I don't own the Avatar: The Last Airbender or any of its characters.
All I Need
Chapter 20 - City of Walls and Secrets II
Story by Last Butterfly
Summary: While the gaang's looking for Appa in Ba Sing Sei, Zuko had his own reasons to go and find them, and he's also forced by two freedom fighters to look for their disappeared leader. What will happen if they meet?
It's a continue after Ep36. Zutara, Blutara
A/N: …How does anybody come back from the dead? ^^; Can a Story return to your hearts or even gain your attention again after a year?
In the last half year I wrote then re-wrote then erased then wrote this chapter again, and you know what? Damn, XD I needed this break. The Story needed this break, :( and I'm sorry for making you wait for such a LONG time, I really feel bad about it.
I had Complete storyline in my head for this story. Everything was in my head, and it would have taken more than 100 pages - knowing me ^^; - and it all looked So troublesome, and not So special to be worth it.
Then I decided that it would change. And it would change Now. XD I did not have a Zutara kiss in my mind half a year ago, and you know what? This story just reached 200 pages, and Damn you deserve some Zutara! *shakefist* Zuko and Katara deserve some closeness, and Damn, XD I want them to finally be happyyy togetheeer~
I wanted to say a Big Thank You to everyone who commented me in the last months, You don't even know how much strength your words can give to someone. :)
There's a summary of the story at the previous chapter. It probably helps to catch up with the storyline again. ^^; Once again, I'm sorry for the long break.
Iroh whistled contently while cleaning the counter in the small teashop. A playful smile disappeared and reappeared upon his face because of the latest turns of events.
Most of the customers who were at least acquaintances of the tea-maker would have sworn that the old man was in love. That day he had been in such a good mood that this seemed to be the only logical explanation about his behaviour.
But if one had been able to read him it would have been obviously the wrong answer. The Dragon of the West's heart was not engulfed by love but pride. His nephew came to a decision on his own which Iroh always hoped he would one day.
After having a content look around the customers and the cleaned counter, he slowly went in the backroom, heading for one of the shelves. Upon it laid a small wooden box with a lotus engraved in the middle of its lid. After one last glance behind him he gave a small pressure to it on both sides while his under hand pushed on the flower. With a low click the box opened, revealing two smaller objects which had been carefully wrapped in cloth.
His brow furrowed as he took both of them out of their place. He put away one of them before gazing at the lighter package. He let out a small amount of air then hesitatingly removed the cover, revealing a small artefact. It had been a hairpin with the shape of a flaming flower… but unlike the usual Fire Nation colours of red and golden, this headpiece was made of black, white and mostly blue. Just like the colours of the Blue Spirit Mask…
"You would be so proud of him," Iroh spoke with a soft whisper, his golden eyes saddened by faint memories of the distant past. "I know you both would be…"
"Mushi, where-? Oh…" The shop owner came in the room but silenced when the old man dried his eye then hid his hands in his sleeves. He could only have a glance at the hairpin and guessed how it had probably belonged to the tea-maker's late wife who he once talked to him about.
"Yes?" Iroh turned to him with neutral expressions as if nothing had happened. His employee respected the other man's good nature under other circumstances too, but now for the side glance at him he noticed that maybe one day he should talk with him about his loss. Taking care of an only nephew with a fiery temper after loosing his own family must have been hard.
He finally shook his head, motioning behind him. "There are some folks looking for you."
The old bender bowed his head before returning to the shop's main area, in the meantime hiding the small hairpin in one of his pockets. He made a smile appear on his face as he stepped through the door. When he looked up and his eyes met with a group of three he stopped in surprise.
The tall boy with the circle shaped hat, the short tomboyish girl and their leader with the piece of grass between his teeth stood by the wall, all of them looking in his direction.
It was Jet who finally uncrossed his arms then walked to the other side of the counter before asking lowly. "Where's Li?"
His voice had remained cool, and Iroh sighed as he was afraid that now the teen would decide to finish what he first started, but…
"In fact we've been looking for both of you," The freedom fighter went on, looking to side for a moment as some customers left their table. "Your apartment was empty and we were…" Jet rolled his eyes as he said what probably was not in his mind first. "Worried that you might have-"
"My nephew and I moved out." The old master bender spoke shortly, remaining cautious about what he said. The leader of three probably realized that himself because he parted from the grass, throwing it to the side.
"Right, whatever." Jet frowned, and tried not to care when Smellerbee gave him a narrow look from the side. "But we thought he would want to know that his girlfriend had been arrested by the Dai Lee."
