She walked silently down the aisle, courteously as she was taught. Of course elegance seemed to come naturally to Azula, and so she kept her arm slyly wrapped around her father's with a faint smile on her scarlet lips; enough to please the crowd. Things seemed to be looking up, she barely expected Ozai to approve let alone walk her down the aisle to give her away. It was reassuring in a sense; she hadn't even mentioned her pregnancy yet. Afterwards she'd tell him, it'd just look better. This wouldn't seem strained and forced so she would be talked out of leaving Sokka.
When they reached the alter, Ozai gave a firm nod as confirmation this was real. He didn't peck her cheek; didn't even smile. That stung, not as much as what was about to come, though. He went to sit in the front row and she looked forward to Sokka, who was smiling nervously. He was always nervous over things like this; he was a bad presenter no matter how he tried to play it off. She smirked to him and rolled her eyes to tease, but she was nervous, too.
As their vows were read, Azula seemed to drone out the pastor's voice. It sounded wicked, but his tone was so flat and dreary. This guy must be Mai's grandfather. She glanced at the audience before her, through the corner of her eye so she didn't look like she was attempting to distract herself from being put to sleep. She saw Ty Lee in the front, waving energetically. If anyone would give her away, it was her peppy former-friend. Mai sat more towards the middle, Jet with his arm loosely wrapped around her shoulder. A small pinch of jealousy struck her, and then she remembered she was better off. Sokka had given her more than Jet ever could. Ten-year-old Tom-Tom sat at the edge of his seat, trying his best to see over the shoulders in front of him. She saw Zuko seated in the front, staring blankly until he caught her glimpse. To her surprise, he smiled and rolled his eyes to tease her, the same way she had to Sokka.
She looked to his side and saw and empty seat. Her father, Ozai, where was he? Surely he'd left for a business call or something; he had to keep up with those things at all times. This occasion was important to him. She looked to Zuko for reassurance and he gave her a sympathetic stare. She looked back to Sokka with a saddened look and he smiled, thinking it was more tears of joy. Then he saw what she had been looking at, an empty seat on the bench. He frowned with her and she gave his hands a firm squeeze.
"I do." She finally said when it was time to do so. Without being prompted she pulled Sokka into an embrace and pressed her lips to his, holding him close and waiting for him to react properly before closing her eyes to shed a tear.
She wouldn't let him get to her; she was done trying to please him.
Azula sat on the couch, propping her weight up best she could. Well, the weight of her and this unborn child that ached her body. Her womb had at grown so much she hadn't bothered weighing herself anymore; it disgusted her. She lightly drew imaginary circles on it, her stomach; lifting her shirt just enough to expose some of her stretched porcelain skin. It was a girl, this small thing that seemed to hold her back. Of course they said they didn't want to know, but the idiots still gave Azula and Sokka the paperwork, concealed in an envelope. It took two days and four hours for Azula to rip open the results; she had to do something to keep from going insane. She had stopped working a couple weeks ago, forced maternity leave.
As she drew these imaginary lines she wondered if the developing body inside her could really feel her not-so-motherly touch. She wondered if this little girl could really hear her when she complained or cursed, or when she laughed and praised (a rare thing to hear). She wondered if their daughter heard her at night, when she whispered lullabies, just for her to hear. Sokka said all babies could hear these things while still in the womb, of course she had to act like she didn't believe it, still she couldn't help but wonder.
She also began thinking of names in secrecy. Sokka was too honest to look at the gender of the baby, if he had he'd have to tell her, which he didn't. So while he thought over girl and boy names and more boys because he was hopeful, she thought over her own names. All girl names, she wondered how devastated he'd be when he found out his baby a girl was indeed. She wondered how her father reacted to her and Zuko.
She wondered how Ursa was when she was pregnant. The first time, with Zuko, was she scared? Did she question all the things Azula was or did she already have a game plan? Ursa was always motherly, at least for as long as Azula could remember. But was she always like that; was she as indifferent to children as Azula felt? She could ask these things, had Ursa not disappeared. Had she not abandoned her family? Then again, Ozai seemed to disown her after discovering she was pregnant. She couldn't depend on anyone, aside from Sokka.
Oh, and Zuko. He seemed to make his face known since the incident with their father. Over dinner, go figure. The worst fights always happened at that table, the first severe one was when Zuko got kicked out. Now it was Azula who was stranded, and though she never offered a helping hand to her brother, he stopped by every other day while Sokka was working to check up on her. She almost confided in him she knew they were having a girl, almost. Either way, she was sure he'd be a supportive uncle.
