Well, well, well, you have stumbled into my writing!-and I'll leave it up to you to determine whether this is a good or bad thing.

I've already challenged myself to write a one shot for each of the Zutara Week themes—which will be hell for me, but I guess if you guys are enjoying this writing, then you all are sadists, and my masochistic mission was well worth the ride.

Anyway, here goes nothing. The first theme is: serendipity.

Yes, this is AU. Everyone is in contemporary Republic City.


Looking over his watch, Zuko sighed, becoming more and more concerned by the second.

It was 37 minutes past the time that they had planned to meet.

Biting his lower lip, he got up from the stone steps leading up to a grand restaurant and stepped up to the front counter, where the suit-and-tie dressed waiter gently asked for his reservation.

"My name is Zuko and I have two seats saved?" the young man in his early 20's said, but more in a question than an actual affirmation.

A bit of typing on the computer in front of the waiter and then an approved 'hm.'

"Ah yes, you guys have a 10 o' clock? You guys are a bit—"

"Yeah, sorry about that," Zuko apologized. "I was wondering if we could just extend our reservation a bit; she seems to be running late."

The waiter hesitated before replying, "You know…this restaurant is rather high-demand and it'll be definitely difficult to turn down some of our customers."

"So can you save the seats? Like until 10:45?"

"I really can't guarantee—"

"I'll pay for the hold," Zuko interrupted him, reaching towards his pocket for his wallet.

Shaking his head, the waiter clicked his tongue and held a hand up to refuse the cash. "I'm sorry, but I can't take last minute reservations either. I'm very sorry about your situation, but if I let you hold a spot at the last minute, then I would have to let everyone do so. And then if everyone does so, then there won't be enough seats, and then it would resort to auctioning ours seats off, and that, sir, is unacceptable! We would be discriminating against those who cannot afford such things!"

Flustered, the young man tried to think of another solution. "Uh, well, you can save the seats but not guarantee it, right?"

The waiter licked his lips and paused. "Yes…" and then held what he was going to say, seeing the other man's furrowed eyebrows, and sighed. "Until 10:45, right?"

"Please."

"Remember, it's not a guarantee, but—"

"Thank you so much!" Zuko blurted before stepping back outside of the restaurant. He looked left and right to check if the girl he was waiting for was around. But, to his misfortune, she wasn't.

He sighed, sitting himself back down on the stone steps. After closing his eyes to calm himself for a few seconds, he looked back up at the busy street, noticing how everyone walking by seemed to have someone aside them and seemed to be so carefree. He closed his eyes again.

Nah, he was just making a big deal out of this. She was just a bit late, that was all.

Flipping out his cell phone, he pressed the dial button again and then thought for a moment before trying to call her number again. He didn't want to seem too bothersome, but it was good if he had checked up on her right? She normally wasn't too late—maybe up to ten minutes—but she was never quite this late.

And why would she be late to something like this? The Golden Dragon was her favorite restaurant.

He pressed the green call button and held his cell phone up to his ear, wishing that, for the luck of him, that she would pick up.

"Hi, this is Mai. Don't leave a message unless you have something interesting to say."

Frustrated, he tore the phone off his face and looked down at the screen.

10:39.

Zuko looked back towards The Golden Dragon.

He had waited forever for a spot at this restaurant, and it was supposed to be well worth it. This was the place that she had always wanted to go to—the food was one of the most spectacular in Republic City, cooked right in front of the patrons, and entertainment was included, among which was a knife throwing show that Zuko was sure that she'd love.

I even wore fancy clothes to this since last time she had complained about my looks in public, he thought, rubbing the fabric of his pants in order to soothe himself.

Checking the time again, he started to type up another text—which she knew she preferred over calling—except that he had already sent her a text even before ten o' clock had come around.

She couldn't have forgotten. And she wouldn't have left him like this.

Right?

Zuko paused and then pressed the 'send' button. A brief loading sign flickered over the screen, but then his phone buzzed vigorously before stating a simple 'goodbye.'

"Fuck," he cursed softly.

And now his phone died.

He knew he should have charged it the other day—god, why couldn't he do anything right?

