Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or The Last Airbender.
Bodyguard of Azula
Chapter 5: Seeing and Listening
(Location: Azula's group)
"Are we there yet?" Mai asked out loud.
"Yes Mai, we're there." Azula answered. They were walking up a staircase that was carved into the mountain and as they reached the last step, they saw the walls of Yu Dao.
"It took us long enough to get here." Ty Lee said as she looked at her mongoose dragon with an annoyed look. When they reached the base of the staircase, the mongoose dragons had been worn out because of a day of hard riding. So they had dismount and walked up the staircase alongside them.
"Can we head inside now?" Mai asked.
"That's a good idea." Azula agreed, they were about to move forward but stopped when Naruto held out his hand. "Wait a moment." He told them.
"What is it, Naruto?"
"We're about to get a visitor."
She looked confused. "What are you—?" Before she could finish the sentence, they heard a whistling sound and then saw something crash in front of Naruto's feet. Looking up, they saw that someone garbed all in black. They could tell that the attacker was female due to the fact that the clothing did not hide her curves and she had not covered her hair, which was brown and done in a female's hairstyle.
"You're getting better but you still can't hit me." Naruto told the attacker as she pulled the chain in her hands and retrieved the object in front of Naruto's feet, which turned out to be a spiked meteor hammer.
The attacker growled, swung the chain a little and hurled the meteor hammer at him again. He ducked his head to dodge it and then the attacker threw the other end of the chain, which was also a spiked meteor hammer at him. He did a little jump and as he was in mid-air, he shot out his hands and landed in a perfect handstand.
Shifting his weight forward, he let his body fall to the ground. As he was about hit the ground, he tucked his body in and rolled forward. He then leapt forward out of the roll and charged at the attacker.
The attacker reacted by bending the earth in front of her to form a barrier. Naruto didn't slow down; as soon as he reached the wall he put one foot on it and immediately started to run up it. He cleared the top in less than five seconds. Drawing out his jian, he stabbed it into the top of the barrier. He then proceeded to use it as a handle to swing over to the other side of the barrier, disappearing from Azula's, Mai's and Ty Lee's sight.
Pulling the jian out of the barrier as he landed, he got in close to the attacker and swept her legs out from under her. As her back hit the ground, she felt the jian's tip touching her throat. "Lower the barrier." He told her, his voice void of emotion.
She did just that. As the barrier collapsed Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee rushed over to where Naruto was. "Are you okay Naruto?" Ty Lee asked.
"I'm fine." He replied.
"What are you waiting for Naruto? Kill her!" Azula commanded him.
He looked at her and then smiled. "Now why would I do that?" He asked her as he sheathed his jian. He held out his hand to the attacker.
She took it and he helped her get up. "I'm going to get you one day, Naruto." She said with determination shining in her eyes as she pulled down the mask covering the bottom half of her face.
He laughed. "That's the spirit."
"Who is this Earthbender, Naruto?" Azula asked.
"Azula, Mai, Ty Lee, this is Kori Morishita." He introduced the attacker.
"Hello, it's nice to meet to you all." She greeted them.
"Why was she trying to kill you?" Ty Lee asked.
Both Naruto and Kori gave a laugh. "Kori wasn't trying to kill me. She's been trying to beat me in a spar ever since I was first posted here."
"Why didn't the soldiers stop her, I can see them up there." Mai told him as she pointed up to the gate.
"They know what she's been trying to do. Also, her dad is the mayor of this place." He pointed behind him at the town to emphasis his point.
After a minute of silence, it was Azula who spoke. "We should enter the town and introduce ourselves to Mayor Morishita then."
Naruto nodded in agreement. As they approached the gate, he turned to the others. "Let me take care of this." He took a few steps forward and looked up at the guards above the gate. Taking a deep breath, he opened his mouth and proceeded to bellow. "ATTENTION TO ALL MILITARY PERSONNEL! YOU KNOW DAMN WELL WHO'S TALKING RIGHT NOW, SO PAY ATTENTION! I AM CURRENTLY STANDING IN FRONT OF THE GATES WITH PRINCESS AZULA AND HER TWO FRIENDS. IF THESE GATES ARE NOT OPENED WITHIN FIFTEEN SECONDS, I WILL BE TAKING OVER THE MORNING TRAINING EXERCISES AND EVERYONE WILL ATTEND, NO EXCEPTIONS!" He lifted his head up to look at the sun. "I AM TIMING YOU, STARTING NOW!"
Never had Azula, Ty Lee or Mai seen a gate being opened that fast. Not only was the gate open quickly, there was also an honor guard waiting for them on the other side. "IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, LORD NARUTO!" They all chorused together.
"It's good to see you all again as well." He told them as the group walked through the gate and into the town. The honor guard was about to fall in behind them when he spoke again. "However, you took sixteen seconds to open the gate. So I will see you all on the training field at four in the morning."
Never in her life, did Azula think to see thr men and women of the Fire Nation army, the strongest and mightiest army this side of the planet has ever seen, cry like babies when they heard what came out of Naruto's mouth.
Aang, Sokka and Katara stood in a marketplace with Momo on Katara's shoulder and Akela at Sokka's side. Team Guy stood nearby, keeping an eye out for any potential threats.
After the meeting with Sifu and talking about Kurenai being pregnant, the Teams from Konoha had finally gotten down to brass tacks. They eventually decided that the Teams would remain separate but would work together. One Team would guard Aang and the other two Teams would try to locate Naruto or get information on him. Seeing as Team Kurenai had already done the part of protecting Aang and his group, Guy volunteered his team to do it next.
The first village they came across after the swamp and an encounter with some unique Fire Nation men on komodo rhinos was not an incident they liked to remember. Apparently, that particular little village didn't really like the Avatar. After getting into a trial that was weird, dumb and was rigged to an extent that even Guy and Lee could tell, Aang had transformed into Kyoshi and had essentially confessed to killing the village's founder, who was a tyrant. The mayor was all set to have Aang executed but Sokka had stepped in and revealed a trump card. He pulled out a scroll he brought with him from the Northern Water Tribe that was titled Basic Laws of the Nations. He announced that even though Chin village had a bad judicial system, they still had to obey the basic laws that the four nations followed. One of those laws was that a Paragon could overrule a court's decision if he felt it was unlawful. With that said, he declared the ruling of the case was void because of their prejudice against the Avatar.
The mayor grumbled but complied but then something strange occurred. Kyoshi, who still had control over Aang's body, noticed what Sokka had said and saw the Paragon Medallion he had when he showed it to the mayor. She immediately tried to attack him. She blew past Team Guy and Katara but was stopped when Sokka had, without trying to, cut the link between Aang and the Avatar State. The same Fire Nation troops appeared again but this time; Team Guy was ready for them and easily beat them. After the celebration that night, they decided to quickly leave the town that Sokka had stated "Was the worst village they had ever visited."
Now they were Gaoling and in the marketplace but not for supplies. "It's pricy but I really do like it." Sokka said as he looked at an expensive green bag with a strap.
"Then you should get it." Katara told him. "You deserve something nice."
"I do, don't I?" Sokka rhetorically asked her. "But no, it's too expensive. I shouldn't."
"Alright then don't." Katara walked away with Aang behind her. Sokka was about to follow when he changed his mind and got the bag. Akela just rolled his eyes at Sokka's antics. Meanwhile Neji stood against a wall next to Lee. "I can't believe he's agonizing over a simple bag." He muttered.
"But it's a bag with a most youthful shade of green!" Lee told his teammate, and then got serious. "Besides, would you rather go with Tenten when she discovers a sell on weapons?"
The two of them shuddered at the memory of Tenten's last weapon shopping spree. Needless to say, the next time that happens they were bringing body armor with them.
Tenten notice the shudder. "You guys okay?" She asked.
"We're fine." They answered in unison.
Meanwhile, a guy had come up to Katara and Aang. "Hey, you kids like Earthbending? You like throwing rocks?" He handed them a small piece of paper. "Then check out Master Yu's Earthbending Academy."
As the man walked away, Aang looked at the paper. "Look, there's a coupon on the back! The first is free."
"Who knows, this Master Yu could be the Earthbending teacher you've been looking for." Katara told him as she and Sokka (bag in hand) also looked at the paper. Sokka turned his head to ask Team Guy what they thought but when he saw the stony expressions on their faces, he decided not to.
(Location: Yu Dao)
"Kori!" cried the mayor as his daughter entered the building with Azula's group behind her. "Where have you been? You know that you had a meeting with a son from the Akatonbo family today."
Before she could reply, Naruto spoke. "So that's your excuse this time? You wanted to avoid a guy?"
Kori's cheeks blushed with embarrassment. "It wasn't like that!" She told him.
