After finally watching ALTA, I have apparently found a new OTP. And this is me trying to make sense of their characters with pointless little drabbles. My sincere apologies in advance if they seem OOC. I'm still poking around their heads.

Especially Ty Lee's. That particular territory is a little intimidating.

The three drabbles here set, in order, after The Crossroads of Destiny, The Beach and The Boiling Rock, Part Two respectively. The prompts were taken from a random prompt generator, and twisted mercilessly to fit them into Mai/Zuko scenarios. Which begs the question of why I even went searching for prompts in the first place. Ah well. XD

/dips toe into new fandom/

Mysterious Stranger

Mai yawned, and found herself horribly bored. To the point where she was starting to think she might miss the bear.

"Mai?" Ty Lee called from the floor, her hands and feet still encased in stone.

Mai looked at her.

"I think Azula won," Ty Lee continued, her voice bright, "Isn't that great?"

"I may pass out from the excitement."

Ty Lee giggled, and Mai was sure she'd have been turning cartwheels if she could have. It was a reminder of how much more boring things were going to get.

"Your aura's all grey again," Ty lee said, trying to turn her head to see Mai. Since she was already upside down, the effect was mildly interesting.

Auras. Mai sighed.

"Cheer up, Mai," Ty Lee said, "It's a happy day, remember?"

Her comments always, always flew over Ty lee's head, but Mai was disgusted enough to say something. Preferably something concerning Azula and circus acts. But before she could get sarcastic, she heard footsteps. The suble reminder from the Universe was appreciated, since it was risky enough to complain about Azula when she was half a continent away.

From the sound of things (she was sure she had heard maniacal laughter at some point) her old personal-terrorist/friend had won and Ba Sing Se had (finally) fallen after a hundred odd years. From the perspective of Fire Nation history, this was probably the day that would launch a thousand festivals, even more scrolls and probably another half-sane adaptation by the Ember Island Players.

Mai sighed again and got off the throne before Azula could make her. The last thing she needed was to be sent back to Omashu, which somehow managed to be even more boring than this city.

Or wait. Now that Azula was supreme ruler of the city and had nothing to plot, she would start to get bored. And being near Azula when she was bored was the kind of thing you did when you were desperate enough to be suicidal.

So. Omashu, or Ba Sing Se? Gloom or doom? Decisions, decisions…

As befitting her inborn tendency to cause drama, Azula chose exactly that moment to walk in, her entire stance even more smug than usual, preceded and followed by Dai Li agents. And walking at her side was a boy –tall, but still a boy– in Earth kingdom green and brown. Peasant clothes. With hair that badly needed a trim covering half of his face and-

Mai was displeased with herself. She was supposed to be jaded and cynical and incapable of letting her heartbeat get away from her, even if it was for a few seconds.

-looking around the room sullenly. His good eye widening (she almost didn't catch the expression, what with the other one just being immobile) when he spotted her. A little.

And she was not supposed smile without having preplanned it. At all.

"He's all yours," Azula muttered, walking past her on her way to the throne. Which Mai took to mean that the traitor Prince was not quite traitor anymore and was completely fair game.

Ba Sing Se it was.

Twilight Surrender

"I don't believe this."

Mai undid the last sheath around her shoulder and added it to the pile between them and then closed her eyes in sheer disgust. Any more of this and she was going to use him for target practice.

"Zuko," she tried again, exhaling, "For the millionth time. I'm a knife-thrower. What did you expect?"

Zuko didn't answer, still caught up in counting the knives he'd unearthed. He looked like he was torn between being impressed, nervous and confused. Mai would have settled for just the first. Or maybe none of them. Her knives were not what she wanted him to be thinking about right now.

"There's just… how many sheaths do you have, anyway? This is even more than usual."

"That," she explained patiently, "Is because I was wearing lesser clothes than usual. Beach, remember? People might notice if I walked around wearing robes. And no robes mean no pockets. Therefore, sheaths. Lots of sheaths," Mai sighed and leaned away from the pile, "Stop being obtuse."

He flared up, right on cue. No wonder he was Azula's favourite victim,

"I was not-"

"But I suppose you can't help it," Mai mumbled.

"I am not-"

"Great. Flare up again. Maybe you can help your sister tear apart another house."

