Seventeen thousand….. nearly seventeen thousand of my people lost. Numbers continued to swirl around Zuko's thoughts as his Uncle and he lay on nothing more than an enlarged piece of driftwood to ride the waves. It was only eight days ago that Admiral Zhao had launched an attack against the Northern Water Tribe and the Avatar who was Zuko's ticket back home.
But now, instead of fantasies where his father, the Fire Lord, would accept him back with open arms, all Zuko could think of was numbers and empty helmets floating along side them.
Seventeen thousand of my people lost. And I've only seen twenty-three of those bodies. Zuko was tired; he was tired of counting, but he couldn't stop. Tired of gazing at nothing but polar ice water with dead bodies either hidden within its depths or floating on the surface. He was tired, but he couldn't sleep. Because when he closed his eyes, his mind kept replaying Zhao's final moments: how he had refused Zuko's help and instead chose to be taken by the spirits. Zuko has lost his honor three years ago, but was he truly that dishonorable that one of his father's favorite officers would rather have a fate worse than death?
His nightmares had only gotten worse as the hours trickled by; very little sleep with next to nothing of subsistence or water might have something to do with it. Whenever Zuko found himself too tired to stay awake and his body crashed onto the floor of their raft, his mind would be blank for a precious few moments. Then the world would light up in blue and red and Zuko would see the Avatar in the body of the Ocean spirit, callously sweeping his countrymen and women into the freezing waters of the North Pole, ships by the dozen being overturned and broken by the ferocious waves. Zuko had never been more terrified of the Avatar than at that moment; not by the sheer destructive power the Avatar had while using a Great Spirit to attack, but by how cruel his fury was and how uncaring that the twelve year old had obliterated thousands of people within a few minutes. Zuko would then twist his head only to face Zhao as he turned away from Zuko's out stretched hand. It would be at this point where Zuko would force himself to wake, shuddering on his half of the raft, trying desperately to forget everything and nearly breaking down in tears when he couldn't.
With a sigh, the sixteen-year-old banished price of the Fire Nation, gazed out onto the water. His uncle was snoring lightly next to him, a sound that had once irritated him, now gave him comfort. It meant Uncle was alive, unlike his former crew who had been drafted into Zhao's service for the invasion. For all he knew, they were all dead, just like Zhao hoped Zuko would be when he sent pirates to assassinate him by blowing him up within his own ship.
They always said that no news was good news; Zuko didn't believe that for a second. The water sparkled in the sunlight and it made want to hit something. The weather shouldn't be nice, not ever, not after what happened. His uncle and he had passed by twenty-three bodies, floating Fire Nation corpses that had died by a spirit's hand, and Zuko didn't know any of their names. And he wanted to be Fire Lord? He couldn't even protect his own people as a Prince! No matter how many times Uncle Iroh claimed that this wasn't Zuko's fault, the teenager couldn't stop believing that it was. If only he had captured the Avatar sooner, none of this would have happened. If he had gotten rid of Zhao before the bastard went a killed a great spirit during their Agni Kai… if only, if only.
If only thoughts had never solved any problems, Zuko knew this. He should be making a plan of attack if –when- they reached a shore. Even if he had nothing, he could still capture the Avatar and drag him kicking and screaming all the way home, he could. Somehow.
But Zuko was exhausted. He was tired of trying to prove to his Father that he wasn't a worthless failure, because he clearly was. Father is always right, just as Azula always lies. How could Zuko have spent three years fighting the truth his Father always threw in his face? What kind of loyal son did that?
His hand rose up to touch his scar, his rightful punishment for giving insult to his Father in his war room. It had become something of an automatic reaction whenever he started pondering about home and his Father when the bandages first came off all those years ago aboard his ship. Zuko let his hand drop down to wrap around his knees and continued to stare out on the water.
It was pretty, with the sun hitting the water in a way that made it seem like sparkles rested on the surface of the ocean. Zuko wished it wasn't and that he could hate it but he couldn't. Hours must have passed before he stirred, before he caught sight of something drifting towards them in the small waves.
Twenty-four now. Zuko felt his throat clench as he waited for the body armor to be pushed up to the raft by the ocean. He had to see, he had to see if he knew them or not. Peering over the edge, Zuko could feel his heart stop as he gazed into the unseeing eyes of his eleven year old little sister.
Iroh woke to screaming and splashing, droplets of water spraying into his face as he gazed around wildly for signs of trouble.
