Hey guys! It's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry for not updating fast enough :)
To get my Avatar spirits up, I have been watching all three seasons (two and three mostly for some good Kataang and Tokka moments) to get some inspiration flowing!
And yay, it worked!
Also, I'm glad that you guys are liking this story. I appreciate the faves and follows!
Aang and Katara landed smoothly in front of the house.
"Lucky I remembered to keep my mouth closed," Katara said, and Aang chuckled. Both felt slightly disappointed when she dropped her arms from around him.
Appa landed then, a scowling Sokka hopping off.
"You guys just couldn't wait, could you?" he said, pointing his finger at them. When his sister and best friend exchange glances, he slowly started to grin as he continued. "Ooooh, I see. You want to be...aloooone." He puckered his lips and made kissy faces at them.
"Haha, very funny, Sokka," Katara said, hands on her hips.
"Ha, yeah..." Aang said, turning his back to them so they won't see him faintly blushing, scratching the back of his head. "So funny..." He cleared his throat, turning back around. "Alright, Katara! Why don't I help you get your stuff inside?"
Katara smiled as Aang tried to get all of her bags at once off Appa.
"Wh-Whaa!" Aang said, and he fell over.
"Careful!" Katara said, her hands over her mouth; luckily, Aang had caught himself, the air below him blowing to keep him upright. He straightened himself back up, now carrying three bags, the other few floating behind him. "I really don't deserve all of this hospitality," she said with a little giggle, following Aang to the front door.
"Well, you are a lady," Aang pointed out, Katara opening the door for him. "So you deserve all the hospitality."
Aang and Katara paused in their tracks when they saw who was lounging on the sofa, feet hanging off the arm.
"What're you trying to say, Twinkletoes? Don't think I'm a lady?"
The two smiled.
It was indeed Toph, there was no doubt about it. Over the years, she had gotten slimmer and a little curvier (still the shortest out of the Gaang, but she had gotten taller); her attire was similar to Katara's now, but green and yellow, and with shorts instead of pants. And, to no surprise whatsoever, she wasn't wearing any shoes. She was also wearing her original headpiece, but her hair was now long, stopping halfway down to her chest. Her bangs were in her face, but that wasn't a surprise either.
Toph smirked, getting up, and held out her arms.
"Alright. Bring it in." She beckoned them with her fingers.
Aang and Katara launched themselves at their friend, hugging her tight. This also caused them to lift her off the ground.
"Hey! Put me down!" Toph protested, but Aang and Katara didn't care. "Can't see, remember?! I'm blind!"
Aang chuckled, then rose his voice. "Sokka! Hurry up and get in here! There's someone you need to see!" He released his grip on Toph, and Katara reluctantly did the same.
"Well-if-you-let me-get-in-ICK!" Sokka rasped, his hands full of his bags, stumbling into the room.
Toph's feet flexed, and her heart fluttered as her eyes widened.
Sokka grumbled something unintelligent, dusting himself off as he stood.
Then he saw her.
"Snoozles?" Toph nearly whispered.
"Toph!" Sokka beamed, and similar to how he had greeted Momo, he took three large strides across the room and hugged her tight, lifting her off the floor. "It's soooo good to see you again!" He began kissing her all over her face, mostly her cheeks and forehead. "Mwuah! Mwuah! Mwuah! Mwuah!"
A blushing Toph pushed him off of her, and her feet met earth again. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's good to see you too...well...sorta. Yeah."
"Heh," Sokka's cheeks reddened, shuffling awkwardly. "How've you been?"
"Good," said Toph, just as awkward. "You?"
"Good," Sokka said. He couldn't help himself; he reached out and grabbed her, pulling her in for another hug. Toph's fingers clung to his strong back, her eyes on the floor; she was almost on her tiptoes. He was so tall, it wasn't fair.
Out of the four of them, for some reason, Sokka had missed Toph the most. Maybe even a little more than Katara. On the other hand, Sokka had been on Toph's mind-when she got up, when she went to bed. She couldn't help it. She had missed his laugh, his jokes, his idiocy.
Katara's eyes sparkled. Looks like something's there. You can't deny it anymore, Toph. Sokka needs a girl like you.
"So...who's room is who's?" Katara asked. Sokka and Toph broke their hug, stepping away from each other.
"Apparently, Twinkletoes is rooming on that side-" Toph said, pointing to the left. There was a hallway in view, leading to two bedrooms and a bathroom. "I've already got some of my stuff in a room on that side-" She pointed to the right, where another hallway was in view. It also lead to two bedrooms and a bathroom. They were currently standing in the middle of the house, the den with various furniture and supplies. Further back led into the kitchen; all in all, it was a pretty spacious house like their last one.
