Author's Note: Hihi. This is my first Avatar fanfic. I've been reading quite a few recently and seeing as I'm me, plots have begun to form uncontrollably within my brain. I can't stop it. So I'm going to write it.
There will be no update schedule or anything of the sort. To be honest, this is made more to get this stuff out of my head than for others to read it. But it would be greatly appreciated if I got reviews anyway. I live to please. No matter how much I hate that sort of life.
Also, as a bit of a side-note, I'm a major Zuko fan, so I'll probably focus on him and his new conscience a bit more than is healthy for me. I will also not be one of those people who throws Zuko in jail or has him try to kill his father in the first two chapters. I have something else planned for the poor, angsty, little firebender.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar. If I did, Zuko would never have betrayed Iroh. And you would see a whole lot more of Ty Lee.
"Oh, Zuzu. I know it must just be your absolute favorite thing to do, but could you please stop moping like that. You're starting to remind me of Mai…"
The Fire Nation princess was feeling quite a bit agitated despite her recent victory in the take-over of Ba Sing Se. It was getting more and more annoying by the day to have to sit around and keep an eye on her older brother. She knew well enough that if she didn't keep her hold on him, there was the possibility he might slip away from her reach for good, but did he have to be so … so … himself? It was nauseating to watch him.
Here they were, feasting from the finest the great Earth stronghold had to offer, and all he did was sit there and stare off into space with that melancholy look of his. Maybe if she could convince Ty Lee to watch him instead, she'd finally be able to take a break from this nonsense and begin to use this new power she had gained….
"I'm sorry. Excuse me," Zuko replied softly, pulling the Fire Nation princess back to the present as he lifted himself from the chair with what seemed like unfathomable effort. Azula frowned.
"You're thinking about him again, aren't you?" she snapped.
The young prince paused in his footsteps. "About who?"
"Our dear, sweet Uncle, of course. Who else?" Her voice was dripping with sarcasm.
Zuko turned back around to face his sibling, eyebrows furrowed inward toward his now dulled golden orbs. "And if I was, what would it mean to you?"
"It would mean that he's poisoned your mind far worse than I had thought when I saw you earlier, betraying him without even a second thought. Zuko, you've changed. You no longer have that flame burning inside you that I so used to admire. I saw it reappear beautifully that night as you battled, but ever since that moment it has been dwindling down to a mere flicker."
The raven haired boy winced, though held it back enough so that it wasn't noticeable to his sister. He didn't like talking about this. He was not willing to face this yet. He was still unsure of what he was even doing here, why he had made the decision he had. Why? Why had he been so stupid as to actually betray the trust of the one person in all the nations who seemed to put faith in him?!
"Zuko!" The boy jumped at his sister's still echoing holler, eyes now wide and staring into her own, his earlier thoughts trailing off into nothingness. Now that she had his attention, she quieted down, spoke softer, more soothing. "You're doubting yourself, my brother. That is what is weakening you. But do not even think that I would turn against you for it. Zuzu … I can help you regain everything you've lost, if you'll just let me. Just trust me, brother, and I can help erase your doubt." The manipulative princess slowly raised her hand toward her brother, calling for him to take it.
Zuko was quiet for a long time, unmoving. Azula was not a person he could place his faith in. She was anything and everything but. And yet he felt that there was truth in what she said. She obviously did not have to deal with the overwhelming surge of emotions he was drowning in daily. She did not feel guilt; she could probably show him how to do the same. And that was all he wanted right now. To forget. Everything. The hatred. The confusion. The guilt. He just wanted it all to disappear. He wanted everything to return to how it was before this whole mess ever started. That was all he wanted. Yet it still sounded so … wrong.
And even as he reached out his own hand and grasped his younger sister's firmly, resolutely, he couldn't help but feel that he was making the second worst mistake of his life.
"This makes four days since we left Ba Sing Se. And we still haven't found anywhere to stay…" mumbled a rather tired Katara, more to herself than to anyone else. But seeing as they were all crowded atop a single flying bison, everyone heard her.
"'Left'? You say it like we had a choice," replied Toph, quite a bit disgruntled.
The Earth King, who prior to the beginning of this conversation had been fiddling with his pet bear's paws and making disapproving "tsk" noises at them, looked over at the two young girls, a large frown planted upon his lips.
Before he could say anything, Katara hastily shot back, "That's not the point. If we're going to do anything, we're going to need a place where we can stock up on supplies and rest! And get help!"
"What did you expect, Sweetness? Did you think anyone would welcome us in with arms open wide after what happened to Ba Sing Se?! Well, think again!"
The two girls were glaring haughtily at each other, something that Toph seemed surprisingly good at despite her blindness. Sokka sighed. "Girls…" he mumbled, shaking his head.
Aang finally turned around from his place on Appa's head. Looking down on the others like that … it almost made him want to cry. They were trying so hard not to show how they really felt: angry, sad, upset, hopeless. He felt the same way. And more. After a deep breath he managed to interject before the girls could start bickering again.
"You're both right. We can't expect to be welcomed anywhere now, but we still need to find help and supplies. It's obvious now that we can't do this on our own. But I … I don't know what to do…" The pained expression on the boy's face alone was enough to make Katara swallow her pride and her frustration. Toph mumbled something inaudible before settling down as well.
"Well, now that we've got that settled, I do know what to do," Sokka declared. The others were all ears now. Even the Earth King began inching closer to the young water tribe warrior with interest, leaving his Bosco to lick its own paws.
"Why didn't you say so before?!" Katara burst as she jumped to her feet. Toph grimaced as she felt the sudden vibrations the water bender had so excitedly made. How could she do that this high up in the sky…?
"Because I just thought of it, okay!" He shot back indignantly. "Look, no villages or cities are going to trust outsiders, but if we can find some sort of resistance faction like the one in Omashu, I'm sure they'd gladly accept the avatar."
"Do you really think there's still people like that out there?" Aang questioned. Were there really still people with the will to fight on?
Sokka nodded impatiently. "Of course! There's bound to be even more groups like that now that Ba Sing Se has been captured! If we just look in the right places, finding one should be a piece of cake."
"Well, I guess we don't have much of a choice then, do we?" Katara sighed as she plopped back down into a sitting position.
"I guess not," Toph agreed simply.
A silence proceeded for about a whole of thirty seconds before the Earth King piped up, "Will they have anything for Bosco to eat?"
"Let's land," Sokka huffed, ignoring the former royalty with all his might. Aang nodded, and Appa began his descent.
Appa was lounging lazily to the right of the freshly set camp. Bosco was sleeping snuggled deep within the bison's fur. Momo was perched contentedly atop Aang's head.
Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, and the Earth King were all standing in a circle, arms raised high in the air as a large group of earth benders surrounded them menacingly.
"See? What did I tell you guys? Piece of cake." And Katara's fist slammed down hard on her older brother's head.