Author: Zuko/Aang challenge issued by shadowcat238. It was for 100 drabbles, and I've managed to churn out the first 50. shadowcat's were around one to three sentence each, but as I can't stop there, all of these are around 100 to 200 words. Or, as close to that as possible. Enjoy! Reviews are love.
Disclaimer: Whoever told you I own Avatar is DEAD WRONG. If I did, Zuko and Aang would have a -very- different relationship than their current one.
His hold on Appa's saddle was a death-grip, knuckles white in terror. His face betrayed none of his apprehension, however; to do so would be below the Fire Lord. Aang could read the man very well, though. The tension in his shoulders was all that needed to be said.
"Appa's very good at flying. He's been doing it since he was a baby. Right, buddy?"
Appa gave a groan of assent and Zuko frowned. "I don't doubt his skills."
"Then why are you so tense?"
Zuko decided not to dignify that question with an answer; Aang chuckled to himself.
As time passed, once-Prince Zuko realized a few things: that his uncle was more his father than his blood-father, that his scar wasn't really a mark of shame anymore, and that the only reason he continued to chase after the Avatar was so that he could see the boy.
The last realization disturbed him; when had the child become so important to him? For the longest time the Avatar had merely been a ticket to redemption, but now he wasn't certain exactly what he would do if he managed to capture his elusive prey. He wondered why it had changed.
What exactly was his place in all of this? He pondered this as he walked down the corridor of the Earth Kingdom palace. He had betrayed his uncle, shattered the possible trust growing between the Avatar and he, yet had regained his honor and his place in his kingdom.
Well, that wasn't really true yet. He was still in the Earth Kingdom, his every movement watched by the Dai Li and Mai. He was yet far from the shores of his proud nation, still trapped.
Was what he had done right? Had it been honorable? Was this really his place in the world or had he lost any chance of belonging?
He felt the body beside him stirring and did his best to remain still and quiet, as if he were yet asleep. He found he enjoyed these sleepy moments when Aang slowly awoke, still not entirely aware. It was this time when he found the Avatar to be most vulnerable and treasured it. Aang was only this way with him. He felt the lithe body beside him uncoil and stretch, slowly entering into the waking world. Zuko smiled softly, and opened his eyes to see Aang looking at him in a way only they shared.
"'morning," Aang murmured sleepily.
Fire provided some warmth, but it was a background sensation. The sheer heat the existed between them was an inferno, blazing and consuming. There wasn't even a remote possibility that either would be cold that night, no matter that it got quite chilly in the mountain evenings--not when they were intertwined, bodies molding to the other's contours. The blanket that covered them was stifling, the tent too closed, it was suffocating in the heat. Neither noticed, however, lost in the warmth of tender, erotic touches, in burning, soothing kisses, and in smoldering glances reserved for between them only.
There was a vibrance in him that Zuko envied; every day was a new adventure even though he had seen the world over countless times. There was such an overflow of life in Aang that it almost burned. Zuko felt pale in comparison to the Avatar, and perhaps that was where the desire came from. He wanted a part of that spark, something to ignite his dull and forsaken existence into something greater than he could conceive. The meager existence he had couldn't be called a life by any stretch—he wanted something more. The Avatar seemed able to provide that extra something, but Zuko was too proud to ask him what it was.
Aang had recently heard a word he didn't understand and when he asked Sokka or Katara they both immediately changed the topic or avoided the subject altogether. He wasn't a kid anymore, he had a right to know!
That left only one person to ask, and he knew he would get an answer.
The Avatar stalked through the halls of the Fire Nation's palace, taking him to where he was certain to find Zuko. He quietly opened the door to the training room and found the new Fire Lord deep in concentration. His movements were fluid and seemingly effortless, but the sheen of sweat that covered his body told of his exertion. Aang paused, thought, and then jumped in, turning the set into a spar. The Fire Lord recovered quickly from the surprise of fighting the Avatar, but stopped the spar before it could get too involved.
