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Something to be gained

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With the wind in his hair, and a big grin on his face did Zuko, former Crown Prince of the fire nation, now known as Lee ride through the forest on his Khomodo-Rhino.

Four most since he had left his ship and his crew, four most since he had abandoned his title as Prince. Four months since he had become free. And he had never been happier.

And the one who had made it all possible now rode up beside him on her own Khomodo-Rhino, a smile on her own face. Which was quite something, because before they had become free those four months ago. Her smile had been just as rare. But now it was common on both of them.

Mai! Former noble lady. Now went by the name of April to those in public.

And together they were a couple of upstarting bounty hunters.

"We're catching up to them!" Zuko stated.

"Let's be fair. They never really had a chance." Mai remarked and Zuko grinned as he grabbed the dual dao blade on his back.

Mai glanced at Zuko. "Do you even know how badass it is that you don't even need fire bending to kick ass?"

"I enjoy it when you remind me." Zuko grinned at her. "Do you know how badass it is that you don't even need me to take down these guys?"

And Mai smirked in return. "Well… I enjoy it when you remind me," she said and they both leaned over to kiss.

Just as their target appeared, three guys were herding a large group of Ostrich horses.

Wide-eyed the men turned around to look at them and one gaped.

"Wait a second… Kids?" he asked. "We have been running like crazy because of two kids?" he asked.

Zuko smirked. "We were led to believe those Ostrich horses don't belong to you."

One of the guys huffed annoyed. "They are just kids. Let's take them out and get out of here."

Mai grinned. "Oh… I so hoped you would be saying that." and then she threw the first knife which hit its exact target. The shoulder of one of the men who shouted in surprise and dropped his sword.

Zuko leaped off his own Khomodo-Rhino and landed on an Ostrich horse. Kicking off its rider.

The last one roared as he jumped down himself and stomped on the ground, making a big boulder emerge. Only for Mai to dodge. Roll and throw a knife forcing the earth bender to block.

Only for Zuko to come from behind and kick him down on the ground.

Just in time for one of the others to come at Zuko and Mai threw a knife at him, hitting his leg and he screamed as he fell down.

A pare, a kick, a knife being thrown and all three big men were now on the ground groaning deeply while Mai and Zuko was standing right in front of each other. Grinning at each other.

Then Mai wrapped her arms around Zuko's neck as she beamed up at him. "I love you so much."

"Love you too." Zuko grinned and they both started to kiss just as one of the thieves on the ground groaned deeply.

"Are you serious?" The man asked. "Are you actually serious?! We were taken out by two lovesick kids."

Neither Zuko nor Mai seemed to hear them. They were just looking at each other looking beyond happy and in love.

Another one of the men on the ground groaned deeply. "Please kill me now. This is too much," he begged.

"We're never going to live this one down." The third one almost cried. "We're going to prison and we are going to be a laughing stock!"

Mai sighed deeply. "Guess we better tie them up," she said. "We gotta finish the job."

"Sure." Zuko grinned.

 


 

The earth kingdom soldier was gaping as Zuko and Mai rode into the garrison with all the Ostrich horses in tow and three thieves all tied up and laid across each their Ostrich horse.

Mai grinned as she leaned over her Khomodo-Rhino. "I believe that's fifteen gold pieces for the entire set. Five for each."

The earth kingdom soldier blinked then nodded as he gestured at one of the scribes to go fetch the paperwork.

Zuko himself jumped off his Khomodo-Rhino and headed towards the Ostrich-Horses as he started to look them over one by one until he gasped. "This is it! We found her!"

An earth Kingdom soldier blinked. "Pardon?"

"A gray spot on the neck!" Zuko beamed. "This Ostrich horse's name is Hai-Hai. She belongs to a farm half a day's travel away from here! I sort of promised the kid living there to get her back for him. Would you mind terribly if we take her back?"

"Sure." The earth kingdom soldier shrugged just as the scribe came with portraits of the wanted. Papers to sign that they had been handed over and a sack of gold that Mai was quick to snatch up and then counted all the coins before nodding satisfied.

The earth kingdom soldier looked at them then glanced at their steads. "You're riding… Khomodo-Rhinos." he observed. "Are you…" he looked up.

"Well… Just maybe we stole them from the fire nation." Mai smoothly explained.

Zuko couldn't help but smirk. Well, technically she wasn't lying at all.

"Ah I see. Makes sense." The earth kingdom soldier smiled. "You kids are quite talented. The earth kingdom army could use someone like you."

"Sorry. I don't think we would be very good at following orders." Mai replied and Zuko laughed.

 


 

In the afternoon Mai and Zuko neared the fame Zuko had spoken about. The Ostrich horse in tow calmly walking behind them.

Even before they got close to the house a little boy was screaming as he came running towards them with outstretched hands. "HAI-HAI!" he screamed completely ignoring Zuko and Mai and instead went directly for the Ostrich horse, embracing her long neck as he cried. "I missed you so muuuuch!" he cried with snot coming out of his nose.

Just then a very pregnant woman came out as she gasped. "I can't believe it. You actually found her."

