Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar, but this story is mine

A/N: I can't believe the disparity in numbers of Maiko stories versus Zutara stories!! Well I'm hard core Maiko all the way and its only right that my first story be dedicated to them. Set between books 2 and 3, I wanted to know how Zuko and Mai might have got together. Since book 3 is over, I used those episodes to inform the story and Mai's character since we don't really know her from the few episodes she's in during book 2.

Although Zuko had yet to show his face in the two days since the defeat, Mai knew exactly where his room was located. Balancing a tray loaded with an earthenware pot of ginsing tea, two matching cups, and an assorted variety of sweet and sticky pastries, she walked down the long corridor to his room. Knocking softly, she waited patiently outside his door. When she received no answer from the other side, she knocked again but this time a little more forcefully.

"Go away!" replied a gruff voice that was more sad than angry. Mai frowned. Breathing in deeply she leaned closer against the finely carved mahogany door.

"Zuko, its Mai" she called out sweetening her voice more than usual. She waited and listened. It sounded like there was movement beyond the door, but because of its thickness it was hard to be certain. She was about to address the door again when she saw the golden knob turn. Before her stood a much older version of a young boy she once knew. She could read the shock on his face. She had assumed that he knew she would be there, but seeing his expression she realized that she was wrong. After all, in the many months she accompanied Azula in tracking Zuko she never once saw him. This was the first time she had laid eyes on him in three years.

Not knowing how to break the silence, but knowing that it would fall on her to do so she plainly asked, "May I come in?"

"Y-yes. Please Mai. Please come in" Zuko stammered as he blinked himself back into reality. Mai entered and set the tray on a low table that was situated in front of two plush, green, backless couches. She looked around the room. It was large but sparsely decorated. It was likely one of the palace's many guest chambers as there were no personal effects to suggest it belonged to any member of the royal family.

Zuko looked empty; almost a shell of a man. Besides growing taller and more muscular (she couldn't help but notice his sculpted biceps peeking out of his sleeveless shirt) Zuko looked much more fragile than the manchild who had courted her years ago. Maybe this was a mistake she thought to herself as she cleared her throat and headed toward the door.

"Mai. Please don't leave yet. Not before having a cup of tea." Zuko's voice almost pleaded when he said those words. She bowed her head acquiescing to his request. Luckily he was still standing, so she sat down on the nearest couch forcing him to choose whether to sit next to her or across from her. As she began pouring the tea, Zuko sat next to her. Her heart fluttered but she kept her hands steady careful not to spill the tea.

Handing Zuko the small greenish-brown earthenware cup, she said, "Its Ginsing."

"I know, it was Uncle's favorite. It is Uncle's favorite" he quickly corrected himself. After a very pregnant pause he continued, "It's your favorite as well." The faintest shade of pink crept into Mai's cheeks as she sipped. He remembered she thought as she felt the ends of her mouth curl into a bashful smile.

"Still the shy little girl I remember, hmm?" Zuko teased.

"I am not a little girl" Mai defiantly retorted careful to control the amount of anger creeping into her voice.

"No, I see that." He said this with just the tiniest hint of wantonness, which Mai immediately perceived. She looked up from her tea to see that Zuko was not looking at her face anymore but rather staring somewhere just below her neck. Mai shot him a look that she had perfected over the years; a look that was as sharp as the stilettos strapped to her arms and potentially twice as deadly. Seeing that he was caught, it was his turn to redden in the face. A few awkward minutes passed before either one of them worked up the nerve to cut through the tension. Zuko popped an almond cookie into his mouth and before he had finished chewing it asked "do you remember your tenth birthday party?"

How could I forget? That was the first time you kissed me…

"Vaguely" Mai lied keeping her expression stoic. There was no way she was going to give into him that easily. Zuko hadn't come to the party. It was a stupid tea party her mother organized and invited all of the girls in Mai's Fire Nation Academy class. Even then Mai knew how to play the gracious hostess and managed to keep the bored expressions from rising to her face. Of course Azula and Ty Lee had attended the party; the other twenty or so girls Mai could have cared less about. When it was time to go, the other girls left but Azula and Ty Lee stayed for a sleep over. Somehow Zuko, who was eleven at the time, managed to sneak out of the palace and across the street to Mai's house. He brought her a blood red fire lilly flower and gold bracelet with a small heart shaped ruby pendant that dangled from the clasp. Thanking him with an affectionless hug that belied the well of 10-year-old emotions inside, he kissed her. Not on the check as a brother might kiss a sister but square on the lips! She was disoriented for the rest of the night. No doubt Azula and Ty Lee recall that night as the worst sleepover ever; they had no idea why their friend was so "out of it."

