“I’m a firebender. I don’t have a lot of friends. And, um… I’m a pretty good liar, I guess?”
Torches that line the large room they have all to themselves frame Mai from behind. “You are so bad at this.”
“I know!” the prince laments, throwing his hands in the air.
Mai’s expression remains unaffected. “I wish I had a younger sibling. I can’t dance. I think about dying a lot.”
“You do think about death a lot,” Zuko recognizes immediately.
“So you’re not totally hopeless.”
“You’re really good at this, okay!” He frowns, and the furrow of his brow makes firelight of the palace room cast shadows over his eyes. “I don’t think you want a sibling.”
“I’ve had dance classes.”
Zuko groans; of course she did. They all have. “Okay, okay.” He huffs, hands on his knees, cross-legged across from each other on the circular rug. “Sometimes I get really scared of becoming Fire Lord. I’m… I know I can do anything, I put my mind to. I’ve never kissed a girl.”
“You’ve kissed a girl before.”
His whole face lights up: eyes and smile. “Nope!”
Zuko’s so proud to have finally fooled her, he misses when she leans in. It’s less than a second, her mouth puckered tightly against his soft lips. His eyes are open wide, and hers scrunched shut. Mai stands up; he’s still too shocked to move.
“Now you have,” she says, and goes to look for Azula.
Breathing exercises are so much harder with his heart pounding.