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Fly Out

Chapter Text

Her eyes search the departure board quickly, looking for the name of her home town amidst the names of the other destinations. At the end of almost every row there is the same word flashing in capital letters: DELAYED. She swallows as she spots the United Nations Airlines section. There's a knot in her stomach, and for a moment she debates on whether she really wants to look down the board. Doing that wouldn't fix the situation, she knows that. So like a big girl, she follows the Southern Tribes row, stopping when her gaze reaches the Departure time. Like all the others the banner, 'DELAYED. AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS' rolls across the screen. Her shoulders fall and tears well in her eyes. She just wants to go home.

In all fairness, she knew something like this would probably happen. Traveling during the winter, especially so close to the holidays, was hectic. The airports were always overcrowded, people's tempers would run high, and stress was at a max. Add bad weather into the mix and things got downright nasty. If things were this bad in Republic City, she didn't even want to think about how things were fairing at home. With disappointment clogging in her throat, Katara makes her way to the gate to wait out the storm.

It's already packed, no surprise, but somehow she manages to weasel into a spot leaning against the glass wall that overlooks the runways. Behind her back, the winds beat against the glass at speeds of 70 miles per hour, whipping snow and ice at damaging speeds. Dimly she can see the hazy glow of the opposite terminal across the runway, but the snow makes everything seem so much farther away. The fact that she can hardly see anything outside of a two foot radius just makes the pit in her stomach grow, because if she can't see anything then how is a pilot supposed to fly?

How long she sits there, just watching the snow against the night sky, she isn't sure. Her laptop sits in her lap abandoned, the screen black after finally going into sleep mode. She had watched a movie after the first delay, started another after word of the second but had quickly lost interest in the plot. Watching the snow was more entertaining. Her phone is what finally draws her away. In her pocket she can feel her phone buzz to life, and she scrambles to reach it. It was just a text, but her brother's name stands out on the screen and it brings a smile to her face. The message was nothing funny, but the way he texts makes her want to laugh. Sokka was firm in his beliefs that he didn't need a new age phone, and insisted on using a tiny, impossible flip phone. It had reduced his texts to mere letters; he shorthanded just about everything he could.

"Whr r u? Flgt supp 2 b hr 2 hr ago" it reads, and it takes her a few moments to figure out what exactly he was trying to say.

"Delayed. Twice. Just go home for now. I'll text you when I get another update. Tell everyone I say hi." She responds back after finally decoding his message. 'You should have sent word sooner' she thinks as she stares at the screen awaiting his response, finally noting the time. 11:30. Her flight delayed twice, three hours each time. They had probably been at the airport waiting for her for a good hour or two by then.

"Scks 4 u. D n GG say hi" his answer appears in a few seconds, causing her to paint a funny picture in her head. If Gran Gran was there, it probably meant Pakku was as well. And if Gran Gran had managed to get Pakku to come to the airport, she couldn't imagine who else she had been able to wrangle into coming along, probably the whole tribe. Picturing them all standing around waiting made her grin. Dad was probably being Dad; stoic and more likely than not, worried out of his mind. Gran Gran would be telling him to relax, that Katara 'is a big girl. She can handle herself just fine.' Pakku and Sokka would be arguing about something meaningless. As much as she loves her family, they can be annoying, and she feels sorry for whoever else has been at the airport during their stay.

After that, her phone is silent and she takes it as their conversation ending. She removes her headphones from the jack in her computer and moves them to her phone, tapping the music app open and setting it to her sleeping playlist. If a movie can't hold her attention, she might as well sleep. And since the weather doesn't look like it will be calling it quits anytime soon, she assumes it's safe to nap. Then Came the Morning is the first song to fill her head, and within a few measures she can already feel herself drifting off. She must have been more tired than she originally thought. Letting the worries of delayed flights slip over her, Katara allows her mind to slip into the stillness of sleep.

Until it isn't still. And there is a foot tapping the bottom of her foot, and she has to pry one eye open, and then the other, to address the interruption. Standing in front of her is a grumpy man. Well, maybe not a man. He looks far too young to be considered a man. Men weren't her age, men were people like her father. The guy in front of her, with a scowl on his thin lips and a burn marring the left side of his face, was certainly nothing like her father. He seems to be saying something, judging by the way his lips move. Obviously he hasn't seen her earphones or the cord hanging down from her ears to her phone. Rolling her eyes, Katara sits up from her somewhat hunched over position and removes a earbud to speak.

"Come again?" She asks in the nicest voice she can manage. There is an urge to bark at him about waking sleeping people in public, but she bites it back down. He seems surprised, or slightly embarrassed, once he sees her headphone because he opens and closes his mouth quickly as if he were confused.

"I asked if you could move over. I need the outlet." He says back finally, motioning with a nod of his head to the small unused outlet at her side. A simple request, and one she can great easily. Scooting over to her left, she makes room for him to squeeze in. It's a tight fit, but he manages and Katara can't really complain because being in tight quarters with a somewhat attractive guy isn't the worst place she could be. There is a moment of silence between the two of them as the newcomer gets himself righted, with laptop charging and in his lap.

"I'm Katara." She says finally, clearing her throat and offering him a small smile. She seems to catch him off guard, again, because he seems puzzled.

"I'm Zuko. Pleasure to meet you." His greeting is formal. All Katara can think is that if he continues to be so formal and uptight, she is in for a long night.

"Nice to meet you too."