"Uh-huh." He replied, not believing a word of it.
"Naruto, is that you my boy?" Mr. Morishita asked as he recognized the person talking to his daughter.
Naruto looked at the man "Nice to see you again, Mayor Morishita."
The Mayor walked up to Naruto and proceeded to give him a bear hug. "It's good to see you again, my boy!"
"Sir… I need…air!" Naruto wheezed out.
The mayor realized what his hug was doing, so he let go. "Sorry!"
"Sir…there are days…when I think…you try to kill me with those hugs!" Naruto told him as he gasp for air.
"Nonsense, if I wanted to kill you, you would be dead."
After Naruto got his breath back, he gave the mayor a mischievous smirk. "Correct me if I'm wrong sir, but isn't that what your wife said to you just before she asked you out on a date?"
The mayor's face blanched. "Why did I ever tell you that story?"
Before Naruto could continue, Kori interrupted the two of them. "Father, we have guests."
The mayor then looked at who was behind Naruto. "Princess Azula!" he exclaimed before bowing down before her. "I am terribly sorry for ignoring you."
"That is…quite alright." She told him. "These two are Ty Lee and Mai." She introduced the two girls.
"Hi!" Ty Lee chirped.
Mai just gave a wave of her hand in greeting.
"My family is honored to have you in our house, Princess." The mayor told Azula.
"Yes, I saw that when your daughter tried to attack my bodyguard." She replied.
"Hey, he saw me coming." Kori protested.
"Quiet little girl, the adults are speaking."
"I'm older then you are. I am sixteen!"
Naruto could see the lighting shooting from the two girl's eyes. "We should probably go and unpack the mongoose dragons." He told the group. "I'll go ahead."
He began to head for the door. Ty Lee then said "Mr. Mayor, what did Naruto do when he was assigned here?"
"Why do you even care?" Mai asked in a bored tone.
"I'm just curious; wouldn't you want to know what Zuko did at his first assignment?" When Mai didn't answer, Ty Lee turned back to the mayor. "So, what did he do?"
The mayor shrugged. "I assigned him to be my daughter's guard."
Both Azula and Naruto went stiff as boards but for different reasons. "Of all the things he could've said, he went with that!?" Naruto thought in a small panic.
"If I remember correctly, he did promise to get you back after that prank involving the fish, the market trip and the line of dancing girls. Maybe this is his payback." Kyuubi offered.
"But that was two years ago!"
"Some people are just patient when it comes to get revenge for pranks."
Naruto decided to take a chance and looked behind him. When he did, he didn't know how, Azula gave him a look that said "Explain, now." He could feel the tension getting very, very thick. At that point, he decided to beat a hasty retreat from the room.
Aang decided to try out Master Yu's Academy. He didn't think much of it and told the rest of the group that after the so-called lesson was over. Team Guy silently agreed with him. They had listened in when they heard the Master offered to put Aang in the next belt if he had paid for an entire years' worth of lessons. Team Guy at this point was ready to destroy the Academy. They hated places like this, where you could buy a ranking if you enough money. Sokka managed to calm them down before they did something stupid.
"I think the Boulder's gonna win the belt back at Earth Rumble VI!" They heard one of the other students tell his friend as they passed.
"He's going to have fight his way through the best Earthbenders in the world to even get a shot at the champ." The other guy replied.
Aang perked up when he heard the word Earthbender. "Excuse me but where is this Earthbending tournament exactly?" He asked the two as he ran up to them.
"It's on the island of nonya, non-ya business!" The first one told him. The two of them began to laugh as they walked away.
"I gotta remember that one." Sokka noted as he watched the two leave.
Katara shared a look with Tenten and they both nodded. "We'll take care of this." She told Aang. "Hey, strong guys wait up!" She called out as she went after the two guys. Tenten was right behind her.
Meanwhile, Sokka was looking at the bag he bought. "What was I thinking? I don't need a new bag. Why did you let me buy this?" He dropped the bag on the ground and looked away. Momo had been sitting on Sokka's shoulder up until that point; he jumped into the bag and proceeded to get comfy. As Momo did this, Akela watched him and as he did, he began to give a smile but Sokka noticed what he was doing. "Akela, we've had this talk. You can't eat the flying lemur." He warned.
By this time, Katara and Tenten were running back to the group. "You ready to find an Earthbending teacher?" Katara asked. "'Cause we're going to Earth Rumble VI."
"How'd you get them to tell you?" Aang asked.
"A girl has her ways." Tenten simply stated while tossing a kunai. If one was to look into the alleyway where the two students went, they would find that the two students were frozen to the wall and had icicles stuck in the wall just below the one place no man wants to be hit or stab in.
(That night, Location: Earth Rumble Arena)
The group headed into the giant cave that held the Earth Rumble arena."Hey, front row seats!" Aang announced as they sat down. "I wonder why no one else is sitting here." As soon as those words left his mouth, a huge boulder crashed into the seats right next to Sokka.
"I guess that's why." He answered.
They turned to face the ring. A man in the middle of the ring bent the earth around him to create a shower of big rocks. He then bent the earth beneath him to raise him up onto a pillar and then bent it back down into the ring.
"Welcometo Earth Rumble VI! I am your host, Xin Fu!" He declared.
Katara gave a bored sigh. "This is just gonna be a bunch of guys chucking rocks at each other, isn't it?"
"That's what I paid for." Sokka answered.
"Indeed! This should be a most youthful event to watch!" Lee chimed in.
"The rules are simple!" Xin Fu continued. "Just knock the other guy out of the ring and you win." He leapt up to a ledge as a bell went off.
Standing in the ring was now a big, heavily-muscled man with a badger-mole tattoo on his back and a really big man who was missing his front teeth (both top and bottom).
"Round 1: The Boulder vs. the Big Bad Hippo!" Xin Fu announced to the cheers of the audience.
"Listen up, Hippo." The Boulder called out as he pointed to his opponent. "You may be big but you ain't bad. The Boulder's going to win this in a landslide!"
"Hippo mad!" was the Hippo's reply, stomping a foot into the ground and causing a crack.
The Boulder quickly bent a chunk of the ring at the Hippo. It slammed into the Hippo causing a bit of a dust screen. It cleared away, showing the Hippo looking no worse for wear and with a big rock in his mouth. He proceeded to bite down on the rock, shattering it and began to chew on the piece that was in his mouth. He then spat it out and began to jump up and down, causing the ring to act like a see-saw.
"Unbelievable ladies and gentlemen, the Hippo is rocking the boat!" Xin Fu announced.
The Boulder staggered back across the ring and almost fell off. To save himself, he bent a flat piece of rock out of the side of the ring to balance himself. Grabbing hold of the piece, he whipped his body forward and hurled the piece of rock at the Hippo.
The Hippo turned to glare at the Boulderwho jumped away from the edge. The Boulder got into a stance and slowly but surely, bent the ground beneath the Hippo upwards. It caught the Hippo by surprise and the Boulder used that to hurl the rock, with the Hippo on it, out of the ring.
"The Boulder wins!" Xin Fu announced.
As the Boulder drank in the applause of the crowd, Katara looked at Aang. "How about the Boulder?" She asked. "He's got some good moves."
"I don't know." Aang replied. "Bumi said I need a teacher who listens to the earth. He's just listening to his big muscles." He looked over at Sokka. "What do you think, Sokka?"
"I think we should keep watching but the Boulder is looking like a good candidate." Sokka answered. He then noticed Aang and Katara giving him a weird look. "What?"
"Well, you made gave your opinion in calm manner and with an analytical eye." His sister noted.
"Yeah, it's really not like you." Aang told him.
"What? Were you expecting me to be on my feet and cheering like a hardcore fan that lost his mind?" He asked the two of them.
"Yes." They both answered.
"Don't worry, Lee's about to take care of that." He pointed to the spandex wearing shinobi.
Tenten looked at her teammate "You alright, Lee?" she asked.
"This is so…" Lee muttered before standing up with tears flowing freely from his eyes. "It's so very, very YOUTHFUL! OH HOW I WISH COULD BE AN EARTHBENDER, THAT WAY I COULD JOIN THIS MOST YOUTHFUL COMPETITION!"
"Would you calm down? You're attracting attention!" Neji hissed.
After they had finally managed to get Lee to calm down, the matches continued and the Boulder dominated them. He went through like they were nothing. The Fire Nation Man, the Gopher, the Gecko and the Headhunter, all were easily beaten by the Boulder like it was nothing.
Finally, the lights in the cave had dimmed, save the one shining on the Earth Kingdom emblem in the middle of the ring. "Now, the moment you've all been waiting for, the Boulder versus…your champion, the Blind Bandit!"
