Title: Reclaiming Honor.
Chapter Title: Little By Little
Disclaimer: Shounen ai, borderline noncon, sap, angst, AU.
Word Count: 4411
I noticed that there were no ZukoxAang fics out there. Thus this was born. I am well aware that, as a Nickelodeon show, Zuko is not gay. Aang is not gay. They will never get together. I only ask that you realize that that is the purpose of fanfiction. This deviates from the storyline of the series and, if all things go according to plan, will be the start of an Arc of ZukoxAang.
If you get this far and decide to flame me, seriously, I laugh in your face. I'm a shouta person. I like my boys' love. Seriously, I will laugh in your face if you flame me. Expect it.
Zuko and Aang do not belong to me. Avatar: The Last Airbender and related titles do not belong to me. This fic and the fanart I will do to accompany it (located on my deviantART gyakuten-no-megami does belong to me. If you're inspired to make fanart, please let me know, because I am a fanart whore.
Further Disclaimer: This is not yaoi, per se, but it is boys' love. Yaoi is "no peak, no point, no meaning" AKA senseless sex. I write not the yaoi. Read it; certainly. Write it; not so much. This should be safe for you kiddies, even if the beginning doesn't seem like it.
That said, I hope you enjoy the first ZukoxAang out there! Enjoy!
Part One: Little by Little
It was dark as a moonless midnight in Prince Zuko's bedchambers. Even with the full harvest moon outside, no light came into his quarters. But of course, Prince Zuko liked it that way. It added a certain mystery to the things he did, and if nothing else certainly made things a little more interesting. On top of that, it seemed to make his captive squirm all the more when he realized that he could not see what was happening around him.
Normally, Prince Zuko hated the dark. He hated not being able to see a thing in front of him, and even more he hated the coldness that came with having no fire around. But in this particular situation, sight was hardly necessary. He could feel his way to what he wanted. And warmth, well, that was no problem either. The Avatar could keep him warm.
"Save your breath, Avatar." He could feel the boy shudder beneath him and smirked, catching his bound hands and lifting them over his head. There was a soft whimper, though whether it was one of pain or fear—or something else entirely—was anyone's guess. Zuko was willing to bet it was the last one. The prince leaned in, lifting the child's face to look him in the eye. It was too dark to see, but from their close proximity he was almost sure that he could feel the Avatar's fearful expression, along with his trembling. The Avatar struggled weakly beneath him, but they both knew that he could not escape.
Prince Zuko's dark smile widened, and he leaned in so closely that he doubted it would be possible to get any closer at all. Well, they would see, wouldn't they? Quite nearly laughing at the idea, as well as the smaller male's weak attempts to push him away without the use of his hands, he kissed the boy hard, holding him fast as he tried to struggle. Any inclination to fight was slowly draining out of the monk's system with each touch, each caress, and soon enough the one-hundred-and-twelve-year-old boy responded to the insistent kiss, arching up into the exiled prince's touch. Tongues dueled briefly and Prince Zuko won, naturally. They separated to breathe and through the thin silk of his robe the prince could feel the Avatar's heart racing in time to his.
"You are mine, Avatar," the teen whispered, reaching with one hand for the waistband of his captive's robe. The other male gasped, trying hard to twist away as Prince Zuko worked the knot loose, but he only succeeded in helping the process along. As the silken sash fluttered to the floor, leaving his body bare the prince's smile widened a fraction; this victory would be sweet indeed—
The scream that woke the crew was so bloodcurdling that two sentries in full armor leapt from their posts into the sea. It had come from Prince Zuko's chambers, and after an initial pause for breath four guards dashed inside to see what had happened, fully expecting some kind of terrifying monster to have triggered the lone shriek.
They were surprised to find Prince Zuko, apparently unharmed, sitting bolt upright in his bed. Even more surprising was the expression on his scarred face; he was not calm, nor did he seem angry, for once. Rather, the teenager was flushed, panting heavily, looking to be caught between embarrassment and horror, though the men could not for their lives figure out why. That was not their job. It was unlike their leader to be so far from composed.
