Ty Lee pulled up short as she turned a corner on the way to the courtyard, brows drawing low as she spotted three of the Kyoshi Warriors crouched beneath one of the decorative stone walls enclosing the covered promenade from the open courtyard where the warriors usually did their training on warm days.
She’d expected them to be training, not crouching like spies.
“And just what is going on here?” Ty Lee said, eyebrow rising as the three girls jumped and whipped their heads in her direction.
“Shhhh!” Aiko hissed, reaching out and grasping Ty Lee’s hand, yanking her down behind the low brick wall and out of sight of the courtyard. “Keep your voice down!”
“What are you doing?”
“Watching. Duh,” Qing said, rolling her eyes and gesturing wildly to the two people sparring in the sunlit arena, whom Ty Lee hadn’t paid much attention to until now.
A look of dawning realizing crossed Ty Lee’s face as her mouth formed a small ‘o’ that faded into an impish grin. “Are they doing it again?”
Aiko snorted. “They’re within fifty feet of each other, of course they’re doing it again.”
“Just fuck already,” Kikki mumbled, making Ty Lee snort a laugh that she quickly stifled behind her hand.
“What?” Kikki said, turning wide eyes on the others. “Like you weren’t thinking it too. Look at them, the sexual tension between them is turning me on.”
Ty Lee grinned, peeping her eyes over the low wall, and watching as the two sparring figures circled one another, and then came at each other with banked fury. There was a palpable tension between them, sizzling and sparking like a lightning blast. It sent goosebumps down Ty Lee’s arms, watching the two of them make eye contact.
When Zuko caught Suki’s wrist, spun her and shoved her against one of the pillars, pinning her there, Ty Lee felt her heart jump, and her whole body tensed as the two of them stared at one another, that burning fire between them igniting.
“Just freaking kiss her, you idiot,” Ty Lee hissed through her teeth as Aiko made a frustrated noise beside her and pushed her hands together as if she were willing the two of them together with the power of her mind.
The moment passed, however, and Zuko let up, his feet dancing backward as Suki shoved away from the pillar, and rolled her shoulders. The Captain of the Kyoshi Warriors dropped into another stance and came at the Fire Lord with a well-aimed strike that took him in the gut. He dropped back, doubling over for a second, before feinting a punch that would have taken her in the chest if he’d truly been aiming for her—and he hadn’t been. Instead, the strike rolled across her shoulder as she sidestepped to avoid it; letting Zuko’s other arm come in beneath and grasp Suki by the arm she had brought up in defense.
She was ready for the move, and instead of letting Zuko’s momentum tug her forward, she rolled with it, turning and flipping Zuko across her back. He landed on his ass on the ground at her feet as she gave a playful “HYA!” and grinned down at him.
Suki stood over him, and Ty Lee heard her voice ring out across the courtyard.
“Never,” Zuko said and rolled, catching Suki’s legs and knocking her to the ground. He rolled up, grasped her hands, intending to pin her down again, but she wrapped her legs around his waist and bucked upward. Her body arched into his and he fell on his back, with her straddling him. She grasped his wrists and pinned them to the ground beside his head.
“No…” Zuko said stubbornly. “How did you do that?”
“You want me to teach you?”
“Make me,” Zuko said and the grin on his face was practically obscene.
Qing groaned and hit her head against the wall. “Okay…she does know Zuko is flirting with her, right?”
“I didn’t know Zuko even knew how to flirt,” Aiko said, an impressed expression on her face.
“Me neither,” Ty Lee mused, watching as Suki grinned and said something to Zuko none of them could hear across the wide courtyard.
The four of them watched as Zuko sat up, and Suki settled into his lap, explaining the move she’d pulled on him…while not moving out of his lap. Zuko appeared to be listening intently, like a good student, but his hand was resting on Suki’s lower back, his thumb stroking her bare skin. And his mouth was cocked into the most bemused smile Ty Lee had ever seen on his face.
It wasn’t the kind of look Ty Lee saw on the Fire Lord’s face often. Zuko was tense as a rule, overworked in general and high strung at the best of times…
But with Suki…
With Suki, he was almost relaxed. He was almost happy.
“Do you think they’re already sleeping together?” Aiko asked, echoing the thought that had formed in the back of Ty Lee’s mind on more than one occasion. Especially over the last month, when things between the two of them had gone from mild flirtation to straight up burning sexual tension.
