A/N: Hi, readers. Sorry for the short chapter, but I don't have that many ideas for this story. A little help will go a long way! Hope you enjoy!
Mai walked the grand marble hallways of the Fire Palace silently, feeling the cool metal of her new knives press against her pale skin. The smallest ghost of a smile drifted across her face as she reached her destination. A pale hand knocked once, then twice, on a towering pair of double doors; they were red, as was everything in the Fire Palace.
Almost instantly, the door flew open to reveal the princess of the Fire Nation herself. Her eyes sparkled mischievously as she tugged her friend into her massive bedroom. Mai was surprised, to say the very least. "What are you so excited about?" the brooding girl asked. She never failed to use an emotionless voice.
Azula merely smiled, and set the small silk bag her friend had been carrying on a nearby chair. "You'll see." The princess replied. Mai suppressed an involuntary shudder. Whenever her friend used that sort of voice, it meant she wanted to play some sort of dangerous game. Those sorts of games always managed to creep up in their little slumber parties any more. Mai's head was spinning as Azula led her from the room, walking quickly but quietly. Where were they going?
Mai soon got her answer as the princess stopped near the door of her older brother's room, just around the corner of it. The brooding girl was shocked as Azula pulled a vent cover away from the wall, setting it down on the marble floor as quietly as she could.
"Go in." she said, gesturing to the vent with a manicured hand. Mai only stood there, staring at her friend. Just then, the light patter of footsteps echoed through the hall. "Hurry!" the princess hissed, pushing her friend into the huge tunnel. She soon followed, pulling the vent cover into place just as the footsteps entered their hallway. Mai and Azula sat there frozen as they watched Ty Lee saunter by.
As the acrobat turned the corner, Azula backed up from the vent so she could turn around. It was a tight squeeze, but she managed to do it. Mai followed suit. She wrinkled up her nose at all the dust they were stirring up, amazed that her friend would go to this extreme to… What were they doing, exactly?
The brooding girl tapped her friend on the shoulder, shrugging and giving a look of confusion. Whatever they were doing, Mai knew if they were heard, they were toast. Judging by the fact that they were in the tunneling for air in the palace, they could be heard at even the slightest whisper. Words had a way of carrying through those things. In the dim light of the tunnel, Azula put a finger to her lips with a knowing smirk, motioning for her friend to follow her through the air duct. As they crawled, Mai liked this…whatever it was...less and less. She had never been a neat freak, as her mother was, but she had never seen so much dust in her life! The teen had to crawl with one hand over her nose and mouth just to keep from sneezing.
Finally, the tunnel they were in intersected with another, forming a "T." Azula stopped, making room for Mai to squeeze into the vent next to her. They looked down into the room below through another vent, and Mai finally realized why Azula had brought her here. They were spying on her brother.
Zuko sat in his room silently, reading a book. He seemed calmer than the girls had ever seen him, and Azula knew why. Mai, on the other hand… Well, she'd find out in a moment.
A knock sounded at his door, and it opened just enough for a certain bubbly girl to peek her head in. "Hi, Zuko." Ty Lee said in a sing-song sort of way. Mai's heart beat a hundred miles an hour. What was she doing talking to the prince, much less barging into his room like that?
But Zuko didn't seem to mind in the least. Was that a hint of a smile she saw? "Hi, Ty Lee. Come in." The girl did come in, shutting the heavy door behind her. The prince closed his book as the acrobat took a seat next to him on the couch. She wrapped her arms around his neck with a smile, and if possible, that smile widened as he hugged her back. Mai's blood boiled.
The two teens pulled back. "So what did you do today?" Ty Lee asked, sitting back on the velvet couch.
"Training again. It gets old sometimes."
"I know. At school, they have us warm up with gymnastics. It's the same thing over and over again." The acrobat rolled her eyes.
"Don't you spar with the other girls?"
Ty Lee faltered. "Oh, yeah. We do, but that's not as much fun anymore." Zuko hardly thought of training as fun, but he didn't voice his opinion. Instead, he arched an eyebrow. "I just don't have any friends to talk to while we sit off to the side, and we do that for most of the class." the girl explained. "And today, when I was paired to fight Azula, I felt like she was trying to hurt me." That statement didn't surprise the prince in the least.
"Azula tries to hurt everyone." he replied. Ty Lee merely looked up at him with sparkling gray eyes.
"But this time it was worse." she mumbled, looking down at the floor.
"Why is she so angry with you anyway? What could be so horrible that you haven't talked to each other in over three weeks?" Ty Lee sighed, leaning against Zuko. The prince was visibly surprised, despite the knowledge of the girl's clingy nature.
"I told them that one day I wanted to be in a circus."
"So?" The prince wasn't making the connection.
"A traveling circus." Ty Lee added. "That would mean I might never see them again, unless they came to one of my shows. Now they're ignoring me."
"That has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. And Mai's ignoring you too?"
The acrobat nodded. "She does whatever Azula wants her to." Zuko snorted. Ty Lee's lost smile returned. "But I feel bad for you. She's your sister."
Azula too felt anger boil inside her. Who did these two think they were? She didn't care if they were all lovey-dovey, but if their conversations involved putting her down, it became her business. Those two would pay.
As soon as Ty Lee kissed the prince good-bye, Mai and Azula turned and exited the tunnel. They hurried to the princess's room, the idea of sweet revenge foggy in their minds, twinkling mischief in their eyes.
A/N: So how was it? Let me know and tell me if you have any ideas for the rest of the plot!