Shoving it back into his pocket, he set his elbows onto his knees and held his head in his hands, telling himself to not fret and that she was going to eventually come around. He wouldn't need his phone as long as he waited for her and she came around.

His watch assured him otherwise though, when he noticed the time click to 10:45. A brief gong from the city hall's grand clock rumbled through him, reminding him that he wasn't inside, enjoying himself with her, and that he was still sitting on the cold steps outside of an opportunity that he had been planning to impress her with for the longest time.

Not even bothering to go back into the restaurant when another five minutes passed, he shuffled his feet, determining if he should just call it quits for the day.

It had been practically an hour, he realized and stood up to walk back into the restaurant. Setting his hand on the handle of the door, he paused to wait a few seconds, thinking that maybe she'd suddenly pop by within the next few seconds, panting and out of breath and apologizing to him that she had made it so late and excusing herself—

But there was no Mai, and since someone was coming up behind him to get into the restaurant, he stepped back into the restaurant.

The waiter immediately recognized him and Zuko just shook his head before heading back into the night. His amber eyes searched the sidewalks again, looking down the block in both directions for a last glimmer of hope. But then he recalled that he had already killed the plans and figured that it was probably just best to tell her that he had cancelled their date.

Regardless, he'd have to tell her right? Maybe he would wait for a few more minutes in case she came around—besides he couldn't just text her now. He quickly reaffirmed that his phone was actually dead by attempting to restart it, but no glow came out from its screen.

So he sat back down on the hard stone steps, figuring out if he was upset or if he was angry or what he was feeling in general.

He decided not to feel anything, because he knew that the next time he saw Mai, he'd just rant about it, and she would be upset and tell him that he was being completely irrational and overreacting to it—just like how she always told him about everything else.

Ignoring his sentiments for some moments longer, he found out the hard way that he couldn't just sit there and wait. His eyes caught a payphone and he started towards it.

This was so old-fashioned and sketchy, he thought, as he emptied four quarters into his right hand. He barely knew how to operate one of these things anymore. Trying to make instructions out of the scratched and rusted telephone box, he stepped closer to the payphone, hoping that he would blend into the scenery and that no one would notice him.

Placing two quarters into the slot, he waited for a dial tone to come up, and was vaguely surprised at how clear the old machinery actually was.

Ah, now he needed her number. And fortunately, he had an idea of what her number was, since for the longest time, he hadn't added her into his contact directory in his phone, since he was never sure if she thought that they were actually officially boyfriend and girlfriend until she came forward and confessed everything to him.

He plugged in the familiar numbers, but then realized that he didn't recall the last two digits. Not risking any wasted time—he really didn't know if this old contraption would just take his money if he took too long dialing—Zuko went for the first combination of numbers that entered his mind and waited while the ring tone echoed through his uncertain mind.

Hopefully it was Mai's number.

And hopefully if it was Mai's number, she would pick up.

The other end clicked and his heart leapt up.

"Mai?"

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"Aang?" Katara exclaimed, pressing her phone tightly against her cheek.

A pause. "Uh, sorry," the voice on the other end apologized, speaking quickly. "I must have the wrong number. I-I'm sorry, I just—my phone just died and I've been trying to call my girlfriend…I don't know what happened to her—I'm sorry; I won't call again."

She caught her senses after realizing that this voice wasn't the one that she had been waiting for.

"Wait!" she shouted before the line dropped. But then she tried to figure out what to say. "Uh…maybe I can help you?" With the subsequent silence, she knew that her offer was still loose in the air.

How the hell was she supposed to help this poor person? He seemed so vulnerable and hopeless—and he was looking for his girlfriend which meant that he probably didn't know where she was, and what if something wrong had happened to his girlfriend? And his phone was dead, so the number that he was using now was probably some sort of a temporary thing—he borrowed someone's phone or something.

Whatever the case, this was probably one of his last resorts to get in touch with his girlfriend and she would feel just terrible not knowing what happened to him and his girlfriend afterward—and what if something bad had happened to his girlfriend?

Even if she wasn't able to help him at the end of the day, she needed to at least try!

