[20:13:46] <@KataraFanboy> As the afternoon began to give way to evening, Aang was preparing for his double date. Soon, he would join his new girlfriend Katara, along with his friends and fellow couple Zuko and Mai for the date in the Earth Kingdom Capital. The Avatar had just finished up a shower and was getting dressed into his best monk's clothing.
[20:18:33] <@Ultimate> In the apartment where she would be staying while in Ba Sing Se, Katara excitedly got ready for the double-date. Having washed up and dressed in a light but elegant Earth Kingdom dress, she stood before a vanity, fixing her hair. She was looking forward to a fun evening.
[20:23:00] <@KataraFanboy> In other parts of the apartment, the new Fire Lord and his girlfriend were preparing for the date. Although Zuko had planned mostly to keep his royal clothing kept away for most of the trip, he would make an exception on this night as he aimed to look more formal. Mai decorated herself in a long red dress, and decorated her hair into its standard style, making sure it was cleaned up as best as she could.
[20:29:33] <@Ultimate> Katara settled down onto a sofa in her room, after all preparations were done, awaiting Aang who would knock on her door when it was time. For the time being, she enjoyed the quiet and bliss and the beautiful view out the window of the city.
[20:31:11] <@KataraFanboy> The Avatar finished up his wardrobe for the night by placing his Air Nomad necklace around his neck. He would now settle and wait until Zuko and Mai were about ready, then he would retrieve Katara and they would be off on their way. Aang was content as he thought about the good time he would have with his girlfriend and his new friends on the date.
[20:34:22] <@Ultimate> The Fire Lord stepped outside his own apartment and found Mai waiting out in the hall. "Hey," he said, walking over to her and giving her a kiss on the cheek. "You all ready to go?" Mai nodded and said, "Alright, let's go get Aang and Katara." Together, they made their way through the complex to the Avatar's room.
[20:36:51] <@KataraFanboy> Aang saw Zuko and Mai approach his room. "Well, we're ready when you two are," Zuko said. Aang nodded and said, "All right, I'll go get Katara." He walked over to the room where Katara was staying, and knocked on her door. "Katara, we're ready to go," he said through the door.
[20:41:29] <@Ultimate> "Okay, I'll be right there," Katara called out. She stood up, smoothed out her dress and opened the door where Aang stood just outside. A smile lit up her face and she stepped out of the apartment. "You look good tonight," she commented.
[20:44:15] <@KataraFanboy> "I think you look even better," Aang replied, taking her hands into his. "Well, I guess we should get moving. Zuko and Mai are waiting for us down the hall." With that, they locked hands and made their way to the end of the hall, where indeed, the Fire Lord and his girlfriend were standing by.
[20:49:17] <@Ultimate> "Here they come," Zuko said cheerfully as the four joined up together. "So, are we all ready to get going?" "I think we're all set," Katara assured him. "Where exactly are we going tonight?"
[20:55:01] <@KataraFanboy> Aang recalled the suggestion he was given when by Zuko when they were setting up for the date. "We're going to that little outdoor restaurant in the Middle Ring. Even though it's not quite super-fancy, it's got great food and it is a classy atmosphere. It's reasonably priced from what I have heard as well."
[21:00:59] <@Ultimate> "Indeed, it is. It'll be very nice, especially considering the weather," Zuko told them. "It's in the Middle Ring of the city, but that's not too far a walk." "Sounds just fine," Katara replied. The four made their way down the corridor, through the loby, out into the breezy summer air, the sky tinged with shades of pink and orange.
[21:02:32] <@KataraFanboy> Each couple locked hands with one another, walking down the streets. "I've been meaning to ask you two," Zuko began. "How have you guys been holding up since Sokka's outburst at you two dating? I mean, I guess you've been holding up strong as you're here with us, but just making sure." [21:05:58] <@Ultimate> "We've been faring pretty well," Katara informed him. "That night was rough at first, but Aang and I decided not to let Sokka's skepticism get to us too much. He still seems pretty wary about us, though. I recall him giving both of us odd looks on the way over here..."
[21:08:30] <@KataraFanboy> "He certainly hasn't had a meltdown like he did that night," Aang added. "But yeah, I think he's going to be weary for a while. We'll have to try and get past it, and hope that over time, he settles into a trust of us. Hopefully it won't be long." Zuko nodded and said, "I don't think it will be too long, myself." Mai agreed. "Yeah, he's going to see how happy you two are, and then he'll settle down."
[21:12:09] <@Ultimate> "That's what we're anticipating will be the case. But in the mean time, while he's still on guard, let's hope he won't boil over like that again. I don't think any of us need the yelling," Katara said.
[21:14:54] <@KataraFanboy> "I agree," Aang added. "Now then, on another subject...Mai, I never found out from you, how exactly did you and Ty Lee get out of the Boling Rock? I heard Azula had tossed you guys in there, but I wasn't sure what the details were of your release."
[21:20:52] <@Ultimate> "Well, you should know, the warden of the Boiling Rock is my uncle. Apparently, when a few Team Avatar members, including Zuko here, escaped, they took the warden hostage and left him just outside the prisonhold. Lucky for him, when Azula left the prison, she found him and set him free," Mai explained.(cont'd)
[21:23:44] <@Ultimate> "My uncle heard of my and Ty Lee's imprisonment and, being that he always had a particular soft spot for me, he had wanted to set us free. Unfortunately, it wasn't all that simple. After all, Azula had ordered us imprisoned and no one would dare oppose her orders. When the word spread, however, that she had been stripped of her nobility, the orders were deemed negligible," she stated.
[21:26:24] <@KataraFanboy> "It was very relieving when I saw her on the day of my coronation," Zuko added. "It was kind of a surprise when she came in to join me, but a happy one at that." The couple smiled at eachother. "Well, that's a great story, Mai," Aang said. "You guys overcame all those struggles and hurdles, and found your way to each other when all was said and done." "We are, of course, very happy for you two," Katara added.
