Finding something while searching for something else.
Summary: "I'm pretty sure this is yours and, well, God, this is embarrassing but I think I may have fallen in love with the girl that this belongs to." Zuko admitted, glad that his red face was hidden behind a blue and white mask.
He waited for a reply, when…"ZUZU? Is that you? Oh, I love you too!"
Head bent low over his desk, Zuko read. He read in first period when he should've been listening to the (pointless) science lecture. He read in third period, eyes squinting as the rest of the class watched Disney's Tom and Huck. He read during free period while hundreds of other high school students buzzed noisily around him. He read during art–his favorite class–instead of finishing his not-even-started-yet portrait. Now what, may you ask, had Zuko Sozin so interested?
Easy; a diary.
Well, technically, it wasn't a diary, per say, but whatever it was had him simply captivated.
"Zuko, I swear to Allah, if you don't put down that book, I will rip it from your hands."
The boy rested a finger in his spot and looked up with a resigned sigh. Oh, goody, it was Sokka, the loud mouthed idiot. Just what he needed. Rolling his eyes, Zuko replied, "Really, Sokka, really? How long have you been sitting here?"
Sokka snarled. "Fifteen minutes, you fuck." He said, mock looking at a watch.
"Such a compulsive liar," Toph commented, sitting down at the cafeteria table with a slam of her lunch tray.
"Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off." Sokka smirked.
Zuko set the book all the way down. "Isn't that a Panic At The Disco song?" He asked.
Toph pulled her flask out of her Doxen's Jacket. "Sokka's too dumb to say that many words in one sentence all by himself." She answered while pouring a strongly smelling substance into her bottle of green Gatorade.
"Alcoholic." Sokka mumbled.
Toph smiled. "You're just jealous that I can drink and you can't."
"Hey," Zuko re-entered the conversation. "It's not Sokka's fault that he gets drug tested every time he breathes on campus."
Toph snorted and flicked her black bangs out of her eyes. "Oh, yes, poor baby's liver is probably squeaky clean." She commented before tossing back her spiked with rum Gatorade.
Sokka was the mayor's son, along with his sister Katara. Which probably was the reason for both kid's extra rebellion. Outside of school, he was either drunk or high as a kite, but as Zuko said, Sokka got drug tested as soon as he stumbled while walking. So Sokka was normally in a bad mood. Zuko never really saw Katara around, usually she was either smoking outback or sitting with the all-star soccer player, Aang Gyatso.
"Screw you guys." Sokka sneered.
Toph grinned. "With pleasure."
Toph Bei Fong was what you would call a school tease. Though everyone knew she was off limits. Most of the kids that didn't know her called her Toxic because she might as well be with all the liquor she consumed. Though there were rumors of her and a certain star soccer player by the name of Aang (Yes, Katara's friend) seeing each other after school…
"Now," Sokka rested his chin in the palm of his hand. "Pray tell what has had you so absorbed."
Zuko then began to go into deep detail about the journal/diary/song book and how he was just simply enamored with whoever the owner of it was and how he just had to find her because practically his whole existence was relying on it and his children's and his children's children's and–
"Oh my God, I'm bored already."
Toph punched Sokka in the arm, which he reacted to with a loud swear. "So, Zuzy," she started. "Care to read some of what's got your knickers in such a twist?"
Zuko glared, but opened the journal to where he last left off. He cleared his throat, and then began to read out loud.
Zuko looked up to find Sokka sleeping and Toph staring at him with an "Oh my God, are you stupid?" expression on her face. He blinked. "What?"
She stared. "You seriously have no idea who this belongs to?"
He cocked his head at her before sighing dreamily. "Only the love of my life."
"It's Mai's, you twat!"
He sat up abruptly, his clatter awaking Sokka with a snort. "No! No way! Not once did she ever write something so beautiful! It was all "skulls and bones and the color black". Not this…this…glistening narrative!"
"Woah, Zuzy," Toph smirked. "You gots it baaaad."
The bell rang after Toph's comment, almost as if in agreement.
