"We're not going back with you Katara," Aang said apologetically, placing a gentle hand on her face. They stood on the dock beside the ship.
Katara slapped it away, her anger already beginning to boil. "Why? The city is finished. Our home is in the Southern Water Tribe. We haven't been there in years," she argued, glaring at her friends.
"The city isn't complete yet. I still have to find a place for the new Air Temple, and Sokka is on the council. Toph now has students to train and Zuko has to go back to the Fire Nation," Aang tried to reason. He kept his hands to himself knowing that Katara would just get more pissed if he tried to touch her again.
"I understand why Sokka, Toph and Zuko can't come. What I don't understand is why you can't take a break and come back home for at least a week. We've been working nonstop since we started building this city. The temple can wait," Katara said with more calm than she felt. She felt like bashing her husband's head with her brother's at the moment.
"I'm sorry," was all he said.
She scowled, narrowing her eyes even further. She didn't want to have to resort to a guilt trip, but if that was the only way to get him home, she would use it. So, she walked over to Zuko who had a two-year-old Kya settled on his shoulders. She took her from him and held her on her hip. "You're just going to leave your daughter and wife alone for who knows who long?" she said more than asked, glaring daggers at Aang.
His face contorted in something that looked close to pain and regret. "I-I'm sorry," he stammered once more, "Katara, please don't be mad, I-"
Katara didn't let him finish was he was saying. She turned on her heel, and stomped up the ramp to the ship without a glance back or a measly 'goodbye' thrown over her shoulder. She disappeared onto the deck, not looking back to see her friends before departure.
"Twinkle Toes, you are in so much trouble right now that you wouldn't even be able to fathom it," Toph laughed, hoisting a two-year-old Lin higher on her hip. She smirked as she looked in the direction of where his voice was coming from.
"I know," he muttered under his breath, sighing at the ground. "Wait, how would you know how mad she is?"
Toph rolled her eyes. "I may not be especially girly, but I am still a woman. It's not hard to imagine how she feels by you staying here and not coming home with her. I'd be pissed beyond understanding if my husband did that to me," she explained like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"But you're so manly. How can you think like a woman at all?" Sokka asked, moving to poke her in the side.
"I still have ovaries, a uterus, and a vagina. That still counts for something, Snoozles," Toph said without the bat of an eyelid. She slammed her foot down on his since she couldn't bend standing on wood.
"Toph!" Aang cried like she'd been cursing up a storm. His face was as red as Sokka's. Zuko just stood there laughing at his friends.
"What? Did I break his foot?" she asked, smirking in triumph.
"No, but you should watch what you say. There's a child here," Sokka wheezed, still crouched on the boards.
"She has them too. She's going to learn the terms someday so might as well let her learn now," she said in exasperation, throwing her hand into the air. She frowned as she heard the engine of the boat start up. "Hey, Zuko, I think the boat's leaving."
Zuko frowned and looked towards the boat. They were already pulling up the ramp. "Hold on!" he called up to the captain before looking at his friends, "I'll see you guys sometime. I'll try to bring Katara around." With that, he hurried up the ramp, turning back for a short moment to wave to the three still on deck before walking away to find a certain raging woman.
"Hey Katara," Zuko said as he knocked lightly on the door to her home. It was wide open letting the cool are from outside invade the too warm interior.
The broom in her hand clattered to the floor loudly. "Zuko! It's great to see you again!" she called, throwing her arms around his neck as he stepped through the door, "How have you been?"
He hugged her back tightly before letting her slide to the ground. "Good. Mai's been a little moody lately, but that's to be expected since she's been taking care of one of her pregnant friends," he explained with a grimace before looking around her home. "I take it Aang hasn't returned from Republic City yet?"
Katara scowled and moved to pick up the broom lying on the floor. "No," she grumbled, tossing the dusting cloth that had been stuck in the back of her pocket onto the table a little harder than necessary. "He's only sent me one letter so far."
Zuko raised his eyebrow at that. He'd thought that she'd be being bombarded by letters from him left and right for the entire time he was gone. Maybe Aang was busier than he'd originally thought. "Where's Kya?" he asked casually, looking around the large room. He didn't see any sign of the child.
