[12:40:26] <@KataraPlushie> "There it is." Katara was leaning forward and pointing a finger towards their destination, the Royal Palace of the Fire Nation in the distance. She felt a growing sense of anticipation and excitement, knowing today was a special day, where all the members of Team Avatar would reunite once again. It had been years since they were last together and they had a lot to catch up on.
[12:43:41] <@AangPlushie> "It feels like we are all coming back home again," Aang mused. He was now nearly twenty years old and was married to the one he loved. The couple was coming alone; Sokka would be picking up his wife, Suki, at Kyoshi Island and they would make their own way over. Toph had apparently already arrived with her husband, and Ty Lee was coming over with her partner from Omashu. The couple figured that everyone else was right behind them. As the capital came more into view, Aang directred Appa to start descending.
[12:47:40] <@KataraPlushie> Outside the palace, Fire Lord Zuko and his expecting wife, Mai, stood, awaiting the arrival of all their old friends. The two had made great preparations for the reunion, making sure everything was in order and just right for this celebration of sorts. "I think I see them," Zuko said suddenly, squinting up at the sky and catching sight of a quickly approaching Appa.
[12:50:49] <@AangPlushie> The bison carrying the couple landed right out in front of the Royal Palace, and the married couple dismounted. Soon, Aang and Katara embraced each member of their fellow married couple. "Welcome back again," Zuko said, earning a bow from each of them. "Great to be back today," Aang responded. Katara focused her attention on Mai's stomach. "It looks like the baby is coming along well," she then said. "Indeed it is," Mai replied. "About four more months until Zuko and I officially become parents."
[12:56:39] <@KataraPlushie> "You must be really excited," Katara said. "Indeed we are," Mai told her with a nod. "Although this guy's really been looking out for me. He won't let me go anywhere alone these days," she teased Zuko just smiled and shook his head. "But enough of my problems - how have you two been faring? From what we hear, you're very happy together."
[18:17:31] <@AangPlushie> "We are doing quite well," Aang responded, "thanks for asking." As the Avatar finished up his answer, a couple walked outside. It was Toph with her new husband, Hishedo, also an earthbender. "Toph!" Katara exclaimed upon sighting her. "Well, I would know that voice anywhere," Toph responded with a smile. "Looks like Sugar Queen made it, I presume with Twinkle-Toes," she added while chuckling.
[18:25:18] <@KataraPlushie> "Yes, I'm right here," Aang chimed in, he and Katara walking up the couple and bowing in greeting. "And you're Hishedo, right?" he asked to which the earthbender nodded. "From what Toph has told us, you're both settling in quite well." "Yeah. He even deals with my stubborn attitude which is really saying something," Toph joked.
[18:27:56] <@AangPlushie> "Well, being an earthbender means that you too have to be stubborn," Hishedo replied. "But yes, I do put up with her, and although it is a challenge at points, we get through it." "He kind of has cracked through to my soft side a few times," Toph added. "Guess he's good with that." The six friends then looked around for a moment, waiting for the rest of the group. "Avatar Aang," Hishedo began, "how is the United Republic coming along?"
[18:32:42] <@KataraPlushie> "It's been a challenge at times, but we have the all the plans laid out and plan to start construction of the city very soon. We hope that creating a new settlement where people from all nations will be beneficial, although I can't say it'll be an easy process," Aang informed him. "People will have to be willing to move there and adjust. But for now, things are looking up."
[18:36:10] <@AangPlushie> "Nicely done," Hishedo told him. "We have been looking at possibly living there in the future, so hopefully the success continues." "Zuko and I can promise you personally that it will," Aang told Toph's husband. "Hey look," Katara then said, turning around. "I think I see Sokka and Suki coming."
[18:39:43] <@KataraPlushie> Everyone averted their gaze to the streets of the capital where Sokka and Suki were making their way towards the palace. "Looks like most of the team is already here," Sokka noted, as they drew nearer. He waved over at them and he and Suki quickened their pace to reach the rest of their friends.
[18:43:34] <@AangPlushie> "Looks like you're right, Katara," Aang responded. Indeed, the next couple was making its way down the street leading up to the palace. It wasn't long before Katara ran over to embrace her brother and another one of her friends, who was now her sister-in-law. "Great to see you both!" She then said. "Well, it's great to be here to see everyone again," Suki replied. "Sorry for being a little later than expected," Sokka said, "but we ran into a bit of a storm on the way."
[18:48:20] <@KataraPlushie> "Oh, that's okay," Katara dismissed their concern. "We're just glad you could make it." They rejoined the rest of the group where more warm greetings were exchanged. "Ty Lee is also supposed to come today, right?" Suki questioned, noticing the warrior was absent. "Yes, she and her husband could come. They should be here very soon," Aang told her.
[18:51:28] <@AangPlushie> After greeting Aang and Katara, Sokka and Suki made their way to the other couples. "Welcome back," Zuko told them. "Good to be back," Sokka replied. "It's been a while since we were all under one roof." Toph then walked over and punched Sokka in the arm. "Well, if it isn't Captain Boomerang," the blind earthbender then said. Sokka rubbed his arm while saying, "Great to see you too, Toph, and your husband as well." "Don't worry, I won't punch you in the arm," Hishedo told him.
[18:55:42] <@KataraPlushie> "Heh, good," Sokka replied. "Still have a habit of doing that, huh? Is that how you show your husband affection?" he asked Toph in amusement. The earthbender simply shrugged and said, "Hey, old habits are hard to break." Sokka surveyed the group and asked, "Will General Iroh be with us?"
[18:58:28] <@AangPlushie> "I'm afraid not," Zuko replied with a somewhat regretful tone. "He has to continue to work with the Jasmine Dragon. He told me that he has taken a lot of time off as of late because he wasn't feeling so well, so he wants to make sure he keeps up more with things there. He sent us his best wishes though." "That's somewhat of a disappointment," Aang replied. "I guess it would feel a little more complete if your uncle was with us."
[19:04:15] <@KataraPlushie> "I know, but I can understand why he would choose to remain in Ba Sing Se. Running a successful business is demanding. Maybe next time around when we all get together, he can join us," Zuko said. "Hopefully so," the Avatar agreed. Suki craned her neck and caught sight of a familiar face. "Hey, look who's finally here," she said excitedly.
[19:06:46] <@AangPlushie> Katara turned around and indeed, she saw her best friend coming, the same girl she had begun to see as a sister a few years ago. Ty Lee was in her Kyoshi Warrior get-up, and was locking hands with her husband Aren. "Looks like the gang is already here...guess we're late," Ty Lee said to her husband. "I'm sure it's not a problem," Aren responded.
[19:11:41] <@KataraPlushie> "Sorry we're so late!" Ty Lee called out as they came up to the group. "We had some trouble making connections with all the boats and carriages we took to get here. I hope you guys weren't waiting too long for us." "Not to worry," Zuko assured her. "We weren't waiting very long. It's great to see you again after so long. Looks like we have quite a few things to catch up on, all of us."
[19:14:47] <@AangPlushie> The friends embraced each other over the next couple of moments, getting re-acquainted. "It's amazing how we all stand here, now all married," Ty Lee noted. "How fast things have moved...and yet he we all are, full house." The rest of the group nodded. "So, what exactly is in the plans for today?" Suki asked to their host, Zuko.
[19:21:14] <@KataraPlushie> "Well, we can all go the drawing room first and settle down for a bit, just catch up on everything. I've had my servants prepare an excellent meal for you which should be ready within the hour," Zuko replied. "And I've also had them prepare the guest rooms for any and all who wish to spend a few nights here. I assume you're all planning on spending at least a couple days here?" The couples all nodded in reply.
[18:49:11] <@AangPlushie> Katara and Aang made their way up to the room, which was in A-class shape. "I must say, Zuko's servants do a great job of keeping this place in top shape," Aang commented. "I'm sure they have to," Katara replied. "But yes, it is extremely well-kept at the moment." The couple placed their bags on the bed and began unpacking them for their four-day stay.
[18:54:43] <KataraPlushie> The rest of the couples did the same, setting down all their possessions and preparing for their stay. It wasn't long before they all felt settled in and one-by-one made their way out into the wide hallway. Zuko approached them and said, "I hope your accomodations are all to your liking," to which the group unanimously agreed. "Excellent. Let's go to the drawing room then."
