A/N: This is my version of what could have happened at the end of Crossroads of Destiny. I know a lot of fans were disappointed at Zuko's betrayal. So here it goes!
Disclaimer: Don't own Avatar. Wish I did though...I could have published this finale...
"This is water from the Spirit Oasis at the North Pole. It has special properties, so I've been saving it for something important. I don't know if it would work, but…" Katara gingerly took the vial over to the Fire Prince.
Zuko closed his eyes as Katara reached her hand up to touch his scar. He felt the girl's gaze upon him as he waited for the cool sense of water. But Katara paused.
"How did you get that mark anyway?"
Zuko opened his eyes and pulled away. "You don't want to know." He turned so his back was facing her.
"Yes, I think I do." Katara waited patiently for Zuko's answer. She heard a deep sigh.
"I shamed my nation by speaking out. I had to duel my father, but I just couldn't. That was the day that I lost my honor." Zuko walked across the cave and stared at his reflection in a crystal.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know." Katara's voice was shaky. How could a father do this to his own son? She walked over to him and placed her hand on his shoulder. He tensed. She quickly removed it. "Do you still want me to try to heal it?"
He turned to face her again, his eyes gently closed. Katara reached her hand up once again to the burned flesh on his left eye. Carefully she bended a small drop of water out of the vial with her other hand and it soon darted around the hand that was on Zuko's face. It glowed as it settled on his scar. The skin around his eye slowly turned from its normally burning red to the ivory color of the rest of his face. The sacred healing water faded as Zuko opened his healed eyelid along with his other eye. Katara just stared at the new face of the teenager who had hunted her and her friends for so long. Their eyes met.
"Thank you." The quiet drone of Zuko's voice uttered to Katara as he took her hand for a few seconds before a loud noise erupted through the air. A chunk of the rock wall of the cave came crashing down as two figures came into sight.
"Aang!" Katara rushed over to her friend, her hand slipping out of the healed boy's grasp. Zuko's uncle stood beside the young Avatar. His eyes were wide when he saw Zuko.
"It's me, Uncle." Katara let go of Aang and turned to face Zuko again. Aang stepped beside Katara with a grimace on his face at first when he saw Zuko, then widened his eyes as well. Iroh ran over to Prince Zuko and hugged his nephew as Zuko stared in confusion over his uncle's shoulder at Aang. "Uncle, what are you doing with the Avatar?" His voice rose in anger.
"What are you doing standing with the waterbender girl, called Katara, I presume, and no scar on your face?" Iroh chuckled.
"So am I." Iroh chuckled again.
"I healed him."
Aang just looked at Katara after she spoke. "You did what?"
"I healed his scar," She put simply.
Iroh couched and then spoke to Katara and Aang. "You two find a way out of here." Aang nodded and then headed down the nearest tunnel. Katara soon followed after him in pursuit, but not without pausing to take one last glance in Zuko's direction. Zuko's eyes strayed to her direction as well, and their eyes met for a moment.
"We'll catch up to you later," The Dragon of the West finished. He then turned to his nephew as Aang took Katara's arm and took her through the tunnel. Zuko looked to the ground.
The exiled prince looked up.
"I don't know what happened between you and the Avatar's friend, but this only adds to the great changes that have occurred inside you since we have been refugees. Now you are coming to the crossroads of your destiny. It is time now for you to choose. It is time for you to choose…good." A loud rumbling noise fell at the end of Iroh's speech. Soon after it was followed by a wall of rocks tumbling down forming an entrance for the two shadows of people visible; one of the shadows belonging to someone Zuko and Iroh knew all too well.
Azula stepped into the cavern beside a tall, shadowy man. He wore a green and beige Earth Kingdom tunic, but he bore a strange circular emblem on his chest, similar to the outfit that Azula now wore. The man thrust his hands out in an Earthbending stance, and with a quick swipe of his hand imprisoned Iroh within a cage of nearby crystals that he summoned from the ground.
"I had expected this kind of treachery from Uncle, but Zuko…" Azula clicked her tongue as she shook her head in Iroh's direction. "You're many things, but you're not a traitor. Are you?" She turned to her brother. Her narrow golden eyes widened when she saw his face. She stumbled backwards. "What…what happened to you?" She whispered.
