"My dear Mei." he said with a sweet smile. "Come. Show me what you have learned. All I want is to see you happy." I smiled.
"You do make me happy, Uncle Ozai. You always have." I said.
"Oh, Mei." he said, taking my hand. "You have always brought me more joy then anything I could ever imagine."
"Thank you, Uncle." I said, hugging him. "You were more of father to me then my own dad was."
"I love you, Mei." he said softly. I looked up.
"I love you too, Uncle Ozai." I replied. He took a step back, still smiling, looking me in the eye. Then he cascaded off the edge of nothing into a black hole of darkness.
"No!" I cried, snapped up straight. I winced and clutched my arm in pain. I was breathing very heavy and sweating. I sighed and shook my head. Everyone was just waking up, looking at me like I was crazy. I gave a sheepish smile and stood up with a little stretch, being careful of my arm. Then Aang came around the corner with a bright and shiny face.
"Morning, everybody!" he said happily. Katara smiled.
"I see someone good a good nights sleep." she said.
"I slept like a baby moose lion cub." he answered. Toph smirked and stood up.
"Ready for the big day?" she asked. Aang nodded with a more serious face.
"I am." he answered. I looked away. Even though I knew it was the right thing, I still felt bad. Especially after that dream. No, Mei. I told myself. Stop. It was only a dream. Ozai needs to be stopped. Aang walked over to me.
"Mei," he said. "Have you decided what you're going to do during the invasion?" I sighed and nodded.
"I think I would like to come." I answered. "But, I'm not going to help fight." Aang nodded with a little smile.
"Sounds good." he said, trying to sound comforting.
"Uh-oh." Katara said. She stood up and walked to the edge of the cliff and we all followed. A huge fog was rolling in towards us. "Do you think the fog will delay the invasion?" she asked. Sokka smiled.
"No," he said. "It is the invasion!" We all smiled, realizing that the fog was a cover for the invasion ships. Everyone but me and Aang rushed down to the harbor to meet them. Aang turned to me and I lowered my heard.
"Are you sure you're ready?" he asked. I took a deep breath and looked up at him with a nod. We both walked together down to the harbor. Me, Toph and Aang raised slabs of Earth likes docks so the boats could dock and the passengers could exit. So many different people flooded from the ship. Hick people, Earth Kingdom people, Water Tribe people, big wrestling guys, a kid in a wheelchair. All different sorts of people. I was the only one from the Fire Nation. When a Water Tribe man with two beads in his hair came off the ship, Katara and Sokka rushed over to him.
"Dad!" they both called. They raced up and hugged him tightly.
"Hello, kids." he said. "It's so great to see you again." He looked over at Toph and Aang. "Hey, guys." he said. He walked over to them then looked at Suki and I. "Who's this?" he asked. Katara walked over.
"This is Suki and that's Mei." she said. "We told you about her. You remember."
"Yes, I do." he said. "It's great to finally meet you, Mei." I smiled.
"You too, uh, sir." I said, not knowing his name. He laughed a little.
"Call me Hakoda." he said. I nodded. "What happened to your arm?" he asked after a second. I glanced down at it.
"Oh, a rock fell on it." I said as if it was nothing. "Katara's trying to help heal it." Hakoda smiled proudly at her.
"Speaking of which," Katara said. "We should do another healing session before the invasion."
"Oh, are you helping?" Hakoda asked me. I paused and frowned.
"No, actually." I answered. "I'm coming with you, but I'm not helping." He nodded.
"Because of you arm?" he asked. I nodded slightly.
"Partly, yeah." I answered, feeling more and more sad. Katara took me away from the crowd and we sat by the shore. She took my sling off gently and grabbed some water from the ocean. She put over my arm as it started glowing. I sighed. It felt good.
"How's that?" Katara asked. I nodded with a smile.
"Good..." I breathed. "It's a lot better."
"I'm not sure I can totally fix a broken arm." she said. "But, I'm also not one hundred percent sure it's broken... You should keep it bandaged and in the sling for a few more weeks and try not use it too much." I groaned and nodded.
"I can try." I said. We stood up together and she kept looking at me. I was a little weirded out until she hugged me. Then I was really weirded out. "Uh, Katara?" I asked. "What are you doing?"
"Just hug me." she said. I sighed and her back. I knew why she was hugging me. She felt bad for everything I had been through, and she was happy I was doing the right thing in letting Aang take out my Uncle. She pulled back and smiled at me, looking me in the eye. "I have a feeling your father would be proud of your strength." she said with a little smile. I sighed, gently taking her hands off my shoulder.
"Thanks," I said. "But I'm not so sure." I let go of her hands and walked back up to the campsite to hear Sokka pitch the invasion plan. When I got up and sat on the Earth platform Toph had made I looked over to see a bald headed Aang walking over. I smiled as he sat down next to me. He looked at me and smiled back.
"I missed the arrow." I said.
"Me too." Aang replied. We kept smiling at each other until the shaking Sokka got on top the stage. We looked over at him. He looked sick. He set up his maps and began stammering and stuttering over what I assumed was the invasion plan. Before I knew it I zoned out, blocking out all other noise. Uncle Ozai was only hours away from being killed. My uncle was going to die. Usually you never knew when someone was going to die. It was unexpected and tragic and you couldn't do a thing about it. But this time was expected and I could do something about it. I could save him. Aang would never dare to hurt me, even if I attacked him. I had the upper hand and I could save my uncle and my mother would finally except me. She would finally love me the way a mother is supposed to love a child. She would treat me the way Hakoda treated Katara and Sokka. I took a deep breath as my hands started to shake. The muscles in my arms tensed and I gently touched my bad arm. Tensing the muscles hurt in that arm and I tried to relax it. I swallowed hard. I was brought back to reality by Hakoda helping Sokka off the stage. Sokka was shaky and tense and looked really nervous.
