We Are Ghosts


The bird won't fly
And a bird without its wings is a low and tragic thing
We are ghosts
We are ghosts amongst these hills
"Ghosts" - James Vincent McMorrow


(1)

Ty Lee examines the hotel room with distaste.

She has lived in a circus tent, she currently lives on a ramshackle island, and she has slept in the dirt in the Earth Kingdom. But this place is a new level of low. She walks to the curtains and opens them, hoping that a little light will brighten the grim lodgings up, but it is futile.

Her feet stick to the floor when she walks. Ick.

Republic City is okay, she supposes. It has built up quite nicely over the past couple of years, and now she is here on business. They said this was the nicest hotel there was... they also said it used to be a grungy, half-constructed home for refugees. Ty Lee supposes she just has to look on the bright side and get over it. The lights of the city are beautiful tonight; lanterns glow and some of it trickles into the dank hotel room.

She cracks her knuckles and sits down on the bed. Her feet are sore and she realizes that she is becoming a mature adult, dealing with business and travelling alone. It is a little disheartening. Ty Lee never wanted to grow up, and now, at twenty-one, her feet already hurt just from walking all day. She trains daily in martial arts, yet, her bones are sore.

Maybe she's just overtired. It will all look better in the morning. She is going to have a wonderful day tomorrow, if only she can get some sleep. Everything is better after a good night of ─ the door breaks out in a series of small, insistent knocks. Ty Lee moves into a fighting stance, hoping she isn't about to be mugged. She opens the door and a shadowy form quickly invites itself inside, slamming and locking the door behind them, and leaving Ty Lee reeling.

"Are you alone?" That voice. That voice Ty Lee has not heard in a very, very long time. Haughty, cavalier, purring and a strange mixture of low and high. She used to find it incredibly seductive, though no one could get her to admit that without torturing her. "Stop gawking. Are you alone?"

"Yes?" Ty Lee offers, her face resorting to its defensive position of wide, sparkling eyes and small, hopeful lips.

"Good." Silence.

Ty Lee examines Azula. She doesn't look half bad for being missing for several years. Running off and, surprisingly, she has yet to destroy a city or even be spotted. Well, Ty Lee supposes she would have dealt with anyone who recognized her with a quick bolt of lightning to the back of the head, execution style.

"Is there something you need, princess?" Ty Lee squeaks, watching Azula saunter to the sticky chair on the other side of the room and sit in it as if the dirty, used furniture is a throne.

"Not really," Azula says with a small shrug. "Don't contact the authorities."

"I wasn't planning on it," Ty Lee says honestly. Azula examines her as if she is searching for a lie. Ty Lee offers a smile of good faith. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Quick to questions, huh?" Azula looks annoyed and Ty Lee realizes how dry her mouth is. "I heard you were in town. Is it a crime to pay your friend a visit?"

"Our friendship didn't..." Ty Lee swallows the rest of her sentence. Friends are always a great thing to have, and if Azula has forgiven her, all the better.

She still remembers the Broiling Rock. All of her dreams end with it. Or maybe start with it.

Every night Ty Lee dreams of sweet, intoxicating fire. It starts on a net that she is caught in, and then spreads, engulfing everyone she loves and everything she holds dear. Until it slowly consumes her. When she wakes up, she can almost smell the smoke in her hair.

The fire is always blue.

"Why are you here? Where have you been?" Ty Lee starts stammering questions and Azula's face does not move. She looks cold and statuesque.

"I'm a fugitive. I go where I'm not likely to be noticed. And in this city, well, despite the Avatar's presence, I can slip by for a couple of days," Azula purrs, tapping her fingers. Ty Lee can hear nothing but the collision of sharp nails with tacky upholstery.

"Would you like something to eat?" Another question. I'm stupid.

"I suppose." Azula shrugs again. She looks completely careless, incredibly jaded and still glisteningly regal.

Ty Lee rummages through her bag for the snacks she brought with her. She opens a bag of sizzle crisps and tosses them at Azula. They're cold, and Ty Lee feels her stomach twisting, but Azula eats them anyway. Her every move is slow and deliberate, and it is giving Ty Lee goose bumps.

"Does this place have a shower?" Azula asks and Ty Lee feebly nods. "I'm spending the night."

"You trust me enough for that?" Ty Lee asks, startled.