"Um, Prince Zuko? Sir?" one of the guards started weakly after a moment, and the boy turned a heated glare his way. That was much more like the Zuko they knew. Glancing away almost immediately, the man tried to start again. "Are you all—"
"Unless you have news of the Avatar there is no reason for you to be here!" Prince Zuko snapped irritably, heat rising again to his cheeks, though this time it was clearly from anger. The four unfortunate men jumped back as the bedside candle burst to life, quite nearly scorching the ceiling. With mumbled, hurried apologies they scuttled out, almost tripping over each other as they made their undignified escape. Once the door closed behind them, Prince Zuko stood gracefully, shoving his silken blankets aside. He could feel his heart pounding wildly in his chest still and moved to the porthole window, glancing out at the unending sea before him without actually seeing it. His mind was completely focused on but one thing: The Avatar.
"Where are you hiding now?"
They had finally done it.
The Avatar had been captured, separated from his friends, and was completely at Prince Zuko's mercy. With his two companions locked away and under heavy guard, Prince Zuko was quite positive that the little Savior of Men would cooperate without question. He was bound with a special hemp rope treated so that only fire could break it, and the monk had been stripped of anything with the potential to be used as a weapon. Even of his marbles. His things were all set on the lowest shelf in Zuko's wardrobe, carefully locked away to be sure that the Avatar did not get to them. The flying bison had been drugged and left on the small island they had found it on; by the time it awoke Prince Zuko's ship would be far enough away that it would not be a problem.
And if it did follow, there were always the blockades along the boarders.
All that was left was to decide what to do with the Avatar.
He had been brought to the prince's chamber and forced to sit on the floor away from the closed door. Outside were as many guards as could fit safely in the hallway, plus two, all ready to fire on the preteen if he were to try an escape. Any other guards that could be spared were guarding the Waterbender and her brother in the most secure cells of the ship's lower hulls. In theory, no one would be able to get them out on their own. Certainly, escape was not an option.
Uncle Iroh had come in shortly after the boy had been delivered to bring a kettle of good tea to his hotheaded nephew. He had spoken pleasantly with the Avatar as though they were old friends in an almost fathering tone that drove Prince Zuko up the proverbial wall. Although the retired general never gave the boy a straight answer to his questions, he indirectly assured him that if nothing else his friends were unharmed.
"If you want them to stay that way, you won't try any of your heroics," Prince Zuko growled softly as his uncle finally left again. The visit had piqued the prince's anger, though he was careful not to let it show too blatantly. He ought to have been in good cheer; he finally had the Avatar right where he wanted him. His uncle's crazy moments should not have been troublesome enough to upset him. Aang stared at him in surprise as though heroics had been the furthest possible thing from his mind, and then slumped against the wall with a heavy sigh, thin shoulders hunched a bit. Prince Zuko eyed him rather warily from where he sat on his knees with both hands on his thighs in tight fists. Neither male said anything for a long time, and Prince Zuko watched uneasily as Aang fidgeted where he sat, staring down at his bound hands.
The ropes were tight; too tight, judging by the faint purple tinge to Aang's hands, but Zuko would have been a fool to remove them. Let the Avatar suffer. He did not care. The ancient boy would be sure to suffer more before the Fire Lord was done with him. His death certainly would not be a swift one.
Prince Zuko's nearly golden eyes narrowed a bit at the idea. His father had no right whatsoever to touch the Avatar! He had failed in finding the blessed child just as his grandfather and great grandfather had. It was only Zuko who had come anywhere near close to catching the boy. Only the exiled Prince Zuko who had actually brought him down. No one else had any right to his prize.
"You are mine Avatar…"
The words from his dream echoed in his mind, startling him a bit. The dream had started somewhat like this, with the Avatar bound and trapped in his room, completely at Prince Zuko's mercy. And for a while it had been a fairly normal dream. At least until he had actually touched the prize. He grimaced at that; he was no pervert. Who would violate a one-hundred-and-twelve-year-old boy? True, the Avatar was attractive, and he was quite sure that he was unspoiled, but… That did not mean that Prince Zuko wanted to change that!
"Why is your face red?"
Prince Zuko almost jumped at the question; the flame on the bedside candle certainly did. He looked up sharply to see the Avatar staring right back at him, his head tilted to the side and his eyes genuinely curious. Heat leapt into Zuko's cheeks, and he could feel them redden a bit. "It is not. You're hallucinating," he quipped defensively, glaring darkly at the boy. Aang only blinked, confused by the dark look he was being given coupled with the blatant lie, and then leaned back against the wall, tapping his fingers against the metal floor of the ship.
