(Warning: some language in this chapter.)
"Oh my God..." Azula is pacing around the room, a look of worry and horror on her pale face. Aang has his arms around Katara, whose silent tear drops drench her blouse.
"We have to find her", I say, my mind made up.
"Whoa, Jet, slow down", Toph says. "We don't even know where she is, and we don't know... what happened..." Zuko stands next to her, a protective hand on her shoulder.
"We have to do something." I stand up. "We should split into two groups."
"Wait", Azula interrupts, "Shouldn't we look for Haru and Ty Lee, too?" Her bottom lip trembles.
I think for a little while. "Yeah, good idea. Maybe they found all each other."
"I hope so", Zuko whispers to himself.
"So it's settled. Aang, Katara, Toph and Zuko, go look for Haru and Ty Lee." I turn to Sokka and Azula, who are staring at each other. "You two", I point to them, "Come with me."
"Sokka..." Katara runs to her brother, who scoops her up in a hug. "I don't know why, but I feel like I'll never see you agai-"
"Don't say that", Sokka reassures her. "Once we find everyone, we'll meet here, okay? Remember that." They separate, both with strong looks on their faces. But, their eyes give them away.
Zuko and Azula mimic Sokka and Katara, promising they'll each see the other later. I've always known that Azula and Zuko never got along, almost hating one another. But, they seem to really care for each other, but they just don't show it. Everyone says their goodbyes for now, then we part our ways.
"Well, let's start at the Forever 21", I say, but all that I'm met with is silence. I look back to see Azula and Sokka marching solemnly, but I notice that they are holding each others hands. I keep my observation to myself.
Once we approach the store, I see a shiny black object on the ground. I run up to it, instantly recognizing it as Mai's Trio. Mai never goes anywhere without it. This immediately plants the idea in my head that there must have been foul play. I glance around to tell the others of my discovery, then I notice a peculiar smell in the air. Sokka and Azula seem to notice it as well. I think hard to identify the scent. It smells metallic and rusty, like iron in the rain. I look around for the source, then my face pales.
A pool of blood glistens in the moonlight from the sky light above.
"Oh my God", Azula shrieks, turning away. Sokka's face morphs into fear, then he looks away as well. I only stare into the crimson liquid, my mind wondering what has happened here. Mai, where are you?
We walk in silence, our minds in different places. Toph seems to be listening to the area, and Katara must be thinking about where everyone is, and if they're safe. I have a feeling that Aang and I are wondering the same thing: Will we ever get out of here? Alive?
"Guys", Toph says, breaking the icy silence. "I hear someone..." We all stay quiet, trying to hear what Toph has heard. More silence fills the air, then something catches my attention...
Ring around the rosie
Pocket full of posies
We all fall down...
Whistling. The whistling we heard before Mai... vanished. I start looking around frantically, trying to find the sadistic whistling.
"Guys, I hear whistling..."
"That you do, my friend", a chilling voice stabs through the silence, "that you do." Katara gasps, gripping Aang's arm for dear life. Toph inches closer to me, sliding her hand into mine.
A figure steps into the dim light of the windows. A man dressed in a suit and a bowler. The disturbing part of his appearance was his face, donned to resemble a geisha. A malicious smirk makes its way onto his face. "Are you, by chance, looking for your friends?" A vein in Aang's neck throbs.
"What the hell did you do with them", Toph screams at him, watery tears dripping down her face.
"Relax, relax. They're perfectly fine. I asked them if they would like to help me with an... art project. With reluctance, they agreed, and they asked me if I could fetch you. To assist us." He smiles. My blood boils.
"Where are they", Katara growls.
"Like I said, relax. Won't you help us? I need six more helpers. And they are four of you."
Toph squeezes my hand. "He's lying...", she whispers without moving her mouth.
"You sure", I ask, mimicking her mannerisms.
"He's lying", she repeats, "And smell the air. Doesn't it smell like blood?" My eyes instantly look him over. He looks clean cut, but there is a red smudge on his vest. Blood.
"We'll never go with you", Aang declares. "And you better tell us where our friends are."