"Maybe I could call her for you or something?"

The voice on the other end seemed to hesitate. "Well, uh, thank you but I actually don't know her number either. Actually, I'm at a payphone, trying to call—"

"Maybe I happen to know her?" she suggested, trying to think of a million solutions. "If I know her, I might know her number." But even Katara doubted this, especially in such a large city like Republic City.

"Mai Kuraki?" he replied, a tint of hope in his voice.

And she felt so horrible breaking that hope. She sucked in a breath and confessed, "Well sorry, I don't know her…"

"It's okay," his stiffened voice answered. "I'm sure she'll come around some time or later."

She felt her eyebrows furrow and she saw her heart going out to this stranger, feeling so sympathetic for this person she didn't even know. "Well wait," she interrupted, before he cut the line. "I'm sure you still have a few minutes left, right? You're calling from a payphone and I…I don't know, I could keep you company for the time being until the time runs out."

His lack of words made her rethink what the hell she had just said. Ugh, what was she thinking—this was ridiculous—she really had to stop being so sympathetic and giving herself out to people! She couldn't just say 'no' or just let an issue go.

But now since she had already said it, she had to carry on with it.

"Why don't you tell me a bit about yourself?" she suggested. "Like…I don't know, maybe you could tell me more about what's going on or something. I just—I just feel really bad for you right now! And I want to know if there's any way that I can help."

She could feel him hesitate.

"Thank you…for doing this," he said, trying to figure out the most appropriate words. "I…don't really know what to say."

"Um," she replied, her mouth twisting to the side. "What's your name?"

"Zuko…Zuko Kaji." And then after a moment, he explained, "I'm actually on a date…well, I guess I was planning to go out with Mai. She hadn't been picking up her phone and I've been waiting for about an hour. We were planning to go to her favorite restaurant, so I don't think that she forgot or anything…"

He dropped off and Katara replied before the silence got awkward.

"Maybe something bad happened to her? Do you know how she's getting to…the restaurant that you guys were going to go to?"

"I actually don't know," and there was a great deal of embarrassment in his voice. "She doesn't like it when I worry about her so I try not to ask her. She says she can do things on her own and that I have to chill and that's why I don't know..."

She wasn't sure what to say to that, but fortunately he continued.

"And I feel really bad because now I know I should have just picked her up from her house—but she told me that she was going to be out with friends before coming to meet me. So maybe she's with them or something. I-I should definitely check that out. I…well I should get home to charge my phone and start making calls." And then his voice turned on itself. "But if it ended up being something like she had gotten too drunk or something, then she would definitely get mad at me for worrying so much…"

"Well, I think it's better to just see if she's okay. You shouldn't risk her safety," she answered calmly, hoping her answer would give this Zuko person some reassurance.

"Yeah I know…but it's not the first time that she hasn't picked up like that. I mean, she's only cancelled a date once but the last few times that I've been trying to contact her and thought something had happened to her, it wasn't a big deal and she was pretty upset." He paused. "I just don't know. I never know with her."

As it turned out, Katara was feeling even worse for this poor man. Oh geez, he definitely wasn't in a good place at all. She knew that she had wanted to help out, but she was realizing more and more that she probably wasn't able to do this. First it as just a guy whose date didn't show up, but now there seemed to be a problem with their relationship.

It was probably just a problem that's been escalated because his girlfriend hadn't shown up. She told herself that his girlfriend and him were actually probably going off really well together and this was just one of those accidental bumps in the road.

I never know with her, she recalled in her mind. That seemed ultra-depressing, and she could feel her forehead crinkling.

"I-I'm sure it's okay. You can just explain the whole thing to her—I'm sure she'd understand," Katara finally responded.

"I hope so. I just…I just never feel like she's happy with what I do," he admitted, and she could feel his guard fall down. "I'm just really upset because I thought that this date would flip the coin. It's her favorite restaurant and I'm sure she'd love the food and everything that I had planned. And now she's not here to enjoy any of it and I don't know when the next time I'll be able to do this for her will be." He sighed. "I thought this might change things and now this opportunity just exploded in my face."

