Outcasts Chapteer 15
Author's note: Yay! I finally got past the Writer's Block the size of Ohio! Anyway, I wrote a whole bunch more than I thought I would. It's about 10 pages in Microsoft Word, much more than the usual 4-5 pages I average for these chapters. Anyway, this is a good chapter I think. Lots of action, and a surprise at the end. Consider it a present for the eternity you had to wait between updates. THANKS FOR THE SUGGESTIONS, GUYS!! It really helped me figure out some of the things in here, and ordered my thoughts a bit. For some reason, I find myself falling in love with Huaike and Nioh-An. They were only supposed to be side characters that occasionally pop up, but now I'm starting to give them back-story, and possible character developement. Anyway, thanks for sticking in for so long. Next chapter will elaborate on Nioh-An's past, so hope you'll enjoy that! See you soon!
Lee kept his head down as the group made their way across the great bridge that connected Omashu to the main roads. People passing by quickly recognized Aang, Sokka, and Katara, but stayed silent upon seeing Lee and Toph.
“Why do you guys get the Hero Worship?” Toph finally questioned after bumping into another person who hadn’t been paying attention to her. “It’s like Lee and I are invisible.”
“Well, when you help an underground resistance take back Omashu, it’s inevitable,” Sokka commented lightly. Although Sokka was ahead of him, Lee could tell the boy was smirking. The way he’d spoken and now the way he was walking….walking? He was strutting now. Lee suppressed a smile and shook his head.
“I helped lead the forces in Gaoling, but you don’t see anyone scraping and bowing to me, do- HEY!” Lee turned around, to where he’d last seen the young girl. The young girl was now on the floor, looking up at taller man who’d stopped in front of her. The look on his face was one of apparent confusion.
“Excuse me, miss, I’m sorry. I didn’t-,”
“See me?” Toph asked angrily. “Well, excuse me. If you didn’t see me, I guess it’s perfectly ok to bump into people!” The man stepped back in confusion.
“Toph,” Katara interrupted. “Leave him alone. We’re trying to get to the palace, and you getting us into trouble isn’t going to help us.”
“Uh, technically, it would,” Sokka corrected her. “It just wouldn’t be in the part of the palace we want to be.” Katara looked at her brother with disdain, but said nothing to him.
“Let it go, Toph,” Katara said soothingly, grabbing the young girl by the arm gently. Toph muttered to herself, and then faced toward the man with a look of intense determination.
“You better watch your back, mister,” she said with a low growl. The man left then with the same look on his face. “Stupid face.”
“You need to learn how to control your aggression, Toph,” Katara said pointedly as they started walking again. “One day, we’re going to get into really big trouble because of it.”
Toph stopped again, this time looking at Katara. “Hey! I never hear you saying anything to Lee or Sokka when they get mad!” She yelled at Katara. “It’s not fair that I’m the only one that gets yelled at!”
“What are you talking about? I do yell at them!” Katara countered.
“No you don’t! All you ever do is pat them on the back and tell them, ‘now now, there’s no need for that,’.” The last part was said in an exaggerated impression of Katara, her misty eyes crossed. “Meanwhile I get a full-blown lecture. Save it, Snoozles!” Toph shouted at Sokka as he opened his mouth in protest.
“Toph, Katara,” Aang interrupted firmly. “We don’t have the time for this. We need to get up to Bumi’s soon. We want to be at the Western Air Temple as soon as possible, and you two fighting isn’t helping any.” Toph huffed and Katara looked away angrily, but the two started walking again. Lee sighed to himself, wondering how he’d gotten pulled into this.
“Are you sure about this, Huaike?” Nioh-An whispered loudly. Nioh-An, Ty Lee, and Huaike were outside the palace walls, all dressed in Earth Kingdom clothing. Huaike’s bow was now threaded with brown and green string in Earth bender style, and Nioh-An’s hammers were tucked away in a large bag. Not far from them was a servant’s entrance, which maintained a steady flow of citizens coming and going. The only problem, it seemed, was that there was an armed guard stationed at the entrance, checking the people coming and going.
“Yes, An. I was forced to use this entrance many times. Trust me,” Huaike told the man. The taller man nodded as the three began to move again. Ty Lee smiled at Huaike pleasantly.
“You sure do know a lot, Huaike,” she commented.