"Zuko!" His nephew had fallen or jumped into the freezing water, he didn't know which, his shouts interrupted by ocean water lapping into his mouth. Iroh reached over the side of the raft, his hand gripping the back of Zuko's shirt tightly and heaved him back on board.
"Azula! Azula!" Zuko clawed against his uncle trying to break free and jump back in the water for something only he could see.
"Prince Zuko, stop moving!" What had happened, why was his nephew crying for his sister, how could Iroh fix this?
"Let me go! Azula is right there! Azula!"
"Nephew! There is nothing there! Nothing but water and sunlight." Ignoring how cold and damp his clothes were getting from embracing Zuko, Iroh gripped his nephew even tighter, refusing to let the teenager budge from his hold. Zuko collapsed into tears, turning his head to sob into his uncle's chest.
Iroh felt his heart break. His nephew, his nephew who Iroh thought of as his own for the past three years, was in pain and there was nothing he could do about it. There were no remedies that Iroh could give him, nothing that Iroh could offer besides his comfort and open arms.
It must have been nearly an hour before Zuko's cries slowed and died off, an hour where Iroh did not move except to whisper what little comfort he could to his nephew. Peering down, Iroh allowed himself a small smile. His sixteen-year-old proud and frightened nephew had fallen asleep, curling up as much as he could on Iroh's lap, his hands holding onto Iroh's still wet coat as tightly as one could while napping. Iroh turned to glance at the sun, offering a quick prayer to Agni for safe travels in such turbulent times and breathed, the fire his chi supplied growing hotter internally to provide warmth for the two refugees stranded in the middle of the ocean.
They would need to talk about what happened, and Iroh would make sure a talk would occur no matter how much Zuko tried to avoid it.
It had been a week since they made it to land and found a spa resort for Uncle to 'relax his old and aching muscles'. Uncle had tucked in a bag of coin somewhere to pay for it, something that Zuko had tried not to think about.
In fact, he tried not to think about a lot of things lately. After that day when Zuko jumped into the water to grab at his sister and then ended up crying on Uncle, the retired general had forced Zuko into talking about his dreams and his feelings. There had been a lot of shouting and angry flames decorating the sky but Uncle Iroh was determined. Zuko would never admit to feeling something close to relief when he had given in and muttered about how he kept seeing the dead and Zhao, fully expecting his uncle to laugh in his face about his weakness like Father and Azula would have. Instead the man had hugged him, firmly ordering him to tell him when things were bothering Zuko. He had just nodded, afraid to speak because Zuko might have stuttered from shock. And that might have been far too embarrassing to live with.
Zuko was walking back to their little rented hut with his uncle after his massage in silence. He wasn't one to speak much unlike his Uncle, and the quiet air between them was comfortable. Despite being stuck on a piece of wood for three weeks in the middle of the ocean with nothing but the fish and sea vultures and each other, Zuko was reluctant to let Uncle leave his sight for more than a few minutes at a time. It was childish and stupid and if it had been anyone else they would have mocked him until his death, but Uncle just smiled and joked about how it was pleasant that his young and strapping nephew cared so much for his aging uncle. Zuko would mutter a few angry words lacking any heat and scowl. And Uncle Iroh would simply laugh harder.
Zuko pushed the door open and strode inside their room for the past week, hearing his uncle's footsteps behind him and three sets of lungs breathing in air. Three? With a snap of his neck Zuko around to the back of the room, eyes growing wide as he saw who their visitor was.
"Hello, brother." Azula lounged on the chair that had been pushed to the back wall, looking as poised and ready to strike as the last time Zuko had seen her three years ago. He glanced at Iroh, just to double check that Zuko wasn't seeing yet another hallucination but on land rather than between the waves of the ocean. From Uncle's sharp glare, he wasn't.
"Oh come now, don't you have better manners than to just stare rudely, Zuzu?" Azula stood from her perch. "I suppose being stuck with those lowlife hooligans on a ship for years ruined all those years of practice at court- hey!"
Before Uncle Iroh could stop him or common sense could sink in, Zuko dashed across the room, arms wrapping themselves around Azula.
His sister was all right. She was fine and safe and not drowned. She was right here.
"Zuko, you dum dum! What are you doing?" Azula tried to wriggle out of Zuko's hold but he simply squeezed tighter.
