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Chapter Seventy-Two: Mischief Managed
She sighs and scans the pantry again. "I haven't seen Aang all day. Do you guys know where he is?" From the corner of her eyes, she sees Sokka, his feet propped up against the picture hanging from the wall, shrug.
"Don't look at me. He left this morning, I think."
"But it's not like him to disappear." She perches on the banister. "He didn't even take Momo." The bat lemur chirrups and flutters onto her head. She laughs, and then her expression turns serious. "I'm just saying. I hope he hasn't gone to put up more Appa posters. Joo Dee said—"
Toph interjects, "I hope he did. Joo Dee's just a b—"
She makes a noise in her throat.
"Stop missing him. So he's been gone the whole day. He's probably doing his Avatar thing," the Earthbender notes.
With a tug of her braid, she glares at Toph, turns around, and heads towards her room. She slides it open with a powerful force, fueled by her annoyance, and slams it back into the wall.
He's lying on her bed, asleep, on his stomach. He's holding something—a box?—in his hands.
She snorts air out of her nose angrily. "You've been lounging around here the whole time?!"
He wakes up with a start, already smiling sheepishly. "Ohai, Katara," he calls brightly. "Happy birthday."
She stares at him.
"Isn't it your birthday?" he asks, his eyes growing wide and fearful.
"Who told you it was my birthday?" she demands.
He sits up. "Oh, um—"
"It was Sokka, wasn't it? Aang, it's not my birthday. I'm still fourteen."
His smile disappears. "But I thought that—why are you angry?"
She narrows her eyes. "You disappear all day, and the next thing I know you're telling me I'm three years older than you?!"
"Is that a—"
"Sokka told you, didn't he? I'm going to give him a piece of my—"
He Airbends himself into a kneeling position on the bed and throws his arms around her. "Even if it isn't your birthday," he whispers in to her ear, "can you still accept my gift?"
"Oh, um . . . of course," she answers, and he grins giddily and offers her the box. She unties the blue ribbon and glances inside.
A small scrap of paper with the words Close Your Eyes and a blue arrow.
She closes her eyes.
He leans forward, but she suddenly sneezes, and the kiss meant for her lips flies wildly off target and lands on her cheek.
He freezes, and so does she.
She's staring at him, an expression somewhere between shock and—longing?—on her face.
His cheeks burn like fire.
Well you've really managed to screw things up this time! he panics. "WellhappynotbirthdayKatarahaveagoodoneandI'msorryaboutconfusingyourbirthdayandI'mgladyou'restillfourteengottarun!" he says in one breathless gasp, and suddenly he Airbends past her and closes the door; he leans against the wall, panting heavily.
Note to self: Never trust Sokka's love advice. Ever.
Again, Sifu Vulmen helped me on this one . . . no Kataang shipping in Ba Sing Se! Gah!
Originally, the kiss did land correctly . . . and Katara said something of the lines of "Not yet . . . but mischief managed". [facepalm]
There is shipping war in Ba Sing Se . . .
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