She sits at the foot of the bed, watching Azula carefully. She looks flawless although her hair is greasy and she looks paler than usual. Somehow, you can tell that she was born lucky and special and gilded. Even though right now she's dressed in a ragged black outfit made for quick escapes in the dead of the night and her shoes don't point. But her nails are perfect and her skin unblemished. Her hair is tied in a Earth Kingdom braid, wrapped around in a circle on the back of her head, not the Fire Nation knots. But she looks like a princess. Maybe it's how she's sitting.

"I wouldn't call it trust," Azula says, setting down the cold, stale sizzle crisps after only a few bites. "But there's nothing you can gain from turning me in. The truth is, you're curious. And you're remorseful. You won't hurt me or find the police or your Kyoshi peasant friends. You'll stay awake all night watching me. And then when I'm gone, you'll wonder how you could have done it differently. How you could have made me stay."

Ty Lee is speechless as Azula slowly stands up and walks towards the cramped bathroom. She shuts and locks the door behind her and Ty Lee hears the shower turn on.

Azula's speech was more of a premonition.

That is exactly how tonight goes. It is completely silent as Azula sleeps in Ty Lee's bed, and Ty Lee passes out in a chair as the sun rises, and when she opens her eyes again, Azula is gone as if she was never here.

As if she were a ghost.


(2)

"I had a dream about you last night," Ty Lee says as Azula invites herself inside. "It's funny that you show up."

Azula looks at her closely. "You dream about me every night."

It is true. Ty Lee turns red as she shuts the door and locks it. They are alone now, in the upper ring of Ba Sing Se. It was surprisingly easy to get into the city; it certainly does not live up to its title. People are less anxious years after the war, and with an emerald hood over golden eyes, she talked, cajoled, threatened and coerced her way into the hub of Earth Kingdom art and culture.

She has been here for a few days now, and she is getting antsy. It is almost nice to constantly relocate. It... isn't boring. But being on the run from absolutely everybody is harder than you would think. But she was walking at night ─ she sleeps during the day ─ and caught sight of a familiar face.

Last time she saw Ty Lee was last winter in Republic City. It was a reasonable night, that went surprisingly well. She does not know what drew her back to the circus freak; she could have easily just slipped out of the city after seeing a familiar face. This is uncomfortably close to Uncle. But Azula is drawn like an insect to flame.

"What brought you here?" Azula asks, gradually moving through the apartment and shutting all of the curtains. They are submerged in a dark green glow.

"I'm taking a break," Ty Lee says, shrugging. "To find myself."

"To find yourself?" Azula did not mean to have such derision in her tone. She supposes she is jealous.

"They call me a hero."

"Hmph."

"And I can't bear it sometimes."

"Why? They called me a savior in the Fire Nation," Azula asks, genuinely curious. Ty Lee's mental state seems significantly dampened. If Azula believed in auras, she would believe that Ty Lee's was losing its pink.

"Kyoshi Island was killing my aura. So I relocated. I kind of thought by coming back here..." Ty Lee turns her palms up and grins, as if that means she doesn't have to finish her sentence.

Azula sits down at the table, running her fingernails through the cracks in the stone. Everything is made of rock in the Earth Kingdom. Azula has always preferred steel.

"So you're upset about being called a hero?" Azula purrs, watching Ty Lee's discomfort. She revels in it.

"How am I a hero? I don't get it. I did nothing. I mean, what I did do, I was doing on the bad side─"

"The losing side." Silence. "History is written by the winners, Ty Lee. We lost. That doesn't mean we're villains. Although, I do admit we lack morality."

"I bet you could go home," Ty Lee murmurs and Azula is silent. It does not seem to sway her in any direction. "Zuko would..." Another unfinished sentence.

"Zuko pities me. I don't accept pity." She looks worse for wear today, although she is dressed in an expensive sundress and her hair is done up in the extravagant styles of Ba Sing Se. There are dark circles under her eyes and she is significantly thinner than she was in Republic City. "You look nice."

Ty Lee doesn't think she has ever heard a compliment from Azula. She wracks her brain and cannot summon a single memory of one that wasn't backhanded, an insult in disguise. Something about her is different, over such a short period of time.

"You look better," Ty Lee lies. Azula does not believe her, but she accepts it anyway. Strangely, the power dynamic has not changed. Ty Lee could easily threaten Azula with running four blocks away and getting Iroh. But she doesn't. She makes herself very small and bends to the disgraced princess's will.

