My first Submission to Loopy777's Piandao Shipping Week. Obviously, I'm behind. The rest of you should try catching up too. Check out her deviantArt page (loopy777 dot deviantart dot com) for details. Each one of these will be individual one-shots, basically because I want to see more results when I put Piandao into that character box.
Disclaimer: that's it.
Sokka was unconventionally brilliant. His fighting style was creative, though tentatively rough. In time, with practice, his swordsmanship skills would perhaps excel his own. One day, far, far down the road. That gave him a point of pride, having been the one to introduce him to the discipline.
He watched his student from a distance, amused at his antics. It seemed to be story time. When Sokka told a story, he used his whole body, making it more entertaining to watch from a distance and try to interpret his…movements. The young warrior was surrounded by his friends, shoulders back, head up, and marching in place. Then he stumbled, falling back and clutching his head theatrically before collapsing in an exaggerated faint. It so happened that when he fell, he took the new Fire Lord down with him.
Piandao raised his tea cup, hiding his smile behind the red and gold painted porcelain. He closed his eyes to block out the beginnings of the scuffle between Zuko and Sokka and savor the tea, the taste bitter yet sharp. It was very near on par with the quality of Iroh's brews. If he didn't know better, he'd think his old friend was hiding in the palace kitchen. However, he knew for a fact Iroh was settled in his little tea shop in the Earth Kingdom. Otherwise, he'd not have come at all; that man had become unbearably insistent on seeing him married.
When he opened his eyes, he saw the Kyoshi warrior, Lady Mai, the Avatar and Master Katara. The airbender spoke a word to the girl before darting out the door. The small smile and the way her eyes trailed the little Nomad didn't escape his notice. He also saw the Kyoshi warrior take note. From her expression, she found the little exchange 'cute'.
The waterbending sister merely rolled her eyes at her brother's antics as she walked toward Piandao, carrying a tea cup of her own. The young woman had a kind and open face, much like her brother's, but softer. She was pretty. It was merely an observation on his part.
"Good evening, Lord Piandao."
He nodded respectfully.
"My brother really does appreciate you coming to the capitol during our visit. Although, he's not being a very good host now."
"On the contrary, I find the company and entertainment," he nodded toward the impromptu wrestling match, "as enjoyable as the tea. And the tea is marvelous."
"I'm glad you like it."
"You made this? One who can make tea as well as this is a treasure among men."
She smiled broadly at him, and her ocean blue eyes brightened.
"Thank you. Uncle Iroh taught me the last time we were in Bah Sing Se. I find that it's a little bit like mixing herbs together for medicines."
Did that man insist on everyone calling him Uncle or did they just do it?
"I thought you used your waterbending for healing. Why would you need to know of herbal remedies?"
"Well…I didn't exactly learn as much as I could about healing when I was in the North Pole. I mainly focused on learning combative waterbending so my healing skills aren't that great."
He raised a brow. "Oh? I'd heard you healed the Avatar and the Fire Lord after being struck by lightning. What would be considered great?"
"With Aang, that was mostly due to healing water that came from the Spirit Oasis at the North Pole. I'm not at a level where I can heal seriously extensive injuries so easily. I think I might go back to learn the proper technique."
"Indeed you should. While Pakku sang your praises as a warrior, he went on even longer about the need of healers." He gave her a significant look. "I believe it would make him very happy if you were to continue your training."
He moved the cup to take a drink.
"How long have you known Gramp-Gramp?"
He moved the cup so he would not choke and didn't bother to hide the smile.
She shrugged. "Sokka came up with it."
That explained it then.
Piandao went on to ask her questions about her healing and bending. He was curious about her travels and revealing a small, few of his own. She seemed morbidly fascinated by his tale about his first meeting with King Bumi and told him of her own. He could very well sympathize with her experience.
Her conversation was clever and yet rather blunt, her views on the political aspect of things were disdainful at best, and he found her ability to show every emotion on her face fascinating.
By the time her airbender returned, he came to a conclusion: he liked her. Piandao was, in fact, a red-blooded male and had an appreciation for an attractive female. Possibly on a higher level, stimulating conversation, or at least chatter above the latest fashions, was a rare delight among most women of court. A far corner of his mind absently pondered over the thought, all the while he nodded appropriately as she went on speaking.
However, this woman was young enough to be his daughter, his student's little sister, daughter of the Southern Water Tribe chief and warrior, and romantically linked with the Avatar.
There were enough instances in court and even the Royal family itself of a marked difference in the ages of a couple. That would pose only the threat of some little gossip perhaps. The fact that she was Water Tribe would only serve to make his name infamous.
While Sokka was mostly reasonable, he was overly protective of his younger sister. Piandao respected a man protecting his family. He would like to think that the warrior had enough respect for him not to think badly of any advances he might make. If not, he could still take him down in a fight if need be.
Her father was mostly an unknown factor. However, he was a grown man and surely reasonable enough. On the other hand, he knew quite a few men who completely lost their minds when it came to their daughters and courtship. Forming an acquaintance and gaining reconnaissance would be in order.
The Avatar seemed firmly attached to her. He was young still and could easily place his affections with another. Perhaps that acrobat who lived on Kyoshi now. They were both so...colorful.
Before he could think too much on it, the Avatar came to reclaim her, and she excused herself politely.
It only took a moment after she parted from his company with the Avatar; he summarily discarded the notion. The entire…development would, unfortunately, never go beyond idle notice. Piandao was not a man inclined to entertain suicidal methods.
In fact, Piandao was not a man to entertain thoughts of courtship and marriage either. Where on earth...? Shaking his head, he raised his cup only to find the tea gone.
He turned around to face Fire Lord Zuko and bowed his head accordingly.
"My lord. I was otherwise engaged, but I would be interested to know who won that little match."
He glanced away quickly and mumbled in a decidedly undignified, teenaged way. "We agreed on a tie. Nevermind that. My uncle specifcally told me to see how you liked your tea."
Piandao blinked then looked down at his drained cup. "Pardon?"
"When Uncle found out you were dropping by, he sent packets of tea for you. He said it was your favorite and specially made for you, no one else was to drink it, and to let him know whether you liked it. Actually...I'm not sure how he even knew you were coming."
"I would greatly appreciate if all of the tea sent for me could be delivered to my home."
"Of course. I'll see that it's done immediately. Uncle will be pleased that you enjoyed it."
Piandao spent the rest of the weekend avoiding Katara, much to her bemusement, and mostly meditating. He drank water and fire whiskey and tea he chose and prepared himself. When Piandao went home, he had a wondrously fragrant bonfire and sent Iroh a 'Thank You but Go Screw Yourself' letter.
My reasoning for this pairing: Opposites attract! He's old and she's not. He's not a bender, and she is. He's wise and she's not. He's male and she's not. Oh, oh! He's FIRE nation and she's WATER tribe. That totally clenches it right there!
Sardonic time over. Really, I just needed a female.