Hey, I'm Skoochy, the world's greatest pickpocket and spy extraordinaire. I know Republic City better than anyone, but if you want to pick my brain, it'll cost ya. Heehee. (an independent roleplay/ask blog) Lin Bei Fong, you're my hero.
About halfway through the match, Skoochy jerked awake, head shooting off of Zuko’s shoulder like a rocket.
“U-uhm…sorry about that mister, I didn’t mean…uhh…” Skoochy mumbled nervously, scratching the back of his head nervously.
Spirits, had he really just fallen asleep on the FIRE LORD’S SHOULDER?! He was so going to pay for this, he just knew it.
He looked back down at the probending arena, just as the final match of the night was called in favor of the Rabaroos.
SPIRITS, had he missed half the probending tournament too?!
The old Fire Lord felt a weight suddenly lift from his shoulder, and looked to see Skoochy apologizing and scratching his head. Zuko smiled slightly as he watched the teen regain his composure.
“Don’t worry,” He said. ”You falling asleep on me isn’t the worse thing that’s happened to me.” Zuko gave Skoochy a reassuring smile as he thought about all the things that have been on his shoulder. Elements, bison spit, Toph’s feet, and the sleepy heads of his family and friends flashed through his mind.
Skoochy didn’t drool like Sokka, so that was always a plus.
The two stood up and left the large stadium. Skoochy led the way out of the grand building as Zuko recapped the match for his shorter companion as they pushed through the shifting crowds of people. They made it to the entrance and stopped as they noticed a sheet of rain waiting to greet them.
He really wished he had an umbrella.
The Fire Lord looked to Skoochy who was staring at the rain. ”Not exactly the best time for it to rain, isn’t it?” He paused. “Your parents must be worried about you.”
Skoochy paused as he held open the door, his eyes looking downward. Normally, this wouldn’t be so hard. Normally, he would laugh it off, say that everything was fine, that his parents didn’t worry about him too much, and get away before anything else could be said.
But now, with the older man standing in front of him, something stopped Skoochy from saying that. He couldn’t just lie and run away, not with how kind the man had been to him.
“I don’t actually have parents,” he smiled as he said it, like it didn’t hurt him. And to some extent, it didn’t. He’d lived long enough on his own that for the most part, it didn’t really bother him.
And yet he still felt naked, open for judgment. He had learned long ago that orphans didn’t deserve respect.
Zuko felt his stomach drop once he heard of Skoochy’s lack of parents. ‘Way to lay it on thick, you idiot.’ played over and over in his mind. He saw the boy smiling as if it didn’t bother him, but his body language beforehand made it seem like he prodded where no one was allowed to before. Zuko felt bad. Really, really bad.
“I’m sorry.” He paused. “Skoochy.”
Even though he was old, Zuko still wished every so often that his uncle Iroh was there to try to comfort the boy. Zuko felt like an awkward turtle duck in comparison. He may be his nephew, but he was still no Iroh.
“In a way,” the words came out before Zuko could stop them. “I kind of know the pain that you must feel.” Without thinking, the old Fire Lord pulled Skoochy in a tight hug. “But there will always be someone that cares for you.”
At first Skoochy was resistant, as he was resistant to all hugs. You never knew when a seemingly kind soul was just trying to pick your pocket after all, and Skoochy had used the old “happily hug a stranger” trick way too many times to not be suspicious of it.
But as the seconds continued, and the old Fire Lord just kept hugging him, Skoochy suspicions began melting away. Soon, his small, scrawny arms wrapped around Zuko and his head bent forward into the embrace. Something about him was just so…warm; like he was the father he had never had.
Skoochy didn’t even notice he was crying, until he felt two wet tracks crawling down his cheeks. He pulled away from the hug to wipe away the tears with his arm, and hoped that Zuko hadn’t seen them.
What kind of reputation would he have, being caught crying with a stranger?