Disclaimer: If I owned Avatar: The last Airbender, I would currently be egging James Cameron's house for stealing the show's name.
Zuko was out hunting when he heard the peeps. Baby turtleduck peeps, coming from the river.
He investigated, and found a nest, hidden in the pond reeds. Four baby turtleducks, and a grown mother turtleduck far downstream. Dead. And the babies were hungry.
Zuko turned away, about to leave, but then turned back, defeated by his newly discovered conscience and a few old memories. He had to help them. It was the right thing to do.
What do turtleducks eat?, he wondered. Mud? Rocks? Pond weeds? Yeah, pond weeds, that's it.
"Stay here," he muttered to the babies. Like they could understand him. "I'll be back."
He began to search through the water. What do pond weeds even look like?
He ended up pulling up a bunch of short, grass-like things from the riverbed and wading back to the nest.
He dropped them in front of the peeping turtleducks and watched them eat. I guess they like that, whatever it is.
After they finished, he turned to leave. His good deed was done for the day.
When he was about five minutes away, he heard a very loud, very distinct 'peep'. He turned back around, knowing exactly what he would see but hoping he was wrong.
Four turtleducks all lined up in a perfect line.
"No! Go away! I already fed you!" he said, backing away. The turtleducks followed him, peeping all the way.
"AUGH! Leave me alone!"
"Aww, that must be so cute."
Zuko froze. It was Toph.
"So," she continued, "who's the father?"
Zuko didn't like resorting to begging, but if anyone found out, Sokka would never let him, the Gaang, or the entire world ever forget that he played mother to a group of baby turtleducks.
"Toph, please don't tell anyone about this."
" I dunno, Sparky, it would make wonderful revenge for burning my feet..."
"I won't firebend during our spars for a week."
"And I'll give you piggyback rides for a month."
"...Deal. What are you doing with them anyway?"
"Their mother died, they were hungry. I fed them. Now they won't leave me alone!"
"Not my problem. See ya."
She started to walk away, then stopped.
"Oh, and by the way, I will never let you forget this." Then she was gone.
Zuko sat down on a boulder."Great," he muttered to himself, "I've got a following of four turtleducks. Now what?"
His mind ran through the list of options.
"Well, I couldtake you back to the temple. There are a lot of old fountains where you could live."
"They have food and everything, but they don't have a place for you to sleep...
"Peep, peep peep peeeppeeppeeppeeppeep..."
"You could sleep in my room at night, I guess...as long as your quiet."
"Maybe you do know what I'm saying. Alright, lets go. But be quiet about it."
The turtleducks were indeed 'quiet about it', and Zuko actually got them to the temple. without disturbing Aang's meditation or Sokka's sleep. Of course, disturbing Sokka's sleep is something only Toph has ever succeeded at, but still.
Toph had also found out where he was keeping the his 'children', and it nearly made her puncture a lung from holding in her laughter. But when she thought he wasn't looking, he caught her petting them.
The days passed by. Early every morning, the turtleducks would be brought to the fountain, where they would eat the algae and pond reeds that had grown there over time. Toph and Zuko would visit them constantly throughout the day. At night, the turtleducks would be smuggled to his room, and would climb into his bed, despite the obvious little turtleduck nest on the floor. He would then lay awake all night, worried about crushing one of the tiny lumps.
And the secret was well-kept, for half a week. Then, one night, it happened.
It was a typical night, typical campfire, typical dinner. He walked up to Katara to get his dinner, which was a bowl of stew from the fish Sokka had caught earlier. There was also a vegetarian broth for Aang.
As usual, Katara was glaring at him like he'd just trashed her room. Everyone else was acting all oblivious to her hatred, talking and laughing about something. He didn't really care.
Suddenly, he realized that Katara was smiling at him. Or, rather, something behind him. The group began to laugh even louder.
He closed his eyes. He knew exactly what was behind him.
A/N: Spellcheck is hilarious. It tried to turn Sokka into Hokkaido. Really? Hokkaido? That's not even a real word.
Ok, I have learned that it is, in fact a place in Japan. Why doesn't my school teach anything important?
So, if you don't have anything better to do...
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