Ok I'm not going to have a long intro so you guys can just jump right into the story. Recap - Fili has left the cave to go see if she can find were Zuko and Aang are hiding in the woods. On the way she gets lost and is found by a "mystery" someone. I thing we all know who it is. I mean who's the only person that calls her Maili?
"Well, well, well!" I heard a deep, smug voice come from behind me.
I jumped up and turned around. Oh God, no!
He chuckled in an evil kind of way, "Hello, Maili, my dear. It's good to see you again, but what are you going here?"
Why of all people did it have to be him? "Zhao," great, well, on the up side, at least it's someone I'm not afraid of.
"It's Admiral now…."
Thinking fast, I ran to him and grabbed his hands. Luckily I was actually surprised to see him, so that would help what I was about to say a lot, "Thank the spirits, I thought I would never make it out. I have been lost for weeks." I don't wanna do this, I don't wanna do this. I pressed myself against him and he didn't seem to care. I was dirty and wet from walking through a forest for who knows how long. If I do this right maybe I can get way without rising to many questions.
"You are lost? You mean you're alone out here?" He didn't sound like he was buying it."You're not with Prince Zuko?"
Dang it, Fili, you have to step up your game. Lie, woman, lie like you have never lied before! "Yes!" I forced myself to tear up, "The last time I saw anyone was when Prince Zuko and General Iroh had a run in with a band of pirates. The Prince was on the Avatar's trail but the pirates wanted to turn in the Avatar for the reward. When all the fighting started General Iroh told me to run." I pressed my face into his chest, "I've been alone ever since. Thank the spirits it's you and not earth kingdom soldiers. A small group of them had been tracking me for days, but I heard there was a Fire nation fortress of some kind in this area."
"Yes, Pohuai Stronghold, it is just west of here, but there is a problem we had a security breach last night." He stared down at me and studied my face.
West! So I'm not far of course. Awesome I should be able to find my way back to the cave if I just head slightly north, "What kind of bre…."
"Admiral Sir, we have searched this area and found no sign of the intruder or the Avatar," just than two fire nation soldiers appeared behind Zhao.
"You don't think the Earth Kingdom soldiers that were tracking me could have…."
"No this was one person," Zhao shook his head hard then turned to his men. "We will find him, whoever he is, and he will be punished for his crimes." I could tell by the way he said it he still hadn't bought my story, he was looking for a reaction from me.
"I have had a few run in's with the Avatar from being with the Prince." I looked down and rubbed my chin then looked back up at Zhao as if I realized something important. "Was it the Water tribe boy that is always with the Avatar?"
"We are not sure who it was; he was wearing a blue mask." One of the soldiers pointed out.
"I don't think so. He fought with dual broad swords, those are not typical water tribe weapons," He glared down at me for a moment then his face softened. "Why don't you tell me what you know about the Avatar? As I remember you have stated before that you have quite the insight. In return, I'll give you whatever you desire." He smirked evilly.
I clucked, "I promise you, Zhao, you can't do that. I've been trying for weeks and if I can't talk Zuko in to growing his hair out, I know that you can't."
"What?" Confusion was written all over his face.
I shook my head and laughed lightly, "Nothing. I can't tell you anything you don't already know, Zhao."
"Oh, I'm sure that's not true." He grabbed me by my shoulders and held them tightly. "Why don't we go back to the fortress, and get you something hot to eat? We can talk about what you do know, and you can show me a little of your talents."
"Now let me go, please." I smiled ever so sweetly. "I just want to find my way out of this forest and back to the Prince's ship. I would love to stick around and chat, but I really need to figure out where General Iroh and the others are. They are probably out looking for me right now. I'm sure they are worried."
His face became hard again, "You would still rather go back to that banished prince then stay here with me?" He squeezed my shoulders harder and harder and his hands heated up. "I have a much better idea. If you're not going to come with me willingly then I can capture you. I'll get to the bottom of your interesting powers. I promise, you will tell me everything I want to know. And when I'm done with you I'll simply hand you over to Fire Lord Ozai. I'm a much kinder man than he is. What he will do to you, I can't be sure, but I promise you won't survive it."
