Alright, I threw this together rather quickly, because I was so excited to write it. It's been a story idea (that's not completely finished yet) that's been floating around in my mind, and I've been really happy about this. I tried a more relazed writing style for me, which means I don't use as much detail. It'll get this story updated faster, and it'll be a lot less stressful for me. For my first time trying it, I'm pleased with how it's turned out. Hope you enjoy(: Buon divertimento!

Disclaimer: If I owned this brilliant show... I would do nothing different to it, as it is perfect. But since I don't own it, don't sue me anyways.

~Bandit


Lotus Blossom

Chapter 1

Small stones crumbled under her sandaled foot, kicking up a tiny cloud of dust, as a young girl, with striking blonde hair, roamed the countryside. Her eyes flashed with confusion, and she stumbled around as dehydration washed over her. She was nothing without water. She knew firebenders were supposed to be able to go days without any water, they thrived on the sun after all, but the heat from the sunlight was making her tired. Besides she was different. She was well known in the Fire Nation as the one and only Energybender. She was able to contort the energy from objects and make them shift around, but her power was most strong with fire, and heat. She smacked her lips, crouching to the ground, shifting the feather-light pack on her shoulders, and searching for any sign of a river, or stream. Even a pond would do.

She stood again, brushing a strand of her hair out of her face, and scanning the trees. The world had changed so much in the past five years. Sure, there were still a few, truly beautiful areas like this, but it was as if there was a huge gap in the earth. She closed her eyes, and listened to the birds humming. 'One should not doubt the power of the mind to carry them far. Only nature should protect you from the dangers of the world. Seek it, and you will find it. Relish the beauty, and it shall turn on you. The lotus blossom blooms.'

The girl gave a contented sigh as she recalled the wise words. Oh, how she missed that man, with his powerful mind, and kind words. And his tea, she missed his tea most. General Iroh had become like a father to her over the years, but in late, they'd grown apart. She'd traveled to a small Earth Town, and lived there peacefully for a while, hiding her powers, and pretending to have no bending skills at all. That was, until the city was attacked by Fire Nation soldiers, and she'd been forced to protect what had formed into a home. The people, though she'd saved their lives, had banished her, convinced that she was the one to signal the warriors. She'd tried her best to convince them otherwise, but to no avail. She was forced to gather what little things she had, and hit the road again. That was, until she was ambushed.

As she tried to recall this part of her life, she gave a sharp inhale of breath. She adverted her eyes away from the path, and instead focused herself on the mountains in the distance. Where there are mountains, there is water, she forced herself to remember. Hope was coming. She felt the world begin to spin once more, and she rammed herself into a near tree. She clung onto the bark, making herself to take deep breaths. Her eyes were squeezed shut. She needed water. She needed water soon. She could feel exhaustion taking over, inflicting rigors to rack through her body. She slid down the side of the tree, until she was in a crouching position, her head buried in her hands. Sleep overtook her quickly, and it was a while before she woke up again, even more feverish than she'd been before.

The first thing she noticed when she slowly came back to reality was that the birds had stopped singing. She never knew birds to stop, so it was quite an oddity that they were hushed now. She opened her eyes blearily, and blinked a few times. Why was the sun so hot? She slowly clambered up, using the tree for support. She looked around, and spotted no more of the birds, with shimmering wings. She gave a sigh, and made her way back to the road. This detour could last no longer, but she might as well check out the vanishing birds. There might be trouble, and she'd like to know about it if there was.

She soon realized she'd slept for many hours, it was almost afternoon, and she'd set out early that morning. She hated being so lazy, and scolded herself quietly. She searched the area for any reason of why the birds would've left, before she came to the conclusion that perhaps they had gone to hunt, or rest. She decided that was a good reason, and was about to continue her trip towards the nearest town, when she heard voices. Her many years studying with one of the greatest war leaders ever, caused her to have quick reflexes, and she soon dived behind the nearest tree, making no sound. She peeked around the edge, to find out the people were hidden behind some ferns, and best of all… they were splashing about in the river. She first spotted a girl, who came out from unintentional hiding, and was grinning widely. She was quite stunning, with long, silky brown hair, and cheerful eyes. The second, was a boy, who looked a lot like the girl, only a little more older, and certainly a bit taller. He has his hair pulled back in a small ponytail, and his eyes were a bright blue. The third however, was younger than both, with a bald head, and some kind of weird blue arrow tattoos lines his body. He wore strange yellow and orange clothing. They were like nothing she'd ever seen.