"The world is changing, Azula," Iroh called from his crystal prison. "Your brother is changing along with it. He is no longer the banished prince you thought you knew."
"Bite your tongue, Uncle," Azula snapped. "Again: What happened to you, brother?" She spat at him.
"None of your business," He said quietly.
"What a pity. And to think I was about to give you one last chance to earn your 'honor' back." Zuko's head snapped up.
"I need you, Zuko. I have all the pieces set in place, but one is missing. The only way for us to win this war is together."
"Don't listen to her, Zuko! Whatever there is to gain, it isn't for you!" Iroh called again.
"Why don't you let him decide, Uncle." Azula turned back to her brother. "Besides, the royal family's reputation shall be cleared, now that the evidence of your banishment is gone. We could even say that you were never banished, simply undercover awaiting for the opportune moment to conquer Ba-Sing-Se with your dear sister…" The Fire Princess trailed off. "Then again, you are free to choose on your own." She gestured to the Dai-Li agent with her and he opened an exit in the wall. "I'll be on my way to capturing the Avatar if you need me." She left the cavern.
"The nerve of that girl surprises me. Does she think she can make you fall for that old trick again?" Iroh scowled, but then his face looked sad when he saw the look on Zuko's face. "What is it?"
"I need some time alone."
"Of course. But can you first get me out of here? I'm still trapped within the Earth's boundaries." He chuckled at his own joke.
"Alright." Zuko walked over to his Uncle and his crystal prison, and with a swift firebending move, cut each of the crystals in half. Iroh pushed the pieces of his cage aside. He then proceeded to the tunnel that Aang and Katara had exited through, but stopped and turned to face his nephew.
"Zuko? I have one thing to say. Choice the destiny that you know is right. You are in control now."
"I know." Sadly, the banished prince already knew what he had to do…
"We have to go find Sokka and the others!" Katara said to Aang as they ran through a particularly large cave filled with blue-green crystals. Aang stopped for a minute, as if remembering something.
"Katara, I…there's something I need to say…"
"It'll have to wait, Aang. Look out behind you!" Katara shouted. A large blue blast of fire was heading right in the direction of the young Avatar. Aang turned around quickly just in time to create a wall of rock to block the attack. The collision made him fly backwards. After the smoke cleared away, the face of Princess Azula grinned at them. She stood in a fighting stance, her two right fingers pointing in their direction.
Katara charged toward Azula and waterbended an enormous wave along with her from the nearby canal. She thrust the wave at Azula, only to have the Fire Princess evaporate it all with a swift blast of fire. Steam flooded the area, and Katara and Aang thrust their eyes about them, searching for their enemy.
Silently, Azula sprang out of the steam and launched two simultaneous blue fire blasts at the two friends. Reacting fast, together they bended a stream of water to extinguish the fire before it hit them. Azula soon landed on all fours on the side of a large pillar of rock, much like a cat. She surveyed her setting, plotting her next moves. But the Avatar was quicker. With a few sharp movements Aang earthbended the rock pillar in half, sending Azula flying towards the ground. Surprisingly she landed on her feet once again, and when she stood up she held both sets of pointed fingers at her oponents' heads.
An eerie silence was brought about in the air. Neither Aang nor Katara nor Azula attacked. Azula's stray hairs of ebony blew in the air, motivated by her heavy breathing. Her eye contact switched from Katara, to Aang, then to Katara again. Before she could attack, another blast of fire, this time in red, blazing shades, slammed into the space between the three enemies.
Zuko stepped into the clearing. He too stood in his own fighting stance. Then the eerie silence resumed. His own eyes swept past Azula in her Dai Li outfit, past Katara, then they settled on Aang. Aang gulped, knowing exactly what would come next.
Zuko attacked Aang with another sharp blast of fire, which Aang blocked with a gust of wind. In the meantime Azula seized the opportunity to attack Katara with her own blast of blue fire.
With a new ferocity that Aang had never seen before, Zuko kept blasting fire at Aang without hesitation.
"See any Dai Li agents nearby?" Toph leaned against her cell wall.
"Nope. All clear.
Toph pressed her hand against the metal door, and with her new skill she crushed the metal door with her bare hands, making a crunching noise. Sokka followed Toph out of the prison.
"But- but I'm not leaving without Bosco!" The Earth King whined, looking out the now empty doorway.
