Like I've said, this is my first attempt at something like this. So I hope you like it, but if you don't, don't kill me... :P


End Maiko

Ba Sing Se, at nightfall.

A depressed-looking, young woman is sitting on the steps in front of the Jasmine Dragon Tea Shop, her arms folded across her chest and her eyes covered by a troubled veil. Her back is turned toward the young man with her. A look of worry and pain is etched across his scarred face.

The tension and uncertainty is hanging in the air. Finally, the young man decides to try to overcome it. Something hadn't been right about her, about THEM, lately, and it was scaring him.

So he ventured…

"Are you okay?"

Even as he asked the question, put his hand on her shoulder, felt her twist uncomfortably under his touch, he knew the answer. He also knew the real question he disguised behind it—"Are we okay?"

What's happened to us?

She pushed his hand off her shoulder and stood up, keeping her back to him. He knew it was a bad sign.

"Zuko—no. I'm not okay and we're not okay."

"You don't mean that, Mai."

Mai gave a sigh, turning to face her once-happy boyfriend. "No, Zuko. I mean it."

It wasn't sinking in. He wasn't going to let it sink in. Zuko stood there, feeling like the world was backing away from him, and he was set in stone watching it go by.

"This—this—Mai, you told me not to break up with you ever again. And now you're breaking up with me!"

"Zuko. I never said I was."

"Well, are you?"

Mai turned around again silently.

"I heard that," Zuko breathed.

"I didn't say anything."

"You didn't have to."

Another bout of tense silence ensued. The couple remained in their positions as though glued, Mai with her back to Zuko, Zuko looking after her, both their expressions unreadable.

"But why?" Zuko said it so quietly, he hadn't really expected her to hear.

And if she had, Zuko didn't expect her to tell him.

She turned around for the fourth time during their interaction. Now she faced him again. "Zuko. I never meant to tell you this. Even if we do end up…ending, it doesn't mean we can't still…be on good terms. But—" Mai stopped in her tracks. Dimly, Zuko registered that this was the closest he'd ever seen his girlfriend (most likely his ex-girlfriend at this point) to crying.

She was rallying herself, or trying to. "I'm sorry, Zuko," she said, her voice breaking. And when the first tear fell, there was no stopping the rest, not even for someone as hardened as she was. "I just can't do this. Good-bye."

She brushed past him as she made her exit, her face down, her shoulders shaking quietly. Zuko watched her go, turning his head to follow her and straining his eyes to see her long after she'd passed. It's over, he thought. I can't believe it's over.