[identity profile] shes-unreal.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] sparklefiction
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Characters: Shaozu (Zuko/Mai), Kaguya (Sokka/Yue)
Warnings: AU, possible drama, possibly dirty

Under the influence of Avatar Aang's boundless enthusiasm and Toph Bei Fong's hard-nosed business sense, not to mention a dose of inventiveness from Sokka of the Water Tribe, the Earth Rumble tournament had evolved from a second rate small-town event to a multi-national competition. Over the years it had become so large that it had to be moved from its original location to a wide, empty plateau. There, over the course of ten days, people gathered from every nation to form a temporary, highly-structured village, at the center of which was the arena where benders of all elements would compete.

That had been the idea, anyway. But there were, of course, no airbenders around to participate until the Avatar's children were skilled enough to take part. And though the Fire Nation posessed what seemed like a glut of benders for such a relatively small country, they weren't entirely welcome in the Earth Kingdom, and so there were very few who made the trip to take part in the event.

It wasn't every year that they had royalty come to watch the event, and after King Bumi wiped the floor with the competition several years after the tournament's inception, none had stepped up to participate. So it was especially exciting that not only had five firebenders come from the Fire Nation to demonstrate their skill -- the top five in their class at the Royal Academy, in fact -- but that the Fire Lord's eldest son was among them.

The impression that most people got from Shaozu immediately was that he was quiet and intense. He was not actually taking part in the competition, but had come to conduct a demonstration which included a rare event that most of the onlookers had never before seen; a full ceremonial Agni Kai. And while there were certainly many among the crowd who would have made the assumption that the other young men were letting Shaozu look good, anyone who knew more than a thing or two about bending could note his obvious skill. When he concluded the final demonstration by shooting a bolt of lightning into the sky, there were few who could deny it.

Girls alarmed their fathers (and some, their husbands) by waving and shouting and flinging scarves and handkerchiefs to the firebenders and the prince especially as they exited the arena, the young men still bare-chested from their dueling. One or two waved back, but Shaozu's gaze was fixed straight ahead, and he did not stop or look around until he had slipped back into the tent, his tent; his status allowed him at least this much privacy, if not a whole building constructed solely for him.

Shaozu splashed water onto his face and wiped the sweat from the back of his neck with a damp cloth. It had been dustier than he had thought it would be, and now his skin was covered in a gritty film.

He'd need to have someone prepare him a proper bath sometime that evening. Shaozu wasn't as fastidious as his mother, but he was not particularly fond of being dirty.
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