She continued to eavesdrop on the people, perhaps they were spies for the Earth Kingdom. They were just kids, she doubted they could do any harm, but you could never be too careful. The world was a shifty place. She thought she recognized the clothing style of the girl and boy, maybe siblings. They could possibly be from the Water Tribe. They were both had good looks, though she disapproved of herself liking the boy. She blushed, and turned away, before looking back. She might as well investigate some. She looked down at herself; at least she was no longer wearing the Fire Nation clothes she'd grown so used to. She'd had to change them out for Earthbending clothes. She smiled, fingering the dagger by her waist, and slowly approached the young kids, let her smile widen naturally. She stepped on some twigs, trying to make it obvious she was there, so she wouldn't startle the group.

Her plan worked, but as soon as she made any noise, all three of them hurtled around, the kid and the girl all holding their hands out, obviously ready to bend, and the older guy hold out what looked to be a boomerang in a threatening way. She instantly let her hands fly up over her head in surrender, her eyes wide, in attempt to avoid being flattened by their bending.

"Hey, hey, whoa, I'm not here to attack," she tried smoothly. She saw all of their eyes wander to the knife at her waist. "I'm just a village person. I got curious, when I heard voices. What're you all doing here?" She saw them all exchange glances, obviously saying to each other with their eyes, 'Can we trust this strange girl? "I'll put my dagger down."

She reached for the sharp blade, but she was suddenly pinned to the nearest tree by a sudden gust of wind. She quickly struggled, but wasn't able to move. She turned her head, trying to find the source of the breeze, but when she looked back at the kids, they were in the same position, "Don't touch your knife," the older boy said cautiously, his eyes narrowed in a threatened way.

"Okay, I won't," she tried to reassure them.

"Who are you?" the girl snapped, her voice harsh with vigilance and her eyes cold with fear.

"I told you, I'm just a villager who lives around here. I got curious, I swear that's it. I won't attack you, I swear," she met each of their eyes, one set grey, yet friendly, and the other two sets a deep blue, like the sea, "I'm guessing you're against the Fire Nation? I don't want anything to do with this war. I just want it to stop."

"How can we trust you?" the girl spoke again, her tone a little softer as she regarded their prisoner.

"Nothing comes to mind," she shrugged, letting her hands drop to her sides. "I guess you'll just have to do it. I swear I'm not a traitor, though. I swear."

"She's telling the truth," the bald kid spoke at last, lowering his staff, which looked pretty unstable. She resisted smirking.

The other two backed down, watching her warily, "I already said I wouldn't attack you."

"We've just been through a lot lately," the girl spoke, her eyes following her every move, "What's your name?"

She hesitated, but she knew these three weren't from the Fire Nation. They probably wouldn't have heard of her, "Tsikheri Benirilu," she bowed, before they returned the respectful gesture. "And you are?"

The girl spoke, "I am Katara, and this is my brother Sokka," she gestured to the guy with the ponytail, "And this is… Aang."

Tsikheri smiled warmly, "Nice to meet you. You all have such beautiful names. You never hear such gracefulness in the town I come from. I knew a guy name Punj who lived there."

They all laughed, before Tsikheri broke out in dry coughs, and she felt the dizziness wash over her again. As her knees grow weak, two pairs of strong hands grabbed her by the upper arms, and lead her towards the river. She smiled at Aang, and Sokka, who were supporting her as her legs grew limp.

They gently dragged her to the river, before gently setting her down, "Here," Katara bended some water from the river delicately into her mouth. Tsikheri tried not to gape at the girl, as she was being given water. She was a Waterbender. The Earth town didn't see many of those there when she stayed.

"I'm sorry to be so much trouble," she gave another pitiful cough, before taking a drink of the water Katara was giving to her, "I've been traveling for a while."

"It's nothing," Aang smiled at her, keeping her upright as she swayed back and forth. She pressed a hand to her forehead, as if it was going to help the pain.

"You must be really dehydrated after such a long journey. You need to rest, or you'll grow even more faint," Katara moved her rolled up sleeping bag towards the sickly teenager.

"I'll be fine," Tsikheri gave them all a reassuring smile, before getting up, with some difficulty, "I'm fine—what is that?"

She found herself staring a particularly large bison, with beautiful white fur, and a gray arrow reaching down his forehead, just like Aang's. She tried hard not to gape, but she failed, and stared with wide eyes, "Oh, that's Appa," Aang grinned at her. She was taken aback at the casual tone he used.

"That's a large bison," she pointed towards it, "Don't tell me I'm hallucinating."

"No, that's Appa. He's my pet bison," Aang repeated patiently.

Tsikheri rubbed her eyes, as if it was all a dream, before turning towards the group, "I don't think it counts as a pet when it's ten times your size."

They all just laughed, "He's really friendly, though be careful, he's shy," Aang warned.

She just eyed the large creature warily, "Well, it looks vicious," she placed her hands on her hips before taking her eyes off the bison, and shifting her gaze to the young boy.

Aang smiled proudly, "He likes it when you rub his belly," he bent his knees, before placing his hands on them, "Roll over boy, come on, roll over!"

