Honeymoon in the Earth Kingdom
Mai almost tripped over the large crate that had been installed in her and Zuko's room after their wedding the day before. It contained a beautiful chest made in Gaoling, Toph's home town, and was a wedding gift from the earthbender. The newlywed scurried about the bedroom, packing clothing and toiletries for her honeymoon with Zuko.
"We'll have to find a place for that when we get back," she murmured to herself.
They were headed to the Earth Kingdom, in fact. Zuko had spoken of a beautiful spa town that he and Iroh had visited (well, visited wasn't really the most appropriate word) during his banishment. It was situated by the sea, was quiet, peaceful and its myriad of cherry trees would be in full bloom by the time they arrived.
They would be traveling by ship but they would have company for a good part of the journey. They would stop at Kyoshi Island for Ty Lee and Ba Sing Se for Iroh and Toph. The rest of their friends were leaving on Appa.
"How's it going?" Zuko asked as he entered the bedchamber.
"I'm not done yet," Mai replied.
"Well, you won't need that much. We're just relaxing. There's not much else to do there."
"I know, I know, but there are still certain things I want with me."
"Okay, I'm not arguing. I just need to make sure everything will be taken care of while we're gone. Do you think that Xiang is a good choice?"
"Xiang in charge; yeah, he's a good choice. He's very level headed and reasonable. I like him."
"That's what I thought too and he's agreed." Zuko hesitated before broaching the next subject. "Mai, we haven't talked about that other thing."
"Well, we were busy last night and slept in and we haven't had time yet today."
"Yeah, I know. Come over here and sit down for a minute."
Mai moved over to the sofa and sat down beside her husband.
"You saw a healer about having babies, right?" Zuko asked bluntly.
"Yes, I didn't deny it yesterday when you whispered your ill gotten information in my ear."
The Firelady smirked.
"Are you pregnant?" Zuko asked with undisguised eagerness.
"No, not yet; look, my mother had a hard time getting pregnant and that was starting to nag at me. I just decided I would let the healer check me out."
"And?" Zuko prodded.
"And, I'm fine and very healthy and there should be no reason why I can't get pregnant soon if that's what we want."
"Is that what you want?"
Zuko grasped Mai's hand a little too hard.
"Ow," she squawked. "I'm ready to stop being careful. In fact, it turns out that our honeymoon is the perfect time."
"Really," Zuko breathed softly. "Can you imagine? You might be pregnant by the end of our trip."
"Might," Mai cautioned. "Let's not worry about it and just enjoy ourselves. If it happens, it happens. And don't get all fussy and start treating me like I'm fragile."
"I won't fuss, well, I probably will when you are pregnant. I don't think I'll be able to stop myself."
Mai rolled her eyes and kissed Zuko perfunctorily on the lips.
"How about you lay out what you want to take with you and Azumi and I will pack it for you."
"Fine," the Firelord moaned in a put upon voice as he randomly pulled robes, tunics and pants out of his massive wardrobe."
"On second thought, don't bother. We'll do it."
A middle aged servant bowed in the open doorway and entered.
"There you are, Azumi, we have a lot of packing to do. The Firelord is a bit helpless at it."
"Not helpless, I just don't care about packing clothes," Zuko corrected. "I'll leave you to it."
Their ship left in the early evening. Everyone stood on the deck and watched the sunset over the ocean and then enjoyed a late dinner in Mai's and Zuko's quarters.
"I see you hired a wonderful cook for your journey, nephew. And the tea is passable too, although I think that I will brew my own from now on."
"He came highly recommended," Zuko replied. "But your tea is better."
"Thank you," Iroh beamed. "I knew that eventually you would learn to appreciate excellent tea, Zuko."
"Mai and I enjoy it every day." The Firelord cleared his throat. "Um, Uncle, are you up for a little talk?"
"How about we go back up on deck; you don't mind, do you, Mai? We won't be long."
"Go ahead; we girls can have a talk too."
"It's a lovely evening, isn't it, Zuko?" Iroh asked his nephew as they strolled around the ship's deck in the starlight.
"Um, yeah, I suppose it is," Zuko replied.
