Summary: "Don't be afraid of standing in the shadows Zuko." His mother had said. Follow Zuko as he grows up to do just that by discovering that there is more to Agni's gift than blasting fire. Will he through his eyes as the Blue Spirit be able to see the world as it really is and accept the truth about the Fire Nation? Will he eventually join the Avatar and his friends on their mission? Au.
Beta: I have one Beloved Daughter, but I first want the rest of the story to be beta-d as a whole, so please be patient for a while. I give her a lot of work mwhaha. In the meantime, please let me know if I have made any really big mistakes. are
A/N: Hello (hopefully) faithful followe- err readers of mine. How is everyone holding up? I know it has been a while, but I got a couple of new ideas for other stories in my head that just demanded to be written. There was quite a large response to that too, so I wanted to get a basis for these stories first. Unfortunately, this means that the update rate will slow down. Still, that doesn't mean that I have forgotten about you guys! Not at all! So thank you all for the reviews! I'm very happy that this story is appreciated as well – some even love it very much. The person in question will know who I mean (yes you. Yes you! and I'm very happy with that.)
Anyway here is next chapter! We continue to follow Zuko as he… well just read and find out!
Hope you enjoy! R&R!
Chapter 11: Spiritual Connections
That i must learn to kill before i can feel safe
I rather kill myself then turn into their slave
~Into the Shadows by the Rasmus
Zuko's eyes narrowed as he looked through the spyglass to keep an eye on the sky bison. He had spotted more than only the Avatar and his over-sized pet. It seemed that he was not the only one that had been aware that the Avatar would be heading this way. Or it was simply his bad luck acting up again.
He shifted his spy glass to take a closer look at his annoyance once again.
A freaking blockade.
Shit. He would have to turn around.
'And leave the kid in Zhao's hands.'
'I'm not the brat's protector.' Zuko reminded himself. He was not going to babysit anyone. That had never been the plan. He might not really want to bring him to his father, but he was not going to protect the kid.
'From Zhao's brutal torture… who knows what he will do the kid.'
Zuko growled in frustration, having become more aware of the second – and much wiser – voice in his head today. For some reason, ever since he had woken up this morning, it's presence had become stronger.
Even so much stronger that Zuko couldn't ignore it anymore. To be truthful, it freaked him out. He felt like telling or warning someone, specifically his Uncle, but he didn't want to the man to become worried either. He would start nagging him the whole time. He wouldn't let him leave for a whole month.
The voice didn't provide any help either. It didn't even explain anything to him when he asked, but would only argue to him when it felt like it.
'Leave me the hell alone.'
'Go after the kid.' Was the voice's last advice before it remained silent.
His Uncle looked at him worriedly.
"Prince Zuko, if the Fire Nation captures you, there is nothing that I can do. Do no-"
His uncle hadn't even finished the sentence before he was overwhelmed with a urge to follow the Avatar. 'What are you doing?' He demanded in his head.
The second voice didn't answer, making Zuko only more angry.
All his emotions that had pushed him to follow the Avatar so strongly before started to rear its ugly head. He wanted to follow the Avatar. It was his mission. He had a score to settle with the kid!
Zuko lowered the spyglass for a moment to rub his eyes. Damn him and his passionate emotions. Why couldn't he be more rational instead? This was going to be troublesome.
Taking a deep breath, Zuko realised that he was starting to feel more distant. It were signs that he was losing control. Zuko desperate tried to calm down, even going as far as breathing out some fire but it didn't help. It only made his uncle become more worried about him.
"Nephew, please. I know that you might still have strong feelings about captu-"
Another worried voice cut the man off. "Prince Zuko. The engines are damaged! We need to stop and make repairs!" The engine Master called out worriedly and the prince practically felt the whole crew around him tense.
They were expecting him to ignore it. He just knew it.
Screw it all.
Breathing out more fire, he forced himself to thing rationally.
'Alright, it seems like I have no choice but to follow the Avatar. I have no idea what these emotions will do to otherwise. Not to mention that this crazy thing in my head might even go as far as take control.' Zuko pointedly ignored the amusement that passed through his mind.
