Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar.
"Kuzon!" A low, unnerving voice called. "Stand before me!"
Aang quickly stood up from the bench the students were ordered to sit. Walking towards the middle of the courtyard, the teacher stared at him without uttering a single word. The Airbender stood there while the class had watched, not knowing why he was called.
"Well what are you waiting for?" he asked, never breaking eye contact with the boy.
"Sorry, I don't know what to do."
Aang stared at him, waiting for the old man to instruct him on what he was suppose to do. He turned around to send a puzzled look back at On Ji, who was sitting beside the empty space he had just got up from.
The teacher sighed. "This is Firebending class,"
On Ji inconspicuously snapped her fingers to create a small spark of fire. Getting the clue, Aang readied his stance. "Here goes," he took a deep breath, drew back his open palm so that it was parallel to his shoulder and threw his palm forward, breathing out. Nothing came. Aang repeated the action with his other arm. Still nothing.
He did this once before, why couldn't he create fire now? Aang always dreaded learning the last element he was to master. It being the element of his enemy, the element of destruction, the element that is fueled by anger and rage. He thought back to his first lessons in Firebending, it seemed so long ago. When he first tried bending fire, he had burned Katara... she ran away from him, crying. He'd hurt someone he loved because of his lack of discipline. Lack of control. He never wanted to cause Katara or anyone he loved, that kind of pain. So since then, he had sworn never to Firebend again.
Aang noticeably shook his head trying to clear his mind from the uneventful memory. Guru Pathik (as well as Katara) had informed him that sooner or later he had to master Firebending, it was his destiny as the Avatar, the world's last leading hope. There was no escape.
What did Jeong Jeong say? he thought, reverting his thinking to his master's lessons. The Deserter was Aang's first Firebending Master and one of the best Firebenders he had seen. He had always been so negative about his element, even stating once that he wanted to be a Waterbender and heal rather than a Firebender and destroy. Jeong Jeong taught him that before he learns how to make fire, Aang first had to master proper breathing control. And then he wanted Aang to learn the importance of concentration. Breathing. Control. Concentration. Right.
"Show me your stance," the Fire Sifu told him. Aang bent both his knees and placed both fists at his sides. "Strong," the teacher started, reviewing his form from every angle. "unmovable like a rock," he added, shoving the student over. He was unmovable.
The older man rested his forehead on his palm. "Son that is an Earthbending stance."
"Oh," Aang managed to say through his classmates' muffled laughter. "I knew that."
"Like so," The Firebender instructed. He bent one knee leaving his other leg behind, straight. His arm was extended, aligned to the one bent knee and his other arm tucked at his waist. The teacher opened his palm leaving two fingers and thumb up right. He then relaxed and motioned for his student to imitate his form.
"Right." Aang took another deep breath as he positioned himself into the correct stance. He pivoted on his heel, and threw the palm, that was on his side, forward.
Not even a weak sprout of fire erupted from his palm.
"That was.. what's the word? Um," he sputtered. "You tried Kuzon. NEXT!"
"Wait! Let me-"
"I said NEXT!"
"First, I had no idea what I was suppose to do, so I just stood there like a moron, then no matter how hard I concentrated, I couldn't make fire and to top it all of, I was in an Earthbending stance! Which he just had to point out to everyone!" the Avatar exclaimed. "You had no idea how embarrassed I was, Sokka!"
"I'm sure he knows exactly where you're coming from, Twinkles."
"Yeah Aang, I know how you feel." the warrior agreed. "Hey wait a second-"
"I don't know why I couldn't do it," he buried his face in his hands. "It seemed so natural when I first tried,"
"Cheer up," Katara stood up from behind her cooking pot a mango in hand, to walk to the Avatar "I know you'll get it soon, I've seen you with Waterbending, as well as Earthbending. You're a quick learner. Being the Avatar doesn't hurt too,"
"Thanks, Katara." he replied. "You know... while I was up there, I kept thinking... about you."
"Me?" she squeaked.
"Yes. I burned you when I first tried Firebending. I kept thinking about that. It was horrible." he said sincerely. "I'm really sorry,"
"You don't have to apologize" the Waterbender replied, now sitting next to him. "Maybe that's why you couldn't Firebend. Maybe if you just let that go, you could learn. It was an accident, Aang."
"And besides, if it weren't for that then I wouldn't have known that I could heal."
"True, True," Sokka agreed from behind the pair.