"You have something that you wish to discuss?"
"Do you think it's too soon for me and Mai to start a family?"
"Ah, right to the heart of the matter," the tea shop owner laughed. "I think that is something that you and your beautiful wife have to decide for yourselves."
"I know, but I would like your take on things."
"Well now, let me see. You've lived together for what, two and a half years now, right?"
"And your love certainly survived some trials. I think that you and Mai have a very good, solid relationship. I know that you adore her and she feels the same way about you. Any child would be lucky to have you two as parents."
Zuko beamed at the compliment but his face soon clouded over as he thought of Ozai.
"My father, Ozai, why…." Zuko paused as he tried to articulate his thoughts, "why does he hate me? Why did he hate me? Why was he so cruel?"
Iroh reached up and patted his nephew on the back.
"My brother and I were never close. He is sixteen years younger than I am. But I knew him to be hard and ambitious most of his life. The feelings of others were not often of concern to him. And, yes, he could be cruel."
"But, I'm his son. Doesn't that matter?" Zuko asked. His unscarred eye was wide.
"You were a good son, Zuko. It was Ozai who failed. And you will be a good father. I've seen you with young Tom-Tom. That boy loves you and that love was not borne of fear, but of trust and genuine affection. Don't worry. Now, I take it that you and Mai are thinking seriously about children."
"Yeah, we're not going to worry about being careful anymore. So she could get pregnant very soon."
"And you seem pleased with the idea, so I think that you are ready. You've grown up and matured a lot over the last few years. And you'll be able to keep up with young children because you are young yourselves."
"Thanks, Uncle. You always know what to say."
"So you're going to a spa town, huh, Mai?" Toph inquired.
"Yes, Zuko says it's very beautiful.'
"You're going to lie around and get massages for a week?" Ty Lee asked.
"Mmm-hmmm, I can't wait. And there's a beach."
"I went to a spa once," Toph began but Ty Lee and Mai broke into giggles.
"What?" Toph demanded.
"Katara told us," Mai gasped while clasping her abdomen.
"I don't like anyone touching my feet," the earthbender yelled.
"Okay, okay, calm down. Toph," the Firelady said after gaining control herself.
"I was going to say that besides the whole feet thing, I actually kind of enjoyed it."
"Really, you don't seem like a spa kind of girl," Ty Lee exclaimed.
"Sometimes being girly is fun," Toph replied defensively.
"So seriously, Mai, what are you and Zuko going to do for a week?"
Mai flushed furiously. Toph could feel the woman's embarrassment.
"Besides that," the earthbender prodded.
"We're thinking about starting a family so the 'that' will be serious business."
"Wow," Ty Lee squealed. "But you've made 'that' sound not fun at all."
"It's always amazing," Mai amended almost dreamily.
Toph smirked in Mai's direction. "Mai talking about her sex life; now I've heard everything."
"I should be able to talk to my friends about it, shouldn't I?"
"Definitely," Ty Lee agreed. "So tell us more."
Mai sighed. "What have I started?"
A few days later, Mai and Zuko were alone and almost at their destination. Mai was delighted when she first caught site of the small town from the sea. The coastline was alive with blossoming trees that poked up between an abundance of white rocks. A long staircase built out of the rock wound its way up the cliff and to the spa town itself.
"I told you it was beautiful," Zuko reminded Mai as their ship docked along the lengthy stone pier.
"My Lord, do you wish your bags taken to your cottage immediately?" a crew member asked.
"Please," Zuko replied.
The Firelord turned to his wife and offered her his hand.
"Are you ready?" he asked huskily.
Mai took Zuko's hand and they disembarked from the ship. She looked up at the huge staircase and sighed.
"We're getting our exercise for the day," she remarked.
"Would you like me to carry you up?" Zuko joked. "We'll be getting a lot more exercise later on."
"No, I can walk up the stairs just fine and yes, we will get lots of 'exercise' later," she agreed.
