Title: hidden & open

Fandom: Avatar

Day/Theme: November second | hidden and open subcultures

Character/Pairing: fire trio, slight Azula/Ty Lee if you squint

Rating: PG

Summary: Azula knew a great many things, but makeup wasn't one of them

A/N: late season two spoilers. Shortfic. In essence, characterization practice. Azula can most likely do her makeup just fine, I don't remember any examples offhand but she's Azula, so I wouldn't doubt it.

REGARDLESS this idea ate my mind until I wrote it, so just let's pretend for the sake of cute~? The idea of Ty Lee and Azula makeup application just makes me too fuzzy inside not to write it.

But then that's my response to most things Azula/Ty Lee.

.

"We're going to hide in plain sight."

After they locked up every last one of the Kiyoshi warriors, Azula had stared at them quietly for a long time. She half-smiled, a knowing smirk.

"My what an interesting outfit," she said, fingering the green cotton with a closed, thoughtful look. "Such friends of the Avatar."

Realization came over Azula's face in slow, wave. It wasn't a burst of fire, but the slowburning ember that devoured the tinder steadily.

She turned from the unconscious prisoners and back to her girls.

"Strip them," she commanded.

"What? Azula? You want us to take off their clothes?" Ty Lee said.

"We're going to pay the king a visit, as his welcome friends the Kiyoshi warriors."

As wolves in lambskins to infiltrate the herd.

.

Mai lay back and rested after Ty Lee had finished. Mai knew a great deal about appearances and makeup, about keeping every single hair in place. She could've applied it with her eyes closed and still gotten the same flawless result.

Mai knew how to keep her composure, how to sit still for hours. That always made her so easy to work on. Mai could apply her own makeup, but that didn't stop Ty Lee from helping. She'd sneak brighter colors in with all that drab hues.

Ty Lee was used to makeup and frilly dresses, this wasn't the usual pink rouge made from crushed rocks that came from the eastern quarries and looked like dawn spread out. It was far thicker and felt so much heavier on her face, almost as heavy as wearing a mask.

When she finished her own makeup, she turned to see how her leader looked with metamorphoses of warpaint. The result was far from the controlled swashes of lines that were drawn over her own and Mai's face.

Azula knew a great many things, but makeup wasn't one of them, let alone the complicated warrior's face paint. The first sheen of white paint over her face had been simple, but the ensuing swashes of red and black looked like the application of a toddler playing in her mother's lipstick.

The thing was, Azula had her own natural beauty. Rouge didn't befit her high, proud cheekbones and her lashes were dark and long and never needed the benefit of mascara. Azula prided herself on her prowess, so most royal balls and events she dressed as if ready for the battlefield.

Ty Lee thought such times were for enjoying the food, the ambiance, the adoring gaze of boys. Azula saw them as a prime chance to win influence, and while she enjoyed the attention, later on she'd mock the other nobles, each sentence a cold, scathing whip.

It was painful to watch Azula fail at anything. Ty Lee cringed as the bowl of makeup went sailing out and smashed against the wall, resins of chalky white substance falling like desert rain.

"Azula," she said in her sweetest, most placating voice, "Let me try."

Azula narrowed her eyes. "Are you implying that I can't even apply my own makeup?"

Ty Lee gulped and gave her most innocent look. "But Azula, you've always been better at fighting than girly stuff. I can make you pretty! Er prettiier."

For a moment, it was as if Ty Lee stared down a tiger that would devour her. She grinned wide and hopeful, and for good luck, crossed all her fingers and even attempted to cross her toes (she would've crossed her eyes, but that would've likely irritated Azula and thus not been very lucky)

Then, just as fast as it began, the storm passed and Azula calmed.

"Well, you always were adept at superficial things. Go ahead."

Her smile was daring, almost a challenge in itself.

"I'm so glad, Azula! You should let me play with your hair before the next gathering."

Azula gave a non-committal hnn as Ty Lee stirred the leftovers of her own makeup in its deep forest green holding bowl.

First came the lipstick. Ty Lee hummed as she pressed the small, soft-bristled brush over those full, soft lips. She knew it must tickle, but Azula gave no sign of being affected, her expression didn't change in the slightest. Even Mai had complained mid-way, causing her to have to reapply another layer. Azula, on the other hand sat completely still.

"Now you have to close your eyesss," Ty Lee said.

For a moment, she thought Azula would refuse, but she did it just as told and allowed Ty Lee this one gift, for such a brief second, she would let down her guard.

The brush strokes had to be especially gentle over the eyelid. Ty Lee used her fingertips in light caresses to smudge the swashes of red and black just right. Azula's lids were fragile and soft under her touch, the only time she had ever thought those words in conjunction with Azula. She set aside the brushes and spread the dust under her fingers like a potter with clay. The harshness was softened and yet somehow, it seemed she was more fierce, like the cold marble statues of warrior goddesses with their bows drawn

When Azula opened her eyes she was an entirely new person. The white paint was elegant on Azula, like a layer of snow over trees; she wore it better than the entire troupe of warriors could ever have dreamed of.

"There, done! Now you look like a real Kiyoshi warrior."

"Real enough to fool the king," Azula said. "He won't even know what hit him."

And when Azula said those words, with such assured force Ty Lee knew that she could make the entire unconquerable kingdom fall and bow before her.