A/N: This was written for the 1sentence community on LJ. The challenge is to take fifty prompts, and, writing only one sentence per prompt, tell a story about a couple. I didn't feel like doing something sappy or, well, normal, so I chose Azula/Aang. Thus, there are warnings: dubious consent, violence, some gore, and lots of disturbing content. Read at your own risk. Also, I wrote this in 1-50 order but then rearranged it into rough chronological order so it made more sense. It also takes place in roughly the same universe as Asura, but it's not necessary to read that before this (nor will this be counted in that story's continuity).
(alas my love you do me wrong)
#01 - Motion
He will remember her as a blur, a flash of bright blue light and a voice too old for the lips that use it, red cloth on marble skin, a smile dripping with hatred and brutality, a terrifying beauty corrupted by years of subtle torture and lies.
#03 - Young
The first thing that she notices about him is that he is so young, younger even than she, and she's struck with jealousy - compared with him, she isn't special at all.
#20 - Picture
The painting is an old one, from before their mother disappeared, of the whole family seated together - and all Aang can think is that they all look so serious, like neither Azula nor Zuko were ever allowed to be kids.
#07 - One
Her brother failed, her army failed, her best friends failed; now all that's left is her, and she will destroy the Avatar.
#09 - King
They take her to her brother's coronation, heavily drugged and bound and hidden in a palanquin, but the Avatar seeks her out, looks upon her with pity and sadness, and tries to say something to her but he is pulled away to stand with better people.
#02 - Cool
He reaches through the bars to her, hoping to bring her out of whatever insanity has gripped her, but she simply sits on the bed and stares.
#06 - Gentle
"It's okay, Azula," he says softly, crouching down outside her cell, "I forgive you."
#10 - Learn
"I am going to teach you how to be good," he tells her one day, visiting her in the madhouse they've locked her in, and she laughs.
#46 - Drive
"You're going to have to try a lot harder than that," she says, the first time he visits her in the new place Zuko has sent her, and he bursts in with bright flowers and an optimistic smile (both of which she destroys with a savage grin and a flick of her wrist), "if you want to save me."
#08 - Thousand
Of all of her hallucinations, all of her demons, by far the worst wears a distorted image of his face, always repeating those same words - I forgive you I forgive you I forgive you.
#17 - Vision
He has this half-formed image of her as a person - beautiful, dangerous, powerful, and insane - and he isn't sure he wants to know anything more about her.
#24 - Now
They're still experimenting with the drugs they're giving her, and he's horrified to see her going back and forth between stable and unstable, lucid and comatose, and every time he visits her he doesn't know what to expect - the Azula of his nightmares or the Azula of his dreams.
#32 - Eye
He doesn't like looking into her eyes; there's something dark and sinister lurking under there, and it's a beast he doesn't want to disturb (but he suspects he will have to, eventually).
#25 - Shadow
"If you ever get tired of your pristine, perfect, Avatar-of-all-that-is-good facade," she hisses in a voice torn straight from the depths of hell, "if you ever want to play a little rough, be a little bad, well," she leans back and disappears into darkness, "you know where to find me."
#29 - Safe
He doesn't know why he thinks he's safe, but when she screams and throws her teacup at his head and collapses into harsh, broken sobs, he thinks that there's something eerily familiar about this situation, and he's reminded strangely of the Southern Air Temple, when he'd found Monk Gyatso's remains.
#34 - Sing
"She always sang to Zuko," she murmurs one evening, right as he's about to give up on her and this stupid quest to fix her, and he turns quickly, to see her standing at the window, looking for all the world like a lost, frightened child, and he knows he'll return next week.
#18 - Attention
He tries not to see the way Katara is drifting from him, how they're going their separate ways, tries to focus on his job and his duties and anywhere but Katara - but then his focus lands instead on the fallen princess and his quest to save her, and he feels like he would much rather watch the woman he loves fall into another man's arms a thousand times over than face how badly he has failed to help Azula.
#33 - Never
She starts at his proclamation, raising an eyebrow and leaning forward over the table where she's languidly teaching him to play Pai Sho, "You dated that waterbender for how long and you never...?"
#35 - Sudden
It's abrupt; she simply tilts her head questioningly one day, and then grabs him by the shirt and presses her lips to his, leaving him winded, terrified, and (very) slightly aroused.
#05 - Wrong
She kisses him roughly, violently, tasting of blood and horror and fear, and there's this odd thrill, this dangerous rush in his veins that he doesn't ever want to face again (only he sort of does).
#36 - Stop
She shoves him away just as suddenly, licks her lips, and laughs, darkly, like she's just won something significant.
#39 - Torn
She won't look at him today, instead staring out the window intently, like she's going to find the secret to her own mind written somewhere up there in the sky, and he just sits still and watches her, hoping for some sign of life (she gives him nothing and he leaves after an hour).
#13 - Change
He expects her to be different after captivity, to grow as a person, to become as good as Zuko has become, but every time he sees her he finds that she is broken in ways he can't possibly understand, let alone fix.
