Greetings friends, benders, and nonbenders! Lame introduction, I know xD
Zuko reached for a fruit simultaneously as a smaller hand reached for the same one, fingers brushing against each other. He looked up, his eyes meeting Ty Lee's, and hope swelled in his chest. The acrobat gulped, lips pressed together; her mouth opened and closed, and he tried to figure out what to say. Before he could get out a, "Hi," she grabbed another fruit instead, walking around him quickly with her head hung low.
Zuko sighed. He wasn't even hungry anymore. He began to make his way outside.
"Alright," Sokka said, grabbing Zuko by the shoulder, pushing him back in front of Sokka and Aang. "What's up with you and Ty Lee?"
"What're you talking about?" Zuko deadpanned, arms now crossed. He could just blast them out of his way, but refrained from it.
"You and Ty Lee haven't talked to each other for an entire week," said Aang. "She hasn't exactly been herself..."
"Even you," Sokka added, then his eyes narrowed. "What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything," Zuko snapped. "It's not my fault she's being melodramatic."
"What happened?" Aang asked.
"You tell me. You were the one who went snooping around with her."
The airbender bit his lip. "You know?"
"Damn right I know! She assumed I knew about this when I clearly didn't and slapped me! She so-called 'felt sorry' almost immediately afterwards, yet she still treats me like I'm not there!"
"Am I missing something here?" Sokka interjected.
Aang sighed. "Ty Lee discovered these top secret scrolls about her family history and found out that she was descended from Air Nomads."
Zuko stormed outside, slamming the door shut behind him. Aang calmly slid the door back open, he and Sokka walking briskly out after him.
"Hold on a sec, 'cause I'm confused!" Sokka exclaimed. "If she's got Air Nomad ancestors, then how come she's not an Airbender?"
"That's a goddamn good question," Zuko grumbled, and gold and sapphire eyes fell on a pair of grey ones.
"I don't know," Aang shrugged his shoulders, "the last of her ancestors recorded was a woman from the Air Nomads and a man from the Fire Nation. It's unknown how they met but...I remember reading that she got pregnant and by the time their baby was still an infant, the Fire Nation began to wipe them out. She commited suicide, he was able to come for their daughter...and took her back to the Fire Nation to raise her by himself. So maybe her Nomadic blood is very little, since the ethnicity after that was only Fire Nation."
"Because normally everyone in the Air Nomads were airbenders, right?" said Sokka.
Aang nodded. "Yeah."
"Well what if it were possible? What if she...what if she is an airbender, but she just doesn't know it yet?"
Zuko sat down on the steps, staying silent as he continued to listen.
Aang chewed on his lip. "Okaay...?"
"Let's look at the facts," said Sokka, ticking off his fingers, "airbenders are what? Withdrawn and different from the other Nations, light on their feet-"
"-Which could explain her agility and flexibility?"
"Right! She even looks different from the majority of the Fire Nation, even though there are some who remind me of her-the catch is, her ability to run very fast and whenever she jumps-"
"She looks like she's flying!"
"Exactly! So like you! In fact, you two are pretty similar personality-wize, and you even look similar. The both of you are very light-hearted, fast runners, seemingly as heavy as a feather when airborne, and Appa and Momo are pretty much attached to her like they are attached to you."
"And if all that you're saying is true, then-"
"It might be possible that you're not the last airbender after all!"
The two high fived each other, then turned to their brooding friend. "So what do you think, Zuko?"
Zuko shrugged. "Do whatever. I don't care."
Aang and Sokka exchanged glances before smiling sheepishly.
"Ty Lee!" Aang called, and Zuko's eyes widened.
"Coming!" Ty Lee said, skipping outside with Katara and an angry Toph in tow. "What do you think?" She stepped aside so Toph could be seen.
Toph glared at the ground. Ty Lee had been doing her hair lately, testing out different hairstyles, and to Toph's horror, she actually liked this one. Her bangs still hung in her face, two strands framing her face, but the bangs in the center were cut in a straight line, covering her eyebrows. Hairband present, her hair hung down straight, but from midway down, her black locks were in a loose braid.
"Wow..." Sokka spoke first, and Toph lifted her head.
"You look great!" Aang said.