"And stick to the truth", Toph adds. "I know if you are lying, and I know you already have."
The man sighs. "Fine. What would you like to know?"
"Who are you", I ask.
"My name is Koh, famously known as the Face Stealer." We all pale.
"Wh-what are you doing here", Toph chokes out.
"I am here to create nin masks."
"Where are our friends?"
"Mai, I believe her name is, is fine, just tied up in a death trap. And the girl with brown hair and the boy with the mustache, they're dead." We all let out a pained gasp. They're dead... we're too late...
"He's not lying", Toph says, her eyes releasing tear after tear. Aang and Katara hold each other. We all stand there, horror struck. "You son of a bitch! You fuckin' bastard", Toph screams, her voice cracking.
"Now, there's no need for name calling", Koh states.
"He's lying, he's lying", Aang repeats to himself.
"No I'm not", Koh says. "Take a look yourself." He tosses two spheres to us. They both land in front of us, faces up. Haru and Ty Lee. Their eyes are gouged out, and their mouths sewn shut. Katara lets out a scream, and Toph a soft whimper. Blind or not, she's still scared.
"Not my best work, I'm afraid. I was rushed."
"Why would you do this", I ask, my anger dissolving, turning to fear and sadness.
"Well, why not", the Face Stealer counters. "I didn't want to kill them yet, but they gave me no other choice."
"I'll show you why not", Toph growls, taking a few staggering step forward. I grab her shoulder. "Let go of me, Zuko!"
"Wait", Katara says. She takes a step forward, her eyes wet with tears but as hard as diamonds. "Are you... are you going to kill us, too", she asks in a small voice, barely over a whisper.
"Yes, yes I am." He chuckles a little.
"Can we have a moment, though, please? To say our goodbyes?"
"... I suppose I'll allow it. But don't dilly dally, please." He turns around and takes a few steps back to gives us some privacy.
We huddle together.
"Does he have a gun", Toph asks.
"I don't see one, but I bet he does have one", Katara answers, her voice heavy.
"What are we going to do", I asks, tears moistening my face.
"Well, the reality is that we can't all escape", Katara explains, even though she doesn't want to. "But, maybe two of us can. We can make a distraction, but we'll be sacrificing ourselves."
"No way", Aang disagrees. "We can't leave anyone behind."
"We don't have a choice", Toph muses. "We have to contact the police somehow, and none of our phones are working." Toph turns to Aang. "If he has not found them yet, don't you want to save the others? There's a chance that they're still alive, and we can save them, but we would have to sacrifice ourselves." Aang thinks for a moment.
"Tick-tock", Koh shouts.
"Well, I guess I'll go... Who'll go with me though", Aang asks.
"I'll go with you", Katara declares.
"No", Toph and I say at the same time.
"No, we're going to go."
"No", I say. "... I'll be one that goes."
"If you're going to go, Zuko, I'm going with you."
"No, you two won't do this." Katara turns to Aang. "We'll be together whatever happens." She takes his hand. "Forever."
"Our decision is made", Katara retorts, glaring at Toph and me. I sigh.
"I never told any of you guys, but I love you all, so much", I choke out.
"We love you too." We all embrace each other, never wanting to let go. We separate, then walk to our original spots. Toph and I hold each others hands so tight I thought she would break my hand. Aang and Katara were holding hands as well. Koh smiles at us.
"Ah, young love. So refreshing."
"Fuck you", Toph growls, her voice not breaking for a second.
"So", I ask, trying to create a diversion", where are you going to take us?"
"Oh, I'm just going to take you to the basement here and create art." He chuckles darkly.
"How can you live with yourself", Katara says, disgust in her voice. "You disgust me. Don't you have a conscience?"
"Well, I do. But it is severely lacking." He chuckles again. I glance at Toph, who gives me the smallest nod. I pray Koh didn't see it. I glance at Aang and Katara, who nod to me also. We're ready.
"Well, let's-" Aang and Katara dart forward jumping over a nearby bench and making their way down a hallway. As they disappear out of sight, Koh mumbles something and reaches into his jacket pocket. He unveils a silver hand pistol, and jogs to the hallway Aang and Katara went down. He lifts up his arm and aims, but we don't see where he's aiming since Toph and I don't see where he's aiming since we stayed in our places. I see him twitch his finger, ready to pull the trigger.
