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|The Boy from the Street|
The Boy from the Street
-"See any juicy targets?"
"Red coat, hat and cane. Bet he's got a fat wallet."
-"Most definitely. You can choose this time around. It is your birthday, after all."
"Thanks Yang, I appreciate that." He hesitated for a moment. "I'll take the wallet, you handle the distraction. Let's go with the old "Newspaper trip". Haven't used that one in a while."
-"No, we have not. Alright Sai, you get in position, I'll get a newspaper in that alley." Sai casually walked down the street, something he'd done a thousand times before. He bumped into the man in the red coat, and took the wallet from his inner pocket.
"I'm sorry sir, I wasn't paying attention."
-"Never mind, kid."
He hadn't walked five steps before he heard the man yell after him. "Thief! Stop him!" He started running towards him, but Sai was quick. Fortunately, Yang was precisely where she needed to be, and blew a newspaper into bits, distracting the man. Sai shot a tiny fissure down the street, just high enough to make him trip and fall flat on his face, while they both ran into the alley. The earth- and airbender gave each other a meaningful look, and Yang blasted them both up onto the roof of the building. They looked down, and much to their amusement, saw the man in the red coat furiously looking around for them.
Now though, Yang started to get curious about what they reeled in. "That was a good one. Alright, let's see what we got."
Sai opened the wallet, and it turned out his prediction was accurate. "300 yuans plus change. Not bad at all." He took the money and put it in his pocket. "So, want to give this thing back?"
-"Are you kidding me? Want to risk it all again?"
"No, I just... I always feel kind of bad about keeping stuff like drivers licenses and library cards. It's nothing worth to us and..." Yang didn't let him finish, but she did let out a big sigh while rolling her eyes.
-"Fine! Give me that thing." She snatched the wallet from his hand and walked up to the edge of the building. She spotted the guy walking down the street again, and whistled unbelievably loud on her fingers. She threw the wallet back, and much to her surprise, he actually caught it.
-"This is precious though. You won't hesitate to take 300 bucks, but you feel bad about keeping his wallet?"
"Hey, if he's walking around with this kind of cash, chances are we need it more than he does."
-"You know, this do-gooder behavior is going to get us in big trouble some day."
"Maybe, but for now, let's finally get around to celebrating my birthday. I'm buying."
They walked over the rooftops to the other side of the block. Using the fire escape, they went back down to street level, where, a few blocks away, they found a newspaper stand. Sai bought a box of cigarettes, giving one to Yang and also lighting one up himself. The nicotine felt great after so long. Suddenly, something occurred to Sai. "Why don't we hit up this neighborhood more often? It's fucking target practice out here."
-"You know damn well why. Just because the police was understaffed after the festival, doesn't mean it's that way all the time."
"Why do you have to be such a killjoy? That time of the month again?"
She shot him an evil look while letting a sarcastic laugh. "Let's just find a place to stay for the night. Any ideas?"
"Sixth Street Bridge? It's not too far from here."
The bridge was still free. Sai knew it was a decent place to sleep, as there was a packaging plant around the block. They usually had scraps of foam, which could be made into a pretty soft bed if you laid out some cardboard over it. Yang wet off to make the bed, while Sai strategically placed the money they stole under a slab of stone. "I hope you've had a good birthday."
"Meh, could have been worse. Wish dinner could have been a little better."
-"Has it ever been?"
"Not for the past seven years."
-"It's been seven years for you already?" Yang looked surprised it had already been that long since he ended up on the street.
"Well, yeah. Just before my eight birthday. But all that's in the past. Let's just get a good night sleep while we still have the bridge."
-"Let's. 'Night." With that, Yang rolled over, and almost fell asleep instantly.
Sai couldn't sleep. He thought about how lucky he was to have teamed up with the airbender. She saved his skin more times than he could remember, and her cautious nature combined with his impulsive one meant they made a good team. He took another cigarette out of the box and lit it. It wasn't like he hadn't been there for her either. It was simply a lot easier to get by together. Most thought they were in a relationship, but they both knew to carefully avoid that. He finally lay down, and tried to catch a good night sleep.
The next morning Sai and Yang headed to their usual hangout: Avatar Korra Park. Too much police to even think about pickpocketing, but there was always something to do and it was a nice place to be. They wouldn't make it there.
As they got close to the park, a familiar voice stopped them.
-"Well, well, well. If it ain't the lovebirds."
