I've got my eye on you

Tumbleweeds on the road, the smell of smoke and tobacco and cedarwood and dust and ash; the man came riding into town on the verge of it as if washed in by the desert wind, short hair ruffled round his face and too harshly cut to hide his scar.

"One of the Flame Boys," they said at the tavern, and the sheriff heard. He spat out the end of the straw that he'd been chewing, found another one, and sauntered outside in time to see the newcomer hitch his horse to the rail.

"Well," he said. "If it ain't the Zuko Kid, back from the grave again."

Zuko gentled his horse, not bothering to look across at the sheriff. "Jet Earp. Been a while since I saw you around. Thought you learned last time that you didn't want to cross my path."

"Heard that last time you were in town, you disappointed a lady."

Zuko shrugged. "I disappoint so many. Care to put a name to her?"

"Pretty Miss Katara the schoolteacher."

Zuko snorted. "Can't abide a woman who sticks her nose into my business."

Jet chewed on the end of his straw thoughtfully. "I hear a lot of women been doing that lately. Miss Mai at the knife shop, Miss Azula up at the big house --"

"I could give a good goddamn what Miss Azula thinks of me."

"What I think of you," Jet said, taking a step closer, "is that you oughta get out of town right now."

"And why might that be." Zuko turned and settled his fists on his hips. "You got something to say 'bout how I conduct myself?"

"Now let's not be hasty." Jet pulled the straw out of his mouth, inspected it, and slid it back in again. "You got a name for yourself, Zuko. So I'm telling you here and now, I'm going to be watching you. You turn around, I'm going to be there. You light a cigar, I'll smell the smoke. You put a finger wrong, a single finger, and I'll have you."

"You can try," Zuko spat. "Guess I'm not interested in your interference."

"Guess I don't care what you want." Jet put one hand on Zuko's chest. "You hear me, Zuko?"

Zuko's eyes burned. "You take every one of those fingers off me, Sheriff, or I am by god going to make them pay for touching me."

"Make me."

Zuko grabbed Jet's wrist, his hand folding around it in a bone-tight grip. "This town isn't big enough for the two of us, Sheriff. You'd better not get in my way."

Jet gave a wry smile. His twin pistols clinked at his hips as he rolled his shoulders. "Zuko, I'm going to get in your way all I like, and all I expect to hear from you is, 'Yes, sir,' or you are going to be going out of town feet up and head down. Am I clear?"

"You can make yourself as clear as you like," Zuko said. "It won't change nothing."

Jet took a step further forward, ignoring Zuko's hand on his wrist, and Zuko stepped back in response, his back coming up against the horse rail. "Seems like you've forgotten what happened last time we crossed."

"You're just one man, Sheriff," Zuko sneered. "Can't think of nothing I'd want to remember."

"Not even this?" Jet asked, and moved in again, grinding his hips against Zuko's as his mouth sought Zuko's mouth, greedy and hot.

The flames burst out in a desert rose of fire, scorching the rail to ashes, burning the reins on Zuko's horse and sending it galloping down the street with a panicked neigh. Zuko staggered back, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "You surely do want me to kill you, Sheriff. You surely do. Because if you try that again --"

"If I want to," Jet said blandly, "then I'll do it. You don't want me on your back, Zuko? Then you get out of town. I'm the sheriff here. What I say goes. This town ain't big enough for the two of us. You said it yourself. And if you stay here, then I am gonna have your ass, just like I have before."

Zuko spat in the ground at Jet's feet, then stalked off, heading in the direction his horse had gone.

Jet chewed on his stalk one more time, then went back into the bar. He had a bottle to finish.