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)
Written for the tumblr meme prompt, Mai, Steampunk.

Queen of Gears and Sorrow

Ty Lee cocked her head and looked at her sideways. Mai wondered if that made it easier or harder for Ty Lee to orient herself when looking at something, given that she was currently hanging upside down from a very ugly, very heavily reinforced iron chandelier. “What’s wrong?”

Even more disconcerting than hanging from assorted bits of architecture was Ty Lee’s gift for always knowing what Mai was feeling. In fact, Mai was tempted to go so far as to say it was the most disconcerting thing of all about Ty Lee, though it had remarkably stiff competition. Anyway, it meant there was no real point in denying it. “Some academy kid told me to tell my designer she’s amazed how realistic I am. Again.”

“That’s probably just because of where they saw you leaving from.” With a swing and a leap, Ty Lee descended to the floor, her feet alighting on the tile with flawless grace. “Don’t worry about it.”

That’s what Mai had told herself last time. They had probably seen her leaving her ancestral home, for a given value of ancestral, since families that had won their land in the conquest two generations back, and had only gained a title one generation ago, didn’t have ancestral anything no matter how grand. They had seen her leaving her ancestral home and now the home of the greatest clockwork inventor in the world. Yes, that was probably it, except: “I was leaving the tea shop.”

“Oh,” Ty Lee hummed, sympathetically. “Well if it helps, I’m pretty sure you’re real.” She wrapped her arms around Mai. “You feel real.” She squeezed. “Yep, I can feel your ribs.”

Mai squirmed. “You can feel my ribs crack.”

“Don’t be silly Mai,” Ty Lee chirped. “I’m not hugging you nearly hard enough to crack any bone in your body, including your ribs.”

Mai was pretty sure Ty Lee could tell her exactly how many pounds of pressure per square inch she was exerting, too. The six identical copies of Ty Lee in storage downstairs probably could too, and Mai had a sudden horrible vision of all of them hugging her.

Letting go, Ty Lee stepped back. “They’re idiots. You look perfectly human to me.”

“Thanks, Ty Lee.” She almost managed to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. Maybe next time she would succeed.

Ty Lee smiled as if she hadn’t noticed. “Like I said, don’t worry about it. Now, can you wind me up? I’m kind of at the end of my rope.”

Mai nodded as Ty Lee came forward and lifted up her braid. Deftly, Mai unbuttoned the little flap on Ty Lee’s jacket and pressed the key into the warm, living skin between her shoulder blades and turned. A shudder ran through Ty Lee’s body, her limbs curling tight into her body as if she really were made of the gears and springs she so skillfully manipulated. Her head bowed, and her braid flicked Mai’s arm, and when Mai was done, Ty Lee waited for her to button up her jacket flap before planting a quick peck on Mai’s cheek and darting away down toward her favorite workshop. Ty Lee was the greatest clockwork inventor in the world, and if she needed to pretend she was one of her own inventions sometimes, who was Mai to argue?
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)
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.


The Spirit of the Thing )


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)
Written for the [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 Out with a Bang Blowout, prompt - Element.

Summary: An old man takes a nap on the beach.

A Fire in the Sun

There were rows and rows of them, the figurines on the table, and the portraits on the walls, showing dozens of variations on the same kind of tall, stern, martial man, with gleaming armor and long black hair.  "I suppose these are supposed to be Agni," he said to the clerk minding the shop next to the sun temple.  He rubbed the topknot on the head of one of the statues, and then ran his fingers over his own bald head.

The clerk nodded eagerly and started jabbering about house shrines and family blessings while he tuned her out.  He set down the figurine, and gave her a wide smile as he left the shop.

The sunlight hit him full in the face, and bounced off his nose and cheeks until it seemed to be shining out of him.  He waddled down the beach town streets on his short, pudgy legs, breathing in the playful avarice that floated palpably on the air as the locals did their best to fleece the tourists with their mouths gaping open.  As the cobblestone streets turned to sand, he idly contemplated going back to purchase one of the statues, to show it off, and to wonder at how the people of the Fire Nation saw their god, as they saw themselves.

But the smell of island flowers wafted towards him and children laughed as they ran half naked into the surf.  So instead, Agni flopped down on the sand to lie in the sun.

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)
I wrote these drabbles for rounds 76-100 of [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 which has now come to the end of it's natural life.



76: Space - Cavernous (200) Asami, It's easier to pretend he still takes care of her. )

77: Lotus - Flowers in the Snow (350) Korra and her White Lotus guards, She's a little girl alone. )

78: Truce - The Sun Sets Burning (300) Ursa and Iroh, he understands why she had to do it. Part of the Zenith and Nadir verse. )

79: Tomb - Morning (200) Zuko and the Fire Sages, To his son, his death is like the sunrise. )

80: Tryst - A Maiden's Dishonor (200) Yue, Yue is free and unmoored. Part of the Zenith and Nadir verse )

81: Kind - What Comes Unforeseen (200) Yue and Pakku, It's the natural conclusion of what he had begun. )

82: Greed - Deserving (275) Zuko, Back then, love had seemed like a fever dream. )

83: Loyalty - If We Never Meet Again (450) Mai and Ty Lee, It feels like the end. )

84: Hide - Corridor of Ghosts (200) Mai and Azula, A children's game. )

85: Creep - Sacred Duty (200) Aang, It's too late to avoid killing. )

86: Mood - Daring One (250) Mai, her mother, and Azula, Mai can only push so far. )

87: Lie - At Home (150) Asami, The lies in our own mind become worn and comfortable. )

88: Circle - A Sweet Sound (120) Zuko and Lin, To him, the word means family. )

89: Look - Open to the Possibilities (275) Aang and the second Bumi, Aang isn't going to stop looking. )

90: Find - Examples (200) Mai and Ozai, She has all the bad examples she needs. )

91: Character - Live With It (200) Aang and Ozai, Power is a cold thing. )

92: Stare - Flower Chains and Teapots (150) Zuko, Zuko has lost. )

93: Glass - Fire Snipe Hunt (300) Zuko and his crew, If they had ever had the opportunity to read Lewis Caroll, they would tell you they had gone through the looking glass. )

94: Weak - Pure Ideals (150) OCs, Hisa listens when others speak. )

95: Knock - Like Tears in the Sun (350) Katara, Toph, and Zuko, They go to each other. )

96: Run - Like the Wind (350) Korra and Tenzin, How do you teach a girl who has been locked away her whole life about freedom? )

97: Truth - Cold Dark Clouds Wrapped Around (250) Ty Lee and Azula, Ty Lee has always known she was safest when the lies she tells herself match the ones Azula tells her. )

98: Whisper - Circus (200) Ty Lee, No one told her her leaving was the easy part. )

99: Wise - Poking at Her (175) Katara, Somehow Katara became the wise old woman others look to. )

100: Betray - Friend (250) Azula, Ty Lee, Mai, and Zuko, That word doesn't mean the same thing to Azula that it means to everyone else. )
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #75, Thrill.