Walking down the hallway at the end of the day, Zuko slung his book bag over his shoulder, mulling over the situation in his mind. Toph practically skipped to keep up with him, while Sokka dragged behind lazily. "If I "gots it baaaaad" as you say, then what am I supposed to do; stage interviews with girls it could possibly be?"
Toph grinned cheekily. "You took the words right out of my mouth." She began to walk backwards, yelling at Sokka. "Oi! We got shit to do! Hurry up! Wait, hey. Where's Kitty Kat?"
Sokka stepped through the front door of the building, smiling as sunshine reached his face. Still walking, he shoved a cigarette in his mouth before replying. "Says she forgot something, can't find something, fuck if I know. But I'm leaving without her. What's this shit about interviews?"
Zuko frowned. "You're just gonna leave her?"
That was the second time Zuko received the "Oh my Jesus, are you stupid?" look that day. "Duh. If you wanna wait on her hands and foot, be my guest, but I'm not her goddamned slave."
He hesitated. Should he keep going? Or wait for Katara? They used to be pretty good friends when they were younger. "Yo, Sparks! You coming?" Toph hollered across the parking lot, one leg in the passenger seat of Sokka's car. He shook his head no and made his way back into the High School of Hell.
"Hey," Zuko called tentatively inside the empty building. "Katara? Do you need a ride?" He turned a corner and there she was rummaging through her locker with an angry look on her face. "Katara?"
Interview one: Mai Sharp.
Z: So, um, Mai, is this yours? (lifts up diary/journal/song book)
S: Alrighty, then that's all we need! So let's just get the fucking show on the road and–
M: But I have seen it before.
Z: Okay, so whose is it?
M: I don't know.
Z: You don't know.
S: She said she doesn't know.
M: No, I don't know.
T: Why don't you know?
S: Yeah, why don't you know?
M: Because I don't.
Z: So you don't know?
Z: …So, you really don't know?
T: Geez, bitch, relax.
Z: Toph, don't.
M: Are you calling me a bitch? (eye twitches)
T: (stands up angrily) HELL YEAH I AM
Z: Guys, no! Sokka, we got to stop them!
S: Cat fight! Meow!
"So how was it with my sister yesterday?" Sokka asked, munching on a handful of cheetos. He paused. "Oh man, that sounded so fucking wrong."
Zuko blushed. "Fine."
It really was fine, he was actually wanting to spend more time with her, despite the fact that he still needed to find the girl of his dreams. They had talked and reminisced about the good old days. Zuko had found that he had missed talking to her. And he wanted to do it more often. Which was bad. Very bad. Katara was more off limits than even Toph was.
"So, Toph," he started, trying to change the subject. "You make up a list yet of people for me to interview?"
Said girl tossed back her water bottle of no-way-in-hell-is-that-water and handed him a sheet of paper. She grinned smugly. "It's not really in any particular order, but I figured "what the fuck" let's give these girls a whirl. I suspect you'll find your babe by the masquerade dance."
Zuko grinned. "Thanks, Champ."
"Don't mention it." She glowered at him.
"Welp," Sokka said with a mouthful of food. "Let's get fucking started.
"Indeed. Hey, what are we indeed-ing?"
"Katara? Hi! I mean, um, hi." Zuko stuttered, the tips of his ears starting to go red.
"Ew!" Sokka batted at her. "Go away, this is grown up time."
Toph rolled her eyes and grabbed Sokka by the sleeve of his shirt, tugging him away behind her.
"So," Katara started.
"So," he agreed. "Um, you been doing okay? I haven't really seen you around…recently. Well, yeah."
She looked down. "Sometimes I just like to be alone, you know?" She answered casually, fiddling with a lock of her chestnut hair.
Zuko nodded. He knew all too well what she meant. After his dad had disowned him and gave him a scar to match the one on the inside, he knew what it was like to want to be alone.
"But, now," she sighed. "I'm just…I'm glad we're friends again. It's nice to have someone to talk to after…you know."
Zuko was beginning to get the feeling that Katara didn't like elaborating on things. But he did know what she was talking about. Everyone knew about last year when the mayor's wife had been murdered during a mugging while Katara watched. She seemed okay now, after all the therapy, but there's some things you just can't fix.
