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Plot Update 10 March 2021

A year has passed since Fire Lord Zuko ascended the throne, and it seems like trouble is brewing between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom once more. The Fire Lord and the Avatar began the Harmony Restoration Movement to restore the Fire Nation Colonies to their pre-war state by bringing any Fire Nation nationals back home, but for many of the citizens — of mixed Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom … Read more ›

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And reach out for her healing hands [OPEN]

Post by Kioko on Aug 18, 2020 14:57:33 GMT -6

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"Here you go," she murmured, handing a wailing bundle to an exhausted, but triumphant-looking woman propped up against the white-painted headboard. She offered a smile as she tucked the blankets in a little neater around the new mother. She exited the birthing room quietly, making her way past the other two beds (currently empty) and into the sitting room of the clinic. A bedraggled looking man sat in a plush chair, his head in his hands and looking as if he hadn't slept in a week.

She cleared her throat; he looked up, his eyes wide and questioning.

Kioko smiled at him.

"Mother and baby are both healthy," she reassured him before he could speak. "You can see them now, but she'll need rest and quiet. They'll have to stay here for a few more days to build up their strength."

As the man went to be with his wife and newborn, Kioko sat at the little writing desk she had purchased and began write in a little notebook about the delivery. It had been fairly standard, with no complications. The woman was at full term, and the child was at a healthy weight despite the family's circumstances are refugees in the lower ring. 

When she finished, she put the book away on a shelf filled with identical books of other cases. It had only been a few years since she had started her clinic in the lower ring, but she had already developed a reputation for seeing any patient, regardless of ailment, and regardless of financial status.

She was just about to open up her boxed lunch when the little bell above the clinic door rank; hastily, she re-wrapped the boxes in their cloth and placed the lot back on the floor. With a smile, she greeted the newcomer.

"Welcome, how can I help you today?"
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Sept 15, 2020 2:37:52 GMT -6

Post by Deleted on Sept 15, 2020 2:37:52 GMT -6

He entered the clinic rather abruptly, opening the door in a hasty manner. He was wearing his patented green hooded top, the one that he'd recently acquired some time the past month or so. His breathing was slightly heavy, as if he ran a marathon just to get here. However, he kept a stoic expression on his face, seemingly calm despite his aggressive entrance. He further presents himself by placing his hands onto his hips as he catches his breath.

Fortunately for him, the first person he sees is his greeter. He knew exactly who she was at first glance. He took a deep breath as he closed the door from behind him and pulled down his hood. As he does, he reveals his unruly black hair and clears up his facial features. His skin seemed darker than it actually is, likely from the dirt he lives in around the Lower Ring. He then barely cracks a smile, almost as if he's trying to hide his excitement to see her. Though, it was passable enough to be considered a smirk. He responds.

"Aww c'mon. You know meeee." His voice was on the lower side, though slightly breathy given his current state.

He stood with most of his weight on his left leg, keeping his right leg from making too hard of steps. With how concealing his clothing is, it'd be rather tough to tell exactly what his current condition is. Though, with the trained eye, one would immediately know based on his posture that he is experiencing some sort of pain in the right thigh.
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Last edit by Deleted: Sept 15, 2020 10:41:03 GMT -6

Post by Kioko on Sept 16, 2020 16:59:27 GMT -6

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Kioko blinked as a young man entered the clinic, favouring his right leg. He was dirty, though such a thing was not at all uncommon amongst her patients. What was uncommon, however, was the little bell of familiarity that rang through her bones.

He pulled his hood down, and Kioko narrowed her eyes, trying to place his face. It seemed familiar, yet bits and pieces were just a little... wrong. Bigger, or not quite where she remembered them. When a wheedling voice, low and a little breathy, insisted that she knew him, the pieces of the puzzle slipped into place.

"Luong Ren?" she asked incredulously, the urgency of his medical condition momentarily forgotten. "What are you doing here? Where have you been?"

The Luong family had disappeared from Ba Sing Se years ago; they had been patients of hers, and their son, Ren, wormed his way past her usual professional distance and into her heart. She had looked for him, as well as his mother and sister, when he didn't show up at the clinic for an entire week. But their home was empty, and no one had seen hide nor hair of any of them. Kioko thought that they had moved; she had been baffled at the time as to why little Ren hadn't told her about any plans to leave the city, but she couldn't afford to dwell on it too much.

His ragged breathing drew her back into the present. She closed her mouth and ushered him quickly into a nearby cushioned seat; it had no back, so she guided him to a seated position and with a gentle push of his shoulder wordlessly instructed him to lean back.

Gingerly, she took hold of his right ankle and stretched out his leg and examined him for any overt signs of lacerations or broken bones.

