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[January 9th] [Avatar] Life in Ba Sing Se

Title: Life in Ba Sing Se
Day/Theme: January 9 - “Who in the world am I?” Ah, that’s the great puzzle.
Series: Avatar
Character/Pairing: Zuko (Zuko/Jin, Zuko/Mai mentioned)
Rating: PGish



It’s hot, and somewhere there is a boy called Lee who serves the coolies and the rickshaw drivers cold beer and even colder tea chasers in a stuffy little tea shop that smells of sweat and sun and dirt. And Lee is lucky because he is going places (never doubt it, boy – you’re young and hale and you’ve all your limbs, and you’re starting a new life here in Ba Sing Se).

And Lee grits his teeth and takes away the empty cups because his life is over.

The men eventually leave (the wife would kill me if I wasted all my paycheck here, but tell your uncle he’s a genius! A damned genius!), drained and staggering. They are dead inside, eaten up by the war and the grinding, desperate poverty, and Lee can see himself in them, ten or fifteen years down the road.

Sometimes their wives come and forcibly fetch these more erstwhile patrons, and Lee thinks of a girl called Jin, a girl who had sought him out and whom he had - briefly! - kissed. He can see her in the faces of these women: large and fleshy, hips broadened by numerous childbirths and voices roughened by long hours of street hawking.

There is a depressing certainty to this, and he is only glad that another girl (a girl he does not allow himself to think of, except perhaps when he is very tired and stupid with regret) is not (will never be) waiting back at the tenement his uncle found for them, using the scant money of his and Uncle’s tips to make the household run another week, her youth and energy gone. For Ba Sing Se – like the refugees it houses – is always hungry.

And sometimes, after the teahouse has closed for the night, he lays down in the closet that doubles as his bedroom and remembers a time when his mother called him Zuko, and the worst that could happen was that Azula might manage to singe Mai’s hair.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
rosehiptea
Jan. 10th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
This is great. I could totally see all that building up in Zuko when Iroh (with the best of intentions, and probably knowing what would happen) tried to get him to settle down in Ba Sing Se. And you said it all so very well.

(I wrote Zuko for this too! But I hadn't seen yours.)
praiseofshadows
Jan. 14th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :D I must confess, Iroh and Zuko's time in Ba Sing Se has an unholy power over of me - basically because Zuko's got way too many issues to settle down like Iroh wants. D:

(Ohh! I must go and look for yours now! ♥)
green_and_warty
Jan. 13th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)
... Yes. ♥
praiseofshadows
Jan. 14th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
♥ Thanks!
peri_peteia
Jan. 23rd, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
Brilliant.

I love little things reflecting on Zuko's time in Ba Sing Se and how much he just didn't fit there and could never truly be fulfilled there like it's so easy to see Iroh could have.
the_fox_bandit
Jan. 26th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
WOW. That really sucked me in. I really "felt" Ba Sing Se and Zuko's despair about all of this.
zempasuchil
Dec. 19th, 2009 07:55 am (UTC)
This captures perfectly the despair at being stuck there that Zuko must feel. wow. I am late to the party, clearly, but I thought I'd comment because this was just absolutely striking and rang so true.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )