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Zuki Prompt Post
killjoy
lavanyasix
Credit to yukinoomoni for the meme rules:

I need to decompress a little after pumping out my Mini-Bang fic. So it's time for a fanfic meme...

ZUKI (ZUKO/SUKI) FANFIC PROMPT POST

RULES:
* Each person can have one-three prompts. I may only pick one out of three given, or do all three. It depends on how they strike me.
* The prompts can range from one word to a whole situation.
* It has to be Suki/Zuko related. What's the point otherwise? Time, place, or situation is all up to you.
* Pretty much anything goes, but if it doesn't, I'll let you know and you can prompt something else.


This post will have five slots, with 3/5 filled. Each prompt will be written in the comments. Once the post is finished, there will be a complete list of each filled prompt in an upcoming post.

Go nuts. 
MEME CLOSED AT CLOCKWORKCHAOS 
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Ursa flees the Fire Nation with a young Zuko & goes to Kyoshi Island. [1/?]

A/N: Sorry for taking so long. I kept trying to expand this through the big family reunion scene, if you catch my drift, but nothing's working these past few weeks. So this is pretty long but not *quite* a full-length fic.


BIG BRO


Dinner was baked elephant koi, satoimo simmered in fish stock, and roasted apples. Plain fare even by Earth Kingdom standards but if you wanted to feed all of Kyoshi Island on only a few hours notice there was only so much you could do. Still, after coming off a day's work at the docks, Li was glad he didn't have to cook dinner for once.

There was an unexpected fringe benefit to state dinners he'd never thought about.

Next to him at their long table, Aiki sighed longingly. Her bronze eyes were glued to the tattooed boy sitting next to Chief Oyaji at the elevated table.

Li tapped Aiki's plate with his chopsticks, causing the four-year-old to startle. "Eat before your food gets cold."

"S-sorry, Big Bro."

As his little sister started to dig in, Li smiled at the delicate care she used to pluck bits of meat from the baked fish. Her natural instinct with a calligraphy brush was the same way: neat and precise motions. It was an oddly adult display coming from a girl whose cheeks still brimmed with baby fat.

Hopefully she'd never start calling him Li-Li.

His eyes drifted from his sister back up to the honored guests' table. There were two Water Tribe teens sitting beside the Avatar. Li wondered what the story was there. Maybe waterbending teachers; the girl for healing and the glum boy for combat?

They'd come from the South Pole, though. Two masters from a picked over icebox? It didn't settle right in his gut. You had to hide where hunters wouldn't think to prowl.

Aiki didn't speak until she had cleared half her plate. "Big brother?"

"Yes, Ai?"

"Could, um, you ask Suki...?"

Li paused between taking bites. "It's not polite to make demands of the Avatar's time," he said, again feeling momentarily unreal about referring to the Avatar in the present tense.

Aiki wilted. "Oh."

"But I suppose it wouldn't hurt to ask."

His baby sister's excited squeal set his teeth on edge. Bouncing up and down on her bench seat, Aiki wrapped her arms against him for a hug.

What Li didn't add was that he already knew Suki was going to ask them -- or at least him -- to meet the Avatar. Li didn't add that fact for two reasons.

First, because they were in public.

Second, because he hadn't figured out a good way yet to tell his fiancée 'no'.

* * *

Not so far away, a decrepit warship steamed along the Earth Kingdom's coastline. What candlelight warmed Prince Ozai's cabin waxed and waned in brilliance with his breathing. By forcing calmness on himself he could dispassionately turn his mind's eye to the opportunity before him.

The Avatar lived.

An airbender survived.

He was only a boy; unlikely to father more airbenders anytime soon. The fact he was also the Avatar was more pressing. Capturing him would be a great boon, killing less so. Ozai's window of opportunity for either result would be narrow.

The Fire Lord might be an ancient fool, one whose memories of Sozin's obsession with hunting the last airbender displaced the reality of the empire's present glory, but his liver-spotted head still wore the crown headpiece. Once word of the Avatar's return reached the palace, the full military might of the Fire Nation would be focused on the Avatar.

Ozai allowed that, even untrained in the other arts, Omashu and perhaps even the long-silent Northern Water Tribe could use him as rallying point for renewed resistance. Select resources would be needed to find the Avatar beforehand. Better to smother the spark before it spawned an inferno, after all. But his father's overreaction to the Avatar's feeble threat would be the stuff of infamy.

The Fire Nation was already overextending itself across the Earth Kingdom in preparation for the return of Sozin's Comet. Redirecting those already vulnerable forces against an untrained child of an Avatar would be a ghastly waste. Fifteen years of planning on how to best use the comet's power, thrown out for a worldwide manhunt against a minor threat?

