Hey Guys! This is a one-shot made by my friend and edited by me. She did a really great job and I hope you like her work, I certainly did! You can find a link to her account on my page.
Have a fun time reading! Please R&R!
How I think Crossroads of Destiny should have gone
"Choose, Zuko," Azula says in her wicked voice. I look between her and and my uncle, my uncle and her. If I help Azula, Aang, Katara, and my uncle will probably die. But if I help my uncle, Azula will kill all of us.
"I'm with you, Azula," I say, praying that she cannot hear that I'm lying. If she does, I am dead. Thankfully, she doesn't seem to notice anything.
"Then let us go, and hunt down the Avatar and his waterbender," she says, and I nod.
She goes in first, to "thin the enemy" as she says. She tells me to wait one minute, then go in too. This is the longest minute I have ever lived through. I have to wait, helpless, as my crazy sister does who-knows-what to Katara and the Avatar. Finally, the minute is up, and I enter, throwing a fireball into the middle of the fight. They all dodge, and look up at me. Katara is off to the side, standing near the Avatar with her hands raised in a fighting stance. Azula stands across from them. They are all breathing hard.
Azula shoots me a look, telling me to attack the Avatar. I shift my gaze from her to the Avatar, and then to Katara's frightened face behind him. And I know exactly what I must do. I act like I'm about to attack the Avatar, then turn and shoot a fireball at Azula. She blocks it, but if looks could kill, I'd be dead from the expression on her face. And just like that, the fight is back on.
The Avatar shoots into action, sending water strike after earth slam after air slice. My sister blocks all the attacks, and sends a barrage of lightning at Katara. I jump in front of her and catch the lightning in my fingers, and send it back at Azula. Katara looks at me, surprised, then begins throwing attacks at Azula. I hear dozens of footsteps coming up behind us, and turn to see the earthbenders loyal to Azula running toward us. "I'll take the earthbenders!" I shout at Katara and the Avatar. "You two take Azula!"
I send fireball after fireball at the earthbenders, and though they block most of them, their numbers are slowly getting less and less. As I finish off the last one, I turn to face Azula with Katara and the Avatar.
She still blocks every attack we throw at her, occasionally shooting lightning at the Avatar or Katara. I make it my job to notice whenever this happens, so I can jump in front of them and redirect it.
The battle seems to drag on forever, every strike of ours blocked and immediately followed up by a barrage of blue fire or lightning. Then, slowly, an opportunity begins to present itself. Azula has been inching slowly forward, while the Avatar and Katara have been inching slowly back behind her. I realize, we surround her completely. And I know what must be done. I throw a questioning look at Katara, And she nods determinedly, before we both turn to the Avatar, asking silently whether we should kill Azula. He looks confused, then conflicted, then he firmly nods, and we all simultaneously blast Azula with fire, icy water, knife-sharp air slices, and a solid wall of earth. And as we watch, Azula falls.
I sit, trying to meditate, to think about what's happened, what has changed in a single day. They kept me in shackles the whole ride on the flying bison, and the minute we landed, the blind girl and the Avatar - Toph and Aang - earthbended a cage around me. Despite everything that happened in Ba Sing Se, they still think I'm going to betray them, to attack them. They are mistaken.
Azula lived, barely. The Avatar heard from some of his troops that a squad of firebenders snuck into the prison and stole her away, taking her back to the Fire Nation. When we left Ba Sing Se, my uncle came with us. The Avatar seems far more willing to trust him than him and the rest are willing to trust me. I wonder why that is..
The sound of earth moving reaches my ears and jars me out of meditation. I open my eyes, and see Katara standing there, the earth closing up again behind her. "Why have you stopped attacking us? Why did you hunt Aang for so long, only to join us now?" she asks in her beautiful voice.
"I.. That takes some backstory. Ask me the first thing that comes to you, that comes to everyone, when you see my face. I will answer it."
"Truthfully?" she asks, raising an eyebrow.
She sighs. "Fine. How did you get your scar?"
"Three years ago, my father had been the Fire Lord for several years. I figured that, because because I was the prince, and I was next in line to be Fire Lord, I could -and should- attend the war meetings." She winces at the mention of the war, but nods at me to continue. "The guards wouldn't let me in, but my uncle said he would let me in if I didn't speak. I didn't.. At first. Then one general suggested we use an entire battalion of new recruits as bait. I stood up, and told him what a terrible idea it was. Then, my father stood up, and declared that I had disrespected the general by interrupting him." I look up at her, and explain, "In the Fire Nation, if someone disrespects another and does not back down, the only way to settle the dispute is by a fire duel." Her eyes widen, and she glances at my scar before looking away.
I continue, "I said that I was not afraid. But when the time for the duel came, and I turned to look at my opponent, it wasn't the general. It was my father. He said that by speaking up in the war room, I had disrespected him, and shamed him in front of his generals. As he came closer, I tried telling him that I meant him no disrespect, that I only wanted the best for the Fire Nation. That I was his loyal son. He ordered me to fight. I said I would not." Her eyes have gone wide, and her hands are covering her mouth.
"He blasted the side of my face with a powerful fire bolt. And when I screamed from the pain, he turned, and walked away. Immediately, he turned back around and declared that this punishment wasn't enough. For refusing to fight, he banished me, and said that I could only return if I captured the Avatar. I couldn't even get medicine for the burn. I went to a ship with my uncle, and we sailed away."
"How old were you?" she asks softly, tears in her eyes.
After a short silence, she says, "My offer still stands, you know. I could try to heal the scar, if you want. Or, if it can't heal completely, make it less noticeable or something."
I think about it for a while, then come to a conclusion and turn back to her questioning face. "I think, before Ba Sing Se, I would have begged you for that. But I don't want it to be healed. It's a sign of my past. Much as I wish I could forget it, it has made me who I am. And that includes the scar."
She nods. "I completely understand," she says.
I look up. "No, you don't. It's impossible to understand, unless you've been through the same."
"Actually, I have," she says. I throw her a quizzical look. "Not physical scars, mental scars," she continues. "When my mom died.. When that monster killed her - No offense."
"..My whole life had to change. I had to take on way more responsibility, and I was only eight! Then, when my dad had to leave to fight in the war.. I was twelve, but I kind of became the leader of our tribe, along with Sokka."
I nod. She had been a year younger than I was, but she still had to forget her old life and take on a leadership role. But at least she hadn't been banished at her father's hand, banished from all she ever knew with only a ship and its crew. She's not done talking, though. "When my father left, I had already had to deal with the loss of a parent, so I was able to get back up and keep moving. But it still affected me in the long run, and I wouldn't be who I am today if he hadn't left. The same goes for my mother.. even though it affected me far more. But.. I guess you know what that's like."
"Yes, but I, unlike you, actually have hope that she might be alive."
Her eyes widen. "What? How?"
"Azula, when she was trying to get me to return to the Fire Nation.. she said that my mother was alive, and she would tell me where she might be if I killed the Avatar. Obviously, I didn't kill him, so I'm not sure if she was telling the truth or not. But for the first time in seven years, I have hope that she's not dead."
"What happened that day? When she.. died, or left, or whatever happened to her? If you don't mind me asking," she adds hurriedly. I stay silent for a while, until she starts to turn away, then I start speaking.
"We had been receiving letters from my uncle about his siege on Ba Sing Se. Most of them were very cocky, my uncle was confident that he would break through. Then, we got a short message saying his son, Lu Ten, had died in battle. My grandfather was still the Fire Lord, you see, and Uncle Iroh was next in line for the throne. When we got the news about Lu Ten, my father went to the Fire Lord and requested that Iroh's birthright be revoked, as his line of descent had ended, and no one would be able to succeed him as Fire Lord. Azulon, my grandfather, was very angry. Azula and I were watching from behind a curtain, but when Azulon was about to announce my father's punishment, I ran out of fright.
"That night, when I was in bed, Azula came to my room and said that Ozai had been ordered to kill me, his firstborn, in retaliation to him taking advantage of his nephew's death. I yelled at her, saying that she was lying. My mother heard the shouting and came to my room, asking what was happening. Azula told her what she had told me, that Ozai would have to kill me. She looked scared, and told Azula that they would talk outside the room.
"In the middle of the night, my mother woke me up and told me to never forget who I am, to stay strong no matter what. Then she turned and walked down my hallway. I went back to sleep, thinking nothing of it. But then, the next morning, I woke up to see Azula standing in the doorway, tossing my knife up and down in the air. When I asked her where Mom was, she told me that no one knew, and that during the night, Azulon had died. And that his final wish was for Ozai to be crowned Fire Lord.
"Ozai's coronation was Azulon's funeral. My mother never got a funeral, and I never saw her after that night."
Katara has tears in her eyes again. "That's.. that's horrible!"
I smile tightly. "Welcome to my messed-up family history."
Her eyes meet mine, sadness in them, then she looks away. I close my eyes. I feel the tears, the tears that always come when I think about my mother, building up, but I don't want to shed them here, not in front of Katara. I try to hold them in, but one spills over the edge and rolls down my unscarred cheek.
Then, I feel arms wrap around me, and Katara's head is resting on my shoulder. "I know how it feels, to lose someone you depend on so much," she says, her voice muffled.
I open my eyes and look at her in surprise. I'm even more surprised when I feel a tear drop onto my neck from her cheek. Is she crying in sympathy for me? Me, the person who chased her and her friends across the world for the past two seasons? I wrap my arms around her, close my eyes, and let the tears flow.
I'm at a complete loss for words. What do you say when someone you've thought of as your enemy - someone who's thought of you as their enemy - for so long suddenly starts crying on your shoulder? "I know you do," I say.
We stay like this for what feels like an eternity, when Aang stars calling for Katara so she can help him practice and Sokka makes a quip about how long it takes to interrogate a prisoner. Then, she gets up, gives me an apologetic look, and calls to Toph to let her out of the room.