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Disclaimer: Zuko, Mai and Azula are not mine

This is my first time writing an Avatar: The Last Airbender fiction. This is a gift fic for a friend of mine. I have watched a couple of the episodes in Book Three and I really like the Maiko pairing. They look so cute and perfect for each other -is bombarded with tomatoes from Zutara fans-

Okay, okay Plus, I got more inspired by a video I saw on youtube. It used the song I used here and is entitled Think of Me sung by Mark Schultz and Rachel Lampa. The characters are a bit OOC and I had no idea for a title but I managed to string together the whole thing.

One more thing, Mai is Zuko's sort of a bodyguard. Zuko is Zuko and Azula is being herself

Anyways, enjoy

On Solid Ground

A Maiko Fanfiction

Packing my bags this morning was the hardest thing to do

She did her best to destroy that killer. She fought to the very last of her strength, hoping that she did her job well or at least bought them some time. She did not anticipate the skill of this killer to increase from their last battle; maybe she has underestimated her opponent too much.

A very fatal flaw she committed.

Her hands were shaking as held on to half a dozen throwing knives. She walked slowly; her vision blurring every passing second.

Just then, the weapons she held seemed heavier than they should be. She let them slip through her hands and heard them crash down the marbled floor.

But packing my bags was so easy compared to standing outside your door

Her side hurts like hell. It hurts as if a spear of fire was pierced through it. Actually, it was pierced with a spear of fire, of blue fire.

She brought her hand to her side and felt her blood warm against her already cold fingers.

Raising her hand, she saw the color of her downfall.

Red

Blood Red

Warm blood

Warm, just like his flames

She stopped walking and pressed her hand against a familiar door. The wood was then smeared with her own blood. She was getting dizzy but she managed to land a knock on the door.

She closed his eyes, waiting for the door to open.

Right now to say goodbye to you

She was on the verge of fainting when she heard the door open. She opened her eyes and looked at the person in front of her now.

Confused golden eyes looked back at her and tears threatened at fall from those eyes she knew very well. Warm, gentle hands aid her as she stood on her tired feet.

"Mai!"

She smiled weakly and called out the name of his savior, "Zuko"

Think of me

I know you've never seen me cry

Think of me

But it's so hard to say goodbye

"Mai, you're hurt! You did this to you?" Zuko asked, anger rising in his voice. He held her in his arms and took him inside his room, laying her gently on his bed. He saw her wounded side and hastily tried to keep it from bleeding more but it was no use, for the wound struck far too deep.

"Who did this to you? Is it?"

He stopped speaking when Mai placed a finger on his lips. She shook her head and whispered, "I tried my best, Prince Zuko I'm sorry I failed you"

Zuko took her hand in his and said, "Don't say that Mai, please, hold on. I'll get some help."

Mai squeezed his hand reassuringly yet weakly. Shaking her head, she answered, "There is no need to call anyone. I'm done for anyway"

She closed her eyes and for the first time, Zuko saw tears fall down from Mai's eyes down to her cheeks.

Think of me

What can I say to show you

"Don't say that. Guards! Guards! Call the palace doctors! Guards! I need help!" Zuko shouted, his voice growing weaker at each call.

No one came to the prince's call.

"She killed them all. All of them, the guards, the soldiers, all of them She's become too powerful for us to stop." Mai whispered.

"I cannot stop her, Zuko."

I'll never give up on you

I will be waiting for you

Zuko gritted his teeth in anger and tears brimmed on his closed lids. He hugged Mai and was visibly shaking from anger and helplessness.

"Mai, please Don't give up. You'll get better. We'll get someone to heal you. Please Just don't die."

I will be there when you call

I will see you through it all

And even in your darkest hour

I pray that the Lord we found

Will set you on solid ground

Zuko heard faint screaming from the outside of his room. He unsheathed one of his Dao swords, readying himself for whatever comes.

He was stopped by Mai, who stood up weakly from the bed. She was wobbling slightly, clutching her side. She took out her throwing knives and stilettos and gestured Zuko to stand back.

