this time imperfect
( jet/mai )
fifty themes, one sentence each.

i'd show a smile, but i'm too weak; i'd share with you, could i only speak
just how much this hurts me.

#03 - Wishes

For years, he wished on every shooting star for the war to be over or his parents to back or the Fire Nation to just go away; finally, he learns that hoping for something isn't good enough.

#01 - Walking

He first sees her in passing, at the Great Fire Nation Market, and he thinks nothing of the way she's admiring the knives.

#18 - Balloon

"It's a dog," he cries, exasperated, and huffs, "see if I make you anything ever again."

#11 - Birthday

"Is it?" he asks airily, stretching and ignoring her suspicious glare, "I had no idea."

#27 - Jester

"Cute hat," she says, smirking; he glares at her and growls, "I don't want to talk about it."

#04 - Wonder

"How do you get your hair to do that?" he asks, and she glares.

#10 - Weddings

He invites himself to her ex's wedding, partly because he finds the whole situation hilarious, but also because he thinks she might need a friend to be there for her.

#16 - Breaking

He watches her through the whole ceremony - her face is a mask, unreadable and blank, but he can feel her agony as she watches her first love marry another woman.

#36 - Sordid

"I don't understand," the stuffy nobleman says, "why anyone would choose her over Lady Mai," and (privately) he agrees.

#02 - Waltz

"Dance with me," he says flippantly, holding out a hand, and is eternally shocked when she accepts.

#12 - Blessing

She tries not to be bitter, not to hate the other girl, not to scream or rant or stab her in the chest; it isn't until Jet asks her to dance that she actually believes she can move on.

#32 - Sorrow

"I'm sorry," he whispers in her ear, even though he really isn't.

#19 - Balcony

"I thought I'd find you out here," he mutters, and she doesn't turn.

#40 - Solitary

"I want to be alone," she says thickly, imperiously, but he doesn't leave - "No, you don't."

#17 - Belief

"God?" she sneers bitterly, "What's he got to do with anything?"

#41 - Nowhere

Neither of them really belong anywhere, both uncomfortable with regular life and both desperate for something more, so, together, they search for it.

#45 - Natural

He cooks (and... he's good at it).

#22 - Quirks

It doesn't take long for them to learn a few important things about each other: Jet absolutely cannot abide by seafood, Mai has the tendency to unconsciously snuggle in her sleep, and neither of them can find their way out of a wet paper bag.

#07 - Waste/Wasteland

"There was nothing for me there," is all she tells him when he asks why she agreed to leave the Fire Nation with him.

#09 - War

Sometimes, when the night is black and the air is stiff with humidity and he forgets that he is no longer a Freedom Fighter, he hates her - she lost nothing to the war, to the Fire Nation; she came out of the war the clearest winner of all, and yet... for some reason, she's here with him.

#21 - Quiet

She doesn't talk much, so he does it enough for the both of them.

#26 - Jump

"Come on," he yells, treading water, from the bottom of the cliff, "I'll catch you."

#31 - Smirk

She'd die a thousand horrible deaths before she'd admit it, but when he smirks like he's got a great plan up his sleeve, she goes a little weak at the knees.

#38 - Sojourn

For the longest time, she pretends that this is only temporary, that she'll go back to the Fire Nation eventually, but they rarely go out that way and she never seems to miss it.

#13 - Bias

She will not wear blue.

#08 - Whiskey and Rum

He gets her drunk in the explicit hope that she might do or say something she'll regret later, and his plan works, just not in the way he'd hoped - the next morning, he finds her in bed with a long-haired earthbender with a bad mustache.

#14 - Burning

She has a long, angry-looking scar that snakes across her thigh; when he asks, all she'll say is, "Azula."

#24 - Quarrel

They don't fight with sharp words or even with sharp implements; he "accidentally" loses half her knife collection, she puts starch in his underwear, he drops a can of paint on her favorite shirt, she wins by dosing his soup with a powerful laxative.

#06 - Whimsy

When he first kisses her, it's less out of desire and more out of sheer curiosity; the violent slap he receives in return is worth it, though.