Zuko beamed at the young mother. This was something that had been so awesome about his new life. He now got to help people. And the way people would be so happy when he did it. Zuko loved it.

"Thank you so much." The young mother gasped. "Jia has been looking after that Ostrich horse since the day she hatched. She truly is his… I'm afraid though. I… I can't really pay." she admitted. "I'm sorry I."

"It's alright we already got paid," Mai assured. "Though we wouldn't say no to a hot meal and a bed for the night."

And the young mother brightened up. "Of course! It would be a pleasure!" she said. "I was making Ox-horse stew! There will be more than enough for everyone!"

"That's awesome." Zuko beamed and Mai smiled.

 


 

That night. Zuko and Mai had beyond filled stomachs. Perhaps they had even been eating too much. Didn't matter. Food coma could be kind of nice when they were in it together.

And so they were laying on their backs in the big barn where beds made out hay had been made ready for them.

The two were just laying on their backs next to each other holding hands.

"I'm so glad I ran away with you." Zuko sighed deeply. "Best decision I ever made."

"And to think you said no at first." Mai grinned. "You could be circling the south pole right now instead of being here. Could you even imagine?"

Zuko shivered. "Yeaah. I think I had enough of snow, ice, and even more ice," he stated. "How does anyone even live there?"

"You thought the Avatar lived there." Mai reminded him.

Zuko rolled his eyes. "I get it. It was stupid. Can you let it go now?"

Mai smirked. "Well… You snapped out of it," she stated then turned to her side so she was looking at Zuko. A smirk on her lips. "Zuko," she whispered.

"yeah?" Zuko asked.

"Love you," Mai said.

Zuko smiled, a deep blush covering his face. "Love you too," he said.

And Mai sighed as she laid down on her back still holding Zuko's hand. Life was perfect. Nothing could ruin this!

 


 

The next morning Zuko and Mai were enjoying a bit of breakfast with the family from the farm before they would move on to the next city.

That was when a neighbor burst inside. "Have you heard it?! Heard the news? This is unbelievable! I can't believe it!"

The young mother looked up. "What is it?"

"All at once! All the spirit temples started to glow! All the monuments and shrines burst with spirit energy! It can only mean one thing."

At that Zuko looked up. Blinking confusedly. That sounded… Weird. What could that mean?

"THE AVATAR HAS RETURNED!" The young man shouted.

Zuko froze, his eyes widened. Mai froze as well and everyone was quiet. The entire room had just gone silent.

And then the silence was broken as Zuko dropped his spoon that fell down on the table in a clank.

Everyone turned to Zuko.

"The… The Avatar?" Zuko asked.

Mai swallowed. "Well, we don't know if it's actually the avatar."

"It must be!" The man shouted. "The bridge between the human and spirit world! That's why all the shrines that have been dormant for a hundred years are now acting up! They were all glowing!"

"But… The Avatar is." Zuko swallowed then he turned to Mai.

Mai turned her own head away.

"April." Zuko huffed.

Mai didn't reply. Ignoring her fake name… What else was she supposed to do? They couldn't exactly talk freely here.

However. Once they had ridden a decent distance away from the farm… It had to come.

"The… The Avatar." Zuko breathed. "You. You think he's really back?"

"I don't know Zuko." Mai pouted. "So a bunch of shrines and temples started to glow. That could mean anything."

"Could it really?" Zuko asked. "Glowing temples is not normal!"

"So what if he's back?" Mai asked. "Would you just throw away everything we fought for these months? For what?" she asked.

"Being allowed to go back to the fire nation?" Zuko suggested. "I still can't ever go back there! But… If I caught the Avatar. Then maybe the Firelord would also listen to me! The things I have learned, it could help people."

"And you think Fire Lord Ozai would listen to you?" Mai asked.

"If I caught the Avatar!" Zuko pointed out. "We're bounty hunters, aren't we? And the Avatar has to be the biggest bounty out there."

Mai quieted. She actually seemed to be thinking that one over.

"What is there to lose?" Zuko asked. "So the Avatar hid away at the pole for a hundred years leaving the world to rot. And now he's just strolling back into the world as if that's okay? He's an old crappy man who clearly never cared about the world. Just a coward so… If anyone is going to capture him. Why not us?" he asked. "Could you imagine if someone like General Zhao caught him and got all the glory for it?"

"Urgh I hate that man." Mai groaned.

Zuko looked at Mai and Mai sighed deeply.

"Fine," Mai said. "If we somehow manage to just stumble across the Avatar. I mean a bounty is a bounty," she said. "But don't let this take over alright? I know how you get when you're stubborn."

"Mai. Ever since we ran away together. I haven't been happier." Zuko assured. "And I know now that what the fire nation is doing is wrong. The fire nation is the aggressor. The earth kingdom is only defending. That's not honorable. Though… Maybe. If I could prove my worth. We could work to actually fix these things!" he said. "We could do… Something."

Mai sighed deeply as she closed her eyes. She knew Zuko had good intentions. He always had good intentions.

But Mai didn't feel too good about this. Their life had been so damn good! Why throw it away?