I could feel my skin heat up and my shirt start to burn, but there was no way in hell I was bowing down to him. I heated my own chi in my shoulders to act as a wall between my skin and his hands. "I'm only going to ask you nicely this once. If you don't let me go now you'll regret it. You don't know who you're dealing with, Zhao. I just want to find my way out of here. We don't have to part on bad terms."
"No, Maili, you don't know who you are dealing with. My fondness for you is wearing thin. Just come with me and tell me what I want to know and everything will be fine," His face became more and more smug. "But if you don't, I will break you. You will be a shell of this beautiful, powerful being you are now. Or better yet, the Fire lord will make you an ultimate weapon for the Fire Nation."
He jerked me, "I admire your spirit and your strong will." He smiled wickedly as his hands burned holes through my shirt, but I didn't cry out. He probably thought the heat was from his firebending. Moron, he's not the only one who can be cunning. "You have the spirit of a fire bender, but you are no match for me, let alone the Fire Lord. Don't throw away your life, tell me everything I want to know. Where is the Avatar and who helped him?"
"Fine, but first there are a few things you need to know about me. I live by a set of simple rules, here are a few of them: Always smile, even when I'm hurting, Never give in or change myself for anyone, or for any reason, and I never let anyone man handle me," I slid my hands to his chest and stared up at him sensually. "Unless I want them to," I whispered.
His smug look softened but still radiated with confidence, "Really? That's much better, my sweet girl. Tell me everything and I'll be very gentle with you. You will be treated like a princess." His grip loosened and the painful, burning heat stopped. He reached up and caressed my face.
"Yes," I whispered again. I smiled sweetly than let all the sweet, sensuality dissolve from my face. Before he could react I blasted him with the hardest bass blast I could muster. He flew back and only stopped when he slammed into a tree. He wasn't the only one with an evil side.
"Sir?!" his men jumped between us and firebended at me. I pushed the flames back at them with another large bass blast. They flew back past Zhao's tree. I didn't want to hurt them. They were just looking after their commander. So I made sure it was only strong enough to knock them out.
"I'll show you the spirit of something a lot worse than a firebender." I turned my attention back to Zhao. I stalked towards him, as I did I hammered him with smaller bass blasts.
"How….d...dare you." He coughed and struggled on the words as he tried to stand. He managed to firebend a blast at me with a swing of his fist.
It was a lot bigger than the ones Zuko would use when we would train. I sent my chi to my hands and put my hands together like an outward facing prayer. I was too mad to be afraid. I cut through the flames. I couldn't handle another one of those. I need to end this and run.
I hit him with one more blast, "No, how dare you. Thinking you could hurt me, scare ME. I warned you once before, Zhao. I am fire. I will not bow to you or anyone else and you will never. Touch. Me. Again." I held my hand out again and let my fingers slowly flex apart. His eyes widened as he stared up at my hand. I gave him a slightly weaker bass pulse, I could tell they were getting weaker, but he fell back and hit the tree, "And stay down." This time he was out cold. Good! He can't say I didn't warn him.
I felt a little dizzy. It took all my focus to keep the heat Zhao was firebending against my arms from burning my skin. My shoulders still felt bruised and tender, but at least I wasn't badly burned. Still using all power for rapid bass blasts and that all focus of my own heated chi at once took a big chunk of my stamina.
The sun was starting to rise; I knew Zuko would be waking up where he was with Aang soon. I didn't know where that might be so I did my best to get back to the cave. He had to go back there to get his things, and I couldn't leave my phone where someone else might find it.
When I get there, I might take a little nap. Yeah, that sounds nice. Ok, the sun is rising so that's east, and the fortress is west. I got this! Cave here I come.
My head was aching, but the sun wouldn't let me stay asleep. Just then a heard a voice and I looked around to see who it could be.
The figure was blurry but I knew who he was, The Avatar. Why did he help me? I'm his enemy, the person that's always hunting him down. I could finally see him clearer. He was talking to me, he must have been talking while I was knocked out.
