Republic City's lights were beautiful at night. If you were to boast about seeing the city in its entire splendor, you'd be talking about seeing it at night, right after a light coating of snow covered the buildings and streets. People roamed the metropolis all day long, running up and down, all trying to solve their matters as quickly as they could, because for some reason, they always were in a hurry.
But there was a particular person who didn't bother running anywhere; he was far more stylish, and so was his family. And said person, along with said family, were currently riding atop a flying bison, their course set towards one of the most grand buildings in the city: The Pro-Bending Arena
"Dad, why do we have to go?" whined a tan teenager with brown and messy hair, staring down at the water they were flying above of "We've seen Kya's Pro-Bending matches for the entire season! I'm sick of watching benders! Let's go see a real fist-fight on the streets!"
"Bumi, you have to support your sister" his mother scolded him "It's what this family does, and it's what we'll always do: support each other"
"Bleh, family nonsense is boring" said Bumi "I'm hungry!"
"You just ate before we left!" said his younger brother, who was about thirteen years old
"Stop being so nosy, Tenzin, no one was talking to you" said Bumi, scratching his head
"Be nice to your brother, Bumi" said Aang, sitting on Appa's neck while steering him
"But it's true! I was talking to Appa!" said Bumi, patting the gentle beast's right flank
Katara sighed and shook her head. It was really tiresome dealing with so many kids at once. Bumi was always rebellious and silly, pretending not to care at all about his family; Kya was a very talented waterbender, but despite her calm and cheerful personality, she was a magnet for trouble at the tender age of seventeen; she was only two years older than the only non-bender of the family. Leading a family like this one wasn't easy for either her or Aang, but they loved their children and they couldn't have asked for a better life than the ones they were leading right now.
"Appa is hungry too" said Aang, smiling "But he's not complaining about it, Bumi"
"That's just a lot of random jibber-jabber, Dad" said Bumi, letting himself fall horizontally on the saddle.
"You're incurable" said Tenzin, shaking his head. He had always shaved his hair, just as his father used to do it, but lately he'd been shaving even more often, in hopes that his father would finally deem him worthy of his arrow tattoos one of these days.
The bison landed after about ten minutes of flight, and Bumi ran off as soon as he got off the saddle
"I'm going to find some food!" he yelled, to his parents' dismay
"Oh, Bumi!" yelled Katara, exasperated as she ran after him, but he outran her easily "Make sure to be back in ten minutes, okay?!"
"Sure, Mrs. Avatar!" yelled the boy, making her sigh in irritation
"He's spent too much time with his aunt… those silly nicknames should get old at some point, shouldn't they?"
"Relax, Katara" said Aang, laughing as he surrounded her shoulders with an arm "Let's just wait for him inside, I'm sure he'll stay out of trouble"
"You're too kind-hearted, Aang" muttered Katara "You know Bumi NEVER stays out of trouble"
"I agree with Mother" said Tenzin, folding his arms "You can't trust someone as unpredictable as my brother"
"But you surely can try, can't you?" said Aang "Cut him some slack, he might not disappoint you this time"
"Avatar intuition" said Tenzin, shaking his head "The least reliable source of information"
"Do I have to ask you to cut ME some slack?" asked Aang, impressed
"Don't worry, Aang" said Katara, smiling as she patted Tenzin on the shoulder "Our little baby is just on the verge of puberty! You have to expect this sort of cruel remarks from him!"
"Oh, that's right…" said Aang, frowning
"HEY!" said Tenzin, getting mad "I'm not going through any weird stage of rebellion like my brother and sister did!"
"Oh, you are, you just don't notice it since you've always been so cranky and serious!" said Katara, grinning as Aang ensured Appa would be perfectly okay on the spot they'd landed on
"Stay put, buddy" he said, smiling as he patted his muzzle "We'll be back soon, don't worry!"
Appa growled and Aang waved goodbye, returning to his family. The three of them walked inside the Arena together, amongst a crowd of several people who acknowledged and admired the Avatar as he journeyed towards his seat with his wife and son.
"Say, Father…" muttered Tenzin, already used to all this attention "Do you think we could ride Oogie here one of these days instead of Appa?"