#44 - Wall
She shoves him hard against the brick wall and slides her hands over places that he's quite sure her hands should not be, but then she does this thing with her tongue against his neck and he loses all rational thought.
#49 - Hunger
There's something animal in her eyes, something evil and feral and desperate, and she smirks in a way that reminds him painfully of the old Azula, running her fingers up the back of his neck and touching him, feather-light, barely a whisper, and before he can even think, she's pulling him towards her and tugging off his clothing in a way that's both methodical and discordant - and he's lost in the tempest and the whirlwind and the madness that is Azula.
#14 - Command
"I dare you to defy me," she hisses in his ear, her fingernails raking against his skin.
#11 - Blur
It is madness formed as action, the way she smiles at him like she's going to desiccate him from the inside out, the way she pushes him down on the little bed and kisses him with all the ferocity she has in her, the way he doesn't stop her, the way he touches her and the way that dangerous thrill runs through him again; he will say, later, that he must have been drugged to have actually slept with Azula.
#12 - Wait
After that, he doesn't visit her for weeks, unsure how to face her, but more unsure how to face himself.
#28 - Fortune
A fortune-teller told him once that she saw no love in his destiny - and he's beginning to curse her for being so damned right.
#22 - Mad
What am I doing? he keeps asking himself, over and over again, as he opens the door to Azula's room.
#37 - Time
It's difficult, more often than not, to sit with her until the worst of whatever mood has gripped her passes, but all it really takes is patience and a healthy dose of faith, and Aang is good at those.
#30 - Ghost
Some days, days when the drugs are more potent and she isn't all there, she speaks to him like he isn't real (she also speaks to her mother on these days, and he leaves feeling haunted and alone).
#31 - Book
She raises an eyebrow at him critically when he holds out the aged, cracked book with the thick, dark binding which reads A Thousand and One Nights, but he just shrugs and says, "I think you might enjoy it."
#41 - Power
He is the best bender alive, and he holds all the power in the world, but when she comes at him with that look on her face - like she's dead inside and plans to use his blood and his body to fill all the spaces in her soul - he can do nothing.
#23 - Child
She cannot see him as an adult, even when she's got him pinned underneath her and she's nipping at his arrows with her teeth and tongue, and this both frightens her and excites her, the knowledge that she is destroying something innocent, something pure and sacred and previously untarnished.
#42 - Bother
It's a bad day - she's simply laying on the bed, one arm draped lazily on the floor, and she barely looks up when he walks in, only sighing and making a sound in the back of her throat like she both expected him to come and doesn't want him to be here - and it takes all of his willpower not to just turn around and leave her like this.
#47 - Harm
She has all these new, long, thin scars high on her arms and threading across her thighs, places the nurses won't look, places no one else was supposed to see.
#19 - Soul
"They tell me that I'll be punished in the next life for my sins in this one," she muses idly, "isn't that funny?"
#27 - Hide
He's tried, on several occasions, to tell someone about this insane, screwed-up, stupid quasi-relationship he's developed with Azula, but he just can't find it in him to actually get the words out, too afraid of what the reaction would be.
#21 - Fool
"You're a fool," the guard tells him as he shuffles out of her room, rearranging his clothing and his state of mind, "you can't save her - she'll just drag you down to her level, if she hasn't already."
#43 - God
"If there is such a thing," she says harshly, barking out a laugh that sounds more hopeless than flippant, "he owes me a fucking favor."
#15 - Hold
She does not want to be held, to be coddled, to be loved - if she wants anything, it's to hurt others the way she has been hurt, and he doesn't know where he fits into her mind or heart.
#16 - Need
He must believe that she can change, that she can recover; he tells himself that this faith in her is why he returns to her acid smile and deadly kiss.
#26 - Goodbye
He can't keep doing this, to himself or to her - it's just not right and the consequences are so dire - but he can't bring himself to say goodbye, or, more than that, to give up on her.
#45 - Naked
She never sheds all of her clothing in front of him, always leaving a binding or a skirt on; meanwhile, he is stripped utterly before her, and she takes more than simply his clothes.
#38 - Wash
"It'll take forever to get this out of my clothes," she sighs, and he tries not to stare in horror, or think about just why her pants are sticky with blood, when he knows all-too-well that her cycle should have been last week.
#48 - Precious
"Why are you trying so hard to fix her?" Zuko asks him one day, and the only answer he can think of is, why aren't you? but he bites back his response and settles for an admonishing look.
#40 - History
"Tell them to erase me from their scrolls," she whispers, clutching at her robe convulsively, darkly, "tell them to forget I ever existed, that I ever..."
#04 - Last
He's her last friend, the only one from her nasty, vicious past to reach her here, through the haze of the mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, after the rages and the fits and the crying - he's the only one who has sat through it all, and for that, she will always be grateful (even if she'll never tell him so).
#50 - Believe
When she asks him, tears in her eyes and blood on her face, why he keeps coming back here, why he keeps trying so fucking hard to help her, he gives her the truth, the only answer he has left - "Because I believe in you."