She was surprised at the amount of energy that was in his voice. Appa rolled over with a loud 'thump' before letting his large, pink tongue roll out. Aang raced forward to scratch his companion's black stomach. Katara and Sokka, however, backed away. Tsikheri gave them a wondering look, "He likes to lick, too," Sokka filled her in uneasily, "We don't want to take that chance, but you're free to."

"It doesn't do any harm, but you might have to take a quick bath afterwards," Katara laughed softly, soon followed by Sokka. Tsikheri brushed her hair out of her face, before inching towards the bison. As soon as she reached Appa, she reached her hand out carefully, and placed a hand on his tummy. She soon was rubbing her hand back and forth, giving a small smile as the enormous creature gave out a pleased bellow.

"Look, he likes you," Aang cheered, a grin spreading across his childish face. Tsikheri rested her head against his stomach, before he flopped around, and gave her a huge 'kiss' his tongue enveloping her whole body. She went stiff, her eyes squeezed shut, her hands balled into fists at her side. She waited until the sensation was done, and wasn't pleased to realize she was soaked with saliva, but instead of being reproachful, she was oddly content. She peeked one eye open to look at Aang, before slowly creeping forward, and hugging his head.

"Here," Katara managed between her laughs. She pulled back, as if she were holding onto a rope, before splashing water all over her. Tsikheri stiffened again, before letting herself relax under the coolness of the water. Somehow, she liked water. She really was an oddball. "That better?"

"Much, thank you, Katara," she bowed in thanks, before turning towards Aang, who was still grinning, but not creepily. He was filled with so much warmth, and light.

"I've never seen him grow to someone so fast, other than Katara here. Maybe he just likes pretty girls," they both blushed hard, "Sorry, I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"It's all right Aang, it's a nice compliment," Katara placed one of her gloved hands on his arm.

"Guys, the sun is going to set in an hour or so, and we can't stay here forever," Sokka suddenly piped up, crouching by the river, and looking at the sun, which was well on it's way to it's demise. "I'm sorry Tsikheri, but you'll have to leave. We'll give you some water and food for the trip."

"Thank you, but I'm perfect fine of providing for myself," the blonde-haired girl grinned, before bowing once again.

"Yeah, you proved that earlier, when you almost fainted of thirst," Sokka smirked in a grudging way.

Tsikheri just smiled again, before turning to leave. "Wait!" Katara called out, "You can stay with us, if you want to."

"Katara!" Sokka hissed, "We still can't trust her yet," Katara promptly socked him hard in the arm, resulting in him crying out like a little girl, before shooting his sister a death glare.

"I'm sorry, Katara, but I don't want to get in the way. I must be going," she smiled peacefully at them both.

"But we want you to stay. I want you to stay!" Aang called, "You can be valuable to our team. You seem strong, and as you said we're trying to take down the Fire Nation," Tsikheri's eyes glimmered at his sentence, "we'll need your power to help us."

She blushed, turning away, "Fine, but only for a day. I don't want to cause any problems, like I seemingly always do."

"See, the last thing we need is more trouble!" Sokka cried out. Suddenly a small lemur creature popped out of the trees, and wrapped himself around Aang's head, before chattering.

"Momo agrees with us," Aang folded his arms blatantly, "That's three against one. And since Appa likes her so much, I'd say four."

"Well Momo is a flying monkey!" Sokka exploded, waving his arms about wildly.

"It's still three against one. You're not gonna win this," Katara scowled, before rolling her eyes. Sokka huffed, before storming off.

"How many weird pets do you have?" Tsikheri stared at the small lemur.

"Only a few."

"I'm going to go hunt for dinner!"

The three of them watched Sokka storm off into the distance. Tsikheri blinked, before turning towards Katara, "Why does he hate me so much?"

"He doesn't," she placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, "It's just, as I said before, we've been through a lot lately, and Sokka's been taking it the worst. Just give him a little time, he'll warm up to you."

"He always likes people, he's kind of a people person. And besides you're a girl, not to mention you're pretty," at this, she couldn't help but blush again. Aang was so sweet, "so, he's bound to hit on you sometime. He'll accept you, if you don't betray us and stay in the group."

"You're so nice, Aang, but I don't think I should be here. I appreciate your concern," she adverted her gaze, turning slightly, causing some of the gravel beneath her feet to shift.

"You're so modest," Katara admired, "But get too sweet, and I might grow annoyed."

"Sorry."

"So, can you Waterbend, or Earthbend?" Katara started casually off towards the river again, pulling Aang with her.

"Uh, neither. I'm just a regular person. Sorry to disappoint you," she paused, "I'm really skilled with knives, though."

Katara and Aang laughed, "Make sure you don't stab us in the middle of the night."

