I don't own Avatar the Last Airbender.
Zuko groaned softly as he watched Katara slowly but surely destroy what he was sure was their next meal. Ever since he had joined the gAang, he had been subjected to what he was sure could be considered the worst cooking in the whole western hemisphere.
It wasn't that he had especially refined tastes, because he didn't; After three years of banishment, he had grown used to the substandard cooking. But Katara's cooking was only second to that goop he'd had when posing as an earth-refugee. He wasn't sure how much more of it he could take. He'd been purposefully heating his food to taste-bud-annihilation temperature for the last few days in order to keep from insulting her. Seriously, he didn't need her to be even more hostile then she already was.
Always glaring and silently promising him death if he did anything remotely out of place. His mental state was on constant alert for an attack in his present company. Toph was most likely the most tolerable of them, and then he would have to admit that Aang was good company despite his natural jovial attitude. The Duke was quiet and unobtrusive like Azula used to be when they were still on good terms, and now that Suki had joined them, Sokka wasn't that bad either.
But, back to his current dilemma: The pot, which was currently being massacred by a certain water bender.
He wasn't sure if it was him, seeing as everyone usually ate without complaint, but as he tentatively stepped forward, he knew that what he was about to do would either one, make her really mad, two, make her extremely mad, or three make her hate him enough to dump the pot on him.
The cold glance she threw his way didn't stop him as he approached hesitantly. And paused a good three feet from her in case the situation escalated to dangerous. "Could," he started, breaking the silence and drawing everyone's attention, "Umm…well…" he rubbed the back of his neck before plowing forward. "Katara, would you allow me to cook tonight?"
She looked up sharply, eyeing him up and down in a mocking parody of attraction. "What? Your delicate stomach can't handle my peasants' cooking prince?"
Zuko inwardly winced, but didn't try to appease her. He already knew that nothing would and if he tried she'd just turn it around on him and put words in his mouth. "…" he brought his arm down to place on his hip almost in a contemplative manner, "Yes. That's about right. So can I please cook tonight's supper?"
Surprise registered at his blunt admission but was quickly replaced with scorn. Standing abruptly, causing Zuko to tense further, she sneered, "Fine, but you'll be to blame if everyone in camp goes hungry tonight, flame-boy."
A nod was all it took to send her storming off ranting to herself about pompous, evil, fire-bending men she despised. Zuko held back a sigh as he knelt next to the cauldron. Carrots, peas, was that a potato or a rock? Sampling the ladle, he mentally gagged. Didn't she know that salt and onion gave flavor? This was disgustingly bland, and he didn't even want to know what she did to this to make is taste the way it would have in a couple hours.
Sorting though the bag, the banished prince recorded what he had to work with. He wasn't an exceptionally good cook, but in the months that he and uncle had been on their own, he'd learned quite a lot about tea and food. He'd also discovered that he enjoyed creating. Cooking had a lot to do with heat, and fire-bending had a lot more to do with creating then one would think.
Bringing the pot down to a boil, Zuko went to work, finding the rhythm in his art.
The sound that brought Zuko back from his meditation was Sokka, as he careened around the corner pleading for Katara to serve the grub, because he was starving. Suki joined seconds later to follow his example and stare at the bizarre sight of the prince hunched over the simmering pot, dishing out the "grub" as Sokka had eloquently put it.
"What?" was the defensive word places between the cook and his on lookers.
"…Why are you cooking Firecracker?" Toph always was good at breaking awkward silences. "Sugarqueen usually feeds us." He noticed the subtle, fidgeting more than anyone else.
"…I think my head is going to explode." Sokka kneeled on the ground in despair. There was no way that Zuko would cook up something edible. They were doomed to starve tonight.
Suki started forward first to receive her serving, cautiously bringing the stew to her lips. "It's…good." She pronounced, astonished. Better than Katara's at least.
The group relaxed, each digging in eagerly and making sounds of approval. Zuko smiled as he bent his head over his own bowl and for the first time since joining the group didn't singe his taste-buds to death.
A/N: Please inform me of any mistakes you find! I don't like when I find them in fanfiction I've already posted. TT_TT Thank you for reading! and please tell me what you think.