Zuko was sick.
The young firebender gracelessly stomped down the stairs of the Ember Island house, a thick blanket tightly wrapped around his pale body, his face barely peeking out from his cover. His cheeks were flushed from the little color it normally had. His eyes were red and bloodshot, as though he was not able to sleep the night before. The usual scowl on his lips was replaced by a miserable, slightly open look.
When he reached the bottom step, he violently coughed. A giant burst of fire escaped his mouth, causing the wooden railing he faced to catch on fire.
"Whoa! I've never seen a firebender sick before." Aang said in amazement as he bended some water to stop the fire, peering closely at Zuko's face as he did.
"I'm not sick!" Zuko nearly screamed at him, uselessly batting Aang's face away.
"Maybe Aang should get sick and he'll sneeze at Ozai to death!" Sokka suggested excitedly, only to receive bewildered glances by the group. (All except Zuko, who, as soon as he sat down by the table, tiredly buried his head in his hands.)
"I'm not sick." He grumbled, his words slightly muffled. He slowly raised his head and tired to glare at them menacingly. Predictably, he failed miserably. "Only weak people get sick. I'm not sick!"
"Oh, Sparky, We don't think you're weak. Though, we do think you need a tissue." Suki said soothingly.
Zuko quickly ducked under the table, tissue at hand. After a beat of silence, a great roar was heard from under the table, followed by a familiar burst of fire.
"I'm not sick!" he repeated stubbornly when he resurfaced.
Katara promptly ignored him and turned to face Aang, "Maybe you should skip firebending practice today."
"Yeah, I haven't spared with Twinkletoes in a while now anyway." Toph said in agreement.
"NOWAY!" Zuko nearly shouted, abruptly standing up and pushing his chair away. "C'mon, Aang! We have some training to do." He quickly stalked out. From the hallway, a hacking cough could be heard. There was a pause. "AND PUT THIS FIRE OUT!"
After breakfast, the group lazily padded around the house before going to the courtyard to watch Aang and Zuko train.
"Okay, Aang." Zuko called out after the young avatar finished his routine. He discarded his blanket by the covered pathway along with his and Aang's shirt. Though clearly he shivered because of the lack of heat. "Time to spar."
"Uh, Zuko, do you really think that's a good idea?" Aang asked nervously. He glanced at the group, hoping for back up. They merely shrugged at him in response. "I mean, you being sick and all."
"I'm not sick!" he angrily shouted at him. "Just take your place!"
Zuko and Aang stood across each other, defense stances ready.
The last thing Zuko remembered was Aang's fist coming at him, full of flames. And then it was all black.
Zuko's consciousness returned a few moments later. He opened his eyes to find the group hovering over him, with varying degrees of concern on their features.
"I think I'm sick."
"This, Sparky, is the best kind of medicine out there."
Zuko was submerged in a deep, mud filled pool. Different herbs were blended into the mixture. Below him, he could feel some insects that were mixed in, scuttling around.
He weakly lifted his head disgust and sniffed the concoction. "What is this anyway?"
"Well, I tried doing the mud bath we had in the spa at Ba Sing Sei, they said it had healing properties so we should tried it."
"So you aren't even sure if this works?"
Toph smiled at him, "I don't think that would work alone, but with this it would." She raised her hands and instantly he felt pain shoot through his back.
He felt short, totem-like, stone figures shoot from his dirt bath to his back, then slowly all over his body. Suddenly he was jumping up and down, pain echoing all throughout his body.
"ARE YOU OKAY NOW?" Toph shouted as he continued to jump around, mud splashing around.
"NO BUT IT HURTS LIKE AGNI!"
Toph immediately stopped the poles and raised her eyebrows at him. "Really? It doesn't make you feel better?"
"Unless you want me to die because of the pain then no, it doesn't make me feel better."
She was silent for a moment, tapping her foot casually on the on the floor beneath her; causing Zuko to bounce around in his mud bath.
"Can we stop with the jumping?"
"Oh, uh, sorry." She paused, regarding him with thought. "Maybe we should try this."
She quickly stomped her foot and thrusted her fist into the air. This caused Zuko to spin around in his bath. He felt like a vertical tornado, mud quickly coating his whole body. Slowly, the mud dug deeper into his skin.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING, TOPH?" Zuko screamed over the howl of the wind.
"ARE YOU SAYING THIS ISN'T MAKING YOU FEEL BETTER?"
"I FEEL LIKE PUKING!"
Zuko was quickly dropped back into the pool of mud, his pale skin now in a faint color of green. He slowly blinked, surprised to find two Aangs walking towards them.
"What's happening here?" The two Aang's asked confusedly.
"Sparky here is resisting all natural, earth kingdom remedies." She answered.
Before Zuko could retort, Aang spoke. "That's cause you're doing it wrong."
"Are you kidding me, Twinkletoes? I'm an earthbender. Of course I know what I'm doing and it's right!"
