Characters/Pairing: Ozai/Foaming Mouth Guy, Iroh, Zuko, Sokka, Katara
Disclaimer: I do not own avatar
Ozai didn't think his life could get any worse: the Avatar took his nation, his bending and his freedom. But his very own son, that boy was worse. His own flesh and blood, Zuko, found a way to make his life even more miserable. Zuko sent him to Ba Sing Se to work at Iroh's tea shop –The Jasmine Dragon.
When he first got there, he tried to piss off his brother, in hopes of being sent back to prison. But he failed. Iroh seemed to be happy to have him working there. Truthfully he was only happy because Zuko had begun visiting more.
It boiled the former Fire Lord's blood that Zuko only visited to poke fun at him. He'd bring the Avatar and their other friends with him and have a jolly time. The jokes arranged from pranks to out and out mocking.
Zuko's Water Tribe friend was fond of mocking the apron he wore. There was nothing wrong with wearing a pink apron. It reminded him of home. Originally it had been a white apron, but thanks to a mistake by Zuko it had become pink after being laundered. It was the only thing he was grateful for, even though it made him stick out like a sore thumb in Ba Sing Se.
The young man was headed to the inner circle of Ba Sing Se. He was going to go to a tea shop because of a rumor he had heard. He normally ignored rumors, but this one was different. It was rumored that Fire Lord Ozai, the man from the propaganda posters plastered all over his bedroom walls, was in town. It was unbelievable, he had to investigate.
He had a secret. He was obsessed – enthralled with the only task he is able to do without foaming over with excitement. Theft! It started with wanted posters mostly wanted posters of Avatar Aang. But the thrill of stealing wanted posters diminished after he met the Avatar.
He stopped stealing for a while. It lasted until he accidently wandered into a Fire Nation colony. The village's notice board had the fanciest recruitment posters he had ever seen. He had to try to get one. His passion was rejuvenated. The best part of the caper was that he drew no suspicion. Everyone was sure it was done by a lonely woman who yearned for her husband. Although, he may have gathered more attention than anticipated when he stole all the posters before leaving the colony.
He finally arrived at the Jasmine Dragon. He held up the propaganda poster and looked through the window of the tea shop to compare the male workers to the image on parchment.
"Ooooo!" he exclaimed as he found his target. Foam began to form in his mouth as watched Ozai, his eyes moving between the former Fire Lord and the parchment. He went unconscious and the foam continued to flow, covering the ground – blocking costumers from entering and exiting the tea shop.
Meanwhile inside the Jasmine Dragon, Iroh was steamed.
"Who put this oil canister here?!" Iroh demanded angrily. His employees got nervous, their boss didn't get angry much, but when he did, someone always got fired.
Zuko rose an eyebrow in surprise, he never seen his uncle so angry over such a meaningless thing before.
"I put it there," Zuko answered, calming many nerves. "I saw that you were out of oil so I bought some."
"The oil supply was moved so that it can be put under lock and key," Iroh whispered. "You know because of your father. He tried to burn down my shop with our oil."
Zuko looked at his father. The middle-aged man was wearing a pink apron and a forced smile as he served customers. It was hard for Zuko to imagine Ozai setting the shop on fire – he seemed happy enough serving tea.
"Zuko, just because the Avatar took a way his bending doesn't mean he lost his passion to destroy everything in his path with fire," stated Iroh solemnly. "He's a pyromaniac and always will be one."
"Uncle, I can take him back to the Fire Nation prison."
"No," Iroh replied quickly. "I can handle my own brother."
Sokka entered the shop, his clothing drenched.
"There some guy passed out on your doorway," Sokka stated. "I had to swim though an ocean of foam to get inside. Maybe he has rabies?"
Zuko frowned. No wonder business looked like it was slower than normal. He signaled to Sokka to help him take care of this problem – it at least he could do for his uncle. The two young men went out and grabbed foaming mouth guy, who was still face down unconscious in his pool of foam. It would cause of fuss if they just threw him out into the street, since it was the inner ring of Ba Sing Se, so they brought him into the shop.
The set him down on a bench in the back and Sokka fetched his sister, in case the man was in need of healing.
"He looks fine to me," Katara said, noting that the man was breathing, and didn't seem to have any obvious wounds anywhere. Something caught her eye. "What this?"