"Toph came by the other day and took her so Lin could play with somebody while she was working and so Aang could see her. She shouldn't be back for another couple of days," Katara explained with a sad sigh, sitting heavily down in a chair.
He smirked. "Well, that's good. It's better to drink without kids around anyway."
"What?" she asked. Her eyes widened as he pulled two bottles from a bag clipped to his belt.
"I thought you could use a little pick-me-up. Mai doesn't like plum wine anyway," he explained, setting the two bottles on the wooden table with a soft clank. He shrugged at Katara with a grin.
Katara grinned. Once they'd reached legal drinking age, they'd discovered a mutual love for alcohol. Since Aang wouldn't drink and Sokka didn't like the taste of alcohol, the pair had become drinking buddies together with Toph. They didn't drink often, but had some every now and then. "You are the best friend a girl could ever ask for," she said, laughing a little as she got up to grab two cups.
"I try my best," he joked, shutting the still open door before taking his coat off and placing it on the back of the chair he was going to sit in.
Several hours and two bottles of plum wine later, Katara and Zuko lay on the hearth soaking up the warmth from the crackling fire. Katara had her head pillowed on Zuko's stomach, complaining about one aspect or another.
"I-I mean really, what kind of man leaves his wife and child all alone in basically the middle of nowhere? I know that I've lived here my whole life, but it's still upsetting," she said, her words slurring together. She stared into the fire, not really seeing the flickering orange flames.
"I understand," Zuko said, his words even less stable than hers, "I don't think Aang has completely grown up yet. He still kind of the kid he was when you first met him in the iceberg I think. His physical appearance has matured, but I don't think his mind set has changed all that much." His fingers idly played with a strand of her hair.
"Yeah, but neither has Sokka or even Toph that much despite giving birth to Lin," she argued, turning her head to look at him.
He stopped playing with her hair and looked in an opposite direction. He couldn't think straight when he looked at her, especially with his drunken mind. "Maybe he's just doing what he thinks is best for the people," he said with an apologetic shrug.
"I know that, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt any less," she sighed before suddenly changing the subject, "You know I kind of had a crush on you by the end of the war?" Her cheeks slowly heated and she quickly turned her head away. Why had she said that? People were right to call it liquid truth.
Zuko sat up quickly. Katara let out a cry of surprise as she tumbled into his lap. "What? Really?" he asked his eyes wide with surprise.
"Y-yeah," she said, blushing harder as she pushed herself into a sitting position.
"I guess if you told, I should tell you
I sort of had a crush on you also," he said, his voice growing smaller and smaller the longer he spoke. His cheeks began to grow hot. He dropped his head down so she couldn't see his face.
"Reeeeeaaaaaally?" Katara asked teasingly, ducking her head so she could see his face. She laughed a little at his beat red face. "You're so cute when you're embarrassed," she laughed, sitting back on her haunches.
"Oh, you think so?" he asked, a smile turning up his lips and a mischievous glint to his eyes. He sat back up straight, watching her.
"Yep," she said with a triumphant smile.
"Well, then you look cute when you're mad," he said, trying to goad her.
"I do not!" she shouted, completely skipping the grumbling stage. She moved forward and stabbed a finger in his face.
"Do too," he countered, waiting for her to get closer.
"No, I don't!" she cried, getting closer like he had planned.
His smile widened. He placed his hand on the back of her neck. "To tell the truth, I might still have a crush on you," he whispered, pulling her towards him. He pressed his lips to her softly so she had time to push away. When she didn't, he leaned into the kiss.
Katara was completely taken by surprise. She stilled, unable to decide what to do in her muddled state. When he pressed closer, any hope of formulating any form of retaliation was shot to hell. Instead, she wrapped her arms securely around his neck, pulling his even closer than they already were.
When they pulled away, they were panting. "We shouldn't be doing this," Katara whispered, staring into his gold eyes.
"I know," he said simply before pressing his lips back to hers and pulling her into his lap.
Katara paced in front of the fire nearly three months later. She had her arms crossed tightly over her stomach, and a frown turning down her lips as she bit her bottom lip. She looked out the window once more, watching the sun crawl closer to the horizon.
"Where are they?" she muttered under her breath, worry creeping into her tone.