"Uh, thank you, son." Hakoda said. "I'll take it from here." Sokka frowned and sat next to Katara. He seemed really upset. That was his job and he butchered it. I looked down at my lap. What was my job? Was it to support the invasion or help save my uncle? I shook my head slightly. Before I knew it we were ready to leave. I got into one of the ships with Katara, Sokka, Toph and Aang. Katara and Aang faced each other and were talking. It was hard to make out much from where I was standing. They both seemed nervous and scared, then suddenly Aang leaned forward and kissed Katara. My eyes widened. No. I thought. I closed my eyes. When I opened them Aang had left Katara and Katara was headed onto Appa, bending water around his head so he could swim underwater and breath. We all started off, heading for the Fire Nation palace of Fire Lord Ozai. Not far into our journey we ran into Fire Nation ships headed in the opposite direction.
"Quick!" Hakoda's friend Bato said. "Everyone below deck!" Hakoda opened the hatch for everyone and we flooded below deck. Hakoda and Bato stood in front of it. I know because we left open just a little so we could see and hear. I couldn't hear too well. Hakoda and Bato gave some excuse for us to be going in that direction and the other men bought it. They started to walk away and suddenly Toph leapt up.
"They know!" she cried. The meant turned, ready to attack, but Toph grabbed hold of the metal bridge going from their ship to ours, and crunched it up. Then Katara rushed over and Waterbended them into the water, freezing it so they were stuck and we quickly set off again. I took a deep breath. I couldn't believe this was happening. I wanted it all to stop.
During the whole ride I never really had any idea what was going on. We were all inside the underwater ships and I stayed away from everyone. I had told Aang I wasn't going to stop him at all, that I was going to have nothing to do with it. But as the time got closer I got more and more nervous. I felt like I was doing something very wrong in not defending my family. But, I knew he was bad and that needed to be stopped. I just wished there was another way.
Toph was getting sick from the ride. She said it was worse then riding on Appa. The Duke, a small kid the group met before me, offered Toph his helmet to hurl in. That was pleasant...
I drew my knees to my chest, rested my arms on them and lowered my head onto my arms. I quietly sang a song Uncle Iroh taught me.
Leaves from the vine, falling so slow.
Like fragile tiny shells drifting in the foam.
Little soldier boy, come marching home.
Brave soldier boy comes marching home
I sang it quietly to myself for comfort, to try and sooth my nerves. In a kind of weak voice, Toph asked, "What are you singing, Hothead?" I looked up, not realizing anyone could hear me.
"It's a song my uncle taught me." I answered. I paused. "My Uncle Iroh. He used to sing it every year on the of my cousin, Lu Ten's death. I was just trying to relax. I can stop if it's bothering you."
"No," Toph said. "It's nice. Teach it to me? Maybe it can get my mind of this awful ride." I smiled slightly, moving a bit closer to her.
"It goes like this," I said. "Leaves from the vine, falling so slow. Like fragile tiny shells drifting in the foam. Little soldier boy, come marching home. Brave soldier boy comes marching home."
"You have a great voice." The Duke said. I smiled.
"Thanks." I said. "I used to sing this song all the time." Toph began to sing the song, and then The Duke. I smiled and sang along. The music rang out in the ship and everyone was watching us. For just a moment everything seemed at peace. For just a moment everything was okay. Until we docked. Everyone ran around, frantically getting ready for the big moment. I was the only one who appeared calm, though I was probably the most nervous, next to Aang. As everyone got ready I slowly stood and walked calmly from the ship onto dry ground. I stood and watched as everything happened. It seemed to be happening more quickly then it was. It looked like everyone was going two times the speed of normal. Before I knew it everyone was lined up according to plan and rushing into battle, facing off against Firebending guards. Then the worst thing I could have ever imagined happened.
"Mei!" I looked over. One of the guards was calling my name. I had known him since he was hired when I was 9. "Mei, quick! We could use your help!" I froze. What did I say? 'Sorry, I'm with them. Just waiting for you all to be killed.' I didn't think so.
"Mei, look out!" I heard Katara yell. I looked up in time to see a fire ball headed straight for me. I leapt out of her way, landing right on my bad arm. I cried out in excruciating pain. I yelled for a few seconds and sat up. I very slowly pulled the sling back to look. I groaned, seeing it was bleeding. I bit mu other hand, trying not to think of the pain.
"Oh gosh..." I said quietly. "Ooh, man..." I winced, holding in cries of pain. It was the worst thing I had ever felt. Lou Shi, the guard, rushed over to me.
"Oh, Mei," he said. "Are you okay? How did that girl know you?" I sat up straight, grimacing at the horrible pain.
"Oh, uh, she's- ooh..." I tried. "She heard you say my name." Which wasn't a lie. I pride myself in know of ways to answer people in a deceiving wait without actually lying. Katara did hear him say my name, I'm sure.
"Ouch..." I said. I held my arm very gently. The blood was leaking from the bandage.
"Get away from her!" Katara cried, coming at Lou Shi with a Water Whip. Lou Shi stood quickly, standing in front of me to protect me.
"No!" I cried to both of them. "Stop! We're friends!" They both stopped and looked at me, curious as to who I meant. "Both of you." I said. "Lou Shi, Katara is my close friend. I've been traveling with her. Katara, I've known Lou Shi since I was nine. He always took great care of me."
"You're with them?" Lou Shi asked, a disgusted look on his face. I nodded slowly.
"Yes, Lou Shi." I said.
"Well, I'm not!" he cried. He turned back, sending a huge blast of fire at Katara. I stood quickly.
"No!" I shouted. I slammed into Lou Shi, knocking him down. I cried out in pain again.
