|Avatar Drabbles of Doom
Author: Ryuuko1 PM
A response to an ZukoAangZuko drabble challenge. There will be 100 drabbles total in bunches of 50. Shonenai mentioned but nothing specific. Topics included in story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Aang & Zuko - Chapters: 2 - Words: 10,480 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 06-13-07 - Published: 06-10-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3586692
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author: This is the second half of my drabble challenge. I hope that anyone who reads it finds it as entertaining as the first half.
DISCLAIMER: Dude, guys. Avatar isn't mine. I can fangirl all I want and I will be no closer to owning any rights to it.51. Katara
Katara didn't quite believe her ears. She peeked into the private garden in the Air Nomad's temple and her mouth fell open.
She had never seen Zuko so...relaxed. He was actually smiling, not smirking. She might have even heard him laugh.
As she watched and listened, Zuko laughed (well, it wasn't really an all-out laugh, but it was as close as he ever got) again and Katara's heart skipped a beat. If only he laughed more, he'd have so many women after him he'd have to beat them off.
...Or Aang could do it for him.
Katara turned away, blushing heavily and quickly walked away.
Zuko sat across from Iroh, watching as he drank his tea and looked down at the Pai Sho board.
"How in the world do you beat me so easily?"
"It's simple, dear nephew. When you've known someone as long as I've known you, little things can clue you in to their next move. I know how you think and strategize, as well as how you react. I've nearly won before we even begin to play."
Zuko grumbled, before a small smirk crept across his face.
"You may have won, but I have your lotus tile."
Iroh was so surprised he nearly dropped his tea.
Haru had never met any Firebender he had liked, and the Firebender traveling with the Avatar was no exception. He was rude, a snob, and had a short temper that he barely tried to keep reined in. His opinion changed marginally when the Firebender helped them ward off a group of renegade Fire Nation bandits. The guy was really strong.
His view of the man changed drastically, however, when the bandits recognized him. Why would the Fire Nation Prince bother to help a small Earth Kingdom Village? Haru demanded this and Zuko's eyes had narrowed and his arms had crossed,
"Because they make me look bad."
The boy (Jet?) was really getting on Zuko's nerves. He was having a hard enough time adjusting to a life of enforced poverty without having someone trying to ruin the delicate life that his uncle had made for them. The guy was almost a fanatic about trying to incriminate them and it was annoying. If he hadn't needed to keep his cover and since he wasn't entirely a cold-hearted bastard, he would have found a way to quietly dispose of him, either by throwing him completely off-track or killing him.
Zuko preferred the first, contrary to what propaganda would have the populace believe.
Zuko walked over to where the Avatar had stood after defeating his father and looked at the ground. His father's body no longer lay there, but he could feel the echoes of his father's anger, pain, and pride. He was left in limbo, uncertain whether to cry his sorrow or his anger. The plethora of emotions that were evoked by the simple fact that his father was dead were too confusing, too much, too strong, and he was floundering against the ferocity. He buried his head in his good hand and knelt where his father had been and struggled to find solid ground in his mental landscape.
Zuko pulled the covers over his head and repeated the mantra,
'Azula always lies,' over and over in his head.
His grandfather wouldn't do something so...mean...as killing him just to spite his father. Azula had made that up just to scare him; she always did stuff like that. Zuko didn't understand why she always tried to hurt and embarrass him—what had he ever done to her? Most days he tried not to even talk to her, let alone take the time to make her his enemy.
Was that what she was? His enemy?
Zuko hadn't been completely blind as a child; he knew that Mai liked him, but had never cared. She was a girl and girls had cooties. Then she was whisked away to that all-girl's school and Zuko had never seen her again until he had joined forces with Azula. He found he still had no feelings for her, though her crush seemed to have intensified.
He didn't know how she would respond when he asked—nearly begged—for her help in defeating Azula in that final battle under the solar eclipse.
58. Ty Lee
Ty Lee was perplexed by the change in Zuko.