"I'll room in the bedroom next to Toph," Katara said, and she saw Aang's shoulders slouch down slightly. "Aang, mind helping me?" She bent down and picked up her luggage.
Aang automatically smiled at her. "Okay." He picked up her remaining luggage. "Looks like it's you and me on the other side, Sokka."
Sokka watched the two leave the room, his arms crossed like Toph's. "Uh huh," he muttered when they were out of earshot.
"Are they still broken up?" Toph asked him under her breath.
"Probably not for long," Sokka said with a snicker. "Do the bedrooms have beds in them already?"
"No shit, Sherlock. Why?"
Sokka started to pick up his luggage. "Oh nothing..."
It took a moment until Toph got it.
"You sick-minded perv..." Toph paused and grinned. "Did I ever tell you how much I love you?"
"You could stand to mention it more," Sokka said, and they both snickered.
"Wow," Katara said, looking around the room that was now hers. As she looked around in wonder, Aang began unpacking her stuff to put them up for her. "No wonder Toph picked the other room." She touched the sky blue wall, then the furry dreamcatcher that hung over the canopy bed, which had snow white sheets, pillows, and comforter. "It reminds me of home."
"It should," said Aang. "The people who built this house intended it for us. We're the first to live in it, ya know."
The waterbender noticed the last airbender staring at her longer than usual. She recognized that look oh too well, and her heartbeat went uneven; she felt nervous now. They were alone again, and anything could happen...
"Why're you smiling at me like that?" she asked him.
Aang froze. "Oh, I was smiling?" He wiped the dopey grin off his face and straightened up. "Sorry. I just..." He looked at his shoes. "Sorry..." He looked up at her through his eyelashes, biting his lip.
Katara blushed lightly, smiling and looking sideways at the ground.
"It's okay," she murmured.
They were both quiet for a bit, avoiding each other's gazes; but that soon turned out to be impossible. The briefest moments when they locked eyes, good memories would flow through their brains. Their adventures, their battles, every hug, every kiss...
"I guess I should leave you to..." Aang said quietly, making his way out.
Aang paused midstep, turning around to meet her gaze. "Yeah?"
Katara bit her lip. "Can you stay...? Help me, um...finish unpacking?-Unless you're not done packing with your stuff."
Aang nodded, closing the door. "Sure."
The two fell into more silence as they unpacked Katara's stuff; Aang had found a bag with Katara's...undergarments, and he yelped and dropped it like it was on fire. Katara threw a fit of giggles and put them away herself; Aang was blushing feverishly after that. Finishing the unpacking took less than half an hour, thanks to Aang's airbending, and Katara was thankful.
"Think that's it..." Katara murmured, her hands loosely on her hips.
"Hmm?" She looked up, and she took the smallest of steps back on instinct; Aang was closer to her now, less than a foot away-even less than half a foot. His gaze locked with hers; slowly and hesitantly, he lifted his hand, his fingertips brushing her cheek. Her eyes drooped a little.
"Forgive me..." she heard him breathe, and he lifted his other hand to do the same to the opposite cheek. Judging her body language, he continued; he let his hands flatten and curve around the shape of Katara's cheeks, cupping them fully now. His thumbs stroked back and forth, and Katara released a blissfull sigh; her eyes closed, her face leaning into his touch. Her own hands lifted, enclosing around his wrists. This felt good. This felt really good.
She heard him murmur her name and she opened her eyes. Before she could react, his lips were on hers, and it only lasted a second.
Of course, their eyes locked for another second before they leaned in and kissed each other, more passionate this time. Aang's hands were on her upper and lower back, pulling her closer to him; her fingers ran through his hair, down his face and chest and arms. He was everywhere. She was everywhere. All they felt, smelled, saw, and tasted were each other. Heartbeats quickened as the kissing pace did. The room suddenly felt hotter. Desires heightened. Adrenaline coursed through their veins. Soft moans and throaty groans escaped their mouths.
Katara broke the kiss, breathless and in need of oxygen; her nose grazed his, as well as her forehead.
"What're we doing?" she panted.
Aang grinned, feeling déjà vu all over again.
"What our hearts have been telling us to do for a long, long time," he said, lifting his hands from her hips. "Baby," he wrapped his arms around her again, dipping her, "you're my forever girl!" He puckered his lips, and slobber threatened to drop from them.
"Uh...Aang?" Katara giggled.
The door swung open.
"I knew it! I knew it!" Toph announced, pointing her finger in their direction as she barged in with Sokka.
"Guys!" Aang said in shock, accidently dropping Katara to the floor.
"Whaa!" Katara exclaimed right before her back hit the floor, and Aang's hand clamped over his mouth.
