Young Blood

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

Warnings: General Spoilers, Speculation

AN: For Avatar_500 over on LJ. The prompt was #28: Free.

Freedom isn't free if it comes cheap. Jet washes the blood from his hands with empty and careless motions, while thinking about future ambushes and training and what they'll have for dinner.

Smellerbee shakes as she splashes water from the creek on her face, and Longshot is as silent and stiff as corpse. Both of them have red-rimmed eyes, and Jet hears the occasional sniffle. But he just sits back on his heels and surveys his men with a steady look.

He tells them he's a freedom fighter. That he fights the good fight. That he protects the innocent and punishes the evil.

But even he's honest enough to know that he's lying.

He does this to make them pay. To hurt the Fire Nation as much as they hurt him. For taking his family. For stealing his life.

He wants them to suffer. He wants them to die.

And Jet honestly doesn't care who goes with them. Villagers in the floodplain. Random travellers caught in his traps. His so-called friends. Anyone who gets in his way.

They're all fodder. They're all part of the plan.

It's the price they pay for living without the Fire Nation, and Jet is generous enough to do the dirty work for them. He doesn't demand a thing in compensation.

He gets more than enough out of the bargain anyway.

Even more than money, he just likes the sound the soldiers make as they die. The crisp and burnt smell of men set on fire during the dead of night as their camp explodes in flames. The sight of their armor as it crashes through the holes they dug out in the forest and their broken bodies afterwards. The taste of copper on his tongue as they drown or are taken out by arrows one by one.

It's all music to him. Pure poetry.

Jet stands up on the creek bank just as the burning wreckage in the distance behind them collapses entirely in a plume of smoke. It's just a merchant's caravan, but they were collaborators and as such fair game. It's the cost for selling out their own nation, and Jet doesn't accept gold. Only their lives as payment.

"Let's go," he tells everyone as the ashes rain down around them like grey snow.

Smellerbee's face is green from the smell. Longshot's is white. Jet just glances back at the smoldering remnants with something all too much like a smile.

AN: Summary quote is from The Dark Knight.

Ever Hopeful,