Straight up asking Suki about it, however, had been a mistake.
Ty Lee had never seen the calm and competent Suki so completely flustered in her life. There had been a tacit denial, a lot of blushing and then Suki had stormed off, tossing a “Don’t be ridiculous!” over her shoulder.
“I bet they did it when they were in Ba Sing Se last month,” Kikki said prosaically, pursing her lips as she nodded. “They’ve both been cranky bitches since they got back.”
“We’d probably know by now if they were sleeping together,” Ty Lee said thoughtfully, though she thought maybe Kikki had a point.
“None of the night shift girls have said anything,” Qing said. “He’s definitely sleeping alone.”
“So they either slept together in Ba Sing Se and now they’re not, for some reason… Or they just want to screw each other’s brains out…but haven’t. For some reason.”
“That sounds about right,” Ty Lee sighed.
“We’ve got to do something,” Aiko said darkly. “If they don’t hook up soon, I swear, I’m going to tie them both up and force them to admit that they like each other.”
“Yeah, that’ll go over well,” Qing snorted. “They’d both deny it if we confronted them. Suki’s too dedicated to her job. She’d think it was improper. Remember when I went out to dinner with that palace guard and she gave me a lecture? She doesn’t believe in mixing work and pleasure. She’d never make a move on Zuko.”
They watched the two roll to their feet, and go through the move Suki had been showing Zuko; slowly at first, and then with more speed until Zuko got the move down and he pinned Suki beneath him, just as she had done to him. His hair fell forward over one shoulder, having come down from its neat ponytail. It haloed their faces, as Suki said something that made Zuko smile.
“But would Zuko make a move on her?” Aiko asked, her gaze darting to Ty Lee, who knew both of them well.
Ty Lee watched as Suki stood and held out a hand to Zuko. She helped him up and as he gained his feet, his momentum brought them chest to chest. Zuko had that soft look on his face again, as Suki tilted her head up to look him in the eyes. He reached out a hand and gently pushed her hair out of her face.
Qing hitched in a breath, watching as Zuko said something to Suki that made her whole body shudder. Then she gently pushed Zuko back with a hand on his chest. When she turned away from him, it was with a determined, but strained look on her red face.
“I think that’s it for today,” Suki said loudly enough for them to hear, and there was a shake in her voice.
“I have to go,” she said and then she jogged out of the courtyard in the opposite direction the four of them were crouching. Zuko watched her go with a strained expression on his face for a moment. Then he let loose, turning and kicking the head off of one of the practice dummies with a gigantic gout of flame that sizzled and crackled through the air.
Ty Lee could feel the heat of it from across the courtyard and watched as Zuko dropped back onto both feet and hung his head.
“Fuck,” he snarled with feeling, putting his face in his hands. Ty Lee ducked down beneath the wall again and met the other girl’s eyes one by one. They listened as Zuko continued to curse to himself as he gathered up his shirt and left the courtyard.
“Yeah, that guy has it bad,” Aiko said. “I’ll eat my helmet if he hasn’t already made some kind of move and I don’t think it worked out in his favor.”
“So Suki doesn’t like him?” Qing said, confusion on her pretty face as she scrunched her button nose. “That’s not at all what I’ve been reading from her. I know body language and that girl is ready to climb him like a tree.”
“Maybe she has her reasons?” Ty Lee offered.
“Maybe our fearless captain needs to unclench once in a while,” Kikki groused. “Seriously, if they don’t resolve this tension soon, I’m gonna lose it. She’s always in a bad mood and Zuko’s a freaking mess. We’d all have an easier life if these two got their heads on straight.”
“I don’t even need them to bang, to be honest. If they’d both just take a night off to relax, I’d be happy,” Aiko said.
“Seconded. Suki definitely needs a night off.”
“But they won’t take one. Or take each other,” Kikki laughed. “So what can we do about it?”
“I think…I have an idea,” Ty Lee said slowly, her mind whirring.
“What sort of idea?” Aiko asked, eyebrow arching as she saw the devious light in Ty Lee’s eyes. Ty Lee just grinned at her.
“Just trust me.”
“They’re going to hate us meddling,” Qing said, shaking her head, but there was a mischievous glint in her eyes.
“When we’re done with these two idiots, they won’t know what hit them,” Ty Lee vowed.