She pried a piece of parchment out of the unconscious man's hands. Katara looked at the paper. It was an image of Ozai. But it had been smudged and was entirely unrecognizable.
Katara laughed. "Sokka, it looks like he had a piece of your artwork."
Sokka grabbed the parchment and examined it. It didn't look like any of his recent works but then again during his travels he lost many drawings. Sokka was pleased finally meet someone appreciated him.
Zuko and Sokka waited for the mysterious stranger regain consciousness. They had to wait past closing time.
The man woke up and looked around his surroundings. A smile crept onto his face when he realized that he was inside The Jasmine Dragon. But where was the man from the poster? He frowned.
"Who are you?" Zuko demanded."What do you want?!"
"We already know why you came here," Sokka said with a cocky grin. "And don't worry, I already took the liberty of drawing a portrait of you."
"What?" Foaming mouth guy asked, confused.
Zuko continued integrating him, but the man always gave confusing jumbled answers. After four frustrating hours Zuko concluded that the incident was a fluke, the man was a simpleton and that he had wasted most of a day on this nonevent. So he called it a night.
Zuko's theory was proved wrong the next morning. The man was once again found in a large pool of foam in front of Iroh's shop. For the rest of Zuko's stay in Ba Sing Se the man didn't fail to show up and cause misfortune for his uncle.
The only one who was remotely amused was Ozai, but he seemed to be found on any mischief at all.
After a couple days Iroh finally had enough of it. The man was scaring away customers; he didn't want to get the man in trouble though, so he came up with a better idea. He invited the man in and sat in him Ozai's section. If anyone could scare a sensitive customer away, it surely was the former Fire Lord. Iroh went to the other side of the shop, and watched. Much to his surprise when Ozai got close to the man, the stranger began to foam at the mouth.
Iroh slapped himself on the forehead. The man was going to get his nice tea shop all dirty. The dishes and linen would need to be cleaned. Trying to be nice to the poor man was no longer a priority, he kicked the man out.
The next day the man appeared again. He sat himself down in Ozai's section again. When Ozai arrived to serve him he pulled out the old propaganda poster and a quill. He wanted an autograph. Ozai felt that he should comply, after all respect had become hard to come by. The man couldn't control himself when he saw that Ozai was going to sign his poster.
The former Fire Lord saw bubbles forming around the man's mouth, and noticed his brother was glaring at him. He quickly shoved the signed parchment into the man's pocket, grabbed him and carried him out of the shop. He took the man to just outside the back of the shop, and hoped he would stay put and be coherent by his break time.
"What was that all about?" Iroh asked his brother upon return.
"I was just helping you out," replied Ozai innocently. "I took care of the riffraff."
Iroh didn't trust his brother. But that weird man was gone he appreciated it.
When it came time for his break Ozai was in luck. The foaming man not only stayed there but was awake. Unfortunately he had a million questions for the former Fire Lord. Some of them even made Ozai blush. But Ozai did not give the man any answers. Satisfying the man was not in his best interest at this point. The man seemed to be fascinated by him, and he needed a man on the outside, someone to do things he couldn't.
"I need you -," smiled Ozai, as he interrupted the man's questions.
Before he could even finish the thought the guy was unconscious. Ozai was unaware that the weird man had his mind in the gutter and misinterpreted what he said. He was the second most annoying man in the world behind that swindling cabbage merchant.
Ozai didn't have time for the foaming crap. He grabbed the man by the collar and continued his speech on how he needed his help to burn down the Jasmine Dragon. He hoped the guy could hear in his state.
"The most important thing is that you don't return here," Ozai stated.
"Wait, you don't me," the strange man said as he wiped the foam away.
"No, I just don't want my brother to see us together," explained the former Fire Lord.
"Mmmmm," the weird man hummed as foam began to form. Thoughts of forbidden love danced in his head.
Ozai wanted to scream and strangle the man, but he didn't want to draw attention to himself. He also didn't have the time to waste. He needed to return to work or Iroh would become suspicious and reduce his stipend again. He couldn't afford that if he wanted his plan to succeed.
Ozai wrote the weird man a note detailing where and when they should meet next if he was interested.
"Did you hear the news about the cabbage merchant's green house?"
"He has a greenhouse? He told me that his cabbages could only grow in the wild and were rare and unique," grumbled a man. "I paid three times as much for an 'exotic' cabbage."