"Tell me what happened to your leg."
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Sept 21, 2020 0:58:48 GMT -6

Post by Deleted on Sept 21, 2020 0:58:48 GMT -6

Ren allowed Kioko to usher him towards the cushioned seat, feeling less pain as he limped. He felt a sharp pain as he sat, feeling as if his thigh muscles were about to tear. Ren slightly winced as he went through the sitting process. As non-verbally instructed, Ren leaned back just enough to stay balanced on the chair. His breathing was calmer now that he's in a rested sort of position.

Ren loosened up his leg for Kioko to examine. It appears that no blood has bled through his ragged pants. However, there was a gaping hole that revealed a black and blue bruise surrounding his thigh. From his struggle to get to the seat, it would seem likely that his wound is a bone bruise.

Now that he's in a safer location, he stares at his wound. As he does, he replayed the events that took place prior in his head. He seemed deep in thought for the remaining minute of Kioko examining his leg until he hears her ask a question. He looks up from his wound to face her, quickly examining her expression. He felt a small jolt of nostalgia, seeing someone who was so familiar to him in such a setting. Despite this, he explains his case in his usual attitude. With a slight smile, diverting his eyes elsewhere he responds.

"Well... I overheard one guy and his bud talk some talk in the tavern. One of them mentioned some pretty suggestive stuff about the lady in the clinic. Don't think I took that personally though, but they seemed fun and easy to hustle." The last part of his response seemed like something one would say to pretend they don't care about someone.

"Of course that didn't go down too well. Both of the guys were earthbenders and all I got were rock dice. The rest is stuff you probably would've already guessed. I lose, I cash in, cash out, they find out, they chase me." Ren glanced towards Kioko with his eyes widened in excitement. "Those guys were tough tho. Looking straight out of underground rings."

He glanced back down at his thigh, knowing that he hasn't even given the direct cause of his wound. "They didn't know their way around these parts though, so it was pretty easy to hide from plain sight. Problem was one of them started sending rock spikes from off the ground and one of them jabbed my thigh on my way sneaking out of range."

He looks back up from his thigh, diverting his attention directly back to Kioko.

"Enough about me though, what's happening with you?"
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Last edit by Deleted: Sept 21, 2020 0:59:21 GMT -6

Post by Kioko on Sept 21, 2020 19:39:25 GMT -6

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Kioko made a small tsk sound as she sucked air between her teeth at the sight of the bruise spreading on Ren's thigh. She listened to his tale quietly, and couldn't help the exasperated grin that tugged at the corner of her mouth.

"Really, sweetie," she said, using a term of endearment she used on all of her patients, regardless of age. "What an absolutely silly thing to do. But I can only assume they were referring to me with those remarks, and I appreciate the intent of what you did even if I think you're a ninny for doing so."

She stood and made her way to a nearby barrel; the barrel was made of clear glass and filled with water. She lifted the lid, then pulled out a small stream and covered her hands with it. She mad her way back to Ren and placed her hands over his bruise. The water, ice cold the moment she touched it, covered the injury. The bruise became lighter and lighter, until after a few minutes, it disappeared from his skin all together.

Kioko nodded to herself in satisfaction before standing again.

"It'll be a little sore and stiff still," she informed him as she made her way to a basin she kept on a stand near the back of the room. She made it a policy never to reuse water she used for healing one patient on another; the dangers of cross-contaminating infectious wounds was too high, and so she made a habit to never risk it.

Once the water was off her hands, she dried them on a nearby towel and turned her attention back to Ren.

"What do you mean, enough about you?" Kioko put her hands on her hips. "You've been gone for years, young man. Then you walk in here, cool as you please, and ask me what's new? Of all the ridiculous..."

She crossed the room as she spoke, then sat back down at her desk. She pulled her lunch back up and began unwrapping it again. She had packed some rice, some tamagoyaki, and a good helping of sliced meats, and after that delivery she was quite, quite hungry.

"There hasn't been much change here, Ren. Babies born, old people dying, and more refugees with each passing day than you can shake a stick at. The clinic has been well stocked, and aside from a handful of incidents where some other desperate folks sought to make some quick and easy coins, nothing of note has particularly happened—except, of course, today, when someone I had given up on ever seeing again walks into my clinic."

She gave him a pointed look.

"Don't think you can slide out of an explanation so easily, sweetie."
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Sept 22, 2020 20:57:30 GMT -6

Post by Deleted on Sept 22, 2020 20:57:30 GMT -6

Ren listened quietly to Kioko's response to his tale. As she made her way to the barrel, Ren cracked a smile and shook his head in reaction to her remark about his actions. He looked back towards Kioko and the barrel. He took a good look at her waterbending, examining her movement in relation to the water's.