"What is it?"
"I heard this word in town and Katara and Sokka wouldn't explain what it meant."
Zuko raised an eyebrow, curious in spite of himself. "And it would be?"
Aang told him and Zuko was torn between laughing and blushing, two very inappropriate things for a Fire Lord to do.
"This will take some explaining," he finally managed to say.
Zuko sat on his throne, having just been crowned the new Fire Lord as his uncle's ashes were sent to the heavens to join the Fire Lords of past. It was a strange sensation, the achievement of something that had for so long been merely a dream. It was almost...surreal. He felt the ghost of a touch on his arm and looked up to see the Avatar.
"They're waiting for you, Lord Zuko," the Avatar said, amusement in his eyes and voice.
With the passing of the old came something new, and Zuko hoped to not repeat the mistakes of the old. Perhaps he would be able to, with the Avatar at his side.
It was deathly quiet. The Avatar sat hunched over, looking at a tomb marker. His hand reached out and he almost touched the stone, but pulled his hand back before it actually made contact.
No, the stone would be cold. He had never been cold. It wouldn't be fitting for this to be his last memory of the young man who had given his life to preserve hope.
It was so quiet. He had never been quiet. This was a poor parting.
Aang stood and resolved to find a better way to remember Zuko than this.
Privacy was a luxury for a king and a legend. No matter where they traveled in search nor in how elaborate a disguise they created, there was never a moment of privacy.
Especially if they traveled together, as they sometimes did. Always news of their progress went before them, people wanting to see the Avatar who had saved them and the Fire Lord who changed everything lining the major roads, hoping to catch a glimpse (Zuko despised flying). They had long ago accepted this, and only Zuko's temper and Aang's status gave them any semblence of the privacy they so desired.
Was there a "we"? An "us"? Aang wasn't certain. His savior was always so closed and prickly whenever the topic of their relationship (if that was what it could be called) came up. The reinstated Fire Prince obviously cared for the Avatar if he had taken the blow from Azula that would have provided a fatal distraction from Aang's battle with Fire Lord Ozai, but was reluctant to discuss why he had done so when it had nearly injured him beyond any healing. Aang wanted to know what caused the strange softness in Zuko's eyes when he looked at him, wanted to know a thousand things that Zuko would never tell him, unless Aang could convince him there was indeed a "we."
"Don't tell me I just said that aloud," Zuko grumbled as he placed his head in his hand.
Aang grinned widely. "That would be lying, though."
Zuko looked away, the slightest color creeping into his cheeks. "Just forget it. I must be sick or something."
"It's just as bad to lie to yourself."
Zuko looked at Aang as if he had two heads.
Aang chuckled. "It's okay." Aang moved close to the Prince, their faces inches apart. "I love you too. For all that you can be pretty dumb."
A half-hearted swat and Aang backed of, grinning as he saw the slightest of smiles cross Zuko's features.
"Are you ready?" Zuko asked, his eyes clouded with too many emotions for Aang to name. Aang nodded and slipped into a fighting stance, his mouth dry. He had fought against Zuko's father and had won, but the man hadn't known his style as well as Zuko did. Zuko had also managed to defeat his sister, the firebending prodigy, which spoke a lot for his skill.
"This is a spar," Aang reminded the Fire-Lord-to-be.
Zuko nodded dismissively. "That doesn't mean I'll go easy on you. Remember; loser bottoms."
Aang watched the storm over the sea, lightning striking the water, reminding him of the challenge he faced. He had to learn firebending, and perhaps even lightning, if he wanted to defeat the Fire Lord. Firebending was as terrifying as the storm he observed, nigh uncontrollable without the appropriate mentality. He watched the storm, and his mind drifted. If firebending was like a storm, then what did that mean he was? A hurricane? Destroying everything in its path in circling frustration building on frustration on perceived failure. Yes, that's what he was. A storm with form, substance and control, yet much danger.
