Disclaimer: I NEVER said my name was Mike or Bryan, for the record. So I'll have you know that the impersonating of a creative genius charge is completely bogus.
A/N: I know why you all like one-shots. It's because I have nothing to say in front of them.
Anyway, this is just Mai and Zuko and an observance of mine from watching the show a little too much.
She sneaks up behind him-only not really, because thirteen years of living in the Fire Palace will teach you to hear butterfly-moths on the wing-and wraps her arm around his neck. He turns automatically in her embrace and lets her brush his lips with hers. He's warm against her, fire to her steel, and she awards him a rare smile before slipping away again into the dark gloom of the Fire Nation ship. They're on their way home.
He's having a bad day, she can see it before she's even close enough to see the scowl. It's in the way he paces back and forth and in the set of his shoulders, grown strong and straight while he was… gone. He's in a mood, which is dangerous for your average firebender in general, but when it's him, going near him is practically begging for a singeing. Actually touching him is probably suicide.
So, of course, she goes and kisses him. Wraps her arms all around him, the way she always does and kisses all the heat and fire right out of his surprised face. Then she turns around and walks away, trying not to look smug and knowing she's failing, utterly.
She doesn't really know why she does it. She couldn't say why she always feels like she has to wind herself around him when she kisses him. But every time he's within arm's reach, she finds him in her arms: his neck pressing into the crook of her arm; her palm is flat on his chest; her other hand resting against his face, resisting the urge to reach up to his scar because she hasn't quite got him comfortable with that just yet. And she isn't exactly sure why she needs to wrap herself so tightly around him, but she knows that it isn't going to change anytime soon, so bothering about it will only frustrate her.
She slips an arm over his shoulders and curls it around his neck, resting her hand against the rise and fall of his breastbone. He looks over his shoulder at her and flashes her that same smile that made her fall in love at the tender age of nine. She gives him a solemn look, waits until the sparkle fades from his eyes… and then puts it back with a kiss and a wicked little grin. She slides her arm away, leaves him for now, and knows he's watching her go.
He's so confused. She doesn't know why, but that doesn't matter, because not only is he confused, he's upset, and that is never a good thing. So she gets off the lounge and she follows him out to the balcony. It's a well-practiced move by now, sliding her hand up his arm and wrapping her arm around his neck. She turns his face to hers with the fingertips of her other hand, disappointed when he turns away. But she can feel it in his body, he's still tuned to her. It's only his face that's turned away, and they've always dealt with that. She nuzzles him a minute, then steps away and lets him have his space.
She holds onto him so tightly because she knows he'll slip away if she doesn't. She's never appreciated the simple fact that firebenders are their element until now. She can't hold him, can't contain him, wouldn't dream of trying to control him. He stays within her grasp because he loves her and he doesn't mind that she clings sometimes. He seems to think that this is normal.
She'll never tell him that she wraps herself around him because she's trying so hard to act like she cares less than she does-because things you care about have a way of disappearing in the Fire Nation Capital-and the only way to really show how she feels is to grab and hold on hard.
It's a good thing, sometimes, that he's so clueless. She isn't sure she could pull this off otherwise.
But he doesn't know, and he doesn't mind, so she clings and she kisses and she lets herself relax at the end of every day that he's still hers.
A/N: She does it all the time! Go, look for it! It's there!
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