A light shined down upon a girl in green shirt and pants with a white tunic over them and a studded belt around her waist, she also wore dark green bands around her waists and her ankles. She wore a headband in her hair that green and yellow with a white puffball attached just above each ear. She held up the championship belt above her head as the crowd cheered her on.
"She can't really be blind. It's just part of her character, right?" Katara asked. The girl eyes were a light green color but were also unfocused, like she was just looking straight ahead.
"I think she is." Aang answered as he looked at her.
"But then how can she fight?" Neji asked. Sokka then remembered something that happened in Omashu.
"Sokka, allow me to show you something of Earthbending that Paragons can use. Think of it as a lesson." Naruto took a strip of cloth from his pocket and tied it around his eyes. "Now then, let's begin."
"I think I know how." Sokka told them.
Before anyone could ask him, the Boulder spoke out. "The Boulder feels conflicted about fighting a young blind girl."
"Sounds to me like you're scared, Boulder." The girl taunted.
The Boulder gave a slight scowl. "The Boulder is over his conflicted feelings and now he's ready to bury you in a rockalanche!"
The girl pointed at him "Whenever you're ready, the Pebble." she insulted him and then laughed. Aang's eyes went wide; he had heard that laugh before. He had heard it back in the swamp.
"It's on!" The Boulder announced. They had a bit of a stare off (which was kinda redundant when one of them is blind). The Boulder made the first move by stepping forward. He brought his right foot down and brought the other foot up. The girl went into her stance and waited. When the Boulder began to bring his left foot down the girl just simply kicked the ground, sending a line of rocks at the Boulder but not directly at him. As the Boulder brought his foot down, it landed on the rock-line which then curved to the left.
The end result was the Boulder doing the splits (which, apparently, he can't do). "OOOOOOOOOOO!" the Boulder cried out in pain (you would too if you can't do the splits). The girl quickly followed up with a hand chop motion causing three rock columns to jut out of the ring behind the Boulder, hitting him hard and sending him out of the ring.
"Your winner and still the champion, the Blind Bandit!" announced Xin Fu. The girl smiled and raised a fist as the crowd cheered.
"How did she do that?" Katara asked.
"She did the same thing Naruto did at Omashu." Sokka told her.
"She waited and listened." Aang said with a smile.
Xin Fu leapt back into the ring. "To make things a little more interesting, I'm offering up this sack of gold pieces to anyone who can defeat the Blind Bandit!"
The entire cave was dead silent. "What, no one dares to face her!?" Xin Fu demanded.
"I will!" A voice ranged out. Xin Fu turned to where the voice was coming from and saw Aang coming up the steps and into the ring. Xin Fu didn't say anything; he just leapt to his ledge.
The girl looked in Aang's general direction. "Do people really want to see two little girls fighting out here." She taunted.
"I don't really want to fight you. I want to talk to you." Aang told her. He took a step forward and the girl smirked. She then bent the ground beneath Aang to form into a column that jutted out of the ground. Aang leapt off the column and landed off to the side.
"Someone's a little light on his feet." The girl stated as she swerved to his general direction. "What's your fighting name, the Fancy Dancer?"
Aang just grinned in response. The girl took advantage of that and tried to throw Aang off by shooting up the ground from underneath him. Aang just leapt forward off the rock.
The girl had a small look of confusion. "Where'd you go?"
Aang landed a good distance behind her. "Please, wait!"
"There you are!" She turned around, bent a chuck of rock out of the ground and hurled it at Aang. He responded by bending the air into two streams, one deflecting the rock and the other sending the girl off the ring. That move shocked everyone in the arena.
While the crowd was cheering, Aang went after the girl who was leaving the arena. "Please listen!'' He pleaded. "I need an Earthbending teacher and I think it's supposed to be you."
The girl continued to walk away. "Whoever you are, just leave me alone." She opened up a hole in the wall, walked through it and closed it just before Aang reached her. As the group got the winnings and Sokka took the belt, Aang remained downcast.
(Location: Yu Dao)
It was six in the morning and Azula was feeling irritated. She didn't know why she felt irritated, she was a princess and a princess never gets irritated.
"Why am I so frustrated?" She asked out loud as she paced around the room she was given.
"Do you really want that answered?" Mai asked as she leaned against the door frame. Ty Lee stood just outside against the wall.
"What is it?" Azula asked.
Mai shrugged. "She wanted to ask you something." She pointed to Ty Lee, who bounced forward.
"You wanna go see Naruto train the soldiers?" She asked with a grin. "I think they're done with the warm ups and the run."
Azula looked at her for a minute. "Fine," She finally answered.
Ty Lee's grin got even bigger. She grabbed both Azula's and Mai's hands and charged off.
(Location: Yu Dao training grounds)
The training grounds were in a small valley that was next to Yu Dao. It was circular in shape, had practice fields for both weapons training and Firebending. It had two entrances, one led back to Yu Dao and the other led into a trail that split into two separate directions. However if you went in one direction, you eventually came out through the other one. It was used for exercise runs and for punishment. If you were punished, you had run a number of laps on the trail under a time limit.
If you knew where to look, just near the entrance to Yu Dao was a path that led up to a ledge that encircled the training grounds.
"How did you find this?" Azula asked.
"Somebody just told me." Ty Lee answered.
They crept to an edge that had a natural barrier, if they knelt down no one would notice that they were there.
"Why am I even here?" Mai wondered.
"Because you were bored, that's why." Ty Lee told her.
"Shush! Here they come!" Azula hissed to the other two. Sure enough, the Fire Nation military was coming in through the trail entrance with Naruto in the lead. As soon as they hit the practice fields, they stopped.
"Well now, wasn't that refreshing?" Naruto asked them. The large amount of people behind him just groaned.
"Oh come on, it wasn't that bad." Naruto told them.
"You call doing forty laps on that trail with weights after an hour and half of push-ups, sit-ups and Agni know what else not bad!?" One of the men, who looked to be an officer judging by his armor, demanded.
Naruto just looked at the person, who looked to be a year or two older than him. "You're green, aren't you?"
"He's fresh out of the Military Academy, Lord Naruto. This is his first posting." One of the foot soldiers supplied.
"Ah," Replied Naruto. "Well that says a lot." He looked at the officer. "What's your name, boy?"
The officer had a look of rage. "My proper rank is lieutenant and you address me as such!"
"I asked you for your name, not your rank." Naruto told him. "What's your name?"
"My name, you filthy little peasant, is something you will never hear."
Naruto did not even look outraged at being told off. "I'm a filthy little peasant, am I?"
"He's going to get now!" Ty Lee whispered gleefully and it seemed like the rest of the non-officers were silently agreeing with her.
"Yes, you are a peasant who does not know how to talk to his elders or betters. I don't know why the foot soldiers think you're a lord but they are obviously mistaken. Once I'm done with you, I'll fix that attitude."
"Done with me? Are you going to challenge me to an Agni Kai?"
The lieutenant scoffed. "I know all about you. You think you're some hotshot because you manage to beat the princess in Agni Kai when you're not even a Firebender. Well I have news for you, I could beat you easily."
"Oh? You think you can beat me when the princess of the Fire Nation couldn't?"
"She's a woman, so her Firebending is pathetic. I could beat you without even breaking a sweat."
At this in point in the conversation, unbeknownst to them, both Mai and Ty Lee had to restrain Azula. "Let him go. I'm going to kill him!" She demanded.
"If you do that, Naruto will know we're here and we don't want that, remember?" Ty Lee reminded.
"I don't care! That fool will burn!"
"Relax, Azula. Naruto will take care of it." Mai told her.
She had finally calmed down. "He'd better."
"So you think that you can defeat the one person who was able to beat your own princess, who is a well-known Firebending prodigy and will be able to do that easily?" Naruto asked.
The lieutenant smirked. "I already told you, it would be easy. You know what? After I'm done with you, I'll take over your position with the princess and make her my slave. I'll make you watch as she pleasures me."
The general thought among the non-officers and officers who actually had a brain in their heads was this. "He's fucked." The other officers agreed with him on some points but not all of them.
Naruto just smiled but to those who knew Naruto, that particular smile was the one Naruto gave when he was going to humiliate someone in a very bad way without the use of pranks. "Alright everyone, break's over. You know what comes next."
Everyone got back up on their feet and formed a loose circle around Naruto. "Now, since Mr. Delusions of Grandeur here decided to open his mouth, he will have the honor of throwing the first punch."
The lieutenant sneered. "This won't take a minute to win."
"If you say so, well then…" Naruto waited for the guy to take a stance. "Whenever you're ready," He finished.
The lieutenant stepped forward and launched a fireball at Naruto. It sailed over his head as he duck and moved forward. Just as the lieutenant realized he missed, he was on the ground with Naruto standing above him with a foot on his stomach.
