First Time Lifehouse

A/N: Okay, you finally squeezed it out of me. Here's as much of a sequel I'm ever going to get around to, so enjoy An Epilogue!! yay for them lol! I would really love to do a sequel, it would just rock, but i've got too many other projects i REALLY need to get under way. So here's this, just cuz Zutara is awesome and STJ ended with tons of unanswered loops! (if you look closely you'll find them ;).


Zutara Forever!

P.S. Y'know, people may say Zutara's in it's darkest hour because Katara SPOILER ALERT "threatened to kill Zuko" in The Western Air Temple episode... (yeah right, i'd like to see Katara kill someone. Mm, hm. Sure. Whatever, girl.) So yeah, that's being used as MAJOR Kataang leverage right now (hacksnarlvomit) but in my opinion, END OF SPOILERZUTARA HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER!! Have you noticed tons of the brilliant AND SUCCESSFUL love stories started with people hating eachother? e.g.: Han Solo and Leia Skywalker, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Belle and the Beast, Sinbad and Marina (haha) etc., etc., etc. And soon to be added, ZUKO AND KATARA! (at least we hope, lol)

Anyway, I'm ranting, you get the idea, you're all Zutarans! Thanx for reading, you guys rock!


September eighth, first week of school. I can't begin to tell you how amazing the summer was, but now, in this moment, I think the world is even more amazing. Thinking the car crash was just months previous in April gives me the chills. Chills of happiness.

Miracles happen all the time. Keep your eyes open, you'll see them everywhere.

They don't have to be huge to be recognized or to qualify for a miracle.

But this one was huge, and it blows me away every time I pass him in the halls.


Simone laughed: I'd never heard her laugh like that, not ever. Come to think of it, she was really different in every little way. Her eyes were a brighter olive, so much more life spread her lips as she smiled. The weighty attitude that had previously dampened her humor was now gone. There was nothing but genuine happiness in her voice. The green polish on her fingernails and toes was fresh and intricately placed, she was wearing mascara and sparkles on her eyelids. In that moment when she laughed I would've given lots to look as beautiful as she did.

She bent down to grasp Jace's wrists and his fingers encircled hers. Jennifer, her hand intertwined with Holden's, was jumping up and down with excitement while Holden returned my smile. Seth stood to the side, stealing glances every once a while over his shoulder and sometimes letting a small smirk perk his lips, but not enough to dampen his honor, don't worry. Giggle.

Simone carefully set her toes against Jace's, giving him a brace as he slowly worked to rise to a stand. Tyson Arleng, who stood behind the wheelchair working as Jace's chaperone, set one hand on his back to support him. Jace made it to a stand--- he was good at that part--- but his legs trembled slightly and he stumbled involuntarily forward. With a laugh and a light 'woah!', Simone caught him in an embrace, setting him back on his heels. Jace laughed with her, holding her close until he had his balance.

Holden, Jennifer, Tyson, and I all cheered and applauded. Simone reached up to kiss Jace's cheek.

"You wanna try to walk?" she asked, beaming up at him. He was at least a head taller than her. "You're doing so great."

His arms encircled her tighter.

"If I fall on you, I might not be able to get up," he said, and mischief glinted behind his eyes. She just laughed and nestled her face in his shoulder while he somehow managed to lift her off the ground. She started to protest but Jace ignored her, setting her feet down on top of his. Tyson stayed close behind with the wheelchair incase Jace had to fall but it didn't look like he would. Love gave him strength and strength helped him afford... peh, sorry, we just started Romeo and Juliet in English class.

We watched him teeter again but this time it was intentional: he grabbed Simone playfully as she squeaked in alarm. We laughed, of course: Simone had been slightly bipolar these last few days. She'd be begging Jace to get out of his wheelchair and try walking, and then as soon as he actually took her on it, she was suddenly paranoid, telling him to sit back down.

The warning bell buzzed above us. Briskly, Jennifer and Holden said their good-byes and bustled off hand-in-hand, he escorting her to her classroom as always. Seth sauntered away a little quicker than usual, shooting Jace one last blank glance before catching one of his buddies and losing track of his ex-enemy completely. After waving my own see-yah's, I turned over my shoulder to catch Jace pull Simone into a kiss, which apparently she wasn't expecting, but her purse and books falling to the floor didn't seem to stop her from kissing him back.

Mrs. Wulsy was a little more mellow today: it was Friday; she must have learned in her years of teaching that the kids were too psyched about the weekend to be enlightened so she showed little effort in doing so. She simply gave us some busy work and let us waste the whole period chatting.

Simone barely made it in on time: she'd just finished chiding Jace for holding her up so long, falling down in her seat with a sigh and shooting me a nervous smile.

I couldn't help feel warmed. Those two were so... I don't know. They just made me feel better.