"Fuck off Suzy. Can we not do this so early in the morning?" Sai sharply responded, knowing full well he hated that nickname. "Suzy" was actually Suzanko, a firebender. Sai and Yang never got along with him, mostly because, well, he was a bully. Three years older than the two of them, he used to be able to outmatch them. Now though, he wouldn't approach them anymore without at least two of his friends, which he brought with him.
-"You know, you two must have been stupid to mug a Triple Threat." Sai and Yang gave each other a worried look. "Oh what, you really think you wouldn't stand out? Give us the money, and we won't have to hurt you."
"I should have known you would join the Triple Threats. Only a specific kind of loser signs up for them."
Suzy got visibly angry. "You need to choose your next words very carefully. You're playing with fire," he said, while making a flame in his hand, while his friends formed a circle around the duo. "Where is the money?"
-"Screw you!" Yang blasted his friends out of the way with one quick jab, and Suzy shot back. Sai rolled onto the street, after the guy who was a waterbender. He had to dodge a spike of ice shot his way and struck back hard, with a brick straight to the guy's chest. Yang was fighting Suzy, and Sai prepared to take on the earthbender, when they heard the whistle of a policeman.
-"Shit! Cops, let's scram!" Suzy and his friends quickly made off, running down an alley. Sai and Yang tried to run the opposite direction where the whistle came from, but found themselves blocked by a row of metalbenders. After they had turned around, they saw that path had also been blocked in the same manner. One of them shot his cables, restraining Yang at the wrists and ankles.
-"Hey, what are you doing?!" She tried to blast him away, but the officer had a firm stance and didn't budge. Sai came to her aid. "Let her go!" He shot a rock at the officer, but his colleague came to his aid, breaking the rock. Suddenly, an authoritative voice broke them up. -"Stop! All of you."
Sai quickly turned around to see and old man standing in front of the metalbenders. Judging by his uniform, he had a high rank, but he wasn't a metalbender. Sai put shackles around his ankles, kept the tension on them while he lifted a rock with his other hand. "Let her go, or I'll break your legs!"
The old man stayed surprisingly calm under this. "Easy now, no one has to get hurt here. I'm here to talk to you. I've got some pretty big news for you."
"Oh really?" He couldn't repress the sarcastic undertone.
-"Yes, really. So, if you could drop the rock and release my legs, I'll release your friend, we go into the teashop on the corner, I'll buy you some breakfast, you listen to what I have to say, and we part ways as unlikely friends. That, or you break my legs, I'll throw you both in jail for assaulting an officer in function, and I force you to listen to what I have to say."
Sai didn't know whether or not he could trust this man. He looked over to Yang, who gave him a panicking nod, and turned to the old man again. "Let her go, then I'll let you go."
The man nodded to his officer, who let Yang go. She ran straight back to Sai, who dropped the rock and crumbled the shackles he made around the man's ankles. He remained calm, as he gestured to the teashop. "Shall we?"
Yang was still very shook up about the whole thing. "What do we do?" She asked, with quite a bit of panic in her voice.
"I don't know. Best we follow his lead, I don't think we have much of a choice. We can't fight all of these guys and I don't think he's messing around."
They followed him, and he had already taken a table. Sai and Yang sat down across him, still very distrustful towards him. He pulled a box of cigarettes from his chest pocket, and held them out to the bending duo.
-"What are you doing?" Yang asked him suspiciously.
-"Rumor has it you are the only airbender in the world who smokes. Don't worry, they are perfectly normal cigarettes. Come on, it'll get the tension out of the air." They both took one from the box, and he flicked open his thumb, creating a small flame as if it were a lighter.
"Alright, you are a firebender, and you hold some sort of high rank in the police," Sai said, now more curious than distrustful. "but who are you really, and what is this all about?"
The old man smiled, and lit up a cigarette himself. "Very astute of you. I am Mako, Chief of Police. I've had my eye on you for a while now, but you are surprisingly difficult to track. We found you again after an officer reported seeing you two yesterday, after you pickpocketed a triad. It's not very common for an earth and an airbender to work together, so he followed you, and my metalbenders cornered you when you stayed in the same place long enough."
"Alright, but why? You wouldn't use a dozen elite officers to arrest us two, show up yourself, and you certainly wouldn't buy us breakfast or give us cigarettes."
-"Well, I went through all this trouble to make sure I had your full attention. You see, Sai, you are the next Avatar."
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