This is AU, Zukaang. Ways in which it is AU: 1) There is no Avatar. Aang is just an airbender. 2) There is no Sozin's Comet. 3) This is AU in other ways, but those will mostly reveal themselves as the story goes on.
I have figured out that I'm terrible at writing endings...
But an ending it is! I have had so much fun writing this story! You have all been so supportive and I'm glad you all have enjoyed it!
Enjoy Chapter 32!
I don't see Kurohi... Shiroku said worriedly.
Aang frantically searched the skies around them, the absence of the black dragon starting to make him panic. Maybe they're in one of the ships...?
I hope not... I think Kurohi's in trouble and, if she is, I don't want her to be trapped in those contraptions.
Aang leaned down, patting a hand comfortingly on Shiroku's neck. We'll find them... We have to...
While he was reassuring the dragon, he tried to hide his own desperate worry for Zuko. If Kurohi was in trouble, Zuko was as well, and it killed him that he wasn't there to help.
Shiroku suddenly stopped, hovering in midair, staring into the distance at the ground near the edge of the battle. Blue fire...?
Aang's head snapped in the direction Shiroku was looking. When his eyes fell on the large orange and blue flames coming from a particularly charred part of the forest, his stomach clenched in fear. Azula...
Curious at his companions mixed and intense emotions, he glided over towards where the blue flames were coming from. As the approached, the flames started to cease. Before Aang could clearly see what was going on, Shiroku suddenly started to go faster. I can see Kurohi! I think she's hurt!
It wasn't long before Aang could see her too. Then, standing amongst destroyed trees, he could see Azula and Zuko facing each other. Zuko looked exhausted. He was hunched over, cradling his arm to his chest. He didn't pay any heed to Azula, even as blue lightning started to cackle around her. "ZUKO!" he screamed.
Zuko didn't seem to hear him, and he started to run towards Azula, screaming something. That's when Aang noticed that Azula was facing Kurohi and about to lunge towards her with her attack.
Shiroku flew down towards Azula like an arrow, trumpeting out a thunderous roar. Aang held onto Shiroku's spikes for dear life, screaming against the deafening roar. Shiroku flew dangerously close the ground, the air blast from his wings knocking everyone, including Azula, off their feet. The lightning around her fingers shot up into the sky harmlessly.
Shiroku curves upward, flying back up into the air to lower his momentum before turning around and gliding down to land near Kurohi. Shiroku let out a small whimper, laying next to Kurohi and nuzzling her.
As soon as Shiroku landed, Aang jumped off and ran towards Zuko. "Zuko!"
Zuko was kneeling on the ground, covered in a generous layer of dirt. He coughed shook his head, creating a cloud of dust around him. He looked up at the sound of Aang's voice. "A-Aang?" he croaked out.
Aang practically slammed into Zuko, wrapping his arms tightly around his shoulders. "Thank Agni you're okay...!"
Zuko let out a sharp hiss. "Ow! Aang, not so tight...!"
"Oh, sorry!" Aang jumped back. "Is your arm hurt?"
"Broken," Zuko said dismissively. He ran a hand through Aang's hair, eyes scanning his body. "Are you alright?"
"A few scratches, but I'm fine," Aang said.
Zuko gave a quick nod in acknowledgement as he slowly stood, turning in the direction Azula had been. Aang also stood and looked, mentally cursing himself for the fine tremors that were starting to run through his body.
Azula looked... awful. As she pushed herself off the ground, her body seemed to move wildly and out of her control. Her hair was dirt-ridden and wild and her eyes were wide and maniacal. When her eyes landed on Aang, her face split into a grin, her smeared make-up making her a terrifying sight.
"My pet...!" she said breathlessly. "After all this time, I've finally found you!"
She stepped forward, but was stopped when Zuko sent a stream of flames to her feet. "You don't take a single step closer, Azula!"
Azula stopped but didn't seemed disheartened at all. She kept her attention on Aang. "What's wrong, little airbender?" She spat the word derisively. "Aren't you tired of my brother's traitor cock, and once again ready to eat my royal cunt?"
"You're sick, Azula!" Zuko spat angrily. Aang could also feel Shiroku's anger also rising.
As Azula spoke, Aang first felt nothing. His eyes glued to her, absorbed in her her visage, her body language. He began to feel a familiar fear, but it was quickly overtaken by a completely different emotion. Pity.
It didn't take an expert to see that Azula had lost it. In the months between when Zuko smuggled him out of the palace and this very moment, she had been reduced to this: out of control and on the edge of insanity.
And then there was him. He was standing there, more confident and in more control of his life than he had been in years. It had been, and will still be, a hard road, but he was constantly getting better. Even with everything he's gone through.
He was the strong one here. He was able to pull himself up and make something of himself. Azula had simply fallen apart.
"Tsk, tsk, so angry, brother... Don't you think I had him trained perfectly? Always willing and waiting for his special treatments..." Azula grabbed her crotch, eyes still glued on Aang. "I can't wait to feel his trembling, writhing body against mine...!"
"Shut UP!" Zuko yelled.
He took a step forward, and Aang knew that he was about to attack her. Acting more on instinct than anything else, Aang grabbed his arm. "Don't!"
Shiroku let out a short roar before pouncing on Azula. Azula let out a cry as he pinned her to the ground. She started to tremble as Shiroku stood over her, teeth bare and inches from her head. Aang could feel the rage running through Shiroku as he crushed her under his claw. He wanted to punish her for her words and her past actions. He wanted to make her pay... He wanted to tear her head off.
"STOP!" Aang screamed. He ran towards the dragon. "Shiroku, don't! Don't kill her!"
Aang could feel his incredulity. Why not? After everything she did to you? She deserves it! Besides, look at her! Letting her live wouldn't do the world any favors!
