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|The World Meeting, Pt. 4- Date Night|
Chapter 13: Date Night
The Fire Nation Royal Tower bustled with activity as the day of the World Meeting came upon the city. Each member of the Warriors' Legacy rose and began preparations for the special day, and they all intended to look their best.
Sora wore a pale blue dress with thin straps and her mother's hand-me-down necklace, while Tenzin wore an updated version of the yellow-orange Air Nomad robes with a dark red over cloak, as per his father's request.
"I'm revealing the status of the Airbender population to the world at large during the meeting." Aang held the Air Nomad robes. "And I would like you to wear this."
Sora knocked on her twin's door. "Are you ready yet? I hope you haven't forgotten about your presentation!"
It opened to reveal the newly attired Tenzin. "I'm ready, O Impatient One. Besides, we only need to be present at the luncheon."
Sora nodded. "Which is in twenty minutes."
His eyes widened. "What?!"
Lu Ten and Fiora wore their best royal armor, an obsidian base with a gold flame trim and a red tunic underneath, and they both walked into the main lobby of the Central Hall, where the World Meeting was to take place.
The Crown Prince scanned the area and saw that Kyani and Chikyuu were with their respective parents. Fiora went over to them, but Lu Ten was looking for someone else entirely. He quickly located Captain Yun Zhen and immediately made a beeline for the man.
The officer turned toward Lu Ten as he came closer. "Is there something I can do for you, Crown Prince?"
He nervously rubbed the back of his head. "Um, well...I have a question for you, Captain."
The slightest hint of a smile came to Yun's face. "Go on."
Lu Ten swallowed. "I was...well, there's the Unification Ball tonight, and I was wondering if you would allow me to escort San?"
Yun Zhen smiled. "My wife would have my head if I refused you, so my answer is yes. You jumped in between our daughter and a bender who could have incinerated you without regard to your own well-being. Your chivalry impresses me." He grew serious. "However, my permission comes with a warning. If you hurt my daughter, Crown Prince or not, I will tear you limb from limb."
Yun motioned him forward. "She's already seated where you will all be seated eventually if you wish to speak with her."
"Thank you, Sir."
Lu Ten made his way to the Central Hall's auditorium, where he found San. She turned when he called out to her, and what he saw stunned him. Sanaki was wearing a pale pink silk dress with Fire Nation noble stylings along the edge just under her collarbone, and a gold circlet with a green Fire Jewel adorned her forehead.
"Hello, Crown Prince Lu Ten." She winked. "I figure we should stick with formalities, what with it being the World Meeting and all."
He inwardly shook off his stupor and grinned as he held out his hand. "Actually, I thought we'd try a different tactic."
"W-what? What do you mean?"
"San, I would love nothing more than to be your escort to the Unification Ball tonight."
She stayed seated for a second, eyes wide, before grinning. She took Lu Ten's hand and stood. "Took you long enough! There's just one minor detail..."
He lightly gripped her shoulders and stared into her eyes. "I've already gotten your father's permission."
She exhaled. "Good. That was going to be difficult otherwise." She kissed him on the cheek. "I can't wait for tonight, Crown Prince."
Lu Ten felt the heat rise to his cheeks. "Yeah...neither can I."
Kyani shook his head. "Where are they?"
Sokka glanced at Suki. "Tenzin isn't exactly what I would call—."
"Structured?" She offered.
Sokka nodded. "Exactly, he probably held Sora up."
Kyani glanced at the latest time-telling mechanism, known by most as a 'clock', and once more shook his head. "They'd better hurry."
A Sky Bison's roar signaled the twins' arrival. Teela landed on the steps, causing everyone that had been calmly walking into the building to duck for cover. Tenzin jumped down and made a pocket of air for Sora to use so that she wouldn't get bison fur on her dress.
"Thanks, Tenzin." She smiled. "It's nice to know you care."
He shrugged. "You're my sister; I kinda have to care sometimes."
She rolled her eyes. "Of course you do. I'm going inside."
Tenzin turned back to Teela and scratched her nose. "There are several landing pads on the roof, girl, and I'm gonna take you up there so you can be comfortable during the meeting."
A groan of protest emitted from his friend. "I know, I know; we haven't really done much together during this trip. I promise, I'll make it up to you."
A deep growl came next, and Tenzin sighed as he jumped into the saddle. "I know you want to watch the meeting, but they don't allow animals. You just have to stay on the roof with Appa."
Teela's ears twirled as she gave a questioning grunt. "Yes, Appa will be there, and you two can catch up." He pulled on the reins. "Now let's get up there. Yip! Yip!"
Sora nervously tapped her fingers on the table as the introductory speaker, General Iroh, made the opening remarks. She glanced back toward the door, looking for her brother, and, finding no one, she looked to her father. Aang gave her a questioning look, but all she could do was shrug.
Kyani leaned over. "He's taking his good, sweet time getting Teela up to the roof." He whispered. As he turned back, he nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw Tenzin sitting next to him. "Wha—how did you—where have you been?!" His whispering grew more intense.
"Relax, Kyani, I'm here in time, and that's all that matters."
"How did you sneak in here?"