Katara bit her lip. "It's okay. It's not the end of the world—I'm sure that you're a great boyfriend and that she knows that you slip up sometimes. And maybe it doesn't seem that way but I know that she loves you very much and that this whole date thing isn't going to make it or break it for your relationship." She gulped slowly, not recalling what she had just blabbered about, though she knew it felt weird to be talking in place of his girlfriend. "Even if she doesn't say it, she loves you and she appreciates everything that you do for her. And then there's always another time!" she added.

She only heard the street noise in the background for a moment and deeply regretted having gone further with this conversation at all from the very beginning—she knew she should have just—

"I'm sorry," he apologized suddenly. "It's past 11, I'm keeping you up and I'm just rambling on—"

"Ah no, it's okay," she interrupted him. "It's fine. I just hope that everything turns out for you, you know? I mean, I don't know how much more I can offer, but…" and she trailed off.

"Thank you. Very much. I should probably find a way back home now, though."

"O-oh, you don't have a way back?"

"I used public transit to avoid parking fees so—"

"The bus doesn't run as often so late," she reminded him, with a little bit more concern that she had expected from herself.

"Yeah," he agreed, sounding like he knew that. "Probably just walk or something, it's not that far of a distance—"

Katara was already on her feet, looking around for her shoes. "Well maybe I can help you out! I could drive you or something—where are you?"

But then after a moment of waiting, she realized that the silence on the other end was dead.

The minutes off the payphone had probably been used up.

She took her phone away from her ear and sat back down in her sofa, shamefully looking at herself.

Geez, she was just about to go ahead and physically help this stranger out!

Frowning, she knew that she was making one of those same mistakes again like she always did. She always couldn't turn her back away from someone that needed her help! She had to get over the fact that she simply couldn't do everything for everyone and ignore her own needs.

It was the one thing that she just couldn't stop doing, but had to stop doing for her own good.

She sighed in frustration with herself. And now, she just had to focus on forgetting about Zuko, because at this point there really was no way for her to help him. She didn't know where he was and she couldn't call a payphone back, so she just had to let it rest.

In fact, why the hell was she still thinking that she could do something about it?

She took another deep breath and forced herself to relax on the sofa. Things like this really shouldn't be getting her worked up. She just had to let it go and just focus on herself.

Just like everyone was always telling her to do.

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Zuko slapped his palm into his face as he threw the phone back onto its stand.

What the hell was he doing?

He was just talking on and on about his problems like this stranger could help him? And he totally made her feel bad for him! God, he was so pathetic! It was just like Mai was always telling him—he just had to calm down.

And now he hadn't, and now he probably left that helpful woman on the other end of the phone line still worrying about what was going on with him! She had even gone as far as to counsel him in his relationship with Mai because he had been the idiot to tell her all about that in the first place!

He just had to learn to keep his mouth shut and to not turn to everyone that offered him help—he was just burdening them even more.

That wrong-number woman had even gone as far as to be concerned about how he was getting home! He should have just lied that he drove…or at least been vague about it so that he wouldn't be dragging her into his life or whatever.

Why the fuck couldn't he just deal with his own problems himself?

This is exactly why Mai had a problem with him—she probably thought he was too attached to her or something along those lines.

He looked towards the glowing lights inside The Golden Dragon.

And he couldn't even properly coordinate all this for her. He should have prepared better and ensured that Mai was actually going to arrive. And what if maybe something horrible had happened to her all along? He wasn't going to be able to get back home and find out before it was too late—the bus wasn't going to be coming by any time now and getting home on foot was just…a long way.

Well. There was another solution—she had offered to drive him home.

Wait no, he couldn't depend on this stranger. He could figure this all out on his own. He could think of another thing to do—call a cab or something.

Zuko bit his lip, looking down at the remaining quarters in his hand. He placed them into the coin slot—slowly, hoping that he could change his mind and therefore his actions at the last minute—and dialed those same numbers again, knowing it was the wrong number, and fully aware that he was doing the wrong thing.

But…yet he still found himself waiting for the click interrupting the dial tone, and despite his mind telling him to hang up, couldn't find the strength in his arm to take the phone from his ear.

