Prompt: #19 - Lies
Title: It's not weather you win or lose...
Word Count: 806
Summary: Zuko's curiosity has finally gotten the best of him, and Katara has taken notice! Katara doesn't seem too thrilled with becoming a guinea pig in his experiments, though. Find out what happens!
Author's Notes: Not much to say here, but I had fun writing this one. g Competitive Zuko and Katara are totally for the win. This is a direct follow up to #66 ("Touch"), and follows that timeline. The POV's do get a little bit shaken up in the middle, I apologize if it's confusing at all, but this basically follows Katara's point of view this time around.
They came so easily now, the little white lies that she'd begun to tell. It all started the first time she realized that long after he'd let her go and walked away she could still feel the heat of his fingers wrapped around her wrist. She'd lied and said she was perfectly fine when Sokka asked why her face was so red. It was innocent enough at the time, but it was just the first of many.
Since that first instance it seemed like he found any excuse that he could to touch her, or was that her imagination? He always played it off so casually afterwards, but during the time when his skin would brush hers, or he'd lean in close, or his breath would touch her ear, well, Katara would iswear/i that he was doing it on purpose, and what was more, getting a kick out of it in the process. If that little smirk he wore now and again when he caught her blushing wasn't an indication she didn't know what was. It was becoming harder and harder to hide her frustrated and flustered state, and worse to find excuses for it. She'd become quite the expert on white lies, if you asked her.
It came as no surprise to either of them that after a while her stubborn nature and outright refusal to allow him to keep such control over her emotions got the best of her. She began to return the favor in retaliation.
When passing out bowls or plates for their meals, somehow she managed to discreetly brush her fingers against his whenever he took his plate. If he wasn't moving fast enough for her liking she took it as an excuse, opening, and invitation to snag his hand in hers and drag him off at a pace that ishe/i deemed suitable. When Zuko was the one to forage for fruit to make up their breakfasts, once he was sitting or stooping down Katara's hair would always whisper across his cheek as she leaned in from behind to take her share from the sack, it didn't matter which side of his face it was, it always left that same fluttering sensation in his stomach and the very first time she did it he even had a stupefied stare on his face for a moment. He had been particularly irked by the smugness emanating from her eyes when she looked at him to say "thanks" for the contribution.
It seemed that she had noticed his game, and risen to the challenge.
The very next day, following Katara's deviously executed payback he caught her just in time to keep her from stepping on a two headed rat-viper. Even after it had been dispatched with one of his twin swords his other arm remained around her waist for a few seconds before he finally let her go. When called out on it, a shrug and a claim of- "I really didn't notice." -followed by the challenge- "Why?" -was her only answer.
There was another lie. "No reason." She had grudgingly responded. Their little game of "Embarrass the other", while still playful in it's own sardonic way, was no longer just a game. Now it was war.
It went on for three days. Three days of discreet (and not quite so discreet) collisions and the casual touch here and there. Katara finally realized that it was going too far when she became aware of Toph's raised eyebrow (Even though the girl couldn't see others faces she was surprisingly sufficient with making her own fitting facial expressions.) and a hurt look from Aang (she suspected he might be feeling a little jealous, and immediately she chided herself for being inconsiderate to his feelings, even if it had all been meant innocently enough.). What were they doing? Aang had feelings for her, Zuko had a girlfriend! Had they REALLY just spent the last week subtly (and NOT so subtly) flirting with each other?
If Katara noticed Zuko's confusion when she no longer played into what had become a game of theirs, she ignored it. He seemed to take that as an unspoken cue, and things seemed to go back to normal, except that now she found herself telling little fibs to cover up her guilt ridden mood, her inattentiveness, and NO, she was NOT staring at Zuko just now, thank you very much SOKKA.
In short, she was pretty sure that even Sokka could tell that she was near miserable. She continued to deny it anyway, all of it. Such was the nature of lies. Even if they seemed innocent they all ended the same if invited in for too long. Katara knew one thing for certain. When all of this was said and done it was a strict policy of honesty for her from then on.
A/N: Okay, yes, I realize that ended a little bit abruptly, and depressing, and Zuko's feelings aren't expressed at the end of this, but there's a reason. Yep, there will be a part 3 to this set, and quite possibly a part 4. I have a specific idea in mind for the next two themes I want to use, but you'll just have to wait and see to find out what! ;)
Reviews, as always, are greatly appreciated!