A/N: This fic was written for suzukiblu on livejournal. She had a birthday request meme, and she gave me the prompt of "How You Remind Me" by Nickelback.
Fire nation princes aren't supposed to bleed.
Jet has lived his whole life in violent streaks of black and white. There is no room for gray in his world—no room for mercy, no room for forgiveness. No room for soldiers with gentle fingers or mothers waiting for a young firebender to return home.
There are no shades of gray in Jet's world until it's his turn to be redeemed.
When a firebender bleeds, it is a thing of beauty. It is the reward for a perfect sword swing, red stains on red armor as the orange flames slowly die. As the blistering heat withers, it feeds the burning hunger for violence, the lust for destruction that simmers low in the gut and feeds on the sight of cold, still bodies. The blood of a firebender looks like freedom and tastes like victory.
This firebender is exceptionally beautiful when he bleeds. He is beautiful with harsh red and purple painting his pale skin, and he is beautiful when his gold eyes burn despite the broken hunch of his body. Jet has an appreciation for broken, beautiful firebenders, and the sweaty tangle of black hair falling over bruised skin makes heat coil in Jet's chest.
The heat turns to ice when Zuko bows to Jet, head resting on the rotted wood floor.
"I'm so sorry."
Firebenders don't hurt. Firebenders don't sob for their dead or weep for a starving enemy child. Firebenders don't plead for mercy, begging for a chance to see their sweetheart again.
But firebenders also don't beg for touch. Their faces don't twist and flush with desire, and their bodies don't shudder inside and out as they cling to broad shoulders, riding out a release so hot it leaves burn marks.
Such a thing was impossible, yet Jet saw it firsthand. And now that sobbing, shuddering firebender kneels at his feet and asks him for forgiveness.
Jet can't stop his hands from shaking. "What the fuck are you sorry about? You're the firelord's son! I captured you, beat the shit out of you, and threw you in an abandoned hut to rot. I'm your enemy, why the fuck are you apologizing?"
Jet suddenly finds he can't breathe. Zuko's eyes are calm, showing none of the fury that blazed in them when they fought in the streets of Ba Sing Se.
"I am the firelord's son. I am no longer his ally. His actions are completely inexcusable, and I am ashamed to have ever fought you on his behalf."
He bows his head again, and Jet feels sick. "I didn't do anything to deserve this. God, I killed so many of your people. I tried to kill you! You can't fucking apologize."
"You are a good man, Jet. That's enough." There, behind the pain, behind the loss and anger and disillusionment, something warm still burns in Zuko's eyes. It melts the hardness protecting Jet's heart, and seeps in to soothe the ache of guilt that has been with him since he couldn't save his parents.
Jet knows what it looks like, but fire nation princes don't fall in love.