Ok, so this story is your cliché Zuko moves to a new town AU, hope you like it. Read and Review please. Thanks,
Zuko didn't remember the train ride upstate all that much. He remembered his Father telling the driver to stop and get his bag from the trunk at Grand Central. He remembered the indifferent look his Father gave him when he was handed his ticket. He remembered the blank face his sister Azula had on when he went to hug her goodbye. He remembered watching them drive away leaving him by himself to wander the terminal searching for his train. Now here he was, in a small town in upstate New York, the train station, if you could call it that, it was just a platform in the middle of nowhere. He stepped off the train, and looked around, the only other soul around was the man in the ticket booth, and he looked surprised to see somebody actually get off the train. He checked his watch, the train had arrived right on time. Then coming, no barreling, down the road was his uncles beat up pick-up truck.
Zuko hadn't seen his uncle in quite some time, he was considered the black sheep of the family. Instead of taking over the family business in Manhattan he had moved to this small town in upstate, South Point. I guess he was the new black sheep, being shipped off to where somebody in the Kuzon family went when they were too embarrassing to have around. He would spend the next two years of his life in this frozen wasteland. The truck finally pulled up to the edge of the platform.
"Hello Nephew!" came his bellowing voice from the truck, "throw your bag in the back and let's get going its freezing." Zuko did as he was told and soon they were driving back the way his uncle came from. His uncle was a strange character in Zuko's eyes. He was a short round looking man, with bushy sideburns and a great big smile. How he could be happy after the things he had happen to him was quite the puzzle to Zuko. His Uncle Iroh had to bury his wife and son in the same year, and then he gave up the right to run the multi-million dollar shipping business that their family owned and moved to this tiny town and opened up a tea shop. Yet here he was going on about something in extremely happy mood, and was it only Zuko that found it awkward to be sitting in a truck with a relative that he barely knew?
"…so are you excited about starting school?" was all that Zuko was able to catch when he came out of his own thoughts.
"Uh, well I don't know. How many people go to this school?"
"200?! There was almost one thousand at my old school!"
"Well I'm sorry to say this is a much smaller town than New York." His uncle said with a mirthful chuckle.
"You're telling me…" Zuko trailed off as they came upon the town, it was miniscule. You could practically see the whole town from this road, no skyscrapers, no building really larger than two stories. The whole town was just a lot of snow, trees and houses. Except one building, it was enormous compared to everything around it. "What is that?" Zuko asked pointing at the building that dwarfed the rest of South Point.
"Oh, that's the ice-rink, this town lives and dies on its hockey." Hockey, Zuko smiled for the first time in a while.
Zuko and his uncle pulled up to a small home. It wasn't unpleasant, just a small cottage looking home with a front porch, and a chimney, and a yard. Zuko had never had a yard before. It was covered with snow at the moment but Zuko imagined it with a green lush carpet of grass, and he could see him running around with friends. He quickly roused himself from his daydream, his friends were all back in New York, and they would never want to play in a yard, well maybe Ty Lee. They would be hopping trains up and down the island, going to concerts, eating at the best restaurants, slipping into clubs with fake ID's and a twenty for the bouncer. It was nice to be young and rich in the greatest city in the world, and here he was in a frozen town where he knew nobody and had absolutely nothing to do.
"I'll show you to your room." Iroh said as he opened the front door with a jingle of his keys. They walked up the stairs, the walls were covered in pictures of his late aunt and cousin, then, Zuko froze. He was starring into the eyes of his Mother, she was young, beautiful, and alive. On her arm was a man he didn't recognize at first, but it was his father. He was smiling, laughing even, and they were at some sort of fair.
Iroh turned to see Zuko was not behind him, then went back down the hall and saw Zuko sitting on the stairs, he had taken a picture off the wall and was starring at it intently. Even with Zuko's back to him blocking his view of the picture Iroh knew exactly which one it was.
"They were so much in love." His Uncles voice had startled Zuko. He turned his head and looked up the stairs to see his Iroh looking down at him fondly.
"I can't believe this is my father." Zuko stated simply.
"Yes, he was quite happy and full of life when he was with Ursa." Zuko had not heard somebody say her name out loud in so long he felt that he had nearly forgotten it. "He was an angry sullen boy before he met her in college, and when he lost her, well he seemed to go back behind his shield." Zuko could hardly imaging his father ever being happy, but then again, before his mother died, he could remember seeing this happy smiling face of a man in love, had it just been so long that he had forgotten his father looking this way? Or had Zuko just found it easier to see his father as an angry indifferent man that he had no attachment to? "Well, let's go get you settled into your room, I have to go check on the shop."
The room was small but adequate. A bed, a desk, an end table, and absolutely nothing on the walls, it was a guest bedroom never used. Nobody ever went to see his uncle, and a pang of guilt hit Zuko in his gut. This man that was so eager to take him in when nobody else wanted him, was as alone as Zuko was right now. Zuko set his bag on the bed and followed his uncle back down the stairs, stealing a glance at the picture of his parents, and out the door.
They pulled up to what seemed to be the main street of South Point. Lined with small shops and boutiques it had an old town sort of charm, it certainly wasn't Times Square. His uncle parked and they got out and began to walk along the street.
"This is Main Street." How original thought Zuko as he rolled his eyes. "Most anything you need is on this street, the market is at the other end," Iroh said pointing to the largest building on the street at the far end. "and all the shops up and down the street are specialty shops, and restaurants, and my tea shop" Iroh said as he opened the door to the store front they had stopped in front of.
Zuko instantly smelled jasmine as he stepped in. It was a nice little store with a few tables here and there, a fireplace, and a counter with a register. There were a bunch of teens in the shop, which surprised Zuko, who knew that a tea shop would be a hang out for kids, well in this town maybe it was the best they had.
"Hey mister Kuzon!" greeted the girl behind the counter, she was about Zuko's age, maybe a little younger, lightly tanned skin and her brown hair pulled into a messy pony-tail.
"Why hello Jin," Greeted Iroh, "How is business today?"
"Same as always, the usuals are over in the corner and some window shoppers here and there to get in from the cold." She said off handedly, Zuko guessed she said the same thing to Iroh everyday. "And who is this?" she asked as she gave Zuko a big smile, she reminded him of Ty Lee.
"This is my Nephew Zuko, he will be staying with me from now on, and he will be helping you here." Wait what? This was the first Zuko had heard of him having a job while he lived here. He had never had a job in his life, he just had an account his father had put money into for him. Seeing Zuko's confused look Iroh explained. "If you are going to live with me you will have to pull your weight, you will work here after school with Jin."
Zuko was a bit put off by the whole situation, but how hard could it be? And he would get to work with a cute girl, which was always a plus. So Zuko went about being trained by his Uncle and Jin in how the Tea Shop ran, and he was horrible at it. They eventually sat him in front of the register, Zuko was always good with numbers, and had a good memory so he was the ideal cashier. He on the other hand could not make tea or coffee to save his life. After numerous fails and being snickered at by the teens in the corner of the store he had let his temper flare and quit, then was talked back in by Jin and promptly placed in front of the register. He chit chatted with Jin while his uncle took care of something in the back office. She went to South Point High School, where he would start going to when the semester began on Monday. It would be nice to know a face in the crowd, Zuko mused. Then a commotion in the corner caught his eye. There were four, no five of them, the "usuals" referred to earlier by Jin. The ones having the argument were a boy, most likely Zuko's age that had blue eyes and tan skin with a short brown pony-tail. He was yelling with a girl that had to be his sister, same skin, same eyes, and same hair just longer. Seeing sibling fight was an instant reminder of Azula, well they really didn't fight, she got him angry and he did something stupid and she won. To the girls left was a younger boy with a buzz haircut and grey eyes, he looked to be trying to mediate with little success. To his left was a small girl with jet black hair laughing hysterically at the whole situation, to her left was a girl with short auburn hair trying to hold back the boy, probably his girlfriend.
"Will you shut up Sokka!" Zuko whipped his head back around to see that it was Jin that had yelled at him. Then he looked back to see Sokka had stopped yelling and the others were quiet and the small girl laughed even harder.
