Title-Eight for Eight
Fandom-Avatar: the Last Airbender
Summary-Eight different kisses shared by eight different couples on New Years Eve. //Gift!fic fordarlingdearyme. Very, very belated gift!fic.//
A/N: This one's a Mai/Ty Lee. That isn't actually Mai/Ty Lee. ...Yes, yes, I know. I am rather confusing.
The fact that I’m even here should be enough to make Ty Lee happy.
Mai kept thinking this, over and over, as her friend dragged her through the crowded plaza. Booths were all around her, advertising everything from prizes to food to various alcoholic beverages. (A few of which didn’t look legal, let alone edible.)
Earlier that night, when she had been contemplating just how she would be spending the one day off that she was given by Princess Azula since she’d been recruited, there had been pounding on her door. Against her better judgment, she had opened it a crack to tell whoever was doing the pounding to knock it off, which gave the pounder a chance to push her way into the room. It turned out to be Ty Lee, who had come to ask whether or not she’d like to come to the big New Year’s carnival that was being held in the capital city’s central plaza. The acrobat was met with a “no”, which immediately set off a large argument that ended with Mai telling Ty Lee that she would never forgive her for this as she was being dragged out of her room.
Now, three hours had gone by and her feet were sore as hell—Ty Lee had allowed her a moment to grab shoes out of her closet, and in a brief moment of stupidity she had just grabbed the pair nearest her hand, which happened to be her most uncomfortable. Not only that, but she had a sneaking suspicion that the acrobat was drunk. Mai couldn’t be sure, as she’d never been around a drunken person in her life, but Ty Lee’s steps were starting to get wobbly and out of alignment and some of her words were slurred at the ends. If Azula knew, she’d be absolutely furious that half of her elite team was incapacitated due to alcohol consumption and would probably burn half of the poor girl’s hair off as a punishment.
(As it was, though, Azula didn’t know and Mai felt no need to let her know; she was furious at being pulled away from her very rare free time to come down to some carnival and babysit her drunk friend, but that didn’t mean she wanted the hellish wrath of Azula to be brought down upon her.)
“Maaaaaa-i!” The all too familiar whine felt like a sledgehammer to the skull for the assassin. She sharpened her glare at the pouting acrobat, trying to work through the girl’s thick shield of alcohol and ignorance to send her the message that she was dangerously close to getting several throwing knives stuck in her. Didn’t work.
“Mai, I need you to play that game—” Ty Lee flung her left arm over towards an unknown booth, “to get me a stuffed platypus bear. I l-oooooove platypus bears.” She grinned.
“Ty Lee, you’ve been asking me to do that for the past two hours. You’re drunk. I’m tired. We’re going—”
“No!” Suddenly, an enraged, insane look came over the acrobat’s face. “I want the bear! You’ve been—been keeping me from it!”
“Shut up, Ty, people are staring—”
“Then let them stare! They’re witnesses!” The pink girl turned to face the staring crowd. “I call upon you all to t-testify at the trial of—mmph!”
Mai had swiftly stepped up from behind and grabbed her friend by the mouth, clamping down hard to keep anything else that was more stupid than usual from spilling out of it. Ty Lee struggled, going so far as to try and chi-block her captor to get free, but quickly gave up. Mai’s strength and her inebriation prevented her from getting too far. She settled for glaring at the assassin.
“Listen.” The raven-haired girl put more pressure on her captive’s mouth to emphasize the not-talking part of the order. “If Azula found out that you were drunk, you and I both know that your punishment would be extremely painful. How much more do you think it’s going to hurt if you add making us a public spectacle to your list of wrongs?”
A justified look of terror replaced the one of anger on the acrobat’s face.
“Right. I’ve got a compromise for you. I get you the bear and we leave this wretched carnival. Deal?”
At the mention of the bear, Ty Lee’s face lit up and she started nodding furiously. Mai allowed herself a mental grin—finally, they could leave and she could have some peace.
“Good.” She released the pink girl and strode over to the only booth where a platypus bear was visible.
The man behind the counter was filthy, the glistening sheen of sweat on him interrupted by patches of grunge and dirt. His booth didn’t look much better—the obviously homemade sign was stained and barely legible, the tarp over his head was faded and dusty, and the six bottles standing on a wooden stool five feet behind him were covered inside and out with an unidentifiable grime. The sight made Mai cringe mentally—filth and dirt had always bothered her. Only the thought of her comfortable bed and a warm foot bath in her room enabled her to actually go up to the disgusting counter.
“I would like the platypus bear.”
The grubby man looked her over quickly and appraisingly, like a con man would look over a possible victim. Mai caught and noted it, quickly becoming suspicious of the booth.
“Sorry ma’am, but ya gotta win the game ‘fore you get the prize.” He nodded to the six bottles. “You knock over those bottles with a ball, you get the bear. Ten copper for three balls, twenty for a bucket.”
