Took way too long to get this out and I wanted to get this out as fast as possible, so there are probably a lot of grammar mistakes or spelling errors. Because of this random snow storm to hit the West Coast, my finals week has been hectic and I wrote this instead of studying...so be happy :D
Two small flames appeared in Zuko's hands as everyone tried to understand what has happening. After returning some of the light to the room, the Fire Lord noticed some of the guards' unconscious on the ground. "Intruders!" A man cried, sending the room into a frenzied panic. Aang got into his stance with Katara to his back, finding what little water she could to protect herself. Toph stepped out of her shoes to 'see' better while Sokka pulled out his sword, keeping Yue behind him to make sure no harm came to her. Zuko lit the rest of the room up to see the attackers. The first man went down by a kick straight to his chest from a certain Kyoshi Warrior, deflecting a strike from a swordsman a second later. Aang sent two men flying against the wall and Katara froze them to the wall. Toph somersaulted, collecting rock armor around her body and blindsided one of the men that Suki had kicked back. A man with dual Dao swords attacked Sokka, who easily defended himself before Zuko intervened and knocked the man out, picking up his swords in the process. The group gathered in the middle of the room, their attention on the remaining attackers with Yue surrounded on all sides. Rocks went around their feet and pulled them all in different directions, only leaving Yue frozen in place.
"We're here for the Avatar," A voice called out. "If you value your life, then you will step aside and let us do what we came here to do."
"And if we don't?" Zuko's voice boomed in response.
Yue felt a knife against her throat and an arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her against the offender's body. "Then we kill the Princess."
"You harm one hair on her head, I will dismember you one limb at a time," Sokka threatened.
"That's usually how dismemberment goes Meat Head," Toph commented. "I mean, you could cut off both legs and arms at the same time, but that would just be useless if you're trying to inflict pain."
"While I would love to hear the rest of this debate, can we focus on the situation at hand?" Suki asked.
"Sorry," They both quickly replied.
From out of the shadows of the room, Aang walked into the light with his hands partially raised, "Don't hurt her, if it's me you want, then her or anyone else's life here doesn't matter."
"We also need the Prince," The man ordered. Sokka slowly joined Aang in the light, "Drop the sword Prince Sokka." He pressed the knife harder against Yue's neck, making her yelp in pain. Sokka tossed the sword towards the man and the rest of the attackers came out from the shadows. "If any of you even make a move towards us, you'll have a very red Water Tribe Princess." Zuko gripped the sword handles even harder as Suki had to hold Katara from making a move. "On your knees Avatar." Aang slowly did as he was told, his eyes never leaving the man. "You too Prince." He nearly snarled as he followed Aang. One of the attackers put Earth cuffs around Sokka's hands behind his back and kicked him to the ground. Yue watched her husband in worry, along with Suki and Katara. Another attacker stood behind Aang, pulling out his sword and placed it against Aang's neck. "Nothing personal Avatar, but a job is a job. Anything you would like to say before you die?"
Aang nodded, "Two things if you wouldn't mind. Katara, I love you and I always will…" Tears began to roll down Katara's face. "And the second…it's always great to see the Dragon of the West." A blast of fire stuck the back of the man holding Yue, launching her towards Aang. Another fire ball hit the man behind Aang in the face, allowing Aang to catch his sister-in-law before they collided. Iroh came out from the shadows and joined the fight. Katara fought her way to her husband, letting her emotions get in the way of her fighting and not noticing the man coming up behind her. Zuko's blades block the sneak attacker and drove his left foot into his stomach, sending him to the ground.
"Be more careful," Zuko warned as he continued fighting. Katara shrugged it off as another attack flew past her, seeing a clear path to Aang and took it. Once she was close to him, she pressed her back against his to watch his blind side.
"You scared me you know," She grunted as she bent a giant wave of water and froze it to protect them from newly dispersed arrows.
Aang blew away two men from getting to Sokka who was being helped up by his wife, "At least I'm keeping the relationship fresh. Maybe next time we get attacked, you can be the one whose life is in danger." A wall of rock cut them off from Yue and Sokka while another wave of rocks caught both Aang and Katara, breaking them through the wall of ice.
