Hey there fan fictioners. This is my first fan fiction and I hope you all like it. I'm going to write whenever I get n inspiration, but for now read on and tell me what you think. Conductive criticism is accepted... actually it's preferred. I just want to make everyone happy.

DISCLAIMER: these characters belong to the geniuses Mike and Bryan. If they were mine, Zuko would have found his mother before the show ended.

Today was her first day at the palace and of course Mai's mother Reika had to make sure everything was completely perfect. Her thick ebony hair was in extremely tight buns and her best robes were steamed. Sitting on the couch in her room, Mai watched her mother scurry about doing Agni knows what and she wondered "is all this even worth lunch at the palace?"

"Mom, what are you doing?"

"I'm trying to find your good shoes. The ones you usually wear won't do. You're going to be spending time with the princess"

"But mom, I go to school with Azula every day. Shoes aren't going to change how she feels about me."

"That isn't the point. Besides, it would be nice if you could impress prince Zuko. He's a very handsome young man you know."

Mai blushed when she heard her mother talk about Zuko. She was right though. For a nine-year-old boy, he did look very good. She had never talked to him but she had seen a painting of him and her heart fluttered at the sight.

"Mai dear, what are you day dreaming about?" her mother had been talking to her for at least 5 minutes but Mai was too into her own thoughts to notice.

"WH-what, Oh nothing."

"Well don't do it when you're at the palace. We can't have people thinking you're crazy."

"Sorry" Mai felt as though it was a truly foolish thing to apologize for but decided not to argue with her mother on the situation.

Preparing for her short trip across the street was an agonizing 30 minutes and the nobleman's daughter couldn't be happier when the door rang and the royal guards had come to escort her to the palace.

A servant barged through the door after franticly running up the two flights of stairs leading to Mai's room "Lady Mai, your escort is here to take you to your lunch date with princess Azula"

"Finally! I'll be back for dinner mom."

Her mother walked her to the door, straitening her outfit in the process "be good dear. Remember your manners, stay out of the sun and don't ruin your clothes."

"Mom the sun isn't out today. It's the middle of autumn"

"Hush child and just do as I say. Make your father and I look good."

Mai squirmed away from her mother's reach "ah! Yes mother."

Watching her daughter walk out of the door and through the palace gates Reika thought top herself: "I hope she doesn't screw this up for us."

The guard took the eight year old to the southern garden where she and Ty-lee were instructed to wait by the fountain; it was one of Azula's favorite places to be. Ty-lee immediately upon seeing her classmate ran and embraced her "MAI! I'm so glad you're here. Azula isn't here yet so I was sort of bored by myself."

"I bet you were. So how long do you think we're going to have to wait for her? I'm sort of hungry and want to have lunch soon."

"Well I saw Zuko and his mom a few minutes ago and she told him to tell us that she would be out in about 300 seconds."

"Huh, you saw Zuko? How does he look?" Mai tried to look away and hide her blush

Ty-lee laughed "I don't know, see for yourself. He's sitting by the turtle-duck pond with princess Ursa."

"No way. It's not that important to me anyway. I can meet him at lunch."

"Someone is in denial" Ty-lee sang.

"Am not! And if you saw him, why didn't you just sit with him and princess Ursa instead of by yourself?'

"I guess I just I thought it would feel sort of weird! You try being in my shoes right now…"

Mai was about to blurt out a comeback when suddenly, the fire nation princesses cut into the conversation"Will you two quite arguing long enough to come eat lunch with the royals?"

The two girls bowed and said in unison "of course princess Azula". The three met up with Ursa and Zuko walked to the private dining hall. Zuko looked at his sister's friends with dazzling eyes, more-so at Mai. The young girl looked so reserved yet still had that something to make her stand out. He was amazed at the foreign feelings that the young girl ignited in him.

Mai felt the same way. She saw the quick glances he gave her, the cherry tint on his pale cheeks, and the way he fixed his clothes whenever he thought she wasn't looking. The butterflies in her stomach were light yet effective in proving to Mai that she did have feelings for the young prince.

Ursa saw the small exchange and chuckled inwardly at the young love in the progress.

With lunch finished the four children went to the palace playroom in search of some entertainment. Zuko felt extreme relief when they walked out of the dining hall. He couldn't help but notice the suspicious look that Azula gave him and Mai in between sips of her tea. His mind was erupting with thoughts: "I hope she doesn't suspect anything. Is she going to try something? She better not embarrass me in front of her"

His thoughts were cut short when Azula screamed his name.

"Zuko! I'm talking to you. Did you even hear what I said?"

"Don't yell at me Azula. I'm not one of the servants."

