I…. I can heal it…." She added quickly, "If you want." I leaned into her touch, wanting more of it. "But… I would prefer you didn't. This"—she fingered my leathered cheek—"is a part of who you are. Zuko, you should embrace it. If you had the guts to stand for your people, and this"—her hand stroked my face caringly—"is your reward, than be grateful for it. It shows you wouldn't stand for any crap."
I smirked at her, my cheeks pulling back with the effort I hadn't made in years.
This may not turn out right, but when—if, I can't help but think—I turn Fire Lord, she might be the one I chose for a Lady… maybe it would help the peace the world so desperately needs come.
Katara: Oh, I love this ending. It's better than the one our stupid, stupid makers did!
Zuko: Better be, I do love you in it. Honestly, can't they see how madly in love with you I am? Dumb people.
Katara: As I love you. But really! Our makers—what were their names? Mike and Brian?—are really, really stupid!
Zuko: I know, my Lady, I know. -kisses Katara's tan forehead-
Boriqua-chan: Now, as we leave our amazing heroes alone to their water/fire bender making, you can review and tell me what you think of my version of the one and only obvious Zutara moment in the show. Please? -leaves, closing the door to the Fire Lord and Lady's chambers-
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