A Kiss in Ba Sing Se

[A/N: This is an A/U story. The Toph character does feel inferior to Katara and so in order to compete for Aang's affections pulls out all the stops. Aang is a boy with near infinite power and is being offered love and comfort from the two girls most dear to him.

Life is never static. It is ever changing and as it does, so do the experiences and times of our lives. Who we meet and who meets us, could bring about more than we expect.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Avatar: The Last Airbender

Feel free to comment.


Chapter 42


"I've had enough of this, why are you yelling at me!" she exclaimed as she headed from the room. "Why don't you just hang out with your friends Zuko," she exclaimed over her shoulder. "You obviously prefer them over me!"

"Do whatever you want Mai, you always do," the Fire Lord retorted harshly after her.

"I will," she barked as she slammed the door.

"By Agni, that woman is trying," Zuko growled, letting sparks fly from his mouth,

"Look everyone, I'll go talk to her and see if I can bring her back," Sokka said as he headed for the door. "She's just a bit riled up after all that has happened this evening."

Suki grabbed his sleeve, "Just leave her alone, she'll calm down on her own. She always does Sokka."

"Yeah, she'll be fine man," Zuko assured him. "Soon she'll be sulking and then it'll be like nothing ever happened, that's her way."

The blue-eyed man stared at both of them, "That's the problem, everybody assumes she's fine, but I don't think she is. Why does she find it so hard to fit in... even harder than you did Zuko? I'm going after her. Anyone coming with me?"

Toph folded her arms, "Nah, I have to head back over to my apartment and get things ready for everybody. I didn't expect another night of guests. I really don't have time to play chase the crazy lady. Besides, Sugar Queen is crazy enough for me."

"I heard that you little rock troll," the waterbender said as she stepped from the bedroom.

"So how's Aang," Suki asked with a tense smile, "Can I go in and see him now?"

Katara lowered her head, "No, he's really out of it. When I went in there, he was so groggy that he barely recognized me. I tried to kiss him and he pushed me away saying, 'Stop fooling around Sokka.' I really don't know what that was about," she sighed as Toph stifled a laugh.

"Hey, don't look at me," her brother retorted lifting up both hands. "Just because I got drunk once and thought he was Suki... sheesh!"

Zuko began to snicker loudly, "I remember that! You were totally burnt on that Fire Nation rum! Ole Sokka here passed out near a rhino trough and Aang was trying to help him up. That when he said, "Oh Suki... you have such beautiful eyes and tried to plant a big wet one on Aang! Aang drops him right in the trough!"

Sokka looked away crossing his arms, "That water was freezing cold! Besides... I don't think that's funny in the least."

Katara walked up to her brother, "Neither do I... Sokka," she seethed.

"Hey, why are you mad at me sis!"

"Why were you trying to make out with my boyfriend?"

"I wasn't!" he snapped back at her.

"Sure sounds like you were to me," Toph interjected with a smirk.

He leaned into his sister's face, "What's wrong with you Katara! You heard Zuko say I thought he was Suki! I'm not interested in your boyfriend... end of story!"

"She's just mad because you ruined her make out session Snoozles," the princess laughed now, hoping to provoke the fight.

Sokka now focused on the little earthbender, "And you Toph, are you upset as well?"

Her smile dropped as his meaning was all too clear, "Sorry Snoozles... just having a little fun. I thought you were going to go and look for tall and gloomy?"

He kept his gaze on the princess, "Yeah, I think I will. I think I can understand how she feels... kind of," he said quietly as he left the room.

The little general swallowed hard, thinking about what just occurred.

"Wow, I don't think I've ever seen him so... moody," Zuko remarked as he moved next to the blind bender. "I wonder what's eating him?"

She nodded, "Me too. But I can't wait around to ask him. Let's get over to my suites so I can get everyone settled in for the night. Lili will take care of Aang for now. We can check up on him a little later... okay Sweetness."

Katara was staring at the back of the door her brother had just left through,"Um, yeah, sure Toph... whatever you say."