Living in Ba Sing Se his whole life, Ren learned that hardly anything outside of the Earth Kingdom ever reaches Ba Sing Se. Watching someone who could bend an element aside from earth was something that was bewildering to him in his younger years. Every visit he's made to the clinic was a reminder that there are places outside of Ba Sing Se that exist. Every instance he sees Kioko is a reminder that there are people who aren't a bunch of thugs and nobles in the world.

Ren saw Kioko walk back to him with the water that covered her hands. He watched as her hands hovered over the bruise. The water felt ice cold as it came into contact with his bruise. He felt the sensation spread across his skin, turning from a cold sting to a cooling touch. He kept himself seated in the same position to limit his own movement, yet felt much more relaxed with the water in contact with his thigh.

After Kioko was done, Ren indeed felt a bit stiff and sore as she said. However, he felt better enough to start bending his knee in and out. He examined the condition of his leg for a moment, seeing that the bruise was completely gone. When Kioko walked back towards him, he turned his attention back to Kioko to hear what she had to say. In response, he smirked and laughed softly with a small huff of air.

Ren turned himself around on the chair to face Kioko's desk. He watched Kioko pull out the box of food as she explained the current state of the clinic and her profession. His attention already seemed divided between Kioko and her food. The moment Kioko gave him the look, he stared down at her food and paused for a moment before answering. His tone grew quiet but audible enough to be heard across the room.

"Yea.. Sorry about that. I'm getting older now Kioko. I've gotten busier these past few years."

He says this with a faint smile as he stared at her food. He diverts his eyes back up to Kioko, giving her a smug look on his face.

"Especially with so many refugees suddenly coming to this dump. Too bad the Earth King wastes all his resources on the captains of the ferries coming in. Even got this new hood. You like it?"
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Post by Kioko on Sept 26, 2020 0:50:40 GMT -6

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Wordlessly, Kioko nudged her lunch container closer to Ren; an open invitation to partake.

"Busier, is it?" she echoed, her perfectly shaped eyebrow arched in skepticism.

But she didn't push it. She hoped Ren would tell her when he was ready, what he'd been doing for the past six years. Maybe his family just moved and he came back to Ba Sing Se now that he was older. Or so, she wanted to believe; but it didn't sit right with her, considering the manner he just spoke of the city and the Earth King.

"I don't know what the Earth King does or does not spend money on," she replied, "but be careful who you tell these thoughts to. A refugee speaking treason about his King may not go over well with certain groups."

She took a bite of egg and a little bit of rice. Around her mouthful, she asked.

"So how long have you been back in town? How's your family? Your sister must be so big now."
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Sept 29, 2020 0:37:25 GMT -6

Post by Deleted on Sept 29, 2020 0:37:25 GMT -6

Ren gradually found the the strength to stand up again, feeling a slight stiffness of his thigh. He raised his arms up high above him as to stretch himself. As he did, he paced towards the desk with the food container. He quickly took a hard boiled egg from out the container and turned himself to lean against the wall besides Kioko.

"I'm living by myself now." he replied with a long pause in between. "My mom mentioned once that she landed a job in the Upper Ring. Ever since then, poof, gone. She was never to be seen again." He stared at the ground with the same faint smile, seeming as if he was lost in thought. Whenever the thought of his family came to mind, he would present himself this way. The whole subject did after all change his life. 

Ren had nothing to say about his sister. They've never had a close enough relationship for him to ever even pay attention to her antics. He would occasionally complain about his sister to Kioko in his younger days mostly about petty sibling fights. The thought about those days made his heart sink a slight bit. "I've never left the city ever. I've had a couple leads about both of them being in the city, so I won't be leaving Ba Sing Se until I find them."

Ren plopped the whole egg into his mouth, chewed and swallowed in about under half a minute before turning his head to face Kioko. He had on a wider, more genuine smile now. He seemed happier. "It's been a long time since anyone's asked me about my family." he replied, "The most conversation I've gotten since were guards yelling 'Halt!' or 'Stop him before he gets away! Y'know, stuff like that."

Ren crossed his arms and looked away from Kioko, examining the room and its decor. He sighed deeply, inhaling a familiar scent that is the clinic. Just being in the clinic already put him through a particular mood. He almost felt as if it was his first time 'home' in a long time, even though it wasn't his family's house. He felt that he finally has a chance to open up, even if it was just a little bit.

"Most of the folk who grew up here in the Lower Ring like myself don't exactly praise our King." He subtly reaches out for another egg from the container as he speaks. "It's tough to see my neighbors and refugees walk around with nothing. Or better yet, get beat and imprisoned for speaking out." He consumes the egg in the same manner as earlier. "I'll be careful though. I just trust you enough to speak my mind, that's all."

