• Summery: You're awesome at a certain Chinese board game. The same one, in fact, that Iroh loves. So when you wind up on Zhao's ship threw a mystical portal you can only see one way out of Zhaos evil grasp, and that's getting invited onto prince Zuko's ship. Hopefully youll be able to keep out of trouble on it; then again, maybe not You X Zuko

    Chapter 4: First Glance
    You awoke in the morning almost a week later to a loud crack of thunder. Sitting up you felt the hairs on the back of your neck go up. You loved thunderstorms but you hated being startled a wake by loud noises. You guess that could be a sort of oxymoron. You looked down at your bandaged arm that no longer was held in a sling but merely bandaged. Grinning like mad you remembered that today would be your last day with bandages. Miguel said that today he would check on your arm and if it had healed enough you could take the bandaging off. Not only did that mean you’d be able to itch your covered elbow and back again but you could do something besides lugging that stupid bucket around, you where starting to think that that job was giving you permanent back damage.

    Careful not to roll onto your arm you leaned you head over the side to see that Yumi was still asleep. The storm had not woken her. It was a good thing as it was both yours and Yumi’s day off. Every week, you had learned, there would be a posting in the ‘lounge’ area. That posting listed all the workers and they’re work schedule as well as they’re days off. You also found out that Marisole (Mari-sole), Miguel’s twin sister (though not identical) was the one that made out these schedules. That was why Miguel had been the one to assign you work for your first week. Whenever something happened to a crewmember or a new crewmember came aboard Miguel would assign them their work until her could best evaluate where you would be most useful. Though this wasn’t in the caption’s or General’s knowledge Marisol trusted his brother and it helped her because she had other responsibilities and wasn’t able to keep proper track of changes in the crew. For this you where thankful, they where the only two who had any kind of power on the ship that had the least bit sense of right and wrong, unlike the general or a few other ‘higher ups’ that you had had the chance to meet. You felt very happy with your self, you had been able to survive out at sea and work enough to keep most people off your back. Back home you had done chores but never really any extreme labor because when you needed money you had worked at the store down the street for an older gentleman that ran it. *1

    You had learned the basic layout of the ship and also most of the do’s and don’ts. Like how the kitchen was on the main deck down the hall from the door leading out of your room and avoid both the captain and the general as much as possible. Also that if you didn’t get up right a way like Yumi told you, you wouldn’t get anymore food until around noon. Your workday started just before dawn. Sighing you where prepared to go back to bed when a loud knock echoed through your room. Lightning flashed out side your porthole window as Yumi mumbled a gruff,

    “Come in.” In came one of the many soldiers inhabiting the ship. You didn’t particularly like them all that well as they didn’t do anything besides patrol the ship and treat you like a common servant, which you had to admit, you kinda where, but that was beside the point.

    “Everyone is to report to the top deck, Captains orders.” Came the filtered voice through the soldier’s mask. You quirked an eyebrow; normally Soldiers on the ship didn’t where they’re masks. You must be in enemy waters, another thing you had learned over the course of your stay here.

    “Nnn, why?” Yumi grumbled, almost wining.

    “I take it you haven’t noticed the storm waging out side your window.” The soldier informed her blankly.

    “Huh?” There was a creek from under you and you assumed Yumi had turned to peer out the porthole for a moment later she uttered a short ‘oh’.

    “I also advise you to put you hair up in buns or braids because the wind is at a very high velocity.” Informed the soldier in a matter-of-factly tone.
    ‘Well at least he’s not being an a**.’ You thought deciding his monotone voice was better than a sneer.

    “Yea, thanks.” Yumi said as she climbed out of bed, shivering slightly in her brown shorts and red spaghetti strap shirt. You looked down at your choice of pajamas, a red tank top and a pair of black sweat pants. You silently thanked your over dressing of the formally hot weather from the day before as the temperature had dropped at least 10 to 20 degrees over night.

