Title: Only A Man

Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender is owned by various people who are not me.

Rating: PG-13 for darkness

Summary: Sokka knows how dangerous a non bender can be. Inspired by "The Gift," season five finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


Ozai lay on the ground, arms and legs secured by the earth restraints Aang had placed him under. Sokka had imagined the Fire Lord (Phoenix King, rising from the ashes) to be a terrible monster. With his bending taken, Ozai proved to be only a man, of the same height and build of his own father. A defeated man, now.

They had won.

Sokka met the eyes of the defeated Fire Lord. He saw eyes full of hate and anger. Those eyes were familiar to him (remember the audience on Ember Isle) even though the face was new (Azula might still be out there).

And then Sokka knew what he had to do.

It was simple to suggest that Aang and Toph go use their bending skills to corral the surviving Fire Nation soldiers nearby. As soon as Aang realized the crashed airships were still burning (all life is sacred), he rushed off to rescue the survivors, dragging Toph along.

That left Suki. He didn't have to say anything to her – she nodded once, then turned away to stand guard.

Sokka limped towards the Fire Lord, the man responsible for so much pain (he tried to burn the world).

Ozai may have been many things (he burned his son) but he was not stupid.

"It seems not all my enemies are as weak as the boy," Ozai said. "What's it going to be? A throat slit? Heart stabbed? Or fire for the sheer irony?"

"No."

Sokka knelt by Ozai's side and reached out – one hand to pinch the man's nostrils shut, the other clamped firmly over his mouth.

And then he waited.

Watching Ozai die was horrible. He thrashed and struggled, but the rock bindings held him and Sokka's grip never faltered.

Finally, it was over.

Suki helped him up and Sokka let himself lean against her (there, that's how it's done) just a little bit more than he needed to.

When Aang returned and saw Ozai's body, he demanded to know what happened.

Sokka launched into a speech about the weakness of a body under stress, of their missing healer, of how old Ozai was, and other lies. He assured Aang that sometimes there's nothing a person can do. Aang had tried to spare Ozai's life. He could not have known what the consequences would be.

Aang believed him (lie to me).

Toph never said a word.