Before he had seemed absolutely sure that he should join forces with Azula; now she saw his resolve faltering, though she was pretty sure that Azula didn't notice. The girl could be pretty blind, especially when it came to the people around her that she was finished with. So she watched Zuko, intrigued, as he ignored Mai's form of faltering flirting and seemed to constantly be thinking of somebody else.
"Is the Avatar allowed to care for someone?" Aang asked as he idly played with the toys that had marked him as the Avatar.
Gyasto looked at him and nodded. "Of course. The Avatar is supposed to care for people—you are here for them, not the other way around."
Gyasto got the distinct feeling that was not the type of answer his young charge had been looking for, but couldn't think that he'd be interested in that kind of caring yet.
Zuko gently reached out and pulled the Avatar's empty body to him. The arrows on his forehead and hands were glowing, so he still knew the young man lived, but constantly worried whenever he crossed into the spirit realm. He needed Aang to return to him and not be lost somewhere within the world of the dead. He belonged to the living world, with him.
Aang shook his head slowly.
"No? I'm wrong?"
"You don't like my sister?"
"I like her as a friend, but, no, not the way you're thinking."
"But you had a crush on her for the longest time!"
"Well I, uh, got over it."
"Got over it?" Sokka repeated, obviously disbelieving.
"Who do you like now, then? Toph?"
Aang shook his head, perhaps a little more emphatically than necessary.
Aang hesitated, then told him.
"Who's the one who has lived in the Fire Nation?"
"You. But I used to live here, a hundred-odd years ago."
"Do you really remember that much of your past lives?"
Zuko choked back a snort and looked forward again, riding his horse. "We go the way I want to."
"But I remember this great place--"
Aang gently dragged his hand through the warm water and chuckled as Tui and La nibbled at his fingertips.
Yue had given her life to the Moon Spirit to restore the balance between the elements of Fire and Water, so was responsible, more or less, for the victory of the Water Tribe over the Fire Nation. He had just been the physical form that the Ocean Spirit channeled its power through. She had given her life to protect the people she had loved, or, perhaps, maybe just the man she had loved.
Aang could finally understand that kind of devotion.
Meng looked at the Avatar with a mixture of skepticism and curiosity.
"You want a reading on romance, but not with the floozy?"
"No. No, not her."
"There's another woman in your life then?"
"I-I didn't say that!"
Meng gave him a sidelong glance, then sighed. "I'll see what Aunt Wu can do for you."
The Avatar gave her a smile that made her heart skip a beat and she blushed. "Right now," she amended breathlessly.
The girl introduced herself and Aang stared at her blankly for a moment before grinning to hide his confusion. They began to talk, apparently having met before, and all the while Aang was struggling to place where he knew her from. He was usually very good at remembering faces and names—it was one of the skills, aside from his bending, of which he was proud. So he walked with her a ways before using the sight of an undercover Zuko as an excuse to leave her side.
Toph managed to look extremely confused, an expression that did not come naturally to her.
"I need you to help us find Aang. You did it before—you said that his footsteps were very light compared to everyone else."
"Yeah, but, I mean, how hard can it be to find him?"
"Strangely hard," Sokka groused.
"Please?" Katara pleaded.
Toph paused and looked in the direction of Katara's voice.
"Fine, but you guys owe me. It'll be very hard to sift through all the footsteps of everyone in this huge city."
June snickered and looked at Prince Zuko who held her stare.
"You're employing me again to look for a missing person, but it isn't that girl?"
"No, not that peasant," Zuko affirmed, nearly spitting out the last word.
June smirked. "Who, then?"
"Is that really your business? I'm paying you enough."
"Fine, fine. Just give me whatever you have that smells like your missing person, and we'll be off."
Pakku was marginally happy to see the Avatar return to their city, but was very unhappy when he saw his traveling companion. The fact that said companion looked equally unhappy was barely noticed.
"Avatar, do you really think you should bring him into the city? Who knows the damage he could cause."
"But he won't. Right, Fire Lord?"
Zuko gave his companion a very sour look. "I won't."
Pakku nearly had a heart attack. Fire Lord?!
There was no better place to hear gossip that meander through the marketplace of any major city, which was why Zuko was wandering in the Fire Nation capital, hair pulled back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck, wearing the clothes of a trader or peasant.
