This is…well, I'm not entirely sure what it is, but it's partially a Ty Lee character study and partially an everybody character study. Maybe. Toph has been excluded because, let's face it, as awesome as she is, Ty Lee does not know her.
Ty Lee is special, and she knows it. Azula knows it too, which sometimes concerns her, but Ty Lee believes that Azula will never fully grasp her capabilities, so she doesn't worry about it too much. Mai knows, but for all her sullenness and caustic qualities and love of violence Mai would never dream of using Ty Lee the way Azula would. Ty Lee is grateful for this.
Ty Lee sees differently than everyone else. She observes and thinks on her own frequency, and she realizes that no one will ever truly be able to see eye to eye with her. This is why she loves the circus. Together they are one, because each and every one of them is an individual that does not fit anywhere else in the world.
Ty Lee does not see people simply as 'people.' She accepts that she can be shallow, but she does not only judge a person by their physical features, because she sees people in a second fashion, as well.
Ty Lee sees people in colors.
By 'colors' she means auras, but either way it is a pastime she will never tire of. Ty Lee may laugh and chatter and go on about anything from the weather to the mysterious dish that made the man at table five sick the other night, but she will never ask others about themselves. This is because she already knows.
It is not a flawless art, but it is more accurate than most would assume. She knows because she has used it on those around her.
Azula is red. This is obvious—cliché, even, but it's also true. Red is blood, and pain, and a thousand other things that the Fire Nation princess personifies. Like red, Azula is merciless and vibrant and beautiful and cunning.
Azula is rose red. Delicate and poised and perfect, yet still sharp and dangerous and deadly. Her movements are grace, and even as doom races towards you in a culmination of heat and blue wonder you must look upon her strike not as an attack or assault but a dance.
Azula is blood red. She trusts few and loves no one, and even those who care for and respect her must accept this. Blood is bitter, a quality she knows well. It is one of her better-kept secrets, but Azula is only human, and she envies and wants and rages just like any other human being. She is perfect in the eyes of a man who will never love her, and a monster in the eyes of the woman who should. She is cast aside in favor of her imperfect brother, who tries and struggles and hurts, but will never be as great as she. Azula may have respect, but it enrages her that Zuko will always be the one who has love. Azula's affinity with blood itself stems from this, and she will not rest until she sees the blood of one who shares her own spilled on the ground before her.
Mai is gray, which makes Ty Lee smile because Mai hates gray—she thinks it's boring and dull, and believes her true color to be morbidly black. What Mai doesn't know is that gray is perfect for her—though she believes it to be dull it is in fact mercurial and changing.
It is, however, true that gray can be dull, which ironically fits Mai better than she thinks. Mai is herself dull—not in personality or temperament, but in enthusiasm. She cares little for the destination or goal or end, and more for the sheer thrill of the chase. It is only while she is endeavoring for something that Mai's eyes truly light up in excitement, but no sooner does she win than her face resumes its usual, indifferent expression, making the 'gray' aspect of her life more than obvious.
Gray is also metal, solid and cutting, like the weapons Mai is so fond of using and the wit she exhibits on rare occasions. Gray is cold and unfeeling—Mai tries to be thus, though she never quite succeeds. She may have mastered the art of self-control, and her face may remain a coldly apathetic mask most hours of the day, but unlike Azula Mai can truly accept a hug, or give a genuine smile, or give her heart to another human being. Nevertheless, Mai does her duty, and she does it without regret, or scruples, or the slightest bit of hesitation.
Zuko was once gold, like his eyes, and Ty Lee loved this so much she told Mai one day, just to see her friend blush and grin in that way she did whenever the fire prince was mentioned. Gold is soft, and emphatic, and although he will never admit it, Zuko is a kind individual—especially in comparison with his sister. When Azula smiles, it does not reach her eyes, the warmth dying as cold metallic orbs glare at you with all the understanding of the flame she wields. When Zuko smiled back in his literal 'golden days,' it made his eyes simultaneously brighten and soften, at once alight with enthusiasm and gentle with compassion. Gold is the color of a quiet flame, warming and comforting instead of destructive and cruel. It is humble, but like any other flame, it burns. Zuko was a bundle of energy, brimming with determination and confidence, sure of his future and where it would lead him.
