Life Happens Wherever You Are (Zuko x OC)

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Chapter 14

Sunlight creeping through the cracks in the door and the sound of birds chirping outside slowly brought me out of my sleep. It was fairly light in the room, enough to see everything, but with a shadow over them.

I heard the door creak open, “Zuko, Mara, it’s time to get up, we have to be at the tea shop soon,” Iroh’s voice sounded from the crack in the door, but it didn’t open further. I guess he was respecting our privacy. Not that we were hiding anything.

I felt Zuko stir beside me, and turned my head to look at him. His eyes fluttered open, and he focused on me. I almost saw a genuine smile on his face, but it went away before it came. He yawned and stretched, making the blanket shift down, revealing his abdomen. I could see his abs flexing with his movement, but quickly looked away. I didn’t notice that the blanket had also shifted on my side as well, revealing my bare stomach. Zuko and I both noticed at the same time. I watched as he waited for my reaction, and when I didn’t move to cover myself, he let his eyes roam down, examining my skin that was showing. I saw him get stuck on a scar on the right side of my stomach, near my hip. He glanced up at me again, almost as if he was asking permission to continue.

He shifted so that he was facing me now, and looked back down at my scar. He slowly brought his hand up to me, making sure that I could stop him if I wanted to. But I let him continue, my heart pounding in my ears. He gently caressed my skin, tracing the scar lightly, sending chills throughout my body.

“What happened?” He breathed, his voice deeper than normal.

“This is why my father sent me to Rahin. The first wave of fire nation soldiers came early in the morning, we woke up to explosions going off all around us. My father and his men were able to fight them off, only a few survived and retreated. But we suffered heavy losses as well, they made sure that when they came back, it would be an easy take over for them. In the commotion, I was hit by a fire nation spear,” I placed my hand over his that was still tracing my scar. “I was the only one who wasn’t old enough to fight, so once I was healed enough, they sent me away to protect me from getting hurt further. I should have died that day.”

Zuko propped himself up on his arm, looking down at me. He moved his hand from underneath mine and placed it on my cheek, “But you didn’t, and there’s a reason for that. You are here now, with me, helping me not be stupid.”

I smiled, “You almost sounded like Iroh for a second there.”

He rolled his eyes and got up, starting the lamp again. I hesitated getting up, the room was lit now, and he would be able to see me clearly.

Zuko noticed my hesitation, “Do you want me to turn around while you change?”

I thought for a moment, I shouldn’t be weird about this. “No, that’s alright,” I pulled the blanket off and stood up, trying not to notice the way that Zuko was looking at me. I grabbed my tunic dress, pulling it on and wrapping it tightly just below my chest. In my haste while packing, I seemed to have forgotten to bring extra clothes, so this dress was the only thing I had. I turned to the side, “Can you help me tie this?”

In an instant he was by my side. I handed him the strings and lifted my arms up to give him space. After some struggle, he successfully tied it together. “How’s that?”

I brought my arms down and felt around a bit before responding, “Perfect.” I smiled at him. I noticed the fire in his eyes was deeper than it usually is as he looked at me.

The door creaked open and Iroh stood in the doorway, “Are you guys almost ready? We don’t want to be late.”

Zuko stepped away from me, grabbing his shirt.

“Yes, we are almost ready,” I blushed, and glanced at Zuko before walking out of the room and grabbing some bread to eat on the way.

“Would you like some tea, Mara?” Iroh asked, he seemed unphased by what he saw.

“No, that’s okay. I’ll have some when we get to the shop. Thank you though.”

He smiled at me and nodded.

His nonreactionx almost made me think that Zuko gets close to a lot of girls and that he is used to it now. But I would be different, right?

Zuko came out of the room and grabbed a piece of bread himself. I stole a glance into his eyes, still seeing hints of the deeper fire I saw in the room.

It had gotten dark outside already, and I had only been able to get to a couple of shops in the market because it was fairly busy today. I decided to head back to the tea shop and help close up.

I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I turned the corner coming up to the shop. I stopped at the door and turned to look behind me. Chills crept down my spine as I saw a shadow disappear in the alley across from me. The door behind me opened, making me jump.

“What is it Mara?” it was Zuko.

“Um,” I hesitated, looking around, “Nothing,” I shook it off and followed Zuko inside. He eyed me suspiciously, and I gave him a look to tell him that I still had the feeling. He nodded, and went over to a table, gathering the cups onto a tray.

Iroh was pouring more tea for a customer, who I assumed was a guard because of the way he and his friend were dressed. “This is the best tea in the city,” he said.

Iroh smiled, “The secret ingredient is love.”

Zuko rolled his eyes, picking up the tray. I giggled, leaning up against the table Zuko was cleaning.

All of a sudden, the door of the shop slammed open, and I realized why I had been having a bad feeling.

“I’m tired of waiting!” Jet yelled, pointing a finger sharply at Iroh, who had been joined by Zuko at the counter. “These two men are firebenders!” Jet pulled out his two hook swords and slashed them low near the ground.

The room fell silent, and Zuko and Iroh looked at each other. I forced a laugh, making it sound as natural as possible, “Them? Firebenders?” I laughed again, and others joined me nervously.

“I know they’re firebenders! I saw the old man heating his tea!” He must be talking about what happened in the train station.

“He works in a tea shop,” one of the guards responded.

“He’s a firebender, I’m telling you!”

“Drop your swords boy, nice and easy.” The two guards stood up, getting serious.

Jet ignored them, crossing his hook swords. “You’ll have to defend yourselves,” he started walking towards them, “Go ahead, show them what you can do.”

Zuko started walking towards him. I tried to grab his arm to stop him but I didn’t reach him in time. He grabbed one of the guards dual swords from its sheath, “You want a show?” he held up the swords with one hand, “I’ll give you a show.” He separated the two swords and then grabbed a table with his foot, sliding it over in front of him and then kicking it towards Jet. Jet grabbed the table with the hooks of his swords and spun in the air over it, using the momentum to throw the table against the wall behind him.

He then swung both of his swords one after the other at Zuko, and Zuko jumped up on a table behind him to dodge it. Jet sliced through the table that he was standing on, right in between his legs. Zuko caught his balance, and Jet sliced again through the legs of the left half. Zuko was now standing on one foot, but still had his balance. Jet sliced yet again through the table, on the other side, and Zuko jumped up in the air to avoid it, and as he was landing, crossed his swords at Jet, making Jet do a flip backwards to avoid it. I have to admit, Jet is a fairly good fighter. But I have seen what Zuko is capable of.

Jet ran at Zuko, and Zuko brought the swords together, making them collide with both of Jets. They struggled that way for a moment and then Jet pushed Zuko backwards, Zuko did a flip to avoid Jets next slashes.

“We have to do something!” I yelled to Iroh, starting to bring out my water flask.

Iroh grabbed my hand to stop me, “No, this is between them. If you get involved you might get in trouble and I don’t want that to happen.”

A crashing noise snapped us out of our conversation, and I looked in just enough time to see Zuko roll on the ground and jump back up to his feet, with Jet following close behind, swinging his swords. We all rushed to the door to watch, as they continued fighting. Their swords collided, this time it was Jet pushing towards Zuko.

“You must be getting tired of using those swords. Why don’t you go ahead and firebend at me?” Jet provoked.

“Please, son, you’re confused!” Iroh called to him as Zuko pushed him further down the street with a grunt. “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

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