By the look of the dust and debris that littered the halls of this section, she could tell there wouldn't be many, if any, walking through this area. Her instincts however told her she was being followed somehow.

"Impossible... who would want to follow me?" she thought as she looked through the vacant rooms and halls, admiring the difference in architecture.

"Mai... wait up!" the familiar voice called after her from a distance, but moving in rapidly.

She now bolted down a side passageway where the dull glow of the ancient crystals threw their eerie green light into the black shadows cast by the huge pillars that went from the floor to the ceilings.

"How did I get into this position," she asked herself as she skirted around the back of one of the wide, gold-veined, white marble columns. "Why is he following me all the way out here?"

She stood still, hoping to hear his footsteps pass her by.

"Mai, I know you're behind there," he told her, parking on the far side of the same pillar. "You're perfume gives you away."

"I'm not wearing any perfume," she replied, cutting her eyes in his direction. "Why are you bothering me?"

Sokka began to chuckle lightly. "Wow, Zuko really is a lucky man," he said with a bit of a sigh.

Mai couldn't tell if it was what he said, or if it was the way he said it, but her heart skipped. "You should go back and tell him that. I don't think he would believe you at the moment... my lord," she retorted trying to contain her emotions.

He rubbed the back of his neck,"Well, he does get kind of hotheaded when he's mad. Get it... he's a firebender and he's..." Sokka stopped the joke as he heard no reaction from the other side. "Okay I admit, not my best work Mai."

"I would say, for you that was probably on par," she returned with a smirk she knew no one would see.

He started to laugh, "Now Mai, that was funny. You can be pretty humorous if you put your mind to it."

"Tell your high-kicking girlfriend that," she huffed now with a sneer.

"Oka,y first I should tell Zuko, and now I should tell Suki... anyone else you want me to speak to on your behalf Mai," he offered shaking his head. "Don't get me wrong, I'll be more than happy to say whatever you want me too."

She could feel her cheeks burning as if standing in front of a hot oven "Why are you even here? Why do you persist in annoying me? I mean, she said whatever... and I said... well, whatever I said. That's the end of it," Mai declared with a wave of her hand. "I really don't need you, or your silly sister... or Zuko for that matter butting in. I can resolve my own arguments. So please, go back to your friends... and I'll go back to..."

"To where Mai? They're your friends too." he reminded her.

There was only silence.

"Okay, don't believe me... let me refresh your memory Lady Mai. When there was that battle with those colonial insurrectionists, wasn't it Suki and her girls that came to your rescue? I mean, Zuko thought you were done for... and so did I. We were all worried about you."

She took in a deep breath, "Why is my chest feeling so tight," she pondered as she listened on.

"Or the time when we had to take on those northern border bandits," he continued leaning his head back against the cool stone. "So many of them, you even ran out of throwing blades and stars. Remember, my silly sister made icicles for you to use, and boy how you used them. You were dropping them as fast as they were coming over the wall. Pretty impressive teamwork in my book."

"I-I know..." she finally admitted.

"Then Mai, why didn't you just apologize back there?" he asked in a quiet but somewhat stern voice. "Suki said she was wrong, it could have been over right then."

Nothing her boyfriend had said previously to her in all his yelling and ranting struck her like this as she leaned back against the opposite side of the tall marble pillar. "I can't say I was... I was jealous," she reasoned to herself, "...the way you held her, never raising your voice even once... even though she was wrong to begin with... just made me..."

"I don't know," she exclaimed in her usual monotone as she crossed her arms and placed a foot on the column. "I guess her face pissed me off this time."

She heard him grunt on the far side.

"Ugh... what a lame excuse," she realized within, shaking her head. "He'll never buy it."

"Now Lady Mai, that wasn't very lady-like," he replied as he inched towards her, moving ever so slowly around the massive pillar. "You sound more like a spoiled child than a beautiful... mature woman, that you appear to be."

