Title: Fear and Ice
Disclaimer: Anne Bishop owns Kaeleer and all its inhabitants, other people who are a list unto themselves own Zuko, Toph and everyone else in Avatar the Last Airbender.
Summary: A really short extract from what would be a longer fic if I had anything else in mind besides this. Zuko is delirious and Saetan has to watch.
Notes: So . . . yeah. An AtLA crossover with the BJT. I just had this one image in my head of Saetan sitting at a delirious Zuko's bedside and just being totally furious as he heard about the way Zuko got The Scar. Most of this is just a setup to get Zuko (via the magic portal of it-just-happened-that-way-just-go-with-it) to Kaeleer, because I can't stop with backstory, even when all I actually have is drabble.
Notes2: No, this really is just . . . it. I can't do a sequel because I don't know what I'd do after this. Not to mention that I don't actually own copies of the BJT, so I can't double check references to the universe, which means all errors regarding gates and Kaeleer etc. are because I totally forgot. It is gates, right?
Saetan sat by the bed of the boy who had been spat out of the Gate on Kaeleer. He wasn't from any of the realms, the girl with him had assured them of that.
This was a problem, for everyone, and not just because Jaenelle was having great difficulty in figuring out how to get to a realm previously unknown to them all. It was a problem, because Saetan had no one to destroy for what had been done to the child lying on the bed in front of him. Those golden eyes the boy had, so close to the ones in his own family, had been tormented the few times they'd flickered open.
Now they were closed, but there was no peace on the boy's face as he slept on. He had not been truly awake even once during his stay at the Hall.
It had been early evening when a crack of power had resonated through the air and made the ground tremble. All the Blood in the Hall had raced to the Gate, not knowing what was waiting there, only that a tremendous expenditure of power had occurred. They had not expected to see a young girl with straight black hair, crying over the tortured form of a boy.
"Sparky! Sparky, wake up! Please. Please don't . . ." her voice was cracking. As they all landed, most of them had airwalked (or run) there, Jaenelle hastily moving toward the children, knowing that a healer was needed by at least one of them. The girl's head snapped up, and Saetan recalled being surprised by the blank look those clouded eyes had. The girl was blind. Then she snapped out, "Who's there?"
"We're friends," Jaenelle started, carefully, "I just-"
The girl didn't let her finish. "Stop right there," she said, suddenly calm and confident. Like a queen with the backing of her court. She wasn't a queen . . . or was she? A smooth movement of her hands, and walls slammed up out of the ground itself, blocking her and the boy from view. And separating Jaenelle from the rest of them.
One word, that was all they heard from Kaeleer's Heart. So they waited, Saetan exchanging looks with his sons, who looked as perturbed as he felt at this whole turn of events.
"Now tell me who you are, and who you work for," the girl said. "Because if it's Azula, I don't care what the Avatar thinks about killing, I'll take you all down before I let you hurt Sparky again." Those words were definitely enough to stop them all from rushing to protect Jaenelle. If this girl was some sort of queen, and she had to be at least a witch if she could make the earth move at her bidding, she had every right to protect an injured member of her court from complete unknowns.
They could hear Jaenelle trying again. "My name is Jaenelle. I don't know anyone named Azula. I'm a healer. I can help him."
"And your friends?" The girl said, mistrustfully.
Jaenelle told her, "They won't either. Only if you try to hurt any of mine would we try to hurt you."
The girl paused, then said, "You're telling the truth." She sounded oddly surprised. "Okay, but if anyone tries anything . . ." she trailed off, leaving the threat unspoken. Just as suddenly as they had come up, the walls came down. For a moment, Saetan saw his daughter, restrained by some sort of handcuffs made of stone, but before he could even begin to be angry, they dissolved away and she was free.
He and his sons moved forward, getting a closer look. The boy on the ground was covered in burns, cuts and bruises. The fingers on one hand had been broken and one of his legs lay at an odd angle. He was panting, and through the remains of what had once been a silk shirt, they could see an odd formation to his chest that looked like broken ribs. Over the left half of his face was an old scar. Someone had burned the boy from his cheekbones, up to forehead and that stretched all the way back to his ear. It looked horrifying, but it wasn't part of the injuries that needed immediate healing. Nonetheless, Saetan could see Jaenelle calculating in her head how much could be done.
His eyes fluttered open a crack, and Saetan was startled to see gold there. Gold eyes like his own, like Daemon and Lucivar's. "Ka-" his voice rasped, and he tried again. "Katara?"
"Not here, Sparky," the girl said, combing her hands through his hair. "It's just us."
But he wasn't aware enough to take that in. He just moved slightly, restlessly, and said, "'Tara, don't go." Then his eyes rolled up in his head and he passed out completely.
There had been a flurry of activity, and they'd moved them both to the Hall. The next few days had been full of bustling activity to get the young man, they'd been told his name was Zuko, healed.
Toph, the girl, had told them about the boy letting himself be captured to protect someone she called the Avatar. Had told them about a realm where Craft only existed as a manipulation of the elements, and where Prince was a term denoting a young man who was in line to inherit a throne, not a term of Craft. She and the boy were both the equivalent of masters of their craft, the girl a master of earth and the boy a master of fire.
Zuko's sister had tortured him, trying to get information from him, and Toph had barely left his side, telling him about the things she had learned of Kaeleer, which she called weird.
It was reasonable, Saetan supposed, for her to call Kaeleer weird, given that her own realm sounded fairly 'weird' to him. He was watching Zuko, as Daemon had finally pulled Jaenelle away for a few hours and Lucivar had duties to attend at Askavi. Toph had fallen asleep at his bedside and been moved to a pallet on a stone floor a few rooms over. So Saetan sat by this boy with eyes like the Sa Diablo family and watched him toss and turn in a delirium.
His wounds had become infected, and now they were battling a fever and hallucinations. Sometimes Zuko would speak his part in some scene only he could see or remember. Sometimes Toph could tell them what it was the boy was remembering, and sometimes she couldn't. Even now, he was softly muttering.
"No . . . wrong."
"Shh. Rest, child," Saetan said, combing his hand through the boy's hair. "You're safe."
"Sacrifice," was the one clear word amidst all the mumbling.
Saetan tried again. "Toph is well," he told the boy, softly. Trying to find some way to draw his mind away from whatever tormented him. It didn't work.
"Please, father . . . I'm sorry . . ." There was desperation in his voice, and Saetan had to resist the urge to pull the child off the bed and into his arms the way he would have with his own sons. He couldn't, not only because the boy's injuries were healing slowly, and he didn't want to aggravate them, but because he didn't know how Zuko might react in his state of delirium.
Instead, he left his hand on the boy's head, carding through his hair, hoping that it would comfort him.
". . . no disrespect. I am your loyal son," he pleaded. "I won't fight you." There was a silence. Saetan hoped it meant Zuko was settling into a deeper sleep.
Then the boy screamed. It was tortured and the sound rang through the air, filled with terror and pain and it was all Saetan could do to pull the boy's hands away from the scar, where they seemed to be trying to pull something off, or ward something away. His body arched, taut as a bowstring, before collapsing, his now-hoarse voice fading away into soft murmurs. The last clear words from his lips, "Please, father."
The room was cold, and Saetan was vaguely aware that he needed to leash his temper before he did something rash. Right now, he wanted to find the creature that claimed to be this boy's father and let his darker impulses loose on the man. But there was no one for him to tear apart, because right now there was no way to the boy's realm to do that.
A midnight black voice spoke behind him, and Saetan felt the edge of his temper ease off as the daughter of his heart told him, "When he's better I will find a way to return them to that realm. Then we can exact justice."