'Zhao might be here, but he has no clue where the Avatar is going. The ship will be too slow to follow the Avatar and the damage will be only worse if I push forward. I already know where the brat is going, so if I take the fastest speedboat, I might make it just in time…'
His decision was made and the presence in his head let out a sensation of approval. Which kind of felt like a pat on his head and made Zuko twitch in annoyance. 'You just wait. I don't know why you suddenly got so much power, but I will make sure to get you out of my mi-' He was rewarded a mental whack behind his head for that comment. 'You just wait.'
"I have to follow the Avatar Uncle." He said.
"I have to." The prince refused to meet his uncle's worried eyes. He would feel guilty otherwise and he did not need even more emotions running wild in his head.
"Stop the ship. I will take the fastest speedboat." He called out, knowing that the distance between the ships was large enough for them to turn around and to prevent them to get hit by the fireballs that would be send his way in one minute.
Maybe he could use the distraction that the Avatar would provide and slip past them.
Waiting for the crew to start moving, he eventually growled out in annoyance as his crew only stared at him in surprise. He was going to stop? He was going to listen to the engine Master's advice?
"What the hell are you staring there like that? You have got one minute to get the boat ready!" He growled at them.
That got all of them moving in a rather hurried manner. They were not planning to annoy the Prince, worried that he might change his mind if they did.
"Uncle. I will leave the ship for a while. I will return to…' He tried to come up with a harbour that was closes to their current place. "the harbour where you got your latest teapot that you said you would add to your collection."
His Uncle was going to protest, he could see it in his eyes, but Zuko stopped him when he finally met his eyes. Iroh couldn't help but be surprised by the sudden determination that appeared in his eyes. There was no anger in them at all. No hate towards that Avatar, but only firm determination that showed him that he would not be able to change his mind.
"I'm going Uncle." He said and then turned away to walk towards his room in order to get the most important things with him in his bag. He would need to change into dark and unrecognisable clothes. Then he had to make sure he had enough food to last him for a while and take enough money with him. He had to be prepared for anything.
The Prince didn't not see that his Uncle's worried eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he watched him go, as if he saw something that was out of place.
A few minutes later, the Prince was ready to go and the crew were arranged to lower the small boat. Before he was able to enter the boat though, he was pulled into a firm hug.
"Uncle." The teenager complained, very aware of the many eyes that were on him and his Uncle.
After all it was a pretty rare sight for the crew.
Still, he was not completely heartless so he gave the man a few reassuring pats on the back before he was let go.
"Be careful Zuko. Take care of yourself." The man said very firmly and was studying him carefully as if he was seeing something that Zuko couldn't see.
The young man twitched ever so slightly as he saw his serious gaze but answered anyway. "Of course. I will see you soon, and if I have not returned withi-"
"I will wait for you right here." His uncle told him and the prince stared at him in surprise.
"You can go to the harbour to-"
"We will wait her for a couple of days and then move to the harbour." His uncle stated firmly and pushed him towards the boat. "Now move. The mist will not stay for long once they will fire the Fireballs."
So his Uncle had known how he was planning to do get through unnoticed.
"Alright." Zuko agreed as he stepped in the boat.
"See you soon."
"May Agni be with you."
"You too Uncle."
~ Roku's Temple ~
Zuko was very nervous. He had no clue why he was feeling so incredibly nervous. Maybe it had to do with the fact that his body seemed to move on its own accord. Sure it would still stop when he wanted it too, but it felt like it would take more effort. He felt like it was easier to let his body do as it wanted.
It might also have to do with the fact that there had been instances that he might not have been in control of his body the whole time the whole day now.
'You are doing this.'
The voice was silent once more.
'What the hell is going on?' He asked, forcefully stopping his body and placing his hands on the upper part of his Blue mask.
Not that there Zuko needed any answer, because he had – of course – not paid enough attention to his surroundings and had been spotted.
"I saw someone over there! Hurry!"
Ah, those Sages surely didn't sound very friendly. Zuko quickly sped away from the scene and managed to hide in one of the dark corners long enough for them to pass him by. A second later his control gave out once again.
What the hell was wrong with his control?
'This is annoying.' He couldn't help but think and slowly a possible explanation dawned on the boy. 'Does this have anything to do with the solstice?'
He remembered having heard something about the spirit world and men becoming closer during this time. Wasn't that the reason why this was the only time that the Avatar could speak to Avatar Roku?
