Categories > Cartoons > Avatar: The Last Airbender

When Glory turns into Shame.

by freaknic 2 reviews

The only thing keeping Azula relatively sane has slowly begun to slip through her fingers.

Category: Avatar: The Last Airbender - Rating: G - Genres: Angst - Published: 2012-10-11 - Updated: 2012-10-12 - 2005 words - Complete

She guessed that the sun had just risen over the horizon due to the fact that someone had just pushed a pathetic tray of fruit under her door. Although nothing about the prison was enjoyable, she was always overwhelmed with a feeling of excitement when her first meal was delivered – it was a signal for her, one that informed Azula that she would be arriving soon and that her turmoil and loneliness would subside temporarily. She wasn't sure how Ty Lee managed to get into her cell – she would manifest out of the darkness and then fade back into it – causing Azula to question her sense of reality and mental health. She had always been the type of person to be one step ahead – she was strategic, meticulous, and intelligent – but the constant visits from Ty Lee caused her mind, after much contemplation, to become more confused than it was by default. She would never understand it, and even though Ty Lee's presence was often unexpected, she was never unwelcomed, no matter what Azula claimed while they shared the darkness in the cell together.

The tray stayed untouched, as it usually did, and she had a smug smirk on her face when she noticed the figure standing a few feet in front of her. Ty Lee announced her presence on schedule and if there was anything Azula enjoyed more than being punctual, it was being right – she knew Ty Lee would be there approximately ninety seconds after her food was delivered and, as usual, she was correct.

This reunion was no different than the others. They would remain in silence for a few seconds and examine their appearances. When she first started to keep Azula company, Ty Lee would sometimes be dressed in the pink circus uniform that enabled her to move comfortably and that also complimented her figure – it was a favorite of Azula's mainly because it was practical, yet subtle. No one would suspect a young girl in such an outfit to be dangerous – it gave her an innocent yet suspenseful edge that wasn't offered in her Kyoshi Warrior uniform. The robes were long and heavy, Azula had witnessed how they could be used against a person and how the layers of cloth slowed their actions, and the dark, earthy green didn't compliment Ty Lee very well. The paint she wore on her face was the only saving grace. The crimson red that lined Ty Lee's wide eyes enabled them to be more dramatic and expressive and the hue that was worn on her lips caused them to be so inviting and made her appear more mature. The golden headdress framed the structure of her face and brought more attention to her high cheek bones and thin nose. Her features were more pronounced and the colors accentuated her undeniable beauty, and although she wasn't as inconspicuous in the Kyoshi Warrior uniform as she was in her circus threads, the face-paint still added some innocence – it made her look delicate; which, to a certain extent, and perhaps to someone who wasn't Azula, probably caused someone to write her off as a threat.

Ty Lee couldn't say the same for the former princess. Her hair had evened out and had grown long past her shoulders, but her face was worn down from the stress of violently spiraling into madness. There was no color left on her skin and her eyes seemed to be drained of any type of emotion – but then again, Azula wasn't one to wear her feelings on her sleeve. The deep burgundy of the tattered and baggy prison uniform only stripped her more of her beauty – the darkness she was surrounded by was doing her no justice, either. All of her elegance was completely gone – Azula was nothing more than a shell, a representation of what she once was, but what she would never be again. Before she could dwell on the fact that Azula had shattered and that putting the pieces back together would be impossible to do, Ty Lee cleared her throat and spoke first, "it's good to see you again, Azula," she forced a smile as her arms crossed behind her back, and she had to refrain herself from nervously rocking on her heel.

"That uniform doesn't suit you," her brow quirked as she looked through – rather than at – the acrobat, "you look so stiff, so uncomfortable."

"Oh, it's not that bad. Suki made some alterations so I could move around easier, they're all so nice to me," she had been gathering her breath to say more, but she was cut off as Azula's hand lifted.

"I don't want to hear it, Ty Lee. The Kyoshi Warriors are all you ever talk about; it's starting to bore me," she let out a sigh, "it's good to know that you're still so juvenile."

Ty Lee tilted her head, "what do you mean? That's my life now – the other warriors are family to me, and I've never been more content. My aura is pinker than it's ever been before."

"Oh, please," Azula rolled her eyes with a scoff, "you have always been so ignorant. Eventually they'll turn on you, it's inevitable. They remember who you are and what you did to them, no matter how friendly they act or how much they claim to accept you, they don't. They'll betray you… just like you betrayed me," her eyes focused onto Ty Lee's and for the first time, there was a hint of emotion – anger was fighting to overpower sorrow but once she realized the frown worming onto Ty Lee's countenance her expression went dry and her eyes were empty of any thought or feeling. Ty Lee guessed it was a defense mechanism – Azula had never been weak and if she was, she wouldn't admit it, nor would she allow someone to witness the fact that all of her strength had diminished.

