By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
@Katara | Jan 30
Zuko had been here for a few days, learning all about this new world and trying to figure out what he was going to do next. Of course, the world decided to throw something else at in him the form of a dragon named Druk, who had bonded with his adult self, or so he managed to find out.
Everything was far too confusing and messy, so him and Druk had headed to the beach. The red male dragon lay on the sand, soaking up the winter sun while Zuko took a dip in the waters. All he was wearing was shorts which were colored red that he had on when he arrived. They had been under his robes when he had been pulled here.
There was a little bit of frustration on his end, considering he was close to getting information on the whereabouts of his mother who was actually alive. Now he would never know, and the thought saddened him, as well as angered him especially thinking about his father.
That white hot anger abated the moment his golden eyes found her, and it felt like a wash of calm settling into his bones that the cool ocean waters could not provided. Walking from the frothy waters onto the sand, his voice was soft, cautious, "Katara?"
Katara had been in Pandora for about a week at this point, and had very quickly settled on the Crystal Vales as the easiest place to adapt to. It was the place that reminded her most of home, and with Cascade Bay settled right on the coast with a massive body of water to one side, the only thing that was missing was ice. And, quite frankly, she could get used to this far more moderate climate.
It was nice not having to worry about frostbite if she left the house for too long without her gloves.
Somewhat less nice was having to live at the orphanage because she was just a little too young to be considered an ‘adult’ here—especially since the Children’s Home in Cascade Bay may well have been haunted, and Katara hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep since hearing the rumors—but it would work at least as a temporary measure before she found out more about this place. Maybe she’d even adapt to the odd technology of some of the other regions here. But that was a problem for future!Katara—at the moment, she was pretty content to spend most of her time at the beach.
And then she saw the dragon.
It took a moment for that familiar voice to register—because…. there was a literal dragon right in front of her—but when it did, Katara spun around, and her eyes lit up as a wide grin spread across her face. “Zuko?”
Then she was sprinting across the sand, practically throwing herself into his arms as she pulled him into a hug—possibly a little tighter than necessary, but that was because some part of her was worried that if she let go, even for a second, he’d disappear again. “Spirits, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again,” she murmured into his shoulder, her eyes welling with sudden tears of relief.
She’d been, perhaps purposefully, studiously ignoring the pang of homesickness that had been threatening to overwhelm her. But somehow it seemed much more manageable with Zuko—warm and real and solid—right in front of her.
Zuko may have felt a little bit okay at the thought of being here, but seeing Katara made it feel more like home than home ever did - the Fire Nation had started to turn around yet Katara wasn't there. He'd gotten so used to her presence that without it, he felt cold.
"It's good to see you too, Katara," he spoke, his voice full of warmth and a little lighter, as if her being here had anything to do with how at ease he felt - and let's be honest, it really was. Still, he said nothing as he held her close to him, not even willing to deny her a hug like this, feeling honored that she would hug him.
Never would he take this for granted ever again. Growing up, the only comfort he had ever gotten from was both from his mother and his Uncle Iroh. Without them, he'd been lost in a sea of ice cold shoulders. Only Azula had gotten any warm emotions from their father, while he had to reach out from the shadows. Now? Now he felt that warmth of the sun, from his friends, from her.
"I'm glad you're here. I've missed you." The honest confession may have left him vulnerable, but he had already started to learn that it was okay, and that he had people around him that understood.
It hadn’t quite hit her, until right this moment, everything she’d left behind when the vines had dragged her into Pandora.
Barely a week had passed, and there was probably a lot of it she would be able to put down to sheer denial. The inability to process losing everyone—her father and brother, Zuko, Aang and Toph and Suki—and, perhaps, the vain home that somewhere in this world she’d find them. But the more she learned about this world as the days passed, the less likely it seemed. Some people could go years, or more, without ever seeing people from their home worlds.
Then she went to the beach, and just practically tripped over one of the most important people in her life.
And a dragon.
She couldn’t help a weak chuckle as she finally pulled back, brushing the moisture from her cheeks before looking up at him, her bright blue eyes softening when the met his golden gaze. “I missed you too,” she said, a faint blush rising in her cheeks. “I was beginning to worry…” She trailed off, shaking her head—Zuko was here, in front of her. She could worry about the rest later. But right now-
Zuko couldn't help it. When she said she missed him too, his heart swelled. She missed him! To some it might seem stupid to feel so giddy about it, but the fact was she cared. There'd been a time when she was wary and angry with him, which had been fair since he'd pretty much betrayed the entire group. Back then he had been confused.
No longer was that the case.
"Worry about?" Zuko asked, looking with golden eyes deep into ocean blue. He was fire, she was water, they were opposites and he was drawn to her all the same.
When she asked about Druk, he chuckled a little sheepishly. "That is a dragon. His name is Druk. He's from my future." There was something humbling about having a dragon choose you, and he knew just how lucky he was in that regard. "Do you want to meet him? He won't hurt you." Zuko sensed that Druk knew how important Katara was to him, and the elder dragon wouldn't hurt anyone that the firebender cared about.