The shadow passed the face of the old general. "What?" Suddenly his nephew, the word 'girlfriend', and the Dai Lee did not sound promising to him.
"That girl, Jin, who he dated with," Longshot spoke then, and Iroh found himself staring at him as if this had been some kind of a miracle. He would have sworn before that the boy was mute. "She was led away while she shouted something about 'refusing to help' them. We guessed that it would have something to do with you."
Iroh was looking at the duo with raised eyebrows still before they were both pushed to the sides by the shortest of their group, who brought him out of his daze. "Mr Mushi, do you and your nephew want to help that girl, or do you not?"
"Nnnh…" Zuko groaned painfully as he gained consciousness. His head was throbbing as if a fully grown khomodo rhino would have stomped back and forth on it. When his eyes opened complete darkness greeted him. He slowly sat up so that he wouldn't cause any unnecessary noise. Who knew what was lurking in the darkness.
He squinted while trying to look around but the rocky ground around him showed nothing to notice. Wait a minute… rocks? He lifted a hand beside his head and was about to create a small flame, but this sudden movement seemed to be proven hostile by something… something definitely huge.
The prince froze at the unmistakable sniffing from just behind his neck. The amount of air ruffled and lifted his hair, and when he heard a deep growl, his good eye seemingly grew. He somersaulted away just in time before a giant, three-toed leg stomped onto the place he had been a moment before.
He turned around, trying to reach for his swords while still scooting further but those were not on his back where he had put them. Probably they fell off after we have fallen into that trap…
He was suddenly thankful for the years he spent with training because the beast followed him with a rattling sound, yet could not reach him. When his back hit the wall, he was finally able to see white, furry paws stomping towards him.
Damn it! Zuko gritted his teeth as a giant head appeared before him while growling hungrily. When his gaze met a row of teeth, his hands which rose before him flamed up. He yelled at the same time when the white furred monster roared…
Then his flames extinguished when he realized what he had seen.
Two horns, white fur and six legs bound by heavy chains.
The prince's eyes remained round as instead of retreating, the sky-bison only pulled against its bindings further towards him, trying to attack him for the sake of old times. He was pushed further against the wall thanks to a great amount of air the animal blew out. It used airbending to try to hurt him. But it also proved that, thankfully, he already managed to get out of its reach.
The firebender snapped his head to the side and when his eyes finally got used to the darkness he could see a pale blue spot, which the voice belong to.
Katara ran towards them while the bison was groaning at the scarred teen tirelessly. - The girl's appearance obviously did not prove that Zuko was no longer a threat. – So he remained very still even when the waterbender dropped to her knees by the prince's side, arms outstretched between him and the beast.
A snicker sounded somewhere in the distance, from the same direction she had appeared from. "Appa, good boy!"
The blue eyed girl murmured her brother's name with annoyance, before turning towards the chained animal. "Appa, it's ok. He's with us now!" The bison was still growling until she moved again.
Though Zuko got over the first shock of being attacked he was not thinking about getting to his feet yet, at least not until the waterbender actually pulled on his sleeve. He let her take the lead as she got a hold of his right hand and they slowly rose up in unison. Her hand felt especially cool against his heated palm and when her fingers intertwined his, he only stared numbly at how pale his skin looked against her dark mocha one. It was interesting how almost every difference between them had already been visible, or rather touchable, on their hands: tanned and pale, cool and warm, soft and rough.
Anxiety rose further within him with this way of thinking when her hand almost tenderly started to scoot up his lower arm. He did not dare to move because a strange tingling followed the path wherever her fingertips touched him, and by Agni, he did not plan to stop her. H-hey, hold that thought…!
He swallowed and his good ear pinked as the girl's hand stopped just above his biceps with a gentle squeeze. Or did he just imagine that?
He felt as if his consciousness had been separated from his body; and this situation suddenly reminded him of that time in his old room in the Lower Tier. When he woke up after Azula's lightning struck him, and she sat way too close to him just when he realized he didn't have a shirt on. Even though it had only happened days before, it felt more like ages. Back then he wished for nothing more but for her not sitting that close to him. Right now though, a part of his mind played with the thought of pulling her closer. And then she would look at him with those wondrous, surprised blue eyes of hers. He could later blame the darkness and the bison's hostility for the whole move…
What is this girl doing to me?
Then she suddenly tugged on his arm, lifting it closer towards the white sky-bison and he finally heard the words she just said. "…Zuko is a friend now Appa, see?"
