Life Happens Wherever You Are (Zuko x OC)

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Chapter 15

There was so much going on it was hard to keep track of which sword was which. It didn’t help that it was dark now, so the only light was from the shops in the street that were still open.

“Bet you wish he’d help you out with a little fire blast right now,” Jet continued.

“Jet, stop! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” I yelled, pushing through the crowd and exiting the shop.

Jet swiped low with one of his swords and Zuko pinned it onto the ground with one of his own, “You’re the one that needs help,” Zuko growled. They were both down to one sword each now.

While Jet was caught off guard by having one of his swords gone, Zuko spun towards him, slicing his sword in the air. Jet bent backwards to avoid the slice. It was so close that the dumb plant Jet had sticking out of his mouth was cut in half.

Once the swords were clear of Jet, he jumped backwards quickly onto a well near the middle of the market.

“You see that? The fire nation is trying to silence me! It’ll never happen.”

“Stop it, you’re going to get hurt!” I yelled at him just as he used his sword to swing himself off of the well and towards Zuko again, feet first this time. Zuko turned sideways out of the way, and Jet slid back on his feet when he landed.

There was a crowd now, this isn’t good. I thought the plan was to lay low. I looked back to them, they were back to back now, still somehow fighting each other, turning in either direction to clang swords together. I could tell Zuko was getting frustrated, he was grunting a lot more now.

Suddenly there was a part in the crowd, and two men with black robes and black hats walked through.

“Drop your weapons,” the first one said.

Oh great. They must be some kind of guards.

After a few more swings, Zuko and Jet separated.

“Arrest them, they’re firebenders!” Jet pointed at Zuko and Iroh.

“Don’t listen to him, he’s gone crazy!” I shouted back.

“This poor boy is confused. We’re just simple refugees,” Iroh added.

“This young man wrecked my tea shop and assaulted my employees!” Pao said from behind me, making me jump. I didn’t even realize he had followed us all the way down here.

It’s true sir, we saw the whole thing,” one of the guards from the tea shop said, “This crazy kid attacked the finest tea maker in the city.”

“Oh that’s very sweet,” Iroh laughed and blushed. What a humble old man.

“Come with us, son,” The two men in black robes walked up behind him on either side.

Jet swung his one sword at one of them, and the man caught it with his hand, and twisted his arm backwards behind his back, while the other man did the same. Somehow they restrained his hands there, they must be earthbenders.

“You don’t understand, they’re fire nation, you have to believe me!” Jet pleaded as they dragged him away.

Everyone slowly started to walk away, and as the crowd cleared, I saw Smellerbee and Longshot walk away with their heads down.

I walked up to Zuko, “Are you alright?”

He nodded silently, and walked to the guard, handing him back his sword. He then turned and walked in the direction of our place.

I looked over at Iroh, concerned. He nodded to me to go follow him, and he headed in the direction of the tea shop. I turned and walked quickly, trying to catch up with Zuko. I had just turned the corner on the street of our place, I saw him walk inside and leave the door open. He must have somehow known that I would have been right behind him. I walked in a shut the door behind me. I listen quietly, waiting to see if he was going to have any bursts. After a few moments of silence, I walked cautiously to our room, and leaned up against the door frame. I crossed my arms and looked at him, he was laying down on the bed, his arms spread in either direction, staring up at the ceiling.

I hesitated, not sure if I should say something or not.

“You are very patient,” Zuko’s raspy voice brought me out of my thoughts before I made a decision. “I like that about you.”

“What do you mean?” I shifted into the room to the right, still against the wall.

He sighed and sat up, looking at me, “Anyone else would have barged straight in, found me right away, and started jabbering at me with questions and whatever,” he stood, slowly coming over to me. “But you... you’re different. You’re patient. Waiting for the right moment, listening.” He was right in front of me now.

I swallowed, what is happening right now? “I, uh, I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not,” I tried to steady my voice.

It felt like my heart was about to beat out of my chest as Zuko took another step forward. I took a step back in nervousness, and my back thudded against the wall behind me. Zuko brought his hand up and softly slammed it onto the wall just above my shoulder. I turned my head to look at his arm, there was a small cut on his inner forearm. He must have seen my face change, because he grabbed my chin gently with his other hand and turned my head back to him, locking eyes with me.

