I don't own anything. Thats my disclaimer.

This is my take on the obvious and cliche Capture Story. I hope you enjoy "The Blooming Lotus" chapter 2. It's fast paced but filled with fluffy bits. Please review!


Chapter 2

She sat down on the cot... and thought about how she got into this particular position.

"That's enough practicing for today." She said after being shown up by the young Avatar.

Sokka retorted, "Yeah, I'll say! You two just practiced our supplies down the river!"

Aang, the ever positive, replied "Uhhh sorry! I'm sure we can find somewhere to replace all this stuff."

Sokkasank back under the water "Ugh, it was hard enough when you were just an airbender."

"Alright, we're going to have to go into town. Just remember, if Sokka or I get captured, you have to go on. No matter what. The world is more important than one person. Besides, we know what the ultimate destination is, the Northern Water Tribe, so if we get separated-"

"Yeah, yeah, we meet back up there. We get it Katara, you don't have to say it every single time that we want to go into a town."

"I'm just saying Sokka, if I get captured and find out you two came looking for me instead of looking for a waterbending teacher… well, let's just say you'll regret it."

They headed into town, and after Aang spent money on that stupid Bison whistle, they wandered down to the docks where a strange man was calling out for people of all nationalities to shop on a ship. He spoke to us and Aang seemed really excited, plus it seemed decent enough and they were only looking, so they went aboard.

While Aang was chattering to the Captain about something to do with Momo, She spotted a waterbending scroll. She called him over and discussed it a bit when Sokka said they were Pirates she knew they had stolen it off a water tribesman. She asked how much they wanted for it and it only confirmed her theory, 'they got it for free but are selling for 200 gold pieces, it's got to be a stolen scroll.'

Aang decided to haggle for it, but while he was she discreetly hid it in her robe, and heard a familiar pair of voices. Prince Zuko and his Uncle. She spoke swiftly, "Aang, I think we should go, it's almost sun set." Sokka and Aang both nodded and right before we exited, She pressed them to the wall by the door just as the two arguing fire nation princes came in. As they were distracted the trio slipped out quickly. They ran down the gang plank and down the docks toward the market place as fast as they possibly could.

Soon enough, though, they heard a voice, the pirate barker shouting, "Hey you! Get back here!" Loud drumming of burly pirates running and, worse, the clacking of fire nation armor filled their ears.

A fire blast skimmed past Katara who was lagging behind a bit, "You can't run forever Avatar!" The true statement of the banished prince rang in her head, forcing her to come to a conclusion as they rounded a corner.

"Aang! Sokka! We have to split up! We'll take the next corner, Aang take to the skies with your glider, Sokka you take the next available right and I'll take the left, we'll meet up back at camp. Aang, if we're not back in 2 hours, leave for the North. Okay? Now!" As they turned the corner her plan was in action. By the time she could take a left Sokka and Aang were already gone and both the pirates and the fire nation soldiers could see her take the turn. She was the only trail left to follow, they were gaining on her and she was running on pure adrenaline. She pulled water from a gutter barrel and froze it to the ground after a right turn. It effectively caused a blockage with the pirates and soldiers but they quickly got up as she took the next left.

It didn't take long for her to get to the coast of the river and she was only paces away from the forest when a certain scarred prince dropped down from a roof and grabbed her wrists. "I'll save you from the pirates." He said in a husky, out of breath voice and pulled her around the building covering her mouth, so she couldn't scream, (not that she would have if she could have) with the other hand he restrained her arms. "Stay quiet and cooperate, and you may just live through this." She thrashed in his arms trying to get away, but then heard the pirates coming and stopped. He swiftly turned her in his arms a pressed her against the wall, and for the briefest of moments she thought he was going to kiss her. And he would've been kissing her had he not made sure his hand was completely covering her mouth. His pretend kiss worked as he planned and they were passed by without a second glance. He pulled away and started dragging her toward the forest calling for his men who had been waiting on the coast side of the building. "Now, you WILL tell me where the Avatar is."

She shook her head violently and he shoved her against a tree. They were far enough away from the docks to not be seen. One of his men started tying her up, as ordered, when Iroh came up. "Prince Zuko, what is the meaning of this?"

"She will tell me where the Avatar is."

"Why because you have bound her to a tree? What leverage could you possibly have on a young woman?" He just smiled at his uncle and turned towards the young defenseless warrior.

"Where is he peasant?" She moved her head to the side, refusing to speak. "Tell me where he is and I won't hurt you or your brother."

