Life Happens Wherever You Are (Zuko x OC)

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Chapter 20

We gathered in Iroh’s new tea shop. I didn’t realize how much work had already been done. The tables and chairs were set up, there were lanterns hung, a green rug in the middle with lighter green dragons going down the sides of it, and there were a group of servers in matching green outfits.

The same outfits that Zuko and Iroh were now wearing. Iroh was wearing a hat though, and Zuko wasn’t. I was still wearing my new green dress, it seemed to fit right in with everything.

“It looks wonderful in here Iroh, I had no idea you had all of this set up already,” I said, taking it in.

“Thank you Mara, I am very proud of it,” he smiled at me, and then turned his attention to the group of servers, “Alright everyone! It is time to open our doors!”

Everyone cheered and opened the large double doors in the front, which revealed a line of people that had gathered outside.

We stood on the other side of the shop, facing the doors.

“Who thought when we came to this city as refugees, that I’d end up owning my own tea shop,” Iroh said as people got settled into their seats. “Follow your passion Zuko, and life will reward you. You too Mara.”

“Congratulations uncle,” Zuko smiled.

“I am very thankful.”

“You deserve it. The Jasmine Dragon will be the best tea shop in the city.” Zuko said enthusiastically.

I laughed lightly, “I think it already is.” I looked around; it was a fairly big building, but there were a lot of people in here already.

“I’m thankful because you decided to share this special day with me. It means more than you know.”

Zuko pulled Iroh into a hug, which surprised both me and him. He really has changed.

“Now,” Zuko stepped back, “Let’s make these people some tea.” He seemed excited, happy, all the things that I had never seen on him before.

Zuko walked off, and Iroh and I hesitated, shocked by what just happened. We exchanged a look, and then Iroh said, “Yes! Let’s make some tea,” and hurried off after Zuko, which made me laugh.

Zuko was right, things were looking up.

After everyone was gone we were cleaning up, Zuko was sweeping and I was gathering the rest of the dishes. A man walked in and handed Iroh a scroll, “A message from the royal palace,” the man said, and then walked out.

I perked up, watching him open it.

“I – I can’t believe it.”

I creased my brows and set the dishes down, and started walking over to him.

Zuko stopped sweeping and went over to him, “What is it uncle?”

“Great news!” Iroh shut the scrolled as I came up to them. “We’ve been invited to serve tea to the Earth King!”

“Wow that’s wonderful!” I exclaimed, and Iroh ran off further into the shop. I laughed and looked at Zuko, who was smiling. His hair was a bit rugged, but I liked the look on him.

Once we were done cleaning up, we went back to the apartment. Iroh was getting things ready for the next day where we would go see the king, and Zuko and I were in our room.

I looked over at him as he was taking off his robe. He sensed my gaze and we locked eyes. The amber was brighter than it had ever been, it was almost as if his fire was dancing. He smirked, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

I blushed, “You seem... different.”

“Different in a good way, or a bad way?”

“A good way,” I smiled.

“Well I feel, different.” He walked over to me and sat down on the bed next to where I was. I had already taken my dress off, but I felt comfortable with it now. Zuko was now only in pants, his bare chest shone in the light of the lantern.

I steadied my breath before responding, “Well you look the same to me.” My voice was quiet, not sure how he would respond.

Zuko smirked and shifted closer to me, his muscles rippling with every move. I swallowed, shifting my gaze from Zuko’s chest to his eyes. I allowed myself to get lost in the bright amber, finding his fire once again. It turned deeper, stronger, hungrier. But it was still different than before; there was less anger in it as well. I stayed there, taking refuge in his overwhelming presence. I took a breath, his aroma swirled around me, pulling me deeper. I felt myself lose my breath, just looking at him. His eyes shifted down slightly and lingered there for a moment before coming back up to mine.

“Have I told you how beautiful you are?” Zuko’s voice was deep and raspy.

I blushed but did not break eye contact. “No, I don’t believe you have.”

He smiled, “How about I show you instead?”

My heart raced. What does he mean by that? I didn’t say anything, watching him, waiting for what he was going to do next. Before I had time to react, his face was inches away from mine, I could feel his breath caressing my face. I wanted so badly to close the distance but... I wonder if I should? I still don’t know what to do about my feelings for him, I don’t want to get hurt again. But yet, I still feel as though –

My thoughts were cut short by Zuko suddenly closing the distance between us. His soft lips gently pushed into mine. It took me a moment to process what had just happened, but then I relaxed into it, returning the kiss. I expected him to release and move away, but he didn’t. Our mouths moved in sync, like waves crashing on the shore. He shifted, barely separating from me. He moved to his hands and knees, and then drew me back, further onto the bed. He was above me now, one of his legs between mine and the other on one side of me.

He placed his hands on the bed on either side of me, our lips still interlocked. We finally broke away, breathless. I felt like my heart was about to burst out of my chest as I swallowed and tried to catch my breath.

“What happened to those breathing techniques that are so important?” I teased, watching him.

He smirked, “It all goes away when I am with you.” His smirked turned into a smile, making me smile and giving me butterflies.

He stared down at me, as if he wasn’t sure whether or not to continue. I thought to wrap my arms around his neck and pull him in, but hesitated. Were we there yet? Everything is so complicated, it is difficult to make any sort of decision. I could feel a warmth washing over me, he always had a way of doing that. I looked into his eyes, searching them for any answer I could possibly find. I took a breath and noticed something different. His aroma, so intoxicating – I finally figured out what the third component was. Sandalwood, amber, and... the slightest, deepest hint of lavender.

Feeling his body on mine, his scent swirling around me, his eyes pulling me in; all of it was too much to handle. I started to lose my ability to think clearly, all I could manage was that I wanted him. I finally decided that I had nothing to lose. I quickly brought my arms up and wrapped them around his neck, pulling him down and closer to me. Our lips crashed together, moving as one. He went down on his elbows, our bare stomachs touched, sending waves of chills throughout my body.

Zuko pulled back, staring into my eyes once again. He brought his hand up to my face and cupped my cheek. I caught it between my face and my shoulder, holding it there. His thumb caressed my skin in the most gentlest way. This moment was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Zuko leaned down and softly kissed my exposed neck, lingering before pulling back. I could see in his eyes that he was struggling to control himself. I could feel him against my leg, making me become very aware of how I was feeling in this moment as well. I released his hand, which then traveled slowly, gently, down my neck, tracing my collarbones, stopping at my waist where his grip tightened.

My heart skipped a beat, noticing the look in his eye as he studied my body. I wasn’t completely exposed, I still had my chest wrapped and my cloth skirt on. It was almost as if he was enjoying imagining what was underneath. Were we ready for this? It is so hard to think with him so close to me.

He caressed my skin, sending waves of sparks and heat throughout my body. Goosebumps arose on my arms and legs, they were shivering for his touch. I brought my hand up to his chest, not hesitating this time. I trailed my fingers down the center of his chest, feeling his muscles as I went. I stopped my hand at the waist of his pants, lingering there before bringing my hand around to his back and moving back up. Zuko drew in a breath in response, gripping my waist tighter.

My mind raced, and my heart was filled with new hope for a future with him.

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