Rumour Has It

Author's Spiel Up Front. This is going to be quite Zuko/Katara-centric, with sprinkles of plot. If you're here for plot… well, you can make a game out of searching for it. Squint really hard and you'll find some somewhere I'm sure! Unlike previous stories that I've taken my sweet-arse time finishing *cough* Mending Wounds *cough* this one is more or less all written; I'm just editing and fiddling behind the scenes. So the wait times should be minimal— woo hoo!

Divergences From Canon. For dramatic, author-related purposes, when the Blue Spirit rescues Aang from Zhao's prison in Book One, Aang did not see his true identity.

The Word on Spirits I

'He's definitely Water Tribe.'

'How would you know?'

Sokka dangles the wanted posted in his sister's face. 'His mask is a blue water demon. How is that anything other than Water Tribe?'

'He's only ever been seen in the Earth Kingdom, Sokka.'

Her brother waves away her words. 'A cover.'

The Blue Spirit leers at Katara from the page. 'He's wanted by the Fire Nation,' she reads, chopping beans for dinner. 'I don't care where he's from, that makes him okay in my books.'

Sokka turns the poster over, examining the thin figure. 'I need a cool vigilante alter-ego,' he sighs.

Katara snickers as she adds parsley to their meal. 'You've got more than enough ego, Sokka.'

The Word on Spirits II

Lieutenant Jee has a soft spot for Midshipman Sora. Maybe that's why the boy brings him news from port first. Maybe that's why Jee is the first to hear of the Blue Spirit.

'He broke the Avatar out of the Admiral's prison?' Jee is astounded. The nerve of this Blue Spirit… the man must be made of iron and fire.

Sora's excitable. Like a puppy. He loves an underdog. 'The town crier said the Yu Yan archers shot him; a clear shot to the head! But when Zhao's men went to find him… nothing!'

The boy is mistaking a man for a spirit.

Jee lets him. Their superiors — with the exception perhaps of General Iroh — are entirely uninspiring. Careless, prideful old men that let mountains of boys die for their war. But this Blue Spirit? The man is mysterious. He's powerful. He slips wraith-like from the authorities. He obviously has great honour and stands boldly for his principles.

Here is someone boys like Sora can look up to with pride.

The Word on Spirits III

After meeting the Blue Spirit himself during his time with Admiral Zhao, Aang joins Sokka's obsessive hero-worship of the masked man.

'He could be an airbender,' Aang speculates wildly. 'You should have seen the way he moved! All swish! Swoosh!'

Sokka taps the creased wanted poster tartly. 'Blue water spirit.' He taps his tunic. 'Blue Water Tribe.'

Aang scratches his head. 'But not everything blue is Water Tribe, Sokka. Think of the creeping crystal candy that Bumi trapped you in. That was Earth Kingdom.'

Sokka flaps the poster at Aang. 'He's not just Water Tribe blue,' the warrior crows, flexing his arms. 'He's also very manly.'

'He was kind of… man-like,' Aang agrees, puffing out his chest.

Katara merely shakes her head in dismay.

A Lady of the Night I

Midshipman Sora bows as he enters the Fire Prince's rooms.

'What is it, midshipman?'

'The men retrieved our correspondence from General Shinu's outpost, my prince.'

Zuko glances up from the map before him. 'Any word from my father?'

The man hesitates. 'No, my prince.'

Zuko grunts, scowling at a map of the Southern Earth Kingdom. 'Proceed.'

'There is a navy-wide call to confiscate and destroy any anti-Firelord propaganda, the usual recitation of your esteemed father's victories, wanted posters. A larger reward is being offered for that Blue Spirit—' Zuko's lip twitches '—and there's a new one… fifty gold pieces for the Painted Lady.'

The banished prince frowns. 'Who?'