Mai rubbed Zuko's hand suggestively and he smirked. The couple climbed the stairs steadily and was rewarded with a spectacular view once they reached the top. Sharp white cliffs contrasted dramatically with the azure sea and sky. The town itself was split into two parts, one on each side of a wide river that plummeted down into a waterfall. At the center of the river was the spa itself, joined to each side of the village by a sturdy wood boardwalk.
"Wow, it's amazing, Zuko," Mai observed. "So the spa's in the middle, right? They even have cherry trees growing there."
"Yes and our cottage is on that side," Zuko said as he pointed across the river. "It's quieter over there."
Their bags and their crewmember were both waiting for them at the registration desk. The old man behind the desk bowed as soon as Zuko and Mai entered the small building.
"I left your bags here, my Lord," the crew member said as he indicated the bags.
"Thank you," Zuko replied. "You may go back to the ship now."
"Yes, my Lord," the burly man replied as he bowed to the Firelord.
"I'll have your things sent to your cottage, Lord," the spa worker stated. He rang a bell and a young boy appeared from the back room. "Ming, take these bags to number 18….quickly." The boy sprinted away, each hand carrying a bag and headed in the direction of Zuko's and Mai's lodgings.
"Do you need an escort there, Lord?" the employee asked.
"No, we're fine. We'll just follow Ming."
"Yes, Lord. You are free to enjoy any of our wonderful facilities at any time of the day. We can bring meals to your cottage, so that you can have privacy on your honeymoon."
"Yes, that's a good idea," Zuko agreed. "Alright, we'll probably be back later. If not, how about you knock and leave our dinner outside."
Mai gave Zuko a playful swat when she picked up on her husband's innuendo.
"Of course, Lord, whatever you wish."
Zuko practically dragged Mai along the boardwalk and into their cozy cottage. (Ming flew by them on his return trip) He was kissing her and tugging at her robes before they even closed the door. They were both partially undressed before they entered the bedroom. The Firelord scooped his breathless wife into his arms and placed her gently on the bed before he proceeded to take the rest of their clothing off.
"Well, that was intense," Mai said as she blew her breath out loudly. "And incredible," she added with a grin as she placed her damp head on Zuko's equally damp chest.
He curled an arm around her and kissed her forehead. "I wanted you so badly and I couldn't wait," he said apologetically.
"Please, feel free to do that anytime," Mai stated adamantly.
With his free hand, Zuko stroked Mai's abdomen. "Do you think we made a baby?" he asked.
"I don't know. We'll have to wait a few weeks at least before we know anything."
"I hope we did," Zuko replied softly.
"I do too," Mai agreed. "If not, we've got a few more days and if not this time, maybe next month."
"Mmmm, yes….are you hungry, Mai? I'm starving. I'll see if there's some food."
Zuko grabbed a robe and wrapped it around his naked body. Mai watched from the bed, smiling with appreciation. The Firelord left the bedroom and walked to the front door. He opened it and found a tray laden with food, all safely covered and still warm. It smelled delicious. He took it back to the bedroom and they ate in bed, pillows tucked behind them for support.
"I guess I am hungry," Mai joked as she reached for another dumpling.
"We had a workout, remember," Zuko said slyly.
"Yes, we did. I was thinking that we could take a walk along the beach tonight, after dark."
"I'd like that," Zuko agreed. "We can get the spa treatment tomorrow."
They spent the late evening wandering around the beach under the white glow of the half full moon. Mai pulled her cloak closer about her body as she sat down on the sand and looked out to sea. Zuko busied himself picking up shells and placing them in a small sack.
"For Iroh," he explained. "Last time we were here, he had to leave his shells behind. And here, I think you'll like this."
Zuko handed Mai a small rock shaped almost exactly like a heart. "It's like the one you gave me when you were, what, twelve?"
She took the rock and turned it around in her hands. "Thanks, Zuko, that's sweet."
"Did I tell you that I had the rock you gave me inside my robes during our wedding ceremony?"
She wasn't quite sure how to express her emotions and so instead she pulled her husband down beside her and gave him a lingering kiss. He returned it, seeking the heat of her mouth with his tongue. After breaking apart, he pressed his forehead to hers.
"I'm getting the urge to take you again," he blurted out abruptly. "There's nobody around."