    Nodding, the soldier left, shutting the door behind him. You pulled the cover from you and straitened your pajamas out as you swung your legs over the side of the bunk bed. Yumi had already headed for the bathroom, grumbling something about how she should get to sleep no matter what the weather. You chuckled and hopped down onto the thinly carpeted floor. It was red, just as the rest of the rooms that had carpet in them. On the wall near the door was a large fire nation wall hanging; next to it was a poster of a man you didn’t recognize who was fire bending. Under it said Fire Bending Championship 2001 in bold, cursive lettering.
    In the corner next to the posters were the two beds you and Yumi had been in only moments before. The beds where made with a metal framing that had been nailed to the floor. The mattresses where pretty thin but still very comfortable in your opinion. Your blankets where also thin and where a lighter red than the carpeting, the pillows where white similar to the mattresses.
    A dresser with four compartments was next to the bathroom door that stood directly across from the beds. The top two where yours to keep all your clean uniforms in as well as your old clothing that you had safely hidden a way; the bottom where Yumi’s. On top of it was a red woven cloth that was soft to the touch but thin enough to cover the top and not be in the way of the top door.
    Next to the Metal dresser was a medium sized wooden chest. It seemed at home despite being the only wooden thing there. You had never looked in it, as it was Yumi’s. You would have to remember to ask Yumi about it some day if the subject ever came up.
    ‘Seeing as I get the feeling I’m not getting off this ship anytime soon.’ You silently thought heaving a sigh as Yumi came out of the bathroom. Her long brown hair was tied into a ponytail and then braided and tied. She wore her normal work outfit with one altercation. The sleeves where longer and the shorts had turned into long black pants. You sighed too tired to ask where she had gotten the new attire and changed into your regular ones, surely it couldn’t have been that cold, after all the weather always was unusually warm, even when it had rained before, true it hadn’t been this bad and only people on their normal schedules had worked but seriously, how bad could it be? Brushing your hair out you sighed in frustration as a few shorter strands escaped the hair trap. Rolling you E.C. eye’s you walked out into the room. Yumi was bouncing on the balls of her feet now, obviously much more a wake now. Noticing your clothing she looked at you questioningly then sweat dropped.
    “Oh yea, I keep forgetting you weren’t here at the start of the voyage, you’ll have to borrow some of my long sleeves.” Yumi said already staring for her droors.
    “No that’s okay Yumi; it’s always warm around here, even when it rains.” You protested. You already felt guilty for having to take some of her extra clothes. Yumi rolled her eyes knowing exactly what your line of thinking was.
    “Trust me; you don’t want to take your chances. Once we get out there they won’t let you come back to change; now here, if we hurry we’ll be able to grab something from Miguel before we go up without getting caught.” Yumi said thrusting some pants and a shirt at you. Grabbing it before it hit your face you sighed, already knowing there was no point in argument. Moving into the bathroom you quickly changed clothes and walked back out now hopefully prepared to face the nasty weather raging out side the ship. Hurrying along the corridor you and Yumi where indeed able to snatch some muffins from Miguel in the hall that all the workers ate; stuffing it into your mouth you and Yumi walked down the now familiar corridor that lead to the outer part of the ship. Opening the door both of you where nearly flown backwards by the sudden gust of wind the howled out side. The sheets of rain where cold and felt like needles as it pierced your skin, ignoring all of this you and Yumi both pushed against it and made your way onto the deck. Gripping onto the slippery rails you managed to keep from falling over as the boat tossed and turned violently. You hadn’t noticed how bad the storm was so much back in the room as you both had gotten ready, it didn’t help that the storm was getting steadily worse.
    Finally spotting the front of the ship you and Yumi managed to go over to the 2nd in command.
    ‘Of course the general isn’t here,’ you thought sarcastically. ‘He wouldn’t want to get that perfect head of his wet.’
    “What’s up sir? What are we needed for?” Yumi asked in a yell, her facial expression of before and her annoyance of having to get up, had completely vanished. You realize two things right then, that one, everyone who wasn’t working was indeed needed, other wise the ship might sink and two, the wind was so strong and loud in your ears that yelling was the only way to get someone to hear you.
    “You go up top on the sails and help secure them, bring more rope while you’re at it; they keep snapping, and don’t forget your life line!” He shouted after Yumi as she moved swiftly towards the mast. You had only a moment to worry for her safety as next he began yelling out orders to you.
    “You, go help Kimi secure those lines!” you noticed that he had used her name where as Yumi and yours had been absent. Hesitating a moment you frowned at him.
    “GO!” He snarled causing you to almost stumble backwards in reply.
    “And don’t forget that life line!” He yelled after you as you found a free life line that was attached to the ship and tied it around your waist, triple knotting it.
    “Need help?” You asked Kimi with a smile as she looked up at you worriedly.
    “Here,” You replied even though she had said nothing as you took hold of the same rope and began tugging it along with her over to the peg that was suppose to keep it steady. In your mind you kept thinking comically ‘Heave, Ho, Heave, Ho!’ each time you pulled almost making you laugh.