He needed two things: 1) to find out where the Avatar was and 2) to find a way to get wherever the boy was. There were things that he desperately needed to tell him, but couldn't afford to be recognized, which meant he had to travel like he did during his stint in the Earth Kingdom. With a brief scowl he moved through the crowd, constantly alert for either his name, Azula's, or the Avatar's.
"I can't accept this!"
"Yes, you can."
"But, I'd never use it! You know how I feel about violence."
"I do; you don't have to use it. Keep it on you, though, as a good luck charm, or something." A pause. "You could also use it for less dignified things like cutting food."
A thoughtful silence ensued, to be broken after a moment.
"Okay. I'll take it. But don't blame me if I lose it."
"You won't, though, will you?"
Aang couldn't deny that.
Zuko idly played with the ribbon necklace that the water peasant had either lost or forgotten, and thought.
Why had he picked it up in the first place? He had no reason to return it to her, thought the entire thing was tacky (though he was able to recognize the considerable craftsmanship that must have gone into making something so delicate), and it reminded him of the reason why he was chasing after the Avatar. Well, he must have picked it up for a reason that was yet unclear. Perhaps it would lead him to the Avatar...
Many people had never heard Zuko laugh, while everyone knew exactly how the Avatar sounded. Iroh thought he was probably the only person who had heard Zuko laugh since his mother died. However, when he did laugh these days it wasn't from happiness or pleasure; it was always at someone's expense, or cold and mocking, finding a twisted humor in a situation. Neither were good ways of laughing, but Zuko hadn't had much reason to laugh anyway.
Aang always laughed, but Iroh found that his laughter was as empty as Zuko's.
73. The World
In his dream, Aang straddled the world, looking down on all the inhabitants as they went about their daily live. He saw their trials, their triumphs, their happiness, their pain, and yearned for it all.
'This is why the Avatar is reincarnated as a human,' said a voice (or was it voices?) in his dream, 'so that we may never forget those whom we serve.'
74. No, yes
"Yes! C'mon, pleeease?"
"Would you guys keep it down? I'm trying to sleep!"
Many people wished they could be royalty; they saw the riches, the power, the ease with which most nobles lived their lives and coveted their status.
Zuko wanted to drag one passer-by and make them being Fire Lord for a day, then ask them how envious they were. Being royalty, especially at his station, wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
"Stupid Water Tribe peasant," Zuko grouched and Aang looked between Katara and Zuko, obviously on edge.
"Spoiled Fire Nation brat," came the scathing reply.
Two pairs of eyes gave him equally disbelieving looks.
"The day I willingly work with that will be the day the world ends."
"I am not a thing!"
Aang could see a bending fight coming on and stepped in between the two. He might get hurt in the process, but he would see them parting in peace, uneasy though it may be.
"It's your choice," the advisor told him, making Zuko frown.
His choice? When had it ever been his choice? If he could freely choose he wouldn't be marrying a woman. Still, at least he had some say in the matter.
It would take some deliberation and he would hate every moment of suspence that he put the women through, but it was unavoidable. He verbally threw the advisor out and put his head in his hands, his regrown hair hiding his face.
He didn't want to make this choice, but the Avatar would understand. Wouldn't he?
In the past, he had been feared, pitied, and hated. In the present he was still feared, pitied, and hated, but for completely different reasons.
In the past he had been feared, pitied, and loved. In the present he was still feared, pitied, and loved, but for completely different reasons.
It was official; Zuko abhorred flying. He clung to the rim of Appa's saddle and just looking at Aang sitting on the beast's head without anything but the reins to hold onto made him jittery.
Of course, no-one noticed this, for if they had Zuko would have been ashamed of his self-control. It wasn't good for as renowned a warrior as he to appear weak. Especially when said warrior was also the heir to the Fire Nation's throne.
Zuko hated being poor, which is why he took up the mask of the Blue Spirit. It jarred against his morals, but he was entirely unused to any kind of poverty; even when he was banished he still had money and wielded power.
Though the more he saw of the people around him, the more he realized that being poor was the norm and that his life really had been special.
