I've always wanted to do one of these. So enjoy my first (and probably horrific) attempt at the twenty truths format.
Disclaimer: Once again, I don't own Avatar.
Note: Once again, I managed to convince Aqualoner to beta this. And while we're on this subject, everybody go read her Between Choices and Soaring because it is awesome, and I demand it. (Not that anyone listens to me anyway.) Anywho, here we go.
Twenty Truths About Ty Lee
1. Ty Lee's roots, despite her noble status in the Fire Nation, aren't as grounded as many think.
(Through her father's mother, she can trace her lineage back to a young widow who went into labour high in the Agni's Ash Mountains just over a hundred years ago, following the death of her husband. Though she doesn't know it yet, Ty Lee is about to confront this carefully hidden past.)
2. Agni's Ash is the name given to the silver-gray peaks on the northern border of the Fire Nation, the only place in the entire country where the temperature is below scorching.
(Ty Lee's father takes her up there once, at her insistence. There are strange, rough trees with prickly leaves her father tells her are called pines, and Ty Lee takes a batch back with her at the end because she loves the smell of them.)
3. Agni's Ash is also the only place in the Fire Nation it sometimes – though very rarely – snows.
(When they are up in the Ash – as it is nicknamed – Ty Lee wakes up one night to find that there are small white fluffy flakes floating slowly down. She reaches out to take one, but grabs only water. Her father explains that it's called snow, and it only happens when it's cold. Ty Lee stays up the whole night, staring at the soft little clusters of ivory, and tastes the chill on her tongue.)
4. Her father promises her that when the Fire Nation has conquered the world, he will take her and her sisters to the South Pole, where there are fields of snow, and mountains made entirely of ice.
(The name 'South Pole' strikes cold and deep somewhere in Ty Lee, and she shudders, but her father thinks she is imagining what cold feels like. She isn't. She is reeling from the flicker of ice-capped peaks and night as black as coal and a glowing sphere twisting in freezing blue waters. But she shakes it off, and pretends it didn't happen, because Yunnie is the psychic one, not her.)
5. When Ty Lee is eleven, Zuko is banished, and she shows up at the dock to see him off.
(Zuko's always been something like a brother to her, or at least, what she imagines a brother is like. She has nothing but sisters, and thinks she should look to Azula to see if Zuko is a brother to her, but something in Ty Lee tells her that Azula isn't a good model for anything about friendship and loyalty and love.)
6. She doesn't actually say anything to him, but she leaves him with a message nonetheless.
(Zuko walks into his room to find fuzzy blue Ice Thistles lying on his bed. The juices from the flowers help with burns and blemishes and Zuko wonders who put them there. He immediately decides it was his uncle, and never stops to realize that there was no way Iroh would have had time to go and get them.)
7. Ice Thistles only grow on the ledges of the second-farthest-to-the-right peak of Agni's Ash.
(Ty Lee's grandmother used to use them on her when Azula's firebending got a little out of control. The princess always sent over Ty Lee's favourite fruit pies as an apology, but never actually said the words. Her grandmother would crush the flowers and sprinkle the juice on the burn and tell Ty Lee stories.)
8. One of these stories involved Grandmother Yun Lee's (after whom Ty Lee's sister Yun Lee was named) mother.
(The woman was the daughter of a farmer from Omashu who set out to see the world. Along the way, she fell in with a group of rebel firebenders who taught her how to harness her temper and push it outwards. She eventually met a young general in the Earth Kingdom army and married him. He was killed in action two months after their wedding night.)
9. Her name was Yan Mei, but she is given the name Ty Lee several years later.
(Ty Lee is a play on words. The 'ty' originates from the word 'sky', but the 's' and 'k' were dropped and replaced with a 't' from the word 'terra', meaning earth. Lee is the ancient pronunciation of the verb 'to meet' before it is conjugated. Ty Lee, if translated literally from the Old Tongue, means 'the meeting of sky and earth', or simply; horizon.)
10. It is a name given to those who are highly honoured and respected by the Air Nomads.
(Ty Lee the First – though she will not be known by that name for a while yet - gives birth to a squalling baby boy and wailing baby girl in the early hours of the morning on the chilled ground of the third-from-the-left peak in Agni's Ash, with only the airbender Nuna at her side. Nuna, at the tender age of ten, midwifes Yan Mei grasping the two mewling infants and bundling them up against the cold in blankets made from flying bison fur. Yan Mei, sweaty, breathless, and in more pain then she's ever been in, looks at her two children. She then decides to change her plans and not throw herself off the cliff of the Ash.)
