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Zukaang Week Day One: Dragons

Okay, yeah, I'm super late with this one.  Everyone else seems to have their shit together.  BUT, it is 11:45 pm my time right now, so technically I am still on time.
I've been really frustrated with writing lately, I hope this is still enjoyable to read.  I did miss writing Zukaang, though, and I'm excited for the week!  Even if I only have a day to write each piece!So here is my lame contribution to day one of Zukaang week.

Word Count: ~1200
Rating: PG
Characters: Zuko/Aang
Summary: Aang thinks the Fire Nation needs some fun, so he and Zuko throw it a dragon festival.  Set shortly after the series.
 



Aang and Zuko's fists touched, and after a beat the crowd watching them broke out into applause.  The Avatar and the Firelord held the final move of the Dancing Dragon for a second more.  Then, as one, they dropped their hands and straightened.

Zuko could feel expectant eyes on him, and wondered again how Aang had managed to talk him into this festival- and, more importantly, into performing the Dancing Dragon.  Sure, there was plenty to celebrate, but did it really have to involve him dancing?  In front of people?  

But Aang was persistent, and hard to say no to.  Anyway, it couldn't be a bad thing for that ancient Firebending technique to gain popularity again.  If Zuko could, he would have brought Ran and Shaw themselves to be Firebending teachers-- the Fire Nation had a lot to learn from them.

But he couldn't bring two dragons here, so a dragon festival had to suffice.  

"Say something, Zuko," Aang said, "They're waiting for you to start the celebration."

"Oh."  Zuko cleared his throat awkwardly and raised his voice.  "So, thanks to the Avatar, the Dragon Festival is...today.  But I guess you knew that already."  He had no idea what to say.  Zuko wasn't very good at speeches.  A few faces in the crowd below stared at him quizzically.

"Anyway.  It wasn't just Aang here that wanted this day to happen.  I wanted my people to be able to learn about our roots, and take some time to appreciate who it was that taught us Firebending in the first place: the dragons.  After everything, I think they deserve one day of respect out of the year."  

Now even more people looked confused; was Zuko chiding them?  

Aang put a hand on Zuko's shoulder, silencing his waning speech, and stepped forward to save him.

"Fireworks at midnight!  Have fun, everybody!"  The Avatar waved and smiled, and the crowd dispersed to take part in various dragon-themed festivities.

"That was…good, Zuko," Aang said.  "It might not have been a good idea to remind everybody about the dragon extermination, though."  

"I thought that was the point!"


 First the dance, now that lame speech; he'd be lucky if he got any respect from the Fire Nation at this point.  Zuko was certainly no Ozai.   

The festival was actually something Zuko was proud of.  The decorations were a little extravagant, almost as if a dragon had exploded all over the royal city.  But everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and that was the most important thing.

"I'm glad we did this," Aang said, as if he had read Zuko's mind, while they stepped off the small platform that they had performed the Dancing Dragon on.  "The Fire Nation could really use some good, clean fun."  

"I guess," Zuko said.  "But what about tomorrow, when there isn't a festival to distract everyone?  I'll actually have to make some decisions."

"Don't worry about tomorrow," said Aang.  "There's a party going on!"  He grabbed Zuko's arm and pulled him towards a booth that was overflowing with brightly colored dragon masks.  Before Zuko could protest, Aang had chosen a glittering red mask and shoved it over the Firelord's head.  

Zuko knew he looked ridiculous by the way Aang was trying very hard to stifle his laughter, but he didn't take the mask off-- he would be able to enjoy the festival better if no one recognized him. Anonymity was more comfortable for him than being royalty was.

It made him feel a little better when Aang also chose a mask for himself: a blue one.  

"The Fire Nation sure loves their masks."  

"A festival isn't a festival without a collectible," Zuko said.

A little while later, Zuko’s theory was proven right: he glad to be wearing the mask.  No one looked twice at the two of them, so they were able to be a part of the festival just like everyone else.  

Zuko ate Fire Flakes.  Aang joined in a dragon parade.  They stopped to watch an unimpressive Firebending performance.  
"You should be the one Firebending up there," Aang whispered in Zuko's ear as the man on stage came dangerously close to lighting his beard on fire.  

