Author: LuminiaAravis PM
Katara only woke up Aang by accident. What would have happened if she hadn't, and instead, Zuko found the boy in the iceberg? Hints of Zukaang. T just to be safe. Updated chapters included!Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Zuko & Aang - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,231 - Reviews: 27 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 34 - Updated: 09-16-10 - Published: 09-13-10 - id: 6321414
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hey, everyone! This is the second version of this chapter; new, improved, and hopefully a little less OOC! Thanks for staying with me for this one :)
There was no more after that wave. There was cold. There was dark. There strains of life were absent. There was death. And then it all ended.
One Hundred Years Later.
Two children are sitting in a canoe among ice floes, trying to catch fish. They are a boy and girl; brother and sister. They start to argue, as brothers and sisters often do. "Ugh! Why is it that every time you play with magic water I get soaked?" says the boy.
"It's not magic. It's waterbending, and -" replies the girl.
"Yeah, yeah, an ancient art unique to our culture, blah blah blah. Look, I'm just saying that if I had weird powers, I'd keep my weirdness to myself."
"You're calling me weird? I'm not the one who makes muscles at myself every time I see my reflection in the water." A current catches their canoe, and they paddle furiously to avoid being smashed. Luckily, they make it out of the rapid and drift back to their village, although without having caught a single fish.
But the current has unearthed an unusual iceberg. It is almost perfectly spherical in shape, like a globe, and has a delicate, swirled texture all around it, very unlike the other icebergs around it. It rides the gentle waves buoyantly, alone.
About half an hour after, another vessel comes to the iceberg. It is a steam-ship, gunmetal gray and belching smoke into the air. Aboard it is a young man who is not from these wintry parts, but in search of something very particular, and very far away from his home. He spots the unusual iceberg.
"Uncle," he calls behind him, to a stout old man also on deck, "take a look at this!"
The old man rises and looks at what his nephew has seen. "That is unusual, Prince Zuko."
"Looks like a very powerful waterbender did that," Zuko remarks. "There haven't been waterbenders here for a hundred years. Do you think it might have been the Avatar?"
"Perhaps," Uncle replies. "Why don't we go see?"
"Put down the anchor!" Zuko yells. "And get a longboat ready! We're going over there!" Although the young man is unpopular with his crew, the men do as he orders. The boat is in the water within minutes, and Zuko stands before the iceberg shortly thereafter.
Two silhouettes are suspended within the ice: one of a human; and another is a great beast curled around him. "Open it," Zuko orders. But when a crewman goes to take a pick to the ice's surface, Zuko grabs his arm and stops him. "Wait," he says, his mind changed. "Let me do it." The young man puts his hands to the ice and heats his palms, causing the ice to shatter.
A great, blushing blue light explodes from the iceberg before them, knocking the entire crew down and into the freezing water. The light reaches all the way into the sky and does not end, it seems, for miles. The forms in the ice rise inside the light - the disturbance seems to be centered around the man inside, as his clothes are whipped about him in the wind, and the beast's fur is tossed around furiously.
As soon as it starts, it is over. A boy lies at the iceberg's feet, unconscious. He slips into the water.
Zuko struggles to keep his head above water, his limbs stiff and shaking with cold. He clamors to get to an ice chunk, pushing crew-men underwater and shoving them out of the way as he flails towards the iceberg. He has to kick hard to be able to grab it, and then his hands freeze to its surface.
"Aah! Appa!" A little orange-and-yellow something flies out of the sea and lands delicately on its feet on the iceberg. "Appa, where are you?" Something was lowing behind the walls of ice.
Zuko digs his fingernails into the iceberg and starts to haul himself out of the water completely. He stands up slowly, trying not to slip, and creeps his way to where the airbender had disappeared to in search of the mooing noise, his guard up, ready to fight anything that moved and capture it.
It is an old man, tall, with white hair, dressed in flowing monk's robes. His eyes start to glow as Zuko turns the corner, and a great wind stirs up around the two. Zuko is almost thrown back into the water, but somehow he holds his ground. The old Avatar might be terrifying, but he is no match for the young, furious blood that boils inside Zuko. Zuko strikes him down and the whirlwind ceases. The old man lies collapsed at Zuko's feet.
