Character(s): Katara, Zuko
Summary: We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.
Disclaimer (if applicable): I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Author's Notes: Sabrina, I hope you like this. I've sort of lost my Avatar groove, but dklgjdslkg I hope you like it anyway. Love you~
We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.
He slips from their bed with agility that only an air or firebender would have.
Zuko lifts the mask to his face, tying it quickly and pulling the hood of his black garb over his head. Katara pretends she's asleep and keeps her breathing even, though if he looked, he could see that her eyes were open a crack and her face was scrunched up in the same way it always is when she gets angry at him. But he doesn't look.
He's gone from the room in minutes, slipping out of the palace.
She waits up for him, though she knows it's not good for pregnancy. But she can't sleep when he's gone; when he's out there risking his life.
And she can't do a thing to stop him.
"Why do you do it?" She asks one night, while she's running soapy fingers through her hair. Zuko looks up at her, knife pausing against his cheek.
He continues, pulling the skin taut so he can effectively shave the cream from his face, hair along with it. She swallows, watching him with weary eyes, and turns back to the tub, pulling the water to her chest, covering her breasts. "Sneak out."
Zuko's hand jerks and Katara watches the line of blood well up against pale skin. "Fuck."
"Sorry, sorry," Katara apologises, waving him toward her. "I'll heal it, come here."
Warily, Zuko walks toward her. His pants hang low on his hips, and she can see dark hair there. He kneels down before the tub, glaring at her with his good eye. She raises her hands, bringing water with them, and holds it to his cheek. The water glows faintly, before splashing to the ground in a murky brown mess. Zuko frowns.
"Now what were you saying?" he asks again, mopping the bloody water with a rag.
"You know what I said," she glares at him, running a hand over her stomach. Only a few more months. "You sneak out every night. I know you do."
"I think you're going a little crazy, my pregnant wife," he kisses her forehead, but she swats him away, glowering.
"I'm not going crazy. I know you do! You put that damn weird mask on, and you go off into the city. Don't you for a second think I can't hear you fighting with your uncle. I do."
"No," she snaps, holding him by the back of his neck and tugging his face down, so it's inches from hers. "What are you doing?"
"Just…" he pulls away from her, running a hand through his hair. "Just because I became Fire Lord and Aang and I ended the War—it doesn't mean crime stopped. And with how busy the guard has been, I decided I would…help."
"So you're…fighting crime? At night? Alone?"
"Wonderful." Katara glares, leaning against the edge of the tub. "That's just absolutely wonderful. Really, why not go risk your life? Why don't you just go and get yourself killed-,"
"Excuse me?" Zuko asks, eyebrows raising, mouth hanging open. "If I remember correctly, a small bald monk told me that you pretended to be a…a spirit and you blew up a factory! So let's not talk about risking our lives-,"
"I was young!"
"We still are," Zuko breathes , eyes bright. The washroom is foggy with the steam rising from the tub, and Katara waves some of it away. "We're still young. And I'm not going to be killed, Katara. I—when I lived in Ba Sing Se, when I saved Aang from the Fire Nation soldiers, from Zhao; I adopted the Blue Spirit persona. I started…I needed to be him. It made me feel better and it made me feel important. When I gave it up…it was like giving up a part of me."
"I know what you mean," she murmurs, sinking into the tub, water rising to her chin. "I felt that way after I stopped being the Painted Lady. It was like… a part of me was them."
"Yeah," Zuko agrees, smiling at her. "So am I still allowed to go out?"
"Not until this baby is born," Katara shoots him a look, daring him to challenge her. He doesn't. Instead, he hops into the water with her, splashing and soaking his pants. He grins, and so does she.