"I won't come back again," Azula says, forcing the words out. She isn't sure if they are true or not. "Are you staying here?"

Ty Lee shrugs. "I tried living in the Fire Nation. It didn't work out so well." Memories. Too many of them. "So I'm trying the Earth Kingdom. If all else fails I can brush up on my igloo making skills."

Azula smirks.

"You're running," she remarks fondly. It feels nice to know someone else is suffering from the war. Misery loves company.

"I don't even know what I'm running from. But this city has good vibrations."

Azula smirks again. Auras and vibrations. It feels like nonsense to her.

"I hate this city. It smells weird," Azula says casually. Ty Lee smiles. Somehow, even when she smiles to achieve an end, it does not look forced. We are all liars at the core.

"You could stay with me here." Ty Lee's eyes widen as soon as the words escape her lips. Azula laughs, watching the circus freak turn pinker than her clothes.

"As if." Azula looks at the expensively furnished house and masks her envy with mockery.

"Where do you stay?" Ty Lee asks and Azula does not answer. "Is there somebody...?"

And so it comes to this. To their past relationship that was just a sick act of masochism. Azula should not have let herself ever get attached. It was reckless. But Ty Lee still being hung-up on her first relationship ─ if you could call it that ─ would explain the regret in her eyes when she looks at Azula. She comes to Ty Lee because it is not pity or sympathy, it is masochism. She wants Azula to hurt her.

"Obviously I'm not romantically involved." Silence. Ty Lee looks strangely relieved. So she is still as selfish as Azula after all of this time. "I'm not involved with anything or anyone. I am."

"You're happy with just existing?" Ty Lee asks.

No. No Azula is not. But it is her only option.

"Yes. I'm not going to apologize for the way I live my life," Azula purrs, her words venomous but sweet. "Where's your shower?"

The second night goes much like the one last winter. Azula wakes momentarily in the night to find Ty Lee's body next to hers, fast asleep. Trust. It's a funny thing. She slowly gets up and moves to leave again.

Ty Lee is on her back, breathing slowly. Her face is contorted as if she is in pain, reacting to her nightmares though her body is paralyzed by sleep. Azula stares at her for a moment, gathering what little she carries with her. Her hair is still slightly wet.

She leans forward and kisses Ty Lee's lips, her hair dripping onto the circus freak's chest. The droplets of water roll down between her breasts like tears. Azula pulls away very quickly, made incredibly uncomfortable by kissing an unconscious girl.

And she disappears from Ba Sing Se.


(3)

Ty Lee waits for Azula. She has been back two times since last in Ba Sing Se. She gets better, she gets worse. She seems a bit off the rails at times and at others completely collected. Ty Lee will cook food for her even though she is clueless; she ended up borrowing recipes from Iroh without telling them who they were for.

"You have a boyfriend?" Iroh asks, rummaging through expensive cookbooks.

"A ladyfriend." Ty Lee says with a small smile. Iroh looks pleased.

"I'm glad you found love."

"Well, she doesn't love me yet. I'm just kind of trying," Ty Lee admits to him.

And she arrives, as she usually does. She looks awful. Ty Lee feels a lump in her throat as the soup broils over and quenches the flames beneath it on the stove.

"What are you looking at?" Azula demands, her voice giving Ty Lee a sensation of pure fear.

"N-nothing," Ty Lee stammers, stirring the soup. She rummages for matches and tries to start the flame again. Hands are suddenly on her waist, bony fingers pressing into her hips, she swallows, trying to hide the arousal, as Azula pushes her aside and lights the stove with a single finger.

"I know I look bad," Azula admits and Ty Lee is surprised by her honesty. "It's been a rough few weeks."

And she says no more than that.


(4)

Azula has realized in her life that crying makes problems worse. She has noticed that informing people of her situation will only make it worse. Once, at thirteen, she attended the execution of someone she sealed the fate of by confiding a secret in her. She was an Earth Kingdom slave, as if it mattered. Azula watched, her eyes glued to the scene.

Regrets are unprofessional. If she got hung up on that kind of thing she would not be the devastating weapon her father desired her to be.

Remorseless. Helpless. Useless.

"Tell me you love me," Ty Lee murmurs suddenly. Azula is staying the night in the Fire Nation. Ty Lee moved back home, and Azula has been blending in among her own people. It's funny how few recognize her. The apartment in Ba Sing Se was gone when Azula showed up; well, not gone, but deserted.

