"But-

"No buts. Here-" Zuko heard the clang of the man handing the boy some money. "Get yourself a drink to numb you a little. If you win enough to pay the fee I'll take you to a doctor tomorrow. Wait here, I'm going to register you for the next five rounds. Keep an eye on him boys." The boy just made a sound like he was trying to suppress his pain when the people holding him let go. The man walked past Zuko and headed for the betting booth. Zuko felt the seat next to him shift and looked over as the boy sat next to him.

"Stupid old bastard. One day he'll be without his goons and I'll kill him with my bare..." he trailed off as he muttered to himself. When Zuko looked at him the first thing Zuko noticed was his skin. He was dark like he was from the water tribe. His black hair was all matted and dread locked. Soon enough he noticed Zuko's staring and glared him. Once more Zuko was taken back by the boy's dark eyes – it felt like they bore a hole right through him but Zuko didn't waver.

"What are you staring at?" He growled.

"I couldn't help but over hear your situation." Zuko said. "From the sound of it, he seems to think you're a good fighter." He looked over his shoulder to where the older man was standing not too far away at the betting booth.

"I'm a hell of a lot better than good." he said, his eyes narrowing in annoyance. He ordered his drink and took a sip.

"Can't be that good if you let him smack you around like that." Zuko pointed out.

"Have you not noticed his pesky body guards?" He asked and hiked his thumb over his shoulder. Zuko looked and two large muscular men were standing behind him, watching him. "There's many more where those came from. He has too much power and I'm just one, scrawny little nobody with no money and no family. He'll kill me, and I have a problem with that."

"But no problem with being a ragged slave." Zuko commented.

"Look, I'm not exactly in the best mood today-" He cringed and held his side for a second. "So buzz off before I kick your ass."

"Wanna bet on it?" Zuko smirked. It was almost fun messing with the boy. If he could rile him up he might actually make for a good opponent. Zuko didn't want a push over.

"He makes jokes as well." He said and crinkled his nose as he gulped down the rest of his drink.

"Actually I was going to bet against you." Zuko said pulling out his spending money.

"Now that's really funny." He said. Zuko watched as a small smirk curled his lips.

"If you say so." Zuko said as he stood up. As he walked away he could feel the boy's glare on his back. This would prove to be an interesting night. A few minutes later Zuko was in the ring. He had taken off his armor to 'make it fair' - according to the referee. When the dark haired boy entered the ring he squinted in annoyance. "You were serious?" he asked. "If you've come to convince me to throw the fight you're wasting your time. I can't afford it. Not even for you pretty boy."

"I would never do something like that. I want to see if you're as good as you say you are." Zuko said crouching into his fighting stance. The boy just stared at him. "Don't hold back." He growled at Zuko's arrogance and moved into his stance. Zuko was thrilled and eager to see what he could do. But he suddenly remembered the boy's injury. He had a broken rib somewhere. Zuko could see him grimace as he got into his own fighting stance he favored his left a little. Zuko recognized the fighting style - very powerful and somewhat quick form. Zuko had his work cut out for him.

"Ready?" The announcer yelled looking at both of them. "Fight!" Zuko had to restrain himself. His first instinct was to fire bend. This left him open to the boy's attack when he hesitated. He let loose an array of punches and kicks that had Zuko backing away from him. But with a dodge, a flip and quick footing Zuko soon held the boy's arms from behind. He made the boy stretch them above his head and put his knee into his back.

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