"NO!", Toph screams.
... Two gunshots ring through the corridor, then two thuds...
Koh sighs. "I was really trying to avoid that." Koh puts his gun away. "Now, you two stay put. I'm going to retrieve your friends." He disappears down the hallway. Without thinking, Toph and I dart out the opposite hallway. We keep running for what felt like forever, not stopping until we reach an exit. I frantically push on the door. Then I hear something in the door click, and the door swings open. I look at Toph, and she looks at me, her eyes just an inch off. I reach for her hand, she reaches for mine and we run into the night...
We hear two gunshots.
"What was that", I ask, panic in my voice.
"We have to get outta here", Azula says.
"No! Not until we find Mai", Jet argues. Azula stays quiet. I know this isn't the best time, but Azula is really pretty. Sure she can be bitchy and prudish sometimes, but who isn't?
"Wait", Jet says suddenly. "Lsten..." We stay quiet, straining our ears to hear what Jet heard. We hear something that sounds like screaming, screeching really, then the screaming turns to yells.
"JET! JET! ANYBODY!"
"That's Mai!" Jet runs down the corridor, Azula and I running behind him.
We reach a door that leads to a basement. "Should we go in? It could be a trap", I muse.
"Well, I can go by myself... you two stay out here and look out. He opens the door, and looks back to us. Azula and I stare at him with sad eyes, then he disappears into the darkness. We sit down at a nearby bench, then we hear Jet yell, "It's Mai! I found her!" A few seconds later, we hear a thud and we rush to the door to see Jet and Mai. They both are covered in blood, and their bodies are crushed under a pile of bricks. I hug Azula to my chest so she won't see their lifeless bodies. We cry together, until Azula speaks up.
"Sho-shouldn't we get their bodies?" Her eyes glisten.
"Yeah, we sho-" I stop mid sentence. Azula looks at me, then she listens for something. Faintly, we hear whistling.
"Oh no", Azula whispers. I pull Azula and we run into the dimness. I stop in front of a window and look down. I see two figures running outside. One has black hair and a head band, and the other has a scar.
"Look! It's Toph and Zuko! They got out!" We start running again, trying exits we come across. Azula stops running. "What", I ask.
She starts crying again. "I don't think we're going to make it out of here." Her dark hair must have gotten out of its bun and her hair falls down her back.
"Why do you say that?"
"Face it, Sokka. We're doomed. And if this will be one of the last times we'll be alive-"
"Don't say that!"
"Well", she continues, ignoring me, "I guess right now, I should tell you that I love you."
"Well", she asks impatiently, waiting for an answer.
"I love you too." I walk up to her and kiss her on the lips. "And we should try to get outta here so we can be together." She nods, tears of joy and fear falling down her pale face. We continue trying countless exits, until we find one already open. "Oh my God." We run up to it, then a gunshot causes us to stop right in our tracks.
"Oh dear." A figure steps out of the darkness. What catches my attention was that the figure was holding a hand gun, and he was poiting it straight at us. "I didn't want to kill you all, you forced me."
"All", Azula asks quietly.
"Oh yes, all of you except two who ran out after I shot two down. Cute kids they were, one had beautiful blue eyes..."
"And a boy was with her, shaggy brown hair and an orange jacket... Oh, I completely forgot about Haru and Ty Lee! I believe that was what their names were. And that boy and Mai... what a shame."
A coy smile appears on his face. "Well, before I get down to business, I should explain what I am about. I intend to create nine masks before I die, which I believe will be soon, and I found ten people here. So I set out to get you all... but, apparently four of your friends are dead, and two escaped. But, no matter. You two will be lovely masks. And if you are thinking I am going to kill you right now, I'm not. I don't like my victims dead. I like to work on them while they're ripe." He smiles more. "So, if you two do not wish to die this moment, follow me."