"Wasn't my dancing bad enough?" Zuko replied, though he couldn't keep the smile out of his voice.


Though his disguise was helpful, after a few hours the mask started to get stuffy.  After passing by a group of kids running with sparklers, Zuko pulled Aang into a dark spot behind one of the booths.  Aang looked confused until Zuko pulled his mask off and revealed his flushed face.  

"Are you having fun?"  Aang asked.

The first response that came to Zuko's head was 'I never have fun'.  But he stopped himself, and realized that he was actually having a pretty good time, and not just because of the festival.  He felt light in a way he hadn't in years.  The war was over and he was with Aang.  Zuko had a whole century's worth of work facing him tomorrow, but for right now, that didn't matter.  He was freely enjoying the festival, and that was a blessing.

He couldn’t say any of this out loud.  All he said to Aang was a careful "Yeah."

"It's too bad the rest of the old group couldn't come," Aang went on, pushing his mask up onto his forehead.  "But I don't think Katara would have approved of us playing hooky."  

"Would you rather be at the South Pole?" Zuko asked.  "Things are a lot simpler there."

"Why would I want to be there when there's a festival going on here?  I had to stay and see how your decoration ideas turned out."  Aang laughed.  "And I had to make sure you didn't crash and burn as Firelord, Hotman."

Zuko snorted.  

"Thanks for the confidence." 

Aang really didn't have to stick around with him; he could have been anywhere in the world right now.  It struck Zuko then how much he appreciated the Avatar's company, not just for his spiritual advice, but because he kept Zuko from going down a dark path that would have been so easy to follow.  Aang stuck by his side like a friend- a best friend.

Aang went on, unaware of Zuko's thoughts.  

"You'll be a good leader, Zuko.  As long as you keep that upbeat attitude."  

Aang smiled up at him, and Zuko felt a surge of affection in his chest.  He gently cupped the Avatar's chin, leaned down, and stole a kiss.  It was a chaste, quick gesture, not one he wanted to deliberate on.  Zuko only wanted a way to tell Aang how much he meant to him, and he wasn't good with words.  

Aang looked understandably surprised when Zuko pulled away.  He pressed his thumb against his lip.

"What was that for?"  he asked.

Zuko could feel his face heating under Aang's super conscious stare, and couldn’t come up with an answer.  There he went again, screwing things up once the going was good.

"I'm sorry," Zuko said quickly.  "I don't know what happened."  

Aang's face fell just slightly.  "Oh.  That's... okay." 

"Forget I did anything," Zuko went on, trying to regain composure.  Hastily he replaced his mask, covering his blushing face.  "We should probably get back to the festival."  

Aang stared at Zuko's back as he walked back out into the street, his heart still pounding in his ears, planning the best way to get Zuko back for that kiss.    


Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
dracomaleficium
Mar. 19th, 2012 08:06 am (UTC)
Oh dear Lord.

What you need to know is that I was reading this with a :--D face the entire time, from the beginning to the very end. It was just -- JUST-- too cute! Absolutely adorable! I loved this idea of a festival right from the start and you went and made a right gem out of it! It doesn't show you're feeling rusty at all - quite the opposite. You have the voices down perfectly, I could really hear the both of them speaking in my head. And Zuko's awkwardness plus his laconic attitude... Oh Zuko, I could just hug you to death. You write a brilliant Zuko here. And Aang too.

D'awwww.

Now I'll just read it again, if you'll excuse me. You've totally made my day.
lepharus
Mar. 19th, 2012 01:16 pm (UTC)
Haha, thank you, I'm really glad you enjoyed it! For a while I was going to go with an angstier ending, but I think I'm glad I just stuck to something cute and kind of pointless, hahah.
akitamonster
Mar. 19th, 2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
Awww this was really cute. You should do some continuations of it if that's not what you're already planning, this would make for a cute start of a multi-part story.
lepharus
Mar. 19th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC)
Haha that wasn't really my intention, though I think it would be really cool to do a longer multi part story this week. I dunnooo I already have little ideas for the rest of the prompts, I'm not sure I could pull off more when everything is so last minute.
Thank you though!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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