He kept his hand on my chin and leaned in to my ear, “We’ll worry about that later.” His voice sent chills throughout my body. There was something different that I heard, a deeper tone laced with desire. Something that I had never heard come from him before. He pulled his head back to look into my eyes again. I studied his fire, and saw the same hunger in it that I did back at the abandoned town when he fought Azula. But this time, there was no one to interfere.

He brought his hand from my chin to my cheek, and his face grew closer and closer to mine. He opened his mouth, I could feel his breath on my lips. I couldn’t stop my eyes from flittering down to his lips, but quickly went back up. The amber was so strong and beautiful, drawing me in like a fire to a forest. He smirked, and inched closer, his nose grazed mine. His lips had just barely brushed up against mine when we heard the front door open. Zuko looked upwards, not moving. He must have realized who it was, because he then looked back at me and whispered, “This isn’t over.”

He then smirked at me again and released my face, pushing off of the wall with his other hand. He then walked out of the room.

I didn’t move, I still had my back against the wall, trying to process what had just happened. My stomach fluttered and my skin where he touched tingled at the absence of his skin. I took a few deep breaths and then pushed off of the wall. I shook off my goosebumps and followed him down the hall.

Iroh and Zuko were standing between the couch and the kitchen, and looked at me as I walked in. I looked down at the ground to avoid the gaze of Zuko, and sat down on one side of the couch.

“You got lucky, nephew,” Iroh continued, turning his attention back to Zuko. “It could have gone a lot worse than it did, you could have gotten arrested.”

“But I didn’t! If you always dwell on what could have happened and not what did happen, you will always be worried.” Zuko was already annoyed.

“You could have gotten more seriously hurt, Zuko,” I said quietly from the couch, not looking at them.

“You’re hurt? Where?” Iroh’s voice was instantly filled with concern.

I stood up and walked straight at Zuko, grabbing his arm before he had a chance to stop me. “It’s just a small cut. I can easily fix it.”

Without looking up at him, I brought a stream of water out of the flask and swirled it around his forearm. I could feel his gaze on me, watching. As I was healing his arm, I noticed something different, and with a quick glance to the side and down, I realized what it was. A bulge that isn’t normally there. My breath caught in my throat, was that because of me? I bit my lip to prevent a smile, and then looked to Iroh, “It’s gone now.”

I finally forced myself to look at Zuko, his eyes were curious, but I knew that if I looked deeper, I would be caught up again. His fire still had remnants of our encounter, a distant hunger, faint desire. He raised an eyebrow at me, and I realized I was still holding his arm. I quickly let go and cleared my throat.

“What is going on with you two? Did something happen while I was gone?” Iroh eyed us suspiciously.

“What do you mean what’s going on? There’s nothing going on,” I said, trying to play it cool.

Iroh raised his eyebrows at me and then gave Zuko a look.

“There’s nothing uncle,” Zuko backed me up.

“Mm, well we should get some rest.”

I nodded and retreated back to the room, trying to escape the curious eyes. Once I was back in the room I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was cut short by Zuko entering.

“You didn’t have to fix my arm,” he said behind me.

I turned to look at him, “A simple thank you would be nice,”

He took a step towards me, “Thank you.” He said softly.

I nodded to him and turned back around. I untied my tunic dress and slipped it off. I could feel Zuko’s eyes on me, but I ignored them.

“Is something wrong?”

I looked at him and sighed, “You don’t have to pretend you know.”

He stared at me, confused.

“You don’t have to pretend like you care about me, if you’re doing this because you feel bad about what happened.” I looked down at my hands.

“Mara,” he said gently, almost a whisper. He stepped up to me and placed a hand on my cheek. “I’m not pretending.”

I looked up at him, into his eyes. He seemed genuine, but it’s hard to believe that someone like him would want someone like me. “You’re used to palaces and fancy robes, servants doing your biding, people bowing down before you and not having to fight for what you want or need,” my eyes burned with tears threatening to spill, “I – I’m not like that. I’ve never had that before, and I don’t think others would accept me in that because of where I am from.”

A tear rolled down my cheek, and he brushed it away. “Don’t think of it like that, we are from different backgrounds, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have something together. Our differences do not shape the way that I think about you.”

I nodded to him, and he pulled me in. Our bodies collided, and a comforting warmth washed over me. I felt his strong arms wrap around me, melting away any doubt I had. I relaxed into his arms.

It was then that I decided, if he wanted to have something, if he wanted to be together, I’d be more than willing to be with him. We would be able to deal with whatever came our way.

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