Sokka sighed, then grabbed the older man's arm and pulled him along the corridor beside him and Toph.
Aang kept blocking Zuko's firebending moves with his airbending. After Zuko's last blast Aang threw a huge gust of wind shaped in the form of his own body at the banished prince. Zuko was thrust backwards, falling to the stone floor.
Zuko quickly stumbled to his feet again. Aang jumped next to him and threw more airbending. He dodged each one this time before he threw another fireball.
Aang flew into the air to dodge the fire, landing carefully on a wall of crystals, similar to the way Azula had done it earlier. He watched Zuko create one large barricade of fire and pulled some crystals up to brace himself. The immense energy crashed through the crystal, throwing Aang backwards into the air.
Aang pulled himself to his feet and watched Zuko created two huge, blazing whips of fire. He braced himself as Zuko thrust the whips through the crystal Aang was standing on. Aang flew into the air again, trying to dodge as many of Zuko's attacks with the whips as possible.
Meanwhile, Azula ran towards Katara, ready to fight. Katara thrust a sharp waterbending wave at her, snipping a section of hair off one of the Princess's treasured front locks.
Aang landed on a stalactite on the ceiling of the immense cavern and then cut half of it off with his earthbending. He let it drop and then he let himself fall. He pushed the huge spike of rock into the ground, making the earth shake and throwing Zuko across the room against a wall of crystals.
Katara threw another wave of water at Azula, who fell to ground with a shriek. Zuko's sister was finally starting to weaken. Katara pulled more water from her surroundings and encased her whole body in it and bended the water into two lengthening whips of water. When Azula tried to stand up and throw fire at the waterbender, Katara merely pushed one of her extended "arms" at Azula and trapped her arm in it as well. She did the same to Azula's leg when the girl tried to escape. Katara shook her water arms to tighten her grip and Azula shrieked again.
Zuko ran away from his fight with Aang and rushed to his sister's side. He cut through Katara's water whips with his own whips made of fire, freeing Azula. As Azula ran towards the Avatar, Zuko engaged in a new battle with the Water Tribe girl.
Their two elements clashed with each other's. Neither was willing to give up now.
"I thought you had changed!" Katara shouted. She looked like she was about to break down. That or she was ready to blast Zuko into pieces. "After all that before! I wasted my most precious possession on you, and now this!"
Zuko gave her a small smile, but he didn't stop his fire whips from hitting hers just yet.
"I have changed." Katara paused in her attack. She saw Zuko turn around to see his sister fighting the Avatar with her blue fire again. Her back was turned to him. He seized his chance. He slipped his two broadswords out from beneath his tunic, and after creating his fire whips again, raised his blades and used them to aim his two whips at Azula.
"C'mon, it's easy. You just walk on your front paws instead of your rear ones." Ty Lee bent down as she talked to the Earth King's pet bear.
"Why do we have to watch this thing?" Mai whined. "Can't Azula get one of her new Dai Li soldiers to do it?"
Ty Lee ignored her. She persisted in talking to Bosco. "Try this!" She then proceeded to step into a handstand and began to walk on her hands. Then she bent backwards into a back-bend. Mounds of hard rock immediately formed around the bases of her hands and feet.
"That is a nice trick." The acrobat looked upwards, right into the face of the Avatar's blind Earthbender friend Toph. Behind her stood the Earth King, as well as the Water Tribe warrior boy. Ty Lee still thought the Water Tribe guy looked really hot in a fighting stance.
The Earth King ran over beside his pet. "Bosco!" He hugged the animal.
Mai sighed. "Just take the bear," She droned.
Zuko's sister sensed a presence behind her. She turned around quickly and blocked Zuko's blast with a zap of lightning. She frowned.
"I should have known this was coming."
Aang cocked his head at Zuko from behind Azula, confused. Katara only smiled beside the Fire Prince. The three of them surrounded Azula in a triangle.
"But you're treachery again, Zuko, will have no benefits." Azula gestured behind all of them. Dai Li agents surrounded the cave, each in an earthbending stance.
Katara, Zuko and Aang scowled. Each had had their own encounters with these agents, and they weren't about to lose to them now.