"I'm the avatar! I know the cultures of the different nations!"
"Uh, guys?" Zuko weakly said, diverting the attention from their fight back to him.
Before Zuko could continue to speak, Aang cut him off. "Don't worry, Zuko. I know Toph was using the wrong earthbending technique as a cure but I can make it better." He smiled cheekily at him.
Toph's and Aang's faces were the last thing Zuko remembered before blacking out once more.
When Zuko regained consciousness once more, he was back in his bed room. He sighed in relief, sinking deeper into his bed as he did. Just as he was about to relax and rest, Suki and Sokka filtered in his field of vision.
"Hey, Jerkbender." Sokka greeted, smiling with all his thirty-two teeth.
Zuko groaned, 'Sozin smite me down, smite me down now.' He thought 'I'm begging you, end all the misery please.'
"Are you okay?" Suki asked with concern etched on her features.
"Perfectly fine." Zuko replied hoarsely, his throat dry and rough.
"Here, drink this." Sokka said as he offered a cup of green liquid.
Almost greedily, Zuko gulped it down. The drink was thin and frothy, stinging his mouth and throat just the slightest.
"What is this?" he asked; his voice a little less husky that is was.
"We have this medicine in Kyoshi Island, it'll fix you right up." Suki smiled and offered him another cup.
"What's in it?" He asked, after handing her the empty cup.
"Oh normal herbs and stuff."
"But, uh, we couldn't find the exact ingredients so we had to make do with the things we could find in the Ember Island Market." Sokka explained with a shrug.
"Just herbs. C'mon, Jerkbender. Trust us." Sokka said as he gave him another cup.
Zuko licked his lips, he had to admit; the drink was pretty good. He leaned back and closed his eyes, relaxation and sleepiness taking over him. Just as he was about to finally fall back into sleep, voices filtered in.
"Are you sure you should have had given him that third cup?"
"C'mon, Suki, he's fine."
"But there's cactus juice in there!"
"Not a lot!"
"He's fine, trust me."
Zuko slowly drifted off to sleep, though not without noticing the clouds and starts drifting near his vision.
Katara woke up to banging.
"WHOEVER IS MAKING THAT NOISE SHOULD SHUT UP RIGHT NOW!" she screamed as she smacked the wall right beside her bed.
The banging continued.
She groaned and threw off her covers, cursing whoever woke up the now angry water bender right when the moon is high and full. Katara pushed the door next to her room open to find Zuko doing jumping jacks.
"What in the name of the moon spirit are you doing, Zuko?" she tiredly demanded.
Zuko turned to her and gave her a wide smile. "GOOD MORNING, KATARA!"
"But I feel the sun's power just pumping through my veins."
"Oh spirits." She groaned as she leaned on the door frame. "Why do you just go to sleep?"
"Suki and Sokka gave me this drink and I feel great!"
Katara groaned even louder and muttered under her breath. "I knew it I should have stopped them from buying cactus juice from the market."
"You should try it!" Zuko said happily, oblivious of what she had just said. "It'll make you feel great too."
Without another word, Zuko dragged her out of his room.
'What have I gotten myself into?' Katara thought as Zuko dragged her down stairs to the kitchen.
"Isn't the sun beautiful?"
The two sat on the roof of the house. Katara sat, silently watching as Zuko comfortably laid down on the roof, rambling on.
"That's the moon, Zuko."
"I wish the moon was my friend. I need a friend."
"What about stretch and knives?"
"Who?" Zuko paused "Oh, Mai and Ty lee."
"Yeah, aren't they your friends?"
"No, they're mostly Azula's cronies. At least, I think they are."
"Oh," Katara said, her voice small. "Then we're your friends."
"No, you guys just need me to train Aang."
She paused, an almost guilty feeling sinking. "Listen, Zuko-"
"It's okay," he said, placing his hand over hers. "I understand completely."
For the first time in a while, Katara was speechless.
After spending a few more hours on the roof, Katara was finally able to coax Zuko back to his bed.
"My head hurts." Zuko moaned as he eased himself back into the covers.
"I know, I know" Katara said, almost motherly. "Just get some rest and it'll be better in the morning."
"But I can't!" he said as he struggled to get up, only to be easily over powered by her. "I need my friend the moon!"
"Shh, the moon it'll be there tomorrow."
"But I need a friend!"
"I'll be your friend okay?" She said softly as Zuko finally relaxed.
Katara took one look at his face; so oddly innocent and childlike, and said, with her voice a little hoarse "Promise."
Yaaay! So that ends my first one shot in the Avatar fandom! It took me like a week to finally finish this and I must say, it was all worth it. I hope you enjoy this, I didn't want it to be too romantic cause then it might be ooc.
I'm sorry it took such a while for me to update and it might take me a little while longer for me to release another story that I've been working on. I'm really sorry but I am so swamped with review and all that.
READ AND REVIEW!