She closed her amber eyes, letting his words nestle into her ever warming bosom, "There he goes again, saying all those foolish things," she thought, trying to still her breath. "I-I am not... a spoiled child," she refuted, cursing herself for sounding so weak.

"No, no you're most definitely not," he whispered into her ear as her eyes popped open in surprise at his nearness. "Especially not in that dress. No one could ever mistake you for a child," he sighed deeply, letting his eyes freely roam over her.

"M-my Lord... why do you stare at me so," she asked as she crossed her arms over her breast, and looked demurely away.

"I've wanted to stare at you from the first moment I saw you today," he admitted candidly with a half-smile. "Won't you, walk for me... my Lady Mai?"

"Sleep Aang," she said in a hushed, soothing voice. "I'll make sure your rest is sweet. A pleasant time for such a noble soul as yours."

As she deftly let her fingers grip him, the pressure points along his shoulder and neck began to relax and the Avatar drifted once again into unconsciousness. His head gently rolled back upon the large, light blue pillow, sinking soundly into it. The serenely peacefully look told her that he was resting comfortably now.

Lili smiled seeing his still boyish face, even though the faint shadow of a beard was forming. "Just a silly young man aren't you," she said in a soft voice. "So why do you make my heart beat so fast? I've known lots of men, both young and old... but you, you're different."

The countess pulled back the blanket. She focused on the rise and fall of his chest as she checked the stress of the bindings. They did not appear to be too constricting, and they were still dry. "He is breathing more regularly now," she accessed with a smile. "He seems to be recovering very quickly." She covered him back up and tucked it securely under his chin.

"I need to get supplies, so I can treat him. I wonder what the doctor left, maybe I can use some of it," she said out loud as she went over and read the Chief Physicians script on mixing the medicinal 'tea'. "This is shit," Lili commented as she shook her head with a short sigh before picking it up and proceeding to the restroom. The sound of the water in the commode heralded the end of the potion.

As Lili came back into the room, she found herself staring once more at the young Adonis. He seemed to exude a strength and vitality even in this weakened state.

The young woman had to shake her head vehemently to break the spell. "Get a hold of yourself," she thought closing her emerald eyes tightly. "You are not his heart's desire... and apparently will never be! Does he consider me an... an older woman I wonder? Like an auntie? You're not that old. I'm only a couple of years older than that waterbender he's been having relations with," she confidently told herself. "So surely, he must like older women."

Her bright green eyes opened slowly at the revelation. "He is the Avatar, hundreds of lifetimes in a this young man's body. Does his real age matter all that much?" the voice continued inside her head. "Besides, we have a lot more in common than even he and cousin. He's nomad and I'm a nomad. Who is better than me to be his companion... his consort? What a great honor to usher in the return of the air nomads through my womb! This has to be destiny, my destiny. Like Auntie Wu told me, 'A nation now gone, will you help birth!' Surely this is what she meant!"

"Yesss," Lili hissed slowly, "...who better? A nation, through me."

She started to slowly approach the bed, "No," she said as she stopped midway. "I would be betraying my cousin. It would break her heart... especial since they have already... joined as man and woman! I can't do this. I... just can't." she cried covering her face with both hands, "They love each other so much. I remember, you are her man and your heart is only hers, so be gentle with my songbird. She looks so tough, yet she's so fragile. I hope that waterbender taught you well on how to be with a new woman. She seems to have recovered from her first... breaking."

The young airbender groaned, as if in response to Lili's heartbreaking advice, before snuggling back into his pillow.

The Chief Lady soon regained her composure as she went to the small writing desk beside the bed. "The supplies... yes, stay focused," she ordered herself as she started to write out a list of herbs and instruments. It took the herbalist longer than usual as she battled her lust and emotions. "That should do it," she finally said as she double-checked the list, making sure she hadn't missed anything. She then proceeded to the front room and rang for a steward.

The green uniformed servant entered with a bow, "Yes, your Majesty?"

"Go to the apothecary and personally bring to me, without delay, everything on this list. Also make sure the acupuncture needles are new. I don't trust the reused ones," she ordered in her usually, calm manner as she handed him the rolled list, sealed with her signet.