15. Bring him
"Bring him in," Zuko commanded idly, meditating in his room. The Avatar was shoved into his room, bound, falling to the floor with a satisfying thud. Zuko looked over at his captive, the smallest of smirks on his face.
"What are you going to do with me? If you hand me over to your father I'm going to die and the world will be plunged into chaos!"
"Who said I was handing you over?"
Aang looked at Zuko, clearly confused and skeptical.
Zuko stood and checked the hall outside, ordering the guards to move down a ways and prevent anyone, even his bitch of a sister, from disturbing them. He closed and locked the door before going through his room searching for cracks and possible ways to hear inside the room. Satisfied, he returned to his seat.
Aang was very confused. "You're not going to give me to your dad?"
"No. He doesn't deserve to have you. He wasn't the one who chased you all over the world, afterall." Zuko stood and loosened the Avatar's bonds.
"You're going to kill him and I'm going to help. On my conditions."
Aang couldn't find him anywhere. He had been searching for well over an hour to no avail. Exasperated, he cornered one of the townspeople and asked them if they had seen a man with a scar flame-shaped scar on his face and wearing Earth Kingdom clothes. The woman paused, thought, then shrugged. Everyone in the village was Earth Kingdom citizens.
Aang frowned and thanked the woman.
That man was going to be the death of him.
Fire Lords don't take vacations!
Zuko's ear was near the felled Avatar's mouth, his fingers pressing against his neck, desperately trying to find a pulse.
"You can't die! You're the Avatar! You've won. You can't die now!"
The slightest pressure against his fingers and Zuko was near ecstatic. It was erratic, but there was a pulse. The Avatar's heart still beat, yet the boy was barely breathing. Remembering one of the few very worthwhile lessons his uncle had picked up from the waterbenders Zuko tilted Aang's head back and gave Aang his breath, praying that the Avatar would last until that damned water-tribe girl arrived.
When he was a child, Zuko had once heard a story about Heaven. To his young mind it sounded quite dull. He had sought out his mother and asked her. She had given him an answer, but a very unsatisfactory one to him at the time.
Now, years later as he held the sleeping Avatar in his arms he understood a little more of what his mother had said. Heaven is finding someone who cares for you and discovering that you feel the same.
Aang had always been puzzled by the concept of Hell. What was the point of it? Why would people make up such a scary place? It didn't really exist anyway—did it? He had asked Gyasto one day over Pai Sho, and the monk had grown thoughtful, trying to find the right way to phrase a complex, abstract concept so as to be understood by a young boy.
Now, a hundred-odd years after that conversation, Aang finally understood what his mentor had said. Hell is finding that you care for someone and then watching them fade away in your arms.
"People are dumb," Zuko grouched as he sat beneath an awning of a tea stall, the Avatar at his side.
"Aw, they're not all stupid."
Zuko gave him a highly skeptical look. "We're barely in disguise and no-one notices."
"Maybe these are better than you give them credit for being?" Aang replied, pulling at the Fire Nation clothing he was wearing.
Zuko choked back an exasperated sigh. "We're in Fire Nation regalia—I'm not even trying to hide who I am—and no one cares anymore." A wry, sad smile twisted Zuko's lips. "I remember a time when I would have had to fend off quite a number of assassination attempts."
Aang shrugged. "Yeah, but that's over. And everything's better now, no?"
Zuko grumbled and slouched, raising the jasmine tea to his lips, in honor of his now deceased uncle. "They're still dumb."
Zuko had two options: let the Avatar die or get killed saving him. The decision between the two was surprisingly easy to make. He ran towards the exhausted Avatar with Azula standing over him, lightning crackling on her fingertips. He shot a stream of fire at her, intentionally singing her hair. She turned to glare at him, lightning now gathering around her fist.
"I'm going to kill you, Zuzu."
Zuko gave her his best confident smirk. "Just try it."
