Thinking Out Loud @jacqstoned
Tea Time

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender

CHAPTER 6: Tea Time

Job-hunting is hard. The rejection letters and emails are piling up.

How do people do this?

He never had to look for a job before, but what little money he has is going to disappear if he doesn't find a job soon.

He closes his laptop in frustration.

"Mornin', Sparky."

Toph trudges out of her room, barefoot and yawning, her black hair mussed from sleep. She always gets up late.

"It's not morning anymore. It's half-past noon," Zuko says, trying to hide the irritation in his voice.

Toph shrugs and tucks into her bowl of cereal.

What must it be like to be a trust fund kid.

Zuko opens up his laptop again. No use running away from the hunt. He knows well enough that jobs won't just fall into his lap.

"By the way, Sparky. We're going downtown today."

"What for?" His attention is mostly on the cover letter he was writing.

"Duh! It's the grand opening of Pop's tea shop!"

His fingers linger over his keyboard. "Uncle didn't tell me he was opening his shop today."

"Yeah, 'cause he wants to surprise ya with somethin', so you better act surprised," Toph gulps down the coffee Zuko brewed for them and gags. "What the hell did you put in this, Hotman?"

"Um, coffee?"

Toph tsks before heading to her bathroom. "Let's hope terrible brewing doesn't run in the family, otherwise I invested in Gramps for nothing."

The Jasmine Dragon is on the quieter side of the downtown area. It seems quaint. Not quite traditional, not quite modern. An arch of white and silver balloons welcomes them in the doorway. Light streams through the large glass windows at the front of the shop, but inside it was surprisingly dimmer and somewhat cozier compared to other tea shops he's been to.

A few customers lounge on comfortable-looking couches that surround the round wooden tables. On top of each table was a bowl of white lotuses. He wonders if his uncle could keep up the steady supply of fresh flowers everyday.

"Nephew!" An elderly man greets him from behind the counter.

"Uncle!" Zuko rushes up to him and hugs him. "Congratulations on your tea shop."

"I'm just thankful you are here to celebrate with me, Zuko." Iroh holds him tightly for a second longer than necessary and Zuko tries not to blush in embarrassment. He claps a hand on his uncle's back as Iroh turns to greet Toph.

"Miss Toph!" He says warmly, bowing even though he knows Toph cannot see. "What an honor to have you in my humble shop. How do you like the decorations?"

"You beat me to the blind joke, Gramps! It looks freaking awesome!"

"I hope my nephew has been an exemplary tenant," Iroh says with a twinkle in his eye.

Toph laughs at this. "Sparky's been a real hoot, Pops. Still makes terrible coffee, though."

Zuko resists the urge to glare at Toph. Uncle Iroh chuckles.

"Ah yes, Zuko's never been one to make good tea or coffee. I always told him the secret ingredient is love, but he always looks for it in all the wrong places."

"Uncle!" Zuko runs a hand down his face, blushing.

Toph giggles mischievously beside him. "It's true, you know." She turns to Iroh. "He also doesn't know how to act around girls. I set him up with my friend—"


Both Toph and his uncle chuckle good-naturedly. Iroh sighs happily.

"Why don't you two take a seat while I get us a nice pot of ginseng?"

He disappears into the kitchen before anyone could reply. Zuko surveys the shop and notices a girl in a nearby table regarding him curiously. He curses himself for not wearing a hoodie to hide his scar, but it was such a warm day out and he runs hot.

"C'mon," Zuko tugs Toph to a table in the corner booth by the window just as his uncle emerges with a tray laden with cookies and teacups.

"Not to tell you how to run your business but…" he looks around uncertainly as Toph eagerly slurps her tea. "Don't you need to attend to your customers, Uncle?"

"You have much to learn in the art of serving tea, nephew." Iroh takes a sip and closes his eyes serenely. "Tea brews beautifully when it is allowed to rest. There must always be a balance between relaxation and hard work."

"Yes, but…" he looks pointedly at the girl in the other table. "That girl over there keeps looking at us. I think she wants to order or something."

Iroh's eyes glint in the late afternoon sun. "My, my. Why don't you see what she needs, Zuko? I have to speak with Miss Toph about the budget for hiring additional staff."

Zuko groans as he approaches the girl. "Good day," he clears his throat. "Is there anything I can help you with?"

"Oh!" she smiles at him. "You work here?"

He shrugs. "It's my uncle's tea house." He scratches the back of his neck uncomfortably. "I can assist you while he's busy."

"Well…" she blushes as she traces a finger around her empty teacup. "I actually have to go, but…"

"I'll get you your check," Zuko offers.

"Hmm, and while you're at it," she smiles up at him, "maybe I can get your number, too?"

Zuko could feel the heat spreading through his cheeks. "W-what?"

"He would be honored, miss," Iroh suddenly appears at his shoulder, beaming. "Please excuse us while we will get your check ready." He bows deeply as he exits.

Zuko nods awkwardly to the girl as he follows his uncle to the back of the shop.

"Why did you say I'll give her my number?" Zuko demands.

"It seems you have a gift for charming customers, nephew," Iroh scribbles Zuko's digits on the check.

Zuko crosses his arms over his chest. "That doesn't answer my question, Uncle."

"You know, Zuko, if you're still looking for employment, I would love for you to come and join me here." Iroh straightens up and hands him the piece of paper in a wooden tray.

Zuko rolls his eyes before pushing past the swinging doors of the kitchen and striding to the girl. She beams at him when he hands her the check.

He manages a small smile in return.

She waves at him as she leaves the shop.

That wasn't so bad.

Zuko pauses before ducking back into the kitchen.

"Okay, Uncle. I'll work with you here."

"Oh, how wonderful!"

A/N: I'm seriously losing steam over this. Still plugging away at Chapter 10, but ugh. Please, let me know if this is still worth it. Much love!

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. First Impressions 600 0 0 2. Second Impressions 568 0 0 3. Scarface 714 0 0 4. Toph Luck 1255 0 0 5. Tough Love 1418 0 0 6. Tea Time 1093 0 0 7. Spa Day 1389 0 0 8. Date Night 1885 0 0 9. Game Night 2680 0 0 10. Casual Dating 2327 0 0 11. Casual Friendship 1099 0 0 12. Pride 1848 0 0 13. Prejudice 1525 0 0 14. Breaks 1819 0 0 15. Beach Bums, Part 1 1962 0 0 16. Beach Bums, Part 2 3173 0 0 17. Beach Bums, Part 3 1970 0 0 18. Ex and Whys 2706 0 0 19. Open Book 3403 0 0 20. Open Eyes 1901 0 0 21. Open Bar 5281 0 0 22. Closed Mind 2536 0 0 23. Closed Doors 3661 0 0 24. Bitter Work 5530 0 0 25. Save the Date 4694 0 0 26. Color Schemes 3621 0 0 27. Cake Tasting 4097 0 0 28. Fittings 6798 0 0 29. Party Planning 4527 0 0 30. Flu Season, Part 1 5379 0 0 31. Flu Season, Part 2 6825 0 0 32. Flu Season, Part 3 5352 0 0 33. Cactus Juice 6109 0 0 34. I Do 8191 0 0 35. I Don't 3356 0 0 36. The Future 3798 0 0 37. The Past 8838 0 0 38. A New Chapter 3284 0 0 39. EPILOGUE: Lasting Impressions 324 0 0