Draconis von Trapp

Zuko was pulled in for one more kiss before pushing Jet away slightly, knowing that Jet would only pull him in for more.

"I'm gonna go tell Uncle I'm staying at your place. Wait here just a minute," he told Jet before dashing inside the apartment. Iroh was stirring a pot of what smelled like jasmine tea at the stove. Good, then hopefully he was distracted enough not to see through his lie. "Uncle, I'm going to stay at Jet's apartment tonight. We're gonna do some sword drills, and it might take a few hours, so it's just more practical that I stay overnight. I'll be back in time for work tomorrow."

Iroh eyed him curiously before nodding. "Alright, Nephew. Don't train too hard, though. And keep watch; the streets aren't safe at night."

"I'll stay safe, Uncle," Zuko assured, heaving an inward sigh of relief. Really, the old bastard was often too perceptive for his own good, and the prince would appreciate Iroh not seeing through him. Zuko nodded his head respectfully before turning and walking calmly out of his abode. The instant the door was closed behind him, Jet practically jumped on him, mashing their lips together as if it had been ten days since he'd seen Zuko instead of ten seconds. After Jet started working his hands into Zuko's shirt, he was pushed away impatiently.

"Jet!" he scolded in a harsh whisper. "You can't do that right in front of my apartment where my uncle could be peeping, watching from his window—"

"Damn it, Zuko!" Jet covered his ears as if he didn't want to hear what Zuko was saying. "Save at least a little bit of the mood for my dick, will ya, before you go and kill it all!"

This made Zuko struggle not to giggle. Really, it would totally kill his image. "I think your dick will survive until we make it back to your place."

"You never know. Little Jet might get so hard and neglected that he turns blue and—"

Jet abruptly stopped complaining when Zuko groped his crotch. His eyes fluttered shut and he moaned slightly, arching into the ohgodsogoodheat of Zuko's touch, which was cruelly taken from him.

"I think 'Little Jet' will survive," he said dryly, smirking slightly. Jet was secretly proud of himself — any emotion he could finagle from Zuko was worth whatever act it took to elicit it. He was torn from his thoughts as Zuko walked ahead without him, and they practically sprinted to Jet's apartment, which was a bit of a trek.

Smellerbee and Longshot were absent, Jet having given them orders to vanish until midnight at least, so there was no restraint as they quickly ripped each other's clothes off, trying not to detach their mouths. Clothes strewn across the small space, Jet and Zuko were finally gloriously naked, and they fell to Jet's makeshift bed — a pile of scrapped linen and ripped clothes.

Unbeknownst to them, Iroh was still humming to himself in the kitchenette of his own apartment, now pouring himself a cup of white jade tea. He had his eyes closed as he savored the first sip, making it the perfect time to strike. His eyes snapped back open when he heard the telltale sound of Earthbending — but he was too late.

His teacup clattered to the ground as his arms were yanked forcibly behind his back by hand-shaped rock clusters. Another pair of hands flew at ground level and caught his ankles, taking his balance and causing him to fall his knees, then his side. Just as he was about to yell for help, a green sash was slipped around his head and barred his open mouth, then was tied tightly, rendering him unable to speak.

"Knock him out," a female voice said imperiously. "You never know what he might have up his huge sleeves."

"Of course, Princess." Dai Li agents came into view, getting into earthbending stances. Just before he was knocked out, he saw his niece come into view in full Earth Kingdom garb, a vicious snarl on her lips.

Zuko woke to the feeling of a large, warm hand gently caressing his stomach and chest. He blinked a few times before realizing that he'd fallen asleep after him and Jet had made love — again. For some reason, he always fell asleep afterwards; and every time, Jet would be awake, watching him fondly with that half-smile of his, spooned against his back. At first Jet's physical affection bothered Zuko — he thought his Uncle was overly physically affectionate when he would do something as simple as pat him on the shoulder before bed — but after awhile, he stopped fighting it. It was an empty battle, as Jet was as stubborn as a ostrichorse.

"Morning, sunshine," Jet said teasingly. Zuko groaned.

"Not allowed t'call me that," he said blearily, the heat in the comment lost in his grogginess. Jet chuckled, the sensation reverberating through his chest and into Zuko's back pleasantly — not that Zuko would admit it.

"Apologies, your highness." Jet leaned down to kiss Zuko behind the ear. Zuko sighed.