[21:31:50] <@Ultimate> "Thanks, guys," Zuko replied brightly. "Likewise, we're happy for you two and we know the same can be said for you, when it comes to getting past obstacles and coming back together. I can still picture you two after all those days apart, when you stepped off that airship," he said, referring to Aang.
[21:35:37] <@KataraFanboy> Aang grew a bright smile as he flashed back to the moment he first saw Katara after stepping out of the airship, the smiles they grew, and the tears they cried when they engaged in a tight embrace. He remembered thinking at that point that he couldn't have been happier than he was then. "I will never forget that night," he then said.
[21:40:38] <@Ultimate> "Neither will I," Katara agreed, the same images flashing through her own mind. Another thought crossed her mind and she said, "Oh, I don't think either of us told you, but we were really impressed by the grandeur of the palace, especially the garden."
[21:43:54] <@KataraFanboy> "Well, the staff has done a magnificent job in keeping it well-maintained," Zuko said. "They always have, from when I was a little boy and frequented it with my mother and Azula." "Heh, I remember those days in the gardens," Mai added. "Remember when you tackled me into a fountain to get a burning apple of my head?" She said with a laugh. "Azula of course set that up."
[21:49:33] <@Ultimate> "Typical of my sister to play a prank on us like that," Zuko said, chuckling himself. "Although neither of us found it particularly funny at that time. I remember yelling that 'girls were crazy' to my mother. Heh, we were so innocent."
[21:58:12] <@KataraFanboy> "Don't forget that I got you back," Mai replied, bumping Zuko with her elbow. "Then again, that was when I saw you had yourself another little girlfriend...right, /Lee/ ?" She teased. Zuko shook his head. "Oh yeah, Jin...and then yes, you did set up the little getting back at me. Of course, it was that night that I started falling back for you, just like our young days."
[22:04:34] <@Ultimate> Mai squeezed his hand happily. "And now you're bound to me for life. You remember my little warning, right?" she asked. "How could I not..." Zuko rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "The day we reunited, she practically threatened me," he told Aang and Katara.
[22:07:07] <@KataraFanboy> They closed in on the resturant and soon made their way in to the dining area. "We'll tell you a little more after we get seated," Zuko added as a hostess approached them with four menus. "Four of you?" She asked them. "Indeed," Aang said. "All right, follow me." The two couples followed them to their table, then each took their seats, with Aang and Katara on one side and Mai and Zuko on the other.
[22:12:53] <@Ultimate> "If any of you need anything, just ask," the hostess said. She handed them the menus then left. The four got settled and surveyed their choices for a few moments before the conversation resumed. "So what's this about you threatening your boyfriend?" Katara asked, amused. "Well, it wasn't a death threat or anything. I just told him very sternly that he was to never, ever break up with me again," Mai answered. "And boy, did she get her point across," Zuko added.
[09:46:38] <@KataraFanboy> "You should have been there," Mai said. "I got my finger on him, pointing at him...so he darn well knows he'd better stay right where he is." The couples laughed and then each looked down at their menus to begin surveying the choices of food. "Since you've been here before, Zuko," Aang began, "Any recommendations?" Zuko looked towards Aang. "Well, I don't know for you exactly, since you don't eat meat....I do recall hearing someone say, the last time I was here, that the vegetable soup was pretty good."
[09:55:16] <@Ultimate> Aang nodded thoughtfully. "And when I was here, I remember their pork dishes being very good," Zuko also told them. A few more moments passed by before all four made their decisions. Their waitress appeared, ready to take their orders: the soup for Aang, a seafood dish for Katara, turkey duck for Zuko and stir fry for Mai.
[09:57:59] <@KataraFanboy> "Those will be out shortly," the waitress said. The couples then continued their conversations, when Katara delved into more serious matters. "So, Mai...I heard the story of the Boiling Rock from Zuko and Sokka up through their escape...but obviously there was more that went into it. How did it feel to betray Azula?"
[10:01:17] <@Ultimate> "I have to say, I was surprised at myself afterwards, as that reality struck me. But it also felt gratifying in a way, to know that I had the power to walk away, that she didn't control me anymore," Mai explained. "The whole confrontation was very intense. What surprised the most was that Ty Lee dared to betray Azula. I never expected that from her."
[10:05:09] <@KataraFanboy> "From our enconuters with you guys," Katara said, "Ty Lee always seemed the most faithful to her. But, I guess when it came down to it...she chose you." Mai nodded and said, "That was the case. Maybe she didn't want to feel controlled either. I had pick up a sense of uneasiness around her after she rejoined us in Omashu...I mean, I was surprised that Azula had gotten her out. I had a feeling...and I guess it was right."
[10:11:22] <@Ultimate> "I know it must have felt gratifying to break away, as you said," Katara began carefully, "but... how do you feel knowing that the betrayal sparked Azula's mental breakdown." An unsure expression crossed Mai's face and she said, "To be honest, I sympathize her, but not as much as one would expect an old friend to."
[10:16:31] <@KataraFanboy> "Because she was so manipulative?" Katara asked. "Probably...it's very hard to feel overly sorry for her. I know it sounds mean, but...she kind of got what she had coming," Mai spoke, her facial expressions somewhat shifting away from Katara. "I know," the waterbender then said. "It's easy to think that way, but just watching it happen, right in front of your eyes..." Mai nodded idly. "Yeah, Zuko told me all about it. That does make me feel some sympathy for her. I guess we'll see what happens while she's in that mental institution."
[10:22:25] <@Ultimate> "Indeed," Katara mumbled, glancing over at Zuko. By the look on his face, it seemed that talking about his sister's fate wasn't the most comfortable topic, although he kept silent. Instead, she asked, "So will you and Ty Lee still keep in touch even when she's off in the Earth Kingdom?"
[10:26:39] <@KataraFanboy> "Of course we will," Mai said. "Ty Lee is still one of our closest friends. Speaking of her, Katara, I heard you had made good friends with her while we were gathered back in the Fire Nation." Katara nodded, smiling. "Yeah...we had a close talk, did some hanging out...and now we're friends as well." "Good to hear," Zuko said. "I was happy to hear it myself," Aang added. "Now that the War's over, we can all bury the hatchet and make friends of our former enemies.