"I think Oogie is still too young to carry all of us, dear" said Katara, smiling
"Maybe you can ride Oogie while the rest of us travel on Appa" said Aang, patting his son on the shoulder
"Yes, that sounds about right" he said, nodding enthusiastically.
The stands were half full, since the battle wasn't bound to begin just yet; most the people were outside, where they'd admired Aang, Katara and Tenzin as they entered. Pro-Bending was the greatest pastime for the people in Republic City, and many highly ranked officials and celebrities were often spotted attending the games; of course, the lobby was the best place to watch them come and go, which was the reason why most people were still there; they'd always take their seats about ten minutes before the fight began.
Aang, Katara and Tenzin walked all the way to their particular seats, the ones they had reserved for their personal use. Toph and Zuko used to seat nearby as well, but neither of them or their families were here yet.
"You think they're getting ready?" asked Tenzin nervously, looking towards the dressing room to the red side of the stage.
"You can calm down already, Tenzin" said Aang "You know Kya will be fine… and so will Lin" he added, with a little craftiness
"I… I wasn't thinking about her!" said Tenzin, blushing at the thought of his all-time crush
"About which of the two girls I mentioned?" asked Aang, raising an eyebrow
"He wasn't thinking about Kya, if you're to judge by the way he's blushing" teased Katara, to Tenzin's exasperation
"You two are the most evil parents in the world!" yelled Tenzin, losing his temper as he blushed even more
"What could possibly make you say that? We're perfectly nice parents!" said Aang, hugging his son
"L-leave me alone, Father! Y-you're embarrassing me!" he whined
"It's not like there's anyone to be embarrassed in front of!" said Aang, laughing
"Look! The Fire Lord's coming!" said Tenzin, pointing at Zuko, who was approaching them with his wife, Mai "Now you're really going to embarrass me, so let me go!"
"Aw, why should I? I love you so much, Tenzin!" yelled Aang, hugging his son so tightly he even lifted him from his seat
"D-DAD, YOU'RE KILLING ME!" yelled the boy, pushing away from his father
"Well, that's a first" said Zuko, as he finally got to his seat "I'd never heard Tenzin call you 'dad'. What are you doing to him?"
"I'm showing my love for him!" said Aang, grinning "Wanna join? Group hugs are fun! I haven't had one in so long…"
"N-no, thank you" said Zuko, smiling with discomfort
"It's been a while, Zuko, Mai" said Katara, smiling "How are you both?"
"Very well, Katara, thank you" said Mai, nodding courteously at her. After all these years, Mai hadn't changed much; she was still as indifferent and cold as ever.
"Is Honora ready for the battle?" asked Katara
"She's spent the whole afternoon training on the gym" said Zuko, grinning "I'm sure she'll do just great"
"Ah, it's amazing, isn't it?" said Aang, finally letting go of Tenzin "Our kids, fighting the very same sport we founded…"
"We founded it alright, but we didn't create it" said Zuko, smiling
"The creators are all the way over there, aren't they?" said Mai, looking at the opposite side of the ring, where two special seats were always saved up for the two creators of Pro-Bending. No one else had ever sat on those red velvet couches other than them.
"There's only one of them now, though" said Katara, catching a glimpse of her sister-in-law as she sat on her couch, looking as high-and-mighty as ever
"Your talk about Pro-Bending is getting old" muttered Tenzin "Actually; Pro-Bending isn't much fun at all… why can't an airbender fight in it too?"
"Well, there's a reason for that…" started Aang, but Tenzin raised a hand to stop him
"No, thanks. I've heard your explanation a million times over and a million times again. I do appreciate most your anecdotes, father, but I've had it with all what's related to Pro-Bending"
"You're a spoilsport, kid" said Aang, shaking his head "Bumi doesn't mind hearing my stories over and over again!"
"Because his brain is the size of a nut and he can't remember them after five minutes…" muttered Tenzin under his breath
"I heard that, young man" scolded him Katara, and Tenzin lowered his head in slight shame
"Speaking of Bumi… where is he?" asked Zuko, raising an eyebrow
"He said he'd go get food" said Aang "You know what he's like"
"Yes, we know what he's like" said Mai, with a grimace
"Are you sure he'll be okay?" asked Zuko
"I told everyone to just trust him" said Aang "He's a grown boy, we can't keep tabs on him forever!"