"What's the matter, Mommy?" Kya asked, watching her mother pace from her seat at the kitchen table. She held her stuffed bunny, one that was twin to Lin's, in front of her. She flipped his arms this way and that like she had seen her mother do when she water bends.
Katara turned to smile at her daughter. "Nothing, sweetie. Mommy's just wondering where Uncle Zuko and Aunt Toph are," she said, returning to her pacing and glancing out the window every few seconds.
"Hey Sugar Queen, what the hell does this letter mean?" Toph shouted, bursting through the door more than an hour later. She held Lin in one arm and was waving Katara's letter around vigorously. "You better start explaining. You nearly gave me a heart attack when Lin read it to me." She set Lin down on the floor, and then stomped over to Katara angrily.
"Have you heard from Zuko?" Katara immediately asked, searching Toph's sightless eyes for any reaction.
Toph scoffed. "Yes. He said that he had to clear something up and then he'd be here. He said it wouldn't take all that long."
"Why are you so concerned with him anyway? Does he have something to do with why you sounded so frantic in the letter?" she asked, shifting her feet around on the floor to feel for any lie Katara might tell her.
Katara fell silent, not sure what to tell her. Finally, she murmured, "Yes."
Toph stood there, staring at Katara for a long silent moment. "Alright girls, we're going to take a quick walk so stay here and be good. If Uncle Zuko shows up, let him in, and don't go outside," she called to the two little girls at the table as she dragged Katara towards the door. They burst out of the house, the cold slapping them in the face, but she ignored it and kept pulling Katara along. "You better start explaining right now," she growled menacingly.
Katara flinched. She took a deep breath before starting. "About two months ago, Zuko came to visit be because he figured Aang hadn't come back to visit me yet. Well, he brought some plum wine with him. One thing led to another and
"she said quickly, her words trailing off at the end. Instead of finishing, she grabbed Toph's hand and pressed it to her abdomen.
Toph stilled, feeling Katara's stomach and then gasped. "You're pregnant? How did that happen? Have you told him yet?" she started asking, looking up at Katara with frantic eyes to match hers, "Are you going to tell Aang?"
I don't know. I don't want to hurt him and destroy what we have. I haven't told Zuko yet either. How do you think he's going to react?" she asked, running her hands through her hair and starting her pacing back up. She crossed her arms back over her stomach as if she were shielding the child growing inside her, and bit down on her lip. "What am I going to do? What am I going to do?"
"Stop freaking out would be a good one!" Toph interjected in her worrying, messaging her brow like trying to push a headache away, "First off, you have to tell Zuko
" Her words trailed off as she finally felt the vibrations of another person walking towards them.
"Tell me what?" Zuko asked, his voice full of worry as he approached them. The two females instantly stilled, staring at him with wide, shocked eyes. "What? Kya and Lin told me you two went for a walk so I came to find you. What happened?"
The two women exchanged a flustered glance. Toph raised her hands in surrender and started walking back towards the house. "I'm staying out of this one. You two talk it out here before coming back," she called as she tromped through the snow back to the house. Kya and Lin stood in the doorway play fighting.
They waited until Toph had shut the door behind her to start talking. "What did Toph mean that we had to talk something out?" Zuko asked, looking to Katara where she stood several feet away.
Her face was bright red with embarrassment. "W-well, she meant
Well there's something important that I need to tell you, but I
Um, uh, I
" she stuttered, avoiding eye contact at all cost.
"Katara!" he said loudly, breaking through her babble and catching her attention, "What is it? What's the matter?"
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Do you, uh, remember when you came to visit me three months ago?" she asked quietly, her arms unconsciously tightening around her middle.
Zuko's face grew hot with the memory. He looked away from her as he said, "Y-yes. It's not easily forgettable."
"W-well," she said and removed her arms from her middle.
Zuko looked at her middle, his mind uncomprehending. "What are you showing me?" he asked.
Katara sighed. She tromped down to where he stood and took his hand like she had Toph's and pressed it to her abdomen. She waited until realization started to dawn on his face before saying, "I'm pregnant."
"Really? How far along are you?" he asked, trying to ignore the feeling he had growing in the pit of his stomach.
"Th-then it's not Aang's."