Only then did he realize what she was doing and he snapped back to reality at once. After recalling the painful images of turtle-ducks biting him, his old ostrich-horse snapping its beak after his hand, and even the hissing of the avatar's lemur from the last couple of days, he knew it was about time to stop this… whatever it was. He definitely didn't want to add the memory of losing an arm like a common thief into his already not so joyful bite-collection, just because his blood concentrated on other parts of his body rather than which controlled his common sense.
Eventually, each of the scarred teen's muscles tensed and he pulled against the waterbender's hold, almost making the girl fall back against him.
"What the-?" Katara did not understand it at first why the prince resisted and tried to repeat the move stubbornly. "Zuko, stop fidgeting!" Then she glared back at him only to see him shaking his head.
The teeth he saw from up close had been simply too vivid in his mind at the moment. Bisons are vegetarians, right? It might take this beast two or three bites to chop off an arm properly…
"Oh, come on! He'll just sniff your hand!"
"Forget it." He kept his voice low while leaving his arm in place but he did not shake her hands off. "I told you animals did not exactly like me."
For a moment her big blue eyes only focused on his ones as if waiting for him to laugh at a joke, but as none came she rolled her eyes. "Oh really? Like Momo, right?"
The audible teasing of her words made him scowl but before he could have said anything in retort, she started giggling. Without thinking much Katara lifted up her free hand to ruffle into his hair. "Appa only eats greens, not firebenders, no matter what you want to-" She started, but her voice slowly trailed away as she saw his reactions. What she planned as a completely innocent move, like she would have done to Aang, somehow turned out… rather different.
The prince suddenly tensed when her fingers reached towards him, her thumb unconsciously brushing over the scarred tissue where his eyebrow should have been, to push his hair out of his forehead. Her giggles stopped and so did her hand as his eyes met hers. Suddenly, his skin felt warmer beneath her fingertips and his hair, which she thought would be rough like her brother's, slipped through her fingers lightly like silk. Although she tried to reach high enough her hand barely passed above his ear comfortably, which caught her by surprise. And then… she got lost in two golden orbs that were gazing at her in the darkness.
She was holding her breath, being afraid of breaking this… this moment, which caught up with them once again. It was just like the previous night, and again he did not seem to look at her but through her… straight into her thoughts and soul. And she became scared of what he might have seen, because she felt then how her skin started tingling, her cheeks burned and her mouth suddenly turned dry. Yesterday she thought their closeness had been accidental because she had yet to realize how powerful his effect had been on her.
It all fell into place right then and there. The way his hands trembled between her healing gloves while he was disguised as the Blue Spirit, the unreasonable anger she felt towards him when it was him who took off that mask… It would have been so much easier, had it been someone else. Anyone else, in fact. But she still would have something to hold onto against him, hadn't he opened up to her during the previous night. That stupid night! And it had only happened because they both had stupid dreams!
The emotions which overran her made the air escape her in a shaky gasp and she was suddenly trembling, which caused her hand to accidentally brush the sensitive skin of his scarred ear, and that had been the trigger which sent them both over the edge.
"…eighty-two Spirit Worlds, eighty-three Spirit Worlds, eighty-four Spirit Worlds…"
Toph groaned as the young airbender started murmuring again and she squeezed his hand hard until he would complain about it. "I've asked you to stop it. It's damn annoying!"
"Okay, okay!" Aang let out a huff of air as the pressure ceased and she once again let him lead her forward in the dark corridor. "It's just… we have no idea where we are going, and at least knowing for how long have we been - stairs again – going on would be nice."
"Yeah, yea-uff!" The blind bender muttered before buckling at the first step, whirling halfway towards him as he pulled on her hand. In the end she came to a halt a step lower than him, blowing out enough air to make her bangs lift away from her eyes. "Thanks for the good timing, Twinkle Toes."
"Sorry." He rubbed the back of his neck as she turned away then let out a yelp as she stomped down the stairs while pulling on his arm. "Toph, stop! Remember the last time we've almost f-"
And just as he was about to warn her she reached the end of the stairs a bit unexpectedly, but she only stumbled. Just after getting her footage back, he arrived down too, dashing into her and knocking her off of her feet. She let out a small squeal when she couldn't find anything to hold onto and ended up below him, pressed against the metal floor. Only when she felt something wet against her cheek and the corner of her lips did she realize where Aang's mouth landed. The monk tried to move away hurriedly but when this only managed to make an audible smack upon her skin he froze with a breath hitching in his throat. "T-Toph, I swear I didn't mean to…!"