"Go jump in the river!"It was visible that he wanted to hit her but he clenched his fists and leaned in close to her face placing his hand under her chin.

"Try to understand," he whispered, looking her deeply in the eyes, "I need to capture him, to regain something I lost, my honor." He stepped behind and around the tree and leaned in close to her, once he was one the other side, "Perhaps, in exchange, I can restore something you've lost." He gently touched her throat, where her mother's necklace would be. She gasped.

"My mother's necklace! Where is it?" He stepped out in front of her and held up his wrist, the blue pendent glistening in the sunset.

Leaning in so close, she couldn't breathe without smelling his campfire essence; he kept his voice low and alluring, "I'm keeping it safe. But don't worry; I'll give it back, as soon as I have the Avatar, Now, tell me where he is."

She was so tempted, her mother's necklace within her grasp, all she could think 'I'm so sorry mom…' when she lashed out, "NEVER! Nothing would make me give them up!"

"Oh really?" He turned his head to address his men, "Search the woods! He shouldn't be far."

"He won't be there!" he turned around with a smirk. She didn't understand at first but when she did she laughed, "You think I'm trying to keep you from searching? Ha! Search all you like, but he's probably already gone." His smile didn't falter. She was confused again and it was probably written all over her face.

"Thank you for that particular bit of information. Anything else you'd like to add?" She was furious, but when a low bison groan was heard in the distance his smile finally vanished. "Where are they going?" She simply looked away, and when she gave no response, he started barking out orders. Too late did she realize she would be going with them. He cut her from the tree; he gagged her and threw her over his shoulder. He stood tall and carried her as if she weighed no more than a trifle of twigs. He held her legs tightly so she couldn't kick him, so she pounded her fists against his armor struggling against him like a fish on land. By the time they arrived at his ship she had run herself ragged, panting heavily, however she had been able to remove the gag and started throwing every curse word she knew at him.

"…Let me go you son of bast-" she gasped as she hit the deck. He had dropped her and was ordering his men to make a northern heading and to follow the bison.

She choked on the air that had been robbed from her lungs by the fall and rolled to her back when his Uncle made an appearance. "Zuko, what do you intend to do with her?"

They looked at her and he said, "Throw her in the brig until she talks."

"Zuko! She is a lady, how can you treat her so poorly?"

"A lady? She's water tribe, practically savage! Not only that but she's the Avatar's accomplice!"

"Look at her Zuko, take a long hard look. Does she look like the monster you paint her to be. She has the grace and stature of a fire nation noble, but the strength and heart of a great warrior and yet she is utterly exhausted. Her eyes are innocent but have obviously seen much. And though she is not of your nation she has a similar fire burning in her that is alive in you. She is a young lady, not a savage. Can you honorably condemn her to the brig?" They both stood there staring at her, as her chest heaved from the labor of breathing she glared at the young prince who, for a moment, blushed. He looked at his Uncle, they spoke some things very low and then he made his way over to her.

She had finally caught her breath when he hoisted her up to her feet and dragged her down below deck. The last she saw while in fresh air was his Uncle shaking his head sadly. "Where are you taking me?"

"Where you belong."

"The south pole? How nice of you, though this time I would hope you would be just a bit more civil to my grandmother."

"The brig you simpleton!"

"At least I won't have to sleep near your pungent odor!"

He made no response, though the hall was getting hotter and he was muttering on about insolent waterbenders. So finally she attempted an escape. She rammed her body into his and slammed him into the wall she made a mad dash for the door they had just passed through. "Not so fast." He threw himself onto her, tackling and pinning her to the floor. "You thought you could what? Just run to the deck, throw yourself overboard, and follow your airbending boyfriend on foot? You're more of a fool than I thought. Not only would you run into several soldiers on the way out, it would only be too easy to capture you again if, by mere chance, you could get off my ship."

She jerked and flailed trying to throw him off. "Get off me!"

"Why should I? You tried to escape, I'm keeping you secure!"

"Secure! Ha! You can't secure the respect of your men nor can you secure your own temper tantrums! And I highly doubt you have ANY security over your own man hood!"

"You insolent, insignificant, little- Have you no respect for your superiors? Have you no sense of honor or humility? Were you never taught self preservation?"

"I have no respect for supercilious, disdainful, innocuous, insipid jerks like you!" She tried to throw him off again but this time his face flooded with color. He tightened his hold on her wrists as he jumped off of her. He just pushed her forward, toward the brig. "What finally run out of come backs? Because I haven't. I have them all lined up, and because you're so predictable they work PERFECTLY!"