    Time dragged on but you didn’t have any of it to spare in order to notice this fact as every time you accomplished a goal someone else had some order to give you, the only thing that gave it away was the climate, as it steadily became impossibly colder when night began to set in. You never saw the sun as the storm didn’t let up and the clouds where thick and dark with rain. Finally the rain began to let up and the thunder and lightning ceased. Finally the sea too began to calm itself, ignoring the winds still strong gusts.

    You sighed as the adrenaline started to drain and began to be replaced by the exhaustion that had been lying in wait.

    ‘It doesn’t help that we haven’t had a single break or a bit of food.’ You thought sweat dropping as your stomach issued a rather large growl.

    “Wow, nearly nine hours that storm lasted!” You heard a man mutter as he walked past you.

    “Yea I know; I can’t believe the general made us sail through that.” Another grumbled.

    “I heard it was so he could get to port faster.” Growled another man beside the first.

    “Yea, someone told him that he would be a coward to go around, his pride will kill us all one day.” The first grumbled.

    “Shhh.” The second hushed noticing your curious eyes.

    “Hey!” Yumi’s voice called from behind you. Ignoring the men’s glares you turned with a smile to meet Yumi’s waving form.

    “So, how’d you do?” She asked as she made it up to you and you both began walking back to the down stairs.

    “Fine, I was so busy I had no time to mouth off to authority.” You said sarcastically, Yumi and you both had and inside joke about that. Yumi said you where the first person to mouth off to the general and there for she surmised you where a smart a** just like her. This, to your relief, only made you better friends.

    A few minutes later, you both had to wait because you weren’t allowed to leave until given the order; a higher up on the ship commanded you all to gather.

    “Okay, the good news is, we have successfully made it through another storm, congratulations.” There was a loud roar of approval from the crowd as you all cheered.

    “However,” This caused the cheering to die but a smile was still planted on most of everyone’s faces.

    “There is bad news as well. While we where indeed able to stay a float there where some damages that had been sustained to our ship. Thus forth, we will be making port as soon as possible. We are in no immediate danger so do not worry, we will be there by noon tomorrow. You may now return to your bunks to change and to the lunch room to eat, anyone who is assigned to work now report back in a half an hour, all of you originally stationed here when the storm began will stay here until the new shift arrives.” With this the crowd gave an instant mix of groans and relieved sighs. Yumi was among the one who groaned, she was assigned to work outside for the rest of the night while you where assigned kitchen duty again, though you where sure Miguel was going to keep you safely out of the generals sight.

    The day passed without much more happenings; you spilled tea on yourself a couple of times but managed to keep others out of your clumsy accidents. Tired and sore you trudged back to the bow of the ship. You almost didn’t bother with it since you where sure the clouds from the storm still lingered in the sky covering up your desired targets. However, as you made it to the surface you where glade you had come up. The cool night air seemed to revive you as a smile curved onto your lips. As you looked up you saw that your suspicions had been right, clouds still lingered in the sky, making it darker on the ship than normal.

    You walked over to the ships bow and leaned against it, ignoring how the railing was still covered in the ice-cold rainwater; you had heard some of the men and women complaining about the lingering mist of rain that still plagued the ship. Looking up as your hope began to diminish you saw it, a single bright light that was able to peak through the clouds. You really should hurry and make your wish, in fact you really should have had no reason to hesitate in the wish you had been planning to make since you had messed it up the last time, but as you gazed at the small star that tried to shine despite the clouds that covered everywhere else you did just that, you hesitated.

    Did you really want to go home? You didn’t belong here in this world after all, among fire benders, generals, and a place where the avatar existed outside T.V. Just the same, you had managed to survive here, make a couple of friends, done back breaking work, survived (though not unscathed) an agnikai against a powerful fire bender, and there was something more. A lingering hope that maybe, just maybe, you should stay here a bit longer. Finally, just before it was covered you wished,

    “I wish I could help Yumi and the avatar end this war.” You said this in your head, making sure to keep this a secret, no need to instigate. The clouds engulfed the star before you looked up again, hiding it from your view as you turned and walked back to your bunker. Making a quick scan of the front of the ship you where unable to spot Yumi; sighing you guessed she had already made her way back to bed.

