Zuko looked around the makeshift campsite. He had been offered to join the avatar's group soon after Iroh's injury, and he had declined, saying he would rather be alone.
Apparently, fate disliked that idea.
Zuko had slowly, but surely, acquired a little team of his own. Emphasis on little, the oldest of the lot, other than him, was eleven. How the heck, hell, why the heck, it had happened was beyond him.
First in the little group of five was Lee, leaning on his left shoulder. Lee, who, after thinking about it, had regretted his words and followed Zuko, all the way to the scene with Azula nearly killing Iroh. He had panicked though, at Zuko's rage to the avatar's group, and hid.
Zuko had not moved. Iroh was alive, though only barely. Then he heard a snap. He assumed it was the doubled-back avatar's group, trying to get him to let Katara, that was he name as far as he knew anyway, help Iroh, but his pride and sorrow would not allow it. "Go away!"
There was a slight 'eep' noise, and Zuko knew that it wasn't them. None of them, to his knowledge, ever 'eep'ed. "Who's there?"
Finally, he looked behind him, opposite from the direction of the eep, and could see the blind earthbender looking at him, apparently confused. "Fine, go tell the water-girl that she can help, I have to check something. Help him, please."
The earthbender gave a nod, sensing how hard it was for Zuko to get the words out. He had finally swallowed his pride, it had taken three days. As Zuko followed the eep, he saw Katara going over to his uncle.
As he wound through the smoldering alleys he found someone he didn't expect. "Lee?"
The small boy nodded, "Is, is your uncle okay?"
Zuko was getting confused, "Why are you here?"
"Had to apologize. You're nice, I don't hate you."
Zuko just stood thee, that was unexpected. Lee blinked, "Uh, I fed your ostrich by the way…"
Zuko nodded, "Thank you. By the way, do you want this back?" He held out the knife.
Lee took his turn to look surprised. "Umm, can I?"
Zuko smiled thinly as he accepted the knife, and then suddenly there was an explosion. Zuko spun, "NO!"
He, Lee, and the ostrich ran back to the now smoking own square. Zuko's eyes widened, no one was there.
The avatar and his friends had left a hastily scribbled note, saying it was Azula's gang, as they called it, on the crawlers. Iroh was with them, they would leave him at a hospital so Azula wouldn't find him. Lee had decided to come with Zuko.
Next up was Kuri, the eleven-year-old mentioned earlier; who was using the prince's other shoulder as a pillow. She was from Kyoshi, and was the youngest sent over. She had been separated from her group, and had decided that a sixteen-year-old banished prince and a nine-year old boy would be good traveling companions.
Finally, nestled against the apparently 'warm' firebender's chest, huddled against the cold night, were Toa and his twin sister Tao. They were the youngest, at seven, and bother were earthbenders. Both were also kind of annoying to poor Kuri. They had met when the two had decided that Zuko, Kuri, and Lee would be good things to hide behind when some aggravated bandits were looking for the twins.
Zuko looked at the sky, "What did I do to deserve this?"
Glancing at the little kids currently using him as a pillow, "After all, I haven't done anything monumentally good to my knowledge."
AN: This will have a sequel up soon, The Band's adventures. I no-no own avatar! )