Summary: Because the Fire Nation had taken her freedom away from the people who had taken it from her, and nothing had changed.

Day Trip

She showed the train attendant her passport and sat down on the bench with the throngs of farmers and laborers heading out for the day to the agricultural district.  The tenements and shops sped by, below and beside the train tracks, and she could hear the faint whoosh of earthbending as it pushed them along.  As the tunnel through the wall that marked the end of the lower ring blocked out the buildings and the streets, Jin closed her eyes.

And when she opened them again, Ba Sing Se's outer wall lay in the distance, beyond the hills, and trees, and rippling pastureland.

When the train at last stopped at the outer wall, Jin didn't climb down with the rest.  She slipped away and clambered up on the ladders and handholds meant for the people whose homes were built into the wall's inward face.  There was no one on top of the wall.  No soldiers, no interlopers, no Fire Nation princess, as far as Jin could see on the miles of undulating wall, there was nobody but Jin.

Now that the Fire Nation had conquered the city, she guessed there was nobody to watch out for anymore.

Here, on the top of the wall, Jin could look down on the outside and see the barren desert stones, so different from the fair farmland and parks just inside.  She could look out over all of Ba Sing Se, and see the fields, and roofs, and courtyards, the palace, and the glittering lake waters in the distance.

There were still Dai Li agents hidden behind the walls,.  There were still tens of thousands, millions of people.  There was still the same job, and the same landlord to pay, the same hunger, and the same gang to placate.

There was nothing new except that crippling feeling of loss.  And out there, on top of the outer wall of Ba Sing Se, Jin sat hugging her knees, and trying to find something, anything they had really lost, something, someday, they could win back.

But Ba Sing Se was silent for her in the distance.


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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #74, Isolation.

Summary: Somehow, Ba Sing Se isn't quite big enough for them to lose themselves in it.

Forest of Rooftops

Smellerbee propped her chin up on the edge of the roof.  On the street below, Fire Nation soldiers clustered together in small groups.  Right then, she would have given anything to be able to drop down in the middle of all of them with her knife, and when she was finished, disappear back into the treetops, no, the rooftops again, safe and free.

She felt Longshot more than she saw or heard him as he sat down on the roof behind her.  "I know," she muttered.  "But it's not like any of them ever look up."

The Fire Nation soldiers never looked up.  Nobody ever looked up, and Smellerbee knew in her bones that as long as they could be high up, they would be safe.  As long as they were high up, they might as well be in the trees, in the forest, home.

"I want to go home," she heard herself say, so, so softly.

And she looked up into Longshot's you-still-could-have-been-caught face.  His expression changed, and she felt her own face fall.

"I know," she whispered.  "I know we can't leave the city like this, but it's not like we're doing any good here."

Longshot shook his head.  She let him pull her back and put his arm around her shoulder.  She looked up at the sky.  The sunlight had never been this bright in the forest.  No matter how high they climbed, there had always been the leaves of bigger, taller trees to block it out.  I wish Jet were here, she almost said.

"We're not doing anything," she said again, and Longshot didn't speak.  And that night, she knew, when he had taken her home, she was going to fall in and out of sleep, dreaming of the forests and the treetops stretching out forever.

attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #73, Revolt.

Summary: Even when Sokka says the right thing, it becomes the wrong one.

Small and Afraid

He used to joke about it.  He told the kids the story a couple of times, shaking his head and smiling.  It isn't a funny joke anymore, not with the Equalists saying that that's what all benders really think, and how they treat anybody who can't bend.  Tenzin sometimes tells the story, with a tight, unhappy look.

She asked her uncle Sokka once, about it, when she was fourteen and gawky, and taller than her mother already; he was the one who kept telling the story anyway.  She remembers folding herself up on a bench in a back room of her mother's school, and watching him attempt some new fighting move.  "You want to help me practice?" He asked her.

Lin stood up reluctantly, shoulders hunched.  "Okay."

"Your mom riding you hard?"

She shrugged.

He waved her close.  "She does that to everybody, don't worry about it.  You know what she said to me first time we fought together."

Lin rolled her eyes.  "Yeah.  You only told us all the story a million times.  Why she say that anyway?  You can fight as well as anyone."

Grimacing, Sokka rested his hand on her arm.  "I think when she was a kid, she hated the way people pitied her, and assumed she was helpless because she was blind, and that for a little while she believed it."

"What does that have to do with anything?"  She stood back and slipped into a guard stance, waiting for him to do the same.

Sokka didn't move.  "What I mean is, and I don't think your mom's got any idea she's doing this, she decided that we're the ones who should be pitied everybody who isn't Toph Bei Fong.  She has these amazing powers, and she feels like that's all she's got, so she has to think that's the most important thing, or she'll feel small and afraid again."  He sighed and copied Lin's stance.  "She used to say she felt bad for everybody who can't see with their feet, the same way people felt bad for her because she couldn't see with her eyes."

"But I can see with my eyes and with my feet," Lin pointed out.

"And nobody will ever pity you," Sokka assured her.  "Now, I want you to block this punch, and I'll try to get around the block."

Lin snorted weakly, aping her mother's bravado.  "Yeah, you'll try."


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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #72, Patience.

Summary: Azula has taught her to see the world as she does, as a collection of weaknesses.

Blood, Water, and Fire

He was such a tiny, soft, helpless thing, a living spot of weakness, that stood out bright and unavoidable to any enemy of any member of her family.  As he lay there in the arms of some gawky boy her age, Mai stood tall. "You brought my brother?"

"He's here. We're ready to trade."  A wide-eyed boy in a hat stood in front, hugging his staff to his side.  It was strange, Mai thought, that she hadn't noticed him until he started to talk.  What else was she missing, she had to ask, that she just couldn't make herself notice with her little piece of weakness in the arms of a stranger.

There was a girl there too, and a blue sky, and the planks of the scaffolding creaked under her feet.  She could feel King Bumi's eyes on the back of her neck.

Azula turned to her, Azula who wasn't a stranger.  "I'm sorry, but a thought just occurred to me. Do you mind?"

"Of course not, Princess Azula," Mai intoned.

"We're trading a two year old for a king," she smirked, and Mai wondered if she understood anything about weaknesses except as something to exploit.  "A powerful, earthbending king."

