all twisting metal stretching upwards,
everything washed in a thin orange haze -- -
-- - i said, "kiss me, you're beautiful, these are truly the last days."
you grabbed my hand and we fell into it,
like a daydream, or a fever.
She works for them, but not by choice, or even really for them -- they simply have, as Azula calls it, an "understanding." Newly-minted M.D. Katara Nerrevik, with a dying mother and ten years of student loans sucking at her shoes, is in desperate need of money, and the Yenrai family, with a criminal background and a list of people who need elimination, silencing, or profound suffering, need a doctor to clean up their injuries and messes.
It would work for both parties, except both parties loathe the other.
Katara is too good to be involved with criminals, and the Yenrai family are too wealthy and powerful to put up with a wet-behind-the-ears physician. But Katara is only one of many general practitioners in the city and her skills -- while certainly top-notch -- aren't particularly needed, and more established doctors with more established practices aren't desperate enough to take any of the Yenrai family's deals.
Azula constantly tells them that they should just threaten or blackmail the good doctors or medical examiners into helping them, but Zuko (and Iroh) feel like it's an unnecessary risk.
"If they're smart and powerful enough to have a high-ranking job like that, what do they have to fear from us?" he challenges her... or, he would challenge her if he didn't know exactly what her response would be -- that is, "let me show you what they have to fear from us," and frankly, Zuko has already cleaned up more of Azula's power trips and temper tantrums than any half-sane person should have to; inviting Azula to commit more crimes against humanity is officially the absolute last thing he needs to do right now.
So mostly he grumbles under his breath and tries, with increasingly dismal results, to keep her in check.
When the Avatar appears beside him at the bar, flushed and out of breath like she's been running, a sheen of sweat on her brow and eyes alight with something he doesn't recognize, he doesn't even know where to begin thinking. She's haphazardly dressed, clothes clinging and asymmetrical in ways that invite late-night thinking, but it's her eyes that really draw him in. Wide. Dark-circled and red-rimmed. Brilliant summer-sea blue -- without a hint of derision or pity.
He tries to look a little less drunk, but he can't will away the reek of bourbon or his wavering posture, even in the face of a beautiful woman who has obviously rushed to find him in some dive bar at an unreasonable time of night. He doesn't even like bourbon, but it's the strongest liquor he can buy with the little money he still has saved; even so, the smell is starting to make him nauseous, or maybe it's just the 100-proof whiskey sitting heavy in his veins. She falters when she reaches him, takes a deep breath and stops like that, mouth open but wordless.