At first, Zuko almost misses the little boy. All he sees is sky bison, sky bison, and more sky bison. The little boy is petting its muzzle and hanging off its horns like a trapeeze-artist. "I missed you too, buddy," the little boy says.
Zuko almost drops his guard. "You there," he barks, "where did the old man go?"
The boy looks a little confused. "What old man?"
"The Avatar!" Zuko says impatiently. "Where did the Avatar go? I know he's here!"
The boy looks around shiftily for a moment before he replies: "Uh, there wasn't an old man here. Why would you think that?"
"Look, I know the Avatar's here!" Zuko shouts. "He made that blue light come out of the iceberg!"
"No he didn't," the boy stammers. "That was just Appa sneezing." The sky bison grumbled again.
Zuko raises an eyebrow. "You want me to believe that that thing sneezing made that humongous blue light and threw me and my crew in the water?"
"Yep," the boy says. "When Appa sneezes, he really sneezes. Trust me, you don't want to get in the way when his nose is itchy." He grins sheepishly and shrugs.
Zuko glares at the kid critically. "Okay. So, if that blue light was your bison sneezing, how did you get stuck in that iceberg in the first place?"
"Uh...there was a sea monster?"
"A sea monster."
"Yeah! A waterbending sea monster! It came up out of nowhere and tried to eat us, so me and Appa tried to dodge it, but it shot this ice beam at us and froze us solid!"
"Uh-huh. A waterbending sea monster."
"Yeah. So, then Appa sneezed."
"While he was frozen," Zuko says.
"Yep, that's what happened, hotman!"
Zuko grimaces. "Don't call me that! And you expect me to believe all of that nonsense about sea monsters?"
"Yep!" the boy says, cracking a strained smile. "So, what're you doing all the way out here at the South Pole, hotman?"
"Looking for the Avatar," Zuko growls.
"Oh. Well, I haven't seen him lately," the boy says.
"Lately?" Zuko asks. "You know the Avatar?"
"Yeah," Aang says. "What do you want to know?"
"I have orders to take him back to the Imperial City with me. The Fire Lord wants to see him."
"Well, you can tell me and then I can tell him!" the boy says.
"That won't do," Zuko says. "I need to tell him personally."
The kid tries to look innocent. "I cross my heart and hope to die that I'll tell him, hotman."
"I need to see him in person!" Zuko shouts. "What about that don't you understand?"
The boy throws his hands up. "Woah! I was just trying to help, hotman!" he says resignedly. "Don't get chilly on me!"
"Enough with the 'hotman' stuff!" Zuko yells. "And it's too late to not get chilly, because thanks to your bison and your make-believe sea monster, I'm already soaking!" Zuko huffs, fire flaring from his nostrils.
"Well, that's too bad," the boy says, climbing on the bison's head and taking up the reins. "Just how long have you been looking for the Avatar, anyway?"
"Almost three years," Zuko answers.
The child's face falls, brows and the corners of his mouth pulling down. "Why'd it take you so long to get here? Don't you know that the Avatar's an air nomad? How long did it take you to check all the air temples?"
"About three months," Zuko answers, looking pensively at his shoes. "But what were the odds that he would be hanging around? Nobody's seen hide nor hair of him since I started searching. No surprises there."
The boy slides off the bison's head. "He's been missing all this time?"
"Yeah," Zuko replies, turning away to see if everyone had gotten back to the ship safely. "And it's just my luck that I would run into you and not the Avatar." Zuko crossed his arms and slouched over. "This is ridiculous. I'm gonna need to pull out all the stops to find him. But the way things have been going lately, I don't think I'll ever catch up to him, wherever he is."
The boy puts a hand on Zuko's shoulder. "If you want, I can help you find him."
"Where do you propose I start looking, though? I've been through everywhere I can think of!"
"I don't know. But two heads are better than one, right, hotman? I'll help you. Between the two of us, there are a million different things that we haven't even thought of yet!" the boy says, clapping Zuko on the back. "We'll be unstoppable!"