Still what had that to do with him? It wasn't as if he was possessed right? A shiver ran down his spine as he was suddenly very aware of the second voice in his head.
Zuko nearly didn't notice that he was already moving again. He needed to get towards the main room. That was his goal at least. He would go there, listen what that damn Avatar wanted from the Blue Spirit and then leave.
Nodding to himself, he made his way through the shadows that flames provided.
' That sounds like a very good idea. '
~ Later ~
This had not been a good idea.
"You are here!" The Avatar whispered loudly in happiness.
Why? Why did this stupid solstice mess up his bending? This was absolutely horrible. Zhko had simply been waiting for them to continue with their pretty sneaky plan of tricking the Sages and then run in with the Avatar – hopefully unnoticed – and get it over with. He would stay out of the conversation, simply spy one what was going on and then sneak away once again.
However, it seemed that this was not meant to be as the Avatar decided to hide behind the exact same statue and spotted him as his shadow had faltered. After all, he had not expected the Avatar to practically run around the statue to hide.
Nor did he expect him to bump into him.
At least it hadn't been the Avatar's friends, who had hid behind the other statues just out of their sight. They would have caused a whole ruckus at spotting him.
"So you came after all! How did you get here? You know that Sokka really is annoyed with the fact that you managed to get your sword in his slee-"
Zuko's hand grabbed the kids collar to hide him back into the shadows and then placed a hand over his mouth to cut him off.
He hurriedly shushed him and then slowly took away his hand. The kid looked at him in a rather sheepish expression.
"Sorry about that! We should probably wait for the others to come right? We will have to run into the room-" The Avatar stopped when the Blue Spirit shook his head. "What you are not going in?" He asked, sounding confused.
The man nodded at him in confirmation.
'I'm not going to confront the Avatar Roku when the Avatar is right there. I had been planning to watch them interact, not to talk with the Avatar myself. What if he blurts out my real identity?' Zuko thought and watched impassively as the brat in front of him gaped at him in surprise.
Zuko turned his head to the right as he suddenly heard shouts of several people coming closer. He would have to move soon.
"But! But you have to! Avatar Roku aske-" Sighing, Zuko put his hand on the boy's mouth once again. The boy protested.
Then he licked his hand when he didn't let go.
'Ieuw! Gross!' Zuko thought but didn't let go. He couldn't help but be glad that he was wearing gloves. That didn't excuse the childrish act though and his eye twitched in disgust. Trying to ignore what had happened, he turned the boy's head to the right.
The kid finally seemed to understand that they were coming closer and stopped making such a noise. Nodding his head, Aang let him know that he understood what was going on.
Zuko quickly let the Avatar's head go and wiped his glove clean, using the childs shirt.
Said child grinned at him again and then turned back to the scene ahead of them.
"Hurry the Avatar has entered the sanctuary!" He heard one of the Fire Sages – seemingly the good guy – out to the others.
They waited silently for the warning they should probably get from Katara and the Sage Shyu for Aang to move.
Zuko sighed. He probably should head back to the ship himself then. 'Great another trip wasted for nothing. Well at least I managed to capture some saliva. Good job Zuko.' He grumbled sarcasitcally in his mind, knowing that if he were to abduct him as the Blue Spirit it would go against all his morals of his second identity.
"Aang! Now is your chance."
Zuko pushed the boy forwards to let him go, suddenly feeling slightly disorientated as the doors opened.
'What is that?'
Zuko blamed this disorientation for the reason that he didn't see Aang's sneaky plan forming before. The boy rushed forward, but managed to grab Zuko's arm just in time to drag the shadowy figure along with him.
With a rush of wind, they were practically a blur of colors as the Avatar sped into the sanctuary.
The doors closed behind them just before one of the Fire Sages could get in, since the others that were left behind would make sure they didn't. He was barely able to spot Katara freezing the Sages on the spot – literally.
Zuko let out a heavy 'oomph' as he was flung to the floor and winched when he felt the sheet of his sword poke him painfully in his side. He sat up and glared at the figure that was hovering over him. The Avatar grinned sheepishly once again, rubbing the back of his neck in discomfort.
