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so delicately wrought

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"You know, being able to bend the armour to fit doesn't mean it's actually a good idea to keep working."

"You know, I think that's the most words I've ever heard you say in one go," Toph snaps back. Very quietly.

Mai doesn't do anything so ostentatious as smirk, or even raise her eyebrows, because of course she doesn't, not in public and certainly not while arriving on the first Fire Nation state visit to Republic City since the signing of the treaties that created it -- but nonetheless she somehow manages to make it perfectly clear that she is laughing at you, in her own laconic fashion but not unkindly, and Toph has adjusted her armour but she's still hot and uncomfortable and her ankles hurt and she does not, at this precise moment, have any idea at all why she thought this was a good idea.

(Running security for the Heads of State of the Fire Nation is not even slightly the problem, firstly because she is absolutely confident that the people she's protecting are not Zuko and Mai, who are entirely capable of defending themselves adequately as has been amply demonstrated even if -- okay, actually, that's a bit surprising -- even if Mai is also about three months pregnant. The problem is very much that she is hot and uncomfortable and assured with perfect complacency by an utterly serene Katara who was somehow managing this despite breastfeeding at the time never mind the two toddlers that everything is entirely healthy and normal and so she's stuck like this for at least another six weeks. She cannot, even slightly, remember why she thought this was a good idea.)

The saving grace is that, the moment they're past the reporters and into the thing Toph still thinks of as a palace even if technically she shouldn't, Mai leans a little closer and says, "Katara mentioned that you can do hot mud baths. They sound awful. Please can we fit one into the schedule."

The baby responds to her startled laughter by kicking.