Categories > Cartoons > Avatar: The Last Airbender > Uninvited

Chapter One

by Zuppi 2 reviews

Once Zuko finally realises he can no longer regain his honour or his father's love what options are left for him? Sentenced to death, will he accept his fate or create his own destiny? (Warning: Zu...

Category: Avatar: The Last Airbender - Rating: R - Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Sokka, Zuko - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2007-01-21 - Updated: 2007-01-22 - 1988 words

This story contains slash, specifically Zuko/Sokka slash. If this isn't your sort of thing there are loads of other gen and/or het fic around so it's probably best to press the old back button and read some of those.

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Zuko has no idea how long he has been lying on the floor. He is frozen cold, the shaking of his limbs increasing the pain that consumes him. His eyes wonder to Sokka. The other boy appears to have fallen asleep sitting up on one of the cots.

Zuko tries to get up, wincing in pain as he pushes his bound hands against the cold floor. He grits his teeth in agony as he tries to haul his torso off the ground eventually crying out and collapsing against the cold stone. He lies panting as he tries to block out the pain.

"You deserve all of this."

He glances up to find Sokka looking down at him. Zuko closes his eyes, trying to ignore the other boy.

He hears Sokka snort in amusement. "It's funny. All this time you were chasing us, chasing Aang, and it was all for nothing. You're still banished. You're still nothing." Zuko hears him move about on the cot. "You'll always be nothing."

Zuko tries to block him out. He lies perfectly still, hoping Sokka will grow bored and ignore him. "It's your fault!" Sokka gets to his feet and approaches Zuko. "It's all your fault. My Tribe, my mother..." He kicks Zuko in the stomach. "I could kill you..." His voice is icy. "My sister, Yue..." He bends down and grabs Zuko's shoulder.

Zuko gasps as Sokka pushes him onto his back. He bit his lips to stop himself from screaming as Sokka straddles his injured chest. "You don't deserve to live, you bastard!" He screams, his hands flying to Zuko's neck. With more strength that Zuko ever imagined such a skinny boy to possess, Sokka begins to choke the firebender. Zuko struggles against him. His chest burns as he tries to push Sokka away using his bound arms. Sokka's face contorts in misery as he stares down at the squirming boy. Zuko can feel hot tears splashing his face as Sokka tightens his grip on his neck. The prince gasps, frantically trying to suck air into his lungs. He kicks as much as his bound legs will allow. He can feel his world turning black as his eyes roll back in his head.

Suddenly the pressure on Zuko's chest is relieved. He struggles to breathe around the stabbing pain in his chest. He can hear Sokka struggling and cursing. With blurry vision he can just make out Sokka being restrained by two guards.

"Oh Zuzu, having fun with your new room mate, are you?"

Zuko turns his head to find Azula smirking down at him. She turns from her brother and approaches the struggling Sokka. "As much as I appreciate you attempting to do our dirty work for us, if you attempt to injure Zuko again," A blue flame erupts from her palm. "I'll remove those body parts that define you as male." Sokka swallows, instinctively moving away from Azula. She smiles sadistically before moving back to face Zuko.

Two guards have lifted him up and propped him against a wall. He slumps against the cold stone, resolutely ignoring his sister.

Azula smirks down at him. Striding forward, she grabs a fistful of hair, yanking his head back and forcing him to look at her. "Father has passed his judgment on you." She grins as Zuko inhales sharply. "Death." She smiles widely. "By hanging. By the end of the summer Sozin's comet will return and you'll be dead." She flicks her wrist, cracking Zuko's head against the wall. With a look, she dismisses the guards and exits the cell. She glares in Sokka's direction. "You too, peasant."

Zuko does not watch her leave. He can't swallow around the lump in his throat. He fells numb and emotionless. There is nothing he can do, no hope to latch onto. Finally, he succumbs to the despair he's been fighting since the Agni Kai three years ago.

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It has been a few days now since he has been imprisoned. Zuko isn't exactly sure how long. He fades in and out of consciousness. Zuko winces as he shifts into a more comfortable position. From the shadows he can tell he had been dozing for many hours. Wordlessly he looks around. Sokka is pacing the cell, stopping every now and then to inspect something. He glances back at Zuko occasionally. Zuko suspects the boy is entertaining thoughts of escape. He almost laughs at the idea. Almost.

With Zuko awake Sokka seems to give up on his inspection. He sighs and sits down on his cot.

The pounding of boots against the prison floor alerts Zuko to the approach of guards. He presumes they are bringing their daily meal.

"-to a crisp? Well, what did he expect after letting them escape?"

Zuko and Sokka sit up straighter as the guards approach. It is the same two as always, bearing the usual gruel.

"What's happening?" Sokka runs to the bars and grips them. "Who escaped?"

"Get back." The taller guard raps Sokka on the fingers.

"Don't expect rescue." The other sneers.

"Shut up." The taller guard chastises his loose lipped companion.

"Aang!" Zuko watches as Sokka's face lights up. "Aang escaped? What about Katara and Toph?"

