"Katara!"

Zuko is half out of his seat and chasing her before she can clear the museum cafe.

"Just leave me alone, you-" She cuts herself off as she darts her way through the crowds, and out the museum.

"Slow down! Please listen to me!"

"I don't listen to liars," she throws back, running away from the parking lot and his car and towards the street, and shit she's about to cry.

"I never lied!"

Her cold laughter cuts across the sound of traffic as she marches into the sidewalk, deliberately not looking back. "No, you just took a girl out on a date just to satisfy a bet."

"Hey, the second date would have been all my idea."

She laughs again, pained, and now Zuko can see she's making a beeline for the metro station.

"Will you please listen? I actually liked spending time with you. I actually do like you. So what if this all started becau-"

"The ends justify the means after all."

"Yes!" He's chasing her down flights of stairs, dodging other pedestrians who give him questioning looks. "That's it. This is just a silly first date story-"

"That what, we'll be telling our friends years from now around some fire? Get a grip. Just who do you think you are? This is real life, and it is not pretty." She murmurs something about 'and it's my fault for thinking for a half a second that it could be' as she practically leaps off the last stair and rounds the corner towards the ticketing booth and weird metal poles you spin as you walk through an admittance point. Kinda like spindly but not really like that at all.

Zuko had counted on her buying a ticket to give him enough time to explain things, but Katara fishes a small card from her pocket and swipes it across the divider between people-spindles.

Zuko makes to follow her, but the spindle won't budge, and now people are yelling at him, and there's a security guard narrowing her eyes, so he steps back.

To his momentary relief, Katara finally pauses and looks back at him.

"By the way, Zuko, 'the ends justify the means' is largely attributed to Machiavelli's The Prince, potentially the greatest political satire yet known to man. Stop sleeping through history class."

As she turns away and runs down the steps to meet her train, Zuko briefly considers quickly buying a ticket and running after her. However, he knows absolutely nothing about the subway system so as to get back home, and is already pushing the creep envelope, so he turns around and goes home via his car instead.

When he slips inside his house, his sister is already home.

Azula glances at him, taking note of his presence, and the returns to watching the television. Ty Lee is sprawled across their floor, entirely enraptured by the eighties movie.

Dad must not be home then. And judging by the duffle bag of Ty Lee's, he's not coming home for at least a couple days.

Cool.

He's about to run upstairs when Peter Gabriel overwhelms the sound system. Zuko notes the idiot holding heavy electronics over his head, and has an idea.


Sokka is not having a good Monday.

His sister has been mysteriously mopey all weekend and won't talk about it. Which is weird. Their family usually solves their issues with yelling. So Katara's creating an emotional time bomb, which is great.

It's Monday, which is means he's gotta cram for all his homework in his free first hour; he hadn't been able to do homework on the job over the weekend.

Also, apparently someone didn't clean up after themselves in the locker room, so practice is gonna go longer tonight so the whole team can scrub down the lockers-

A hand reaches out and grabs Sokka, pulling him into a side hallway.

"What the-"

"Sokka." Zuko Lee's eyes practically glint. "I need your help."

Well. There goes first period.


It's Thursday, and Katara is Not Okay.

She can't really shake the sense of betrayal hanging over her. Yelling won't help this time, as the Lee's seem to solve problems with over-dramatic apologies and stuffing things under rugs, not airing out grievances until they're corpses you can bury, and yelling at her family would be unjust.

So Katara wallows.

It's not very dignified, but she does it all the same. It does get the homework done.

Her brother and dad are out on their traditional "we did housework now we get to feast" Thursday dinner. They're repairing the fence and rearranging somethings. Sokka did leave the ladder under Katara's window, but only because he took her screen off. "That way you can lean out of you window and actually see something for once."

It's a nice gesture, and does mean something to her as her view is mostly of the neighbor's house. She can lean out and stare at the sunset when it happens.

For the moment though, she's sprawled on her bed working on homework.

After roughly thirty minutes, music comes from outside.

Curious, Katara stands and crosses to her window, where Zuko Lee is standing below with a speaker in hand playing a melodramatic french song.

"C'est ma faute" wafts up to her, and she gives Zuko a look.

He suddenly looks sheepish, but lets the song play while he talks. "I saw this in a movie. Is it working?"

"No," she replies, a little more gently than she might have wanted.

"Look, I messed up, and I know it. It's just, we weren't really friends before all this, so I couldn't very well say, 'look my friend is an ass and I need a fake date to satisfy a bet.' And when would have been a good time for me to tell you? And it's not like I didn't kinda want to take you out anyway, this all just gave me an opening-"

"My first date was still a lie. Nothing you say can change that."

Zuko takes a step back from her venom, and then quietly turns off the music. He looks up at her, shy fear hardening into resolve.

Before Katara can protest he's climbing the ladder Sokka left behind.

When he's close enough for her to punch him, he stares straight into her eyes and intones, "go on a date with me."

"No."

"Let me take you to a movie you've wanted to see, or a picnic. Let me fix this."

"No."

Katara starts to retreat and close her window, when she pauses. "Why do you think you could fix it with another date?"

"Well, I figure we'll talk and chat, get to know each other. Maybe we'll at least salvage a friendship out of this. You'll need a partner to study with if you're planning on graduating early, anyway, and I can help you there. But more importantly, I owe you another pleasant afternoon without a sad ending this time."

She's going to say no again, but his relentless honesty is nice, even if he's pushing the boundaries of creepdom. "Alright, but from now on, you gotta dial down the stalker and drama queen levels. They are way too high for polite society."

"I am not a drama queen!" he instinctively reacts, hackles practically raising before he sheepishly catches himself and blushes. "Looks like I've got a lot to work on."

"Hey. We're only in high school. After all, I'm a blossoming control freak."

"We'd make the weirdest romantic comedy."

"Shut up and take me to a movie."

"As the lady commands," he replies and hurries back down the ladder. Shaking her head, Katara follows him down the ladder, closing her window behind her. She texts her brother, saying she'll be out when he gets home, and accepts Zuko opening the door of his car for her. "Where do you want to go?"

"Oh, anywhere."

"Anywhere and everywhere it is, then."