"Mai What are you doing? Rest now, I can handle this. You're hurt."

"I am your loyal protector and I won't let anyone hurt you. I have this responsibility to protect you, the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, with my life. I will do everything in my will and strength just to keep you alive, even if it cost me my own life." Mai declared firmly in a flat voice.

I know that it feels like leaving is a part of letting go

Zuko went in front of Mai and held her arms saying, "To hell with this! I don't want you to die, you got that?"

Mai winced in his hold, which caused him to loosen his grip on her. Mai steeled herself and broke away from his hands. Mai looked at him and asked angrily, "And what do you want me to do? Just let you off and face that psychopath alone? You want to get yourself killed?"

He kept silent as she continued, "I wouldn't let that happen, Zuko! Not while I am still standing here in front of you!"

"So you'll just throw away your life just like that?" he asked.

"I'm not throwing it away, you know that! I'll die fighting just to protect you!" Mai replied.

Zuko threw his Dao sword aside and shouted, "And after you die, what about me? Haven't you thought of how I will feel after you died?"

But I'm praying with hope and believing that I'll see you once again down this road

Mai turned her head away.

"You'll find another girl, Zuko. Someone better" she said as she bowed her head, hiding her eyes under her bangs.

"I don't want another girl, Mai!"

Mai soon found herself enclosed in Zuko's warm embrace. He was shaking and she felt warm tears spill down the fabric on her shoulder. Her hands automatically rose and returned the hug. More tears flowed down her eyes as she heard Zuko continue his sentence.

I hope that it won't be long

"I want you, Mai. No one else I love you."

Mai buried her face into his chest, letting it all out on his warm chest. She was in pain and she was tired but she kept her head up. In his arms, she felt she could just give in to sweet abandon and stay like that with him. She said softly, "And I love you, Zuko"

Think of me

I know God brought you as a friend

He was hugging her tight; dismissing from his thoughts that this might be the last time he will hold her like this.

Zuko knew he cannot bear to lose this woman in front of him. This woman was the little girl that he threw quick glances at when she passed by. He was aware she was looking too, and this made his heart soar.

This was the little girl he fell on top on when he tried to put out the fire on the apple that was placed upon her head. Getting wet in the fountain was no problem for him, as long as she was unharmed.

Think of me

I know he'll bring you back again

He watched her grow from a little girl into a fine young lady who is quiet and reserved yet skilled in combat. She seemed distant and cold to other people but she was different when she was with him. He remembered those quiet moments of walking side by side, eating the fruit tarts topped with rose petals she loved so much and those picnics during the sunset.

He admired her as she admired him until their infatuation soon developed into love. He felt complete when he was with her. He would always wonder how it feels to kiss her, to finally express his love for her, but he did not dare to go that far.

Zuko got separated from her so many times but she was always there, patiently waiting for him, believing that they will be together again.

Think of me

What can I say to show you

I'll never give up on you

I will be waiting for you

He wished for a miracle to happen that time. He was wishing that this never happened. Zuko closed his eyes and hugged Mai, hoping that this was just a bad dream and they will wake up soon, with Mai safe in his arms, not wounded and out of death's grasp.

Zuko really hoped to the heavens that all these were not real. His emotions were roiling inside him, his chest felt like it was going to explode.

He looked at Mai, who was breathing more raggedly every passing minute but still trying to stand, despite of her dwindling strength. She opened her eyes and lifted her hand to his cheek. She ran her hand lovingly on the left side of his face, feeling the scar he had ever since the time he battled his father.

Their faces were only a few inches apart and they could feel each other's warm breath on their lips.

I will be there when you call

I will see you through it all

The door flew open and blue flames streaked across the room like an arrow. Zuko steered both Mai and himself away from the deadly shot. They fell back on the floor and looked at the intruder at the doorway.

"Well, well If it isn't the two lovebirds finally in each other's warm embrace It sickens me to see you both. It's a miracle you're still alive, Mai, after I wounded you with that last shot."

"Azula" Zuko growled.

