Modern Day Zutara

Magic Eight Ball

It was only grocery shopping, Katara told herself as the group of six teenagers walked through the automatic doors of Wal-Mart, nothing to be worried about! She glanced at her friends and brother, mentally praying they all behaved today like they had promised. She didn't really have to worry about Toph or Zuko and sometimes Suki, but the rest still had trouble acting mature in public places.

Toph's hand squeezed her own. The poor girl hated going into a place with so many people crowding the building. She had no trouble outdoors moving around, as if her handicap never existed, but in crowded areas she didn't stand a chance on her own. Katara noted the younger girl's dark sunglasses for what they were: A sort of mask to hide from public her faults. As far as everyone else was concerned she was just a punk kid dressed in a dark green hoodie, black jeans and matching green Converses.

Zuko appeared on Toph's other side, giving her back a reassuring pat. Katara smirked at the similarity in style between the two. After Zuko had joined the group a few weeks ago Toph had bonded rather quickly to him, adapting a lot of his habits and choices in music, clothes, tv shows; well, everything. Katara had to admit Zuko looked pretty decent today with his black t-shirt, simple red jacket, dark jeans and black Converses. She glanced at her brother and Aang who simply had thrown on whatever they found first. A couple of wrinkled shirts. Sokka had tugged on a pair of old looking jeans while Aang had slipped into his favorite pair of khaki pants.

Katara then glanced at herself and Suki. She wore a simple blue t-shirt with the logo of her favorite earth element; water. Her lower half clad in a black, free-flowing skirt that didn't quite touch her knees and a pair of matching black flats. Suki had used the same logic as her boyfriend and had put on a simple black shirt with a yellow logo on it, advertising some cartoon hero and a pair of light jeans.

"Oh yumm!" Aang suddenly blurted out. "I love the smell of fresh donuts!"

"And I love the smell of recently fried chicken!" Sokka said, rubbing his palms together in earnest. Suki merely giggled while Aang shook his head in disgust.

"Just remember, we're here for some food and basic supplies." Katara reminded them.

"That doesn't mean we can't look around, right guys?" Sokka said. Toph glared in his direction. "Oh sorry, Toph…"

"Just describe everything for me, Snoozles and all is forgiven."

"What do you guys want to look at first?" Suki asked.

"Let's go check out the electronics!"

"Pet stuff! I need new things for Momo and Appa…"

"CDs or DVDs."

"I'm with Sparky."

Katara sighed. "How about you all go look your separate ways and look while I gather the stuff we need?" The others sounded their approval. "We'll meet at the center of the store."

"The toys department?" Aang questioned.

"Yeah. Be there within the hour!" She allowed Zuko to take Toph's hand from her. "Be careful, Toph."

"Sure thing, Sugar Queen. Come on, Sparky, let's go check out some music."

Katara watched their fleeting backs before grabbing a cart to get started on the actual shopping.

One Hour Later

Aang whistled as he waited, patiently, for his friends to show at the meeting place. He had seen some neat things to get his pets, Momo and Appa, but would have to wait until the next bit of money came in before getting anything.

"Aang!" Sokka called out from his left. He and Suki were running to reach the spot. "Great! We beat Katara here. Where's Zuko and Toph?" Aang could only shrug.

"We're over here, Snoozles." Toph said as Zuko guided her up to the rest of the group. A large grin was plastered on the young girl's face. "We heard some great stuff playing over there. Very rockin'."

"Yeah, well, Suki and I took turns playing on the new handheld. The game could have been better though."

"I found the greatest toys for Appa and Momo! Jeez, I just wish I had the money to get them."

Zuko turned away from the chatting friends. Something behind Aang caught his interest. What in the world was it? He reached behind Aang and carefully withdrew it. It was a large, black, pool ball; the number eight ball. This was a toy?

"Oh dude! A MAGIC EIGHT BALL!" Sokka squealed. He snatched it away from Sokka.

"What's a magic eight ball?" Toph asked.

"It's a giant eight ball; like from pool, but it's made of plastic and it can answer 'yes or no' questions! It's never wrong!"

"That's bull!"

"No, I swear! Go ahead and ask a question."

"Okay. Is Sokka a gullible monkey?"

Sokka glared but shook the ball, regardless. "It says 'Yes'! Uhh?" He groaned in disbelief. Toph and Aang laughed, loudly. Zuko hid a chuckle by turning his head while Suki covered her mouth to keep her giggles within.