Aang started laughing and soon they all joined him, he loved his friends, his family. They were always there for him, even at times when he wanted to be alone. The guilt, he was trying so hard to ignore, slowly writhe back to his system, each time he snuck out to see Azula, he was betraying his family, he realized. He knew he was being selfish, spending his nights with the Fire Princess, with their enemy. And yet in his eyes, she was not an enemy. She wasn't a friend too. But he just wanted her too much. He didn't know what she was to him, was he in love with her simply because they were sleeping together? Would he have ever loved her if they were never intimate? Should he love her now that they were? Did she love him? Would she love him back if he did? What about Katara whom he thought he loved, had he been wrong all this time?
Aang's laughter quickly died down far more earlier than the rest of the gang had, he was so confused, he knew it was wrong being with Azula. Though, he cannot let go of her. In a sense, Aang was attatched, no- addicted, he was addicted to Azula, they had something. Something special. His eyes shifted to their campfire, a moth was attracted to the wild flame only to get himself scorched. The tiny moth reminded him of himself. He was drawn to her like the moth was drawn to the fire, willing to get incinerated when too close and burn to death. He wondered if he would suffer the same fate that moth did.
Azula was beautiful in a wild, dangerous, manipulative, intimidating kind of way, and yet sometimes she was caring and lovely. Katara on the other hand was sweet, determined, kind, mature, and compassionate as well as beautiful too.
He turns over to Katara in his thinking, her soft laughter was just starting to die down along Toph and Sokka's. She licks her lips, catching the sweet juices that drooped out from the ripe mango, he subconsciously reached over and brushed her chin with his fingers because she had neglected from licking them off of her lips that they trailed down.
"Aang?" she said quietly, a bit confused as well as her brother and Toph.
Aang leaned closer and kissed her flushed cheek. "Can I have some of your mango, please?" he asked in a low voice accompanied with his sweetest smile.
She stared at him for awhile, face turning red, quite taken aback from the unexpected kiss. "Here, sure," she finally said, handing the fruit to the Avatar.
"Thanks," he replied, still beaming at her. He took a bite from Katara's mango and like her, the juices began to escape his lips, he ungracefully wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and smiled up at Katara, who smiled back. The mango was very sweet and soft, even by just looking at it Aang could already taste the sugary, pulp fruit. There was no hidden after taste, just the straight forward, highly pleasing sweetness. "Mangoes are nice,"
"They are," Katara happily agreed.
Azula watched the Avatar sitting silently on the middle of her bed, his hands were rested on both his knees as he continued to gaze downwards as if in a trance. He was wearing a slightly tattered black vest with gold and red linings and dark pants. She still wasn't used to seeing him in Fire Nation clothing, but the colors did suit him well. And soon, Azula found that she preferred him in Fire Nation clothes.
Several minutes had passed without both of them uttering a word, she was still sitting across the room by her large mirror and he, still dazed, his eyes never leaving the crimson sheets he was sitting on. The room was only illuminated by two small flickering flames encased in golden lamps on either side of her mirror. The weather was hot tonight, which was not unusual in the Fire Nation. Hot nights and hot days coated him in a very fine layer of sweat making his pale skin glisten in the lamp light and the soft, dull moonlight coming from the open window.
A small smile came to form at her lips. It has become a ritual of a sort for the two; he would come in the middle of the night, Azula massages his back while they talked about anything and everything, then they would make love. Afterwards, he would hold her until she falls asleep and then he would make his way to her desk before disappearing into the night. And in the morning she would awake to one of his short, thoughtful notes that she loves. But at times, they would just sit in comfortable silence, either apart or next to each other, perfectly content that they were at least, in each other's presence even without acknowledging it so.
Oh, how she liked having him in the same room as her, it satisfied the Princess even with the lack of communication they were in right now. And yet, in the back of her mind, she knew that he wouldn't be here forever, they both knew. He had to leave, and not just for the night, but forever. At least now he was hers. They were lovers. It gave her a thrilling secret, having the Avatar as her lover, a secret that could destroy them both. If any of her servant girls found out, if Ty Lee found out, if her brother found out, if Mai.. If her father, the Fire Lord found out that his daughter, his prodigy, his most prized possession was with his mortal enemy- he would have him publicly executed with her forced to watch, not only because he was the Avatar but also because he had deflowered his daughter. It had been said that it greatly dishonors a noble for a man to take his daughter's virginity without them being married. It was a Fire Nation custom for a noble woman to be a virgin 'til she wed. And Azula was of royalty, her father could not afford any of this to get out.
