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Inner peace while bending was a crucial part of the bending art, emotions were fuel to the power you could put out. But that only could take you so far. That was something Pakku himself had taught me, a lesson I still held very close to me.
"Akira," That voice, it was unmistakable who it was, Pakku, but what was he doing here? And why now? "We need to talk,"
"Do we?" I said bitterly.
"I know you don't like me, and to be honest, I don't like you either," Pakku sighed, taking a seat beside me, "But that doesn't mean you don't deserve an apology," he added, much to my surprise.
"Summarize, Pakku… Summarize," I sighed in annoyance, though deep down I wanted him to continue.
"I was wrong to force my ways into you," Pakku said, "It was your choice, and I took it, and that led me to an embarrassing defeat," he added with a low chuckle.
"You were very out of touch with your inner spirit that fight," I chuckled, finding myself easing into the conversation, "I have no doubts that if today we were to fight I would defeat you easily, but that day… I won because you were unstable, very unstable," something I had learned a year after our fight, "We were pretty much evenly match that day, but I was in control,"
Pakku nodded, "Anger is a path to self destruction,"
"Well, I have to go," I said leaving the old master behind, not before asking, "What brought this on? I know you… you are too proud for your own good,"
"A good friend and a cup of tea," Pakku answered.
Well, wasn't that cryptic… wait a cup of tea?! Iroh was here!
Life was a wonder, a true adventure waiting for everyone to take their first step, creating a beautiful and unique path for everyone that dares to live it. Such a thing was not to be wasted with anger, hate, self loathing.
No, it was to be enjoyed with love, family and a good cup of tea.
"Still meditating?" Zhao asked in annoyance.
"Peace comes from within Zhao. Do not seek it without.," Poor Zhao, always so lost…. always so angry. Power corrupts those weak enough to allow such… no, that was wrong, because it is a man's own mind, not his enemy, money, or power, that lures him to the wrong path.
"Did you know where is Zuko?" Zhao asked while glaring at me, "You know he's a traitor… so give him up if you have him,"
"Oh yes, my treacherous nephew," I said shedding a fake tear, "Unfortunately for me, no," I did know, but why would I ever answer such a question. This man needs more tea to let his brain breathe. Otherwise he will go brain dead.
"Very well," Zhao sighed leaving my room.
"I wonder if my dear friend got my letter," It was one of life's true pleasures, helping others. And I was hopeful my advice helped clear the mind of any turmoil, Pakku was suffering.
I was scared, but I couldn't let them know that… they all believe in me. They all believe in the Avatar. A title I never wanted, but one that only I can to bear.
But all lies… become dust one way or another, like Gyatso would always say, there are three things that cannot be long hidden, the sun, the moon, and the truth.
"Aang are you okay?" Katara asked… Her voice ever so sweet, so gentle. It was like the winds of spring caressing my spirit.
"Katara… stop asking him the same question, is driving me nuts!" Sokka said in annoyance.
"Well, I for one care how he feels," Katara huffed, if only she knew how much her simply yet heartwarming words meant for me.
"I do too! But for the love of! Ask him something else!" Sokka grumbled, making me laugh a bit.
"Fine… so, how far are we from the northern water nation?" Katara inquired with a sigh.
"Three weeks or so," I answered with a wide smile.
"Huh, I always thought flying would be faster," Sokka commented.
"Sokka, don't forget it's better to travel well than to arrive," I chuckled, "We are safe and that's all it matters,"
"I can agree with that," Katara nodded.
Thanks to my uncle I had infiltrated Zhao's ship that was on its way to capture the Avatar, something I was planning to sabotage myself. No one was going to capture the Avatar except for me.
I needed him to restore my honor, to regain my father's love, to come back home. I couldn't fail, this was my destiny. I was born to capture this fiend bringing glory to the Fire Nation.
"Oh strange guard," That voice, what was my uncle doing! He knows we need to avoid contact, "I need your help… you see, I have two cups of tea and well, I need someone to drink the cup I won't be using,"
"I am on duty," I hissed.
"Oh… well, I suppose I can always tell Zhao, he needs to know his ship has very unsubordinated soldiers," … he was blackmailing me to drink tea with him!!!! TEA!
"Fine I'll go!" I almost shouted.
"Oh, what a sudden change of heart, it must be the smell of my jasmine tea," Uncle Iroh stated proudly, "I have been told a sip of it, takes you on an adventure of flavor and self discovery,"
Sometimes… I just hate my uncle.
"Right this way," Uncle Iroh smiled, pushing the door open to a room, where a steaming smell of tea invaded my nose, "Take a seat,"
Once he closed the door, I turned to him and hissed, "You know I need to keep a low profile, this is my chance to get the Avatar… only with the avatar I will be saved,"
"Zuko, you need to see beyond the lines, no one can save us, no one but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path to redemption," Uncle Iroh sighed sadly, "Do you truly think the capturing the Avatar will bring you all that you want?"
"It has to," I muttered.
"Well, enough of that," Uncle Iroh said, looking disappointed for a second, but why? "Time for some nice and relaxing tea, to help you clear your mind,"
"Zhao will notice… I'm the only guard you have invited," I still thought this was an awful idea.
"Nonsense, I already drank some tea with each member of the ship, including Zhao himself," Uncle Iroh laughed, "Sharing tea is one of life's true delights,"
Smart… they can't track him with that… very smart.