"Well, if you won't keep tabs on him, I guess I'll have to do it" said another voice, belonging to someone who had walked up to them without them noticing
Fully clad in her black police suit, Toph was dragging a certain misbehaving fifteen-year-old all the way back to his parents. She pushed Bumi at Aang and folded her arms
"You should keep an eye on that crazy brat. He was trying to pull a scam on some clumsy store owner to nick away some food"
"You were WHAT?!" asked Katara, staring at her son in horror
"Didn't I say you couldn't trust him…?" muttered Tenzin "I said Avatar Intuition wasn't working this time…"
"I had no money to buy it properly!" said the boy, laughing happily
"Bumi… if you keep doing those things, Toph will throw you in jail!" said Aang, making his son sit at his other side "You don't want that, do you?"
"Oh, please, dad" said Bumi "I'd escape prison in a heartbeat!"
"Wanna bet?" growled Toph, cracking her knuckles
"No, no, no! He doesn't want to do anything!" said Aang, clasping a hand on his son's mouth before he said something he'd probably regret later
"I'm so sorry, Toph" said Katara "We'll do our best to keep him in check…"
"You'd better" said Toph, dropping on her seat right next to Mai "The big battle's due any minute now, huh? It's amazing our spawns made it all the way to the finals, isn't it?"
"The rest of the teams were really dumb this year!" said Bumi "They nearly cleared every battle with a knockout!"
"Indeed… but now they're against the other greatest team there is" said Zuko "I hope they can stand against them…"
"Believe in our daughters!" said Aang, grinning "They can pull it off, you know it!"
"Or so you'd hope!" said the latest newcomer, a very elegant lady with long, braided hair. She smiled at the entire group and her husband greeted them too from behind her "I don't think our Seikatsu will let you get away with victory so easily!"
"That's what you'd like to think, isn't it?" said Toph, smirking
"Good to see you, Ty Lee, Haru!" said Aang, as the other two took their seats
"I can't wait for this to get started!" said Ty Lee, staring down at the ring in excitement.
In the dressing room, far from where the families of most the benders where, three young teenagers were practicing their stances for the last time this season
"Come on, we've been at it for ages!" whined Kya, dropping on the couch that was standing on the center of the dressing room right after executing a waterbending movement for the umpteenth time "Can't you both just leave the fate of this match in the hands of destiny by now…?"
"A little more practice never hurt anyone" said Lin, her eyes closed as she remembered her stances. She struck a couple of punches directly into the air with swift and decisive movements, just as a girl with long, black hair brought forth a fistful of fire.
"According to what I know, that's not true" said Kya "My mom said dad practiced way too much once, he didn't rest at all for a while, and he almost messed up an entire operation because of that"
"Well, you rest too much, Kya" said Honora, opening her hand and making the fire vanish "You're too calm and relaxed with everything! This is a very serious match; it's the Pro-Bending final! You can't take it so easily!"
"How should I take it, then?" asked Kya, raising an eyebrow "You two are too anxious. Cut it out and let me be" she said, smiling as she let herself lie down on the couch.
Lin and Honora exchanged a look of irritation. Lin was barely thirteen, while Honora was the same age as Kya, but clearly they understood each other much better than they would ever understand Kya. The waterbender was a free soul; she felt no obligations to do anything other than to spend her time enjoying all the happenings around her.
"You think the guys all the way to the blue room are ready?" asked Honora, staring across the Arena. Nowadays, they just resorted to telling the dressing rooms apart by the color of the side in which they were at.
"Who knows?" said Lin "I bet your cousins are all fired up, though. Or watered up, it works whichever way"
"You still can't tell them apart off the ring, can you, Lin?" asked Kya, smiling
"They're too confusing" muttered Lin "The one with gold eyes is a waterbender, the one with the blue eyes is a firebender… Their names confuse me, and I that's the only difference I can see between them"
"They're different alright…" said Kya "You just gotta sense it with more than just your senses, get it?"
"No" grunted Lin "You're too weird, Kya"
"I'm just unique!" said the girl cheerfully, smiling at nobody in particular.