"Wha…?" he tried to ask but Naruto interrupted him. "I said you had the honor of throwing the first punch. I never said anything about me letting you actually hitting me. Oh and by the way…" He pressed his foot down, making the lieutenant gasp in pain. "If you ever talk about Princess Azula like that again, I will find out and I will kill you."
"Okay, okay! I'm sorry!" The lieutenant cried.
Naruto took his foot off before looking at the lieutenant. "No you're not." He slammed his foot back down on the lieutenant's stomach, causing him to roll over and dry heave. Naruto took that opportunity to grab his head and slammed it into the ground, causing a crack to appear in the ground.
"Does anyone else want to insult the princess like that?" He asked everyone around who all shook their heads in the negative. "Good, now back to what we were doing."
The girls now watched as the entire military group proceeded to try and attack Naruto. Oddly enough, he was holding his own without the use of any Kage Bunshin or any other kind of jutsu (except taijutsu).
"He's seems to be doing fine, can we go now?" Mai asked after watching fifteen minutes of the fight.
Azula took one last look as her bodyguard swerved, ducked, blocked and fought back before saying. "Yes."
They headed back down to the entrance to Yu Dao. As they came down, they saw someone else heading back to Yu Dao. "Who's that?" Ty Lee asked.
The person turned around, noticed them and began to run. Azula reacted quickly by leaping at the person and knocking them down. "Who are you!?" she demanded.
"Get off of me!" The person demanded before bending a chuck of rock from the ground and throwing it at Azula. Azula rolled off to dodge and came up into a fighting position. When she looked at her opponent, she saw that it was Kori.
"What are you doing here?" She asked.
"I could ask the same of you." Azula replied.
Kori blushed. "N-none of your business!" she stammered.
Ty Lee gave a mischievous grin. "You were watching the guys, weren't you? You were watching them get all hot and sweaty and hoping they take of their shirts so you look at their bodies."
"N-no I wasn't."
"Yes you were."
"No I was not!"
"Would you stop lying? You were right there." Mai told her.
"Alright fine!" she stated. "I was there to watch the guys, okay!" She turned around to walk away. "I'm going back to the village, good bye."
She started to leave but stopped when Azula said. "You didn't come here to watch the guys, you came to look a guy didn't you!?"
"So? What's it to you?' Kori asked without even looking at Azula.
"You were watching Naruto!" She glared at the older girl with jealously in her eyes.
'So what if I was watching him? I love him!" Kori stated as she turned around to face Azula.
Azula just stood with a shocked look. "You w-what?" she asked.
"I love him, I love Naruto."
"He is my bodyguard!"
"He was my bodyguard first and he actually cares about me!"
Azula snarled, she looked like she was about to attack Kori. "Get out of my sight!"
Kori simply turned back around and headed back to Yu Dao. "Um…Azula?" asked Ty Lee. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, why do you ask?" Azula growled as she stared at Kori's back.
"Probably because that was the first time we have ever seen someone who wanted the same thing as you." Mai told her.
She threw a glare back at the two of them. "I'm going back to Yu Dao."
As they watched her leave, Mai looked at Ty Lee. "She's taking it well."
Ty Lee nodded in agreement. "I just wondered how long it will be until she confronts Naruto. You know she's a little possessive of him."
"Yeah, I remember what happened."
Last autumn, a Fire Nation noble's daughter had offered Naruto the job of being her bodyguard right in front of Azula during a formal party. He declined and she had made some non-too subtle questions about his I.Q. and whether Azula had found him in a kennel or just off the streets. Azula challenged her to Agni Kai on the spot. After that, the noble's daughter had to be treated for second degree burns all over her body (It would have been third degrees had Naruto not told Azula to calm down).
"Do you think Naruto knows?"
Mai looked at her friend. "Knows what?"
"About Kori," Ty Lee answered.
Mai began to walk back to Yu Dao. "If he doesn't already know, he'll find out soon."
Ty Lee followed her. If they had stayed a little longer, they would've heard someone sneezing and a chorus of voices saying "Agni bless you, Lord Naruto!"
The group headed down a street to the Earthbending Academy.
"I gotta admit, now I'm really glad I bought this bag." Sokka told them. "It matches the belt perfectly."
"I cannot believe he can say that." Neji said.
"But he is right." Lee told him.
"Yosh! Lee is most correct." Guy announced.
"That is a big relief." Katara deadpanned.
"If we want to find the Blind Bandit," Aang said. "The Earthbending Academy is a good place to start."
As they walked through the entrance of the Academy, they saw the two same boys from before doing an exercise.
The two looked up. "Oh great, you again." said the first one.
Katara threw a glare and Tenten reached for her holster. The two guys yelped and flinched back.
"Yeah, I didn't think so." Katara said.
"Nicely done," Sokka complemented. Akela barked in agreement.
"Hey, you're the kid who beat the Blind Bandit." The second boy said.
"We need to talk to her." Aang told them. "Do you guys know where she is?"
"The Blind Bandit's a mystery, she shows up to fight and then disappears." The first boy said.
"Let me handle this." Katara told a downcast Aang, she went up to the second boy. "You're not telling us everything!"
"N-no, I swear it's true! No one where she goes or who she really is." He told them.
"That's because we're asking about the wrong person." Aang realized. "In my vision, I saw a girl in a white dress with a pet flying boar. Know anybody like that?" He asked the two boys.
"Well, a flying boar is the symbol of the Beifong family. They're the richest people in town, probably the whole world." The first boy told them.
"I know a few Hyuuga elders who would deny that kind of statement with a passion." Neji thought.
"Yeah but they don't have a daughter." The second boy chimed in.
"Flying boar is good enough for me. Let's check it out." Aang told them before heading out of the Academy.
"Yeah, you'd better leave." The first boy whispered.
"Hey! I've got my eye on you two." Katara told them as she left.
"If I were you, I'd listen." Sokka told them. "You don't want to end up like that last guy."
"What last guy?" they asked but Sokka had already left.
(Location: Beifong estates)
They crouched down on a small ridge just outside the main gate. Above the gate was the family symbol.
"That's the flying boar from my vision, come on." Aang told them before they crawled away from the ridge.
"We should be careful." Neji said but Aang had already left.
"Sorry about that." Sokka apologized. "He's excited."
"Look I have an idea. Aang is probably going to try and go over the wall. If we don't get in, you guys try knocking on the front door?"
Team Guy just looked at him. "And how exactly is that supposed to work?" Neji asked with a mystified expression.
"Hinata once told that the Hyuuga clan was a noble family. You're part of the same clan, so you'll be able to talk like a noble." He looked over to where Aang was running off to. "I better go and catch up, Akela, stay." He told the wolf.
As Sokka left, both Lee and Tenten looked over at Neji. "You think you can do this?" Tenten asked.
"If Hiashi-sama finds out about this, I am a dead man." He answered.
Meanwhile Aang, Katara and Sokka had gone around to the side, over the wall and into the garden. They tried to move quietly but the earth beneath them suddenly heaved upwards, sending the three of them into the air. Both Aang and Katara managed to land on a bush but Sokka landed face first on the ground.
Aang had landed on his back. He tilted his head back and in his upside down vision, he saw the girl he was looking for in a familiar dress. "What are you doing here, Twinkle Toes?" She demanded.
"How'd you know it was me?" He asked.
"Don't answer to Twinkle Toes, it's not manly!" Sokka told him.
"You're the one whose bag matches his belt." Katara pointed out as she got back on solid ground.
"Touché sister," He replied.
"How did you find me?" The girl asked.
Aang started to explain as he got off the bush. "Well, a crazy king told me I had to find an Earthbender who listens to the earth and then I had a vision in a magic and…" As he tried to explain, the girl's face got more and more skeptical.
Katara stepped before Aang's explanation got any weirder. "What Aang is trying to say is the Avatar, and if he doesn't master Earthbending soon he won't be able to defeat the Fire Lord."
The girl put her hand in front of Katara's face. "Not my problem. Now get out of here or I'll call the guards." She said as she walked away.
"Look, we all have to do our part to win this war and yours is to teach Aang Earthbending." Sokka told her.
The girl stood with her back to them in silence for a few seconds. Then she turned around and, in a voice that sounded little and weak rather than her usual confidence, she cried out. "Guards, guards help!"
As the three of them ran out of there and back to a wall, the guards ran in. "Toph, what happened!?" One of them asked.
"I…thought I heard someone. I got sacred." The girl now known as Toph told them.
"You know your father doesn't want you wandering the grounds without supervision Toph." The guard told her as they led her away.
Aang scowled but then had a thinking look on. He grinned and then climbed down the wall. "I've got another idea." He told the other two before heading back to where Team Guy was.