The faint, rhythmic tapping soon had the Prince's anger rising and he leaned forward, batting the boy's bound hands up and away from the floor. "Stop that," he snapped, surprised at the jolt of electricity that seemed to go through him as their hands touched, even if it was only for a moment. Aang must have felt it too, as the boy flushed a pale cherry and drew his hands away, pressing them to his chest rather shyly.
"I'm bored," the Avatar announced after an uncomfortable beat of silence. He ignored the icy look Prince Zuko was giving him for the most part, looking instead at the rather barren room. A few wall scrolls, a map, a pair of halberds crossed over a low table, a small futon complete with two sets of blankets and a bright red silk comforter, and an elaborately painted red dragon over an altar with four candles and a short bench to either kneel or sit on in front of it. All in all, it was pretty elaborate for a bedroom on a giant warship, but somehow Aang would have liked to think that a prince's room would be more interesting. True, it was more interesting than it had been the first time he'd seen it, but really; improving upon that could not have been difficult.
"Get used to it. It's not my job to keep you entertained," Zuko muttered, watching as the Avatar struggled a little with the bindings cutting into his wrists. His fingers were turning a dark purple, and he whined softly, plainly wishing that he could at least move his hands enough to feel them properly. With a soft, angry growl Prince Zuko reached out and snatched his hands, yanking him forward without a word of explanation. Working the knot free, he gently coaxed the bindings loose so that he could pull them down to rest lower on the boy's wrists. Where they had been tied only a moment before Aang's arms were bruised, and even his blue tattoo matched the mottled purple marks. Zuko winced inwardly at the sight of them, somewhat reluctantly tightening the ropes enough to be sure that the Avatar could not escape. Enemy or not, the kid ought to be treated a little better than that; he had seen slaves with looser bindings! But then, those slaves had not been master benders.
"What?" Prince Zuko asked, glancing back up at the boy. He had not really realized that he was staring at his wrists still. Aang was still leaning precariously forward on his knees, and his cheeks were flushed an attractive roseate. It was a striking look for the boy—dazed, confused, apparently embarrassed by something… he looked good enough to eat, though Prince Zuko did not know where that thought had come from. He did not want to dwell on it, either. His thoughts might go back to that dream again, and that would not be good.
Aang looked up at him, grayish eyes wide with a youthful innocence that did not match his long years. "You're still holding my hands," the boy whispered, wiggling his still purple-tinted fingers to illustrate his point. As if confused, Zuko looked down and flushed brightly, releasing the boy's hand and brushing his off on his pants quickly, apparently trying to rid himself of the feeling of Aang's touch. Not that it worked. It was cool and somehow sweet, reminding the exiled prince of snowballs drenched in syrup. The analogy puzzled him, and he frowned, sitting back again with is hands in his lap. Not only had that apparently come out of nowhere, but Zuko was almost certain that drawing parallels between the Avatar and his favorite desert was a decidedly bad thing, if not dangerous.
Apparently satisfied with having his hands back even if there was still not much that he could do with them beyond wiggle, the little monk leaned back against the wall, staring up at the high ceiling. He was still bored, but now he was also puzzled. Prince Zuko's behavior was… odd, to say the least. True, he did not know the Firebender well at all, and he was pretty sure that everyone from the Fire Nation was strange, but as far as strangeness went Prince Zuko took the cake, even above his uncle.
"Teenagers…" The boy mumbled absently, shaking his head slowly.
The prince looked up sharply, eyes narrowing visibly as though Aang had said something incredibly suspicious. "What's that supposed to mean, Avatar?" he growled, and Aang glanced over at him, a perfectly innocent smile on his face. It seemed to say something like, 'What, I have to explain it to you?'
It seemed he did, as Prince Zuko continued to glare at him suspiciously, the way one might look at a known killer proclaiming a sudden complete change of heart. Which was probably the absolute furthest thing in the universe from the Avatar, with the possible exception of Commander Zhao. "You're all weird. Katara and Sokka too. I don't understand what keeps making y'all act so crazy," he said lightly, shrugging it off. He was well aware that his explanation probably did not make much sense, if any, but he certainly did not owe Prince Zuko an in-depth explanation.
"Puberty," Prince Zuko muttered absently, not quite realizing that he had spoken aloud. Uncle Iroh had always used it as his way of explaining away anything odd that his nephew had done since his exile, and it really was a good explanation. Even if it was not quite concrete and even if it could mean literally hundreds of different things, it was the response he always had to settle for. The damnable thing even explained his unsettling dreams about the Avatar, to some extent. Though why his hormones wanted something like that he could certainly not explain.