He was speechless. He took his hand back from Katara and stuck both of them through his hair. He started to pace back and forth in small circles, unconsciously melting the snow beneath his feet. "How did this happen?" he asked, so many emotions playing through him that he didn't know which one to express. He was overjoyed, worried, excited, a little scared, and he felt even more horrible than he had when he realized he'd cheated on his wife with his friend's wife.
"It happened the normal way Zuko. It only takes one time and we weren't careful enough," Katara said, regret and hopefulness coloring her words. She looked at him from under her lashes secretly hoping that he wouldn't denounce the child.
He stopped pacing and turned to look at her. "Are you going to tell Aang and the others? Toph obviously already knows. I don't want this to hurt any of our bonds with our friends," he said, his face deadly serious.
She shook his head. "I
I'm only going to tell them if Aang comes home before she/he's born. If he doesn't then I don't think they'll ever know. You, Toph, and I will be the only ones who know his/her true parentage," she said, watching him. He didn't relax like she thought he would. Then she realized that he felt just as bad about lying to every one of their friends and family just as much as she did.
"I'll help as much as I can. I'll find things to distract Aang from coming home for the next six months, but I don't think that'll be a problem. He's having a hard time searching for a place to build the Air Temple and juggling politics at the same time," he told her, passing his hands through his hair one more time before sighing, I think we should get back into the house before Toph starts to imagine crazy scenarios."
Katara laughed, dispelling the tension between them. "Yeah."
"Katara, how are you?" Zuko asked immediately as he stepped through her open door. Her home was too warm again so he left the door open as he walked in.
She looked towards him, smiling warmly. "Good, a little tired, but that's expected," she said, "She just fell asleep though so try not to disturb her. This is the most she's slept in a week." She indicated the basinet with a nod of her head. It was set close to the fire.
He looked around, scanning the area. Once again it was vacant of small children. "Toph has Kya again?"
"No, I have Lin. They're outside running around and playing right now. She said there was something happening in the city that she didn't want Lin to get in the middle of," she explained with a tired shrug, setting her broom next to the door and going to look down at the sleeping baby.
"She's beautiful," Zuko murmured more to himself than to Katara who stood watching him. He glanced over at her and then back down at the baby. "Have you heard anything from Aang lately?"
Katara sighed and went to sit on the couch. "No, not yet. It's been two weeks since I heard from him the last time."
"That's understandable. There's been a problem in the city that's been taking up most of his time. I was surprised that Toph had enough time to come up here and drop off Lin. She's been very busy as of late as well," he said, turning to look at her.
"A problem that keeps him away from more than a year and a half?" she asked sarcastically, rolling her eyes at him like he was being overdramatic.
"Yes," he replied seriously, crossing his arms hard over his chest, "There have been reports of bloodbending activity. They've have had an extremely hard time locating the man responsible. They only have a few witnesses, and they think that he's gone into hiding for now."
Katara's eyes grew wide. She jumped to her feet. "Then I have to go down there and help! I'm the only one of us who can resist bloodbending and knows how to bloodbend. I-I have to go!" She ran over to a small closet and grabbed a bag.
"Katara," Zuko tried to say, but she just ignored him, running this way and that stuffing clothes and toys and bottles of formula into the bag.
"Katara," he tried again, watching her run around like a chicken with her head cut off. She still ignored him. "Katara!" he yelled, grabbing her arm, jerking her to a stop, "Listen. Aang probably didn't tell you on purpose. He doesn't want you and Kya down there where you two can get hurt. He knew you'd go rushing off the moment you found out about this. Stop and think. You have two daughters and Toph's daughter with you. Are you really going to rush into a city plagued by a bloodbender who can bloodbend whenever he wishes? And to make matters worse you're the Avatar's wife. How long do you think it would take for that man to try to use you to get to Aang?"
Katara went silent. She stared up at Zuko with angry eyes. Slowly, the anger started to ebb away. Her stiff posture relaxed a small amount. She dropped her eyes from his and breathed deeply. "I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking," she whispered, pulling her arm from his loosened grip.
"Aang said that he'd be coming back soon, possibly this week. They won't need him until this man comes out of hiding," Zuko said, trying to calm her just a little bit more. Instead of her posture relaxing more, she stiffened back up. "What's the matter?"