After the blind girl could finally pull her fist out from under herself she sent a blow towards the avatar's stomach. "Twinkle Toes!" She shouted angrily and only avoided him by an inch as he bent an amount of air to get back on his feet. What he did not expect was that the same move forced her onto her back again, which made her already reddening face turn darker. Before he could have said anything, she kicked his legs out from under him, causing him to end back on the ground too.
When in the next moment a blow landed on his nose he let out a groan, reaching for his nose before she was above him, grabbing his shoulders and slamming him against the floor. "I'm gonna kill you for this!" She said through gritted teeth, her hands searching for a soft spot to hit – probably his nose again.
"Toph, I'm sorry! But it was you who pulled me on the first place-" He fell silent when her hands pulled on his ears, making his head knock against the floor one more time.
"Don't you dare to say how it was my fault! You… you perverted hundred-year-old MONK!"
When her voice trailed away, he realized how her hands slightly trembled upon him and how her almost illuminatingly pale cheeks showed darker shades. "Toph…" Though he spoke softly, her hold firmed. "Was that the first time you've been kissed?"
The back of his head met the floor once more. "It was merely a peck!" She hissed, but did not use violence again. "It doesn't count, and Nobody is going to hear about it, you got that, Aang?"
The corner of his mouth slightly curled up. Why is that when each time she says Aang, I go numb…?
"I said nobody, did you hear me?"
"Y-yess!" He hurriedly answered when she pulled her head up again, but then she stopped in mid-move. "Please, don't knock again with my h-" Her palm met his lips with a soft push, and she turned her head to the side, listening.
"Did you feel that?" She asked on a low voice, which made him shift in his place.
He only felt one thing strange and that was her straddling him, but he guessed that wouldn't have been wise to share with her at the moment. "Feel what?" He whispered back. "We're in a metal tunnel, I can't feel anything…"
"It," Toph frowned, finally letting go of his left ear. "It felt just like-"
There was a low thump somewhere, as if something heavy would have hammered the ground nearby.
She got to her feet and already started running down the corridor they headed towards when the avatar scrambled to his feet. "Toph! Toph wait!" His voice was lowered as he did not dare to shout, but he had to hurry not to loose her. Their footsteps echoed through the corridor, while the noise they heard repeated again and again. He only hoped there were no more stairs in their way.
"Toph!" Aang took a corner, finally taking out her figure as she ran before him, illuminated by a low light when she ran through the corridor's end, into an opened space.
"Finally!" She fell on her knees, her hands and arms lifting a pile of earth for her to hug it, like a non-bender would hug a pillow. "Solid ground!"
The avatar was panting by the time he made the last few meters towards his friend, while her hands slammed against the ground once more, causing the earth to form an earthman in front of her. She did not tire with making it more look-alike a real human than a simple snowman Water Bender kids usually made, though when he reached closer it seemed to have… a wolf's tail?
He couldn't help making a smile while watching the blind bender being happy after all the grumpiness inside that tunnel they came from. He was walking down the last steps while she was laughing lightly as if there had been nothing she would have enjoyed more than finally bending her element. When he stepped out of the corridor and into the opened space though, his smile faded completely.
The sounds that led them hear… they were gone.
Toph's laugh changed to one he knew too well. She used that exact same laugh which she mocked the Boulder and basically each and every one of her big-mouthed opponents with. Besides, though she was in a kneeling position, one of her hands had been pressed to the ground and that only meant one thing: she was as ready as ever.
He started frowning, but only when he took another step did he hear what the pale girl said into seemingly nothing, with a smirk pretty much the one he had seen on her face in the arena of Earth Rumble VI. "Now come out, come out where you are…"
Aang came to a halt, taking his glider into his hands just a moment before bars slid out from the ground behind them, closing the corridor they came through. He gritted his teeth, whirling back towards the blind bender. "Toph, you ran straight into a trap! Why couldn't you slow down?"
But Toph only turned her head slightly to the side, then suddenly upwards. When his gaze trailed towards the ceiling he could see the familiar circle shaped hats. The agents of the Dai Lee were hanging from above, their hands letting go of their chains right in that moment.
The blind bandit jumped away from her place, using her bending and the chains and earth gloves avoided her by inches, clinging onto her earthman. Then she was again standing by his side safely, her smirk fully visible on her face as she raised her hands in her unique defensive position.
