Stand So Close

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough. All characters are depicted as legal age.

Warnings: Spoilers up to Season Three, Crack Pairing (?)

AN: For Avatar_500 over on LJ. The prompt was #10: Monk. Takes place a few years after the war.

He isn't made of stone. Piandao is many things. A swords master. Retired military. Member of the White Lotus. Teacher. Blacksmith. Gentleman.

But underneath it all, he is still a man. Older now, yes. But a man nevertheless. Male and not yet too old to only appreciate beauty. To not feel that telling trickle of desire. To not heat with lust when she brushes up against him and their eyes meet.

She is younger. So very and painfully young. Still giggles like a schoolgirl. Wears pink and smiles with abandon. Dances to tunes only she can hear. Chases after butterflies and braids flowers into her hair.

She could be his daughter, had he any. She isn't even Sokka's age.

It isn't right.

But Piandao isn't stone. He's flesh and blood and burning in a way that would make Jeong Jeong surely strike him dead. That'd fill Iroh with horror. Pakku with fury. And probably just make Bumi laugh.

Her eyes, however, have a gleam that isn't entirely innocent, and her words are full of hidden implications. Her light footsteps always seem to reach his ears, even here, even now. She finds the littlest excuse to touch him. On the shoulder. The arm. His hand. Snuggling in closer until they practically occupy the same space and all but share the same air.

Her breath is warm on his face, and he knows exactly what she plans to do. Exactly what she will do. There's still time to stop her. To put his hands on her shoulders and gently steer her away. To pull back and break her heart softly. To convince himself that this is just an infatuation and what she offers could only ever be fleeting.

But he isn't rock. He isn't made of stone. He's just a man. Just a person alone in this world with friends and a student but no wife. No children. No real family. Not even a lover for longer than he cares to remember.

And when she kisses him, Piandao closes his eyes. Lingers for a moment before pulling her flush against him. Kisses her back once, twice, too many times to count. Tugs her down into the softness of the grass beneath them. Lets his hands glide over skin. Listens to every gasp, every wordless promise.

And tells no one come morning.

Ever Hopeful,