Yue helped Sokka up and he grabbed her hand, pulling her with him as he ran out of the battle. An arrow barely missed his face and he turned towards the aggressor who already let another arrow loose towards him. "SOKKA!"
Zhao snuck out of the Palace, ignoring the painful burn along his back. While things didn't go as planned, the Avatar would have been dead if he had known the Fire Lord was going to be there…let alone the Dragon of the West. He climbed in the nearest carriage and ordered the man to take him to the lower ring. It wasn't the quickest ride, but his anger rose the more he thought about the attack. While he was mad about the failed attack, he was more infuriated at his own mistake about not knowing about the presence of the Fire Lord. Once the carriage stopped, Zhao opened the door and tossed the man a gold coin, "Wait for me." He walked into the Black Lotus Hideout where Jiro was playing Pai Sho with a couple other men.
Jiro stood up from his seat, "Sir, are you okay?"
"Your men have failed me again Jiro…for the last time," A quick couple movements and the rest of the men lay dead on the floor. Zhao grabbed his things and set the hideout on fire. Climbing back into the carriage, he sighed, "To the harbor."
He watched the city pass by him and heard the news spreading through the city. "Did you hear? The Prince of the Water Tribe was killed in an attack on the Ball!" He heard one citizen tell his friends. He couldn't help but let a smile spread on his face.
"Maybe it wasn't all a failure," He mumbled to himself as he rested back against the seat.
Aang spit blood into a bucket as Katara healed his injuries. "Here young one, this should help." Iroh handed him a small cup of tea. "How about some tea Nephew?"
"Ow!" The Fire Lord hissed as Yue applied healing medication to his wounds. "No thank you Uncle. Can you just tell us about the Black Lotus?"
Iroh poured himself a cup, "Do you remember General Zhao Zuko?" He nodded, "Zhao was the man that was holding Princess Yue hostage in the Ball room this evening. When he was known as 'General' Zhao, he was more on your…Father's side of thinking." Zuko winced. "While I attempted to continue peace with the Bei Fong's, he was nothing but unhelpful. I tried to plant seeds of friendship within the Earth Kingdom, he spent time with the ladies of Ba Sing Se planting-"
Zuko rose up his hand, "Uncle, please, for the love of the Spirits don't continue that sentence."
"My apologies, I forgot I was in the presence of ladies. Once he had besmirched the name of the Fire Nation, I had him banished and with the help of the White Lotus, made it impossible for him to gain a wealthy status in any Nation. Before…everything that happened with your Father, Zhao revived the ancient Black Lotus that his ancestors had been the leaders of many years ago. They do the dirty work so others can keep the blood off their own hands. Fortunately, he has only had 5 years to round up descendants and most of them are now either dead or in custody from tonight's events. Unfortunately, that leaves the rest of them and they're still out for your head." Iroh explained. "Who would want to harm you Avatar Aang?"
"Hahn of the Northern Water Tribe," Yue answered. "There is no other person I would know that would go this far. He must have hired them to kill Aang and Sokka."
Zuko his shirt back on, "Before we cause an international incident, we should make sure that we're 100% sure that Hahn was the man behind all of this. Not that I don't have any trust in you, it's just that if we do arrest him for what he has done and it's not him, your Father might be a little upset at me charging one of his men with a crime."
"I hope you realize that I'm not going to be happy with just an arrest," Aang spoke, "I now understand why people let their anger out with violence…he put my life, Sokka's life, your life, Yue's life and even worse, Katara's life in danger. I want to make sure he suffers for what he did…"
Iroh placed a hand on his shoulder, "Young Avatar, as much as I wouldn't suggest letting that revenge burn within you, you must follow your own path. But at least let me say, as long as I've lived, revenge has never been the answer. Continue your teachings from the Air Nomads and let this pass because whoever hired those men will pay for what they have done. I will make sure of it and I know my nephew will make sure of it also."
Yue spotted the disheveled form of the Kyoshi Warrior walk into the room, "Suki, how is Sokka? Have the doctors said anything?" Her hopeful smile vanished when Suki's eyes met hers.
