"Another round?" Jet panted, sweat dripping from his jaw as he grinned. He'd stripped down to loose trousers, and his bare chest was streaked with dirt from the last fall.
Zuko shifted his grip on the twin dao, palms sticking to the leather-wrapped hilts. "I'm supposed to meet with the Minister of Transportation in an hour."
Jet held his hooked swords out at his sides, his grin now thoroughly mischievous. "You're the Fire Lord. He'll wait."
"True," said Zuko, unable to keep his own lips from quirking up at the corners. He rushed forward, unbound hair swirling behind him, blades shining in the sun.
Certain members of the court felt it unseemly for the Fire Lord to be so fond of swords — weapons of any kind were thought beneath the dignity of Firebenders, and his dignity counted for more than most. But then, Zuko had always been an unseemly sort of Fire Lord. Those same courtiers protested his frequent trips to Ba Sing Se, the burial of the Dragon Of The West on foreign soil, the Water Tribe children who sometimes ran amok in palace corridors, the Avatar's penchant for dropping in unannounced and leaving his bison to graze in courtyards. They did not, however, speak out against their Fire Lord's choice of an Earth Kingdom peasant as his consort. That they mostly tried to ignore, to said consort's intense amusement.
"I've got only two reasons for putting up with this fucking crater," he'd say, his usual way of referring to the Fire Nation capital. "You…" Here he'd kiss Zuko lightly on the mouth, lingering until he was sure he'd made his point. "…And seeing the looks on their faces."
Eighteen years, and they still jumped whenever Jet snuck up on them at banquets. He liked to wait until the topic had wandered to Earth Kingdom politics, maximizing the awkward excuses that followed. Even Mai, who tried in general not to encourage him, would laugh behind her sleeve as red-cheeked courtiers scrambled to save face.
Now Jet grunted as his shoulder hit the ground, thrown off balance by a well-timed thrust toward his ribs. "Shit," he said, then laughed and swiped a hand across his brow, leaving behind another streak of grime. "I'm getting old."
"Or I'm having a good day," said Zuko. He brought his swords together and sheathed them in one smooth, fluid movement. "Or both."
"I was only in Gaoling for a week," said Jet. "You practice without me?"
"A little," said Zuko. He crouched down, balancing on his toes, and watched Jet's futile efforts to push his hair out of his eyes. "It's not the same, though."
"Of course. I'm better than anyone else around here."
Zuko chuckled. "That's not what I meant."
Zuko's fingers traced the line of the other man's jaw, rough with stubble in a way he didn't mind at all. "Jet," he said quietly. "You know."
Jet turned his head to kiss Zuko's palm. "I know you'll be late for that meeting," he said, muffled by skin. He nipped at the soft, warm flesh of Zuko's wrist, tasted his pulse before moving up the underside of his arm.
Zuko drew a sharp breath as teeth grazed the tender hollow of his elbow. "We're outside."
"Yeah we are," said Jet. He unfastened the high, gilt collar, dipped his head down to kiss the swell of Zuko's collarbone. A soft push and he fell back on the grass, Jet moving to kneel between his thighs.
"We talked about this," Zuko murmured, all his carefully groomed authority slipping away. Jet's hands were on his stomach, now, electric against bare skin.
"We did," Jet agreed. One hand was lifted, just long enough to untie silk cords, then all at once Zuko could feel cool air on his hipbones; Jet's rough, clever fingers at the place where his leg and pelvis met.
"Someone always sees…" Zuko began. Then Jet's hand closed around him — he was already so hard, drunk on the smell of Jet's sweat and the feeling of sunlight on his skin — and all thoughts beside the two of them and that aching point of contact were forgotten.
Jet kissed his mouth. "Lucky them."