Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar.
Sitting on the Earth King's throne, Azula marveled at how well the day had gone.
The Earth Kingdom had finally fallen, thanks to her own plotting and the Dai Lee. Long Feng was in prison once more, and was no longer a threat to her rule. Her uncle had also been captured, and her brother Zuko had changed sides and fought alongside her now. The Avatar had been mortally wounded, if not killed, and had fled Bai Sing Sei.
Overall, it was a good day for her.
There was still a loose end to wrap up, though.
Azula crossed her legs, frowning. She had Ty Lee's loyalty, she never doubted that. The other girl looked up to her really, and would never dream of turning traitor. Mai, on the other hand…
It was no secret that Mai had a crush on Zuko. Although he was now on her side, Azula didn't want to take risks that the two would meet and something would form. The little acts of rebellion Mai pulled now and then could increase tenfold if Zuko gave her an objective.
Azula decided it was time to remind Mai where her true loyalties lay, and commanded a Dai Lee agent to summon her.
"You wanted me?"
Pale silver eyes gazed boredly at the Fire Nation Princess. Leaning back in the throne, Azula nodded calmly. "Yes, Mai," she said. "I think it's time we talked."
Mai's eyes narrowed, her defenses beginning to rise as Azula stood and walked down the stairway that led to the throne; instead of standing before the other girl, she began to circle her like a predator, her eyes remaining trained on her. "Tell me something, Mai, how many guards do you think I have under my command?"
"With or without the Dai Lee?"
"Fire Nation, Mai."
The young assassin shrugged, not really interested. "A whole squad, maybe?"
"Try nearly half the Royal Army," Azula hissed. "As well as the guards that are with your family in New Ozai."
At the mention of her family, Mai's heart began to pound, but she kept her face calm and composed. "So?"
Azula continued pacing around Mai. "I know your secret, Mai. You've had a crush on my brother since we were children; perhaps those feelings remain." Her eyes narrowed, and her voice softened to a deadly tone that made Mai's blood run cold. "As you know, my brother has been known to—strike out in the past. You yourself aren't quite clear of that, am I correct?"
"Yes." The word was nearly a whisper; Mai knew it was pointless to lie. "You're correct."
Azula paused finally, studying Mai coldly. "Tell me, Mai, did your father serve in the Fire Nation Army?"
"When he was a young man, yes. He told me many stories."
"Do you think his war skills are still intact after so many years?"
This was leading up to something; because Mai suspected she knew what it was, she gritted her teeth to keep her voice steady. "I highly doubt it. It's been years since his time in the war," she said.
"Indeed. And your mother? What does she know of fighting?"
Azula was pacing around Mai again, her strides steady and even as the other girl swallowed. "Nothing," she rasped. "My mother has never fought a day in her life, Princess."
Princess. Azula smirked. For Mai, the message was beginning to hit home. "And your brother, Tom-Tom. He's only two years old."
"How easy do you think it is, Mai, to kill a two-year-old child?"
Mai's heart roared in her ears now, her body beginning to tremble as she realized what Azula was implying. "Very easy," she whispered.
"Correct. So, let me ask you a question." Azula stopped pacing, her dark gold eyes locking with Mai's pale silver ones.
"How well do you think your father, your mother, and your brother would fare if their guards suddenly turned on them?"
A weaker girl might have cried; Mai fought back her tears and struggled to keep her voice steady and her face stoic. "They would be killed, Princess."
A crack had begun to web its way along Mai's shield, and it was showing in her eyes even as her face stayed calm. Giving up the battle for composure, Mai closed her eyes. "Don't hurt them," she pleaded, her voice trembling.
Azula had won, and she knew it. The Fire Nation Princess chuckled.
"Oh, Mai, but that all depends on you," she taunted. "It's quite simple, really."
"What do you want me to do?"
Azula walked around Mai, standing behind her, speaking softly, directly into Mai's ear. "Stay away from my brother," she hissed. "Don't talk to him, don't walk with him, don't even look at him if you can manage it. If you do, and I suspect any treachery, your whole family will taken prisoner and killed. And I will force you to stand there and watch it happen. Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal clear, Princess."
Mai's voice trembled again, but not with any helplessness or grief; Azula detected faint hints of hatred in her tone, and relished it. "Your family hangs in the balance, Mai," she taunted. "As much as you act it, you are not heartless."
I don't hate my family like you do, Mai thought angrily, but wisely kept this thought to herself. She exhaled shakily. "I'll stay away from Zuko," she promised. "Just keep your dogs away from my family."
"I keep my word."
Azula silently walked past Mai and back up the stairway, sitting on the throne. "You are dismissed, Mai."
For a moment Mai simply glared, her silver eyes burning and heated; if looks could kill, Azula would have died a thousand deaths. But she said nothing, and after a moment she whirled on her heel and stalked out of the room. Azula smirked.
Ah yes. The day had gone very well indeed.
This is probably the first time I've ever written Azula true to the show. Dang.
Azula is a manipulative person, and I could seriously imagine her manipulating Mai to keep her loyal. I don't know if her family would be used, but it was an idea.
Read and review, please!