"Well, girls with braids are badass," Katara pointed out, and Ty Lee giggled in agreement. Zuko looked up at the sound of her laughter, and their eyes met; her laughter died on her lips and she turned to Aang, walking down the steps.
"What's up?" Ty Lee asked Aang.
"Well, we were talking about...your family," his voice lowered a little and she nodded. "And we think that you might be able to...airbend."
Ty Lee squealed. "Really?"
"And you'll teach me?"
"Yay!" She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him, sending him staggering back before he laughed and returned her embrace, spinning her around. Zuko watched this friendly action with narrowed eyes. Katara caught his eye and smirked in the slightest, but it didn't meet her eyes.
Aang set Ty Lee down.
"But what about your firebending lessons?" Ty Lee asked.
"We'll make time," Aang assured her. "And if I'm not available," he smiled at his flying bison, "then maybe you can give her a few lessons, buddy!"
Appa barked, sounding like he was laughing, and Aang and Ty Lee laughed too.
"Rest up, my pupil! We start tomorrow morning!"
Aang's words echoed in Ty Lee's head, keeping her up with excitement. She didn't know what time it was, but she knew it was late. And she should get some sleep!
Her eyelids, thank the Spirits, began to drift closed. She sunk deeper in the sheets, hugging herself and let her slumber take over...
Knock knock knock
Ty Lee jumped.
"Ty Lee?" Zuko peeped his head in. "Are you awake? Can I talk to you?"
Ty Lee sat up straighter as Zuko slid inside her room; her eyes widened when she saw his bare chest in the moonlight.
Calm down, Ty Lee! You've seen him shirtless many times before! It's no biggie...
Mm, dat bod though...yum!
Snap out of it! He's staring at you! Say something, anything!
"Sure!" she said as perky as she could without sounding desperate. Zuko took a deep breath, then crossed the room and sat down across from her.
"Ty Lee, I don't like...what's going on between us lately," he began awkwardly.
Ty Lee played with her fingers timidly, guilt already eating at her exterior. "Me neither."
"Are you still mad at me? Do you...still believe that I knew-?"
"-No. No, no." Ty Lee shook her head. "And I'm sorry for that...I don't know why I ignored you! I know I'm the worst friend ever! I don't know what I was thinking and-!"
"Shh," Zuko shushed her. "It's okay."
"So you do forgive me?"
"Yay!" she threw herself at him, embracing him tightly. His lips pulled up, forming a lopsided grin as he wrapped an arm around her. She pulled back, hands cupping his neck as she beamed up at him.
Cheeks heating up from her lingering touch, he reached up to gently pry her fingers off of his neck with a wry look on his face. She gave him a shy smile, biting her lip and rubbing the back of her neck.
"Sorry..." she murmured. "I'm doing it again, aren't I?"
"Doing what?" Zuko wanted to know.
"You know...being overly touchy. I understand you need your space..." Ty Lee's voice lowered to a whisper, "and I can...understand that you still might not be over Mai. I don't know, I guess I...I guess I never think about it because I'm so happy when I'm with you. I can let my guard down." She shrugged her shoulders.
"No, it..." Zuko sighed, trying to form his thoughts into words. "It's my fault I guess."
"What do you mean?"
"I feel like I've been...I don't know...leading you on. Because I haven't been stopping you. Actually, believe it or not, I like what you're doing, but at the same time I'm not sure what to do in return. It's hard to express..." he gulped, "feelings. I'm a guy, Ty Lee. Since when do we get these things right?"
Ty Lee was unusually quiet, so he continued.
"I think I know the true meaning behind Mai's letter." He didn't meet her eyes now. "She told me...to take care of you." He forced himself to look her in the eyes.
Ty Lee's heart skipped a beat. "S-She did?" Her cheeks turned pink in the moonlight.
His lips twitched. "I have a feeling Mai's not the only one who knows what she really means."
She played with a strand of her hair nervously. "It's...a girl thing," she said, voice a few octaves higher than usual.
He smiled, then looked around the room, as if searching for the time. "Well, I should probably get going and let you sleep now. You do have airbending practice tomorrow." He gave her a wider smile before he got up and headed for the door.