Tenzin grinned. "Airbenders can be veeery sneaky."
Sora tapped him on the shoulder. "Pay attention! Dad's getting ready to speak."
The Avatar stepped up to the podium, and Tenzin saw immediately that he would not need to raise his voice to make himself heard. "I know that this luncheon is just an icebreaker, but I feel it has its own importance. Though the actual meeting will take place tonight, what we do and say here also has impact."
He waited for the applause to die down before continuing. "With that in mind, I would like to talk about equality and balance. When my people, the Air Nomads, were taken from this world by Fire Lord Sozin, the world was thrown out of balance. Being the Avatar, the very being dedicated to maintaining said balance, I would like to show you all just a glimpse of the reinvigorated Air Nomad culture."
On that note, Tenzin stood and made his way to the stage. Showtime...
"My son is just one of the many New Air Nomads! He and others like him are going to be a big part of the legacy I leave behind, the other being this beautiful nation."
Tenzin got to the stage and bowed respectfully to the audience. "Tenzin will now show you a glimpse of a bending form thought destroyed by Sozin. My son, the Airbender, will demonstrate his abilities!"
The young Airbender breathed in deeply, recalling a Seventh Scroll kata that he had learned as a boy. It was like second nature to him, and he remembered every aspect, down to the minutest detail.
As the wind roared around them, Sora turned to Kyani. "I hope Dad knows what he's doing."
Her cousin shrugged. "He's the Avatar; I'm sure he has everything planned out."
"I guess. I just don't understand why he chose to do so now."
"Neither do I."
Aang stood and clapped with the rest of the audience as Tenzin finished his demonstration. The young Airbender bowed once more and took his seat.
"That is merely a glimpse of my intended revival of Air Nomad culture. Are there any questions?"
"Yes, Avatar, I have a question." A gray-haired man stood up.
Aang nodded. "Governor-General Iran, what did you want to know?"
Tenzin glanced at his friends and raised an eyebrow. "Is that—?"
"The ruler of the United Republic," Kyani replied. "Iran is seldom seen in public; this is huge."
"Avatar Aang, you say that you are rebuilding the Air Nomads for the purpose of creating balance, correct?"
"Yes, that is my intent."
"Then why," he looked around the assembly. "Do we see inequality between benders and non-benders? I'm sure I don't have to inform you of a destructive terrorist organization known as the Brotherhood of Elements and their attacks against non-benders."
Aang folded his arms. "We are working toward a solution, Governor-General, as you well know. It isn't easy when we know so little about them."
"What is to know? They have a team of Pro Benders! We can take them prisoner and find the rest. Or are you sympathizing with them?"
Aang's voice boomed throughout the auditorium. "Do not accuse me of dubious loyalties, Kiryu Iran! I have been fighting for equality my entire life!"
Iran bowed. "Of course, I overstepped my bounds. However, I do believe this matter deserves your attention."
The Avatar's harsh expression softened. "Duly noted. Perhaps we should continue this discussion in private with the other advisors. Not now when we are supposed to be celebrating."
Tenzin and Sora's eyes widened at their father's outburst. Neither of them had seen him exhibit such anger before, and it was not something they ever wanted to experience again. Fortunately, there were no further outbursts during the remainder of the luncheon.
Afterwards, the seven of them returned to the tower in order to get ready for the celebration. Not that there was much to do, seeing as they were already dressed up, so they spent most of their time simply sitting around.
As dusk began to settle on Republic City, the general excitement in the room began to pick up, and the anticipation of coming events rose. San and Lu Ten stood side-by-side, mouths agape, as the lights began to come on all over the city. Meanwhile, Tenzin swirled a mini tornado in his hand, planning his next move.
They all turned at the sound of knocking. Toph opened the door. "Chikyuu, can I talk to you for a second?"
The eleven year-old shot up. "Sure, Mom!"
Toph knelt down as her daughter came running up. "How would you like to take a walk around the city with me?"
Chikyuu glanced back and forth. "But what about the—?"
"Sweetie, that party is for the older kids. Besides," Toph pouted, "You don't want to spend time with your mother?"
Her head whipped back and forth. "No, no! I didn't mean that! I think time for just the two of us would be great!"
The Blind Bandit embraced her daughter. "Thank you, Sweetie! That makes me feel better."
Tenzin smirked as he wrapped his cloak around his neck. "You are cruel, Mrs. Bei Fong."
"Quiet, I'm still angry with you."
"Wait," Sora began, "Where are you going, Tenzin?"
He made his way to the door. "Out." He grinned as he exited.
Kyani leaned forward. "Okayaaay...we can safely say that we probably won't see him for a while."
Fiora cocked her head. "I guess he's not coming with us."
Toph sighed before turning to her daughter. "Let's go, Sweetie."
As they left, San glanced around at the remaining people. "I guess it's just us, then."
Kyani smiled. "Lead the way, lovebirds."
Darkness crept on the city as the Sun continued setting, and Tenzin now sat on one of the benches by the fountain. The sounds of celebration were overwhelming as the city was brought to life.
She approached the bench, and he smiled. Let's get started.
