Zuko is not that lucky.

Once a suitable place to land was found, the group launched into a flurry of movement, dragging Zuko along with them.

Blankets have to be re-divided while Toph bends herself a tent from the earth. Sokka and Suki pester Zuko for descriptions of edible plants and animals before running off to hunt and gather.

"If you use half the time to kiss better come back with twice the meat!" Toph yelled after them.

Zuko, having set up his pile of blankets between Sokka and Toph, looks towards Katara for direction. Absorbed in cleaning out the cooking pot for dinner, she misses his plaintive glance as the Avatar bounces up.

"Hey! Since camp is set up, should we do some firebending training?"

"That's- that's a good idea, Ava- Aang." He corrects himself when the airbender's face starts to screw up. He gestures towards a fallen tree at the edges of their camp. "Come."

"Shouldn't we go down to the beach? I don't want to light anything on fire by accident-"

"What kind of teacher do you think I am?" Zuko grabs onto his temper and the flaring sense of lost, shoving them both down and away. "You won't handle fire for a few lessons, yet."

"Oh." Quiet, Aang looks towards Katara.

Zuko sighs. "Look, just, sit, okay?"

He plops down himself, grateful when the airbender follows. "When I woke up, among the Sun Warriors, my body remembered firebending but my mind didn't, so they started me with the most basic of basics."

Zuko quickly pulls some leaves and twigs together in a pile on a dusty patch of ground. Satisfied with his make-shift kindling, he pinches a hint of flame into the leaves. When sure his control of the flame is secure - in that it won't grow past what he's given it - Zuko looks to Aang.

The young airbender is itching.

Of course. He's a firebender, too, and one who has been kept from his element. Zuko remembers that same itch, remembers reaching for his teacher's first flame.

So Zuko says the same thing.

"Put it out."


"You heard me. Take your firebending chi, or whatever, and put the fire out."

"That's basic firebending?"

Zuko nodded curtly. "Fire is different, Aang. Water is. Earth is. Air-" He gestured wildly about his head. "Air is. Fire? Consumes. It is energy; it is chi, or life, and when fire runs out of grass or wood benders can fuel it ourselves. That's why firebenders have to learn to put out fires. We can light candles again. We can even rebuild a house."

"But you can't bring a life back."

"You burned her, didn't you?"

Aang blanched. "It was an accident."

"I know. You didn't know to put fires out."

"And all he'd do was teach me to breathe! I know how to breathe!"

"Aang!" Zuko's worry cut through the airbender's brief outburst, but there is a brief smile on his face. "Relax. Clearly it's okay. She's still here, your friend. You learned. That's what mistakes are for, learning. Sometimes they leave scars, which sucks."

"What mistake did you make?"

It is Zuko's turn to blanch. "That's what I can't remember. But we're getting off track." He offers the small flame again. "Put it out, with firebending."

Aang's face contorts as he focuses on the flame.

Zuko feels the pressure of his chi, and he lets the fire flicker out and die under it. "Good." Aang is growing pale again, so Zuko makes a shooing motion. "Now go take a nap and soak up some sun. We covered a lot; we'll breathe tomorrow."

The Avatar bows, which Zuko wasn't expecting, but he leaves.

He waits a few minutes, seeing how the others chat and makes tweaks to the camp. No notices him, likely due to habit which he doesn't mind, so he sneaks off to the beach.

Now he's alone.

You're a big help.

He lets his armor drop and sinks to his knees. He digs his hands into the sand, leaving small bits of glass when he drags himself out to lie, face towards the sun, on the beach, sure he's a pitiful picture.

Pathetic as he is, he cannot help but glance towards the sun, closing his eyes against the light.

"Agni, who am I? Tell me! Am I not a loyal son? What did I do to deserve this curse?"

When, after several minutes, his plea is unanswered, Zuko rises, pulling sand along with him as the heat lingers in the grains, though not for long.

"Oh cool."

Zuko wheels to face Katara. "How long have you been there?"

"Not too long," she replies, easy, unconcerned. "I didn't know other benders could move things with their element. I thought it was just a water thing."


"The sand, you pulled it along with you as you pulled the excess heat into yourself." She twitches her fingers, and the grasses along the edge of the beach wave in time with her. "I was able to one-up a stodgy old teacher up North with this. Once I'd thrown enough water at him, I could make his parka move. He was not expecting that."

Zuko wants to laugh, but the energy just isn't there.

"That's the thing that I can't quite teach Aang. He might be too young to get it, but I think Toph has been listening.

"There are very real differences in the world, between peoples and cultures. But when you strip away the things that don't really matter, separation is an illusion. All of the elements are inside of us, and if you look deep enough, you can find your element hidden in others."

"Strip away things that don't matter? Of course they matter!"

"Zuko. You know what I meant."

He grumbled, turning away. "So what, are you Team Mom?"

She laughs, replying, "Oh no. Sokka's Team Dad, which makes me the aunt."

"Perhaps you trade off parental duties? Making one super parent when you're together?"

"Alright. That's it. You're going to bed, mister. Start talking crazy and it's time for a nap."

"Whatever you say, Team Mom."

Honestly, Zuko should not have been surprised that a wave just happened to surge up and knock him flat and wet after that comment.