"You're never gonna let that go, are you?" He pressed back against Jet slightly to indicate him to give him some space, which he did, allowing Zuko to sit up and stretch.

"Never, your royal sexiness." Jet scooted closer to Zuko again and started kissing at his throat, purposefully inhibiting his stretching.

"Jeeeet," Zuko whined childishly, trying to push him away. "Please, I just woke up."

"And what better way to start the day than vertically?" Jet waggled his eyebrows, pulling a barely contained snort from Zuko. Then his brow furrowed.

"Wait, start the day? What time is it?" he wondered, looking out the window. The sun was low in the sky, probably having risen a few hours ago. Wow, he'd been asleep longer than he thought — through the whole night. "Please don't tell me you watched me sleep all night."

"Nah, I passed out not long after you did." Jet shrugged. "I just woke up before you."

"Well, since it's morning, I should probably head back to see Uncle," Zuko said softly, somewhat down heartened; going back to Uncle meant going back to work, which meant being away from Jet, which he didn't want to do.

"True, and I should see if I can find a job…" Jet scratched behind his neck guiltily, having needed to have gotten a job long ago, but had been too lazy. "But I can at least be a gentleman and walk you to your apartment." Jet sprung out of bed like a caffeine-crazed child and hastily threw his clothes on, tossing Zuko his before adorning his armor and swords. Zuko, too, dressed, thinking Jet was far too energetic for it being so early. But, well, Jet always was a morning person.

On the way out of the small apartment, Jet peeked into the living room to see Smellerbee and Longshot still sleeping, satisfied that they were safe. He closed the front door behind them quietly, took Zuko's hand, and started off towards the other's apartment. Holding hands, another thing Jet seemed to enjoy. It embarrassed Zuko since the other townspeople could easily see it, and they often whispered and pointed; however, the two made for an intimidating team, so they weren't bothered, but the blatant staring was astounding. At least Zuko had dissuaded Jet from putting his arm around his shoulders — that hadn't gone over well the first time he tried. Jet had the bruise to prove it.

Though something seemed different about the town somehow. The people looked more fearful, and sparse — there weren't but a few people out on the streets. This worried Zuko. However, he tried not to give it too much thought — he was probably just imagining it. Jet seemed to notice it, too, though. Unconsciously, Zuko walked a little closer to Jet, eyes darting about suspiciously.

Luckily, though, they were soon at Zuko's apartment. However, the door was slightly ajar. Uncle would never leave the door open. His eyes widened, and before he knew what he was doing, he had kicked the door wide open and ran inside.

"Uncle?" he called, running to his uncle's room, which was abandoned. "Uncle!"

"Hey, look at this." Jet pointed to a note on the back of the door, secured by a Fire Nation dagger. Zuko scampered over and pried the dagger loose before reading the note.

"Hey, Zuzu,

If you hadn't already guessed, I've got Uncle. You weren't home, but I imagine you'll find this soon enough. If I were you, I'd run.


Azula," he read. His heart rate skyrocketed, his stomach feeling like it was dropping out of his abdomen, and his body suddenly became cold with dread, sort of what it felt like to free fall.

"Whoa," Jet said as Zuko swayed, catching him before he crashed to the floor. "Let's sit you down." Knowing Zuko's weirdness about touching, Jet refrained from carrying him (though he had secretly wanted to) and instead just guided him gently over to the couch. Zuko sank in numbly, trembling now. Jet climbed in beside him, reaching out to lightly rub his shoulder in an attempt to comfort that wasn't too physically invasive.

"So, your sister, huh?"

Zuko released a shuddering deep breath, nodding. He felt like he was going to faint — that, or throw up. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to make a sort of cocoon of protection.

"Hey, don't close yourself off from me," Jet said a little heatedly. Zuko always did this under stress, and it annoyed Jet to no end. The boy really was far too introverted. 'Stage one,' Jet thought sarcastically. "Just talk to m—"

"Talking won't fucking help, Jet! I need to find Uncle and I need to fight Azula now," Zuko snapped, pushing himself off the couch, away from Jet's touch, to stand and pace. 'Stage two.' Jet raised his hands in surrender.

"Sorry, just trying to help," he mumbled apologetically. Zuko stopped pacing to see a slightly hurt look on Jet's face, making him feel like he'd just kicked a puppy. He sighed heavily, the energy and aggravation leaving him in the gush of air, like letting the air out of a balloon. Jet saw the apology in his eyes and smiled crookedly, standing to open his arms expectantly. Zuko flinched.