"You know what the worst part of being born over a hundred years ago is? I miss all the friends I used to hang out with. Before the war started, I used to always visit my friend Kuzon. The two of us, we'd get in and out of so much trouble together. He was one of the best friends I ever had, and he was from the Fire Nation, just like you. If we knew each other back then, do you think we could have been friends, too?"
He paused and looked down at me. I promised Felicity I would let him go so that Zhao wouldn't know it was me, but Zhao would be looking for him. If either of us were caught this all would have been for nothing.
I jumped up and shot a fire blast at him. He airbended out of the way of the blast and ran away through the tops of the trees.
I'm sorry; maybe…. back then and things were different, we could be friends. But it's not and we will never be.
I had to get back to Felicity. If Zhao or his men found her, they would know it was me. Plus, with the way Zhao treats Felicity, I don't want to think about what could happen if he found her alone. My head still ached and I was sore but I had to hurry.
BACK AT THE CAVE….
"Felicity? Felicity, are you still…." She was at the back of the cave where it was darkest, so I couldn't see her very clearly.
"Hey, fussy pants, are you ok? I told you to keep your head down," She laughed and sat up from the sleeping bag. There were holes in each shoulder of her shirt and the skin beneath looked swollen and bruised.
"What happened to you," I knelt down in front on her trying to be as gentle as possible.
"Oh you know me, making friends, everywhere I go, just making friends." She reached up and rubbed her shoulder than winched, "I'll be fine, don't worry about me."
"Who did this to you? Did someone find this place?"
She just waved me off, "No, no it's fine. I went looking for you and Zhao found me."
"ZHAO! He did this to….."
"Aww fussy pants, Calm down, it's just a little bruised. He wasn't able to burn me."
"He tried to burn you?" How dare Zhao do something like this!
"Yes, but he didn't. I used my chi to block his firebending. I'm just bruised," she yawned, "and exhausted. My stamina was drained."
"How did you get away, and why didn't he follow you?" I watched her lay back down and make herself comfortable.
"You know I don't like to be man handled, so I bass blasted him, a lot. He never saw it coming. He was knocked out cold and I hurried to get back here."
I couldn't help but smile down at her. She wasn't afraid to stand up to him; I didn't expect anything less, "Good. Ok, we need to get back to the ship."
"I'm too tried to go that far, Zuko. I used so much focus and chi so he wouldn't burn me then on top of that, I used a lot of power with my bass blasts" She stared up at me. I could tell she was exhausted, her eyes drooped and her words lacked their usual exuberant energy. "You could use some rest too, you know." Felicity moved over on the sleeping bag, "Here, lie down and get some rest before we go."
She wants me to sleep right next to her? Sleeping on her floor is one thing, but sleeping right next to her and being that close to her, was completely different.
"No, you go ahead and sleep, I'll be fine." I started to stand up but she caught my wrist.
"Don't be such a girl, Zuko. I'm not going to bite. Well, unless you want me to, but you have to buy me a drink first." She grinned tugging me towards the sleeping bag.
"What? Felicity, this is a bad idea."
"Sleep is never a bad idea. We're going to take a nap then we will head back to the ship."
"You're not going to take no for an answer, are you?"
"Do I ever?" She smiled and closed her eyes. "Besides I can see how tired you are and you must have a huge headache from that arrow hitting you between the eyes. Don't worry; I'll set an alarm so I wouldn't over sleep. An hour should be enough, don't you think?"
I signed, I knew this was a bad idea, but honestly she was right. I was too tired to argue with her and my head throbbed making it hard to think straight. I knew I shouldn't be thinking like this but she looked so soft and warm. Why did she have to get in my head so easily? Why was it that the smallest things she did affected me so much?
"Just one hour." I laid down next to her on the sleeping bag.
She sat up and moved my arm then put her head on my chest and laid her arm over my waist, "Whatever you say, fussy pants."
"What are you doing?" I started to pull away.
