Crack pairing turned serious. ^^;;

Disclaimer: Do not own. Obviously. Since this is kinda the farthest thing from canon possible.

"What… is this?" she asks one night.

Ozai shifts to his back, giving her a quizzical look. It's late and they just fucked and he's about to go to sleep, so he isn't in the mood for this.

"This," she continues, a hint of exasperation coloring her voice. "What is it?"

With a sigh, he turns back onto his side, back to her. "Does it matter?"

"Yeah it matter. Ozai, we've been doing this for two years. The least you do in exchange for me giving up everything I believe in and sleeping with you is quit being a pussy and put a label on this."

Ozai thinks on this briefly, then replies, "I desire no label. You create one."

An irritated exhalation behind him. "It takes two to have sex, Ozai, so I'd think it takes two to figure out what this is."

She is the only one who calls him Ozai. His name rests a little funny on her lips, coated in want and hatred at the same time. But it rests there all the same, making her a little bit more of what he needs.

She is not merely a maid. Her sole duty is not to fix his sheets and make his tea and look good in a uniform. She is not someone the palace hired because they needed extra hands.

She is not a bed buddy, a comical term, even on its own. But a bed buddy is good only for bed, and she is good for so much more than that. She is good for anger and hatred and sex and fixing his sheets and looking good in a uniform and verbal sparring and real sparring and gently fixing his long, tangled hair each morning when she brings him his tea, which he's pretty sure she spits in still, the little bit of rebellion against authority left in her crushed world.

She is not a friend with benefits. A friend cares, but she could watch him die without any qualms. A friend accepts shortcomings and loves all the more for them, but she hates him for his. A friend is appreciative of talents and good points, but she hates him for those even more than she does for his weaknesses. Benefits are obtained when a good day's work is performed and the rewards are reaped or when the Cabbage Merchant has a special promotional offer. Benefits are not necessary. She needs and wants this just as much as he does.

She is not a prisoner of war, because prisoners do not have sex with their jailers. Prisoners of war have hope of victory and rescue, while she has none. Prisoners of war do not consort with their oppressors as a principle, but she has principles no longer.

She is not a whore. A whore sleeps with many men, and she is tied to Ozai almost as securely as if a red thread binds them. A whore is good for only one night, but she has held her ground for 729 more than that. A whore receives compensation for her services, while she receives nothing but a slaking of lust and another crack in the armor of her spirit.

She is not a lover. Far from it. The word "lover" is based on the word "love," something neither of them is capable any longer.

He turns onto his left side, facing her. His hand reaches out to caress her face, a broad thumb tracing her defiant line of her jaw. "Suki," he says quietly. "I am the Phoenix King. I have no worries of what people think of me. You, who have bedded me, should not worry either."

Suki scowled, but leans across the bed to give him a short kiss, fingers tangling in his long black hair. I don't care what others think of me, but I do care about what I think of myself." When he remains silent, she tenses angrily. She is near exploding, he can tell; her temper is notoriously short. "Dammit, Ozai, I need to know."

At this Ozai chuckles, a rubling sound in his chest, a tiger purring. "Still so idealistic," he murmurs, hand now trailing along her side, along the swell of her breast and the dip of her stomach.

Suki glares at him for a moment, then angrily turns around, bare back lined with moonlight facing him. He simply says nothing, only curls himself around her thin form and goes to sleep.


She is gone the next morning.

He is not unduly surprised. Truth be told, he was expecting it from the first night.

A message appears with his morning tea, delivered by some nameless chit who giggles when he dismisses her, hair still tangled.

Don't expect me back. All I needed was to know, and even you, Phoenix King Ozai, were unable to tell me.

Ozai almost chuckles at the drama of the note as he sips his tea, noting that it lacks its usual punch, probably Suki spit.

Time to carry on.

Ozai still doesn't know if Suki killed herself of simply escaped. He never wonders, for it is unimportant, she is gone either way, but this is not to say he never cares. Sometimes when he needs someone to fix his sheets or comb his hair or look good in a uniform, and the new maids just don't cut it, he thinks of her.

Maybe if he had told her what she was, she would have stayed.

But this was absurd. He doesn't know to this day what she was. Maid or bed buddy or friend with benefits or prisoner of war or whore or lover or none or all of these.

Maybe she wasn't asking that question at all. Maybe she was just asking if he loved her.

But this is absurd. The Phoenix King has no use for the weakest of emotions. Love is what makes strong men weak, what makes the cunning foolhardy; the ambitious lose sight, and the invincible die. He has no sympathy for love.

Maybe if he had told her the truth and answered simply "Yes," she would have stayed.

Yeah. Uh... Total shit, I know. But this's the first time I've ever tried something like this at all, so... forgive me, plz? And the tenses got screwy at the end, sorry. DX That's why I hate writing in the present. As an excuse, I haven't finished anything since the summer, and it was ass o'clock when I was writing this. So. Yeah. Critique?