Aang reached Shiroku and placed a hand on his bicep, looking up into the white dragon's grey eyes. "You. Can't. Kill. Her."
Zuko caught up behind him, panting heavily. His injuries were starting to take their toll. "Aang, what're doing?"
Aang turned to Zuko. "We can't kill her," he stated.
Zuko looked at Aang incredulously. "Are you out of your mind? After everything she did to you?"
"She's your sister," Aang pointed out.
Zuko looked at Azula, who was watching them carefully. "Well, I wish she wasn't. She's a monster, Aang."
Aang cast his eyes downward. "There's no doubt that something needs to be done. But not killing. Killing is never the answer."
Still trapped underneath Shiroku's claw, Azula started to laugh hysterically. "Oh, this is simply adorable. What's the matter, Zuzu? Don't have the stomach to finish the job?"
Before anyone could respond, Shiroku opened his jaw and roared. Aang and Zuko quickly covered their ears while Azula could do no more than close her eyes and let out a short cry before falling unconscious. Shiroku grunted in satisfaction.
Was that really necessary? Aang asked.
Yes, Shiroku replied.
Ozai pushed his body up so his back was supported by the boulder behind him. However, he was still slumped over, panting heavily in exertion and pain. His left arm was almost completely charred. It was permanently bent, lying uselessly against his side. The burn extended up, consuming the left side of his neck and covering the lower left half of his face. Three long, deep, gashes were present across his torso, blood flowing freely from right leg was bent unnaturally, the tibia sticking out from his calf.
It was a macabre sight.
Iroh stood over him, Hoshi curled aggressively behind him. A little battered and burned from the battle, Iroh stared at his little brother with eyes harsh with determination. But even Ozai could see the small twinge of sadness in the old man's eyes.
"I wish... that things could have different, my brother," Iroh said mournfully.
Ozai let out a bitter laugh. "Even now, at the moment of your victory, you're still weak."
Iroh didn't respond for a moment, just staring down at his brother, the sounds of battle and death echoing around him from all sides. Knowing there was no other choice, he summoned a flame to his hand. "I'm sorry, Ozai."
Ozai smirked. "Enjoy your throne, brother."
Katara swung her arm, knocking firebenders off their feet with the waterwhip before they close enough to get a good shot at her. When they got back up, she noticed that they weren't as confident in their demeanor as when they first advanced. She charged forward, realizing she had a chance to push their frontline back. To help, Toph created two large walls on either side of Katara to help 'sweep' the enemy back.
It worked, since they began to retreat. However, it wasn't until they turned around and started retreating with a full-out run did Katara slow in her charge. Expanding her attention to more than just the soldiers in her immediately proximity, she noticed that that the fighting was stopping. The Fire Nation had stopped attacking and were retreating.
Katara looked up, and the first thing she saw was a large green dragon flying down toward them. It took Katara a moment to recognize the dragon as the one who had carried her brother up to the ships. The second thing she noticed was that the airships were turning around.
"We won!" Sokka screamed excitedly. "Iroh kicked the Firelord's butt and we won! The war is over!"
Over. Katara, suddenly feeling a little numb, turned back to watch the Fire Nation forces retreating. The evidence was overwhelming. There was no doubt that they had won the battle. But the war? After a hundred years?
The Firelord had been defeated. His forces were retreating.
They had won.
Suddenly feeling lightheaded, Katara feel to her knees. Her eyes were burning and her vision blurred. "I-it's over... It's finally over..."
Sokka knelt next to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. Toph walked up to her other side with a scoff. "You guys are so emotional..."
When Katara looked up and saw Toph's wistful expression, she could tell that the earthbender was just trying to maintain her blase attitude. Smiling, Katara looked back at the battlefield, where White Lotus members were starting to cheer and celebrate their victory.
It was over.
Earthbenders had secured the unconscious Azula and were taking her away. Shiroku had his body wrapped around Kurohi, keeping a close eye on the healers that were treating her injuries.
A waterbender had bent Zuko's arm back straight, which would have caused him to almost pass out if it had not been for the water. Then she tied a splint onto it and gave him a sling before checking on Aang. To Zuko's relief, Aang really was okay; just few cuts and bruises. Then the waterbender went to assist the other healers with Kurohi.
Zuko and Aang were sitting against a boulder, Zuko's uninjured arm wrapped around Aang's shoulder. His anxiety was still heightened, still able to feel Kurohi's pain, but the healers were working quickly. It might take her awhile to heal completely, but they can at least help alleviate the pain.
In the distance, he could hear shouts and cheering and other celebratory noise. One of the earthbenders had informed them that his uncle had defeated his father. Zuko didn't have the heart to ask if that meant his father was dead. Not that his father didn't wholly deserve it, but it was difficult to imagine his uncle committing such an act.
Aang rested his head underneath Zuko's chin, a hand resting on the firebender's thigh. Feeling Aang breathing in his embrace was calming Zuko down. It had been a tumultuous couple of days. Well, it had been a tumultuous few months.
Really? It had been a tumultuous life. For both him and Aang. And it probably wasn't going to change anytime soon. The war may be over, but a hundred years of war had left the world scarred. It would take years, if not decades, to repair the damage the Fire Nation had caused.
Zuko squeezed Aang closer to him. But they were together. And that's what really mattered. As long as they had each other, they would be able to navigate the unpredictable future confidently.
Zuko placed a soft kiss on Aang's head. "I love you," he whispered.
Aang leaned into the embrace. "I love you, too."
And there you have it! The... End!
I have another story in the works. It's going to be much shorter than this one, and completely different. It's about Aang and his daughter, Kya. I'll probably post the first chapter soon. So, be on the lookout :)