I wrote this one while I was getting my hair done. I don't know where the inspiration came from but I think it worked. So, enjoy.
Oh and ugh neither these characters, nor this story background belongs to me. Happy reading!
He thought about her all the time on his travels. When the sun decided not to grace the Earth Kingdom with its rays, he thought of her. When he went into markets and saw familiar trinkets, he thought of her. She even crossed his mind when he saw a young girl eat a small bag of fire flakes. However, she was mostly on his mind when he went to sleep. He would have extravagant dreams that the two would elope and move into the Fire Nation royal palace. He would be the fire lord and in the palace would be a captured avatar on display. The dreams even went as far as Azula being one of the servants.
One day though, he felt as though his dreams were beginning to reach a whole different level. On the second anniversary of his banishment, Zuko took the time to remember what he is aiming to find and why he is even continuing this journey. The number one thing he thought of was his honor. No self-respecting young man would want his father, his sister, and his country thinking of him as weak. Just the thought of it kept him awake at night.
Then he thought about his thrown. How if he didn't find the Airbender in time, his sister would be ruler of the Fire Nation. That killed him the most: not only would he have failed, but he would have been upstaged by his younger sibling ounce again. Lastly though, he wanted to see his friends again. Zuko's friends were all children of the higher ranking officials of the Fire Nation. Even though he only had two and they weren't very close, he still had a desire to see them. He pretty much had a desire to see anyone other than the crew on his tiny ship.
When the subject of friends came up, Zuko put Mai in that category. She may have been Azula's friend but she was definitely around the palace enough for them to get to know each other. So Zuko put her on the list of reasons why he needed to go home.
This particular dream was a lot different than his usual dreams. The filter on it would usually be very blurred and milky. However, it always felt extremely realistic. This time though, there were strange creatures and the homes were built awkwardly. Even the filter was off. It had a warm, firelight feeling to it. Zuko suspected there was something wrong when he noticed he couldn't fire bend in his dream. That was where he was able to use all bending freedom without his uncle pressuring him about his form or about someone complaining about getting burned. His dreams were his sanctuary.
When the dream started, the setting looked remarkably like his old room. Everything was disfigured yet it looked like the room that he grew up in for 13 years. He walked out of the front door but to his surprise there was no hallway. It was just a white wall with a black door that seemed to be fading away by the second. Zuko quickly took up the opportunity to explore the world behind the mysterious door. He opened it, jumped through and watched it disappear before his very eyes. The prince knew there was no turning back. This world didn't even seem like it belonged to him. It was black and white with a g-pen kind of filter on everything. Zuko was taken off guard when he heard frantic laughing coming from his left. When he went to the noise, he noticed that it was Mai who was laughing. In reality, Zuko had never, ever heard Mai laugh that hard. His next observation was even more mind bottling. It was him who was making her laugh. The two were sitting under cherry blossom tree and were having lunch. At the time of this "adventure", Zuko was fifteen years old. However, he figured out that he looked thirteen in this alternate world.
Zuko walked up to what seemed to be a date in the works startling Mai and her company. It was the weirdest experience he had ever had in his entire life.
"Where am I?" present Zuko stated slowly walking toward the two teens.
"You're in my dream. How did you get here?" She exclaimed.
She gave him a hug. This Mai looked different from the last time Zuko saw her. She was much taller and much more developed. Her hair was longer and her voice had changed. Mai looked just as Zuko thought she would though.
"How should I know? I walked through some door that was fading away. Turns out that I'm in your dream… what were you guys doing here anyway?"
"We were, um, having lunch. My dreams are my alternate world. My mom isn't so annoying and well you're still at the palace."
"That's me isn't it?" Zuko pointed toward his past form.
"I'm what she remembers you as looking like." Past Zuko said. This version of the prince was scar-less. It reminded Zuko of what life was like for him before he coward down to his father; before he was banished.
"And now that I know what you look like again, I can update things around here." Mai moved in closer and whispered into present Zuko's ear. "I think that that Zuko should be a bit frightened though because he is going to disappear in 3, 2, 1!"
Mai was right. The old Zuko vanished into thin air faster than present Zuko thought he would.
"So was this like a date or something?" Zuko looked around at all the food and the blanket that was laid under it.
"Maybe... I really missed you Zuko. I don't do this very often but sometimes I want to remember the good parts of my life. I'm glad this is a dream though because I would never have the courage to say this in real life."
