Fic Title: Crossbones and Destiny
Rating/Warning(s): R / incest, sex
Genre: Drama, Alternate Universe
Why This Must Be Read: This author does such a great job with Zuko, and I loved the way she showed how ever-changing his feelings towards Azula are. Their relationship was always going to be complex with neither one of them ever completely trusting the other. I've alwsys been intrigued by Zuko and Azula; if this pairing was ever going to happen I'd imagine it would look something like this.
He doesn't try to sneak up on her, so he isn't surprised when she twists up into a sitting position as he kneels on the bed beside her, sheets indenting towards him. She looks tired, and he isn't sure who curls around whom, but in a few moments they're tucked up in each other and he feels old, like he doesn't want to move until his bones have dried and shriveled up here, with hers.
"Father hates both of us," she says, flat and dry as if she was commenting about the potato crisps from dinner. "I am as embarrassing to him as you are."
"Why? Did you make the mistake of caring about the fate of your peers?" he asks wryly.
"No. I made the mistake of not caring about a opportunity to further the Fire Nation," she replies. "One day, I'm the prodigal daughter of the greatest Fire Lord in a century, and the next, it's, 'Oh, go take care of the Avatar, Azula.'"
He stiffens. "Your original mission was to find the Avatar?"
A smirk flits across her lips. "That was my only mission. I just took over the Earth Kingdom because I could. You think Father would be proud of that, but the way he's acting, you think I ruined some grand scheme. And by acting, I mean by not doing anything at all."
"Your original mission was to find the Avatar?"
She shifts her head back on the pillow so she can focus on him, as if just now realizing how he might interpret that. "Of course not. It was to find you and Uncle and stop you from further slandering the Fire Nation's name. What a great job I did."
He pushes himself up onto his elbow and watches her face as her brows furrow with anger, and a year ago he would have immediately leapt on the opportunity to mock her, but now he thinks he understands and it scares him. He's been there, down that dead end and finding nothing but more reasons to hate his father and for his father to hate him. And it's really lonely.
Catching him staring at her, Azula's lips quirk again, and she reaches up, touching the tips of her nails to the puffy flesh of his scar, and then the pads of her fingers, and then her entire hand, cradling his cheek.
He kisses her then, slow and without expectation, and he isn't sure when they crossed this line. How does one describe it? How is it possible to identify the point where a sister stops being someone you have to put up with day after day and starts being someone you want to and are prepared to spend the rest of your life with? What does he lack that everyone else has that keeps them from making that leap, from merciless teasing to kissing in the alcove behind the War Council room with a bunch of dusty scrolls? What makes her kiss him back, to go from wary and ready to attack to needy and clutching?
It's just another question to add to the dozens he doesn't think will ever be answered. What happened to my mother? Why did Uncle vouch for me? Who will become the next Lord or Lady of the Fire Nation if Azula and I are truly banished? What makes my sister lie to me and use me and then trust me with her body and soul?
Later, when she's almost completely asleep, he leans over and whispers in her ear, "We could start our own country."