Pema sat down next to him. "What's up? Have you considered our cause?"
"Not exactly." He grinned. "I was wondering if you wanted to just take a walk around the city."
She raised an eyebrow. "Are you—?"
"Yes I am."
Pema smiled. "Okay, sounds like fun."
"Great!" Tenzin stood quickly before coming to a realization. "Um, I actually don't know many good places to—."
She took his hand a pulled him along. "That's why we're taking a walk. Let's go!"
"Lead the way."
The Central Square was filled to the brim with lights, so much so that it was difficult to tell that it was night. Lu Ten, Sanaki, Fiora, Kyani, and Sora presented their identification at the gate and were allowed in.
The music was in full swing, a fast beat that almost drove one to dance. And dance they did. San and Lu Ten both grinned as they moved to the music via the Camelephant Strut, while Fiora moved in a simple but beautiful whirling pattern. Sora and Kyani, meanwhile, created their respective dances from Waterbending and sword forms.
As they danced, Yun Zhen stood off to the side, watching...chaperoning. Ty Lee, his beautiful, amazing wife slid up next to him. "Lighten up, Yun; let them have fun."
He grimaced. "Alright, I'm paranoid; I admit it."
Ty Lee offered him a soft smile. "You know you don't have to worry. Lu Ten has been an absolute gentleman to our daughter."
"He'd better be, otherwise I'll—!" She pulled him aside and kissed him on the lips, and as she did so, they could both hear the song change.
It was a slow melody, and Yun knew what that would mean. He went to pull away, but Ty Lee held him tighter. "No, don't worry about them." Her voice grew soft. "Just dance with me..."
Yun smiled. "Alright." And he pulled her close as they swayed to the music.
Tenzin and Pema strolled through Republic City, simply enjoying the celebration that seemed to come from everywhere. They hadn't yet spoken much, but each had simply tried to get a feel for the other.
"What is it you guys do, exactly?"
She turned to him. "The Equalists? We fight for non-bender equality, obviously."
Tenzin nodded. "Fight how?"
She shrugged. "Little things..."
"Oh, well...how did you get involved with them?"
"Um, I've kinda been with them since I was little."
He raised an eyebrow. "What about your parents, aren't they—?"
"So," She began. "What about you? What are you doing here?"
I wonder what happened to her parents. Note to self: one subject to leave alone. "Well...my friends and I came here on, well, a vacation. That, plus my dad is kind of a key figure in the World Meeting."
Her head bobbed up and down. "That's cool..." She sighed. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to cut you off. I just don't..."
The Airbender smiled warmly. "I understand, Pema. If you don't want to talk about them, that's fine." His expression grew serious. "But you still didn't answer my original question. How do you fight for non-bender equality?"
"Well, uh...we kinda..."
Can I even expect a straight answer, Kitsune?"
Her eyes widened considerably, and a hand moved to the knife at her side. It took considerable effort for her to resist such an instinctual move. "How do you know about that?"
Tenzin's gaze darkened. "I know about it because I watched as Solf Koruhagi threatened to kill an Earthbender! What—what do you think such violence will accomplish?!"
She looked away. "I've tried to steer them away, but Solf just won't listen. But..." She whirled on him. "He's not entirely wrong! Benders get the best of everything while non-benders get the scraps! I've watched people work hard and fall simply because benders were around! And worst of all, benders, benders can damn near get away with murder!!"
"That isn't true! Non-benders don't have it so bad, Pema; you guys are just so blinded by hate that you can't see it!"
Pema glared at him, genuinely hurt. "Did you call on me just to dredge up my past and yell at me?"
Tenzin exhaled and sat down on the sidewalk. "No...spirits, no. That wasn't what I wanted. I just...I'm just afraid that this crusade of yours will get you hurt or worse."
She sat down next to him. "Oh, boy...this, this has turned out to be a disaster..."
Tenzin's grin returned. "Then let's start over."
"What? How can we—?"
"We can have this discussion once we know each other a little better." He held out his hand. "I'm Tenzin."
She chuckled and did the same. "Pema."
"Now...why don't you tell me about yourself, Pema?"
As they talked, they connected. It was simple, but it was something. And it made them both...happy.
"Mom, when are you gonna teach me Metalbending?" Chikyuu asked as they walked around the city.
"When I feel that you're ready."
Chikyuu tugged on her sleeve. "Does that mean I'll get to join the academy!?"
Toph smiled. "Yes, if that's what you want."
The master Earthbender chuckled. "I imagine you'll make a great Metalbender, but don't think I'll go easy on you."
She whipped her head back and forth. "No, Ma'am." Her seriousness morphed into a massive grin. "Are you gonna come see our next match?"
"I think I will." It was then that Toph felt uneasy. The wind blew, and only a faint whip, whip could be heard. Wait, what—?
Toph felt the bola hit and wrap around her legs, and she hadn't even hit the ground before another wrapped around her hands.
"Mommy!" Chikyuu cried before coming face-to-face with three masked figures.
"The Bei Fongs..." The middle one said as he whipped out his shikkars. "Kill them both." He ordered as half a dozen more Equalists dropped from the rooftops.
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