"Well, Snoozles, the Magic Eight Ball is never wrong!"

"Let me try it!" Aang said, taking the toy away from Sokka. "Oh, Magic Eight Ball, should my friends turn into vegetarians?" He gave it a shake, eagerly awaiting its answer. "It says 'My sources say no'. Darn."

Sokka snatched the ball back. "Should Aang give up being a vegetarian?" He shook it and waited. " 'Don't count on it.' You lucked out!" He puffed, while Aang gave a sigh of relief.

"My turn, Sokka!" Suki said, holding out her hands for it. "I'm not sure what to ask it, actually." she laughed softly. "Let's see…Should I stay with my current, knuckle-headed boyfriend?" She shook and waited. " 'Signs point to yes!'" She gave a wide smile to Sokka, who casually wrapped an arm around her.

"See? It's never wrong. Zuko, you should ask it something." The tanned boy handed it over to the quiet one, taking Toph's wrist and pulling her to his free side.

"I don't really have anything to ask." he replied, sheepishly.

"Well, what's something you really want? Ask if you'll get it soon."

Zuko turned away from the group as Sokka finished his sentence. His cheeks began to burn at the thought of what he dearly wanted most. That beautiful, blue-eyed, Water Tribe girl…He'd ask the damn ball a million times until he got the answer he wanted. Just as he opened his mouth to ask, he bit it shut again. He couldn't ask in front of the others! They would never let him live it down.

"Are you okay there, Sparky? I can feel your entire body pulsing and you're getting all shaky."

"You're also sweating." Aang finished.

Sokka began to laugh. "It's about a girl, isn't it? Go on, tell us her name!"

Zuko was speechless from panic. He turned to face the group. They were all staring at him! Even Toph, with her milky eyes! By not answering, he had confirmed it was a girl and could see Sokka smirking, content with the older boy being in an uncomfortable situation. Zuko swallowed. There was no way to get out of this. He had to tell them. He opened his mouth to answer, "Actually…Her name happens to be Ka-"

"GUYS! There you are!" Katara stomped toward them, eyes ablaze and eyebrows dipping down in front from fury. She was pushing the cart, full of necessitie, toward them. "I came here over fifteen minutes ago and none of you were here! I told you WITHIN the hour, not IN one hour! I've been looking everywhere! I was worried sick!"

Sokka groaned and covered his eyes. "We're sorry, Katara! We got carried away! Blah, blah, blah. Just shush up a minute! Zuko was about to tell us the name of the girl he likes!"

"And then he was going to ask the Magic Eight Ball if they would ever be together." Aang added, cheerfully.

Katara glanced at the clearly nervous boy and the toy in his hands. "That's just a toy! It's not like it can actually predict the future!"

"But it's yet to be wrong!"

"That's just luck. Put that thing down and let's go."

"But what about the love of Zuko's life?"

Katara snorted. "Are you really that desperate for gossip, Sokka? Let Zuko keep it a secret if he wants. Now, come on! I'm going to need help with all this stuff and I expect all of you to pitch in."

"You always have to ruin the fun, dontcha, Sugar Queen?" Toph sighed.

"Well, why don't you tell us the boy you like, Toph?"

Toph blushed, feverishly, at the suggestion. "No, no! That's okay."

"Yeah, I didn't think so. Now, move it!"

Zuko let out the breath he had been holding as the group marched away, giving him a few moments of quiet to himself. He looked down at the toy he still had clutched in his hands. "It is just a stupid toy…" he murmured, placing it back on the shelf. He turned to follow his friends, but eyed the plastic ball again.

Quickly, he grabbed it and asked, "Will Katara become mine soon?" He shook the ball, fervently, hoping that the stronger he shook it, the more it showed how he truly wanted it. He waited, holding his breath again. Then, the answer appeared. Without a doubt. Zuko felt a wide smile creep onto his face. He realized how goofy he must have looked standing at the end of an isle, smiling while holding a Magic Eight Ball, but he didn't care at the moment. He was going to win her over! He would prove that Sokka was right, unfortunately, by making Katara his.

"Zuko!" Snapped back to reality, Zuko looked up to see the very person who had been invading his thoughts a few seconds before, calling his name. "Hurry up! There's a lot of stuff to carry back to the house! We need all the hands we can get!" Then, she was gone.

Zuko sighed and set the toy down. Stuffing his hands into his jacket, he rushed to catch up to his friends, but the small smile never left his face.