Ty Lee left a note. She left it in a way that surprised Azula with its ingenuity. Ty Lee was never the brightest candle in the bunch. But when Azula searched the house, there was no sign of her. Then she saw a painting that was two decades old. Of Ty Lee, Azula and Mai. On the back of it was an address. A Fire Nation address.

It has been nearly a year since Azula last visited Ty Lee. She did not have it in her to return to the Fire Nation. But she stowed away on a merchant ship, bedding the captain and making it to what once was her home.

She lingers vaguely in the East.

"I can't. I would be lying," Azula says. They are lying in the same bed, touching but not feeling. The sexual tension is palpable. They have slept together before, but not during one of Azula's visits. When they were young and foolish and could afford to make mistakes ─ not that Azula ever made mistakes as a youth because she was perfect then.

"Then lie to me," Ty Lee says and Azula shrugs.

"I love you," she lies, the words believable. "Fuck me."

"I can't," Ty Lee whispers, eyes glittering me.

"You know you want to."

And they do. Relentlessly. Passionately.

In the morning, Azula puts on her clothes and prepares to disappear again. She remembers the second visit, in which she kissed Ty Lee as she slept. Now, it all feels wrong.

"I'm not coming back," Azula says, waking Ty Lee with her forceful words.

"That's what you always say," Ty Lee yawns.

"I mean it this time." And Azula is gone, out the window though she could just as easily use the door.


(5)

It is Ty Lee's twenty-fifth birthday. It is also just over ten years after Sozin's Comet came, and her life crumbled. She is happy. Content. She has a pet and a garden and does not regret leaving the Kyoshi Warriors. The bird warbles contentedly in its cage as she feeds it.

Azula has not visited in two years. Ty Lee thinks about her every day. But she doesn't get too hung up on it. Most days she just tries really hard not to think. She befriends neighbors from all around and has lavish parties with them. She falls in love too easily and calls out Azula during sex once or twice and has to explain herself.

Sometimes she sees Mai. Most times she ignores Mai's letters and pretends they got lost. Mai clearly doesn't believe her, but she says little about it.

Ty Lee is walking through the gravel paths of Sozin Memorial Meadow. It's incredibly peaceful and she often goes here and stretches. Or stands on her head and watches the sunset. Or feeds birds or befriends families and just generally tries to be pleasant to be around.

Suddenly, someone grabs her by the hair and pulls her into a kiss. It's the dead of night in an abandoned city park, and Ty Lee moves to punch a pressure point.

"It's me, it's me." Azula.

"You can't just... you can't just." Ty Lee kisses her back, more passionately this time. She is crying when she pulls away and Azula looks condescendingly at the tears. "It's been two years. Two fucking years."

"I looked for you at your house. I figured you'd be at some gross park," Azula says. "Shh," she murmurs and Ty Lee suddenly realizes she is not talking to her.

"What is that?" Ty Lee shouts and bats are displaced from a tree.

"You're going to make it start crying again. Come on, let's just go to your place."

Ty Lee takes Azula to her house, her heart racing in fits and starts and her stomach doing cartwheels. Azula does not seem at all unnerved by the fact that she showed up after a two year absence carrying a newborn baby. And when Ty Lee says newborn, she means it looks at most a week old.

Azula locks the door with one hand and Ty Lee wants to yank the baby from her.

"They're less fragile than you think," Azula purrs, walking towards the living room and sitting down on the antique sofa.

"How old is that baby?" Ty Lee gasps, somehow inhaling as she speaks. She bounces from foot to foot like a crazy person.

"Three days. It's a girl. I haven't named her. Don't really plan on it." Azula shrugs as if this is completely ordinary.

Ty Lee has no words. She talks incessantly. But right now there is nothing to be said, yet much to be said. She finds her lips opening and closing, but no sound coming out. Azula just sits, with an infant resting on her chest, asleep, on the sofa as if it were a throne. Her commanding aura around a body that is far too bony and slender to have just given birth. Her golden eyes dare anyone to point out that they have purplish bags under them.

"It's your baby?" is all Ty Lee manages to say.

"No, I just stole a baby for kicks," Azula says derisively, shaking her head. It disquiets the newborn and its eyes flutter open. It has such piercing golden eyes.