"Well you sure do obey me like one. Listen, were going to play a scavenger hunt. We have to find these items which are all in the southern part of the palace." She handed Mai a sheet of paper with a list printed on it: the cook's special spoons, sifu Kaito's shoe, a guard's hat, one of sifu Kaito's daggers, an acacia from mom's garden.

"The first team with all of the tings on the list wins the game"

Zuko was baffled "Wait, teams? What do mean teams?"

Ty-lee, after being quiet the entire time, added her input. "Well, I'm with Azula and you're with Mai. We thought that would be the best arrangement"

"And Zuzu if you don't want to play that, we can always play tie em' up but that's a team's game too"

"Let's just play the stupid game Azula"

Zuko had to admit though; he was excited as well as nervous to be alone with Mai for an undetermined amount of time. In his eyes she was amazing so how in the word was going to talk to her?

"Ok let's start. Ty-lee come with me so we can look for he dagger. Zuko and Mai, you two should start in the cook's closet. It's the closest thing and the first item on the list."

The two walked side by side with their shoulders slightly brushing, out of the playroom, down the hall and into the Cook's personal closet. What they didn't know was that once they went inside that Azula and Ty-lee would lock the door behind them, leaving the two in complete darkness.

Mai could hear the two girls laughing outside the door. "See Ty-lee, I told that would work. Now let's go do something that's actually fun. We can check on them later." She was Furious. The girl was used to Azula's tricks but this was over doing it.

Zuko constantly banged on the door until he felt Mai's slender fingers touch his arm. He turned and dropped to the floor sitting in the lotus position, head slumped over in defeat. Mai didn't know what to do but they couldn't just sit there in silence.

"So, here we are, in the cook's closet." She sat down next to him in an effort to start a conversation.

"She's my sister yet I can't find anyone in the world who I hate more."

"Well she's not that bad." Seeing the look in his eyes Mai had to find a way to make him feel better. "Ok Azula is terrible, but you came out pretty good." She reached over and took his hand in hers. It's warmth and softness was comforting and inviting. Mai could feel the butterflies in her stomach but ignored them and continued her actions. "you know even though she's my friend, I seem to always dream about what my life would be like if she didn't exist. But I just put it at the back of my mind because I know it's wrong to think that way."

"I do too. But I don't repress it because if I did then I wouldn't have anything exciting to dream about"

They both let out a healthy laugh and let themselves relax into the situation.

"Hey Zuko, uhm it's dark in here, do you think do a bit of fire bending and give us some light?"

"Of course" he opened his palm and let a small orange flame dance around his hand.

"Azula is always talking about how bad of a fire bender you are but truthfully, only a person with real control of their element can do that"

Zuko blushed at her compliment "thanks, it's kind of hard to compete with her because she's a fire bending prodigy. I'm no were close to that."

Mai was saddened by his confession. "I'm sorry you feel that way but don't underestimate yourself. Even Azula isn't good at something." She rubbed the back his hand with her thumb and gave him a look that ensured him that she really did care.

"Oh really, like when?"

"Well one day in art class we had to weave friendship bracelets and everyone in the class BUT Azula could do it. It kept coming loose, and the beads got tangled in the string. Let's just say that 'Ms. Fire Bending Prodigy' won't be doing any jewelry making in the future"

"Wow now that is funny."

"If you think that is funny, wait till you here how she cried after she killed the class pet in the first grade and got in trouble for it."

"Azula, Crying? Now that's a shocker."

"Shockingly hilarious is what it is"

"You know, maybe being stuck in this closet isn't going to be that bad after all"

Mai smiled "Maybe you're right"

Four hours passed by until they heard a familiar voice of Zuko's mother call out their names.

"Zuko honey, Mai, where are you two."

"Mom? Were in here, help!"

She unlocked the door only to be greeted by tight hugs given by the two children that were imprisoned in the cook's closet. "Well hello to you too. Why on Earth were you all locked in the closet?"

Almost as if on cue they said "Azula did it"

"I'll talk with her later but first Mai it's time for you to go home sweetie. Ty-lee already left"

With a nod she and Zuko began to walk back towards the entrance of the palace.

"Uhm, I guess I'll see you later Mai, being in the closet with you was fun."

"Yeah it was kind of fun. Good bye Zuko, I'll see you in school tomorrow Azula"

Without another word she turned, walked across the street, and up the stairs of her home.

"Come on you big doofus lets go. She can walk perfectly fine without you watching her every move."

"Yeah she is perfect isn't she?"

Ursa chuckled at her sons actions

"Zukoooooo!"

"Shut up Azula." Once Mai was inside her home, Zuko faced Azula "Happy now?"

"Ecstatic."

"Hey you two play nice."

"Those two will never learn."

That is all for this one. It's my first Maiko one shot and for an amateur like me it turned out pretty well. Review, Review, Review that is all I ask. Until next time folks.