"Hang on Aang." Sokka said as they got back to the ridge. "We tried an idea of your and it didn't work. Now it's my turn."
While Aang pouted, Katara looked at her brother. "What's your idea?"
Sokka pointed to the main gate, which Team Guy was approaching.
"Halt!" One of the guards demanded. "Who goes there?"
Neji stepped forward. "Greetings, I am Neji Hyuuga of the Hyuuga clan. These are my teacher and my fellow students." He gestured to the rest of the team.
"What do you want?"
"We heard of the Beifong family when we passed through Gaoling. Seeing as it was almost dark, we had decided to pay our respects and ask the master of this estate if we could sleep here tonight."
"The Hyuuga clan?" repeated the second guard. "I've never heard of them."
Neji gave a bow. "My apologies, the Hyuuga clan is not from the Earth Kingdom. My teacher is taking us on trip around the world to study different styles and methods of fighting."
"Then why are you talking and not your teacher?"
"Because my teacher does not really know how to speak to nobility, since I was raised as a noble before becoming his student, I know how." Neji explained, meanwhile in his head he was thinking "I'm such a dead man!"
"We will let Lord Lao know of you and your request." The guard told him.
At this point, Sokka decided to walk up to the gate. "There you guys are!" He greeted Team Guy. "Sorry, but the market didn't have what you guys were looking for."
"That's okay, are the others still at the market?" Tenten asked, deciding to play along.
"No, they should be right behind me."
Taking that as their cue Aang, Katara and Akela appeared from the bush.
"Who are they!?" The guards demanded.
"Not to worry my good sirs." Neji told them. "These are also our traveling companions. The bald one with the arrow tattoo has a station that's apparently of great importance." He looked at Aang. "Tell me, what was the title you were given again?"
Aang looked confused for a minute but then caught on "The Avatar." He said.
The guards looked flabbergasted.
(Location: Yu Dao)
That night, Naruto, Azula, Ty Lee and Mai sat down to dinner with Mayor Morishita and Kori. "Please dig in!" The mayor said.
"Sir, if you don't mind me asking," Naruto said. "But where is Mrs. Morishita?"
"My wife went to go see her family, she'll be back soon."
"Hey Naruto," Kori said. "How do you think this war will end?"
"It will end with the Fire Nation winning, obviously." Azula answered.
"You don't know that, Azula." Naruto told her. "The Avatar could very well defeat the Fire Lord. But even if he does that, this conflict will not be over."
"What do you mean, my boy?" Mayor Morishita asked.
"If the Avatar wins, he'll declare the war over. The he'll try to 'restore balance to the world'." He said using air quotes. "That will mean that, eventually, he'll set his sights on the Fire Nation colonies."
"Us?" the mayor asked. "Why would he look at us?"
"The Avatar is a child; he believes that for the harmony to be restored there has to be four separate nations. When he looks or hears about the colonies he doesn't see two different nationalities working together, he sees Fire Nation people on Earth Kingdom land."
"But that's absurd!" Kori shouted. "I am Earthbender but I am also a Fire Nation citizen, not just one or the other!"
"For once, I actually agree with her." Azula said.
"I know you two see it that way but the Avatar doesn't. If he wins, odds are he'll try to have the colonies removed."
"He can't do that! This is my home!" Kori slammed her fist on the table.
"Kori!" the mayor said. "Behave yourself!" He turned to Naruto. "What do you think will happen?"
Naruto sighed. "I can only think of two outcomes. The first is that we are all dragged into another war that could be much worse than the current one."
"What's the second?"
"That instead of four separate nations, they all become one."
The table was silent for a few seconds. "Well, I guess we just have to hope for option two then." Ty Lee said.
"Or the Fire Nation could destroy the Avatar and win the war." Azula stated.
"You seem pretty confident that the Fire Nation will achieve victory." Kori pointed out.
"Well of course, we are the greatest nation there is."
"And yet you're not even fighting."
"I am the Princess of the Fire Nation, I don't need to fight."
Azula threw her a look. "And what's your excuse for not fighting."
"In case you haven't noticed, I'm an Earthbender. I can't exactly fight with the army."
"You're right; you wouldn't be of any help to the Fire Nation army."
"At least I would try to help my nation!" Kori yelled as she suddenly stood up from her chair, sending crashing to the floor.
"But you can't, can you? You're stuck in this colony wishing away on things trying to fight or hoping that one boy will finally notice you." Azula said as she too stood up.
"Azula, what are you doing?" Ty Lee and Mai thought as they watched this scene play out.
Both Kori and Azula looked like they were ready to attack each other. Then everyone there heard a chair being moved back. Turning their heads, they saw Naruto standing quietly. "Azula, Kori." He said looking at the two of them. "Come with me."
He turned around and walked away into a corridor, the two girls followed him. Once they were a good distance away, he turned to face around. "What's going on between the two of you?" He asked.
"What do you mean?" Azula asked.
"Ever since this morning you've both been like you want to kill each other. So I'll ask again: what's going on between the two of you?"
"Well, why don't you explain yourself first, Naruto."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean why you never told me about her and you being her bodyguard!?" She snarled pointing at Kori.
"It was only for a month Azula, and it was my first assignment. Yes, I do visit when I can but that's not what's got you mad, is it?"
"If you were only there for a month and only visited afterwards, HOW IS IT THAT SHE IS LOVE WITH YOU!?" yelled Azula.
The silence was almost suffocating after what she had said. "What?" Naruto asked.
"You heard me."
He turned his head to Kori. "Is this true?"
She nodded her head. "I love you Naruto, I've loved you since you were my bodyguard."
He dropped his head and gave a sigh. Raising his head, he said. "Kori, I do love you…but I don't love you in that way. I'm sorry."
Kori looked like she was about to cry. "I think you three had enough excitement for one day." A voice from behind them said.
Naruto turned around. "Mrs. Morishita! You're home early."
"Yes, I left my family early when I had heard that you had come to visit Naruto. But I see I've come at wrong time."
"No ma'am, if anything you came at the right time."
"Indeed." She went over to her daughter. "I shall take Kori to her room."
"I'll be right along. I have to make sure Azula gets to her room." He turned and gave her a look that said "Not a word out of you."
The two groups then left and went their separate ways.
(Location: Beifong estate)
After an introduction to both Lord Lao and Lady Poppy (Toph's parents) Aang, Katara, Sokka and Team Guy joined them at dinner. They were initially worried about Akela but Sokka reassured them that he was well behaved.
During the dinner, Aang told them that he still needed to find an Earthbending teacher. Lao suggested Master Yu but Aang tried to subtly tell him that Toph was supposed to teach him. The end result of that was food was flung everywhere while both Aang and Toph had a staring contest. At that point, Poppy asked if they wanted to move to the living room for dessert.
"I'm sorry about that." Neji apologized. "Sometimes Aang gets a little excited and does something rash."
"That's quite alright." Poppy answered.
"Tell me, Master…Guy was it?" Master Yu asked.
"That is correct." Guy answered. During their time there, he had made an effort not to show his youthfulness. Instead he tried to act like a serious teacher in front of their hosts.
"What is it exactly that you teach your students? Seeing as the four of you are not Benders, I wonder what there is to teach them."
Both Guy and his students could hear the condescension in his voice. "I have trained Tenten in the usage of weapons and have helped Neji with his family's martial art style. Both are considered to be geniuses."
"And what of your third student?" asked Master Yu. "If you did not call him a genius, then it obviously means that he isn't one."
At this point, both Neji and Tenten had to subtly restrain Lee from attacking Master Yu. "I have trained Lee in my own style, the Gōken. He is a genius, a genius of hard work. Personally I believe that a genius of hard work can beat a genius at their own game at any time."
Master Yu chuckled like it was all somewhat amusing. "Please, if he is not a natural genius, then he cannot beat one. That is his fate."
At this Neji smirked. "Master Yu, what you just said reminded me of someone I knew."
"Oh? And who was that?"
"Myself." Looking at the confused looks he was getting from everyone except for his Team (and Toph) he continued. "A couple of years ago I was like you once. I believed that fate controlled everything. That it was inescapable and everyone had a destiny. I was full of pride but I was also full of hate at the role that destiny had given me. I lashed out at people because of my hate."
The room was silent. "What happened?" Lao finally asked.
"My hatred had grown too much. In a tournament that our village hosted, I lashed out at a member of my own family and had almost killed her. I felt no shame at what I had done. Then a boy, one I had deemed a failure, swore an oath on her blood to win against me when we would face each other in combat."
"A blood oath?" asked Aang. "Wasn't that a bit…much?"
"Not to him it wasn't. Soon the day came when we fought each other. I struck him down again and again, trying to tell him that fate and destiny couldn't be broken. But no matter how many times he fell, he would always get back on his feet and continued to fight back. Finally I asked him why he kept trying to defy his destiny to lose at my hands."