"No!" The word came out strangled and to his shame Zuko could feel his throat start to catch and it became hard to gasp for air into his lungs. Azula can't leave! Please don't go, don't go into the water! Don't…. don't…
"Breathe, Nephew." Uncle Iroh's voice was calm and steady and Zuko latched onto his words like he had latched onto his sister.
Breathe….. Breathe in and hold, breathe out and hold. Breathe in and hold… Zuko tuned out the world outside, focusing solely on his breathes like Uncle and taught him on the raft and feeling his hands enfolded around Azula.
Breathe in and hold, high quality fire nation silk, breathe out and hold.
She had barely seen her brother and her uncle for five minutes after three years and already Azula wanted to fry them. Just a little bit, nothing more than a char. A good blackened char. Zuko had latched to her like some sort of leechbug and was now lost in his own little strange world, but if she moved just a little down and jabbed right there…
"If you don't mind Niece, I'd rather you not do what you are about to attempt." Of course: Uncle Iroh the failure of the Ba Sing Se siege and forever the protector of worthless older brother Zuzu.
"Why not Uncle?" Azula opened her eyes in mock innocence. "I had just tracked the two of you down for a message from Father, not to be used as a personal cushion."
"And what, pray tell, would this message from the esteemed Fire Lord be that he had you personally deliver the contents?"
"Father wants the two of you back home." Azula would have shrugged had Zuko not been wrapped around her like some sort of deep-sea taka. Iroh simply stared at Azula, who met his gaze with a proud smirk on her face. She wouldn't give the old general the satisfaction of looking away first. Several minutes passed and neither said a word nor looked away. Azula's smirk dropped and Iroh snorted with a gruff laugh.
"It may have been several years since I've last talked with your father, but I know my brother well enough that he would not simply allow a banishment to be lifted and his orders retracted." Iroh shook his head.
Azula scowled. She had wanted to spin a tale to see that hopeful expression in Zuzu's face; a chance to come home because Father misses you! It was amusing how easily she had always been able to play with her brother's emotions and it might have still been possible if Zuko even bothered to listen to her words, instead of Uncle. Azula would take great pleasure in making sure little Zuzu wouldn't zone out on her on their trip home while he was in chains. She needed something to use as entertainment.
But Uncle Iroh, for all that he passed himself to look like a simple, old fool, he was still remarkably clever. Still the famous Dragon of the West, who had no rival in tactics and strategy until Azula had come along. He would never buy into the story, in fact, she was positive he already suspected the reasoning for her little drop by visit.
"You ruin all my fun, Uncle. Fine, the truth." Azula huffed. "Father wants the two of you back in the Fire Nation in chains. You are an embarrassment to him. He sent me to pick you both up and succeed in your failures at capturing the Avatar."
Uncle nodded. "I figured as much. So what are you going to do now, Azula?" She blinked.
"Drag the two of you back to the ship, of course. Did you think I didn't come without backup just in case?" Who did Uncle think she was, Zuko? She was a prodigy, brilliant, always thinking things through and double-checking for accuracy. She wasn't likeZuko. Speaking of her brother… "Is he ever going to let go of me?"
"Hmm? Zuko?" Uncle Iroh sighed as he glanced at her brother whose head was tucked into her shoulder. "Not for some time, I believe. Not until the panic attack passes."
"Panic attack?" What sort of son of the Fire Lord would suffer from something so terribly cripplingly weak?
"The North Pole wasn't as good as a vacation spot as one would hope."
Azula glared. That didn't make any sense. All the reports claimed General Iroh had gone up with Admiral Zhao to command the attack against the Northern Water Tribe. Why was the old fool babbling on about vacation spots? Azula only enjoyed riddles when she was the one crafting them.
"None of the reports sent made any mention of Zuko even being at the North Pole."
"Of course they wouldn't. By all means, your brother was there unofficially. I imagine Zhao decided to delay his report about attempting to kill Zuko by bribing pirates." Uncle Iroh sounded nonchalant about the whole thing, but Azula could feel the temperature in the room rise. He is not happy with Zhao right now. "Tell me, Azula. What have your reports said about the failed invasion?"
"There are still reports coming in." Azula admitted. Paperwork from the fleet had been slow in coming, even nearly a month later, especially with the dramatic loss. The total damage reports were still being calculated, as was finding every Marine and officer in the fleet for burial services.
"I can tell you this from being there." Iroh shook his head. "Our navy has been stripped to less than half of its prior force. Nearly, if not all, of the fleet under Zhao's command was destroyed by the Avatar and Northern Water tribe." He paused before continuing. "It was a truly devastating sight."
