sharpasfire: (If I had a soul it would be in pain)
[personal profile] sharpasfire
Happy birthday Ty Lee! It's not a visual seizure like Zuko gave you, but it might hurt the same way...

Birthdays weren’t a big deal in the Fire Nation. To clarify, birthdays in Ty Lee’s family were practically nonexistent because even if a noble family had enough money to spend on seven daughters, they didn’t have the inclination to spend that much effort.

Ty Lee didn’t really care. She didn’t think sharing a ‘special’ day amongst her sisters made it feel very special anyway, which is another reason why she loved the circus. On her birthday, a day completely her own, the troupe gathered around her as the main attraction. The ringmaster brought out a lopsided cake and the firebending magician lit candles provided by their resident sword swallower. It was wonderful and messy and Ty Lee never felt more appreciated in her life.

Azula recruited her soon after, and that was the end of that.

Part of her hoped Azula would let her go back after the mission was done. But the weeks went on, Mai loosened up the tiniest of degrees, Zuko came back, the invitation for Ember Island, and Ty Lee decided the universe was telling her there was no need to rush.

When they got stuck in camp Ty Lee didn’t really know what the universe was trying to tell them, but she figured she had more than enough time to mull it over. Azula would figure it out, and Mai thought everything was boring so this wasn’t that different.

Months passed and Ty Lee was really syncing up with the few benevolent energies in the place. She didn’t even think about how her birthday was coming up soon (or at least she thought it was her birthday, the lunar calendars confused her). But then that thing with Sokka and his stupid beard ruined everything, because suddenly she had weeks worth of more memories past the time she came to camp. By the time she decided on whether she was fifteen or somehow doubling up to count as sixteen with a three week overlap, Mai left, Zuko decided to join the Avatar's gang, and Azula didn’t even bother remarking on her birthday when it passed. Either possible times.

This year she had over a year in camp to adjust to all the, what she decided to term, campiness about it. She had a girlfriend, a good social circle, and Mai back. So when Ty Lee woke up on her birthday she was determined to have an amazing, special, one of a kind day.

It started out well. With Mai handing her a small but elegantly wrapped gift of perfume and a pink shirt she bartered from the store. “Better than mosquitoroach repellant and you need a new outfit,” she said blandly and gave her a hug.

Ty Lee spent the rest of her day indulging in every single thing a fifteen/sixteen (maybe still fourteen if time really stopped physically but that didn’t mean no celebrating) birthday girl could. Misa was totally into birthdays, which made her even more amazing. And even camp seemed to be getting into it, because when Ty Lee wandered across camp there was a banner in giant letters saying “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TY LEE!” set up by zombies and a whole table full of sweets (well, sugar substitutes, camp can bend rules but not good with the breaking) and a group of her friends and some strangers she didn’t know were lingering around the spectacle. Some being bodily dragged by the resident gorilla population wearing bow ties, even.

It certainly seemed like a special event.

“And so this one guy was cute but all he’d do was stare. He wouldn’t even eat a piece while I was around and I gave it to him,” Ty Lee finished her story, watching as Mai politely paid attention to her.

“So why’d you keep him at the party?”

“He was cute,” Ty Lee giggled. “And I’m not going to turn somebody away like that. Unless it was Jet or—” she trailed off, not wanting to hit the Zuko subject again. “Like, that jerk with the curly hair that keeps yelling how everybody’s stupid.”

“I didn’t see any troublemakers from the outskirts,” Mai said, flipping a knife between her fingers the way some people would chopsticks. “Sounds like you had a great time.”

“Yeah! It was great! It was perfect except—”

Ty Lee trailed off, but Mai knew her well enough to understand she hadn’t simply gone off track. The sullen girl looked over toward Azula’s bunk, which was vacant since dawn. She grimaced, but it was Ty Lee’s birthday so at least she could offer... “I could look for her.”

“No. It’s okay,” Ty Lee waved her hands, trying to keep up the previous cheer. “It’s not like she’d enjoy that. She hated the last tea party we all ended up in. I just...”

Almost perfectly timed, Azula strode in through the door and moved over to her space. She didn’t look particularly mad, just distracted as she started unfastening her gauntlets.

“Hey,” said Mai.

“Don’t let me interrupt,” the princess said without turning her head. “I was just finishing up some business.”

“Oh really? What kind?” Ty Lee asked, trying to feign interest and sound perfectly happy.

Azula stopped and turned to look at Ty Lee. A small smile played on the corners of her mouth, but not the kind of contemptuous smirk she usually wore. “Negotiations with Bowser. As of today, the King of the Koopas has agreed to loaning me some of his monster menagerie.”

“Oh… Great.”

“It’s advantageous,” she said with an air of self-assured confidence, passing a look to Mai before she finished and promptly started back for the door. “Some of us were keeping busy with productive things today.”

“Like Ty Lee’s birthday party?” Mai asked evenly.

“Oh it was your birthday, Ty Lee?” The princess sounded neither surprised nor anxious as she looked toward the pink-clad girl. Seeing Ty Lee’s half-hearted nod made Azula pause for a bit before she smiled. “Well then, happy birthday.”

Ty Lee tried to look happy in return. “Thanks Azula.”

“So did you?”

Azula’s smile flickered then died. “Did I what, Mai?”

“Do something productive like plan Ty Lee’s birthday party,” Mai asked. She knew she might be asking for trouble, pushing Azula for her motives, but Ty Lee let it get to her to the point where it was souring her mood. And Mai was not up for being the cheerful one of her associates. “The gorillas were a lot more organized than normal.”

Recognition dawned in Ty Lee’s face as she turned to Azula with a new light of hope. “You said you were busy controlling the camp monsters...”

“I think I’d have more important things to drill them on than setting up party favors,” Azula said breezily. “Maybe the universe told them to, but it’s not really my concern. Now I’m heading to the showers, so feel free to continue your theories on how the Easter Bunny helped with the balloons.”

Even with Azula’s brush off, Mai noticed Ty Lee’s grin had firmly gone back to dazzlingly bright. She almost wanted to wince.

“Are you going to hug her when she gets back?”

Ty Lee nodded, the grin turning a little lopsided and mischievous.

“In that case I’ll take mine next,” Mai said. If Azula really thought giving Ty Lee the spotlight by avoiding her all day was what would work to make her happy, Mai was going to excuse herself for her own sake when Ty Lee mercilessly descended on the other girl to exploit the last few hours of her birthday.
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November 2011

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