Mai had been married to Zuko for four months now. It was all right. The duties of the Fire Lady were tedious, and life at the Fire Nation court had become no less boring, but it was better than Ba Sing Se. And she had Zuko, who was terribly eager to please her and charmingly bad at judging what would please her.
She was, she found, very nearly happy.
Zuko, however, just couldn't let things be.
They had been kissing in the middle of their bedroom when Zuko pulled away, looked her in the eye and said, "I think we should try something new." Someone else might have been able to make it sound seductive, but with Zuko, it just came out blunt and abrupt.
"But I like sex," Mai said, and paused to nibble along his jaw. "Sex is fun."
Zuko was turning red now; Mai thought it was rather charming how he still couldn't talk about sex without blushing.
"I just…think there could be more," he said. "I can always see you--" He waved his hand vaguely at her head and then buried it in his own hair. "Thinking."
"Thinking," Mai said, eyebrow raised.
"I want you to stop thinking," he said. "I mean, for a little bit. Because you're so…you know."
Maybe he had a point. Before the wedding, when she kissed Zuko and felt more alive than she ever had before, she had secretly hoped that sex would be overwhelming, something that would force her to let her guard down. Instead, it was…pleasant. Fun. Enjoyable. She did like sex, but it wasn't anything like Ty Lee had always said. Maybe there was something they were missing. "Okay," she said, reaching over to smooth down his hair and then take his hand. "We can try something new if you like."
He stared at her like he hadn't expected her to agree, and then took a deep breath. His hand was trembling a little in hers. "Do you trust me?" he asked.
"Sure," she said, mildly curious and a little surprised.
"Close your eyes, and don't open them until I tell you," he said, and when she did he kissed her again, cupping the back of her neck in his hands and stroking her jaw with his thumbs until she tilted her chin up. He'd become very good at kissing, she thought faintly, melting into him.
Then he was gone, and she heard him open a chest, and then some rustling, and a sound like something being tossed over a rafter.
The next thing she felt was his hands at her waist, untying her sash, and then sliding her robe off her shoulders. It slithered cool and smooth over her skin, raising the fine hairs on her arms and making her shiver with the beginnings of arousal, but Zuko didn't touch her breasts as she expected. He took her wrists, the skin of his palms rough and scarred from firebending accidents, and lifted her arms over her head.
This was very strange, Mai thought, seriously tempted to open her eyes, and she did open her eyes when she felt the texture of soft hemp rope around her wrists. Zuko had a look of intense concentration as he wrapped the rope around her wrists.
"What are you doing?"
Zuko frowned at her. "You opened your eyes."
"You're tying me to the ceiling!"
"It's something new," Zuko said.
She had to concede that one, although it was weird standing there so exposed with her arms over her head. She was pretty sure she could untie herself if she wanted to; Zuko was not a master of knot-tying.
Zuko moved behind her. "You are at my mercy," he said, sounding even more stilted and awkward than usual. He was silent for a long moment, and Mai twisted her head to look over her shoulder. Zuko was holding a book, his brow wrinkled in concentration. He cleared his throat. "Now you will serve, um, your master," he said, and added, "wench."
A strange feeling welled up in Mai's chest, warm and bubbling, and she found herself smirking, then giggling, and finally laughing out loud until tears came to her eyes, and her whole body shook against her bonds.
"I think it might be better if you don't talk," Mai said, when she stopped laughing and could breathe again.
"I'm sorry," Zuko said, bright red. "It seemed kind of stupid. This was a bad idea."
He stepped forward, moving to untie her, and she saw what was in his hand. He flushed, shoved it behind his back again, and then brought it out.
Mai raised an eyebrow. "Is that a riding crop?"
"Yeah," he muttered. "I wasn't going to--not if you didn't want--"
Of course Mai had heard of such things. Ty Lee was as open-minded about sex as she was about everything else, and she shared details of her adventures whether anyone wanted to hear them or not. To her surprise, Mai felt a little warm curl of anticipation, imagining it. "We can try it," she said, and her voice came out huskier than usual.
"Are you sure?" Zuko asked, holding the crop like he thought it might bite him.
Mai would have shrugged if her hands weren't bound over her head. "Yes, Zuko, I'm sure. Just stop talking."
The first strike across her ass was tentative, a faint and momentary sting, but she jumped a little anyway.
It did feel kind of good. Shocking. The curl of warmth spread through her stomach, between her thighs.