King Bumi hummed an affirmative, and Mai wished she could ask him, please, just please pretend like you wouldn't be dangerous.

"It just doesn't seem like a fair trade, does it?"  Azula smiled at her like she was thinking the same way.

Her brother was in the arms of a teenage boy who was playing finger games with him whenever he didn't think anybody was looking, a boy who was a stranger when Azula was not.

"You're right," Mai said without inflection.  "The deal's off."

After the battle was over, and her brother back home with the parents who had left him alone to be kidnapped, or just walk away, as she had so many times as a child, Mai convinced herself Azula never would have hurt him just for being a weakness.  But Azula was always going to be so strange to her, even if she knew her.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #71, Equal.

Summary: Azula has learned from her brother's mistakes.  Companion to Words Lying Dead in Him.

Esteem

"I think you should take their precious hope  and the rest of their land, and burn it all to the ground."  She hoped Zuko was listening.

"Yes... Yes, you're right, Azula."  Her father said softly, and Azula felt herself beaming inside, but only the smallest sliver of a smile showed through.  "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."

"What are you suggesting, sir?" one of the generals asked cautiously, and for once, Azula was glad someone had asked, so that she would learn the answer, and no one would ever know she hadn't guessed.

Her father stood up and left his throne for the map at the foot of the dais.  "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."  He smiled and stepped out onto the map, his robes swishing against the continents and tiny army figurines.  And Azula's heart dropped like a stone.  "Permanently.  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!"

As the generals clapped and cheered, the best and brightest that her father could find to surround himself with, Azula smiled, and kept smiling as she felt herself made small, as small as her brother on the other side of the throne, and felt his words caught in her own throat, "Well, that's not exactly what I..."

He thought she had meant it literally.  He thought she was brilliant and clever, wise beyond her years, and worthy of him, so she smiled, and knew she could never let him see through.  Out of the corner of her eye, she looked at her brother, at his face, and the price of failure to hide the cracks.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #70, Chakra.

Summary: There is no Avatar that has not felt the icy touch of failure.

The Shadow of Inaction

The hand that held the paintbrush didn't shake, as steady as the earth beneath her.  Kyoshi's mirror was a rock in her hand.  The face she painted onto herself was still as stone.

Three days ago she had changed the very shape of the earth itself.  She had made an island, a new born land torn from the edge of another.  She had felt down to the depths of the earth and touched the fires that burned within.  She had seen the slabs of stone that fit over the earth's brightly burning core like a child's puzzle and ripped out a new piece.  In her very body, she had felt the slow shift of the earth, and forced the earth to roar.  The fires of the earth had bubbled up.  She had quenched them.  The ground had quaked.  She had quelled it.  There was a man who had fallen to his death at the bottom of the new-made cliff, and she had done nothing about that.

The black line of coal she painted over her eyebrow sat above the red like a shadow.  There was a man who had died who should have died a long time ago before his shadow had spread over the Earth Kingdom.  It was the Avatar's duty to care about the whole world, not only her home.  She could remake the world.  She had.  She just hadn't bothered before.

No matter how hard she looked, her eyes didn't glow, and the shame that clenched at her made her wonder, afraid, if she had so failed her duty that the universe itself had taken it away.

She couldn't feel the world around her, only the earth under her feet, the air she breathed, the sunlight from the window, and the water in the ocean beside her.


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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #69, Temple.

Summary: They have grown, and they will make their home grow to fit them.  Sequel to Ice Cold Change

All the Patterns of the World

The shadowed recesses of the shrine made the numbers on her measuring tape hard to read.  "Come on, Sokka, bring the lantern over here."

"Can you hurry it up a little?  They're giving us funny looks."  As Sokka held the lantern up for his sister, the northern Water Sages stood gathered together in the middle of the shrine, faces set in severe expressions.

"It was your idea to do this," she shot back, scribbling down the measurement on her scroll.  "I told you I could build a temple just fine without it, but no, you wanted to see how everybody else in the world made them."

"Hey, you were the one who said you liked the swirly things they had at the temple in Omashu."  The lantern bounced with every gesture her brother made.

Letting her brush drop, Katara put her face in her hand and rubbed her forehead.  "Look, I'm sorry if I'm a little crabby, but-"  As she picked the brush back up and turned to him, Sokka tried to stifle a snicker behind his hand.  Katara's mouth twisted when she saw the ink on her hand.  "No."  She touched her forehead and cheek where the ink had smeared.  "No, you don't get to laugh at me right now."

But that just turned his snicker into a fit of giggles.  Glaring, Katara bent the ink at him.  "Hey!" he yelped, dodging.

"This is a holy shrine," one of the Water Sages moaned, unable to contain himself any longer.  "A place of peace!"

"Well, I've got everything I need anyway," Katara said waspishly.  "Let's go Sokka, this better be worth it."

He smiled.  "Don't worry sis, the temple you build will be better than all of them."

She gave him a warm smile before smearing ink onto his cheek.


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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #68, Revisit.

Summary: It feels too small around her, like her little girl's clothes.

Ice Cold Change

Her braid just felt right hanging from the back of her head.  Her parka felt the way clothing was supposed to feel.  The air on her face, the bight of the wind, the shining white ice all around her, all of it whispered home to her.

Katara stood in the middle of the village, in the middle of the tents and undersized huts, the tiny circle of home, run down, small and too tight around her.

Aang, she knew, could never go home.  Toph she knew, wouldn't go home.  She wondered if Zuko felt this way back in the Fire Nation, or if being Firelord was big enough for him.  She wondered if Sokka and Suki felt this way, on little Kyoshi Island, surrounded by people who had never left home.

But so many people here had left home.  The South Pole was full of people who had seen the world. 

It used to be that this was the world, it used to be that when her father left, he left her world completely.  It used to be that the empty space around them felt so big.

She ran to Gran-Gran's tent.  "Master Pakku, can you get your students together?"

attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #67, World.

Summary: She's starting to think she never should have left home.

Bright Lights, Big City

Korra hugged her knees and stared out the window, listening to the wind hissing through the tree branches.  The radio sat off on a shelf above her, silent and foreboding.  It seemed like every time she turned it on, Amon's voice billowed out.

She was starting to wish she had never left the South Pole.  Growing up there, nothing had ever scared her, not like this.  She had never doubted that someday, she was going to be the Avatar the world needed, one of the greats, as great as Aang or greater.

And now, even Tenzin was starting to notice, and Tarrlok was throwing a party in her honor.  There was no getting away from it, and all she wanted was the ice and isolation of home, the simplicity of training with the Order of the White Lotus, and her old confidence in herself.