She stayed silent staring down at the little girl in the basinet. She took another deep breath and turned to look at him with imploring blue eyes. "You
Can you please take Ren? Aang may be dense, but he's not that dense and I'm afraid that he might find out especially if she turns out to be a firebender," she said even as she caressed the baby's cheek. She looked down at her lovingly.
"I will, but I can't take her home either. Mai will ask questions," he said, his hand resting on the side of the basinet.
Katara thought for a moment. "Iroh."
"You can take him to your uncle. He used to have a son, right? So, he'll know how to take care of a child. Explain to him what happened, and I'm sure he'll take care of her. He's a good man," she explained excitedly, grinning like she was the smartest woman in the world.
"He would, but I don't like feeling indebted to my Uncle. He's already done so much for me," he murmured, but even as he said that he knew what he would do.
"Mommy!" the little girl with brunette hair and dark skin screamed, running towards Katara with a huge grin. She jumped, throwing her arms around her next. "I missed you so much!"
"Oh Ren! It's so nice to see you! You've gotten so big!" Katara said, hugging the girl to her tightly. Iroh stood behind the counter, smiling widely. He moved into the back, bringing out tea and setting it on a table. "I can't believe you're already eight-years-old."
"She's been asking about you and Zuko since you last visited," he said, pouring the tea before sitting down. Katara sat down in front of him, Ren still attached to her like a baby monkey. "She's been a good girl though, and has excelled in her firebending training," he praised.
"Oh, what a good girl you've been," Katara said, hugging Ren again, "So Zuko has been coming to visit her?"
"Oh yes, nearly every week whenever he can get away," Iroh said, stroking his beard thoughtfully, "He says Mai has been asking less questions lately since she's given birth. Ursa has been taking up a lot of her time so she's too tired to ask questions."
Katara nodded in understanding. "I'm sorry I haven't been able to visit as of late, but Bumi and Kya get into so much trouble, and I can't get away from Tenzin very often. He's only a toddler after all. Aang decided to take them all out today though, so I had a day to myself," she explained with a long sigh.
"Mm," Iroh hummed, nodding, "It is alright. She is very patient in her waiting unlike her father. I feel she will be a great bender, just like you and her father."
"I hope so," Katara said with a proud smile.
Ren tapped her on the cheek, watching her with golden eyes. "Mommy, who are Kya, Bumi, and Tenzin? Are they firebenders and kids like me?" she asked with curious eyes.
"Well, they are kids, but they're not firebenders," Katara answered with a grin, "They're your younger brothers and older sister."
"Not firebenders?" Ren asked, cocking her head to the side in confusion, "What do you mean?"
Katara laughed. "Kya is a waterbender and Tenzin is an airbender," she said.
"Ooooh, so cool," Ren crowed, jumping to her feet on the bench, "But what about Bumi? Is he an earthbender?"
"No, he's a non-bender."
"Is he strong?" Ren asked, knowing that even being a non-bender didn't make you weaker than a bender.
"He's handy with a word," Iroh interjected with a grin.
Ren's face lit up. She looked between Katara and Iroh in wonderment. "Can I learn how to use a sword? That would be so cool! I would be like 'hyah!' and stuff!" she said, jumping from her seat and kicking in the air, using her arms as pretend swords.
Katara and Iroh exchanged a glance. "Uh, maybe when you're older. For now, how about we ask Suki if she can teach you the Kyoshi Warrior's fighting style?" she said, smiling nervously, "They're really cool and even if you end up small like Toph and Suki, you'll still be able to protect people."
"Cool! I wanna be a Kyoshi Warrior!" Ren shouted, running from the room as she made airplane noises.
Katara sighed and laughed nervously. "Well, at least she thinks they're cool. You and Zuko have taught her well," she said sadly.
"You have taught her as well. You have not been absent this entire time," Iroh contradicted in his usual way, "Your influence on her is more noticeable by the day. She grows to be like you." He nodded out the door that Ren had disappeared through.
Katara turned around to see what he was watching. Ren was kneeling beside another young kid. Tears streamed down his face and loud wails echoed from his mouth. "Come on, now. Don't cry. You're alright. You only fell a little and you're a big boy aren't ya?" she asked the little boy with a huge grin.