"Hey, um...Zuko?" Ty Lee called, and he looked over his shoulder at her. "Do you really think that it can happen? That I can airbend?"
There was a pause as he briefly considered it. Then he walked back over to her, "Even if you can't, that won't change how I-" he paused in front of her, clearing his throat-"how we think of you," he corrected himself. "You'll always be the same Ty Lee."
Ty Lee smiled, yawning some. "Thanks, Zuzu."
He nodded, and she stayed absolutely still as he suddenly leaned down; her eyes fluttered closed as his lips pressed against her forehead in a lingering peck. She felt his breath, warm and blowing gently against her skin, his nose grazing her hair as his mouth disconnected from her skin.
Butterflies were going crazy in the pit of the acrobat's stomach; her eyes stayed wide as his arms wrapped the comforter around her small shoulders, coaxing her to lay down on her side and she followed his silent directions.
"Goodnight..." he whispered.
"Goodnight..." she whispered back, and she actually began to feel drowsy.
By the time she was dozing off, Zuko snuck one last gentle kiss on the cheek before nearly running out of the room, cheeks a very bright red.
Little did he know that if he had stayed, he would have seen her smile.
Aang and Zuko were finishing up their firebending for the morning when Katara came around to watch. The two were shirtless, breaking a sweat, and moved in amazing sync. Ty Lee, who came up beside her, unnoticed by the boys, gave her a wave before watching too; Katara wore her Fire Nation getup, and Ty Lee in hers minus the vest.
Finishing up, Zuko and Aang bowed to each other. Ty Lee and Katara clapped, causing the other two to look up.
"Good morning!" Ty Lee and Katara said.
"'Morning," Zuko and Aang replied, and the girls giggled. Zuko tossed Aang a towel, using his free hand to wipe his face and neck.
Katara walked down the stairs first, approaching Aang while trying to keep her gaze on his face. His hair was really coming in now.
"How'd it go?" she asked him.
"Good. I think I'm really getting the hang of this," Aang said, tossing his towel over his shoulder.
"Can you believe that just a month ago you were so against firebending?"
Aang shrugged, smiling a little. "I guess." He bent down, gathering some leaves and dirt in his hand. With his free hand, he took hers and cupped his leaf hand over hers. She eyed him with a questionable look. His smile widened as his other hand cupped hers from the bottom, and gave their hands an abrupt jerk upwards before raising his hand; the crushed leaves and dirt rose with him. He made a swirling motion, and the debris swirled, becoming bigger and bigger as he rose his hand. While still cupping the bottom of her hand, his other hand lifted to the skies, where the debris continued to twirl and twist gracefully until it couldn't be seen anymore. Katara smiled, gasping with delight, and their eyes met again. "But once you know the true meaning of the element..." his smile widened, "you won't be afraid of it anymore."
"You think that's cool..." Katara snapped out of her state of awe, freeing her hands. "But watch this." Katara, with a gentle sweep of her hand, conjured a streak of water out of midair, and Aang's face made her giggle. Extending her hand to him, she let her chi do the rest. Her water streak turned into what looked like half of a...
The duo faintly blushed, and Aang extended a hand; the moment their fingertips touched, the shape moved and shifted, the other half forming from Aang's side of the bending.
Hovering over their hands was a beautiful, crystal blue water heart.
"Aww!" Ty Lee cooed, causing the two to jump apart, their water heart splashing on the ground in the space between them. Clapping, she turned to Zuko and opened her mouth to ask-
"No," Zuko said automatically, and she pouted, shoulders sagging in disappointment. Sighing in defeat, he let his arm unfold from his chest, hand out and fist balling up. Taking a few deep breaths, he concentrated as he briefly closed his eyes; opening them, he let his fist loosen, fingers falling back.
And thus, revealing a bright heart, made of sparking blue flames. Ty Lee beamed, and a smile pulled at the corners of Zuko's mouth.
"Ready Ty Lee?" Aang called.
"Coming, Sifu!" Ty Lee called back, then turned to Zuko. "Thank you for showing me!" she said, kissing him on the cheek before she cartwheeled over to where Aang was waiting. And as he watched her, a worried thought hit him.
That was the first time he was able to produce blue fire.