Disclaimer I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender
It was the beginning of something most horrid, this he knew.
For some everyone saw him as the ruthless Admiral Jeong, the defeater of many.
And for many years he believed it.
It wasn't until years ago, when he saw the same face he had worn mirrored in golden eyes, begging his father…for a second chance.
Jeong did not believe in second chances, he believed that everything was done according to some unknown cruel advisor that had no compassion towards the weaklings unable to defend themselves.
How wrong he was…
The Angi Kai
It was years and years since a Fire Lord had challenged someone to an Angi Kai, and many showed up to see this legendary duel. He had no idea, the posters had no said, and he had not paid for something so cruel and so…despicable.
"Prince Zuko," the name was on every tongue, and for some there was this brief sadness that crossed the faces, but for Jeong, white hot anger pulsed through his veins and he knew, if he was stronger, he would have saved the boy.
"I am your loyal son!"The boy had cried and someone shifted uneasily in their seats. He glanced at his old student and saw odd satisfaction there. Disgusted, Jeong then turned to the Fire Nation princess. Her expression was no better.
For a brief moment he allowed himself to imagine that it was not the boy's fault for speaking out, for though he had heard of the rumors of the terrible, treacherous plan, the Prince was much smarter than any of the war consulters.
Orange fire blared…
And it was joined by a scream.
It was nearly hours before the Prince stopped screaming and there were two words on his lips before he collapsed into unconsciousness, his senses still lingering on the cruelness he had to face.
"Father, Why?" tears had long since dried, even when memories resurfaced and yet, as Jeong stared, nearly alone except for the few sympathetic, and oldest, of the Fire Nation nobles. Some mournfully shook their heads but there stood a dark figure, head bowed and eyes closed, silently mourning the pain his son had suffered.
Was it really to teach him a lesson?
Jeong prayed not.
Even as he watched the Prince border the ship, probably sent away by the Fire Lord because he could not bear to look in the eye of his son without feeling some type of guilt.
His chest tightened at the thought.
When Jeong looked down, he saw the black hair falling gracefully down her bare shoulders. She turned to him, her amber eyes filled with hope and love for her son, and for the monster that bid Zuko a safe journey.
She took a deep breathe and silently, dressed in white, mourned the death of her son. For she knew, he would never return as the same boy she had walked with in the gardens.
The Fire Lord suddenly switched his gaze toward his wife, his eyes pleading silently. Ursa's eyes hardened and she turned away.
It was just his imagination that the Fire Lord actually cared for his son, Jeong just created something that he wished to see…
He had no idea…
Jeong had once made a promise to himself, and it was that he would never, ever become his father.
Disguised as something as a training accident, he walked with a limp because his father, in a drunken fit, nearly killed him, but instead broke his leg in three places. He could never really walk the same, but the passion he felt for the unrighteous injury, for the pain his father had caused, created a new fire which burned in the pit of his stomach.
Zhao was promoted, and for some reason, Jeong was very proud of his ex-student. Not for his firebending, definitely not for that, but because, in secret, the middle aged man became something he had no idea he was, a traitor.
Jeong knew that the Captain was sending the Prince an allowance, enough to be worth something.
He did not understand why Zhao would keep something such a secret, but perhaps it was because, like him, he felt sorry for the young Prince, who would forever struggle.
The Fire Nation was built on lies, they said that the Prince was, "A failure," little did they know, Zuko's father was the one that failed him.
The Glorious Years
There were years spent in sea, glorious years when he admired Azulon, who though much older than him, knew when to be a graceful leader, and knew when a temper could come in handy.
Jeong did not realize that Azulon admired him as well.
But for the fact he was willing to stand against the helpless, and to be…something other than what his father created.
The scar that adorned his face burned sometimes and even though it was long, long ago, he could still picture his father's face leering at him. In the dark of the night, while everyone in his house slept he traced the soft skin, reaching down to his pocket to feel the knife that marked him so.
The Prince would not return, for Zhao was sent to find the avatar, and with him a new title. But that was what it was….just a title. Nothing that could be sold, it could be bought, but it could not be sold. It was a trap. Something to hold one back should they fail in their mission. Jeong too was once obsessed with a title, either by gaining a new one, or ridding the feelings that it wasn't quite right.
It wasn't until two weeks later when Jeong left in a small rowboat. Knife tucked safely away, memories buried deep in his mind, and as far away from the Fire Nation as he dared to go.
If he was caught, he would be executed, no matter his rank.
But if he miraculously escaped, it would mean freedom.
When he finally landed on the banks of a small stream, his relief and exhaustion were evident by the slump of his shoulders. The forest secluded the area, no fire within sight. He breathed deeply and the forest's smells filled him.
Perhaps this would be the new beginning.
It wasn't until a few months later when others started to join him, and soon, once again he had men under his command.
Until he met the avatar, just a boy, and a child really, but there was so much potential in him, he could nearly taste it.
Unfortunately he wasn't quite ready for his training.
He would be willing to wait, but unfortunately, the darkness had crept into the heart of a once good man.
Zhao had returned to claim Jeong as a traitor and even though Zhao had not seen him in years, it had not meant that he hadn't watched him. He knew Zhao well enough to know he would have something up his sleeve.
The New Firelord
It was nearly a year after that when he met the boy that was burned, having a mark as well, but for some reason there was this peace in his eyes.
It was strange really, and even with his Fire Lord clothes on, he did not wear them as smugly as the ones before him. Instead his face held true compassion, thoughtfulness, and altogether, much too wise for one so young.
"I am sorry I have not properly thanked you for your wisdom when it came to the punishments of the traitors." Zuko gave a small bow of his head. Jeong felt the cool floor underneath his forehead, wondering perhaps how he ended up serving in the army once again.
The Fire Lord dismissed him, and though, no matter how hard he tried to change the image, he still pictured the pitiful boy crying for his father's forgiveness.
The image would swirl however, and instead, a young boy, a young Jeong would take his place.
It was odd that he would end up rising to power again and though he was now not as ruthless as he once was, and he mainly played his part of helping the Earth Kingdom recover from the war, the only possible solution was...
There was even a greater force at work than just mankind.
A/N Completely vague and confusing but for some reason I felt like writing it.