"Come on, Twinkles, as if you did not know me any better than these guys." She said, smirking contently as the Dai Lee agents dropped from the ceiling, one after the other. "I giggled like a girl, to make them believe I'm distracted."
"Huh?" Aang gave her a weird look, which made her blow on her bangs while their enemies stood in a semi-circle in front of them.
"I even gave the earth-guy Sokka's hair," Toph whispered. "You should have known that was a sign to 'be ready, enemies are close'."
The young monk lightly flushed at that. He honestly had no idea it was an act on her part. "…you could have said 'be ready, enemies are close' yourself, you know." He said lowly, bringing his gaze back at the Dai Lee agents. None of them moved.
"Learn to think like an earthbender already," Toph closed her eyes and raised her chin higher a little bit. "And face things head on!"
Aang snapped his head towards her, realization hitting him on the spot. "So you just couldn't wait to beat these guys up?" There were several snickers coming from the Dai Lee's direction as the young monk waved towards them, but the blind bandit opened her eyes, her sightless gaze turning to the side where she felt somebody moving closer.
"Don't worry Twinkle Toes," She said then made a smirk at him. "They only tried to sneak-attack me. You'll be fine."
The avatar was gaping at her when finally a man appeared from the side, stepping in front of the Dai Lee members. This man had grey eyes, and his hairstyle reminded Aang that of Haru's instead of the braid of the Dai Lee agents. He clapped his hands with a half-hidden smile in the corner of his lips as he stopped.
"Welcome, avatar." He peeked to the side, one of his eyebrows arching as he looked at the blind girl then back at the young monk. "Forgive the Dai Lee's previous action, but we've been expecting you sooner…"
The thoughts Zuko had about her before did not want to fade, and for a moment he was afraid she somehow knew about them because he could see her eyes turning round when they met his. The way her fingers rested on his arm and lingered buried in his hair made him feel more awkward by the moment, and it forced him to hold his breath.
She was breathless while looking up at him and when her hands started trembling he could not tear his gaze away from the two blue pools.
Was she frightened of him? Should he pull away?
He already felt ashamed because of having improper thoughts about her but then, just as he was about to exhale, her hand brushed above his scarred ear, and that simple touch had been electrifying. He couldn't bear suppressing a low moan.
And then he knew it for sure he managed to screw things up. Again.
As her hand touched his ear, Zuko involuntarily moaned. Then in the low light his pale cheek filled with such a colour that matched his scarred other. Hadn't the waterbender been so near, she wouldn't have been able to see it. But luckily, she did. And it was about time for her to see how he truly had felt near her… because that was exactly what she had felt too.
All the things which happened between them from the start, and especially within only the last couple of days: their small talk, their playful fights, his smirks and her smiles. After all those occasions when they got close to the other, they headed towards one inevitable fact: they had never been friends, nor could they ever be… because they were destined for something greater, something stronger.
Katara saw how he closed his eyes shut with a frown, and what surprised her even further was that she knew what it meant. For the first time she was able to see the exact emotion he did not even try to hide. He thought he had lost. He felt ashamed for even thinking about how she might accept him for who he was.
But he could not predict that she would know this, nor what she wanted to do after figuring it out. She reacted faster than thoughts and before he could have turned away from her, she finally did what her heart desired.
His eyes opened wide with surprise when her lips pressed against his, her hands falling behind his neck. Her eyes had been closed but the way her fingers moved, the way her body moved told him all. She eagerly fought for him to respond. He felt her teeth pull on his lower lip ever so gently… and that was when the world seemed to spin.
He never knew that there was a way for all of his muscles to relax, but the expression of 'melting in one's arms' just gave him a new meaning. The tightening feeling in his chest disappeared as if it had been ice which she shattered by flowing close to him. It felt both like flying and standing on the most solid ground ever at the same time. He heard her catching her breath when his arms circled her, his hand reaching into her braided hair. He could hardly believe this was actually happening. He was kissing a waterbender.
Oh by Agni, and she was sweeter like anything he ever tasted before.
Katara found herself in a bliss.
T-this is far better than I imagined!