"…What did he say?" Sokka asked.
"He said 'Because people called me a failure. I'll prove them wrong.' it was at that point he beat me. After the match was over and I couldn't move, he came over to where I was on the ground. He said that if a failure like himself could successfully change his destiny; think of what a so-called genius would be able to do. After that I had renounced my belief in fate and destiny."
"What happened to the boy?" Poppy asked.
Neji along with the rest of Team Guy had a look of sorrow. "A few months later, he left the village behind with no explanation and no intention to return. One of the reasons we are on this journey is so that we can find him and ask him why he left."
"What was his name?" Toph asked.
"Naruto…Naruto Uzumaki." The answer made Aang, Katara and Sokka share a look. One of their enemies, quite possible the most dangerous one, had that kind of effect on Neji?
"As interesting as that story is," Master Yu said. 'What exactly is your point?"
"Fate does not control you. If Lee is a genius of hard work, then he is a genius of hard work. There's not a doubt in my mind that if he could, he would be able to beat me."
As Master Yu took this all in, Sokka noticed that in the corner of the living was a semi-elaborate shrine. In the middle of the shrine was a jar that looked very, very old. "Excuse me, but what is the shrine for?" He asked.
Lao looked at what he was talking about. "That shrine holds the ashes of the first Beifong."
Sokka walked closer to the shrine, the Medallion he wore around his neck hanging out for all to see. His movements were slow, almost like he was in trance. He approached the jar and was about to touch it when he suddenly flinched back. He then heard a voice in his head saying. "Are you crazy!? If you do that, you'll die!" Then he heard another voice, a female one. "If I don't do it, then everything we've done to stop him will be for nothing!" The voices were faint, like an echo. They weren't talking to him, it was more he was listening to a fading memory that wasn't even his.
"Young man, are you alright?" Lao asked.
Sokka came back to reality. "Huh? Y-yeah, I'm fine."
Lao then noticed what hung around his neck. "You are a Paragon?"
Sokka look down at his Medallion. "Yes. Do you have something against them?"
"Not at all, what do you know about the history of the Paragons?"
"Nothing really," He looked back at the jar. "Was the first Beifong a Paragon?"
"No, not just that, our ancestor was the first Paragon of the Earth Kingdom."
Both Aang's and Sokka's eyes went wide. "So…your ancestor was there at the beginning," said Sokka.
Lao simply nodded. "Do you know why the Paragons were created?" Aang asked.
"I'm sorry but no. While the history of the Paragons is just as long as the Avatar, the actual facts about why they were created or what they did has been lost."
"I heard voices…" Everyone turned back to Sokka. "I heard voices in my head; they were talking about trying to stop someone. I think it has something to do with the first Paragons."
The silence in the room was almost deafening. "Perhaps it's time we all went to sleep." Poppy suggested. Everyone agreed with her.
Later on in the room they were given, Aang was bidding Appa goodnight while Katara sat on the bed and Sokka sat against it with Akela at his side while Momo sat in the bag. Team Guy had been given a separate room.
Feeling a presence behind him, Aang turned around and saw Toph leaning against the doorframe. He gave a small cry of panic and went into an Airbending stance.
"Relax." Toph told him. "Look I'm sorry about dinner. Let's call a truce, okay?"
Aang put his hands down. "Follow me." Toph ordered, she left the room and Aang followed.
She led them out into the garden, while Aang walked on the bridge she walked on raised edge of the bridge. "Even though I was born blind, I never had a problem seeing." She explained. She jumped down to the ground. "I see with Earthbending, it's kinda like seeing with my feet. I feel the vibrations in the earth and I can see where everything is, you, that tree, even those ants."
Aang looked around for the ants that were mentioned until he finally saw them. "That's amazing." He told her.
"My parents don't understand. They've always treated me like I was helpless." She said as they walked near the wall.
"Is that why you became the Blind Bandit?"
"Yeah," She answered.
"Then why stay here where you're not happy?"
"They're my parents, where else am I supposed to go?"
"You could come with us."
"Yeah, you guys get to go wherever you want. No one telling you what to do, that's the life…it's just not my life." She then turned to her right, then knelt down and placed a hand to the earth. "We're being ambushed!" She grabbed Aang by the hand and ran off.
As they ran, a dirt trail appeared behind them. It quickly caught up and then cut them off. Popping out of the tunnel that caused the trail was someone Toph knew: the Gopher from Earth Rumble VI. Before they could fight back, the two were trapped in cages, specifically metal cages. As Aang looked out through the bars (Toph was a little short to do that) he saw people he did not expect.
"I think you kids owe me some money." Xin Fu told them with the rest of Earth Rumble VI members behind him.
(Location: Yu Dao)
Kori lay on her bed with her mother sitting next to it. A knock was heard coming from the door. Mrs. Morishita went over to the door and opened it slightly revealing a person's face. "Naruto," She said.
"Ma'am," He greeted. "Can I come in?"
"Young man, I have half a mind to take you outside, give you thorough beating and then bury you in the earth."
"You have every right to do so ma'am but I would like to talk to Kori before you do that."
"You broke her heart."
"And now I want to explain myself, she deserves that."
Mrs. Morishita was silent for a few minutes. "Yes, she does." she agreed and opened the door.
"Thank you ma'am," He told her as he walked in. "Can you do me a favor and go talk to Azula?"
"The Princess?" she asked as she narrowed her eyes. "Why?"
"She's gone too long without a lecture."
"…Very well, I will go talk to her."
As Mrs. Morishita left, he turned to the bed. "Kori?" he called.
"What do you want?" was the response he got.
"I wanted to talk to you."
"I don't want to talk to you."
"Tough, I'm going to talk and you're going to listen."
"Why should I!?" She demanded as she took her face away from her pillow, he could see the tearstains on it.
"You need to hear what I have to say." He walked over to the edge of the bed and sat down. "Why are you in love with me?"
"What?" she asked with confusion in her voice.
"Why are you in love with me?" he repeated.
"I…I don't really know why. You're best at everything, you're smart and you look so cool."
"That's not love Kori, that's a crush."
"But a crush can turn into love!" She protested.
"Yes it can but that only happens when you realized your crush has imperfections."
"You don't have any imperfections Naruto."
"And that's why you're not in love with me. You only have a crush."
Tears began to form in her eyes. "I a-am too in l-love with you," She said.
Naruto noticed the tears and gave her a hug. "Trust me, you're not." At that point, she lost control and began to bawl like a baby. He waited for the crying to turn into sniffles. "Kori I told you that I did love you, remember?"
She nodded, not trusting her voice.
"There are many kinds of love and the love I have for you is that of a sibling."
"What?" she said.
He pulled away from the hug so that he could look at her face. "I love you like a sister. That's important to me."
She stayed quiet for a minute and then smiled. "Well, it's not the love I wanted but I'll take it."
"Kori, to me a family is most important. The ones you loved become a part of your family."
"I guess…I guess you're right. Mom and Dad already consider you a member of the family."
He smiled. "You see? Just do me a favor Kori."
She grew curious. "What?"
"Find someone who you'll be able to fall in love for what they are and not what they can do. I've seen what a crush can do to a person and it doesn't usually go anywhere."
"Speaking from experience, are we?" Kyuubi asked with dry sarcasm.
"Yes we are. I had a crush once, remember?" Naruto silently answered.
"Of course I remember. I was there."
He ignored the fox and brought his attention back to Kori. "Are you feeling better now?"
"Yeah," She answered.
He got off the bed. "That's good." He started to walk towards the door.
"Where are you going?"
He stopped and turned around. "Now I'm going to go talk to Azula."
(Location: Azula's room)
She heard a knock on the door. Getting out of bed, Azula walked over to the door and opened it revealing Mrs. Morishita. "May I come in?" She asked.
Azula shrugged and stood to the side so that she could come in. "What do you want?"
Mrs. Morishita turned around to face her. "What is it exactly that you have against my daughter?"
She scoffed. "Why would I have anything against your daughter?"
"Maybe it's because she had something that you thought was your and yours alone. Or maybe because she has something you don't."
"What could she have that I don't? I'm a princess, I have everything."
"Really?" asked Mrs. Morishita. "Then where is your mother?"
Azula stiffened. "Excuse me?"
"You say you have everything, then where is your mother?"
"Why do you care?" She growled.
"No mother would ever let their child turn out like this."
"If your mother let you turn out like this, she wasn't a very good mother."
"I said SHUT UP!" Azula yelled. "What's it matter to you anyway? You're not my mother! Besides, she never cared about me, Zuko was her favorite."