"Do you know how much of a pain in the ass you are?" came the huffed accusation.
Aang looked over his shoulder and grinned widely. "That's mean and untrue."
Zuko gave him a glare that could wither plants and sat down next to him, legs dangling over the edge of the cliff.
"It's beautiful, isn't it? I come here to get away from my duties, from being the all-powerful Avatar, savior of the world. I think skipping some duties and avoiding some friends is worth it to keep my sanity intact."
Zuko looked at the Avatar named Aang and couldn't entirely suppress a soft, approving smile.
"I understand." A pause. "Though you're still a pain in the ass."
"There. It's done," came the soft voice from behind him.
Zuko had to fight to keep himself and reaching to touch his topknot that was now adorned with the symbol of his station. It was as if he were dreaming, but this time it was real; he felt solid, could hear his heart beating, could feel the adrenaline race through his veins, and the soft, quick breathing of the man standing behind him.
He was now the Fire Lord.
Zuko vowed to learn from history. He would never put his family or his people through what his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father had put them through. Conquest and power simply weren't worth the cost in life and time and drained valuable resources from the land and people. Zuko promised to forge a future that would put history to shame.
Both had been taught to master their lust when they learned to master their bodies. Zuko was taught that it distracted the master bender, making him vulnerable and weak. Aang had been taught that it would only cause him pain, distracting him from the truths of the world. So when they found themselves confronted with the emotion, neither knew quite what to do.
"Lost? How could he be lost? He's the Avatar! He's kind of important and conspicuous."
"I'm sorry, sir, but—"
Sokka slapped his forehead and sighed as he dragged it down his face. "Where do you think you lost him?"
"Near the palace district." .
"Oh, great. Just where I need him to get lost."
Katara walked up to her brother, some fruit in her hands and gave him an odd look. "What's going on?"
"I told you we should have stayed with Aang! This guy lost him!"
"What? How is that…possible?"
It takes only one spark to start a fire. It takes only one touch to establish a connection, one glance to stir something beneath the surface. Neither knew when that spark had formed, but it had grown into a fire neither knew how to control even though both could bend fire with skill and ease, nor did they know when the connection had formed, but they couldn't break it, or ,rather, didn't want to. They were absolutely certain what they had stirred in one another, though—a flame that would never falter.
The group took shelter in a nearby cave, drenched from the late summer Fire Nation thunderstorm. As they squeezed water out of soaked clothing, a dry voice came from the back of the cave.
"How is it that when I go out of my way to make sure that I won't be disturbed by civilization I find myself in the company of those I was trying to avoid?"
Sokka, Katara, Toph, and Aang all jumped, surprised. Katara immediately had her water at the ready, Toph had assumed a fighting stance and Sokka had his boomerang out before any of them were conscious of doing so.
Aang extended a hand to stop them and looked into the darkness.
"Who is it?"
"Who do you think?" came the reply, and the form attached to the voice walked into the light.
Most of the group tensed even more, though Aang grinned. "Zuko!"
Zuko made it practice to never travel to the North or South poles during winter. He had experienced what they called winter there one time during his search for the Avatar and had been miserable the entire time. The storms that swirled around the area were particularly ferocuoius during then.
At least, that was what he told himself. He refused to admit that he simply didn't want to see the water peasants; they reminded him too much of what he had lost.
It was the spring after the final battle against the Fire Nation, and Aang was lying on Appa's back as they flew, staring idly at the clouds. The battle had taken less effort than he had thought it would. There was no heavy opposition to his and his group's progress towards the waiting Fire Lord Ozai, which he hadn't noticed at the time, but puzzled over now.
Why had that been the case? He hadn't even run into Azula.
He sat up quickly, his mouth falling open. Zuko had been declared missing, assumed killed in combat. His sister was discovered on the verge of death by a number of Earthbenders, and had been quickly disposed of, but her brother was never found and with Azula dead, no-one knew what had happened to him.
Could he have made their entry into the castle that easy?
