Disclaimer: I own nothing.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Mercy

Azula could admire a warrior, no matter what nation he or she hailed from.

The Fire Nation Princess did not know the young woman's name; all she knew was that she was a Kyoshi warrior, strong and skilled and brave. Especially brave, in Azula's eyes. Any other person would have gone running with blue flames being shot at them and fire at their backs.

Of course, the girl—warrior, Azula scolded mentally, she is nothing but a warrior, the enemy—could have just been stupid, but judging by the flare in her eyes, it was a safe bet she was brave.

Azula could respect that.

The warrior had ordered the bison to go, to find the Avatar, and the beast had only abandoned her when she'd held a flaming torch. Now she faced Azula, fans drawn. Azula smirked.

"Don't you know fans just make flames stronger?"

The warrior easily dodged Azula's fire blast, blocking it with her shield; without hesitation, she charged forward.

Brave, Azula decided. Very, very brave. It would be a shame that she'd have to die for her bravery. She reminded the princess very much of herself.

Azula sidestepped with ease, fist aflame; she slammed it hard into the warrior's side, her fingers closing on the back of her uniform. A choked gasp escaped the Kyoshi warrior as she was dragged roughly back, the princess's nails biting faintly into her skin, and she was thrown to the ground. She skidded a few feet before becoming still; her hand instinctively flew to her side, felt the warm heat of blood and burned flesh.

"You're very brave, you know." Azula's voice was almost amused as blue fire began to dance in the palm of her hand. "It's a pity that bravery will be your downfall."

The warrior's eyes widened at this comment; her gaze darted around almost frantically. Her fellow warriors had their hands full with Mai and Ty Lee; her back was against a burning tree, and when Azula had struck her she had lost her grip on her weapons. The bison was no where in sight, having taken her words to heart. Slowly, her gaze locked with Azula. After a moment, she spoke.

"A true warrior knows when her battle ends." Her voice was soft. "My battle ends here." Her blue eyes were pained as they gazed into the golden depths of the princess's, and after a moment she bowed her head, accepting defeat.

Confusion—and a stronger emotion that Azula couldn't identify—rose in the place of anger and inbred hatred, clouding the princess's eyes. She gazed at the warrior, fallen in every sense of the word, yet accepting defeat with the grace beyond her years.

Her heart thudded painfully at the realization that this was it—the warrior knew her fate, and accepted it. She inhaled sharply.

In that single instant, all pretenses seemed to drop. Azula no longer saw a warrior, the enemy, before her—instead she saw a girl, a girl with blue eyes and dark brown hair, a girl who might love, might have a father, mother, siblings. Maybe even an uncle, like Azula once had.

A girl that might have fears and dreams, might have loved and been loved.

She reminded the princess so much of herself.

The blue flames in Azula's palm flared to life; she jerked her wrist back sharply, releasing a stream of blue fire.

The stream shot over the warrior's head and swirled into the orange flames that danced along the fallen tree; silently, Azula lowered her hand, her fingers loose. Confused, the warrior glanced at the burning tree behind her before looking back at Azula.

Behind her, traces of blue faded away into the normal orange hue.

"That could have been you," Azula murmured; her voice was soft, yet unmistakably tinged with what might have been sadness or weariness—she didn't know. "Next time we meet again, remember that."

Without a word, the princess turned her back to the warrior and walked to her friends.

She never looked back.

The End

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Based off the cliffhanger fight in "Appa's Lost Days". Has anyone ever noticed that whenever Azula is about to kill someone, something stops her? Well, this was just something I thought of... What would happen if nothing stopped her?

Read and review, please!