This meeting was going to go on forever. The southern watertribe princess was sitting upright with perfect posture in her delicate silken navy robes. On the inside however, she wanted to be slouching with her head on her hand in boredom. These council meetings had the tendency to run on into the late afternoon due to the fact that many of the older men loved hearing themselves talk. While the earth kingdom representative droned on, Katara resisted the urge to drum her fingers across the table, slipping her eyes over all the other men in the room and stopping at a friend, who caught her glance. Their eyes locked and the Firelord rolled his eyes, giving a little smirk that spread across the room to her face. Neither her, nor Zuko could stand to hear this drabble much longer. As the man continued to talk consistently about what could be counted as a pet within the limits of Republic City, Firelord Zuko stood and interrupted him, much to everyone's relief.
"Excuse me for interrupting, but I believe we are all clear on the guidelines and restraints, Councilman Tao."
The man hesitated with his mouth agape, but decided to defy the Firelord another day.
"Yes, well, perhaps we can continue this tomorrow..." He said meekly.
With that, the head councilman took his gavel and woke everyone who was sleeping with a loud clang, announcing that meeting to be adjourned. As all the men got up, so did she, staying behind and stretching, relaxing with a soft sigh. Zuko came up to her and smiled, feeling slightly sheepish for how he had embarrassed the poor man.
"It was a kindness to everyone." She said, knowing exactly how he was feeling.
"You know me so well, Princess." He chuckled and she cringed.
"Stop that, you know I hate that." She ordered him.
"That's why I do it, your highness." He said with a small bow to her.
"I mean it. If you don't stop I will soak you where you stand, oh great Firelord." She threatened with a warning glare.
He held up his hands in surrender. "Alright, I'm done. I promise."
Her look softened and she started to walk towards the doors, motioning for him to follow. He did and walked by her side, stepping through the massive city hall building together.
"It's nice to see you again Zuko. It's been a few months since we've last met. What brings you out here? Certainly not these tiny, trivial meetings."
"No, I am actually meeting an old friend here. He's new to Republic City and needs to be shown around."
"Ah, some old geezer who'll lose his way?" She said with a smile that she tried to cover with her hand.
"No, but he is very important to the making of this city... I've told him all about you..."
Katara stopped walking and eyed him with a grimace. He looked back to her, curious as to why she stopped.
"Oh Spirits... not another one..." She said and crossed her arms.
"He's different from the other ones-"
"Zuko, no. No more blind dates! You are awful at finding decent guys for me to go out with. And for the last time, I don't need a man!"
"You have to at least meet him Katara. He's unlike anyone you've ever met."
"Why? Why do you keep doing this to me?" She asked both him and the spirits.
"Because I don't like seeing you alone."
"I have lots of friends. I have you, Toph, Suki, and even my brother when he's not busy."
"Yes but we aren't around all the time. We all have other duties to attend to, while you are solely a council member. You stay here all by yourself and it worries me."
"Zuko..." She said and came up to him. "I'm not lonely. I keep myself busy..." She lied through her teeth with a soft smile. He sighed and held out his arms to her. She stepped forward and they embraced. After a few moments he broke their encounter and held her by the shoulders.
"Please, just meet him. He wants to meet you so badly." He pleaded with her.
She looked into his eyes and couldn't help but crumble. She knew he was just doing what he thought was best for her, no matter how much it annoyed her.
"Fine. But I swear, this is the last one. No more after him." She said and he smiled, letting go of her shoulders as she walked passed him, getting back into step together as they exited city hall. The sunlight blinded them temporarily, letting their eyes adjust as they looked upon the grassy court yard before the city hall. After the squinting session was over, they walked down the stairs towards the open grassy area.
"So...when am I going to meet this mystery man?" She tried to ask nonchalantly, but the anxiety was clear in her voice.
"I actually asked him to meet me here. He should be here any moment. That's why I ended the meeting so quickly."
As he finished talking, a shadow appeared in the sky and started to head toward them.
"There he is, punctual as always."
