Hey bbys! Okay, first off, lemme address avatarfan, who kindly said:
I'm done with this story. You refuse to update it. Just pull it. If you won't commit, then pull it. This story was getting boring anyway. Just admit you ran out of ideas. You're a terrible author who can't even update a story. Loser.
Last time I checked, avatarfan, I have been updating. Just not this story. This story was on hiatus for the longest time because I've been in and out of the Avatar fandom, as well as exploring new ships. I'm sorry I lost you as a reader, but I will finish this story for the reviewers who have been faithful and patiently waiting.
As for the rest of you all, thank you so much for your positive feedback! I'm glad you don't want to see this story go, and frankly? My Ty Luko heart needs to be nurtured c:
Here's a longer chapter, as promised.
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, the voice in her head chanted as she swung each fist at her opponent. Her hair, sticking and curling at the nape, squished back and forth with her steady movements. She kept a firmer ground now, muscles taut and reflexes coming natural to her. The airbender in her blood made her swift and agile on the offensive. The firebender in her boiled from her newfound aggression.
Light pants came from her pink lips, her fierce grey eyes glued to the burning gold orbs that was her handsome opponent. She was rocking a peachy tan now from the amount of sun she had been receiving over the past week, and their skin contrasts became more slight.
He was entirely focused, eyes on her every move as he blocked her attacks, letting her movements push him backwards. She was definitely on the right track. She had gone from a giggling pupil to a Fire Nomad protege in a matter of days. The little girl he knew back then had transformed into a warrior. And he was proud.
But also a little turned on as well. And he knows he shouldn't be. But how could he not? She was maturing, her body becoming more toned than it was before, and the fact that she was wearing her hair down constantly escalated her on the attraction scale. And it was worse when she sweated.
She was sweating right now.
The day was hot, sweltering. Cloudless. Perfect for sparring. They had the entire morning to themselves, the increasing temperature a mental note that the sun was getting at its peak in the middle of the sky-noon. Lunch.
"Defense!" Zuko hissed through gritted teeth, and then he was diving at her, throwing punch after kick at her, careful to not unleash his bending. Slightly shocked for a moment, eyes wild and palms up to block, and her feet skidding back several feet within a matter of seconds, Ty Lee let out a strangled cry. Her arms and elbows were used for leverage, ducking and dodging from his large hands. She gained control quickly, and clenched her jaw, teeth gritted in deep concentration. He was using all of his strength, and she was happy that he wasn't holding back anymore. Although, if she did develop bruises from this, that would make an unhappy Aang, and a very unhappy Katara. The waterbending master would heal her first, of course. But the odds would so not be in Zuko's favor.
A smile graced her face as she continued to swerve and wiggle her body.
"What's so funny?" Zuko huffed.
"Hehe! 'Cause it looks like we're dancing!"
She could see that he was fighting the urge to roll his eyes, so she took his brief moment of bewilderment to provide space between them. Ty Lee then jumped, tucking her body in while airborne, and her legs slipped around Zuko's neck in a vice grip. As if in slow motion, Zuko realized what was going on, but before he knew it, he was on the hot ground.
"Huh!" Ty Lee grunted, rolling off him and flipping herself back on her feet, ending her attack in a fighting stance; hands leveled with her arms, fingers apart, and palms flat. One foot stayed put on the ground, but her opposite leg was outstretched, the bottom of her shoe hovering over Zuko's throat. Her fierce expression was close to cracking, a smirk twitching her lips. Chests were heaving from both parties, exhausted, for the moment.
"How was that, sifu?" Ty Lee asked breathlessly, pleased with herself.
"Good. But you cheated." Zuko accepted her offered hand, standing to his full height. "I thought I said defense?"
"That's what I was doing. Defending myself," said Ty Lee innocently.
The new voice came from the steps. Toph sat in her casual, very un-ladylike position, smirking in their direction.
"What'sa matter, Sparky? Mad that you lost to your girlyfriend?"
"I'm not mad," replied Zuko. "A-And she's not my girlfriend!"
Ty Lee giggled and Zuko hid his blush. What was with everyone inferring that whatever pretty girl with him at said moment was his girlfriend? Sure, he thought Katara was pretty. Ty Lee was pretty. Mai was pretty, but no one questioned them when they were together...
"Anybody need towels?" Katara asked, now approaching them with said items. Both Fire Nation natives took them thankfully, wiping at their faces and necks.
Zuko sat down, slinging the towel over his bare shoulder. "Done for the day. Same time again tomorrow."
"Aye, aye, Captain Cutie!" Ty Lee saluted him with a wink.
"Please don't call me that."
"Call you what, sweet sugar cake?"
Katara laughed behind her hands, enjoying the look on Zuko's face. Toph wished she could see so he'll never hear the end of it.
"Flameo, hotmen!" Aang greeted cheerfully, coming out with everyone's lunch. "And women," he addressed the girls, to which all but Toph giggled at.
