Title: Hits The Spot
Dedicated to: Irrel, and her fanartgasms.
Challenge: The Zutara Soup Challenge on LJ
Rated: T, PG-14
Summary: Zuko dreams about soup. Very...special soup.
To see the fanart by Irrel that inspired this, go to Deviant Art and in the URL paste the deviation no. 37857690. She was answering the same "soup" challenge, as well as the prompt "food" for her on-going Z/K-themed fanart100 entries. Her fanart inspired this fic, and trust me the fic works better if you've seen the pic.
Hits The Spot
As far as Zuko's dreams went, this was a new one. A new one and a strange one.
He was sitting in a cup. A large cup, large and orange. Wouldn't that make it a tub? Yes, it was about tub-sized.
But it was full of soup. Soup didn't come in tubs, it came in cups. He was pretty sure he was sitting in a giant cup of soup, and from the way it looked so far he was sitting in it stark naked.
There was someone else in the cup. He was pretty sure she was naked too.
The liquid they were bathing in steamed as merrily hot as a mountain spring, and it smelled (he was afraid to taste it) of onion broth. Onions and possibly celery, maybe some bay leaves...and naked people, of course.
In the dream, Zuko couldn't see who he was bathing in a giant cup with. He couldn't see because he'd turned away and was busy looking at everything except his soup partner.
Soup partner. Partner in soup-going. Soup-swimming. His 'soup partner.' He had a soup partner.
This was a strange dream.
Part of him (part of his anatomy, really) wanted to turn around and look at her. But the longer he faced away, the more confused he got as to who he was actually sharing his dream soup with.
As guilty as it made him feel, a portion of his mind wanted to imagine it was the village maiden, Song. Song had been pretty and gentle, and brought to mind many other soft words like pillow and lilac and cream. Even though she made him nervous and self-conscious, she had paid him just enough attention to earn a presence in his thoughts, if anyone was going to be there.
On the other hand, a bigger portion of him was terrified of ever having to face Song again. She was the first person he ever stole from, and as long as she was out of sight, he didn't have to think about his shameful behavior.
Perhaps it was the bounty hunter. What had her name been? Something to do with the months of the year... April? Summer? Whatever. She'd had more than enough curves to slide against the side of a soup bowl.
That was a wrong wrong wrong word to think. Wrong.
Oh shit, she'd spoken. And she did not sound like Song or June. June! That was that woman's name. JuneJuneJuneJuneJune.
"Hey, turn around. I don't bite."
He'd been afraid of this.
Of all the young women he'd met in the last year why oh why was he dreaming of sharing a naked soup bowl with that one? With the one who was an accomplice to the Avatar and not at all inclined toward him and the total opposite of his taste in women and probably two years younger than him and wrapping slick, slippery, hot arms around his waist right now.
"Hi," she whispered in Zuko's ear.
"Hi," he croaked. He had his eyes shut tight so as not to look at her even though it was his dream so he wasn't really looking at her anyway and---
"Everything tastes so good in here, doesn't it? Mmm..." Zuko could swear to the spirits she was sniffing his neck.
"And everything smells so good, too. I love soup."
Zuko's throat mangled his response half-way through its escape from his vocal chords.
"You know, at the poles it gets so cold that hot soup is one of the best ways to warm up and forget the world outside. I love to drink it, to feel it wash down my throat. I get so warm inside, like it's spreading through every inch of my body, from my shoulders to my fingertips... all the way down my legs... I can feel it in my very core. All that heat. All that rich, milky liquid. It tastes just like---"
"ZUKO IREM URSON LO-ZAI-TENG SHI!"
At the sound of his full name the prince bolted upright in his blankets, looking around wildly and expecting his mother, his father, his sister, and possibly the entire palace staff to be standing over him accusingly. Bathing in soup with a waterbender? How uncivilized! How scandalous! How barbaric and unlike a prince!
"Finally." It was only his uncle, looking at him with a completely innocent face. "I apologize for shouting at you, but you refused to wake up."
"You must have been dreaming." Zuko squinted at his uncle, trying to guess if the dead-pan voice was mocking him or not. But his eyes were still blurry from sleep, and Iroh seemed to be serious...
"No matter. Time to go!"
"Go? Go where?"
"To Ba Sing Sei, of course! The cart-driver says we should be there by early evening, just in time for dinner." The older man clapped his hands enthusiastically, giving Zuko a confident smile. "Nephew, even you will enjoy this dinner, I promise you!"
"Because Ba Sing Sei is famous for it's soups and stews. Don't think I don't remember that soup was your favorite dish growing up. You'll just love the way they soak the ingredients over a special brown..."
Zuko covered his eyes with his palms and groaned.
As I said above, inspired by Irrel's challenge-answer fanart. Thought of Zuko's full name just now. I don't know if it sounds plausible; I just threw a bunch of syllables together and added "Urson" and "Lo-Zai-Ten" as references to his parents, and the naming tradition of taking part of your parents' name as your own, to indicate "son of Ursa", and stuff. I don't know if that's a tradition in the Fire Nation like it used to be in Britain, but I figured it worked for this fic. I also figured he'd have a very long name, being royal and all.