But the Fire Lord's word was iron law.

Ursa flees the Fire Nation with a young Zuko & goes to Kyoshi Island. [2/?]

To command such a rapidly redirected force, someone both politically and militarily suitable would be required for overall field command.

Iroh.

Yes. His father would put his brother in charge of the hunt for the Avatar. Anything to rehabilitate the Dragon of the West's public reputation after his shame at Ba Sing Se.

Brutalizing Zhao in that agni kai had bought him a few weeks, or perhaps only days, to find the Avatar first.

Perhaps if he did, the Fire Lord would... if Prince Ozai were to find the Avatar...

("WORTHLESS!")

Hundreds of tiny candle flames trembled and sputtered as one. A frown creased Ozai's brow.

("Failed to kill a clumsy child! Failed to control your wife! Be glad I let you -live- with those failures! Azula will be given to Iroh to raise as his heir. My throne will pass from him to her. You will die with nothing!")

Ozai steeled his breath and forced the toxic memories back down. Calmness broken, he ended his meditation with the same vows he'd made for nearly three years now:

I will find Ursa and kill Zuko.

I will regain my title.

I will become Fire Lord.


Finally, Ozai added a fourth, nearly adopted vow:

And I will capture the Avatar.

* * *

Worshipful of the Avatar as the Kyoshians were, Li expected the celebrations to ran long into the night. Aiki, however, was young. He ended up carrying his drowsy sister her home on his back. After laying her onto the futon they shared, he put a kettle on the stove and waited.

Suki wasn't long.

Even though she was out of uniform, when they kissed there was a faint aroma of paint and dried sweat clinging to her warm skin. There wasn't much else that still stirred heat inside his belly.

"Would you like some tea?" he asked, squeezing her hands gently.

A blush rose up in her cheeks. "Sorry. Busy day tomorrow."

Li nodded towards the kettle.

"Oh! Tea! That'd be great."

His shack's wooden awning windows were already closed against the winter chill. Li still reflexively checked them before he picked up the half-heated kettle, stuck his free hand underneath it and began to bend. In a few moments the kettle was whistling.

He peeked in on Aiki while the tea leaves brewed. His sister hadn't budged. She always slept deeply in winter. Young firebenders didn't take well to cold weather.

Neither he nor his bride-to-be spoke while he set out two worn cups, measuring tea for them both. They both knew how this was going to go. Neither wanted to rush into a fight. Incredibly, they managed to drag out the silence until they were halfway down into their cups.

Suki broke first. "Oyaji wants--"

"I'm no master," he preempted her. It wasn't the truth but it was a truth. "I haven't bent regularly since I was eleven, and back then I stunk. I didn't even start until I was six, Suki. Six!"

Suki probably didn't grasp what that meant. There weren't any native earthbenders on Kyoshi Island. All the benders that worked in their fields were immigrants or seasonal hires. Something ineffable about the artificial island's character seemed to inhibit benders.

Earthbenders, anyway. Despite his mother's hope, firebenders were born here just fine.

His fiancée reached across the table and wrapped her weapon-worn hand around his work-worn one. "When I asked you to marry me, Li, I knew what I was getting into. But things are different now. The Avatar is back."

"He's a child."

She pulled her hand back. "He's the Avatar!"

Ursa flees the Fire Nation with a young Zuko & goes to Kyoshi Island. [3/3]

"You're asking me to teach him! That means he isn't fully realized. Do you -- do you really think he can master firebending before the end of the summer?"

"You could show him the basics. Or help him find a real teacher. You'd know how to move around the colonies. They were your home."

The old lie twisted his guts like it always did. "That's a great idea, because you really want a novice firebender going up against the Fire Lord and his sons!"

* * *

The shouting pulled Aiki out of the mire of sleep. Underneath the heavy blanket, she didn't dare budge from the warm spot she'd made. It was impossible to ignore the loud voices.

Aiki got out of bed. She winced at how the floorboards nipped at her her bare feet. Hugging the blanket tight, she walked over to the door and opened it. Her big brother and Suki were standing with their faces close together, face red and scrunched.

"Why not tell him to get off Kyoshi Island as fast as possible? News about him probably reached Chin before sunset."

Suki yelled back, "We can handle Chin!"

"What about an off-shore bombardment? Or landing parties from an Emperor-class battleship? With those numbers, it doesn't matter how good or honorably your warriors fought."

Aiki shivered, not from the cold.

"The Avatar would protect us!"

"Right," her big brother shot back, "because he did such a great job of THAT for his own people!"

Suki gasped.