"Hehe, sorry about that. I was just thinking that…"
He never got that far as Zuko pushed himself from the floor angrily and grabbed to boy's collar to bring him closer. He towered over the boy in a rather threatening manner and shook the collar a few times to show him just how unhappy he was with the situation. The prince felt his hand twitch to strike the boy, but forced himself to refrain himself from going that far.
So instead, he pushed the boy away from him, making Aang land on his butt and started walking towards the door.
Maybe he could still get away from this place.
"Wait! Sorry. I didn't mean to make you angry. I just really thought that you should be here since Avatar Roku had mentioned you. It should be pretty important then right?"
Zuko simply growled at him and mentally started cursing when he saw that there was indeed no escape out there.
In fact, Zuko swore that he heard some voices out there. A large scuffle. Was that Zhao's voice? He frowned. 'Shit. I don't want him to know about my second identity. If he starts to connect me with the Avatar, he will probably try to hunt me down as well!'
He already had enough attention from the Fire Nation as the Blue Spirit as it was. He certainly didn't need to become Enemy Number Two as well.
His thoughts were cut off when the Roku's statue suddenly started to glow and a white mist appeared to surround him before he was pulled along with the two figure onto what seemed to be a mountain top. He glanced at the old man that sat on the ground and the Avatar staring at him in awe.
'So that is Avatar Roku?' Zuko thought and couldn't help but feel slightly humble for a moment.
His attention automatically shifted to something different though. His eyes then quickly roamed over his surroundings to find any means of escape. The scene might have been meant to be inspiring, but he felt rather trapped. Glancing down the edge of the mountain, Zuko couldn't help but feel slightly dizzy.
'If I were to jump, would I be able to get out of here?' He couldn't help but wonder as he shiver run down his spine.
"That will not be necessary my boy." The old man spoke up and Zuko froze.
'My boy.' The masked teenager repeated in his head. 'He knows!' He thought and his eyes widened in panic. He started breathing a little faster and he felt sweat run down his back. His eyes shifted back to the edge of the mountain top once again and he felt his feet tense to jump.
Slowly turning around, he met the man's wise eyes that seemed to look right through him. "Please calm down my boy." There he said it again! "I'm only here to tell you something and to let you talk to an old friend." The man continued.
The last words made Zuko relax and tense at the same time. The words had done their job though as, before Zuko realised what had happened, he had sat down and crossed his legs. The man seemed to be amused with the fact that he was sitting as far away as possible, but didn't say anything. Instead he turned back to Aang, who had watched their interaction with confusion.
Bowing his head slightly to the man in front of him, Zuko forced himself to remain silent as the two of them spoke. He studied Aang's reactions several times when the young boy started looking around him, as if he was seeing something that he couldn't. But then again, with all this spiritual stuff going on, Zuko wouldn't be surprised.
On the other hand, there were some things that he could follow. His eyes widened slightly in surprise as he took in the news of the upcoming comet. What did the old man mean with the fact that the Avatar wouldn't be able to restore the balance if his father were to use it?
Does that mean that the Fire Nation would win the war?
'The Avatar doesn't necessarily restore the balance right? He simply had to power to do so if he wants, but it all depends on the person right?'
The thoughts troubled him. 'Will my father even use the power to destroy the wo- yes he would.' He realised soon enough and Zuko clenched his eyes shut at the realisation. 'Of course he would. If he can strike his own son like this, banish him and let him wander without any assurance that the Avatar even might appear… I wouldn't be able to think that he wouldn't take the advantage.'
His hands clenched so firmly that his knuckles turned white.
The previous Avatar suddenly paused his explanation and turned his attention back to him.
"You my boy, will face many difficulties ahead. Make sure that you choose to follow the right paths or it might destroy the balance of the whole world."
A shiver ran down Zuko's body as the man's blue eyes bore in his own. 'Destroy the balance of the whole world?' That surely did sound important.
It surely did sound as something that he shouldn't screw up.
The man's eyes turned grave. "I hope my words will remind you of this in the future. The fate of the Avatar and you are very closely linked, but I will say no more. It seems that my old friend has finally shown up. Good luck, Blue Spirit and may Agni guide you."
The masked teenager stared at him in surprise before he nodded to him in reply, returning the greetings silently back to him.
"Huh?" Aang only said, clearly confused if not more than Zuko was.
