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|By Agent Slash||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Agent Slash||Action/Adventure, Romance||PG-PG13||Good||N/A|
|Love and Secrets|
It was night in Hu Xin City. People of all kinds walked down the streets of the city or traveled by carriage to their destinations. Although it was night, the city was lit up. Street lights shined all throughout the city, emitting a yellow, city-wide glow. In one part of the hotel, Suki and her Kyoshi Warriors were staying in a hotel about a mile away from the manufacturing plant which they had barely escaped with their lives. Suki sat in her room thinking to herself. I let him get away. I can't believe I let him get away. I won't let him get away again. The next time I see him I'll kill him... for good this time. A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. She quickly got up and opened the door. She was surprised to see the rest of Team Avatar standing before her.
"Nice to see you, again, Suki," said Sokka.
"Hey, guys. Yeah, it's nice to see you, too. I wasn't expecting you," Suki replied.
"Sorry, but we didn't have time to send a note," Sokka joked.
"So, what did you find out?" asked Aang.
Suki chose her next words carefully. She didn't want to alarm them by telling them about Hong Shu. "Yeah, some guy named Yakone is manufacturing the armor, but their factory kind of exploded," she explained, remembering the name of Hong Shu's henchman.
"So, it looks like you were tight, Twinkle Toes," Toph said.
"Well, we can deal with it after our Ember Island trip."
Suddenly, Suki noticed someone standing in the very back of the group. Someone she, at first, did not recognize. After a few more seconds, it clicked. "Ling? Ling, is that you?"
The earthbender lifted his head to look at his old friend. "Hey, Suki," he said, softly.
"Wow, it's been so long! How are you?" Suki asked.
"I'm fantastic," Ling replied, a hint of cynicism in his voice.
Suki was a bit puzzled at her friend's odd behavior. "Are you okay?" She asked.
"Didn't you hear me?" Ling asked.
Suki decided to address her friend at another time and thought it best not to upset him now.
"So, all we have to do now is pick up Zuko," said Katara.
"Wait, what about the other Kyoshi Warriors?" asked Bo.
"I suppose we're done here. I'll tell them all to go back to Kyoshi Island," said Suki.
"Great! Now let's take off!" Aang said, excitedly.
The room cleared out as everyone left the room. As everyone left, Suki stayed put. Just then, Miki and Ning approached the door and peered in at their leader. "Is everything okay?" asked Ning.
"Stay here – all of you. Scout the city for any traces of Hong Shu," Suki ordered. "Miki, you're in charge."
"Yes, ma'am," the two Kyoshi Warriors said simultaneously.
Suki then left the room and the other two warriors went back to their rooms. She walked through the hotel and down to the lobby where she showed herself out. As she exited the hotel, she saw almost everyone had already boarded Appa. "Are you sure Appa can hold all of us, Aang?" Suki asked.
"Well, I thought you might want to travel differently this time," Aang said.
Suki heard the monstrous thunder of footsteps booming from behind the building. She then saw a giant eel hound emerge from behind and run up to her. The creature licked her face, happily.
"Aw, he's happy to see you," Bo said, mounted on top of the eel hound.
"I'm happy to see you, too, Feng!" Suki said.
"Alright, let's take off," Aang stated. "Yip, yip, Appa." And with that, Appa took off. Suki climbed onto Feng, whipped his reigns, and went off as well.
Zuko ducked as a sizzling fire blast roared towards him. He got back up and fired two more at his opponent. His opponent counter-attacked with a burst of fire from his mouth. He then generated a bolt of lightning and fired it directly at Zuko. The Fire Lord caught the bolt and redirected it into the air. "I think that's enough for today," Zuko said.
"I agree. I am getting too old for this, you know," replied his opponent.
"Thanks for coming down here, uncle," said Zuko.
"My pleasure," Iroh replied. "By the way, you redirected that lightning like a true master. It is good to see you have improved so much as a firebender."
Zuko chuckled. "And to think you once said it was too dangerous to practice with lightning."
Iroh chuckled as well. "That's true, I did. Now, let's have some tea, shall we?"
Just then, a roar was heard from above. Zuko and Iroh looked up and saw Appa flying overhead. "I guess it's time for our trip," Zuko said.
"And I guess that means I will have to return to Ba Sing Se soon," Iroh added.
Appa landed and, just moments later, Feng came zipping up to them as well. Everyone dismounted their animals and greeted their friends.
"Hey, Zuko!" Aang said.
"Hey, guys. It's good to see you," Zuko replied.