"Don't, you owe me. You used me as a pillow once, it's my turn." She whined against my shoulder. "You're really warm."
Felicity wiggled around for a little while getting comfortable "Would you stop moving? I can't fall asleep if you keep doing that."
"It's too quiet." She sat up again and leaned over the top of me to get her phone. She chuckled when she felt me tense up. Felicity's phone started playing the sound of ocean waves. "Here, that's much better." She threw it over to my pile of fire nation clothes I meant to change into, it and landed gently on top of them. "There so we have to get up when it goes off, ok?"
I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the waves. I caught myself putting my arm around her shoulders and she moved closer to my side. I didn't realize how tired I was but I began falling asleep quickly. I was right; she is soft, so very soft.
50 MINUTES LATER…
Man, I loved me some sleep. It was honestly one of my favorite things to do. I have dreams about taking naps, and this nap had to be the best one I've ever had. I was so warm and something smelled so good, like strong spices and smoke but also with creamy musk smell, like cedarwood.
I started to open my eyes; I was still in that sleepy haze. In that dazed state, I rubbed my face into my pillow. It wasn't until I felt the heart beat and heard the slow breathing that I remembered my pillow was Zuko. I tilted my head back and studied his face. He was lying on his side and both his arms were wrapped around me like a blanket. He was so handsome, even his scar. It made him Zuko, and I actually like it. I reached up and traced the outline of it. I really can't wait for him to grow his hair out.
It was moments like this that I really couldn't believe I was here and that this was actually real. All those years of me fangirling over him, googling fan art, and watching Avatar, I never imagined myself here or in his arms for that matter.
Geez he was so warm. I know that guys are normally warmer but he was really warm. It must be a firebender thing. I moved closer against him. I'm fangirling so hard right now. I kinda felt like a weirdo stalker. I traced the upper line of his scare back to his ear then trailed my finger down to his neck. Why did he have to be so cute? I can't wait until he starts to mellow out some. Zuko must be a heavy sleeper, that or really tried. He just laid there and breathed slowly. I felt his leg jump against my thigh, He must be dreaming. I wonder what he's dreaming about. I trailed my thumb across the bottom edge of his scar.
He made a kind of groaning sound and took a deep breath, "What are you doing?" He asked as he opened his eyes slowly.
"Nothing," I smiled at him. Looping my hand behind his head, and laid my head back against his neck. I loved the way he smelled. It was a very "man" smell.
"F..Felicity," He tensed up right away, "um w…we really should get ah back to the ship." He started to wiggle away from me.
"Calm down, Zuko. The alarm hasn't even gone off."
"Yes, but I'm not comfortable with how close we are right now." He was right we were very close. Poor, fussy pants, he's probably never been this close to a girl. It was actually kind of adorable. He was blushing and everything.
"Don't be like that fussy pants; I've seen you get in Jee and Zhao's faces before." I smirked, "I'd don't mean to sound conceded, but I'd like to think I'm prettier than them and….."
"You are," he sounded so serious. I wasn't expecting that at all. I stared up at him. He was serious. It was something about the look in his eyes, it was making me melt and I felt butterflies in my stomach.
There is no way, no possible way Felicity really meant what she said, but from the look in her eyes I really felt like she did mean it. At first I was worried that I had said too much but when she smiled, and it wasn't like her other smiles when she was teasing me or joking, this was something different. Like that night when she sang.
"Zuko," I barely heard her whisper. Before she said anything else she bit her lip.
I felt my heart speed up when I saw it. I couldn't control myself. I slid my arm up her back until my hand reached her face. Felicity just closed her eyes and pressed her cheek into my palm. I leaned closer and I felt her forehead touch mine. I tilted my hand slightly to lift her chin up. When I saw her eyes open again I pulled back, but then I felt her fingers at the back of my neck tug my head back down. She really does mean it. She whispered my name one last time and I could almost feel her lips moving. I caught myself wondering what she would taste like.
We both jerked back when we heard the most terrible noise come from the direction of her phone.
