(Author’s note: I don’t write fan fiction. I use some names that people may recognize, but don’t expect to read the characters you’re familiar with. I may make references and use specific attributes, but this story should for the most part stand on its own, even with all the names changed to something original)
Katara stayed with Zuko until his shift ended. After a short time he seemed to loosen up, and Momo seemed pleased at the effect she was having on him. Maybe this arrangement would work in Momo’s favor after all.
The manager smiled at Zuko half an hour before his first shift ended and said “go on, go home a bit early today. First days can be stressful.”
So he did, with Katara walking at his side.
“So where do you live?” the girl asked.
“Appalachian Hills, right across the street.”
“Oh really? I live there too, how come I’ve never seen you before?”
“Just moved. My parents bought a house from some widow on Wheeler Lane.”
“That house? It’s not too far from where I live. Old lady Linka’s been trying to get rid of it for months. I’m glad she found a buyer.” Katara had a solemn look on her face for a moment, then brightened. “Have you met your neighbors yet?”
“No, not yet. Who are they?”
Before Katara could answer, she burst out laughing.
“What is it?” Zuko asked.
Katara couldn’t respond verbally, all she could do was point. Zuko followed her finger to the large sign in front of their gated community: the one that usually said “Appalachian Hills.” But that’s not what it said now. Someone had vandalized it, removed half of the first word. Now the sign said “Appa Hills.”
“So someone messed up the sign,” Zuko said, “what’s so funny?”
Katara caught her breath and managed to get out a few words. “Appa. It just sounds so… *weird!*” She doubled up in laughter again, but regained control. “It sounds almost like, I don’t know, the name of some pack animal. Like maybe an elephant or a buffalo.”
Zuko chuckled. “Yeah, I guess that does sound kinda funny. Appa Hills. Like a whole countryside of those animals just roaming around.”
Katara waved at the guard by the gate, still grinning, as the two walked past. He waved back, and then she turned back to Zuko. “What if an Appa could fly?”
“Well, wouldn’t it be silly? A big prairie animal just flying around in the air, circling its hills?”
“I guess,” Zuko paused, “Maybe it would.”
“I’ll bet there are Appas all over this place, and we don’t know it because we never knew what one was before.”
“So maybe we should figure that out,” Zuko replied slyly.
With a triumphant smirk, Katara spun around and raced in the direction of ______, calling “We need to get some pen and paper to do this properly!”
Zuko just shook his head and followed her.