"Come on, it'll make you feel better."

Zuko considered it for a moment before dropping his head in defeat. He shuffled into Jet's arms, which closed around him comfortingly, warmly. Zuko practically melted against him, always surprised each time Jet's contact made his troubles seem to disappear. Slowly, Zuko lifted his own arms to curl around Jet's waist, his face buried in the red linen of his shirt. An inward smile lit up Jet's mental features. 'Stage three.'

"I know you're worried about your uncle. I am, too. I mean, I like Uncle." He gave a dorky grin. "But you know what he would say, right?"

"What?" Zuko's sulky voice was muffled by Jet's shirt.

Jet cleared his voice overdramatically. "Nephew," he started in a scratchy voice, obviously trying to imitate Iroh — badly, "a river of blood will not bring peace. However, a river of tea will solve all your problems!" Zuko's shoulders shook with contained laughter. This made Jet happy, as he was the only one who could make Zuko laugh — or show any emotion whatsoever, for that matter. Well, except Uncle, but he was family, so he didn't count.

"…We should probably get out of here," Zuko said a moment later, never one to admit that Jet was right. "Azula knows I'm here, obviously. We're not safe here, or anywhere in Ba Sing Se, probably."

Jet nodded. He knew Zuko enough to know how these conversations went. He took the raven-haired boy's hand without thinking and they exited the house out the back entrance, which seemed safer for some reason. They had been walking at a semi-fast pace when they saw a small troupe of Dai Li agents marching through the streets menacingly. Collectively, their eyes widened and Jet pressed himself into the back of a tree, clutching Zuko to his chest without considering his boundaries, waiting for them to pass.

"What the hell?" Jet whispered once they'd gone, not comfortable with raising his voice much higher than that. When Zuko started squirming in his arms, Jet released him, with a bashful, "Ah, sorry."

Zuko didn't dignify his apology with an answer. "Probably Azula's orders."

"You think she has control of the military?"

"She probably has control of the whole city," Zuko answered grimly. "That's probably why there're barely any people out — they're all too scared."

"Well, I'm not scared," Jet boasted. "I take my Dai Li agents with a side of ocean kumquats."

After about another fifteen minutes of stealth, hiding, and held breath, they were finally in a relatively safe location — the top of a voluminous tree that had more than enough leaves to hide them, and they were high enough that they wouldn't be heard easily.

"I have to find my uncle," Zuko said determinedly.

"And I'm going to help you in what ever way I can," Jet said just as stubbornly.

"This isn't your battle to fight, Jet. This is between my sister and I—"

"Blah, blah, blah, sibling rivalry, blah, blah." Jet gesticulated by making crab claw motions with his right hand, rolling his eyes. "I know the story. It's not my battle, but it's yours. I fucken' care about you, Zuko, so I'm not letting you go off to get yourself killed by your crazy sister!"

"You don't have to accept responsibility for me, Jet!" Zuko seemed angry, but Jet suspected it was something else. "I'm — I can take care of myself, and that includes fighting my own battles!"

"I know exactly what you're doing, Zuko." Jet's eyes were bright with determination. "It's what you do with everything you have trouble with. You don't want to admit that you need help. Tying your apron, reaching things from tall shelves, bandaging tea kettle burns—"

"That is not what this is about!" Zuko was shouting now — good thing they were so high up, lest they be heard.

"Oh, so you're saying you don't have more pride than the entire royal family?"

"Pride has nothing to do with it!" he insisted. "Something as serious as this is more important than pride…" Now he was fidgeting, not meeting Jet's eyes. 'Almost there,' Jet thought triumphantly.

"Well, what is it then?" Jet pressed, leaning in closer. Zuko seemed close to breaking, yanking at his hair and squeezing his eyes shut. Yep, he was mentally cornered. Nowhere to go from here, nothing to say except the truth.

"I just… I—"

"—can't admit that you can't do this by yourself?"

"Can't lose you, too!" Zuko finally exclaimed, heaving deep breaths; his face was flushed and contorted with anxiety. Jet's eyebrows rose. Well, that hadn't been expected.

"…Lose me?"