"I do know, and I'm glad to be here for you." He gave her one of his rare-zuko-smiles.
Interview Two: On-ji Sparkles
Z: So, On-ji. Do you know what this interview is about?
T: Where the fuck did you get that idea from?
O: (points to Sokka)
S: (eats cupcake innocently)
T: Goddamn it.
Z: No. It is NOT about cupcakes.
O: Sadface. Is it about Aang?
Z: No. It is not about Aang.
T: Whatchu talkin' about my boy toy for?
Z: O-kay. Well, never mind. I need to know who the owner of this journal is. Please. Do you think you have ANY IDEA who it could belong to?
T: Come on…
S: OH MY GOD. SPIT IT THE FUCK OUT ALREADY.
O: (bursts into tears) I (sob) don't (sob) know (wail)
T: Great job, Hannibal. You scare children more than Santa.
Z: How is Santa scary?
S: (sinTophg) He see's you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake…How does that not scream rape?
O+Z: (stop and think thoughtfully)
Z: Hm. Well, that's beside the point. On-ji, do you think you could give me any kind of lead? It's really important.
O: Um, (sniff) I guess it could be, um…
S: Not this again
T: Shut up.
O: Maybe Smellerbee's? I saw her writing in something about a week ago. It seemed important too.
Z: Thanks On-ji. You've been a big help.
S: Kiss ass.
"You're so infuriating! I can't deal with you! You…you…you stupid, incompetent, conceited, little–"
"Don't interrupt. Where was I? Oh, right. JERK!"
"Thanks for the compliment! I'd say the same to you but you aren't worthy of my time!"
"Oh, you! Shut up! That wasn't what I meant and you know it!"
"Sure it wasn't! That's definitely the reason why you corrected yourself!"
"What are you talking about? I didn't correct myself!"
"My point exactly!"
"Uhm. I'd hate to interrupt your…whatever it is that you're doing, but I need to get home. Wrestling's on in less than an hour."
"Oh. Right. Sorry Toph."
"Yeah, yeah, sure, Sparks."
Then she came up close to Katara's ear and whispered,
"But you might want to practice your flirting. It's a little violent."
Toph had already skipped back to the car, but she grinned mischievously.
Interview three: Ty-lee Spears
Z: Ty-lee, where were you on the day of April 5th?
T: Oh, well, I was just–
S: Mind if I call you Spears?
Z: Ignore him.
T: –and that's pretty much it.
Z: So you weren't at the library at all?
T: What's a library?
S: Well this was a total waste of my time.
Z: Sokka, stay. Stay, Sokka.
T: Where's that girl you're always around? Trouble, uh, Poison, Bitch Face, Venom?
S+Z: It's Toph.
T: Right, where is she?
S: She doesn't like you–OW!
Z: Sokka, please, I am trying to have an interview.
S: She's not even asking any questions!
Z: That's because I'm the one holding the interview!
S: (crickets chirp)
Z: An-y-way, do you own a diary?
T: A diary? Like with a lock and key?
Z: More of a journal, really.
Z: What! What?
S: This is boorrinnngg.
T: Oh, nothing. So a diary, huh? You lose yours?
Z: Yes! I mean–no. What?
T: You lost your diary and you want it back. I completely understand. Though you might want to start calling it a journal. People might get the wrong idea about…you know.
Z: Know what?
T: (stage whisper) you being a homosexual.
Z: WHAT? I AM NOT GAY!
S: HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR (this goes on for a while)
T: Well then, what are you doing with a diary?
Z: It's not my diary, I'm trying to return it.
T: Oh. Good luck with that.
Z: Thank yo–
T: I've got to go steal some bending from babies! Tata!
S: Did she just…
Z: What is bending?
Toph: Ew! Tata? I can't stand her!
Z: When did you get here?
Toph: Just now.
S+Z: (bewildered looks)
Zuko discreetly pulled his phone out of his pocket, dragging the lock button, so he could see the text. It was from Katara.
He smiled before quickly typing back a reply.
See you then.
Interview Four: Smellerbee Finch
Z: So, Smellerbee, do you know–
SB: Longshot says if you say one more word to me, he'll gut you.
