Zutara, part 1

(Author’s note: I don’t write fan fiction.  I use some names that people may recognize, but don’t expect to read the characters you’re familiar with.  I may make references and use specific attributes, but this story should for the most part stand on its own, even with all the names changed to something original)

Katara dropped the last of the silverware from the table into the sink. She hated when it came to her turn to do the dishes. But fair was fair, and the faster she got them done the sooner she could go out.

Out. Not that that was much better. She didn’t have a driver’s license yet, and the only thing she could reasonably walk to was the strip mall across from the entrance to her gated community. But there was a Starbucks there, and a Claire’s, and between those two stores she could usually waste a good afternoon.

So after she grudgingly placed the last plate on the drying rack, the girl called to her mother and went out the door.

Katara took her grande chai latte with one pump of vanilla from the serving counter and made her way to Claire’s. She was hoping there would be some sale or new stock or something, but the shelves looked just like they had last week.

The employees, however, did not. Sure, she recognized most of them, but there was one that stuck out for several reasons. First of all, he was new. That was the immediate thing that struck at Katara. Secondly, he seemed, well, uncomfortable. Like he just wanted to crawl up into his black, Claire’s logo’d polo shirt and disappear. But most strangely was the fact that he was a he at all. Claire’s: that flagship of girly pink accessories and flowery jewelry. Why would a *boy* work there?

The girl put her cup down on the counter and walked up to the boy. He straightened up nervously as she got closer, revealing his name tag: “Zuko.”

“Hi, welcome to Claire’s,” the boy said without any confidence.

The boy was really skinny. Katara decided that she liked him. Enough to play a trick. “Zuko, what are you doing here?”

“What?”

“I haven’t seen you in forever!” The girl bounded the last step to close the gap between them and flung her arms around him affectionately.

“What!?”

Katara released the poor boy and casped her hands together in front of her. “When did you start working here?”

“Uh, I started today, but who are you?”

Katara was about to answer, but was interrupted by the woman who ran this particular store. “Zuko, don’t pay attention to her. She can be silly sometimes.”

The two teenagers both let out sighs, Zuko’s of relief and Katara’s of annoyance. Zuko’s head dropped and he remembered that he was wearing a name tag.

“Thank you very much, Momo,” the girl said to the manager with exasperation. “I was building to something!”

Zuko looked away for a split second, like he’d just thought of something, then returned to the girl. “No, Momo. She’s right, I do know her. I can’t believe it’s been so long, Katara!”

The girl took a step backwards. “Wait, how did *you* know *my* name?”

Zuko couldn’t keep a straight face and broke into a smile. “Your chai latte with one pump of vanilla.”

Katara, embarassed, spun around and grabbed her cup off of the counter behind her. She took note that the Starbucks people, like they usually do, marked not just what was in her drink, but also her name.

Face red, she took a sip from her latte and looked up at this strange shy boy who had just turned the tables on her.

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