"That's not true, Azula…"

"You know it's true – every word I have ever spoken to you has always been true. But I suppose you're too naïve to realize that as well."

Ty Lee drew in a deep breath, "I just thought that you would be proud of me. I thought that maybe seeing me happy would make you happy as well – I was hoping that maybe it would add some color to you, not only you, but your aura. It's been so gray and dismal since you've been here, I was just trying to help you," her shoulders dropped in defeat and disappointment.

"I don't need your spiritual healing garbage," Azula snapped, the flash of anger appearing in her eyes once more before they went flat, "I don't need your help or your advice – I've never needed it, just like I've never needed you."

"Don't be silly, Azula," her tone had quieted and everything about her demeanor turned sheepish – all of their conversations ended the same, she wished that there was something she could do to change the path their words always took.

"I'm not being silly, you are. The only reason I kept you around was so you could have a better life away from that humiliating circus. Without me, you would have always been a freak – performing for other people's entertainment and never your own. You gained nothing from it – no respect, no authority – you had no benefits. Without me, Ty Lee, you would have been nothing."

A silence fell between the two and Azula found herself overwhelmed with a feeling of solitude, much more intense than what was considered the norm for her. Ty Lee's eyes had focused on the floor beneath her and Azula continued to blankly stare at her painted face, not realizing that she was holding her breath.

"I'm sorry."

"I don't need your apologies or your pity; I don't need anything from you," Azula needed Ty Lee more than ever, but it was something she would never admit to – she would rot in the cell before she accepted the help of another person, even though she was much more pathetic than she thought she was, "I wish you would stop coming in here – why do they let you in? Just to see how far they can push me before I'm reduced to nothing but dust?"

"The guards don't let me in Azula, you do."

There was more silence as the prisoner allowed what she had just heard fully sink in. Ty Lee attempted to make eye contact, but Azula broke it as soon as she observed the twitch on her face, focusing her attention on a scorch mark across the wall – she had forgotten what caused it. Perhaps she lashed out on one of the guards, or perhaps it was her reaction to something Ty Lee had said a few weeks ago – or maybe she had been trying to get herself out. Her mind was so conflicted a majority of the time that she didn't know what fueled her actions – she was unaware to any motivation she possessed; it was surprising that she still had the will to live – if being locked away in the depths of a prison could be considered living.

Azula took in a deep breath – the stillness had grown too much to bear and she was agitated at how Ty Lee was standing there – staring down at her as if she was ridiculing her every action – awkwardly searching for something to say or do or searching her mind for an excuse to leave. It wasn't like she was being kept there against her will – no, that was Azula – the girl could leave if she wanted to, so why didn't she? It wasn't like they had anything more to tell each other – there was nothing to apologize for, no stories to tell – why was she still there? It was infuriating.

"This isn't real, is it?"

There was another instance of silence, and Azula didn't even bother to look up at Ty Lee after her inquiry.

"It never has been, has it?"

Azula placed her hands over her face as she tried to find an answer to her question, blind to the nod Ty Lee had given her as a response before her body began to fade – her green robes adopting the same dark hue of the wall behind her as the white powder on her face slowly disappeared into the shadows. Azula's index and middle finger parted enough so one of her eyes could open – so her vision could search for Ty Lee. She never made a sound when she left – the cell door never creaked, she never heard her footsteps, and all of a sudden Azula was hit with the realization – the sudden enlightenment overpowering her body and nearly breaking her bones with the force of reality, causing her to realize how twisted her mind was and how powerful her imagination could be. Life had been so cruel to her – not only had it taken away her entire self worth, but it continued to mock her, to taunt her, and it went as far as toying with her needs and desires. Suddenly, she was aware to just how much she had lost and how much pain she was in. The caliber of her alienation was more than apparent and she was so, so jaded. Why did she let herself succumb to such ignorance? Was she really so far gone that she couldn't even tell the difference between something tangible rather than the opposite? How had she not realized it before? It had been so obvious – so in her face the whole time, yet her mind, which used to be so sharp and free of any implications, was so clouded it allowed her to believe something so outlandish, so ludicrous. Her presence, although it often caused more distress afterwards than she usually expected, kept her from slipping. Ty Lee forced her to hold on, albeit loosely, to whatever it was she had left. But there was nothing left – not anymore – because Ty Lee wasn't there.

She was never there.
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