"I lost my mother, my uncle, my throne…" Zuko was so distressed that he was gesturing wildly, something he hardly ever did. "The only thing that keeps me from going completely insane—" he took a few harsh breaths, finally meeting Jet's eyes, "—is you."

Jet's eyebrows knitted in sympathy. From the time he and Zuko had started their relationship (if one could even call it that) he had been somewhat cold. Jet figured it was just his personality, and at the time they were only using each other for the release sex brought. After a while, Jet learned it was because Zuko was keeping a secret — he was Fire Nation.

Obviously, Jet had had suspicions after seeing Iroh with a hot cup of tea after complaining of its coldness, but had no solid proof. It was one of the reasons why he'd pursued Zuko. Long story short, Jet had obsessively shadowed (since he refused to admit to stalking) Zuko, but he wasn't an idiot — he knew he was being followed. Well, insults were thrown, threats were made, and a few punches were thrown. Somehow, this all led to an angry make-out session, which inevitably turned into hatesex.

After a few weeks of meeting up every other night, Jet had gotten attached to the young firebender. His dry sarcasm, snappy comments and harsh reactions all endeared Jet, the glutton for punishment as he was. Not long after that, Jet, never one to do anything halfway, had told Zuko of his growing feelings. He expected to be hit, slandered, and pushed away for good. To Jet's joy, however, Zuko grudgingly admitted that he 'didn't hate' their relations, which Jet took to mean that he felt the same way even though the proud young man would never admit that.

And so, after multiple rough sessions of sex, instead of immediately going their separate ways, they would talk. Jet told Zuko about his past, and Zuko remained vague, not really admitting to anything. It had bothered Jet, and he wasn't a fool — he knew Zuko was hiding his past, and he figured it was because he wouldn't admit he was a firebender, though his refusal to talk about anything sort of gave him away more that making stuff up would have.

Somewhere along the line, 'fucking' turned into 'lovemaking,' which was where Zuko learned of Jet's insatiable physical affection thing, always having to be touching in some way or another. It got on his nerves, not to mention made him a bit uncomfortable; but it was one thing Jet refused to change about himself, so Zuko learned to ignore it. When it started having an affect on him, he didn't know, but he still wasn't sure he liked it, only that it usually made him feel better if he was particularly stressed or upset.

When Jet started confiding in Zuko about more personal things, he tried his best to be sympathetic. He wanted so badly to relate to him, but he didn't want to give away his past and risk his and his uncle's quality of life — and he didn't want to take a chance on Jet turning his back on him, leaving him with, once again, no one. Eventually, the burden was too much to bear.

Jet had picked a fight about it not too long ago, saying that he really cared about Zuko and it hurt that he refused to share anything about himself with him. Jet had a knack for riling Zuko up to his boiling point where he eventually exploded, and that time it had been with the truth. After he'd realized what he'd done, Zuko had immediately regretted it. But words couldn't be taken back, and Jet now knew.

And Jet ran.

Not towards Zuko to attack him — just ran. Away. Deep down, Jet had always known that Zuko was Fire Nation, but after he let himself — stupid, stupid Jet fucking let himself — fall for this boy, he wished with his whole being that it wasn't true. It was always a little niggling at his mind that told him it was, and he'd ignored it. Oh, how foolish he was.

He ended up back at his own apartment, his body numb from Zuko's words. He barely felt himself dragging his feet towards the first soft surface, which was his bed. Smellerbee and Longshot were in their respective part of the apartment, and had promptly followed him when they noticed his distress.

"Jet, what happened to you?" Smellerbee asked, dropping to her knees next to him. Longshot just stayed standing, looking pensive.

Jet was lying on his back, eyes somewhat wide, and his whole body feeling like it was made of lead. "Li…"

"What about Li?"

"He…" Jet swallowed. "He's Fire Nation. He admitted it." The words seemed hollow to him. Smellerbee's eyes widened.

"For real?" A nod. "Wow. Guess you were right, Jet."

This caused Jet to curl up and claw at his scalp, pinching his eyes shut.

"I hate being right!" he bellowed, shaking his head violently, hands clutching his ears as if trying to block out some noise. "Why? Why did it have to be Li? I…" The fight suddenly left him, making him sag onto his back again. "I…"

"Jet, why're you so upset?" she asked gently. "We came here to start new lives, not continue our old ways. We decided that we were going to turn over new leafs and stuff."

