Smile ­
(prelude to Grey Sky Morning)

Like it says, it's a prelude to another fic. Right now, I'm home bored and sick so I decided to type something depressive up. Don't ask. When I'm bored and sick, I tend to become really depressive.

I sorta came up with this after I read some fic…forgot the name or who wrote it…but it inspired me to come up with this. Dunno where I'm going to go with it, but ah well. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: Me no own. BUT me own poem.

Warning: hinted slash.

When nothing goes the way you want it,
You often wish it could be changed,
So that you may live the life you dreamt,
But that is when you know…

You have nothing left but your smile.

--Broken
--by: ME! Please, do not steal.


"You never loved me, did you."

It wasn't a question, just a simple statement that hinted nothing of the broken heart Sokka knew was underneath. He nodded slowly, not daring to look at the scarred face of his so-called lover.

There was such a prolonged silence that Sokka, in the end, couldn't take it anymore and looked up. What he saw surprised him more than it should've. He knew that when Zuko was hurt in any way, he would immediately retreat behind a sort of mental wall, blocking any emotion from getting through. But he wasn't prepared for this much lack of emotion.

He had heard once that eyes were the windows to your soul. And he had expected this to be the truth, for all the times he glanced at eyes of various people and saw an array of emotions swirling in them. But for the first time in his life, those golden orbs just stared at him in stony silence, revealing nothing.

"Is she pretty?"

The words held no mockery, no anger, nothing, just plain curiosity.

Sokka fought to keep from shivering at the lack of feeling and nodded slowly. "She was."

"Was?"

A faint twitch upwards of an eyebrow was all the emotion he got. Sokka had to look away again as he nodded again.

"She died to become the Moon Spirit…"

"Oh…" A pause caused Sokka to look up again just in time to catch a faint hint of recognition flashed over the Prince's face. "Her…" He crossed his arms and nodded in admiration. "The Northern Water Tribe Princess." Another nod of admiration. "I can see why…with her around, who'd want anyone else?"

Sokka bit his lip as he forced himself not to shudder at the strange way the Prince was acting. As if this was normal…as if this…didn't matter… "So you...don't care?"

The emotionless golden orbs felt as if they were boring into his soul with the intensity they stared at him.

"No."


Sokka sat by the window in the old tavern, just staring at the waning crescent in the sky.

The chair in front of him was empty, as it had been for the past two hours. A lone cup of jasmine tea, half-full, sat forlornly in front of empty chair. Sokka glanced at it once, before quickly looking back at the moon. He…was gone.

He had always been so full of paradoxes…saying one thing, but meaning another. He always said he hated tea, and yet it was the only thing apart from water he drank. He always acted so impatient in front of others, and yet alone, he was the most patient being Sokka had ever seen. And…he always said he didn't care…but Sokka could tell from just one glance in the eyes that he didn't mean it.

Sokka stood up, grabbing his coat along the way. What did he care? Zuko meant nothing to him. He was just the closest thing there to get release. Hell, whenever they fucked, it was always dark. It was easy to pretend that the person he fucked was someone else.

So…why did he feel so guilty?

Sokka shook his head quickly. He was being stupid. Sure he felt a little guilty, he never wanted Zuko to find out that those words he muttered to him meant nothing. The nightly passions of 'love' were just something they did—it meant nothing. None of it meant anything. But he didn't want Zuko to find out he was being used…

Sokka shrugged. The guilt would go away. He thought as he handed the bar tender two copper pieces. The bar tender shot him a disapproving look before his eyes wandered over to the empty chair and half-full tea cup. Sokka ignored the look as he exited the tavern. What did he care what people thought?

Now all he had to do was go back to camp, and both Zuko and he go back to acting as normal then after they saved the world and all that, he'd never have to see Zuko again.

Aang would most likely be disappointed, but he doesn't have to know the full extent of the situation—he'd expected them to marry and be together for the rest of their lives. He'd seen it as a great propaganda weapon—Water and Fire could be together.

Sokka scoffed. Too bad Aang never realized that Sokka didn't really give a damn about Zuko. He just wanted the release.

