Summary: Team Avatar breaks for tea. Zuko wears an apron.
Prompt: #29 - Clothing
But when Zuko realized that the girl (to whom he had heretofore been referring to as a 'painted goddess' in his mind) was that damnable, annoying Water Tribe peasant, he decided that this was conclusive evidence that there was, in fact, no God.
He had been an instant away from putting his foot down and proclaiming that he was not about to go out there and play busboy to his arch nemesis or his idiotic friends (and especially not that ridiculous, totally unappealing vision in green) when his uncle lazily –though firmly—grabbed his arm and dragged him blithely toward his –inevitable, it seemed—fate. He knew by now not to hope that by some impossibly fortuitous circumstance, every one of them at the table had somehow been horrifically and irrevocably rendered sightless, perhaps to follow the fine example of their earth-bending comrade.
Once they'd reached their destination, it was clear that the four of his merry troupe of enemies were discussing something privately, as all had their heads ducked in toward one another and were discoursing quietly. They were suddenly so fixated on their blind friend that he almost dared to hope that perhaps he and his uncle could pour the tea quickly, set the tray down surreptitiously, and make a swift escape before any of the three of them graced with sight could drag their attentions away from the conversation at hand to thank their servers. Or worse, before his uncle tried to engage them in conversation.
But then something really, truly horrible and just staggeringly malicious happened. That unspeakable water-bending creature delicately, absently tilted her long (atrocious!), soft-looking neck to one side, a demure (entirely inelegant!) sort of movement that bared the vulnerable line of her throat to him. Such an inexcusable, barbaric ploy, he fumed, and then belatedly understood –with no little amount of horror and embarrassment—that that half-strangled, half-furious noise that had just filtered out and alerted the Avatar and his friends to their presence had been produced in the back of his throat.
(So, there was a God after all. And that God hated him.)
With all eyes now firmly on him (even hers, his mind unhelpfully supplied, in vividly dreadful sapphire detail), he stumbled back a step before he could stop himself, but was quickly able to recover his composure and settle into a comfortable position that heralded his battle-readiness, even as they each automatically reached for their own weapons of choice.
His uncle –predictably—attempted to initiate a dialogue, which had him mentally rolling his eyes, but otherwise he was focused exclusively on sizing up his enemies, on trying to figure out how he could fight them here without raising too much suspicion and getting his uncle and himself expelled from the city (or, conversely, killed). He carefully avoided the (terrible) azure gaze of the Water witch and instead diverted his attentions in turn between the earth bender, the annoying half-wit Water Tribe warrior, and the Avatar himself, even though –being the sole object presently requiring supervision—he could feel her eyes yet on his person.
He felt fairly (incredibly) uneasy under the weight of her gaze, which even from his periphery he could tell was heavier than he'd have liked. Likely, he surmised, this could be accredited to her circumspection coupled with an appraisal of his new appearance; the last time they'd met she'd hardly had time to take in the changes (his harried demand that she and the others leave –even after she'd offered to help—hadn't helped that at all), and before that, he'd still had his top knot and sported the colours of his home nation.
Zuko chanced a quick, furtive glance in her direction and then spent the next several seconds trying to decipher the ponderous, unreadable expression he had glimpsed on her (exceptionally uninviting) face before it occurred to him –unbidden—that maybe she was…appreciating the view?
Well, he thought, somewhat smugly, before he could rein in his ego, let her behold me. It wasn't as if she had any other even mildly inspiring specimens of his gender to ogle. If she wanted to look, he certainly wasn't going to stop her, even if she was intolerable and unsightly. In fact, it was a shame that her other female companion couldn't see—
"Are you wearing an apron?"
--because, really, that would just make his humiliation so much more complete.
This is written in response to last week's episode. Katara prettified herself, and ickle Zuko missed it. I felt sorry for him, so I decided to bring her into his tea house for a quick, cute (ultimately embarrassing) visit.
And then I remembered that bringing her to such a venue would, of course, entail her getting to see him sans dignity in that (adorable!) apron (am I the only one so obsessed with annoyed, domestic!Zuko?) to which he seemed so strongly averted. And then it was really just impossible not to write the story.
Poor, poor abused little puppy.
I'm planning to write the second-half of this tale through Katara's POV, which will conform closely to the full-length version of the story seen through Toph's eyes (ha ha) that I have already written and posted to my livejournal, as well as my account. Yep.