"I'll…" Jet swallowed. "I have to turn him in."

"Jet, don't you dare!" Smellerbee threatened. "How will that solve anything? Li hasn't done anything wrong! Damnit, Jet, you said you wouldn't be like this anymore!"

"But he's Fire Nation! He's living here in the Earth Kingdom, probably concocting some plan to take over or something. He can't be trusted!"

"Had you gone on thinking he was from the Earth Kingdom, you'd still trust him. Jet, just because he's from another nation doesn't automatically make him evil."

"No, but being Fire Nation, he's got the bloodlines." Jet's voice was deadly. He stood and started towards the door, fists balled at his sides. Smellerbee jumped in front of him, arms extended from her body, blocking him.

"I've never seen you happier since you've met Li." Her eyes were fierce, trying with her whole petite being to force some sense into him. "You walk like you're on air. You smile for no reason. You practically crap rainbows and sunshine!"

"Yeah, and I can't believe I fell for all that." He shoved her out of the way only to be tripped by the Freedom Fighter, crashing onto his front. "Fuck, Bee!"

"Fell for what? His kindness? His caring? His love?" she pressed, standing on his back so he wouldn't move. "Fire Nation citizens can still love, Jet. They're not robots or something!"

"And how would you know?" he exploded, struggling to get out from under her. Though Jet couldn't see it, Smellerbee turned to look over her shoulder at Longshot. He nodded. She sighed.

"Because I love one. Long loves one. Damnit, you love two."

"…What're you saying?"

"Remember your Freedom Fighters back from home?" Jet nodded. "Which one did we not know anything about?"

He had to think for a moment. "The Duke. What does that have…?" A thought came to him. "No…"

"Yes. The Duke was from a Fire Nation family." She stepped off him so Jet could look her in the eye incredulously. "Long, Pipsqueak, and I all knew. We decided to keep it from you and everyone else.

"The Duke was born into a family of merchants. They sold handmade jewelry, ya see. When they found out — the army, that is — that they were using gemstones indigenous to the Earth Kingdom, they deemed his family traitorous and killed them. The Duke barely got away, but only because they thought he was dead first. He was left with nothing, Jet, but a hatred for what the Fire Nation does.

"So you see, The Duke is Fire Nation, but he doesn't agree with what they do. He's against them just as much as you and I are," she finished.

Jet's mouth hung wide open, eyes bulging.

"But you still love The Duke, don't you, Jet?" Smellerbee sounded sure of herself. Jet felt something akin to an anxiety attack coming on.

And he fled again.

But this time he just needed somewhere to think. He ran until he couldn't run anymore, ending up at the train station. It was empty. Perfect. Jet threw some coins to the conductor, jumped on the train, and let his thoughts run together as the Earthbenders taxied him around the city.

How could this all be happening? Li and The Duke were Fire Nation! The Duke — dear, sweet Duke, who didn't have an unkind word to say about anyone — was Fire Nation. But he had helped Jet ambush Fire Nation soldiers time and time again; he was obviously loyal to Jet, but the fact that he was from the nation that was trying to overthrow the world left a bad taste in his mouth.

And Li, if that was even his name. Well, Jet had always sort of known that he was Fire Nation. But that didn't make the fact any easier to digest. Strong, silent type he was. He listened well. Jet could talk for hours on end, and not once would he complain or object — just listen and let Jet rant and rave till the cowbuffalos came home.

They'd only been seeing each other for about a month, maybe, and only about two weeks from when Jet confessed his feelings. Since then, Zuko had opened up marginally, and had started relating back to Jet slightly, even going on tangents occasionally. The government was corrupt, his uncle was strange, the customers gave him looks… Jet remembered one particular conversation that had happened recently.

"…and, spirits, don't they realize that I'm not deaf? I can hear every word they're saying! The shop isn't that big, and they don't make much of an effort to hide their comments!"

Zuko had overheard customers at his uncle's tea shop that day talking about him rather loudly.

"I mean, I realize I'm repulsive — they don't have to speak so openly about it!" He huffed an aggravated sigh. Up till then, Jet had been nodding along, letting Zuko get it all out; but then he stopped, his eyes snapping open. They were sitting against the back wall of the teashop, hanging out on Zuko's break before he had to go back into work.

"Wait, what? Repulsive? Where did that come from?" Jet asked, aghast. Zuko looked at him as if he were a little soft in the head.

