- "You might have everyone else buying your... "transformation", but you and I both know you've struggled with doing the right thing in the past. So let me tell you something right now. You make one step backward, one slip up, give me one reason to think you might hurt Aang, and you won't have to worry about your destiny anymore. Because I'll make sure your destiny ends, Right then and there."— Katara
The first installment of the fic, Stalking Zuko, begins a few days after Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Western Air Temple", in which Zuko has been accepted into the Gaang, save for Katara.
Katara begins stalking and writing a diary on Zuko in order to see if she can catch him doing anything suspicious and learn his weaknesses. She calls him "Subject" to keep it confidential(although he'd know in a moment if he found her diary) distance herself from him, saying that "Subject will not endear himself to me again!" In any case, for the sake of clarity, and because I don't do things Katara's way, he and all other characters will be called by their proper names.
Katara then writes about Zuko's mother Ursa (whose name Katara doesn't know), conceding that she's missing and might be dead, but Katara thinks she got tired of Zuko's whining and ran off, which, even considering she admits it's "bitchy", is a low blow. It's also somewhat Harsher in Hindsight considering that in The Search, it turns out that Ursa abandoned the memories of a children for a new life, believing that she would never see them again, although I am actually more sympathetic toward Ursa than most.
Katara then notices that Zuko wakes up early, gets along well with Toph, and trains Aang in spite of the fact that Aang isn't the most diligent student and Zuko's own firebending is off. These details are nice touches, and appropriate considering this is about Katara's observations of Zuko. Katara is about to engage in some schadenfreude regarding Zuko's inability to firebend, but notices that he never smiles, an interestingly somber moment at the end of the observations.
In the next scene, apparently the next day, Katara is stuck doing the dishes, when Zuko comes in to help, over Katara's objections, and after some exchanged barbs, with Katara noting Zuko's betrayal at Ba Sing Se in their diary (it's perhaps a misnomer, as it can be argued that it was a case of Zuko choosing to keep opposing the Gaang, rather than choosing to help and going back on his word), Katara reluctantly accepts his help.
A word about the dialogue. Much of it, at least so far, appears to be Katara telling us about the conversations she's had, rather than showing them herself, not unlike what I'm doing in this liveblog, albeit with a different voice. This can be something of a cop-out for writers, but it can also be good at showing the dialogue from characters' perspective, as well as certain things about it from their point of view- their reactions, what they consider important, how they interpret the others' words and actions, and so forth.
Katara notes that Zuko feels bad about what happened, and again denies warming up to Zuko, denying that he will do so no matter how much he washes the dishes. After a few awkward attempts and an apparent Accidental Innuendo, Zuko asks for a truce, promising to help the Gaang if Katara doesn't hate him so much. Katara decides to think about it.
Some would be skeptical about how Zuko and Katara could ever be friends, much less a couple, at this point. To that, I say that stories like telling of how people overcame the impossible, and much like how an underdog sports team defeats the champion, or how La Résistance overthrows The Empire, people overcoming a strong dislike of each other to fall in love is a popular story. It certainly makes for good drama, but like other dramatic techniques, it can sometimes strain belief. Why would Katara get together with Zuko after everything he's done? And what will happen with her burgeoning relationship with Aang? Only time will tell for this fic.
What I liked:
- Good attention to detail
- Katara's perspective is an interesting touch.
What I didn't like
- Katara sometimes taking low blows at Zuko (saying his mother left him because she was annoyed with him, and enjoying his lack of firebending)