The steward took the scroll, noting the urgency in her demeanor that betrayed her voice. "Yes my Countess. Will you also require the Acupuncturist?"

She shook her head, "No, that will not be necessary. I will be administering the treatments myself," she informed him, not giving him eye contact. "I want to ensure it is done correctly."

"Of course your Majesty," he replied with a bow. "I will have all for you as quickly as possible." Instead of turning to leave, he seemed to hesitate.

Lili now looked at him, "Sir, is there something amiss... something you did not understand?"

He bowed even further, "Eh, no your Majesty. All was very clear, but my damnable curiosity has gotten the better of me."

His boldness made her smile... a bit. "Then sate it and state your question sir, so you may attend to the matter at hand."

He straightened, "Thank you my Countess for gracing such an old fool. Is all this for the young Avatar in there, I heard tale he was hurt pretty terribly in a brawl with the palace guards... blindsided they said."

Lili raised an eyebrow, almost biting her lip over the distorted rumor. "While this is for him, please tell all he was injured in a simple accident. But, why did you want to know sir?"

"Excuse my ill-manners countess," he apologized with yet another bow."We all have heard of the Avatar's injury and were concerned is all. It brings great comfort to know that you are looking after him as his attendant. Your skills as both a healer and a courtesan are well-known throughout the palace. Who better to care of the Avatar than you... the Countess Lili Soo Hahn."

Lili bowed her head, "Thank you for your vote of confidence. I will do my all to revive both his body and spirit."

The steward could not refrain from smiling, "And I gladly would trade places with him in the twinkle of an eye for such care," he sighed with longing smile.

Her look softened, "Do you not have a wife?" she asked in a somewhat sultry tone.

"Aye madame, and she has been good to me these past 20 or nigh years," he stated as he started to talk plainly. "Still, I hear that a single night with the Countess Soon Haan is more than any common man could ever imagine!"

She laughed lightly, "Now you speak as a fool. The Countess Soo Hahn is just a woman... just like all others. Many, like your wife, are far better than she. Now... go get me what I have requested and then go home. Remember how good that woman has been to you and make that your dream sir."

The man bowed deeply as his face flushed brightly, "Many pardons your Majesty. Forgive this old fool who speaks too freely. Truly... I forgot my place. Please do not discharge me!" he begged dropping to his knees.

"I'm not discharging you," Lili told him with a gentle smile, placing a hand on his shoulder, "I am rewarding you for such an honest and lovely compliment. Some time with a good woman will surely cleanse your mind and heart of your silly notions. Your wife sounds like such a person."

The twinkle in the man's eyes told her she had struck a nerve as he nodded and hurried from the room.

"Will anyone think of me that way in 20 years?" she asked herself as she walked back into the bedroom.

Lili looked over at the still snoozing monk. He had started to drool now, but somehow she saw it as… cute.

"Ahhh... he looks like a moose-lion cub, all cuddly," she sighed as clasped her hands to her breast.

She stared for a moment longer, "Okay enough dreaming, keep it professional," she reminded herself, knowing that she had a tremendously busy and tempting night ahead.

About an hour had past before the knock at the outer door sounded. Her ingredients and items had arrived. An embroidered, leather pack held the long, thin, needles she would be using later. Lili meticulously arranged them on the low table in the front room as she listened closely for him.

"It won't be long now," she thought, letting experience guide her. "He'll be waking..."

"Uhhhhhhh," the long moan sounded from the adjoining room as Aang started groaning in pain.

The countess stood gracefully and faced the open door of the bedroom. "I'm coming your Grace," she said even as her heart began to race in anitcipation.

"Wa-walk... for you? Are you insane? What are you talking about," she asked through gritted teeth, staring into his mischievous blue eyes. "Wh-why would you even ask me such a thing?"

He winked at her, "Come on Mai, Suki told me why all of you were dressed up like this. That stupid bet between my sister and Toph and how you two got dragged into it."