"What do you mean, what?" he asked slowly.

"What on earth makes you think you're repulsive?" Jet was a little angry about this. How the hell could someone so gorgeous think of them self like that?

Zuko pointed to his scar. "Well, it wouldn't have anything to do with the huge, red burn mark that engulfs half my face."

Jet gaped. He seriously couldn't believe his ears.

"That's what this is about?" he checked, as if making sure he hadn't heard wrong. "That's what you think?"

"Um, yeah? Jet, I know what I look like. It's not a big deal— "

"Of course it's a big deal!" Jet exploded, making Zuko jump at the sudden rage. "How the fuck could you think of yourself like that? Li, you— you're just—!" At a loss for words to properly express his feelings, Jet cradled Zuko's face and pulled him in close, mashing their lips together. Stunned, Zuko stiffened, but then soon relaxed and melted into the kiss, allowing Jet's tongue passage into his mouth. After a few moments of heated kissing, he pulled back, looking Zuko adoringly.

"Li, you're the most beautiful boy I've ever seen," he whispered softly, stroking Zuko's scarred cheek with his thumb, still cupping his face gently.

Zuko looked away, biting his lip. "Jet, you don't have to say—"

"Yeah, I do. Look at me." Zuko hesitated, but did. "Li, I don't know how you got that scar, but it doesn't make you any less of a beauty." Then Zuko turned bright red, but didn't avert his eyes again. "I don't know where you got the stupid idea that you were… that you… Damn, I can't even say it."

"Ugly? Disgusting?" Zuko provided. Jet had to refrain from slapping him.

"Shut up," he ordered. "But yeah, that stuff. You aren't." He pecked Zuko's lips one more time for good measure. "Your scar… it sort of defines you. It shows you've had struggles, just like everyone else, and that you made it through. You're not weak. And hey, the babes think scars are sexy." He gave a coy smile. "Well, and guys, I guess. I mean, 'cause I do."

Zuko arched an eyebrow. "You think my scar is sexy?"

"The sexiest." Jet gave a silly lopsided smile, arching one eyebrow. The funny part wasn't Jet's goofy expression — it was how sincere he was. Somehow, it squashed any doubt Zuko had about Jet's feelings.

"…You are completely insane," Zuko finally decided, shaking his head slightly. Jet laughed.

"Insane — about yoooou!" Jet pooched his lips out on the 'you', making kissing noises and leaning towards Zuko. The scarred teenager leaned away, trying to push Jet back.

"Ugh, on second thought, you're not insane — just really weird."

Jet pounced on Zuko, pulling a startled noise from him as he toppled over onto his back with Jet on top of him. He left a loud, wet kiss on his cheek, and Zuko made disgusted noises, trying to crawl away.

"Jet!" he protested, but Jet just trailed more sloppy kisses all over his face. "Augh, stop it!"

Jet just cackled and didn't relent.

Jet smiled to himself. Zuko could be so self-deprecating sometimes, even without realizing it. But Jet was always there with reassuring words and warm embraces (sometimes forced warm embraces, but it was for the greater good, even if Zuko didn't realize it yet). Zuko had the cutest pout…

"Sir, we're back." The conductor's words caught him off guard, making him jump. How long had be been on the train? "Thank you for riding with us."

"Yeah, thanks," Jet said distractedly, exiting the train station. Li is Fire Nation. The Duke is Fire Nation. Smellerbee's words rang in his head.

'Li hasn't done anything wrong!'

'You still love The Duke, don't you, Jet?'

"Yes," he answered audibly, surprising himself. "I do. And Li, too."

He sprinted back to his own apartment. Smellerbee and Longshot looked high-strung, and then turned relieved when he entered.

"Jet!" she exclaimed, running to him. He hugged her briefly.

"Thanks for your talk, Bee. I feel better now," Jet confessed. "I wanna find Li."

"Maybe you should sleep on it," Bee suggested gently, referring to the darkening sky. Jet sighed. She was probably right.

"Sleep," Longshot interjected, making Jet jump. He never spoke unless it was absolutely necessary, unless it was something more important that a shared significant look. Okay, they were definitely right.

"Yeah. I'll sleep on it. Thanks again," Jet said after a moment, hugging them both before going to his shabby room and collapsing on his ragpile. It kind of smelled like Li, which warmed his being with fondness. With love.