"Thanks a lot, phone," She groaned. "I swear if I didn't need it I'd throw it against the cave wall right now." She looked over her shoulder at my pile of clothes and her phone lying on top of them. "I don't want to leave this spot," she looked up at me, "but if I don't it won't stop."
"Of course," I pulled my arms away from her and she rolled over. What was I thinking? I sat up and watched her stand.
Felicity jerked up her phone and pressed the screen angrily, "I'm so mad at you right now." She hissed down at it.
I couldn't help but grin as I watched her. She was really going to let me kiss her, but it's probably for the best that we hadn't. If I had, I would never be able to get it out of my head, and she deserves better than a kiss on a cave floor. She deserves a prince, a real prince. Not a banished, honor-less nothing that I am now.
"Zuko? Are you ok?" Felicity was standing right in front of me and I hadn't even realized it. She held her hand out to help me up.
I took a deep breath and stood up on my own, "I'm fine, sorry about that."
"Don't be," She smiled up at me.
"We should get back to the ship," I walked towards my clothes being very careful not to touch her.
"Alright, you're the prince."
I looked over at her, "You never call me prince."
"That's what you are right, a prince? Banished or not you're still a prince." She started rolling up the sleeping bag. "Then again you know I don't care if you're a prince or not. To me you're Zuko, my favorite fussy pants."
I hurried and put my armor on as she played music and danced along to it, "Hurry…. Stop playing around, let's get to the ship."
"What about your hair?"
"Don't worry about it," I was still recovering from our closeness from before. I couldn't take it if she was in my reach again. "I'll put in up on the way to the ship."
"No, that's not what I meant." She smiled as we walked out of the cave.
She just smiled and skipped ahead of me, "I mean, are you going to start growing it out so I can play with it the next time we have the chance to cuddle?" Felicity just laughed and kept walking. It was a good thing too. My face was red, I could feel it.
'There will be a next time, right, fussy pants?' I heard her words in my head. She sounded serious.
I wasn't sure what to say, but I knew it was probably best if I brushed it off, "You know I hate it when….." Wait a minute. "You were in my head, weren't you?"
Felicity laughed out loud, 'Took you long enough. You know I never call you prince. You are really bad at picking up hints, fussy pants.'
She had started running ahead of me. I yelled and chased after her, "Felicity, for the last time, stay out of my head!"
"Too late now, fussy pants!"
Finally, I never thought I would be so happy to see the ship. Being on the ship means I'll soon be in my bed, and I had a ticket to dreamland. I never knew Zuko could be so cranky when he was tired. He was always mish, but you did not want to mess with them was he was tired. It really reminded me of my Ally Cat. You never wanted to be in the same room with her if she woke up on the wrong side of the bed, because the fur did fly.
Alice, I miss you so fraking much. *Fraking is not a typo, its slang that my sister and I use.*
Uncle Iroh was on deck playing the tsungi horn, "Where have you been, Prince Zuko? You missed music night! Lieutenant Jee sang a stirring love song."
"I'm going to bed. No disturbances."
Iroh rubbed his head and began to blow his horn again. 'So, are you going to tell me what happened?'
'Nope,' I waved at him over my shoulder as I went inside, 'Sorry, Uncle Iroh, but my bed is calling my name. I would love to stay and chat, but sleep is priority number one. Good night or good morning, whatever.'
As soon as I got to my room the clothes I had been wearing all night started to fly. I opened my trunk and pulled out Zuko's old shirt. "Yeah, this will be perfect." I slipped in on and fell face first on my bed. "Oh, I've missed you, let's never break up again. I know it's my fault. Will you forgive me?" I slid under the covers, "I'll take that as a yes."
I rolled over onto my back and grabbed my phone. I can't sleep without some ambient noise. When the wave sounds started to play I reached up and touched my cheek, right where Zuko had touched me. I can't believe he was going to kiss me. I wanted him to so badly. I still want him to, but I'm changing things so fast. I mean, of course I'm going to change things; I'm not supposed to be here so things are going to change. I just hope that I'm changing things for the better and not making things worse in the long run.