"Shut up waterbender if you know what's good for you."

"Ha! As if I haven't heard THAT before! And what you run out of things to call me too? Man you are pathetic! No wonder you can't hold on to Aang! You fail in a verbal fight how is it possible for you to win a physical one?"

"I caught you easily enough now haven't I?"

"Hardly! The pirates did all the work for you! Plus there was no fighting involved, just a lot of binding me! What? Are you so afraid of losing you'll tie up your opponent before they get the chance?"

She heard him muttering and caught on to one sentence in particular, "stupid harlot doesn't even know the implications of what she's said, or done."

"I am NOT a HARLOT! How dare you call me anything close to a whore! You're the pervert who made up implications in your head; I've said and done NOTHING to give ANYONE the impression of sexual thoughts. My motivations were of the purest sort! Of the two of us YOURE the deviant weirdo!"

He pressed a hand to her mouth, "Shut up! Do you have any idea what would happen to you if anyone heard you screaming such degrading things about yourself? This crew has been at sea for three years. They are far from their wives and no one would wonder why there are screams coming from the brig."

She shook his hand from her mouth, "Poor honorable Zuko, but how much honor can he have if he was the first to suggest that I am to be a prostitute."

"I never said you were one. Just that you were acting like one."

"How exactly was I acting like a sex slave?"

He twisted her around, they were nearly to the brig, he lowered his voice and stared her in the eyes, "You mention my manhood, you grind against me, mention your own binding, and you know far too many synonyms about sexual behavior. To top it all off you steal from pirates. A Common criminal!"

"How did you know about that?"

"Oh please, the pirates were practically screeching about their precious stolen scroll, how it must've been the water tribe teens and the monk."

"That doesn't make me a harlot."

"No, the other reasons do."

"But only you would pick up those SUBTLE mentions that were meant to be comments on your pride! And grinding against you? How about trying to escape! You had me pinned!" He rolled his eyes turned her around and opened the door to the brig. "It must eat you up inside to think I like Aang as more than a friend, which is pretty laughable given the age difference. But hey, jealousy often clouds judgment."

"Jealous? Why would any of that make me jealous?"

"Well you must be severely attracted to me for you to notice such insignificant details. Or to pay attention to me, what did you say I was doing? 'Grinding against you?'" He was about to start shouting again but decided against it. "Yep that proves it! You have nothing to reply with so it MUST be true."

It was taking all his energy not to incinerate her. So when he opened the cell door he could barely stop grinding his teeth long enough to give her an order. "In. And go to sleep." When she refused he shoved her in and slammed the cell shut.

She woke up the next morning wondering when exactly she had fallen asleep. She stood up and twisted her back and neck trying to relax the stiffness caused from sleeping in a sitting position. She realized that the morning light was pouring into her cell from a small port hole. The circular window was much too small and much too high to escape through, but if she could break the glass she might have a fighting chance. She was about to climb on the cot to get a better look at it when a guard opened her cell door and dropped her tray of "breakfast" on the floor.

She had originally planned on ignoring it completely… until her stomach growled. It had been at least 24 hours since she had eaten something. Not that a small loaf of bread was an extraordinary breakfast, but it would satisfy her stomach. She sighed and ate the bread from the tray. But then she noticed the guard's biggest mistake. A cup had been on the tray presumably filled with something. The cup now lay toppled over in a puddle of a clear liquid. She reached out with her bending and picked up the water, she then peeked out of her cell as far as she could see and decided to take a look at the stolen scroll. 'The single water whip? Looks easy enough.' She tried a few times, and being unable to achieve it stashed her scroll in her robes and the water under the cot. Half an hour later a guard came and picked up the tray.

Hours later, after having analyzed the previous day's events in every possible angle, Katara heard footfalls. Sure enough Prince Zuko walked in, looking worn out; he pulled up a chair and sat outside my cell. "What happened to you?"

He was sweaty, tense, and shirtless. She blushed as she realized it. "This is how you should look after a proper training session."