Tsikheri smiled, "I'll be sure not to." She trailed after them, watching fascinated as Katara tried to get the water to move around, but it was being stubborn.

"Dang it!" she blushed and turned towards their guest, "Sorry."

Tsikheri bit her lip, "Maybe you should be a little calmer; let the energy flow through you, and let it take you over."

"Are you sure you aren't a bender?" Katara raised an eyebrow.

"I'm sure," she turned towards Aang. "What can you bend?"

"Air," he and Katara exchanged glances, "Though I enjoy watching Katara bend water. It's fascinating, and such a different technique than Airbending."

"But I thought Airbending was extinct," Aang inwardly groaned at his slip up, "You must be really proud to carry on such an old talent."

"Oh yeah, it's really cool to see all the people's surprise," Aang covered smoothly, a smile playing on his lips.

"So that's how you were holding me to the tree earlier," Tsikheri thought hard, "I was really confused about that, but it all makes sense now."

"Yeah, I was afraid you were going to attack us," Aang gave a smile grin, "But I can see you're not that type of person."

"Oh?" Tsikheri raised an eyebrow at him, "How do you figure that?"

"You are too nice. Anyone plagued by evil wouldn't do such nice things. They would commit crimes."

Tsikheri looked away into a distance, "Not for everyone. I once knew a prince, a handsome prince, mind you, who had seen more evil than anyone should, but he remained a free, pure soul."

"Here," Sokka trudged into the river scene, holding a tiny fish, "Dig in."

No one dare say anything about the diminutive size, and instead all exchanged bemused glances. They were all set to make a fire, when the sudden sound of a great force coming towards them sounded through the air. "There's the Avatar!" though the voice was somewhat familiar, Tsikheri brushed away the thought, and turned to Aang, who looked shocked.

"Tsikheri, I—," he started, his eyes wide.

"Don't worry about me," she hissed, motioning for Katara and Sokka to get in front of him to protect him, which they did without a second thought. "You're really the Avatar? But I thought the Avatar disa-."

The trees in front of them broke with a snap, causing all of them to jump, leaving them in plain sight, but Sokka and Katara did a good job of concealing him. Tsikheri quickly got into a bender's stance, earning a surprised look from the three kids next to her, but she deflected the looks. Four war rhinos pounded into view, charging towards them. They all skidded to a halt, and the leader, the one in front, jumped nimbly from his. Tsikheri gave a small hiss, before studying her enemy. He was a young man, with a bald head, save for a small ponytail on the back of his head, wearing a Fire Nation army uniform, and a scar in the shape of a flame covering his right eye. She instantly hated him, she didn't want anything to do with anything concerning the war, but she was going to fight, not for the Avatar, but her new found friends. But something in those golden eyes stopped her. She knew this teenager… but how?

"Give up, Avatar, you're no match for me," the boy called, striding past her, but she didn't attack yet.

"I've beat you before, who's to say I won't do it again?" Aang stepped out from behind the siblings, despite their protests. He fingered his staff, and stepped towards the pompous teenager.

"I'll blast you out of this universe if you don't get away from Aan—the Avatar," Tsikheri caught herself, threatening the man. She felt his soldiers tensing up behind her, but he waved them off, before turning towards her. She met his eyes, and suddenly she remember the beautiful eyes, that flamed like the sun, and was as golden as the Fire Lord's robes.

"Zuko," she breathed, before grinning as recognition washed over his own face. Where did that horrible scar come from? "Zuzu!" she raced forward, flinging herself into his arms, where he easily caught her, and hugged her tightly.

"Cheri?" he murmured. She nodded, fighting back tears, before she heard a collective gasp. She turned, still in Zuko's arms, to look at her friends, who were all glaring at her. "Where have you been the last five years?" he forced her to look at him again.

"Who are you?" Katara demanded, getting in the stance to Waterbend.

Zuko whipped towards them, keeping Tsikheri close in his arms, but the hatred coming back into his eyes, "She is Cheri, the only Energybender ever, a strong asset to the Fire Nation, and," Zuko added with a meaningful look, but it was lessened by the strong hatred of the Avatar, "My best friend."

He unlatched from her, getting in the stance of fighting, and Tsikheri stood, torn between the Avatar and Zuko. She'd promised not to attack them. "Wait…" Aang paused, and stared, confused, "You know him? He's been trying to kill us for the past few months."

Tsikheri turned rather sharply to Zuko, who winced at the glare she was giving him, "He has?"


A/N: Alright, there we go. I know. I know. Tsikheri is a major Mary Sue. You don't need to point it out, she gets better in later chapters... trust you have any suggestions, please share. Thanks and please review! They keep me writing, and feed my muse, Andrew. We wouldn't want Andrew getting hungry, now would we? Thanks(: