It seems so wrong, for the sky to be so clear and the stars so clear on a night like this. A night that is a mere prelude for the day to come.
Piandao holds his pipe to his lips and breathes in the fragrant smoke, pleased that his lungs don’t instantly reject the tobacco. It’s been years since he last touched his pipe, but the familiarity is welcome, and if there’s a night that calls for reflection, tonight would be it. The woody fragrance surrounds him, the grey smoke coiling up toward the sky and mingling with the specks of starlight.
It really is a nice night.
Footsteps across the rocky ground disturb Piandao’s moment of contemplative solitude. He opens his eyes, stretches his senses, recognizes the determined, even gait. He lowers the pipe from his lips, addressing the newcomer.
“Even you are restless tonight, Jeong Jeong,” Piandao comments, inclining his head. “Or is it old age finally creeping up on us?”
The firebender comes to a stop alongside Piandao, and lowers himself to the rocky ground with a light grunt. Despite the mere inches of space between them, Piandao can feel the heat that Jeong Jeong radiates; there are benefits to being a firebender after all.
“Aren’t you going to share?”
Without hesitation, Piandao hands over the well-crafted pipe. Jeong Jeong accepts it with a harrumph of appreciation, creating his own fire to light the strong tobacco.
“I thought you quit,” he says, after a moment, releasing a mouthful of silver smoke.
Piandao’s lips curl into an amused smirk. “And I thought you hated the smell.”
Amusement alights in gold eyes, though to anyone else, it might be seen as contempt. Piandao, however, knows Jeong Jeong, the firebender’s moods and his temperament. He knows that gleam for what it truly is.
“Not always,” Jeong Jeong says, and indulges in one more pull of the sweet tobacco before handing the pipe back to Piandao.
There’s little tobacco left by now, but Piandao doesn’t mind. Nostalgia is creeping up and over him again, like a cloud of smoke drifting around his head. Jeong Jeong is still very warm, just like old times, and they both stare at a starry sky during a night that is an overture to the battle to come.
“It’s a nice night,” Piandao murmurs, leaning subtly to the side, barely moving an inch. Yet the edges of his White Lotus uniform brush against the edges of Jeong Jeong’s.
The firebender leans just a little himself, little more than an inch as well, but it’s enough for the heat he radiates to extend to Piandao as well. “Hmm. So it is.”