The Only Thing I Want

I wanted my life.

I strove to survive, though I was chained into darkness with not even the slightest glimmer of luminescence to be seen far ahead. I longed to be a bender if just to see my own gaunt reflection in the pools of water that lapped at my ankles in the pit.

I could taste the blood in my mouth after the constant torture I endured. The iron taste filled my mouth and I could feel warm liquid running down my bare back. Sometimes I struggled even to remember my own name; my pounding head seemed to want to explode from the smell of mold, and I constantly breathed raggedly.

Dread came with the sliver of light that signified her coming. If death had a human manifestation, it would be her form, sharp fingernails blood red and ebony hair tied back in a loose bun. Whenever she entered the room, I saw a slight shine from the fire nation insignia embedded in her thick hair, and smelled the deadly perfume wafting from her. I froze, terrified, hoping that somehow she would not notice my stricken form and leave my battered body alone to bleed. It never happened.

I would see insane reflections of her twisted face in the puddles as lightning flashed from her fingertips with dangerous precision. Every time it burnt into my flesh, I would smell charred skin and scream pathetically. When she yanked me upright by the throat and slammed me against the wall face-first, I could feel the bones of my nose grate out of place and splinter. I never fought back. Sometimes I could hear her hot breathing and see the cruel slant of her black eyebrows. Sometimes I could catch a glimpse of her golden eyes, but not once could I see any humanity in their depths.

I recalled past burns as I saw that slit of light once more in the wall, the door starting to open. I saw her delicate form stalk in and I remained, as always, stock-still. Afraid to breathe, I closed my eyes and prayed, prayed that she would turn and leave me to die.

She found me, pulled me upright, and kicked me onto the floor. Onto my bare skin, she placed a white-hot fingertip.

My screams echoed for a long time after it was over. My panting was punctuated by ragged sobs.

I struggled to remember my name before I forgot once more, and found I couldn't recall it.

I was alone, with no sister, no companions, and no hope. I was a shell with no identity. I didn't matter.

Not in that hellhole.

A song echoed out of a steamy room. It was a strange tune, with a major key, but definitely a minor lilt.

If one were to walk in, they would see a beautifully painted bathroom, large enough to house a family, and a bathtub that held enough water to drown in. Spirals of steam rose from the scalding water, but of course, she felt no pain.

Azula heated her own water to the perfect temperature – right where her skin started to tingle and she could melt metal in it.

One might think she was an ordinary girl, although extraordinarily beautiful. Her regal features were relaxed, and her hair drifted around her bare shoulders. Her slender legs and arms were toned from constant exercise, and her stomach was flat from a well-balanced fire nation diet. One could think she was normal if they disregarded the swirls of lightning playing over her carefully lotioned hands.

"When La above glows, the wind whistles in the roses, and when the sky is grey with dawn, the tiger dove sings her song of sadness," she sang, the haunting melody being dampened by the furry carpet.

Slowly she lifted her naked form and closed her eyes, bringing her hands together softly. Steam lifted off her body alarmingly, and within seconds, not a drop of water remained on her.

Azula left the water there. It would most likely be reused by someone of lesser importance.

"Maid!" she called in a sharp voice. "Bring me my insignia."

A round old lady scuttled in immediately with Azula's golden fire nation symbol. Azula snatched it from her and placed it on the enameled bureau. Slowly she ran a brush through her silken hair and pressed a reddened finger to her lips, spreading color over them. She swiftly wound a scarlet ribbon into her hair and nestled the gold into it, leaving two long locks of midnight floating to frame her carved face. Azula pressed a scented cloth to her neck. Slowly she donned her crimson robes and descended the palace's sweeping staircase.

Azula turned briskly and descended four more flights of steps, lighting a fire in her palm as she descended and the sunlight died. The walls, she noted with disgust, were dripping water foully. A guard saluted her and held the door open to the last cell on the bottom floor, where the most wretched of criminals were kept.

An animal grin split her face as she motioned for the guard to shut the door. She kicked around for the huddled form for a while before finding the water tribe boy. Practicing on a real human was so much more delightfully satisfying than a flimsy mannequin, Azula pondered to herself as he screamed under her heat.

As she pushed him to the ground once more, she heard him mutter something.

"What was that?" she said in a quiet, yet piercing tone.

He said something again, too quietly for her to decipher. Slowly, she bent down beside him and lifted his face out of the mud.

He wiped his face off weakly with a sleeve that was already miserably sodden with mud. Azula wrinkled her nose in disgust as he spat out blood and dirt mixed together.

"You will not break me," he croaked, and she raised an arched eyebrow. Then she smirked briefly, and looked at him with new respect. Dropping Sokka's head back into the mud with a small thud, Azula shoved his face down onto the ground and sat on his bloody back, eager to hear his grunt of pain. He did not disappoint her. She whispered into his ear, "I have."

She thought that what she had said was true. She thought she already had broken him.

Lying in the mud, Sokka's mind suddenly jerked back into place.

My name is Sokka.

He lifted himself off the ground on shaking limbs and allowed a tear to fall from his eye.

And I will not die here.

Not yet.

Feel free to leave a review. As far as I can see, this will be a Sokkla fic. Although I can't see it happening (I'm a Tokka fan), it's an interesting enough ship, and I might as well experiment, eh?