"It's cold, Zuko," Mai protested feebly.
"I'll keep you warm," Zuko replied raspily. "Please!"
"My husband begging, how can I refuse that?" Mai consented as she began to disrobe, shivering all the while.
Zuko undressed and placed his robe on the sand for Mai to lie on. He transformed his pants into a pillow and gently pushed Mai downward. Her black hair spread out around her head like a fan and her exquisitely pale skin glowed in the moonlight. Zuko paused, overcome by his wife's beauty. Golden eyes met golden eyes and they held the gaze for a full breathless minute. Tearing his eyes away, Zuko dipped his head down for a kiss and placed his warm body over Mai's cool one.
The utterly relaxed couple spent the next day enjoying (or enduring, in Zuko's case for some of them) various spa treatments. Massages, steam baths, hot rock treatments and a manicure and pedicure for Mai took up most of their time.
"I feel completely boneless and so good," Mai exclaimed as they walked back to their cottage.
"I'm glad," Zuko replied as he squeezed her hand.
He plucked a twig resplendent with blossoms off a nearby cherry tree and whimsically placed it behind Mai's ear.
Mai smiled at her husband and shook her head back and forth.
"You're really letting your latent romantic tendencies come out and play, aren't you?"
"Well, you're my wife and I love you. I should be romantic. I enjoy being romantic. I'm not like Uncle Iroh or anything. He could flirt with and charm anyone. I never could and probably still couldn't…..not that I want to," he added quickly. "I'm too awkward and shy and I used to be too angry. But I'm different with you, Mai."
"I'm glad, Zuko. I love it when you're romantic. Let's hope that twenty years from now, you still feel the same way."
"Mai, I can't imagine not loving you. I've cared about you since we were little kids. I know that I always will."
"There you go again," Mai teased.
"I could show you just how much I love you," Zuko suggested playfully. "We've got all night. There are no meetings to attend tomorrow, no obligations."
"What are you waiting for?" Mai smirked.
After a late start to the day, Mai and Zuko explored the paths surrounding their cottage and ventured past the village into a dense wooded area. A river flowed through the woods and the couple sat on its bank and ate the picnic lunched packed for them by the spa staff.
"I never pictured you as an outdoorsy woman," Zuko commented.
"I suppose I wasn't. I never had the chance to be. I hardly ever left the capitol and nature there is manicured gardens. Well, you know all about it."
"Yes, but that changed and I saw a lot of nature very close up," Zuko quipped but there was a trace of pain in his voice.
Mai took Zuko's hand. "It was a bad time for both of us, you more than me. But you got to see the world, Zuko. That in itself is a good thing."
"You're right. That whole journey changed the way I looked at the rest of the world and the people in it."
"Anyway, I like this. It's great to get away from people for awhile and from the palace and the city. I love being here with you," Mai said, gently nudging the conversation away from the past.
"So what do you want to do tomorrow?"
"I wouldn't mind another massage," the black haired woman replied. "And I wouldn't mind 'sleeping' in again either."
The rest of their honeymoon week passed quickly. Mai and Zuko savored every minute of the quiet and privacy. They slept, they talked, they went for walks and they took advantage of all the spa had to offer. On the morning of their departure, the couple walked down the steep stone staircase once again. Mai looked back once with a wistful expression before she boarded the waiting ship.
"We can come back another time," Zuko said as he followed her onto the ship.
"I know, but it will never be our honeymoon again."
"No, but we'll have other things to celebrate," the Firelord said with a smile as he looked pointedly at Mai's belly, "if not right now, then very soon."
Author's Note: That's what you call fluff. Hope it wasn't too hard to choke down. Anyway, I see Zuko and Mai as quite romantic with each other, especially when alone. And it's their honeymoon. Romance and fluff should abound. And all that sex will lead to 'something'.
I also like to throw in a few more serious moments for balance. I think that Zuko will always carry the hurt from Ozai, no matter how many years go by. And he's not a super confident guy so pep talks from Iroh and Mai are good for him. He went a long time without any kind of encouragement or praise.
Thanks for reading!