His mind raced for hours before he fell asleep, and even in his dreams he saw Li. He could see Li's face, impossibly handsome, and then saw the Fire Nation insignia behind him. His instincts told him to attack, reject, condemn. He was just like those people who had killed his family, burnt his village. That's all the Fire Nation did was burn and destroy.

He saw Li at the teashop with a half-smile on his face as he tried his best to be polite to picky customers. He saw the way his eyes lit up when he saw Jet stroll in for his afternoon visit. He listened when Li would make a scathing comment about something, how miffed he was at something so insignificant, and how his nose would wrinkle in that adorable way that Jet couldn't resist. He was so fucking cute that it hurt sometimes. His anger was amusing to Jet, as were the little zings he would insult Jet with at times. Jet didn't know why it was so funny, but it just was.

Zuko was always so warm and comforting in his presence, warm because he was a Fire Bender. His beautiful amber eyes, just like his uncle's, probably like his father's. Fire Bender eyes. Bright with passion and anger, emotion just bursting beneath the surface. Bright with ecstasy and lust, closed as he would helplessly call out 'Jet' as they writhed together.

Whether Jet liked it or not, there was now a Zuko-sized hole in his heart that he was sure wouldn't heal. It was too late to pretend he could survive without this. Jet felt too deeply for this boy to let him go.

Besides, if Smellerbee and Longshot were willing to look past Li's heritage, then who the hell was he?

The next morning he wasn't sure where to find Li. He first looked in the teashop, but Uncle had said Li wasn't feeling well and was lying in his room. After checking in Li's room at his apartment, Jet smirked, not finding him. Looked like he was playing hooky.

Jet wandered around the apartment building, slowly working his way around to the back where he, to his astonishment, found Zuko. He was shirtless, grunting and shouting as he mercilessly attacked a tree with his twin broadswords. Occasionally, Jet could hear words underneath the incoherent battle cries.

"Fucking stupid!.. Can't believe I said… Fucked up again!"


Zuko whirled around, swords at he ready; but when he saw who it was, his eyes widened and he dropped them.


"I love you, Li."

Well, he had nothing to say to that. Zuko's mouth worked open and closed in a convincing imitation of a crabfish before Jet held up a hand.

"You don't have to say anything. In fact, I don't wanna talk about it at all right now." Jet strode towards him, and upon reaching him, pulled him into a hug. Zuko was still stunned, frozen; he didn't know how to feel. Jet loved him…? "I just love you 'n stuff. Okay?"

"…Okay," Zuko eventually whispered. Jet hadn't left him. He knew Zuko was Fire Nation, and still, somehow, was still with him. The weight of the world seemed to flow out of Zuko; a warm sensation replaced it, causing his knees to go soft and need to lean against Jet to keep himself upright. The Freedom Fighter seemed all too pleased to hold his weight, taking it as a sign of affection.

He no longer had to keep secrets. He no longer had to keep up a pretense of vagueness to protect himself and Uncle. He could be… himself. The fact was overwhelming, and the sudden need to tell Jet every last thing about him was strong, but he pushed it away. There was a time and place for everything.

"Jet…" he started unsurely. "How…?"

"Bee," Jet answered simply. Zuko nodded in understanding; Smellerbee could be rather scary. "And… I guess I sort of realized some stuff for myself. One of my Freedom Fighters was Fire Nation, apparently, and… well, you can't help that, right?

"I attacked soldiers and armies because they were guilty of… well, being Fire Nation soldiers." Another nod. "But, you're not a soldier and you're not an assassin. The Duke wasn't, either. And I promised my gang that I'd change.

"What I'm trying to say, Li, is that… I think I can look past your nation heritage. Um, so long as you don't try to like, blow up Ba Sing Se, alright?"

Zuko chuckled and shook his head. "I promise, no genocide." Jet's laugh was reassuring. "And I know it won't be easy. For either of us, that is."

"Yeah… well, my life has never been easy."

"Nor has mine."

"Always… since I can remember… so hard."

Zuko gave Jet a look. "Uh huh…"

"So hard it's almost painful," Jet went on.

"Jet, are you sure you're still talking about your life?"

"Hard and hot and… gah, I could just explode!" His hands started traveling over Zuko's bare back.

"You're sick." Zuko tried to wriggle away, but Jet held him fast, groping his butt.