Hahn stood beside Chief Arnook as they watched the Fire Nation ship approach, "I am very sorry to hear about your son-in-law Chief Arnook, it is a very devastating loss to both tribes."
The older Chief glanced to the young warrior, "Yes…it is a travesty. My worry is with Hakoda and Kya, losing a son that soon in his life is a hard loss. No parent should every have to put his child to rest."
"And how about your daughter?" Hahn asked, attempting to get to the point of the conversation.
"Yue is a mess of course," Arnook replied, "Katara had written that it's a chore to even get her to eat."
Hahn remained silent for a few moments, wondering if it was best to ask the question on his mind. "Once your daughter regains her health and she has gotten over her loss…will you have her remarried?"
"Perhaps," Arnook simply answered. "We'll cross that road when we get there. My prime concern of my daughter is helping her through this troubling time…and finding who committed this heinous crime." Hahn tensed up for a moment, "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to welcome our guests." After the 5 minute walk down to the port, the passengers were already coming off the boat. The first people off the boat were Hakoda and Kya, he carried the exhausted Princess who had a blue urn clutched to her chest. "Chief Hakoda…thank you for looking after my daughter in such a dark period of your life."
"We've already lost a son, we would hate to lose our daughter-in-law," Hakoda let Arnook take his daughter into his arms. "She is finally eating by herself, but hasn't found her will to live yet." Zuko stepped out of the boat with a bundled up Toph on his arm, fur lined clothes along with boots obviously messing with her 'vision'. Aang and Katara were next out of the boat, Suki following closely behind Aang. "Fire Lord and Princess Bei Fong, I wish we could have celebrated your new engagement on better terms." Zuko gave him a simple nod as they walked by. "'Avatar' Aang and Princess Katara, welcome to the Northern Water Tribe, I am very sorry for your loss." His eyes laid on Suki, "I'm sorry, what is your name?"
"I am Suki of the Kyoshi Warriors. With recent events, I have made it my duty to protect the 'Avatar' and his wife from any harm that comes their way," Suki replied. She bowed to the Chief, "It's an honor to meet you Chief Arnook."
"And it's a pleasure to finally meet one of the infamous Kyoshi Warriors," He saw the rather large bag that she had set down to her right, "Do you usually pack this heavy?"
She looked down at the bag, "No sir, I've packed 'Avatar' Aang and Princess Katara's things in my bag as well. I assumed it would be better that I keep my eye on their clothes."
"Well let me show you all to your rooms so you don't have to carry that large bag anymore," Arnook led the way up to the palace, Suki grunted as she lifted the bag and went along with everyone else. Aang and Katara's room was first and Suki followed them in, Aang shutting the door behind them.
"Jeez you are heavy," Suki grunted as she dropped the bag on the bed.
The tie at the top of the bag opened and Sokka poked his head out, "Try being in a bag for 5 hours." He pulled off the white bindings on his head, "Nice breast bindings Suki."
Katara pulled it off of his head, "That's mine you idiot." Sokka brushed his head off as if it left a flesh eating virus. He pulled himself out of the bag and rested against the headboard, "Let's see your shoulder." She undid the outer part of his tunic to reveal his bandaged injury. "Well it's not as bad as it was before; I'll be able to heal it soon. You're just lucky Suki deflected that arrow or it would have gone through your head."
"You're welcome by the way," Suki commented, "Though after that comment I'm debating on whether or not I should have…" Katara glanced over to her, "I'm kidding."
"So what's the plan then? Do we get everyone to blind side him in his house then I come in and cut him down to size with my sword?" Sokka waved his good arm around like a sword.
Katara softly pressed two fingers against his injury, making him yelp in pain, "Yeah, if I can do that to you, you shouldn't be wielding anything that big, just small things for now, so using the bathroom is just perfect for you." Aang held in a laugh while Suki didn't, Sokka staring daggers at his sister. "We need to know if Hahn is the one that hired the Black Lotus before we do anything." She got up from the bed and walked over to Aang, "Suki, can you make sure he doesn't leave the room and ruin everything while we go check in with everyone else?"
Suki gave her a half bow, "Of course, Princess Katara." The girls shared a smile and Aang took his wife's hand, intertwining their fingers as they left the room. Suki turned back to Sokka, crossing her arms, "So what is fun up here in the Northern Water Tribe?"
