Name: Tea Leaves and Boiling Water
Description: It was Prince Zuko's destiny to assist the avatar – nowhere in the job description did it say to enlighten a formerly sheltered girl on the wonders of the human body.
Pairing: One-sided Zutara. Whether Katara reciprocates or not is up to you… (also because I prefer adorkable Zuko-trying-to-impress-and-gain-trust-of-Katara Zutara to angsty let's-bond-over-our-dead-and-disappeared-mothers Zutara)
Comments: I love Zuko when he's not being angsty and whiny – in other words, when he's being a dork. And he totally likes Katara… Just saying… Anyway, enjoy!
"Hey, Zuko here. Look, I'm sorry about what happened in Ba Sing Se, and I wanted to make it up to you by helping you kill the guy who killed your mom! No, that's not right…" Zuko smacked his forehead and groaned as he plopped down on the stump in front of Katara's tent. The water bender had gone to bed almost two hours ago, and Zuko still had no idea what he would say to her when she woke up. Still, he felt terrible for having betrayed her so many times. "This is hopeless. She'll never…" Suddenly, there was a boom as Toph's makeshift tent was demolished. The blind girl pulled out her head and squeezed her eyes shut in agony.
"I can't take it anymore!" she yelled. "What are they doing in there?"
"Toph—" Zuko said quietly, desperate to calm the hysterical girl down.
"I saw Suki go into Snoozle's tent, and now they're doing something in there!" Toph continued. "Suki's on top of him! What kind of earth bending is that? I thought Suki couldn't earth bend at all!"
Zuko covered his face with both his hands as he tried to scrub the mental image from his mind. "You… didn't need to tell me that…" he mumbled quietly.
Toph pointed an accusing finger at Zuko. "And why are you waiting outside Katara's tent? Are you going to climb on top of her too?"
"What?!" Zuko gasped, feeling his face heat up. "N-No, I—"
"Do you want her to climb on top of you? You guys can't even earth bend!"
"No!" Zuko yelled, mentally screaming in agony.
"Then what are they—"
"Shh!" Zuko covered Toph's mouth with his hand. "You'll wake everyone up!" He withdrew his hand as he felt something hard clamp down on it, and Toph smirked triumphantly.
"You know, I can tell when people lie. You were lying about—"
"Can we please not talk about this?" Zuko grumbled as he turned away from the earth bender.
"Then at least tell me what they're doing!" Toph grumbled as she sat down next to Zuko on the stump.
Zuko's eyes narrowed sympathetically. "Oh…" he said quietly. "Did your parents not give you the talk when… you started growing?"
"Doesn't everyone grow until they get old?" Toph retorted, frowning in confusion.
"Um… no, not like that. You see, around this age, everyone starts… maturing." Zuko vaguely wondered if his father spoke with Azula like this and shuddered to think of what… advice he might have given her. "They grow out of their scrawny little bodies, and… hey!" In less than a second, Zuko found himself on the ground and Toph's fist where he was before.
"I'm so not scrawny," the girl said seriously.
"N-No," Zuko protested as he reclaimed his spot on the stump. "You're growing out of it, just like Aang's growing out of his scrawniness."
"What about you and Snoozles? You guys are pretty scrawny."
Zuko smacked his forehead with his hand. "Yeah, I guess we're still growing too," he deadpanned. "Anyway, women… grow… at a faster rate than men." How would Uncle Iroh put this? "It's… It's like making tea! Sort of… So you'll…" Now how would Azula put this? "You will develop into the ideal baby-making woman… which somehow makes you superior to men?"
"So all this is to make babies, huh?" Toph asked, rubbing her chin. "I think Katara said something like this the first time I peed blood."
"You didn't need to tell me that either," Zuko mumbled as the palm of his hand connected with his forehead.
She began to smirk, and Zuko vaguely wondered if she sought pleasure from bringing him pain and discomfort. "Hey Sparky… how are babies made?"
Zuko jumped as Toph's question hit him like one of Aang's air slices. Enlightening a formerly sheltered girl on the wonders of the human body did not fit in with his destiny… right? Now, what would Uncle Iroh do? "They… They…" How on earth was he going to explain this without giving too many details? "They make tea!"
Toph crossed her arms and frowned. "Tea? That's boring!"
"Look—" Zuko protested feebly.
"I can't!" Toph shot back, and Zuko wondered why that thunderstorm couldn't just kill him back in Earth Country.
"I mean…" Zuko mumbled as he smacked his forehead again. "Just listen, okay? When a man and a woman really love each other, they get together and make tea… metaphorically speaking. The man brings the tea leaves, and the woman brings the cup and the water."
"So tea makes babies?" Toph asked, resting her chin on the palms of her hands.
"I'm getting there!" Zuko snapped. "So anyway, the man puts the tea leaves in the cup and… boils the water." He could so picture Azula cackling at his misery right now. He took a deep breath to calm himself. I'm almost done. Please don't ask any more questions. "If all goes well, they make a baby out of the tea!" Zuko forced a smile, though he could feel his stomach sinking.
"So Sokka and Suki are making tea right now?" Toph asked in an even voice.
"Um…" Zuko mumbled, scratching the back of his head nervously. "Yes."
"So why is Suki on top of him?"
"Because…" Congratulations, Zuko, you've really done it this time. "That… helps boil the water."
"Oh… So are you going to make tea with Sugar Queen?" Toph asked with an evil glint in her eyes.
"What?" Zuko yelled. "No!"
"Do you want to make tea with her?" Toph smirked and Zuko mentally bashed his head against a wall.
The earth bender burst out laughing. "You know I know you're lying, right? Aw, that's so cute! Zuko and Katara sitting in a tree – K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
"I thought you didn't know how to spell!" Zuko blurted out, only making Toph laugh harder. Really? That's your question? When did she learn to spell 'kissing'? The prince groaned and buried his head in his arms. Somewhere, Azula was laughing at him – he could just tell.
"So how are we going to defeat Azula?" Katara asked, crossing her arms. "There's only two of us." It had been a day since Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, and Zuko were reunited with their past masters, and the threat of the upcoming battle had set everyone on edge.
"Well you've got me," Zuko pointed out, feeling a bit hopeful.
"Yeah, but she kicks your ass every time," Katara grumbled, blowing a loose strand of hair out of her face. Well, there went his hope.
Zuko took a deep breath. "Well, I guess we could—"
"Zuko!" Uncle Iroh peered outside his tent. "If you two are going to stay awake for longer, why don't you make some tea?"
"No!" came a scream. "You can't!" Toph ran up to Zuko and glared at him while pointing an accusing finger at him. "You can't make tea with Katara!"
Katara looked as confused as Zuko felt. "Um… why not?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.
"We're in a war, people!" Toph yelled dramatically. "This is no time for you two to be making babies!" Pin drop silence followed, and for once, Zuko was not grateful for it.
"Making… babies?" Katara asked. "By making tea?"
Toph put her hands on her hips and glared with all the strength and ferocity of a twelve-year-old. "Yeah, Zuko said!" The water bender crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at Zuko, and Uncle Iroh covered his mouth and tried (and failed) to suppress chuckles. The Fire Nation's prince wanted to disappear. "He also said he wanted to make tea with you, Katara."
"What?" the water bender shrieked, her face turning redder than the Fire Nation clothing she donned earlier.
"No…" Toph drawled. "I'm pretty sure he said he didn't want to make tea with you, but then he was lying, so…"
"Please stop talking," Zuko said quietly as he buried his face in his arms.
Somewhere, Azula was laughing at him – he could just tell.