And even in your darkest hour

I pray that the Lord we found

Will set you on solid ground

Azula was stripped of her glory as the princess of the Fire Nation. She was imprisoned but she managed to escape and stride to the palace to kill her brother.

Her brown hair was let down and a mess of tangles, her clothes torn and dirty, her skin was pale, wounded and bruised, but her golden eyes burned with much anger and hatred towards Zuko. She killed everyone that stood in her way, without giving a second thought.

She smiled that infamous roguish smile of hers and aimed for Zuko. Bright blue flames blasted out of the former princess' pointer and middle fingertips and were heading straight for him.

Drops of blood plopped on the floor. Mai went in between the line of fire and her left shoulder was hit, her skin burned and her shoulder muscles exposed to open air. Mai winced as she felt more blood flow down her arm. Zuko could only stare in shock.

Azula's gritted her teeth and shouted, "Stand aside, Mai!"

"No"

Zuko gripped her arm but she pushed him away. Mai looked at him and then, in a blink of an eye, six fletched stilettos flew towards Azula. The former princess had little time to dodge them all, one of them ripping through her forearm and one neatly scratching her cheek.

Think of me

I know you've never seen me cry

She cried out in anger to them. Mai was no longer a friend but another target to eliminate. She threw fire at Zuko and Mai, who avoided her blows with ease. Zuko was able to go near Azula and engage in hand-to-hand combat while Mai threw her weapons at her.

Despite being outnumbered, Azula dealt with them both, blocking Zuko's hits with her own and leaning away from Mai's deadly weapons. She caught one of Mai's throwing stars and threw it back at her, pinning the weapons master's sleeve to the nearby wall.

She smirked and faced Zuko who roared as he battled her. Fire ignited from their hands and feet and they both seemed equal.

"I knew I should've killed you before, Zuzu! You're a just a stubborn thorn on my side!"

Zuko answered back, "And let your power-crazed self destroy everything? I would have to stop you"

Think of me

But it's so hard to say goodbye

Mai pulled and ripped her sleeve free from the throwing star. She charged at Azula, holding poisoned needles in her hand. She threw one needle and it struck the other girl's arm, which drooped lifelessly to the side.

Azula turned her attention to Mai. She was really fuming now. The princess kicked Zuko on the stomach which sent him flying off meters away and charged at Mai.

Mai was not a bender and clearly getting weaker but she tried her best to counter Azula's fiery attacks. Using her skill, she landed clean hacks on her former friend. She was quite pleased with herself and said, "Give up, Azula"

"Give up?" Azula laughed and pointed her fingers at the girl's chest.

Think of me

What can I say to show you

Mai had no time to react. She felt the princess' bolt rip through her chest and pierce her all the way to her back. All she can recall was the sudden flash of blue lightning that came from Azula's fingertips, Zuko shouting out her name and the sound of a sword being drawn.

She slowly fell backward, her usually kept hair coming off in its style and flowing around her like a black veil. Mai tasted blood in her mouth.

She lost

Mai let the tears pool in her eyes as she dropped to the floor in a soft thump.

I'll never give up on you

I will be waiting for you

"MAI!" Zuko shouted. He drew his Dao sword and ran towards her sister. She laughed maniacally as she blocked his hits on her. His anger clouded his fighting and what was worse, he was aware of it but he cannot control his anger.

"Are you angry, Zuko? Angry because I killed your girlfriend?" Azula jokingly asked. She hit him across the face, sending him sprawled across the floor and stopping near Mai.

His tears were now flowing freely and Azula laughed more, "You really are a baby You're weak, Zuko. You'll never reach my level. I am superior"

He looked at her sister and calmed himself within. He secretly took one of Mai's knives and said, "I think you're just too full of yourself, Azula You'll never win"

"I have already won, Zuzu Mai's dead and you're just seconds away from joining her."

I will be there when you call

I will see you through it all

Her hand became charged with electricity and pointed it at her brother. She smiled and fired her signature move.

Zuko, however remained motionless until the last second. He absorbed the lightning with his fingers and returned the shot at her. The bolt hit her squarely on the chest and she got thrown back.