Azula's brain whirled. All that power, all of that destruction against the Fire Nation. There had been eighty-seven war ships in Zhao's command. Eighty-seven war ships that could hold anywhere from fifty to two hundred fire benders and non-benders working the ship and to be used as a ground force. And now they are all gone. We've lost one of our major assets in the war.
"I think I shall go get a pot of tea for the three of us. Feel free to sit and wait, I shall be back with some delicious ginseng for the rest of our conversation." Iroh turned and walked out the door, leaving Azula alone with her older brother still hanging on to her like a lifeline.
Zuko muttered something into the crook of her neck.
"What, Zuko?" Azula lowered herself to the ground. There was no sense in standing if she didn't need or want to. Zuko followed her down, his hands never moving from her shoulders but he finally lifted his head. At least he wasn't sobbing; he just looked…lost.
"I'm sorry." Zuko was forcing out the words between deep breaths. "It's just… it's hard to talk. When I can't get enough air in my lungs."
"Firebenders aren't supposed to lose control of their breathing, Zuzu. You really are a terrible bender like Father always said." Azula could feel a tremor running through Zuko's arms.
He knew? It had been three years since Azula was last able to play with her brother but she never thought a life scouring the globe for something that was supposed to remain a myth would have changed him so much. This wasn't supposed to happen. Zuzu was supposed to remain the hotheaded idiot that he always was. He was supposed to be fuming at everything and indignant at the slightest mention of her beloved nickname for her brother. Zuko was supposed to be easy to manipulate, to be played right into her perfectly manicured hands because that's how it always was and nothing was supposed to change.Nothing. Frustrated, Azula wiggled until she could get her arms up and shoved Zuko off of her.
"What happened to you?" Azula demanded, marching to where Zuko landed from her push. He stood quickly, turning his face away from Azula so all she could see was his scar. "You used to never be this pitiable and weak, Zuzu! You used to never be this boring!" Azula could see Zuko grit his teeth and the heat in the room flared. Good, Zuko still had his temper. He wasn't completely lost to her. Not until she said so anyways.
"You weren't there! You didn't see, you didn't see anything!" Zuko's yells were mingled with something like despair. Azula frowned. Zuko wasn't allowed to be terrified of anything except her. And Father, she supposed. But she was the one who had so carefully crafted her web around Zuzu growing up, especially once Mother left. It had been so much fun to fuel Zuko's paranoia and nightmares, especially with the knowledge that she had been the direct cause with nothing but words and threats.
But now there was something else haunting his mind and Azula couldn't have that. Zuko was her toy, hers to bend and break ather will. No one else was allowed to have him.
Except Father, of course. Whatever was hers, was the Fire Lord's, she belonged to the Fire Lord, just as Zuko did. Whatever his will, the nation, but most especially his children, had to make sure it was followed. How else would there be proper subjugation? From in front of her, Zuko was still yelling, although it was quieter and every few words were halted by loud, noisy, desperate gasps.
"All the bodies, thousands of bodies, Azula. All drowned, all gone and watching them all float by…" Zuko choked, his breaths coming in too fast and shallow for any air to be brought into his lungs but he didn't stop. His eyes were wide and his hands kept clenching and unclenching almost frantically.
Azula had never seen someone like this before and she might have been fascinated and curious if Zuko has responded to her like this instead of a stupid memory.
"Snap out of it, idiot and breathe!" Azula strode right up to her brother, fully intent on slapping him out of whatever delusion he managed to get himself stuck in.
Would hitting him even work? This was the first time Azula doubted herself, and she lowered her hand. Zuko was no stranger to pain and he might not even feel anything even if Azula hit him at her hardest. Well then. Might as well do something unexpected and see how he reacts. Maybe then he'll give me the proper attention I deserve.
Azula held her arms out wide and wrapped them around Zuko. Well this is awkward. How did Ty-Lee enjoy these hugs all the time? Their time apart had given Zuko a little more height over here, Azula noted. As children, they had always been around the same size, with a scant few centimeters separating their heights much to Zuko's chagrin. Now there was a more noticeable difference between the two siblings.
The Fire Nation Princess was almost too busy musing about how it wasn't fair that Zuko was now significantly taller, - she wanted to be the tall one out of both of them- that Azula almost missed it when Zuko's hands rose to squeeze her outer armor and his gasps evened out into shuddering dry sobs.