[18:56:14] <@AangPlushie> The team settled into the drawing room, knowing it wouldn't be too much longer until the meal that Zuko requested for them all would be out. "It feels great to be all back under one roof," Katara said, starting the conversation. "I can't believe how long it's been...almost seven years now. What a ride it was..."
[19:00:51] <KataraPlushie> "You can say that again," agreed Sokka. "It hasn't always been easy, probably most especially for you two." He gestured to Aang and Zuko while saying this. "You're right. The responsibility of repairing the world isn't an easy one to bear," Aang told him. "There's still so much work to be done and sometimes it's stressful, but I try to take it one day at a time."
[19:03:13] <@AangPlushie> "The United Republic of Nations, of course," Zuko added, "is probably the biggest and most revolutionizing project in world history. No one ever said it was going to be easy. It may still be another number of years before Republic City is fully completed, not to mention some people are still resisting the idea. It's not as bad as it's been in the past, but still."
[19:09] <@KataraPlushie> "Have there been any recent upheavals?" Suki asked. "There hasn't been much conflict in the Fire Nation for almost a year now, but that doesn't mean we should let our guard down the slightest bit. For all we now, something could be brewing right now, although let's hope not," Zuko replied. "What's the basic layout for the United Republic? And where is it supposed to be built exactly?" Sokka inquired.
[19:11] <@AangPlushie> "We're aiming for the northwestern Earth Kingdom," Aang replied. "There's a lot of open area for a large city along the coast, something sort of like Omashu, but at a much lower elevation. We think we will format the general area of the Republic along the coast, and in the center of the republic, there will be the area of the capital, Republic City."
[19:21] <@KataraPlushie> "There has also been quite a bit of talk about the layout of Republic City itself and it seems like the city could be more than anything we've ever seen before," Zuko added. "Construction should commence very soon and there are designs for buildings that are quite magnificent, unlike anything else in the world. We're a long way off, but I can't help but wonder about when it's all finished. People may be impressed..."
[19:26] <@AangPlushie> "Hey Aang," Suki asked, "is it true that people want to construct a statue of you in front of Republic City?" Aang nodded and said, "That is correct, Suki. But, I'm not quite sure if I really want or need a statue. It's kind of a bit uncomfortable to be worshiped or something for doing, what was at the end of the day, my job."
[19:41] <@KataraPlushie> Sokka shrugged and said, "People want to pay tribute to you for what you did. If you're really against it, of course, it doesn't have to be done, but I don't see anything wrong with such a tribute. Even if it was your job, what you accomplished was still huge and people will never forget that. Just take the credit for once." He smiled at the Avatar.
[19:43] <AangPlushie> Aang nodded, but still felt unsure about the whole thing. "I know what you're trying to say, Sokka....but a whole statue of me? It just...the concept seems kind of silly." "Oh, lighten up, will you Twinkle Toes?" Toph said. "Come on, who wouldn't like a whole statue dedicated to themselves right out in front of a large city?"
[19:49] <@KataraPlushie> Hishedo couldn't help but chuckle and said to her, "I know you'd probably love something like that." "Well, it's nice to be appreciated. Who knows, I could have my own one day, you just wait and see," Toph told him. She turned to Aang, saying, "But that's just me. You may prefer to be appreciated in smaller, less glorious ways. To each his own, I guess."
[19:52] <@AangPlushie> "I also heard a statue of you, Zuko, is in the works," Sokka said to the Fire Lord. Zuko nodded and replied, "Yes, though I heard it's in the plans more at like a downtown station of sorts. Not quite outside the city where they would put Aang's statue. I don't mind, really. It would be a nice tribute, I guess. I don't need an extremely large statue, either, and I guess I can see where Aang would be uncomfortable with it.
19:04:29] <@KataraPlushie> Toph chuckled and shook her head, "I don't get you guys sometimes... A little hero worship is just fine, but whatever you two say." Sokka changed the subject, asking, "So Toph, how's the academy coming along? A lot of people enrolling and learning metalbending?" "I'm happy to say it's quite a success," Toph said with satisfaction. "True, it is hard trying to teach them the technique as it is highly advanced, but things are going well."
[19:08:45] <@AangPlushie> "I wonder how much more spread metalbending will become in years to come," Aang mused. "Until just a few years ago, after all, no one knew about it." "Well, if Toph continues her teachings over the next few years," Sokka said, "who knows? It could become a mainstream thing...like maybe in a patrol force or something. You never know..."
[19:13:57] <@KataraPlushie> "Hm, that would actually be a good idea," Aang considered thoughtfully. "To have them be part of a patrol force... It could happen." "Perhaps. Republic City will need a police force," Zuko pointed out. "By that time, they could be highly qualified to enroll in something like that."
[19:16:43] <@AangPlushie> "It's going to be a large city, isn't it?" Hishedo asked. "Well, not be bragging about her or anything, but my wife could be in charge of that." Toph then chuckled. "Oh, dear...come on Hishedo...I don't really need that uplift. But you can brag some more." The entire team laughed. "I guess some things never change," Katara replied. "Toph, you're still that confident girl you always were years ago,"
[19:20:54] <@KataraPlushie> "And from what I can tell, you and Twinkle Toes over there haven't changed much either. Guess it goes to show that even grown up, you can still be the same," Toph said. Aang looked over at Hishedo and asked, "What line of work are you in?"
[19:23:33] <@AangPlushie> "I am currently working in some military business," Hishedo replied, "Though nothing combat related. It's just mostly working out some side stuff. Just domestic guarding, town clean-up from the war, number-crunching....general business more than anything, since major combat operations have ended of course."
[19:30:42] <@KataraPlushie> "Ah, I see," Aang said thoughtfully. "And you're happy with what you do?" Hishedo nodded and told him, "Yes, I like the position I'm in now. And with Toph by my side, what could be better?" "I have to say, I'm surprised you settled down so quickly, Toph," Suki remarked. "You always struck me as very independent."
[19:33:46] <@AangPlushie> "I needed nothing more than to get away from my parents for at least some time," Toph replied. "Once I finally got that chance, and we forgave each other, I figured I could settle that part of me as well. I still feel like I am capable of taking care of myself, and don't like being 'protected', but, I needed to know what love was too....and in Hishedo, I found that."
19:38:24] <@KataraPlushie> "That's nice to hear," said Katara. She cast her gaze over to Ty Lee and Aren sitting together on a sofa, seemingly more than happy to have each other's company and said, "And I can see it's a happy ending for you two. I still remember prodding you years ago to go for it. I guess it really worked out in the end."
[19:41:29] <@AangPlushie> "I took it just the way you two suggested," Ty Lee said to Katara, also directing her words towards Aang. "I just started talking to him one day, we made friendship over time, and just became closer and closer...he was there for me a lot...and we realized over time that we loved each other." "I remember that night I proposed," Aren added. "I was quite nervous...but I just took out the ruby ring, and just let the words flow...and she was quite overjoyed. She told me she had been waiting for /weeks/ for me to ask."
[19:48:10] <@KataraPlushie> Katara and Aang looked at Ty Lee in amusement upon hearing this statement. She simply said with a grin, "Well, I was... I just felt like somersaulting the whole way home after that night. But yeah, I really owe you two a thanks for pushing me that extra step. Who knows where I would have been had I just withdrawn?"
[19:49:32] <@AangPlushie> "You're welcome," Aang replied. "The fact of that the matter is, Ty Lee, you did go for it, and we're proud of you for working up the courage to do so." "Ty Lee," Katara began, "I told you that I had the same reaction when Aang asked me to marry him, right? So what, did you take that from me?" She then chuckled.
[16:58:07] <@KataraPlushie> Ty Lee laughed and held up her hands in mock surrender. "Okay, okay, you caught me, I guess. But hey, can I help it if we were both equally overjoyed?" She sighed in content, saying, "I still remember your wedding. Both of you looked positively ecstatic, but then again why wouldn't you? That was a great affair."
[17:01:29] <@AangPlushie> "You know," Aang began, "I change what was the 'best day of my life' about as often as I take a breath." The room chuckled as he wrapped up the statement. "But, in all honesty, I couldn't think of any better day than that wedding. Katara, you yourself looked quite amazing...then again you always have." The waterbender blushed at her husband's words. "Well...you were also quite handsome too," she then said.
[17:15:50] <@KataraPlushie> The Avatar had a bashful look of his own at these words and the others swooned at this show of affection. "I can probably say the same for me," Zuko agreed with Aang's statement. "It seems that as the days go by, they grow better and better, but right now, there's none more cherishable than our own wedding day. I still remember it so clearly. And now look, we're ready to start a family."
[17:27:48] <@AangPlushie> "Looks like the next Fire Lord may very well be on the way," Aang said. "I won't wager any guesses...but I feel like you might have a firebender there. I can feel spiritual energy around you, Mai." "Your Avatar powers get stranger every day, don't they?" Sokka asked jokingly. "Now you can tell if someone is about to have a bender." "I guess maybe I can..." Aang mused.
[17:33:03] <@KataraPlushie> "Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see if your Avatar powers are right," Zuko said, amused. "I wonder if it'll be a boy or girl." "Is there anything in Fire Nation culture that says females can't inherit the throne or something?" Toph asked out of curiosity. "From what I know, no, I don't think so," Zuko replied. "Azula was about to be crowned after all, before Sozin's Comet. Either way, our first child will
[17:35:21] <@KataraPlushie> "Azula was about to be crowned after all, before Sozin's Comet. Either way, our first child will probably be next in line."
[17:37:15] <@AangPlushie> "I wonder what the husband of a female Fire Lord would be called," Suki mused. "I know the wife of the Fire Lord is the 'Fire Lady'...so...what do you call it when the tables are turned?" "It's an interesting point," Zuko replied. "There's no precedence for a female Fire Lord besides the failed attempt to crown Azula...so...I don't know. Guess we'll see if it comes into play."
[17:42:12] <@KataraPlushie> After a moment, Mai asked Sokka, "So you've been living on Kyoshi Island now?" "Yes, indeed," Sokka replied. "I'll admit, having to move out of the South Pole and settle down somewhere else was a bit of an adjustment, but we managed. Suki had insisted that she could move to the Southern Tribe instead, but I couldn't take her away from her duties on Kyoshi Island."
[17:46:04] <@AangPlushie> "I was a bit surprised when you made that decision," Katara recalled. "As I recall, Dad was talking about making you his successor to the chiefdom...so, I wonder what he's going to wind up doing now that you've moved away." "I talked to him about it not too long ago," Sokka answered his sister. "He's made his pick." "Sokka," Suki then said. "If your father wants you to take over the chiefdom, I can come south with you. I'm being serious."
[17:50:05] <@KataraPlushie> "But you're still the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors," Sokka pointed out. "I don't want you to leave them behind just to please me." Suki shook her head, saying, "No, it's fine. I can always put someone else in charge." She gave a sidelong glance to Ty Lee from across the room. "I'd be ready, willing and able to do that."
[17:55:44] <@AangPlushie> "You sure I could be it?" Ty Lee asked her fellow warrior. "Of course," Suki replied. "Come on Ty Lee, you have been with us quite a while now. You revolutionized our fighting style with chi-blocking, and made us far stronger than ever. You also have great leadership skills. I honestly think you can do this." "Thing of it is," Ty Lee said, "Who knows how long I'll be able to hang on. At some point, the torch has to be passed to the next generation too."
[18:00:38] <@KataraPlushie> "With your skills, I'm sure you'll shape many of those girls into great, potential leaders," Suki assured her. "When the time comes that you feel you should bequeath the position to another, I'm sure you'll have an eligible warrior. And I think it would be quite a while before you resign."
[18:05:46] <@AangPlushie> "I guess it would depend on how things work out," Ty Lee replied. "If we need to move away or something..." Aren stopped Ty Lee right there. "Don't worry about that, Ty Lee. If we need to stay so you can lead the Kyoshi Warriors for whatever amount of time, we will."
[18:09:54] <@KataraPlushie> Ty Lee couldn't help but smile at this and, turning to Suki, said, "Well, if it comes to that, then yes, I'd be honored to take the position," bowing her head slightly in gratitude. "Excellent then," Suki exclaimed. "I know you'll be an exceptional leader. I've seen an ever-growing respect for you among the warriors ever since you first joined. It's clear they look up to you."
[18:12:25] <@AangPlushie> "Sokka," Katara began, "I am sure you would also make a great chief, so I think it would be great to see you come back home. I mean, Dad wanted to put his trust in you for an obvious reason." Sokka nodded to his sister. "Thanks, Katara. Guess we'll have to see how things shake out now. But the tribe is coming along well, and if Suki really is willing to come with me, then I'll tell Dad that he doesn't have to worry about picking a guy after all."
[18:17:20] <@KataraPlushie> "That should make things a whole lot easier for him," Aang remarked. "Although that's not to say he's been having any stressful times lately. Things are actually going along pretty well. The reconstruction project amounted to more than I think anyone could have imagined. No longer is the South Pole on the brink of being wiped off the map and there's even been trading business going on."
[18:19:56] <@AangPlushie> "It's about time," Zuko said. "After my grandfather nearly pushed it to extinction, it's a refreshing feeling to see it finally get off the ground. This is exactly what I was hoping to see happen in the aftermath of the War, and based on the details you all have been giving me, it seems like things are ahead of schedule."
[18:25:50] <@KataraPlushie> "Well then, that's good news," Sokka said. "Hopefully we can keep up this pace." One of the servants eased open the door, bowed and announced, "The lunch is served." "Ah, okay," Zuko said. "Well, shall we?" He and the others rose from their seats and he and Mai led them out of the drawing room to the dining hall.
[18:27:58] <@AangPlushie> The entire group made their way to the elegant dining hall. The table was covered in a clean red tablecloth, the windows wide open with light red curtains on their sides, the sunlight shining in to give a beautiful feel, and the table decorated with clean glasses, plates and silverware. Each of the group took their seats around the table, watching as the servants came out with several dishes.
[22:17:23] <@KataraPlushie> The team members expressed their thanks as the servants laid down the dishes and set down drinks. Everything was set up and ready within moments and everyone settled in comfortably to enjoy the meal. Before they began, Zuko raised his glass, the others following suit, and said brightly, "To a happy and now reunited Team Avatar." "Cheers!" the others exclaimed.
[22:20:44] <@AangPlushie> The glasses clinked across the table, smiles on everyone's faces as they came under one roof for the first time in a long time. It was a great day for all parties involved as they prepared to feast as a team again. Slowly but surely, everyone's dishes were brought to them, and then they started to eat.
[22:27:54] <@KataraPlushie> "This is excellent," Suki complimented, as she sampled a piece of fish. "But of course, being here, you wouldn't expect anything less." "Indeed, your servers have really outdone themselves," Ty Lee agreed. "But then again, I've been saying that for years now, ever since we were little kids." "Ah, looking back, we used to come over here for dinner quite a lot," Mai said. "Azula would always invite us over."
[22:31:38] <@AangPlushie> Ty Lee shuddered at the name Azula. "Uggh...but yeah, she would," she then recalled. "Gosh, what a while ago those days were...and this place was a lot different back then. It wasn't quite as elegant." "Well," Zuko said, "Now that the war's over, all that money we had to budget for it became freed up, so, I used a little to help shape up the palace."
[22:36:19] <@KataraPlushie> "Have you ever thought of renovating the throne room?" Sokka asked. "Because it's pretty ominous in there." "My great-grandfather Sozin designed it to be that way," Zuko explained, shaking his head slightly. "You're right, though. The world is a better place and the atmosphere here should reflect that. We have been thinking of investing in such a project, although it's been hard with war meetings and all that are held there."
[22:42:00] <@AangPlushie> "Not to mention," Mai said to him, "You got to watch where you're spreading all the free money. You got some flack for the renovations to the palace, keeping in mind that there are still some war-stricken people in the nation." Zuko nodded. "I know...and that's part of the reason why I haven't invested in the throne room yet. I guess I'll see after the next budget meeting."
[22:49:14] <@KataraPlushie> "Alright, well it's something to think about," Aang said. As she was enjoying a particular soup dish, Mai pondered it for a moment then looked over at Zuko and said, "You know, I just remembered. Didn't your mother used to make this dish for us?" "Oh yeah, always," Zuko said with relish. "That was always her specialty."
[22:52:50] <@AangPlushie> "Was she ever found?" Sokka asked. "Last I heard, you had sent out that search team years ago..." Zuko sighed sadly. "Unfortunately...no. I've cut back the search team lately...I don't know if my mom will ever be found at this rate." Mai placed a hand on her husband's shoulder, as the rest of the group gave the Fire Lord a sympathetic look. "It's a very tough feeling to lose those who you love," Aang said. "I know how you feel..."
