Protect You, Hold You (Part 1)
(Jeongdao Week Prompt: "I can't protect you without holding a sword. I can't embrace you while holding a sword.")

Damn it. Piandao's thoughts were racing, pulse quickening as he raced towards his unconscious companion. His sword still drawn, heart thudding heavily against his chest, he took a defensive stance beside his fallen comrade. The raiders who had attacked them were still close, hiding in the trees surrounding them. They had been careless to not notice the trap they were walking into.

"Jeong Jeong!" His voice came out in a sharp hiss; no response. Of course. The fire bender had taken a serious blow to the chest from an earth bending attack. They should have been more careful, should have noticed that those 'bird songs' had sounded a bit off, a bit predatory. And now Jeong Jeong... He didn't know what condition the other man was in; if h set his weapon down to check, he wouldn't be able to defend either of them.

Piandao's eyes narrowed, focus being drawn to the left by a rustle in the bushes. A distraction technique" Possibly. A twig snapped behind him; a low rumble of earth to his right. Shit. The bandit sprung up from the ground almost before the swordsman had a chance to respond. He had to be quick, had to out-maneuver the scrawny earth bender. He sprung forward, turning his sword sideways so that the guard smashed into the guy's throat.

Their attacker fell to the ground, gasping for air, hands grasping at his neck. Piandao stood over him, blade pointed at him, face drawn into a neutral expression, though his violent rage was thinly veiled. He kicked the man rather harshly in the side, rolling him over onto his back. He pressed the tip of his blade into the man's neck; predator-turned-prey stared at him in horrified awe, eyes begging for mercy. He should kill the man, or at least leave him close to it- make him wish he had never messed with the traveling men. Make him suffer, make him feel pain, make him regret attacking Jeong Jeong-

He exhaled. No. Revenge wasn't the path he wished to travel. Reluctantly, he moved the point away from the man's throat. His tone was deep and carried a heavy rumble, his features were dark, "Leave now and I will spare you. But do not let me see you again."

The earth bender scrambled to his feet and took off down the dirt path, head jerking back occasionally to cower at the swordsman. Piandao waited until the fleeing form was out of sight before he fell to his knees, sword falling from his shaky grasp as the adrenaline hastily exited his body.

Jeong Jeong! He clumsily got back to his feet and rushed to the fire bender's side, collapsing again beside him. His hands rushed to the other man's neck, fingers pressing into it in search of a pulse. There. It was still there, drumming rhythmically under his touch. He let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding, eyes drifting from Jeong Jeong's face down to his chest. He watched the uneven rise and fall of the man's chest as the wave of relief washed over him.

With a sigh, he stood, walking over to retrieve his dropped sword. He slid it back into it's sheath before returning to his companion's side. Kneeling, he positioned his arms underneath the limp body, carefully lifting the man up and cradling him against his chest. It was going to be a long walk to the town whose name he couldn't recall in his exhaustion; for such a small man, Jeong Jeong was far heavier than he anticipated. His arms were already protesting their given task. But Jeong Jeong needed medical assistance, needed to be treated. He needed to make sure his friend was going to be alright. So he trudged along the dirt path, Jeong Jeong's head resting comfortably against his shoulder, and he hoped for the best.