Halloween was one of Katara’s favorite holidays. It was a time where she got to dress up as whoever, or whatever she wanted. Ever since she was a child, she was fascinated by the tale of The Painted Lady. The Painted Lady was a benevolent water spirit of the town Jang Hui. Katara adored the idea of helping people, after all, she was a nursing major. She roped Toph and Suki into going with her to the annual Halloween party which in turn, Aang and Sokka would be coming too. If Sokka was attending, that meant Zuko probably was too. They were best friends and roommates.
Katara adjusted the brim of her hat as she looked at herself in the mirror. She smiled a bit, scanning over a picture of the Painted Lady once more. She wanted everything to be perfect so no one would have doubts as to who she was. Katara dipped her brush In the scarlet paint, then traced the patterns along her face to deepen them one more time. She placed the brush on a napkin and sighed in relief. Katara bounded down the stairs, staring at Sokka and Suki.
" What are you supposed to be?" Sokka asks, pointed a clawed hand.
" The Painted Lady, and you..?"
Suki piped up from beside Sokka. " bear and his victim" she giggled, motioning to the fake blood that was all over her.
" right, so are you ready?
Suki nods, adjusting her torn flannel slightly. " all ready to go. Are we picking up Toph and Aang?"
" no. Aang is picking her up"
" Any idea of what their costumes are?" Sokka asked.
" Aang sent me a snapchat of a bunch of gauze and medical supplies"
" So, he's a mummy?"
" probably. " Katara shrugs. " I think Toph is going as a zombie, you driving?"
" Yeah, then were gonna uber home. I'm getting shitfaced tonight.
" Oh" she raises her eyebrow, then followed Sokka and Suki into Sokka's piece of shit Jeep that he claimed was the greatest machine of all time.
Katara stepped into the doors of the gymnasium, wrinkling her nose at the scent of sweat and alcohol as countless of bodies slammed into her and grinded against her in efforts to get her to lighten up and join the fun. She moved away from the crowd, making her way to the table of punch- no doubt it was spiked with a concoction of alcohol that would surely fuck Katara up in the morning, especially if Mal made it.
Katara grabbed onto the ladle and dipped it into the punch then poured it into her cup. She took a long swig and nearly choked. Mai definitely made this batch. She was an expert mixologist.
Zuko made his way to the punch bowl. He was on his third cup already. he couldn't believe Azula dragged him to a party. It was Ty Lee, but Azula was trying to keep Ty Lee happy, which meant that Zuko got dragged along, despite his protests. He shoved the mask down so it was hanging loosely around his neck, standing next to the other person at the punch bowl.
" Hey" he said softly as he looked down at the female in the costume. Somehow she seemed familiar, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
" Oh, Katara, is that you?
Katara lifted her head, revealing her face from the brim of the hat. " in the flesh. this party really sucks, huh?"
" Well, the alcohol is really good" he chuckled a bit
" Thats true" Katara nods her head as she took a swig from her drink, staining the cup cherry red with lipstick.
Zuko stared at her. He couldn't deny she was beautiful, and her costume was almost perfect for her.
" Who are you supposed to be?"
Katara placed her hands on her skirts and spread them a bit as she twirled for him. " The Painted Lady, cant you tell with my painted face?"
Zuko squinted. Oh, that made sense and that would be how the costume looked familiar. " oh. Yeah, I can see." He nods his head.
" I assume you're some type of vigilante?" She asked, motioning to the swords on his back. He nodded in response. " The Blue Spirit"
Katara grinned. " cool" she smiled.
Ty Lee bounced over to Katara and Zuko, giggling as some of her beer sloshed over her outfit. She was dressed as Harley Quinn. Typical Ty Lee.
“ oh my spirits! You guys came in couples costumes! That’s so romantic!” She squealed, causing her pigtails to bounce.
Katara’s mouth dropped open as she shifted away from Zuko “ what are you talking about?”
“ The Painted Lady and The Blue Spirit!” Ty Lee sighed dreamily.
“ I don’t- they aren’t-“ Zuko stammered awkwardly. Despite his costume, it was clear that there was scarlet peaking up his neck and over his cheeks.
“ what are you talking about, silly? That’s adorable. I always knew you two had a thing for each other and now here you are, proclaiming your love for each other in costume! I’m totally voting for you two to win the ‘best couples category’ tonight”
“ Ty Lee, we are NOT dating” Katara sighed, feeling her cheeks flush
Ty Lee blinked in shock. “ so then why would you dress up as in a couples costume?”
“ we didn’t! It’s not like we did it on purpose! They aren’t even lovers”
“ didn’t you read the stories? They most certainly ARE lovers. " Ty Lee shakes her head as she pulled up a few images on her phone to show the pair various pictures of them.
Zuko scoffed. “ no. They aren’t. I chose this costume because he’s a vigilante. He’s badass" he was still not believing anything that Ty Lee was saying or showing them. Ty Lee was a bit of a romantic anyways, perhaps it was just a ruse to get the pair into dancing together or something so they didn't have to be alone like losers.
" Then why did you choose The Painted Lady, Katara?"
" She's a river spirit. She helps people and I want to help people. I adored her ever since I was a kid, okay? She huffed slightly. Ty Lee meant well, but spirits could she be persistent.
" Whatever you two say. I'm gonna dance. You should too!" She shrugged, turned tail and bounced her way onto the dance floor to find Azula and Mai.
" That was really awkward" Zuko mumbled
" No kidding. I didn't know they were considered to be lovers, I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable."
" Apparently so and don't worry about it. neither of us knew"
“ can I have everyone’s attention please?”
The announcer shouted as he tapped on the microphone.
Katara turned her head from where she was standing and bit her bottom lip. “ what is this all about?”