"Y-yeah," the boy sniffed, rubbing at his eyes with dirty knuckles.
"Well, big boys don't cry! They stand up tall and keep going!" she said enthusiastically, jumping to her feet and stretching her arms above her head as far as they could stretch. "Come on, get up and come play with me!"
The boy sniffed again, rubbing at his nose. "O-okay!" he said a little more enthusiastically, pushing himself to his feet and grinning at her.
"See? You're a big boy. Come on!" She grabbed his hand as she said that and pulled him out of sight.
"Well, I don't know about that. I was pretty selfish as a child and I still am. Just look at Ren. I don't know if I'll ever tell the others just because I'm afraid of what they'll think of us," she said with a sad shrug.
"I don't think you see yourself clearly. Even if you were selfish when young, you are not anymore. You won't tell them because you're afraid of hurting them and what they will think of your child," Iroh once again contradicted, "You have grown into a fine woman."
"Thanks," Katara said, smiling sheepishly at the old man.
"Hey Sugar Queen, Zuko, you've got a letter from some woman named Ren!" Sokka called as he walked into the dining room of the Air Temple. They all sat around the table, food and glasses of tea in front of them.
"What?" the two said together, looking up from where they sat next to each other. Moments before they'd been laughing at something Suki and Toph had done. They went silent as Sokka tossed a letter in front of them.
"Some woman named Ren. I didn't know you guys knew someone named that. Who is she?" he asked, always the suspicious older brother. He went to sit down next to Suki and nearly fell into the table as Kya walked past and pinched his side, smirking. "Thanks a lot, Kya," he grumbled sarcastically.
Kya grinned. "No problem uncle Sokka."
Sokka sighed in exasperation before turning back to stare at Katara and Zuko with an expectant expression. They looked at each other for a split second. "I think it's about we told them. It's been more than twenty years after all. She is a grown woman now," Zuko said, pursing his lips in deliberation.
"Well, it's about damn time," Toph complained, "You know, it's not easy keeping a secret that big. You know how hard I had to work?"
"Mom, don't complain. You love Ren," Lin said as she walked through the room.
Toph grinned unashamedly, turning her head towards her daughter. "That I do, but I won't hesitate to beat you if you talk to me like that."
"Just try, old woman," Lin challenged, taking her stance, planting her feet.
"Come on, guys. Don't fight at the dinner table," Aang tried to reason, standing between the two of them.
Sokka threw up his hands in exasperation. "Would someone please tell me who this woman is?" he cried, glaring at everyone in the room.
"Just let us read the letter, and then we'll tell you guys everything. Please, just don't be mad," she sighed, ripping the envelope carefully open. Zuko moved closer to read the careful script over her shoulder.
Dear Mother and Father,
I hope this letter finds you well. How have you two been? How are the others doing? Has Kya gotten engage yet? It has been so long since I've seen the two of you, and I have great news. I know that I should have told you and asked for your permission and blessing, but I am glad I followed my instincts.
I have married and earthbender! He's a great man. I wish that you two will meet him someday soon as well as our children. Both are boys. They are so rowdy, just like Kya and Bumi when we were children. The other day, the older boy ran around chasing his brother pretending he was a dragon. I won't tell you their names because I want you to not know at least that when you meet them so they can introduce themselves. I will tell you one thing though. The older one is a firebender and the younger is an earthbender. I hope you get to meet them soon.
We're moving to Republic City very soon. I hope to see you all very soon. There are so many stories that I want to tell you guys when we get there. We'll have to sit down and exchange stories over a cup of tea.
Always thinking of you, your daughter, Ren.
Katara grinned at Zuko as she finished reading the letter. His eyes were already bright and proud. "Two grandsons already," she said, hugging the letter to her chest as if her were Ren herself, "She's grown up so much."
"And she's gotten married," Zuko said thoughtfully, stroking his chin, "I'm going to have to meet this boy and make sure he's good enough for her."
"Zuko, he's a man, not a boy," Katara reprimanded, punching him in the arm, "Be a little kinder to your Daughter's husband will you? Geez."
