Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, I just like writing about them.
A/N: BFFZukaang is always fun to write. Because you know reincarnated best buds are awesome. :D
Fire Lord Zuko pressed his back against the elaborately painted wall, wondering idly if the large potted fire fern to his left would hide him if he inched behind it. He hunched his shoulders down, looking like a turtleduck trying to vanish into its shell. Vanishing would actually have been very welcome at that moment.
"My Lord, what color—"
"Yellow," replied Zuko in a weary voice, not even looking up.
"But you didn't even—"
"I said yellow." Zuko's tone made it clear that the conversation was ended. But not for very long, of course. That would be far too much to hope for.
"Well then, concerning the napkin arrangement..."
Zuko let his head drop into his hands with a gusty sigh, aware that this was not a very Lord-like thing to do, but too fed-up and exasperated to care. If one more person asked him a question like whether he wanted the tablecloth trim for the wedding reception to be "fire" gold or "sheer" gold, he was going to throw them out one of the tower windows, never mind the uproar it would cause.
"You see, there is very specific Fire Nation etiquette concerning—" Master Ling, the mustached official who had been appointed (without Zuko's knowledge) to oversee the royal wedding preparations launched into yet another droning speech about some trivial part of the coming ceremony. Zuko looked longingly at the fire fern again.
"Umm, Zuko? Why do you look like you want to hide behind that fire fern?" The voice was soft enough not to be heard by Ling, who was deep in his lecture, but loud enough for Zuko to make it out.
The Fire Lord turned and saw the very top of a bald head crowned by an arrow tattoo poking out from around the doorframe. Relief so strong it almost knocked him off his stool swept through him. "Aang. Oh Agni am I glad to see you...hold on."
Zuko turned seriously to face Ling. "Uh, to make such an important decision about napkins, I think I need some fresh air first. I'll be back in a few minutes." Without waiting for the man's approval, Zuko strode briskly out of the council chamber, which had been temporarily converted into the headquarters for wedding preparations. It would have been funny to see the former war strategy room covered in embroidered fabrics and fancy streamers, if it hadn't been giving Zuko such a pain in the neck.
Zuko rounded the corner into the hallway so fast he almost knocked the Avatar over. Three years of working together, and Zuko still sometimes forgot that Aang was about a head shorter than him. His hands shot out and automatically steadied the orange-robed figure.
"Wow," said Aang, straightening the sleeves of his monk's robe. "You were in a hurry to get out there, huh?"
"You have no idea." Zuko scowled at the knowing grin on Aang's face. "You're only fifteen; you don't even have to worry about getting married yet. Plus, you're the Avatar. You can do whatever you want."
"And you're the Fire Lord," Aang pointed out reasonably, falling into step beside Zuko as they started down the main hall. Guards and palace officials nodded and murmured respectfully as they passed. "Why can't you do whatever you want? Who's going to argue with you?"
Zuko rolled his eyes. "The one-hundred and thirteen royal wedding planners, that's who."
Aang laughed out loud. "You have one-hundred and thirteen people planning your wedding?" he asked with incredulous amusement. Then he saw the deadly look on Zuko's face and coughed hastily. "I mean, that must be awful for you, Zuko." The Avatar looked thoughtful for a minute, and then grinned. "I can't wait to tell Sokka. He was wondering why you didn't want him to do your wedding."
Zuko shuddered slightly. There were more reasons than he cared to list why it would be a very bad idea to have Sokka plan his wedding. The words "cactus juice" would have been pretty high on the list though.
That reminded him.
"You did tell Sokka that he is not, under any circumstances, to do anything to mess up this wedding, didn't you?"
Aang pretended to look injured. "Of course I did, Zuko. Avatar's honor."
"Including spiking the drinks?"
"Promise." Aang's gray eyes looked so sincere that it was impossible not to believe him. Zuko let out a breath of relief. At least he wouldn't have to worry about that particular part of his wedding. Then he remembered something with a jolt and whirled on Aang so fast that the Avatar almost fell over backward.
"And that Toph isn't allowed to either?"
"Aw, monkeyfeathers." Aang kicked his foot against the ground in disappointment, with such a show of his old goofy nature that it almost felt like three years hadn't passed at all. "I told Sokka you'd think of that."
Zuko folded his arms, feeling oddly pleased with himself. He realized that he was already feeling better, more normal, after just a few minutes in his best friend's company. He thanked the spirits yet again that the fates had given him someone like Aang as his partner in rebuilding the world.
They walked out onto the grounds in companionable silence. After a while, Aang asked casually, "So...why isn't Mai helping you? With the wedding stuff, I mean."
Zuko actually laughed. "Because, if I was ready to dump napkin-arrangement-obsessed Master Ling out the window, than you know if Mai was there, he'd already have every available loose fold of clothing on his body pinned to the wall by a knife."
Aang stared at Zuko for a moment, and then burst into laughter. The mental image Zuko had conjured for himself made him start to laugh harder too. He put a hand on Aang's shoulder to steady himself, and the two of them leaned against each other and kept laughing.
Far above, Master Ling poked his head out the window, holding two differently colored pieces of cloth in his hands. "Your Highness? Which color streamer would you prefer for—"
Zuko managed to stop laughing long enough to shout up, "Make it pink for all I care. I'm taking the rest of the day off from wedding preparations."
As Zuko strode side-by-side with Aang off toward the palace gates, the Avatar said seriously, "I really hope that guy doesn't take you seriously, Zuko. Mai will have to kill you if there are pink streamers at her wedding, even if you are her fiancé."
And that, of course, set both of them off into fresh roars of laughter that echoed off the walls of the palace.