[22:58:07] <@KataraPlushie> "It is hard... Especially since I thought there was a chance after my father admitted that she had been banished. Up until that point, I had always assumed the worst," Zuko admitted. "Maybe I was just giving myself a false sense of hope." "Well, I wouldn't say that," Ty Lee said slowly. "You never know how things will turn out after all. Even if it takes years to come."
[23:02:54] <@AangPlushie> "No one ever said she was dead," Katara added. "For all we know, she's still lurking out there, somewhere...you can never give up hope. Remember, for almost a hundred years, everyone thought Aang was gone, and the War would end in defeat...and yet, here we are. We stopped it, and now we're settling into peace. Never give up hope."
[23:08:00] <@KataraPlushie> Zuko considered their words of solace and felt his spirits lift a little. "You really have a point there. I guess I anticipated instant gratification without really thinking that it may very well take years." "Hey, I know what you mean. Everyone wants immediate results, but that's not always the case," Sokka said. "I think you should continue with the search parties." The others nodded along in agreement.
[23:13:41] <@AangPlushie> "Well, all we can do is wait and see," Zuko said. "The search committee has said this to be the most puzzling case they have ever encountered. It's been so long...but yes, you're right." The team then continued to eat. Aang looked at his vegetable dish and saw all the freshness of them. "Zuko...where does your staff get these from? It's all pretty good."
[21:08:35] <@KataraPlushie> "We just buy them from farmers living only a few miles outside of the capital," Zuko told him. "Not from anyplace really special, just local produce which may surprise quite a few people. But yes, it's all very fresh. I'm glad you find it to your liking. And I hope the rest goes for you." "Oh absolutely," Sokka was the first to say, as expected.
[21:12:27] <@AangPlushie> "It's all pretty well-done," Ty Lee said, "then again, it always has been." "I guess only the best for the highest in the Fire Nation," Hishedo remarked. "Well, make sure you give their compliments to the staff," Zuko said. "They're the ones who help organize this entire party." The team nodded and agreed to that, before continuing to eat. "So, how has life been for all of you as of late?" Mai then asked.
[21:17:18] <@KataraPlushie> "Things have been well in the South Pole," said Aang. "How's your teaching job going?" Ty Lee asked Katara who smiled and said, "I'm happy to say that it's going very well. I've been managing more classes of greater sizes. Although Master Pakku recently told me that he's considering retiring soon. It's a shame, he's such a great master and has been teaching for so long, but of course it's his choice."
[21:21:15] <@AangPlushie> "Well, he will be 90 before too long," Sokka said. "I think Pakku knows that he is darn near reaching his limit." "Quite honestly Katara," Aang said to his wife, "I think he's ready to pass the torch to you as the lead waterbending master of the South Pole." Katara blushed somewhat. "Me...as the central master? I don't know...I don't think I'm quite ready." "Come on," Ty Lee urged her. "You're ready for it! Think about it, what better waterbenders are there in the world?"
[21:28:46] <@KataraPlushie> "Oh please, I'm sure there are quite a few waterbenders out there who are older and more experienced than I am," Katara muttered. Suki shook her head, incredulous, and said, "If there's one waterbender out there who surpasses your skills, they must be godly or something. Is it that you don't want to take up the position?" "Well, actually," Katara replied, "it might be nice..." "If Master Pakku says you're qualified, please, don't worry," Toph said.
[21:32:39] <@AangPlushie> "Seriously Katara," Sokka said to his sister. "You don't give yourself enough credit for your own waterbending abilities. You're more than ready to lead the future waterbenders of the world." "Sokka," Katara replied, "You make it sound like I'm going to be this prophet for waterbenders or something..." "I'm just saying...you've always been modest, sis," Sokka added.
[21:39:18] <@KataraPlushie> "Okay, okay, I'll think about. Does that make you happy?" Katara finally said. "Good," Aang said. "And we'll be ready to celebrate when you do get promoted," he added with a wink. The waterbender rolled her eyes in good nature before saying, "Well, enough about me. How have things been for you two?" she asked Sokka and Suki. "What have the Kyoshi Warriors been doing?"
[21:42:05] <@AangPlushie> "Thankfully," Suki said, "We haven't had to do much as of late. There is the occasional disturbance out there, but it's been relatively quiet." Katara nodded. "That's good to hear...having to protect that entire island is quite a task, so, to get things to settle down is a nice break, right?" "Yeah," Suki replied back. "Though sometimes it feels a little boring too..."
[21:48:55] <@KataraPlushie> "I can see how it could get a little quiet at times...," Aang remarked. "I keep trying to convince her to let me come by one day when things are down and do a little stand-up comedy," Sokka said, nudging her a little. Suki laughed and said, "Yeah, maybe one day, Sokka..." "Hey, you've got to admit, I make some pretty good jokes," Sokka said proudly.
[21:52:54] <@AangPlushie> "Do we have to hear another 'rocky relationship' joke in regards to Toph?" Katara asked, rolling her eyes amusingly. "Uggh, don't remind me," Toph said. "The first thing he asked Hishedo and I on our wedding day...walks right up to me." "Come on," Sokka turned to Toph and said, "you know you enjoy the rocky relationship line! Besides, it's perfect for you two! You're both earthbenders...why not?"
[22:01:57] <@KataraPlushie> "Well, I do enjoy it in that it's pretty corny," Toph told him. "That's good enough for me," Sokka replied. "And maybe it fits in that we're both earthbenders," she began, "but it's not like we actually have a rocky relationship. And thank the spirits for that." "Yeah, things have usually been pretty smooth between us," Hishedo said. After a pause, he said, "You know, I asked her a while back if she was ever interested in returning to Earth Rumble VI."
[22:08:30] <@AangPlushie> "I told him straight out that I didn't," Toph replied. "There's just too much going on for me to return there. Now that I'm an instructor, and settling into this married life, I decided I didn't want any part of it. Besides, after the mess with Xin Fu and my supposed 'cheating', it's probably best if I do stay away. Just not the place for me." Aang then thought back to the former Earth Rumble host. "Whatever happened to him? I remember you saying that he and that other teacher chased you, but then you trapped them."
[22:14:24] <@KataraPlushie> Toph shrugged and said, "They had imprisoned me in a metal cage and it was from that experience that I learned metalbending. I was able to break free and managed to turn the tables, trapping them inside the cage and sealing it shut. I have no clue what happened to them, though. Unless they learn metalbending, and for two dunderheads I don't think they will, I don't think there's any real escape." "Wow, I can't imagine just being... stuck like that," Suki said.
[22:20:25] <@AangPlushie> "They have to be dead by now," Zuko said. "Come on, even after just a couple of weeks, let alone years of being stuck, there's no possible way they could have survived. No food, no water..they're dead, unless someone managed to find them and rescue them." "Well, guess that's the thing," Toph replied. "Who knows if they were found, they were out on a dirt road somewhere outside Ba Sing Se."
[22:25:39] <@KataraPlushie> Aang didn't exactly relish in the thought of them possibly being dead, but didn't mention anything, just merely nodded along. "But yeah, my days being the Blind Bandit are pretty much over," Toph said. "As much as it was pretty cool to be a part of it, it wasn't much fun being under an alias. Some days, I was just tired of being secretive and wanted to spill out who I really was."
[22:29:38] <@AangPlushie> "Then again," Ty Lee recalled, "You said it was either keep it secret or have your parents be all over you." Toph nodded. "Yeah...and that would have been the end of being able to feel free and express myself, not to mention actually showing that I could be capable of taking care of myself. It was bad enough they /still/ didn't believe me capable after I rescued Aang and beat all those guys. That's why I ran away, of course."
[09:24:45] <@KataraPlushie> "Was it tough for you at all when you finally returned to Gaoling and reunited with them?" Sokka asked curiously. "Actually, that didn't go as bad as I thought it would," Toph answered. "Knowing my parents, I was certain I'd be facing trouble. But there was no real reprimanding or anything; they just expressed their gratefulness at me being all in one piece and having come back, which was pretty relieving to me."
[09:31:01] <@AangPlushie> "They then became rather supportive of me," the blind earthbender continued. "They gave me some starting money to open up my metalbending academy, allowed me to roam more freely, and then when I was ready to move out and marry Hishedo, they gave me their best wishes, assurances that I could come home if I ever needed to...it felt really uplifting actually." "Well," Mai then replied, "We're all glad for you, Toph. Your parents appeared to have bugged you for the longest time, and now they finally support you."
