This isn't mine. None of it. It's not my show, it's not my idea, this isn't my computer. The money in my wallet right now isn't even mine.
Mai played with her knife as she slumped against the tree in the courtyard as Ty Lee showed Azula how to do a continuous run of cartwheels. Ty Lee had tried to get Mai to do them, but Mai had told her she didn't bend that way, although at ten years of age, she should be able to.
Azula got tired of cartwheeling and walked over to Mai. The nine year old princess stood before her with her hands on her hips and demanded,
"Show me how to use knives."
Mai glanced up at the princess from under her dark bangs.
"Why? Didn't you say that anything other than firebending was inferior?" she asked with a frown, even though she didn't agree with that at all. That was the princess's opinion that she'd been told by her father, the Fire Lord. There was no arguing with that, no matter how wrong it was.
"I did, but you never know. It might be useful someday."
"Fine," she told her like she actually had a say in the matter anyway. For some reason, Princess Azula had picked her and Ty Lee, who was the same age as the princess, from all the other girls at the academy and decided to make them her ladies-in-waiting. Basically, you did whatever she said whether you wanted to or not because she is the princess and a very talented firebender. Oh, and a brat.
Mai stood up with a sigh. She began to explain the dynamics of knife throwing to Azula. While she did that, Ty Lee became interested since these were some of the longest sentences Mai she'd ever heard Mai speak and settled into a cross-legged position behind them. However, Azula got tired of it, rolled her eyes, and said,
"Just show me how to throw the knife, Mai."
"Aw, but Azula, she was actually talking," Ty Lee giggled. "It was weird. You're usually so quiet!"
"Whatever," Mai rolled her eyes at her.
Mai did as she was told, showing Azula the stance, correcting her position here and there, and was surprised that she actually let her, and explain how she should do it. She showed her how to throw the knife before she actually gave it to her, going through the motions without releasing it. Once again, the princess got impatient.
"Mai! Give me the knife."
Knowing it was useless to argue, Mai dropped the knife into the princess's waiting hand.
"Try and hit the center of that tree," Mai pointed to a tree with pink blossoms eight feet away.
Azula dropped into the stance and threw the knife. It sailed three feet to the left of the intended target.
"You missed!" Ty Lee piped up.
Azula turned to glare at her, saw that she was doing a handstand, and pushed her over.
"Ow, Azula! That was mean," Ty Lee complained.
"Whatever. Knives are stupid anyway. We're going to play Domination now. You're it, Ty Lee," so saying, the princess turned and dashed off.
Domination was when one person would chase after another in order to recruit them to that person's team. The team would then search after the other players and would either defeat them or tag them, adding them to the team. If there were enough players, then they could split into two opposite teams or form alliances. Once all the players had been dominated by one team, the game is over.
"I don't want to be it!"
Mai sighed, ran to get her knife and then away from 'it'. She ran up to the porch, grabbed the topmost rail, pulled herself over, and kept running.
"I'm gonna get you, Mai!" Ty Lee yelled after her.
"Just keep telling yourself that," Mai ducked into the palace and ran down the hall and around the corner before Ty Lee came inside. She'd been looking behind her when she rounded the corner and so didn't notice the boy in front of her until she collided with him, practically tackling him. He landed on his back with a thud, and she fell on top of him.
At first, Mai was confused as to what happened until she realized there was a boy under her. A cute boy. She blushed lightly and scrambled off of him, stuttering an apology.
"I – I'm sorry. I w-wasn't paying, um, attention."
He sat up, rubbing the back of his head.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," he smiled at her.
He has pretty eyes, she thought. Then blushed deeper when she realized her thoughts. At that moment, Ty Lee came around the corner and skidded to a stop to avoid colliding with Mai, quickly regaining her balance.
"Who's he?" she asked.
"I'm Zuko. You guys are Azula's friends right?"
"Uh-huh, we're her best friends! I'm Ty Lee and that's Mai. Do you want to play with us?"
Mai had been sitting quietly while the two talked, suddenly feeling shy. Besides, he had Ty Lee to talk to. She was pretty and fun. He wouldn't want to talk to her now.
"Is that okay with you, Mai?" he asked her.
She glanced at him quickly then away.
"Sure," she shrugged.
"Yay!" Ty Lee squealed. "We're playing Domination. And I'm it!" she grinned at them before she lunged for Zuko. He was too fast though and dodged forward, grabbing Mai's hand before he shot to his feet and pulled her after him.
Mai didn't really pay attention to where they were going; she was focused on the fact that Zuko was holding her hand and just realized that she hadn't stopped blushing. He probably thought there was something wrong with her.
He glanced at her over his shoulder as they ran from a pursuing Ty Lee.
"So you wanna be on my team?"
"Okay," she smiled at him a little.
"Good," he smiled back. "Then we have to go on the offensive. When we get outside, get ready to fight. You know how to fight, right?"
"But don't you think we need a plan?"
"Not now. We need somewhere to plan it."
"Follow me then."
The two burst outside and he led her to the right. Not long after, he stopped at a wall covered in vines. He pushed them away to reveal an alcove. It even had a bench. The two quickly ducked in and started working on a plan to get Ty Lee on their team then go after Azula.
"What if Azula gets her on her team?" Mai asked.
"Then we separate them and go for Ty Lee first."
"She's not easy to beat."
"Then maybe we could trap her. Or both of them. I know where we can get some net but there aren't any weights on it."
Mai pulled three knifes from the pouch on her side.
"A couple of these should work."