"What happened to the customer is always right?" shot back the boy, Sokka was what Jin had called him.
"You have to buy something to be a customer." Jin replied with a smirk. "And since Katara did buy something, she is a customer, so whatever you two were arguing about, she was right." The whole table except for Sokka burst into laughter.
"Thanks Jin!" said the girl identified as Katara. She noticed Zuko starring, he averted his gaze as quickly as possible with a slight blush rising to his face. How long was he starring at her, he hadn't even noticed, but she sure as hell did. When he dared look back in her direction he was startled to see she was at the counter. "Hi, I'm Katara, what's your name."
"This is Zuko," Jin replied. "He is Mr. Kuzon's Nephew."
"Hi Zuko, what brings you to South Point?"
"I'm going to be staying with my Uncle."
"Oh, that's cool, are you going to go to South Point High?"
"Yeah, I'll be a junior."
"Cool, my Idiot Brother is a junior too, I'm a sophomore." An "I Heard That" could be heard coming from the table. "Come over and I'll introduce you to everyone." Zuko came around from behind the counter at her beckon, a little nervous, why was he nervous? He was just meeting some kids from the small town he was being banished to that were in the tea shop he was being forced to work in, man how was he stuck in this situation? His palms were sweaty and he was getting irritated by everything he had taken in stride all day. He was suddenly in front of the group with a scowl on his face. "This is-"
"We heard," interrupted the small girl, "you were right over there Sugar Queen."
"Well, fine Toph, introduce yourselves then." Katara said with a huff, and instantly the anger and frustration boiling up in Zuko was gone, something about this group calmed him, maybe it was the way they playfully teased, or the way they casually sat with each other, they must have all been friends for years. Zuko missed his friends back home and longed to be friends with this group all in one moment.
"I'm Toph" Said the short girl with the black hair that slightly covered her eyes.
"Sokka" Said Katara's brother, "and this is my girlfriend Suki." He said gesturing to the girl with the short auburn hair.
"I can speak for myself Sokka," Suki said as slapped him in the back of the head, Sokka gave a yelp and winced.
"I'm Aang," said the small boy. "Nice to meet you Zuko."
"Nice to meet you all." Zuko replied and he turned around to go back to work.
"Hey wait a second," Zuko heard Sokka call to him, he turned to the table of friends again. "Zuko Kuzon?" Sokka questioned him.
"Yeah?" Zuko replied, with a quizzical look on his face. Sokka had his hand on his chin and was looking upwards, a very stern look on his face. He snapped his fingers and smiled looking up at Zuko.
"You were on the State Champs last year!" Sokka exclaimed shocking everyone at the table. "You played on the state champs last year, some fancy private school in New York City!" Zuko was at first bewildered, then he realized what Sokka was talking about, Zuko had a few hobbies, but one thing he was very good at, Hockey. Sokka was correct, he had played for St. Mary's back home last year and they won State. He was more than shocked that some kid he just met in this po-dunk town knew that.
"Yeah, I guess." Zuko replied a little unsure of what to say.
"Sweet!" Yelled Aang, Zuko turned his attention to the younger boy. "We start our season with the semester, join the team!"
"Join the what?" Zuko replied, he was quite bewildered, first this random stranger knew who he was, and another was recruiting him for…a hockey team, is that what this Aang kid was trying to get him to join?
"The Team!" it was Sokka this time. Zuko looked for help to the girls at the table, Toph was amused by the way he was reacting to the boy's ambush. Suki was embarrassed and mouthed sorry to him.
"Sokka! Aang! Stop yelling at him!" it was Katara that came to his rescue, he gave her an awkward smile meant to be a thank you, her smile back to him he took to mean your welcome. Suki elbowed Sokka in the ribs, and he calmed himself down.
"Sorry about that, we kind of get over excited when it comes to hockey." Sokka sheepishly explained.
"Yeah, sorry about that." Aang echoed.
"That's alright." Zuko said, "I just don't know about joining any teams right now though."
"Aw, common, I'm the captain, it'll be fine." Sokka boasted.
"No you're not." His sister chided him.