The assassin frowned, displeased with having to spend actual time getting Ty Lee her bear. “I am willing to pay you thirty copper if you just give me the bear now.”
“No can do, ma’am. Wouldn’t be fair to the fifty other parents that offered to buy the bear offa me.”
By now, the abandoned Ty Lee had managed to work through the crowds to stand at Mai’s right hand. “What’s going on, Mai? Why don’t I have my bear?”
“He won’t let me buy it.” She shook her head once, her frown deepening into a scowl. “I have to play some game to get it.”
“Ooh, a game! Lemme try, Mai, lemme try!”
The raven-haired girl looked at friend for a few seconds before replying with a very definite “no”.
“C’mon! Listen, I’ll even pay—”
“Ty Lee, in the state you’re in, I’d be surprised if you even managed to throw the ball within a foot of those bottles. If anyone’s going to be throwing anything, it’s going to be me—”
“So you’re playing?” The man looked hopeful.
“No, I’m not playing—”
“Yes she is! How much is it?”
“Fifteen copper for three balls, twenty five for a bucket.”
“What happened to ten for three and twenty for a bucket?”
While the vendor met Mai’s wary look with a glare, Ty Lee whipped out her wallet and slammed some money down on the counter, causing the grubby man to laugh and pool the money into his pocket.
“Glad you’re not listenin’ to whatever babblygook your friend’s spewin.” He set three wooden balls before the two girls. Ty Lee immediately picked one up and threw it in the general direction of the stacked bottles. It missed by about five feet, almost hitting the neighboring fire flakes vendor in the head.
“Oh, strike one!” The greasy man laughed. “Try again, hon’.”
“No, Ty Lee, don’t try again.” Mai quickly managed to get the two remaining balls out of her friend’s hands, much to the acrobat’s disappointment. The assassin picked one of them up, feeling it in her hands before taking careful aim at the center bottle on the bottom row. Suddenly, her arm shot out forward, shooting the ball towards the stack. It hit its target dead center, but instead of the bottles being knocked down a crack formed at the base of the center bottom one and spread up to the lip, where it was apparently stopped by some sticky looking gray goo.
“Oh, yeah. Forgot to tell y’all.” Smirking, the booth-tender leaned down on the counter. “Bottles’re all stuck together. Son did somethin’ to ‘em to make ‘em stick together. I didn’t have time to pull ‘em apart.”
Sighing, Mai just glowered at the sweat-covered man. She knew something like that was going to come up eventually—the con-artist look he gave her when she’d first come up assured her of that. Instead of demanding a refund, though, she took aim again. The look of surprise and greed in the man’s eyes at this sight only made her focus sharper.
She would take the bottles down and get back to her comfortable palace room, no matter what this pathetic filthy man wanted.
“Well, ma’am, I’ll give you this—most people wanted their money back after I told ‘em ‘bout the bottles. I’m glad you aren’t being that unreason—”
The sound of breaking glass interrupted the man’s sentence. He looked over in time to see the intact top of his sloppily constructed bottle stack fall over and break on the side of the stool it was on. The assassin was standing quietly with her hands tucked into her sleeves, grinning, while Ty Lee was jumping up and down in happiness on her right. Needless to say, the booth-tender had a look of absolute shock on his face as he went to examine his pile of broken glass.
“Thank you, sir, for the platypus-bear.” Mai reached over, plucked her throwing knife from where it lay on the glass covered stool, unhooked the wretched bear from its hook, and walked away, handing the bear to her friend with a satisfied look on her face.
“See, Ty Lee?” Their walking pace quickened as Mai heard the shouts of protest coming from behind them. “You have your bear. Now we can go—”
However, much like the dirty man and his sentence, the raven-haired girl didn’t get to finish her sentence. Unlike the sweaty man, her interruption was her friend’s lips meeting hers in a rather forceful kiss. Several different flavors entered Mai’s mouth, most of them intensely unpleasant to the high-class girl. However, fortunately for her, the kiss only lasted a second, ending with Ty Lee pulling back abruptly with a big smile on her face.
“Figure I’d get you something for the New Year. After all, you did all that stuff to get me the bear, and…uh…well, y’know, I don’t like debts. I forget about them too much.” The gymnast grinned drunkenly. “Besides, I heard that kisses on New Year’s Eve bring good luck.”
“First off, that only applies to people that are actually together. Second, that was, without a doubt, the most disgusting thing that has ever happened to me.” Mai took out a handkerchief and wiped her mouth with it, though the effort was in vain. The taste of fried lizard-chicken and cheap, homemade booze had already invaded her mouth. The action caused Ty Lee to giggle.
“Oh, Mai. You don’t have to act like you didn’t like it. Besides—it’s not like Zuko would’ve done it for you.”
And with that the acrobat pranced off, leaving a protesting assassin behind her.