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Chapter Ninety-Seven: Safety First
I can't believe that Aang . . . I can't believe that he trusts that monster! You can't ever trust a two-headed rat viper. One head glides under your arm and makes you feel all warm and happy, and the other head bites you full of venom! He's going to betray us. I can feel it. Her gaze hardens, and she takes one pounding footstep after another. He already betrayed us once. Aang told me to trust in my gut. Well, my gut's not saying cake! It's saying kill that monster before he kills us!
She enters the monster's room, her anger and fury consuming her. The Firebender seems surprised to see her.
"You might have everyone else here buying your . . . transformation." She spits the word out as if it is a piece of sky bison dung, and she's sure that even that would be tastier than just implying that Zuko isn't a dirty traitor. "But you and I both know you've struggled with doing the right thing in the past." She stalks up to him, leaning forward, her eyes burning in her unadulterated fury.
Everyone else trusts you.
But I know you.
You talked about my mother . . . and your mother . . . and you made me feel so warm and happy, but then you betrayed me.
Well, I always say, safety first.
"So let me tell you something right now."
Her voice is ice.
And especially no steam.
My mother was taken away from me.
I'm not going to let you take Aang away.
You need your honor back?
You say your destiny is to teach the Avatar Firebending?
You can say that all you want—but I don't believe your lies! I will never . . . ever . . . If she were a Firebender, she'd snort flames from her nostrils, but she's not. I hate Firebenders. Aang's not a Firebender. I hate Firebenders. You can't trust them! They'll warm you and make you happy, but then they'll explode! They'll burn you!
Her heart beats, a drum of war.
I loved my mother, and she was taken away!
I love Aang, and this time, I won't make the same mistake!
"You make one step backward," she snarls, "one slip up—give me one reason to think you might hurt Aang . . . and you won't have to worry about your destiny anymore." Her eyes narrow, and a single shudder, barely noticeable, passes through her body.
I'm not that little girl anymore. I'm not that little girl who let the monster take my mother's life. I'm not that little girl anymore. I'm strong now. I can defend the people I love.
I can defend Aang.
She relishes in his terror.
Her voice goes suddenly soft.
"Because I'll make sure your destiny ends right then and there . . ." She can feel his fear. "Permanently."
You know what? I can. Hey, Zutarians, read this! Go ahead - tell me it's Zutara!
"You can't ever trust a two-headed rat viper. One head glides under your arm and makes you feel all warm and happy, and the other head bites you full of venom!" -> Aang's quote inverted. Hah!
"And especially no steam." -> Nope.
"But then they'll explode!" -> "Eventually, we are torn apart . . ."
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