"You're crazy. Do you have any idea how much muscle damage you have probably caused? Not only the stress of an intense work out but the pure heat of firebending… to do both is…"

"An everyday occurrence. What, are you worried about me?" he actually chuckled and shook his head. "But before you start yelling at me, thank you, for being concerned, and no, I'm not going to ask you about the Avatar." He rubbed his neck, and stretched out his arms. It was then she saw the blue ribbon wrapped around his wrist. 'He's still wearing it around his wrist?' "Have you ever had a day so miserable, you could just bury yourself? What am I saying, of course you have…" He heaved a heavy sigh. "My mother vanished 6 years ago today. One night she comes into my room telling me to never forget who I am, and the next morning, she's gone. Not a trace of her. I was ten and still needed her, but she's gone now, and there's nothing I can do." He was deep in thought, remembering his mother, while Katara was studying him. She moved to get up from her cot, but having been sitting for several hours, she was stiff. She stumbled and Zuko threw open the door to catch her. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, just a little stiff, and probably dehydrated." He called for a guard to bring in a glass of water.

He was holding her tightly in his arms and helped her drink from the glass, when she was done he brushed the hair out of her face and sighed again. "My mother was right."

"About what?"

He helped her back to her feet. "I should never forget who I truly am. Come with me."

"Where are we going?"

"I promised my Uncle you would be moved today, we didn't have the proper space before."

"Moved where?"

"Do you always ask so many questions? Come on, before I change my mind."

She stepped out of her cell cautiously, just in case it was a trick. When she stumbled, he quickly wrapped his arm around her waist to hold her up. Then they walked out of the brig and through a series of uniform hallways. He stopped in front of a door and knocked twice, his Uncle answered and a smile graced his face. "Ah Nephew! And the young warrior! Well, it seems we'll be roomies for the duration of our journey. I didn't realize you two were so familiar, would you prefer to switch rooms Nephew?"

They blushed and jumped apart. "No, thank you, Uncle. I have to, um, return to my room, I have a, a search to continue…" With that he practically bolted for the door to the next room over.

She stepped into the room and he closed the door "Well, since we are going to be spending some time in the same quarters I believe I should know your name. I am General Iroh, Dragon of the West, and you are?"

She squinted at him for a moment, and then responded tensely, "I am Katara, the last waterbender of the south pole, a blooming lotus."

They stared at each other for a moment, and then he hugged her tightly. "My dear, child, I am so sorry."

"For what? You've done nothing."

"And for that, I am ashamed. Your parents were so proud when you were inducted. You were so young when Lady Ursa told you."

"Is Prince Zuko a-?"

"No. With whom his father is, and how he has been raised since his mother left." He sighed, thinking to himself, 'She doesn't know lady Ursa is really Zuko's mother, and she should only find out when the time is right.' "We need to start speaking in code, so as not to alarm the crew. Do you remember it?"

"A little. It was hard for me to remember, I've never played Pai Sho before so I had few things to relate to."

"Good heavens, we must get you playing the game, that is one of the most valuable tools of strategy. But Lady Katara, you must behave within a reasonable manor. I can only do so much to persuade my Nephew, and if you wish to retain any semblance of freedom you must try to play nice with Zuko."

"I'll try, I promise."

"Good, now let's go up, I shall teach you Pai Sho. Though I will warn you, I always win."

She laughed as they made their up to the deck, where she found herself face to face with shirtless Zuko. Practicing again. "Uncle! Why is she on deck?"

"The young lady has been deprived of one of life's greatest pleasures! I am teaching her Pai Sho." Iroh gestured for her to sit down across from him at a round table.

"What if she tries to escape?"

"She doesn't seem to be causing any harm, and if she were to try and escape, we are in the middle of the ocean. Much too easy to regain our captive. As is one of the tips in Pai Sho! It is a game of strategy, so you must think of every tile as a group of people."

As she sat down, eager to learn, she heard an angry grunt come from behind her. Then she heard the tell tale sounds of a sparring match.


After an hour of learning she finally started getting the hang of it. She stood up for a moment to stretch her legs when a shout sounded, "LOOK OUT!" She turned in time for it to register and to throw her hands up in front of her, blocking a rogue fire blast. The pain was so overwhelming, she barely heard the young prince scolding the soldier, ordering for a bucket of water and the medic before he ran over to her.

"Katara are you alright?" She had her hands pulled to her chest, wincing in pain, the tears rolled down her cheeks. "Katara let me see your hands." She shook her head, it hurt too much. "I'm not going to hurt you; we need to know how bad it is."

Reluctantly, she brought her hands forward and Zuko gently inspected them, then the metal buck of water clanged as it hit the metal deck. He gently put her hands in the water and she looked at Zuko through teary eyes. He was wiping her them away. When she spoke her voice cracked, "You called me Katara." He looked confused for a second and was about to say something when a blue light came from the bucket.