He started to wander around the current room, opening up some cupboards, barrels, and doors out of curiosity. He would glance over to Kioko once in a while to see if she was watching him.
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Post by Kioko on Oct 2, 2020 18:55:22 GMT -6

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The piece of omelet she'd picked up dropped from her chopsticks as she started at Ren, slack-jawed. He was talking as he ate, but nothing else was registering in her brain except the news he so casually dropped as if it were of no consequence.

"What do you mean your mother disappeared?" she demanded, setting her chopsticks down with a light clatter. "Ren, are you telling me you've been alone—"

She broke off when the young man — Kioko couldn't get over how old he'd gotten, how much of an adult he was now compared to the little kid frozen in her memory — stood up and began rummaging through the clinic's cupboards and drawers. She watched him, saying nothing. If he wanted, or needed, to resell her inventory, he was welcome to do so and he knew it. That was, after all, how they had met.

With a sigh, Kioko pushed away her lunch. She'd lost her appetite, despite being ravenous from the hours-long delivery... the delivery! Hastily, she stood and made her way to the back room, slipping past Ren with a light touch to his back. She popped open the door and stuck her head in; the mother was fast asleep, and the new father was cradling his infant child as if holding the most precious of cargo... which, of course, he was. She smiled at him, and stepped into the room.

"So sorry to intrude," she said brightly, a wide smile on her face. She plucked the baby carefully from the father's arms. "Mother and baby need some time to recover. Would you mind coming back during visiting hours tomorrow?"

The exhausted father nodded and shuffled past Ren and out of the clinic without another word.

Kioko quickly changed the baby's diapers, wrapped them up in a little swaddling cloth, and set them in a wooden bassinet next to their mother's bed. The baby would be awake in a few hours and clamoring for food. She had to figure out what to do with Ren before then.

Once the baby as settled, she stepped out of the room and shut the door firmly behind her.

"Ren, do you have a place to stay?"
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Oct 17, 2020 22:22:00 GMT -6

Post by Deleted on Oct 17, 2020 22:22:00 GMT -6

Ren continued rummaging through the whole room. He hears Kioko's response about his situation, only putting him lost in thought as he paced around the room. The topic about his mother's disappearance was something he hasn't spoken of in years. He thought about the first few days of living without his mother, remembering each day that broke down his hope of ever seeing her again.

He snaps out of his thoughts as he sees Kioko pop up from her desk. He feels the light touch to his back as she made her way to the next room. In the meantime, he snuck a single serum bottle in his hood cape. He clears out whatever mess he made from his search, making sure the room looked as it was when he came in.

He glances towards the delivery room door and watches an exhausted looking man walk right out of it. With a quick glance he took note of his bedraggled features, paying close attention to his clothes. He noticed the style as something foreign to the typical poor man from Ba Sing Se. He takes a step back, allowing the man to pass while giving him a cold stare.

He glances back towards the door, getting a peek of the bundle of cloth set next to a bed. Once Kioko closed the door from behind he looked back up towards her with a smile.

"I should be fine for the night. After that whole tavern thing I have enough for both an inn room and a nice meal."

He crosses his arms, keeping his hood tight around his body as he kept a happy demeanor towards Kioko. He sighed, glancing towards the door behind Kioko and back to her.

"How'd that delivery go?"
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Post by Kioko on Nov 22, 2020 13:40:35 GMT -6

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"All right," Kioko replied, deciding not to pursue the topic.

Her parents wouldn't be particularly pleased if she invited the young man to their house; it wasn't so much that her parents were unkind, just rather old fashioned. Ren was much younger than her, but still an adult. Having an unmarried woman of a particular age bringing home a much younger man to her family would make the neighbours talk, and rumours swirl. Especially if, despite everyone knowing of her work in the Lower Ring, the young man was very visibly not a Middle Ring resident.

In response to Ren's next question, Kioko offered him a tired, but genuine smile.

"The delivery was fine, no complications." She settled back into her desk chair and started eating what was left of her lunch. "Of course, it would have been a lot better if she could have stayed home for the delivery, but the tenements they're living in are just..."

Kioko pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration and sighed. 

"It was very dirty, as I'm sure you can imagine. No running water, pests scuttling in the walls and floor boards, a shared living area for multiple families... there's hardly place to lie down, much less have some privacy while giving birth."

She spoke frankly, unfettered by the normal societal conventions surrounding the topic. Kioko saw no reason to mince words or to use pleasantries when speaking about the facts of life.

"I'm keeping her here for a few days so she and baby can get acquainted away from the noise of their tenement, and have a clean environment for at least a few days while she gets used to having the baby around. I'll teach her how to feed, change, and bathe baby while she's here — though your guess is as good as mine whether or not she'll be able to keep it up once they go back."

Kioko sighed again, then studied Ren with a tilt of her head.

"I don't suppose you're interested in a part time job, are you?"
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