'What does he mean with old friend?' A moment later, the young teenager he tensed as a hand was placed on his shoulder. A moment later he it pulled him back over the edge. Zuko's breath caught up in his throat, which was the only thing that kept him from screaming out in a rather embarrassing manner.
Instead of meeting the painful ground like he expected, his surroundings shifted. His eyes looked around as the world surrounding him became darker and he was suddenly slowly lowered to a rather soft surface. Zuko relaxed somewhat as he realised that he was lying in soft grass and his surroundings shifted to one of a forest.
Standing up, he momentarily glanced at the full moon above them.
"The moon, though it is the often known as the sign for the Water-element, works together with the Sun to allow the moon to light the world up the darkness. Which in turn, allows the energy and fire to remain and to be used by the firebenders." A hoarse and low voice whispered in his ear.
Caught off guard, Zuko swirled around and found- nothing. Nervously, he narrowed his eyes as he tried to find anything out of place.
Slowly but surely, the light of the moon disappeared as a large cloud hovered in front of it and a darkness spread over the clearing they were in. Zuko's heart hammered rapidly in his chest, but he forced himself to remain calm. He wasn't scared to stand in the darkness. He had done so many times before.
'I can do this. This is my territory.'
Breathing out calmly he managed to only tense as another whisper came from behind.
"In return, the sun provides the Waterbenders with energy to make sure that the water can move. Without energy there can be no movement. It would remain as nothing but a block of ice."
The Prince noted that the whisper, though it had a strange hollow sound to it, felt rather calming and eerie at the same time. Zuko turned his neck, but the darkness didn't show him any sign of the source of the voice.
"Without substance or fuel, there can be no light and no energy." The voice continued.
"Without balance between darkness and light, there would be neither." Zuko answered, fairly easily remembering what his mother once told him.
There was a short pause and then the prince heard a soft chuckle.
"Indeed, but the balance in the elements themselves and the balance between the elements in contrast to each other are both part of the Balance. So it is more complicated than that boy."
Zuko bristled at being called boy again, but remained silent. He shivered slightly as he felt a cold breath of air in his neck. He reached out to grab behind his shoulder but he didn't catch anything. There was another amused chuckle to reward his attempt.
"What are you trying to tell me?" The prince eventually asked, now slightly annoyed that he was being laughed at.
"You know the answer already, so I'm sure that you will figure it out on your own someday." The voice whispered.
Zuko's eyes narrowed in concentration just before he suddenly turned around and snatched something out of the air. A cold sensation ran right through him and he knew that he had just managed to grasp
"Stop trying to scare me." He whispered in return. "It is not working."
The voice started laughing and the cloud that had been blocking the moon evaporated.
"Isn't it? Really?" The voice provoked him, clearly amused. He watched with that same amusement as Zuko studied his appearance.
"You are the voice that has been in my head the whole time. You are a spirit then." Zuko suddenly said, his eyes widening as he stared at the figure in front of him. It was a copy of himself, the exact figure that he had seen in his dreams yesterday.
"Nearly right but not quite. I haven't really been in your head all the time. You are wearing my mask Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation." The figure told him and Zuko's eyes twinkled in understanding.
"You are the Blue Spirit." Understanding echoed through Zuko's statement.
"I am." The masked figure nodded.
Zuko kept a hold of the hand that had been reaching out to him and stared at the figure, studying him a little closer. He was a perfect copy from Zuko's current appearance, except for the eyes. Zuko couldn't see it's real eyes, but mere pools of shadows instead. It was kind of freaky.
"What do you want from me?" He whispered to the spirit, suddenly feeling very confused.
"You are already doing very well, I just hope you will remain on the same path in the future." The Blue Mask stated as he reached out to touch the boy's mask.
Zuko pulled his head back automatically to get out of his reach, but the figure was unsurprisingly able to grasp the side of the mask anyway. There was only so much distance one could create by pulling back one's head after all.
"Then why am I here?" The firebender demanded, trying not to show how disturbed he felt.
"I just wanted to say hello to my 'successor'. The day of the winter solstice is the only time that I will be able to communicate with you and to 'connect' with you."
'Connect?' Zuko tried not to let that thought bother him. So he had been possessing him somewhat today?