She had still seen so little of the world, just one city in one country.  There could be more little wars, and more Amons all over the world, and she wouldn't know it yet.  If Republic City was too much for her to handle, how was she ever going to keep the whole world in balance?

attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #66, Regret.

Summary: Earth is the element of substance, not of change.

Frozen as Stone

When they had been kids, it had been all of them, Tenzin and his siblings, Sokka's kids, Zuko's kids... and Lin.  And never for a moment had she thought that someday that could change.

As Tenzin left with the Avatar, the paperwork on Lin's desk seemed so unimportant, and so distant from her.  They had been friends long before they had ever started dating, she remembered, and just because she wasn't sleeping with him anymore didn't mean she wasn't one of their own.  Just because he had left her for some fresh faced university student didn't mean she didn't belong.  But she had left, and that might just mean she never had belonged.

She sat at her desk and inked her brush scowling at the paperwork under her hand.  She missed it, like she didn't miss Tenzin.  She missed it like she missed being a child on her mother's knee.  But she had left, and the way it would be was set, and her ways were set, and she wasn't going to go crawling back.

So she was trapped outside, and it was always easier to leave than to go back, and it wasn't going to change again for her.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #65, Air.

Summary: She feels it around her when she walks in its emptiness.

Marking Boundaries

Toph remembered when she was very young, before she met the badger-moles or became the Blind Bandit, sitting in her window and listening to the wind blow through the trees.  She remembered hanging her feet out the window, with the ground only a few feet below her, and feeling like it was miles below instead.  She remembered the way she used to crawl, or cling to walls when she thought her mother wouldn't catch her, and she remembered feeling like nothing in the world existed except the ground underneath her feet. 

Once, after a party, where a bunch of her father's friends had all sat around and talked about the way the moon looked reflected in a pond, someone told her it was a shame she was never going to see the sky.

Aang and Katara told her that when they were on Appa, they were flying through the sky.  Aang talked about being in the temples, high up in the mountains that touched the sky, but Toph had been in the temples.  They didn't feel any different.  They all talked about the sky and how far away it was, and only Toph remembered that they all touched it, always.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] floranna for the prompt: "Zuko does something to prove he is not Bellatrix and Voldemort's kid, but his own good person. To someone who doubted him before."


Chip on his Shoulder

"You're not a teacher."  Zuko looked down his nose at Professor Smith.  "You're a bully."

"Detention, Lestrange," the professor said boredly.  "Move along.  You don't want me to take any points.  Your house doesn't like you much as it is."

Zuko's fists clenched, but he left his wand in his pocket.  "He's going home on the train tomorrow already.  You don't have to scare him like that."  He glanced down at the eight-year-old stowaway, glaring back and forth between Professor Smith and Zuko himself.  "He's gonna have to come back in a couple of years."

"And that's why he needs to learn now that you don't play with Hogwarts."  Professor Smith glanced down at the kid, who was looking at Zuko like he was the dangerous one.

"You're Zuko Lestrange?" the kid spat.

"Yeah," Zuko unclenched his hands and tried to smooth the front of his robe, nervously.

"My brother told me about you," the kid, Sensu's brother, growled like it was supposed to be a challenge.  "I don't want any help from You-Know-Who's kid."

"If you're so worried about the kid, you can take him back to the Headmistress, Lestrange."  Professor Smith gave him a cruel smirk.  "Have fun."
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #64, Green.

Summary: Uniforms are symbols which hold meanings.  When she puts it on, those meanings change, and change her.

Into Ashes

The first time Ty Lee put on that uniform, it meant nothing.  It was beyond nothing, a trap for someone else.  It was one more lie she was telling on Azula's behalf, and one more example of how far she had learned to go to satisfy Azula.

The second time Ty Lee put on that uniform, she felt it sink into her, into her skin, into her bones into her being, into everything except her blood.  It wasn't a lie, and the paint on her face didn't have to be a mask.  She had taught the Kyoshi Warriors the skills she had once used to defeat them and lock hem away, and they had forgiven her.  They were letting her come with them, giving her a place to settle down, making her a part of them.

The second time Ty Lee put on that uniform, she was going to live earth.  If she married, she would probably marry earth.  Her children would be earth.  She wore green, and held fans that would be wielded for the sake of Earth Kingdom citizens.  Inside, she felt the future trying to choke off the fire, to smother it, to drown it, and she had no idea if it was enough, if any of it was enough to make up for the part of her that had fought earth, and stood at Azula's side, or if it was just covering that part of her up, and this was just the biggest lie of all.
attackfish: Neal & Peter text "We may someday attain a reltationship of mutual respect/ First I will see the gods walking the earth" (Peter and Neal MWT quote)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] elrhiarhodan's Promptfest VII (f-locked)

Summary: Because Zuko hunted the Avatar for three years, and Peter hunted Neal for three years. See? Meant to be. What do you mean that's just a coincidence? Crazy talk!


The White Collar/Avatar: the Last Airbender Fusion That Was Always Meant to Be

"It's about honor."

"What?"  Neal's forehead wrinkled, and his mouth hung a little bit open with bemusement.

"Honor," Peter tried again.  "You need to stop stealing things and going around lying to people, because you need people to think you're honorable, so they can trust you."

"I've never really had a problem getting people to trust me."  Neal leaned back against the pillar, and gazed out over the edge of the Western Air Temple and into the mists beyond, mirroring Peter.

"You're the Avatar.  Word's going to get around."

Neal heaved a sigh and stood up.  "Don't we have firebending to practice?"

"Later."  Peter didn't move.  "This is important.  You're going to be ending the war, remaking the world.  People have to be able to trust you."

"Wow," Neal said.  "Diana's right, you really do suck all the fun out of everything.  I mean, I thought she was bad, with the waking me up at the crack of dawn for earthbending practice, but no, you're the worst."

"I am not!" Peter yelped, startled.

"Are too..." Neal singsonged, pressing his advantage.

"I'm not."

Neal grinned and started walking away, back towards the temple and his friends.  "Just keep telling yourself that."
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #63, Between.

Summary: Her shoulders aren't ready for the weight of the world.

Flaw in the System

She ran through the grass, her glider opening to take in the wind.  It pulled upward, stretching her arms above her head, and lifting her up off the ground.  The woman who had been watching her out of sight through a window above turned away and ducked behind a wall.  "We can't keep letting her get out like this."

"Yangchen is a spirited child.  The closer we hem her in, the more she will try to escape."
 
"You think I don't know that, Amala?"  She rubbed her temple with one hand.  "But I'm trying to keep her alive.  If we could just tell her what she is-"

Amala's lips turned up wryly.  "You think she would understand?"