    You had been right about Yumi making it back as you spotted the lump under the covers when you entered. You both had the day off tomorrow, and you where completely whipped. Climbing wearily into the top bunk you ignored your minds protest to no shower of fresh clothing. You body relaxed and you swore you fell a sleep before your head hit the pillow.

    Morning came without fail and the bright light awoke you with confusion. The amazing contrast to the dreary and slightly chaotic morning yesterday was amazing. Soon though you realized it was not the current light shinning in you face that had awaken you. A loud cough issued from below almost making cringed at its harshness. Rolling over and leaning over the side you saw an upside down, very flushed Yumi.

    “Yumi!” You said in alarm. Climbing down swiftly you approached Yumi, she had not awakened in the least from your outburst, and this only gave you more concern.
    “Yumi, Yumi can you hear me?” You asked as you placed a hand on her forehead only to pull it away hastily. Her skin was as hot as the skin under your bandages felt when Miguel cleaned them; hot, burning hot.
    You could only think of one thing to do, swiftly turning, and with your hair in a mess and still wearing your wrinkled uniform from yesterday you raced down the halls. On the way to your destination you nearly ran into several workers, including the 2nd in command who yelled angrily after you. Soon you where able to slide into the kitchen nearly sliding into a near by table filled with pancake batter and flour. Regaining your balance you noticed the cooking staffs bewildered and slightly shocked faces. Looking to the once nearest you, you yelled the question that was frantically going through your mind.
    “Where is Miguel?!” The startled worker merely stared at you with an owl eyed expression.
    “Where is Miguel, I need to talk to him right now!” You demanded of the worker. You didn’t know much about colds or how to know when one needed more urgent attention than another but by the feel of Yumi’s forehead she was running a temp of more than 104 degrees. That you did know was dangerous.
    “H…he’s still in his room; he was given the day off so he could go into port when we docked.” The worker finally managed to stumble out of his stupor to give you an answer.
    “Where is his room?” You continued your interrogation to the poor young man as he scrambled for a response.
    “Ah, out the door, turn left, down the hall, turn right on the first hall and it’s the 5th door to your left.” He said, still in a semi daze.
    You immediately did a 180 and ran out the door and followed his directions, almost skidding past the specified hall. Finally you impatiently counted the doors till you reached his. Pounding on the door you didn’t care if you nearly gave him a heart attack.
    “Miguel! Miguel, wake up!” You shouted. You where just about to go on another round of pounding when Miguel threw open the door.
    “What in the hell-” He cursed glaring out until he lowered his gaze to you. Immediately he picked up on your expression.
    “What’s wrong?” He asked sternly.
    “It’s Yumi, she won’t wake up and she’s pale and when I touched her forehead it felt like I was going to burn my hand!” You said in a rush, he nodded and hurried back into his room. A moment later he reappeared in his normal clothing and had a bag with him. Neither of you wasted time as you both headed back to yours and Yumi’s room.

