AN- Some people who read both this and my other Avatar fic, Afterthought, might notice some similarities in the styles between the two fics. That was done on purpose...after seeing the latest episodes I decided--well, a friend decided for me--that I wanted to do a continuation fic, only from Zuko's point of view. That being said, this has spoilers up till The Headband.

Stupid Zuzu.

I've been told this is too choppy. Thoughts?

Past the Fall

He is happy.

He has everything he's ever wanted, now. Honor, and the throne, and Mai's wry smiles.



Because his honor feels half-fake, and the throne seems even farther away then before, and when he thinks about Mai he can't quite drum up the feelings he knows he's supposed to have. Because Azula is always right behind him, and he knows she still controls his world. Because his uncle won't look at him, or talk to him, or acknowledge him at all…

(Uncle, listen to me. Uncle!)

He is happy. He is. He has to be. Because this is what he wants, and this is what he has, and he is happy now, he is

He is confused, and uncertain, and why is it that every step he makes seems to be in the wrong direction? He did what he thought he wanted to do (only he didn't, because the Avatar is still alive, he knows it), and now he has what he thought he needed (only instead of Iroh's wisdom he has Azula's smirks, and that was never a trade he intended to make), and so everything should be perfect, absolutely perfect

(Father. Are you happy I'm back? Have you really forgiven me?


But he always assumed that when he once again entered the Fire Nation as an honorable prince, the panicked dreams would stop. Instead his nightmares have grown even worse, and this time there's no Uncle to tell him what they mean.

(He is afraid, and his father turns his back, and behind him Azula laughs and laughs…)

His uncle should have understood, he rages to himself. Iroh was a military genius, a famous soldier in his own right. He should have understood how tempting Azula's offer sounded, how important regaining honor was. That was what they'd spent the last few years fighting for! Why should he refuse what he'd desired for so long?

But Uncle Iroh has never really been wrong before, and Uncle Iroh turned away…

Uncle Iroh is just a foolish old man! That's the only answer here! He knows nothing about the situation at hand!

He was the only one who was always supportive…the only one who came to visit those weeks when the scar was still fresh…

No. It doesn't matter. Iroh was the one who betrayed their cause. That's how it has to be, and this is how it is: Ozai's son has won. This is his victory. Or is it his defeat instead?

Zuko isn't sure he can tell the difference, these days.