Katara looked up to the sky as the dark figure grew closer. It was a massive form. The shadow grew larger and larger, coming to focus and landing with a roar on the grass before them. It was some giant white fluffy flying monster, with a young man riding atop its head. Zuko didn't seem surprised in the least at the beast. The man on the monster slipped off his head easily, landing softly on the grass. he walked toward Zuko who has taken off towards them without Katara's notice. She followed behind him, curious yet cautious. When the two finally came together, they embraced like old friends would.
"Zuko." The young man said.
"Aang. it's been much too long."
They ended their embrace and Zuko held his shoulders, looking him up and down.
"You're taller than me now."
The man just laughed and patted his arm. "I should be done growing, I promise."
They exchanged a laugh and Zuko let go of one of the man's shoulders, motioning to Katara behind him who stepped up to his side. "Katara, I'd like you to meet my friend, Avatar Aang."
Her ocean blue eyes met with his silver ones and she was frozen in time, taking him in. He was tall, slender yet very muscular, with a shaved head, clean face, and tattoos of blue arrows on his head and arms that completely captivated her. Before she could say anything, he was bowing to her with his hands in front of him.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Lady Katara."
" 'Lady' Katara?" She asked, taken aback.
"I'm sorry. I was told you don't like being called by your official title. I mean you no disrespect."
She was shocked and looked to Zuko, who had a smile on his face. She shook her head and bowed deeply, unbelieving that the Avatar was showing her such respect.
"Please, just 'Katara' is fine. I am happy to finally meet you, Avatar Aang."
He smiled and stood up straight, waiting for her to come out of her own bow before meeting her eyes again. "If I get to call you Katara, you may call me Aang. No title needed between friends. Right Zuko?" He said without taking his eyes off Katara, drinking in her beauty.
"Right." He said with a nod.
She looked from the Avatar to the Firelord and back, taking Zuko by the shoulder.
"Mind if I borrow him for a second?" She asked.
"By all means." He replied calmly, not taking his eyes off of her.
She dragged him away and punched Zuko in the arm once out of earshot.
"Ouch, what was that for?"
"The Avatar? Really?! You couldn't have given me more of a heads up before you introduce me to the most important man on this planet?"
"What? It wasn't that bad."
"I must look like a complete idiot to him! Did you see the way he was staring at me?"
"Yes I did, and I can tell you from experience that look was not one of judgment. He's very intrigued by you."
"What lies have you told him about me?" She asked incredulously.
"How about you go find out for yourself. You are being very discourteous to our guest." He smirked and walked back over to Aang's side, motioning for her to come forward with him. She did come over and Aang watched her every step, his eyes darting from her chocolate hair to her stunning silk robes that complimented her skin so beautifully it was almost heart breaking, to those eyes of sapphire again. He couldn't help but smile at her. To him, she was the most breathtaking woman he had ever seen, a factor that caught him by surprise as Zuko never mentioned what she had looked like. She walked up to him and gave another small bow.
"I apologize for my rudeness. Our Firelord friend has not told me much about you. I have only heard of your amazing journey and swift victory over Firelord Ozai. Things I'm sure you are forced to talk about all the time." She stood up straight and was caught in his gaze again. He was so incredibly charming, it made her feel off.
"It's alright. Zuko has told me much about you. But there are still questions I have. We could maybe have a nice conversation while Zuko shows me around. Will you accompany us?"
"Actually, I'm not available to be your guide tonight. I am leaving you in the care of Councilwoman Katara while I attend to some business of my own before tomorrow's big meeting."
If looks could kill, Zuko would be on the ground. She shot him a look of shock but then tried to recover, smiling nervously to the Avatar who looked pleased.
"Great! We'll have a chance to talk more." He responded enthusiastically. She blushed at his eagerness. She was certainly not expecting to meet the Avatar today, let alone, being alone with him all day and showing him around the huge city that had blossomed in the earth kingdom.
"Sounds like you're all set. I'll see you both tomorrow." She smiled and walked away, waving at them and leaving them in an awkward silence. She felt panicky and extremely nervous as his gaze came back over her. He seemed much too calm.
"What did he mean he would see us both tomorrow?"
"He didn't tell you? I'm kind of here to stay. And I'll be at the meeting tomorrow to purpose a few new... construction ideas." He trailed off, not wanting to give any spoilers.
"Oh. I was under the impression you were just visiting. If you are here to stay, where do you live?"
"That's kind of why the meeting tomorrow is so important..." He said and looked away from her.
She caught on. "You don't have a place to live? But you're the Avatar! How can you not have a place to stay?"
"Can we drop the subject? You'll understand tomorrow, I promise. I know it doesn't make since now, but it will. I would love for you to show me around this city and maybe to a nice Inn when the day is done." He pleaded with her, looking back into her eyes.
She wanted to pry, being nosy like she was, but there was something about those steel grey eyes of his that made her insides melt completely. The silence between them was interrupted by her growling stomach, embarrassing her to no end. It was late afternoon, probably about 4pm. Too late for lunch and too early for dinner. Aang laughed at her and broke the tension.
"Are you hungry at all? I know a place not too far from here with a great variety of food." She asked softly.
"Sounds great. I'm a little hungry myself. Do you want to fly or walk?" He asked, as if that sentence was normal for him to ask.
"Fly? You mean..." She looked around him and at the fluffy monster. "On that thing?"
"Yeah. Come on, I'll introduce you!" He said taking her by the hand and pulling her over to the Bison. Her heart fluttered at their contact. He was acting like they had been friends for 5 years, not 5 minutes. But she wasn't going to argue with the Avatar. When they were up close to him, Aang put a hand on his massive head.
"Hey buddy, I want you to meet someone. This is Katara. Katara, this is my best friend, Appa." He smiled and looked to her, not letting go of her hand. She was a little scared being so close to something so big. The beast looked at her with a low growl and sniffed her... then finally licked her, taking her by surprise. She laughed and let go of Aang's hand, petting him on the nose.
"It's nice to meet you too, Appa. Aang, what is he?" She turned while petting him on the head, his fur softer than it looked.
"He is a sky bison. And my companion. We're living relics... we're both the last of our kind." He said with a sad smile. She felt sorrow for him and let the subject drop as another creature scurried off of the bison and onto Aang's shoulder. "Oh, and you can't forget Momo." He said with a happier smile. Katara leaned her hand forward and petted him.
"Nice to meet you too, Momo." He left as soon as he came with a chirp, flying off to Appa's saddle. Aang looked to Katara and offered his hand out to her.
"Let's fly. Just tell me where to go."
"I don't know... we can walk it's really not that far." The fear was evident in her voice.
"It's safe, trust me." He said, still holding out his hand to her. She reluctantly took it and he jumped on top of Appa's head with the help of some nicely timed aribending, Katara landing right next to him. She folded her legs to her side and let go of his hand, letting him take the reins.
"Appa, Yip yip."
And they took off, her letting out a little shriek of terror and grabbed his arm, for fear of falling off. He looked to her and laughed, not minding her sudden closeness.
"Even if you do fall, we'll catch you, don't worry."
"How comforting..." She trailed off and rolled her eyes as they soared on through the sky.
Katara looked down and saw how high they were, getting another panic attack. She looked through the blocks of city near the city hall building and finally down it, about 10 city blocks away.
"Down there, the one with the green roof." She said and pointed to the little restaurant.
He took them down and landed the giant sky bison outside on the paved road. It gave everyone a scare and whispers were all you could hear as he slipped his arm out of her grip, sliding down the Bison's head and offering his hand to her. As she took it the onlookers whispers grew even louder, the main question they kept asking was why the two were together. She pretended not to hear them and got down with Aang's help, standing beside him as Appa took off again, not really liking being in a crowded area and off to find dinner for himself and Momo.
"This is the place. The food here is excellent. Fresh and delicious."
"I can't wait." He said and looked down at her with a soft smile, offering his arm to her. She took it and they headed into the little restaurant together, leaving much to talk about behind them in the street.here ...