Chapter Twenty-Nine:

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Ruka (1)

"We're here."

We were still in the forest with giant trees on either side of us. Nothing 'hideout material' was around.

"Where? There's nothing here." Sokka said. Jet grabbed a rope that was hanging and handed it to Sokka. "Hold this."

Sokka grabbed onto it, "Why? What's this do?"

Not even a second later, the rope tightened around Sokka's wrist and lifted him up into the air and passed the tree. When I couldn't see him anymore, I grew concerned.

"Sokka!" I looked to Jet with my eyebrows furrowed, "Where did my brother go?!"

"Relax." Jet chuckled, "Here."

He handed me a rope and I looked at it with distaste.

Jet shrugged, "Fine. Aang?"

"I'll get up on my own." Aang smiled before him and Momo flew up and jumped from branch to branch.

Jet grabbed onto the rope and extended his hand. "Grab hold of me Katara."

Katara did as he said and he spun her around into his arm. Katara's cheeks flushed a rosy pink and they were lifted slowly into the air. I rolled my eyes and looked away.

"Here." I turned my head and Smellerbee was extending her hand out. "Since you're chicken."

"I'm not chicken!" I crossed my arms. I yanked it from her hand, "See. Not CHICKENNN!"

I was quickly lifted up and when I got passed a square platform, I let go and Sokka caught me. Sokka nudged his head to follow Jet and everyone else.

"Why does the Fire Nation want to find you?" Katara asked Jet. We were walking across a bridge that lead to another tree across from it.

"I guess you could say I've been causing them a little trouble. See, they took over a nearby Earth Kingdom town a few years back." Jet replied.

"We've been ambushing their troops, cutting off their supply lines, and doing anything we can to mess with them." Pipsqueak added.

"One day, we'll drive the Fire Nation out of here for good and free that town."

"That's so brave." I heard Katara say in a light, soft voice. I looked to Sokka and joked as if I was gagging. Sokka and I couldn't see anything because we were behind Pipsqueak. He grabbed my hand and lead us to the front with our sister and Jet.

"Yeah, nothing's braver than a guy in a treehouse." Sokka said sarcastically when he moved to the middle to get closer to them.

"Don't pay any attention to my brother." Katara glared at Sokka from the corner of her eyes.

"No problem, he probably had a rough day."

Sokka gave a hard stare before moving away from them and continuing to walk by my side.

"So, you all live here?"

"That's right. Longshot over there, his town got burned down by the Fire Nation. And we found The Duke trying to steal our food. I don't think he ever really had a home."

"What about you?"

Jet and Katara stopped in their tracks but the rest of the group continued on. I stayed put too, but I wasn't as close to them anymore. Just close enough to where I could hear them.

"Fire Nation killed my parents. I was only eight years old. That day changed me forever."

Katara looked down sadly, "Sokka and Ruka and I... we lost our mother to the Fire Nation."

"I'm so sorry Katara."

I looked to them with no emotion before I turned around and continued to walk down the bridge.

I hung out with Sokka the majority of the day. Katara was always with Jet and the freedom fighters were doing their own thing. And as for Aang, I have no idea what he was doing.

"We shouldn't stay here long." I told Sokka. We were sitting on a branch of one of the trees alone.

"We shouldn't stay here at all." Sokka shook his head. "We were leaving for a reason. You heard what Jet said, there's Fire Nation troops in a town who knows how close from here. We can't risk anything."

I nodded quickly, "I completely agree."

After a few seconds of silence between us, Sokka cleared his throat. "So um, when you were with Zuko..."

I raised my brow and turned my head fully to him.

"He didn't hurt you, did he?"

I looked down to the floor in thought. "Did he? No. But did he try or wanted to? Yes."

Sokka nodded slowly. "Okay. Good."

"I did miss you dearly. There wasn't a time where I rather would've been with them than with you five. But, it wasn't so bad. Zuko would've kept me in a cell, but because of Iroh, his uncle, he let me stay out of one and have my own room and so on. Zuko got used to it so even when he wanted to put me in one, he didn't."

For a brief minute, I was wondering what Zuko and Iroh were doing right now. Was Iroh playing some pai sho? How many tantrums has Zuko had since I left?

"Do you remember the day where Aang met Avatar Roku?" Sokka brought me out of my thoughts.

I shook my head. "Not really. All I remember was seeing Aang and then waking up in my room on Zuko's ship."

"He knocked you out."

I widened my eyes, "What?! No way!"

Sokka nodded, "You were chained up next to us and he was too but against a separate pillar. Long story to why. I don't feel like explaining but Roku's spirit helped protect Aang but at the same time, was going to destroy the temple. So we were going to wait for Aang until he got out. I guess Zuko took you out of the temple with him when Katara and I weren't looking."

"Wh-why would Zuko do that? He doesn't give a damn about me."

Sokka shrugged. Before I could get into deep thought, Aang jumped down out of nowhere. This scared me so when I slightly jumped, I almost fell back but Aang caught me in time by grabbing my arms and pulling me forward.

He chuckled, "Sorry Ruka. Come down guys, Jet's making a toast."

Sokka and I looked to each other sighing then made my our way carefully off the branch and crawled down the trunk.

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