A/N: Okay, I'm not expecting to get many guy readers with this title. I know it sounds like a cheesy chick flick, but it's really not like that. This story is a different take on Mai. Namely, she is evil and shallow. All right, now that that's out of the way, read and enjoy! And review. And be nice and constructive in your reviews. And tell people about it. And for God's sake, brush your teeth!

Disclaimer: As far as I know, I don't own Avatar. But I keep looking for my name in the credits anyway.

Lessons in Love Chapter One

"Cartwheels aren't a game, dumb-dumb."

Mai's glossy black hair, confusion written on her alabaster face.

The flaming apple. He didn't know Mai, but he couldn't watch her get hurt.

The cold fountain water swallowing him.

Mai's body beneath him. He leaped up as if lightning had stricken him when he realized this.

Gasping for air, it took Zuko a minute before he realized he was on dry land, thousands of miles and many, many years away from that place, that moment.

He was camped at the base of a tall chain of mountains. Alone. Deep down, Zuko appreciated Iroh's help and affection, but it made him feel weak and he could never show weakness nor be subjected to it. Only by strength of body and mind would the Avatar ever be his. Ultimately, the uncle and nephew were too different to stay together long.

Zuko sat down to ponder this dream. It must have been triggered by his meeting with Azula the other day, in the ghost town. He hadn't seen or even thought of Mai for three years. She dwelled on the far horizon of his mind in a chapter of his life that Zuko didn't frequently look back to. But now he had to look back, the setting of this dream had sparked a thousand other memories, which in turn brought back a thousand more.

These uncomfortable, suppressed memories left Zuko unable to sleep any longer. He lit a fire, gazing into the swirling flames and trying unsuccessfully to stop the flow of reminiscences from the Fire Nation from pouring into his tormented mind.

A/N: Short chapter, I know. Don't be intimidated by the five chapters, they're all really tiny.