"Azula, you need to go home. That baby can't grow up a fugitive. It was so long ago, Azula. Please. Zuko wants to redeem you and─"

"I don't need my brother. I don't need any of you. I'm perfectly fine alone." Azula stands up and Ty Lee has to catch her. Azula composes herself and hands the baby gently to Ty Lee.

"You're a hero, will you hold my kid?" says a woman visiting Kyoshi Island.

"I'm not much of a hero," Ty Lee whispers as the baby is forced into her arms. She looks at its big blue Water Tribe eyes.

She is no hero. She was a villain.

Ty Lee holds the child in her arms. The baby looks exactly like her mother and it is kind of funny. She reaches to Ty Lee's hair and wraps her fingers in it. Ty Lee's lips spread with a smile as Azula lies down on the sofa.

"She's precious. You should name her," Ty Lee says, but Azula does not respond. She is asleep.

Ty Lee stays awake all night with the baby, as Azula is nearly comatose. The acrobat checks her breathing upon occasion, just to make sure she is alive. The baby has already taken to Ty Lee, and seems vaguely at ease in her arms.

While she certainly does not have a bed for babies, Ty Lee tears a drawer out of the bottom of her armoire and removes all of the clothes from it. She sets the infant inside and sets it on the coffee table, near her mother. Ty Lee wonders if the baby needs to eat or anything, because she seems very quiet and it is disconcerting.

Ty Lee imagined she would have settled down by now. Everyone she knows is already married. Zuko and Mai have a daughter that she has met twice. Such a goofy little kid. Pasty as her mom and hot-headed as her dad. But she was always hung up on a ghost.

She was always in love with a ghost.

"You know," Ty Lee says to a sleeping Azula, "I was in love with you for years. But I was in love with the idea of you. Nobody wants that. Sometimes I think I'm still in love with the idea of you..."

Azula does not respond. She seems in the midst of a nightmare and Ty Lee touches her hair. The princess jumps awake, sitting straight up and gasping. The baby starts to cry.

"Don't do that. Are you trying to get your face burned off, you moron?" Azula snaps. Ty Lee thinks she may be in love with the idea of her. Azula has never been pleasant company.

But all those nights in Ba Sing Se. Pillow talk without sex. As if it weren't... how it is.

"You're going to be telling the truth this time," Ty Lee says, her voice constricting with emotion. "You're going to leave your baby with me and you're never going to come back. I mean, you always say you aren't coming back... but you always do. You won't come back this time."

Silence. "You want me to tell the truth?"

Ty Lee nods, picking up the crying baby that Azula is ignoring and trying to console her.

"I really have no fucking clue. I'm making it up as I go along."

"Do you love me?"

Silence.


(6)

Azula doesn't come back to Ty Lee. She doesn't want to face her daughter. It has been three years. She truly is a ghost. And she has started to have only one regret. Just one. As unprofessional as they are, the lone wanderer has decided that there is one.

She wishes she said, "I love you." Well, Azula has never said those words to anybody. Not even her father. Love is for the weak. She was strong.

When she finds somewhere safe, she still wakes up at dawn and trains, as if there were still some climactic fight out there to determine her life. There is one thing she loves; and that is lightning. Surging through her veins, it is euphoria. The power, the beautiful lights.

She looks in a mirror, staying in an inn by the pier of the Capitol. Azula thinks she might want to get caught. Of all of the places in the world she has been, she has avoided Zuko's home at all costs. He is the only one looking for her anymore. Most of the signs were gone years ago.

It has been thirteen years since her failure. She supposes she has come to terms with it. Mostly.

She looks in the mirror and kisses the image of her lips. Her beauty has not faded, though exhaustion has set in. Twenty-seven, a fugitive, incredibly beautiful. Clever and beautiful. Cleverness and beauty didn't bring down Ba Sing Se like they declared, but they are the only way she has survived. That and, well, the incredibly prodigious bending that takes care of anyone who does get in her way.

She touches the image of her face in the mirror. It is cold and damp against her hand. Her first sex dream was about making love to her own mirror image. She kisses her lips again.

Someone knocks on the door. Azula gets up and hesitantly opens it, two fingers alit with azure flame.

"Ty Lee?" Azula is stunned.

So... things have come full circle, have they? A surprise visit in an inn.

"I did some thinking. I know, surprising, I usually feel like not thinking was my forte. But if you weren't coming back, then I guess I'd have to come to you." She looks smug, as if she has outsmarted Azula. As if.

