Wordcount: Um, shortish.Summary: Like moving through sand, he brought his other hand up to rest on her hip, his thumb stretching toward her bare stomach. "This," she whispered, "is your blood." Her hand slid from the cut on Zuko's lip down to his chin, then his throat. "This is your breath. And this," Katara continued, "is your heart."Zuko brought one hand from the floor and touched the dark, warm palm over his chest. His other remained at his side, nails digging into the rug. Above him, straddling his abdomen, Katara watched him lace their hands together."It's not, anymore. I told you, it's yours if you want it.""I don't believe you," Katara said. Her thighs were sweating with the contact of his bare stomach; she was in her training garments and he was in almost nothing at all--only a dark, blood-colored waist cloth that until this moment she hadn't known he wore under his traveling clothes. He looked at her seriously, earnestly, faithfully. That Prince Zuko could be so sincere and wholehearted in his devotion would not have surprised anyone who gave thought to his history, but Katara found it difficult to look objectively at anything regarding the fire prince. She was taken aback, in moments like this, at the forcefulness of belief in Zuko's voice when he gave her promises."Let me make you believe it," he said. "Let me... let me show you." Like moving through sand, he brought his other hand up to rest on her hip, his thumb stretching toward her bare stomach. He dipped the edge of one finger beneath her wrapping, just the slightest infiltration, and sought to maintain eye contact even when she shifted in surprise, her free hand landing on his shoulder.Zuko smiled a small grin, a little sad and a little hungry. "This is it. Tomorrow, everything changes.""Everything always changes," she replied, but her tone had lost of a shade of its confidence. Part of her mind, the corner that liked to fight and liked to bend and wanted to believe the boy beneath her, was examning the offer. Turning it over and over in figurative hands, wondering if he was really asking what she thought he was asking, and if she should be honest in answering. "I didn't come in here for this," Katara said. "I wanted to fight."Zuko shrugged, and she felt the movement travel right up through her hips and into her center. She had to surpress the little gasp that wanted so desperately to bubble up and betray her reaction."We did fight," he said. His left hand was still on her waist, and his fingers took up a smooth, circular motion on her skin. His right hand--the hand that covered her hand that covered his heart--squeezed. "You won." "Why are you being so quiet?" she asked. "Why aren't you trying to argue with me? Why are you...saying these things."Zuko shrugged again, and she felt it again. He said honestly, "I'd rather be with you like this than fight you anymore.""What makes you think," Katara replied, and she didn't have to force herself much to growl, "that I won't punish you for asking me this? You're talking about my honor, and yours, and my brother would understand if I killed you for suggesting it.""I trust you," said Zuko. He didn't rise to the bait anymore, because she had dangled death in front of him since he joined, and Zuko knew Sokka's opinion would never hold Katara back. It might, perhaps, push her forward."Well I don't trust you," she said, but he smiled again, because he knew that she was lying, at least a little bit. Even so, it didn't matter if she trusted him like that or not, because she already trusted him like this: in her power, relying on her to be good. And trust was the key to someone like Katara. It had taken Zuko a long, painful time to discover that trust could be as powerful when given as when received, but he understood Katara better than he even understood himself. All he had to do was give."I trust you anyway."Katara looked into his eyes, bit her bottom lip, and leaned forward to rest her forehead on his. Her hand slid from his heart until both blocked his peripheral vision. She gripped the carpet threads beside his head, and breathed out onto his cheek."Now," she said, still staring into him. "Before I lose my nerve."For an instant, quicker than a snake's coil, the prince's eyes changed, and she thought he would argue with her. He had been so calm, and so certain, but she nearly had him. The day she couldn't rile Zuko was the day she-- but no, she couldn't finish that thought. Not even to herself.His gaze seemed to clear, and Zuko quirked that tiny, hated, beautiful smile, and took a deep breath against her skin. The scents flooded him with hazy sensation and wove into his memory. Sweat, leather oil, the sage and anise soap she'd smuggled from the Fire Nation village for her hair, crushed mango from dessert hours prior. "Now, then," he agreed, and she knew that day was today.******Part Two will follow soon. Well. Whenever I get up my nerve. Also, goddamn these songs.
I vote NOT an acceptable substitute. Eyes are eyes. Irises are contractile muscle tissue.
::sigh:: You know, I think on some level I knew before I typed the question.Things I wish there were more synonyms for:eyesfingershandsnowhairrunjustAt least I didn't use "orbs". I often tell myself that a fic can be good or bad, but as long as it doesn't use "orbs" for "eyes" there's still hope.