A short piece on Zuko, his life, and what drives him. One-shot, Zuko POV.
Your sister was born lucky. You were lucky to be born.
He was a fighter because he had to be, not because he chose to be. Of that much, at least, he was certain.
Rise and fight, Prince Zuko! You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher.
Nothing in any of his sixteen years had ever come to him easily. He'd had to fight for everything he had, every step of the way, simply because he hadn't been given any other choice. He'd had to in order to survive. But, in the end, what had he accomplished? What did he have to show for his efforts? What had the past two long years of his life amount to? Had he achieved anything? Gained anything? Learned anything?
He didn't want to think about it - he was afraid to.
Because, in the end, he'd toiled through years of hardship, pain, and isolation to no avail. His situation was desperate. He'd been cast aside by the father he worshipped as if he had never in all his life accomplished anything worthwhile. He'd been replaced by a sibling that, no matter how hard he tried to love, looked upon him with nothing but apathetic distaste. And, worst of all, he'd been stripped of his throne - and banished, no less - by a nation that he would have fought for, died for, killed for.
He'd lost his home, his family, his country, his throne, and his honor in one single, fell swoop. And where was he now? He was barely scratching out an existence, living in squalor, drifting aimlessly along in life on a single insignificant ship with no companions save for a small crew of a few distrustful men and his uncle...
Ah... his uncle.
Thank the fire and sun spirits for his uncle. His uncle had kept him sane throughout these years, had showed him how to be patient, and had taught him how to fight. His uncle was simultaneously his caretaker, his teacher, his role model and his closest friend, and he considered him his closest living relative - the only one that counted, anyway. But the sad thing was, while he loved the man more than he did any other person in the world, his uncle had been the only person he cared about in his life who had ever bothered to care /back/.
But that wasn't all. The thing that bothered him the most was that this life of his was driven by the impossible. What fueled him was a single goal - an obsession, some called it - and it consumed him, even though he knew he shouldn't have let it consume him. There was too little hope. And even though he knew this, he still let it lead him in a search up mountains, across oceans, and over deserts - across the entire world. He let this fragile, delicate hope drive him, looking with a kind of desperation for the one thing - the one person - in existence who could take everything messed up in his life and turn it all back to the way it was supposed to be.
This was his only chance at normalcy.
He knew it was foolish to spend every day of two long and desperate years chasing nothing but a mere whisper of a legend. He knew he had little to no chance at victory, at success, at winning his life back.
He knew he shouldn't have placed his faith in capturing nothing but an elusive, unidentifiable shadow - one that was as intangible, powerful, and impossible to capture as the Avatar.
He still did, though, because the only other option he had was to give up, and he wasn't ready to do that. Not yet, but he was getting close.
Things will never return to normal.
In his youth, his uncle often said half playfully, half seriously that he was too kind a child. He was just, fiercely loyal, fair, and spirited. He worked, studied, and trained hard. He cared for his people, adored his father, doted on his sister, and only ever wanted the best for the nation that he grew up in and loved.
He wasn't someone who was suited for war. He wasn't the genius that his father wanted him to be. He couldn't be the general that his country needed in these militant times.
Instead he was someone who, his Uncle Iroh had said proudly, would one day be a fine, just, and honorable Fire Lord.
Your brother Zuko is a failure.
Fate was cruel. Here he was, years after that enthusiastic, wholesome young prince had been replaced by a cold, scarred, tired young man, trapped helplessly in the middle of a terrible conflict that, ultimately, was the center of a war that was shaking the entire world.
The Avatar... now he was someone who could never understand. His sister, too. The Avatar, born with a legacy and a gift that was eons old, continued to slip through his fingers despite his inexperience and age. His sister, born with so much raw talent and ability that even his father had noticed and called her a fire-bending prodigy, had flourished under the adoring gaze of the nation that had deserted him and mocked him as he was exiled from the very home he loved.
I finally have you, but I can't get you home because of this blizzard.
Some people really were born with all the luck. Some people really never did have to try, not even in order to accomplish the impossible. And it was those same people who would never understand what people like him had to go through.
He didn't mind, though. He didn't need luck. He didn't want luck.
He'd always had to struggle and fight, and that had made him strong.
It made him who he was.
"What is it, Uncle?"
"We have found the Avatar's trail. What are your orders?"
Disclaimer: Any and all characters belonging to Avatar, the Last Airbender are the legal property of Nickelodeon.