Zuko scuffed his feet lightly on the ground as they waited to enter the laser tag arena, only half listening to the lady’s instructions. His eyes trailed along the racks where the laser tag vests usually hung in mild annoyance until they fell on the rest of the group.
Toph held tightly onto the back of Sokka’s shirt, so he could act as her guide despite them being on opposite teams, and she occasionally bumped him with her gun, miming laser shots as the worker droned on. Sokka mimed back, slipping casually from his conversation with Suki to land a shot on her vest. Aang bounced on his toes excitedly and tugged on his yellow beanie, it would glow brightly under the blacklight and make him a noticeable mark in the dark arena.
Zuko grinned as he caught Suki eyeing the hat too, she glanced back at him and they nodded at each other, silently acknowledging the easy target.
His roaming gaze then fell to Katara.
Katara who listened attentively to the woman's guidance rules, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear as if she wouldn't be the first to shrug off the guidelines in the name of competition.
Her hair was loosely tied back and the blue of her eyes glowed deeply. She seemed almost ethereal, a goddess bathed in red as the lights reflected dangerously off her skin.
Katara caught him staring, her eyes slid to the side to take in the light casting soft shadows on his face, and he snapped his head around to stare at the empty racks against the wall instead. Zuko rubbed the back of his neck with a sweaty palm and laughed nervously when he heard Katara’s lilting chuckle, hoping she couldn't pick out the blush crawling across his cheeks through the red hues of the lights overhead.
Zuko jumped when Katara’s shoulder collided playfully with his and found his knees softening at the coy smile she threw his way.
He acknowledged distantly how the worker moved out of the way, speech done, and was jolted out of a sweet daydream of eyes like the roaring ocean and skin like bruising sunsets pressing down on him as a bell rang, signaling the beginning of the game.
They all ran into the arena whooping and cheering before splitting up, running off in different directions.
Zuko saw Aang speed up a ramp to get to higher ground and Suki disappear into the small maze below the main platform, ever stealthy. He followed cautiously after Aang, eyes latched onto his target with a ferocity he almost didn't know he had.
Two games later and in third on the leaderboards, Suki and Toph taking second and first respectively, he creeped through the maze underneath the main platform. Katara was close behind him in points. Too close, he thought.
Stepping quietly into a small alcove he raised his gun, moving cautiously through the doorway. He quickly looked over the small room but found nothing and lowered his arms, close to pouting. He turned around and didn't have enough time to react before his Katara threw herself into him, smiling freely.
He took in a breathe to yell his position out to his teammates but Katara was faster.
She lunged and pressed her lips to his harshly, a little forceful and inexperienced. He dropped his weapon on impulse and, after a moment of shock, wrapped his arms around Katara’s waist and pulled her in until bits of her vest dug into his stomach. He molded to her, as much as the clunky equipment would allow and he cautiously moved his mouth against hers, as if afraid he’d scare her away. He was melting under her fevered touch. Katara’s hands were gripping the back of his neck, her leg pushed between his own.
Wherever her skin met his it burned like an unrelenting itch, searing into his memory as if he was on fire and she, she was his lifeline, his one and only.
Zuko was a goner, drowning in the touch of her lips, the slight pressure of her hand on his neck, his hip. He was in love.
He thought he could stay there forever, locked in her embrace until the dull ring of the target on his vest went off.
‘Nice Shot!’ Zuko heard from hers.
He blinked once, twice, and pulled back. Suddenly crashing back to reality. Katara was smiling. No, smirking. And she had her gun pressed against his abdomen.
“Wait a seco-” Zuko started and Katara cackled. He couldn't help but admire the way she threw her head back as she laughed and fumbled for his own weapon in the dark as she bolted from the scene of the crime. “Katara!” He let out a strangled cry before his knees finally gave out and he sunk to the ground, sitting against the wall. He pressed a hand to his heart, smiling goofily. Spirits she was bad for his health, he mused.
The bell rang, sounding the end of their last round, and he found himself finishing in 4th after all. Just behind Katara.
A smirk tugged its way across his face. He reminded himself to thank Aang and Sokka for dragging them to this place, and vowed he’d take Katara here again.
“For a rematch.” Zuko told himself. Yes, definitely a rematch was in order.