"Which is the reason why my bending was acting so oddly." Zuko stated instead, trying to act as normal as possible with the masked figure closing in on his face. He suddenly felt very glad that he had his mask on.
"Indeed. A simple side-effect."
"So why am I here?"
"I already told you."
"I want to know the real reason."
"That's too bad." The masked figure said, before he changed his thought. "Well since you have proved to be so amusing…I will tell you."
Zuko's eyebrow twitched and somehow he felt like that spirit was very much aware of this, even though he was wearing the mask.
"I wanted to take a closer look at you. I have had a couple of successors before, but none of them had managed to do so well as you are doing." There was a slightly proud tone in the spirit's whisper.
Zuko couldn't help but feel slightly giddy- no not giddy, Princes didn't feel giddy – happy, no glad to hear that.
"Thank you." He replied in a slightly careless manner, earning an amused snort.
"But that wasn't really the main reason either." The Blue Spirit said.
He sounded more seriously this time, as his hand moving right through Zuko's grip. Zuko's eyes widened in alarm as he was suddenly pushed back against a tree and the second hand grasped the other side of the mask. Zuko managed to get a hold of both arms and tried to pull them away, but they wouldn't budge.
He growled out in warning and tried to bend some fire at the figure to get him off him, but he found that it didn't work.
"I came to warn you." The voice of the mask suddenly became a lot colder.
"Addiction is a very dangerous thing, Prince Zuko. Do not abandon the responsibilities that you must carry as Prince Zuko. Wearing the Blue Mask allows you to do great things, but as Prince Zuko you should be able to do even greater things. As long as you travel the right path. The mask will not be a replacement." The hands pulled the blue mask to the side so that he was able to the scar that marred Zuko's face. His golden eye glared at the him furiously as he tried to tug the mask back.
"Find the balance, Blue Spirit. Prince Zuko." One of the hands touched the scar and to Zuko's surprise it didn't hurt at all.
"Find the balance."
The spirit stressed the last word with a dull echo and Zuko's breath hitched ever so slightly as he saw that everything started to evaporate around him.
"Our time is up." The spirit mused out loud, but didn't let go.
"Why the hell do you keep talking about balance! I get that already!" Zuko growled at the spirit, feeling intimidated by the spirit's actions and therefor suddenly very defensive.
The Blue Spirit laughed at him. "I like you Zuko. Keep up the good job and I might be able to help you out once in a while."
With that last sentence everything turned into darkness once again and he felt himself pushed back, right through the tree, and onto the ground. His eyes automatically shut themselves as he slammed his arms into the ground to catch the fall and used the momentum to push his feet over his head, to get himself immediately back to his feet.
Opening his eyes, he blinked when he once again was back in the sanctuary, standing not so far away from a glowing and meditating Avatar. He immediately checked for his mask, but it was fortunately in place.
He momentarily swore that he heard a laugh in the back of his head.
'Crazy spirit.' Zuko thought, shaking ever so slightly as he focused on Aang.
"I'm ready." The boy suddenly said and Zuko startled ever so slightly as the doors opened.
'Use your shadows. Use your power. Remain unseen.' His instincts cried at him and he noted that the presence that he had felt before had disappeared. Instead, all that was left behind was an odd sense of awareness that lingered. It was as if the spirit wasn't there, but there was still something looking out for him.
Oddly enough, instead of freaking Zuko out, it felt quite reassuring.
He wisely stayed back as the young boy suddenly rose up and walked towards the doors, the power and heat around him surrounding to his presence. Zuko remembered what had happened last time that he had encountered the Avatar state and didn't want to get caught up once more.
The door opened and the quiet silence erupted into chaos.
~ A few hours later ~
Prince Zuko couldn't help but let out a relieved sigh when he finally spotted his familiar ship. He nearly dared to call it his home by now, after having been living on it for years it surely felt like his home base, especially when it was the place where his Uncle was waiting for him.
He slowly got closer and waved to the guards that spotted him almost immediately. They seemed to be on guard for a moment before they recognised him and started shouting orders at a few swore that he heard his crew cheer for his return, but blamed it on his tiredness. He was fairly sure that he heard them call for his Uncle though.
He made sure to approach the side of the ship with a slow speed and then attached his boat to one of the steel loops that were designed for this purpose. Waiting as patiently as he could for them to lower the cables that he would have to attach to the boat to get it back up, he couldn't help but ponder about what had happened.