[09:37:36] <@KataraPlushie> "I'm glad for that, too," Toph agreed. "I guess they saw how I was capable of handling myself during those months I was gone and had a change of heart." Suki then asked, "Hishedo, have you lived in Gaoling your whole life?" "Yes indeed," came his reply. "How did you meet Toph?" Suki wanted to know.
[09:42:17] <@AangPlushie> "Well," Hishedo began, "It was about five and a half years ago. I saw her coming home one day, and she appeared pretty frustrated. It turned out that her students had done a poor job that day, so she was kind of sick of them. Toph kind of lost her focus and bumped into me. I apologized, and then she explained to me how upset she was on her end, so we started talking. One thing led to another, and by the end of the talk, we had setup a meeting." (cont'd)
[09:45:31] <@AangPlushie> "We wound up walking in a park and talking some more, and over time, we began telling each other secrets and whatnot, and realized that we had a pretty deep connection. Soon, Toph told me she loved me, and I told her the same. After that, it was a few years of dating and whatnot, and of course, that led to marriage." "That sounds like a real romantic story..." Ty Lee mused, recalling it to be somewhat similar to her and Aren's. "How about adding on the night you proposed, Hishedo?" Sokka then asked.
[09:53:25] <@KataraPlushie> "That was truly a night to remember," the earthbender recalled. "We had gone out for dinner that evening in a very restaurant, but I hadn't carried the engagement ring with me out of fear that she may have sensed I had it, you know with her seismic sense and all. When we finished, Toph suggested that we take a little walk outside of town. I told her that was fine, but that I was starting to get a little cold and wanted to get a jacket at my house."(cont'd)
[10:00:01] <@KataraPlushie> "So we went back to his house," Toph picked up. "He made me wait outside his house which I thought was odd, but I stayed put. And then he came out and, let me tell you, I could tell he was a jumble of nerves. And before I could ask if he was alright, he just got down on one knee and proposed. I felt like I was on air when he asked me."
[10:05:23] <@AangPlushie> "She just kind of happily yelled out 'YES!' like three times," Hishedo continued. "She was happy, she was even crying some tears of joy...so she proceeded to say that she would have to hurt me if she told people she cried like that, and --" Hishedo was then punched in the arm by his wife. "And you just broke that policy," Toph then said. After a brief laugh from the table, Hished continued. "So, I slipped the ring on her, of course then describing what it was like....and then we hugged and kissed, right there under the moonlight."
[10:14:36] <@KataraPlushie> "Aw, how sweet," Ty Lee commented. "What did the ring look like anyway?" "It was made of intertwining gold and silver and had an emerald embedded in it," Hishedo described. "I had it specially made." "I'm actually still wearing it," Toph said, holding up her hand and flashing the ring, which received the praise of all the other members. "And then it wasn't long before we had our wedding and I'm sure most of you remember that."
[10:01:27] <@AangPlushie> "Oh yes," Katara recalled. "It was an amazing day...Toph, you looked quite pretty, even though you didn't want to wear that dress." Toph laughed this off. "I'm still not that girly-girl type person...wanted to get that dress off and get into something a little more 'me' right after that ceremony!" "Awww, come on Toph," Ty Lee added, "Katara's right, you looked beautiful! I know it's not exactly 'you' but still!"
[10:08:56] <@KataraPlushie> "Whatever you guys say," Toph said breezily, trying to act like she didn't care, but secretly pleased by the compliments. "I guess it was worth a few hours of discomfort, though," she added, flashing a grin at her husband. "And then we had our honeymoon on Ember Island, which was very nice." "Oh yeah, how did that go?" Ty Lee asked.
[10:13:02] <@AangPlushie> "It was nice," Hishedo recalled. "Zuko and Mai came on the first day, helped show us around a little bit, then after that, it was all us." "We took some nice, quiet walks on the beach," Toph continued, "went to some of the finer resturants on the island, we even took a night to sleep out on the beach. However, we spent most of the time in that beach house...you know, the one that Zuko's dad owned but it was converted into a vacation house?"
[10:18:13] <@KataraPlushie> "Oh really?" Katara asked, her curiosity peaked. "I suppose they really fixed it up nicely after the years it spent in disrepair." "Yeah, they really made it into a charming place to stay," said Toph. "But they didn't change too much and they didn't remove any of the family possessions from the house. So a lot of old toys are still lying around. It gives it a cozy feeling almost."
[10:22:36] <@AangPlushie> "Maybe those family possessions should be removed," Zuko mused. "Regardless of all that has happened in the past, I don't know if I want such...perhaps treasured materials lying out the open." Mai then took over, "Why not leave the toys behind at least?" "Well," Zuko answered, "Maybe we could leave some of the stuff behind in case families with little kids stay there or something. Though it would be nice if our future child could even have some of them."
[10:26:56] <@KataraPlushie> "Well, you could always have any toys you'd like for your child removed," Toph stated. "And maybe leave a few for the other families. Plus it gives the house some history to it." "I guess we could arrange for that. So long as the ones leftover are taken good care of," said Zuko. "I'd hate to see them mistreated."
[22:22:11] <@AangPlushie> "Well, I am sure future families will be thankful," Ty Lee said. "It will make sure that their kids aren't bored on the island...not that they really could be...but, you never know." "I just prefer to see some of the older relics get moved out of there," Zuko replied. "Some valuable stuff still in there." The group nodded in understanding, before resuming their meal.
[22:29:56] <@KataraPlushie> "So, Aang, Katara, where did you guys go off to for your honeymoon?" Hishedo asked curiously. "We visited a secluded resort in the south-western Earth Kingdom by this beautiful bay. We really enjoyed ourselves there. The workers there were very nice; they were excited to be serving us, seeing our position, and really treated us like honored guests. It was very nice indeed." "Couldn't have said it better myself," Katara agreed.
[22:34:23] <@AangPlushie> "Also," Aang added, "A lot of the typical recognition from the citizens of the area. People did ask me a lot about how the United Republic was going, asked me how I got through all the challenges of the war, also what like was like over a hundred years ago...you know, some of the usual stuff." "Is it tough having to deal with that on what seems like a daily basis?" Suki wondered. "I mean, even on vacation, you're getting dogged with questions like that."
[22:38:05] <@KataraPlushie> "Sometimes it gets a little tiring, especially when it's been a long day," Aang began, "but I understand how curious people are about these things. It's just one of those things that comes from being in such a position. But mostly, I don't mind answering people's questions. It's especially nice hearing questions about Air Nomad culture. It reassures me that they haven't been forgotten." [22:43:49] <@AangPlushie> "Hey, I have an interesting idea," Sokka spoke up. "Aang...with so many people curious...why don't you create a group of sorts? It will let people live like an Air Nomad, without actually being one." Aang directed his attention at Sokka, and gestured him to keep speaking. "But, they can carry on the traditions of the Air Nomads...also, they all live together in a secluded location, like the monks did. What do you think?"
[22:49:24] <@KataraPlushie> "That's a very good idea indeed," Aang said thoughtfully. He brightened a little, thinking about the culture of his people being continued on even after their being wiped out. "I don't know why I didn't think of doing that myself. I'm sure there are people out there who'd be willing to take up Air Nomad traditions and preserve their way of life. And you're right, they could have their own secluded area..."
[22:51:37] <@AangPlushie> "Maybe if you could find an island or something," Sokka said. "Get something set up there, like the old air temples. Maybe not quite a full temple...but, you know what I mean." Aang nodded. "It's an interesting idea...but, a lot does need to happen. I'd have to find a quiet island, big enough to support living in some way...it's not just like I can wave my staff and make this all happen."
[22:55:18] <@KataraPlushie> "Of course, it'll take time and hard work, but if you stick to it, I think the end results will be great," Suki encouraged. "And if ever you need help organizing or sorting this all out, all you have to do is send word to us." "It's definitely something to consider," Aang said. "If this idea does get off the ground, I have to say, I'll be pretty excited."
[22:58:11] <@AangPlushie> "We can all offer support," Zuko added. "It's not like this is an impossible task. Anything you need, we can help." "Thanks guys," Aang said with a thoughtful smile. "Just remember who brought you the idea," Sokka began. "Me, the idea guy himself!" Katara rolled her eyes amusingly at her brother. "You just have to take credit for everything...."
[23:06:10] <@KataraPlushie> "Hey, it was my idea after all. Even now, I seem to be the 'idea guy' in the group," Sokka said proudly. "Right, Aang? You were the first to dub me that." "That is true," Aang admitted. "You were also dubbed the complaining guy that day." "Well, yeah, but I think I grew out of that," Sokka replied. "I'm just content being the smart one in the group," he added with a grin.
[23:11:01] <@AangPlushie> "Oh, enough out of you, you little braggart," Suki said in jest. "Now then, back to more serious matters," Zuko said. "Aang, there is an important meeting regarding the United Republic of Nations coming up in Ba Sing Se in a few weeks. We need you to be there." "Zuko," Aang began somewhat worriedly. "Katara and I wanted to take a vacation in a few weeks..."
[23:15:26] <@KataraPlushie> Zuko nodded slowly and told him, "I'd really hate to pull you away from that, but we will need you there at the meeting to consult some important matters." He sighed and asked, "Is it possible for you to reschedule? I would plan the meeting for a different time, but some of the representatives that are going to be there won't be able to make it any other time soon. Again, I hate to ask this of you..."
[23:17:37] <@AangPlushie> Aang sighed. He wanted this vacation more than anything, knowing that things had been hectic enough with the nations. However, he realized that he was of critical importance to the project. After a moment of thought, he looked at Katara with a look of regret before turning to Zuko to say, "All right. I'll be there."
[23:33:43] <@KataraPlushie> Zuko simply nodded again, saying, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Some things can't be helped, I suppose..." "Right," Aang said before casting his gaze over to Katara. "I'm really sorry about this. If only I had known... You know I'd love nothing more than to spend time with you, but sometimes things come up that are crucial. But we'll go soon afterwards, when the coast is clear, I promise," he assured her, laying his hand atop hers.
[23:36:33] <@AangPlushie> Katara sighed sadly. "Aang...you know I have been looking forward to this vacation for a while. You're so serious anymore with all these meetings and everything...you know, what's going to happen when we start a family? You going to run off on them too?" Aang gripped his wife's hands tighter. "Katara, you know I have a duty as the Avatar." "You have one as a husband, too..." the waterbender mused.
[09:56:19] <@KataraPlushie> Aang felt a pang of guilt, but said, "Of course I do and you know that if I could, I would get out of work and get away for a while with you. And you know I'd never, ever run off on you or the children we have. But sometimes duties call... You can understand that, right?" He chanced a small, compassionate smile at his wife, seeing the difficult situation they were in.
[09:58:32] <@AangPlushie> Katara turned away from her husband, now more visibly upset. "To be quite honest, duty has called a bit too much lately." She could feel frustration rising in her. "Yet, it seems, without a second of thought, you're always there to answer it." She then took her hands out of Aang's grasp. "Aang, just who do you care about?" She then walked away from the table, leaving everyone stunned.
[10:03:27] <@KataraPlushie> Dead silence fell over the room and Aang felt his spirits plummet, wondering where he could have gone wrong. Didn't she understand that obligations were significant and that sometimes sacrifices needed to be made? "I... Excuse me for a moment," he apologized in a hurry, getting up from the table and leaving the room to go find Katara. The others remained silent as they watched him leave.
[10:07:12] <@AangPlushie> Trying to navigate through the awkward silence, Sokka tried to break it the best he could. "So...how about that roast duck?" He then said somewhat nervously, but no one responded. "What...just...happened?" Ty Lee asked. "Geez, those two never fight!" Toph added. "I guess Sweetness just turned sour." All the meanwhile, Aang went through the halls of the palace, his mind racing, wondering where Katara took off to.
[10:13:03] <@KataraPlushie> The young waterbender had made her way to the mud room near the entrance of the palace and collapsed against the wall, feeling frustrated and riled up. The rest of the palace seemed desolate and she wondered how exactly she looked storming out of the room so suddenly. But I have good reason to..., she thought solemnly. A few moments later, she head the sound of footsteps from not far off and straightened up a bit.
[10:16:15] <@AangPlushie> Aang saw what appeared to be the fabric of Katara's dress sticking out in the doorway. "Katara? Is that you?" The waterbender then turned to see Aang approaching, but quickly turned away from him. "Oh, so now you have decided to care about me?" She asked quietly but angrily. Aang's face fell at his wife's harsh words. "Aang, since when did I become second fiddle to your duties all the damn time?" She asked, her tone still stinging.
[10:23:19] <@KataraPlushie> Aang shook his head sorrowfully and told her, "I never meant for that to happen. You know how important you are to me, more important than any responsibility I have. But you should know that I'm not always free. I have obligations to fulfill to the entire world. But you're my first priority and you've always been. Do you think I'm happy about having to cancel our plans and go off to some boring meeting?"
[10:27:51] <@AangPlushie> Katara stayed looked away. "I know you have duties, but Aang...you're always taking off a lot. I mean, we hardly get to spend much time together before another meeting comes up. I love you, and I want to be with you, instead of having to just wait weeks between time spent. You also have said how you wanted to have a family, but, how are we going to raise one together, if you're going to continue this?" Tears danced down her face as her voice broke.
[10:34:18] <@KataraPlushie> "Katara..." Aang stepped forward and laid his hands on her shoulders, hating the shattered look on her face. He felt miserable, not realizing how much of an impact him going away had on her, and desperately hoped this wouldn't spell the end of anything. "I never meant to hurt you... I've been terrible to you, haven't I?"
[10:37:46] <@AangPlushie> "Aang...I'm just...uggh, am I terrible for thinking this?" Katara began. "I am just starting to wonder how much you care about me. Like I said, as soon as these meetings come up, you have to leave again. You never say no; you're always gone right then and there. It's so hard, sometimes...knowing you're not around. I mean, even out there, you know we have had a vacation planned, and now you're dropping it for yet another meeting..."
[10:44:50] <@KataraPlushie> "I care about you more than anything in this entire world," Aang said softly. "It's very hard for me, too, having to go off to these meetings, knowing I'll be away from you. I would love nothing more than to go on the vacation with you. But there are times when I get stuck between a rock and a hard place, where I don't really have much of an option." He sighed, feeling tears well in his eyes, as he kept a firm grip on her.
[10:48:35] <@AangPlushie> "It's so hard, personally, Aang..." Katara replied. "It just...it reminds of when my dad left to go fight in the War. I know he cared about me and everything...but, I just couldn't shake that feeling of being abandoned. Without my mom, losing dad was just so hard on me. Now, Aang...I think about all of that. I know you love me, and I know you care about me...but I just feel so angry and hurt by you leaving for all these meetings! I don't even know what to think anymore...I'm just worried that you're going to leave me or stop loving me...or, I don't even know."
[21:43:08] <@KataraPlushie> Aang cupped her cheeks in his hands. "How could I ever stop loving you? Let alone leave you... You are my entire world. Where would I be if I didn't have you? I'd be nowhere. Oh I am so sorry for upsetting you like this. I should have realized how my going away often has affected you so." He pondered ways in which he could set things right again.
[21:50:14] <@AangPlushie> Katara continued to cry, just wondering what to think. She knew she had to at least be somewhat reasonable with her husband; she knew he loved her more than anything. "Aang...all I ask is that you at least say no every so often. You don't need to be at every meeting; even I believed the Earth King told you as such once. I just want to know that you still care about me, and you're willing to be with me more...especially as we do develop a family."
[21:55:42] <@KataraPlushie> "Of course I will, I promise," Aang assured her, brushing his hand along her cheek and wiping away some of the tears. He pulled her in closer and said, "Things will be different between us from now on and I'll make sure it stays that way." He let out a sigh, saying, "I hate to see you this upset. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"
[22:00:10] <@AangPlushie> "Aang..." Katara said. "As soon as this next meeting is done...please, let's go right on vacation. I want to take a long, extended trip with you...just you and me. No distractions, no other people...just you and me...to a nice, quiet place. I just want to get away from it all and spend days with you. It's all I want more than anything in the world, Aang."
[22:04:47] <@KataraPlushie> "Of course, anything for you. When I get back from that meeting, we'll pack up, hop right on Appa and go away, no delays whatsoever," Aang promised her. "And we'll spend as much time there as we want, just the two of us. We'll be able to lie back and enjoy ourselves and forget every other issue. How does that sound?"
[22:07:37] <@AangPlushie> "As I said...." Katara replied softly. "It's all I want." She then leaned up against him, reaching up to kiss his cheek. "Aang...I'm so sorry for how I acted back there. I just got frustrated with all the meetings, and I let my anger get the better of me. I was so silly for questioning your love for me, because I know I've always been who you have desired. I love you so much...and I am glad to call you my husband."