It had only been a week since Sozin’s Comet—for Katara, anyway. She remembered the ball of fire in the sky, crossing the horizon as she healed Zuko from the lightning that had been meant for her. She remembered the relief she felt, after those few heart-stopping moments where she worried she hadn’t gotten to him in time. But then she’d been dragged into an entirely different universe, and somehow everything that happened back home felt like another lifetime.
And it seemed that much more bearable with a piece of home here with her. Someone who remembered everything she did. Someone she’d been through so much with.
It felt like so much more than a few months since Zuko had joined their group at the Western Air Temple, and Katara had been so adamant against trusting him. He’d earned her trust a thousand times over, and right at this moment, she couldn’t imagine trying to tackle this place—this existence—without him.
(He felt like home. But she wasn’t sure what to make of that, not now, not yet, and so she pushed it away, instead flashing him an excited grin, and turning towards the dragon.)
“Your future?” she asked, almost distractedly, her attention largely focused on the massive winged reptile standing only a few yards away. “He’s beautiful, Zuko,” she managed, slightly breathlessly. There had been legends of dragons, of course, some more exaggerated than others, but something about the sheer size and obvious power at once excited and scared her, the way any prey animal might cower before the awesome, slightly terrifying beauty of a polarbear wolf. Without really thinking, Katara reached for Zuko’s hand with one of her own, clenching it tightly.
“I thought the Dragon Masters you faced with Aang were the last of their kind,” she murmured, transfixed and slightly in awe. “How did you find him?”
For Zuko, it had been a little longer. He'd come from after the coronation of him becoming Fire Lord, demanding answers from his father who had been stripped of his bending and put in prison.
Seeing Katara pushed away all those thoughts about his father, focusing on her because she was far more important than the man who had forced his own son to participate in an Agni Kai. Katara, who was like a breath of fresh air and warmth and kindness, who had saved his life after he'd taken that bolt of lightening.
There were no regrets. He would take another bolt if it meant protecting her, protecting one of the few good and amazing things in his life.
Druk was old enough that one would think compliments like this would be just another day. He might not have puffed out his chest in pride as he would of when he was a younger dragon, but he did have a gleam in his eyes at the words.
Holding her hand as they walked towards Druk, Zuko replied to her words. "Present me found him only a day after I had arrived here. As for my future self, apparently I was worthy enough for him. Dragons are still critically endangered. I hope one day they'll thrive." Zuko would make sure of that, although the sad thing about that would be they might be hunted again.
"Would you like to ride him?" Zuko asked, already knowing Druk was okay with it, even as the dragon came a little closer and lowered his head towards Katara.
There was… a lot, hanging in the air between them—from Katara’s perspective, it had only been a week since the Agni Kai, since Zuko had nearly died for her, but for him it seemed like it had been longer. There were questions, too—what happened to Ozai? Did Aang win? Was Zuko crowned Fire Lord?—but all of it paled in comparison to two facts: Zuko was here, with her, safe, his hand warm in hers; and they were standing in front of an actual, literal dragon.
At that point, did anything else really matter?
(Well, it did, and it would, but it could also wait. From everything Katara had heard, Pandora was… more or less long-term. And if everything worked out ok back home, then as much as she missed Sokka and the others, she’d be ok.)
She nodded as Zuko explained out he met Druk, absently shifting her hand in his to lace their fingers together, squeezing his hand for comfort as they approached the magnificent creature. “Ride him?!” Her voice came out in a squeak, and her cheeks flushed with embarrassment, but her eyes were bright with excitement as she turned to Zuko. “Can I? Really?”
"Of course! He doesn't mind and neither do I. He knows how much I care about you." The words were out before he could take them back, and he would simply act as though it was born from a friendship and not the fact that he was deeply head over heels for her.
Right? Ha, anyone that knew Zuko would know the truth, no matter how much he tried to act otherwise. As much as he loved Katara, he also knew how much the Avatar loved her too and who would pick him over the Avatar?
As he adjusted the saddle, Druk adjusted his position so that Zuko could help Katara up - he figured she would want to go alone at first so that was why he remained by one of Druk's legs. "It feels a little scary, even if you're used to Appa. But he won't let you fall. You're safe with him."
Her smile widened—not just at the idea that she was about to ride a literal dragon, but at the not-so-subtle implication that Zuko had talked to Druk. About her. There was a shivery sort of warmth in the pit of her stomach at his words—he cared about her, and that rang true and real for her in a way that would probably bear examination… later.
Right now, she was content to just be with him, in this new world. With a dragon.
A dragon she was going to ride.
Katara held onto Zuko’s hand as he helped her up into the saddle on Druk’s back—it seemed easily large enough to fit the two of them, which was part of why she didn’t let go of his hand at first and, in fact, looked down at him with an expression of mild confusion. “Aren’t- aren’t you coming, too?” she asked, a slight crease between her brow.
Not just because she was slightly nervous about riding a dragon for the first time ever—although that was part of it—but because she’d… kind of been imagining that this was another first she’d have with Zuko, not apart from him.
Golden eyes blinked a few times. "You want me to come with you?" He asked, though he already knew the answer.
Making sure she was secure, Zuko leaped up, careful not to bump her, and sat down, the seat familiar and the saddle warm and worn with use. After asking if she was ready, and to hold on, Zuko gave Druk the signal.
Wings unfurled, legs pressed against the ground as Druk used them to spring up and in the air.