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Rough Luck
Chapter information
Series

Average and Below

Chapter

1

Written by

Arthur Keane

Release date

March 31, 2013

Kero Hai turned toward his adopted brother. "What?" he shouted over the noise of the Festival of Peace.

Neru Hai turned back toward him. "I said that Naera asked me out."

Kero's blood turned cold and he stopped for just a half-second before he kept walking. "Well, what did you say?"

Neru glanced at him. "Yes, of course. I'm meeting her at the Jasmine Dragon after the Festival is over."

Despite the loudness of the fireworks going off just a few dozen feet above Kero's head, the world seemed suddenly silent.

Neru's tanned face broke out into a wide grin. "Hey, man. What did you expect? You know she's the best-looking girl our age."

Kero slowly recovered himself. "It's just a shock. Why didn't she tell me?"

Neru turned toward a vendor. "Two things of fire flakes, please."

The vendor eyed Kero uneasily. "Buckets."

"Yeah, buckets, whatever," Neru interjected, handing over two bronze pieces. Turning back to Kero, he explained. "If you ask me, she didn't know she was going to say it until the words were out of her mouth."

Kero nodded. The words he said were "Makes sense" but his thoughts were somewhere totally different. "When did she ask?"

Neru shrugged. "Just before we left for Ba Sing Se."

Kero's eyebrows lifted. "That was two weeks ago."

"Yeah, and we haven't seen each other since," Neru shot back, grabbing the fire flake buckets from the vendor.

"Did that vendor seem weird to you?" Kero asked as they walked back into the crowd.

Neru blinked. "He's just a vendor."

Kero, eager for the change of subject, pursued it maybe a bit harder than he should have. "Yeah, but he kept looking at me weird. He was obviously an Earth Kingdom citizen."

Neru laughed. "Mhm. Whatever, bro. May I remind you, most people in Ba Sing Se are Earth Kingdom citizens?"

Kero shook his head. "No, I just mean, he was definitely old enough to remember the war. Think my looks are too Fire Nation for his tastes?"

Neru punched his brother on the arm. "Stop being paranoid. I look nearly as Fire Nation as you do."

Kero frowned. "Sure," he muttered under his breath.

They met up with the family just a brief time later. Gre turned to his older brother the second that he had a chance. His bright eyes gleamed. "Hey, what's wrong?" he asked with a grin that he tried to hide. Kero almost told him to get lost, but decided to humor his younger brother.

"I just found out that Naera asked Neru out," he responded, trying hard to keep his voice level but knowing the whole time he would fail miserably.

"What you going to do about it?" Gre responded, never skipping a beat.

Kero nodded. "I mean, I'm happy for them and all--" he began.

Gre cut him off sharply. "Like heck you are."

"Fine, maybe I'm not. Mostly I'm just annoyed that Neru didn't tell me until now."

Gre glanced from one of Kero's harsh orange eyes to another, then he shrugged. "Oh well. Rough luck for you." He rushed off to talk to their mother, Kerya, as if forgetting that conversation had ever happened.

Kero ignited the tip of one finger, but it sputtered out quickly. "Yeah," he growled before joining them. "Rough luck."

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