"Yes," Zuko said to the commanders standing behind him as he spread his plans out across the table. "I was a small Fire Navy vessel fully manned and brought to the harbor as quickly as possible."
"Are you planning a trip, Firelord Zuko?" one commander asked.
"It's not for me," he snapped but then took a deep breath calming himself. "It's for... uh, somebody else. Just see that it is done."
"Yes, Firelord Zuko."
The commanders bowed out leaving the Firelord to his thoughts. Sighing he collapsed into a nearby chair rubbing the bridge of his nose. Running a country the right way, with compassion and understanding, was so much harder than running it with fear and deception. But he'd sworn off that dark path. It was now his job to lead the Fire Nation back into an era of peace and help heal all the damage done to the world. But all that responsibility could ready weigh on a teenager's psyche.
There was a barely perceptible brush of fabric as the room's unknown visitor stepped out from behind the drapes.
"Zuko?" she asked quietly.
His head perked up, "Mai? What are you doing here?"
"Just came to see how you were doing with all this Firelord stuff," she answered.
"About as well as you'd figure," he said sinking lower into the chair. "Being sixteen and running a whole country is heard enough but with all this post war business... it's just so much to wrap my head around. I mean, we have a hundred years of damages to make up for and it's all on my head."
Mai walked over beside him and gently turned his head towards her, "And you're doing a great job. I believe in you, Zuko. Together you and the Avatar are going to heal the world. I know it."
"You always know what to say, don't you?" he asked.
"Of course, it's one of my many charms," she stated the corner of her mouth almost hinting at a smile.
She turned away from him and walked over to the table resting her arched hands against the papers, "So how goes your other project?"
"I just sent for the ship," he said rising. She looked at him eyes saying everything. "And I know you think it's crazy but I believe this is what she needs."
"And do you think she'll see it that way?"
He walked over and stood beside her, "Not at first, no, but eventually she'll come around."
"And you truly believe that?"
"I have to."
"I just hope you know what you're doing," she said.
"So do I," he admitted. "So do I."
Sighing he smoothed out the papers some more and tried to gather his thoughts. Was there any possible way this plan could work? Was he riding on the small chance that she could change? Or was he simply crazy?
"Y'know, sometimes I wish Uncle was here so he could tell me whether or not I'm doing the right thing. He always seemed to know what to do, especially when I didn't."
"I'm sure he'd come back if you asked him too," Mai said snaking her arms around Zuko's.
"No, I couldn't do that to him. He's finally happy there. Besides, how could I rob Ba Sing Se of its finest tea maker?" he paused. "He always used to tell me that I never thought things through and that's what was always getting me into trouble. But I have thought this through. I've spent hours going over my options again and again and every time I come to the same conclusion. This is what I have to do."
"Then trust in your own decision," Mai said. "You are Firelord now. Self-doubt is a luxury you can't afford."
"I was under the impression there wasn't any luxury I couldn't afford," Zuko joked receiving a look sharper than one of Mai stilettos. "But you're right, you're always right."
"You're just figuring that out now?"
He laughed and pulled her into a hug, "Don't ever let me forget how lucky I am to have you."
"Don't worry, I won't."