Z: Have a nice day!
It was strange. Zuko had never felt this way before. It was like indigestion, but…good indigestion. Every time he saw Katara, it was like someone set free a lion, or a tiger, or a bear (oh my!) loose inside his stomach. It was…infuriating. It was the same way he felt when he read the pages of The Diary.
It couldn't be…he didn't…like Katara did he?
Sure, she was pretty. Gorgeous, really, with her caramel skin and her chocolate brown hair. Her blue eyes really took the cake though. It was almost as if she looked inside his soul every time she glanced his way. Like now. Some douche bag teacher was talking to her, but she was most certainly ignoring him, choosing instead to look at Zuko. His heart may have melted a little bit.
No! Got to stay strong. Can't think about how beautiful she is…must think about diary! Katara….diary! Ugh! Zuko growled and marched over to her. Tapping the teacher angrily on the shoulder (really, it was just a tap, wasn't his fault the teacher was so frail), he asked, "Can I borrow her for a sec?"
The teacher looked surprised, before answering. "Oh yeah, for a bunch of secs."
Then Katara and Zuko were left to themselves. "Look," he told her angrily. "I would really appreciate it if you stopped using stupid blue eye magic voodoo on me. Okay? I can't afford to have my soul being peered at all day long! Yeesh!"
As he stormed away, Katara looked on, a confused expression on her face. Somewhere, Toph laughed manically.
Interview Five: Toph Bei Fong
Z: Toph Bei Fong, I'm sure you are awa–
T: Why the hell am I being interviewed? I'm not on the fucking list!
S: Because you're a suspect, now SHUT THE FUCK UP. BITCH.
T: Ugh, whatever. You know I didn't write your goddamned journal you're so obsessed with.
Z: But what if you did? What if you're the girl of my dreams? What if all this time–
T: Do you even hear yourself, Sparks?
Z: Yeah, you're right, this was dumb, so–
S: BITCH. YOU MAY ONLY SPEAK WHEN SPOKEN TO.
T: What the hell, snoozles? Don't think you can order me around!
Z: What are you doing now, Sok–
S: YOU WERE NOT SPOKEN TO!
T: Yes, I was, jack ass!
Z: Guys, let's just calm–
Z: Okay, if someone interrupts me ONE MORE TIME, I'm going to–
T: MAKE ME!
Z: (ninja flips out on everyone)
"Okay, okay, so not a big deal. Just say it. Just spit out Zuko. Don't be such a pussy. Say it. Say it!"
"OHMYGOD YOU LIKE KATARA?"
"GO AWAY TOPH!"
Interview Six: Yue Snow
Z: Yue Snow. Have you ever at one point in your life owned a diary?
Y: Je ne comprends pas.
S: What did she just call me?
Z: She didn't call you anything, you moron.
Y: Je ne parle pas anglais.
S: Oh no! That bitch definitely called me something!
T: Oh my God, you retard. She's speaking a different language.
Y: Etes-vous fou?
S: And to think I used to like you!
Z: Sokka, will you please shut up?
S: Why won't you tell her to shut up! She's the one who keeps calling me names!
Y: Qu'est-ce que tu racontes!
S: There she goes again!
T: I will shank you.
Y: Ces Américains sont hors de leurs esprits!
Z: Did she just say Americans?
S: I told you! I TOLD YOU! She's a terrorist! TERRORIST, I SAY!
Y: Je pars! (walks away)
S: We got to stop her before she bombs the whole fucking school! (chases after her)
T: Are you stopping him, or am I?
So what. He liked Katara. It wasn't as if he was cheating on the mystery girl. For all he knew Katara could be the mystery girl! Wait a minute, there was only one way to find out. Besides, you know asking her himself. That would be plan B. No, plan A would instead be to ask one of her friends! Or Sokka's girlfriend.
Interview Seven: Suki Kyoshi
Z: Suki, do you–
S: Why are you interviewing my girlfriend? It's not her. And even if it was you know I'd smash your fucking face in for even thinking about in any way–platonic or not.
T: Woah, dude, how do you know the word platonic?