She pulled her hands out to find them completely healed, also trembling terribly. "You have healing abilities" Iroh's voice sounding slightly shocked and partially amused. "A rare gift, most common in female waterbenders. Wonderful!" Both teens stared blatantly at him. "Every element has its fair share of tricks; that is one for water." He tried changing the subject. "Now, Katara, I know it has been a trying day but, how would you like to join me for music night tonight?"

"Uncle, I doubt that, that's a good idea."

"He might be right, plus I have no idea how to dance and I only know a handful of songs."

"Those are minor details on a much grander scale. We can teach you to dance, right now if you'd like." Iroh was receiving strange looks from the two young benders. Though they would not come to see it for quite some time, he was planning something. "Come." He lifted Katara and Zuko to their feet. "Prince Zuko, take her hand."

"Uncle, I-"

"Please, Nephew, just one dance."

He sighed and rolled his eyes. He took her hand in his, "May I have this dance?" She just nodded, not knowing how to get out of the situation. He bowed and kissed her hand, blushing she looked to Iroh.

"Now you curtsy." She pulled on her skirt with her free right hand and curtsied delicately. Then she was pulled close to him. His free hand guided hers to his shoulder before he placed his on her waist. "Now when he moves, you follow. And 1, 2, 3… and 1, 2, 3… and 1, 2, 3…"

"I'm glad you're alright." She looked up at him. "You're pretty good at this."

"What changed?" He looked her in the eyes, wondering if he should answer. "Yesterday you wanted to kill me, today you're glad I'm okay?" He spun her out and back in, buying him a second. "Are you going to be angry again tomorrow or maybe you'll be another person entirely?"

He shook his head, "Stop that."

"Stop what?" She nearly pulled out of his embrace.

He looked in her eyes sadly, "You're trying to lead. That's my job. As the Gentleman, I lead. You, as the Lady, follow." He stopped briefly, adjusted her posture and started again. Perfectly in time as if he hadn't missed a whole measure of steps, gliding across the deck. "Much better."

Color rushed to her face as he rubbed circles on the small of her back. As they circled around gracefully neither took notice of Iroh dismissing the medic, or the crew stopping to watch as the waterbender subconsciously tamed the prince. "Why do you want Aang?"

He sighed. "Can we not just dance?" Twirling her gently, he admired her. 'Damn Uncle, why did you have to compliment her? I wouldn't be in this mess if weren't for you. Agni, she's so beautiful. But she's my enemy, and I shouldn't care about her. Oh Mom, what should I do?' He pulled her close with her back to his chest, holding her hands in his, and led her through a few backward circles before raising their hands above their heads and slowly turning her toward him. He lowered their hands and replaced them to their original positions, flawlessly leading her through the movements. Staring into her eyes made him want to open up to her, so he answered her question. "I told you, I need him to regain my honor."

"That doesn't make sense."

"Sure it does. I was sent on a mission. If I bring the Avatar to my father he will restore my honor. And I'll get to be home."

"But Zuko, no one can take your honor. Honor is like Courage, or Modesty, it's something you gain by actions. Only you can change it. No one can make you a coward; no one can make you vain. No one, but yourself."

"You don't understand," He spun her out and back, "my father banished me, proclaiming I acted dishonorably, and sent me on my quest." He looked anywhere but at her. "If the Fire Lord says it, it must be so."

"You couldn't have done anything that bad." He looked down to their feet, so she touched his scarred cheek and slid her hand to his chin. "You have honor, Zuko, you just don't see it. You kept your promise to your Uncle even against your own personal judgment, you haven't hurt me even though I know you'd like to sometimes, and even though you harassed my people, I respect that you honorably kept your promise to Aang even after he was gone. But above all of that, you have stuck to a mission, most people would have thought impossible; to restore something you had never lost. All for one man who doesn't deserve the admiration you give him."

She gasped and wrapped her right arm under and around his shoulder as he dipped her down low and pulled her up quickly. For a breath of a moment they were a mere inch away from each other, nose to nose so to speak, "You don't know what you're saying." But then he let go of her and took a step back, "Excuse me." He bowed, turned 180 degrees and was below deck before she could think to curtsy. She shivered missing his heat, and then shivered again thinking, 'was he really shirtless that whole time?'


AUTHORS NOTE

If you happen to see a typo or anything that doesn't make sense, please let met know so I can fix it. Thank you!