She had men to help her, no woman to guide her through how this works. She wanted Ursa to appear, just for a short while, just to tell her the answers. Then she changed her mind.
Ursa didn't care about her; she'd only show up to watch her burn in her own lack of knowing.
6 Gun Quota.
Sokka grinned as Adala lay back on his lap, her tiny hands wrapped tight around his index fingers. She was beautiful at three months, his deep brown hair and Azula's golden eyes. Her skin seemed to be somewhere in the middle, but it still suited her right. She had such a playful smile, and her babbled words always sounded so excited to him. He figured he'd be able to adjust to a son faster, but now he was glad to have a girl. His little girl, so sweet an innocent. He was sure Azula was starting to get used to having a baby around, at least when she was home from work.
"Say Dadda." He said in a baby-like tone that caused Adala to giggle and pat his cheeks with her soft palms. He waited and got nothing more than meaningless babble. The only chance he would have to get her to say Dadda before Mama was when Azula wasn't around. Even if she didn't really care, she was still competitive. Speaking of which, she was already ten minutes late, he hoped she was ok.
"Nu-uh, say Tom-Tom." The boy pleaded beside him. Yes, his day off with a new baby meant he had become the public's babysitter; Mai's little brother included. Sokka rolled his eyes and pushed his face away, no way would her first word be 'Tom', not ever. Over the months of her pregnancy, Azula and Mai had slowly patched up their dispute, which seemed to ease her stress. He was glad, even if every now and then he had to watch this persistent child. 'Socializing is a good skill to develop at a young age' Azula would say, still, why did it have to be with an older boy? He let out a sigh, wait until she actually got a boyfriend.
"Dadda?" He said again and the baby yawned on his lap, stretching before starting to close her eyes. He pulled her up to rest her head on his shoulder, which she did without taking much of a fit. Curious Tom-Tom couldn't help but try to peek at the baby's face, which was now buried in Sokka's t-shirt. He leaned his head to hers; she only fell asleep this easily when she was tired.
But good things can't last, the door swung open abruptly and Adala squirmed uncomfortably, making a whining sound in his ears. His brows furrowed as he looked up to Azula, who already looked like she'd had a bad day.
"Your sister's waiting in the car outside." She stated bluntly to Tom-Tom, who nodded and went for the door, waving as he did so. She swung it shut and slipped off her heels, massaging the soles of her feet before placing them in the corner. Before Sokka could speak, she was in the bathroom with the door shut. He shook his head and carefully placed their daughter in the playpen, giving her a stuffed animal that managed to silence her tears for about three seconds.
"Azula?" He knocked on the door before opening it; she always complained he didn't give her time to say come in. He remembered, just right now he was a little frustrated. Having a family didn't even bring her home a little earlier, or lighten her mood. Was she doomed to the same fate as Ozai?
His thoughts broke when he watched her down the pills in her bottle dry. He arched a brow and she clenched it tightly in a fist, hiding it back in her purse until he grabbed her wrist to see.
"Anti-depressants?" He asked and she looked to the mirror on the bathroom wall, adjusting her hair casually. The baby's wails only grew louder with each second. "Azula?"
"You can't even handle watching her when I'm gone, can you?" She spat. He growled in his throat, yanking him to her by the wrist. He held the bottle in her face, waiting for her to explain. Azula, on the other hand, stayed in her state of shock. She was losing the circulation in her arm, she was tired of this. "Yes, Sokka, anti-depressants. I'm getting fucking depressed, having to work all day so I someone can make decent money to provide for a family." It was true, Sokka's income couldn't compare to hers. Still, she knew they were always well off if she didn't work so much. She needed some escape from this reality, though. He slammed her to the wall and she gasped.
"Azula, we have a daughter now. You can't just keep these things from me, you're my wife!" He reminded and she winced, turning her cheek to the side to avoid his gaze. He didn't seem to care. "You can't just run away from your problems, yeah, it's hard right now, but you can't just leave me to raise a family by my self."
"I want a divorce!" She shrieked and he stared in awe. A divorce? After all this, everything he tried to do for her? His grip loosened and she was panting. Maybe it was from screaming, maybe exhaustion. She assumed it was from getting so worked up she was wiping her eyes with her hands to dry them. The baby still cried in the background.