"And you're shirtless and sweaty and all red in the face," he countered. "My life is so hard, Li, and it's your fault. Prepare for the consequences."

"Zuko… I—"

"Don't you dare say 'I love you', Jet! I won't be guilted into this!"

"No, Zuko, I was going to say, I understand." The hard lines in Zuko's face softened, obviously not expecting that answer. "You're saying that you need me. Well, I fucking need you, too!" Angry Jet. "I don't want something to happen to you just as much as you don't want anything to happen to me. But if something did, then I at least want to know that I did everything in my power to stop it; I won't just sit back and let you run off by yourself!"

As with many things Jet said, Zuko was left without a response. He tried to respond, but the only noises that came out were awkward stuttering sounds.

"So no, you're not doing this alone. No, I'm not going to stand by and let you get killed. And no, I'm not letting anything happen to you — or me, for that matter. And I do love you, so, as Uncle Iroh would say…" Jet took in a great gulp of air before… "Foooour seeeeasoooons, foooooor looove!"

"Oh, spirits," Zuko groaned, covering his ears as Jet belted out the rest of the lyrics.

What Zuko said was true — it wasn't safe in Ba Sing Se anymore. As much as they tried to hide from the war, it inevitably found them. The duo had managed to take a cargo gondola out of the city, and had jumped out of it to take refuge in a small, forested area; they were still within view of the wall, but not so close as to get caught by the Dai Li, who now patrolled outside it. Smellerbee and Longshot had insisted on staying with Jet, so they were tagging along as well.

"Alright, so we need a plan," Zuko was saying while pacing circles around the campfire he'd lit.

"Zuko, I know you don't want to hear this, but you need to sleep on it," Jet suggested, pointing to the raven black sky. "Look, it's late. All our brains are collectively mush inside our skulls, and we need time to recuperate before rushing into anything."

"Seconded," Smellerbee said groggily, collapsing onto Longshot. They both closed their eyes, ready for sleep. Snores were heard moments later.

Zuko sighed. "My sister… while being half-insane, is a much better bender than I am." He slumped to the ground and rubbed his face roughly.

"I doubt that. I've seen what you can do," Jet said, trying to help boost his confidence.

"She can bend lightning, Jet," he deadpanned.

"Ah. Well. Um… I've got hooked swords!" he pointed out. "Does she have hooked swords?"

"No, but I don't see how that helps us." Zuko sounded confused.

"Well, it does! We've got one thing that she doesn't. Plus, you're a swordfighter, too. I doubt she is."

"That's true, I guess…" That cute pout was emerging. Jet couldn't resist kissing it.

"Like I said, sleep on it. You'll be more collected in the morning." He considered leaning over to hug Zuko, offer him some sort of physical comfort, but knew that the other boy didn't usually like that. So, reluctantly, Jet refrained and decided Zuko had had enough stress that day that he didn't need (more of) Jet's affection on top of it. With a slight sigh, he removed armor that wasn't conducive to a happy sleeping environment before rolling on his side, feeling sleepy himself. Zuko kicked his shoes off before lying down, too, but feeling… insecure, bereft, and nervous.

Hearing Jet shift slightly, Zuko knew what he needed. He hated it, didn't want to admit it, and for a second he almost denied it to keep his pride. However, he knew there would be no sleep for him if he didn't give in and become a hypocrite. So, with this thought, he proceeded to scoot towards the drowsy brunet and shook the other's shoulder slightly to alert him.

"Jet?" he whispered. Jet rolled onto his other side so he could look at him. "Um… aren't you cold?" This was slightly humiliating.

"Cold? Not really. I've got layers." He arched an eyebrow, but then realized what Zuko was doing. He smiled warmly, his chest feeling like it would expand with joy. "But now that you mention it, this cool night air is chilling me a bit. Might I request your services as a heating blanket?"

Zuko gave a tiny smile, though it went unseen since it was so dark. "I guess. Just don't try anything funny," he warned as he situated himself with his head tucked under Jet's strong chin. Jet curled an arm around Zuko's smaller form snugly, feeling like some sort of hunger deep within him had been satiated, like a drug fix. Another quirk of Zuko's lips went unnoticed. Somehow, Zuko's troubles and doubts seemed to morph into a weightless feeling he couldn't quite describe. The feeling of safeness Jet's arms brought, like a warm safety blanket, allowed him to finally fall into a restful sleep.