"What's puberty?" the Avatar asked, tilting his head to the side and staring blankly at the Fire prince. He had never heard of it, or if he had, it had been so long ago that he'd completely forgotten.
Prince Zuko looked back up at him, one eyebrow raised incredulously in an expression that plainly said 'Are you kidding?' Surely the little monk was not that dense! Everyone his age should have known what puberty was. How could someone supposedly so wised and learned not know? The very idea was simply… simply…
It explained Aang's naïveté and only added to his breathtaking innocence. Aang was the Avatar—he was over a hundred years old! He was the Master of All Elements, the most powerful man on Earth… And he did not know what puberty was. The idea was completely ludicrous. True, he was a monk, and as Avatar he more than likely had other things to focus on in his studies… But Zuko had known about it long before it became something he actually had to deal with. He'd been told horror stories about it all throughout his childhood.
"Puberty is the changes your body goes through when you're becoming a man," he replied, very much set on leaving as much detail out as he could. Hormones were not something he much wanted to explain, and if he had to touch the topic of wet dreams he would probably hang himself. He watched the Avatar warily as the boy rocked back on his heels, and then as he opened his mouth to say something, Prince Zuko added quickly; "Or a woman, when it's happening to a girl."
"Oh." Aang murmured, blinking in confusion. The prince had jumped his question entirely. Not even Sokka or Katara could guess what he was thinking; or if they could, they never did anything about it. He was not used to being cut off. He sighed after a moment, again staring up at the ceiling. Puberty was yet another thing he had not experienced, something that he would probably miss out on if the guards had been right in saying that the Fire Lord would not be letting him live. His mood dropped then, and he slumped down where he sat, closing his eyes in an attempt to block out reality.
The silence that filled the room was an uncomfortable one, and although Zuko tried not to let it show he was feeling somewhat… concerned for the little Avatar. In his limited experience with the boy he had always been smiling and laughing in the face of danger, or if nothing else had looked more lively than a child in a candy shop. At present, however, the little monk looked as though all wind had been stolen from his sails. He seemed withdrawn, afraid, closed off from the world.
Prince Zuko did not like it.
Avatar or not, the little boy was just that; a little boy. Even if he had lived for over a hundred years, Aang was nothing more than a child. Separated from his friends, trapped, alone—the Avatar had to be scared out of his mind. He looked it, with his shoulders hunched, knees up close to his chest, and his bound hands close to his feet. He kept glancing toward the door every time there was any sort of noise from outside, and looked as though he expected someone to barge in and lop off his head.
Prince Zuko let out a disgusted sigh, standing quickly and crossing the room to his closet. He hated to be a bully. Even if the Avatar was supposed to be the most powerful person on Earth, he was still a child. Terrorizing children was dishonorable.
Grumbling something under his breath along the lines of "it would be much easier if you were an old man, Avatar," the prince carefully stripped out of his light armor and hung each piece back on its hook in his closet. Ignoring the distinct feeling in his stomach that he was being watched, he pulled off his undershirt and folded it against his chest before laying it on one of the shelves in the closet, close to the Avatar's things. Lifting his silken nightshirt, he automatically inspected it before slipping it on. Pulling the red ribbon out of his hair to let it down, he sighed faintly and pulled a second nightshirt out of his closet—this one white, almost identical to the crimson one Zuko wore aside from the color difference, down to the embroidered symbol over the breast pocket. The prince's crest was red, black and gold, a twisting knot of black flame with gold along the edges and a black silhouette of another fire behind it. It was both a constant reminder of his position and his exile. Shutting the doors to the wardrobe, he turned again to the Avatar to find the other male watching him closely. Even his hands had stilled.
"It's late. You should get some sleep; tomorrow's going to be a long day," the prince said, crossing the room to pull him to his feet. Again he was surprised at the spark that went through him at the simple contact, but he carefully did not blush. The Avatar had caught him doing enough of that already. Aang wobbled on his feet, but caught himself with a careful twist of air. Prince Zuko stiffened visibly, and again the bedside candle flickered. But when the Avatar did not use his Bending for anything else he relaxed a bit. The scared boy was being true to their agreement, if blackmail could be called that. He was not trying anything.
