I leave for my trip in three hours and last night I was so excited I had a hard time sleeping so what happened, a little plot bunny jumped in my head. I woke early this morning to get this out to you before I take off. This takes place during "The Earth King" when Zuko is having those nightmares. Here's one of them.


He found himself standing in the main hallway at his family's beach house on Ember Island, which was funny since they hadn't been there in years. He looked upon the family portrait and found that it was different. Where his father should have been sitting, an older version of himself sat with his hand on the shoulder of a little girl. In his mother's place sat a strange looking woman, yet she was somehow familiar. He just couldn't place where he knew her from. Her arms held an infant and at her feet was another little girl. The family looked happy so he was almost of the mind that it couldn't be his family. Maybe someone else had taken over this house.

On the table below it, where once his handprint made in clay had lain, were three others. They looked fresh, as if still laying out to dry. He didn't dare pick them up to examine them, but he did run a hand over the little fingers. A surge of something remenscent to paternal pride swelled in him which was odd since he was only 16. He had never had a girlfriend let alone anything to become a father. This was very odd indeed.

The sound of the ocean beckoned him to join and to its call he went. He didn't seem to walk, glide perhaps, or maybe float? Next thing he knew he was standing at the edge of the beach watching two little girls race the tides while a woman sat beside an even smaller little boy in the sand making sandcastles. The little family's laughter filled his ears over the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore.

Part of him felt that swell of pride again. The other part felt envy, anger, sadness.

Zuko didn't think it was possible for those smiling faces to get brighter but when they looked his way, they did.

"Daddy!" both girls screamed out at once. As fast as their little legs could carry them, they rush towards him.

The woman and baby slowly rose from their sandy perch and followed the little girls.

He felt half of him bend down and lift the littler of the two girls into his arms, instantly getting her little arms around his neck. The other hugged around his waist burying her face into his stomach.

As the woman approached, recognition swept over him.

It was that girl who traveled with the Avatar. The cursed waterbender. But she looked older. Like him. What is she doing here? Why wasn't he attacking her? Why wasn't she attacking him? Why was she smiling at him like that? She never had smiled at him like that before. What the hell is going on?

Zuko felt himself step out of his body. The older self that had been in the picture walked towards her. He saw the smile on his face also. Zuko rushed to stop him.

"Protect the children from her, stupid!" he tried to yell as he grabbed at the man's robes. "She's the enemy! Attack her! The Avatar must be here! Get the Avatar. Not the woman. What are you doing idiot?"

Then he watched his older self slide a hand past her hip to her lower back pulling her into him as well he could with the child she held and the child he held. He watched in horror as his older self leaned his head down as she tilted her head up. As their lips came closer and closer, he felt himself fly into his older self and just as his lips met hers, he felt it.

Love. Devotion. Security. Safety. More than anything though, he felt love.

This scared him. He began to panic. He had not felt those feelings since his mother had left. And now here he was feeling it with that waterbender.

This isn't right, so why did it feel so wonderful?

He felt himself pull away from his older self again. He watched this time in terror of losing that feeling. He wanted it back. Zuko had missed it so much and there it was and now it was gone. He felt the sand slide up and over his feet. From where he stood, the sand devoured him as he watched in envy, sadness, joy, that little family walk away from him. Tears filled his eyes. Screams left his mouth. Anger and sadness consumed him. He reached out for them. Cried out for them to help.

The older self just turned slightly and looked down at him. Hope filled his expression as a knowing smile spread across his lips.

Just before the sand completely engulfed him, he awoke. He still felt the tears streaming down is cheeks. He felt the loss of those feelings surround him.

"Are you okay, Nephew?"

Turning his head quickly, he saw his Uncle gazing upon him with almost the same expression. this made the tears flow further.

Zuko wondered if he would ever get that feeling again from someone other than Uncle. Maybe that was what the knowing older self was telling him.

A quick little drabble. Let me know what you think.