He charged during this moment and plunged Mai's knife into her stomach.

"I'm sorry, Azula" Zuko whispered to her before she exhaled her last breath.

and even in your darkest hour

I pray that the Lord we found

With Azula dead, Zuko rushed to Mai's side and checked up on her. He cradled the girl in his arms and called her name over and over, "Mai Mai Please, wake up"

"Please, Mai Open your eyes" Zuko begged, carefully shaking her.

I will be there when you call

Gold met silver when Zuko saw Mai open her tired eyes once more. She coughed out painfully and whispered, "I'm still here"

He ran his fingers through her soft silky hair and said, "It's over We need to get you to a healer"

Mai opened her robe slightly and showed the serious injury she had and said, "I'm tired, Zuko"

Zuko cried and hugged her close, knowing that she was slipping away gradually. She turned his head towards hers, wiped away his tears and said, "Please, don't"

I will see you through it all

"Mai I just I don't know" Zuko was at a loss for words so Mai silenced him with her finger.

Mai smiled at him and said, "You talk too much Zuko."

The heavy feeling in his chest suddenly faded when their lips finally met in a kiss. It was a kiss where all bottled emotions were poured out, all the passion one feels for the other was let out and the love they felt for each other was reciprocated.

And even in your darkest hour

They broke off minutes later, breathless from the kiss. Zuko looked at Mai for one last time and said, "I love you, Mai"

"I love you too, Zuko"

He caressed her cheek and whispered, "Don't leave me I want to be with you"

"I won't ever leave you Maybe, I can be reborn and we can fall in love all over again"

Zuko kissed her lips again and Mai said before she closed her eyes forever, "I love you"

She was gone and she left with a smile on her face.

Zuko cried silently as he held Mai's body close to his.

I pray that the Lord we found

Years have passed and Zuko soon ascended to the position of Fire Lord. He was loved by his people and ensured peace in his nation and with the other kingdoms.

He ruled wisely and justly, and his life in the Fire Nation seemed perfect.

Not really perfect Zuko thought.

"You need to find a wife, my lord. Your line should be succeeded and you need to choose a woman who will stand by your side as the new Fire Lady." One of his advisors said, one day.

"I have to agree, Fire Lord Zuko. There are many women who are quite good potential wives. We can set up a date for you to choose." another advisor said to him.

He frowned, declined the idea and exited the throne room wordlessly, leaving his court confused.

They would never understand, for the woman he wanted to be with was already gone, killed years ago protecting him.

He walked down the gardens and breathed in the smell of fresh air. His mind was at peace, walking through the wide space when he heard someone in the target practice area when he passed by.

Zuko went to check and was dumbstruck when he saw a woman with a bow in hand, practicing. She had her long silky hair kept in a hairstyle that she used to have. She continuously hit the center of the target, her skill and accuracy undoubtedly excellent, just like her.

The woman stopped when she noticed him watching. She turned to him, blushed visibly and bowed down. Zuko stepped nearer and the woman said, "I didn't notice you were here before, Lord Zuko."

Her voice sounded just like her. Zuko was thinking that this was impossible so he said, "I was just passing by. May I know what the lady's name is?"

The woman lifted her head and he had a full glimpse of her beautiful face, which was amazingly a perfect double of his late love. Her silver eyes looked straight into his and replied, "I am called Maia, Fire Lord Zuko With all due respect, my lord, I know you are the ruler and all, but you seem very familiar to me. Have we met before?"

Zuko was silent. A voice in his head then reminded him, Maybe, I can be reborn

He lifted his head and looked at the heavens, smiled and looked at Maia again, "Maybe I'm not sure. But you do seem familiar."

Maia smiled at him. Zuko smiled back.

And we can fall in love all over again

"May I invite the Lady Maia to join me for walk?" Zuko asked while offering his arm to Maia.

Maia accepted his arm, held on to him and said, "I would love to Maybe we can get some fruit tarts along the way, those topped with rose petals, maybe?"

"Of course, anything for the lady"

As they walked together, Zuko smiled and knew that starting that day, things will turn out for the better.

@: \