Author's Notes: This randomly demanded to be written while I was sitting around fiddling with Got You in My Sights. I would apologize more, but I can only be but so sorry for providing the universe with gen.
12 Facts About Prince Zuko's Alliance With The Avatar
1. When he walked up to them, hands at his sides, and said, "My uncle is dead. I'll teach you firebending, Avatar," it was partly because he was tired, partly because he finally understood, but mostly it was because Iroh would have wanted him to.
2. At first, he didn't join them around their fire; he didn't sleep near them at all. Sometimes he wandered off late at night, but always returned by sunrise. He knew that they wondered exactly where he went, especially because the siblings warily watched his every move. He was also aware that they knew why his eyes were red, and was glad that at least they had the sense not to mention it.
3. After nine days, the blind girl walked over to him and stood awkwardly in front of him for a moment before she said, "They're having trouble getting a fire going." He didn't look at her, and then she added quietly, "I'm really sorry about your uncle." The fact that her voice broke when she said it is why he got up and crossed the distance to their camp, waved his hand negligently at their kindling and made a fire roar to life, then sat down right there in front of it.
4. He continued to call Sokka and Katara "Water Tribe peasants" for three weeks after he learned their names in retaliation for all of the trouble they caused him before. He knew that it was petty, but he stopped putting the sneer in the epithet after the first week, and, after all, they were peasants and should remember exactly who he was.
5. He started off training with Aang in the mornings and generally spent the rest of the day sulking, either in general or because the Avatar had immediately mastered or created a clever variant of some form that it had taken Zuko months to learn. This persisted until Sokka started insisting that Zuko pull his own weight and help hunt. This, in turn, became a daily exercise in the Water Tribe youth informing Zuko of how lacking his education had been and Zuko explaining in detail why he would never need to know such common and savage arts.
6. He initially felt most comfortable with--closest to--Toph. Maybe because he was never her enemy, maybe because of Iroh, or maybe because she refused to take him seriously, wasn't wary of him, and treated him like she would anyone else. He didn't want to think of her as a little sister, though, because he'd never had much luck with those. So, he decided to think of her as a little brother instead. When he told her this she spat and said, "Watch it, Princess," and the ground suddenly slid under him and he fell flat on his back. He surprised everyone, including himself, by laughing first.
7. He finally felt like he really belonged after he got into a fight with Aang, stormed off, and was captured by his sister; when they actually came for him, even though there was little left for him to teach Aang, and he suddenly understood that it was not in their nature to ever leave him behind or bar him from their company.
8. He finally felt like they actually liked him, and weren't just being polite, when Katara teased him about why "the girl with the flying daggers" let him run right by when Azula wasn't looking and Aang noted that every single dart she aimed at him went wide, and later, when Sokka sat down beside him, leaned over, and asked him conspiratorially if he had ever kissed her.
9. He appreciated Sokka's pragmatism, and being around a boy his own age for the first time in a long time was enjoyable. He admired Katara's strength, and even though he was more prone to be annoyed than anything else when her doting turned on him, in general, it reminded him of his mother and that soothed him. He would never admit it, but he honestly found Aang's exuberance charming when he zipped about, a brightly coloured ball of smiles and laughter. He found Aang's kindness overwhelming when he offered Zuko part of his own meals of fruits and nuts whenever Zuko obviously found what game they'd caught distasteful. And he found Aang's wide-eyed affection endearing as he gathered flowers and made small gifts and stammered through compliments in his awkward, but sincere, attempts to court Katara.
10. When Aang died, Zuko wished that he'd never met him because then he wouldn't have to care. He thought, somewhat irrationally, that he would have missed nothing anyway since he felt like he would never be able to fondly remember the boy's humor (because Aang laughed before he went to face the Fire Lord), his kindness (because Ozai dealt the fatal blow when Aang tried to spare him), or his devotion (because Zuko saw the tears streaming down Katara's face when she clasped Aang's bloody hand in her own, pressing her lips to his knuckles, as the boy lied that, "It'll be okay, Katara,").
11. Toph was helping head a battalion of Earthbenders attacking on the other side of the capital city. Sokka was at the other end of the palace with the warriors of his tribe. So, even though it was the last thing he wanted to do, felt comfortable doing, Zuko wrapped an arm around Katara's shoulder and let her sob brokenly into his chest; because while the soldiers and benders and friends gathered around knelt and offered up tearful prayers to the spirits for the safe passage of the divine medium to its next form, Zuko knew that he was the only other person who really understood what they'd lost.
12. After his coronation, when he sat on the dais with a wall of flame between him and his friends, he felt displaced, confused, even though he'd waited for this for half of his life. He never wanted them to leave because he wasn't sure if he remembered how to be without them. He let them go without much fanfare anyway. He understood that they finally wanted to make it back home too.