When Azula woke up there was still a figure looming over her (and a slight ringing in her ears). She put a hand to the aching part of her head. Her fingers came back tainted a dark red.
"What happened?" Shou frowned.
The memories flowed right back to her. Xin-Kua. It was Xin…again. It always was. "I…I think I rolled off the bed." Azula wasn't too happy in painting herself as this klutzy uncaring type, but it was better than the truth.
"Sure looks like it." Shou mused aloud.
At least she bought the lie without questions or 'you did this to yourself' accusations.
"You hit your head rather hard. I think we should get you to the healers."
For once Azula couldn't disagree. She didn't much like the healers, or doing anything that may even hint off weakness. But where Xin was concerned…well, she'd rather play it safe. She got to her feet, the action rather dizzy-making. No sooner had she given a stumble did she find Shou's arm on her shoulder, helping to keep her upright.
Things hadn't gotten much better as they walked down the hall—her head kept spinning and her mind kept racing. Neither seemed to show any sign of stopping or even slowing. Xin was becoming more physical…dangerously so. She really needed to find someone to teach her how to block the spirits out, or at the very least confirm that they were indeed spirits and not just something her own mind made.
"Is Zu-zu really coming to visit me today?" Azula asked after a while. God she had to stop calling him that.
"He certainly is. So we best get your forehead healed before he gets here." Shou replied. "He's worried about you. That's what I've heard anyways."
Azula didn't reply. She really couldn't find the right words to reply with. She didn't think it was true, that Zuko was worried. And that his worry and care was the reason for his visit. He probably wanted something from her…information of sorts. Or maybe he'd come to brag. But as usual, she kept such thoughts where they should be; in her head.
The pair came to their destination. Azula always found the healing quarters to be rather odd. It was located within the building and had four white walls surrounding it but no ceiling and an all-natural grass floor. In this 'room' she was outdoors and indoors all at once and it drove her nuts. Not that she'd vocalize that either.
Speaking of things that drove her nuts…the pillars. Just before the tiles turned to grass and the ceiling ceased to be, the asylum's creator had decided to place a row of the unnecessary things. Apparently he or she thought a row of marble pillars on either side would be a nice touch. Azula thought it was simply a waste of money—money that could have been put into providing her with a more comfy bed and an extra pillow or two.
But above all else Azula hated the pond—this one anyways, her pond was fine. She didn't like the idea of nature-made water flowing within a man-made building. Being completely honest with herself she couldn't quite understand why it bugged her so much. It was as if the builders had constructed the entire asylum around this one spot. That's probably exactly what happned. Azula rolled her eyes. Leave it to the ancestors to do something so silly. Why her many greats grandfather let that go was beyond her.
"Morning Princess." Called one of her fellow patients, the one with the weird hair. Before this girl, Azula had never seen someone with hair so light; it was like brown only much, much—sandier?—in color. Someone needed to invent a name for this hair color.
"Good morning peasant." Azula replied with a lazy flick of her wrist.
"Azula, we talked about this." Lu-Ming emerged from behind one of the pillars—one of the other reasons why she hated them so.
"Talked about what?" Azula sighed.
"How you address other people." Lu-Ming replied.
"I address them as any Princess would." Azula insisted.
"We have a long way to go." Lu-Ming said to huffed.
Azula was poised to fire an 'I heard that', but the man straightened his robes and turned to do whatever it was that Lu-Ming does.
"He's kind of in a grumpy mood." Shou whispered to Azula. "He has been since this morning. Won't tell me why though." She rambled. "Kind of strange if you ask me."
"Aren't I supposed to be in for a healing session?" Azula reminded.
"Oh right! Yes!" Shou chirped. "I'll go sign us in right away!"
And so Azula was left to think again. This time about Shou herself. Azula doesn't hate the woman, not anymore anyways. Despite being a bit of a pain in the neck (and overly cheerful at that) and despite everything else, Shou was really the only person who treated Azula…normally.
She never gave Azula the funny looks she got from others—the ones that seemed to ask 'how did the Princess get here?' Shou didn't treat Azula differently either. In fact Shou, despite being a nurse, talked to Azula like Mai and Ty-lee used to.
Like a friend.
Azula would consider this friendship.
No promises to herself, Shou, Lu-Ming, or anyone.
"Alrighty then." Shou clapped her hands together. "Yu-Lin will be with us after he finishes with Tay-oon." She motioned to the light-haired girl.
At least Azula wouldn't have to keep calling her by her strange hair color now. She chanced a glace over at Lu-Ming. The man was still leaning against the pillar, not doing anything at all. Azula shuddered—just one more reason to hate him. He was just as insane as he thought she was. Or so it would seem, as of that moment…
It only took one look back to figure out why. And one word to explain it.
Xin, Xin, Xin! He was everywhere and Azula was getting tired of it. This time he seemed to be hanging around—literally so—Lu-Ming, and the idiot didn't even notice.
Xin locked his dead eyes on Azula's. "He can't help you."
Trust me, I know. Azula thought.
Xin flashed Azula a wicked grin before disappearing into Lu-Ming's body.