He gaped at her, mouth open and uncertain, before growling and lashing out at the knives. Mai rolled her eyes and got up. If he wanted to throw a tantrum, he could do it on his own. She'd take the knives back in the morning, when the beach would be empty and mercifully silent-

He scrambled over, caught her hand and jerked her back. Mai's other hand flew to her leg-sheath by reflex.

"Don't go," he told her, "I'm sorry."

Mai debated with herself for another moment, and decided that conceding was a bad idea. Then she let herself slump onto him anyway, because stupid firebenders were stupidly warm and the beach was really cold at night. And she had more knives strapped to her legs if he decided to get prissy again.

Zuko pressed his face into her hair, and she almost relaxed.

Things were not supposed to be this complicated. Sure, she hadn't been expecting the whole 'marry-me-and-let-me-have-your-babies' fantasy she'd entertained so much when she was younger. But she wasn't expecting a sullen teenager with a temper worse than she remembered (impressive in itself, she supposed) who turned sulkier than her at the smallest opportunity. And she really hadn't been expecting her long-practiced stoicism to crumble the second he broke down and became awkward.

It was very, very confusing and nothing really worked out like she planned. Mai was understandably annoyed.

Zuko shifted a little, and started to clear his throat. She knew he'd try to apologize, and that he'd mess it up at some point. Then he'd light something on fire, and she would get annoyed. Then it would repeat all over again.

"Mai," he began.

She rolled her eyes, and turned around to kiss him, pushing him back down into the sand. Because at least that part was simple, and they could always figure out the rest eventually.


"You miscalculated- I love Zuko more than I fear you."

If Mai had been a little more expressive, she might have banged her head against the cell walls. As it was, she settled for holding the bridge of her nose and sighing. Then she realized that she'd picked up the nose thing from him, and sighed again.

Things were much, much simpler a year ago. Incredibly, unbearably boring, yes. But simple. Now that she'd got the life of intrigue, betrayal and romance she had very much not longed for, she was seriously considering wishing for her boring life back.

"Mai!" In spite of the thick, windowless wall separating them, her friend's voice was clearly audible, "Guess what?"

Mai sighed, but there was no real menace in it. It was hard to hold on to her annoyance when she remembered why Ty Lee was in prison with her.

"What, Ty Lee?"

"The girls want to teach me Kyoshi warrior moves!"


"Do you want to learn with me?" TY Lee sounded chirpy, and not at all like she'd just spend two weeks in a depressing hellhole, "It will be fun using those fans. Useful, and decorative."

"They don't have their weapons with them," Mai pointed out.

And that was another thing. She'd been thoroughly searched and deprived of her knives. She'd felt so naked that she couldn't even feel a twinge of amusement at the guards gaping at the pile they'd come up with.

"That's okay," Ty Lee was unperturbed, "We'll still have fun. And you should really join us; you must be so bored."

Mai agreed, but declined nevertheless. This made Ty Lee sigh. The nose-rubbing wasn't the only habit that was catching.

"You don't have to feel guilty or anything, Mai," Ty Lee added, "I know you do. But I don't really mind prison- it's safer than Azula. And it's kind of a lot of fun. Just like the circus, except for the cells and everything. Your uncle's a little stressed and he screams a lot, but he's nice."

And that was just what Mai needed. To be reminded of another person who she had irreparably damaged in her quest to save her jerkass ex. The list just kept getting bigger and bigger- and if her own parents ever, ever welcomed her back into their midst with open arms, she would collapse into a faint. Literally.

Ty Lee stopped talking when she stopped replying, and started humming instead. Mai looked at the cell door, the ceiling and the walls. Then she pretended her nail was a knife, and started scratching the wall.

For a while (a long, tedious while), the only sound was her fingernails providing accompaniment to Ty Lee's humming. Until she'd run through the entire track of Love Among the Dragons. Twice. It was almost a relief when Ty Lee spoke again.



"Zuko will be fine. I just know it."

Mai opened her mouth to make a sarcastic, well-aimed comment about how little that mattered to her right now when she was so bored out of her mind that she'd begun to scratch pictures into the cell walls and was actually starting to contemplate concussing herself to unconsciousness so she wouldn't have to deal with how incredibly monotonous all this was. And then she found out, much to her disgust, that she couldn't.

If it hadn't mattered, she really wouldn't be here in the first place.

She gave up and finally let her head meet the cell wall.

Comments will be appreciated. A lot. /nodnod/