Class droned on, Simone getting into sports talk with Holden, and so I was officially zoned out when suddenly my phone (Yes! My phone! Seth got it for me as an early birthday present!) chimed and vibrated against my thigh in my jean pocket. You'd think I'd get busted the instant Mrs. Wulsy heard it, but I do need to mention it was a phone with a ring that ears over the age of thirty couldn't hear.

Gran had disapproved, but Seth had just kept telling me how close he'd come to keeping it for himself and buying me a different one. I was glad he gave it to me, and he soon became glad too: I was recently getting a lot more calls than him, as unbelievable as that sounds.

But this one wasn't a call: this little chime was for text and stuff.

I didn't need to look at the number to know who it was.

I swiftly flipped the phone out and open, looking down with a smile at the screen. It read:

hey u. happy birthday.

I grinned and quickly texted back. Simone had spent five hours in my room teaching me how.

hey yourself. thnx! are u in class?

It didn't take a minute for the next message to buzz into view.

yes. i'm not always sluffing

I giggled, stifling a laugh, and quickly punched in reply:

as long as you don't get in trouble. ;p i miss u

Another minute...

i miss u too. i'm coming tonight, remember?

A thrill of excitement shot up my stomach. I couldn't help giggling again, as fangirly as it sounds.

is that a trick question? I texted. it's all i've been able to think about for the last week.

I waited...

oh well then i'll try not to disappoint you.

His sweet smirk appeared in my mind. I might have been hovering above the rest of the class.

that's impossible.

Mrs. Wulsy stood up and began assembling the overhead.

I sighed and punched in: well... i might need to go soon.

ok me too. just kidding i'm sluffing.

you're sluffing???!!! get back in class!!!

My chuckle and intake of breath got Simone's attention: she glanced over her shoulder and smirked.

"So how's Zane?" she asked lightly. "Is he touring the country yet?"
I laughed. "He's probably more scared of that idea than I am."
simone says hi, ZaZa. and are you really sluffing?

Simone waited with me this time.

no i'm in class. hi Sim wutsup.

"All right, I'll leave you two alone now," Simone said, still smirking playfully and leaning away back to Holden.

I turned too and let my thumb loose.

she's great. I left out the Jace detail, seeing as Zane was even farther behind on the warming-up-to-Jace scale than Seth ever will be. so what time r u coming?

maybe six. i'll be there. stop worrying.

Even in text messages, he could read my mind.

oh fine i will. i'll see you at six.

I almost tapped in... nah, high school kids like he and I didn't say that to eachother...

But then his reply came.

ok. love you Kade.

If I tried telling you how I felt, I'm afraid we'd be here for an hour.

love you Zane.


Yes, it was my birthday, as you may have guessed. Right after school was my "friends" party, after which in the evening would be my "family" party. In other words, chaos and then dignity.

Simone, Holden, A.J., Tameron, Tyson, Jace, and Jennifer were there: Seth had been hesitant to let Jace through the front door, but after remembering he was in a wheelchair and receiving a disapproving look from me, I guess he consented. He just sat at the extreme opposite of the room and eventually disappeared altogether, claiming he'd gotten a phone call from Yvonne.

That phone call lead to the arrival of Mika. Jeremiah, Sosaia, and Tao weren't able to make it, but I was able to forgive them. Gran was busy enough handling so many teenagers in her house, especially a handicapped along the way; I didn't think she'd need a posse of gigantor Samoans to further define 'a party'.

She shooed us all into the living room and set us up with a movie until the cake and all that was ready. A.J. and Tameron were the only ones paying attention to the T.V., and even then they were whispering and giggling in their own little world. Tameron had brought her chihuahua Zutara, by the way, and it had just gained a new friend: Gran was carrying it around wherever she went, cooing and coddling it all over the place... that little beast didn't bark once during the entire afternoon. Tameron didn't mind, of course: she had A.J.

I talked mostly to Mika and Tyson: everyone else had their boy\girlfriend to chat with, and Jennifer and I were awkward enough that we weren't relishing introductions anytime soon. (One word: Zane. Hey, Holden had requested her presence, not me.) Both Mika and Tyson seemed to subtly compete for my attention: the 'winner' came out flat as I looked over to see what movie was on and caught it at a peticularly terrifying part. (I learned later it had been A.J.'s choice, he trying to scare Tameron with at least freaky noises if freaky images weren't possible.) I jumped out of my skin and grabbed Tyson's torso, not missing the smirk he shot at Mika over my head nor the grimace he got in return. But apparently it was all banter: they joked around like brothers for the rest of the party.

Seth didn't reappear from his room until the words 'cake' and 'ready' entered the premises. In the kitchen, Gran was clutching Zutara close under her arm as she served us all. I'd made a special request to skip any kind of song, and I think everyone was thanking me for that whether knowingly or not.