"Sure, why not?" Zuko decides, standing up a little straighter. "Yeah. I am gonna need all the help I can get."
"Great!" the boy says enthusiastically. "So, when do we start, hotman?"
"As soon as you stop calling me that!"
"Sorry," the boy apologizes. "Only, what's your name?"
"My name's Aang," the kid says, sticking out a hand for Zuko to shake. When the prince takes the Avatar's hand, he feels a warm, bright pulse of life and energy emanating from it. It's almost frightening how full and pure his spirit is, and how easily his light and life flows from him.
"So...what about Appa?" Aang asks. "Can he come too?"
"I don't know. I don't have room for a sky bison on board, so he can come if he can fly alongside the ship and if you can find food for him."
"Sure!" Aang says brightly. "Appa won't slow us down, will you, buddy?" Aang shimmies up on top of Appa's head again and grabs the reins. "C'mon, Zuko! Appa can fly us back to the ship!"
"Are you sure that thing's safe?" Zuko asks, inching towards the bison tenatively.
"No safer way to travel," Aang replies confidently. "Just get in the saddle." Zuko has trouble climbing all the way up to Appa's back, slipping in his wet, matted fur. The saddle is large enough to hold five people easily, and is equipped for something like a long journey: There are woolen blankets, packages of dried vegetables, bread, and a walking-staff.
"Yip-yip!" Aang commands, and gives the reins a tug. The bison takes an enormous leap into the air, like it's really about to fly, but then lands belly-first in the water. "Appa's just tired," Aang explains. "So it might be a little while before he can fly again."
"We don't have time," Zuko insists. "We have to get out of this ice field before nightfall or my ship'll crash."
"Can't Appa stay on board for one night?" Aang begs.
"No!" Zuko shouts. "I won't have this giant, flea-ridden, soaking animal on my ship!"
"Well, then, Appa and I can just meet up with you in the morning!" Aang decides.
"Will you be able to find us?" Zuko asks.
"Oh. Probably not," Aang admits, as Appa rounds the corner of the big iceberg and Zuko's ship comes into view. The crew is all on deck, in various states of getting out of wet clothes and slipping into dry ones. They all stop in wonder and stare as Aang and Appa come into view, pointing and whispering to each other. "You know, if you're in a hurry to find the Avatar, then maybe bringing Appa won't be such a hot idea. I'll just send him home and see him when I get back."
"Okay, so that use of the word 'hot' was appropriate," Zuko remarks. Appa glides up alongside the ship and stops. Aang leaps off his head and lands lightly on the deck, making all the sailors jump. Zuko takes about a minute to clamber up the ladder on the side, his fingers sticking to each ice-cold rung. When he gets to the top, his uncle is there with a heavy blanket to toss over his nephew's shoulders, which Zuko pulls around him tightly, tucking it under his chin.
"We should get going," Zuko says to the crew at large. "We have to clear this ice field before dark." The sailors start to scamper around and take their posts, and within five minutes, the ship is moving again.
"Appa, I'll meet you at the temple!" Aang cries over the edge of the ship, waving his bison good-bye. "Say 'Hi' to Giyatso for me!" Appa lows sadly and starts to paddle away in the icy sea-water. Zuko is surprised to find himself feeling sorry for the little monk, leaving his bison behind to help him. He vows to himself that he will make Aang's journey worthwile, and repay him for parting with his friend.
"Aang, are you hungry?" Uncle asks.
"Only if you have something without meat in it," Aang answers. "I'm a vegetarian."
"We'll see what we can do for you," Uncle says. "I bet we can accomodate you." He and Aang start to walk down the deck to the tower, where dinner would be served shortly. Zuko finds it unusual how his uncle bows slightly to Aang and lets him go ahead of him, and opens the door when they get to the base of the tower, bowing Aang inside. He wonders if it's just common courtesy, but the thought is banished from his head when Uncle calls him, too. "Zuko! You're going to catch a cold out there! Come inside; I'll have Cooky make you some soup!"
"Coming!" Zuko answers back. And, for once, he's looking forward to having dinner.