Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar or Azula and Sokka. I am merely toying with them. It's fun.
The voice was followed by the rattling of the bars that kept her imprisoned. Azula, Princess of the Fire Nation and a prisoner of war, narrowed her eyes before glancing up, and frowned when her eyes met the ice blue ones of the Water Tribe boy. "What do you want?"
"You still alive in there?"
She narrowed her eyes. "No, in fact, I just died and this is my reanimated corpse holding a conversation with you."
A moment of silence; he blinked and turned away, lifting his hand to his mouth. For a moment she wondered if she'd offended him, or even made him sick, but then she heard the soft snickers. "What?" she snapped, not in the mood to be left out.
"You just made a joke, you know that, right?"
"Did I? Well, that means I'll have to kill you." She blew a strand of dark hair out of her eyes. "No one is supposed to know I have a sense of humor."
He turned back to face her as she rubbed her wrists; they were sore from being chained all day, a precaution to block her Firebending. Not that she would have Firebended even if she was able to.
"Look, all jokes aside, I'm just down here to make sure you didn't strangle yourself or swallow a pill or something." He frowned and crossed his arms. "We don't want to lose you know."
Wordlessly, Azula held up her chained wrists, eyes narrow. Understanding what she was communicating, he lifted both hands in defense. "Look, I'm just doing what Aang asked me to do," he said defensively. He paused for a moment and shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck. "Even if it is stupid," he admitted at last.
The silence that elapsed was almost a blessing for Azula—unfortunately, the Water Tribe boy couldn't keep his mouth shut for more than a few minutes.
"Your brother's pleading for your life right now, you know," he said, sitting down. "He's trying to convince the Council to banish you instead of kill you."
Azula lowered her eyes, giving the chains an experimental tug. "Do you ever stop talking?" she asked quietly.
"Do I— HEY! I'm trying to keep you informed here! I thought you'd be at least a little concerned about your life."
"It isn't my life." She closed her eyes, giving up on the chains, and leaned back against the wall. "It's the Fire Nation's life, to do with it as they please. Now shut up and go away."
He narrowed his eyes at her and crossed his arms again, perhaps the most defiant she'd ever seen him. "You're really rude, you know that?"
"I like when it's quiet, do you mind?"
"Why? What's so great about the quiet? It's boring."
She opened her eyes, surveying him quietly, and he almost bolted from the room then and there. In the golden depths of her gaze he saw not a fifteen-year-old sociopath, but a young woman, worn down and broken by war, by death.
"No one judges me when it's quiet." Her voice was soft. "No one judges me when I'm alone. I'm tired of being judged."
Another long moment of silence followed this; then she sighed and sat up, pushing her hair out of her eyes. "Am I allowed to ask a question?"
"Ty Lee. Did they… I mean, she's…"
She was trying to ask him, and failing miserably; his eyes softened slightly and he shifted on the floor to find a more comfortable position to continue this little chat. "They cremated her," he said. "Mai said it was what she wanted, and she spread the ashes herself. She wanted to tell you, but Zuko said it's still risky for her to talk to you."
Her eyes pricked, sharp and hot; she bowed her head and blew out a long breath. "That's good," she whispered, as tears streaked her cheeks and dripped onto the dirty floor. "She wanted that. She… she always wanted to be free, even in death."
The muffled whimpers and choked breathing reached his ears, and he knew that if he left right now she could shed her tears in private, surrounded by the quiet that didn't judge her.
But grief was grief, and grief humanized even the coldest person. And he knew that he couldn't leave her to deal with it alone.
"You know…" She looked up as he moved a little closer, resting one hand against the bars. "If you cry right now, I won't tell anyone."
"But you'll judge." Her voice was exhausted.
"You're wrong." He met her gaze evenly. "I know how it feels to lose someone like that. I'm the last person to judge you."
She looked at him, not quite believing him, but his eyes were sincere and held no underlying motive. She looked away, exhaling shakily. "If you see me cry, I'll really have to kill you." Her voice trembled. "No one's supposed to know that my friends were the most important people in the world to me."
He caught both the joke and the pain, and smiled slightly. "You can murder me in my sleep as soon as they decide what to do with you," he promised. "I get the feeling Zuko's convinced the Council that banishing you is best."
She bowed her head and closed her eyes, letting the tears come. And he let the silence drift back between them, saying nothing as her ragged sobs echoed throughout the cell.
A few minutes passed before her grief was spent, and ignoring the harsh feeling she rubbed at her eyes with her wrists, ignoring metal against skin. "I'm just wondering," she murmured, and he looked up, "if I could know your name."
"Sokka. You don't have say yours."
"You probably already knew it."
Another silence fell, but this silence was calm and contained a certain feeling of acceptance and peace.
Maybe Azula still had a long way to go. Maybe Sokka still found the quiet boring.
But at the very least, some kind of understanding had formed between them. Maybe not much, but it was something.
"What's it like in the Water Tribe?"
And maybe, with luck, it could become something more.
I already know Azula is slightly OOC, so please don't hate on me too much for it. This was just a short little inspiration piece and wouldn't leave me alone, so I wrote it down.
Read and review, please!