"Nevertheless, she was your mother and she did care about you." Mrs. Morishita stated. "I have a question for you, young lady: if your mother saw how you acted, what do you think she would say?" she left Azula alone in her room.
While she just stood there, absorbing what she was told, Naruto appeared at the door. "I take it Mrs. Morishita already talked to you?"
Azula turned to face her bodyguard. "Where were you?" She demanded.
"I went to talk to Kori."
She gave an annoyed huff. "Whatever."
"What's wrong Azula?" He asked her.
She stood there silently for a few minutes. Finally she asked "Why do you care so much about Kori?"
Naruto had a mystified look on his face but decided to answer anyway. "I was the first one to treat her like a normal person."
Azula was visibly confused, so he continued. "When I was first assigned here, everyone knew her as the mayor's daughter, not as Kori. She hated that and so she kept constantly getting in trouble. The problem was that nobody would punish her for what she did."
"So what did you do?"
He smiled. "The first time she got into trouble when I was her bodyguard, I made her do twenty laps on the trail and she had to do it in ten minutes. Every time she got into trouble, hard training was her punishment. She hated me for that. She had threatened to murder me almost every time she did laps. In response, I just told that she had to start over."
"Her parents let you do this?" Azula asked. She was surprised but she also knew that Naruto could be a hard taskmaster.
"They told me that so long as I didn't kill her, I was fine. And so, every time she turned her frustration and anger at me, I trained her to the ground."
"That's all you did? You trained her?"
"Why do you think she tried to attack me? She's been trying to beat me ever since I trained her. It's her way of trying to prove that my training worked."
Azula just stood there, reflecting on what he said. She then walked through the door and out into the corridor. She walked right pass Ty Lee and Mai. "Azula, where are you going?" Naruto called out.
"To Kori's room," She called back.
"What for?" asked Ty Lee.
"I'm going to talk to her."
As they watched go down the corridor, Mai just turned to the others and said "So whose getting the fire flakes?"
"That's not funny Mai." Naruto told her.
"Do you see me laughing?"
(Location: Kori's room)
She heard the knock on her door. "Who is it?" She called out.
"It's Azula. May I come in?"
"As you wish," she answered.
Azula opened the door and walked into the room. "What do you need?" Kori asked her.
"I wanted to apologize."
Kori looked at her. "I'm sorry?"
"I want to apologize for my behavior to you."
Azula stood silent for a minute. "I was jealous of you. I had thought that Naruto was my bodyguard only. Then you appear and practically tell me that he was yours as well. I was jealous and I took it out on you." She bowed her head. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay. I know what you're talking about." Kori smiled. "Naruto does that to you, doesn't he?"
Azula chuckled. "Yes, he does." She gave Kori a long look. "By the way, you can never tell anyone about me apologizing. If people found out, my reputation would be ruined."
"Yes ma'am!" She gave a mock salute, making the both of them laugh.
"You know…now that I think about it, it was Naruto's fault for making us act like that." Azula said after they stop laughing.
Kori thought about it. "Yeah…you're right."
Azula smirked. "Want to get back at him for it?"
Kori just smirked in return. "I already have an idea."
(Location: Beifong estate)
Sokka stood in front of two very shallow craters in the ground with Katara and Team Guy nearby as well Lao, Poppy and Master nearby. Reaching down, he pulled out a dagger out of the ground, attached to the dagger was a message. "Whoever took Aang and Toph left this." He said as he held it out to Katara.
She took the message of the weapon. "If you want to see your daughter again, bring five hundred gold pieces to the arena." She read aloud. "It's signed Xin Fu and the Boulder."
Sokka looked at the message. "You know, the Boulder has got a nice autograph." He noticed the looks Katara and Team Guy were giving him. "Hey, I am just saying."
"Master Yu." Lao began. "I need you to help me get my daughter back."
"We're going with you." Katara told him.
"We are indeed." Guy said.
Poopy knelt in front of the craters. "Poor Toph, she must be so scared." She said.
(Location: Earth Rumble Arena)
"You think you're so tough!? Why don't you come up here so I can smack that grin off your face!" Toph told Xin Fu. Both her and Aang were still in the cages but were now held in the air by chains.
"I'm not smiling." Xin Fu replied.
"Toph!" a voice cried out. Xin Fu turned around and saw Lao, Master Yu, Katara, Sokka, Akela and Team Guy.
"Here's your money!" Sokka announced holding up a sack of money. "Now let them go." He dropped the bag and Master Yu bent it across the floor to Xin Fu's feet.
He picked up the bag and checked the contents. Once he was satisfied, he gave a signal and Toph's cage was lowered. The Boulder (who had standing close to Xin Fu) opened the bottom and Toph came out. She ran over to her father and they began to leave with Master Yu and Team Guy behind them.
"What about Aang?" Katara demanded.
Xin Fu held up a wanted poster of Aang. "I think the Fire Nation will pay a hefty price for the Avatar. Now get out of my ring!" He told them.
Akela gave an angry snarl and charged at Xin Fu. Before he could even get close the Boulder stepped up and bent the ring to jut out a column beneath Akela, sending him up into the air with a yelp.
"Akela!" cried Sokka.
The Boulder then bent a big chunk of rock out of the ring and threw it at the airborne wolf. It hit him, sending him crashing to the floor in front of Sokka. "The Boulder did not come here to play with half-grown mongrels."
Katara quickly checked Akela. Thankfully the injuries were not serious.
Sokka turned and glared at Xin Fu and the Boulder. "You son of a half grown…" He reached for his boomerang but the other members of Earth Rumble VI appeared, severely outnumbering him. "The Boulder dares you to finish that comment." The Boulder taunted him.
Both Katara and Sokka stared at the group. "Go, I'll be okay." Aang told them. They turned and left with Akela behind them.
They managed to reach the other group in the tunnel. "Toph, there's too many of them. We need a Earthbender, we need you!" Katara told her.
"My daughter is blind." Lao told them with anger in his voice. "She is blind and tiny and helpless and…fragile. She cannot help you."
At this point, Toph had had enough. She jerked her hand free of her father's grip. "Yes, I can." She began to walk back over to Katara and Sokka.
Team Guy began to follow. "Lord Lao," Lee spoke up as he passed by. "Sooner or later, your daughter will want to be free of your protectiveness. Perhaps sooner is better than later?" He kept on walking leaving Lao to ponder his question.
Meanwhile, the members of Earth Rumble were also leaving the place. Aang was being held by the Hippo. As they approached the staircase, a wall of earth sprang up in front of them. They all turned their heads to see Toph on the other side of the ring with Sokka and Katara behind her.
"Let him go!" Toph ordered. "I've beat you all before and I'll do it again."
"The Boulder takes issue with that comment." The Boulder responded. The Hippo tossed Aang's cage away and they all charged forward.
Both Sokka and Katara moved forward to fight but were stop by Toph. "Wait!" she told them before concentrating a bit. "They're mine." She went into an Earthbending stance and forced the Earth Rumble members back while also creating a dust screen. As her father watched with worry from the stands along with Master Yu, Team Guy and Akela, Toph entered the dust screen.
The first person she encountered was Fire Nation Man, who was doing poses. Once he noticed that she was there, he tried to bend a stream of dust at her. She simply smirked, sidestepped and sent the Fire Nation Man out of the ring and crashing into the floor by way of a rock line.
As the fight went on, Sokka and Katara were trying to get Aang out of the cage. "Hit it harder!" Aang told Sokka, who was banging on one of the locks with a rock. "I'm trying!" he replied.
Meanwhile the Gecko had been hit on the head by a small pebble. Looking at where it came from, he saw Toph and immediately reacted by leaping up with rock-balls in hand and hurled them at her. When they got near, she just grabbed them and tossed them behind her. As the Gecko was coming down due to gravity, he was hit by a column which sent him flying again. He got again by another column and a third each time gravity took over his flying abilities. The third sent him flying out of the ring and straight into Fire Nation Man, sending the two of them back onto the ground.
The Gopher tried to sneak up on Toph by tunneling. He popped up behind her and threw a rock-ball at her. However she knew he was coming. So when the rock-ball reached her, she whipped around, grabbed the rock-ball and threw it back. The result was the Gopher was being hit and flew out of the ring and crashing into the Gecko and Fire Nation Man.
Sokka finally managed to break open the lock letting Aang free. He popped out of the cage ready to fight, only for Sokka to shake his head and point. His finger pointed to the Hippo, who was swinging a large rock emblem at nothing, coming out of the dust screen. Soon afterwards, the Boulder flew out of the dust screen. The two of them quickly turned back around and saw Toph follow them out of the dust screen.
