Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Air Bender
Author's Note: Hello my wonderful readers! Wow, it has been way too long. I'm so sorry for the long wait. So I passed my exams, yay! Around the same time though a teacher at my school quit and guess who had to take over? Yeah poor little me. I'm not supposed to start student teaching until the fall let alone become a real teacher! But guess what? School's almost over! I hope you guys will forgive me. I wuv you all :)
Chapter 21 – Team Avatar Battle
"Your form has improved dramatically." Aang complimented Airi as she took a bow.
"Thank you Daddy." Airi was proud of herself. She had completed the air bending exercises with ease.
"See how a little meditation can help free your mind?" Aang handed her a cup of water.
She nodded. She didn't tell her father that she wasn't meditating more. The truth was she was spending more time with Kiet. Practicing in front of Kiet was fun and helped her relax when she trained with her father.
"Next time we can try something harder." Aang smiled as they walked back to their rooms.
Airi nodded excitedly. "I can't wait. Umm Daddy, is it okay if I go play? I finished my lessons in the morning."
"Sure, just be ready for dinner."
Airi hugged her father's leg before running off to the stables. She wished she could form an air scooter to get there faster but she still hadn't learned how to stay balanced. Soon enough she could smell the fresh hay and hear the sounds of the stable animals.
"Airi!" Kiet waved at his friend.
"Is it here?" Airi asked.
Kiet nodded excitedly. "It's kinda scary looking but really cool." He took Airi's hand and led her to a large corral.
Airi's grey eyes opened wide. She had never seen a mongoose dragon before. "Can I touch it?"
"I wouldn't." A familiar voice answered before Kiet could. Airi turned around and was face to face with her mother and Uncle Zuko.
Kiet and Airi quickly bowed. "Mother, what are you doing here?"
"Admiring my mongoose dragon. Introduce me to your friend Airi." Azula eyed the small boy beside her daughter.
"Oh right, sorry. Mother, this is my friend Kiet. He helps his dad in the stables." Airi answered nervously.
Kiet bowed again, trying his best not to tremble. Airi was the only royal he had ever been around.
"It's nice to meet you Kiet."
"Thank you, your highness."
"Mother why do you have a mongoose dragon?" Airi asked curiously.
"Your mother was never very good at riding an ostrich horse." Zuko teased to ease the tension.
Airi tried not to giggle.
"Unfortunately your Uncle Zuko is correct. It doesn't matter though because a mongoose dragon is much more efficient." Azula said smugly.
"Can I touch it now?" Airi asked excitedly.
Azula shook her head. "Absolutely not. This one is still young and has not been properly trained."
Airi pouted. "Well when it is trained can you teach me?"
"We will see. Airi why don't you and Kiet play somewhere safer? Your Uncle and I need to make sure everything is taken care of here."
"Okay. Bye Uncle Zuko!" Airi led Kiet to the corral with the baby ostrich horses.
"Your mother is brave. Not a lot of people would ride one of those things." Kiet commented.
"One day I'll ride one too." Airi said as she climbed the corral fence.
Azula watched as her daughter went off. "I don't recall us ever playing with the servants' children."
"Father would have never allowed it. Airi's new friend doesn't bother you, does he?" Zuko asked as he eyed Azula's new pet.
"It's too early to tell," Azula answered.
"They're kids, Azula."
Azula only nodded as she turned her attention back to the mongoose dragon.
"There will be lots of fireworks! And spicy cake...Ow!" Kanbe rubbed his arm.
"Start paying attention!" Aki said frustrated.
"Sorry but I'm just so excited for my birthday." Kanbe got back into fighting stance.
"Oh forget it. We can try again tomorrow." Aki threw her arms up in defeat.
Before Kanbe could answer he felt a water whip lightly smack his back. "Hey!"
Blue eyes looked at him defiantly, "Maybe you should keep practicing."
"Kaya!" Aki threw her arms around the girl's waist.
Kaya's hugged her friend back. "Hey Aki."
"Is everyone else here?" Kanbe asked excitedly.
Kaya nodded, "Yup. Shiro went looking for Airi. Lin and Tenzin are waiting for us in the courtyard near the guest rooms."
"I'll race you there!" Aki shouted as she got a head start.
Kaya and Kanbe caught up to the little princess quickly. They avoided a collision with Shiro and Airi.
Airi used her air bending to push everyone away. "Why is everyone running?"
"We were racing to the courtyard. Why do you have straw in your hair?" Aki asked.
"I found her at the stables." Shiro answered.
Kanbe looked at his cousin quizzically, "Why were you at the stables?"
"My mom got a new mongoose dragon." Airi answered evasively.
"Oh wow! Can we ride it?" Kanbe forgot his suspicion.
"When it's trained. Hey I bet none of you can beat me!" Airi raced faster than any of her friends. She knew it would be a few minutes before anyone could catch up to her, such were the advantages of being an air bender.
She could see Tenzin and Lin playing up ahead of her. She blasted a few air balls their way to get their attention.
Tenzin quickly deflected them. "Where's everyone else?"
"They'll be here in a couple of minutes. Lin!" Airi hugged the small girl.
Lin frowned but let herself be hugged. Soon the rest of the group joined the trio. Kanbe and Shiro tied for second place.
The children's laughter carried into Katara's room as she unpacked her family's clothes.
"You know they have servants for that Sugar Queen." Toph strolled into the room.
"There's nothing wrong with doing it yourself." Katara answered. She turned her attention to the door, where she could hear her brother's voice.
"She thinks she's so clever asking Azula to have the kitchens limit my food privileges but she forgot I'm friends with the Avatar! Sokka 1, Suki 437." Sokka munched happily on an apple while balancing an armload of food.
"Didn't they used to give you a cart full of food?" Aang asked.
"You're looking too much into the details." Sokka waved Aang's reasoning away.
"You went straight to the kitchen? You didn't even help Suki unpack or go say hi to Zuko, Mai or Azula?" Katara asked with her hands on her hips.
"Servants are unpacking for me."
"Told you." Toph said smugly.
"Don't get upset Katara. Zuko and Azula are at the stables and Mai is visiting her brother." Aang tried saving his friend.
"Where's Haru?" Sokka asked.
"He went to visit Iroh. So I guess it's just the four of us until dinner time." Katara answered.
"It hasn't been just the four of us for a really long time." Aang commented.
Everyone was quiet as his words sank in.
"Wow, you're right Twinkletoes."
"We should do something fun." Sokka said excitedly.
"Like what? Raid the kitchens?" Katara teased.
Sokka stuck his tongue out. "No. Team Avatar battle!"
"What's a Team Avatar battle?" Aang asked.
"It's us versus Katara and Toph in a friendly battle."
"That's not fair to Aang." Toph commented.
"Hey! I can battle!" Sokka said defensively.
"That sounds like fun. We can use one of the training grounds." Aang said excitedly.
"Okay. Let's meet in the training ground in half an hour." Katara said.
The original four stood facing each other on opposite sides of the training ground. High in the center was a rubber ball.
"Okay, the goal is to grab the ball. First team to get it to their side wins." Sokka explained the rules.
"Aang, you can only use your air bending." Katara reminded him.
"Got it. Okay, ready, set, go!" Aang yelled as he jumped in the air. Before he could reach the ball he ran into an earth wall.
"Nice try Twinkletoes." Toph used her earth bending to slide closer to the ball. She was thrown off balance by boomerang.
"Told you I could battle." Sokka said smugly before getting knocked down by a water whip.
Katara used her octopus tentacles to grab the ball but Aang was quick with an air blast.
Before the ball could fall to the ground, Sokka dived for it and caught it in his arms. He tossed it to Aang but Toph threw rocks and Katara used a water net to cradle it.
Sokka again used his boomerang to take it out of his sister's element. Aang used an air tunnel to take the ball but was sucked into the ground waist deep.
"Catch Sugar Queen!" Toph used her earth bending to kick the ball to Katara.
Katara swiftly grabbed the ball and froze a pathway for her to skid to the end of her side. She dodged Sokka's boomerang and made it to the end of her and Toph's side. "Yes! We win!"
Katara squeezed Toph as the earth bender tried to wiggle away.
"Good game everyone." Aang complimented.
"I have to admit, that was a good idea Sokka." Toph grinned.
"Agreed. But now we have to clean up for dinner." Katara reminded them.
"Sure thing Mommy." Sokka teased.
"Uncle Sokka, catch!" Lin tossed a bread roll.
"Mmthanss." Sokka said as he chewed the bread roll.
"Sokka stop encouraging bad table manners. Lin don't throw your food." Katara chided.
Kya rolled her eyes. She hated that her mom had to mother everyone.
"How come Airi got to see your mongoose dragon and not me?" Aki asked her mother angrily.
"She was at the stables with her friend." Zuko answered.
"Since when do you have friends?" Kanbe teased.
Airi gave her Uncle Zuko a dirty look, which went unnoticed. She didn't want her family to learn about Kiet just yet. She liked having a secret friend, someone that was just hers. "His name is Kiet. His father works in the stables."
"Is that where you've been heading off to practice your bending?" Aang asked.
"Hey Katara, is this bad table manners?" Toph flung her spiced carrots at said water bender.
Even though Toph couldn't see, she could sense Airi's relief. She shot a sly smile the young air bender's way.
"Are you kidding me Toph?" Katara angrily used her napkin to clean up the mess.
Iroh laughed as he watched everyone talking, laughing and joking. He couldn't remember a time before Zuko was Fire Lord that the royal table had been filled with such merriment. He coughed quietly into his napkin, not wanting to ruin the special moment.
Author's Note: A special thanks to eagle eyes98. He has seriously been asking about this story every week and pushing me to keep on going even when work and life got in the way! Please don't forget to review! This is my motivation and I really need some feedback.