“Thank you, Ty Lee,” Huaike said before they reached the queue lined up at the entrance. A few minutes later, and they were the first in line.
“State your business,” one guard commanded.
“We’re Ho, Qin, and Ling,” Huaike told the man. “We’re to report to the smithy for work on the rebellion.” The guard nodded and waved the three past. Nioh-An stared at the man in wonder as they walked forward.
“How did you-.”
“You tend to over think things, Nioh-An. Most things are far easier than you make them out to be,” he replied simply.
“I love you.”
“I know you do.”
“I love you, too!” Ty Lee cut in.
“…Thank you, Ty Lee.”
“I’m stuffed!” Sokka cried out in a content voice. He, Lee, Katara, and Toph were sitting in a private room around a large table, covered with plates. Most of the food had been devoured, leaving behind a graveyard of animal bones and fruit stems. Aang was absent from the table, having opted to eat alone with Bumi.
“Something I never thought I’d hear you say,” Lee said mischievously. Sokka looked at the boy and grimaced.
“You’re never nice to me,” Sokka said jokingly.
“Where’s the fun in that?” the scarred boy asked lightly. A playful smile appeared on his face, and a knot formed in Sokka’s stomach. It was rare to see Lee give a true smile, even now. He shoved the sudden feelings aside and replied just as playfully.
“I don’t see how it’s fun to me.”
“That’s because you’re the butt of the joke,” Toph informed him.
“That’s not how it looks from here,” Sokka retorted.
“That’s because the rest of the body is sitting down. You’re pressed against the chair. You can’t see anything. Butt,” she told him.
“WHAT?!” Sokka shouted, indignant.
“I think it’s time we head to bed,” Katara interrupted. “Toph, let’s go. If you see Aang, Sokka, tell him I said goodnight.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Sokka muttered, standing up with Lee. The two walked out of the room, servants in tow. They were led quietly to a large room with two enormous and very comfortable-looking beds.
“You know,” Sokka told the scarred boy, “When you visit this place as a guest, it seems much more comfortable than as a prisoner.” Lee smiled at the boy before he took off the celestial blue tunic he’d taken to wearing in the warmer Earth Kingdom and climbed into his bed. Sokka, however, took a less graceful approach. Ripping off his clothing until he was only in his loin cloth, he stage-dived onto the bed, bouncing almost the same height as he’d jumped. Sighing as his body sunk into the most comfortable bed he’d slept in since Ba Sing Se, he rolled over and looked at Lee.
“So, Lee,” Sokka asked as he watched the other get comfortable, “How does the bed compare to a royal one?”
“This is a royal bed,” Lee pointed out.
“Only technically. Bumi never sleeps in here. At least, I hope he doesn’t.” He shuddered at the thought of Bumi doing exactly the same thing he just did. “How does it compare to the bed you had in the Fire Nation?”
Lee mumbled and shrugged. “A bed’s a bed. Shouldn’t matter.”
“You’re no fun,” Sokka told him.
“Stop goofing off, Ty Lee,” Huaike hissed, looking around as Nioh-An stuffed another pair of guards somewhere inconspicuous. The young girl was currently halfway up a tapestry, humming softly to herself as she climbed.
“Lighten up!” The young girl called back as she let go of the tapestry and gracefully landed in front of the Yu-Yan Archer.
“Maybe later,” he told her as Nioh-An came back around to where they were. “The Avatar’s rooms are this way.” He led them quickly down another set of hallways, before stopping dead in front of a solid wall. “What the…?”
“I thought you said you knew where you were going,” Nioh-An said to the man.
“I do,” Huaike insisted, running a hand along the wall. “This is something new. They must have put this here after the uprising.”
“Or,” Nioh-An said, with a tone of realization, “this is newer than even that.” He ran a hand over the wall, his eyes closed in concentration. “This wall is thin, and the stone is probably only hours old. It’s still rough from the movement.”
“Defensive measures for the Avatar?” Ty Lee asked. “But it’s thin, you said. What’s the use of even putting it up?”
“Moving walls takes several people,” Nioh-An told her, “and is a noisy process. I could break through this wall easily, but it’ll be loud. It’s nothing but an alarm.”
“Well,” Huaike said, resting a hand on the tall man’s shoulder, “It seems we have to sound it.”