Zuko's kiss was far from an innocent peck. The way his lips brushed against hers, the warmth and strength he had given into it made it grazing but oh so pleasuring. When his arms circled around her, a hand slightly bowed her head against his palm and the other pulled her closer to his body. And her breath hitched in the back of her throat, her back arching towards him because he was fire, a fire she would be eager to fuel if he could make her feel like this longer…
Minutes later, though for them it felt like it had only been moments later, he finally pulled away from her. They were both panting now and how, she did not know, but it turned out she had pressed him against the wall in the process. Their flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes met once again, and instead of pulling away they found themselves smiling. Then he chuckled lightly and she let herself laugh softly too while pressing her forehead against one of his shoulders. Katara only allowed herself to blow out a bigger amount of air when his arms circled securely around her slim waist.
"This… is going to complicate things." She heard him whisper against her hair but the steady beat of his heart soothed her, because it promised something different. Something she hadn't felt for a long time since leaving her frozen homeland. The rhythm of it sounded to her like this: You – are - safe. You – are – safe…
"Possibly." The waterbender said lowly, her lips curling up into a content half-smirk while looking up at him. He was smiling down at her with the softest gaze. And she had never seen him more handsome than in that very moment.
Toph made a frown at the guy who did the talking instead of the Dai Lee as he bowed towards them. It was not because he did not acknowledge her merely as someone with 'unwanted presence', but because this man's steps felt strangely light. He was definitely not an earthbender. Sissies like him could never raise a rock bigger than a chicken-pig. It had been far from Aang's air-light steps, it felt more like… Zuko's probably. The silent steps of someone who wanted to avoid getting heard, or seen.
Aang looked from face to face. His friend remained silent, her eyebrows furrowed as she listened and waited for something to happen. There had been enough benders to easily take the two of them down, but why did they do nothing then…?
His gaze then turned to the man who spoke. Wasn't it that the Dai Lee was only supposed to listen to their leader? Where was Long Feng?
"Did you say you were expecting me?" The young avatar asked and one of his eyebrows rose as he lowered his staff.
The blind bandit gave him a surprised look, before lowering her head with a heavy sigh. After Joo Dee's disappearance and a long-long walk through a one-way tunnel, what did you expect? Her earthbending pupil's naivety seemed to be limitless indeed.
"Oh yes," The man's smile became taunting. "Your presence has been an essential part of a bigger plan." At that both Toph and Aang frowned, their gaze met once as if waiting for the other to say something, but the grey eyed man spoke again. "It is an honour for me to inform you, Avatar Aang, that by the Laws of Ba Sing Sei, You… are under arrest."
The young monk's jaw fell and the blind bender clenched her fists by those words. "And for what?" She stomped with one of her feet, pointing accusingly at the speaker. "Not taking out the trash? Don't make me laugh!"
"For trespassing Dai Lee Headquarters, disturbing the inner peace of the Capital city and…" The man's gaze narrowed at the loud little bender, before going on in a cool voice. "For kidnapping the heir of a noble Earth Kingdom family."
Well if anything then that made Toph close her mouth.
"Oh, I get it…" Aang relaxed his arm that was holding his glider.
"Twinkle Toes, I don't think-"
"No, don't worry Toph, I'll handle this." The avatar said, putting a hand on the blind girl's shoulder. She looked at him as if he was crazy but she could still feel him smiling. "Avatar-style. Just watch…"
The young monk cleared his throat, stepping forward while being watched by a hundred pairs of eyes. "Members of the Dai Lee! I apologize for our trespassing but we were told that here, we could find our lost bison." His voice sounded so diplomatic that it made Toph blink several times. She was wondering whether Aang had been this brave, or this oblivious of the fact that they were surrounded underground by too many earthbenders to easily be brought down.
"We are living in dangerous times and none of my friends knew about the rules of Ba Sing Sei, that is true." The bald teen spoke, and he respectfully bowed his head in the direction of the pale man who spoke to them. "We did not mean to cause trouble, and whatever one of my previous reincarnations had done with this aforementioned noble heir, I am sure that it can be explained and-"
At that the grey eyed man cleared his throat. He had a side-glance towards the girl standing a step behind the avatar then spoke, not letting the boy finish what he started. "We are not talking about a previous matter, Avatar Aang."
One of the monk's eyebrows rose. "You… aren't?" Only when Toph pulled on his robes did he turn around, meeting her shady eyes. And just a glance at her had been enough for him to understand.
"Your crime is against one of the oldest noble families of the Earth Kingdom, for kidnapping their only child," Guilt had been written all over her face when she whispered his name, but her now tiny voice had been shadowed by the pale man. "The heiress Toph Bei Fong!"
A/N: With this, I wish everyone a Happy-Belated-Zutara Week for 2010.
R&R please, and let me know if you're still out there.