Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar. I just ship Tyzula.

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Monster

"Hey… Azula?"

The four teenagers were making their leave from the beach, quite pleased with the destruction they'd wrecked and a little more comfortable around each other; Azula paused as Ty Lee called her name softly, glancing back at her. The brown-haired acrobat had been hanging back from the group and had now come to a complete standstill. The Fire Nation Princess glanced briefly at Mai and Zuko, who were walking on ahead, before going back to her old friend. "What is it, Ty Lee? Is something wrong?"

For a moment the acrobat gazed at the sand between them, shifting from foot to foot; finally she met Azula's gaze, and her eyes were dark. "Do you really believe that?" she murmured.

"Uh… believe what?"

"What you said before. About you being a monster."

Ah.

"Well, it's true." Azula shrugged, crossing her arms lightly over her chest. "I've never denied it."

"You aren't a monster, though! You're just… a little different…"

"Ty Lee, don't make excuses for me—"

Azula promptly froze as Ty Lee rested one hand against the back of her neck and pulled her close, her other arm snaking around the princess's waist. For one crazy second she actually thought the other girl was going to kiss her, and she wondered why that didn't bother her so much.

But instead of kissing her, Ty Lee simply pulled her close and rested her head on her shoulder, closing her eyes. For a long moment Azula stood tensely, not sure how to judge what was happening and what it was doing to her body and not accustomed to being held so close, so gently as though she was a doll made of porcelain and not a dangerous Firebending prodigy.

"T-Ty Lee…?"

She hated and loved the stutter in her voice, because even though it sounded weak and uncertain she had not yet met anyone who could successfully plant it in her the way Ty Lee had. Slowly, oh so slowly, she relaxed into the other girl's embrace, sighing softly.

"Don't say that," Ty Lee whispered into the other girl's neck. "Never say that. There's more to you than a monster. You and I both know it's true. Why do you think I spent all these years waiting for you to let me in, huh?"

She said the last part with a soft chuckle, half humor and half grief, and something inside Azula twisted painfully at the sound. She slowly brought her arms around Ty Lee, not exactly sure what to do with them but wanting to comfort somehow. "I'm sorry," she said softly, not sure what she was apologizing for and yet somehow knowing the reason all to well. "I'm not good at letting people get close to me. This is the first time someone's actually tried."

"I see… since you're not pushing away, can I get my hopes up a bit?"

The slightly playful tone that had entered Ty Lee's voice held just a hint of something more, something Azula both feared and wanted with an intensity that scared her. She had never seen her old friend this quietly focused and intent on one thing, and it thrilled her a little to know that she was the reason for it.

"Just a bit," the Princess conceded, lifting one hand and gently toying with Ty Lee's braid. "You might need to be a little more patient with me for a while longer though, Ty."

"Yeah, yeah…"

Ty Lee's hold on her tightened slightly, and her voice softened so she was speaking directly into Azula's ear.

"Just… never call yourself a monster again, please? Because it isn't true. At least… I don't think it's true. There's more to you than that, Azula."

Azula sighed.

Some part of her knew she shouldn't do this. She was the Princess, the prodigy, the daughter of the Fire Nation and Fire Lord Ozai. She was not a girl who needed to be held, or comforted, and she didn't need to be told that she could be something better than what she already was. At this moment, Ty Lee was everything that could bring her to her knees.

And yet…

Ty Lee was everything that gave her hope too, in her own odd way.

"Why did you choose me, Ty Lee? Of all the people you could have fallen in love with… why me?"

"Why not you?"

And maybe…

Azula closed her eyes and turned her face into Ty Lee's neck, exhaling shakily.

Maybe that's all there is to it in the end, after all.

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Mai stood quietly, watching her two friends. She sighed and turned away, shaking her head as a small smile curved her lips.

"This beach gives off romantic vibes…"

The End

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Because even Tyzula has its dark, angsty moments. And Mai is awesome at providing humor.

Read and review, please!