    You waited outside the room impatiently as Miguel checked Yumi over. Finally after what seemed an eternity Miguel emerged from the said room. You looked at him worriedly and he gave you a reassuring smile.
    “Wow, you really gave me a bit of a freight when you came pounding on my door earlier but I’ve check Yumi over and she should be fine by tomorrow.” Miguel said as you gave a sigh of relief.
    “Jeeze, when I felt her head it really scared me, I thought for sure it must have been high enough to kill her.” You muttered to yourself as Miguel laughed a little.
    “Don’t worry about that, all fire benders and most people from the fire nation all run a temp slightly higher than normal when they’re sick.” Miguel explained making you sigh in complete exasperation.
    “She most likely got this from a mixture of over excretion and from being in that cold rain all day and not taking a shower after words.” He said smiling kindly down at you. You returned this.
    “Anyways, back to business. It’s good that you both have the day off, when we dock I want you to go into town and get this medicine that I’ve written down and give it to her once every 4 hours and make sure she drinks lots of water when ever she wakes up. After about a day she’ll be well enough to work. The only thing that should be left will be the sniffles and a slight cough. I put another medicine down for those.” He said pointing each medicine and its purpose. You suddenly remembered you former question from your half conscious state when the general had delivered his cheap shot at you.
    “Hey Miguel were you a doctor before you started cooking?” Your question was a quiet one; you hoped it was not a touchy subject. He hesitated, his smile faltering as he took his hand from the sheet of paper after you had taken hold of it.
    “I was… in another time, another life. I was a doctor set on the front lines.” He said quietly, you noticed his fist had tightened, as if the memories you saw swimming in his eyes hurt him badly.
    “I was very good at it, fixing people up and then sending them back onto the front lines, declaring them ready for battle. However, there is only so much me, a fire bender can do…” He said it almost as if he wished he where another type of bender, which you didn’t know.
    “I saw so many die under my hands, I began to have nightmares. One in particular stands out in my mind…Oh my here I am making solemn talk when you should be attending to Yumi.” His solemn look and the memories in his eyes vanished from your line of sight as he became the Miguel you felt you had known your whole life.
    “Now, until we reach port, which should be in about an hour or so…” You swore you heard him mutter ‘well there goes my extra sleep’ but you couldn’t be sure because he continued on quickly,
    “Keep a wet rag on Yumi’s head you know where the cold water pump is right?” He asked and you merely rolled your eyes, how could you forget?
    “Well, one bucket should last you, try to switch it about every 10 minutes or so, take two rags so the other can soak in the cold water while the first is on her forehead.” Miguel instructed and with that you bid each other goodbye and he walked back to his quarters and you walked down to where the buckets where stored, fully intending to follow his instructions.
    -Wow… he really saved peoples lives? Cool!
    -Meh, if he’s so great then why’d he quite?
    -Who would want to save lives man, beating people ups so much funner!
    -… (Me: You really have no comment? But I just gave you insight on Miguel’s past… *Pouts*)
    You did follow his instructions until the ship docked, placing another cold rag on Yumi’s head you where relieved to find that her fever had gone down a bit. Silently biding her farewell for now you immediately set off into the nearby town to buy the medicine; although originally it was suppose to be shoes, they could wait. You would be here a couple more days so you could buy them then. Finally making it to the shop after definitely getting lost a couple of times and having to ask directions you managed to make it to the medicine house where you successfully bought the medicines Miguel had told you too. (You got the money from your first pay check on the ship, and yes they do pay you.)
    You swiftly made your way back to the ship, jogging the whole time even as you passed some familiar faces from the ship. Making it back to the ship you ended up giving Yumi her medicine and putting another cold rag on her head. Her initial reaction, even in her unconscious state made you almost fall over laughing. Making a face she gagged and muttered, “Yuk, medicine sucks.” in her sleep.
    The rest of the day went by uneventfully as you gave Yumi her medicine and kept a cold rag on her forehead. She didn’t awaken until dinner time.
    “Nnn, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.” She murmured, her speech slightly slurred from drowsiness.
    “Yumi you’re awake!” You exclaimed in relief. She gave you a slightly confused look.
    “You’ve been out with a cold and high fever all day. Miguel said it was from exhaustion and from being in the cold rain all day. He told me what medicine to get you and I’ve been giving you some every 4 hours and have been keeping a rag on your head.” You explained but you couldn’t keep the grin off your face.
    “Really… Jeeze no wonder my head feels so heavy!” She exclaimed holding it in her hand as if to steady it.
    “Here, Miguel said you should drink some water.” You said handing her some in a ladle.
    “Thanks, my mouth feels like cotton…” She began drinking only to start violently coughing from the sudden rush of liquid down her dry throat.
    You rushed over and patted her on the back in a motherly way.
