AN: I don't own Clay Aiken, his music, or Avatar. Though that would be cool. Please review! Thanks for reading!

:–:–:–:

"Suki. Suki –"

Suki's eyes snapped open and she realized that the hands on her shoulders were Katara's, and the eyes of the person standing over her were a comforting blue, not the gold that had so often haunted her. She could feel a sheer layer of cold sweat over her entire body, and a heartbeat too fast for anyone lost in sweet dreams.

"You were talking in your sleep – shouting – I was walking by and I wanted to make sure you were okay," Katara said, her eyes full of concern.

"I'm . . . I'm fine," Suki said, sitting up, breathing heavily, trying to slow her heart rate.

"Are you sure?" Katara asked.

"Yes," Suki lied. She wasn't fine. She didn't think she'd ever be fine again.

"Okay," Katara said, unconvinced. "If you need anything, I'm right down the hall. You can come and get me whenever, all right?"

"Right."

Katara walked out of the room, casting Suki a final worried glance before she headed back down the hallway. Suki was left there to stare at the walls and ceiling. It didn't matter to her that these Western Air Temple rooms were open and spacious, the doorfames doorless – the walls were made of stone and reminded her too much of the Boiling Rock. She spent the rest of the night staring, unseeing, at the ceiling, her only thought a distant wish that the ceiling would fall down on her and leave her with only the sky.

:–:–:–:

Suki was laying down on her back on the rim of the fountain, by herself, when she heard footsteps approach.

"How're you enjoying your first day of freedom?"

It was Sokka.

"It's great," Suki said hollowly, turning on her side, towards the fountain and away from Sokka, bringing her arms in front of her and folding her legs into her chest, closing herself off. She looked into the fountain and imagined for a moment rolling into it face down and waiting for the water to do its job.

"Are you okay?" Sokka asked, sitting down near her head. "You weren't at breakfast . . . and Katara said you had trouble sleeping last night –"

"I'm fine!" Suki said with such ferocity that for a moment Sokka was stunned into silence.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean –"

"It's fine, just go."

"Suki –" Sokka reached out to put his hand on her shoulder, but before he could get within an inch of her, she'd rolled off the edge and landed on the floor in a fighting stance, her eyes burning with a hatred Sokka had never seen in her before.

"Don't touch me."

"Suki, I –" his eyes threatened tears. He couldn't understand it. She'd been so happy when he'd first come for her, rescued her – why was she suddenly so . . . different?

"Go."

Sokka rose, his eyes intent on Suki, trying to figure her out, trying to see the old her buried beneath the rage and – he was sure he saw it there – pain. He dropped to his knees and bowed his head.

"I'm sorry for what I did – or didn't do – or didn't do in time –" Azula's words echoed in his head – you never came. So she gave up on you. "I did what I could."

He heard a noise between a gasp and a sob, and when he looked up he saw Suki several feet away, on her knees just as he was, crying quietly.

"It's not your fault. It's his."

"Whose?" Sokka asked, standing, but Suki shook her head. Sokka stepped towards her, but as soon as she heard his foot touch the ground, she opened her eyes and stared at him, pushing herself back, away. "Please, go," she said, and her quiet desperation to be rid of him fell on Sokka like a blow. "I'm sorry," she said to his retreating back.

"Don't be," he responded quietly.

Don't, you don't have to save my life.

No, you're not ready - I can feel it,

Outside it's raining but I'll just go home.

Someday your heart will just let him go.

In his room alone, lying on his bed, Sokka thought about what Katara had told him about Suki – how she'd been shouting in her dream, begging someone to leave her alone. And then Suki's words echoed in his mind, It's not your fault. It's his. A horrible, horrible thought crossed his mind. No, he told himself. That can't be true. I'm wrong. I'm wrong. I'm wrong. He prayed silently that Suki would tell him what was going on, that maybe there was something he could do – he felt so helpless.

As soon as you get that feeling you can start to live again,

As soon as the worst is over, you can make it all make sense.

Right now I can't give you what you need.

