Title: Under Wicked Sky
Fandom: Avatar (Sokka/Zuko)
Rating: Mature
Disclaimer: A:TLA (and the title) are not mine.
Warning: Violence, sex, rape.

Chapter One: Just Like A Wartime Novelty

The branch whipped Zuko in the face. He stumbled back, but the tugging at his wrist drew him forward again. Running, staggering onward he felt himself collide with the blue mass holding his wrist. There was a soft gasp before they both fell to the forest floor. They lay separate and silent, breathing in the sweat and salt that ran down their faces. Finally, Zuko rolled off his back and on his side to face the Water Tribe boy. He squinted in the darkness. The boy was unsheathing his dagger. Instinctively the Prince tensed, one hand ready to launch a sudden burst of flame, the other was useless, broken.


The dagger was driven into the side of the nearest tree. Crouching, the boy pressed his ear against the hilt. "I don't think anyone's coming this way, yet," he said in a shaky voice, putting the dagger away and looked at the firebender. For the first time in the past hour they faced each other. The silence was magnified by the crickets chirping somewhere around them. The boy sat down against the tree, his chest heaving, and Zuko pushed himself up into a sitting position with his good arm.

"How far are we from the village?" the Prince asked. Talk would be simple, each ignoring who the other really was. The enemy.

"A few miles."

Zuko frowned and coughed slightly. He could taste the metallic tang of blood in his mouth and spat. He had bit through his tongue, and his breath was coming in short bursts. "…Have to keep moving. Zhao isn't this easy to lose."

"I can't! My friends might still be down there!"

"By now they're dead or captured," Zuko said. "I would worry about myself." He pulled his lamed arm onto his lap and cringed, it was broken in several places. Setting it would be as painful as it would be difficult. The Water Tribe boy stood and Zuko's attention snapped back toward him. The Prince's good eye narrowed.

"What the hell did you do that for?"

The boy blinked, the angles of his face magnified in the twilight. "What?"

"What do you mean 'what?'," Zuko struggled onto his feet to face the boy eye to eye. "Why did you interfere…?" He couldn't finish the sentence because breathing was excruciating and traces of vertigo were dancing violently in his head.

"Why did I save you?" the other supplied.

"You didn't 'save' me!" Zuko shot back, stepping forward clutching his arm to his chest. "Why did you interfere? The battle was between Zhoa and myself!"

"It wasn't my first choice, okay?" the boy countered angrily. "Saving a firebender isn't high on my list of things to do. " He shrugged, avoiding the Prince's eyes and scratching the back of his neck. "It was kind of an accident, really. Besides that Zhao guy would have killed you, he was about to." The boy stopped and crossed his arms. "Why did you come with me?"

Zuko chose to inhale a few shaky breaths, to calm himself and take in enough air to answer. But as he watched the other turn and begin to walk away so he asked instead, "Where are you going?"

Of course he already knew the answer.

"Back to the village, I have to see if Aang and Katara are safe."

The Prince watched the blue figure push through thickets and undergrowth, until he was out of sight. The fool. Zuko sank to his knees and spat again. He slid easily onto the ground, leaves and twigs prickling into his face. His eyes closed, intending to rest just for a second.

Hours ago he nearly died.

Zhao had the upper hand - more men, rhinos, and cannons. So when the commander entered the village Zuko had already lost. Nevertheless, he would never acknowledge defeat, especially to a bastard like Zhao. Zuko, himself, had cornered the Avatar and he could almost feel the familiar winds of his homeland caressing his face. But, of course, Zhao had ruined the vision. It was chaos, firebender against firebender, Zuko against Zhao and his men. It wasn't fair, but what ever was these days?

The brawl was fleeting in his mind, memories jumbled - kicks, blocks, fire, some missing, some scorching. Zhao had him pinned and the other firebenders scattered into the fray seeing as they were no longer needed to subdue the Prince.

A boot crushed his left arm and broke it. His other arm was held by the commander, twisted away from the older man. Zuko's legs were useless in the situation; Zhao had positioned himself out of their way. Zhao was taking pleasure in standing over the Prince, he was speaking but Zuko's full attention lay in his bending. He intended to set his sleeves on fire, to break Zhao's grasp.