[10:32:31] <@Ultimate> "I think we're all looking forward to that, old rivalries turned new amities," Zuko remarked. "Though I have to say, I'm a little concerned, as I can't speak for entire nations. I can guarantee there is dissatisfaction in the Fire Nation. Hopefully, with my absence, no one will attempt anything."
[10:36:03] <@KataraFanboy> "Well, you did step the military up in preparation," Aang said. "Certainly, all your men are capable. Just try not to worry about things too much. We're here in Ba Sing Se, we're enjoying the peaceful times...let's just relax and not think about what could happen."
[10:47:19] <@Ultimate> "I guess you're right," said Zuko with a small smile. After a pause, he remarked, "You know, I never realized just how magnificent this city is. Of course, I was living here for a while before, but it seems I always had my head in the sand, never noticing. I'm glad for the chance to see it again." At that moment, the waitress came over, balancing their dishes.
[10:49:08] <@KataraFanboy> The dishes were placed with their respective owners, and they soon began digging into their food. After a few bites, it was apparent that the restaurant was living up to its reputation. "This is very well done," Aang remarked about his soup. "Wow, these fish are pretty well-kept, they taste really fresh," Katara added.
[22:17:17] <Ultimate> "Then it seems I made the right recommendation," Zuko said happily, he himself enjoying the duck he had ordered. "Just goes to show that you don't need to go to a fancy Upper Ring restaurant to get good food. Although my uncle happens to own one of those eateries. It's so good to see how well he's doing."
[22:20:47] <@KataraFanboy> "That reminds me," Aang said. "We're all supposed to gather at the Jasmine Dragon for just kind of a general meeting up in a couple of days, since we're all going to be headed back our separate ways. Sokka and I drafted the idea." Zuko looked kind of shocked. "You mean, he worked with you on this plan despite the recent cold times between you two?" "Yeah," Aang answered. "I guess he likes me when I'm not around Katara."
[22:26:32] <@Ultimate> Katara shook her head slightly at this, but didn't say anything. "Oh," said Zuko. "Well, I know Mai and I are probably heading back to the Fire Nation... What did you guys plan out?" "I think Sokka wants to go back home to the Southern Water Tribe," Aang told him. "But he doesn't know about Suki and what she'll do."
[22:33:31] <@KataraFanboy> "What about you two?" Zuko asked of Katara and Aang. "Well," Katara began, "I too have thought about going home to the South Pole, but we haven't really talked about it." Aang also added, "It's something I've definitely thought about. I mean, there's really no point in me going anywhere else. I'll have to travel, but I need a home otherwise.
[22:37:15] <@Ultimate> Just hope Sokka won't give us a hard time about that possibility..., she silently thought. The Fire Nation couple nodded. "Well, you'll sort something out," Zuko assured them. "Have you heard word from anyone down there about what's going on? You mentioned something about healers and waterbenders from the Northern Tribe going down there."
[22:41:10] <@KataraFanboy> "Not very much," Katara answered. "All I really know is that Pakku married Gran-Gran, which of course you all know already as well. Pakku didn't really tell me anything much...though there has been some progress. He doesn't really have a full scope on things since he had to leave the tribe to attend to liberating Ba Sing Se."
[22:46:10] <@Ultimate> "Well, I hope all is progressing nicely," the Fire Lord said. "If ever you guys need extra support, I can always send a team over to help out." "We'll be sure to send word if we do, thanks for offering," Katara replied. "Well, a lot of us have an idea of where we'll be headed after this trip, but what about Toph?"
[22:54:48] <@KataraFanboy> "You know," Aang began, "I don't know what she will do. She said she had interest in traveling elsewhere and maybe teaching earthbending, but, we never heard back from her parents after we sent them that letter. So, to be honest...it's up in the air at this point."
[09:31:37] <@Ultimate> "I hope that after all she has done along our journey, her parents realize how capable she is and don't worry as much as they did when we first met her," Katara said. "If they don't recognize her as capable of handling herself," Zuko remarked, "then they surely must have their heads in the clouds - not to speak ill about them."
[09:34:31] <@KFB|EnergySaga> "Well," Aang began, "They were certainly very protective of her. But, I think if all can be explained clearly, and if they do understand her role, they'll accept her." Mai then asked a question of her own. "Speaking of going back to old family...I wonder if Ty Lee would ever be interested in seeing one of her sisters again."
[09:37:57] <@Ultimate> "Hard to say," Zuko contemplated this. "I'm sure she thinks about her family and I can't see someone as open and loving as her staying away forever. But she never spoke fondly of them and I can see why. Living with them would be like looking in a mirror all the time. Who knows?"
[09:41:05] <@KFB|EnergySaga> "I don't know if they are as bad as they have been made out to be," Mai said. "I actually bumped into one of her sisters the other day in the Capital. She remembered me because I used to go to Ty Lee's house a lot when I was younger. She said that she missed her dearly, and wondered why she ran away. But she was interested in wanting to see Ty Lee again. You think we should set something up?"
[09:44:09] <@Ultimate> "I don't see the harm in it," Katara commented. "So long as Ty Lee is comfortable with doing it. Although seeing how her family is genuinely concerned for her and wants to see her, I don't see how she would refuse. It's like you said, Zuko, it wouldn't be like her to stay away."
[09:46:52] <@KFB|EnergySaga> "I think if Ty Lee can make peace with her family," Aang added, "It would really settle her down. Problem is, would be finding all of her sisters. For all we know, a lot of them could be living on their own. Mai, do you know how old her sisters were?" "I think she was the fifth-born of the seven," Mai answered. "But not all of them should be out on their own yet."
[09:55:16] <@Ultimate> "I don't see how a whole lot of them could be out on their own just yet. They're all just fourteen. I think it's safe to assume they're all still home. And if not, then we find them ourselves," Zuko said. "But we should come to her with this idea soon."