"Ugh! That was my bad arm!" I shouted. In anger I shot a heavy blast of lightning next to Lou Shi. "Leave!" I cried. He stood quickly and left to fight with the others. I fell to my knees, squeezing my eyes shut. "Katara, help me right now." I said. "Please, it hurts!" Katara glanced at the others then bent down. She grabbed water from her canteen and held it on my arm.
"This is bad, Mei." she said. "I think you broke it in another spot. And it's bleeding on the surface."
"I can see that..." I said a bit sarcastically. "Please stop the bleeding." She nodded. She bended the blood off of my arm and onto the ground.
"Gross." I muttered. Katara molded her glowing water hands to my arm again.
"This is going to take a while, Mei." she said. "Just try and stay out of the way. There isn't anything I can do right now. I have to go help the others." I nodded.
"Go ahead." I said. She gave me a sad look then rushed off. I stayed right where I was, a safe distance form the others, and tried hard not to think of the awful pain. I couldn't decide which awful was worse. The awful pain in my arm or the awful pain in my heart. My stomach twisted into knots and my heart wrenched. I took a deep breath as I watched the fiery explosions and the shifting Earth and the snapping water. Aang had started off to find my Uncle Ozai. To kill him. I shook my head. I couldn't take it anymore. Everything I had endured was coming up inside me into one extreme emotion. Love. I stood and rushed over to one of Uncle's guards.
"Chon!" I cried as he Firebended at one of our Earth Kingdom tanks. "Chon, I need your help!" He turned and looked at me. He looked shocked.
"Mei!" he cried. "Where have you been? What happened to your arm?"
"It's a long story. I need you to help inside to get to my uncle." I answered.
"Mei, you need to leave. It's way too dangerous!" Chon insisted.
"No!" I snapped. "Take me to my uncle! Now!" Reluctantly he nodded. He put his arm gently around me and we ran to the palace. He was sheltering me from anything that may have come our way, ready to defend me. We approached the stairs and I heard Sokka calling my name.
"Mei!" he cried. "Run away!" I looked back at him. His face fell. He could tell by the look on my face that I wasn't being taken by force. I looked away and kept running up the stairs. Chon ran directly behind me, so if anything came our way it would hit him instead of me. We ran through the doors of the palace.
"Can you take it from here, Mei?" Chon asked.
"Yes, Chon. Thank you." I said. He gave me a pleasant smile and ran out the door to continue fighting. I looked around the nearly empty palace and started towards Uncle Ozai's throne room. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I couldn't believe what I was going. I was ruining everything I had worked for. Everything I stood for I was throwing away. But, something inside was making me stay. Something inside kept on saying, 'One more step. One more step. Keep going.' So, I did. I one more stepped right into Uncle Ozai's throne room. Him and a bunch guards looked like they were getting ready to leave.
"Oh, Uncle Ozai!" I cried, running up to him. I bent to my knees and looked up to him. "I'm so glad I got to you in time."
"What do you mean, Mei?" he asked. "What's going on? Why are you here?" I stood up.
"I wanted to warn you of the Avatar's plans, Uncle." I said. Don't say anymore, Mei! You're betraying your friends! "I couldn't let him hurt you. I can't let someone else in my family get hurt." Uncle Ozai looked sad.
"Yes," he said. "It's is tragic what happened to Chan, I know. And I thank you for coming to warn me. But, I already knew." My heart fell and I think I may have died for just a second.
"Excuse me?" I asked, almost breathless.
"I already knew of the plans the Avatar had. That's why we're leaving. I have a place underground that I can stay in for protection."
"How did you know?"
"One of the Avatar's friends told Azula of their plans. She was disguised as someone else and they fell for it. So, we've known for quite a while. Anyway, we must go, Mei." I nodded.
"Yes, Uncle." I said. "It was wonderful to see you again." he hugged me quickly and rushed out with his guards. As they left, what I had done suddenly hit me like a wall. I had betrayed my friends. Even though Uncle Ozai had already known, I ruined everything. What if he hadn't known? I could have ruined the invasion single-handedly. Made it so the war that I so desperately hate kept going. I hated myself and I knew that everyone outside fighting for what's right would hate me too. I collapsed to my knees as tears streamed down my face. I screamed as loud as I can. I kept screaming and screaming. When I stopped I hung my head and sobbed.
"You're dirt!" I cried to myself. "I hate you! You're trash, you're nothing! You deserve to die!" I was sobbing as I spoke. More quietly I said, "You shouldn't be alive..." I fell to my side, this time on my good arm, and cried. I had cried a lot in the past few weeks, but this time was worse. It was worse not only because I was crying harder then ever, but because of the reason I was crying. I pulled myself up onto my shaky legs and wiped my eyes. I sniffed and cleared my throat, pushing my hair out of my face. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to just run. I wanted to run far away and never see anyone out there ever again. I felt lightheaded. I thought I might passout. I took in a deep breath and slowly let it out, trying relax. Though, when Aang burst through the door I nearly had a heart attack.
"Mei?" he asked, standing straight from his fighting stance. "What are you doing in here? Where's Fire Lord Ozai?" I turned all the way to face him.
"He's gone, Aang." I said. He walked up to me with a concerned face.
"Where is he?" he asked.
"He knew about the invasion. He left." I answered. I was waving back and forth slightly as my vision started to slowly blur. I didn't actually passout, but my legs buckled under me. Aang quickly caught me and carried me from the palace. He made his way through the crowd, fighting to get to Katara. He laid me down on the ground. Sokka, Katara, Hakoda and him were all kneeling behind Appa.
"She collapsed." Aang said. "She's still with us, but- I don't know what happened. And Fire Lord Ozai is gone."
"What!?" Katara cried.
"Yeah, Mei said he knew about the invasion and he left." Aang said.
"How could he have known?" Sokka asked. I heard silence for a second. I couldn't see any of their facial expressions since I was too weak to open my eyes. "Remember when Azula disguised herself as a Kyoshi Warrior?" he asked. "We told her about the invasion. That's how he knew!" That's not the only way. I thought. I felt someone pick me up, and that was the last thing before I passed out.
When I woke up I saw the sky. I stared at it for a second, not really knowing what to think. I saw clouds. Fluffy, white clouds. Fluffy, white, moving clouds. My eyes widened. I was moving! I sat up straight and looked around. I thought I was in a desert. I was on Appa. He was walking. All the kids form the invasion (Sokka, Aang, Katara, Toph, The Duke, Teo and Haru) were walking next to him. Well, Teo was rolling in his wheelchair. Aang had Momo flopped over his head. I assumed for protection against the hot sun. I tried to speak, but for a second my voice wouldn't come out. I swallowed hard.
"Aang?" I forced out. Aang stopped and looked up. All the other kids and Appa stopped as well.
"Mei!" Aang cried. Aang and Katara quickly climbed onto Appa. Katara opened her canteen and bended water into my mouth. That was just what I needed. It felt so good.
"Where are we?" I asked. "What happened?"
"We had to leave the invasion." Katara answered. "All the adults are still back there. They destroyed out ships, so my dad told all of us kids to leave. We're going to the Western Air Temple."
"Where's Suki?" I asked. Aang and Katara looked down sadly at Sokka, who looked about ten times more sad.
"We couldn't find her." Sokka said. "I think she was captured." I shook my head.
"I ruined everything." I said.
"No, you didn't." Aang said. "You've been under an unbelievable amount of stress. You put yourself through too much and you couldn't handle it."
"No," I said. "You don't understand. I-" I was stopped in the middle of confessing my Toph.
"We're here!" she cried. Katara looked out at the great big nothing. A cliff was the only thing there.
"Uh, Toph," she said. "I think your feet need their eyes checked."
"No." Aang said with a smile, leaping off of Appa. "She's right!" Everyone got onto Appa and he flew down over the cliff to show a bunch of buildings stuck upside down under it. It was amazing. There was a big fountain with a little waterfall going over the edge of the cliff. Appa landed and we all got off again. Teo, The Duke and Haru said they were going to go explore the temple. Aang wanted to, but he stayed with me. Him and Sokka helped me off Appa and onto the edge of the fountain.
"Are you okay?" Katara asked. "Do you need anything?" I nodded.
"Actually, yes." I answered. "A healing session."
"Sure." Katara said. She grabbed the water and headed for my arm. "Where does it hurt most?" she asked. I put my good hand up to stop her.
"No," I said. "Not my arm." She looked at me curiously. "My mind." She paused.
"What do you mean, Mei?" she asked.
"My mind is damaged from all the stress and everything I've been through." I said. "You have to be able to fix it. You have to be bale to relax me a bit more. To help me cope with everything." She took a deep breath.
"I can try." she said. I turned sideways on the edge of the fountain and she sat behind me. She put the water over my temples and I could see it glowing from the corner of me eyes. All of the wind was knocked from me for just a second. I gasped. My eyes widened and my mouth opened. Everything flooded into my mind quicker then I could make it out. From my childhood to just earlier with Uncle Ozai. My eyes moved rapidly, trying to take it all in. Then it stopped. And I felt refreshed. I felt a little bit more relaxed. But, it caused me to do something I would regret forever. I gasped again and cried out, "I told Uncle Ozai!" Everyone froze in their place. I pulled form Katara and she dropped the water into the fountain. "He already knew, but I told him that Aang was going to kill him." I looked at Aang. "When you found me inside his throne room he had just left after talking with me. I told him what you were planning. He already knew because Sokka accidentally told Azula, but I didn't know that." No words can describe the looks on their faces. It was a serious mix of pain, sadness, disgust, anger... So many things mixed into one. Aang's eyes tore into my heart and ripped me apart. For some reason I didn't start crying. I never used to cry before I went through everything I had gone through, so I thought that maybe Katara did something to put me back to the way I was. She restored my mind to the way it used to be. In a way I felt bad because I wasn't crying or anything. I felt so incredibly bad, but I wasn't showing it in anymore of a way then a sad look in my eyes.
"You did what?!" Sokka cried. "How could you do this?! I knew we couldn't trust you! This was all just a plan you and Zuko cooked up, wasn't it!?"
"No!" I cried, shaking my head. "No, no, no! Never! I wouldn't ever do that to you guys! It was just- I was in the heat of the moment and I just felt so bad, I- something just came over me!"
"You could have ruined everything, Mei!" Toph cried, pointing at me.
"But, I didn't!" I said. "Uncle Ozai already knew. He was on his way out when I went in."
"But, you didn't know that." Aang said, more calm then the rest of them. "You could have ruined everything we worked for."
"I think you should leave." Katara said, taking a step closer to me. "You aren't welcome to travel with us anymore." My eyes widened.
"No, Katara, please!" I cried, falling to my knees. "You can't do that. You guys are all I have!" I bent down in a total bowing position, as low as it gets. Even with me putting myself in the lowest position, begging my friends for mercy and forgiveness, I still didn't cry.
"We can't trust you anymore, Mei." Katara said. "You put us all in danger. Leave!" I looked up at Aang, resting on my hands. He was looking down at me with a sad, pained look.
"Aang?" I begged. He stared at me for one more second before closing his eyes and turning away. "Please..." I said quietly. "Let me stay... I'm so sorry... I beg of you!"
"No." Sokka said, stepping forward next to Katara. "Now, leave before we force you to leave." I sat up on knees, looking up at their angry faces. Still no tears. I stood up. Aang wouldn't face me. I swallowed hard.