Mai rolled her golden eyes, "Gah, can't that girl keep her mouth shut about anything? Has she no shame? To go and tell her boyfriend..."

Sokka was once again in her face, "What... tell him that you dressed up in flimsy clothes and that you all traipsed down a hallway filled with men, just to turn their heads... tell them that?" he asked coyly. "Or should I say... his supposedly modest lady, strutted her stuff to the point that she had them begging out there. Yep, I heard you had every crotch at attention."

As quickly as she raised her hand to slap him, he grab hold of her wrist, pinning it to the pillar beside her. His cheek was beside hers as his body pressed forward. Mai tried to shake him off, but strangely again, her strength seemed to fail her. She now felt a hand running up her thigh along the slit that barely covered her hips.

"Do you... take... your revenge now... regent," she asked in short gasps, continuing to feel his fingers trace up and down her bare leg.

Sokka pulled back enough to look at her blushing face and tightly closed eyes,"Revenge? Is this what you think I'm doing this for Mai?"

She opened her eyes to meekly look into his. "Why else? The other night with your sister, and now the fight with your mistress... and to make matters worse, my boyfriend spied her..."

Sokka smiled strangely, "Mai, it's nothing Zuko hasn't seen before. We've traveled together and there were times... some unavoidable, we've all seen each other. Okay, no biggie."

The news was a bit shocking to to her as she thought suddenly about Zuko and Katara bathing toghter. She as quickly dispelled it. "Th-then why, and why do you touch my thigh like this... as if, as if..." her words failed her as her head fell upon his shoulder, her teeth gripping the fabric of his tunic.

He was mesmerized by her behavior as her long leg rose against his side. He could endure the mystery no further as he slowly allowed his wandering hand to drift under her thigh and advance to grasp her bare buttock.

"Soo…soo... why," she asked again, her eyes seemingly calling out to him as her gasps deepened each time he flexed his hand.

"This is why," he stated, breathing equally as fierce. "I was jealous... jealous of all those other eyes on you. Jealous that they saw you like this... jealous that..."

She put a finger to his lips with her free hand. "Shhh... you're getting too loud my lord. Some... some one might hear you... and see..." she gasped, feeling his touch move to her center. She raised her leg further in response.

He nodded his understanding as his sought out her neck. Light pecks and nips were causing her to shudder as tingles ran down her spine. She rolled her hips and began to sway as if dancing against him to the beat of his fingers now playing inside her. He had let go her other hand and she hugged him tightly. He had found that place that many times eluded Zuko with ease. Her body now heaving and twisting as her mind seemed to be twirling in the wave of this climactic passion. She was panting closer together, deep and sensual as she parted her lips.

"Oh by Agni, how am I not going to scream out!" she thought in panic. "This is far too good!"

As the moment seized her, Sokka covered her mouth fully with his own. He joyously took in each agonizing groan of ecstasy that she released, until she wearily collapsed back unto the post, seething heavily as she hungrily looked at him.

"Huh... I guess, I went a bit too far... maybe?" he said with a tense smile, slowly removing his very damp hand.

She swallowed hard, her heart sinking in her chest. "Well, I hope... you are satisfied now. Like... like I said before, I would not resist, and so... as you can see, I haven't. I hope, I was... adequate, my lord," she exclaimed, inhaling sharply.

She was swept up into his embrace, "No, no, no Mai. This was not about anything that happened before, I promise you. Please believe me. I was just taken up by how beautiful you were in that dress. I was tempted beyond all thought and when you were so close, I just lost my mind," he explained in a tearful voice. "Plus, well, I wasn't lying about being jealous either."

Mai never knew she could go from dark to light so quickly. She was actually smiling into his chest and taking in his every word. "Sokka... why are you jealous of me? I'm not your girlfriend."

She felt his squeeze tighten, "Because I'm greedy Mai. I know you and Zuko have a thing going... an-and I really shouldn't have touched you like I did... taking advantage of you."

"It's okay," she quickly said, recalling his expert touch.

