Disclaimer: As Quakie continuously tells me, I do not own Avatar. …darn…

Warning: Think people. Why would I rate this 'M'?

Don't judge a thing until you know what's inside it
Dont' push me - I'll fight it
Never gonna give in - never gonna give it up no
If you can't catch a wave then your'e never gonna ride
You can't come uninvited
Never gonna give in - never gonna give up no
You can't take me I'm free
--Can't Take Me
--Bryan Adams

Wow…170 reviews…Thankies!

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Iroh would have simply loved to take some heavy object and knock his nephew unconscious before tying him down to make him stay put. And he would've done so, if his nephew hadn't been five, nearly six, months pregnant. But since he was, Iroh was forced to remain still and listen to the insane but elaborate plan his nephew had managed to (amazingly) come up in a mere matter of five minutes. Any other time, Iroh would have been proud, but now he just shook his head and silently questioned the Spirits why his nephew had to be so damn stubborn. "Zuko, are you sure about this?"

Zuko stopped his pacing and whirled around to face his uncle, breaking off from his elaborate explanations of his plan. "Uncle! For the last time, YES!"

Iroh shook his head slowly. "But why do you want to risk this? We will only stay here for—"

"—Who knows how long!" Zuko snapped. "Earthbending will take some time to learn and if all goes as planned, Aang will most likely stay here to learn Firebending too!"

Iroh was silent, not seeing why that was so horrible.

Zuko let out an exasperated groan at the look on his uncle's face. "I don't want to birth my baby in the middle of the Earth Kingdom city!" He whined before falling quiet and finally whispering: "And there are no doors or windows here…"

Iroh raised his eyebrow at the last part but chose not to comment on it and instead focused on the first part and sighed. "But do we have to—"

"Yes!" Zuko snapped, the momentary quietness gone. "There is no other way!"

Iroh hesitated for a moment, struggling with himself a bit before giving in. "All right, nephew."

Zuko looked pleased with himself at the minor victory and began to explain their plan step by step again, breaking it down for Iroh so that they were both sure of what to do. Iroh meanwhile silently questioned himself how he had gotten into this situation in the first place and why, oh why, must people who are pregnant be insane?

"Sokka, would you please stop pacing!" Katara snapped as she clutched her head. "You're making me dizzy!"

Sokka, however, just increased his pacing. "But why won't Bumi let me see him? I mean, don't I have a right to see my boyfriend especially when he's pregnant!"

Aang scratched Yun's head as the small fox whimpered and yowled in misery. The guards had allowed Aang to keep Yun, since the fox wasn't allowed back with the prisoners. Yun had apparently taken this separation from its adopted 'mother' very badly, and now refused to cease his yowling. Aang heaved a sigh. "Sokka, Bumi just wants them to calm down a bit before letting us see them. I know, I don't like it either, but Zuko and Iroh are going to be staying there from now on, until we leave at least."

"But I could help him adjust!"

Katara groaned. They had been through this conversation at least five times in the past ten minutes. She could feel a headache coming on, and it was going to be a big and painful one.

Aang resisted the urge to groan as Katara had. "Sokka, Bumi wants to interrogate them. Nothing more. And he doesn't want us to interfere—"

"Interrogate! But—" Sokka panicked. "He promised he wouldn't hurt them!"

"I know what Bumi said!" Aang snapped, before suddenly looking apologetic. "Sorry…I didn't mean that…" He sighed before suddenly speaking. "We shouldn't have come here. It's all my fault. Iroh and Zuko were right; I just was too selfish to realize that."

Katara looked at him pityingly. "It's going to be okay, Aang. Bumi won't hurt them." Her voice was more confident than she felt, she realized suddenly as she repeated the words a little louder. "Bumi won't hurt them."

Silence was the key element here. Well, silence, speed, and stealth. But that wasn't the point right now. The point was that everything had. to. go. according. to. plan.

So simple really.

So far, everything had gone as the brilliant, well-laid out plan predicted it would. When the guard opened the wall to bring them their food, Iroh had quickly knocked him out while Zuko quickly knocked out the two guards outside before they could utter a word. Then, they snuck down the hallways, hiding in unlocked spare rooms when guards walked down the halls (there were so many unlocked rooms and surprisingly so little guards), as they made their way out of the palace. All went smoothly.

Too bad plans always have a glitch in them.

Zuko cursed under his breath when he heard the guards start shouting something about escaping prisoners. Exchanging a look with Iroh, both threw the stealth and silence part out of their plan and instead focused on speed and run-for-your-lives! part. As in, bolting for the exit as fast as they could, not caring that they've could, would, have been spotted.

There was no time for words as Zuko led the way out and immediately headed to where he knew the mail system was. And, as if by luck, there was one empty crate heading down the ramp towards them.


Zuko acted almost instantly as the word left his lips and jumped, landing perfectly inside the empty crate. Iroh, who had been a few seconds behind him, and therefore, his timing a bit off, almost missed the cart had it not been for Zuko grabbing him at the last second and dragging him on.

