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because i tend to idealize my subjects

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“I think,” Sokka nods his head solemnly, “that we should join the circus and blow things up.”

 

Zuko takes another sip of cactus juice and coughs it down before tapping his fingers against his chin. “I like things that go boom,” he settles on, and the bartender looks at them strangely before shuffling away. 

 

Sokka gestures toward a booth in the corner and they both slide into opposite ends of it. “I can’t wait till Suki gets here. I miss Suki. I like her a lot.”

 

Zuko lays his head on the table for a minute before lifting himself up and blinking the spots out of his eyes. “You,” he pronounces, “do not deserve Suki. Suki is way too cool for you. You’re not cool.”

 

His best friend pouts. “That’s mean. I’m cool,” he spills the bright green liquid on his shirt, Ba Sing Se university turning into Bing, and Zuko wants to laugh. “Okay, fine. I’m not as cool as Suki.”

 

“Who’s not as cool as me?” someone asks behind him, and a second later Suki is seated in the booth opposite of Zuko, her fingers twitching around Sokka’s glass, trying to pry it out of his fingers. “Let it go.”

 

Sokka just sticks out his neon tongue at her. “Make me—”

 

And she does, placing her mouth on top of his. Zuko stares dazedly at them—they look like they’re trying to eat each other. Is that cannibalism? “Don’t eat Sokka,” he tells Suki. “He probably doesn’t taste very good. He only eats meat.”

 

“I’m not trying to eat him,” Suki chuckles when she moves off her boyfriend’s lap and takes Zuko in. “What’s wrong with you?”

 

Zuko runs a hand through his hair, glancing over his scar, and drains the last of his cup. “Nothing is wrong with me. I am a perfect human specimen. Perfect. I’m not as cool as you, though,” he frowns. “You’re so cool, Suki.”

 

She sighs and drags the empty glass out of his hand before turning to Sokka, whose head is resting on her shoulder. “Did you get Zuko drunk?”

 

“No!”

 

“Is this cactus juice?”

 

“No,” Zuko says happily. “I’m drinking water. Very refreshing water. I am absolutely a perfect person and I’m drinking perfect water.”

 

“Oh, you two,” Suki groans as he faceplants into the bar’s wooden table again. It isn’t very comfortable against his face but it’s fine. “Oh, shit—thank the spirits you’re here.”

 

“Who’s here! People!” Zuko says happily, raising his head to take in a petite girl with two braids hanging down her front; she looks his age, her skin smooth and her features sharp, and he frowns because he doesn’t know her but he really wants to know her. She looks really pretty. He wants to get up and bow down in front of her and tell her that she’s pretty. So he gets out of his seat and does.

 

“You look really nice,” he murmurs on his knees, looking at the beautiful girl in the little blue dress in front of him. “You’re really pretty.”

 

The girl reaches down and tugs him back into his seat, sliding in beside him. That makes him happy because she’s choosing to sit next to him and he smiles widely as she frowns at Suki. He doesn’t want her to frown. “Is he drunk?”

 

He doesn’t hear what Suki says because he has another thing to say. “Do you like me? I like you.”

 

“What?” she knits her gorgeous brows together and bites her lip. He wants to kiss that. “Of course I like you, Zuko.”

 

“You know my name!”

 

“Of course I—”

 

“Do you want to go out with me? I promise that I’ll be a good boyfriend. I like making things go boom boom.”

 

“I . . .” she looks at him like she’s confused before her lips twitch. “Sorry, I have a boyfriend.”

 

“What?” He falls back into the stall and stares at her again. She has a nice voice and beautiful features and really, really nice eyes. And hair. And everything. She just looks really really nice. “But I want to date you.”

 

“I have a boyfriend,” she repeats, and he can’t stop tears from welling up in his eyes. One falls past his scar as he sniffles.

 

“But I want to be your boyfriend. That’s not fair.”

 

Suki looks confused from across the table, Sokka with his face, presumably, on her lap. “What—”

 

“Sorry,” the pretty girl interrupts, giving her friend a warning look. She reaches out a hand for him and thumbs away one of his tears, placing her finger on his lips. “You seem nice, though.”

 

“I really like you,” Zuko sniffles, falling into himself. “I want to be your boyfriend and marry you and other stuff. You might be cooler than Suki—”

 

“—Hey—”

 

  “—and you’re really really really pretty. I’ll be a better boyfriend to you, I promise.”

 

“Yeah?” she snickers. “Will you fight him?”

 

“I would fight every person that has ever existed ever in the entire universe ever for you,” he whispers solemnly, nodding his head, and she looks deeply into his eyes. “Please date me.”

 

She holds up the display for another minute before reaching over and hugging him, and that is not a good thing because she would be kissing him if she wanted to date him. “Zuko. You’re so adorable.”

 

“I am not adorable,” he huffs. “I can do lots of boom booms—”

 

“We’re going to join the circus,” Sokka interjects before starting to snore.

 

“I’m sure you can. But I have the best boyfriend in the world already.”

 

“I don’t think so,” he mumbles. “He doesn’t know how amazing you are.”

 

She leans in and bops him on the nose. “But it’s you, Sparky.”

 

He frowns at her and she reaches up and she—oh, she’s kissing him. This is real kissing. Not cannibalism. Oh. “Katara?”

 

Katara reaches up and presses her hand to his scar again. “I love you, boyfriend.”

 

“Oh,” he smiles widely, “that’s cool.”