"Hello?" the woman's melodic voice came up again.

"Uh, is this…" and then he realized that he didn't know her name.

"…Zuko?"

"Yes," he replied. And then didn't know what to say.

"Hi again, Zuko," she replied, and he wasn't sure what emotion to read from her voice.

"Sorry," he apologized. "I know I said I wouldn't call again, but…I thought it best that I know who the kind compassionate person I was talking to was."

He didn't expect her to respond positively, and wasn't surprised with her subsequent silence.

She did laugh though, once or twice. It might have seemed forced, but Zuko decided not to dwell on that possibility.

"Well, my name is Katara Paani," she started. But then the direction of her conversation shifted. "Do you still need a ride to—"

"No," he answered before thinking. "I just…well I'm sorry about bothering you actually. I'm sure you don't have to deal with relationship issues all the time and honestly this is just completely embarrassing—"

"Oh no, it's totally fine," she interrupted him. "I understand. Not everyone has a perfect relationship. I-I mean I have my own problems; I was actually—it's kinda funny now that I think about it since it's sorta like your own situation—but instead of me calling, I was waiting on my boyfriend to call me."

He recalled what she had answered on the phone when he first called. "Was that…Aang, was it?"

"Uh, yeah," she said, her voice lighting up. "I hadn't heard from him in a while, and he's one of those kinds of people that are just all over the place. He's so busy and he's always off doing something; I just wish I was able to help him out with everything that he's committed to!" She paused. "Anyway, he told me that he'd be visiting my place but I haven't heard from him yet—and his phone is always out of battery because he's always off and forgets to bring his charger everywhere."

Zuko pursed his lips, cursing the short life of batteries—that was the real problem in society, huh?

"And usually when a random number dials, I know it's Aang because he's always borrowing someone's phone or making calls from businesses or I don't know, he just always gets his way around—he's one of those people that everyone gets along with." And then she stopped before continuing, "So I guess I was surprised when you called." She gave him a laugh.

"Oh well, at least he keeps in touch with you—"

"Oh no, that's only when he does call—otherwise I'm just stuck leaving messages on his answering machine and waiting until he decides to let me know," she corrected him, and then after a moment, continued, "I just wish that he'd spend some more time…not going around and…well maybe I'm sounding really attached, but I just kinda wish he'd spend more time with me. I mean, I really love him and all, but the whole long distance thing is difficult, especially when I know he's around in the city. The way he's going about, it feels like he's away all the time. And sometimes I don't know if he feels the same way about me that I do about him, you know what I mean?"

He didn't say anything—he couldn't say that he didn't know what she meant. It awfully reminded him of his situation with Mai.

"I know he isn't cheating on me or something—he's not that kind of a person, but I…just can't help but wonder, you know? But that's just stupid; I'm just blabbering on now and ugh, I know you have your own relationship issues so I really shouldn't be talking to you about this—"

"Uh, no! It's okay," Zuko reassured her. "At the end of it all, I'm pretty sure that every couple has some sort of an issue…and I'm sure Aang isn't cheating on you—he probably feels bad himself that he can't give you so much time as you'd like."

"Yeah…but I guess I also have to be a bit less selfish when it comes to him."

"I think you're the most selfless person I've ever met," he blurted. "I…really think you try to help everyone that needs your help and that it's hard for you to turn your back on them—I mean, you were willing to talk to me all this time and try to figure out if there was some way that you can help me, and I really appreciate that."

"I…don't know. I've always been that way since I was young but a lot of the times, people tell me that I really should be thinking about myself before others. And it's just really hard for me. And actually…sometimes I just don't know if, well, I don't know if ending up with Aang was the right thing for me to do." He felt her hesitate. "I mean I saw him as a friend up until he actually asked me out, and it just went along from there…which I guess is another reason why I'm not sure about everything. I could definitely be going out and enjoying the city along his side, but I just don't, and I just don't know if our relationship is really what other relationships are. But I just haven't heard from him in a while, and I'm just getting really worried. That's all; that's why I'm getting a bit flustered."