The taller guard strides forward and unlocks the door. He advances of Sokka, who backs into a corner, too malnourished to fight back. Snarling the guard punches Sokka in the gut, causing the boy to collapse gasping to the ground. He turns and stares at Zuko. "Anything to add, your Highness?" He uses the same mocking tone all the guards use to address Zuko.

The prince simply looks away without comment. His heart is racing at the news but he works desperately to keep his face impassive.

The guard snorts at his lack of reaction before signaling to the other guard. The shorter man enters the cell sheepishly. He deposits two bowls of gruel on the ground. The other guard shoves him out of the cell and they leave. Zuko grins slightly as he makes out the sound of the taller guard chastising the other for his slip.

Sokka is still coughing and sputtering in the corner. Zuko looks over at him and wonders how he's feeling. Is he entertaining thoughts of rescue? Does he now feel the aching desperation of hope. Zuko misses that feeling. It was what spurned him on when it seemed as if the world was against him. Without it Zuko feels broken. Lost.

He looks away as Sokka begins to pick himself off the floor. The younger boy groans at the effort but manages to pick himself off the cold ground. Zuko can hear him approach the gruel but does not bother to turn his head. He curls his lip in disgust as he hears Sokka savagely ingest their daily meal.

"I suppose you're not going to eat this either?"

Zuko looks round in surprise. It is the first time in days since Sokka has addressed him, the only time the Water Tribe boy has addressed him civilly. Zuko eyes the grey sludge being passed off as food for a second before looking away. He stopped eating days ago. He no longer sees the point. A darker part of him hopes that his hunger strike will prevent his execution, that he'll had gone before they get the chance. A last act of defiance.

He can hear Sokka resume eating and assumes the other boy is eating his share, rather than turning to verify the fact. He frowns at the indignity of having to share a cell with such an undesirable. Sokka is foul and barbaric, with nothing approaching manners. It would be like Azula to force him to spend his last days with such a person.

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Azula often comes to taunt Zuko. Only now, weeks before his death does he take his mother's old advice and ignore her acid tongue. At first Azula continued to goad him but she quickly learned she could no longer get a rise out of her brother. Instead she turned her attention to Sokka, telling him stories designed to hurt Zuko. She tells the Southerner of the tricks she used to play on 'Zuzu'. Always she refers to him as Zuzu. (Sokka mostly ignores her too, his hatred for the princess overcoming his hatred for her condemned brother.) And so Azula tells the stories that she knows cut Zuko the deepest. She tells of how their mother abandoned him, disappeared in the night, leaving her favourite boy all alone. She laughs as she informs Sokka of Zuko's failure as a firebender, of how he always tried to best her but never came close. She retells the story of when their father sent her on the mission to retrieve Zuko and Iroh, repeating over and over words like 'traitor' and 'failure'.

Today it appears she's in the mood to recount the story of Zuko's banishment. She has taken up her usual position in front of Zuko, but as usual she is addressing Sokka. "Do you know how dear, little Zuzu got his hideous scar?" She grins, he eyes darting to Zuko. Her grin widens when she detects the tension in his shoulders and the slight shake of his hands.

Sokka ignores her but this doesn't discourage Azula. This is how it always goes. "He tried to save some poor soldiers. Zuzu didn't like the idea of them being used as bait, did you Zuzu?" Her voice is sickly and mocking. "Stood up to the generals and everything." Zuko hears Sokka shift on the cot and assumes Azula has finally got his attention. She laughs, and Zuko bites his lips, knowing how much Azula will enjoy this story. "Foolish Zuzu doesn't understand politics, he's not very bright. Do you know how we solve such matters in the Fire Nation, peasant?" She pauses for a minute but Sokka does not respond.

Zuko jumps in fright as a spark of blue lightning illuminates the room. He snaps his head in Sokka's direction and finds the other boy shaking on the floor.

Azula is glaring in his direction. "I asked you a question."

She points her fingers at Sokka again but the boy gasps "No!"

Zuko is not sure if that is a protest or his answer but it seems Azula is simply satisfied to have received a response.

"An Agni Kai." She smiles wickedly in Zuko's direction before he looks away. "A Fire Duel. Zuko had to duel our father and what did he do?" She laughs, it's mocking tones echoing around the cell. "He got down on his knees and begged for forgiveness." Zuko closes his eyes to her wicked voice. "He cried and begged... like the worthless coward that he is." Zuko can imagine the snarl on her lips. Azula snorts. Zuko can hear the click clack of her heals as she walks away.

Zuko sits perfectly still for what seems like hours. He can hear Sokka's deep breathing but the other boy does not seem to move. Eventually Zuko looks around. Sokka is watching him intently.

"What the fuck are you looking at?" Zuko's voice is harsh and grainy from lack of use.

Sokka does not say anything. He sighs before he turns his back on Zuko, climbing onto the cot and apparently going to sleep.

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I think this story is going to end up as a series of short interludes rather than long chapters (like most of my fics). I don't know why that is. It will all be in the present tense, which is not how I normally write but for some reason it feels right for this story.

As always reviews are really appreciated! And I adore constructive criticism.
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