Disclaimer: Don't own AtLA. Woe. Woe is me.
AN: So. A Soko fic. Don't see many of those... Anyway, I like the idea of Soko, mostly because, hello, did it ever occur to anyone that the episode was about two lovers from opposite tribes...although metaphorically speaking the 'Love shining brightest in the dark' would be the whole firefly analogy. Etc.
Prologue – Grave of the Fireflies
They got as far as the out most lying farm – fields of koala-sheep, rice paddies nearer the river, paddocks with sleeping pig-cows – before the ostrich-horse began to flinch and shy, and Zuko heard the telltale rumble of komodo-rhinos.
Iroh whispered one word.
Zuko turned, eyes widening. "They're heading for the village."
The Dragon of the West looked at his nephew. His nephew looked back at him.
Then the prince wrenched the reins around and drove their squalling mount back the way they came.
There was only a brief rumble in the distance, roaring down the road, before the sound rose up and consumed them as surely as the flames would. There was an abrupt crash from the direction of the front room, and Song realized they'd thrown a firebomb at the front of the house. Seconds later a second one exploded against the rear doors.
They were trapped, and the house was merrily going up in flames around them.
The raiders blew in moments later. Song felt her mother – whispering, feverish – shove her into her room and slam the sliding door shut…
She turned in time to hear a soft shriek of surprise, and watch the shadow of a blade throw up a delicate spray of blood across the other side of the slider.
The world seemed to slow for a moment. The edges of her vision went white.
Her mother's last words to her had been, breathlessly, "Hide, Song, quickly!"
Her limbs felt like lead, so when she was suddenly gripped by a pair of strong arms and lifting roughly into the ceiling space above her bed, it came as rather a surprise. She turned to the one that held her, who was helping her balance on the cedar beams, and gazed at him with huge half-blind eyes.
He pressed finger to his lips and nodded. She followed his gaze over her shoulder. His Uncle was fitting the ceiling panel back in place.
And not a moment too soon; below, the slider to her room was shredded and the raiders began to tear the place apart.
Faintly, she prayed they wouldn't think to pry up the floorboards, and see where she had hidden her treasure chest. Her grandmother's wedding veil was in there, and the story scrolls her father had given her, the little wooden animals he had fashioned for her when she was small.
Her mother's betrothal gifts – a gold seal on a chain and twenty-one bangles to match all set with jade and onyx – the most valuable things her family owned, and they might be taken by thugs or melted to ruin by the rising fire.
It was miracle the house wasn't coming down around them, now, but she vaguely supposed there were firebenders amongst the raiders, reining in the worst of the heat and flames.
"Move," Mushi was mouthing, and Lee began helping her to hop from beam to beam until they reached the southern terrace, where not two hours ago they had sat together and she had given up a fragment of her soul to him.
Accordingly, the scar on her leg itched, and she realized for the first time that she was crying; silent tears spilling unabated down her cheeks.
She began loosing time; the next thing she knew she was crouched in the woods bordering the property and Lee was gently shaking her shoulder, bright eyes locked with hers.
"Song," he whispered. "Song, listen to me. Is there something you need from your house? Something important, precious…?"
She nodded, coming back to herself. "There – there's a chest. Cherry wood, small, my name on the lid. It's under the floorboards, beside my armoire…"
He nodded once, short, sharp, and glided away into the trees.
She sat back, shaking, and felt Mushi's arm go around her shoulders.
Later, they would steal two more ostrich-horses from the raiders' supply train, and dash away into the night.
Later, she would learn they weren't Lee and Mushi at all, and that Zuko would spend weeks racked with guilt for stealing from her, and from the others that followed his first theft.
Later, she would chase after him on her own ostrich-horse when he stupidly went off alone, and be the single voice of joy in a village suddenly full of hate when he revealed himself.
Later, they would all journey to Ba Sing Se to sell tea, and to love, and to learn, and to rebuild, but now…
Now, she was a creature of stone and tears and aching grief, and it was all she could do before her legs gave way and she collapsed, sobbing fit to break herself in half, against the comforting shape of Iroh's shoulder.
AN: Read, review, lather, rinse, repeat.