Finally got around to writing this. A little short, but I really don't think it needed to be longer. Thank you all for reading.
"Nice place," Cole noted, looking around, hands shoved in his pockets.
"You didn't have to come with us," Kai reminded him for the fourth time that day. And for the fourth time, Cole responded with a baiting smile and a shrug.
"Better than sitting around doing nothing over at Oppenheimer's," he said. "So, what are we moving?"
While Kai fumed and was about to snap back a response, Nya spoke up. "Could you grab the forge? It's pretty heavy, so if you need help…" he picked it up off the ground and balanced it on one shoulder. "…Nevermind."
With another smug grin, Cole walked outside, setting the forge down by the pile of other supplies that they had been amassing for the greater part of the morning. Jay would be showing up later with a truck from his parent's scrap yard to help them haul it all to Ninjago City. Zane was down at the village, rightly in charge of snacks (Cole had volunteered for this and everyone quickly shut him down, his idea of 'snacks' including everything from freeze-dried snails on one occasion to alligator jerky another). Almost everything they would need to keep a shop running in the City was pulled out already.
Nya was starting to haul some raw iron rods outside when she spotted a figure in a white and pink robe making its way up the walkway. She dropped her load and ran down the walkway, almost knocking Cole over in the process.
"Ty Lee!" she shouted.
"Nya!" the girl replied, pulling her into a hug. They crashed together into a squealing pile of red, white, and pink.
Cole steadied himself, leaning one arm on the cold iron of the forge. "I'm guessing that that's Ty Lee?"
Kai made a pained expression. "Yeah."
"And you're not… friendly?"
"Oh, she's very friendly," Kai responded dryly. "Just not to me."
To prove his point, he waved one arm over his head widely, calling out, "Hey, Ty Lee!"
She made a rude gesture towards him. Cole doubled over laughing before clapping Kai on the shoulder. "Oh, she is a girl after my own heart."
Kai grunted something vaguely condescending in response, shrugging off Cole's wide hand and ducking back inside the hut to grab another handful of tools and supplies.
Nya led her friend up to the front of the shop. "Hey, this is Ty Lee. Ty Lee, this is—"
"Oh, I know! I've heard so much about all of you. It's almost like I already know all of you ninja." She shook Cole's hand hard, but unlike others who had been subjected to her deadly grip, he didn't even flinch. She was mildly impressed.
"Well, we are a motley bunch," Cole noted. "Nya's a saint for putting up with us."
She rolled her eyes good-naturedly at the compliment. "You guys aren't half as bad as you make it seem. You do your own laundry. Unlike Kai."
"I heard that!"
"You were meant to!"
Something banged loudly inside that Nya hoped wasn't too important. Ty Lee smiled widely at Cole, hands folded behind her back in her typical manner. "It really is good to meet you," she continued. "I can't tell you how excited I've been to meet you since Nya emailed me that you were coming down. She talks about you all the time."
"Really?" Cole raised an eyebrow at the puzzled-looking Nya. "Like, me?"
"Like, totally you. You've made quite an impression on her." She winked. Winked. Nya almost stopped breathing for an embarrassing moment.
A slightly blush rose in Cole's cheeks as he continued to silently ask Nya for clarification on Ty Lee's ramblings. "I mean, geez, you are quite a package, let me tell you that, definitely more than I ever expected Nya to fall for." She made a gesture encompassing Cole's ripped torso and he nervously folded his arms, only serving to extenuate his well-toned and swollen arms.
"Um, Ty Lee…" Nya tried to say, but was cut off.
"No, hon, don't be ashamed of it, I'm sure he's had hundreds of girls falling for him before, what with his whole 'cooking, poetry, inventing' schtick." Cole suddenly looked relieved, finally understanding.
"No, you have it all wrong… I'm not—"
"A triple threat? Yeah I figured as much. There's no way you could possibly do all three, but who can really blame Nya for saying you could, you really deserve to be something other than a pretty face."
"Pretty face?" Kai poked his head out of the shop while Cole sputtered indignantly about in fact being the literal theater definition of a triple threat, and Nya stared with an empty expression at her misunderstanding best friend. In the distance, a large, hobbled-together car began to approach.
"Ty Lee!" Nya shouted, cutting her friend off, "Who do you think this is?" she gestured to Cole.
Ty Lee blinked. "Your boyfriend. Jay."
Cole glared at Kai, who was laughing hysterically to himself at the turn of events, and Nya sighed, massaging her throbbing temples. "This," she pointed at Cole, who was headed towards Kai with murder in his eyes, "is Cole."
While Ty Lee absorbed this information with a shocked expression, Nya looked over her shoulder and smiled, nodding, "That's Jay."
Ty Lee looked over her shoulder in time to see Jay falling over the edge of the car, face-planting. Then she looked back to see Cole quickly removing his shirt inside the shop, since it was by some machination of Kai's, currently on fire. He stood up straight, huffing in anger, his chest and six-pack abs in clear view. She looked back again, and Jay was sitting up in the dust, one hand at his throbbing head. Then she looked to Nya, looking smug.
"Cole?" Ty Lee asked tentatively, looking properly abashed.
Nya nodded. "Cole."
Ty Lee looked again to Jay, who was standing again, smiling broadly and looking like he had nowhere in the world he'd rather be.
"… and that's Jay?" Ty Lee asked again.
Ny nodded. "And that's Jay," she confirmed. "My boyfriend."
Ty Lee opened her mouth. Closed it. Watched as Cole held Kai in a headlock, demanding he apologize, and then watched with a spaced-out expression as Jay came over and slung one arm around Nya's shoulders, giving her a kiss on the forehead and a truly gooey "Hey."
"Hey," Nya said with a tiny grin, and Ty Lee did a double-take at the tone of her friend's voice, a warm and high-pitched sound that Ty Lee had never heard her use before. She had to smile that that and offered her hand to Jay to shake.
"It's nice to meet you, Jay, I've heard so much about you," she said.
He took her hand with a smile that couldn't be denied. "Nice to meet you too. We've all heard a lot about you too," he said, waving his hand behind him to indicate the now amicable Cole and Kai, who were arguing over how to better load the forge onto the truck. Ty Lee smiled and was about to comment when she noticed Zane approaching over the hill, carrying a bag of food.
Her introduction to him had to wait until the other three ninja were done attacking him for the food he had bought for lunch, and everyone settling down around the gutted blacksmith's shop to eat.
Ty Lee had been worried when her best friend had decided to stay with her brother and travel the world. She had been terrified when her best friend had been fighting the forces of darkness. She had woken up from nightmares of all the things that could go wrong, with Nya alone with only her brother.
But now, watching as Cole ribbed Kai unnecessarily, prodding him with his chopsticks and occasionally joking about pouring different ingredients into his food, with Zane attempting to mediate and getting shut out quickly, while Jay and Nya sat side-by-side, looking more interested in their private conversation than their food, Ty Lee figured that Nya would be okay.
What she had first understood as a team of near-strangers was now a family. She couldn't think of better company for her best friend.
As the day ended Ty Lee pulled Nya in for a tight hug. "Promise to keep writing," she said, eyes imploring. "I don't want to lose you."
Nya smiled in response. "I promise."
Ty Lee waved as they all disappeared over the hill, the sun setting behind them.
And... that's it. Thank you all for taking this journey with me.