[09:58:02] <@KFB|EnergySaga> "Problem is," Aang said, "She didn't come with us on this trip. She went to Kyoshi Island to temporarily lead the Kyoshi Warriors while Suki is with us. So...that would require one of us to go to Kyoshi Island, explain the situation, and then bring her over to the Fire Nation." "You can leave that up to Zuko and I," Mai answered. "We are her oldest and closest friends, after all. Don't worry about a thing."
[10:04:00] <@Ultimate> "Oh, well then, I guess that's settled," Aang replied. "Although I thought you wanted to go back to the Capital after this." "We can always make a little detour," Zuko assured him. "Wouldn't take too long and we'll be headed back there anyway." "In your absence, who's currently governing the Fire Nation?" Katara inquired.
[10:06:30] <@KFB|EnergySaga> "I assigned the High Generals to watch over the nation," Zuko answered. "I was surprised with how fast they accepted by my role...but I'm not complaining. They did promise me that any attempts of violence would be crushed." Aang couldn't help but feel a bit uncomfortable at the word crushed, but silently decided that now was not the time to discuss that. The couples continued eating their meals. [10:20:02] <@Ultimate> After a little while, when it seemed everyone was finished, they summoned over the waitress and with the bill paid, left the restaurant. Night had almost completely settled in, the sky darkened, the air cool. "Any ideas as to where you want to head now?" Mai asked.
[10:23:15] <@KataraFanboy> "Since we're going to uncle's tea shop in a couple of days," Zuko said, "That could wait." Aang's mind tried to think of an idea. "Maybe we could just go to the lakeshores and relax for a little bit. From what I heard, now that this place is rid of the Dai Li, now Lake Laogai is actually a good hangout spot."
[10:29:03] <@Ultimate> "That sounds just fine," Katara agreed to the idea with Mai nodding along. "Nothing like sitting down by the water." "Okay then," Zuko said. "Should we walk or have a carriage take us there? It's quite a distance away."
[10:31:09] <@KataraFanboy> "Yeah, it's out in the agarian zone," Katara reminded Aang. "Good point...well, I am sure someone would be willing to take us," Aang replied. "Or, we could go back to the apartment, retrieve Appa, and we could fly there. A third option would using the monorail. What do you all think?"
[10:36:31] <@Ultimate> "The monorail isn't too far a walk from here," Katara told them. "I'm fine just hopping on and taking that out to the lake, as long as you all are, too." "I'm fine any way," Mai said nonchalantly to which Zuko replied, "Same. I don't mind. What about you, Aang?"
[18:10:34] <@AangPlushie> "It's fine with me," Aang answered. "It would spare us a longer walk, and we wouldn't need to bother the carriage-riders. The remainder of the group nodded, signifying that it indeed was a plan. With that, they all rose from their table. Zuko and Mai took each other's hands, while Aang and Katara locked theirs. The two couples then began the walk to the monorail station.
[18:15:58] <@KataraPlushie> As expected, it was only a short stroll to the station and they didn't have to wait too long for the monorail to come by. The few passengers riding the monorail at that time looked at the group with admiration, but didn't disturb them, too the relief of Aang. Moonlight shone through the wide windows until they went through the tunnel and emerged in the agrarian zone, the lake not too far off.
[18:17:48] <@AangPlushie> After a couple of short moments, the monorail ride came to an end. Some passengers stepped off and started walking around the lake. The two couples went to the shore, and they each took their own seats. They all took in the view of the now-quiet lake, which just some time ago turned out to be one of the most sinister places in the city. Now, it was indeed just a quiet oasis.
[18:22:26] <@KataraPlushie> Zuko looked out on the water and let out a sigh. "To think the last time I was here, I was such a different person. And trying to hide behind a silly mask. That was only a few months ago." "We've all changed since then, I guess," Katara said, sitting down in the grass. "And so did this place."
[18:25:48] <@AangPlushie> "The last time we were here," Aang recalled, "I was trying to find Appa...as it turned out, well, you released him." The Avatar then turned to the Fire Lord. "I never did properly thank you for that...so, thank you, Zuko." "If there's anyone you should thank, it's Uncle," Zuko responded. "He convinced me to set him free and drop the mask."
[18:29:22] <@KataraPlushie> "Then I thank both of you," Aang told him. "Your uncle for trying to get through to you, you for listening. Otherwise we would have left without him and I don't know what we would have done without Appa." He, too, settled down on the ground, the Fire Nation couple following suit.
[18:33:00] <@AangPlushie> "Yeah, he did get through to me big time..." Zuko then dropped his head somewhat, to the concerned look of Mai. "It made my betrayal of him feel that much worse. He was always so helpful to me, he cleared my mind...and then I turned and stabbed him, not to mention all of you, in the back, when I let myself be bought off by Azula. I still regret that to this day." Aang gave him an assuring look. "But that's in the past. Fact of the matter is, you turned yourself around and helped us save the world."
[18:38:12] <@KataraPlushie> "And you reconciled with your uncle, even when you were afraid to face him," Katara added. "I've come to realize that you shouldn't judge someone based on the mistakes they've made before, but on what they did to correct them. And like Aang said, you certainly did that." "While it's true that we've gone through some shaky times," Mai said, "I still care about you a lot."
[18:41:07] <@AangPlushie> "Thanks, everyone," Zuko said. Mai then dropped her head onto Zuko's shoulder, while Katara placed hers on Aang's. The couples then took a moment to stare out at the lake, enjoying the calm night as the moonlight shined off the water, crafting a vivid reflection. Aang let out a contented sigh. "To think, just a few weeks ago, we were still locked in the fights of our lives...now here we are, at peace, at ease with everything," the Avatar then said.
[18:46:25] <@KataraPlushie> "I know... Amazing how quickly time goes by and things change. But I love it," Katara breathed. "It's great to wake up and not have to think about being chased or when a fight will come up next. To know that you can just live. I think people forgot that feeling after a while."