Summer in the Fire Nation was murder for the visiting Water Tribe dignitaries, who were unused to the humid, sticky heat. Zuko had chosen the season especially because of the discomfort it would cause his guests; the weather that he was immune to would drive the summit to end quickly for the sanity of all others concerned.
Aang knew of his reasoning and disapproved, but wasn't about to tell Zuko he was wrong, since he hated the gathering as much as the Fire Prince. All the ceremony and word games gave him a headache.
There were speeches all across the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes about the fall of the Fire Nation and how it promised only a bright future for them. The Avatar looked on sadly, knowing in his heart that if the newly created imbalance was allowed to stay there would be another long, tiring war, which he wished to avoid with his entire being. He didn't want any other Avatar to go through the sorrow that he had gone through, seeing every last one of their friends fall in battle to protect them.
They pledged to each other in the night, locked away their fidelity in their hearts, vowing that though they may be required to marry another that they would always belong only to each other. It was a tacit agreement with no pomp or ceremony, just the sanctity of two hearts starting to beat as one.
Aang was pleased to see how quickly the Air Nomad community was growing ever since they had come out of hiding. People looked to him for guidance and teachings in the techniques of a hundred years prior when the Air Nomads were a proud and flourishing community that did not have to hide what they did. He was content and happy now that the world was growing in peace and health without him having to nearly kill himself to heal the leftover wounds.
"He has your eyes."
"Surprisingly. You'd think that they'd simply be brown, that being the dominat color in this nation."
"But your family has always had golden eyes. It must be in the blood or something."
A pleased gurgle was all that broke the comfortable silence.
"Raise him well. Don't put him through the same shit that your dad put you through."
"Trust me. That will never happen," came the vehement reply.
"She's a terror."
"Aw, you're just exaggerating."
"You don't have to live with her."
"Well...yeah. Still. You need to be more patient, that's all."
There was a long pause that bespoke intense disbelief.
"Okay, yeah, that was a dumb thing to say. Still, she's just a toddler. You have to teach her to be better behaved."
"One day I'm going to let you babysit her and then tell me how easy she is to take care of and teach."
The celebrations for the remembrance of the end of the war were different in each country, and all had very different meanings to their inhabitants.
In the Water Tribes, they celebrated the restoration of a balance between all the elements.
In the Earth Kingdom they celebrated their freedom from oppression.
In the Air Nomads they celebrated the rebirth of their order.
The Fire Nation had no real reason to celebrate, so the excuse to get drunk was the end of an era of tyrany beneath the former Fire Lord Ozai and the peace they had gained.
Zuko didn't celebrate. Too many sad things had happened on that day to warrant any celebration. Instead, he visited the graves of those who had fallen, placing incense and offerings of traditional festival foods before the markers.
He was older, wiser, and found himself growing out the seemingly necessary thin goatee to go with an aging Airbender.
He was older, stronger, but always tired. He was being buried underneath the responsibility that he was born into.
Together they aged, seeing the end of their era and the beginning of a new, brighter one; at least in their eyes.
"Never," Zuko snarled.
Aang stretched languidly over him, pillowing his head on Zuko's chest.
"That's an awful answer."
Zuko frowned darkly, and Aang grinned up at him. "Come on. I've told you how it feels. You've seen me. How could it be bad to try?"
Aang grinned mischeviously. "You're just scared."
Zuko looked at him in disbelief, before saying, "I am never scared."
"Then will you do it?"
Regrets? Of course he had them. Who didn't? They weighed on him a little more heavily than most, he thought; perhaps because his mistakes mattered more, him being the Avatar and all. He regretted his inability to heal, his ability to always understand what people were saying, and that he never told the one person who mattered most in his life what they had meant to him.
Death was always hard to deal with, but it was even worse when someone dear to your heart died. Aang watched as Zuko's eldest son walked up to the funeral pyre, hand trembling. Aang sympathized, so he stood up and walked behind the young man, steadying his hand, to the surprise of all assembled.
"Avatar, sir," the young man stuttered.
"Come. Your father belongs with the spirits now. Let's release him from his last tie to the mortal world."
Zuko's son nodded and the two proceeded together, committing father and lover to the spirit realmn.