As soon as you get that feeling . . . run to me.

Sokka couldn't sleep that night; his mind was too full of thoughts of Suki. Around midnight, when the noise in his head grew to an unbearable point, he got out of bed and headed for the fountain, thinking that the white noise of the water might help clear his mind, but he never got there.

As soon as he stepped out into the hallway, he heard a voice speaking. Suki's.

He moved slowly down the hallway, wondering if maybe she was talking to Katara, but the closer he got to her room, the louder and clearer Suki's words became.

"Please . . . no . . . I can't . . . I don't . . . No!" Her voice broke, and Sokka found himself running towards her, desperate to free her from the twisted dream that held her captive.

"Suki!" He stood over her, moving his hands from her face to her shoulders and arms, trying to wake her up as she twisted and cried out desperately.

"NO!" One of her hands, clawlike, slashed across the side of Sokka's face, leaving four burning lines, but he didn't care. He grabbed her wrists, afraid that she might hurt herself next, and called out her name.

"Suki! Suki!"

She sat bolt upright, gasping for breath, her eyes wild. The instant she saw Sokka she shrieked, "NO!" and her feet connected with his ribs, sending him flying.

He landed hard on his back on the ground a few feet away, his body contorting as the pain set in. He pulled himself up on his arms and saw that Suki was sitting up against the wall, holding her knees to her chest, head down. She was shaking and sobbing over and over, "You can't be here. Not here. Not here."

"Suki, it's me," Sokka whispered, clutching his side. "It's me, it's Sokka."

Upon hearing his name, Suki looked up and him, and her arms and legs fell down limply.

"Oh my god."

"Suki what happened to you? Are you okay?" He tried to walk towards her, but the pain rooted him to the spot.

"I hurt you . . . I thought you were –" Suki stopped, her eyes shut in horror.

Despite the pain, Sokka brought himself closer to her. "Who, Suki? Please, tell me."

"The guard," she whispered. "The guard who said I was too pretty to be alone . . . he kept coming back . . . at night . . . he made me kiss him . . . say I loved him . . . he came so close to . . . to . . . a few more nights and he would have had me completely . . ."

Oh, god.

"Suki, you know I'd never – I couldn't – I –" he put his hand on her cheek, but he felt her shiver under his touch. "I'm so sorry," he said, pulling his hand away.

Hush, you don't have to say a word.

Trust, I'm not gonna hate you for it.

Feels like my touch only brings back the pain.

Someday those memories will fade away.

"Please go," Suki cried softly. "I can't . . . I can't . . ."

As soon as you get that feeling you can start to live again,

As soon as the worst is over you can make it all make sense.

Right now I can't give you what you need.

As soon as you get that feeling . . . run to me.

"It's okay," Sokka said, trying to put on a brave face. All he wanted to do was sit there and hold her, soak up her pain and bear it for her, free her from this monster, but instead he had to turn and leave her crying alone in the dark.

How can I be brave enough to say goodbye?

I'd die inside without you.

Can't you see it's hard enough to walk away?

Don't look at me, you make me wrong,

I've been through this to make me strong.

:–:–:–:

Sokka was sitting alone at the fountain's edge when he heard Suki's voice behind him.

"He made me tell him about you. And he said you'd never want me when he was through with me." Sokka turned to face her. "The only thing that kept me strong . . . was knowing he was wrong." Suki looked to him for confirmation.

"Suki, however long it takes – whatever you need – you know I'll be here," he said, not moving his eyes from her face.

She was standing a few feet away from him, violet-grey eyes still heavy with pain, but lightened by the distant glimmer of hope and healing.

"I know," she said, and the shadow of a smile fluttered across her lips.

And before Sokka could do or say anything else, Suki swept past him, kissing his cheek, and then left.

She wasn't ready yet. They both knew that.

But she would be.

As soon as you get that feeling you can start to live again,

As soon as the worst is over, you can make it all make sense.

Right now I can't give you what you need.

As soon as you get that feeling . . .

As soon as you get that feeling . . . run to me.