Papaya purchase
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A Bird Could Love a Fish



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ABCLAF Logo This Kataang one-shot takes place in The Fortuneteller.

Chapter Thirty-One: Flowers

He's frustrated, and he knows exactly why.

She groans at the fruit merchant. "Papaya, please."

From the corner of his eyes—aloof, aloof, you've got to be aloof—he watches her pay for it. All right. Time to show her my skills.

Mentally bracing himself as if going to battle against the Fire Lord himself, he veers towards her, careful not to seem too . . . out of place.

He has to . . . act cool.

He has to . . . radiate cool.

He has to . . . be cool.

"So . . . papaya." The words roll off his tongue with an almost oily feel, and he tries not to gag. I don't sound like myself, not at all.

She glances at him, and he almost starts to bring his characteristic smile onto his face. Then he abruptly stops the faint beginnings of the grin, making his mouth twitch. Can't smile, Aang . . . you can't be yourself . . . you've got to be like Sokka . . . you've got to be aloof . . .

"Mm-hm," she answers, turning it over in her hands. "Would you like some?"

Wow, she's even more aloof than I am. Does that mean—?

"You know me," he answers, lazily picking up a blood orange. "I don't really care what I eat."

She shrugs. "Okay, then. See you later . . ."

Sighing, he takes a bite of the fruit; the serrated peel becomes stuck in his throat as the acidic juices bring tears to his eyes. Choking, he spits it out; the taste is not his style.

His style.

"Maybe aloof isn't my style," he utters, more to taste the feel of the words than to actually say it, because he already knows the answer.

Of course aloof isn't his style.

But what is?

"Oh . . . ! A panda lily!"

The cry makes him turn, curious to see the goings-on. A young man, robed in muted pink and vibrant white, embraces a beautiful woman clad in green; in her hands, the woman holds a lovely flower by its emerald stem. From a fragile bud, the lily has opened into a parade of delicate black-and-white wisps that curl so carefully, almost as if designed to perfection.

He grins at his bat lemur, who cocks his head. "Did you see that?" he whispers urgently, knowing exactly what he will do.

His feet light upon the ground, he Airbend catapults himself onto the slanted roof of the fruit stand, moving nimbly across the tiles until he makes his way across the village; he leaps down, alighting on his toes, and forces his way into the couple's embrace, pushing them apart. Ignoring the surprised looks on their faces, he leans over, feet in the air, to point at the panda lily.

He grins, and he quietly congratulates himself on his inherent genius.

"Excuse me. Where can a guy find one of those things?"

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