A/N: I did a Thing.
The Royal procession stays in town for exactly three days. There are five people in it, four guards and a kindly older man by the name of Iroh, the retired general who many of the gossiping older ladies in the village question why he is serving on the front rather than standing near the throne when they think nobody is listening.
He visits their home on the first day, sitting in to watch Sasuke teach the students who arrive for the day. The polite royal comments on the dousing of candles, instead of meditating with them.
Sasuke tells him there is no reason to meditate with something you cannot first control.
Iroh laughs and takes Sasuke for tea in the village once the soldiers pack off to their homes for the night. When he returns, Sasuke sits almost like in meditation on their porch, watching the sun, and then the stars once the sun has set.
When Agna wakes up, he is nowhere to be found, and his morning chores have all been completed.
She finds him later in the day, at the lake near the village, meditating once more, this time on the small pier they had taken him to long ago. He is still there once she is done with their laundry, and while she worries, she doesn't interrupt.
She does make him lunch and leaves it close to him.
She finds the dishes cleanly sitting on the counter to dry a few degrees later in the day.
When she sees him next, he is sat in his tree, and while she would have worried when he was younger, he had long hollowed a bowl-like shape in one of the trees beside their home, a little hideaway where he could be found if nowhere else was working. It was safe, thanks to the size, and it was one of the few places she could remember seeing him with his shoulders relaxed.
She wonders why, on quiet days, but knows that sometimes people just have things that they need to do or places they need to be to feel safe, so she doesn't ask.
The second day is one of the rest days Sasuke has decided for the soldiers to not train, and she wakes to find him meditating in the little, dusty circle they spar in.
Later in the day she pokes her head out, and he is training, moving in ways she hasn't seen, his moves are harsh, and she feels legitimate concern that he will throw his arms out. The concentration on his face makes her hesitate, and he has stopped before she can ask what's wrong, vanishing up into his tree.
The third day, she and both Kuzon's in her life are surprised when Sasuke makes the three of them tea, saying he has news.
He tells them that Iroh has come bearing ill tidings, but refuses to speak more of it, simply sips at his tea. Then he turns to them, individually...and thanks them.
He thanks the Captain for reminding him of hope he thought lost.
He thanks Kuzon for reminding him that the world does not end with loss.
She very suddenly feels faint and can hear the Kuzons' cups thud as they tip over, but doesn't hear their bodies hitting the floor. She understands why a moment later when she spills sideways, and Sasuke-her sweet baby boy, so hurt but so kind even if he struggled to show it-catches her, slowly lowering her body to the cool wood of their floor.
"Thank you for reminding me that love does not stop when you know someone is lying to you, and that love can transcend lives just as it can transcend bodies...mom."
It's the first time he's called her anything but mother. It clicks with her when she wakes up that he knew that she had figured out that he had reincarnated. It hurts when she realizes he figured out she knew and feared in silence that her love would falter because of it.
She never gets the chance to tell him how much he means to her.
Because she never sees him again.
Zuko wakes up one day, and he is going through lessons like normal, struggling to keep up with his Firebending practice, with thoughts of how Azula was already bending at three running through his head.
The next day, he arrives to practice after lessons and finds an older boy kneeling in front of a candle, his instructor nowhere in sight. Thinking, happily, that he might be training with someone else, Zuko cheerfully walks up, bowing politely and introducing himself.
He gets a quick 'Sasuke' in return, which throws him a little, but he gets over it pretty fast, sitting cross-legged next to the older boy.
"You're sitting wrong." Sasuke says after a moment, and Zuko blinks, because his eyes are closed how did he even- "Like me."
Sasuke is sitting in the uncomfortable seiza that Zuko has to use whenever he is at a meeting or dinner, so he hesitates a bit before matching the posture.
"Why are we kneeling like this?"
"We're going to start you with meditation, so that I may judge your potential."
Sasuke sighs very quietly.
"I normally start with a more...direct method, but you are too young for that. So meditate."
Zuko nods slowly, confused, but closes his eyes, letting his breathing slow down. It takes him a bit of time, but eventually, he has to have drifted into meditation because the next thing he remembers is jerking back to the moment as Sasuke snaps his fingers just in front of Zuko's nose.
"Not bad." The teen says eventually, nodding lightly. "You are better than you seem. I can work with this."
Zuko smiles hesitantly, standing when Sasuke does.
It's the start of an...interesting relationship, though Zuko must admit with a blush that he didn't realize Sasuke was his new teacher for a week, and only DOES realize because Azula had started joining their lessons.
Proud of her blue fire, but angry that Sasuke never bent against her no matter how good she got. Which was pretty good, since she was a prodigy. Zuko is so used to sleeping through the sounds of her frustrated screams as Sasuke weaves between her attacks without trying that he has little trouble adjusting to sleep aboard the ship.
The ship that has been home for three years, now.
The ship that might not be home much longer, because there is a beam in the sky and Zuko knows it is the Avatar and he can barely contain his emotions-
Zuko yelps, holding the back of his head and glaring at the unrepentant Sasuke who had just used his head as a bounce-board for a Pai-Sho tile, before using said tile for a new move against Uncle.
"What did I tell you about brooding?" Sasuke drawls, sipping the-surprisingly good-tea he makes whenever Uncle wakes up late.
'Late' being the operative word, because Sasuke likes waking up two degrees before Sunrise.
"I wasn't brooding!" Zuko rebuffs, rubbing his head a bit.
"And my hair is blonde." Sasuke returns as casually as stating the sky is blue, and Zuko has to shift his glare to Uncle for that snicker.
"I was just thinking."
"About how you're going to capture your 'nemesis' and restore your honor?" Sasuke glances at him without actually turning his head, "Right, definitely not brooding."
Zuko growls at that, but turns back to the bow, staring determinedly at the steadily growing horizon. It's starting to get misty, but he has no doubts that the village has seen them by now, even if they will soon be out of sight from the soon-to-be-fog roiling nearby, getting close faster than the white horizon.
"Hope is good, Prince Zuko, but expecting the Avatar to crawl out of a pillar of light we just happened to be in sight of is ridiculous, no timing is that perfect." Lieutenant Jee said from nearby, looking a bit nervous.
Sasuke snorts, much to Zuko's surprise.
"I think you'll find my Nephew to be of surprisingly good timing, Lieutenant." Iroh chuckles, amused in his weird old man way.
It turns out that Uncle and Sasuke were right to doubt the good Lieutenant. It IS the Avatar.
Zuko has just brought the boy aboard, and...is very confused, because Sasuke is staring at the boy like he's seeing his mother for the first time in years, and the Avatar is sitting next to him, rambling on about how much fun he had penguin sledding.
Zuko has seen Sasuke literally stab an uppity noble in the hand for rambling at the teacher for too long, claiming that the noble had reached for his hindquarters when Father demanded an explanation.
Zuko never heard from or about that noble again.
Yet here he sits with the Avatar, letting the boy talk his ear off with a face that is slightly softer than the only other expression Zuko has seen him bear.
Which isn't all too hard, admittedly, since he's only ever seen Sasuke's face looking as blank as unused, uncurled parchment.
The difference is slight, but Zuko has known Sasuke almost as long as he's known Azula, so he recognizes the minuscule shift around the edges of his eyes.
When the Avatar slips their ship, Sasuke doesn't interfere-Him and uncle just sit and enjoy tea, the older man watching them chase him around like a chicken-hare with its head cut off with gut-busting laughter-though he does stop any of the soldiers from going overboard.
Or, he assumes Sasuke is what stops it from happening, because Sasuke is moving to sit back down between one blink and the next, and while wet, the soldiers on the deck are all standing.
They pursue the Avatar, which of course goes sideways, because Zhao exists.
Sasuke...well Zuko still isn't sure what Sasuke did, but the end of Zuko's Agni Kai with the old admiral is...interesting, to say the least.
A/N: And You'll have to learn why next time. Eyyyyy~