"Well I will be!" Sokka was now standing in some sort of hero pose. "I will lead us to a championship!"
"The only reason you win anything is because Aang is finally in High School." Toph laughed, and Aang got a sheepish grin all of a sudden. Seeing Zuko's puzzlement return Katara began to explain.
"Sokka and Aang play on the team, Sokka is a center and will most likely, as much as it pains me to say it will be captain this year, there is only one senior on the team this year, Haru, but he is the goalie and doesn't really see himself as a leader. And for some reason, the rest of the guys look to Sokka."
"Ouch little sis"
"Aang, well, the hopes of this town are kind of riding on Aang," She smiled at Aang, and for some reason Zuko was jealous, he wanted her to only smile at like she had been doing. Then Zuko had to ask himself: what the hell did I just think?! Luckily Toph brought him out of his own head.
"Yeah, Aang is the second coming of Wayne Gretzky around here!" she exclaimed slapping the aforementioned boy on the back.
"Well, not all that-"
"Yeah right!" It was Suki's turn to interrupt. "Everyone in town wanted you to just skip middle school and go straight to high school so you could play on the team faster!" The whole table laughed again.
"Well, yeah. I am pretty good." Aang allowed himself a little boast, Zuko thought he was a curious kid.
"You're pretty strange for a goal scorer." Zuko couldn't believe he just said that out loud. The whole table stopped laughing and stared at him. He scrambled to explain himself. "What I mean is, well, you see" This wasn't going well, he was stumbling over his words, and Katara was giving him the meanest glare he ever saw. "Well, every major scorer I have ever played with has been, well, extremely confident, almost conceded, they kind of have to be, it's their job on the team."
"Really?" Sokka inquired
"Well last year, our top scorer was-
"James Tannan" Sokka interrupted
"Yeah, he was always talking about his and our teams abilities, but it was his job to be the face of the team." Zuko continued.
"Sounds like an arrogant jerk." Katara interjected.
"Well, yeah he was," Zuko agreed smiling. "We couldn't stand him, but he carried us to a championship and was drafted in the first round." He finished in a matter-of-factly fashion. Katara frowned and Zuko felt his gut drop.
"Well, I like scoring goals, and I am good at it, but I don't like to brag about what does that make me?" Aang asked, all ten eyes were on Zuko, they waited for his answer, an answer that would shape how they saw this stranger. This was his first impression, and you only got one. The tension was palpable. Zuko shoved his hands in his pockets and tilted his head to the side.
"I don't know, I've never seen you play." The five friends all almost fell out of their chairs.
"Well let's go!" Sokka was the first to recover.
"Go where?" Zuko asked
"To practice!" Aang was up and out of his chair.
"Yeah it's in about half an hour." Sokka leapt up, grabbed Zuko's arm, and began to drag him away.
"I don't have any gear, I left it all in New York," Zuko exclaimed
"No problem we'll go to Piando's shop." Aang said taking Zuko's other arm without missing a beat. Zuko looked once again to the girls for help and he again found none, but he found Katara's smile, and let himself be dragged away.
"Wait!" Jin Cried after the boys, "Bring him back!"
"Sorry Jin, you know those two." Suki said apologizing to Jin.
"Damn, he was cute too!" Cried Jin. "If he joins the team he'll never have time to work here."
"Sorry Jin." Added Katara, who for some reason was quite perturbed at Jin's liking of Zuko.
"Well, Jin thanks as usual." Added Toph as the three girls left the shop following the boys outside. Iroh came into the front of the store to see what all the racket was about.
"Where is Zuko?" He exclaimed seeing his nephew gone.
"He has gone and been recruited to the hockey team, never to be seen again." Jin said with a heavy sigh. Jin then began cleaning up the mess the gang left behind and a small smile crept onto the old tea shop owners face.
Yeah, lame made up last names for the characters, yeah i was lazy and made Jin the tea shop girl, yeah hockey is going to be a big part of this story, yeah i humanized Ozai and yeah Azula and co. will show up later, yeah Toph isn't blind, why you ask because i am not a talented enough writer to explain her being blind and able to interact with everyone the way she does in the show without magic. till, next time.