Luckily Zhao hadn't been able to see him in all the chaos and he was suddenly aware of a comet approaching.
'But should I do with that knowledge? And what the hell did they keep talking about? What right path?' Zuko couldn't help but feel slightly confused.
For a moment he wondered whether he should tell his Uncle, but decided against it. 'I will try to figure this out myself for now.'
If he wouldn't be able to, he hoped that his uncle would be able to help him.
"Prince Zuko, we will lower the cables now!" Came the warning and the Prince looked up.
Attaching the cables one at a time, he made sure to sit down as they heaved him up. He was tired, cold, wet and didn't feel like falling in the water at all. A hot bath would surely sound nice.
He nodded his thanks to a couple of his soldiers as they offered some assistance when he got on board. Normally he might have stubbornly tried it on his own, but his thoughts were too occupied for that.
"Thank you." He called out to someone that drabbed a large towel over his shoulders, causing his crew to stare at him for a moment.
First he had listened to the engine Master's advice, then he had nearly returned his Uncle's hug and now he was actually thanking them? The captain couldn't help but realise that the teenager might not be as bad as he thought he was.
"Welcome back Prince Zuko." He finally spoke up, testing the teenager's reaction.
"Thank you, Lieutenant Jee." The teenager politely returned, making eye contact for only a second. It was enough for the lieutenant to know how tiring the trip had been for the teenager.
"You Uncle will be up in a moment." He said. "He nearly wanted to eat on the deck but I was able to assure him that we would immediately warn him when you would approach. So he should be here in ab-"
The man wasn't even able to finish his sentence as Zuko was once again pulled in a hug. Coughing softly in embarressement, Zuko couldn't help but wonder why Uncle was so worried about him. Then before he realised what had happened, the man was keeping him at arm-distance and he was being scrutinised.
Twitching slightly, Zuko spoke up. "Uncle? Is something wrong?"
Iroh's eyes studied him for a little longer, especially his eyes before he merely smiled. "Nothing. Nothing is wrong." His uncle did sound a little too relieved in Zuko's opinion. " I'm just happy that you are back."
"It is good to be back." Zuko muttered slightly awkwardly and pulled himself away from the man's grip.
He cared a lot for the man, but he needed a little space after all the chaos that he had escaped from. "Now if you excuse me I would like to head to my room for now. Uncle could you please ask the crew to prepare a bath for me? In the meantime, Lieutenant Jee would you care to accompany me to my room and update me on the status of the ship?"
His uncle nodded at him with amusement in his eyes. "Of course Nephew. You look like you could use one."
The other man in question had once again been caught off guard but he nodded. "Of course."
"I will see you later Uncle." He said, nodding at the man, who was still watching him with that strange look in his eyes. Turning around they walked towards the stairs, as
"So how is the engine doing?" Zuko started, trying to keep his thoughts with the subject at hand.
The two men spoke for a while before they reached Zuko's room and Zuko gave him some new orders and navigations so they could reach the harbour that he wanted to go to.
"We need to stack up again. Maybe we will need to replace a few parts of the engine. I will speak to the engine Master." Zuko continued, though mumbling the last part more to himself than to the Lieutenant.
"Alright. I will go and give out the order to start moving Prince Zuko." The man said, nodded at the prince and even giving him what seemed to be a slight bow.
Zuko tiredly nodded at him in return, probably not even noticing the man's behaviour and entered his room.
He stripped out of his wet clothes and put on something dry before he emptied his bag to let it dry. His hand traced his Blue Mask for a moment and then he made sure to hide it until his bag was dry again. Sitting on his bed, he waited for one of the servants to let him know that his hot bath was ready.
With all those chaotic thoughts moving around in his head, he really needed one right now.
He blamed the soft amused chuckle that he heard, to his tiredness once more.
~ End Chapter ~
Feedback time! :D Please review!
Phew! This chapter took so long! I have been working nearly a whole day on this. The chapter is longer than usual as well, but it has been a while so I thought that couldn't hurt. Hehe.
I hope that you liked this interaction between Zuko and the real… spiritual Blue Spirit. Heh, Aang will probably wonder where he disappeared to (again).
Till next time!