Written for avatar_500
prompt #58, Silence.
Summary: Zuko should say something, but he remembers what happened last timeWords Lying Dead in Him
His father's war room had loomed so much larger in his memories than it did in the real world. Zuko tried not to glance at his sister as he crossed the floor and sat down next to his father's throne, palms sweaty, skin clammy, a thirteen-year-old boy and sixteen-year-old man pulled back together and into one. He took a deep breath and forced the memories far away. He had permission to be here this time. He was wanted.
The war meeting flashed by around him, through a frozen carefulness, foreign to him, that kept him pinned to his seat, and when his father looked to him to ask him to speak, his tongue stuck to the bottom of his mouth. Song with her scars, and Lee with his lost brother, the refugees pouring into Ba Sing Se, and Jet's band of fierce, damaged souls forced their way to the forefront of his mind. "The people of the Earth Kingdom are proud and strong. They can endure anything as long as they have hope."
"Yes, you're right," his father said with a small smile, and sense of dislocation that accompanied those words, after he had imagined them in the dark of his ship's cabin so many times, left Zuko empty. "We need to destroy their hope."
And the cold feeling that had been born when he had come home, the shiver in his spine that said his father approved of him, but only for things he didn't do, or didn't mean, only when someone lied for him, or... knocked his mouth open. "Well, that's not exactly what I..."
Azula pressed her lips together in a thin, cruel smile. "I think you should take their precious hope and the rest of their land, and burn it all to the ground."
"Yes," the Firelord hissed. "Yes, you're right, Azula. Sozin's Comet is almost upon us and on that day it will endow us with the strength and power of a hundred Suns. No bender will stand a chance against us."
One of the generals blinked. "What are you suggesting, sir?"
Ozai rose to his feet. "When the comet last came, my grandfather, Fire Lord Sozin, used it to wipe out the Air Nomads. Now, I will use its power to end the Earth Kingdom, permanently." He stepped onto the map and cast his shadow, thick and heavy over everything. "From our airships, we will rain fire over their lands. A fire that will destroy everything. And out of the ashes, a new world will be born. A world in which all the lands are Fire Nation and I am the supreme ruler of everything!"
The generals burst into applause, and Zuko couldn't help but wonder if underneath it, they were as horrified as he was, if underneath Azula's mask, their father's words made her sick too, or if he was all alone. The last time he had spoken, but this time his tongue wouldn't move, and he felt his honor wither away.