"Father would be so ashamed if he saw you right now, Zuzu." Azula commented, sliding down to the ground and letting Zuko maneuver around her to sit comfortably, sitting at her side to rest his head against her chest and his hands moved to grip her own. It was far too domestic for Azula's tastes…. But it was nice. She hardly noticed that she still had her own arms wrapped around her brother.
"That's because your father has never had the honor of being on or seeing a battlefield." Iroh's grumbled from the doorway. Azula started and began to stand, how had she missed his entrance?
"Peace, Niece. Stay where you are." If he didn't have three mugs of steaming tea in his hands, Azula knew her old uncle would have raised his hands in a placating manner. "I will come to you." It didn't take him more than a few strides to reach them and with a fluidity most people thought impossible, Iroh sat in the louts style, placing two of the mugs in front of Azula and Zuko and keeping one in his hands.
"What does Father not being on a battlefield have anything to do this conversation?" Azula ignored the tea for now. She was too cozy to move, something that she would deny to her dying day.
"It means he does not know of the causalities of war, one being battle shock." Iroh gestured to Zuko. "Back when I was a general, many soldiers suffered from it, both Fire Nation soldiers and Earth Kingdom soldiers."
"But we are Fire Nation royalty. That sounds like something peasants would succumb to, not a son of the Fire Lord who was educated in war and its tactics." Azula scowled. Yes her brother was weak, but he wasn't that weak.
"It is one thing to study war, Azula. It is another to live it and survive. As a general I was too busy focusing on all the aspects of the siege; I had the luxury of not seeing the aftermath of my orders. Other soldiers were not as lucky as I." Iroh sipped at his tea. "The North Pole, while the attempted invasion did not last long, merely a day, its results were devastating and thrown all over the ocean. We floated past at least twenty of our people dead."
"Twenty-three." Zuko rasped without moving. "There were only twenty-three bodies even though I thought there was more."
"What is that supposed to mean?" If there ever were a time for Zuko to start learning how to be cryptic, of course it would be now. Zuko remained silent, but Azula felt him squeeze her hand just a bit tighter than before.
"One of the things battle shock brings with it is nightmares." Iroh said gravely. "Add in very little food, water, and staring at nothing but the ocean for three weeks, it's a wonder I also did not start hallucinating."
"You saw dead bodies in the water, Zuzu?" Azula was curious. There was an old tale that Mother used to tell Zuko and Azula before she left. A short myth that claimed if one were to gaze too long at the sea, the sea would show them images of the things they loved to claim them as her own. And if Zuko was seeing dead people he loved, well Azula wanted to know who they were. "Did you see Mother?" Zuko had adored her.
Zuko tensed, his limbs stiff as a pole. "No."
"Was it Mai? You two were always cute together." Zuko shook his head, his phoenix plume ponytail swishing behind him
"Azula." Uncle warned. Azula ignored him, continuing to peer down at Zuko and talk.
"Maybe it was Father. You do still love him, enough to continue on a failed quest for three years even though it's obvious he doesn't love-"
"It was you!" Zuko's strangled shout had been enough to strike Azula speechless for one of the few times in her life. However, it seemed that his admission had caused a floodgate to open in Zuko as he pulled away from Azula and curled into himself: hiding his face in his knees.
"It was always you just floating there, just laying in the water looking up to the sky, never blinking, not breathing. And I would try to reach for you but I couldn't, because you'd either slip under the water before I get there and I couldn't find you or I could just never reach where you were." Azula tried to find words, tried to find some way to change the conversation because she didn't want to talk about this, not something this strange where Zuko actually loved her and was so emotional over seeing herdead, but she just couldn't find the words. And normally she was a master of words and directing talks the way she wanted them to go to get what she wanted. But now her skill had failed her.
"Zuko." Uncle Iroh was reaching out to her brother and accidentally hit one of the mugs of tea still standing on the floor over; the hot water still steaming as it spread over the floor. Zuko didn't even move.
"And I know its stupid. Because there's no way Father would have let you out of the caldera for an invasion. It was completely illogical and yet it kept happening over and over and I couldn't sleep because what if you were actually there and I missed you? And its no wonder Father and the entire Fire Nation believes I'm a worthless failure. It's because I am!"
Before she knew what she was doing, Azula found herself scooting in front of Zuko, leaning over his knees and her arms already hugging him. "Zuko you dum dum." Azula muttered with something close to affection. Or at least as close to affection as Azula could do. "Like I would be killed so easily by the inferior element of water."