"Okay." I said, looking at Sokka and Katara. "But, let me just say one thing." I bowed to them the way they do it, not the way we do it in the Fire Nation. "I'm honored to have spent this time with all of you. I wouldn't change a second of our time together." I stood straight. "And just know that I'm deeply sorry for what I've done." I gave them all one last look before turning and leaving. I could feel a single tear falling down my cheek. I wiped it away. It wasn't over. Somehow Katara brought back the real Mei. The strong, stubborn, hardheaded, brash Mei. And that Mei wouldn't let people think she was something she wasn't. She wouldn't stand for what had just happened. And I wasn't going to.
Walking through the woods, trying to think of a plan, I heard a voice. I stopped to listen. Thanks to Toph's Earthbending lessons, I had heightened my senses, so I could hear much better.
"Well? What's your answer?!" I heard. My eyes widened. It was Zuko! I closed my eyes, tyring to feel him. I stomped the ground, in a way sending out a radar. I opened my eyes and looked to my right, then bolted in that direction. I ran and ran for a while until I finally saw Zuko. I narrowed my eyes. He was nice to me, but I knew what he wanted to do with Aang and them and I wasn't about to let it happen. I stopped short as he came into view. I stepped behind a tree and peeked over to watch him. He looked sad and nervous. No one was there. I wondered who he had yelled at. I knew Zuko and the look on his face didn't mean he was planning something evil. I sighed and stepped out from behind the tree, walking to his little clearing where he had set up a sort of tent from the trees with a blanket.
"Zuko?" I asked. He jumped at the noise and looked at me.
"Mei?" he asked. I walked up to him.
"What are you doing here?" I asked. He looked away for a second.
"Um, well, I was kind of trying to- I was practicing for when I ask if I can join the Avatar's group." I couldn't help but laugh a little.
"You want to join the Avatar's group?" I asked. "How do you think that's going to work? They wont trust you."
"I'm going to apologize." he said. He scowled. "I've got it figured out, okay?" he snapped. "What are you doing here anyway?" I looked down sadly, gently touching my arm.
"They, uh-" I cleared my throat. "They kicked me out." Zuko's eyes widened.
"They kicked you out of their group?" he asked in a socked and kind of angry voice. I nodded. "Why?" he asked.
"Because I told Uncle Ozai what they were planning on doing." I answered. "He already knew, but I didn't know that." Zuko froze. He seemed shocked, but alos understanding. "I couldn't let Aang hurt him, Zuko." I said. "I just couldn't."
"I can." he said. I looked him the eye. "I confronted him today. I told him I was leaving and that I was going to help the Avatar defeat him. Then he shot lightning at me and I redirected it." I gapsed.
"Did you kill him?" I asked. He shook his head.
"Of course not." he answered. "I shot it back next to him and left." I turned to the side, closing my eyes. "Mei," he said, touching my shoulder. "If I can let Aang do it, you should be able to." I turned back to him.
"I know..." I said. "But, he was always so nice to me. After the twins were born he was more like a father to me then my own dad. Of course, neither of them gave me the attention I really needed, but he gave me more. It's harder because my real father died, so I feel like the only person I have is Uncle Ozai."
"That's not true." Zuko said. "You have Uncle Iroh. And you have me." I looked up at him. He seemed much stronger the usual. He seeme dmore like a brother then a cousin. I smiled and hugged him gently, so I didn't hurt my arm even more.
"Thank you, Zuko..." I said. "I'll try to help you get in with them."
"And I'll try to help you get back with them." he said, hugging me back. I smiled. Me and Zuko hadn't been in such good standings in years. Finally, our fighting was completely over.
Me and Zuko were sitting around a fire by his tent. We didn't really have naythin tto say now that we weren't fighting. Usually we would argue, but not anymore. He looked at me awkwardly.
"Uh, I see you cut your hair." he said. I tocuhed the ends on of my hair with a little nod.
"Yeah," I answered. "So I wouldn't get recognized." I sighed. "Though it didn't work with the man who told me about Dad." Zuko looked down then back up at me.
"Well, it looks nice." he said. I smiled.
"I like your hair." I said. "It's nice and- long." He gave a little smirk.
"Uh, yeah, it is." he said. He cleared his throat and we sat in silence again. I sighed and shook my head.
"This is so awkward!" I cried. He shrugged.
"Now that we aren't fighting we have nothing to say." he said. I groaned.
"I know..." I muttered. Then I got an idea. "We could talk about our plans to get back with the group." He smiled.
"Yeah, we could." he said. "It needs to be a good one. I think it will take a lot for them to trust us again." I nodded.
"Definitely." I said. "Well, for you to go get with them- uh, maybe you should just try asking. Apologize and try to make them see you've changed."
"That's what I was planning on doing." he said. "I mean, Aang's the Avatar. There all about peace and harmony."
"Exactly. And Toph will be able to tell when you're sincere." I said. "So, just don't lie about anything and you should be fine." He stood up with a smile.
"Okay." he said. "I'll be back." I nodded.
"Go get'em, Zuzu." I said with a joking smile. He turned and walked away. I sighed heavily and fell onto my back. Usually Momo would have come up to me or Appa would have licked me or something.
"I miss Momo." I said to myself. I sat up, rubbing my arm. I wished Katara could give me another healing session. It hurt a lot. Ice would feel good right about now... I thought. But, I had no way of getting any ice in the middle of a deserted island in the Fire Nation. I looked at the bandage sling Katara had made for me sadly. I missed her. I missed all of them. I winced as a sharp pain struck my arm suddenly. I took a deep breath, trying to relax.
"It's just a feeling." I told myself in a calm voice. "Pain is only a feeling like any other." I kept breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. I layed gently on my back closing my eyes. I think I dozed, but I was awakened by Zuko coming back. I sat up quickly, winced in pain, then shook my hair from my face.
"Well?" I asked eagerly. He looked at me then sat down with his head hung low. I sighed.
"Sorry." I said. I looked down. "If they didn't forive you, I'm sure they wont forgive me..."
"It wont hurt to try." he said.