And then I was seventeen. Well, not officially: I'd be officially seventeen at ten thirty that night, but blowing out the candles sort of passed. We ate like pigs, even the girls. I actually think the girls beat the guys by two pieces, but Seth and Jace were worthy opponents. Jennifer and Mika had been the only ones to keep some dignity and not participate in gorging themselves.

Presents next... My favorite was Jace's. Come on, there has to be a sentimental moment at every party. I'd told him I wanted nothing more than he to stand up and walk over to me for a hug, which he did in three paces to the excitement of us all. And even as Seth looked away at the floor, I hugged Jace as tight as I could.


"Wasn't that fun? I thought it was so much fun."
I reached across the table for the salt. "It was. I had a blast. Though I think you spent most of your time with the dog."

Gran shrugged, busily slicing her lasagna. "I talked with you kids, didn't I?"
"As soon as we started whimpering," Seth mumbled. He smirked and Gran just scowled.

As we sat there eating my birthday dinner, it started. The bubbly, fizzy tingle of excitement. It started in my stomach, moving quickly to my fingertips and toes.

"What time is it?" I asked a little hastily, looking at the clock over Gran's head.

"Five forty?" Seth guessed.

"Eat some more lasagna, pumpkin," Gran chided, sensing my anxiety. "You love this stuff and I never make it, and now when I do, you haven't eaten any."
"I've eaten tons!" I turned back to my plate. "And I thanked you a thousand times."

"Did I burn the bottom?" she asked, wincing.

"No, no. It's perfect, Gran, really."

"Then eat! You've got plenty of time."
Seth's arm crossed over my plate and then receded, bearing the salad bowl.

"Seth? Eating salad?" I raised an eyebrow. "It must be a special occasion."
Seth merely reached over and sliced a bite out of my lasagna with his fork, lifting it up and pushing it against my mouth.

"Augh--- stop! I'm gonna eat it."
"So what was your favorite present, Katydid?" Gran asked.

I didn't tell the exact truth; I didn't want Seth getting moody when we were sitting in such close proximity to eachother at our little round table.

"Yours and Seth's."
"Really?" She sounded genuinely surprised.

"Yeah," I persisted. "A thirty-song iTunes gift card? I'm set. And those jeans you gave me were really cute."

"I can't believe you're seventeen," Gran sighed, shaking her head. "It seems just yesterday you were sixteen."
"That's 'cause I was," I said.
"Zane should get you something really nice," Seth hummed. My stomach leapt into my throat. Compared to Jace's situation, Seth had welcomed Zane into our family system with open arms. "Like an iPod mini."
"He knows I don't need one," I said, blushing slightly. "They're way expensive. And I have a Nano."

"So what? The mini's are sweet. And he needs to get you expensive things, if he wants to last long around here, anyway."
He caught my eye and cleared his throat.

"Erm, I mean, a gift card would be generous of him."

"Teenagers are so strange," Gran murmured. "They value such little things."
"Everything's little now, Gran," Seth said, his spark returning. "Soon Apple's gonna find a way to shrink human beings. The iPod mini is just the beginning, soon you'll have iKid minis."
"Well, I'm glad I'll be dead by then," Gran mumbled.

"Hey, you never know," Seth said. "They're making time smaller too."
"Yes, that's all this world needs," Gran said. "Less time."

"Now there's an idea," I said. "Why don't they make gigantic iPods? Like ones as big as houses."
"Why, so when the Titans drop by, we can lend 'em some tunes?" Seth asked.

"All right, I think you kids are done," was Gran's drone.
"No, no." Seth and I dug in to our half-eaten plates.

And then suddenly I heard it.

A metallic snarl, the rip of an engine growing louder and closer. When it reached it's mark, it faded down to a purr and stood still.

I leapt to my feet.

"Zane's here!"
Gran and Seth both jumped, looking up at me with ranging emotions.

"Are you sure? How do you know?" Gran also hopped from her seat and hurried to the window, peeking through the blinds. She spun around with a gasp.

"It's him!"
"See you, guys!" My smile might have ripped my face in half. I dashed into the living room, snatching my sweater off the couch and then blitzing back to the kitchen. Quickly I hugged Seth's head; he'd remained in a state of startlement.

"Bye, Seth!"
Gran was at the front door, nearly jumping up and down.

"Have a great time, Katydid!" she squealed, pulling me into a hug. I pried myself loose almost the instant she grabbed me, wrenching the front door open and stumbling out onto the porch as if pulled by a magnet. And as far as I could see, I was.

There on the curb, just a few feet from the edge of our driveway, was a sleek, black motorcycle propped on an angle in it's park.

And beside the seat, frozen in mid-step, was my man.

Zane blinked when he saw me, the light from our kitchen falling on his figure that was previously cloaked in twilight's darkness. He'd apparently missed the detail that I'd be listening for him every nanosecond and so therefore really wouldn't need to knock on the door.