The yelling around them was louder now, and the alarm bells had gone off by now. But neither Zuko nor Iroh paid much attention.

Bumi stroked his beard as he watched the whole thing from his balcony. "Interesting…very interesting…" He commented, grinning. "I never thought of such a tactical escape plan…but I do wonder why no one ever takes the secret passage way that's conveniently hidden behind the tapestry?"
"We're nearing the roof, uncle! Get ready to jump!" Zuko yelled over his shoulder.

Iroh gripped the edge of the cart even more. "Do we have to!" He yelled back, questioning again why all of this was happening to him…maybe it was bad karma? Or were the Spirits taking their vengeance on him for the siege at Ba Sing Sei? "They have tea back there!"

Zuko paid no heed as he eyed the edge. "NOW!" He shouted and jumped, landing on the roof in a crouched position before quickly scrambling to the top.

Iroh groaned at the shout but obediently jumped, managing to grasp the edge of the roof and (with some difficulty—hey, it's not easy being an old man running after today's youth, okay?) pulled himself up, following his nephew in what was now officially a wild goose chase.

Bumi watched with ever growing interest, never taking his eyes off of the two tiny figures scrambling over the roofs, being chased by Earth Kingdom soldiers—


Bumi blinked and turned around to see Aang, Katara, and Sokka at the door, looking confused and a little panicked.

"What's going on—" Aang was cut off by Sokka rushing up to Bumi, shoving the guards out of his way.

"Where are they! What have you done to them!"

Bumi, as amused as he was by the question, decided to hold his tongue and instead pointed to the two figures currently leaping over the roofs, heading towards the wall. "Your boyfriend has come up with a rather interesting escape plan, don't you think?"

But when Bumi turned to look at Sokka, he found the youth beside him a rather sickly shade of white. But before he could comment on it though, the youth rushed to the edge of the balcony and began yelling rather silly things such as—Zuko, you IDIOT!—and—turn back immediately before someone gets hurt!—which Bumi doubted helped the situation at all (or rather, he doubted the Firebenders could hear him no matter how insanely loud he was). Firebenders could be clueless like that during an escape.

The plan wasn't going...well…according to plan. Zuko decided as he dodged, yet another, rock wall that threatened to block his way. A quick glance over his shoulder told him that Iroh was close behind and doing well, though noticeably paler. But Zuko had no time to dwell on that as he jumped over the roof and landed gracefully on the outer wall. Yes! Finally! Now all they had to do was—

… … …

Zuko stared down at the sheer drop below him.


He'd forgotten about that.


Iroh landed beside him, glancing at him in puzzlement before looking down and…slapping his forehead.

Escape plan -- total disaster.

A quick glance between them was all that was needed to solve the dilemma 'now what?'. Turning quickly to their left, they headed as fast as they could to where they saw the long winding road. Of course, the road there was guarded, but not heavily, so maybe—

Five guards landing on the path before them forced them to scrap their new five-second plan and instead focus on getting passed them first.

Sokka was now completely livid. "Stop them!" He screamed at Bumi, who only held up his hands in mock surrender and replied, quite innocently, that that was what they were doing.

"NOT THEM! THE GUARDS!" Sokka screeched so loud that everyone within a two mile radius was sure to have ringing ears for a week. "THEY'LL GET HURT!"

And Bumi knew better than to ask who he meant—the guards or the Firebenders.

Instead, he turned back to watch with amazement as the two Firebenders managed to plow through the ever growing regiment of guards sent out to stop them. The two almost made it to the point where they could have hopped safely down, when everything went wrong.

Sokka let out a shrill yell as Zuko stepped too close to the edge…and slipped.

He was doing pretty well, Zuko thought, as he dodged a small boulder. But he miscalculated his step and slipped. A surprised cry escaped his lips as he fell backwards into the abyss below. But before he even managed to drop five seconds, a ledge from the wall shot out below him, causing him to fall onto that with a rather undignified 'oomph!'.

Blinking, Zuko stared up at the sky in surprise as he lay on his back, momentarily stunned before feeling the earth start to rise up, carrying him with it, back to the soldiers whom were surprisingly gentle now. Guarded still, yes, but gentle as they helped him up and began to carry him back. Zuko didn't bother to fight. He felt suddenly tired, drained of all his energy. He wanted to sleep now, not fight. He'd leave the fighting to another day.

Sokka was still shaking when Bumi clasped him on the back, saying "See? No harm done!".

Then, before Sokka could really explode, Bumi turned to one of his guards. "Make sure to have Makoto take a look over the boy."

As the guard bowed and hurried away, Aang turned from the balcony to ask what Sokka was still too speechless to ask. "Who's Makoto?"

Bumi just grinned at him. "You'll see!"

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R&R please…

Um…yeah. Sorry about the wait. Lot of junk at school to do so don't expect updates till the next break, ok?

Sorry, (blame the school!)