Katara rested her head against Aang's shoulder as they walked down the frozen hall, "We're finally here…I've been thinking a lot about being here…"
"Me too…Sokka being 'dead' wasn't exactly part of it though," Aang added. "And I'm pretty sure we were promised a 'hot tub' in our room."
She chuckled softly, "Have you rethought about what you're going to do when you see him?"
He nodded, "Iroh was right…I was raised better than that and I will have to settle with life in a deep, dark and dank prison."
"The three D's huh?" She smiled. "When this is over…will we finally be able to have our honeymoon?"
A blush appeared on his face, "Well…I don't see why not. Hopefully we will be able to get a couple days without interruption from others."
Katara stopped them in front of Yue's door, "I don't know about you Kat, but after being within 30 feet of your brother at all times, I need some alone time with my wife." Katara leaned up and shared a brief kiss with Aang before they entered the room. Yue had the urn open and was eating fire flakes out of it.
"You know Fire Lord Zuko, even with their spicy aftertaste, these are pretty good," Yue said with her mouthful.
Zuko looked at her with mild disgust, "You know…you and Sokka seem perfect for each other."
"I couldn't agree more," Toph flipped her bangs from her eyes.
Aang shut the door, "Okay Zuko, part one of your plan is complete, what's the next part?"
"Part two isn't ready yet, just relax and let everything fall into place," Zuko said. "We will watch Hahn from a distance to see if he is doing anything suspicious."
"How can we relax when someone is trying to kill Aang?" Katara asked. "Zhao and Spirits know who could be waiting around the corner for him. Would you be okay with knowing that Aang's death is on your hands?"
Knowing his friend, he expected a furious response, but was surprised to see Zuko's calm demeanor. "Katara, I understand that you are worried about Aang's safety, but I know what I am doing. I've kept my Nation safe along with certain territories in the Earth Kingdom. I wouldn't do anything that would put Aang in a situation where he couldn't defend himself. Even if Zhao is here in the Northern Water Tribe coming from Aang, I'm pretty sure we would know. I am the only Fire Bender for miles and my presence is probably stirring up enough trouble here. So, like I said, just relax and let everything fall into place, okay Katara?"
Katara looked to her husband, who gave an encouraging, "Okay…I'm sorry Fire Lord Zuko."
To ease the new tension, Yue spoke up, "Hey, since we're lying low, why not see Master Pakku now Katara? Isn't that the reason you wanted to come here?"
"That's a good idea," Aang chimed in, "I would love to meet your grandfather and your Master."
Yue shut the urn, wiping her mouth of the Fire Flakes, "I'll go also, it's been years since I've walked around my home city."
"Just don't start eating Fire Flakes out of the urn if you're going to carry it around," Toph spoke up, "You might freak out some of your 'subjects'."
Katara took the urn from her sister-in-law, "I'll hold onto it just in case."
Zuko helped Toph up, a long yawn escaping her, "Tired?" She nodded, "Do you just want me to take you back to our room?" Toph nodded again. Zuko took her to their room quickly, returning to leave with the rest of the group. Yue attached herself to his arm as they left the room, resuming her grieving mood. The people of the Northern Tribe bowed in the presence of their Princess as they made their way to Pakku's school. Walking up behind the class, Pakku saw his granddaughter and convened the class.
"Katara, I am troubled with the news from your Father," Pakku said as he embraced his granddaughter. "Though I'm more troubled with what you have up your sleeve with this plan," He whispered in the hug.
"Fire Lord Zuko knows what he's doing…or so I've been told," Katara quietly replied. They broke apart, "My brother's 'death' isn't why I am here Master Pakku, I've been wed to 'Avatar' Aang and while my new marital status, I decided I should officially become a Master also."
He smiled, "Katara, I've been training you ever since we found out that you could move a droplet of water and with recent news of how you have defended yourself in Ba Sing Se, calling you anything less of a Master would be an insult. But before I can grant you the title as Master Water Bender, I must see how you've come along since we have last seen each other."
"Okay, I think I can take you on Master Pakku," She confidently said.
