Camp of the White Lotus. (Present Day)
He did not know if he could bare the pain of the goodbye. He knew very well that his sister needed to be taken out, but still he could not stop himself from feeling the overwhelming sadness. Zuko wanted to close his eyes and pretend this was all a dream. He wanted someone to tell him that he was having a nightmare and he would awake soon. No, that wasn't right. He wanted Him to tell him it was a bad dream, wanted His comfort. What was wrong with him?
Zuko excused himself and stood up, walking away from the people he now cherished most. How many would he see again? He walked for a long time, until he could no longer see the smoke billowing from the cooking fires. When had everything changed? When did he start thinking this way? Why was he so afraid of losing them; of losing Him. Zuko ran his hands across his face. He felt the scar that sometimes still hurt him, though he would never let on. Sometimes Zuko imagined that He knew. He always had a way of seeing right through Zuko. When had everything become so painful? He remembered the night before He had disappeared. The night after Zuko had pretended to attack Him.
Royal Family's summer home. (Flashback)
Zuko had been afraid for His safety. Had been afraid He was not ready. He had managed to blast him through the wall however, and Zuko was slightly appeased. Though, not much.
I can't help him fight my father. Nobody will be able to help him. But I'll believe in him with all I've got. If that's all I can do, then I will. He's strong. He'll make it! Zuko remembered thinking.
Still, it was hard not to worry. He had gone to his room. What had been his room so many years ago. He lay on his bed, now much too small for him, and looked at the ceiling for what had felt like hours. He did not know why he was getting so damn worked up about this!
"It gana be ok Zuko." came a voice from just outside the open door. It was His voice. Zuko heard footsteps coming towards him, across the room. "Don't get so worked up about everything. I'm tough." His voice was smooth, not at all like the voice Zuko heard on a daily basis. There was no laugh in that voice, only the dark tones of one who wants to make a point.
The footsteps drew closer. Zuko felt the weight of another body sit on the bed. He sat up quickly.
"Everyone else thinks I'm going to fail. They don't show it, but I can see it in their eyes. They're preparing for a last stand, not a great victory. They wanted to celebrate their last days; you wanted to keep training till the last second. You believe in me right?"
The weight on the bed shifted, closing some of the last remaining inches between them. Zuko's heart skipped a beat. What was going on?
"Yah, I know you can do this." said Zuko bracingly "You're strong, even if you don't much look the part. I believe in you. Truly." There was a moment of silence in which Zuko looked sheepish and His enormous grey eyes fixed themselves unashamedly on Zuko's face. "Anyway," Zuko said, trying to break the silence "you blasted me through the wall, and I'm impossible to take down!"
"Oh really?" He said, grey eyes lighting up before lunging across the remaining space and pinning Zuko underneath him.
"What? Hey! Get off me!" Zuko spluttered as he struggled to break free.
He lowered his head so that his mouth was level with Zuko's ear. "I love you." he whispered.
Zuko's heart stopped. What was going on? Why was He saying this? Why did it make him so happy?
"When you went on those trips with the others, I was so angry and I didn't know why. I want to be the only person who you have memories with. What you said just now made me so happy, you have no idea. I want to be your number one."
"Aang." Zuko sighed. He lifted his head and kissed the airbender.
Aang rolled off him and onto his side, pressing all his weight into Zuko's chest. Tears were beginning to stain Zuko's shirt.
"Why are you crying?" asked Zuko, afraid he had just done something horrible.
"I'm sorry." murmured Aang "I'm really happy. I just can't seem to stop." He buried his face in Zuko's chest and wept more softly.
Zuko gently grabbed Aang's chin, forcing the airbender to look at him. Then he kissed him again, softer than before. When he pulled away the tears were gone from Aang's eyes.
"There," he said "you stopped."
Aang gave a small laugh. They lay there for a long time, just holding onto each other. That was enough. At some point during the night a gust of wind blew the door shut and left them in half darkness. Zuko ran his long fingers through Aang's hair, wishing that they could stay like this forever. Aang's hands reached to wrap around Zuko's neck and in doing so, brushed up against the scar. Zuko gasped with pain and drew back.
"Dose it still hurt?" Aang whispered.
"Not much. It's still raw."
"How long ago did you get it?"
"Years ago. It's nothing."
"Years ago? But it's still bright red!"
"I know, it doesn't seem to want to heal." Zuko gave a dry chuckle. "Don't worry about it ok?"
Aang leaned over and gently kissed the scar. Zuko sighed, a deep happy sigh. Aang slid down Zuko's face and connected with his lips again. They kissed for a long time, neither seeming to need air. They imagined that they were the only people in the world, that there was nothing pressing at hand, that they could stay like this forever. Holding, kissing, whispering to one another, for hours and hours.
Zuko did not remember falling asleep. When he woke Aang was gone and his hair was considerably messy. He wondered if it had been a dream. He got up, brushed his hair and walked out the door only to find the others in kayos.
"Where is he?"
"Did you see him?"
"He said he was going to meditate! His hair was all messed up like someone had beaten him up!"
"What's going on?" Zuko roared over the commotion.
"Aang's missing." whispered Toph, looking truly frightened.