Katara, on the other hand, must've suspected something. Sokka wasn't really sure how or to what extent she figured Sokka wasn't being faithful, but the way she looked at the two of them—he'd never seen such sad eyes towards Zuko, or such angry eyes towards himself—he knew she knew.

He stumbled back to camp only to be greeted by cold looks. It took him a few minutes to realize Zuko never came back.


It was dawn now; the sun was rising in the distance. He had riding for what? Five, six, seven hours now? But to his faint surprise, he found he didn't care.

The ostrich-horse whickered once and snorted, tugging at the reins he held. Zuko loosened them a bit, finding that he didn't care where the animal was going. He had a small sense of déjà vu then, reminding him of the times when it was just he and Iroh, wandering along with no destination in mind.

He had no reason to go back. He knew the Avatar and the Waterbender would most likely be searching for him, and he felt a tad guilty of leaving them behind, but he knew that in the long run, it was all for the better.

Iroh had been caught by the Fire Nation a while ago, and thrown in jail. Despite his treason, no one was willing to behead him for he was the first-born son of Firelord Azulon, and the brother to Firelord Ozai. He carried royal blood in him, and it was the highest treason to kill a member (no matter how dishonored or disgraceful) of the royal family. So he was not worried.

Azula meanwhile sought to capture the Avatar, having deemed that Zuko was no longer worth the time or effort. She was next in line to the throne anyways, and no possible being on this earth could make Zuko Firelord. Once banished, always banished. Ozai or Azula would have to pardon his banishment for him to regain the throne, but Zuko knew they would never do that.

Sighing, Zuko watched the sun rise. The sun had always meant for him a bright new day, full of hope. But now that he gazed at the sun, he was suddenly struck by how utterly stupid that idea was. He'd always dreamed he would be something more, something people looked up to and revered… but in the end, that was what it all was. Dreams.

Everyone used him. Everyone. The only person he couldn't think of using him was Iroh, but give him enough time and something would be revealed.

Aang used him for propaganda…to show the world there was still hope. He didn't mind that…but it would still be nice if the Avatar told him outright that their friendship was based more on the security for the future than just being normal companions who shared a few laughs together, not caring what the future held.

Now that he thought of it, basically the whole world used him as propaganda. He was either just another stupid evil firebender, or he was something to mold so the future would be safe.

Katara used him to perfect her fighting style. The final battle was fast approaching, and she wanted to be as ready as possible. She continuously challenged him…night and day.

Father…well, that was simple. Ozai just used him as a shield against foes, something to distract them, something to throw away when no longer useful. Azula was the same; she just used him to show their Father who was best.

And Sokka…

Sex.

That was all he'd been good for. Those cute things he sometimes whispered in his ears when they made love…they weren't really for him. They were for someone else he just couldn't have.

A strange sort of numbness settled over him when he thought that, but Zuko ignored it. Love didn't exist for him, for some reason. Maybe he wasn't good enough.

Automatically a hand reached to touch his scar.

He suddenly smiled.

Yes. Of course. How could he be so stupid as to not realize that before?

He was never good enough. He wasn't smart, and he was too quick in anger. And, he was sixteen and years behind his sister in Firebending. She was a master, he was not. She was beautiful, he was not. She was honorable, he was not. She was clever, quick, agile…and he was not. Everyone adored her; everyone hated him. It was simple, she was everything, he was nothing. And so she had everything (from suitors to the throne and their father's respect), while he had nothing (just a tired ostrich-horse and a piece of bread).

No wonder people were quick to use him then throw him away…

And to think he held on for this long thinking someone actually, for once, really truly loved him for who he was… someone other than Iroh.

Zuko shook his head and smiled. Whatever. He was just a stupid Firebending idiot, as everyone else claimed him to be. And that was what he'll forever be. Just someone to use then throw aside.

Sighing once, he closed his eyes and put the mask back on again. For when you have nothing left, the perfect lie is a smile.

And so he smiled.


That was so depressing…god. Ah well. Just so you know, this is only the prelude to another story I'm thinking of writing…one day. I just thought to write this now, 'cause like I said, I'm home sick and bored.

SVA