attackfish: Jet and Zuko fighting in the teashop, text "Obviously this is the place to come if you want to get murdered by lunatics" (Jet Juko TDL quote)
[personal profile] attackfish
Written for the tumblr meme prompt, Mai, Steampunk.

Queen of Gears and Sorrow

Ty Lee cocked her head and looked at her sideways. Mai wondered if that made it easier or harder for Ty Lee to orient herself when looking at something, given that she was currently hanging upside down from a very ugly, very heavily reinforced iron chandelier. “What’s wrong?”

Even more disconcerting than hanging from assorted bits of architecture was Ty Lee’s gift for always knowing what Mai was feeling. In fact, Mai was tempted to go so far as to say it was the most disconcerting thing of all about Ty Lee, though it had remarkably stiff competition. Anyway, it meant there was no real point in denying it. “Some academy kid told me to tell my designer she’s amazed how realistic I am. Again.”

“That’s probably just because of where they saw you leaving from.” With a swing and a leap, Ty Lee descended to the floor, her feet alighting on the tile with flawless grace. “Don’t worry about it.”

That’s what Mai had told herself last time. They had probably seen her leaving her ancestral home, for a given value of ancestral, since families that had won their land in the conquest two generations back, and had only gained a title one generation ago, didn’t have ancestral anything no matter how grand. They had seen her leaving her ancestral home and now the home of the greatest clockwork inventor in the world. Yes, that was probably it, except: “I was leaving the tea shop.”

“Oh,” Ty Lee hummed, sympathetically. “Well if it helps, I’m pretty sure you’re real.” She wrapped her arms around Mai. “You feel real.” She squeezed. “Yep, I can feel your ribs.”

Mai squirmed. “You can feel my ribs crack.”

“Don’t be silly Mai,” Ty Lee chirped. “I’m not hugging you nearly hard enough to crack any bone in your body, including your ribs.”

Mai was pretty sure Ty Lee could tell her exactly how many pounds of pressure per square inch she was exerting, too. The six identical copies of Ty Lee in storage downstairs probably could too, and Mai had a sudden horrible vision of all of them hugging her.

Letting go, Ty Lee stepped back. “They’re idiots. You look perfectly human to me.”

“Thanks, Ty Lee.” She almost managed to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. Maybe next time she would succeed.

Ty Lee smiled as if she hadn’t noticed. “Like I said, don’t worry about it. Now, can you wind me up? I’m kind of at the end of my rope.”

Mai nodded as Ty Lee came forward and lifted up her braid. Deftly, Mai unbuttoned the little flap on Ty Lee’s jacket and pressed the key into the warm, living skin between her shoulder blades and turned. A shudder ran through Ty Lee’s body, her limbs curling tight into her body as if she really were made of the gears and springs she so skillfully manipulated. Her head bowed, and her braid flicked Mai’s arm, and when Mai was done, Ty Lee waited for her to button up her jacket flap before planting a quick peck on Mai’s cheek and darting away down toward her favorite workshop. Ty Lee was the greatest clockwork inventor in the world, and if she needed to pretend she was one of her own inventions sometimes, who was Mai to argue?
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attackfish: Yshre girl wearing a kippah, text "Attackfish" (Default)
attackfish

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