"And it's nice to see you, too, General Iroh," Katara said.
"It is nice to see all of you," said Iroh.
"So, are you ready to go, Zuko?" asked Katara.
"Yeah, my bags are over there. Let me grab them," Zuko said.
"Wait!" Iroh shouted. Everyone froze and was anxious to hear what the Grandmaster Lotus had to say. "You can't leave without having some nice, soothing ginseng tea first," Iroh stated.
Everyone laughed at Iroh's words, and the Dragon of the West had a good laugh himself. "Alright, uncle, we can have a cup of tea before we go," Zuko replied.
"Excellent! I'll put on a pot," Iroh stated.
Team Avatar was en route to Ember Island. About an hour had passed since they had departed from the Fire Nation capital and most of the team was flying above the ocean, while Suki and Bo rode Feng through it.
"So, Ling, what have you been doing ever since we lost contact with you?" asked Katara.
Ling remained silent.
"Hello? Anybody in there?" Sokka asked, waving his hand in front of Ling's face.
"I'm sure he's just been busy. Nothing any of us should worry about," Rong insisted.
Without even looking up, Ling spoke. "You know what they say about Ember Island, don't you?" he asked Rong. "Ember Island reveals the true you."
Rong gulped nervously upon hearing this.
"I can definitely testify to that," Zuko commented.
"Hey, are you okay, Rong? Your heartbeat is speeding up and you seem nervous," said Toph.
"No, no, I'm just fine," Rong replied.
"If there's something you want to tell us then please don't hesitate," Ai said.
"I said I'm fine," Rong said defensively.
"Alright, alright, no reason to get upset," Aang said.
Then it came into sight at last. "There it is. Ember Island," Katara said. "Remember the trip we took last year, Aang?"
"Yeah," Aang answered. "That was where I proposed to you."
"I bet this one will be twice as fun and twice as romantic," Katara said.
"What makes you say that?" asked Aang.
"Call it a hunch," Katara replied.
"In other words we all need to expect twice the sappiness," Toph remarked.
Most of the gaang chuckled at this. Aang steered Appa down towards the beach, aiming for Zuko's beach house. Down below, Suki and Bo steered Feng in the same direction. Appa landed and Feng crawled ashore. The gaang dismounted then proceeded to dismount the beasts. "Alright, let the vacation begin!" Sokka said, excitedly.
Miki and Ning were at the hospital in which some of Hong Shu's men were staying. Their mission: to find out Hong Shu's whereabouts. "Why didn't we bring the other warriors along?" Ning asked.
"Because they just would've gotten in our way," Miki replied. "Besides Suki told you and I to deal with this; she knows we can handle it on our own."
"I guess so," said Ning.
"Right, so come on," Miki ordered. They walked through the front door and went to the receptionist at the desk. "Hi, we're looking for our friends. Can we see them?" Miki requested.
"Sure, but not for too long. Visiting hours are from 7 o'candle in the morning to 8 o'candle at night," the receptionist replied.
"Alright, thank you," Ning said.
"I just need to know who you're going to see," the receptionist added.
"Oh, um, it was some of those men in the explosion over at the manufacturing plant down by the docks," Miki responded.
"Can you tell me their names?"
Both women were thinking of a way to answer the man's question. "Oh, well, I really shouldn't. My friend here is very emotional about certain things and it would cause her a great deal of pain if I said their names," Ning said.
"Please just let us up," Miki sniffled.
"Alright, alright," the man replied. "Rooms 33 through 87 on the fourth floor."
"Thank you so much," Ning said. The second the two of them entered the stairway, Miki dropped the act.
"Don't ever make me do that again. That felt disgusting," Miki said.
"Sorry, it was the first thing I could think of," Ning replied.
Team Avatar was relaxing on the beach. Everyone, with the exception of Ling, was enjoying themselves.
While Suki was sunbathing, she heard Sokka's voice call out to her. "Hey, Suki, come look at this!" She got up and walked over to her boyfriend.
"What is it, Sokka?" she asked.
"Ta-da!" Sokka said, revealing a sand sculpture of Suki's head. "What do you think? I've gotten better haven't I?"
"Wow, Sokka, I'm impressed. Thank you," she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Impressed with Toph, of course," she added.
Sokka's face turned red.
"Sorry, snoozles. It looks like she didn't buy it," Toph remarked, lying in a chair.
"It's okay. It was sweet of you to try," Suki said.
"Well, since we're all being sweet here, Toph, I suppose you'll give me my money back now?" Sokka asked.