His next strike was firmer, more confident, leaving a stripe of stinging, tingling warmth in its wake, and Mai actually found herself sighing, of all things.
Soon she was swaying back to meet his strokes. She ached to be touched somewhere, anywhere, and when Zuko paused and ran his hand over her ass, she moaned with relief and the rush of more moisture between her legs. Zuko's mouth on the back of her neck was warm and wet, the sweep of his hand down her back fever-hot.
It was strange, but even though she was the one tied up, Mai felt more in control than she ever had before. "Untie me," she said.
Zuko froze, his mouth by her ear. "Is that a command?" he said, low.
He kept his head bowed as he untied her, but she could see his arousal in the tightness of his body and thrilled.
As soon as her wrists were free, she shoved him onto the bed and straddled his hips. He was hard inside his trousers, and she ground herself against him.
Zuko stared up at her, his good eye wide, but he didn't try to regain control, just reached up to cup her breasts. His skin felt warmer than usual, like he was close to firebending just a little. The thought made Mai shudder, and then cry out when he swept his hand down her back, a quick flash of fire in its wake. It didn't hurt, but her heart was pounding like a drum.
She tightened her thighs around him and raked her nails down his chest. He made a strangled cry, arching up hard against her. "Mai!"
She smiled and reached into her hair. Zuko went utterly still under her, his eyes fixed on her face. "Do you trust me?" she asked.
He nodded and swallowed hard.
Mai shoved back the desire to just rub herself against him. He felt glorious, skin soft and firebender-hot against hers, and the way he had his head tilted back, exposing the tender skin of his neck and jaw--
She leaned over and kissed him, and this time he melted into her, pliant and wanting. When she pressed the cold flat of her blade against his throat he froze, but she felt his cock twitch against her ass. She trailed the knife down his chest, careful to keep only the flat against his skin, although she wasn't sure he'd object if she didn't. Zuko's eyes were closed, his breathing rapid and shallow, like he wasn't sure whether to be terrified or aroused.
When she reached his trousers she started cutting, and Zuko made another strangled cry at that. She nicked his hip, and his eyes flew open, desperate. "Mai, please!"
Yes, he had been right. Something had been missing.
When she finally sheathed him inside her, he threw his head back, eyes closed, and groaned, his hands tightening painfully on her hips. It felt amazing, being in control, wet and aching and stretched like this but in control of the motion, of how deep and how fast. She rolled her hips and gasped at the new sensation, smiled at how Zuko's eyes rolled back in his head.
She grabbed his hands for balance, squeezing hard, and leaned back for a better angle, moving over him harder and faster. She no longer had the control to tease him. She felt like she was on fire, liquid, straining close to something, and then she was rippling around him, coming apart, and a moment later he tore his hands from hers and shoved them out to the side as he climaxed.
One of the wall hangings caught fire.
Afterwards, and after Zuko had walked unsteadily across the room to put out the smoldering hanging, she curled up against Zuko, resting her cheek on his chest.
"If we keep doing that I might spontaneously combust," he said after a while.
"You should work on your firebending control," Mai said. "So whose idea was this?"
"Ah," Zuko said. "Um."
Mai sat up and stared at him, narrowing her eyes. "Zuko…."
"June," he said, very quietly, avoiding her eyes.
"You asked June for sex advice?" Mai managed. She wasn't sure how she was supposed to react to that. It might be infuriating, or hilarious, once she got past the sheer weirdness of the idea.
"I wasn't going to ask Uncle Iroh!" Zuko said. "I've had enough of his unsolicited sex advice to last a lifetime. Besides June's kind of scary-sexy, and you're kind of scary-sexi…er, so I…I thought she might have some kind of insight into the needs of scary-sexy women."
He looked ready to duck for cover by this point, and Mai had to admit that there were worse things to be than scary-sexy. Especially since Zuko apparently liked scary-sexy. Besides, all her knives were out of reach. "Well, clearly I don't love you for your way with words," she said, and kissed him.
When they came up for air Zuko looked thoughtful. "Funny, she said something similar."
"The book was not a good idea," Mai said. "Although the rest of it was not boring."
"I don't know. It does has some interesting woodcuts."
"Maybe next time," she said, nestling into her pillow with her arm around Zuko's waist.
Being Fire Lady was actually pretty great, she thought as sated exhaustion claimed her.