A/N: I missed writing about my favourite Avatar crack!ship, and everyone seems to have forgotten him. I had to remedy that. XD I did away with quotation marks to try a similar style of writing like I did in "Linger", because I feel that the whole piece flows better without the definition of speech against the rest of the story. (just my preference)

Inner Universe

When she is older, when her hair has lost a little of its youthful luster, and when she is surrounded by her grandchildren, Azula will look up at the sky, at the silver-blue orb that is the moon, and sigh.

What is it? A young boy will ask. What are you looking at?

And Azula, smiling serenely at her eldest grandson, will bring him to her lap, his soft bottom safely cushioned within the folds of her red silk wrap, and explain.

Do you see that? Do you see the man on the moon?

Yes, yes I do.

Did you know – this is how she always starts – Did you know that he once was a man of earth, just like you, and did you know that he loved me too?


In another universe, in another time, that might have happened. But as we all know, Azula is no angel, and there is nothing wistful or serene about her. She is young, she is calculating, and she is powerful. Tying a golden sash trimmed with red around her waist, she stalks out of her bedroom and heads towards the inner sanctums of the fire nation palace, to the place where only those of high court are allowed to hear about with their unworthy ears. The place that only those of royal blood can enter.

And he watches her – and he wants her. From the tip of her dark brown hair all the way down to her meticulously sculpted toes, he wants to possess everything that this succubus is.

She knows that he is there, and with a wave of her hand, she calls him from the shadows. Admiral Zhao, old and grey to her eyes, does not get down on one knee but bows to her. He is better than those other military men, those other court officials, all she has to do ask and he will swear loyalty to her over his own emperor.

The princess laughs, and her voice tinkles across the empty hallways like chiming icicles. It is light and young and very, very cold. He can feel the chilled grip upon his heart when she commands him to stand and the man and the girl face each other, sizing the other up, before making the next move.

I am just a girl, she says. I am only fifteen and you say you love me.

I did not say I love you, he replies, I only said I was yours.

Not understanding the difference between love, loyalty, and devotion, she waved him off with a hand and commented that all she expected from him was a stiff, ancient, suffocating-type of love. Something like a shroud of the dead. This time, the admiral laughs and his voice is deep and baritone and very, very male. The princess's eyes open, perhaps he is not so old after all. And he answers,

"I'm not."

What do you want of me? She asks boldly, her silken voice laden with thin layers of innuendo and thread and secret promises behind closed doors. I can't possibly have anything that would be of interest to you.

He snorts in her direction, a malevolent thought passing over his face as he fantasizes about rushing forth and surprising the princess, grabbing her by the arms, and taking her inside the royal gardens with him. He is not as old as she thinks, he has a good body on him, and a middle-aged man in excellent physical condition as himself could easily sway a girl of her stature to do his bidding.

As if she can understand what he is thinking, a scowl appears on her delicately painted face and she brings a single hand in front of her, revealing her kitten-sharp nails and the blue fire that she holds there. The admiral laughs, he expected no less from the daughter of Ozai.

You are an excellent man of the military, she concedes, raking her golden eyes over his frame generously.

Thank you, he says.

Calming the flame in her hand and extinguishing it altogether, Azula looks towards the inner gardens of the palace, making her profile known to him in the time remaining between night and the beginnings of dawn. She inhales, holds it in, and expels it like a long, laborious sigh.

I want you to do something for me.

Anything, he says.

She looks his way, and her bright eyes shine with wickedness. I want you to capture the moon, she says, I want to see it inside this pond here, so that when I may visit this place, I shall always have company.

It is a strange request, and they both know that is not the real reason for her childhood whims; but Zhao smiles cruelly, his dark eyebrows coming closer in wicked thought and he places a hand on his breastplate, the sound of his palm slapping against the hollow metal, and he bows to her. I will do it, he answers more to himself than to her, I will do what you say princess. I will capture the moon, I will take her out of the sky, and I will bring her to you.

Azula turns around, the hem of her robes sweeps across the marble floor in a grand gesture of the empress she wants to be, and Admiral Zhao stands up straight, his face a mask of hard determination and male power, and she gives him a chilling smile.