Aang had kissed Katara before—her lips were soft, giving, and sweet. He had, on a dare and the threat of revelation of a secret he would rather have kept a secret, kissed Toph—her lips were much like her personality: demanding and rough. He had accidently kissed Sokka one day as a scuffle over a fish had become a little too close-quarters. His lips had been thin but surprisingly gentle.
They also had tasted like fish.
Zuko's though, were an entirely different story.
Kissing Zuko was an experience that defied explanation and description. His kissed burned, provoked, teased, and tortured with their contact. The absence of a kiss, though, was a different kind of torture: you felt cold, alone, and yearning for the warmth that was just out of reach. The kisses marked you and lavished you with attention and affection so intense it hurt. Aang loved Zuko's kisses, as they made him feel wanted in a way that had nothing to do with him being the Avatar. No, Zuko's kisses were for Aang, not the legend.
24. For you I will
Zuko looked up hazily at the blood-drenched sky and found he could barely move. What was weighing him down so much? It hurt to move anything, so he remained still, trying to work out what had happened to him.
He heard movement nearby and tensed, then moaned as the very reflex.
Someone knelt down beside him and he found himself looking into silver. "Zuko!"
Zuko found himself smiling. "You won?"
"Yes, yes we did."
"Good," Zuko murmured and closed his eyes.
"NO! Don't die, Zuko, please. I want you to live."
Zuko opened his eyes, every breath painful, but the tears running down the soot-stained face softened him. "For you I will."
Aang held up a mask and placed it to his face, turning to face Zuko and making monster sounds. Zuko's lips quirked up a little, and he shook his head.
"Remind me how old you are?"
"And yet you still--"
"Oh, leave it alone. Just because you're the Fi--"
Zuko moved faster than Aang gave him credit for, finding Zuko's eyes looking intently into his from beyond the mask. "Not here. I'm not that here." Zuko moved back and pulled the mask up, looking at Aang.
"Just like you're not the legend here."
Aang's shoulders slumped and he gave Zuko a wide, apologetic grin. "Aren't we wearing masks then, anyway?"
Zuko decided it was better not to answer.
Zuko crossed his arms and it looked as if Aang was going to have to fight for this one.
"C'mon. Please? It'll be fun!"
"I don't care about something be 'fun'."
"You have to relax every now and then Zuko!"
"Your definition of relaxation and mine seem to be very different," Zuko observed dryly.
Aang saw there was only one last way to get Zuko to buckle. His shoulders slumped and he looked away.
Zuko was immediately wary.
Aang looked back at him and turned on the kicked-puppy-dog-eyes on full blast.
Zuko gave in after a minute of torture and cajoling.
"NO!" Aang yelled, obviously frustrated. "That's not what I meant!"
"Then what did you mean?" came the cool reply.
"I...well..." An exasperated sigh and a few wild gesticulations later, Aang turned and glared at his Prince. "You're deliberatly being obstinate," he accused.
The Prince gave him the slightest of smirks. "What makes you think that?"
Aang twitched, then pounced on his Prince, sending them both tumbling to the floor, locking their lips together.
Zuko responded warmly to the kiss, solidifying Aang's belief that the Prince had been acting just to make Aang respond in this way.
Katara and Sokka stared at Aang, mouths gaping like the fish they were cooking.
"WHAT?" the asked in unison.
Aang shifted uncomfortably. "I'm going to make my home in the Fire Nation instead of with you guys or Toph."
"Dude, Aang, until recently the Fire Nation wanted you dead. Hear that? D. E. A. D," Sokka said, obviously annoyed.
"Wouldn't it be safer to stay near one of your traveling companions? I mean, we know you better than anyone else. Who do you know in the Fire Nation anyway?"
"Well, there's Zuko and Iroh."
Sokka slapped his forehead. "Mr. I-Must-Capture-The-Avatar and the tea-drinking old man? Yeah, some friends to have there."
Aang frowned. "Just so you know, Iroh's a very nice person and is a making a great Fire Lord."