"I'm sorry," he said, helping her up off the ground. "You okay?"
"Think I hit my head...but I'm fine," Katara said, and he took her face in his hands to look at her more properly, twisting it this way and that. She gently took his hands off her face, holding them in hers as she looked at her brother and the blind bandit. "Wait-were you two spying on us?"
Sokka and Toph looked everywhere but at the other two.
Aang laughed. "Could you blame 'em?" He kissed the side of her head. "All that matters is that we're back together, right?"
Katara smiled. "Right."
Aang laced their fingers together, and his facial expression turned serious. "There's something I need to tell you. All of you."
"What is it?" Katara asked.
"C'mon," Aang said, and he led the way out of Katara's room, Sokka and Toph in tow. Once they were back in the den, Aang gestured for the three to sit down. They did as they were told, exchanging curious and concerned glances.
Aang could've said anything; the news could've been good or bad. There was no telling-his face was hard to read. Even Katara, who knew Aang better than anyone, had much difficulty and it was getting her upset as the silence dragged.
"Alright..." Aang placed his hand on his forehead, gesturing his other hand out to them. "Don't freak out, okay?"
Sokka and Katara glanced at each other with narrowed eyes; Toph just continued to stare off into space, listening intently.
"You may or may not know this," Aang began, "but Suki, Ty Lee, and Mai are going to be staying here in the Upper Ring with us. They'll have their own place too."
"Okay...? How is this a bad thing?" Katara said. Sokka was unsure about his ex, but he brushed it off nevertheless; just because they were broken up, that didn't mean that they could get along with each other as friends. Suki was a dear person in his life, girlfriend or not-and to loose her would be like loosing Yue or his mother.
Toph on the other hand...
"I've been keeping in touch with Fire Lord Zuko lately," Aang continued. "You see, for the past month, I've stayed in the Fire Nation just in case he needed my assistance. Well...he did. We took a trip to the mental facility where Azula was being kept-" Katara's eyes widened and Sokka and Toph both tensed up at the mention of Azula's name. "He...asked me to take her Bending away-" The three gasped-"I complied. I figured it was best for Azula-because she too was still dangerous, and still emotionally unstable.
"But...she's...somehow...different. Like, quiet. And soft-spoken. I don't know what they did to her back there, but I think they're doing a great job.
"Here's the freaky part, okay?" Aang took a deep breath, studying Sokka's blue eyes, Toph's sightless ones, then Katara's beautiful aqua orbs. "Since she's sorta banished, Zuko's sending her here to live with Suki, Ty Lee, and Mai, and to work for Iroh at The Jasmine Dragon."
"WHAT?!" The three outbursted.
"I said don't freak out!" Aang said, almost pleading, and they calmed down just a bit. "Anyway, Zuko will be coming to Ba Sing Se tonight-to drop her off. But Suki, Ty Lee, and Mai don't know that. He figured that it'll be best for Azula, and that maybe Iroh could talk her into being good and all that. 'Cause it helped him, ya know? If it wasn't for Iroh, Zuko might've been far worse than what he was..."
"Where do they live?" Sokka asked.
"Close to the outskirts, near the beach," said Aang. "Actually, they had moved in this morning. That's when I arrived and stopped by to visit."
"Can we visit them?" Katara said.
"I don't know..." Aang answered her. "I think we should wait it out for tonight. Since Azula's coming and all..."
Katara nodded. "Okay. Tomorrow." She sighed.
"Until then," said Toph, standing up. "I'm starving. We got any meat?"
"This place is sooooo nice!" said Ty Lee happily as she brushed her hair out of its curls from the ponytail. "I can totally get used to this."
"It's alright," said Mai, her arms crossed. Her hair was in a messy bun.
"Just alright?" said Suki, now coming in Ty Lee's room. She brushed her shoulder-length hair back. "Ba Sing Se is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Now that we've finally found peace, we can settle down."
"Finally!" Ty Lee giggled with a happy sigh. "Although, something's up."
"What is?" said Suki.
"There's a fourth bedroom and only the three of us. Our bedrooms are all on the same side, and this fourth bedroom is across the house all by itself!"
"Ty Lee, you're saying that like bedrooms have feelings," Mai deadpanned.
Knock knock knock
The three exchanged glances.
"Who could that be?" Ty Lee wondered thoughtfully, following Suki and Mai out to the front. Suki got to the window first and gasped.
"It's Fire Lord Zuko!" she said.
Ty Lee beamed, and Mai rolled her eyes; she and Zuko's relationship had came to an end months ago. She felt like he cared more about his duties than her, so she decided to end it.