Zuko felt his heart explode. His scar hurt.
Camp of the White Lotus (Present Day).
Zuko flung back his head and screamed. Where was Aang? Was he ok? Visions from a million horror shows flashed before his eyes. Aang captured, Aang lost, Aang de…, no. That was too much even to think.
He collapsed on the soft forest floor and wept. He could not remember ever crying like this, not even when his mother had disappeared. Where was Aang? Had he done something to upset him? Tears ran down his face and fell silently to the ground.
"What wrong?" came a voice from behind him.
Zuko spun around so fast that he saw stars. There in the clearing was Aang. He had shaved his head again and the blue arrow shone in the sun Aang gave a small smile and took a few steps toward Zuko who lunged into the airbeneder's arms with a cry. Tears were still running down Zuko's eyes as he held Aang, staining the yellow robe he was wearing. Aang disentangled himself enough to press his lips into Zuko's own. When they pulled back Aang smiled brightly.
"You stopped." he said, grin still plastered on his face.
"You son of a bitch! I thought something had happened to you! I thought that you were…that you were…..Fuck it!" yelled Zuko, pulling away and looking Aang in the eye.
"I'm sorry Zuko. I didn't mean to disappear. No, really I didn't! But I know how I'm going to defeat the Fire Lord now! It's going to be okay!" Aang leaned over and kissed Zuko again. Zuko blushed. "I have to get going. I'll see you when this is over." Aang through his glider into the air and soared away, just like that.
Without another word, Zuko began the walk back to camp.
Fire Lord's Palace.
The coronation had been long and boring. The only thing that kept Zuko from flat out leaving the crowds of people who had come to see him was Aang's insistence that it was important to respect his people. Finally Zuko could not bear it anymore.
"I have to get some air." he whispered into Aang's ear before dislocating himself from the crowd.
The balcony was nice enough. Zuko could not understand why everything had to be the color red. Was there a law that said that the Fire Nation must wear red, the Earth Kingdome must wear green, the Water Tribes must wear blue and that the Air Nomads…well Aang could wear whatever the hell he liked.
He leaned up against the rails and looked out over the landscape. For a long time he remained alone, simply looking at the land he now had to govern. After a while Zuko heard footsteps coming towards him quickly. At first he thought it was Aang and a grin spread across his face. Then the form of a girl threw herself against Zuko.
Shit! This girl won't leave me alone! Zuko thought as she raised her head to look at him.
"Don't ever break up with me again." she said.
Break up with you? We were never together. I told you I wasn't interested years ago!
The girl leaned forward and kissed Zuko full on the lips.
"What the hell?" cried Zuko, before breaking away and running back to the party.
"Don't hate me!" cried the girl.
"I don't hate you."
Zuko met up with Aang much later in the day. For the remainder of the party Zuko had been searching, but gave up thinking that he must have gone to meditate or whatever airbenders do when their alone (smile). Around everyone else Aang was just as happy and bubbly as ever, but Zuko thought that maybe Aang was avoiding him. He put the thought out of his mind and began to serve tea to his friends. His FRIENDS! If he had told his younger self that he would one day grow to become friends with this gang, to…love the Avatar. Zuko wanted to see the look on his thirteen-year-old face.
Everyone was laughing and having a good time, but Zuko couldn't seem to come close to Aang without the airbender running off to talk to someone else. Zuko again put it out of his mind, until he saw Aang and Katara leave. Curios, Zuko silently followed.
Before he knew what he was seeing the two were kissing. Kissing! Zuko felt everything turn black. What was going on? Aang couldn't be kissing someone else! He had said only a few days ago that he loved him, not her!
"No." he whispered. Then, before he knew what he was doing he was running towards them. "Get your hands off him!" he yelled.
Katara looked at him bewildered, but before she could do anything further Zuko was between them and pulling Aang into such a passionate kiss that everyone in the vicinity blushed and looked away.
When they pulled apart both of them had tears in their eyes. "What the fuck? You said you loved me. What the hell is this? Your mine, you hear me? Mine."
"I saw you kiss that girl, the one with the knives. What was that?"
"She's a fucking stalker. I'm sorry, Aang, I didn't know she was going to do that."
"She told you to not break up with her again!"
"I was never with her! She's fucking crazy! Made up all these stupid stories about us on a beach and told everybody! It's all bullshit, I promise."
Aang looked from left to right, but said nothing. Zuko simply wrapped his arms around the airbender and pulled him into another kiss.
"Ok." whispered Aang.
Katara stood bewildered behind Zuko. "Then why kiss me? I already told you I wanted to call Jet."
"I thought it would make him jealous." said Aang, blushing and turning his gaze back to Zuko.
"Mission accomplished." said Zuko, giving a small chuckle.
They walked back into the tea room and looked about. Everyone was staring at them tensely.
"Did they just do what I think they did?" asked Toph, sounding genuinely curious.
"Yep." said Sokka flatly.
"Bout damn time!" said Toph then went over to the table to get a glass of tea.
Everyone began to laugh and together they gathered around the Pi Sho board to talk.
Under the table, Aang's and Zuko's fingers were intertwined.