Talk To Me
"Azula, Shou tells me you've been talking to them again." Lu-Ming stated.
"She's lying." Azula intended to answer as vaguely as possible.
"Lying?" Lu-Ming questioned.
"And why would she lie?"
"Because she doesn't like me…" Azula trailed off. She already said too much.
"Azula, it's not healthy to just assume everyone hates you. Like you're mother, she…"
"I wish to go back to my room now." Azula cut him off.
"We are going to have to talk about her eventually." It wasn't an empty threat, it was a promise. This wasn't the first time Lu-Ming tried to force her to talk about she and her mother. At first he was subtle about it, tried to sneak the topic in. Upon realizing that tactic failed on Azula, he became more out right. And by all means, he'd probably ask again. "Can you at least tell me why you think that Shou hates you?"
"No." Azula's answer was premeditated.
Lu-Ming sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "You are going to have to talk if you want to go home."
"I'm not crazy!" Azula shouted. "I'm not." Her voice lowered.
"Then tell me. What are you?"
"A Princess." Azula sassed. It was a defense mechanism. Really every ounce of her screamed to tell him (or anyone who would listen) 'someone who can contact the spirit world.' But that would only dig her in deeper. The very thought that she could contact the spirit world, on its own, was insane. Only the Avatar could connect with the spirit world. So Azula left it at the sass.
"Yes, a Princess. A Princess who hears and sees things." Lu-Ming responded too calmly. It put Azula at a state of unease. "A Princess who needs help."
Azula didn't need therapy nor help, she needed someone who could answer the how's and the why's. And that someone wasn't Lu-Ming and his army of nurses.
Azula spoke nothing of it.
"Talk to me Azula."
She shook her head, no.
"Talk to him, baby." Came a voice. Azula turned her head slightly. Her eyes met the soft stare of her mother. A knot formed in her stomach. She finally decided to come back. "Talk to him, it will buy you time. It will buy you safety…"
Azula had made a habit of ignoring her mother or doing the exact opposite of what she said. "From Xin?" She whispered instead.
"Yes. Safety from Xin." Her mother fade back out.
"Who are you talking to?" Lu-Ming questioned. Azula had forgotten he was sitting right there.
"You. Who else." Azula tried.
"Your response doesn't exactly fit into our conversation."
"You said to talk to you. So I said 'his name is Xin.'"
"You said, 'from Xin' Azula."
"I think I know what I said. It's not my fault if you misheard me." Azula folded her arms to her chest.
"Alright." Lu-Ming let it slide. "Who is Xin?"
"A childhood friend." Azula lied.
"And what does he have to do with…well, anything?" Lu-Ming asked.
"When I was only five years old he ate the last fire-flake. Now I have trust issues." Azula shrugged.
"Azula." Lu-Ming said firmly. "This isn't a joke."
"I'm not joking. He really did steal the last fire-flake." Which wasn't a lie; Azula had been at the dining hall when Xin decided to join her and steal her food—she found the fire-flake in under her dresser three days later.
"Okay. But what is the real reason you have trust issues?"
"That was the joke part." Azula lied. Well sort of lied. She did have a few trust issues, but who doesn't? Or that's what she kept telling herself anyhow.
"What about Mai and Ty-Lee. Do they have something to do with it? Or perhaps your brother?"
"We don't talk about him."
"And why not?"
"Because he's an idiot." Azula pouted.
"Is that right?"
"Yes." Azula muttered. "Can I go back to my room now?"
"No." The response came from two places; across the table from Lu-Ming and across the room from her mother. "It's not safe yet." Ursa added.
"Azula, you won't get better until you admit you have a problem."
"My problem is you! And this place. I shouldn't be here." Azula frowned. "I should be finding someone who can give me some real help. Some answers." She added very softly.
Lu-Ming didn't speak up.
It was a working tactic.
"I'm not crazy. I don't see things that aren't there." The tears prickled in her eyes. "I see things that are there. I'm not crazy. I can just…I can just do things that other people can't." She let a small blue flame dance on the tips of her finger to emphasize.
Lu-Ming bite the inside of his lip as he contemplated a response. On one hand she used her bending—something he'd told her not to do countless times—on the other, she finally, after her 4 months here, dug at bit deeper.
"Care to elaborate." He decided on his words.
Azula recoiled back into her shell. "No."
None of them spoke. The silence fell heavy. This time Azula broke it. "Can I go to my room now?"
"I'll send for Shou." Lu-Ming answered.
Another wrong decision.
Azula didn't talk any to Shou as the two walked down the hall. She was still mad at her for dragging her into Ming's office. Shou however kept making attempts; 'how was it?' or 'Are you okay.' And in a last attempt to catch Azula's attention 'you can spend two hours at the pond instead of one tomorrow.'
Honestly, Azula wasn't in the mood to go to the pond at all.
"You're going to get a visitor tomorrow." Shou tired.
I get lots of those. Azula mused inwardly.
"Your brother. He's worried about you." They reached the door.
Azula was quick to pry it open, enter the room, and slam it in Shou's face. She felt like a ten year old girl again.
She peered out the barred window. It was dark out now. Lu-Ming must have talked to her for well over an hour. He wasted both of their times. With a heavy sigh, Azula lie down on the bed, drawing her legs up to her chest.
What a way to spend her birthday.
That night she cried herself to sleep. They were silent tears—the last thing she needed was for Shou to see her cry. It was bad enough she let her brother and the water peasant see.
Azula couldn't quite be sure of the time when she awoke. She just noted that it was still dark. Azula also couldn't seem to place what woke her up. She looked around the room. Not a person…dead or alive in sight. But the sensation still lingered.
Azula shuddered and lie back down. This time drawing the covers over her head for good measure. How pathetic, what was a thin sheet of cloth going to do to protect her?
And then came a series of thuds. They were soft at first, Azula could barely hear them. But naturally they grew to a notable volume—one that Azula could hear, but others could not.
Azula sunk deeper into the mattress…well she tried to anyways.
"Don't ignore me…"
"You can't ignore me."
Azula still tried. She pressed her hands firmly over her ears and squeezed her eyes shut. But his voice didn't come from anywhere in the room—it never did—it came from within her. Xin always had a way of projecting his voice into her head.
And flashing images of himself beneath her closed eyelids.
She couldn't ignore him.
"Talk. To. Me." Xin hissed. "You talked to him. YOU TOLD HIM!"
Azula pressed harder, her own nails digging into her skin. How would she explain that to Shou?
"You have to listen to me. Have to speak to me." He sounded frantic.
"No. No leave me alone." She tried to shout, but her voice lost all the power it once had. She wasn't intimidating anyone, especially not Xin.
"Vengeance. I will have vengeance. You'll help me get it. You just have to let me in."
She wanted to refuse, to tell him off. But what her mouth decided to let out was a hitched "Mother. Please. Help me."
"I SAID LET ME IN!" Xin yelled and gave her a swift shove off the bed.
She landed with a thud. Her head pounded, stars obscuring her vision.
But not enough so that she couldn't see Xin looming over her—his mouth split, tongue flailing about.