"Wow, Sokka, you really do have a sense of humor," Toph remarked.
Sokka kicked the sand in front of him, sulked over to a different spot on the beach, and sat there.
Meanwhile, Aang and Katara were out in the ocean. "Alright, are you ready?" Katara asked her husband.
"You bet'cha!" Aang replied. "Last one to the beach has to make the other one's favorite meal."
"Then it's a good thing I know how to make egg custard tarts," Katara said.
"Alright, ready? Go!" As soon as Aang said the word, the both of them took off. Each of them formed a surfboard out of water and bent the water behind them to make waves that propelled them forward. Aang had the edge on Katara, but the Waterbender thrust her arms back once more to provide a more powerful push. In seconds, Katara was ahead of Aang and reached the beach. Moments later, Aang reached the beach and saw his wife smiling. "Well, I guess I better start cooking dinner," Aang said.
"Yeah, we wouldn't want to miss the annual campfire gathering," Katara added.
Just then, Rong, Ai, and Bo all emerged from the woods carrying both berries and flowers. "Wasn't that the most beautiful scenery you've ever seen?" asked Rong.
"Yes, it was breathtaking," Ai agreed.
"I can't believe I decided to come with you guys," Bo stated. "Surely I could have found something else to do up here."
"Oh, come on, Bo. Didn't you think it was beautiful?" asked Ai.
"Yeah, but it wasn't worth a three hour hike," Bo replied.
"Anyway, how long did you say you spent here?" Ai asked.
"About two years. After I ran away this was the place I stayed the longest," Rong replied.
"That's very cool. I'm so jealous," said Ai.
"What? They don't have scenery like this in Omashu?" Rong joked.
"I wish," Ai stated.
"I don't suppose one of those flowers is for me?" Ling asked, tauntingly from his chair.
Rong was visibly angered by this statement. "Alright, that's enough, Ling! I won't put up with this anymore!"
"Put up with what?" asked Bo.
"It's nothing. Never mind," said Rong.
"Alright, if you say so," said Katara.
"Hey, has anyone seen Zuko?" asked Toph. "I haven't felt him down here all day."
"I think he said he was going into town," said Suki.
"He's probably just taking a walk or something," Sokka suggested.
"You're probably right," Aang agreed. "Now, come on! Let's get everything set up for tonight!" Aang said, excitedly.
Ning and Miki had reached the fourth floor and were approaching room 33. They peered in and saw a man lying in bed with his eyes closed. The two women walked into the room and stood over him. Feeling someone else's presence, the man opened his eyes and gasped as he saw them.
"It's alright; we're not here to harm you," said Ning.
"We just want to know a few things," Miki explained. "Do you know where your boss went?"
"I don't know nothing," the man said. "He didn't tell me."
"Are you lying to us?" Miki asked.
"No, I swear!" the man insisted.
Miki looked over at the man's life support system. "You know, I doubt they're expecting all of you to survive," Miki said.
Ning knew what her friend was planning and looked over in fear. "Miki, you're not really going to-"
"Relax, honey, I've got this under control," Miki assured her. "Now you've got three seconds to tell us where he went or I'm pulling the plug," she explained. "One... two... thr-"
"He's got a base in the western Earth Kingdom; it's in the United Republic, near the Su Oku River. He was going to go there after we was finished here! That's all I know, I swear!"
"Thanks for the info," Miki said, taking her hand away from the life support machine. She then proceeded to leave the room with Ning following close behind.
"You weren't seriously going to kill him were you?" Ning asked.
"Of course not. I was just counting on the fact that he would be scared," Miki answered.
The second the two warriors walked out of the hospital, Miki was jerked upward. In seconds, Ning was jerked into the air as well. The two of them were caught by some kind of wire. As soon as they stopped moving, they saw two people dressed in armor equipped with masks that slid down their faces. "So, you beat us here," said one of them, a woman with blond hair.
"So that means you can tell us where Hong Shu is. Tell us now!" commanded the second one, a man with silver hair.
"He's got a base near the Su Oku River!" Ning said.
The two ninjas looked at each other and nodded. Then they lowered the two closer to the ground and dropped them. "Stay out of our way!" the woman said.
The two Kyoshi Warriors got back up and looked up at where they had just been. "What was all of that about?" Miki inquired.
It was night on Ember Island. Team Avatar was gathered around the campfire down on the beach.
"Wow, eight years we've been doing this," Suki said.
"And it's the first year we have a married couple with us," said Sokka.