"We know that Aang, we're just worried about you. What made you change your mind?"
"Um...it's a long story."
29. All you Wanted
Aang was holding the fire that would light Zuko's funeral pyre, half-listening to the chanted ceremonial words.
'All you wanted was to be accepted back into your home, to be recognized for the great person you were. Now...your memory will be honored always, I'll make sure of that, but it really isn't enough, is it?' Aang thought to himself, resolutely keeping himself from crying. He heard his cue and stepped forward, lighting the pyre, rising flames reflected in his and Iroh's eyes.
"Good-bye," Aang whispered. "If we hadn't lived now, I wonder if we could have been friends for longer?"
Aang settled himself on Appa, and looked down at the person standing next to Appa, one hand delicately placed on the bison's thick fur.
"I've come to see you off."
"I won't be gone for long," Aang replied, a smile on his face. "It's nothing major, so I should be back within the month."
"Doesn't sound that minor to me if you're giving yourself that much time," Zuko answered dryly.
"Well, the task itself shouldn't take that long, but there's bound to be distractions along the way, so might as well account for those, no?"
The tiniest quirk of Zuko's lips told Aang that he understood and Aang gave him a happy grin.
31. So Lonely
He never had realized just how lonely a person could be until he lost his some of his new friends. Sokka had fallen protecting Suki and Katara, and Katara in her grief wiped out a large chunk of the Fire Nation troops near her, and had nearly died before being dragged away. Momo had given his life to their cause, as did countless others that Aang had barely known but liked anyway.
Toph had survived, but had drawn within herself after learning of Sokka's death. Temporarily alienated from the two girls, he found himself confronted with another piece of news he didn't think would hit him as hard as it did—Zuko had died in combat. Aang asked the messenger how, and they replied, "Protecting you."
32. So Busy
Aang sat in the corner, making himself as inconspicuous as possible and simple watched. After meeting the Earth King, he had a concept of what being a king would be like that spoke of a life of leisure and little care.
When he had come to visit the newly crowned Fire Lord Zuko, he was amazed to find just how much work it too to run a land as vast as the Fire Nation, especially when he had to rebuild it from the ashes.
"He's so busy. Bet he doesn't have time to see me," he murmured to himself.
"I always have time to see the Avatar," he heard a voice reply and looked up into a serious face with amused golden eyes.
Aang balked and slid out of the tea house before anyone noticed him.
He was the Avatar! It shouldn't be this hard!
He fidgeted and turned something nervously over in his pocket.
"He'll just laugh at me," Aang murmured to himself. Still, it was now or never. Zuko was disguised (though Aang could recognize him anywhere), and had taken time out to meet with him.
He just lacked the confidence to go in there.
'C'mon. This can't be any harder than defeating an entire nation,' he thought to himself and stepped inside resolutely inside the tea house, doing his best to exude confidence.
It was his secret. He wouldn't tell it to anyone ever. How could he? He was expected to get married with a woman and have children to pass on the mantle of the Fire Lord to. It didn't matter whether or not he cared for the poor thing, he just had to be able to get it up long enough to impregnate her for as many times as it took to have a son. He looked forward to the possibility perhaps even less than the woman would. Being sold off to a Fire Lord who would never have room in his heart for you could possibly be the worst fate possible. So he would keep his secret to himself and pray that he wouldn't go insane.
Sometimes it was nice being alone. Silence broken only by birdsong, earth-song, wind-song and life's constant chatter. Being alone had its perks. It gave him time to think, to meditate, consider. All things that when he was in a city or even with one other person was impossible to achieve. Aang breathed in the air and smiled. There was autumn on the air, and smoke. Two things which reminded him of a certain person he hadn't visited in a while and who would probably be very annoyed with him simultaneously for coming unannounced and not having visited earlier. Aang grinned and floated to his feet. He had spent enough time helping the world readjust to freedom. It was time to see how well that person was adjusting to suddenly being the Fire Lord.