The child playing below dove towards the ground and pulled up sharply, just before impact, giggling wildly as the grass skimmed her toes, stomach, and nose as she glided.  The other nun shook her head as if she were trying to shake a way an insect that had flown into her face.  "There should be a better way.  The Avatar before her is dead.  She is what we're left with.  It will be years until she is any use, and the whole world knows it."

"So for a few short decades, we are called upon to keep the peace ourselves."  Amala didn't blink.  "How dreadful."

Nam Kha sighed and saw in her mind's eye, the changing map, as a thousand small wars in the Earth Kingdom, Water Tribes, and Fire Nation let city-states swallow their neighbors whole, in the name of unity, and in the absence of anyone to stop them.  "If every tinpot tyrant and petty warlord weren't just waiting-"

There was a loud thud outside the window, as the girl managed to collide with a small rise in the grass.  "Ow..."
attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #62, Anonymous.

Summary: Other people worked hard to put him where he is.

On the Building of a Fortune

She sucked in a breath and made the flames as hot as she could.  Metal melted and fused together as each half-finished satocycle passing her got an exhaust pipe welded into place thanks to her firebending.  When the break bell sounded, she grabbed her lunchbox and joined the escaping throng.

~*~

The healer bent the water low, close to the burn on his client's chest.  The water glowed blue as it soothed the pain.  "Try to keep it clean, Mr. Sato," he said with a bow when he had finished.  "That's a nasty burn.  You don't want it to get infected."

~*~

"So, boss," one of the earthbenders said as she bent the rubble into the underground wall.  "Why you been having us clear out this hole under your place?  Wine cellar?  Laboratory?"

Hiroshi's expression slammed closed.  "That really isn't any of your business, is it?"

"Okay," she said.  "Just curious, sheesh!"

~*~

He almost left the arena twice.  It just wasn't right for his kids to see that kind of cheating.  He worked hard, had a good job at the power plant, that was the right example.  But when the Equalists stormed the arena, he felt his own lightning crackling in their gloves.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #61, Speech.

Summary: The Dai Li ruled with silence. Shangyin has a voice.


Voice

Shangyin struggled uselessly against the Dai Li hustling her down the tunnel. "If you just tell me what we did wrong, I promise, we'll never do it again!" she gasped, panic seeping into her body like water through the cracks in the tunnel ceiling. "I swear, we didn't know..."

Tears ran down her face as they strapped her into the chair and set the lanterns spinning. She screamed to block out the agents' voices.

The gag came down over her mouth to choke away the sound. "Your name is Joo Dee, and you are honored to serve our wonderful city."

~*~

It was so strange tha they all were named Joo Dee just like she was. She didn't remember having ever met another one before coming to work here. Of course, Joo Dee's memories from before were a little hazy. Everything paled in comparison to the honor of serving their wonderful city.

Joo Dee lay down on her mattress in the dormitory and watched the other Joo Dees flit by, wishing she had something to call them each, but it didn't matter. It didn't seem like there was much to distinguish them.

Still, it would have been nice to make friends.

~*~

Eight years later, Shangyin walked the tunnels under Lake Laogai and opened the door to the Joo Dee dormitory, forgotten and ignored in the end of the war. The women who blinked back at her, empty eyed and smiling, saw her stolen Dai Li uniform and her stolen Dai Li posture. "Lian," she read from her list, her long, long, list of women for her to return their names and their voices to, one by one.

One woman's head shook at the name, and Shangyin pointed at her. "Joo Dee, come with me."

The woman, unfed, unwashed, and dehydrated, followed.



Author's Note: The story of how Shangyin reclaims her own name and memories can be found in a longfic titled Xenolith, which will be posted after I have finished it.
attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #60, Fanatic.

Summary: Two strangers talk before the Probending tournament.


Light that Shines in the Shadow of a Doubt

"I've been waiting for this all year!" she told him, hefting her juice cup high.

He slid into place next to her on he bench. "Hah, I've been waiting a lot longer than that."

She patted his shoulder with a sharp laugh. "I know it seems a lot longer, but they do have these things every year."

"Sure does." He smiled at her, eyes sparkling. "Feels like I've been waiting my whole life for this."

"So this is your first match?"

He nodded.

"Don't worry, I'm old hat at this." She grinned. "I'll get you through it without embarrassing yourself."

He blushed. "I wasn't worried."

"Don't be," she said more seriously. "Just relax and have fun." She cocked her head, uncertain. "It's been really nice meeting you, by the way, after the match, if you want to go out for drinks or something..."

"I'd like that." He blushed again.

"Then it's a date." She slipped her hand into his.

He held his popcorn in the other hand and felt the electrified gauntlet shift comfortingly within. "This will be some show."

"Yeah," she said, snagging a few grains of popcorn before he could stop her, grinning on obliviously. "It'll be great."
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #59, Escape.

Summary: He's betraying his entire culture.  She doesn't know what she's doing.

The Rising New Moon

Yue touched the betrothal necklace hanging from her throat.  "I don't know how to thank you."

The old waterbending master scowled in the darkness.  "For starters, you can give me back that necklace."

She pulled off her mitten.  Her fingers found the knot and pulled it free, and as she handed him the necklace, he clasped her hand.  "Good bye, Master Pakku."

"You remember the waterbending form I showed you?" he asked voice harsh with the same kind of resentful guilt her one time betrothed had shown her every time he showed her the one and only waterbending move he had consented to teach her, a wave to push her boat along.

She nodded.  "I'll be okay."

"You're sure you remember how to use the line and tackle?"  She nodded to him again.  "And the net?  And the spears?  If you break one, can you repair it?"

"Don't worry, Master Pakku," she told him, stepping onto her boat.  "Really, I'm not your problem anymore.  I can take care of myself."

He gave her one last, disbelieving look and waved goodbye.  "Good luck, girl."

Yue whirled her arms, and her boat drifted away from the dock.  "Thank you," she said again.


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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #58, Silence.

Summary: Zuko should say something, but he remembers what happened last time

Words 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.

attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #57, Mercy.

Summary: Bending hasn't done him much good.

Even Out the Playing Field

"Listen you little punk," the girl spat, grabbing his arm.  "You're going to give me back my money right now."

Skoochy was a punk.  It wasn't like he didn't know it.  It's all anybody from off the streets had ever called him.  It's what they called anybody who didn't back down from getting what they knew they deserved.  "I'm sorry, but I don't have your money," he drawled.  "If I did, I'd be living in a sweet little apartment somewhere with my mommy and daddy."

With a growl, she unzipped her backpack and thrust her hand in, down past the university textbooks and the leaflets.  "You're an earthbender, right kid?" she said calmly.  "I saw you playing with your friends."

"Yeah, you caught me."  He rolled his eyes.  "What, you going to call the cops on me for putting holes in the sidewalk?"

She pulled her newly gloved hand out and shoved her electrified palm into his face.  "You make me sick kid," she hissed over the crackle of electricity.  "Lying, stealing, bet it's only a few years before you join up with a triad."  She dropped him as he sank down to his knees to vomit on the sidewalk.


attackfish: Discretion prevented me from saying that I thought she was a fiend from the underworld (Lin Bei Fong MWT quote)
This fic will make a lot more sense to the people who have played The Legend of Korra: Last Stand game on Nickelodeon.  I may have gone a little crazy on the token gathering.  As such, this makes no character or plot sense as far as the show itself is concerned, and is just meant to be silly.

To the Rooftops

Noatak's heart pounded as he coiled his legs to spring to the next piece of scaffolding.  That little...  She was fast.  She leapt from balcony to ledge, to scaffold like she was flying, ceaseless and sure-footed, like some kind of machine, never letting him stop, never letting him catch his breath as she chased after him, ready to bring him down.  His face behind the mask was slick with sweat.  He had tried to bloodbend her, but she flitted around, too fast to catch.

She soared into the air.  Noatak fingered the gas canister tucked into his robe, hoping it would distract her for long enough to put a little distance between them...

She flew right over his head. Noatak stared as she climbed higher and higher on the scaffolding, bending over to snatch something up.  "What are you doing?" he demanded, before he could stop himself.

"You would not believe how much money's gotten dropped up here," she called back.  "I mean, I've collected a thousand yuans already!"

"What!"  His eyes bugged.  The only reason she hadn't captured him already was because the Avatar was broke and greedy?

"Hey, I do not get an allowance," she justified sulkily, folding her arms.  "And if I want to go out somewhere nice with my friends for a change, that's none of your business.  And personally, I think Tenzin's just being..."

He sighed as she continued her tirade.  He was going to lose to this... this child, he just knew it.  Pathetic.

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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #56, Celebrate.

Summary: Zuko has already turned misery into an artform.

Turn of the Sun

"Go away, Uncle."

The cabin door creaked shut.  "Nephew, the crew's getting worried."

Zuko doubted that.  He doubted the crew had even noticed.  It wasn't like it was unusual for him to spend all his time in his room, whiling away the monotonous miserable days stuck on this floating ruin of his.  "Somehow I think they'll get over it."

"It would do them good to have something to celebrate," his uncle pointed out, putting his arm around his nephew.  "You are not the only one on this ship who is far from home."

There were so many things to say to that, tumbling over and over, around themselves in Zuko's mind.  Yes, he wanted to say, wasn't it a shame he couldn't be a different, better prince.  "I'm not coming out."

"Then I'll stay here with you."  He rubbed his nephew's shoulder with his thumb.  "Happy fourteenth birthday, Prince Zuko."



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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #55, Fire.

Summary: Suki reassures her student.  Part of the Firebender!Suki AU, set directly after this.

Out of Order

"Do you think Jeong Jeong was right?"

Suki folded her fan and glanced at her student warily.  "About what?"

"That I'm messing everything up by learning firebending now, instead of waiting until I've learned waterbending and earthbending?"  Aang fiddled with Appa's reins.  "I mean..."

She snorted delicately and unfolded her fan again, running a cloth over the fine metal joints, rubbing away the rust.  "You think you're the first Avatar to try it out of order?"

"Well..."

"Kyoshi came to the island when she was too little to walk," she said.  "And she might have been an Earth Avatar, but she learned firebending from the dragons first."

"Oh."  He turned back around and flicked the reins.  "That's good to know."

She glanced at him around the fan.  "You know, if this is some scheme you cooked up to avoid firebending practice..."

"No!"  Katara yelped.  "Aang wouldn't do that!"

"Uh huh, sure."

~*~

She trudged up the steps of the headman's house and didn't look up when the fans came down to bar her way.  "Why have you come to our village?"  Her baby squalled. "Is that-"

"No!"  Not the Avatar, not the baby Chin was destroying villages to find, not her Kyoshi.

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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #54, Blue.

Summary: Her rigid precision may be all she has left, or like mother like daughter.

Control

Ursa's fire is blue.  She holds it steady in her palm.  Azulon used to watch her when she practiced, that smug, speculative look on his face.  She used to raise orange flames and slowly, carefully raise their temperature until they burned yellow, then white, then bright, clean blue.  She used to cool them down until they glowed dark cherry-rose red.  Sometimes, she would hold one blue flame and one red, one for each hand, just to prove her control.

She used to think she would need that control for the day she entered the navy, for the day she became captain, then admiral, for the days she would fight the war, and the days she would fight Agni Kais.  She imagined she would raise her flames, clear, fierce orange, and use the control she had learned changing their temperature to strike for her enemy's heart.

She looks away from Ozai as they stand before the fire sage.  He leads them to the royal hearth fire, and they hold out their hands.  His fire pours out of him soft and orange, the color of the fire the sage points to.  It joins with the living fire lit by some distant ancestor of his.

And Ursa has forgotten how to make fire that color.

It's the strength of her fire that makes the Firelord overlook her tainted blood.  Her strange, strange blue fire.

The flames change to orange as soon as they leave her hand, blending in with the others and disappearing.

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)
Summary: Ozai and his son share a moment, and he lets Zuko in on a secret.

Author's Note:
Written in honor of the release of "The Promise: Part Two". As such, there are spoilers.  (And yes, because this is in the Kindle the Wind universe, Zuko is accidentally waterbending at the beginning.  The universe is lucky Ozai didn't notice.)



The Turtle-Crab and the Hawk )
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #53, Rules.

Summary: Their life together has become bounded by them, and Mai is still figuring out how to reach for Zuko through them.

The Unspoken Ones

There were rules to sleeping with the Firelord, customs, traditions, nods towards discretion, a thousand and one things they had never had to think about before when he was just a prince.  A prince who was never going to take the throne, they never talked about it, never, but Azula...  It didn't matter.  There were rules now.  There were secret passageways, and chaperones, and a tangle of betrothals broken both times Zuko had left that had to be remade and renegotiated.

There had always been rules to sleeping with Zuko, things to back away from, things that hurt too much to look at.  Things that needed to be lanced or skewered.  Things that were the remnants of Azula's friendship.  Sometimes, she couldn't see through all that to what was theirs, and what they were free to do and be.

There were rules to being a couple, any couple, and it was when the rules began to contradict each other and twist on the page that Mai wanted to throw them away and stare mutely at the wall until it was over.

Just so long, Mai decided, as there was room for Zuko and Mai in the spaces between the rules.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #52, Party.

Summary: He isn't sulking, and she isn't bored.

Social Caterpillar

When she had been a child, her parents used to take her to the kind of parties where everybody was in constant danger, where a wrong word could end someone.  They would tell her to keep her mouth shut and then parade her around, and wonder why she wasn't charming and adorable like Ty Lee. That had changed.  There wasn't a party her parents wanted to go to that she wasn't invited first, and her words were the ones that could trap somebody else.

Glaze eyed introspection, the kind that had made the people her parents had tried to show her off to ask if there was something wrong with her was even less forgivable now.  She glanced sideways at her husband.  "Your sister warned me you sulked through these things."

Zuko jerked at the mention of Azula, she-who-no-one-mentioned, she-who-had-brought-them-together.  "I'm not sulking!"

"Whatever."  She rolled her eyes.  In the back of her mind, she wondered how many of the people below watching them so earnestly would think from that little thing that their marriage was on he rocks already, here at their wedding feast.  "It's not like I care.  It's the only thing I ever managed to do at these things."

"It's supposed to be for you too," he said, poking a bean curd ball around his plate with a chopstick.  "I mean, it's your wedding feast."

"That's big of you."

He ignored that.  "We can sulk together, if you want."

"I guess."  She put her hand over his.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #51, Door.

Summary: She isn't there for herself.

Solid Walls

One of her guards rushed forward to bend the door door open, and Yue stepped though, her skirt sweeping the floor, refined, traditional, and perfect.  She was a princess, a living symbol, wearing a mask that every chief's daughter had worn since the day the palace rose from the ice.

And there was nowhere to get away from it.  Against the walls of her chambers were heavy tapestries, empty porcelain vases from the Earth Kingdom, multi colored woven baskets from the Fire Nation, sculptures from her homeland.  It was as grand as any princess's chambers in the Fire Nation, any royal wife's suite in Ba Sing Se.  The Northern Water Tribe could have a princess, and dress her in fine fur robes and give her rooms like these to dwell in.  How grand and sophisticated they must be.

Her hair is white, her people said to themselves when they saw her.  The moon spirit has blessed her.  How many other nations have their princess blessed by the spirits?  How lucky we are to have her.

And when her guards sealed the door to her chambers for the night, leaving a blank wall, Yue felt her own unused, untaught waterbending answer.
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #50, Return.

Summary: Conquest is a rush.

Snow Melt Floods

Hanook disembarked from his flagship inside the ice covered harbor.  In the gloom, waterbenders sculpted the walls, expanding the harbor, spilling water out of dry docks for new ships to be built.  Outside the harbor, waterbenders all over the city kept up the frenetic pace.  They had to rush.  This had to happen fast.

He passed through the new streets, around the new houses, pushing aside the memories of the skin tent he had grown up in. 

He knocked on the door to the largest house in the new city.  The woman who opened the door smiled and threw her arms around his middle before leading him inside.  Her one-legged husband sat on low bench, bouncing a blown up turtle-seal bladder ball off the floor and into the hands of a little boy who kept stopping to hold the ball and suck on his thumb.

It was that missing leg that sometimes kept Hanook awake.  He wanted the little Avatar with his thumb in his mouth to think of the conquests and the new empire they were building as great things, good things.  He would shower the little Avatar with all the glories of empire.  He just had to hurry.
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)
Summary: Ty Lee begins Avatar Zuko's airbending training.  Takes place in the same universe as "Banner".

Author's Note: Wow, I actually wrote a drabble just because.  I haven't written like that for a while...  Anyway, this arose out of a conversation with [livejournal.com profile] weirdlet in which we both agreed *SPOILER FOR LEGEND OF KORRA (highlight to read)* that the way Korra's first airbending lesson went was the exact same way Zuko's would have gone were he the Avatar.



The Spinning Gates (Spoilers for Legend of Korra, chapter two) )
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #49, Lake.

Summary: In the history of the world, there have been many conquerors, none of them great.


Which No One Can Break Down

The shorelines were rimmed with ice.  Icebergs floated south from the northern fortress, and the rivers that bisected the Earth Kingdom continent were lined with frost and Water Tribe warriors.  Nianchu knew his town could either be enslaved to them, building temples and palaces of earthbent stone the way the waterbenders did out of ice, or flee.

It wasn't really a choice.

As their wagon wheels creaked over the open ground, further an further from water, their ranks swelled, and the creaking turned into a thunder, and the thousands following looked at him like he would know what to do.  All he knew how to do was go on.

So they went on.  And the land dried up under their feet.  They pushed on, and he could hear people crying in the wagons, babies, children, crying out for water.  And they could turn back.  They could live without their freedom, but they couldn't live without water.

When the lake shimmered on the horizon, he didn't believe it until he could touch it.

"And what are we going to do when the Water Tribe comes here?" one man demanded.

Nianchu gazed out over Lake Laogai.  "We build a wall around it."
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #48, Finish.

Summary: There was a time before the Avatar, and before people knew what the Avatar was.


One Circle Closed

The lakes sank lower with each year, disappearing into the empty dust.  Fewer benders were born each year, and the people who had once lived on the backs of lion-turtles instead of rafts, and bent other people's bending were barely even memories.

No one had seen a spirit in dreams in generations.  The spirits had deserted them.  Only the blood of their greatest bender could bring them back, they whispered.

She was old.  Her children were dead, and her grandchildren were grown.  She put her own head onto the block, but when they raised the sword, her eyes glowed white.

~*~

When raiders came from the islands, his mother grabbed him and his brothers and sister and ran with them into the hills.  Fire burst out of the raiders hands and feet, catching in the thatched house roofs, and he watched it from safety, but when the fire came out of his hands, and the earth trembled with his footsteps, he ran down the hill to fight with the men of his village, and when his eyes burned white, and the voice of an old woman came out of his throat along with his own, no one stood in his way.

~*~

The dragons came out to meet her on the day she was born.  They sniffed her, their whiskers tickling her cheeks.  When they left her again, her parents breathed a sigh of relief.

As her belly grew round and full with her first child, the girl the dragons had blessed drew water from the well.  She pulled her hand up...

And the water followed.  She screamed, the water clinging to her, and she ran through the village as the old Sun warriors spoke of the boy who had driven them away from the Earth shores with earth and fire together.