Katara bended more water and formed the water octopus around her. Zuko looked at Katara, and then was inspired. He closed his eyes and began to ready himself for-
"Zuko?" He heard Katara's voice. "Thanks."
Zuko smiled with his eyes closed. A tranquil, thoughtless state enveloped him. He was ready to do what Uncle had taught him.
Aang heard Katara's brief words to Zuko, and his heart fell. He looked around at all the Dai Li plus Azula surrounding them, then at Katara and Zuko. He saw Zuko's smile. He looked down, all his feelings falling in a landslide. A crushing sadness went through his body. A tear fell down his cheek as he turned around, his head to the ground. He pulled more crystals out of the ground, creating a tee-pee-like series of walls around him.
Aang meditated the way the Guru had taught him. There was no point in refusing to master the Avatar State now. It was clear that Katara didn't return his feelings.
In no time at all, in his mind Aang was encompassed by a violet orb of energy, his tattoos glowing.
Aang's crystal tee-pee seemed to glow, and all the Dai Li, Azula, and Katara stopped to gaze at the sight. Zuko opened his eyes to see Aang levitating out of the crystals. Aang's eyes and tattoos were glowing white, a visual of his powerful Avatar State.
Katara smiled in the middle of her octopus. Aang never would let her down.
Something wasn't right, though, Zuko noticed. His sister had vanished.
As Aang rose in the air to his highest point, a blinding electric light crashed through him. Azula had blasted him straight through the back with her lighting. And he had been in the Avatar State.
Katara's face fell. She rushed towards Aang with another enormous wave behind her. Water flowed throughout the cavern as Katara caught Aang in her arms.
Zuko had not been lucky enough to catch up to Katara. He had gotten caught in the current with the Dai Li and Azula.
As the water drained away, Katara held Aang in her arms and cried, like a mother who had lost her child. Zuko rushed to her side.
"That- that witch!" She screamed. She looked with a powerful anger in her eyes at Azula, who began to approach them.
A fence of fire suddenly appeared between the trio and Azula. Iroh stepped in front of his nephew and Katara, who was still holding the body of the fallen Avatar.
"Get out of here, now!" He shouted to them. "I'll hold them off as long as I can! Go!" Katara bended water beneath her, Aang, and Zuko and began to use it to rise them towards a hole in the ceiling.
"No, Uncle I won't leave you!" Zuko shouted back. He tried to jump from the tower of water, but Katara grabbed him.
"Don't risk your own life! We're in trouble enough as it is!" She cried. Zuko took one last look at his dear Uncle Iroh, who, after making a feeble attempt at a diversion, was now imprisoned in crystal once more.
Appa and the others were waiting at the hole in the top of the cave. The three veterans jumped on. Katara sat with Aang in the front.
She pulled out her amulet from the North Pole once more. She looked in the vial and more tears rolled down her face. She summoned a mere drop from the vial and bended it onto Aang's back. It glowed for a moment, and then faded.
"No…" Katara whispered. Zuko, sitting in the back, looked away from her.
Aang's tattoos surprisingly glowed once more. His eyes flickered open for a moment, then closed his eyes again when he realized Katara was holding him.
"Aang!" Katara hugged him.
"I'm so glad you were here to see me do what you failed to do, Uncle," Azula now sat on what had once been the Earth King's throne. "And I'm glad that you saw Zuzu abandon you for the Avatar and that Water girl."
"He did not abandon me," Iroh responded from the foot of the stairs below Azula, guarded by Mai and Ty Lee. "He did what was best."
"Whatever you say, Uncle. It doesn't change anything. You are still both traitors, and one of you has finally been caught." She grinned. "And finally, after a hundred years, the Earth Kingdom Capital is now the Fire Nation's property."
"What's he doing here?" Sokka frowned and nodded to Zuko. "Where's Iroh?" Katara didn't answer him. Everyone was silent.
"I still can't believe it," The Earth King suddenly turned away from them all to face the once great city of Ba Sing Se behind them, slowly fading into the distance. "The Earth Kingdom…has fallen."
Katara sadly glanced at the sleeping Avatar in her arms, and then looked behind her at Zuko. She closed her eyes and pulled Aang closer to herself beneath the dark sky, which was without a moon.
A/N: I'm actually thinking of continuing this story into an Alternate Book Fire. What do you think? Review and let me know! Peace Out!