[18:49:53] <@AangPlushie> "We all certainly had a wild past year," Zuko added. "Life has been anything but normal for the last three years for me...being away from home, trying to find myself." Aang nodded. "We all had a lot of soul-searching and a lot of growth to do. See who we really were, and set us on the right path." Mai agreed. "Once Azula came to find me, it also got a lot different. I have to agree...it's very nice to relax. It also feels good to somewhat shed the personality I gained when I was living at home...being the 'boring, goth' girl."
[19:03:15] <@KataraPlushie> "Indeed, you've begun to open up a little more," Zuko said with a smile. "Yeah, but don't any of you think that I'll become this flighty, outgoing person," Mai said. "Well, it's good to grow without completely changing your nature," Katara told her. After a pause, she suggested, "Maybe in a little while we could take a walk on the shore."
[19:06:03] <@AangPlushie> Aang nodded. "I'd be up for that," he then said. "Well," Zuko then added, "Maybe we can get going now, since it is on our mind. It'd be nice to see more of this late without the distractions." The rest of the small group nodded, and with that, the two couples rose, took each other's hands, and began to walk on the lakeshore . A small lake breeze cut through the air, but did not disturb things too much.
[19:12:39] <@KataraPlushie> The four strolled along the shoreline; the water lapped gently beside them, holding so many memories. "Do you know whether King Kuei has returned to Ba Sing Se and reclaimed the throne?" Katara asked. "We haven't heard from him since he took off to explore the world." "I'm sure with the world at peace and many issues resolved, he has or will come back to power," Aang replied.
[19:16:19] <@AangPlushie> "He hasn't yet," Zuko said, a hint of concern in his voice. "I'd rather personally that he would, and as soon as possible. If we're going to get started on this stuff with the colonies, I need him to negoiate with. Hopefully word of the war's end reaches him soon, if it hasn't already, and he'll come back here."
[19:21:22] <@KataraPlushie> "I'm sure he will. Although he's pretty carefree, I don't think he would leave his people too long without a proper ruler," Katara said. "Though I could be wrong. I wonder who's in charge now." "Probably General How or one of the council members," Aang replied. "Do you think it would be smart to send out a search team or something?"
[19:23:59] <@AangPlushie> "It would likely have to be on the Council of Five to make that call," Zuko answered, "Since they're the ones in control of the nation for now. We could ask them, but we ourselves can't decide it. I figure we should wait a few days before asking them, though." "It's been a few weeks now," Aang replied. "We might want to ask them as soon as possible."
[19:29:00] <@KataraPlushie> Zuko nodded thoughtfully before saying, "Then we'll try to send word within the next couple of days," and that was that. They continued on their walk, gravel crackling beneath their feet as they went along. "Too bad there are no boat rentals here," the Fire Lord spoke up again. "It was be nice to go on a boat ride tonight."
[19:32:18] <@AangPlushie> "I know," Mai said. "I like this place." Katara nodded thoughtfully and said, "It looks like the perfect sight to take in on a good sailing trip...alas, no such luck. Maybe as this place gets more popular and things get more back to normal, they will add them in. I mean, look, even now at this time, there are still people enjoying this place." She looked over across the lake to see other citizens walking around the lake or sitting at its shore.
[19:36:33] <@KataraPlushie> "I have to say, I'm kind of relieved that not many have approached us; all those who have noticed us just looked on quietly from the side," Zuko mentioned. "And I haven't really received cold stares either. I half-expected to, being Fire Nation and all, having ended the War or not."
[19:40:36] <@AangPlushie> "It does seem like most in Ba Sing Se are understanding of you," Aang said. "That's a good thing, of course. Hopefully the rest of the world continues to fall in line. We'll need cooperation in this postwar world." "It will certainly help matters that the Avatar is on my side," the Fire Lord added. "I guess it's all just a matter of when we'll get started," Katara added.
[09:23:30] <@KataraPlushie> "Soon, I hope," Zuko replied. "Not that I want to rush anything, but the sooner the better, as they say. And of course, all depending on Kuei's return." "Even though it'll be tedious work, I'm kind of looking forward to it," Aang remarked. They stopped on the shore for a while, simply surveying the water.
[09:27:05] <@AangPlushie> "I wonder if what's down there is still intact," Katara wondered. "I know the Dai Li destroyed the entrance after we rescued Appa and tried to reveal the conspiracy to the King, but, is the rest of it gone?" "It wouldn't surprise me if they did wreck the whole thing," Aang answered. "But, then again, they could have still kept it as a prison hold or something when Azula took the city. I'm sure, even if its down there, they'll probably find a way to get rid of it."
[09:31:49] <@KataraPlushie> "I hope it will be. There's just a lot about that place that was... eerie. Everything was so dark and secret. Remember that room full of women being brainwashed by that agent?" she recalled. "Wonder what became of them."
[09:34:49] <@AangPlushie> "Well, it looks like the Dai Li are banished now," Zuko answered. "As for all those women, I can only hope that they're going to get the help they need. They were brainwashed, after all, so maybe they can be broken of the spell and integrated into society again." Mai thought back to her time in the capital. "Uggh, don't remind me of those people. Every day it was the same, 'I am proud to serve you and the Fire Nation, Azula!'. Literally, every day."
[09:41:15] <@KataraPlushie> The group laughed a bit at her complaints. "Lucky for me, I didn't have to deal much with any Joo Dee," Zuko told them. "Lucky you indeed. Although I have to say, our Joo Dee did help in a small way," Aang began. "She was the one to mention this lake in the city. If she hadn't, who knows how long it would've been before we found out about this place."
[09:44:36] <@AangPlushie> "Well, she did mention the place," Katara said, "But, as I recall, it was Jet who wound up really tipping us off after we broke him free from the brainwashing. If it weren't for being able to track him down, we probably then never would have found Appa or learned of this conspiracy." Her voice trailed off as she finished off the statement, thinking back to what happened that day. /What he did to us the first time was wrong...but he didn't deserve death.../
[09:50:20] <@KataraPlushie> Aang noticed her expression change and her voice get quieter as she said this and knew exactly what she was thinking. Although Mai didn't quite understand, Zuko did as well. The Avatar pulled her in tighter. "I know how terrible it was...," he told her. "No one deserves that fate."