Her father. Fire Lord Ozai had always favored Azula over Zuko, she was adored by former Fire Lord Azulon as well, for whom she was named after, as a Firebending prodigy. Although, Azula prides herself in her loyalty to her father and nation, she was still willing to hide this great secret from him and risk his trust as well as her title. As a child, Azula desperately wanted for her father to show her the attention that her mother failed to give, just like Ursa did to Zuko, only in reverse.
"It's not worth it," Azula muttered, soft enough for the Avatar not to hear. She realized that she had just criticized the man that she had been trying to impress all her life, and succeeding at it.
"What's that?" Aang, as if just noticing that he had not been alone in the room, asked. Not moving from his sitting position, Aang relaxed his features as he waited for the Princess to answer.
"I did not say anything."
"Alright." he replied and went on to his sulking.
"I must say," she started, as she stood up and sat next to the Avatar on her bed. "You look rather... preoccupied tonight." she placed both her hands at his shoulders, he tried to shrug them away, becoming hesitant from her touch at first. But soon, she made him comply and began massaging him through his vest. "Will you tell me what is bothering you?" she asked in a very soft and caring tone directly against his ear. She licked her lips and let them touch his flushed, plushy cheek leaving a pinkish lipstick stain that blended in with the redness of his skin.
"I don't exactly know," he managed to say, his voice low.
"I don't know." he decided not to tell her about his confliction between her and Katara. "May I ask you a question?"
"Okay," she replied slightly taken aback. "What is it?"
"It's about Firebending, I can't make fire." he admitted.
"Is that what's bothering you?"
"No, not at all." he told her. "I tried Firebending earlier and I can't. But a few months ago it was like second nature to me!"
"I don't know what the question is,"
"Actually, it's more of a favor?" he supplied. "Can you show me how?"
Azula thought for a second and removed her hands from his shoulders, the Avatar was asking her to show him Firebending. A few months ago, she would have gladly thrown a few blasts at him but always with an intention to hurt him, and now she was actually considering teaching him a few pointers which would make him stronger, more powerful against her father. And yet, she didn't care.
She walked in front of Aang, near the foot of the bed. "Firebending is all about breathing. It does not come simply from strength, but from the control of one's breath." Aang already knew all of what she was saying but he did nothing to notify this, he liked hearing the sound of her voice. "without this breath control, there is no control of the fire you are to wield. Even under extreme circumstances, a Firebender must never lose concentration on his breathing,"
"Come here, Avatar." she said. "Let's have some exercises," The Airbender hopped forward off of the giant bed he had grown accustom to, and started to fidget with his fingers. "Close your eyes," she said and Aang did so. "Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in..."
Aang went on breathing to the Princess' demanding but soothing voice. "You're doing well," she said, putting one foot around the other, stepping sideways, as if scrutinizing him from every angle. Aang continued breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth, just like Azula had said, until he felt a hand grab at his crotch.
"Azula!" he screeched, eyes wide open.
"Continue!" she demanded as she placed her hand on his chest and dug her nails through the cloth.
Aang bit his lower lip trying to ignore what the Princess was doing. "Control your breathing," he heard her say. Azula continued to play with him through the cloth of his pants, she felt him getting hard and his skin on her skin getting warm.
"Avatar, did you not get the point of this exercise?" she critisized. As Aang began to ponder what he had done wrong- "Take slow, deep breaths. Not sharp, quick ones."
"It's not really... that easy.."
"Even under... extreme circumstances a Firebender must never lose concentration on his breathing. I had said this before, hadn't I?"
Aang didn't answer but understood what she had said and acted on it. It makes perfect sense after all, Aang realized, as Azula continued to rub through his pants, whatever might be going on around a Firebender he must still concentrate on his breathing so that the fire wouldn't go out of his control during battle. But Aang thought the "circumstances" that Azula had referred to were more of being out numbered in a battle field, Firebending in the rain, and of always being conscious of your surroundings, never.. this. She started sending kisses across his cheek and jaw as well, it only made the situation more arousing at the same time, awkward for the young Avatar.
"I think you caught on." she remarked and let go of him. "wait here, I have something for you," The Princess uncharacteristically rushed out of the room before Aang could even say a word. The whole "exercise" still hadn't sunk in yet, it had caught him way off guard. He never really could predict Azula's behavior, 'unpredictable' was a word that certainly described her.