"Alright, enough with the marriage stuff, okay?" Toph said.
"Why? Is someone nervous, because they caught the bouquet at Aang and Katara's wedding?" Sokka teased.
"I said knock it off!" Toph yelled. "You have no idea how awful I felt when that happened!"
"Why would you feel awful, Toph?" asked Aang.
"Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but love and I don't exactly have a good history," Toph replied.
"What do you mean?" asked Rong.
"Well, my first crush didn't exactly work out very well," Toph started.
"Who was your first crush?" Sokka asked.
Toph blushed. "None of your business," she said, hoping Sokka didn't notice her tone. "Anyway, after that I... I can't say it."
"You mean Kato, don't you?" asked Katara.
"I told you never to mention his name again!" Toph screamed.
"Whoa, whoa, guys, let's not get too angry with each other here," Aang insisted.
"Yes, Katara, I do mean Kato. Ever since what he did to me I've never been able to trust anyone on that level ever again. Are you happy now?"
"I'm sorry, Toph. I didn't mean to intrude," said Katara.
"Yeah, well maybe you should have just kept your thoughts to yourself," Toph said. "I just can't stand to her people talking about how happy they are to be in love or even talk about the word in general."
"I hear you, sister," Ling said.
"Okay, I can't take this anymore! What in the name of Shouwei the Necklace Guardian is going on between you two?!" Bo asked.
"Okay, fine! You want the truth? I'll give you the truth! Ling and I broke up years ago! After we moved to Republic City, Ling became more and more depressed over time. I could never figure out why. Then one day he just left! I was heartbroken," Rong elaborated.
Ling leapt out of his seat. "You lying wretch!" he spat. "I became more depressed, because I couldn't take all of the evil in Republic City!"
"Evil? Republic City doesn't have that high of a crime rate," Aang protested.
"Oh, sure, it's all cleaned up now, but during it's first few years it was chaotic. I was a pacifist who only wanted to see everyone get along with as little violence as possible and witnessing what I saw every day in that city was unbearable. I started to see the world for what it really is: a place where evil outweighs good. The amount of good in the world cannot combat the amount of evil. Then, after Rong and I tried for months to work at our relationship, I guess she had decided enough was enough and she ended it."
"You think I wanted to?!" Rong shouted. "You know I never wanted to say this, but for years you've sounded just like Shuang!"
"I am nothing like Shuang! Shuang was a psychotic killer! I am a vigilant recluse!" Ling shot back.
"You know what, Rong? You sound just like someone that I used to know," Zuko spoke up.
Everyone turned to face the Fire Lord.
"What?" Rong asked.
"Your boyfriend was going through a tough time and you guys' relationship was a little bumpy so you decided to just end it all even though it would have all gotten better. You know who that sounds like to me?" Zuko asked.
"Are you talking about Mai?" asked Suki.
Zuko nodded in response.
"You have no right to judge me, Zuko," Rong said.
"People like you think it's best to end it all, but you never think of the consequences. For instance, what the man you're leaving behind might feel like after you're gone. Now that's a bit frightening if you feel that way if you've never felt that way about anyone else before," said Zuko. "Maybe everyone else who you've known since you were a kid is either gone or hates you and wants to kill you and you just want to find comfort in that one, special person you have."
Rong was silent.
"Leave her alone, Zuko," said Ai.
"You know, guys, not all love is bad," said Sokka. "Sometimes you think that you've lost the woman you'll love forever, but then you find out that that real special someone is waiting right around the corner in a secret ferry dock... or anywhere else. And when you find her, then you'll be happy for the rest of your life."
"Oh, Sokka, that's so sweet of you," said Suki.
"Yeah, I mean, Suki, when we shared that kiss back in Gaoling all of those years ago, I thought for sure we were destined to be together, but now I know there's someone else out there waiting for me," said Bo.
"Yeah, see? Bo agrees with-" Sokka froze. "Time out; what was that?"
Bo realized he had just made a big mistake. "Um, no, no, I didn't mean – no, it wasn't like that!" Bo insisted.
"Yeah, it was an accident!" Suki said.
"Oh, sure, I'm sure your lips just accidentally pressed up against his!" Sokka said.
"I swear it was! I got hit in the head really hard and I thought he was you!" Suki said.
"You don't have to lie to me!" Sokka said.
"Come on, Sokka, give her a chance," Katara said.
"Stay out of this, Katara!" Sokka yelled.
"Well, not that this hasn't been a fantastic evening, but I think I'm going to leave," Ling said, bitterly.