He turns around and starts walking away, but we don't follow. He notices this. "What? You want to stay here? Or would you perhaps want to run out right now? Go ahead. Run." Azula and I look at each other. "Go on. No one will stopping you." We hang around for one more second, then we shoot out through the door. I look back for one second, then to my horror I see him lift his pistol and aim at us. I grab Azula's hand, and before I know it, gunshots ring through the air. I feel nothing for a moment, and we fall down to earth.
Before I drift into darkness, I see Koh standing over my body. "Except me", he whispers before he places the gun barrel to my head...
I dart forward, Katara at my side. We leap over a bench, and I find it a miracle I didn't trip. I look back briefly at Toph and Zuko, but Katara yanks me down a hallway.
"Come on", she hisses at me. We keep sprinting. Once we're mid way through the hall, we stop and look back to see if we're being followed. My heart skips a beat when I see Koh step in the entrance of the hall and raises his arm.
"NO!", I hear Toph scream.
I look at Katara and she looks at me. I mouth, "I love you", and she does the same. Before he pulls the trigger, Katara and I run into each others arms so we would die together...
And we did...
-Ty Lee Hack-
"The name is Koh, most commonly known as the Face Stealer, at your service." He chuckles.
"Haru", I whisper, my hands a vice grip around his arm. Haru is death quiet.
"Not talkative folks, eh", Koh inquires. "No matter. You can talk when you feel like it. Now, might I ask you of something?"
We remain quiet.
"I was hoping if you would help me create some masks, and I was wondering if you would provide me with material." I don't listen to him, just analyzing our situation. Haru and I are face to face with a mass murderer, and chances are, were going to die. Option A: We go with this psycho, and we die. Option B: We fight. And, probably die... It's worth a try. I tug on Haru's sleeve and look at him, then glance at Koh, then back at him. He understands, and he blinks at me. He's with me. I step away from Haru. "So, what do you say", Koh asks.
I dart forward at lightning speed, while Haru reaches for his pocket knife. Koh sees his movement and whips out a knife of his own. I shoot my hand forward, hoping I won't miss his face. But, before I can process anything, an immense pain fills my chest. I feel like my stomach is on fire.
"Ty Lee!" Haru screams. My vision gets blurry, but I see Haru lunge for Koh's throat, but he fails, too. Haru drops next to me, blood emitting from his mouth. I crawl towards him, despite how much pain it causes, and I grab his hand. He looks to me, his eyes expressing how much pain he is in. Koh just observes us, watching closely. Haru starts gasping.
"Shhh, shhh", I tell him lovingly.
He keeps on gasping until actual words forms in his mouth. "I love you."
I sigh. "I love you too." Haru grows still. I feel my heart begining to pump blood slower, then my eyes close, and I breathe my last breath...
"JET! JET! ANYBODY!" My voice becomes hoarse, and I eventually lose my voice altogether. How am I going to get someone to save me-
The door swings open. Jet.
"Oh my God", he whispers. "It's Mai! I found her!" He runs up to me and kneels down behind the chair... Oh my God, the bricks!
I start whispering for him to stop, but my voice is too weak. "What", he asks.
"Don't untie the rope", I mumble.
"What", he asks again, but ignores my warnings as he unties me. He yanks me, then I grab his face.
"I love you." This he hears.
"I love you, too-" The bricks pummel down on us. Now both of us lost our voices.
-Toph Bei Fong-
"We have to go back." I pace back and forth, Zuko staring at me.
"So, we should goo back, right?" Zuko looks away from me. We stopped running once we found a park. Zuko is sitting on a swing.
"Yes, we should, but it's too risky. They're probably all dead right now."
"Stop being negative."
"I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic." He turns his head back to me. "Shouldn't we tell the police first, before we do anything?"
"... Yes, but at that rate they will be dead." I sit on the swing next to him. "We have to help them."
"I know. But, we might die." I glare at him.
"Yeah, Katara and Aang died, too! To save us! We should at least returnn the favor!"
"... Will we be together?" My face softens.
"Yes." I walk over to him and kiss his lips. We break apart. "We will."
"Where should we start?"
"... I don't know." We walk aimlessly around the mall, searching for at least a hint of our friends' whereabouts.
