Tales of the Sun

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough.

Warnings: AU-ish, Speculation, Spoilers up to Season Three

AN: For AtLA Land's fic-prompting challenge.

Azula – "A foolish man's paradise is a wise man's hell."

The Devil's Playground

Her kingdom is beautiful. She sits upon her throne and gazes out with eyes glittering gold and a benevolent smile. It's lovely and red and everything she's ever dreamed. It is perfection. It is paradise.

Her people are happy. They bow before her graciously and bring offerings to show their thanks. And every word they utter is in praise of her efforts and strong guiding hand.

There is no more war. There is no more death or bloodshed. They are at peace. One people unified beneath her banner. And they rejoice.

Ty Lee kneeling beside her weeps into the ash and rubble.


Young Piandao – Dream a dream, then end another. Life is there to interrupt.

Waking Life

He falls asleep to misery. To a tiny room in the orphanage that he shares with three other boys. To hunger pains and shaky limbs. To thoughts of fire in his hands and a smile on his face.

His dreams are filled with flames and light. Images of dragons and blue lightning. Whispers of warmth and embers and ashes rising like phoenix wings.

He dreams of his family. Of his parents and sisters. Of sitting around the table in their kitchen. Of learning to bend right alongside. Of his mother's soft smile and his father's pride. Of hugs and laughter and love.

His nightmares, however, are the truth. He's being dragged through the streets in the middle of the night. He begs and pleads, but his father doesn't stop. They just keep going and going and going to the edge of a city on another island from their home. He's shoved to the ground just outside the door, and his hands scrape the gravel as his father towers over him. The man says nothing, but Piandao doesn't need him to speak to know the words; he's heard them often enough.

Worthless. Useless. Hopeless.

He isn't a bender. He isn't wanted. He isn't welcome.

He has no family. He has parents who want him. No sisters to call his name. He has no place with them. He's just another orphan all alone in the world.

And Piandao wakes to emptiness.


Young Pakku – Against the Tide

Ebb and Flow

He could've stopped her. Pakku saw her the night she fled. He followed her to the little boat she'd hidden away and watched her push it from the shore. His own bending is strong enough that he could've called it back at any time. That he could've brought her to back him and never let her go.

But he just watches as she becomes a tinier and tinier speck on the horizon that's only lit by moonlight. He does nothing as she finally disappears entirely.

Water is about connection and family. It isn't freedom. It's flowing down already destined and predetermined paths. It's going with the current. It's surfing the tides.

But water is more than that, too. It's more than freezing and fighting and watching blood as it burns against the snow.

Healing, however, is women's work. That's what his father taught him. His uncles. His own master. Healing is what women do. They're the ones who mend what the men break. They're the ones who save lives, while men take them.

But just as surely as Pakku knows that, he also knows that keeping Kanna would've killed her. And he wants to be more than just a killer.

"I don't want to be just a wife," Kanna had said when he wasn't meant to overhear.

"I don't want to be just a warrior," Pakku finally replies.

But only the moon and ocean hear him.

Ever Hopeful,