At this point, Zuko wasn't sure what to say, but he couldn't not say anything either. So he replied, "I'm sure it'll be fine. You'll hear from him soon—I can't imagine that the person that's boyfriend with such a dedicated person would just leave you."

"Yeah…" she said. "Well what about you? How did you meet Mai?"

He fished through his memories. "Mai and I knew each other since we were in elementary school and we've had this mutual crush on each other…it sounds really ridiculous and petty, but something happened and we just got together during college and um…it went from there."

"Oh that's really cute!" he heard her exclaim from the other end. "You guys must be really tight!"

"Yeah, I guess," he smiled. "We have our little mishaps every now and then…Actually to be honest, we've had a lot of mishaps," and his smile dropped. "And it could be because we've liked each other for so long that we can't see any other solution, but at the end of the day, I'm not really sure if we just are still together because we're dragging our history behind us. Sometimes I felt like she liked the idea of being with me, but that the reality of that wasn't really going to work out."

"Oh no, don't think that," her concerned voice said from the other end.

He took a breath before answering, "I-I guess I'm just being honest. I mean, I could tell that you were being honest with me when you were telling me about Aang so…I thought we could just lament over our relationships…" and since he didn't hear anything from her end. "…I'm just being stupid, aren't I?"

She laughed, genuinely. "No! I guess if this is what our conversation came to, so be it! And, with all honesty, I actually really appreciate you having dialed the wrong number, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to talk and I wouldn't have been able to sort my thoughts out…and you know what? This is good; this is really good, because sometimes there just needs to be a time where people can voice what they really feel but they can't because they're afraid of what everyone else is going to say and it's just different if someone doesn't know you or who you're friends are and they're not going to judge you for what you think…oh, I'm sorry, I'm just ranting again."

Zuko couldn't help the smile that formed across his face. "No, continue. And you're right; I guess it was good that we took this opportunity, huh?"

"Yeah," she agreed softly, and he could tell that she was smiling by the sound of her upward voice.

They held the silence for a while, and Zuko leaned against the payphone, cradling her voice next to his ear.

"So um," he heard her say. "You said you were in college, right?"

"Oh, no, not now," he replied. "I graduated class of '09."

"Ah, what college?"

"Republic City University."

"Really! I'm class of '11!"

"From RCU?"

"Yep! Majored in biology. You?"

Oh wow, it had been a while since someone had asked him his major in a non-job-interview setting. "Um…electrical engineering."

"That's neat—oh you must have had Professor Jeong, right? For calculus?"

"What an asshole."

She laughed, loudly. "Yeah…"

A bit more silence lingered before she asked another question.

"So, have you been living in Republic City since graduating?"

"Yeah, but I was thinking of going back to the Fire Nation—"

"Oh you're from the Fire Nation?" but it sounded more like a statement.

He affirmed this fact and then a few moments later, asked, "Why?"

"It's just funny—I'm, uh, well, I guess I'm trying to imagine you right now and I'm almost one hundred percent sure that you have black hair. Everyone in the Fire Nation has black hair, from what I know."

"Well…" and he tried to defend his beloved country but gave up. "I guess it's true. Where are you from?"

"South Water Nation—"

"And you have blue eyes," he retorted. "Everyone in the Water Nations has blue eyes. And wait, I know, the front bangs of your hair are like in those loopy things, huh?"

She scoffed. "They are not 'loopy things' and not everyone has their hair like that!"

Not wanting to offend this kind lady, he explained, "Well, you know, they have their front bangs parted into two by either beads or cloth or something. I mean it's just a Water Nation thing, I guess."

"I mean, I can't deny it," she admitted, and he could almost see her rolling her blue eyes.

Zuko let her voice ring in his ear for a while before checking the time. "Oh, well, um, my time is almost up and this time I want to give you a proper goodbye."

"Oh, well it was nice to talk to you, Zuko. I hope everything turns out for the better."

"Yeah, I hope things work out for you too," he replied. "I really appreciate you not slamming the phone down on me, even after I had the wrong number and all. And I'm really sorry if I just wasted a whole block of your time—"

"Not at all—please don't apologize."