[22:12:58] <@KataraPlushie> "No, I'm sorry for neglecting you like that. I guess I let all these meetings and all get ahead of me and drag me away from you," Aang told her. "I love you, too, and I'm more than happy to call you my wife," he said, tracing the outline of her betrothal necklace with his finger.
[22:16:23] <@AangPlushie> Katara smiled brightly and then warmly ran her hand across the vest of his Air Nomad clothing, providing another light kiss to near his neck. She then placed her hand over his heart, to hear its beat flow slow and steady, feeling a sense of relief that it continued to do so in the years following his death. After this, she again spoke lightly. "I think we should get back to the others. It's been several minutes now..."
[22:23:39] <@KataraPlushie> "Yeah, they're probably wondering what's gotten into us," Aang agreed. They parted, their eyes lingering one another for a moment longer before Aang took hold of her hand and the two began slowly making their way back to the dining room. The Avatar felt overwhelmingly relieved at having their concerns sorted out and was looking forward to spending more time with Katara. The dining room was still pretty quiet, the team members sitting there anxiously.
[22:28:49] <@AangPlushie> Aang and Katara came out holding hands, allowing some members to breathe a sigh of relief, except for Toph, who couldn't detect their movements at that movement. "So...what's the deal? Are they back together?" "Looks like it," Hishedo answered to his wife. "Wow, you two gave us quite a scare there," Sokka replied. "Thank goodness it looks like you two worked things out."
[22:34:42] <@KataraPlushie> "Yeah, we did in the end," Aang told them, placing his arm around Katara's shoulders. "We just needed to resolve and reaffirm some things, that's all." "And I'm really sorry to all of you for storming off like that earlier," Katara apologized regretfully. "It was the heat of the moment and I acted out when I really shouldn't have. I'm sorry for ruining all this."
[22:38:00] <@AangPlushie> "No, it's not ruined," Mai assured her. "We still have plenty of food left, and there's still to enjoy things. Come on, take your seats again, and let's continue." The couple heeded Mai's instructions and sat down, then placing a little bit more food on their plates.
[22:45:37] <@KataraPlushie> "It was surprising when you left the room, but of course, we've all had our moments, too. Nothing serious," Sokka dismissed her earlier concerns. "Honestly, we were all just thinking about what was going on out there. It was pretty awkward really... No one knew what to say..." "We didn't ease up until we actually saw you walking in together, looking pretty happy," Suki remarked.
[22:49:07] <@AangPlushie> "Yeah," Aang said. "We're sorry about that...honestly. We didn't mean to worry all of you with that." "Really," Zuko added. "Just finish up eating and don't worry about it. Stuff happens." As the team continued eating, their meal nearing completion, some couldn't help but wonder what was next. "Anything planned after this?" Katara asked.
[10:02:18] <@KataraPlushie> "How about we take them up to the rooftop terrace that we recently had revamped?" Mai suggested to her husband. "None of you have been up there, right?" The other team members shook their heads and she said, "I think that'd be nice. Plus the weather outside is nice. Unless you had something else planned afterwards, of course." "I don't see anything wrong with spending a little time up there before anything else," Zuko told her.
[10:08:42] <@AangPlushie> "Well, if no one else has a problem with that," Aang said, "We could take a look up there. Katara and I had nothing else planned until tonight, so...it's fine with us." "Anyone with any objections?" Zuko asked, looking around to the rest of the table. No one appeared to say anything or even motion that they disagreed. "Very well," the Fire Lord then said. "As soon as everyone is done, we'll head up."
[10:13:58] <@KataraPlushie> The meal was soon over and the team members all got up from their seats and followed Zuko and Mai throughout the palace. After several moments of navigating their way through hallways and up flights of stairs, they at last arrived at the entrance to the terrace. Zuko motioned for everyone to back up a little and eased open the door leading to the outside. Rays of sun washed over them as they all stepped into the light, taking in the view.
[10:20:01] <@AangPlushie> Aang and Katara were the first ones up behind the Fire Nation couple, quickly becoming enthralled by the beauty of the terrace. "Wow...it's really nice," Katara quickly remarked. A few plants even dotted the terrace, which were blossoming into nice flowers. The sunny day was perfect for everyone to enjoy as they entered shortly after the first couples. "For a palace bustling with activity," Suki began, "It's just so...quiet up here."
[10:24:26] <@KataraPlushie> "Yeah, we debated a while about actually building this, but we decided we needed a quiet place where we could get away from everything. We've made a lot of use of it especially being that there's still a lot going on in the world right now," Mai explained. "Some were averse to us investing in this when the money could go elsewhere, but we were adamant. Well, everyone can settle down wherever."
[10:27:24] <@AangPlushie> "I could understand," Sokka mused. "The people are not a fan of frivulous spending, I suppose." "Regardless," Zuko replied, "The palace could use some expansion. It's been outdated; not much was spent on improving it during the War, as I mentioned earlier. So, using the free money from now un-needed military costs, this is just one of the projects I called for."
[10:01:49] <@KataraPlushie> The couples strolled around the rooftop terrace, admiring the open sky above them and the flowers blossoming in little gardens. There was a cluster of benches over to one side; after a few moments, the couples made their way over and settled down. "This was a good investment, I can tell," said Sokka. "It would probably different if your sister became Fire Lord. Hey, didn't you go see her recently?"
[10:05:09] <@AangPlushie> Zuko sighed as he thought about what he had seen just two weeks ago in his visit to Azula. "Yes, I did go to see her...alone." "I didn't think that was a smart decision," Mai recalled, "But, Zuko said he wanted to go on his own, and that he'd be able to defends himself if Azula tried anything." (cont'd)
[10:07:09] <@AangPlushie> Zuko then recalled the rest of the story. "She was still a mess. She didn't really desire to talk to me at all...only said a few words about how the treatment was, asked for a couple of small favors here and there...but she refused to discuss our feelings towards any of us. Her only real other major thing was to complain about being watched all the time."
[10:10:34] <@KataraPlushie> "How did she look?" Ty Lee asked. "She still had a very disheveled look about her," Zuko told them. "She had dark circles under her eyes and often sat hunched over. She still has a slightly off-kilter look to her. It's almost scary to see what happened to her after all that time." "Did anyone say what might become of her in the future?" Ty Lee pressed on.
[10:13:31] <@AangPlushie> "I asked the doctors," Zuko answered. "They said she has shown some signs of minor improvement, but she still has a hard time sleeping at night, and that she's also been heard muttering to herself a lot about power and some of us. They told me it may very well still be at least a year before they even think about release. It's such a long way with her."
10:19:48] <@KataraPlushie> "Hypothetically speaking, if she ever was released in the near future, what do you'll do?" Sokka wanted to know. "I would probably take her in...," Zuko said. "She is my sister, after all, and it's not like she has anywhere else to go. Of course, that might be an adjustment, but that would most likely be the case. It's not something we've really discussed too much, to be honest."
[10:23:23] <@AangPlushie> "It might have to come up eventually," Aang told him. "I highly doubt Azula is going to wind up locked up for the remainder of her life. She'll be released and integrated into regular society again at some point." "Right," Zuko replied. "Plus, I do also wonder how everyone would react to having Azula so close to me...but I just don't want her to wander the streets without a home."
[10:29:27] <@KataraPlushie> "People may have mixed feelings and be on guard if and when she's released, but it's something that just has to be dealt with," said Mai. "I'm not so sure, though, if she'd try anything dangerous or sinister. From the looks of it, she might be too far gone for that..." Zuko nodded silently at this. "Have you ever forgiven her for the things she did in the past?" Suki asked curiously.
[09:59:05] <@AangPlushie> Zuko gave a heavy sigh and took a seat. He knew that it likely felt so wrong to say this, but, he had to be truthful. "No...I haven't," he finally said. "Azula did so much wrong...she set me on the wrong path in Ba Sing Se, always was manipulating our family, sometimes so cold...and then all she did to us a whole. I know it's hard to see her in this current state...but...I find it so hard to forgive her." He buried his face in his hands. "This feels so wrong..."
[10:04:34] <@KataraPlushie> "Well, it is hard to forgive someone when they've done so much to harm you," Sokka told him. "That's definitely true. I've still never forgiven my mother's killer after all these years," Katara added. "I know, but it really is the bigger thing to do," Zuko refuted. He cast a guilty gaze over to Aang, knowing this went against the Avatar's philosophy. "Maybe one day... but not now... It still feels wrong..."
