Title: Zuko's Birthday

Rating: Teen

Fandom: Avatar the Last Airbender

Ships: Zukaang (ZukoxAang), Irko (Iroh/Zuko)

It was Zuko's sixteenth birthday party. His friends had thrown him a 'surprise' party (even he knew all about it, and they knew that he knew). They had pigged out on cake and ice cream, and his Uncle's fantastic cooking. Now they were at the gift giving portion of the afternoon. Zuko was looking forward most to the gift from his best friend, Aang. He always gave the best gifts. Like the leather bound journals he'd given Zuko last year. They were wonderful, and beautiful. One had a snowflake embossed on the cover, with tiny white crystals and stones embedded in the leather. One had a bird's nest, complete with eggs and mother bird. One had a majestic oak tree, with green crystals in among the leaves and scattered on the ground. If he looked closely, he could just make out a woman's face peaking out from the trunk. The last one had autumn leaves tumbling across the cover, tiny crystals in red and gold adding just a hint of sparkle and color. The others gave good gifts too, usually dragon things for his collection.

Aang had been his best friend since they were in diapers. They'd grown up together, closer than twins. One always knew when the other was hurt, or scared. Aang had come to his rescue many times, just like Zuko had gone to his. They had told each other all their secrets, hopes, dreams, and fears. Aang was the one Zuko had come out to. Aang had come to him when Gyatso was sick and had almost died. Zuko had gone to Aang when his mother filed for divorce, when Ozai put her into the hospital, when she'd been in a coma for almost six months. Aang always knew just what to say, what to recommend, how to comfort Zuko. Just like Zuko always knew what to do for Aang. He knew that their friends had bets on how long it would be before they got together. They both did. Hell, they both had bets in the pool. Zuko wasn't sure exactly why they weren't together. Aang was the third-most important in his life, directly behind his mother and his uncle. He was the second-most important person in Aang's life, right behind his uncle. He was seriously attracted to Aang, and he knew that Aang felt the same way about him. But they weren't dating. It frustrated the living hell out of Zuko, but that didn't mean he was bold enough to actually do anything about it, like ask Aang out, or kiss him.

"Sparky! Get your head out of the clouds and open your damn gifts already!" Zuko jumped slightly, realizing that he'd been holding one of his gifts, from Katara, for several minutes without doing anything, just staring distantly at it, lost in thought.

"Sorry," he mumbled. He found the folds and carefully peeled away the tape before unwrapping the small box. It was probably jewelry. Katara always gave some kind of dragon-related jewelry. Last year it had been a choker. This year it was an earring, one where the tail was on one side of the lobe and the rest of the dragon's body wrapped around his ear, the head peeking over the top of his ear. It was awesome. "Thanks, Katara. I love it." He'd have to put it in later. He'd have to clean it with hydrogen peroxide first. Sokka chucked a box at him.

"Open mine next!" Zuko smiled crookedly as he caught it.

"Hope it's not fragile," he cracked. Sokka hadn't taken anywhere near as much care with the wrapping as Katara had, but Zuko still peeled all the tape off before unwrapping it. It was a little statue of the ugliest dragon he'd ever seen. Squat and misshapen, with weird patches of green and brown over a blue base. One eye bulged, the other was small and squinty. It had one horn. "It's...hideous." Sokka always bought the ugliest dragon he could find. "Way uglier than last years." Zuko was tempted to kill it with fire, the thing was so ugly. "Thanks. I'll put it one the Ugly Shelf with the others." The ugly shelf had started years ago, in elementary school. They were learning how to draw reptiles in Art class, and Sokka and Zuko had gotten into a competition over who could draw the ugliest dragon. Zuko had won, and he'd put the picture on a shelf, in a lovely frame his mother had bought for him. Since then, Sokka had always given him the ugliest dragon thing we could find. Zuko doubted he could top this year's monstrosity. He put it next to Katara's gift and reached for the one from his uncle.