"How did you find me?" Azula demands, though her voice is faint. Still commanding and haughty, but faint.

"People kind of recognize you here." Ty Lee shrugs. Azula cannot argue with that. "Actually, I didn't come here of my own accord. I've come to ask you to surrender. Zuko figured it would be gentler coming from me or something."

"You wouldn't dare." Azula crosses her arms.

Pause. Azula's heart is racing and she calms it with a few firebender's breaths.

"You wanted to be caught. You're done running," Ty Lee says softly, touching Azula's hand. Azula does not pull away, like she always does.

"A princess surrenders with dignity."


(7)

Ty Lee walks to the throne room with Azula beside her. She bows to Zuko but Azula does not.

"It's been a long time," is all Azula says. "I'm done running. I kind of missed the royal amenities."

"You want redemption?" Zuko asks, trying to sound a lot bigger than he is.

"I want maybe a royal hair combing and some fine wine. But if you insist on this redemption thing I'll give it a shot. No promises, ZuZu." She smirks at his pet name. He suppresses a smile.

"What changed your mind?" Zuko asks, wary. Ty Lee can sense his distrust and she seizes Azula's hand.

"Being on the run from just about everybody can change your priorities," Azula says, shrugging cavalierly.

Zuko looks at her ghostly form, and yet she still manages to carry herself like Princess Azula the Conqueror. There are no signs of age on her body, just of dwindling, like as she hid, she was gradually disappearing with her name.

"You got tired."

"I guess. This isn't the climactic ending I was going for. I imagined going out in a blaze of glory and maybe slicing you in half with lightning on my way down. Burn the city as I died of blood loss. Something like that." Azula shrugs. She seems... calm. Ty Lee is stunned by it. When they used to talk, even the mere mentioning of Zuko's name would make her flare up like she was fighting him again beneath the comet. "I know how you felt. You were willing to betray every fiber of your being just for a soft Fire Nation bed."

"I was looking for honor," Zuko mutters, but he accepts. "Do you want to meet your daughter?"

Silence. Azula's heart skips a beat.

"It wouldn't hurt," she says, twirling her hair airily. Yes, please, I want to see her. "I'm not promising the whole mommy thing."

"I get it, I get it. If you want to go totally crazy and try to usurp the throne, you're going to do it." The red flames go out in the throne room as Zuko leaps down. "And you're doing this because you want to. Save the melodramatic speeches."

Azula smirks.

She turns to Ty Lee.

I love you. "I guess you didn't screw me over by turning me in to dear ZuZu. I suppose I won't have to kill you."

Ty Lee smiles like an idiot.


(8)

Azula walks to the courtyard and sees two children playing. One of them is clutching fire in her hands, the other is running and pushing. The shorter, thinner one is recognizable to Azula. She sometimes wondered if she would run into her daughter on the street. But in those thoughts, she would not even know that she saw the girl.

The children stop playing when they see Azula.

She has such beautiful eyes.

The child runs to her. She stands still, unsure what to do.

"Hi. Watch this!" The little girl breaks out in a series of intermediate firebending moves. She's three. She takes after her mother. Her form is sloppy, and her fire is moderate, but at her age, it is incredibly impressive.

Azula claps, a little too enthusiastically. She feels foolish and quickly drops her hands and solidifies her expression.

"Are you my mom's friend?" the girl asks and Azula's knees feel weak. She tries to breathe in the sun to calm her mind.

"Something like that," Azula replies. "You want me to teach you a firebending trick?"


(9)

"Are you ever going to tell her that you're her mother?" Ty Lee asks as they lie in bed. Azula is in her childhood room, half naked in bed with her lover. It feels oddly nice to be home, no matter how many painful memories it brings back. Agni, I'm getting old and pathetic. I might as well be Uncle at this point.

"She'll figure it out at some point," Azula says carelessly, touching Ty Lee's neck. Her fingertips slip downwards.

"Tell me you love me."

"I love you."

"You're not lying."

"Probably not. It's hard to tell with me."

Ty Lee laughs.

Azula takes a deep breath. "I do love you."

"I love you too."

It is the first time. The first time Azula has said that and meant it.

Living like a ghost can rearrange your priorities.

But she has a long way to go.

"Say it again."

"I love you. That's the last time."

"You're usually lying when you say it's the last time."

"I'm always lying when I say it's the last time, Ty Lee."

end