There were fire lilies on her desk. They were pretty, if you were the kind of girl who liked that sort of thing. Mai sighed; clearly, Zuko had been talking to Ty Lee again.
Grabbing a brush pen, she wrote, Thank you for the flowers. They made a lovely gift for my mother. Better luck next time- Mai.
"Hang gliding?" Mai crossed her arms dubiously, watching from the courtyard steps as the Avatar zoomed in circles above them. "You do know I'm not an airbender, right?"
"It's supposed to be fun?" Zuko tried.
"Don't worry. All you have to do is jump off a- wait, there are no cliffs here. But the roofs work pretty well!" Aang grinned, landing in front of them amid a cloud of dust.
"Right," Mai said, "you do that. Have a good time."
She told herself the sound of Zuko's palm smacking his forehead wasn't that funny.
Mai sneezed, blowing one of the scrolls off the top of the precarious heap in Zuko's arms. "What did you do, go excavating?"
"I found them in the library. They're qi diagrams and apothecary's notes on poisons from a hundred years ago!"
"Not bad," Mai admitted, "but could you maybe- achoo!- get them out of here before you trigger an allergy attack?"
Zuko's sad puppy face was still pretty cute. She relented and patted him on the head before diving for another handkerchief.
Mai elbowed him. "You asked Sokka along on a date?" she hissed.
Zuko winced. "I'm sorry! He's Master Piandao's only student, I couldn't exactly say no."
"Hey, guys," Sokka said, "Master Piandao's ready to see you now."
Mai bowed gracefully as he entered, then tucked and rolled automatically beneath the sword stroke.
"Good reflexes!" Piandao said approvingly over Zuko's yelp. Vaulting over his head, Mai shook her throwing stars out of her sleeve, reminding herself to thank Ty Lee for the years of practice sessions.
On the plus side, she thought half an hour later, he hadn't been able to pin her until after she was out of blades. On the minus side, there wasn't much she could do against a sword while lying flat on her back. "All right, I yield," she said, and was rewarded with a smile as Piandao hauled her upright.
"How's Suki?" she heard Zuko ask.
"Doing pretty well, actually," Sokka replied. Grumpy, Mai snatched his boomerang from his pack and sent it in their general direction.
"No, now I yield," she said. Piandao threw back his head and laughed.
"Excellent! If you're looking for training with more conventional blades, I would be willing to teach you."
"I'll think about it, Master," Mai managed, after a dumbstruck moment.
"Do," said Piandao. "If not, I could use another sparring partner."
"Hey!" Sokka pouted.
She let Zuko hover behind her all the way home, and then all the way back to her quarters, turning around only when she reached the door.
"Are you angry at me?" he said anxiously.
Mai smiled and kissed him in reply.