Prompt: #66 - Touch
Word Count: 580 - Roughly, before edits.
Summary: Zuko ponders over his strange reaction to one of Katara's innocent touches. Wonderment slowly leads to frustration, and it's all Katara's fault!
Author's Notes: Don't mind the lack of creative title, ; simple just seemed to fit. Here we go... It's been a really long time since I tackled any solo-writing, so I apologize for any offense on your poor brains or eyes: The gears are a bit rusty still. Rated M just to be safe, for slightly coarse language.
Follows "Southern Raiders" episode, be mindful of spoilers.
An hour and a half later and he still felt the need to check the spot again, fingers deftly pushing back the fabric of his tunic a little to reveal a sliver more of his arm, still half expecting to find a tell-tale patch of slightly reddened skin where her fingers and palm had made contact. Though aware that he would likely draw unwanted attention to himself if he kept it up (Aang had already asked him twice if he was okay. A gruff and curt "I'mfine." had been the monk's answer and enough to send him on his way again. Who really fully understood Zuko and his moods? Aang was brave, but not brave enough to risk incurring Zuko's wrath again.) it wasn't enough to stop Zuko's curiosity and otherwise inexplicable need to affirm that the spot was normal, normal was good. Normal meant he could convince himself he'd just imagined the reaction he felt, despite the little spark he'd felt from their contact.
He took in a glimpse of the area as casually as possible.
There. His skin was just as pale as it always was (at least compared to the water tribe duo).
It wasn't even the spot that had gotten hurt, that would be his OTHER arm, and it had only been a welt from one of her water whips (She'd insisted on healing it anyway, and apologized. Katara... Apologizing. To HIM. Even if he did just help her find some closure over her mother's killer, that was something he never expected to live to hear coming directly from Katara.). That sting, minor to him as it had been, was long gone. It was the other arm, the arm he now kept checking and rubbing every so often, that she'd touched so casually before parting that afterwards felt so unusually warm.
What baffled Zuko even more than the strange sensation and its random and sudden occurance was the fact that she seemed completely oblivious to the effect she had on him! He'd been certain she'd have noticed the frozen reaction, but she only smiled before leaving him where he was to join Aang and Toph for the young avatar's training, leaving Zuko to stare after her quietly.
How could such a simple touch cause such a response? Mai's didn't, and the last time Katara had touched him like that it hadn't caused a reaction that strongly, down in the catacombs of Old Ba Sing Sei. Why now? Would every touch they shared from now on feel different? He found himself curious enough to want to find out, and he was especially curious as to if her lips were as warm as her hands (and warmer than Mai's). What would it feel like to touch her that way? (So far, Katara had been the only one to initiate such contact between the two of them.) Would she react the same, would he still feel the same heat even if it was he that initiated the contact?
What was WRONG with him?!
If anyone had been alarmed by Zuko's sudden standing, announced by his equally sudden growl and punctuated by his equally sudden storming away toward the opposite direction of Katara, they didn't show it with anything more than confused glances. By Agni, damn her! It hardly seemed just that he was left to sit there feeling as if he might lose his mind while she was blissfully ignorant. Damn her, for making him wonder why and how and when things had changed so much between them, and damn her for stoking his curiosity! What was the big deal anyway?! It was just one stupid touch!
A/N: I might likely come back and tweak this later for flow, but for now, here it is as is. This is my first response to the Zutara100 community challenge, prompt 66, as the opening notes state, "Touch". I wanted to do a sort of introverted/inward reflection piece from a third person's point of view, if that makes sense. Hopefully this didn't come off too weird or awkward. Constructive critiques and snippets of advice are welcome! (See my profile for my email address.)