"Don't sneak up on me when I'm training!"
"I'm sorry, your highness. Pay more attention on your surroundings! You're the Fire Lord now, there will be assassination attempts."
Zuko bristled metaphorically while Aang still literally smoldered as he put the fire on his clothes out. "Be glad that your uncle taught me how to redirect lightning."
Zuko slowly calmed down (as much as he was ever calm) and had the presence of mind to look a little abashed. "Please excuse my inattention, Avatar." Since Aang was being formal, Zuko felt that he should return the favor (spiteful? No, not at all).
Zuko sat and leaned back against a tree in the Air Temple and watched the slowly resurrecting community of Airbenders. The underground (Zuko found the term amusing to be used in reference to airbenders) community that had hidden from the world for the era of his grandfather and father's domination was slowly coming out into the open ever since his uncle had ascended the throne( that, really, should have been his in the first place) and the rebuilding efforts were headed by the current Avatar, previously thought to be the last Airbender in the world. Said Airbender was now reclining against him, more or less sitting in Zuko's lap.
"You're not a child anymore."
Aang merely shrugged and gave him a dazzling smile. "It's more comfortable sitting this way than on the stone."
Zuko wasn't romantic. He and the concept weren't even on speaking terms; hell, they probably didn't even know each other. So when a package arrived for Aang at the Earth Kingdom house Aang had picked as a temporary residence, he was confused. More so when he saw what types of flowers they were.
He paid the boy for delivering them and then closed the door absently as he held the flowers. They were all very rare, usually blooming only in the most hard to reach parts of the Fire Nation. Great care must have been taking in transporting and picking them. Aang was astonished that someone would send him something as precious as these.
When he found the note hidden deep within the arrangement he stood very still for a long time, merely staring. Once the initial shock wore off he started laughing.
There were no words. Just a simply drawn heart and a name.
"Well, this is a first," Sokka said, scratching his head as he observed the scene before him.
Zuko was looking almost sullen as he held the cards in his hands, naked from the waist up, while Aang was left in most of his clothes, and Katara in a distressing state of undress.
"What exactly are you doing?" Sokka asked.
"Strip poker," was Aang's cheerful answer.
Katara looked away from her brother, her cheeks coloring. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
Zuko seemed to be experiencing a crossover of boredom and annoyance which made Sokka strangely sympathize with the Fire Prince. He looked at the three then threw up his hands in exasperation.
"Let's start a new game."
Katara brightened and quickly put on her clothes while Zuko shrugged into what he had taken off and Aang replaced his mini-cape.
Sokka just knew he was going to regret this.
He wanted to win so badly, but damn, he was good. Well, Aang supposed that should be the case considering how good his uncle was at Pai Sho. Zuko made another move and Aang's brows knit in concentration. He stayed that way for a while and it was only a small, soft chuckled that made him look up. Zuko was regarding him with an expression that Aang couldn't entirely decipher.
Aang looked down at the board and gaped. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought you would notice."
Aang glowered and Zuko smiled slightly. "Play again?"
Zuko sometimes woke at night, his heart aching, body straining to grasp at something that was seemingly beyond his grasp.
What was it that he craved with his entire being? What was this desire so strong that it hurt? It was a shadow in the back of his mind, and whenever he sought to corner it, it vanished. Infinitely frustrating and pointless, it drove him mad.
What was it?
It wasn't until he found himself at the mercy of gentle, caring hands and soft, butterfly kisses that he discovered what it was he was craving—simple, human, loving touch.
Zuko constantly said he hated chocolate. Aang loved it and didn't care who knew. Aang knew what kind Zuko liked, though. Zuko hated the super-sweet melt-in-your-mouth variety that was all the rage across Fire Nation, but he did have a taste for one particular variety. It was hard to come across, but Aang wasn't all that concerned; being the Avatar, nothing was really all that impossible, especially finding the one sweet in the world that his love would eat.