[10:08:43] <@AangPlushie> Aang looked towards his friend and said, "I hope that you can find it in your heart someday to forgive her, Zuko. She has greatly wronged the world and all of us, but forgiveness of your sister is an important first step." "I understand," Zuko replied, "but I just don't think I'm ready yet." "While we're on the subject," Sokka continued. "Mai, Ty Lee...you're her former best friends; what do you think about her?"
[10:14:40] <@KataraPlushie> "Well, it took me a while to come around, but I've forgiven Azula for what she's done," Ty Lee admitted. "But even so, what she's done over the years has affected me deeply and if we ever had the chance to start over again, I probably wouldn't be willing to. Which is equally wrong, in a way, but that's the way I feel." "I, on the other hand, like Zuko, have not forgiven her," Mai spoke up.
[10:17:24] <@AangPlushie> "May I ask as to why not?" Suki looked towards the Fire Lady. "I may be harsher on this than others...but Azula was nothing more than a slimy, manipulative woman. All she did to us what use us as her puppets. Ty Lee, you have even said it yourself. As soon as we all re-united in Omashu during the War, from that moment on, she didn't care about us at all. It was all about just getting Zuko and Aang."
[10:22:56] <@KataraPlushie> Ty Lee sighed and fiddled around with her hair a bit, knowing very well that this was true. "That is true... I'm not saying, though, that Azula wasn't a terrible person, just that I've forgiven her for what she's done." "Do you ever think you will forgive her?" Suki asked Mai, who shifted in her seat and said, "I can't promise anything. Like Zuko said, maybe, just maybe one day. But who knows?"
[10:27:34] <@AangPlushie> "May I also say," Katara added, "That...and Aang understands this since I talked to him...I've not forgiven her either. It starts with what she did to someone like Mai and Ty Lee...then there's so much more. She has caused us all so much distress and fear. I'll never forget the night she killed Aang...to me, that made me liken her to Yon Rha...taking the one I love the most from me."
[10:08:44] <@Ultimate> "See, you're not the only one who hasn't gotten past what Azula has done," Mai told Zuko. "And I'm sure there are many others out there who know Azula's history and haven't chosen to forgive her or never will." "Am I the only one here who has?" Ty Lee asked out of curiosity. She looked over at Aang.
[10:11:00] <@KataraFanboy> "Well, I actually have forgiven her," Aang replied. "I know, I know...she did kill me and basically become a stand-in for Ozai, but...I still forgive her. I forgave the Fire Nation for what they did to my people, and I still forgive Azula for her acts. I also sincerely hope that Azula can reform herself and get integrated back into society."
[10:16:41] <@Ultimate> "I'm kind of hoping that she can, too, although honestly I haven't thought much about actually forgiving her," Suki remarked with Sokka nodding along in agreement. "I think we all want that in the end, but our judgment is just kind of clouded," Zuko muttered. Silence fell over the group and he sought to change the subject.
[10:20:24] <@KataraFanboy> "I've got a topic," Hishedo then said. "Toph and I were thinking about this on the way here. What if, since bending isn't really used for fighting as much nowadays, how about making it to be used in a game of some sorts?" The team then looked towards Toph's husband. "Yeah," Toph then continued. "There are two teams, composed of three players each. They compete against one another in a short match. At the end, they compete in a tournament for some big money prize."
19:11:04] <@Ultimate> The group exchanged interested looks, mulling these words over. "It sounds very intriguing and like something that could become very popular," Sokka remarked. "Yeah, and it wouldn't just be a whole team made up of the same type of bender. Each team would have benders of all kinds to make it interesting," Toph explained further. "We thought it could help bring the benders of different nations together, you know?"
[19:13:47] <@KataraFanboy> "It's a very interesting idea," Aang said. "I wonder though, who could we approach on the idea of using combatitive bending for sport?" "I'm sure if we just look around," Toph answered, "There would be plenty of people willing to take up this idea. It's a competition that would draw everyone out to see it if done right."
[19:19:41] <@Ultimate> "Of course it's just an idea at this point, but we have visions for a very exciting new sport and with some help, we can get this thing off the ground," said Hishedo. "I can something like that happening," Zuko said thoughtfully. "Have you approached anyone else with this idea?" "Actually, no, you guys are the first to hear about this," he replied.
[19:23:36] <@KataraFanboy> "Sweet, I love being the first to ideas," Toph said, smirking. "Take that, Sokka." The Water Tribe warrior just shrugged it off. "Eh, it's not like I can be the first to everything. Enjoy it, Toph, because the next idea is mine." "I'd like to see you try," Toph shot back. The friends just laughed at the little bout of trash talk.
19:39:14] <@Ultimate> "So what do you say?" Toph turned her attention to Aang and Zuko, looking hopeful. "If this idea really does go somewhere, will you guys support us in our endeavors?" Aang and Zuko glanced over at one another before the Avatar smiled and said, "We'd be happy to help you with this. It's an ingenious plan, really; I'm surprised no one has thought of this before."
[19:03:04] <@KataraFanboy> Toph nodded happily. "I'm glad that you guys can get behind this." Hishedo then continued, "It's going to be a little while to set it up right and get an organized league. I mean, we'll have to convince teams to get together, and probably quite a few. Then we'll need a place to host the event...lots of things need to get done." "But if we all band together," Aren then added, "We certainly wll get it done."
[19:15:41] <@KataraPlushie> "I have faith that we will," Toph stated. "Who knows, maybe it could be the central sport for the United Republic. You know, a sport with all different benders in a place where people from all different nations live. Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but I can definitely see it." She cast a slightly dreamy look off to the side.
[19:19:39] <@AangPlushie> "Well, we just have to take it one step at a time," Aang said. "It's obviously not something we can get done overnight. But it's a solid plan, and as long as we're all on the same page, we can certainly get it done." "It's perfect," Katara noted. "The whole idea about a sport for different benders in a place with different nations. But, as Aang said, one step at a time. I mean, the whole nation is still a work in progress. We can look towards it in a number of years when we're more along."
[19:30:31] <@KataraPlushie> "Right, right...," Hishedo said slowly. "Speaking of bending, how are you doing with passing along the secrets of metalbending?" Sokka directed his attention towards Toph. "I imagine it must be a little tricky." Toph laughed a little and said, "You can say that again. Of course, I enjoy my job, but it can be tough.(cont'd)
19:32:03] <@KataraPlushie> It's not exactly the easiest to teach my students how to pick up traces of earth in metal. After all, as far as we know, no earthbender has ever been able to do so before. But you could say we're making progress..," she told him.
[19:36:49] <@AangPlushie> "Like anything, it's a step-by-step thing," Ty Lee assured her. "You just have to keep it up with your teachings...we know you can do it, Toph. You certainly have an effectiveness in teaching." "Well, I did manage to teach Twinkle Toes earthbending," the earthbending master remarked, "So, anything's possible." Aang chuckled as the rest of the team laughed.
[19:42:31] <@KataraPlushie> "With your attitude and your drive, I'm sure you could get them to master anything. I know you; you won't settle for anything short of the best," Suki added with a wink. "True. I intend for every person walking out of that academy to be a skilled metalbender. It's time for this new bending skill to spread around," Toph said thoughtfully. "Give this world a little something different."
[19:45:57] <@AangPlushie> "And metalbending certainly is something new," Katara added. "It will take a lot of work...I mean, even you somewhat discovered it on accident." Toph slightly shook her head. "Not quite...I just felt around that metal cage that those two yahoos from Earth Rumble had me in and felt the refined earth. So, I just started to bend it...and there it was. Metalbending."
[19:51:11] <@KataraPlushie> "I wonder if other lesser known skills could be taught more, as you're doing with metalbending," Zuko considered. "Like lightning generation. Uncle once said that very few firebenders could perform such a technique, but who knows how many out there could be successful in doing so? It would be interesting to find out."
[19:57:21] <@AangPlushie> "Just like with lightning generation," Aang said, "Metalbending is also an exact art that needs so much to be down exactly to the point to have it performed successfully. It's a long process, but all you need is patience with your students to get it complete." "It's just like me with my waterbending students as well," Katara added. "Sometimes they need some time to get the techniques down to a tee."
[20:03:42] <@KataraPlushie> "Of course. Nothing is easy at first," Zuko agreed. "But I believe that there are people out there with the potential and we just have to uncover that." "You once told us that you had tried to learn lightning generation...," Sokka brought up. "What happened with that? Have you given up on it?"