On another side of the Arena, opposite to where the Avatar and company were sitting at, a very beautiful but powerful woman sat staring at the stage, her intelligent amber eyes scanning the entire place quickly. With all the people who'd attend the finals, she was bound to earn several tons of money once again… She smirked slightly as she wondered what she would do with it when the door behind her opened up and a tall man entered the room
"Finally!" said Sokka, dropping on the couch next to her "I thought that Council Meeting would never end!"
"Why did it drag on for so long?" asked Azula
"Oh, just the same old things about making some new laws and rules to make sure the citizens will be safe and sound…" said Sokka, shrugging "They were talking about some rules to prohibit bending inside stores and such, so that rogue benders have no choice but to pay up properly or else get beaten up by metalbenders"
"Sounds like you'll be giving Chief Bandit even more duties" said Azula, smirking "She'll try to kill you for that"
"And you'll try to stop her from getting back at me, won't you?" asked Sokka, smiling innocently at her
"Why should I? You got into the mess, you can get yourself out" she said cruelly, and Sokka made a very dramatic gesture, as if she had shattered his heart into a thousand pieces
"How can you be so mean?! After all we've been through…!"
"It's probably because of what we've been through, Sokka" she said, smirking again "You haven't been the calm and uneventful husband you promised you'd be"
"Oh, come on, if you're talking about what happened when we went to find Space Sword…"
"Maybe I'm referring to your grand discovery of the Bison's nest" she said "The only good thing that came from it was that the Avatar actually bothered looking for the real nest"
"Y-you won't ever let me hear the end of it, will you…?" said Sokka, smiling guiltily
"No, I don't think I will" said Azula, smirking back. At some point, the usual cunning in her features vanished, leaving a much milder smile on her face, the kind of smiles she had reserved only for him without even knowing it
Suddenly, most of the lights on the stage turned off, and only one was switched back on. The single light was focused on the announcer as he showed up in the central circle of the stage, making most of the people on the stands focus on the ring with excitement.
"Seems like this is it, huh?" said Sokka, gulping as the man began his introduction of both teams
"May the best of the next generation win, huh?" said Azula, smirking "I'm sure Zyran and Kerrion can beat the future Fire Lord with ease"
"With luck, they will…" said Sokka, gulping again.
The two platforms began moving, approaching the contestants to the ring. Honora stood on the middle of her group, Lin to her right and Kya to her left, and they wore a red uniform, matching the side of the stage they'd fight on. Their opponents, who were clad with the blue uniform, were comprised of a young man with long brown hair and tan skin who wore a green belt, proof of the earthbending skills he'd inherited from his father. Next to him, a tall teenager with black hair and blue eyes wore the red garments of a fire bender, and he smirked at his cousin as the platforms moved closer and closer. His twin brother was next to him; the only distinct differences between them were his amber eyes, just like his mother's, and the blue belt that showed he was a waterbender. Genetics had played one of its unexpected tricks and, to everyone's surprise, the first waterbender ever to be born in one of the branches of the Royal Family had been this young man.
The two teams finally arrived at the ring and they exchanged looks of determination as they took their stances, each bender in front of his equal. Lin stared firmly at Seikatsu, who smiled kindly at her. Kya was the one beaming at Kerrion, who didn't seem particularly enthusiastic as he sighed at his cousin's happy-go-lucky attitude. Honora frowned at Zyran, who smirked at her. Their parents' rivalry had continued on down the next generation, and they had each taken the role of their progenitor with ease.
"I hope Daddy will forgive you when you prove you're no match against me" said Zyran
"You're going down, Zyran… believe me, you are" growled Honora, raising her arms
The referee looked at the combatants from his particular platform and the bell signaling the beginning of the match strummed its song and the benders readied themselves for the battle of their lives…
Okay, NOW it's over .w. THANKS FOR FOLLOWING THIS FIC! ^^ It was very fun to write, and it's the first fic I've even managed to finish! I really felt I had to pour myself out with this one, and I will with the next one too w Look forward to it if you will! Thanks for the support! And of course, thanks to all the reviewers too! Without your comments, I wouldn't have felt much motivation to continue at all! Thanks again, and I hope you'll read more of my work someday! ^^