Gold, like gray, however, is a metal. It is steely and resolute, set in some of its ways and completely unmovable. It is defiant and sure; because it is precious in ways others may never know. And yes, to a degree gold is spoiled in its importance. Zuko was blessed in some ways and cursed in others, but as the son of the Fire Lord he was never disregarded.
Gold of the lightest shade, however, is also the color of parchment, and on the day of his fateful Agni Kai it burned just as he did. Flame—the anguish, the dishonor, the despair of what he had gone through—tainted the gold, spreading its bleak poison throughout the delicate shade and turning it to ash. Gold charred to brown, even the lightest of its shades of which is the bitter color of bad tea. It is scarred and defeated, but not broken—yet though Zuko hopes, he will never return to the person he once was. Where as water may return to ice, or merely torn paper once again become whole, something burned can never again resume its former state. It saddens Ty Lee to see him this way, and she so she keeps this tragic change to herself.
Iroh is blue, which once puzzled Ty Lee before she realized the significance of it. While the world associates blue with water, or even—after idly observing the sky—air, it also pertains to fire. Blue is the color of a truly powerful flame, and for all his antics Iroh is undeniably so. Yet it also shows restraint—for it is not the white-hot destruction of fire in its purest form but a more controlled state, perfectly balanced between the gentle glow of gold and the maddening power of white.
Blue is calm and thoughtful and a little bit whimsy, all of which describe the former fire general. It is a lazy color, and Iroh certainly has his moments of lethargy, though he is hardly the sort to stand by and watch as a comrade or family member suffers. He is both cryptic and teasing when the occasion calls, and sometimes even when it doesn't, although there are certain matters he would never joke about. He is steadfast and true to what he believes in—a reliable sort of person, and doubtlessly once a good leader. Akin to the sky, blue is also a wide color, which makes Ty Lee giggle a bit when she thinks of Iroh, for he is far from a small man.
There is more to blue than simply its serene side, however. Blue, by way of water, is also related to rain, and again by relation, sadness. Iroh has suffered his fair share of loss in his life—the most notable of all being that of his wife and son. That loss has given him an empathy that his younger brother will never know—and that his nephew should, but has yet to gain. Pain has made Iroh both strong and understanding in ways most would never even contemplate. Whereas his honor and reverence may have faded in the Fire Nation, Ty Lee will always respect him for this.
Ty Lee has not been in the Fire Lord's presence very often, but she finds him frightening nonetheless because his color is pitch black. It is not a perfect darkness, but rather the bleak color of a storm, angry and vicious. There are other colors within the writhing, ebony chaos—such as his daughter's red, the shade of rage and passion, and his son's tainted gold, of ambition and resentment. The combination of his children's more powerful and tarnished traits daunts Ty Lee, for while the pair may share the Fire Lord's blood, even Azula has yet to gain his power—and the pink-clad girl has already witnessed what destruction both siblings are capable of.
Black is a cruel and unfeeling color, as merciless as the man so willing to reject and shatter his own child. What worries Ty Lee most about the darkness, however, is not the cold emotions she can see, but what the darkness hides. Fire Lord Ozai is a man of many secrets, and it would do well that none forget it.
The Avatar sincerely startled Ty Lee the first time she met him—his aura appeared to be pure white. This was somehow as unnerving as the Fire Lord's black—for there is an unsettling innocence about white, and no human being, including the Avatar himself, should ever possibly possess such an untainted color, unless the person in question were perhaps an infant. White is the color of one without flaws, without worries, and therefore without any humanity whatsoever, and while technically ideal for a savior, it just wasn't right. It is also a color of undiluted power, which is nearly as unsettling as its purity.
A second look, however, reassured the girl—like Ozai's black, the brightness of the white serves to hide his other qualities. Beneath the luminous enthusiasm, beneath the virtue and sheer (she does not believe an actual word exists that can describe it) Avatar-ness of the young boy lurk shades of gray—of doubt, of longing, of jealousy and sadness…and his fair share of pain. The flaws hide like bashful children behind a sparkling, cheerful demeanor, but they are thinly concealed. The Avatar puts up a brave front, and if it were not for the ever-menacing threat of Azula, Ty Lee would chance either pitying or admiring the boy for his persevering strength.