Aiki threw open the siding door so hard it nearly jumped its track. "Stop fighting!" The two turned towards her, surprised. "You shouldn't fight!" Hot tears welled up in her eyes. Trembling, Aiki closed her eyes and started counting to ten. Big Bro said to do that every time she felt the fire coming. Aiki still felt bad about burning their old sleeping blanket.

Someone took hold of her shoulders, and even before Aiki opened her eyes she smelled Suki's scent. The older girl's face was pink and flushed. Aiki didn't like the raw look of Suki's face without her Kyoshi Warrior paints; it wasn't her. Big Bro had told Aiki it would be mean to tell her that. "I'm sorry, Aiki. We'll stop fighting. But it's late and you should be in bed."

Dimly, she nodded okay and let them tuck her back in.

There was no more shouting. No talking at all.

* * *

In his dreams, sometimes Li was another person; a boy of idle wealth for whom hunger was just a word. His whole family would be there, even the people whose faces he couldn't remember anymore. It was the only time he ever thought of himself by a different name.

Li was always so tired when he woke up from the past.

Underneath the blanket they shared, his little sister was curled against him for warmth. Her pajamas were blue just like the rest of her clothes. She'd never worn anything red. If he had his way, he'd honor his promise to his mother and see she never did. It was the only way to keep her safe from...

...Father.

He was hunting for them, always hunting. If he found them, he'd be honor-bound to kill him. Li knew what would happen to Aiki then. If he couldn't win his firstborn daughter back from Uncle, Father would use her as a tool. Li had forgotten many things -- the call of turtleducks, the taste of ash bananas -- but he still remembered his history tutors and their warning of the Fire Nation's history of rival heirs warring for their parent's throne, or child royal used as political stooges.

(It occurred to Li just then that his grandfather had held final approval of his curriculum.)

If Father found them, a lot of people would suffer.

If the Avatar didn't get off his home island soon, the Fire Nation would come and might find...

Li shuddered.

Sleep was a long time in coming.




*
*

A/N:And that's where I got writer's blocked.

A line I wanted to use but had no good place for it:




Aiki pouted. "They're always playing after they think I'm asleep. It's not fair!"

Aang tried and failed to imagine the stern Kyoshi Warrior doing anything fun. "What kind of games do they play?"

"Big Bro and Suki wrestle sometimes, but Suki always wins."

Re: Ursa flees the Fire Nation with a young Zuko & goes to Kyoshi Island. [3/3]

...Totally. Worth. The wait.

There are so many aspects of this that just blew me away, and each reveal was perfectly placed...I'm pretty sure I lost my jaw on the floor somewhere. Little sister? Fiancee? Ozai hunting Zuko? Azula given to Iroh?

Just...just wow. I can totally see this continuing with Ozai arriving at the island, and Zuko, Suki & Aiki flee with Aang so both groups can try to protect the others. Zuko being there and revealing his heritage would change things with Jeong Jeong, never mind how firebenders would be received at the North Pole.

And how is Iroh in this fic? Is he still the tea loving spiritualist we all know & love? Or is he more inline with what Azulon would want in an heir? And how has Azula changed since she was adopted at age 8 or 9.

Seriously, this fic is epic levels of holy crap awesome!

Re: Ursa flees the Fire Nation with a young Zuko & goes to Kyoshi Island. [3/3]

And I love how Suki is with Aiki. I'd love to see flashbacks of Suki & Ursa interacting, as well as how Suki learns Zuko can firebend.

Re: Ursa flees the Fire Nation with a young Zuko & goes to Kyoshi Island. [3/3]

Just...just wow. I can totally see this continuing with Ozai arriving at the island, and Zuko, Suki & Aiki flee with Aang so both groups can try to protect the others. Zuko being there and revealing his heritage would change things with Jeong Jeong, never mind how firebenders would be received at the North Pole.

Originally this was going to cover all the events of an alt!episode of "The Warriors of Kyoshi", including Prince Ozai's attack, but it just wasn't working. I wasn't happy with the execution and still can't put my finger on why. That's why I posted what I had.

Thinking far ahead for this AU, I can't see Zuko ever becoming Aang's sifu. He just doesn't have the grounding to teach someone else more than the basics of firebending. Since he's not on par with the likes of... well, every other bender in the main cast... I don't believe he could be trained up by someone else in time to teach Aang before the comet comes.

In my head I think of Iroh as being very much the crown prince. He's a bit more spiritual than his pre-siege self, and he's had a (rocky) substitute parenthood with Azula since Lu Ten's death that's softened him around the edges, but he's still onboard with conquering the Earth Kingdom.

Azula... I dunno. She lost her whole (immediate) family in one night and got shoved into a relationship with an uncle she was openly contemptuous about. I think she'd probably be roughly the same personality as in canon, if maybe a little more stable and generally balanced.

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