Pairings/Characters: Jet, Zuko, Iroh, Longshot, Smellerbee
Summary: It was looking hopeless when the man in the demonic mask arrived.
Jet’s breathing was light and quick, as if he couldn’t get enough air. “Longshot…Smellerbee….I’m sorry,” he said, the words heavy and thick. “I’m sorry I dragged you guys into this again.”
Smellerbee awkwardly smoothed the hair out of Jet’s eyes. “You don’t have to apologize,” she said, eyes glassy and watery.
Longshot lowered his bow briefly. “She’s right,” he said, staring forward towards the doorway. “You did what you thought was right. We made the choice to follow you.”
Jet closed his eyes and smiled, face tightening. “Just…didn’t think it would end like this.”
“Come, Prince Zuko,” Iroh said as they made there way through the dark, twisted hallways. “We must get out of here before the Dai Li notices us.”
Zuko said nothing but followed him, hands clenching hard on the blue mask he held. Iroh noticed and glanced at him, face showing concern even in the darkness.
“Zuko, you must stand on your own,” he said. “You must realize that you don’t have to hide behind that mask anymore.” He paused and took gently hold of Zuko’s shoulder. “Be proud of who you are and what decisions you make.”
Zuko looked down at the mask he held, brow furrowed. He’s right, he thought. But the idea of leaving the Blue Spirit was frightening. That angered him. He shrugged off Iroh’s hand .
“This isn’t the time to talk about that,” he said, eyes narrowing. “Let’s just get out of here.” Spying a large, stone door, he silently hurried over to it. Putting his hands on the cool rock, Zuko pushed the heavy door open. Almost before he could react, an arrow was shot, hitting the door dangerously close to his face.
Startled, Zuko stumbled back with a cry. “Someone’s in there,” he said, drawing out his broadsword.
Iroh shook his head. “You do not know who it is,” he said. “It may be a prisoner here.”
Zuko paused before slipping the mask on over his face. Stepping to the side of the doorway, he quickly glanced in, withdrawing quickly as another arrow whirled by.
“It’s three people,” he said quietly. “One of them is the boy that attacked me at the teashop.” He paused before adding gruffly, “He looks like he’s badly injured.”
Iroh shook his head. “I had wondered what would happen to him after the Dai Li took him. What will you do, Prince Zuko?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
Zuko sighed deeply. That boy has been too much trouble. “You go ahead,” he said, motioning forward. “I’ll deal with them.” How, he didn’t know but he would think of something.
Iroh smiled and nodded. “Be careful,” he said. “You must let them know that you are a friend.”
Zuko rolled his eyes, though the motion wasn’t seen behind his mask. “Just go,” he said.
Longshot drew another arrow back, back straight as he aimed at the doorway. Longshot stood at Jet‘s side, holding her knife defensively and ignoring her tear-streaked cheeks.
Jet lay on the hard ground, drifting in and out of consciousness. He tried to focus on what was happening but it was hard. I hurt all over. All he wanted to do was go to sleep.
Smellerbee glanced at Zuko before walking up to Longshot’s side. “He’s drifting away,” she said. “If we’re getting out of here, we need to do it now.” She paused, making eye contact with Longshot. “I know. Did you see who’s out there?” Longshot shook his head and Smellerbee frowned.
“If it was the Dai Li, they would be in here already,” she whispered. “It must be someone else.” Before she could say anything else, though, a small rock rolled through the doorway towards them.
Longshot and Smellerbee both tensed, waiting for it to explode, but it did nothing but sit there. Ignoring Longshot’s wordless protest, Smellerbee stepped forward and gingerly picked up the rock. It had something written on it. Smellerbee hissed and held it out to Longshot.
“What does it say?” she asked, angered at her inability to read it. Longshot read it and looked at her, and Smellerbee’s eyes narrowed. “He’s not our enemy, huh?” she said.
Smellerbee looked back at the doorway and gasped. A person stood there, dress in all black with a demonic blue mask on. She’d seen that mask before, on wanted posters. Smellerbee immediately fell back into a defensive stance, brandishing her knife. A hand fell on her shoulder and she looked up at Longshot eyes widening as she realized that he‘d lowered his bow. She looked back at the man, who had his hands raised.
Smellerbee glanced at Longshot, who nodded. “Okay,” she said, looking back at the masked man. “We have to get out of here,” she said, motioning at Jet. “He’s badly hurt.”
The Blue Spirit went to Jet and knelt down beside him, gently putting his hands on his chest and feeling the damage. Jet moaned, flinching away from Zuko’s touch.
“Who…what…,” he muttered, eyes opening briefly. “Longshot, Smellerbee,” he called out weakly and Smellerbee hurried over to him.
“Shh, don’t worry,” she whispered. “This guy’s here to help.” She cut a glare at the Blue Spirit. It was both a warning and a threat. “So, what’s your plan?” she asked.
The man stood and motioned at Longshot. Longshot looked down at himself, puzzled, before stripping off his breastplate. He handed it to the man, who knelt beside Jet. Longshot blinked and stooped down too, lifting Jet as gently as possible.
Jet groaned, the sound pitiful. The Blue Spirit tied the breastplate around his chest in a makeshift split.
Smellerbee raised her eyebrows. “That’s a nice trick,” she said. “But how’re we going to get him out of here?”
The man motioned at Longshot and they shared a long stare before Longshot nodded. They stood, one at Jet’s head and the other at his feet. They lifted Jet up carefully, attempting not to jar him as they did so.
Smellerbee nodded. “I’ll lead the way,” she said, running to the door and peaking out to see if the coast was clear. It was and she motioned to them.
“C’mon,” she said. “This way.”
The four of them quickly ran through the dark, winding tunnels of Lake Laogai. They didn’t happen upon anyone; Dai Li or other prisoners.
“They must all be busy chasing Aang,” Smellerbee said, thinking back on the Avatar’s group.
The Blue Spirit paused, causing Longshot to stumble as he struggled to keep hold of Jet. Smellerbee looked back at the man and, while she couldn’t really tell because of his mask, he seemed troubled.
“Don’t worry about them,” she said. “They’ll be fine. I mean, they have the Avatar. C’mon, let’s go!” The man jerked, as if he was startled, and nodded.
When they made it the surface, the masked man and Longshot laid Jet down. Smellerbee breathed in the air, relieved to be out from underground, and sat beside Jet.
“We made it,” she whispered. “We’re out of there, Jet. Everything will be okay; you’ll see.” She glanced at Longshot before looking over at the man.
He stared down at them for a moment before turning, obviously intent on leaving.
“Wait,” Smellerbee said. “Who are you.” She knew he probably wouldn’t tell, that it would always be a mystery to her.
The man paused, shoulders tightening with that question. He shook his head and continued walking, throwing his answer out over his shoulder in a low, gravelly voice.