He smiled at her again. She liked it when he did that, even if it did make her blush even if she had no idea why. He took her hand after they finalized the plan, took a cautious peek outside their 'base', and crept out.
Some time later, once the net had been found, weighted, and after a few close calls with team Ty Zula, their trap was ready.
Zuko stood out in the open near the tree in the main courtyard, waiting for Azula and Ty Lee to come since it was a safe guess that Ty Lee had told her partner about him joining the game. A short while later, a small fire ball came his way and he easily dodged it.
"Azula, no bending! That's against the rules," he told her.
"Says you, Zuzu. But fine, since you want to cry about it. I'll take you down with no bending. Ty Lee, go find Mai. She's probably close," she ordered.
The pink clad girl ran off to do as she was told.
Azula came at him with heatless kicks and punches keeping him on the defensive, backing him up closer to the tree. When they were under a widespread group of branches, he jumped out of the way and a net landed on Azula. She screamed and thrashed around, trying to get the net off. She even tried to burn it off, but the net was made from non-flammable material. Mai dropped down from out of the tree and dusted off her hands.
"Surrender, Azula," Zuko told her, standing in front of her. "We beat you." A huge smile was on his face.
Mai felt a small smile on her own, especially when he said 'we'. She rather liked that.
"No! Get this off!" she yelled at them. "Mai!"
"Admit you lost and I will. It's how you play the game, remember?" Mai was entirely too smug as she stood next to Zuko.
"I don't lose!" she continued to struggle with the net when Ty Lee came running up.
"Did we lose?" she asked as she came to a stop on the other side of Azula.
Azula pouted a moment before she released a huff of air.
"Fine! I l - los -…I didn't…I was unsuccessful in this stupid game. There, happy now?"
"I don't know, Mai. You happy?"
She shrugged and grinned at him
"I'm happy if you're happy."
"You guys are crazy," Ty Lee giggled.
"I guess," Zuko knelt down and started untangling Azula from the net. Once she was out, she stood up and brushed herself off.
"That's a stupid game anyway," she muttered.
"Whatever you say, Azula."
She stuck her tongue out at him.
He made a face.
Then she attacked him with a roar. The two rolled around in the grass as they traded blows. Mai and Ty Lee just stood and watched.
"Should we stop them?" Ty Lee asked.
"Ow! Biting is cheating!" Zuko yelled.
"Yeah, right. I just don't see myself going against an angry Azula for any reason," she stooped down to remove her knives from the ends of the net.
"What is going on here?"
Mai and Ty Lee glanced over at the sound of the voice. Lady Ursa was hurriedly stepping down the stairs and rushing over to the two scrapping children.
"That is enough! Both of you stop it!" she grabbed them and separated them from each other.
"He started it!" Azula accused.
"She's lying. She attacked me because me and Mai beat her in Domination."
"Azula, that is no way to act when you lose. A princess always acts with honor. Attacking your brother over a game is not honorable. Do you understand?"
"Now go get cleaned up. Dinner will be ready soon, "Ursa pressed a kiss to her daughter's forehead and sent her on her way. She turned back to Zuko. "As for you, young man," she lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "you actually beat her?"
Zuko beamed at her.
"It was awesome! Mai came up with all these great ideas. She's really smart."
Ursa looked over at the two girls. They'd both seated themselves on the ground and watched the proceedings while they removed Mai's knives from the net.
"Thank you, Lady Ursa," Mai bowed her head, a smile curving her lips more from Zuko calling her smart than anything.
"Can Mai stay for dinner, Mom?"
"What about Ty Lee?"
"Would you two like that?"
"Yes, please!" Ty Lee declared.
Mai merely nodded her head.
"All right then. I'll show you two where you can get cleaned up and send a message to your parents. And you, my little prince. I do believe you need a bath."
"Mom!" Zuko objected over Ty Lee and Mai's giggling. "I am not little! And don't tell them I need a bath! It makes me sound like a baby."
"A thousand pardons, your highness. Please do forgive me. If your grace will allow it, my ladies and I will depart," she told him very formally, even added a curtsy.
Zuko gave her a blank look.
"You're not funny," he told his mother dryly as he turned and walked away.
"Yes, she is!" Ty Lee laughed.
"This way, ladies," Ursa told the girls.
"What about the net?" Mai asked.
"You put that on Azula? Of course you did. There are scorch marks on it. You can leave it there. It'll be fine."
She started to walk away and the girls dutifully followed behind her. As the lady led them through the palace, Ty Lee leaned over to Mai.
"Zuko called her mom," she whispered.
"That means he's the prince."
"He's really cute."
Mai said nothing. She did blush though.
In the silence, the sound of Lady Ursa clearing her throat was easily heard. Was she laughing? Oh, Agni, did she hear them? What if she told Zuko? What if she told Azula or her mother? Oh, dear Agni, not her mother!
She opened the door to a bedchamber. She showed them where the bathing room was to the right. When Ty Lee went to the bathroom, just before she left, she told Mai,
"You don't have to worry. Your secret is safe with me."
Mai looked at her moment before she said,
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Lady Ursa."
She merely smiled.
"Of course you don't."
After she walked out the door, Mai flopped back into a chair with a relieved sigh. Now she just needed to get Ty Lee to keep her mouth shut so she wouldn't tell Azula or Zuko or anyone else. She'd hate to have to kill her friend.
I wanted to do one when they were kids. How was it? Personally, I think it's WEAK! but decent.
Mai is ten, Ty Lee and Azula are nine, and Zuko is eleven.
Zai Week is the 25th to the 31st. Zai is Mai/Zuko, by the way. There's more info on my profile.