He thought quickly. "Um, how about I make it up to you?"

"No, that's ridiculous. I didn't do anything but talk to you for a few minutes or so."

"No, I insist," he argued. "I know, I'll treat you for dinner. How is Friday at…well what do you like?"

"It's really not necess—"

"What place do you like to eat at?"

"Seafood Palace," she answered quickly before debating, "But you really don't have—"

"Okay, there on Friday at 6pm, does that sound okay?"

"I—"

And then he realized that his time was up.

He held the silent phone receiver for a moment before cursing softly and replacing the phone.

What the hell was he doing? He was such an idiot.

He used all his quarters to call a wrong number and talk to a complete stranger instead of try to get in contact with Mai and tell her that he wasn't waiting for her anymore at the restaurant. What was he thinking?

And now he invited this random person to dinner? Did he really have to do that?

And not only that, but he invited this random woman to dinner, and now he didn't know if she was going to be coming or not.

He just always set himself up for trouble all the time, didn't he?

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Looking up, he observed the blue and white sign of Seafood Palace once more. Seemed like a relatively simple place to eat and totally okay for walk-ins. It was still downtown, and actually, just a few blocks down from the payphone in front of The Golden Dragon.

He sighed, reminding himself of what a big deal he had made over Mai's absence.

"Mai really didn't want to go—apparently she had something else planned the other night," Azula had told him. "But Ty Lee outwitted her, brought up some old promise that they had made a long time ago, and I haven't seen Mai since then." And then Azula had mocked, "Why, brother, have you lost track of your own girlfriend again?"

He crossed his arms, leaning against the brick wall of the restaurant. His eyes flickered down to his watch—it was a few minutes past 6.

Zuko wasn't really expecting her to come around. He had just come in the case that maybe she had said yes, and he didn't want to leave her stranded like Mai had that night. He'd feel horrible if she had eventually come by and he hadn't been there.

And if she didn't come by, well, at least he ensured that her plans weren't ruined by his stupid last minute suggestion.

It was all idiotic, really. If she were to come by, then he'd treat her and they'd eat, talking about…what? Their relationships again?

He closed his eyes, grimacing. While he had been talking, it seemed like a good idea, but the morning after, just like any other hangover, his actions the night before didn't seem to be reasonable. She probably thought he was totally weird and definitely one of those people that you'd never want to bump into on the strange side of the city.

Thinking it best that she not come by, he checked the time again and determined that if she didn't come by in the next fifteen minutes, he'd just leave.

He looked around the street again, realizing that he actually didn't even know what she looked like.

Fuck it, he thought. If she did come by, she probably would have realized she didn't know what he looked like either—so if he was actually never there, she might just attribute it to her not knowing who to look for.

Hm, that rationalized just leaving, without too much of a guilty conscience.

Pulling himself off the brick wall, he took another glance around the restaurant's front and then walked off towards where his car was parked.

Something caught his eye though, and he pulled his keys away from his car before looking around for whatever stole his attention.

He weaved through the people on the sidewalk, stepping back towards Seafood Palace and reached his hand out towards a shoulder, dark brown hair cascading over it.

The impact he made felt a bit rough and he quickly took his hand back.

"Hi—"

"Do I know you?" the woman snapped, though it was clear she was trying to be polite.

Zuko took a glance at her angered black eyes and apologized, "Sorry, I thought you were someone else. Sorry."

Stupid, he scolded himself. She's probably not coming—don't get your hopes up.

Ashamed, he turned around, meeting cerulean eyes.

And suddenly he knew.

"Zuko?" and it took a moment for him to connect her ocean eyes, thick dark hair, mocha smooth skin, and brilliant smile to her voice.

"I'm Katara."


Aw, I know I cut this a bit short, but I want you guys to imagine the rest!

Anyway, all grammatical mistakes and run-on sentences aside, I hope you guys enjoyed this one-shot! Do review please!

More will be up tomorrow, and for the rest of the week! That is, if I actually go through with this Zutara Week challenge that I put myself up for!

I feel like I just put my head on a guillotine.

thir13enth