Sokka rose up quickly from where he had fallen asleep, looking around, dazed. “What was that?” he muttered sleepily at Lee. The other Water Tribe boy was already at the entrance of the room, a ball of flame in his hand.
“Shit,” Lee cursed, closing the door quietly. “It’s Ty Lee and those guys.” This woke Sokka up. In a flash, Sokka was out of his bed, sword in one hand as he tried to pull on a pair of pants. When at last he succeeded, he ran out of the room, along with Lee. A palace guard was already assembled, fighting the three valiantly with Toph and Katara at the fore. The two mercenaries seemed to be fighting Ty Lee and Toph tit for tat, Earth and Fire against Earth and Water. Ty Lee, meanwhile, was bobbing and weaving in the midst of the guard, quickly taking their numbers out.
“Ty Lee!” Lee shouted out as she finished off the last of the guard. The girl turned around curiously before recognizing Sokka’s scarred companion.
“Zuko!” she called out cheerfully. “So that’s where you’ve been. I thought you were dead. Oh, Azula’s gonna be so surprised when she hears about this! And Sokka, too?” She smiled seductively at Sokka, who cringed at the gesture.
“My sister’s not going to find anything out!” Lee shouted at the girl as he threw the ball of flame he’d been holding at her. The girl jumped out of the way with a look of surprise.
“That’s not nice!” She shouted.
“You’re not nice,” he retorted as he fired another barrage of flaming missiles at the girl. The girl successfully dodged the embers, landing behind Huaike and Nioh-An, who were still engaged in battle with the two female benders.
“Huaike! Cover!” Nioh-An commanded. Huaike nodded at the man before jumping in front of the man. He took a deep breath, and a moment later, a cloud of flame covered the two, obscuring them from view. A moment later, a pair of war hammers on chains flew out from the conflagration, wrapping themselves around a pair of support columns. With a resounding noise of stone crumbling, the hammers broke through the columns, reducing them into a pile of rubble. The firestorm stopped, but by the time the flames cleared, the three were already making their way down the hall, toward Aang.
“Let’s go!” Katara shouted and the four of them began to chase after them. They didn’t make it far though, as the roof above them began to shake. The three stopped, confused, before Toph gasped.
“Run, guys!” Toph shouted. They started to run then, as debris began to fall around them. They made it almost to the end of the hall, Toph in the lead, when they all stopped after hearing a cry of pain. Sokka whipped around, and to his horror, saw Lee laid out on the floor, his legs caught under a pile of debris.
“Lee!” Sokka cried out. He ran back to the boy and fell to his knees, quickly scrambling to move the rubble off of the boy, who was panting in pain.
“Move out of the way, Sokka,” Toph commanded. Sokka nodded and moved. The girl slammed her foot onto the stone floor, moving her hands away from her body. The debris flew away from Lee’s body, and Sokka moved to help the boy up. Grabbing his hand, Sokka began to pull him up, but stopped as he heard the boy howl in pain.
“I think my leg’s broken,” Lee told the three.
“I can heal it,” Katara said, leaning down.
“No,” Sokka interrupted. “Go help Aang. He needs you guys. I’ll stay with Lee and make sure nothing happens to him. Is the roof still unstable?” he asked Toph, who shook her head. “Then I’ll stay here. Go!” The girls ran the rest of the way and turned, out of sight. He sighed and propped Lee against him. “Everything’s gonna be ok, Lee,” he told the boy.
“I know,” Lee grunted painfully as he tried to get comfortable against his new support. “I’m not dying.”
“Stop moving, stupid,” Sokka scolded. Lee laughed, strained.
“You know, this isn’t so bad,” Lee commented after a few minutes of silence. “Once you get used to it.”
“You must be the most masochistic person I know,” Sokka muttered. Lee laughed again and wrapped his arms against Sokka, who blushed at the sudden intimate contact.
“You’re just really comfortable,” Lee told him. “I like it.” Sokka’s blush increased and became apparent, even on his dark-skinned face.
“You must really be in pain,” he said, his voice cracking slightly. Lee laughed again and snuggled closer to Sokka. “You’re delusional.”
“If I am,” Lee said suddenly, “then I guess it’s okay for me to do this.” Lee leaned up to the other boy’s face before planting a chaste kiss on his lips.