She pushed his knees down and dragged his head over to his original position on her chest before Zuko had moved. Ty-Lee was right, these sorts of hugs are actually quite nice.
"I'm tired, Zula." Zuko whispered.
"I'll allow you five minutes to nap, Zuzu. I'm not your personal pillow, so you best not get used to my sudden burst of kindness." She had tried to sound haughty and disgruntled, but if Uncle's smile was anything to go by, it didn't work very well.
For once, Azula didn't care. For the first time since ever, she felt content. It was strange, normally she was always striving for something. Striving for Mother's love, striving for Father's constant approval of her skills, striving to be the very best. But it was nice to just sit here, holding Zuko like he used to hold those turtle-ducks she would injure for fun.
Iroh wished he could capture this moment forever. His brother's two children were both fast asleep, leaning against the other while sitting by the wall of the hut. Zuko had moved his head to rest on Azula's lap, while Azula found it comfortable to bend over and sleep on top of Zuko's head. How Iroh missed the flexibility of youth.
Ozai, you may have tried to pitted your children against each other, but even your methods were not truly effective.
It was unfortunate that this peace could not last. Iroh heaved a great sigh and stepped heavily across the floor, reaching out to shake the siblings. Zuko stirred first, and his sudden twitching caused Azula to blink awake.
"Uncle?" Zuko asked, sitting all the way up.
"Has it been five minutes yet?" Azula yawned. Iroh bit back a chuckle. With all of Azula's brilliance and praise as a prodigy, it was very easy to forget that she was still a girl of fourteen. Barely a teenager, and much too young for the things Ozai asked of both of his children.
"A few hours actually, Niece. Seeing how its almost dark I figured you might want to return to your ship to inform your guards you haven't been harmed."
Azula waved a hand around. "Please. Like I could be harmed in this place. I'll just tell them I got a full body massage or something. I don't even have to explain myself, really. Not to them."
"And will we be joining you on your trek back?" Iroh had no intention of being held quietly; even if Azula brought them both in, Iroh would manage to break out within a few days, a day even, with his nephew in tow. It was notoriously difficult to hold fire benders, let alone the Dragon of the West.
Iroh nearly cheered when Azula visibly hesitated, quickly glancing to Zuko who decided to remain silent.
"I think not." Azula tossed her head and stood up, cracking the joints in her spine with a twist. "Father hardly ever lets me leave the Caldera, and catching you two was far too easy. I'll have the Avatar in my grasp within a week and then I'll be forced to head back home."
"Azula." Zuko had never been good at hiding his emotions; a major fault for any noble at court, and an even worse one for a prince. Azula sneered at him and walked to the door.
"At least try to challenge me in keep away, Zuzu. I want to spend at least a month out of the Fire Nation enjoying myself." Iroh and Zuko watched as Azula practically bounced out the hut, the door slamming shut behind her.
"Come, Prince Zuko. Let's not still be here when Azula changes her mind tomorrow morning." Iroh's heart felt lighter as a small smile softened his nephew's expression as the two packed up all their belongings and they snuck out of the village where the spa was located in the dark of the night.
So after rewatching the Zuko/Azula fight scene during Sozin's comet, I felt the urge to have Azula and Zuko have some much needed hugs. But of course, Azula wouldn't be Azula without being slightly creepy about her affections, and Zuko really wouldn't just hug Azula for no reasons.
And then I rewatched the last episode of season 1 and realized, well shit. I have yet to find a fic that portrays the amount of trauma anyone would go through when being stuck on a raft in the ocean surrounded by the dead drowned bodies of your countrymen and women. And so this came about. About six years too late, but better late than never!
I hope this was as enjoyable to read as it was writing it! Title is definitely still being decided on, so any suggestions are welcome.
A couple of things:
1. If anyone found Zuko out of character, as in not being angry enough for season 1/2 Zuko, just remember that I have written him actually being traumatized by what he saw, and not able to brush off those three weeks at sea.
2. Battle shock is more correctly known as shell shock, which was the term used for PTSD during the Great Wars. If I remember my history lessons correctly anyways. Thank you Yungsun for the update!
3. That whole seeing hallucinations if you stare at the water for too long is what my mother told me what would happen when the family was forced to be on a ship for my dad's work. Although, she may have been lying to get me to pay attention to her instead of ignoring her for the pretty waves.
4. Isn't it funny how I just really wanted Azula and Zuko to hug and this whole thing sprung up? My brain sometimes, I swear.