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A nice cup of tea

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There was, in the North part of Ba Sing Se, a small Tea Shop many would say is odd. 

The owner was a firebender who fled the Great War, helped by a young earthbender in need of money. 

It was hard to tell when the shop was open. The opening time would change from day to day, and the shop would open and close several times in a day. 

But as soon as the sun set, Kun would throw everyone out and close the shop until dawn. 

Though the service wasn't over. At night, Kun was receiving special guests. 

Ba Sing Se is considered a sacred land by many, and when Kun opened his Tea Shop, a lot of people joked that it would be haunted. But Kun didn't mind. They were actually really nice and were good company. 

 

"A green tea with milk for Xiaojun!" Yangyang called from the other room. 

 

"On its way!" 

 

Of course, ghosts and spirits couldn't drink the tea, but they still appreciated the nice scent of it. And they were grateful to Kun for letting them stay at his shop at night. Most of the citizens were afraid of them—and who could blame them?—, but Kun was unimpressed, as if he was used to it. Nobody questioned it.

And as Kun brought Xiaojun's tea, he noticed someone next to the door. He quickly let Yangyang serv Xiaojun, and walked to the young man. 

 

"Hi, can I help you?" He asked, and the other one startled. 

 

"I-I… I don't know, maybe… I don't know what I'm doing here, I think I'm lost…" 

 

Kun bit the inside of his cheek; the poor boy obviously passed away not so long ago, and he looked so young. Maybe Yangyang's age, or not much older.

 

"What's your name?" 

 

"I'm Hendery." 

 

"Nice to meet you, Hendery. I'm Kun, and welcome to my Tea Shop." Kun smiled warmly, trying to reassure Hendery. "I'm trying to make this shop a safe and comfortable place for the lost souls like you, and I hope you can make yourself at home here."

 

"Trust me, finding this place is the best thing that could happen to you!" A soldier said from the table near them. "Kun is taking good care of us."

 

Hendery nodded quietly, not really sure what to do or say. 

 

"Do you want a cup of tea, perhaps? Take a seat, come on. I'll be back."

 

Hendery nodded again, sitting on the first chair he saw. He felt strange, not fully understanding what happened to him. He wasn't yet aware that he was dead, but nobody told him. It wasn't the thing to do, they knew it'd be easier for him to accept it if he was the one realizing it. 

Kun came back with a warm cup, as promised, and sat next to Hendery. 

 

"I don't… I don't have money." Hendery said, staring at the beverage. "I'm sorry, take it back, I can't pay you."

 

"That's okay." Kun said softly, creating a small flame in his palm to warm up the cup even more. "I don't expect you to pay. I'm just trying to help you."

 

"Thank you."

 

Yet, he didn't try to drink it. He didn't touch the cup, as if he somehow knew he couldn't. 

Kun got up, but someone took his seat instead. They made conversation with Hendery, distracting him in any way they could. 

They were also a fire bender so occasionally, they would heat up the tea and scent would wrap them up in a nice cocoon. Hendery felt nice, here. At home. Just like Kun said.

But as the moon was slowly going down the horizon, Xiaojun looked through the window. 

 

"It's almost dawn, we'll have to go." He said, and the other spirits nodded. 

 

"Fine. I'll see you tonight, then." Kun simply answered.

 

They both smiled at each other, and everyone disappeared, letting Kun and Yangyang alone with a fresh wind that smelled like green tea and milk.