Prince Zuko was impressed; the Avatar must have been truly concerned for his companions if he was keeping himself in such careful check. Again, he felt his stomach twist. Holding otherwise involved people captive to make a twelve-year-old behave was incredibly low. Sickeningly so. Scowling at the realization that he was still being a bully, he hurriedly loosened the binding around Aang's wrists. "Change into this," he said, pressing the silken nightshirt he had brought out into the boy's hands.
The Avatar stared at him, surprised, then nodded slowly and quickly wiggled out of his shirt. His cheeks tinged a soft pink when Prince Zuko did not look away, but he carefully said nothing as he pulled the shirt on. Joking as his elders might have been when they had originally said it, the boy found than an old anecdote held true; "play not with fire, lest you get yourself burned." Of course, as Avatar he would have to play with it eventually, but now was not likely a good time to tempt fate. Especially when Katara and Sokka's safety was on the line.
Satisfied that the boy no longer needed his hands free, the Fire Prince again caught them and retied the rope, carefully avoiding the nasty bruises higher up on his wrists. Tugging the bonds tight, he looked down at Aang and nodded toward his futon. "Come on," he said, thankful that he could keep his voice even. By all accounts, it was a small miracle. The idea of sharing a bed with the Avatar after so many nights having strange dreams was more than a bit daunting. What could his subconscious come up with if the boy was actually there with him?
"You want me to sleep with you?" Aang blurt out, staring up at the sixteen-year-old with wide eyes. True, he was naïve and did not fully understand the possible implications of "sleeping together," but he knew that it was not normal. Between married people, maybe, but not… enemies. Or whatever they were. He did not much like the idea of being anyone's foe, but it seemed it was yet another thing wherein he had no choice. Zuko had decided to be his enemy right from the start, even if he was acting awfully peculiar as such.
Another blush ran like wildfire across Zuko's cheeks, and he immediately turned away, pulling the little monk toward the bed with silent determination not to fumble if he could think up a proper response. His mind seemed to stall, and when he reached the bed he took a deep breath and he turned again to the boy.
"You can't escape if I've got you. And I don't trust you on your own," he said, proud that the half-truth had not come out sounding as forced as it was. A part of him wanted to see if he could handle sharing a bed with the object of his desires, with the most powerful man on Earth. Another part wanted to prove that he could do it without letting his hormones get the better of him. And another rebellious, quiet part of him wanted to make his dreams a reality.
He hoped that he could ignore that part.
Aang stared up at him for a moment, looking rather uncomfortable with the idea—which he was—but nodded and carefully crawled into bed. He fumbled a little on his way, apparently having trouble with his hands bound again, but was soon fairly well situated with his back turned to the other male. Prince Zuko watched him briefly, face stony to mask his embarrassment, then pulled the covers aside and joined the boy. He watched as the Avatar drew up his blankets around his shoulders, a feat in itself with his hands tied, then moved closer and wordlessly pulled the boy against him. He could feel his pulse quicken in his cheeks and noted with some satisfaction that Aang's breathing sped up a fraction. At least he would not be alone in having trouble getting to sleep with this arrangement.
"I-is this really—"
"I won't let you sneak off," the prince said quickly, closing his eyes. Perhaps he would be able to meditate rather than sleep right away; that sounded decidedly easier than letting his mind wander until he either did something he would regret or slept. For a long moment Aang did not say a word, nor did he move even to blink. He simply lay in Prince Zuko's arms, stiff as a board. Finally, however, the Avatar seemed to relax a bit, and he brought his bounds hands to rest atop Zuko's. The prince let out a soft sigh that he had not quite realized he was holding and nestled his scarred face comfortable into the large down pillow he shared with the Avatar. Maybe a little sleep would be okay…
Long after Zuko's breathing had evened out in sleep, Aang lay trapped in his arms, staring at the wall blankly, still confused. The exiled prince was supposed to be his enemy. He hurt people. He had even destroyed entire villages to come after him. The prince had drugged Appa and hurt his friends! His cold eyes should have been enough to tell him that, to convince him. All that should have been reason enough to hate him for being a cold, unfeeling monster.
But his embrace was warm.
Part one: Owari.
Expect part two sometime soon! Yes, I do expect your little flames for this. Bit me. I could not honestly care less if you hate it. If you really don't like it you shouldn't be reading this far. With some luck I'll have part two up within a week; I'm almost done writing it.
April 2007: Some formatting and grammar errors have been fixed. A full revamp will have to wait until the story is finished.