Zuko arrived at 5 that afternoon. This left plenty of time for Chan to talk Azula's ears off about all the wild parties he'd thrown and how muscular he was. The boy even managed to bring Ta-Yoon over to Azula's table. Azula had no intention of sitting with Ta-Yoon or Chan for that matter.
This time Azula and Zuko would be having their chat in Lu-Ming's office. She was hopping to have it by the pond…not with Lu-Ming.
Shou lead her into the room. "Have a seat, you know the drill."
Azula nodded and made herself comfy, or as comfy as she could get in this room. No matter what she did, she'd always feel a twinge of unease when in this room.
Zuko was the next enter the room. No Aang.
"Well what did he say?" Azula asked.
"He said he'd help you." Zuko answered. "I just have to get you out of here. That's why we're here."
Azula nodded. Frankly she couldn't wait to tell Lu-Ming off as she and Zuko walked out the door. And she would never be coming back here again.
"Have you talked to mom lately?" Zuko asked.
"I haven't seen her." Azula answered. She rested her chin in her palm. "Not since you left yesterday."
Lu-Ming slipped through the door. "To what do I owe the pleasure, Fire Lord Zuko?"
"I'm here to take my sister home."
Lu-Ming shook his head. "I don't think that's in your best interest. Or hers for that matter."
"I'll decide what's in my best interest." Zuko replied.
"I don't know what your sister has told you. But she hasn't even improved slightly. If anything, her delusions only worsened."
Azula slapped her hand on his desk. "Actually, I've shared a…nice" the word felt wrong rolling off her tongue, "lunch with the peasants." She paused. "In fact, Shou over there seems to think we have a…what was that you said?"
"Beautiful friendship?" Shou filled in.
"Yes, but I have observed no improvements where hallucinations are involved. As far as I've heard you still stay up at night waiting for 'them' to come get you. And you still haven't told me anything about your mother."
"Her name was Ursa. She had black hair. She married to my dad. She liked feeding turtleducks with Zu-zu. Anything else you want to know?"
"Yes. I want to know about your relationship with her."
"Okay, look, I'm just going to take Azula and leave. She's fine. If she gives me any trouble I'll bring her back her." Zuko tried.
"Permission. Denied." Lu-Ming answered firmly.
Azula's face flushed red with anger. And then she said something she never thought she would ever say; "You see Lu, you don't have a choice. Zu-zu is the Fire Lord, you are a peasant. Why don't you be a good peasant and listen to my dear brother?"
"In areas where your concerned…in matters of what happens in this asylum, your brother has no say. In case you don't recall, this asylum is located on an island near the Fire Nation. It is not a part of it. You nor your brother have no control over it and what happens in it. You are staying here."
Azula clenched her teeth, balled her fists, and gave a slight snarl.
"It's okay Azula. I'll take care of this."
"No you won't." Azula muttered "You'll get tired of fighting him and give up. Because with me gone…"
"Azula! Trust me."
She opened her mouth with every intention of vocalizing her refusal, but the words that came out were more or less "alright Zu-zu."
"See, she's doing much better." Zuko tried.
Lu-Ming chuckled. "A wonderful act. But really, your sister outta stay with us."
Azula could see Zuko growing visibly frustrated. She could only imagine that she looked the same. Or worse. But who, in their position, wouldn't be?
"She is staying with us, Fire Lord. And that is final."
"You don't understand! I have to leave or I will probably die in some sense or another." Azula outburst.
"See there's that crazy talk, she thinks she's in danger when there is clearly nothing to fear." Lu-Ming leaned closer to Azula. She could feel the darkness ebbing off of him. An aura that wasn't quite his own. Something wasn't right. "She needs to stay here. With us. With me." He grabbed Azula's wrist, his nails digging into her skin, re-opening the previous cuts.
Azula cried out. He dug his nails in deeper and flashed her a wicked sharp-toothed smile. Without a moments more hesitation, Azula wrapped her own hand around his wrist and let the fire flow from her hand.
The man drew back immediately and landed as slap on her cheek.
"Azula!" The cry came from both Shou and Zuko.
"Stay back!" Azula demanded. "All three of you, get away from me!" She paused and looked at Lu-Ming. "Epically you. You need to stay at least ten feet away from me at all times."
"Or what, Princess?" Lu-Ming hissed.
"Or we'll see what happens when I let daddy out of prison." Azula shrugged.
Lu-Ming laughed and lunged in for a second slap. Azula grabbed his hand and sent an array of her trademark blue fire in his direction.
"Azula what are you doing?!" Zuko yelled.
"He slapped me first!" Azula shouted. "And it's not Lu-Ming. Not the real Lu anyways."
"What's going on?" Shou shouted. "What do you mean, 'not the real Lu'?"
"Just…just follow me. We have to go. Now!" Azula grabbed Shou by the wrist and tugged her through the door. She could only hope that Zu-zu got the hint and was following behind.
"Azula wait!" He called.
"No time." Azula shouted back.
"Azula this is crazy!"
"Apparently I'm crazy, so I guess it's all okay."
"I still don't understand." Shou wailed.
"I'll make this really simple." Azula replied. "I'm breaking out of here."
"Sweet! Can I come?" Chan hollered. "Ta-Yoon too." He didn't wait for an answer, he never actually intended to, he and Ta-Yoon simply began running alongside Azula.
"Guards! After them!" Lu-Ming screamed. "Capture the Fire Lord, capture the nurse, capture the patients, and above all—capture the Princess!"
"Azula, just how do you plan on getting us through those locked doors?" Zuko asked.
Azula felt a familiar chill. "Xin."
"What?" Zuko called.
"Xin. Xin will get us through." Azula shouted. That damned ghost boy better be listening. If he wasn't, he'd be dead twice over.