"No, no Mai... it's not okay, you don't have to try and make this less than it was or spare my feelings. I got carried away and took advantage of a sweet, helpless girl. I can't trust myself around you. Like I said, I got jealous just hearing about those other guys watching you like that. I wanted to go and bust all their faces!"

She started to laugh, "My lord, when have I ever been helpless... or ever tried to spare someone else's feelings. You should know me better by now," she stated, still lying upon his chest.

Sokka raised an eyebrow, "Uh... then why did... uuh... Mai, the whole leggy thing, what was that all about, and why did you let me... uh, well, you know," he inquired, speaking in a hushed, low voice.

Once again she felt her face grow warm, "Well... you see... my lord, I've not been totally honest with..."

"SOKKA! Where are you?"

"Shit! That's Suki... she's looking for me!" he whispered angling them away from the voice around the pillar. "If she see's us like this, I'm dead meat!"

"Well, I suggest... you let go of me then," Mai exclaimed pushing out of the all too comfortable embrace.

As he stepped away, he rubbed his head, "Oh yeah, good idea. I-I guess that would help. Uh... I'll go back towards Aang's room, why don't you go and meet up with Suki, that way she'll not get suspicious or anything," he suggested, pointing in the direction of the approaching voice.

As she was about to leave, he took hold of her face and planted a scorching kiss upon her .

"Sorry... I told you, I can't trust myself around you," he chuckled as he scurried back towards the Avatar's room.

Mai touched her lips, "Damn that was good," she thought as she sucked them in, her eyes half closed.

"Oh Mai... there you are, Zuko's been looking for you. Have you seen Sokka around here?" Suki asked, shocking her back to full consciousness.

It took her moment to register the question... "Uh... my lord... uh... Sokka... the buffoon, uh, wha... know where he is? No, why, why would I know?" she stammered covering her eyes.

"Oh... Zuko and I thought he was out here trying to get you to calm down. You know he's forever the peacemaker," the Fan Master said with a smile.

Mai took in a deep breath, "He was here, briefly. Asking about why I didn't apologize and such. We had a bit of an... exchange, and then he left. Simple as that. I don't know where he dragged his fragile ego away to lick his wounds at though," she said with a half-smile.

Suki shrugged, "I tried to warn him just to leave you be. Sorry Mai, but he'll learn in time that he can't fix everything and everybody," she remarked with a roll of her eyes. "Let's just go back to Toph's suite, I'm sure Zuko is starting to worry about you."

Mai appeared bewildered, "But I thought you were looking for Sokka?"

Suki shook her head, "Not right now. If he's in a mood, it's best if he broods alone. He would only want to jump my bones to make himself feel better... if you know what I mean," she exclaimed with a wink.

"I don't know how jumping any part of you would make him feel better," Mai muttered under her breath.

Suki's jaw tightened, 'What did you say?"

The dark lady smiled tightly, "I said... I guess that would make him feel better," she lied, weighing the options of a fight under these conditions.

The Fan Master studied her for a moment, "I guess it would, but I prefer our love making to have mutual motives," she explained. "It's getting darker. Fortunately for me, that's not an issue Mai. I can see pretty good even under this lighting, so you can depend on me," she said extending a hand.

Mai thought again about her circumstances before taking the warrior's hand, she really didn't have a keen night vision, "Thank you... Suki."

As the two navigated through the older section silently, Suki nimbly led them through and over every obstacle and passage until they emerged just a few meters from the princess' private hall.

"See... got us back, all safe and sound, as promised," Suki declared, letting Mai move ahead.

"Thank you once more Suki, I truly appreciate your help. I think I would be still stumbling around back there in that rubble if it weren't for you," she admitted.

"Ah, think nothing of... but huh Mai?"

"What is it Suki?"

"Mai… the back of your dress... did you sit in something, wet?"

The tall, dark lady turned back to look at her, "No... why do you ask?"

Suki pointed at the back of her delicate dress,"Well, there's this huge stain right there, under your ass.. and you're a total mess, Mai."