"Actually it would." I said. "Very much." I drew my legs up to my chest. A few seconds later I looked at Zuko. "Why can't you have healing powers?" I asked. He looked at me like I was speaking gibberish. I sighed and graoned and slammed my head onto my knees. "I hate this!" I cried into my pants.
That night while me and Zuko were sleeping udner the tent by the fire, Zuko sat up quickly. I opened my eyes and sat up, too.
"Who's there?" he asked. We both listened for a second. Then he sent a line of fire out, calling, "Stay back!"
"It's me." I heard Toph say. She quickly lifted a slab of Earth to protect herself from the fire. But, when she took a step back she stepped on it. "Ow!" she cried as she fell to her back.
"Toph!" I cried. Zuko rubbed his eyes, shocked to see Toph sitting on the ground with burned feet.
"You burned my feet!" she cried angrily.
"I'm sorry! It was a mistake!" Zuko said. We both stood up and rushed after her. She picked up a rock and through it at us.
"Get away from me!" she cried as she started crawling away.
"Toph!" I said, bending the rocks away.
"Let me help you!" Zuko insisted. Toph kept throwing rocks at us. "I'm sorry!" Zuko said again. He grabbed her shoulder.
"Get of me! Get of me!" Toph cried. She pushed him away and she fell onto her back.
"Toph, come on!" I said. She lifted two big pillars of Earth that slammed into me and Zuko, sending us flying backwards. We landed on our backs with grunts as the wind was knocked from us.
"I didn't know it was you!" Zuko called after her. But, she was still crawling away. Zuko winced and grabbed his side. "Come back!" he cried. But she was already gone. He yelled and fell to his back. "Why am I so bad at being good?!" I cried.
"Okay, my arm is in excruciating pain right now, but I think she may have knocked the bone back into place." I said. Zuko groaned again.
The next morning when I woke up Zuko was gone. I assumed he had gone for a walk or something. I stood up and stretched with a yawn. I rubbed my eyes and looked around. For a split second I thought I was going to see Aang. But, when I didn't see him it sent a pang through my chest. I took a deep breath, then realized I was able to move my arm more. I smiled. I wasn't sure if it had actually been broken before or not, but I was able to mov eit more and that was good. If hurt very, very much, but at least it was getting a bit better. I sat down to do my relaxation breathing. I had decided it would be a good idea to try and relieve some of my stress. I breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Of course, just as soon as I relaxed I heard a loud explosion. I gasped, jerking my arm.
"Ow!" I cried, clutching it. I pushed myself to my feet and started running towards the Air Temple. When I got there I was Combustion Man exploding things again and Zuko was trying to get him to stop.
"Stop!" he cried. "I don't want you hunting the Avatar anymore." He ran in front of him, holdin ghis arms up. "The mission is off!" Combustion Man took a deep breath in and shoved Zuko away after Zuko told him again to stop. He sent an explosion to the rock decoration that hung fromt he ceiling over the fountain. It exploded, but the others seemed to be safe. Zuko rushed at Combustion Man, holding flames in his hand.
"If you keep attacking," he said. "I wont pay you!" Combustion Man grabbed the front of Zuko's shirt, stoppin ghim with little effort. "Alright, I'll pay you double to stop!" Zuko said. But he didn't listen. He took a deep breath in and sent an explosion to the fountain again as Zuko kicked him, sending himself flying from Combustion man, but not making Combustion Man himself move at all. I wanted to ge to the fountain, becuase that was obviously hwree they were hiding, but I had no way to do it without getting exploded. I gasped as Combustion Man sent an explosion to Zuko. He used to Firebending to fend it off, but it sent him flying backwards over the cliff.
"Zuko!" I cried. Combustion Man looked up at me.
"Shoot." I said. He took a deep breath in and sent an explosion for me. I ducked away just in time, also sparing my arm more pain this time, too. Combustion Man turned back and started sending more explosions to Aang and them. I ran out from behind one of the buildings and rushed towards him. But, I stopped as I saw Aang send a tornado of air up to him. I backed up as quick as I could. Combustion Man leapt out of the way of the tornado and down to the others, sending an explosion while do it. Aang flipped backwards, avoiding the explosion and landing on his feet. Combustion Man sent another explosion at the fountain. I leapt down after him, sending a line of Fire to his back. It did nothing.
"Mei?" Aang asked. I ran up next to him as Katara picked up a huge wave of water from the fountain. She sent it flying to Combustion Man, turning to icey spikes as she did so. Combustion Man lifted his metal arm and leg to defend himself. We all rushed behind a wall.
"Mei, what are you doing here?" Katara said, a bit of anger in her voice. I braced myself as an explosion came next to us.
"I heard the explosions and came to make sure you guys were okay." Mei said. "I can leave if you don't want my help."
"No, no," Sokka said. "We could use it."
"he's going to blast this whoel place right off the cliff side!" Toph cried as another explosion came. Katara peeked her head around to see him, but pulled it back quickly as yet another explosion came.
"I can't step out to Waterbend at him with getting blown up!" she said. "And I can't get a good enough angle on him from down here." Me and Sokka made thinking faces. Then, at the same time we said, "I know how to get an angle on him!" We both looked at each other, then at Boomerang. We both smiled as he pulled it out and aimed it at where the explosions were hitting. He pulled it back, ready to throw. "Alright buddy," he said. "Don't fail me now. The he chucked it as hard as it could. I swirled around and left sight, heading for Combustion Man. Sokka peeked around to see it. It hit Combustion Man's forehead then returned to Sokka. He grabbed it with a huge smile.