The Water Tribe girl accompanying the Avatar is aquamarine. This is nearly as predictable as Azula's red, but Ty Lee assumes it is equally appropriate, as well. The girl is, after all, a waterbender. Aqua is a soft color—the shade of a gentle, understanding soul. After witnessing the girl fight, the gymnast knows that this is not entirely the case, as there is more than a little spark in the other's spirit, but nevertheless she stands by her theory. Aqua also has a certain sense of duality to it; as a hybrid color it possesses both the serenity of blue and the practicality of green. It is a color of healing—to once again relate to the girl's waterbending, though of a spiritual healing as well. This makes the girl potentially a motherly figure, nurturing and protective of her companions and more than capable of defending them should the need arise.
Again relating it to water (for there is little else Ty Lee can do without actually knowing the girl), there is a certain fierceness to the waterbender as well—an undying need to prove herself and a temper and pride to match it. And, of course, there is the sadness—but there are few Ty Lee know that have never suffered loss in their lifetime. Though the girl is doubtlessly a worthy opponent, the gymnast finds herself unable to connect with the Water Tribe bender well enough to see her as anything else.
The cute Water Tribe boy, on the other hand, Ty Lee finds herself observing quite closely. His is an electric, eye-catching green, and she found herself in love with it even before she noticed how physically attractive the boy could be. For one thing, she has never seen a color quite like it, and it brims with an energy and enthusiasm that surpasses any she has ever come across before, including her own. It is an unquestionably strong color—like his sister (even Ty Lee has seen them interact enough to determine their relationship—not to mention all the reports Azula always makes her and Mai look over), he has a strong pride for his culture and his ways of life.
Green is the color of vitality, of a passionate soul with a quirky sense of humor and endless drive—both of which she has witnessed in her brief encounters with the boy. The color's relation to earth plays a part as well; doubtless he is a pragmatic individual, dedicated enough to see his plans through, and determined enough to keep going if they fail. Green is, in its own way, as resolute as metallic gold or gray, and Ty Lee can't help but wish for a brief cease-fire so she can witness the inevitable battle of wills the boy would have with either Mai or Zuko.
Ty Lee herself is pink, naturally. If there is one thing that has always gotten on her nerves, it is the way people constantly underestimate her color. Pink is a perfectly functional color—a bit softer than most, perhaps, but still a force to be reckoned with. Pink mixes and mingles with the greatest of ease, able to interact with others with a bubbly enthusiasm lost to colors mere degrees sharper than her own. She is accepting and bright, and prides her self on remaining optimistic even in the face of her ever-so-gloomy companions.
Pink is completely and utterly a contact color, whether it pertains to the irresistible lure of satin soft flower petals, or the healthy flush of a newborn's skin, or the embarrassed blush on the face of someone dear. Ty Lee relies heavily on contact in her life. After years of becoming lost in the crowd, part of a uniform set of collectable dolls, she craves acknowledgement of herself as an individual. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, a simple arm over the shoulder or handshake—she's even gone out of her way to base her entire fighting style on touch. Ty Lee knows people, inside and out, and it is her greatest desire that they learn to know her as well. Touch, whether it be a paralyzing blow or a warm embrace, ensures that she will be remembered not as just another quickly forgotten face but as Ty Lee.
There are those who would argue that with such a cheery color as pink, Ty Lee has never known sadness, but they couldn't be further from the truth. Pink is created from a unity of white and red—blood deluded by tears, a faded shadow of a more vibrant color. She cannot begin to count the number of times she has found herself caught between duty and compassion, glowing affection and paralyzing terror. She smiles at the rainbow of colors that surround her everyday life even as she is forced to take so many of them down in battle. She refuses to cry at the fact that, even with the gift of empathy that she possesses, she knows she will always put her duty before those people. Because pink is many things, but it is not ambitious. It lacks the inner core of strength that bitter red and steely gray and resolute gold possess. Ty Lee is strong, but she is no leader. It is for this reason that she follows Azula so closely—an odd combination of fear and admiration and obligation and genuine affection. She is, above all things, good at following orders.
And yet, when it finally comes down to it, she so hopes that the day will come when she'll be strong enough to put compassion first.
Azula through Aang was written during season two. You probably don't care, it's just that I'm ridiculously proud of how much of Azula and Mai's dysfunction I managed to call.
…Reviews are love?