I want to find something
I've wanted all along,
s omewhere I belong"
– Linkin Park
The music volume was at the max level, but it didn't cover the clangor caused by the train wheels against the rail steel. He smothered an annoyed snort against the palm of his hand, enjoying the pleasing effect that made his face skin against the thick cloth of his gloves.
The city looked much more sullen when it clouded over. A string of enormous, serious and all same-looking skyscrapers, with mirror glassed windows to cozen the inhabitants they could really see the sunbeams during clear days, when they actually admired only the reflection. At least the train showed a better landscape than the one from the too crowded sidewalk.
Zuko changed track. He stole a bored glance to the people in his same wagon, looking them up and down one by one. There was a girl who seemed a little older than him reading a book with a peaceful expression, a mom who held a kid excited for who knows what, an elder man with the grocery shopping bags, a young student who carried underarm some books while trying to prepare a cigarette on his own.
He was no emotional guy, didn't consider himself either that kind of person who spent the whole day thinking about the sense of life or 'bout his place in the universe, but being in close contact with his uncle for so many years might have managed to change something in him.
He wrinkled his lips in a smirk. Bullshit, he was always the same person, always the same bad-tempered and permanently sulky boy – according to Azula.
But Azula always lied, and Zuko hadn't seen her for ages.
He shooed away that thought with an umpteenth sigh, this time against the wool of the red scarf wrapped around his neck, a present from his uncle per a Christmas of so many years ago.
He had no idea of how many stops were left to the end of the line and frankly didn't even care about it; at the last stop he would get off and then would choose what to do. His destination was unknown even to himself, in reality he didn't believe really having one.
When uncle Iroh's tea shop was closed, he spent his free days like this; catching a random line of the subway and letting himself guided by his instinct. He looked for the most mysterious and isolated corners in the whole New York, but not because of curiosity. He did it for boredom.
It was the sense of emptiness inside him that pushed him to wander without goal among the districts: he wanted to find something. Who or what or what kind this something was, this was unknown to him.
Zuko was empty, lost. Everything he'd been believing in since he was a kid had shattered like a castle of glass years ago, when his father and his sister had stabbed him in the back, leaving him with only uncle Iroh's support.
Sometimes, while he was in the subway or was walking in the streets with his headphones in his ears, he found himself envying other people next to him. They were unknown faces he'd never see again in his life, but Zuko resented them anyways. They had a clear cut goal and knew which and where it was, they were sure'bout it and headed there at a quick pace, with conviction. He read their expressions trying to picture their lives; sometimes it happened he would meet the glance of a soul at a loss like his, so he immediately looked away not to get lost in it. He didn't need someone else's doubts too, the hassles in his mind regarding him and his fate were enough.
Uncle Iroh always wrinkled up his nose and said that his "jaunts" – he called so his wandering – were useful only to confuse him much more and make him waste money for the ticket. Actually, he didn't even pay, he went in the slummiest stations (the ones where there were no officials supervising) and simply trespassed the turnstiles.
The wagon left again in the direction of the last stop; lost in his thoughts as he was, the boy hadn't even noticed that the end of the line was near. The speaker announced the station. Zuko got up with no enthusiasm and, slowly, got closer to the sliding. He waited for them to open; then booked it out of the vehicle like a projectile, eager to go away from people and ready to escape the city getting lost among its own streets.