They play the game late at night.
Azula sends a flash of silent lightning in the sky, signaling that she wants to play, and Ty Lee knows she has the chance to refuse. She never does, though. She tip toes through the hall, her hands going over the carvings in the Fire Lord's palace and making her way through the maze of corridors that leads to Azula's chambers. She doesn't knock. Azula answers the door in her own time and knocking only makes her mean. Ty Lee only curls herself into a bow, and once she goes to the floor she remains still just in case Azula opens the door while Ty Lee is off form.
"Well, well," Azula says when she opens her door and finds Ty Lee there in a full submissive bow. "look who's back here again on her hands and knees. Come in and don't stand up."
"Yes, Princess Azula." Ty Lee unfurls her limbs slowly, pulling her body into another type of performance. She crawls across the threshold under Azula's gaze, and the princess shuts the door behind her. Ty Lee waits at the threshold until Azula deigns to take her seat.
Azula settles in, rests her arms on the chair and lets her nails, grown to sharp points, clack against the wood. "Hmm. Is there something you'd like to show me tonight?"
"Yes, Princess Azula."
"Show it without getting off of the floor."
Ty Lee extends her limbs and draw them out of the clothing. "You're enjoying showing off," Azula observes, as her shirt goes over her head. "grateful for any scrap of attention someone cares to throw at you." With her shirt off, Ty Lee drops to her stomach and pushes her fingers into her waistband of her pants, and with it wriggles her body out of her clothing as naked as the day she was born.
"Look at this..." Azula leans forward, and peers down at Ty Lee's back, "It's like you're still trying to cover up a freak show. To your knees. Legs spread."
Ty Lee shifts to her knees. She knows the rules--no raising her head above the seated Azula's, but kneeling is fine especially when it ends in a spread leg position. "Yes, Princess Azula."
The princess drinks it in with her eyes and appraises. "How very dull," Azula whispers, "and here I thought with your coyness, that you would have had something interesting to display. You're such a little tease."
The scene has been set up, and Ty Lee knows her part. "I've been teasing you, Princess Azula."
"There's nothing interesting about you at all."
Ty Lee shakes her head as the words play with the insecurities that tear at her and pull her forward. "No, Princess Azula. I'm boring, just like everyone else."
"It's almost paradoxical," Azula continues with her musings, "the way that you can manage to be so very dull and yet also so very monstrous. Perhaps that is why I find you an intriguing play piece."
Though Ty Lee never deviates from the script, the scene developed and refined through nights of this game, she begins to feel it in a way that goes beyond role-playing. "You find me intriguing, Princess Azula? Really?"
"Well, not when you're so desperate, but then of course, maybe we should see what you're willing to do for the attention. That could be fun, couldn't it?"
"Yes, Princess Azula." Fun indeed.
"Come here." Azula points at her feet, and Ty Lee crawls over. Azula's foot presses against Ty Lee's mouth. Her lips instinctively curl into a kiss on the big toe. "Tell me, what you're willing to do to for a little scrap of my precious attention?"
"Anything you want, Princess Azula."
"Let's start with the lightning." An arc of blue jumps between fingertips and the sight causes Ty Lee to shake. "Are you scared?"
"No, Princess Azula." The first bit of lightning caresses her, just under the ear.
"Really? You're trembling like a little coward."
"Maybe a little scared."
"Afraid you can't take what I dish out?" Azula's foot rests on Ty Lee's shoulders. "Are you really that low. We all know how gentle I am with you during this. I never hurt you or mark you, and yet...you're afraid. How quaint. It's almost endearing. You're a little circus freak, aren't you? Well let's see how long you last. Bend backwards."
Easy enough, Ty Lee thinks as she reaches back and curves her spine until her hands hit the floor. But then Azula bends the lightning around her hands and arms, and makes a bed of it on the floor. One quaver means a shock, and a fall means being enveloped in the lightning.
"How long do you think you can hold out? I'd say to the count of fifty tops."
"I can do fifty." She's not sure, but she puts on her tough face.
"My, aren't we confident?" Azula uses her foot to stroke the outside of Ty Lee's thighs. "Overconfident. One-hundred, then."
Panic surges through Ty Lee; she'll be fried if she has to hold out that long. "No! Fifty is fine!"
"Do you think to challenge me?" Azula gives her thigh a nudge, sending shocks through Ty Lee's arms and legs. "What right do you think you have?"
"I'm sorry, Princess Azula! I'll do one hundred."
"I'll count slow."
When the electricity play finishes and Ty Lee can break position without shocking, Azula moves on to another game without time to rest. Anything Azula wants translates to everything Azula wants brought forth rigorously on Ty Lee's body and always, always commented upon by the princess, and occasionally repeated or narrated by Ty Lee. The filter between what's in her mind and what comes from her mouth drops.
The game ends when Azula gets tired or bored and when Ty Lee can think of nothing else to do to keep her interest. "Worthless." Azula makes her final assessment, as Ty Lee rests her head (with permission) on Azula's lap. The princess runs her hand through Ty Lee's hair, almost unaware that she might be doing something gentle, "just a silly girl."
Azula gets up without warning. "You may sleep on the floor beside me."
In the morning, just before the sun rises and Azula's attendants come to check on her, Azula wakes Ty Lee up and provides Ty Lee her clothing and her leave. What happens in the night as a formality happens in the light of day as a million daily put-downs and intimidations. Ty Lee wonders as she dresses and puts on her smile, if Azula knows that these nights are the same as handing Ty Lee a knife and training her.
If she takes pleasure in the nights, then she can own the days as well.
That's why Ty Lee plays the game.