Pakku chuckled, "Katara, my dear, you and I aren't going to fight. I know every move you have and you know mine. We're going to need a person who you've never faced before." The older man turned to the Fire Lord. "Fire Lord Zuko, how about you? Would you like to help my granddaughter become a Master?"
Zuko looked over to Aang, who gave a simple shrug, "Uh, sure." Zuko let Yue attach to Zuko and began to stretch as he walked out to the small arena that Pakku taught the students in. Katara did the same, taking a few calming breaths as she took her position. Zuko slowly closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, letting the chilly air of the Water Tribe enter his lungs. He took a quick step forward, extending his arms out in front of him, a strong blast of fire barreling towards her. Katara easily defending herself with a stream of water, following it up with a water whip. Zuko rolled out of the way and threw a few fire punches, along with a kick. She brought up a small shield to again block him and tried another water whip, but this time pulling at his right leg, messing up his balance and landing him flat on his back. Bending some water into the air above him, they quickly turned into icicles and became slaves to gravity. Aang watched with some worry as the sharp dagger-like object got close to Zuko, but was relieved when they got within inches of him, they turned into harmless water. The water sizzled when it touched his skin and he got up from the ground, "I've never fought a Water Bender before…it's interesting…cold, but interesting." Zuko pulled out the dual swords off his back that he kept from Ba Sing Se, "But let's step up the bending levels." His hands and blades lit up in fire.
Water from the built-in rivers start to overflow and started to surround Katara, "I'm ready for anything Fire Lord."
"Katara, I don't think this is a good idea," Aang spoke up.
Pakku put a reassuring hand on the Nomad's shoulder, "Relax young Air Bender. If it were any of my other students, I would tell her to stand down. But she is the best student I have ever seen, I trust her abilities fully to be able to fight one of the best Fire Benders alive." With memories of their fight in Ba Sing Se still in his mind, Aang watched as the water now enveloped her hands, quickly turning to ice. Her stance was different than usual though, even though she was using ice gauntlets, some water still remained around her feet like she was going to start her octopus stance. Zuko used his Fire Bending to propel himself at her, his blades posed to strike. He expected her to attempt to block with her gauntlets, not a quick wave of water extinguishing his fire and then a right hook to the face. Everyone winced at the sound of the ice connecting to his skin, sending him flying across the ice. Katara used the ice to incapacitate him and turned to Pakku, giving him a full bow. He applauded his student as he walked into the small arena, "Good job Katara, it's not the way I would do it, but you did it your way and that's what matters."
He melted the ice that held Zuko, letting him get up, rubbing his sore jaw, "Nice shot Katara, I guess my ego isn't going to be the only thing that's bruised after that ending."
Pakku stopped beside Katara, "I'm proud of you Master Katara. I'm going to check on the injured Fire Lord, I'm sure someone else wants to congratulate you." Katara ran over to her husband, jumping into his arms.
"I'm a Master!" She smiled against his chest. "And I took on the Fire Lord!"
"Even I can't say that," Aang commented, "That was amazing Katara, I've never seen anyone do that to Zuko before…or even that quick."
Yue hugged the two, "I'm proud of you Katara and I'm sure Sokka is too."
"I would say I'm proud of you, but I'm pretty sure you fractured my jaw," Zuko said as he walked over to the group. "I'm going to go get checked by the Royal physician."
"Come on Zuko, I'll help you," Aang put his arm around Zuko's shoulders, leading him towards the palace. Before she turned to follow them, she saw Hahn walking towards the lower districts of the Tribe. "Katara, you coming?"
"Go ahead without me, I'm just going to check on something," Katara told him. He smiled and continued to help Zuko.
Katara turned to follow him and felt Yue's hand on her shoulder, "I know where you're going…I'm coming too."
She hesitated for a moment, but knew she was going to have to let her come along. "Okay, but stay behind me if things get rough." They followed Hahn down to the fish harbor, both Princesses staying out of sight of everyone around so they didn't blow their cover. Katara saw him go down an alley way and darted after him, seeing him leaning against one of walls. She bent two walls to block any escape for him, "Hello Hahn…nice to see you again…"