“ no clue.” Zuko shrugs and takes another sip of his drink. He felt the urge to get wasted become stronger and stronger by each passing second.
A sophomore named Korra and her girlfriend, a senior named Asami passed by Zuko and Katara “ oh! Look their costumes are so cute!” Asami giggled.
“ I know, that’s so romantic” Korra agreed, looping her arm with Asami’s. “ they’re totally gonna win best couple this year” she added.
Katara closer her eyes, sighing deeply. “ we aren’t-“ she tried to explain, but the pair had already walked away. Katara made her escape, trying to distance herself from Zuko as much as possible. She did not want more people to think they were lovers, so she headed to the dance floor to hopefully mingle with literally anyone else.
“ hey, why are you and Zuko dressed up in couples costumes, I didn’t know you were dating” Aang said as he began to dance alongside her. “ Aang, were not dating. It was a coincidence!” She huffed, tugging on a bit of cloth from his mummy costume in a teasing manner
“ hey it took me two hours to wrap myself up” he swatted at her hand gently. “ coincidence? You have everyone at this party fooled. You should hear what they’re saying about you two. Ty Lee is even calling you guys ‘ Zutara’ “
“ what is...”
“ Zuko.. and Katara..” he held his hands out for emphasis and then clapped them together “ that makes Zutara. It’s a ship name! Come on, Katara. Don’t you go on Twitter and instagram? “
“ yeah, but I don’t really care about people shipping others, I have more important things to deal with." She protested.
“ well, I guess it’s stuck with you two now”
“ come on! Help me make it go away! “
“ I can’t!” He sighed and began to shimmy away from Katara. " it's stuck with you forever. Guess ya have to deal with it."
Katara groaned in frustration once more. How was this happening? She came out to have a good time, and honestly she was feeling so attacked right now. Why would someone ship Zuko with her? What even did that mean?
" Wow you and Zuko have such good costumes" another girl, named On Ji complimented. Katara facepalmed mentally and put on a fake smile. " thank you" she choked out.
" I wish my boyfriend would do romantic things like dress up for halloween with me" she sighed. " anyways, I'll see you in Lab on Tuesday" she waved goodbye at Katara.
" See ya, On Ji"
Zuko made his way to the other side of the dance floor only to be bumped into by Jet. Jet gave him a wolfish grin. " dude, you're with Katara? No way! Congrats man. She's hot. I tried to get her to date me for a whole year. " he groaned. Zuko nearly spit his drink in Jet's face.
" We aren-"
" Shy about your girlfriend, I see? That's okay. Not everyone is so open with their relationships. It takes balls to go out in public at a party like this, especially since it's the most popular party at the University." he slapped Zuko on the back. ' fucking shit, how the hell does everyone think we're together' he screamed inside his head.
" Uh, thanks. I guess?" He choked out awkwardly. Agni save him.
“ Welcome ladies and gentleman to the 16th annual Halloween Bash, now the time has come to announce this year’s winners for the Halloween Costume Contest. there were some interesting candidates this year"
Katara completely zoned out during this until the couples costumes were announced “ Katara and Zuko as The Painted Lady and The Blue Spirit!”
Katara’s head snapped up. “ what?” She mumbled. Zuko flushed as he stared at The announcer with wide eyes. They won a ‘ couples contest?’ They weren’t even a couple! He somehow managed to get close to her once more, after Katara nearly sprinted away from him.
" Aw damn, we lost to my sister and Zuko?" Sokka whined from his spot.
" Don't be shy you two! Go get your prize!" Suki nudged Katara to the stage stairs. Katara and Zuko walked on stage and smiled at the crowd uncomfortably. How many people at this damn party shipped them?
" Congrats you two! Smile for the picture!" The announcer smiled. Katara and Zuko were unceremoniously shoved closer together as their picture was taken.
Katara stares in disbelief at Ty Lee before shouting “ you absolute whore, how could you do this to us!” She shrieked in frustration as she walked off stage. She was boiling with anger.
Ty Lee giggled a bit and bounced on the balls of her feet once more. “ you’re the most popular couple, clearly. I was not the only one who thought so apparently"
“ for the last time we are NOT-“ Zuko began to protest, but got cut off by Toph.
“ come on and just kiss already. I know you both like each other!” Toph blurted from beside Ty Lee. Spirits, when the hell did Toph show up again?
“ traitor” Katara hissed, glaring at her best friend.
Toph shrugged " shouldn't have worn matching costumes then"
" FOR THE LAST DAMN TIME WE DID NOT PLAN THIS!" Katara screamed at Toph and Ty Lee.
Zuko stared down at Katara. “ they won’t stop bugging us about it unless we kiss. What harm will it do?” he suggested.
Katara had a thousand of ideas swarming her head, but perhaps he was right. He wasn’t unattractive, quite the opposite actually. “ well.” She bites her lip shyly.
Zuko tilts her chin up gently and smiled “ I won’t force you, Katara. If you say no, then we don't have to, but it seems as if we have an awful lot of fans"
“ no.. no it’s okay..” she smiled shyly back at him. “ one kiss isn’t gonna hurt, right?”
Zuko nods and smiled, leaning down and pressing his lips to hers. Katara swore she felt electricity go through her body as she kissed him with fervor. Their mouths moulded together perfectly and their tongues slid against each other in a dance for dominance
After they pulled away, Katara flushed deep red. One kiss did hurt. She was now falling head over heels for Zuko. One of her brother’s best friends. She wanted to slap and hug Ty Lee at the same time. Ty Lee squealed once more from her spot next to Azula " oh my gods! Zutara is happening"
" What the hell is a Zutara?" Azula asked, wrinkling her nose in distaste
" Your brother and Katara, silly!"
" They finally had the balls to ask each other out?" Azula asks curiously.
Ty Lee giggled.