"Toph..." Zuko's voice becomes high and shrill.
"What? What happened?" Zuko is across the hall, at an open door. I make my way over. My nose is immediately assaulted with a rotting smell. "Ugh, what is that?" Zuko doesn't answer. I put two and two together. "Was that... everyone?" Zuko nods. "Oh my-"
Zuko and I whip our heads around to find Koh standing behind us.
"Hello, there. Didn't want to leave yet, I see? Well, don't worry, you'll be here for a long time." He laughs maniacally, his head thrown back. "I thought it was very resourceful of you kids to make that diversion like that. Willing to die for your friends. How noble. Well, as a little reward, I won't kill you now, but I'll let you have a head start, then we'll see where everything goes." He looks at us. "Well, what are you waiting for? Go!" He laughs some more while we waste no time to run. We make our way to the exit.
"Ah-ah-ah." We turn around. "No leaving the mall, but if you evade me for two hours, you may leave with your faces. If you don't, well..." He chuckles. "Your faces will be magnificent masks." We run past him and run as fast as we can...
-An Hour Later-
We have put some distance between us and Koh. Every time we stop to rest, however, he catches up and we have to continue running. Now, we have found refuge in a fitting room stall in JC Penney.
"Zuko?" He turns towards me.
"Do you think we can make it?"
He checks his watch. "Just an hour left."
"I don't want to run away and be hunted."
"I don't either, but are you really ready to... die?" His voice chokes up on the last part.
"Well, besides you, I have nothing to live for."
"Me neither... Do you want to die, or fight back?"
"... Do you", I ask.
"Whatever you do, I'm behind you 1000. I love you."
"... I love you, too." I get up. "Let's find this mask maker." We make sure he's not near us, and we make our way to the kitchen department...
We leave the store, Zuko and I hand in hand. He slips a knife in my other hand. "Good luck", he mummers in my ear.
"Koh!", Zuko yells. A fingure steps out of the darkness.
"Yes?" He steps closer.
"... We'll go with you."
"Are you sure? Positive?"
"Yes", I say. "We are tired of running and we are ready for whatever you throw at us."
"And you have thought us through, I'm giving you a choice, you know."
"We are sure. We'll go..."
"Ah, very admirable." He turns, his back to me. "Well, if you're sure, this wa-" I plunge the knife into his neck, blood squirting in all directions. He turns to glare at me, futilely gasping for breath. He grabs his neck, his hands drenched in blood. Zuko grabs the gun Koh dropped, and we back away from the dying man. We remain there until we hear him breathe his last breath, then we turn and walk out of the hallway...
We stop by a bathroom to clean ourselves of the blood, then we "shop" for some new clothes. We pick out some clothes from Tilly's and Zumiez, and we heat up some food and eat at Sbarro's and Subway. We eventually leave the mall and make our way to a bus stop. As we board the bus, other passengers give us odd looks.
"Isn't it a bit late for you two children to be up", an old, frail woman asks. Her voice is not rude, just curious.
"You have no idea what we've been through today", I say, my voice just a whisper. Zuko squeezes my hand, and rubs my back. The old woman nods and turns away. "Zuko?"
"Yeah", he asks, turning to me.
"I think we should go into hiding, lay low for a while."
"That's a good idea. One day, we can see our families, but we should be inconspicuous." We smile at each other. I lay my head on his shoulder, the bumpy bus rocking me to sleep...
I dream of a little girl who is playing with her friends, games like tag, hide-and-seek, duck-duck goose. One of the children wants to play Ring Around The Rosy, but the little girl doesn't want to play, but she does anyway. They all join hands and start singing the song.
Ring around the rosy
Pocket full of posies
We all fall down.
The little girl never gets up.
Yay! I'm done! PARTY! (does robot) THIS SHIZA CRAZY!
Ugh, that was fun to write, but I had to go back and get rid of stuff and think it through, which is something I tend not to do when I write.
I might make a sequel about Toph and Zuko's lives after that, but just maybe. I'm gonna start a new story.
Thank you all so much, especially for everyone who reviewed. This was so fun. :)
DON'T OWN NOTHING! GOD!