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Just One Day
Lee stood perched a top a boulder, enjoying the breeze as he looked over the plain. It was a few days since his little encounter with Toph and if his gut was right he would run into her again real soon.
Maybe this time I won't get hurt. He thought while rubbing his bruised ribs. Not likely though. With a smile Lee fell backwards on the boulder and just lay in the sun awhile. While he was lying there he contemplated going to the nearby city. Then he felt the boulder begin to tremble. As Lee sat up a pillar of rock shot out of the earth and almost slammed into his face.
"What are you doing here?" Toph's voice called out as Lee jumped off the boulder to avoid the pillar. "Are you following me?" Lee turned around to face Toph who stood poised to strike.
"Actually no." Lee said putting his hands in his pockets. "Would you like me to start?"
"No." Toph said not dropping her stance. "I want you to get out of here."
"Now what did I do to earn such hostility?" Lee asked as he spread his arms in a questioning gesture.
"You're an assassin. We're at war, and it's your job to kill me," Toph explained. "None of those really inspire confidence."
"Yes, I'm an assassin." Lee said, Man I hate that word. "Yes our people are at war, but not us personally. And killing you specifically isn't in "my" job description." Toph wasn't convinced. "Alright how about this you spend one day with me, and if at the end you think I'm nothing but a cold hearted assassin who's trying to get inside your head by acting compassionate to you, I'll avoid you like the plague."
Toph sensed his offer was sincere so she dropped her guard slightly. "What about our duties?" Toph asked.
"Hmm you're heading to one of your camps, right?" Lee asked as Toph nodded. "I doubt one days difference will matter that much. Just tell the truth."
"What, I decided to spend a day with the enemy rather then get here as quickly as possible?" Toph asked sarcastically, bring a huge grin to Lee's face.
"No, while you were on your way you ran into an assassin and were delayed," Lee responded. "As for me, I'll consider this part of my mission."
Toph rolled her blind eyes and held up one finger. "One day. That's all."
The two made their way to the nearby city, Linchu, and went throughout the city, mostly looking at random things, while they talked. The two talked about their past adventures. Toph told him about the time she and Katara tried to pull the "ultimate scam" while they sat down for lunch.
"So let me see if I got this straight." Lee said once Toph had finished. "You were supposed to get "betrayed" by Katara and get taken into jail while she collected the reward. Then you use your metalbending to break out of the jail cell and get out scott free."
"Would've worked too, if it weren't for Combustion Man." Toph said as she sipped her tea. Lee started laughing earning a confused look from Toph. "What's so funny?"
"Two things." Lee said rubbing his brow, "One 'Combustion Man's' name was Zheng I believe." Toph nodded remembering when Zuko had told her about him. "And two, your scam was amateurish at best."
"What!?" Toph asked indignantly.
"I mean there was no build up to the capture." Lee explained, "If it were me I would've milked the scam for several days, do several scams with your 'Partner' and each time have her get more and more uncomfortable with it until her conscious gets the better of her. Then turn you in exchange for a clean slate and the reward."
As Lee explained his method Toph crossed her arms. "Alright then wise guy, if you're such a great scammer prove it. Do a scam right now."
"You mean besides the one I'm doing right now." Lee joked, "Alright give me a minute." Lee turned around in his seat and started scanning the crowd, he eventually found a guy who was pointing people to several locations. Formulating a plan Lee turned back to his table and started mixing several of the sauces on the table. Eventually Lee had a red mixture that he smeared across his hand. He also tore his tore his shirt, ripped off his sleeve and messed up his hair. He then got out of his seat and waited until the guy was moving his arm, he sprinted forward into the man's arm and fell on the ground. As the man moved to help him up Lee smeared the red paste under his nose.
"What the hell man!" Lee yelled, "I think you broke my nose!" Lee then continued to exclaim how he didn't know how the day could've gotten worse. He then listed off several tragedies that had "occurred" over the course of the day, including having all his money stolen. By the end of his tantrum the poor victim of the scam had offered pretty much all the money he had on him. Lee then walked away before reappearing at the table a few minutes later with a new shirt. "You should've seen the scam I pulled to get this," he said, gesturing to the shirt. Toph only smiled. As they left the restaurant Lee asked the person he scammed for directions. After he received them Lee paid the man what he scammed from him.
As they walked away Lee started fidgeting with his nose. "You know, I think I might've actually broken my nose." Toph laughed.
Six days later.
After a few times Toph had the process memorized she would either sneak off while everyone was asleep or come up with some excuse to go off to Linchu. She would meet Lee somewhere and the two to just go around the city looking for things to do. Tonight was the last night before Lee had to report back to Home Base. So the two decided to sit down at a restaurant for a late dinner and talk.
"So basically I lived in the lap of luxury, had all my needs met, had over protective parents, and not a single friend until I met the others." Toph concluded as she finished telling Lee about her life before she met Aang and the others.
"Heh heh," Lee chuckled "That's basically the opposite of my life."
"Hmm." Toph said tilting her head, "You know I think that's the only thing you've said about yourself."
"Really?" Lee asked realizing that the last week he's let Toph talk about herself without offering any insight to himself. "All right, what do you want to know?"
"Let's start with your life before you became an assassin." Toph suggested."Well I was born in Ba Sing Se. My family was rather poor and we had to live in the poor district. On the up side I had plenty of friends. I was pretty good at Earth Soccer if I recall. I remember this one time my friends and I were playing a game and one of us kicked it through a window. We were right about to get out of there faster than a wolf bat out of hell when this old man showed up and told us something about restoring lost honor. That's when the guy living there came out and started yelling. The old man got out of there faster than we did." The two laughed for a bit before Lee stopped.
"What's wrong?" Toph asked.
"It wasn't long after that that the Coup happened." Lee answered, "That's about when I was recruited into the Black Lotus. I was ten at the time. Since then I was trained as a killer." Lee slammed his fist onto the table, almost snapping it in half. "I've gone from a good kid to bloody killer."
Toph reached out and wrapped her hand around his. "You're not a killer," she said. "A killer would've attacked me on sight a week ago." Lee stayed quiet. "Come join us. You don't belong with the Black Lotus. Your heart is too gentle."
"For the last ten years I was trained to be a heartless killer." Lee rising from the table, "I won't change in just a week."
Toph stood up to and moved beside him. "You're right, you won't change in a week," Toph said placing her palm on his cheek. "Because you haven't changed at all from who you were." With that, she gave him a light punch on the arm.
"Is that how you show affection?" Lee asked with a small smile.
"No, this is." Toph said before she gave him a light kiss on the cheek. The two walked off unaware of Ursa's eyes that had been watching the whole week.
When Toph returned to the camp in the morning she heard a loud roar in the air. Next thing she knew some one dropped onto the ground next to her. She recognized the man as Aang's friend Tengu. She was about to say hello when Zuko's dragon landed behind them. Without a word Zuko leaped off his dragon grabbed Tengu by his shirt and led him to his tent.
"What's going on?" Toph asked as she followed.
Lee made a reference to how everytime he's seen by Toph he gets hurt, usually by her. This is the first chapter in which events span over a week.
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