Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar, which is why I'm using a disclaimer.



The walls of the Earthbending capital bustled with life. People flowed easily among each other, approaching strangers to ask whereabouts of family, friends, "Have you seen my sister? My mother? My cousin? My best friend?"

Zuko stayed close to Iroh's side, hat pulled down so it hid his eyes and scar. There were voices, mingling, panic and fear and weariness contained within their tones. The same story, with different people, different results. Few families had made it to safety intact. More then one family was still searching for a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, an aunt or uncle, grandparents.

It was a humbling sight, humbling and shocking, especially for the one who had spent his life within the walls of the royal palace, and the last two years on a Fire Nation vessel. Zuko had thought he had glimpsed the pain of battle when Song had shown him her scar, but now he was exposed to the whole truth.

Perhaps this is why so many people support the Avatar.

The thought made Zuko pause, although he was jostled on either side. The Avatar—from the Waterbending girl, he had gathered the boy's name was Aang—had support from the people, unquestioning trust and loyalty. There was the Water Tribe peasant and her brother, the young blind Earthbender that had met his uncle, and the countless men and women that had risked everything to keep him one step ahead of his captors.

However, Zuko's thoughts soon drifted back to the Waterbender.

The girl had, unwittingly, told him a great deal about her relationship with the Avatar—not by words, but by actions and gestures. The affectionate hugs she gave him easily, the smiles and gentle words, the ferocity with which she had fought when Zuko had taken the boy from the spirit oasis.

In some ways, she reminded him of his mother.

Ursa. Zuko closed his eyes as pain rolled dully through him, the way it always did whenever he thought of his mother. He still missed her, so many years after her disappearance, and he still missed her. Seeing the young Waterbender with her friend brought back clear memories of the time he had spent with his mother.

The Waterbender was like Ursa in many ways. Calm and gentle when she needed to be, and when provoked as dangerous as a turtleduck mother who'd had a stone thrown at one of her babies.

"That's what moms are like. If you mess with their babies… they'll bite you back."

Zuko had never really forgiven the stupid thing for taking a chunk out of his foot. But he supposed that was how moms were.

But the Waterbender didn't act very much like the Avatar's mother. Oh, she had her moments, but in Zuko's opinion she wasn't the Avatar's surrogate mom. She reminded him more of an overprotective girlfriend. She comforted him when he needed it with hugs and smiles, stood loyally behind him when others questioned him, and fired to his defense when he was in danger.

She not only reminded him of Ursa, she also reminded him of that mother turtleduck that had bit him because he threw a stone at one of her babies.

"They'll bite you back."

Remembering what his mother had said made Zuko smile, if only slightly.

Turtleducks, he knew, bit back if their babies or mates were in danger. Despite their small size and cute appearance, they fought like soldiers when the ones they loved were in danger.

"Zuko, stay with me."

Iroh's hand reached out, gripped his nephew's tightly so they wouldn't be separated in the crowd. Zuko gazed at him for a moment, before giving Iroh's hand a comforting squeeze.

"I'm here, Uncle."

His smile widened at the thought of the Waterbender, eyes aflame despite their icy color, hair flying around her face and in her eyes, her body tense and ready.

When it came to the Avatar, she was like a turtleduck. She always bit back.

The End


Okay, I'm kind of stuck right now. I don't know whether to just end the Watching series here or write some sort of epilogue thing that ties everything up. What do you think?

Read and review, please!