[09:53:23] <@AangPlushie> The Avatar and the waterbender hugged closely while Mai and Zuko looked towards them. "Wait, what happened?" Mai asked her boyfriend with a curious look. "It's sort of a long and complicated story," Zuko answered. "I'll tell you more about it later. For now, just let them have their moment. It was tough for them, personally."
[10:00:52] <@KataraPlushie> "It was just so unfortunate," Katara was saying in a wistful voice. "Maybe he didn't always have the right ideas in my mind. But I do believe that all he wanted was justice. And he never even got to see the end to the War..." "I know what you mean," Aang whispered, rocking them back and forth slightly. "And I couldn't even do anything. I'm a healer," she mumbled.
[10:05:07] <@AangPlushie> "It was an internal injury," Aang said. "You did all you could do, but healing can't reach that far. No healer would have been able to get to that. It's just the limitations of things...it wasn't that you failed or didn't do enough." He ran his fingers down her hair, stroking it lightly as he tried to comfort Katara the best he could.
[17:36:34] <@KataraPlushie> Katara sighed, knowing Aang was probably right and it was unfortunate, but inevitable and couldn't be helped. "I just wish I hadn't treated his so coldly. He was helping us, after all. It's hard knowing you can't reconcile with someone when you should have. But thank you," she told him, in reference to his solace.
[17:38:56] <@AangPlushie> "It's hard not to react so badly to him at first," Aang said. "He had done a lot of wrong in the past. You did accept him in our search for Appa, though, so to me, that's good enough. It's all right, Katara. It's too bad we can't bring him back, but we did what we could. At the end of the day, we still saved Appa." He continued to brush her hair softly.
[17:43:28] <@KataraPlushie> Katara couldn't help but smile a bit as he held her close. The Fire Nation couple looked on with happiness at the two, finding the moment to be very sweet. A sense of calm settled over them and it was a while before they separated.
[17:47:21] <@AangPlushie> "Well, we probably shouldn't keep Zuko and Mai waiting much longer," Katara suggested. Aang nodded, and thus the two again locked hands and walked back towards their fellow couple. "Sorry we kept you two waiting for so long," Aang said to them. "Don't worry about it," Zuko said. "Yeah, we understand," Mai added. "That was something you two needed." With that, the couples were on their way again.
[17:58:37] <@KataraPlushie> Mai wondered about what had happened with Jet, even about Jet himself, as she never heard much of him, except for the few times Zuko mentioned him. But she kept quiet, not wanting to cause any upset. It was getting considerably dark outside even with the moon out. "I wonder if we should go somewhere else or back to the apartment," she suggested. "I can barely see in front of me."
[18:01:16] <@AangPlushie> "I'll light a little fire to get some light going," Zuko offered. With that, he briefly freed up his hand to bend a small flame and give the couples some light. "How does that work?"
[18:04:39] <@KataraPlushie> "Sounds just fine," Aang agreed. "But we should probably clear a patch of grass here. Don't want to set the whole field ablaze." They went to work, clearing an area of dirt, before Zuko created a flame and ingnited a pile of small branches. Embers flickered about and the inferno was warm and soothing. Everyone gathered around.
[18:08:39] <@AangPlushie> They all sat near the lakeshore so Aang and Katara could get to their waterbending in case the fire grew out of control; even though such an event was unlikely. "The fire is so nice," Katara said. "Especially now that I can feel it growing a little chilly out here."
[18:12:03] <@KataraPlushie> "Yeah, it is getting a little cold, but I don't mind. After days of scorching in the summer sun and humid nights, I have to say, I'm glad that fall is coming soon," said Aang.
[18:13:07] <@KataraPlushie> "Plus it's the season for the airbenders," he added with a grin. "That's right," Zuko said. "Is your birthday in autumn?"
[18:17:31] <@AangPlushie> Aang nodded happily. "It is," he then answered. "Actually, it's only a couple of weeks away." "Oh, that's right," Katara said. "You're going to be 13! Oh, we'll have to try and do something for you." Aang tried to shake it off. "Don't worry too much about it, Katara."
[18:20:53] <@KataraPlushie> Katara rolled her eyes in good nature and told him, "Oh, come on, you're going to tell me that we shouldn't celebrate your birthday? And it's your thirteenth, too - stepping into your teenage years." She gave him a light push on the shoulder and said, "No, I'll definitely be planning something."
[18:24:54] <@AangPlushie> "Just saying," Aang said, "It wouldn't be a big deal if you didn't. If you want to, be my guest." "You know I will be," Katara replied, then dropped her head back onto Aang's shoulder and added, "You know, you may only be celebrating your 13th...but to me, you're at least 16. You've matured so much."
[18:28:50] <@KataraPlushie> Aang smiled modestly at this, although he knew it was true. He was no longer the goofy, naive kid he once was - he still loved having fun, but he had certainly changed. "I can say the same for you," he told her, resting a hand on her back.
[18:33:21] <@AangPlushie> As the Fire Nation couple looked at the scene across from the fire, Mai also looked admiringly at Zuko. "You know," Mai said, "You did a lot of maturation on your trip. You found yourself, and now you're finally happier than ever. I missed that side of you from when we were young." Zuko kissed his girlfriend on the forehead. "Well, I do owe a lot to you as well."
[18:38:15] <@KataraPlushie> Mai blushed slightly, something she didn't do very often. Despite her usually stoic personality, Zuko somehow managed to bring out a more passionate side to her. "Well, I owe it to you, too. What more would I be than a gloomy girl who sulks around all day, if I didn't have you? You bring out the better side of me."
[18:41:00] <@AangPlushie> "We all work for each other in some way," Aang noted. "For you two, you guys bring out the happier sides of one another, and keep each other happy. For Katara and I, we help keep each other calm and provide comfort for one another. It really makes the both of us work well."