After carefully removing the tape and setting the paper aside, he removed the second layer of blank white paper to reveal a book. It was called, How to Get the One You Love. Zuko blushed bright pink and quickly set it aside, mumbling his thanks. He heard Sokka snicker. He opened his mother's next, revealing a set of oil paints and a sketchpad. "Thanks, Mom." At least his mother's gift wasn't mortifying, like his uncle's. They did the shopping together, and usually got similar gifts. He'd been expecting another embarrassing self-help book, possibly titled, How to Get Up the Nerve to Tell Your Best Friend That You Think They're Hot.

Cheryl gave him her gift next. It was wrapped in red paper, and he carefully removed the paper to reveal a boxed set of his favorite book series: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. "Thanks! It's awesome." He grinned broadly at her. She grinned back. She was the only who understood why he loved this series so much. None of his other friends liked it, although Aang at least bothered to learn enough about it so that he understood what Aang was going on about when he talked about Magnus and Alec, Downworlders, the Clave, and Shadowhunters.

Toph's gift was next, and judging by the squishiness, it was probably clothing. Hopefully this year it would be in his size. After carefully unwrapping it, he grinned broadly to discover that it was a black hoodie with a glowering red dragon on the front, crouching on top of a massive pile of treasure. It was a size too large so it would fit over his shirt, just the way he liked it. Perfect. "Thanks, Toph. It's awesome." He slipped it on over his head. Now the only gift left was from Aang.

Aang handed him a small, flexible package, grinning wickedly. He opened it, taking even more care than usual since Aang had found dragon wrapping paper. He frowned at the small booklet in his hands. The cover said simply, "Coupons for Zuko. Don't read what they're for out loud." He raised an eyebrow at Aang, whose only response was to wink and grin even more wickedly. Flipping through, he realized why Aang had wrote that he shouldn't read them out loud. One was for a blowjob. One was for a good, long shagging, screamingly good orgasm guaranteed. Another was for an hour long make-out session. There were also coupons for 'One romantic meal for two at the best restaurant in town', 'Shiatsu massage (with happy ending)', 'Shiatsu massage (without happy ending). Zuko blushed pink, sneaking a peek at Aang from under his lashes.

"What is it?" Sokka demanded, reaching for the coupons. Zuko tucked them into the pocket on his new hoodie.

"A booklet of coupons. Anyone else want more cake?" He could tell Sokka was still curious about his gift, but he headed out to the kitchen to serve more cake. Aang followed him, shutting the door behind him.

"Sokka's convinced that I've given you some kind of dirty coupons." Aang walked over to help him serve the cake. Zuko snorted.

"They are dirty."

"You don't mind the coupons, do you? I could get you something else if you don't like them."

Zuko shook his head. "Why did you wait so long to make a move?"

"You bet that we'd get together the week of your sixteenth birthday. That's why I waited, so that you'd win the pool." He turned Zuko gently towards him, tipping his chin up slightly. "It wasn't easy, you know. Waiting. Especially after I made those coupons." Zuko blinked up at him, blushing furiously. He swayed closer to Aang.

"If I'd known that's why you were dragging your feet, I would have bet that we'd get together sooner." Aang closed the distance between them, pressing a gentle kiss to Zuko's lips. Zuko melted into Aang, leaning against him and wrapping his arms around his neck. Kissing Aang was everything he'd ever dreamed it would be. Sokka poked his head in, wanting to know what was taking so long with the cake. Seeing them kissing, he pulled his head back and headed back to the others.

"It'll be a few more minutes," he said, swallowing his smile.

Aang reluctantly pulled away after a minute. He wanted to kiss Zuko for hours, just simple, tender, and (mostly) chaste kisses. But they couldn't. Zuko had company.

"I guess we'd better tell the others, huh?" Zuko nodded, still in a happy haze. Holding hands, they headed back to the living room, completely forgetting about the cake. "Hey, guys , guess what? Zuko and I-"

"IT'S ABOUT TIME!" everyone chorused in unison. Zuko blushed again, leaning into his boyfriend. Aang alway did give the best birthday presents.