The Boulder growled and the Hippo thumped his chest. The two charged forward with the Headhunter swinging in from behind with rock in hand and screaming as well. The screaming tipped Toph off. She was standing on the Earth Kingdom emblem in the middle of the ring and so when the Boulder and the Hippo also reached the emblem, she literally bent the earth to twist the emblem around. The end result was the Headhunter crashing into the Boulder and the Hippo. Toph took advantage of that and sent them flying out of the ring and into the Gopher, Gecko and Fire Nation Man.
"I never knew." Master Yu said. "Your daughter's amazing."
"People you least expect it from do that to you." Neji stated.
Toph now stood at one end of the ring with the dust screen covering the other side. Bringing her hands down, she bent the dust away revealing Xin Fu standing there. He loosened some muscles in his neck and took his stance. Toph simply hocked one in response.
She then got into her stance and slowly they circled each other. Xin Fu started it off by bending a barrage of rocks at her. Toph bent the ring to form two triangular slabs in front of her to form a shield. The barrage of rocks hit the shield but nothing broke through. She then bent one of the slabs forward at Xin Fu.
He twisted to the side in order to dodge the incoming slab. He stuck his hand into the ring and hurled a rock-ball at Toph. She simply took one step to the side and let the rock-ball fly right past her face. She retaliated and sent Xin Fu out of the ring and landed squarely between Lao and Master Yu.
As Aang and the others gathered around Toph, Master Yu told her father "She's the greatest Earthbender I've ever seen!"
(Location: Beifong estate)
Toph Stood in front of her parents while the others sat behind her. "Dad," She began. "I know it's probably hard for you to see me this way but the obedient, helpless little blind girl that you think I am just isn't me. I love fighting. I love being an Earthbender and I'm really, really good at it. I know I've kept my life secret from you but you were keeping me secret from the whole world. You were doing it to protect me, but I'm twelve years old and I've never had a real friend. So now that you see who I really am, I hope it doesn't change the way you feel about me."
"Of course it doesn't change the way I feel about you, Toph, It's made me realize something."
"Yes…I've let you have far too much freedom. From now on you will be cared for and guarded twenty four hours a day!"
"But Dad!" protested Toph
"We are doing this for your own good, Toph." Poppy told her.
"Please escort the Avatar and his friends out." Lao commanded. "They are no longer welcome here."
As the group was being led away, Aang looked back. "I'm sorry Toph." He told her.
"I'm sorry too." She replied. "Good-bye Aang."
Lee also looked back. "Lord Lao, you never answered my question." Lao didn't say anything and looked away. "This is most unyouthful of you." Lee accused.
No one noticed the tears coming from Toph's eyes.
(Location: Outside the Beifong estate)
Aang stood on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Beifong estates. "Don't worry." Katara told him. "We'll find you a teacher. There are plenty of amazing Earthbenders out there."
"Not like her." Aang said.
They climbed aboard Appa where Sokka, Momo, Akela and Team Guy already were. They were about to take off when Aang heard something behind him. Turning around, he saw Toph in her causal gear running up to them. "Toph!" he cried. "What are you doing here?"
"My dad changed his mind." She told them as she stopped beside Appa. "He said I was free to travel the world."
While Sokka and Katara shared a look of confusion, Team Guy did not believe a word she said. "Well…we better get out of here before your Dad changes his mind again." Sokka said.
"Good idea." Toph replied.
"You're gonna be a great teacher, Toph" Aang told her.
"Speaking of which, I wanna show you something."
"Okay." Aang hopped off of Appa but just as he landed on the ground, Toph sent him into a tree via an earth column she bent out of the ground. "Now we're even." She told him. Holding out her hand, she said. "Um, I'll take the belt back."
Sokka took it off and tossed it down to Toph. Unfortunately, he forgot she was blind so the belt landed on her head, sending her to the ground. "Sorry." He apologized just before Aang fell out of the tree.
Soon enough, Appa was flying through the night sky with a new passenger on board.
(Location: Yu Dao)
"That was a good workout." Naruto said as he came out of the bath adjacent to his room. He had just gotten back from the morning exercises with the military. Clad only in his pants, he headed back to his bed to get the rest of his clothes when he notices the door was knocking. "Who is that?" He wondered aloud as he walked to the door.
He opened it and was immediately bombarded with high-pitched squeals of "It's Lord Naruto!"
He slammed the door shut, locked it and put his back to it so that they wouldn't get through easily. "It's the Fangirls!" He thought in a panic.
"Yes it is." Kyuubi noted.
"How did they find me!?" he demanded. "I didn't tell anybody about where I was sleeping except for…" He went still as the notion went through his head. "They didn't."
"Apparently, they did."
"Those two are so dead when I get my hands on them!"
The thumping on the door was getting louder, as were the cries of "Please let us in Lord Naruto!" and "I want your babies!"
"Kit, right now you should probably focus more on getting out alive." Kyuubi commented with a slight fear. He had lived long enough and had been sealed into enough people to know the horror of Fangirls (and Fanboys!).
Naruto looked around the room for an exit. "Of all the rooms I had to choose, I had to pick the one that didn't have windows!"
"Then make one! The door won't hold for long!"
Quickly making a one-handed Rasengan, he charged to the wall that he knew led to a room that had windows. He burst through the empty room, opened the window and leapt out just as the Fangirls broke through the door. "I'm safe!" he thought in triumph as he landed on a rooftop.
"Uh…Kit? Don't look down."
He, of course, did lookdown and saw Fangirls in the streets. He could tell they were Fangirls because of the banners that said "We love Lord Naruto!"
"Dear Kami! How many are they!?" He wondered.
Before the fox could answer, the window he had leapt from was filled with Fangirls. That was when he remembered he was only wearing his pants.
"Lord Naruto!" They cried getting attention from the streets, which amplified the cry many times over. Suddenly there were Fangirls on the same rooftop as him.
"Gaki, I just have one word of advice: run!"
And so Naruto did. He ran and the Fangirls followed. If one had stayed behind and looked up, they would have seen four girls sitting on the edge of the roof of the mayor's house, eating fire flakes.
(Five hours later, Location: Mayor Morishita's dining room)
Azula, Mai, Ty Lee and Kori were sitting down at the table and were about to enjoy a light lunch. The door then opened and in came a fully clothed Naruto. "That was not fun." He declared as he closed the door behind him.
"What's the matter Naruto? Didn't you enjoy your run?" Azula asked, making the girls burst into giggling.
"Let's cut to the chase, shall we?" He told them. "Kori, Azula, I know it was the two of you who did this. As a prankster, I commend you but I must also prank you back." He turned to Azula. "Since your prized possession is still in your room at the Royal Palace, I cannot have it copied."
"So what are you going to do then?" Azula asked with a smug grin.
Naruto shrugged. "I already did it. I lost the Fangirls two hours ago, so I went to see some people. They should be arriving soon." He looked over to Kori. "I must admit Kori; I did not know you had them."
Both Azula and Kori began to become nervous. "Who's coming?" Kori asked.
Soon they heard a knock on the door. "I think that's for you two." Naruto told them. He then went back to the door and opened it. "Here they are." He announced.
"It's Lady Kori and Lady Azula!" They heard come from the door. Azula and Kori both knew that kind of voice.
"Fanboys!" cried the two of them in horror. They then ran to a nearby opened window and jumped through it. The Fanboys soon chased after the two girls, leaving the dining room empty except for Naruto, Mai and Ty Lee.
"Um…Naruto?" asked Ty Lee. "Wasn't that a bit much?"
"Not at all." He replied as he sat down at the table. "I let them off a little easy."
"How so?" asked Mai.
"I could prank them in a way that would force them to strip to their undergarments, AND THEN I would've introduced the Fanboys." He explained before helping himself to the lunch. Both Mai and Ty Lee just stared at him. The two of them, as well as Azula and Kori when they heard about what he said later, had learned a good lesson that day:
Don't prank an Uzumaki, they will prank back in equal measure or do worse.
Author's note: Thank you for all the reviews you've sent me. I never thought I would hit triple digits in reviews.
Now you've got a little history on the Paragons. More will be coming up. Also coming up is a conversation between Naruto and Sifu.
For the record: this is not going to be Naruto/Azula/Kori, it's just Naruto/Azula, those of you who want a threesome can and will get over it.
For those of you who find my descriptions of Earthbending difficult, I apologize. It's not as easy as describing the other Bending arts
If you want to know what a spike meteor hammer is, it's the weapon Kori uses in the comics.
Also, those are the actual stage names for the Earth Rumble members. I did not make those up.
Now, I am not going to do Zuko Alone because, like The Cave of Two Lovers, it's a little pointless for the story. However I will be doing a Zuko-centric chapter that also reveals what happened to Naruto while he was on Ember Island.
Yes, I did change Sokka a little bit in this chapter but considering he's gotten a little more serious, I felt it was necessary.
I'll see you all next chapter!