    “Jeeze, you’re acting like a worried mother.” She joked weakly as you took the ladle and set it back in the water (which was separate from the water you had used to wet the rags for her forehead). Your laughter joined hers momentarily until it slowly died and she lay back down onto her mattress.
    “How long did Miguel say it would last?” She muttered, already drifting off to sleep.
    “Until tomorrow, then you’ll only have the sniffles and a light cough.” You replied smiling as you slowly began drifting off into sleep, your worry receding and exhaustion taking its place. You only had one more dose to give to her until the bottle was empty. Doing so she grimaced making you chuckle quietly. You shed your two day old clothing and took a quick shower and changed into fresh pajamas and climbed into bed. Once again you were exhausted from the day’s events.
    ‘Never a dull moment in this world…’ You thought as you fell into solid sleep.
    You awoke the next morning with a groan; you were assigned to kitchen duty today again. You wished you had been assigned on the deck; clearly there wasn’t much work to be done there today as you had docked ahead of schedule and where no longer at sea. You sighed and looked down at Yumi, her cheeks where now bright with color but you still had heard her coughing from time to time. Crawling down you nudged her awake as she groaned just as you had.
    “5 more minutes… just 5 more minutes…” You pleaded as you rolled your eyes and began nudging her again until she slowly opened her eyes.
    “Ug, I don’t wanna work today.” She groaned as you chuckled at her and then moved to brush out your hair in front of the mirror.
    “I don’t wanna either but it’s time to get up, if you don’t you won’t have any breakfast.” You said nudging her a couple more times until she grumbled and began to slowly arise from the depths of her tangled covers. With that you hurriedly got into the shower, letter the hot water rinse away the sleep and knots in your muscles.
    You dress quickly, brushing your hair while Yumi also took a quick shower. The work day went by quickly, you stopped your work once in a while to check on Yumi but it was just as Miguel had said, all she seemed to have was a stuffy nose and a slight cough. Dinner rolled by quickly and again your work day seemed uneventful. Bidding a still slightly miserable Yumi goodbye with a little worry you headed off with the little money you had left. Hopefully shoes where no where near as expensive here as at home. Walking in a hurried manor from the docks to the town you where able to find the shoes shop. Bidding a still slightly miserable Yumi a slightly worried goodbye you began walking hurriedly towards the village. You where suppose to be back by night fall which was when dinner was served. Miguel had originally put both you and Yumi as kitchen staff, this you pondered about since Miguel was obviously aware of your clumsiness in the kitchen. Since it was the first half of preparing most of the food that took about 3 hour you cooked you could only hope it was less busy then the second half when the serving began. As you walking into the shoe shop, momentarily stopping to catch your breath you realize another question that should have arose in your mind earlier. Since Yumi was still slightly sick would Miguel still make her work around the food?
    You had no more time to ponder this simple question as one of the annoying sales people was now upon you with her overly large smile that creeped you out more than made you want to buy stuff. Never the less you needed shoes; your current pair that was given standard to all staff on the ship had been most definitely cheap and had worn out pretty quickly. Then upon remembering your new job that essentially had been the death of your shoes you remembered that today was the day you could take your bandages off, well tonight was more precise, you didn’t need to take them off only to spill hot tea on it and immediately put it back into the white bandages again. Finally escaping the wrath of the sales lady you manage to look around, however most shoes are out of the small price range that you had been left with after you had bought Yumi’s medicine. The ones within you price range where all cheap, brightly colored, or just plain strange looking. You where about to give up and simply let your feet suffer until the next port or town when you spotted them, a pair of plain yet comfortable looking black shoes. They didn’t have anything to them, no laces or anything.
    ‘They must be slip on’s…’ You thought to your self. Reaching for them you noticed the small tag near the bottom.
    Standard Black Fighting Shoes
    Great for ALL types of fighting and bending
    5 flame copper*
    You looked down at you hand that held the small change purse you had found in the bag that had been next to you when Yumi found you. You knew in the bag was about 7 flame copper coins. It would seem you’d found your self a pair of shoes.
    You whistled happily as you walked in your new shoes. Dusk was fast approaching but you had more time than you thought. This only made your mood brighter. However, this all paled in comparison to the voice you heard as you approached the last corner on the trail to the docks.
    “So tell me Prince Zuko, what did that to your ship?”
    -Oh no Zhao! Run!!! (Me: But Zuko’s with him…) So? I know this is a bad idea, I’ll see Zuko again…right?
    -Now’s my chance, my arm is healed and I have brand new fighting shoes, time to take my revenge!
    -I’ll kick both their – (Me: Why Zuko?) Because he’s there! (Me: -_-u)
    -… (Me: Nice to hear your opinion on this…)
    Well, that’s al for now. Man, I was so tempted to post this at, at least 3 different junctions, however, I promised you all Zuko’s appearance by this chapter and I did it…sort of… heh heh ^^u Hope you all liked it. ^^