It was then the silver boomerang came, slicing through the madness, and struck Zhao's helmet. It was deflected, but Zhao had lost his power over the Prince and Zuko decided to play Zhao's dirty game. Grasping at the dusty roadside with his broken arm he waited for Zhao to turn back toward him. And when he did, Zuko felt the already broken arm snap again with the force of his throw. Whips of flame flew with the dust but died as the fractured bones were further disjoined. The commander had enough time to stop the flame, but he was no earthbender.

Zhao cried something foul as the dirt temporarily blinded him and aimed a burst of flame where Zuko had been. Zuko rolled away and took a split second to watch Zhao, panic, rubbing his eyes and calling for his men. The Prince raised his good arm, but he could not kill the commander yet.

Suddenly, something tripped over the Prince. It was the Water Tribe boy, friend of the Avatar. They locked eyes - Zuko on the ground, the boy laying only feet away. Zuko could tell the boy was terrified, but something within his eyes changed as he gazed back at the Prince. It was mercy - mercy for him, Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation and Zuko would have gouged those merciful eyes out given the chance.

The boy scrambled up, turned away, and then turned back to Zuko, saying in a pained voice, "Give me your hand!"

And much to the world's surprise, Zuko complied, letting the other pull him to his feet. The Prince swayed as vertigo hit. The boy was saying something, something angrily, perhaps an excuse for his benevolent actions, but Zuko couldn't make out the words properly. A hand closed on the Prince's wrist, and the voice was telling him to run, so he did.

And together, they ran and ran and ran…

Outside of his eyelids and the memories under them, something was moving. Zuko didn't stir as the twigs snapped in the pattern of footsteps. It was very close now, bending over him. Zuko's mind spun and he cursed; his good arm lay under him. A hand seized his shoulder and rolled him onto his back. Without hesitation his eyes opened and his arm shot out - a small fireball manifested and completely missed its target.

"Shit!" yelled the crouching Water Tribe boy, falling on his behind. Zuko struggled to his knees and aimed his good arm at the boy, who was now crouching low with his dagger drawn. Neither spoke, their dispositions had already provided answers to any questions they had for each other.

"Move and I swear I'll incinerate you," Zuko hissed. A small trickle of blood was running down his chin. It fell to the ground with a small splat.

"Whatever you say," the boy said with a smug grimace. "It's not like your going to last much longer." Zuko snarled, another burst of flame formed at his fist and shot at the boy. But a body collided with his - the boy had dove under the flame like some kind of blue and brown projectile, smashing into the Prince's stomach.

Zuko gasped as his back hit the ground, the wind knocked from his lungs. The boy was straddling him, one hand holding down his right wrist, the other painfully grasping his broken arm. The boy dug his fingers into the lamed arm's discolored flesh. But Zuko refused to scream, instead he grit his teeth and pushed his torso upward, his forehead colliding with the boy's.

Freeing his legs, the Prince rolled, pushing the other underneath him. With his right hand, Zuko grasped the startled boy's throat. Pressing his entire weight onto the other boy, he slowly tightened his grip. The boy choked, grabbing at the Prince's arm with his free hand - the other lay, twisted behind his back, pressed between the forest floor and both their bodies.

His eyes met the boy's wide blue eyes. Zuko wanted the gouge them out again. They grew larger and Zuko saw himself, his arm extending down to the boy's neck where it was slowly snuffing the life out of him. Above Zuko stood dark figures - the arched helmets were all too familiar.

Zuko released his grip, and turned his torso to facing the firebenders. But there was no time left, the blunt end of a spear collided with his temple and everything exploded as he sank. Zuko felt his cheek brush the other boy's, his good arm on the boy's chest. Under his palm he could feel the other's heart beating rapidly, it was somehow comforting.

To Be Continued In…

Chapter Two: Until It Sleeps

In which Sokka says his part, Zhao helps Zuko with his arm, and Zuko plans to escape.


Avatar is Nickelodeon's and I'm not making any money off of this unfortunately. The title "Under Wicked Sky" and most future chapter titles are randomly pulled from the Metallica songs, which are not mine either.

[edited 03.14.2009]