Suki: I've taught him some things, you know, from time to tim–
T: Shut up, Mary Sue, I wasn't talking to you.
S: Don't tell my girlfriend to shut up!
T: I can do what I want!
Z: Guys, please, not again.
That night, Zuko was nervous beyond belief. He knew it. He knew who she was, even though he hadn't confirmed it with Suki. He couldn't believe that he hadn't seen it before! He was such an idiot for not noticing it earlier! God, if he would've only opened his eyes, he wouldn't have had to do all those stupid interviews. He was such a douche. Why, if he had a mirror right now, he would be giving himself his own variation of "Oh my Jesus, are you really that stupid?"
But there really wasn't time to think back on things that he couldn't change now. Might as well just suck it up and go out there. Go confront the love of his life. Zuko took a deep breath and stepped toward the entrance of the school building. It was decorated lavishly for the stupid dance and it just seemed so huge in that moment, that Zuko shrank back in fear.
Okay, maybe he wasn't doing this right. Maybe she didn't want to be confronted. Maybe she didn't like him. Maybe it wasn't her! No. That's stupid. It was her. Surely. Right? Now, having confused himself thoroughly, Zuko gave up and walked through the doors. Hmm. So far so good. Now all he had to do was find her….how the hell was he supposed to do that when everyone was wearing masks?
"Hey, Toph, have you seen Katara?"
Toph was currently involved in a dangerously serious game of poker, from which she didn't even look up from. "Silver mask. Silver dress."
He didn't wait for more of a description before heading off to find her in the large, overly crowded gymnasium. Crap, crap, crap. Where should he look first? Suddenly an idea popped up in his head and he rushed over to the food section. There she was. Standing in all her glory. He slowly walked towards her, his palms going sweaty and his heart beating faster than a million miles a minute.
"I'm pretty sure this is yours and, well, God, this is embarrassing but I think I may have fallen in love with the girl that this belongs to." Zuko admitted, glad that his red face was hidden behind a blue and white mask.
He waited for a reply, when…"Zuzu, honey? Is that you? Oh, I LOVE YOU TOO!"
Fucking Sokka. Only he would get drunk enough to want to cross dress at a high school dress. Where was Suki when you needed her? "Sokka!" He shouted. "Where the hell is your sister?"
Obviously drunk, he slurred and pointed a rubber arm in the direction of the girls' restrooms. "Overr, thurrr. Don't fuck 'er now, ya here?"
"Yeah, sure, whatever."
Normally, Zuko was not a peeping tom. And he still wasn't! Not really. Well, kind of. He just wanted to see if she was in there, and that was (honestly) the only reason he was peering into the bathroom, while still hiding the rest of his body. But that was her alright. Most definitely not her brother. She was wearing a long, blood-red dress with a slit up one leg. Red stripes covered her body, and on her forehead was half a crescent moon. Not a real mask, but it was close enough. Nervously, and before he could stop to think about it, Zuko cleared his throat.
Interview Eight: Katara Marina
Z: Um, Katara? Is this yours?
K: Hmm? (looks over at diary) Where did you get that?
Z: I didn't steal it, if that's what you're wondering. I found it.
K: Yes, it's mine. Now, I would like it back please.
"No, I've been running around this whole fucking week, searching for the owner of this…this…masterpiece, thinking that it was some beautiful stranger that I could sweep off her feet only to have it thrown in my face because No! No, it is not some princess I can just rescue from the castle! It's Katara! The most stubborn, hot-headed, easily angered girl I've ever met and fuck it all, I think I was in love with her even before I found this stupid journal and now you're here and I found you and I really, really, really feel like kissing you, but I can't. Because you're Katara. Damn it! God-fucking-damn–mpphhhmmmm."
Katara pulled back from him, her lips curling up into a small, secretive smile. "You're an idiot," she whispered, before pressing her mouth to his again. "But I think I love you, too."
"Hey, Toph, have you seen Zuko, I think he–OH MY GOD. PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON."
"Snoozles, mm, chillax, he's right over–Oh yes!–there."
"Ew. That was disgusting, I can't believe I–OH MY GOD. KATARA! PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON."