I think this fits better, continuity-wise. Maybe. As always, please review. Song that inspired this was strangely enough, Breaking Benjamin, 'Diary of Jane.' And a double shift at work in which I was bored and tired of reading.

Disclaimer: Avatar belongs to Mike and Brian


Chapter 4

He awoke to an unfamiliar pain in his shoulder, that seemed to radiate into his chest. Struggling to sit up, he realized his arms were bound to his sides, and the throbbing grew with the rising beat of his heart. Amber eyes became anxious with clarity. Grimacing, Zuko frantically tried to whip his head about, yet stopped short again of the pain.

"You have a pierced left deltoid, likely torn fibers within your pectoralis, and no small amount of hematomas" a voice listed his injuries as though commonplace. "You won't be going anywhere for a while."

Despite the tenderness, Zuko managed to turn his head to the person. They dubiously raised their brow. "You truly enjoy suffering don't you?" Zuko groaned, and brushed his forehead against the ground.

"It's what I'm used to" he bit out.

"Quite true your highness."

Zuko groaned again.

"Where is that hot-headed idiot?"

The gang looked at each other doubtfully.

"Well, I don't know about the idiot," began Aang cheerfully, "but-"

"Shut it Aang." Gray eyes widened.

"Hahaha! The world's savior just got told!"

"You too Toph!"

Aang smirked.

"The world's greatest earthbender-"

"Yeah right," Toph's palm met his face. "Sweetness couldn't tell me off if she tried."
"Oh yeah? Well…"

Sokka stood up waving his arms between the upcoming bending battle.

"Come on guys!" His voice even cracked, gaining a laugh from the group. "Seriously now, Katara, chill." She turned her back and huffed-quietly. "You are the one that sent him off. The princess is probably just sulking somewhere," he shrugged his shoulders uncaringly.

"Or learning to climb a tree" Haru supplied. Again the group laughed.

"Or maybe he's practicing his swords!" The Duke exclaimed from his spot between Teo and Haru. The water sibling's heads snapped to attention.

"Swords?" Excited.

"Swords!" Angry. "What kind of irresponsible-" Before Katara could even get started on another rant, Sokka had dashed to the boy, crowding his face.

"Angry jerk has swords?" he was practically squealing.

"Yeah, he practices every day" Teo piped up. "It's pretty cool to watch." At the incredulous looks from his friends, "and test how quickly I can calculate angles of reflecting light?" he shrugged his shoulders. There was a collective exhale.

"Whew! That was a close call" Sokka swiped his forehead. "I almost thought Zuko turned you normal."
"Zuko is not normal!" Attention again went to the waterbender. "He's a cruel, backstabbing, 'prince' that probably deserves that ugly scar, and anything else bad that's happened to him!" Silence answered Katara's outburst, and she opened her eyes to disapproving, unbelieving stares.

"Katara…" Aang began. She opened her mouth for another round when,

"That's vindictive even for you." The crackling of the fire echoed behind Toph's voice. Katara furrowed her brow.

"I can't see it, but the way you talk, his scar must be pretty obvious."
"Oh right, and you're the queen of subtlety."
"At least I'm not afraid to say it to a person's face!"
"Doesn't that depend on what you're saying? And I am not afraid of Zuko" Katara's hands curled into loose fists.

"People fear what they don't understand! And you little missy" the two girls had drawn closer with their yelling match, "aren't trying to understand him at all."
"Why would I want to understand an enemy? Next thing you know, I'll be sympathizing with him!"

"Maybe that's what's needed" a calm voice injected. Both girls looked at Aang.

"If people tried to understand each other, and felt for each other, maybe we wouldn't be in this situation."
Haru ended the serious discussion, "Fact is, right now, he's an ally, and a nearly irreplaceable one. Let's try and keep him on our side, ok?"

Sokka saw the question forming on his sister's face.

" 'S 'cause we're guys. We don't hold grudges like you." A wall of stone and shot of water hit the boy with the foot in his mouth. Uneasy chuckles flowed through the children, like the smoke into the wind. The Duke looked into the fire.

"I didn't get to see him practice today" he spoke to no one in particular. A blind girl heard him, and sighed heavily.

"So really, there is no chance of escape" Zuko's captor stated the obvious fact. He rolled his eyes. The boy might have been a year or two older than him, didn't stand much taller, though he had clearly brown hair and the look of a worker.

"Why are you here?"

"Seriously?"

"I'm not known for my humor" Zuko grunted, now sitting up and leaning against a tree. His companion continued examining the injured leg, and spoke when Zuko hissed at his progress.

"That you aren't. The better question," here he began cleaning the wound, and Zuko bit his lip "is why aren't we here?" The stranger packed a dressing upon the leg and began wrapping it. "A platoon, seemingly in the middle of no where, chances upon the traitor prince of their nation; Surely his forces are not far."

Zuko grit his teeth. Were they ready to face the Fire Nation so soon? What if they were caught of guard, like him?...

"Where's the rest of your team?"

"Meh," the other male shrugged his shoulders. "An incapacitated prisoner and a farm-boy good with his books. Yes an entire squadron is needed else, we shall lose the war." He met Zuko's gaze completely.

"You never know with traitors."

"No, you don't," the stranger smirked.


Criticism is always appreciated.