The man (Zuko, he thinks, and the name tastes bitter on his tongue) gets up and approaches him slowly. His mother stands between them, but Lee cranes his neck to look around her--he wants to see.

A moment later, he wishes he hadn't, because he looks into the eyes of someone he once called a friend and thinks he sees a stranger there.

"I hate you," he says, and the man walks away.


Lee sits by idly (my name is Zuko) as the fields go unplowed (son of Ursa and Fire Lord Ozai). The man's voice (prince of the Fire Nation) plays over and over again in his head, and he feels betrayed (heir to the throne).

It isn't until later that he realizes he doesn't know why.


The next day, soldiers appear at their door, asking for food and supplies to, as they put it, "find and capture the bandit who wreaked destruction through our town." They might as well have called him by name; it could not have been clearer who they are talking about.

His mother hands them over without a word. "Of course."

But that isn't how it happened, Lee wants to say. He gapes at her. How could she have forgotten?

Prince of the Fire Nation, the voice whispers in his ears, but the words seem meaningless. How could they have changed everything?

He'd never questioned it before, but it feels wrong.


The dagger drifts in and out of his mind's eye, and Lee wishes that he had taken it.

He remembers the words (never give up without a fight), but even more, he remembers the hope.

Never give up without a fight.

Never give up without a fight.

Maybe even a Fire Nation man can be right about some things.


"Why did you give everything to those men? They're still just bullies."

Lee's mother mutters something about crimes being relative.

"But that man--Zuko--he helped us--"

"He was a Fire Nation man, Lee."


"No. I will not discuss this further with you. Go to bed."

He does not mention Zuko again, and his mother finally relaxes.

But sometimes, in the dead of night, Lee sneaks out into the open fields. He takes a stick in each hand and twirls them around and around until he can see twin blades.



EDIT (12/28/06): Fixed up some awkward language.