"Well, excuse me for not approving of a boy I haven't met yet," Zuko retorted, starting up their usual banter with fury, "And shouldn't you be just as concerned. She's your daughter too. Not just mine alone. It doesn't work like that."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down people. Daughter? Your guys' daughter? How does that even work? You two have never had a daughter!" Sokka shouted, ending their banter in its tracks before it could even really start up.
The two went dead silent. They stared at him with wide eyes. "Oh, uh, that's right. We promised to tell them about Ren," Katara sighed, running a hand through her hair, "Where to start? Where to start?"
"How about at the beginning?" Suki prompted, looking more than interested. Sokka stared had at them, suspicion crawling in his eyes. Aang looked hesitant like he was afraid to be hurt.
Kya sighed loudly, bored. She'd already figured this story out a while ago.
Toph groaned loudly, throwing her arms up and falling back onto the floor. "Just get on with it already! Talk fast if you have to. You're killing me over here!"
"Alright! Calm your ovaries! Let us think for a moment," Katara spat back, glaring at Toph.
"How 'bout you heat yours up a bit more and get on with it," Toph retorted, smirking at Katara.
Katara let out a growl of annoyance. "Fine. Fine! When Aang was gone for more than a year and a half Zuko and Toph always came to visit me and keep me company," she started, making Aang flinch at her harsh tone.
Toph let out a loud laugh. "Maybe a little too much company," she commented, her smirk deepening.
"Shut up, Toph. No one asked you," Katara shot back, narrowing her eyes at Toph, "Anyway, one day, Zuko came by and brought some plum wine. We had a little too much to drink, and one thing led to another. Three months I figured out definitely that I was pregnant. Ren, our daughter, was the result."
"Wait! How did you hide her from us all these years?" Sokka cried, throwing his hands up in the air, "You can't hide a child! It's not possible!"
"We didn't hide her. Iroh took her. She's been living with him since she was nearly a year old. That's why every chance Zuko and I got we would go to the Earth Kingdom and visit Iroh and Ren. Since you guys never came with us besides Toph, none of you ever found out. Well, no one except for Kya who only met her a couple times," Katara explained, glaring at no one in particular. She crossed her arms hard over her chest.
Aang, Suki, Lin and Sokka stared at her with wide, shocked eyes. Their mouths were agape.
"Aren't you guys going to say anything? Aren't you guys going to get mad or depressed or disappointed? Do something! Say something! You guys are making me nervous and mad," Katara said, turning her glare on the four in front of her.
They all shook her head and grinned sheepishly. Aang scratched the back of his head, looking a little sad. "I'm a little sad that you guys didn't tell me, but I guess we all sort of figured something like this happened. Not something this big, but something. You acted a little weird when I came back, and there was always this air between you two," Aang said, not looking at either of them.
"I'm sorry that we never told you," Katara said, standing and walking around to Aang. She wrapped her arms around him. "I still love you. I'm not going to say that Ren was a mistake because she wasn't and never will be, but I love you and always will." She smiled into his neck, kissing the side of his neck.
"I know, Katara," Aang said, placing his hand over hers and smiling, "I love you too."
"Ugh! You guys are giving me the oogies," Sokka groaned, sticking his tongue out at them.
"Get a room!" Toph shouted, pushing herself back into a sitting position.
Katara grinned and stood. "I'm
going to go take a walk," she said, heading for the door. The cool night air slapped her in the face, making her cheeks burn. She could smell rain in the air, and wondered for not the first time where her daughter was. She tromped down to the beach, staring over the water.
"Katara," came Zuko's voice from behind her. She didn't turn around as he placed his hands on her shoulders. "You know it was for the best. They're not mad, and everything is alright. It may be a little awkward for a while, but it's still the same."
"I know that. I was just wondering where she is right now. What she's doing? Who's she with?" she said, turning to smile at him.
"I wonder that often, but I'm sure she'll be fine. She is our daughter after all," he said with a shrug, squeezing her shoulder.
Katara grinned. "She's the testament to something that could have been, but isn't completely forgotten," she said, raising her arms up and stringing them around his neck. She pushed up on her tip toes and pressed her lips to his.
With a smile, he pulled her closer against his body. "A testament to something that will never be forgotten," he corrected.