"You're not taking her…" He whispered, wanting to tell her to stay. He wanted to say how much better he'd make their lives, but he couldn't. He'd done it all so many times it was sickening. He could see her waiting for it, for his attempt he couldn't muster.
"I can't do this anymore…" She muttered, like it'd solve everything.
"And did you ever think to ask if I'm ok?" He whispered back and she remained silent. 'I didn't want her anyway' she wanted to say, but all she could think about was Ursa. Was she that low now, abandoning her own family and leaving her daughter motherless? She tried to think she wasn't, but Azula knew she was worse. At least deep down, she knew Ozai beat Ursa. She knew their dark secrets from spying at such a young age, and denying it as an adult. Sokka didn't beat her, he gave her his all. Still, here she was, ready to leave. "SO what do you want to do?"
Lost In You.
It was working, again. Of course it took convincing, on Sokka's part, but here she was, cradling a baby she had been scared to touch. She was so innocent, Adala, so fragile Azula was sure she was breakable as a porcelain doll. Still, the small girl clung to her mother's blouse, nuzzling against Azula's breast. Azula smiled, it was a warm smile, one she only caught herself sharing with Sokka.
Sokka sat beside her and wrapped his arm around his wife's shoulder; glad things were going so smoothly. Two months now, and Azula had agreed to counseling. It changed her for the better, even though he wasn't entirely sure about everyone, she treated her family right. She even came home early some days from work to prepare dinner and do small things. She was a new person, a better one. She had matured so greatly it amazed him. He loved her now as much as he had when he first met her.
"Here." He took hold of the slumbering baby and Azula nodded, gently holding Adala's hand before Sokka took her to tuck in. He came back out to find her at the doorway, grinning mischievously. He cocked his eyebrow and she slowly undid the tie to her robe, parting it slowly with her index finger. He returned her grin and picked her up in his arms, letting his hands wander as he took her to the room, dropping her on the bed before crawling between her legs. She slid her arms out of the satin robe and laced her arms around his neck.
"You're everything…" She whispered seriously. She wouldn't let it almost end so quickly again. She was making an effort this time, it wasn't all on him. He brushed his lips against hers, just enough so she felt his breath, just enough to tease.
"I'm nothing without you."
Just A Dream.
Sokka brushed his wife's hair over his shoulder as she sat on the couch, settling their six-month-old in the playpen. He crawled up beside her to lean in the warmth of her nape. It was mid-morning, her favorite time, and he was glad to see she awoke with a smile. Her hair slightly out of place, no make-up, and still not even showered and dressed, being happy in that state for her meant something. She always woke up and did everything right away, feeling she looked her best when she was ready to present herself.
To him, she was most beautiful the way she was now. The baby seemed to take up most of her time, most of their time, but she was content with that. She even suggested another one, once Adala was older. Sokka proudly agreed, he always hoped for a bigger family. Even if she only wanted two, that was plenty. He pecked her cheek and she looked over to him.
"Good morning." She traced his jaw line with her nail, giving him the chills before gently kissing his lips. She pulled him by the hand while Adala was distracted with the colors on the TV. He wasn't so used to her being spontaneous, especially with the lack of sleep they'd received the past few months. Still, she started the shower and wasted no time shedding her clothes, stepping in and signaling for him to follow with her index finger. Sokka complied without a protest and pulled her slim frame to his. Her wet hair ran down her back and her hands rubbed up and down his chest and shoulders.
"I love you…" He whispered in her ear while she continued to tease. He waited for her to respond, she always did. She would never deny loving him, at least not anymore.
But she couldn't, because after those words, Sokka woke up. He didn't wake up to his wife, it was impossible. Instead, to his side was an empty bed. No warmth was hidden under the made up blankets, no shape remaining of anything in the pillow. He sighed as he swung his legs over the bed. He looked to the dresser and threw a pair of pajama pants over his boxers. None of Azula's make-up or perfumes covered the top of it. Instead there was a lamp and a wedding picture. He lowered the frame so it faced the surface and went out of the bedroom.
He was used to those dreams, the one that had him yearning and wondering. The ones where he wanted to know where she was, and could only hope it was somewhere safe. He went into Adala's room and pulled the two-year-old out of her bed and rocking her back and forth in his arms.
"Daddy?" She yawned and buried her face back in his shoulder. He remained silent and continued cradling her, waiting for the feeling of loss and sadness to pass over. "What's the matter?" She pulled away to face him and he shook his head. It had to subside soon. She pecked his nose and he smiled to her, she was so sweet.
Azula was too, before she disappeared.