"That man had been ripping off people for years. And he wondered why no one wants to buy from him anymore."
"Well, good news for us is bad news for him – but then again any news is bad news for him," said a man as he held up a tea cup as if he was celebrating. "We owe this discovery of this treachery to a fire bender."
This was very good news, Iroh thought to himself. It was nice to see people not holding grudges against his people over the war. He made sure these customers had plenty of tea.
"So his greenhouse had this elaborate agricultural system to water the cabbage plants. Someone tampered with it."
"I bet he tampered with it himself," sighed a woman who had been eavesdropping.
"Oil got sprayed all over the cabbages. Then the fire bender bended to close and KABOOM! Burning, flying cabbages everywhere!" the man exclaimed. "It is said that the cry of the merchant could be heard for miles, 'MY CABBAGES!' it went."
"I wish I could have been there."
"That ridiculous cry of his is completely fake. That act is supposedly his best scheme to get customers. He was most famous for it," stated a skeptical man as he rolled his eyes.
"I would still love to hear it."
"Dai Li was suspected him or something, I forget what, but that's not important. What's important is that they saw a young man arrive with an oil canister. He poured it into the advanced watering system. The merchant yelled as if it was rehearsed his performance for the Dai Li to look and claimed that the true culprit was the younger man. The boy was arrested."
"I know, it's clear that it was a set up," a woman grumbled. "That poor man. We should do something, but, the tea here is so nice. Oh, did I tell you I got invited to a party at you-know-who's this evening!"
Ozai raised his eye brow – the man they described sounded exactly like his only friend in Ba Sing Se.
Prisons made him nervous. He hated being watched by guards during his time in them. Ba Sing Se was a prison to him. He always felt like he was being watched there. Ozai quickly signed the visitor book.
"Will this be normal visit or conjugal," asked the guard, too lazy to even look up to see it was a man who signed in.
Conjugal visit? Ozai thought to himself. He snickered. His foaming mouth friend would love one.
He also knew he was no longer the Fire Lord, and he actually had to abide others' needs. It helped his cause that he was interested in pursuing some sort of a relationship with the man.
"Conjugal visit," smirked Ozai. It was the only way to ensure privacy.
He was escorted a special visiting room. The young man entered the room in chains, wearing a frown.
"I'm sorry," the young man said after the guard left to wait outside.
"What are you sorry for?" Ozai remarked, "Your plan was brilliant. Taking down that dreadful cabbage merchant. I just wish you would have told me that you wanted to take down such a big target."
The young man was confused. He hadn't meant to burn down the greenhouse He just thought that the big tank inside it was a good spot to store oil for his friend's 'no more tea time' plan. He felt guilty for his mistake, yet Ozai couldn't stop praising him.
"I don't expect you be in here much longer," Ozai said with a smile. "There seems to be an angry mob that wants you free. Nonetheless I decided to arrange a special visit."
Ozai moved his hands to his top button on his shirt – he fiddled with it to tease the young man. The prisoner watched closely it began to dawn on him what the middle-aged man wanted from him. It excited him. Before Ozai could unbutton the second button, the weird young man had already passed out, his mouth covered in foam.
Ozai frowned, he should have known better. Now he wasn't going to get any. He wondered if perhaps next time he should be more hastily in the removal of his clothing.
The guard hated it when prisoners got conjugal visits. There was always a risk of someone doing something they shouldn't during them. He would always listen for unusual sounds when he had to be on duty during one. A body hitting the ground was an unusual sound. The guard busted down the door an entered the room to see Ozai with one button undone and the prisoner lying flat on his back, passed out with a lecherous expression on his face. He closed the door quickly, and hoped neither of them noticed him.
Ozai brought a cup of the Jasmine Dragon's finest tea to a man who oddly seemed familiar.
"I like some your special blend," the guard from the prison said slyly. He smiled at the former Fire Lord who was forced to work in the tea shop.
"It's not mine," Ozai replied shortly. "My brother doesn't allow me to go near the kettle. Let alone experiment with his precious tea."
"What a pity," the guard said as he gagged down the tea. He hated tea. "Could I get something to make this go down easier? Some sugar perhaps?"
"Sorry," Ozai stated. "This shop forbids adulteration of tea. It's the owner's policy."
"Perhaps outside of the shop," winked the prison guard.
Ozai rolled his eye. He hated his job. Especially the annoying customers.