Ty Lee opened the door, restricting herself from giving Zuko a death hug. She stepped back a few paces, and, along with Suki and Mai, bowed respectfully; the Kyoshi Warriors had served as special bodyguards for Fire Lord Zuko for a time.
"Fire Lord Zuko," Suki said. "How may we be of service?"
Zuko, who waved off the two servants standing outside-as well as the bodyguards-stepped inside with a small smile on his face.
"Is that the way to treat your friend?" he asked with a soft smile. "Can I not be the Fire Lord for a second?"
"Of course!" Ty Lee said, throwing herself at him and hugged him tight. Suki and Mai straightened out of their bowing positions. "It's soooo good to see you, Zuzu!"
"Good to see you too, Ty Lee. It's been a while," said Zuko with a chuckle, and he eased himself out of her embrace; there was the faintest hint of blush on his cheeks-he had a history of blushing when female friends would glomp him out of nowhere (take Toph for example). Suki hugged him next, more like a normal, side-hug.
Zuko nodded at Mai. "Mai."
Mai nodded back. "Zuko."
"How've you been?"
"Like you care." Mai crossed her arms as she continued emotionlessly, "What the hell are you doing in my house?"
Zuko kept his composure and stayed neutral. "Actually, I have a special delivery for you all...or should I say request?"
"What're you talking about?" Ty Lee asked him.
"There's a reason why you have a fourth bedroom-someone else will be staying with you," Zuko said. "She will be working at The Jasmine Dragon while she stays here, and I'm hoping she'll get an attitude makeover."
Mai's eyes narrowed. "You aren't talking about..."
Zuko looked outside, beckoning into the shadows. "Come in here." One of the shadows shuffled and moved towards the light.
Azula came into view, her eyes on the floor, and she had something dark and old looking in her arms-what looks like a bag. As she looked up, the girls got a better look at her. She wasn't wearing any makeup, or her usual sneer; she looked almost...vulnerable.
Mai's eyes turned to slits and Suki arched a suspicious eyebrow; Ty Lee gasped, gripping Zuko's arm and hiding a little behind him.
"And you and your uncle are okay with this?" Ty Lee said.
"Positive," Zuko answered, staring at his younger sister with no emotion. "She's been in a mental facility. Says she's changed. She won't hurt you-I had the Avatar take her Bending away."
Suki gasped. "So...she can't be a threat anymore?"
"Exactly. The Avatar and his friends stay across town in the Upper Ring as well, so if you need anything...you know," Zuko continued. "I'll stop by from time to time to check on her and you three-see how you're coping."
"You'll really come by to visit?" Ty Lee's eyes brightened.
Zuko smiled at her.
"Okay...I guess she can stay," said Suki. "I'll, uh...show her her room?"
Zuko nodded. "You do that." He and Azula looked at each other. "Go."
Azula did what she was told, saying nothing, and returned her gaze on the floor as she followed Suki to the other side of the house.
"This doesn't change anything," Mai hissed.
"It doesn't have to," Zuko countered back.
"Ugh." Mai left the room, her arms still tightly crossed.
Ty Lee sighed. "Well...looks like I'll be the only one welcoming her back."
"You forgive her? After all she has done?" Zuko asked.
Ty Lee nodded, looking at the floor. "After all she has done. We have to forgive and forget." She put her hands on her hips and looked at him. "Besides, I don't want my aura to be all grey like Mai's."
Zuko chuckled. "You always look on the bright side."
"Uh huh!" Ty Lee beamed.
Zuko gave her a lopsided grin. "Well...guess I should get going. I'll keep in touch through letters. Let me know if anything's wrong, and I'll come running."
"Will do." Ty Lee gave him another hug, more gentle this time. Zuko wrapped his arms around her slim frame, inhaling her sweet scent.
"Goodbye, Ty Lee," he murmured, pulling away.
"See you soon, Zuzu," Ty Lee said, and she took the chance, leaping up and kissing his cheek.
Zuko blushed, coughed, and looked the other way. "Yeah, um...kay."
He left, and Ty Lee closed the door with a giggle, shaking her head.
"Here it is," Suki said, gesturing around herself. Azula put her bag down on her bed, and she sat down. "You can, uh, unpack I guess. I'll...leave you to it."
She left the room, rubbing her arm, and decided to trust Zuko's judgement...for just this once. This was insane!
Azula returned her gaze on the floor, after looking around the room that was now hers.
I really don't deserve this.
Oooh. Wasn't this chapter EVENTFUL? xDD
Aang and Katara KISS! And Nightmares and Daydreams references are the best xP.
Sokka and Toph...hehe-there's something there.
And everyone else coming in this chappie! Zuko! Ty Lee! Suki! Mai!
And...Azula? We'll see how this plays out..