[18:45:45] <@KataraPlushie> "It really does," Katara agreed. "We've also went through similar experiences with being affected by the war and loss, so we really understand one another. Aang has given me hope and he tells me I've done the same for him and we just communicate well with one another. Everything just falls in line perfectly," she remarked with a bright smile.
[18:48:09] <@AangPlushie> "When I was going through some tough times following my first return home," Zuko recalled, "It was Mai who also guided me through it. Azula was of no help, nor was my father. It was mostly Mai who kept me comfort and listened to all my turmoil. It made the decision to leave her so I could teach you firebending, Aang, that much harder."
[18:52:40] <@KataraPlushie> "And even after he left, I still cared for him deeply and that just motivated me to help him escape the Boiling Rock and turn my back on Azula," Mai put in. "Sometimes it was tough and Zuko's not perfect, but I still love him. That's what love is, after all, seeing an imperfect person perfectly."
[18:57:23] <@AangPlushie> "Right," Katara said. "Aang and I have had our problems, too. But the fact of the matter is, if love is true, it always finds a way around obstacles. We made it past ours, and so did you two, and now here we are." Aang nodded lightly in agreement. "That is very true, Katara. No love is without its challenges, but we indeed made it past them."
[19:01:16] <@KataraPlushie> "And so did Sokka and Suki," Katara mentioned. "They dealt with their own turmoils and long separations and they're still going strong. Indeed it seems that can be said for a lot of us. Now if only Toph would find someone of her own...," she mused.
[19:05:20] <@AangPlushie> "Is it just me, or did she have the subtle hints of showing a crush on Sokka?" Aang asked. "If she did, well, she'd better move on, as harsh as that sounds," Katara added. "Sokka is definitely attached to Suki now." "I guess we'll have to see what happens over time," Zuko said. "Was it just me, or did that little Freedom Fighter kid seem to like her?"
[19:08:10] <@KataraPlushie> "Oh, The Duke," Katara filled in. "He certainly seemed to care about her, although it's unclear right now whether it's just a tight friendship or something more. I would try and talk to her about it, but I don't think she'd be wildly enthused about that. She seems like the type who likes to keep things to herself."
[19:11:44] <@AangPlushie> "Besides, I don't think Toph would really like him that way," Aang added. "He doesn't seem to have the same traits that Toph has, and I don't think she'd care that much for his personality. Then again, we don't know entirely for sure, and if we can't get it out of here, I guess it becomes a wait and see."
[19:16:24] <@KataraPlushie> Zuko shrugged slightly and said, "People with different personalities sometimes find companionship with one another. But you're right, there's nothing much we can do except sit back and see how it plays out." A cold breeze blew by, so he intensified the blaze a bit more. Off in the distance, cat owls hooted and crickets chirped.
[19:21:49] <@AangPlushie> For several moments, the couples sat in silence. Aang then broke it by saying, "It's starting to get quite late. I think the others are probably starting to worry about us by now, and it's starting to get cooler. We should head back."
[19:26:37] <@KataraPlushie> "I think that would be best," Zuko agreed. "This double date was really fun, though. We should spend time together more often." With a quick, fluent motion, he quelled the fire and conjured a small flame in his palm, so they could see. "We really should," Katara said, rising to her feet along with Aang. "I enjoyed this evening."
[19:29:54] <@AangPlushie> "This was a great idea," Aang said to Mai, whom he recalled had suggested the idea weeks ago in the Fire Nation Capital. "Thanks," Mai replied. "I just figured, since you two were together, we could kind of celebrate and all of us could spend time together." "Well, it was a good thought," Katara said. "Not only for me and Aang along with Zuko and yourself as lovers, but the four of us in general as friends."
[19:34:49] <@KataraPlushie> "Yep, nothing like a few friends spending time and getting to know one another better," Zuko said brightly. And with that, they made their way back to the monorail station, the light of the fire leading the way. The station and train itself were emptier, save for a few night-goers, and the trip was quick.
[19:36:35] <@AangPlushie> "Boy, it really has quieted down," Aang noted. "For a major city, it seems really quiet, even for this time of night." "I guess city life does have a stop every so often," Katara replied. "Not a bad thing of course, I don't mind a little peace and quiet." With that, they made their way off the monorail.
[20:07:06] <@KataraPlushie> The walk back to the apartment building was silent but blissful, the couples walking side by side. Aang wondered if anyone was still up and about or if they were all in the rooms, settling down for the night. They stepped inside the lobby of the building, welcoming the warmth of being inside.
[20:09:16] <@AangPlushie> Someone did catch sound of them, and a girl walked out of her room and into the living room. "Oh, there you four are!" She said, revealing herself to be Suki. "You were out a little late." The couples looked to Suki, and Aang said, "Time flies when you're having fun."
[20:12:58] <@KataraPlushie> "Where did you guys go?" she inquired to which Katara told her, "We went out to an outdoor restaurant then just for a little walk at Lake Laogai." "Very nice," Suki said, with an approving nod. "Did you and Sokka do anything special? Is he still up?" the waterbender asked.
[20:15:12] <@AangPlushie> "No," Suki answered. "He went to sleep about an hour ago." Aang gave a slight sigh of relief at Suki's answer, prompting her to ask him, "Is there something wrong, Aang?" "Oh, no," Aang said. "It's nothing, don't worry about it, Suki. I'm fine." Suki looked confused. "Are you sure? Because you sound nerved."
[20:20:18] <@KataraPlushie> "We've just been... at odds with one another concerning me and Katara being together," Aang told her hesitantly. Suki frowned slightly and replied, "Oh, that's terrible to hear. I recall Sokka mentioning something about you two not too long ago... I hope all works out for you. Perhaps I can talk to him - I don't have any qualms against you being together."
[20:26:15] <@AangPlushie> Katara smiled. "I hope you can get through to him," She then said. "If anyone can, I know it's you. He won't even listen to me for whatever reason." Suki just shook her head. "Yeah, I'll really have to talk to him. It's a shame, really, that he won't listen even though you too look so happy with each other."