~*~

As word traveled throughout the world that High Priestess of Fire with her glowing eyes and three voices had died, a woman gave birth alone, far from her clan, in a sky bison saddle.  She took the baby home and he cried into the wind.

His aunt and grandfather said he was the greatest airbender they had ever seen, but it was the day he mimicked the earthbenders at a festival and he earth moved that they realized just how powerful he really was.

"You know," his mother said, "He was born the night the three voiced Fire priestess died."
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)
Written for[livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #47, Charm.

Summary: She tries to summon up something other than revulsion for him.


Skittering, Skittering

He had a certain kind of charm, if she had been willing to overlook what he was and what he had done.  Yue clasped her hand over her fist and bowed to him, and he bent his strange segmented legs.

He was the oldest, old when the first of the lion turtles had hatched, old when the world itself had been made out of fire.  She was the youngest.

He had been wearing the face of a Water Tribe woman when she had bowed.  In an eyeblink, he wore a moon mask, pale and half full, with silver eyes and painted eyebrows.  She shivered inside.  Tui had been the first moon, she reminded herself, and Tui's face had never been stolen.

The moon mask's painted lips curved up. "Princess."

"Koh the Face Stealer," she said, sliding down to sit against the stones.

"You come to me with a new face, moon spirit."

She didn't correct him.

"What have you come here for?"  He whirled on her like a lion-snake, and his voice reverberated around and around her head.

She didn't move.  Her face didn't move.  "I've come to ask you a question."

He hunched down.  "Then ask it, moon spirit."
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #46, Hold.

Summary: Song watches the colonists leave, and watches the Earth Kingdom soldiers return.


Stitching Together

The needle and thread slid, catching, and then tugging free of the impediment.  The stitches formed a crooked, sloping line.  "Stop squirming," she said, laying her hand down on his head for a moment before she picked the needle back up. 

"I'm sorry," he grumbled, "but it hurts, and you keep sticking your stupid needle into it."

She stitched another neat X on he skin of his stomach.  "If you didn't want me doing this, maybe you should have ducked out of the way of his spear."  The needle jabbed into him again.  "Or maybe you shouldn't have gotten into a fight to start with."

Out of the corner of her eye, Song could see her mother rubbing aloe-mint paste thickly over the burns on the Earth Kingdom spearman's chest.  Sometimes, she wondered if the colonists who streamed through her village on their way back to the coast would ever leave their shores and go back to the Fire Nation, which rumor said had no room for them anymore.

She sank the needle into his flesh again, and he yelped like a child.  "Careful!"

"I told you to stop squirming."  She pulled the thread hard.  "You're lucky it was a glancing blow.  He could have killed you."

"I didn't do anything wrong," he pleaded.  "I have six daughters, and that soldier of yours was saying we should get less food than the other families because my wife's dead!  They would starve!"

Song ran her needle under the string and pulled the new knot tight.  This was what the Fire Nation had done to the Earth Kingdom, humiliated them, killed them, beat them, starved them, starved their children.  It couldn't last.  "Be careful," she told him instead of what she thought.  "Take it easy for a few days, and that should hold."
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #45, Earth.

Summary: If you ask Katara, Toph's a horrible earthbendng teacher. But nobody asked Katara.


Stop the Rock

Aang peered anxiously at the boulder on the ledge above them.  "You really think this is the best way to teach her earthbending?"

"Actually," Toph beamed at him and hopped down off the ledge.  "There is a better way."  She snatched Katara's belt and wrapped it around her eyes.  As the light cut out, Katara sighed hard.  "This way she’ll really have to sense the vibrations of the boulder to stop it. Thank you Aang."

Katara sighed harder.

Toph bounced back up onto the ledge and shoved the boulder with a smirk.

Katara felt it.  She could really feel it rumbling towards her.  It rumbled, and she rolled out of its way like a spinning top.  She let her head hang for just a second.  "Sorry."

"Yeah, you are sorry."  Katara wanted to smack her, but Toph wasn't finished.  "If you’re not tough enough to stop the rock, then you could at least give it the pleasure of smushing you instead of jumping out of the way like a jelly-boned wimp! Now, do you have what it takes to face that rock like an earthbender?"

"Yes," she snapped.  "I do."

"Then prove it!" A new boulder burst out of the ground and Toph sent it careening towards her, faster, and larger than the last.  Katara planted her feet and held her arms ready.

The rock hit them  She thought for certain they were going to break.  But it wasn't her bones, but the rock that broke, raining down around her.

The laughter leapt out of her. "What do you say to that?" she crowed at the tiny earthbender, yanking her blindfold away.

Toph walked over and tapped one of the stone chunks with her toe, grinning.  "You're supposed to stop the rock, not blow it up, what's wrong with you?"
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #44, Yellow.

Summary: To Zuko, the war had always been a distant thing.

Warnings: Dead bodies, genocide, you know usual Avatar stuff.


Glory

The light shone down from a hole in the ceiling.  Zuko stared down at the floor stones, yellow in the southern summer sun, yellow and warm, like they weren't strewn with bodies.

His eyes rose, following the line of armored, red-clothed skeletons and scattered, cracked and rusted helmets.  At the end, there was a heap of dust and broken wall, and saffron cloth holding bleached, clean-picked bones in the light from the broken ceiling.

In the western temple, there hadn't been any bodies.  Vaguely, he remembered reading about the soldiers dropping them over the edge of the cliff.

He couldn't stand.  His legs wouldn't hold him.  The wall behind him felt like water, like he was falling right through it, right through the floor, right through the mountain and the pile of bones.

He closed his eyes.  He turned around.  He did everything he could to make the bodies and bones invisible, make them go away.  His uncle stood, admiring the faded figures on the walls, and Zuko's feet marched, his body following.  His armor pinched.  He could feel it pulling him down.  His uncle looked up.  Zuko swallowed and couldn't breathe.

He met his uncle's eyes.  "There's nothing here."
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)
Written for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500 prompt #43, Never.

Summary: Sokka is Katara's older brother.

New Worlds

She was two, and the ice climbed up her legs with every step she took.  She was four, and the snow parted around her when she spun around.  She was six and the waves under their canoe sank into valleys and rose into mountains.

She was eight and their mother...  Their mother was dead.

She was ten and nothing moved.  She was ten and their father was gone.

She was twelve, and nothing moved.

On her thirteenth birthday, she pointed at his watchtower, and told him it was stupid, and it fell down.  Sokka started screaming.  He couldn't stop.  He danced around, grabbed her around the neck and planted a kiss on her cheek.

He sat on the steps sometimes, while she trained with Sourpants-Pakku, and watched her remake the world.

Their dad told him he was supposed to protect her, but how could he when she didn't need it?

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