Me and Toph stayed out talking for a while that night, then we headed back and went back to sleep. It was only about two hours before they all woke up. I know, because I didn't fall back asleep. I kind of felt bad about keeping my Fire Nation secret from them. I tried to push it from my mind as we started to pack up. Me and Toph kind of stuck together. We were slowly gaining a strong friendship.
"So, Hothead," she said, putting her hands on her hips. "Ready to start Earthbending again?" 'Hothead' kind of threw me off. I wasn't sure if she was just calling me that because I exploded a couple of times, or because she knows I'm Fire Nation. I chuckled a bit with a sigh, shaking my head.
"I don't know, Toph." I said. "It didn't really work yesterday."
"I know!" Sokka shouted as he rushed over. He slapped his hand on my shoulder, puffing out his chest. "You should forget about bending, for right now." he said, talking a deep voice. "Come train with me!" Katara shook her head, walking up with Aang.
"I don't think so, Sokka." she said. "She needs to stay in the bending frame of mind."
"Yeah," Aang agreed. "No distractions. Come try Earthbending with me and Toph, Mei."
Sokka's face fell. He trudged away angrily, muttering to himself. Toph and Aang started off in the other direction, and I followed. Katara walked behind me. She probably just wanted to watch.
We went to a more private place and Toph did the same thing she did the other day. She grabbed boulders, three this time, and set them in front of all of us.
"Come on, Mei!" Aang said. "You can do it! Like this!" He slid into his stance and stared at the rock. Then, with a grunt, thrust out his fist and shoved the rock away. It slid and crashed into a cliff on the other side of where we were standing. I watched in amazement as Toph lifted hers and punched it while it was in the air, sending it flying that way. I swallowed hard and faced my rock.
Come on,I thought. You have to do this, now. It's not just Toph anymore. You're doing it in front of the Avatar. If you mess this up you'll be so humiliated.
I took a deep breath, trying to relax my nerves. I slid slowly into my stance. I tried to make myself like a rock, like Toph had told me.
"Go on, Hothead," Toph said. "Move that boulder! Do it!" She was yelling. Trying to get me going so I could use that as my way of moving the boulder. Her voice started to sound like Mother's as she kept yelling at me to move it. I closed my eyes as I remembered Mother and her stupid rules and the way she used to yell at me. It made me angry. The anger boiled up inside me, and I couldn't keep it down. I screamed as I shot my fist out and sent the rock flying away. You would think I would very happy about doing that. That Toph, Katara and Aang would be cheering for me. But, they were staring on in shock just like me. Why? Because the rock I sent flying was flaming. I didn't just Earthbend the rock, I Firebended it. Blowing my cover and probably my well-being. I turned to Katara, Aang and Toph who stood, motionless. I waited for them to talk first.
"Mei," Aang said. "You just Firebended." My heart pounded. I was worried they would get mad and leave me.
"I know I did." I said. "I'm so-"
"That was amazing!" Aang cried suddenly. "How did you Earthbend and Firebend!? I thought only I could do that!" I started to shrug, I didn't want to tell him the answer.
"I heard that sometimes someone who is two different Nations can sometimes bend both elements." Toph said. Aang froze.
"I heard that, too, I think." Katara said.
"You- you're Fire Nation?" Aang asked slowly. I couldn't move. My mouth was stuck open. Words wouldn't come out, and I was scared. But, I couldn't run. I didn't want them to leave me. I was finally happy with the people I was around and I didn't want to ruin it.
"Yes." I said finally. "I'm Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom." I couldn't read Aang's face. He seemed upset, shocked, but also intrigued at the same time.
"You're two different ones?" Aang asked. I nodded. His face got bright and he smiled. "That's so cool!" he said. "I've never met anyone else who could bend more then one element!" I laughed.
"Well, only you can do all four." I said.
"But, you can do two! That's amazing!" he cried. I blushed. Being complimented by the Avatar was a big deal for me. I was excited for my next lesson.
We all relaxed on Appa. Waiting for our next landing, which would be in a small town so we could find some food. Sokka was scanning his schedule, telling us we would have to be very quick. We all practically ignored him. Me and Toph were laying next to each other, arms under our heads, eyes closed. I could feel Katara watching me. I didn't know the exact relationship her and Toph had, but maybe she was jealous because mine was better. She seemed jealous of me and Aang, too.
"So, Mei," Katara said. I opened one eye, looked at her, then closed it again.
"Yeah?" I asked.
"Where did you get Fire Nation clothes? I just kind of noticed that you're in all red." she said. My eyes hot open and I froze. Oh no. I thought. My clothes! How did no one notice before?
"Yeah, I noticed that, too." Sokka said. I sat up, not knowing what to say.
"They're clothes." I heard Toph say. I looked down at her, her eyes were open but she was still laying back. "It doesn't matter if they're green, yellow or purple."
"But, they're Fire Nation clothes." Katara said.
"Yes, they are." I said cautiously, hoping my plan would work. "I told you I'm Fire Nation."
Sokka's eyes widened.
"You're what?!" he screamed. "Why didn't you guys tell me! What's going on?!"
"Relax, Sokka." Aang said. "She's Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom."
Sokka looked at me curiously and I gave him a shy smile. It was unheard of to be two different things. Usually people only married within their own Nation. But, my Grandmother Osa and my Grandfather Kodah ran off together as teenagers and got married. Then they had my Mother and she married my Fire Nation father. So, here I am. Two different things mixed into one.
Sokka continued to stare.
"She set a rock on fire today." Toph said. "While she was pushing it."
"You Firebend?!" Sokka cried. "I can't believe I wanted to teach a Fire Nationer to sword fight!" I shrunk back, trying to cover my anger with fake shame.
"I'm sorry, Sokka." I said. "I knew how you guys would react if you knew."
"Where did you live?" he asked bluntly. I paused.
"What?" I asked slowly.
"What's your 'dominant' side?" he snapped. "Where have you lived your whole life?"
I looked nervously from Aang to Toph to Katara and back to Sokka.
"Oh, well," I tried. I swallowed hard and cupped my hands together. Sokka was growing angry, but Katara's face looked more worried. Along with Aang's. I didn't know what to do. I'm one hundred percent against lying so I couldn't tell them I lived somewhere else. But, I'm also against endangering myself! I knew I could take them if anything like a fight broke out, but I also knew I didn't really know where we were, and I would be easily lost.
"Why does it matter?" I asked. Sokka folded his arms.
"Where have you lived?" he asked firmly.
"Um, near the Fire Nation." I cautiously.
Sokka shook his head. "You're avoiding the question."
"Leave her alone, Sokka." Toph said. "Mind your own business."