[20:32:39] <@KataraPlushie> "That's what we're all wondering about," Zuko said. "But Katara's right - he's bound to listen to you." Suki nodded thoughtfully before saying, "Well, I'm glad you guys had fun tonight. Although you all look pretty worn out." "Yeah, we're ready to turn in for the night," Katara replied.
[20:34:23] <@AangPlushie> "Anyhow," Suki said, "To your other question earlier, me and Sokka took a walk around the Upper Ring. We talked about certain things, you know, what we might do down the line, looked back on the War a little bit...he said he wants to come to Kyoshi Island in the near future to spend some time."
[20:37:55] <@KataraPlushie> "Oh really?" Katara asked curiously. "Did he mention how long he'd want to stay there?" Suki shook her head slightly and replied, "He didn't say how long exactly, just that it may be a couple months or so. And then, he said, he would like to return to the Southern Water Tribe. We didn't go into too much detail."
[20:40:21] <@AangPlushie> Katara nodded idly. "That's interesting, since we were just talking about moving back to the South Pole in the near future," the waterbender then said. "I see," Suki replied. "Well, I guess we should get together and discuss this while we're here in Ba Sing Se," Aang then said. "I was thinking about joining them at the South Pole...if Sokka was okay with it."
[20:44:36] <@KataraPlushie> "I'm sure he will be, although he may have his reservations from what you told me. In any case, it would be smart to sit around and have a talk about these things. And then I'll have that private conversation with him about you two," said Suki. "With the moving, though, I guess we'll have to see what he decides."
[20:47:24] <@AangPlushie> "Just hope for the best," Zuko told them. "Out of curiosity, Aang, what would you do if you couldn't move to the South Pole?" Aang shuddered at the thought. "To be honest, I don't know what I would do. Katara, I certainly wouldn't drag you away from home...so for me...I just don't know. I guess I'd travel around for a while and see what best suited me..."
[20:50:47] <@KataraPlushie> "I wouldn't be willing to leave you alone," Katara told him. "Of course being away from home would be a little hard, but I couldn't stand the idea of being away from you." "I don't think you have much to worry about," Suki assured them. "I'll see to it that Sokka not turn you away. Just leave it to me."
[20:53:18] <@AangPlushie> "I wouldn't want to keep you away from your family," Aang then said to Katara. "Let's just hope we don't have to come across the possibility." The Avatar then turned to Suki. "Thank you...I sincerely hope you can break through to him." The room then settled to silence for a little bit.
[20:55:39] <@KataraPlushie> Mai let out a low yawn and spoke up. "Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready for bed. This has certainly been fun, but I need my sleep." "I'm with Mai," Zuko added. "We better retire for the night."
[10:20:03] <@AangPlushie> Katara stretched and gave a yawn. "Yeah, I'm beat too," the waterbender then said, "Now we've got a bit to talk about in the days ahead. So, we really should get some rest." "All right," Suki said to the sleepy couples. "I'll let you all go then. Have a good night's sleep, and try not to worry about things too much."
[10:23:07] <@KataraPlushie> "Heh, we'll try. Good night," Katara called after her as the warrior made her way back to her bedroom. Mai and Zuko began heading out as well, saying, "Alright, we'll see you in the morning." After they had left, Katara turned to Aang. "Are you going up as well?"
[10:25:36] <@AangPlushie> "I think so," Aang answered. "It's been a long night. Fun, but long. I'm tired as well." Katara nodded and said, "All right, let's head upstairs then." The couple locked hands and made their way towards their respective bedrooms, preparing to end their days.
[10:30:57] <@KataraPlushie> "Well, I guess this is good night for now," the young waterbender said, a bit disappointed to see the evening end, as they stood outside the door of her room. "Until tomorrow," Aang told her brightly to which she smiled before saying, "Thank you for being there and comforting me down by the lake. It's been a while since that incident happened, but it's still rough to think about."
[10:33:40] <@AangPlushie> The Avatar took her hand into his and said, "You're welcome...that was certainly a rough moment for us all...and I promise, whenever you need help, whenever I hear you cry, whenever you need that comfort...I'll be there. Just like you've always been there for me."
[10:37:49] <@KataraPlushie> Katara smiled lovingly at him, more grateful for having him by her side than for anything else. A silence fell over them and wanting to do nothing more, she straightened up, taking his hands in hers and leaned forward.
[10:39:49] <@AangPlushie> Aang knew what was coming. He then leaned forward himself and puckered his lips, preparing for the feeling he had gotten a few times before. He closed his eyes, and soon felt his lips brush against hers, a feeling which whisked him away into a dream world.
[10:43:11] <@KataraPlushie> There wasn't a more fulfilling feeling for Katara than being able to embrace her boyfriend tightly and share a kiss. Everything fell silent, even the city and all its noise outside and it was just them. It was a while before she reluctantly pulled away.
[10:44:45] <@AangPlushie> Aang's eyes continued to beam in a loving smile, even though the kiss ended. "I love you more than anything in this world," Aang then said, "and I hope to always be with you. For now, though...I guess this is good night."
[10:47:59] <@KataraPlushie> Katara grinned, saying, "Yes, good night and sweet dreams. And I love you more than you'll ever know. Here's to a brighter future by your side." She gave him a quick hug before easing open the door to her bedroom.
[10:49:04] <@AangPlushie> Aang went into his room and fell onto his bed. /Forget Sokka...this is the best feeling in the world.../ He thought to himself, closing his eyes and smiling dreamily, thinking about everything he and Katara had. For now, everything was simply...perfect.
- First and only roleplay to feature a double-date.
- "Lake Laogai" is referred to twice in Zuko releasing Appa from the Dai Li's base and the murder of Jet.
- Zuko and Mai tell Katara and Aang of the "threat" Mai made to Zuko in "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang".
- Mai recalls her betrayal of Azula in "The Boiling Rock, Part 2".