"I think we should all leave," said Toph.
One by one, everyone left the campfire, leaving Aang, Katara, Ai, and Momo alone.
"I guess it is true what they say. Ember Island reveals the true you," said Katara.
"You know, they aren't the only ones with a love story," Aang said.
"What do you mean?" asked Katara.
"Do you remember back when I was training with Guru Pathik in order to master the Avatar State?"
"Yeah," Katara replied.
"Well, when I was up there, I had to open all seven chakras inside my body in order for it to work and in order for my seventh chakra to open, I had to give up my feelings for you. Guru Pathik said that if I didn't I would never be able to go into the Avatar State again. I chose you over everything else."
"Aang, that is so unbelievably sweet of you," Katara said. She and Aang then embraced each other in a passionate kiss under the moonlight.
"I love you," said Aang.
"I love you," said Katara.
"Oh, sorry if we're excluding you, Ai," said Aang. The two of them turned to face Ai, but she was gone.
"Where did she go?" asked Katara.
"I don't know, but do you want to go back up to the house?" asked Aang.
"Sure," said Katara.
Bo sat by himself on the beach, staring out at the waves. The moon was shining down on the beach. He heard a chirp and felt someone walk up behind him. He recognized the chirp as Momo's and turned his head to see Ai standing behind him. "Do you mind if I join you?" she asked.
"No, I don't," Bo replied.
Ai walked closer and sat down next to her friend. "It's a beautiful night," she said.
"Yeah," said Bo.
"I know things look bleak now as far as our friendships and romantic relationships go, but don't worry. Our team has a bond that can't be broken," said Ai. "And don't worry. The woman you're looking for is just around the corner. I can feel it."
Bo turned to face his friend. "Thank you, Ai," he said. The two then embraced in each other's arms. After they let go of each other, Bo and Ai stared into each other's eyes, each of them at a loss for words. Then it was clear there was no need for words. The two of them moved in for a kiss. Then, the sound of someone's voice interrupted them . "Hey, Bo, Ai, have you seen Rong anywhere?" Zuko asked.
The two waterbenders then instantly moved their faces away from each other and looked up at Zuko. "Oh, no, we haven't," said Ai.
"Why do you ask?" asked Bo.
"I wanted to apologize. I was way out of line."
"I'm sure she'll understand. We've all been out of line tonight," Bo said.
"Well, come on, then. Let's go find her," said Ai.
"Okay," Bo said, hesitantly. Then the three of them, Momo in tow, walked off to find their friends.
On a different part of the beach, Sokka sat looking up at the moon. He then heard the sound of footsteps and turned to see Suki approaching him. "What do you want?" He asked.
"I'm sorry, Sokka. If it makes you feel any better, I told Bo that I still loved you when he finally admitted to me that he loved me. And after a while, we finally straightened things out with each other," Suki said, kneeling down next to him. "I told him that you were really brave and caring and funny and that we connected. I also told him that you and I were meant for each other."
Sokka turned his head to face her.
"Trust me, there is nothing going on between us. There never was," Suki said.
"I'm sorry," Sokka said. The two then shared a passionate kiss under the moonlight.
"Now come on. Let's go back up to the house," Suki said.
Aang and Katara were in their bedroom. No one else had entered the house. It was just the two of them alone. "Are you sure you want to do this?" asked Aang.
"Yes, I am," Katara replied.
"Alright then," Aang said. "But if something goes wrong, then tell me to stop, okay?"
"I will," Katara agreed.
The two of them then undressed, got into the bed, and got under the covers.
Rong was knelt down in the woods in which she had been exploring earlier. She was sobbing to herself when she heard footsteps from behind. She looked back with tear-filled eyes to see Zuko, Ai, and Bo approach her. "What do you guys want?" asked Rong.
"I wanted to say I'm sorry, Rong. I let my emotions get the better of me. I guess that's a habit of mine whenever I visit here," Zuko apologized. "I was being insensitive. I can't imagine how hard it was for you to have to be the one to end it all. Especially since you guys loved each other as much as you did."
Rong wiped the tears from her eyes. "Thank you for understanding, Zuko," she said. "And don't worry about Mai. You know what they say about true love: it always finds a way."
"Also, we talked to Ling. He said he'd dial it back whenever he's around you," said Bo.
"Oh, thank goodness," Rong said.
"Now come on. Let's go back up to the house," said Ai.
Rong got up and followed the rest of them out of the woods.
For the collective works of the author, go here.