"I know how you feel."
The two sat down and talked. Zuko found out that Azula is really improving her fire bending as always. He even found out that Mai took up shuriken jutsu classes. His father was gaining more control over the earth kingdom and there were construction workers in the palace making a larger personal training studio for Azula. Zuko thought it was ridiculous but knew there was nothing he could do about it. It seemed like hours before Mai was disturbed out of sleep, causing her and her dream to disappear.
He ended up back in his kooky room on the floor. He must have been dropped there because his head and back were hurting. He stood up and walked towards the door again this time when he opened it, the only thing he saw was the palace walls.
A bump against the edge of the ship caused Zuko to wake up. He was so startled that he fell off of his bed and onto the floor.
"Ouch!" Zuko went towards his mirror and pulled at his face. "Wow…Was that even real?"
The prince put on his outer wear and walked out of his room. He went onto the deck to get some fresh air. Air was the only thing that could help him clear his mind. He looked over the edge of the ship at the rocking waves. The moon was high and bright—it was the only light on this end of the ship. Zuko supposed that it had to be late since there was only one person outside. Zuko decided it was best to go back to bed. "Maybe" he thought. "If I try to sleep again, I'll see Mai again (or what I think is her)".
He lay on his bed and closed his eyes. At first it was hard to get back to sleep and the wait was frustrating him. Minutes later, however, he was rocked to sleep by the soothing sound of the outside world. Zuko didn't know how long he was asleep before the dream came back into effect. This time, he was in the middle of a green pasture. At the edge was a stream that split the pasture in two. Standing alongside the stream was an older monk. He was bald and had air bending tattoos. Zuko then realized that the monk was water bending.
"The avatar: I've waited for this moment for two years. I've finally got him."
Zuko tried walking towards his target but every time he moved forwards, the stream moved backwards, taking the Avatar with him. Zuko couldn't have been angrier. He was trying so hard to reach his goal yet nothing was working. This dream was the last 10 years of his life put into a nutshell.
Suddenly Mai walked up and stood behind the fifteen year old.
"It doesn't seem like anything you're doing is helping your cause right now."
Zuko was completely startled when Mai appeared.
"How are you here right now?"
"I don't know. Ty-lee woke me up and when I went back to sleep I was here."
"You'll catch him one day Zuko. I know you will. You've never given up on anything. Don't start now especially when you're so close."
Zuko was silent.
"Do you think this whole dream traveling thing is a sign?"
"For what?" Zuko corked his brow at the young girl.
He looked at her and then back at the Avatar. His bending was becoming more complex. The water created an array of different shapes and traveled in many different paths. It was heartbreakingly beautiful to watch.
"I don't know. Maybe it's sign that we should be together."
"I mean we were good friends. Who says this isn't a sign that we should've taken it to another level."
"It might be. But there is too much going on in my life to even think about anyone but myself and that dang Avatar… You've changed since I was gone. You were never this open with people."
"I hope you know I wouldn't be telling you any of this if we were in the real world. This is all fake. I come here to be the Mai that I've always wanted to be but never got the chance to. I'm sorry if this isn't what you expected. I just missed you and didn't think I would get this chance again. Forget that I said anything."
"That's not what I meant. I like this Mai."
The two were both silent. It took them a minute to register what they had confessed to each other.
"You must be the only person on the planet who feels that way. Everyone either shuts me out or only wants me for specific reasons."
"You're amazing Mai. Don't second guess yourself."
"Shouldn't I be telling you that?"
"Well in fake lands like this, nothing goes the way it should."
"I guess you're right… Zuko, when do you think we'll see each other again?"
"Aren't we seeing each other right now?"
"I mean in real life."
"Soon; I can feel his presence. I know I'm close."
"I hope so."
Their meeting in the meadow was not their last. They continued to visit each other's dreams up until the end of Zuko's exile. One side of Zuko felt it was simply a pigment of his imagination while the other side felt it was as real as his feelings for Mai. The two never spoke of their "adventures" when they got together. The couple survived decades surrounded by each other's love yet never said a thing. However, in the time of his silence, Zuko realized that when love is deep, it has the power to even transcend reality.
Boredom kills doesn't it? Anyway, I hope you liked it and understood the story that I was trying to convey because my cousin didn't get it at first. He's pretty dumb though so I didn't take it too seriously.
*P.S- I love cherry blossom trees so you'll probably see them a lot in my