"Vaguely?" Zuko asked feigning disgust. "Hmmm, that's not what I heard."

"Oh really? What did you hear?" Mai was beginning to enjoy herself. She bit into a fig filled sesame ball and adjusted herself on the couch, ready to hear Zuko's lie.

"I heard that the party was rather boring but that after it was all over something happened to make you smile. In fact the way I hear it you couldn't stop smiling." With this, Zuko himself smiled, a wide smile that you see on toddlers when they have accomplished something major like making it to the potty. Mai was all too familiar with this look and decide to deflate Zuko's ego.

Arching one eyebrow Mai asked, "Where did you hear that ridiculous foolishness?"

"Azula" Zuko answered matter-of-factly.

Mai yawned while arching her back. Ignoring Zuko's lusty stare Mai replied. "That's your source? You know you can't trust her. Azula always lies." It was true. There was no way for him to argue with that statement. It was a mantra that had kept him sane for most of his childhood. Nonetheless he believed her then and he believes her now; Mai was just fucking with him.

After a few moments, Zuko had finally worked up the courage to do what he wanted to do since he saw Mai standing at his bedroom door. "Well, I think I will just have to jog your memory myself."

Intrigued, Mai refilled her cup and took a small sip of the steaming liquid before placing it back on the tray. "And how, Prince Zuko, do you intend on doing that?" Zuko leaned in and kissed her. Parting her lips slightly she felt his tongue slowly, sensuously dance with hers. Leaning into her frame he slowly guided her onto her back. The last time he held her in his arms like this was a week before the fateful Agni Kai with his father. Mai began to feel hot all over. She wanted to escape the clothes that felt like they were burning her flesh but she decided against it. She wasn't ready for anything beyond kissing and she didn't want Zuko to get the wrong idea.

Zuko, it seemed was reading Mai's mind. He was frantically trying to untie the sash around Mai's shirt but she kept moving his hands. He could feel the heat radiating off her body. Why won't she let me do thishe thought. Finally, after two more rejected attempts, Zuko pinned Mai's hands above her head with one hand and using the other fumbled with the sash of the green wrap shirt she was wearing until he eventually untied it. He did this while sucking on her ear lobe and tracing the folds of her ear with his tongue. It seemed to be a great plan because instead of protesting she softly moaned in delight.

When he released her hands, she grabed a handful of black, shaggy hair at the base of his neck and pulled him into her. He kissed her again and softly sucked on her lower lip before moving to her collar bone. Her breasts were bound and he had not the slightest idea how to unbind them. He fiddled with it before giving up all together and began kissing her stomach. Her skin was so smooth but the muscles underneath were so tight. Although they had dated before he was banished from the Fire Nation he had never seen, felt, or tasted this much of her. There had only been a few dates and they were all chaperoned. The two pre-teens had only managed to escape the watchful eye of Mai's appointed guardian twice to share a passionate kiss, but this was new territory for both of them.

Zuko continued to kiss on Mai's stomach then he lightly dragged his fingertips where his lips had just been. The sensation was making the muscles in Mai's abdomen dance. He looked in her eyes and could tell that she getting an immense amount of pleasure from him. He wasn't sure if he should continue southward so he returned to his most challenging opponent—the bandage-like garment guarding Mai's breasts. To his surprise, she helped him by unfastening it. The strips were woven into a preconstucted garment and fastened on the left side by a complex system of hidden hooks and eyes. Mai had almost freed herself when an uninvited, unannounced someone opened the door. Azula.

"Zuko! I'm tired of your shit. I fully expect you to be at din…" The voice trailed off when she realized what she had interrupted. Embarrassed, Mai quickly pulled her open shirt around her. Zuko shot a small, controlled burst of fire toward the door. But there was no need for any of that. Deflecting her brother's fire, Azula spun on her heels, made a very loud, very agitated groan, and slammed the door hard.

A/N: I really hated to put the cliché interruption at the end of the story, but it will progress the plot in coming chapters so, like Azula herself, it is a necessary evil.

I've been hanging around the site for a little while and finally decided to write. Please R&R. More chapters to come!