11. Nuna eventually leads Yan Mei and the twins to the Northern Air temple, where they are welcomed with open arms.
(Yan Mei has only rested there a few weeks when the Fire Nation soldiers attack the Temple. In the middle of the tempest, the red branded soldiers are shocked to find flames being thrown right back at them by a woman with flint coloured eyes, dressed in the dirty robes of an Earth Kingdom farm girl. She dies defending the Northern Temple, and gives Nuna enough time to evacuate both herself, and all the children in the Temple. For this, she is given the name 'Ty Lee', as a daughter of the Earth, who bent Fire in the defense of Air.)
12. Yun Lee, Ty Lee's older sister, is psychic.
(No one outside the family knows it; Ty Lee was forbidden to tell Mai or Azula. Yun Lee, who is affectionately known around the homestead as 'Yunnie', can always find the toy that went missing, can always correctly guess what's for dinner, and always knows when the family picnic will be cancelled due to storms. Yun Lee makes little predictions with smiles and laughter, and it is only when her eyes turn dark and her face goes blank that one needs to listen closely.)
13. Yun Lee goes into one of her trances one day, three years after Zuko left.
(Ty Lee is the only one with her at the time, and she trembles as her big sister moans and writhes and tries to expel whatever it is that has taken up residence within her when it has no place in her body. She shakes all over and Ty Lee is just about to scream for help, from anyone around, damn her oath of secrecy, when Yunnie stops and rolls onto her side, shivering, coughing, but alive.
14. When Ty Lee asks her what she saw, Yunnie looks her dead in the eye and says, " The Avatar has returned."
(A great crystal sphere shattered by a novice waterbender. A boy dressed in monk clothing floating down. A brilliant blast of light shooting up over the South Pole. Ty Lee thinks of her father's promise and remembers a flickering image of the ice sphere and smells pine needles and tastes snow on her tongue again.)
15. Ty Lee can fly.
(She learned completely by accident one day. She'd been standing on the roof of her house, because that was the only place that was totally hers, practicing her cartwheels, when her hand had slipped and she'd gone tumbling down to earth. She twisted mid-air and prayed, not to Agni, but to a spirit she could be killed for believing in, and threw she hands out to catch her fall. Something shifted inside of her, and then shifted outside of her, and then there was the rush of the wind, and blurred colours of the earth, and the sky was rushing up to meet her and oh Spirits, oh Spirits, oh Spirits she was flying!)
16. Later, Ty Lee learned it wasn't actually flying; it was airbending.
(She's never let anyone know to this day. It could get her killed because the Fire Nation annihilated the Air Benders looking for the Avatar, but they failed, they failed, Ty Lee keeps thinking, because Yunnie says that in the blueness of the South Pole, the Water Tribe found him, encased in ice, and smiling like the child he still was. So Ty Lee hides her bending and learns how to take other people's bending away, so that no one will be suspicious.)
17. Ty Lee will eventually find her way to the Northern Air Temple.
(There she will find, underneath a century of dust and ash, an inscription, carved into the rock with gale force winds focused into a single strand, by some determined air bender. The inscription will read: 'Here fell Yan Mei, who earned the name Ty Lee. She died as she had always been, stubborn as the Earth to which she was born, passionate as the Fire with which she was gifted, and free as the Air in which she died. Ty Lee will read this inscription, and after a lifetime of confusion, she will finally understand.)
18. Ty Lee stole a hot air balloon the Day of the Black Sun as well.
(This is how she gets to the Temple. She claims later that she saw Zuko take off and tried to follow him, but failed. The truth is she left much earlier than Zuko, and just barely avoided being seen by him on her way back. She steals the balloon and travels across air and sea to the Northern Air Temple, where her grandmother has told her the stories of Yan Mei's last stand against the Fire Nation, and the evacuation of Nuna.)
19. Ty Lee has never fought the Avatar.
(She can't think of him as anything but a child caught up in a war he should never have had to take responsibility for. He is too much like her, too carefree, too lighthearted, too gentle, to be the one to end this war that's been going on since Yan Mei's time, and should never have started to begin with. Ty Lee can't bring herself to fight the Avatar not because she fears him – like Mai and Azula think – but because she sees too much of herself in him.)
20. What she doesn't know is that it isn't that there's too much of her in him; it's that there's too much of him in her.
(Yan Mei named her daughter Yun Lee, who only knew Nuna as her mother. She eventually escaped the destruction of the Air Nomads and made it to the Fire Nation. Luckily, she had inherited her mother's gift and was able to fool everyone she met into thinking that she was a young girl from the countryside of the Fire Nation. She caught the eye of a nobleman when she fought off two bandits who assaulted him. He invited her to dinner. They were married two weeks later. Yun Lee would eventually be the best friend of Fire Lady Ilah, and godmother to both Iroh and Ozai. Despite all this, she would never forget the twin brother she was forced to leave behind at the Southern Air Temple.)
Aang is not, despite popular opinion, the last airbender. His grandniece Ty Lee is well on her way to being a master.
Make of it what you will.
And go read Aqua's fics. ...Now!