Ever since the original Wolfbats had lost their bending, their sponsors had been looking for replacements that could live up to the legacy. The White Falls Wolfbats had been the champions for years, and Stilin Skee wasn't about to sponsor anyone that performed below his standards.
However, all the teams he'd seen since the company started looking for new talent wouldn't even have lasted a round with his scrawny, non-bender son much less a full-fledged pro-bending team.
Which is how he wound up standing in the gym of the Republic City Arena waiting for his son, Stiles, to show up with some new meat. According to Stiles (why he insisted on that silly name when his mother had given him a perfectly respectable family name, he'd never know) these rookies were even greener than last season's Fire Ferrets. He'd also claimed they had twice the talent, but after interrogation admitted that they were a friend's team, so who knows how reliable a source Stiles was.
But it was a favor to his boy, if nothing else, and if he was lucky they might not be that bad. They would at least be better than the last team he observed. The firebender had nearly taken off his eyebrows with a stray kick and the earthbender had gotten him in the gut twice before he walked out. Stilin wondered whether or not his son's friend would leave all his limbs intact.
"Dad!" He heard Stile's call. Stilin turned to see his son jogging towards him with three other boys wearing practice gear in tow.
One, a pretty, bright-eyed boy, he recognized from when Stiles was younger and assumed this must be the friend he had mentioned was on the team. He looked nervous, but had on a polite smile that made him look a bit silly and much younger than his teammates. The tallest one, whose sash was earthbender green, greeted him silently and politely, bowing his head towards his potential sponsor. The last one greeted him silently and not so politely, glaring and nodding at him briefly.
"Okay, everyone this is my dad. Dad, this is Makkal, Bo Yed, and Hale." He pointed to them each in turn. Makkal was the one that looked closest to Stiles in age and introduced himself to Stilin as the team's waterbender and had only been competing for a few months. Bo Yed was indeed the team's earthbender, but had an older sibling who was a pro-waterbender for another team and had plenty of practice sparring against them. Team captain Hale's family had also been involved in pro-bending, but they were all firebenders.
Stilin remembered seeing a firebender that looked a lot like him at matches before, but she had retired after getting severely burned by one of the old Wolfbats. That explained the sour look. Luckily for his company the incident had been ruled an accident and the Wolfbats were able to continue.
He put on his best 'serious business' expression and looked them over. "Enough introductions. I want you to show me why my company should sponsor you rookies out of all the dozens of teams in Republic City that want us."
The three gathered by the training equipment while Stilin and his son hung back against the wall. He had to admit, they were far better than he expected. Better than the other teams he'd seen, too. They all had excellent form, good aim, and stamina. They sparred against one another, going against each other all at once, then two-on-one, showing their individual strengths as well as their strengths as a team. They seemed to read one another's movements as if they could read each other's minds.
Hale was clearly the most powerful of the three; his movements were the most controlled, his bending the strongest. He was a good captain, too. He could communicate with his teammates through a single glance. Watching them train wasn't like watching rookies at all.
When they had finished their demonstration, Stiles ran towards the team and began complimenting them on a job well done. Makkal's smile returned, less nervous than before, and even Bo Yed seemed to be smiling. Hale's face on the other hand looked as sour as he had before, just with more sweat.
Stilin stepped towards the group and placed a hand on his son's shoulder in a vain attempt to tell him to stop talking.
"Good job," he said over Stile's chattering, "especially being rookies. I'll need to talk to my partners tonight before anything can be finalized, but I'd be proud if your team represented the White Falls Wolfbats this season."
He smiled at them and extended his hand. Makkal smiled even brighter and thanked him, shaking his hand vigorously. Bo Yed shook his hand less excitedly, but his grip nearly crushed the man's hand.
Stilin extended his hand to the team captain as well. Hale looked at his hand as if the man were offering him a pile of wolfbat dung. Without saying a word, Hale stormed out of the room.
"Hale, wait!" Stiles gave his father an apologetic look before running after him down the hall.
Stilin looked towards Hale's teammates, hoping they had an explanation. Instead they simply shrugged at him. "When he's like this, it's really best to leave him alone, sir." Makkal said, "He just gets like this sometimes. Stress. He'll be fine in a few minutes, sir."
Bo Yed nodded in agreement. Apparently Hale threw tantrums a lot. "We really are grateful that you're helping us out."
Stilin nodded and headed towards to doorway. Makkal called after him, "Um, sir?"
"My son went to find Hale, I'm going to find my son. Good work today, boys. I'll let you know more about the sponsorship later." He waved to them without looking back and headed down the hallway in the direction Stiles had run. He hadn't wandered the halls for very long when he decided the check the main arena.
When he entered the arena it was dead quiet. He began to scan the aisles of seats when he a heard voice start.
"It's for the team. You need this, there's no other way."
"Don't you think I know that? That's the only reason I agreed to this in the first place."
Stilin looked over from the doorway to see Stiles and Hale sitting a few rows up from where he stood. It was probably best not to get involved with them; he knew where Stiles was, he should go. But…
Curiosity getting the best of him, Stilin stayed close to the doorway, trying his best to observe without being seen. Besides, it was better to know who he could be sponsoring, right? What if he was going to quit on them or take a dive? This information could be important. It had absolutely nothing to do with his son hanging around an anger prone firebender.
"Look, Hale, I know this is hard for you, but my dad's a good guy. You can trust him."
"Yeah? Tell that to my sister. Because of his team she's sworn off pro-bending for good. She loved the sport- I've never seen her happier than when she won a match. And the Wolfbats took that away from her. How can you expect me to just forget that and-"
Hale's hands were smoking now. Stilin almost wanted to run up there and get between the firebender and his son. He almost did, but he stopped himself when he saw Stiles gently place his hand on Hale's arm.
At the contact, Hale began to cool down. He looked down at Stiles, still grimacing, but he didn't look like he was going to hurl a fireball at anything. Something in his expression softened, even with the foul mood still hanging over him.
"I'm not asking you to forget about it, Hale. I'm asking you to think about what's best for you, for your team. You need the money to enter the tournament. This could be a future for you, a future you love; you can't let a grudge get in the way of that." Stilin's eyes widened as he saw Stiles place a hand on Hale's cheek. Hale closed his eyes and sighed, covering the hand with his own.
"Hey, look at me," Stiles said, "if you can't do it for the team, or yourself, can you at least do it for me? I want you enter this tournament. You can win, you know you can. If you don't do this you'll regret it forever." Stiles smiled. "Besides, if you don't have pro-bending you'll have nothing to vent with and you'll be moodier than ever. Who wants that?"
Hale tried not to smile back. Stilin knew from experience how hard keeping a straight face could be when this kid gave you that goofy look.
Hale put his arms around Stiles and let out a begrudging sigh. "When you put it that way. Do I really have a choice?"
He smiled again. "No." They began kissing and Stilin took this as his cue to leave. As unsure as he was about this, he did not want his son to know what he saw. Better to leave unnoticed than to cause a scene and give Hale more reason to resent him. They could discuss the matter later, after the sponsorship was finalized.
On the bright side, at least now he knew who Stile's "friend" on the team was.
Making their names make sense in this universe was strange...My friend Donna sent me a Sterek Avatar prompt and this is what I came up with. It ended up being three times longer than intended. Constructive criticism is appreciated, I hope you enjoyed it!