Title: Ocean Nights
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Theme: #29 The Sound of Waves
Disclaimer: My fandom is by no means owned by me and is owned by Nickelodeon, along with Mike & Brian, nor am I, in any way, affiliating myself with Nickelodeon and/or making any form of profit from this. Characters, places, titles, and the 100-year-war are property of Nickelodeon. Plot, scenario, and everything that is not property of Nick is mine. Please do not steal it.
R&R please, guys :)
The foam rolled inside the water, curling in and back out again as it crashed against the rocky beach. The moonlight shone brightly, reflecting a soft yellow glow on the water. The shadows of the palm trees lay across the rocks, unevenly distributed. Small, pale toes dipped into the water, splashing a set of bigger toes, slightly darker. An innocent laugh peeked out among the sound of waves, followed by a soft laugh that imprinted the night through its beauty. Following the sounds, a round-faced toddler was stumbling along the high rocks, holding onto a woman's hand gently.
"Kuzon, it's time to go," a pale, impassive woman appeared behind them. Although the young boy seemed too young yet to understand this woman's word, he seemed to understand that seeing this woman meant that it was time to go. He clung to the other woman's neck, a sweet mixture of sea foam and peaches fills his nostrils remind him of home, and he doesn't want to leave her. The woman and the baby made their way back into the thick brush, where a great many lights were visible from the palace behind them,
Katara sat on the largest rock next to her, pulling her knees up to her chest. Her mocha skin glowed against the moonlight, creeping up her long, sun-brown legs. Her long, chocolate brown hair clung to her neck and back, like a second skin, from the water that had poured over her head. A dark figure stepped out of a shadow, lightly stepping over the rocks and taking a place next to her.
"Why did you come here?" she says even before he's aware that she knows he's here.
"Would you rather I leave?" he asks, his smoldering eyes pleading with her to let the question go unanswered.
They sit in silence, watching the waves roll onto the beach and glide away gently, dragging bits and pieces of sediment and rock with them as they left.
"Does Mai know you're here?" she asks.
"She doesn't know where I really am half the time anymore."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
He turned away for a moment, collecting his thoughts.
"Mai and I…we're not…we're not experiencing each other like we used to," he says, uneasily.
She thinks for a moment. "Having kids changes everything. It's about them now, not you."
Unexpectedly, he slams his fists against the rock, hurting his hands more than he would like to admit. "Dammit, I know! I thought that getting married would help reunite the world, end the war more prominently. Maybe the world would have seen the marriage as a symbol of love and that a new era was establishing itself on the throne of age, but I was dead wrong."
She shifts closer to him unconsciously, her instinct to help overpowering her manners and etiquette. "You didn't marry Mai for politics."
He puts his palm to his face, mumbling, "It doesn't matter what I married her for."
"I think it does," she whispers. "You love her, and she loves you. Is there more to read into it?"
"Katara, I married a Fire Nation Nobleman's daughter. Of course I married her for fucking politics. How do you think that I would have looked if I was ruling a nation with a Water Tribe woman at my side?"
A pang of resentment entered her chest, flooding her emotions and drowning her trace of reason and control. She swallowed hard. "You know, I left Aang for you. I destroyed his heart. I was willing to leave my home to be with you."
"What?" he asks.
"Never mind," she whispers coldly. "I wouldn't expect a man who married for politics and not love to understand."
"Katara, it wasn't that I didn't love you! I had a duty to my country! What was I supposed to do? The court would never allow me to wed so much as a merchant's daughter. My selection was limited!" He looked into her stare with a passionate bitterness, crawling out of his expression and freezing in the air between them.
"Your selection," she spat. "there was no selection. If you had opened your eyes, you would have seen that none of those women even loved you. Mai didn't even love you."
He looked away from her, unable to meet her gaze. "Mai resents me now. If she wasn't the wife of the Fire Lord, she would privately file for a divorce. She can't even look me in the eye. She hates our son. She hates everything that has anything to do with me."
"I can't understand you," she whispered sharply.
"Katara, you've always been so narrow-minded! There are bigger things in the world than love and hope and Agni-knows whatever other optimistic aspect of life! I have thousands of people to be responsible for. I am held accountable for over three million deaths in the last hundred and something years of war! When I was crowned Fire Lord, I took an oath to always put my country first. If I would have listened to my heart for once in my life, I would have broken the oath. I couldn't be with you…I just couldn't…"
His voice broke, and he was kneeling at her knees, kissing them with tears peeking out of the corners of his eyes. He grabbed her and pulled her down to meet his gaze, cupping her cheek with his cold hand. She met his blazing eyes, her own cerulean eyes watering at the fierce feeling. They looked at each other, the passion wove in and out of their looks, dancing in her eyes and crawling for redemption in his.
"I'm sorry," he whispers, finally. "I should have listened to you ten years ago."
"I can't be the other woman," she says. "You have a family and a wife and you can't do this to them. I won't let you."
Reluctantly, he removes the hand from her face, backing up a respectful distance. "They are not my family," he whispers. "I'm becoming Ozai. I'm a monster. Now I understand how you can hate your own son. I know what it's like to look at your child and wish to turn back time to avoid bringing something like him in the world. Katara, I can't bear to be around them. I'm bitter and I'm getting older everyday and I threw away everything life could have offered me when I told you that I couldn't marry you."
"Sometimes we are rewarded for our bad deeds and punished for our good ones."
"What I did was not noble, Katara. It was cowardly. You were right."
She bit her lip, looking at his face sternly, her eyes reflecting the silver disc that hung low in the sky. She grabbed his hand and put it over her heart. Cold flesh met with wet, pumping skin. "When you left, Zuko, I was so consumed by my anger that I couldn't get over it. What I failed to realize is that it took ten times the amount of courage than what I had to marry someone you didn't love because you were willing to serve a country that had once pinpointed you as their enemy."
"Yet I didn't have enough courage to tell the people who made me marry Mai to screw themselves and marry you anyway," he argued. "Now, I've fathered children who will grow up realizing that our regime is cursed to have men who cannot seem to ever do the right thing."
"Then try to fix it," she says.
"How?" he desperately asks. "If you have any idea, please tell me."
"Start by doing the right thing."
"I don't know what that is anymore," he says. She remained silent, looking at him, her lips pursed.
"I just want you to know, Zuko, that whatever you choose, I'll still be here."
And she was gone.
No one deserves to be treated that way, so even if you love him with your entire heart, with every fiber of your being, with so much passion that it hurts to think about, you need to forget what you want and remember what you deserve.