"Yeah, Boomerang!" he cried. We looked up at Combustion Man, who was laying on the ground. But, then he stood up, stumbling for a second and holding his eye tattoo. "Aww, Boomerang!" Sokka whined. We all rushed back behind the wall as we heard him take another deep breath in. Only this time it exploded back at him again. Not like before, though. This time it was huge. A massive explosion that he ultimately didn't survive. We all rushed to the edge of the cliff where the top half of one of the buildings and Combustion Man's metal arm flew down. We all looked at each other in shock. We we turned around Haru, The Duke and Teo were all staring at us with the same shocked faces. Then I heard a grunt. I turned back around and saw Zuko climbing up a vine back to the top of the cliff.
"Zuko!" I cried. I rushed up to meet him. When he came to the top I grabbed my hand with my good arm and pulled him up. I hugged him tightly. "Are you okay?" I asked. He nodded.
"Yeah, I'm fine." he answered. We all walked back to the fountain. Katara, Sokka and Aang stood in front of us. Toph sat on a rock.
"I can't believe I'm saying this," Aang said. "But, thanks you Zuko." He looked at me. "And you too, Mei."
"Hey, what about me?" Sokka asked. "I did the boomerang thing."
"Listen," Zuko said, stepping forward. "I know I didn't explain myself very well yesturday. Me and Mei have been through a lot in the past few years. And it's been hard." I looked down. "But, I'm realizing," he continued. "I went through all those things to learn the truth. I thought I had lost my honor. And only my father could return it to me. But, I know now that no one can give you your honor. It's something you learn for yourself by choosing to do what's right. All I want now is to play my part in ending this war." He looked at me. "We both do." he said. I nodded. He looked back at Aang. "And I know that I have to help you restore balance to the world." He looked at Toph and bowed. "I'm sorry for what I did to you. It was an accident. Fire can be dangerous. And as a Firebender I need to learn to control it better so I don't hurt people." I nodded, stepping forward.
"Everything he said stand for me, too." I said. "I know that I betrayed you before by telling Uncle Ozai what you were going to do. And I'm deeply sorry for that. And I want to come back. I want you all to trust me again. To trust both of us. And to let both of us continue on in Aang's Firebending training." I paused. "Oh, and I could stand to control my bending a bit more, too. It's very dangerous and needs to be used by only someone who is competent and alert." Aang's face was slightly stern.
"I think you are supposed to be my Firebending teachers." he said. He stepped forward. "When I first started to learn Firebending I burned Katara. And afetr that I never wanted to Firebend again." Sokka looekd shocked and Katara looked angry at what he was saying. I was just very happy. He looked at Zuko. "But, now I know that you understand how easy it is to hurt the people you love." He bowed to us. "I'd like both of you to teach me." Me and Zuko smiled and bowed back.
"Thank you." he said.
"From both of us." I added.
"I'm so happy you've accepted us into your group." Zuko said.
"Not so fast." Aang said. Me and Zuko paused, our faces falling. "I still have to ask my firends if it's okay with them." He turned to the rest of them. "Toph," he said. "You're the one that Zuko burned. What do you think?"
"Go ahead and let them join." she said. "It'll give me plently of time to get back at Zuko for burning my feet." Aang smiled then turned to Sokka.
"Sokka?" he asked. Sokka shurgged.
"All I want is to defeat the Fire Lord." he said. "If you think this is the way to do it, go for it." Aang smiled again, then looked at Katara.
"Katara?" he asked.
"I'll go along with whatever you think is right." she said. Aang smiled even more.
"We wont let you down." Zuko said as we walked forward. "We promise."
"Let's hope so." Katara said. It seemed that she directed it more to Zuko then to me. But, she was still very angry with me, too. I looked at Aang. It was a relief to be able to look at him and have him look back at me with happiness and not shame.
"Can I talk to you?" I asked him. He nodded.
"Sure." he said. We walked together a ways from the others. I stood in front of him. I pulled him and hugged him. He hugged me back. But, while I was hugging I noticed something. Or rather, I didn't notice something. There was no feeling. I didn't get all fluttery inside and I didn't blush. I didn't feel at a loss for words. I felt totally composed. I closed my eyes and frowned. Whatever Katara did to my mind made it so I had no feelings for him anymore. Of course I Still cared for him. He was my best friend. I loved him in that way. But, I didn't love love him anymore. We pulled away from each toher and looked him in the eye.
"I'm so glad to be back." I said. "I'm so sorry for what I did." Aang shook his head.
"It's over. I forgive you." he said. I smiled. I felt Momo climb up my leg and onto my shoulder. I giggled. "Momo forgives you too." Aang added.
"You mean a lot to me, Aang." I said. "You're like-" I paused for just a second. Say it, Mei. He needs to know you don't have feelings anymore. Just say it! "You're like a brother to me, Aang." I could see the emotion in his face change slightly. "And that's really important to me because I never got to enjoy my brother." He looked away for a second.
"Oh." he said. "Well, thanks..." I sighed.
"Aang, look," I said. "I used to have feelings for you. And I loved that. But, whatever Katara did the other day to my mind made it so I don't anymore. I wish I still did, but she put me back to the way my mind was before I met you. And I know you and Katara like each other. So, you shouldn't waste your time on me. You liked her long before you met me." His face seemed nervous, but like he was trying not to show it.
"I don't like Katara!" he said. I smiled.
"Aang, I know you do." I said. "And it's okay. You and I will always be as good of friends as it gets." He smiled.
"I'd like that." he said. We hugged again and left. I sighed. In some ways I wished that Katara had never fixed my mind.
Later me and Zuko went to teach Aang some Firebending. We decided to start over from the top. Aang said he was nervous again because he hadn't Firebended in a long time. and that he staretd thinking about what he did to Katara.
"I know you're nervous." Zuko said. "But, remember. Firebending in and of itself is not something to fear." Aang took a deep breath.
"Okay. Not something to fear." he said.
"But, if you don't respect it it'll chew you up and spit you out like an angry kamodo-rhino!" Aang yelled and jumped back.
"Zuko!" I said. "Don't scare him! He's already nervous." Zuko just glanced at me.
