AN: First time entering the A: TLA fandom. Please do not shy away from critique since it's always helpful when trying out a new area with a couple that, alas and alack, has always been so terribly and frighteningly interesting. Title and story has been overused likely and since it's a test on these two it is rather like a short PWP.

IMPORTANT: Mild implications of incest; God can be disappointed in me, you still have the option of a backward arrow

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with the proper company of this series and receive no profit from this work of fiction.

Always Lies

It buzzes in his mind, a cacophony of droning insects, nettling into him: Azula always lies.

Fearful heartbeat; tingling skin; burning blood: these physical sensations are nothing new to him. He could barely recall a time in his life when he did not feel uncomfortable around his younger sister. His child-self disregarded her sociopathic temperament, treating her as any older sibling would a smaller one when put on the brink of irritation and responsibility. His child-self, subconsciously, knew to keep her at bay—the innocent façade masks the malicious grin, the gleam in amber as she corners prey. Azula always lies.

Her complete amorality towards living things would appall him as a child and it still continues to unnerve him at how horribly cold she can be, an ice sculpture that unleashes scores of flame, laughing briskly as hope of escape dwindles to single digits.

He hates his sister. Hates what she does, hates who she is, hates, in a small dark part of his already cavernous shell that he is not like that.

She enters a room and she commands, she need only look briefly in one's direction and the ground she walks upon is treated with dreaded reverence. He wonders if she was born as the embodiment of all manner of evil: the glee when she struck a personal spot, the sadistic delight in torture. As much as it makes him shudder to even think of her he cannot deny that, at times, he does want that strong authoritative demand. She can disarm anyone so easily with that honeyed tongue, many unaware of the needle stuck to it…

He sighs, brushes ebon strands from his face.

A footfall, near silent upon the marbled floor, almost escaped his attention.

"Hello, Zu-Zu."

He ignores the voice.

"Having a hard time sleeping?"

Zuko rises from the bed, looking out of his window and replies hoarsely, "In a way."

She does not approach and for that he's grateful, hearing the creak of his bed, "You know, I thought for sure you would be happy. You're back home."

"I am happy," he says somewhat lamely. Perhaps she'll mistake it for lack of sleep.

"You do not appear so…I'm happy to have you here," the voice is softer than ash, and if he inhales he knows the poison will seep. Azula always lies.

He turns to look at her, knows she waits, and waits to pour nightshade tea down his throat to congeal his veins, freeze them with false security. The young man returns looking out the window, the vastness of his kingdom bathed handsomely in silver peace, contrasting the golden wrath that feeds his power.

A wan white demon strides beside him, engulfed in scarlet and halcyon, mute silky flames that fan about the slender form; the night, darker than sin stains, frames the face and the gentle expression is pronounced, deadlier.

Fearful heartbeat; tingling skin; burning blood: yes, these are not new to him. But the how and why of their coming certainly is. The delicate curve of the waist, a dragon's red claw; the taunting features that has haunted him since banishment and even now are effervescent in the ghostly glow, and, strangely, it is not only frightening but tantalizing.

His child-self, his past self, knew to keep himself at a distance but now the terror excited him in a perverse, demented fashion. He is no better than anyone else, and he suffers from human needs and wants; his child-self screams in strangled horror; his present-self screams from that, too, yet it is mingled with something deeper, forbidden, and he holds himself back from crushing her to his chest and, for once, causing her to grimace and moan.

She inches closer, enough to be apart but just so near…he feels the smooth fabric of satin glide beneath his fingers and beneath he feels the warmth of human skin, pliable and tender, but he is not oblivious to the raw energy that emanates from her very flesh—heat, dominance, aggression, and that fueling, passionate thing called hatred that is mutual between them.

The young prince knows nothing will come of this and he feels the cooling wash of relief—it disgusts him for one, even if it is so horribly tempting and he knows as well that she will never stoop to this because she has her pride, her dignity, her superiority to him. She only comes to make his life miserable: for that is her greatest desire.

She takes a step further than normal and he nearly dies from the touch of her mouth on his—this is worse than her words, for she plans to tear him limb from limb with ginger caresses, make him cry for her body and his own as she writhes and devours his soul and he knows she can do it.

He hates that he is not like that…

…for he knows who he is, and he is not like this: he cannot cast aside the gentle nature his beautiful mother had given to him, the humanity and grace that she bequeathed him before he lost her to a maw of hellfire forever.

He pushes the younger woman back, not forcefully because he wants it but enough to show that he has willpower of his own; he cannot give in.

Unbeknownst to him was the flicker of something in the twin suns that resemble his own, for he never thought a monster could envy, could feel deprived, could want something to yearn and feel…

They withdraw, they stare, they feel the flames die and are rekindled with the bitter fire of sibling rivalry and loathing.

She moves to the door, a specter to cause turmoil, and remarks over her shoulder, "You'll give in one day." He knows what she means—she means that he'll give in to the blackest side of himself, sow and reap the seed of destruction that comes with their heritage. If he gives in to her feminine wiles, the supple delectable body, he'll be lost for the rest of eternity, bound to her every movement, to the scorching side of fire that burns darker than black and leaves one alive and dead all at once in those open yet unforgiving tongues of power and surrender.

"No, I won't," he murmurs to the unassuming walls, "for Azula always lies…"