"Uwaaaha," sniffled Bolin.

"What's with you?" One of the other actors, who was still having his make-up applied, asked.

"I have a weird-shaped, bald head."

"Don't you dare wipe your eyes!" The make-up artist, who was applying a prosthetic to make his head symmetrical, snapped at him. "I already have too much to do today."


"At least you just have to be bald." Rie remarked, applying her own make-up. "When I get the treatment, they do it so it looks grotesque. Then I have to shave it again, so it grows back evenly."

"Dry it up and think about your career," the old man said, as he leaned his head back, for the assistant to apply eyeliner. "Your hair will grow back."


The peace treaty had been signed, and after some pressure from Xing, and much grumbling from both sides' ambassadors, Fire Ferret Island was ceded to the Fire Nation.

"The Avatar's involvement was indecent," an Earth Kingdom dignitary. "He has no part in this. 'Peace is a spiritual matter.' He doesn't have any interest in balance."

"The Fire Lord's fondness of him goes beyond the boundaries of propriety," a Fire Nation ambassador agreed.

Outside, Akoko and Xing rode mongoose-lizards through a large cheering crowd.

"It's wonderful," Akoko said as she waved to the onlookers. "They're so happy to see us."

"Your soldiers control the city," Xing reminded her.

She threw him an irritated glance. "Must you always do that?"

"We can't afford many illusions. As a prince or Avatar," he said, distractedly.

"What's wrong?" She stopped waving.

Xing didn't speak for a moment. "I don't feel that I'm doing what I should."

"You're bored?" Akoko laughed and resumed waving. "Don't worry. Once we return to the capital, there will be plenty to occupy your time."

Pema giggled guiltily. "I can't get used to Bolin with a shaved head. He looks so funny."

Tenzin made a growling noise in reply.

"What's wrong?" Pema asked.

He sighed. "The premise of the mover bothers me. And the costuming." He glanced into the other room quickly to make sure Bolin (now wearing a hat at all times because he was so sensitive about his skull shape) was still absorbed in his research. "The Airbenders are just becoming a culture again, and I feel like this will overshadow it. People will think of 'Avatar Xing' instead of what we really are."

Pema sat down on a bench and gestured for her husband to join her. "Would you feel any better if they changed the look of the costumes or make-up?"

"I- I'm not sure. It would lead to the same problem... He's told me the story; it's a compelling one, and I can tell he's working very hard, but why does he have to play an air-bender? Why couldn't it be a fire-bender and a water-bender? The dynamic couldn't be that different."

"I think they want to evoke the war without it being an outright allegory. Like 'Love Amongst the Dragons.'"

"Uncle Zuko certainly dragged us to that enough times," Tenzin said, half-mournfully, half-indulgently. "I know I shouldn't make judgement until I've seen the mover. But I worry."

"Of course you do. You always take your position very seriously, and you worry about the well-being of everyone and everything." She gave him a kiss on the nose. "We'll talk about that later."



Xing stopped meditating when he sensed the approach of Akoko. He rose and bowed swiftly in the Fire Nations style.

"News?" He asked.

"Yes," she replied. "Apparently old High Sage Kyojo had a heart attack shortly after we left. He'll need to be replaced, of course."

"Sad." Xing sat down again, still in a lotus pose. "But he was an old man."

"Too old. He should have retired years ago." Akoko stood beside Xing and bent fresh life into his campfire. "But the timing of it presents us with a great opportunity. I want you to replace him, Xing."

"Me?" Xing laughed. "Very funny, my lady."

"I'm serious, Avatar. You're not busy enough. Here's an opportunity. You're a master at fire-bending and spiritual matters. It's perfect."

"Fire Sages serve the Fire Lord and the Avatar. To have the Avatar be one would upset things."

"Things need to be upset. Besides, I need someone in that position I can trust. Especially one with your sharpness."

Xing rose and put his hand on Akoko's cheek. "You know I would move the clouds from the skies if you asked me, but I beg you not to ask me to do this. Nothing good can come from mixing my duties so much for either of us."

Akoko took Xing's hand down from her face and squeezed it tightly. "I truly feel that you were destined to fill this role for me. Look at what you have already done for me with Fire Ferret Island. Be my High Sage; I trust no one more than you. And I know you must feel the same about me."

Shaking his head, Xing still smiled and touched her hand to his forehead. "I never can seem to refuse you anything, Akoko. I will be Great Sage, and I promise to do the office every justice it deserves."