You're not a person; you're a disease.
All these lives that you've been taking,
Deep inside, my heart is breaking.
Broken homes from separation.
Don't you know it's violation?
He walked through the seemingly endless darkened hallways of cells and dungeons used for Fire Nation prisoners. However, at this time, most of them were empty. For this brief period, the warring Nations were at a peaceful interlude. No doubt though that the dungeons would soon be filled with ones that wished to rebel.
It had been only a month and a half since the war had finally come to its end. Zuko, the new Fire Lord, had accomplished much in this time; but there was still so much to do.
He had a specific destination within the dungeons. He rounded and turned through the maze until he came to a particular cell. Two skull-masked guards stood at either side of the door. Zuko nodded to them and they stood aside. One pulled a key from his pocket and unlocked the door, allowing the Fire Lord to quietly slip inside.
He took a few steps in and stopped; standing before a ragged figure that sat hunched over on the ground.
The man who had been responsible for the deaths of thousands; following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. The man who had never said a kind thing to Zuko since the day he was born. The man who had done such a heartless act as to brutally burning his own son's face.
Zuko had disowned his father long ago. Once he made the decision to join the Avatar, he refused to give him the title, for he was not deserving of it. But one thing still kept Zuko talking to his father: Zuko's mother.
In the immediate time following the war's end, Ursa was all he could think about. He was desperate to find her again. So he argued with Ozai constantly to get some information. But Ozai was still cruel even within prison and he gave Zuko such little information. But he held onto it like a lifeline and searched for her for weeks.
"I found mom," he said coldly.
Ozai chanced a glance up at him, a small smirk on his face, "Well, isn't that just delightful to hear? Perhaps now that you're done with your little scavenger hunt you can try going back to your pathetic excuse for a—"
"She's dead," he said, cutting him off.
Zuko didn't fail to notice Ozai's eyes widen slightly. He sat up slightly and stared at him.
"You heard me," Zuko growled, "You're a real bastard for all you've done to her! Banishing her was one thing, but the area you sent her to eventually endured a water pollution epidemic."
Zuko clenched his fists before continuing, "There was precious oil in that area; oil that you just had to have. You sent a crew to drill there at the rivers, rupturing her life and the life of the villagers that she lived with. Tons of pollutants that could not be easily seen at first were dumped into the rivers and affecting the villagers."
Ozai's eyes had slowly grown wider as the information sank in. He remembered the project well, but he hadn't realized (or cared) what had happened to the area surrounding it.
Zuko glared at his father, "I found her, and you know what I found with her? A liver infection that was already too great to heal. I spent a day with her before she died. A day!"
Zuko clenched his eyes shut and willed the burning tears to retreat. He refused to cry in front of this man. He hated him.
"I hope you know that you're the sole reason this family has been so dysfunctional from the beginning."
At this, Ozai looked away; a mix of emotions was flickering through his eyes. Good. Zuko hoped it was guilt. He wanted this man to feel the true weight of all he'd done.
"Why did you even marry her in the beginning? Was she really such a pawn to you? Was that all you saw when you looked at her?" Zuko's voice rose with each questioning accusation, "Do you have any idea what you did to us? You turned my own sister into such a perfectionist monster that she's lost her sanity! You neglected me my entire life and disfigured me! You never loved me! And you never loved mom either! You killed her!"
Ozai's eyes snapped up at Zuko; shock and anger written in them.
"You never were a father to me, or Azula. And you were never a husband to mom. You're a monster. You may have gotten to mom and Azula, but you aren't getting to me," and with that, Zuko turned on his heel and began to leave. However, Ozai angry called to him:
"Is that what you think?"
Zuko turned and glared at him, "It's not what I think. It's what I know."
"Well, you're wrong," Ozai shouted, "I never hated your mother! I loved her! I loved her from the day I first met her! She was my world, my anchor! Any time I had a troubling day she's be there! She took care of me! She loved me! But then you came and all that care for me left her!"
Now it was Zuko's turn to look surprised, "What?"
"The second you were born, she ignored me! All her attention became focused on you!"
Zuko couldn't believe what he was hearing. Was Ozai truly so selfish as to hate an innocent child for his mother's love?
Zuko scoffed in a disgusted manner, "Is that truly why you thought so poorly of me?"
"I thought it would change once Azula came. I thought your mother would try to give equal attention. But she didn't!"
Zuko glared at him, "And what did you expect? Maybe if you hadn't been so cold to me from the beginning than she wouldn't have felt obligated to spend so much time with me!"
Zuko hissed out his next words, desperately trying to keep the tears at bay, "Do you know how many nights I awoke in agony from nightmares? Nightmares of failing in front of you, causing you to hate me more! And then the days following your disfiguring of me were probably the darkest days I've ever had or ever will have! At the beginning she was always there to comfort me; to talk with me when you refused to!"
At this, Zuko laughed bitterly, "I supposed I should thank you for the absolutely bitter childhood you've given me. I'm pretty sure I can take on any challenge after that!"
Ozai's glare rivaled that of his son's, "I wanted it to be you that were banished. But unfortunately you were my only son and that would've jeopardized my plans of becoming Fire Lord. For boys are more important than girls. I would've gotten rid of you in a heartbeat if it meant that she would love me like she used to," His voice was low and cold.
"Well, thank you for being honest," Zuko said in a tone that had no sincerity in it, "I wish it weren't your blood running through my veins but I guess beggars can't be choosers."
At this Zuko walked closer to Ozai and squatted in front of him, before leaning in close to his ear, "But let me tell you this. You, Ozai, are responsible for the destruction of a family. We never were normal, but because of you, we'll never have that chance. I hate you; I think you're a monster and I'll never forgive you for what you've done," Zuko leaned back to look into Ozai's eyes, "And spending the rest of your life in this prison couldn't even come close to making up for everything you've done."
Zuko stood and turned, "Good day, Ozai," he spat. He walked to the cell door and was about to open it when he heard a sound. The sound shocked him and sent chills up his spine. He chanced a glance over his shoulder…
Ozai, the great, heartless Fire Lord, wept bitterly.
And it was all Zuko could do not to flee the dungeons. He stepped out, bade the guards' farewell, and walked briskly back the way he came.
And then he finally succumbed to the tears that were being held back.
They started as tears at first, but as he kept walking his vision blurred rapidly behind the tears and there was a great heaving rising in his chest and finally he couldn't take it. He collapsed against a dungeon pillar and sank to the ground, sobbing.
Letting the weight of his mother's death, Azula's insanity and his father's selfishness weigh down upon him; he asked himself a simple question:
Where did we go so wrong?