Of Curses

Summary: Woman, Zuko decided, were crazy - period.

Author's Note: Um, nothing really to say about this one. Something silly that just really wrote itself. Anyway, enjoy.

Zuko has never been afraid of girls before.

Admittedly he hasn't had enough experience to build up upon what every man knows is inevitable, but that excuse really falls short in times like this. Furiously he tries to think. Azula and her friends had never acted like this, not even when they were younger. And mother – mother never went through mood swings, not like she did.

Through the blissful filter of childhood, Zuko failed to remember that even Ursa could have Ozai cowering in fear when she hit one of her moods.

He racked his brain again, trying to remember his rather sparse dealing with the female race. There were Song and Jin, of course. But he had only known Song for a night, and Jin was normal. She was nothing like her. Well, he admitted rather grudgingly, there was that one incident. He remembered one afternoon when she had stormed into the tea house and chucked the nearest tea cup at his head, calling him an insensitive jerk. Of course, she was unprovoked.

He had been bewildered as he swept up the broken pieces of china. When he had asked Uncle about it Iroh merely shook his head and chuckled, "Woman are cursed, Zuko, remember that and begrudge them their moments. We cannot possibly understand what they are going through."

Oh, he knew all about a woman's monthly bleeding, but he had no idea how that and their crazy mood swings could be related. So, as he usually did, he disregarded his uncle's advice.

And, as always, with disastrous consequences.

He didn't remember the waterbender being quite so tall as she stared down to where he was sitting. She had one hand propped up on her waist and her other hand was brandishing a spoon threateningly. Distantly he noticed that there was an increasingly alarming tic developing above one of her livid sky blue eyes. The water from the river a few paces away was sloshing angrily against the shore.

On the other side of the cooking fire the Avatar and the waterbender's brother were huddled in fear. Aang's eyes were wide, and Sokka was shaking his head, trying to get him to just shut up and let her be right. They had the common sense to be petrified.

Zuko didn't.

Behind Katara the earthbender stood, her blind eyes were smirking as she gave a silent support to her sister-in-arms.

Zuko glared up at her, refusing to back down. He had just joined the group not even a week ago, and by Agni he would not bend to her. "I said it was good. What more do you want me to say?!"

She was twitching again, drops of abused soup were flinging off of the end of the spoon as she waved it to punctuate her every word. "You didn't mean it!" She fairly shouted. "You had a look!"

"A look?" He repeated, incredulous.

Behind the fire Aang and Sokka gulped, both shaking their heads as if to warn off the inevitable disaster. He ignored them, instead opting to glare furiously at the impossible waterbender.

"Yes!" She shouted. "A look!"

"What look?!" He exclaimed, shooting to his feet in hopes of using his superior height to intimidate her.

She yanked on his collar, bringing him down to her eye level. "That look." She growled.

"I didn't have this look then!" He was fighting the urge to strangle the infuriating girl.

She raised an eyebrow, daring him to say more.

He did. "I said it was good! I was being nice, because, lets face it, you're not exactly a gourmet cook!"

She let him go, aghast, and behind them the other two boys winced. Even Toph looked stunned. "Oh, that was so the wrong thing to say." Sokka said needlessly. Zuko glared at him for stating the obvious.

Meanwhile, Katara had recovered from her speechlessness. "Why you selfish. Arrogant. Rude -"

" - Oh, I am the rude one?" He asked, incredulous. "You were the one who threw a bowl of soup in my face for complimenting you!"

Aang and Sokka were quietly slinking away. Even Toph suddenly looked nervous. She could feel the angry river pushing at it's bounds, answering Katara's call. Katara's eyes glinted as she raised her hands. Behind her the water raised as well. Zuko shivered, an odd chill of premonition running up and down his spine. "I'm rude?" She asked, her voice dangerously low.

That's all she heard? He threw his hands up in complete frustration. "No! You're just crazy!"

That did it. She let the water go and he had the sickening feeling of being swept away before being frozen to a rather convenient tree at the edge of the river clearing. Fuming he melted the ice that bound him. Steam rolled off of him in angry gray billows as she stepped through the ankle deep puddles left behind from the wave.

Aang and Toph had directed most of the water away from the camp, but some items had not been fortunate enough to have the other bender's protection. They were now picking strewn belongs up, carefully moving around the rather flustered waterbender.

Zuko squared his shoulders and caught one of Katara's glares with his own. I am not afraid of her. I am not afraid of her. I am not afraid of her. He repeated the mantra in his head, wishing that he believed it himself.

Picking up his discarded bowl he moved over to the pot which was left boiling on the cooking fire. Sokka met him there, already on his third helping. "Dude, you do know that you are crazy for disagreeing with her? Especially when she's in that mood."

He shrugged. "I was right."

Sokka sighed, putting his own bowl down. "That really doesn't matter."

Zuko glared, "how doesn't it?"

"Because," Sokka said, draping an arm over the flustered prince's shoulders. In his best teacher's voice he said: "Woman are just crazy, Zu. It's better to agree with them and let them think they're right." His other hand gestured around the flooded clearing. "Or else bad things tend to happen."

Zuko shrugged the other's arm off of him. "Whatever. I'm not afraid of a mere girl."

Sokka shook his head. "Then you're stupid. If you don't mind me being frank."

The water warrior picked up his bowl, now full again and walked over to Katara, obviously testing out the still icy waters. Zuko watched them for a moment before shaking his head and filling his bowl once more.

No. Zuko has never been afraid of girls before.

But he's starting to gain a healthy respect for this one.