#28 - Jousting

They come across a small town with a peculiar game that he's ridiculously desperate to try; after being promptly and efficiently unhorsed by the resident champion, however, he decides that some games are just not for him (a fact she has been telling him for the better part of a year).

#33 - Stupidity

"I'm not saving you again," she snaps, but he grins wide and whistles.

#35 - Sarcasm

"I love the Ember Island Players," she says, and is deeply chagrined when he doesn't catch her tone and agrees.

#37 - Soliloquy

"I don't get it," he whispers, too loud for the crowded theater, causing her to bury her face in her hand, "who is he talking to?"

#42 - Neutral

Sometimes, she still wonders whether she lost the war, or won it.

#46 - Horizon

She doesn't know exactly when she realized that she'll never find what she's searching for, but it doesn't really matter - after all, it's the search itself that's important.

#39 - Share

They're short on cash, and it's too cold out to just camp out under the stars, and there's only one bed - and Mai is certain that, were it possible for a man to smirk himself to death, Jet would keel over and die.

#23 - Question

He wonders, and thinks he will probably wonder for the rest of his life, why she really walked away from her home country after the wedding: he knows it had something to do with Zuko, but less than she claims, and she won't admit anything.

#34 - Serenade

Desperate, half-mad, and feeling like a complete moron, he goes to Iroh for advice - which turns out to be an awful idea, because the suggestion the old man gives him ends with Jet pinned to the ground by a series of knives and Mai insulting his singing voice.

#48 - Virtuous

"Virtue is a vice," she says coolly, and kisses him.

#20 - Bane

"You'll be the death of me," he breathes, as she arches against him.

#43 - Nuance

It's a tiny thing, so small that no one else would notice, but she flinches every time she sees fire.

#29 - Jewel

Under her blank facade, she's so deeply compassionate that it almost kills her to care about people, so she chooses, instead, to care for nothing and no one - easier, that way - and she wants to hate him for getting under her skin.

#47 - Valiant

No one would call him a hero, but, in his own way, he is noble.

#15 - Breathing

She finds him physically broken, an unrecognizable mask of bruises and burns and blood, and almost cries in relief when she feels his breath against her hand.

#25 - Quitting

"You're not going to give up this easily, are you?" she whispers to his prone form.

#44 - Near

He wakes up several times, crying out in pain and tormented by nightmares, shouting unfamiliar names, tossing and turning and sweating and screaming, and through it all, she never leaves his side, just clutches his hand and keeps repeating the same words, over and over - I'm here I'm right here I'm here.

#50 - Defeat

In the darkest hour of the darkest night, when his breathing is shallow and ragged, when the nightmares have come and gone and left him little more than a shell wrapped in bandages, Mai cries.

#05 - Worry

He wakes up covered head-to-toe in bandages and wracked with unbearable pain, and he hears her voice, humming an off-key lullaby as she watches over him.

#49 - Victory

He did kill Long Feng, he did take his revenge, and he did make the man pay, but it comes at a price: "You might never walk again," she tells him, and her tone is that old, bored monotone that she uses when she's hiding something.

#30 - Just

"I don't think you get it," she says, by way of explanation, "you're all I've got now."

A/N: This was written, like several other fics of mine, for the 1sentence community on LJ, where you get fifty themes, and have to write one sentence for each theme. As is quickly becoming the norm for me, I wrote this in 1-50 order, and then re-arranged it into rough chronological order, so it would make sense.

I've actually become quite enamored of Jet/Mai - I've always thought that Mai would hate living in the Fire Nation, and would yearn for the freedom to make her own decisions; I also refuse to believe that Jet actually died at Lake Laogai, if only because he's too fun a character to let die that easily. I imagine that the two of them working together would make for a whole lot of fun to watch/read/witness, and, well, it's a hot ship. HMS Pointy Metal Objects, ahoy!

Also! Spot the references! There's a not-even-concealed one to Cowboy Bebop, the "jump" sentence is a call-back to the truly excellent Final Fantasy X fanfic "Wheeled and Soared and Swung," there's a very subtle call-back to Firefly, the title and quote (and general tone) is from the song "This Time Imperfect" by AFI, and the gag about starch in the underwear was cribbed straight from my very-awesome grandmother's life and marriage. Tell me what you think!