"Now, show me what you've got." he said. "Any amount of fire you can make." Aang took two deep breaths then stiffened like a board. Then he turned and shot out his hand, only to have a puny amount of smoke come out. He looked at us and smirked sheepishly.
"Maybe I need a little more instruction. Perhaps a demonstration?" he said.
"Good idea." Zuko said. "You may want to take a couple steps back." Aang back up and Zuko looked at me. "You too." he said. I rolled my eyes and stepped back with Aang. Zuko sucked in a breath, then with a grunt shot out his fist. I expected the thing I always saw. A huge burst of flames. But, no. Only a small little flame came out. I snickered.
"Good one, Zuko." I said. Aang clapped.
"What was that?" Zuko asked, obviously shocked. "That was the worst Firebending I've ever seen!"
"I thought it was- nice." Aang said with a little smile, trying to be nice and encouraging. Zuko kept trying. He did form after form only to have tiny little flames come out. I looked at his fist and growled. I laughed.
"You've lost it, Zuko." I said, shaking my head.
"Why is this happening?!" he asked.
"Maybe it's the altitude." Aang said. I put my hand on my hip and scoffed.
"Yeah, could be." Zukos aid.
"That's what it is." I said. But, even after we moved to a different area it didn't work. Aang was sitting on a broken pillar and I was leaning against it. He yawned and fell back as Zuko kept failing to make a big flame.
"Just breath and-" Zuko shot his fist out again. Only another small flame. Aang sat up.
"That one kind of felt hot." he said.
"Don't patronize me!" Zuko snapped loudly. "You know what it's supposed to look like!" Aang frowned.
"Sorry, sifu Hotman."
"And stop calling me that!"
I laughed, shaking my head.
"You need to relax, Zuko." I said. "Maybe it's just stress." Zuko scowled at me.
"Maybe it's still the altitude..." he said. I shook my head again, walking closer to him.
"It isn't the altitude, Zuko." I said. "It's you."
"Well, how do you know?" he snapped. I raised one eyebrow then took a step back.
"If it was the altitude, could I do this?" And I shot my fist out to have a huge burst of flame fly out. "I could Firebend with my bad arm, right now." I said. "Something's going on with you. If you can't Firebend, I guess I'll just have to teach you both." Zuko blushed a bit from embarrassment. I smiled, stepping forward and sruffing up his hair. "Don't be embarrassed, Zuzu." I said. "There's no shame in being beaten by a master." He pushed my hand away with an angry look.
"I'm not ashamed." he snapped. "I'm angry that I can't make anything bigger then a candle flame!" I shrugged.
"It just isn't your day." I said. I turned to Aang. "Come here, Aang." I said. He hopped off the broken pillar and walked up to me. "You've Firebended before, Aang." I told him. "You can do it again. Remember what we did before? Hold your hand out and concentrate." I heard Zuko scoff as Aang held out his hand next to mine. I was holding a decent flame in my palm.
"This is supposed to teach him Firebending?" he asked. "Concentrating?" I glanced at him.
"Shush." I said quietly. "He needs to concentrate." Aang closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Think warm thoughts, Aang. Just like before. You were so good before. Just let go of your fear." Zuko rolled his eyes and folded his arms.
"This isn't going to-" he stopped mid sentence when a flame appeared in Aang's hand. Zuko looked shocked and Aang looked so happy and proud. I smiled.
"It's going to- what?" I asked Zuko with a smile. He turned away. "Keep practicing, Aang." I said. "Once you can make a bigger flame we'll work on more moves." Aang nodded.
"Sure thing, sifu Hotman." he said. I giggled as he walked away. I turned to Zuko.
"Want me to help you out?" I asked. He turned back. His face was very angry.
"No." he answered. He turned again and left. I sighed. I walked back to the crumbled fountain where Katara was healing Toph's burned feet. I sat down by the foutnain and Katara gave me a mean glance.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
"Yes." I said cautiously. "Um, well, you see, my arm is- when Toph knocked me with that rock-" I sighed. I felt awkward asking her.
"Spit it out, Mei." Katara said. "I'm kind of busy here." I took a deep breath.
"Sorry." I said. "Um, I think Toph knocked my bone back into the correct place. But, it stills needs more work and Iw as wondering-"
"I'll help you when I'm finished with Toph." Katara interrupted.
"Oh. Okay." I said. "Thank you..." I looked down, then remembered I wanted to tell Toph something. "Oh, Toph! Guess what." I said.
"What?" she asked.
"I Metalbended." I said. Her face lit up.
"You what?" she asked.
"Only a tiny bit." I said. "I Metalbended and Firebended the bars in my cell so I could escape."
"That's great, Mei!" she cried. "I thought only I could do that."
"Well, I can stop if you want to be the only one." I said. I laughed a little. "I'm not even sure how much I actually Metalbended. I was really- uh, emotional at the time. I don't think I could do it again." Not since Katara fixed me... I thought. Toph shrugged and Katara dropped the water from Toph's feet into the fountain.
"Alright, Mei, you're up." she said. Sokka came over and picked Toph up, carrying her away. I got closer to Katara. She wouldn't look me in the eye. She carefully removed the bandage and grabbed more water, molding it to her hands. I bent my arm out as much as I could and she gently put her hands on it. "It's definitely better." she said. "One or two more healing sessions and you should be able to use it almost liek normal." I smirked.
"Thanks." I said.
"Don't thank me." she replied, a little anger still in her voice. "Toph's the one that knocked it back into place."
"Yes," I said. "But, you did most of the work... And you're here with me now." She looked up at me, finally.
"What are you talking about?" she asked.
"You've forgiven me." I said. "At least a little, otherwise you wouldn't be helping me." She looked back down at her hands then dropped the water in the fountain.
"Yeah, well, you don't deserve it."
I shook my head. "No, I don't." I said. "I deserve your unkindess. But, you're stil