He smiled, content, and opened his arms.

I ran as fast as I could and literally threw all my weight around his neck. He used my force to propel a spin and twirled me towards the lawn. I was sure Gran was there with popcorn and a lawn chair watching us laugh into eachother's hair, and Seth too, no doubt, peering through the blinds. I didn't care for a minute.

When Zane set me down on my feet, I slipped back just far enough to meet his eyes. He set his nose against mine and for a moment all we could do was smile.

"Hey, you," I said. "How's L.A.?"

"Pretty lonely," he said, smirking, and I just buried myself in his arms again.

"You're early."
"Is that good?"
"Well, what do you think it is?" I demanded, and pulled away again, laughing. Our fingers wrapped together and he drew me back close against his forehead.

"Happy birthday," he whispered.

I grinned. "Thanks. Now I've caught up with you."
"Well, mine's in just a month."
"Really? It is?"
We laughed, moving into another hug.

"Did your uncle drive you down here?" I asked into his shoulder.

"Nah, I came alone. He's busy, but I got to use his car."

"Thanks so much."
"You think I'd choose Calculus homework over you?" He chuckled.

"I hope not."

"It's no contest."
My heart fluttered. I squeezed him tighter. "Augh... I've missed you like crazy."

"I see you at least every weekend," he said.

"Still. It's never enough."

"Yeah. I know. You know, I do my homework at least once a week, too."

"I'm proud," I grumbled, and he laughed.

"Are Seth and Gran still watching?" I asked, giggling, and I felt his chin brush my head as he turned to look.

"Oh, that's too bad." I carefully emerged from his arms.

"Why's that?" He was catching on now, smirking.

"They're always so interested in my personal life... and still they miss the best parts."
I didn't waste another minute: taking his face in my palms, I reached up on tip toe and kissed him. It was a full kiss, the kind I always saw Jace give Simone. Zane returned it like the master he was, (still a mystery to me...) his arms tenderly cradling my waist. In that moment I had about a trillion flashbacks of the summer, the times when he and his uncle would come to visit for days, eve a week or two at times. Zane and I would go to the beach and spend the entire day talking in the sand. Or we'd put in a movie with Gran and Seth and innocently kiss eachother whenever Seth wasn't looking. (Thus getting caught in the act about every single time, since he never looked away for too long.)

And then I remembered Zane's surprise visits, the ones where I really flipped out. He had his motorcycle during most of those occasions and we'd go zooming around San Diego for hours on end, only coming back to Gran's house when we were hungry. And we'd find Zane's uncle Isaac in the kitchen with her enjoying a cup of tea and making small talk; despite their age difference, they made good friends.

If he didn't have his bike, we'd walk hand-in-hand and then take the trolleys. I remember sitting in his lap, leaning my head back into his neck and pointing out the grimy trolley window at mimes performing on the passing streets. His arms felt so natural around my waist that even when we'd stood up to exit, I could still feel them there.

One night we'd sat on my bed whispering and giggling until four in the morning before Zane's uncle had driven over and pretty much had to drag his nephew from my room. Amid all these little dream-come-true's were five-hour phone calls that even Gran would insist come to an end at some point. By then, Seth had long given up on the two of us, Zane and I: he grew to ignore our existence, which wasn't any skin off our backs because we were always in our own little world anyway.

Zane's hand came to rest on the back of my head, shattering my recollections. I didn't mind; why bother pondering on memories of my boyfriend when he was standing right here, kissing me now?

Our lips finally parted: I could feel mine tingling, and let them wander to his cheek and ear to satisfy their complaints. He chuckled, wriggling away. Oops, I'd forgotten he was ticklish back there.

"You always do that," he said, rubbing his ear. It was his good ear, the one that wasn't caked in pink, burnt skin. I'd made an effort not to ever touch his scar until we had some kind of talk about it... but most of the time we were too busy nuzzling to bring up a dismal topic like that.

Besides, I had no idea how he'd handle it. He might be enraged, and then he might be totally cool. I didn't want to take my chances when my time with him was always so finite.

So I smiled and took his hands, leaning in to touch a brisk kiss of apology against his smiling lips.

"Sorry. I forget."

"I wonder if you're ticklish..." He started to slink closer, fingers dancing on my waist.

"Stop!" I giggled, shoving his hands away. He just smirked and stole a kiss, knocking me breathless for a moment.

"We gonna go?" he asked.

I blinked and took his hands again, pulling him towards the parked motorcycle.

"Yeah. We are."


A/N: Yup, it ends kinda... unfinished. but that's how i decided to do it. A 'short-and-simple' kind of thing. send me suggestions as to what Zane got her for her birthday . thanks so much guys! zutara forever!

p.s. in an alternate version of this, she meets him at a skate park and watches him do half-pipes for a minute. it's then that he gives her his gift. what is it??