Aang's mouth and face fascinated Zuko, though he would never tell anyone that, even under torture. It was just so...mailable. Each expression distinct, never blending with any other. You knew when Aang was happy, sad, surprised, or angry. It was written all over his face and expressed very clearly with his mouth. Zuko liked seeing that mouth turn up in a genuine smile, but he wouldn't tell Aang that. The smiles wouldn't be genuine anymore after Aang learned of his like, but seeking to please, and Zuko didn't want that.
Zuko had been denied touch for many years. Aang hadn't been held much as a child, and had spent a hundred years bereft of the sensation. Both needed it more than they cared to admit, but when alone that need came to the front. In public they were nothing more than friends, though good ones. Privately, they couldn't keep their hands off each other, in both the naughty and non-naughty ways. Aang liked to cuddle, while Zuko simply liked to hold Aang's hand, tracing the delicate webwork of veins in his hand and wrist. Touch was important to them both, which made their intimacy all that more intense.
"Zuko, how many times have you changed your hair?"
"I've seen pictures of you when you were little--"
Zuko vowed to go over that with his traitor uncle.
"--and then I saw you when you just had that ponytail, then with your fuzz, and now with your long hair and topknot. Are those all the times?"
"You've always been bald though, right?"
"Well, yeah, it's kind of...traditional."
Zuko paused. "I wonder what color your hair would be," he murmured and ran his fingertips over Aang's scalp.
Zuko thought feet were the dirtiest part of the body, so he always shuddered inwardly when he saw that Toph girl walking around barefoot, her toes completely filthy. He strongly wanted to force her to wear shoes, but knew the skill she had with Earthbending. She wouldn't do anything she didn't want to, so he left it at that.
Aang saw this and found it funny, but said nothing to either. Zuko would feel betrayed and Toph would laugh at them both.
47. The Impossible
Aang looked up quickly, bending over the scroll he was writing, eyebrows coming together fiercly.
"Who's there?" he demanded.
The figure that resolved itself into the doorway had him drop his brush and stare.
A Zuko stood there, relying heavily on a staff used as both crutch and weapon from the scratches he saw on the wood. The side of his face that had been initally scarred was now worse than before, his eye completely sealed shut, thick scars running across it. He moved stiffly, his clothes hanging strangely on him.
"We thought you died."
A bitter smile crept across his lips. "The ocean has its moods."
"What's this do? How about this one? Ooo...this is shiny."
Zuko grabbed Aang's hand before he could touch the delicate machinery sitting on the shelf.
"I said to not touch anything."
"But everything looks so COOL."
"I'm glad you think so," Zuko said absently, though secretly he was pleased. He had tried his hardest to take the war machine his father had created and change the death into something that created an easier life. It had taken patience, quite a number of committees and a significant amount of money, but things were beginning to finally pay off.
Zuko heard a clatter and looked over quickly to a sheepish Avatar, a small pile of steel on the ground at his feet.
Slowly the Earth Kingdom was regaining its fertility. The fields produced more and better crops each year, and the people seemed healthier, no matter where you went. The Water Tribes harvested the seas, which seemed strangely more bountiful than they had before, as if celebrating the peace that had come to the world. The surviving Air Nomads were slowly making their way back into the world, blooming after a long winter. The Fire Nation was struggling back onto its feet after the enorumous loss of life, but under the gentle hand of Fire Lord Iroh it was regaining its former glory, save with a more peaceful bent.
A large export/import was tea, which the Fire Lord found grew very well in certain parts of the Fire Nation.
Aang simply stared at the young man, his expression changing to one of confusion. "C'mon. It's only a mushroom."
"Nope. I don't to fungi."
"It's not poisonous and it tastes good! Right, Katara?"
Katara looked up sheepishly, having eaten everything in her meal except for the mushrooms.
"HA! Sokka the meat-eating guy: One. Aang the vegetarian: ZERO."
What'd you think? Next 50 coming up soon.