Moments later Azula came rushing in, like she had just stolen her mother's make-up, and in her hand a bottle wrapped in gold embroidered, red cloth as well as a bowl filled with purple berries. "What are those?" the Avatar asked, pointing to the large, weirdly-shaped bottle and the bowl.
"Liquor." she replied, letting the red cloth descend to the floor.
"Drink. You'll like it," she pulled out the cork from the bottle.
"Sure," Aang opened his mouth slightly as Azula held the large bottle to his lips and tilted it, allowing the liquid to linger in his mouth for a few seconds, before gagging on it and spitting it out. "It tastes terrible! What is that?!"
"Relax." she said placing her tiny hand on his cheek, the caring gesture did in fact relax him, only to feel her sharp nails dig into his soft flesh. It hurt, but he didn't show it. Something that he had been fairly good at. "Drink again,"
"What makes you think it'll taste better the second time around?" he spat, irritated.
"Avatar," she kissed the marks her nails made on his cheek. "This is the drink of royalty. It was hard to acquire seeing as I am a fourteen year old girl, but nonetheless I got it for you, it's a gift. And surely, one is not accustomed to decline such a gift, am I right?" her voice soft, calm and controlled. Azula began to dig her nails into the skin of Aang's cheek again, so that he would face her. She leaned in and kissed his lips, tasting the liquor that he had refused to swallow.
"It tastes bitter at first but after awhile it gets delightful, almost sweet." Azula placed the bottle at his lips again and poured the liquid into his mouth, this time Aang swallowed the horrible tasting drink.
For a second, Aang felt as if his throat was on fire but it was later dismissed as the hot feeling began to spread to his entire body. He slumped down on the giant, double doors of Azula's room and slowly, a big grin ran across his face. Azula sat down next to him and started to kiss his neck but the high colar of his vest kept on getting in the way, she bit on the cloth and kissed his jaw. Getting the hint, Aang slipped off his vest and laid it down beside him. Azula took the bottle from her side a placed it at Aang's lips again, this time he gladly took it from her and took several large gulps from it before wincing.
"Slow down," Azula said from between kisses she planted on his neck and jaw. She dragged a bowl with purple berries in them across the floor, and fed Aang one to counter the bitterness.
"Eat one each time you drink, okay?"
"Okay," he started laughing about nothing in particular. And for the first time for that whole day, he had actually stopped thinking, he felt calm and relaxed directly contradicting what he was feeling only hours ago. Aang held the weirdly-shaped bottle to his lips and began drinking from it furiously letting some of it spill over his bottom lip and down his chin onto the floor. Azula stared at him, fascinated and turned on at the same time, she took another purple berry and plopped it into his mouth letting her fingers stay in his mouth for a few seconds before pulling them out.
"Good, isn't it?" Azula asked triumphantly, licking her fingers.
"Amazing," he said in a dreamy, disoriented state after he had gone through almost a fourth of the bottle. He began to drink again and again eating a purple berry each time to accompany the bitter taste. Soon, the large bottle was more than half empty. Azula was right, at first the drink would taste overly bitter but after he got used to it, there was a tint of sweetness radiating from the liquid that he loved, but that did not make the drink less strong. Even the bottle had looked strong, with it's curvy shape, smooth exterior, and cold, hard, shiny glass-
"I think you've had enough," Azula stated, swiping the bottle from the Avatar's loose grip before standing up.
"Wait, no!" he cried flailing up his arms, trying to reach the liquor that Azula had in her hand, hanging just above his head. "Not. yet. enough." Aang groggily punctuated each word.
Ignoring him, she took a few gulps herself before wrapping the bottle in the red cloth it had originally came with and hid it under her bed while the Avatar had not been looking.
"Where is it?" he asked her with a tone so child-like. "I want more!"
"I'll give you more later, but right now I need you to do something else for me."
"Wha-at?" he said as if it were two separate words.
She crouched and kissed him in reply, letting her tongue play with his, she took off her rich, crimson robes and let them fall to the ground. Even with his disoriented, drunk state Aang knew exactly what the Princess needed.
Okay, since the last time I updated, I got grounded; meaning no computer. So yeah. At least now I'm ungrounded! Yay. So anyways, I think this chapter is different than the other one's in terms of my style in writing, FOR ME. I don't exactly know what happened. :| HAHA.
Thank you for reading and reviewing. :D
btw. If you get the whole mango-liquor thing here, relating to Aang's conflict, then good! *applauds*