"How's the training going?"
"Good!" Ty Lee winked at Zuko over her shoulder. "Right, Zuko?"
Zuko grumbled something unintelligible.
"Mm...can't remember the last time I went to the beach..." Ty Lee moaned blissfully, letting her toes sink in the soggy sand. The sound of the waves gently crashing against the shore eased her. At that moment, she wanted to be a waterbender so she could feel the rush of her element. Katara told her once that it makes waterbenders stronger at night, especially on the full moon; she also mentioned something about heightening feelings and certain...urges.
Ty Lee would ask, but then again she's not so sure she really wanted to know.
"It wasn't even two months ago," said Zuko from beside her.
Zuko sighed heavily, crossing his arms stubbornly. How did he get talked into coming down here? His original plan was to surprise attack Aang into fighting him, but it looked like that wasn't going to happen. The Comet was only a few short days away, and yet they were trying to have a party? He was new to this whole 'hero thing', but even he knew that this wasn't the time to be playing around.
Ty Lee noticed the look on his face. "Could you at least look like you're having fun?"
"And why would I do that?"
She pouted at him, then frowned and splashed some water in his face.
Zuko blinked before his eyes narrowed dangerously, slowly turning his head.
"U-uh...heh?" Ty Lee smiled sheepishly, but it soon faltered when she realized what he was after-revenge.
She gulped. "Z-Zuko?"
Zuko's lips pulled back over his teeth. "Run."
Ty Lee was quick to get up and start running, dashing straight into the water. This was her goal. What she wanted. And they both knew it.
"TY LEE!" Zuko bellowed.
"Nah-nah-na-nah-nah, you can't catch meeee!" she taunted him, shaking her butt.
She was only adding fuel to his fire. Literally.
He ran in after her, feeling ridiculously stupid splashing around and stirring up water as he went. The friction from the waves slowed him down, and he needed to get to her. Fast.
And that's when he got an idea.
"Hey, Katara!" he called out, the latter whipping her head around at the mention of her name. "Mind clearing the way a bit for me here?"
Katara looked from Ty Lee to Zuko, already knowing what was going on. With a giggle and a simple motion, the waters parted on each side of his legs, providing a dry path that led him to Ty Lee.
"Katara, no!" Ty Lee cried, but it was too late for her. Zuko was already running, making a short leap to reach her. Arms constricting around her waist, Ty Lee yelped as he knocked them over and into the cold water. Ty Lee swallowed a mouthful of salty sea water and choked as soon as her lungs finally caught air.
Furious, she flipped her hair back and began coughing violently. At that moment Zuko emerged, prepared to snap at her when he saw her in her miserable state. He stood and came up next to her, beginning to pat her back.
"D-don't touch m-e!" Ty Lee swatted her hand at him, but he ignored her.
"See what happens when you get smart with me?" Zuko said in her ear, now rubbing her backside.
Ty Lee shot him daggers, still coughing, and Zuko chuckled.
"I understand that you want me to enjoy myself, but did you really think that swallowing the whole ocean was gonna-?" Her gaze darkened. "I'm kidding. Spirits, the one time I make a joke and it's a crime."
Now hoarse, Ty Lee straightened up and pushed his chest, making him trip over and fall back into the water. This time he came up sputtering, beginning to cough a bit himself.
"That's what you get, asshole," Ty Lee grumbled, and marched her way back to shore.
"Aw, Zuko, what did you do?" Aang laughed, seeing his friend trudge over to them, dragging his feet along. Ty Lee was currently pouting in Aang's arms, and when she saw Zuko she made a face and turned away, burying her face in Aang's shoulder.
"Don't look at me. Ask her," Zuko growled.
"Ty Lee?" said Aang, fighting the urge to laugh out loud.
"Zuko was being mean to me," Ty Lee croaked, and Toph and Sokka laughed because-"It's not funny, guys! Losing my voice is so not a good time!"
"It is for us!" Sokka guffawed, and Katara took the opportunity to waterwhip her brother across the face. "OOOOUCH!"
"You deserve it," said Ty Lee, wincing at how horrible her voice sounded.
"Come here, sweetie," said Katara, wrapping her arm around the other girl's shoulder, pulling her away from everybody else. "Let's take a look at your throat."
"She's such a mom," commented Toph, fondness lacing her voice that only Aang and Sokka caught. "Anyway! So, Twinkletoes, bet'cha can't top this!"
And just as quickly, the subject changed, and Toph and Aang were heavily competing against each other over who could make the best sandcastle or whatever. Zuko stopped listening after that.
He wanted to go check on Ty Lee, but he also knew he had an agenda, and everyone needed to be on the same page like he was. Was he the only one who cared about the state of the world? Oh how the tables have turned...And he wasn't sure how he felt about it.
Make a decision, Zuko, he told himself. The fate of the world wasn't just in the Avatar's hands anymore.
With a sigh, he inhaled deeply, then shot a furiously powerful flame at Aang's head.