attackfish: Jet and Zuko fighting in the teashop, text "Obviously this is the place to come if you want to get murdered by lunatics" (Jet Juko TDL quote)
[personal profile] attackfish
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: the Last Airbender, which is why that show is actually quality.

Summary:
Zuko's pretty sure he has a ghost of a chance of escaping Azula's trap.

Author's Note: This was written for a tumblr meme, for which the prompt I was given was Zuko, modern fantasy/sci fi/horror.


Zuko slid down the shimmering wall of the summoning circle as soon as Azula left the room.  The sunlight streaming in through the windows all around him was too bright, and although he knew it was impossible, he swore he could feel the living air around him, battering his nonexistent body.  Or maybe it was dust in his coffin.  Did he still have a body?  Had it rotted away yet?  He didn’t know, and somehow, it felt like something he should know.

Whatever peace came with death had disappeared when his sister had dragged him back, and everything became too sharp and too real, just as it had been in life, though now worse by contrast to the death he had become used to.  He rested his head back against the wall of his prison.  If he had still had a body, it would have been sweating, soaking through his clothes with cold exhaustion.  He had thought if he ever saw Azula again, he would see the small smirk she had worn when she killed him, that tiny, barely there curve of her lips.  But instead, her smile looked like she had taken a knife to her own face, wide and wrong.

She looked like their mother now, and he wondered if she had kids now, if she had gone to college like he had wanted to, or gone on the run, or taken over for their father and now ruled his hidden kingdom of mages.  Vaguely, he hoped his death had thrown a wrench in at least some of her plans, the way it had for all of his.  He wondered what she had done while he was trapped at sixteen forever, any chance he had of cobbling together enough magic to make their father happy, or enough high school correspondence credits to get away, gone.  She looked like their mother, if their mother had ever smiled at dead boys with a smile like an open wound, and eyes like the knife that had cut it.

He shivered, though he had it on good authority he couldn’t feel the cold.

“Hello Zuko.”

If Azula had aged into their mother, Mai had aged into a statue, time polishing her has smooth as marble. Or as smooth as glass, and next to her, he felt like a little boy.  Suddenly, he was so angry with Azula that he felt like he was splintering apart.  “Hi Mai.”

How have you been? he wanted to ask.  He remembered her in jeans and hoodies, and now she wore a black suit like she had been born in it.  He tried not to look down at his own tailored slacks and bloody, slashed open dress shirt, the only kind of clothes his father had ever let him wear. How have you been? he wanted to ask, but he was terrified of hearing her answer.

She had been standing in the shadows in the corner of the room watching the whole time, he realized with a jolt.  Azula had made her watch.

“She’s been looking for you ever since you died,” Mai said, and Zuko thought maybe she said it just to break the silence.

“Since she killed me,” he said flatly.

Mai shrugged elegantly, as if the manner of his death didn’t matter.

“She didn’t kill me just to bring me back,” he told her.

“No, she killed you because you wanted to get away.”  Mai arched an eyebrow at him.  “This way she can keep you where she wants you.”

“How long…”  Zuko trailed off, unable to voice the rest of the question.

“Oh, forever, I suppose.”

“And you?” he whispered.

Mai’s face stayed carefully blank.  “The same.”

“Have you ever tried?”

“To run away?”  She laughed, close-mouthed, so that the air had to escape from her nose with a soft hiss.  “No.”

Zuko looked at her, letting his head hang a little sideways on his neck.  She stepped close and put her hand up against the edge of the summoning circle.  With a sour kind of hope bubbling up in his chest, he put his own hand up to touch the barrier, the heel of his hand level with the heel of hers.  It was almost, but not quite like they were touching.  The summoning circle wall hummed with his sister’s magic, and that was the only thing he could really feel.  He wished…  He could almost taste her lips, and he longed to find out whether they tasted the same as they had when they had both been alive and young.  “You know, we could do it together.”

“You’re dead.”  The way she said it, Zuko would have thought she was informing him of the time.

Zuko closed his eyes and then opened them to look up at her.  “You can set me free, and then run.  You can get out of here.  You don’t have to stay.  She can’t keep you.”

She rolled her eyes, and she looked so much like she used to that he felt his heart just break with it.  “You know it’s not going to work.  She’ll find me, and then she’ll find you again.”

“You’re smart Mai,” he pleaded.  “If I could hide in death for what?”
“Nineteen years.”

“Wow.”  He swallowed.  “Ninteen years.  If I could get away from her for nineteen years, you can.”  But if she were really going to listen to him, her hand would already be touching his.  She would have broken through the summoning circle wall, too insubstantial to keep her out, just insubstantial to keep him where his sister wanted him.

Mai grimaced, her face contorting for a split second of real, visible emotion.  She closed her hand and dropped it back to her side.  “I will come back Zuko.  I won’t leave you alone with her.”

“Unless she sends you away.”  The empty look in her eyes told him everything he needed.  “Just as long as we know where we stand each other.”

“We’ve always known that, Zuko.”


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attackfish: Yshre girl wearing a kippah, text "Attackfish" (Default)
attackfish

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