“Your palace is always a bit like a zoo,” Ty Lee muttered as they sat at the edge of the training courtyard months after the defeat of Ozai.
“A zoo?” he asked, wondering what she meant.
“Seriously,” she said eagerly, pointing out the various members of their group. “Look – there’s Katara – she’s definitely like a platypus-bear. One with an egg. And Aang is the egg. See how protective she is of him?” Zuko found himself laughing against his will.
“And Toph?” he demanded, wanting to know what she’d say about her best friend.
“Oh, come on, Sparky! Don’t you see it? She’s a badger-mole! Big, bad, and a real softy at heart!”
He schooled his face into a stoic mask, denying the laughter to burst through. “Mai and Suki?”
“Easy,” she muttered as the two in question walked past. “Suki is a badger-toad – always talking when you don’t expect it and never saying what you want to hear. And Mai is a flying lemur – chattering on incessantly about things no one cares about but her.”
He was going to choke to death if he didn’t release his laughter soon. “Okay, I’ll take the bait – what is Sokka?”
She smiled, clearly having waited for this one. “Sokka is a class of animal all to himself. He belongs in a zoo.”
“Hey, Zuko!” the boy in question called, running over to them. “Did I ever tell you about Foo-Foo-Cuddly-Poops?”
Zuko knew his jaw was on the ground and he was vaguely aware of Ty Lee’s hysterical giggles next to him, but all he could think to say was not in response to Sokka’s question. Well, at least not directly.
“A zoo?” he hissed under his breath at her. “My palace is a madhouse.”
“I know,” she whispered as Sokka stared at them. “I’m the one who runs it.” As he looked into her brilliant gray eyes, he suddenly realized that he believed that.