Sorry for the late update guys. My grandpa's in the hospital at the moment. He's doing fine though.

Azula woke up lying face up on her bed. Her head ached with a dull phantom pain. Her lips parted to call out for…she couldn’t remember, didn’t know whom.

Her vision was much too cloudy.

She tried to sit herself upright, sending a small ripple of pain over her body. She shuddered and her muscles seemed to give out sending her falling back to the pillow—basking in its softness. She had missed her own bed…her own pillow. How did she get there?

She felt a hand on her shoulder. “You awake?”

“More または less.” She murmured. “How long have I…”

“Just two days.” Zuko answered.

She gave him the best slap she could muster up. “This is all your fault あなた know?”

“I figured as much.” Zuko replied.

Neither spoke for a good while. When Azula grew certain that the conversation would not resume she let herself fall back asleep—basking in the warmth of her blankets and the silky mattress cover. She’d try to leave her ベッド tomorrow.

Tomorrow had come faster than Azula had hoped.

Ignoring the pain as best she could, she forced herself out of bed. Her body was sluggish and for once, miles behind her mind. Her head was pounding…again. Of course it was, lately her head always seemed to be in some sort of agony または another.

Her body shivered despite her demands for it to stop, as she pulled herself along. She was without a doubt tired. She was hungry, and thirsty, and dirty. She wanted nothing もっと見る than a bath. A long one. A hot one. It’d probably take three Scrubs~恋のお騒がせ病棟 over to cleanse the grim that had been building up on her skin.

Azula rubbed her eyes hopping to ebb away the sleep and the blur. It half worked. She would try to fix up her hair…that would at least be a start. She could already hear Zuko scolding her for pushing herself too hard. But that didn’t change the facts—she didn’t want to look a mess, she wanted to tidy herself up.

Azula was now standing before the mirror. She knew she probably looked a wreck…awful in fact, but she hadn’t anticipated that it would be this disastrous.

Her hair was 塔の上のラプンツェル practically beyond salvation, it didn’t help that it was much longer than when she had last seen it. As suspected, Azula was covered from head to toe in ash, dirt, blood, and whatever else a person could dirty him または herself with.

Her dry skin was much too pale, sickly so…or at least she assumed so, she couldn’t quite tell through the dust covering her skin.

Her eyes looked so tired—as exhausted as her body felt—so vacant. Swollen and puffy. She bought her hand to her left eye, fingers barely grazing it before flitching away at the stinging sensation. Her lips weren’t in a much better state, chapped and cracking. Her cheeks bruised and swollen from every パンチ she had sustained. Her temples burned and scarred によって her ‘new treatment’.

Azula felt weak and dizzy. This face, it wasn’t truly her own.

Tarring her eyes away from the wreck that was her face, she scanned her small, food-deprived body. Hell, she’d seen homeless peasants who looked less thin and starved than she. Evidently her body was just as bad as her face, if not worse. Beneath that dusty cover she could make out the tell-tale train track stitching. It webbed all over her midsection and down her sides. Where the stitches had not reached she was marred with もっと見る bruises and knots.

によって which time Azula’s reflection revealed that she was trembling again. This time with both anger and…something else. Something she didn’t welcome. But the emotion was there no less.

Of course she hadn’t really gotten to the worst part yet. Like Hiru, particularly around the stitching, her body swelled and bulged in odd places. 発言しました bulges were horribly discolored and seemed to be weeping the concoction the were born from.

It took her much longer than it should have to realize that the reason she was able to observe all of this in the first place was because Zuko—and everyone else—couldn’t be bothered to cloth her. Azula could have killed them all right then and there.

But instead, her stomach lurched, she felt her body sway…almost losing her footing.

She was so damaged. Physically and mentally spent. She was overtaken によって rage and sadness…by shock and betrayal. She had never felt so ugly and disgusting. She used to be so beautiful, a startling and stunning presence. What was she now?

The answer was obvious. She was a monster, truly a monster—inside and out. And so it was that Azula let herself collapse in a heap on the ground, sobbing bitterly. Her nails digging into her scalp as she fought to gain any semblance of control…maintain any last scrap of dignity.

Azula dragged herself back to her bed, with no intention of actually leaving it again anytime soon. She tried to think of something…anything positive. The only thing that seemed to come to mind was Tang-Shin and dumping his own creation into his lacerated stomach. Part of her hoped he was still alive to endure what she was now.

“Azula, are あなた alright?” A new sort of fury awakened within Azula, as Zuko entered the room.

He sat down on the ベッド 次 to her.

Mistake.

Azula shoved him away with a series of punches and slaps. “You did this! This is your fault!” She hadn’t realized she was screaming. Screaming and repeating ‘this is your fault.’ Zuko didn’t seem fazed, perhaps her muscles didn’t put forth as much strength as they used to. She slammed her fists down on him three もっと見る times—each less heartfelt than the one prior—and then collapsed into his arms with gasping cries.

She felt his hand on her back. He was holding her tightly, but with care to avoid irritating the tender spots on her body.

He wrapped the blanket back around her quivering form as she continued to weep silently. Her hands clutched his シャツ with もっと見る strength then she really actually had at the moment. “I sent the servants to prepare あなた a bath and a meal.”

“That’s not going to make it any better.” Azula managed between teary breaths. “You sent me there to make me pay for...” her voice cracked.

Zuko’s eyes grew rather wide. “I didn’t Azula. I didn’t know that they would…I didn’t realize they would do that to you. That whole island, they wanted the crown and they…”

“I know.” Azula whispered.

“About the crown, または that I didn’t want あなた to hurt you?”

“Both.” She replied softly and flopped out of his arms and back into her laying position.

“I’m going to fix this Azula.” He promised.

“You can’t.” Her voice was muffled によって the pillow.

“They’re…” She motioned to each and every mutilated part of her body, “they’re like your scars. あなた can’t fix this.”

Zuko squeezed her shoulder. “I’m going to try.”

“And I’m going to be stuck like this forever.” Her crying picked up again. “…A monster inside and out.”

Zuko squeezed her hand. “That’s not true.” He could feel the silence falling again, well silence aside from Azula’s soft, breathy cries. This time instead of leaving he sat there quietly rubbing circles on her back—that had always made him feel better when his mother did it to him.

After a while, Zuko decided that Azula must have worn herself out as she was no longer weeping into the pillow. At this point she was kind of just lying there staring at the wall, a tear still clinging to the corner of her eye. He watched her breathe in and out, her shaking finally subsiding.

“Kirah knows how to reverse the operation.” Zuko pointed out. “She can start on that tomorrow.”

Azula nodded.

“But it has some side effects…fever and temporary paralysis.”

She nodded again.

“Your bath should be ready now. Your real meds are on the counter, によって the sink.” He helped her to her feet. She was still clutching the blanket, tugging it as tightly to her body as she possibly could as he led her down the hallway. Halfway to the bathroom she mentioned that she wanted to bathe alone…without the servants to pamper her. Zuko suspected that it had もっと見る to do with her not wanting them to see the sloppy stitch work than it did her wanting to give them a break.

He dismissed them anyhow. “If あなた need something, I’ll be waiting out here.” He took a シート, 座席 によって the door.

“If I need anything, あなた can get me one of the servants.” Apparently Azula still had some fight in her…and she was using it to tell him that, despite her current state, she still had some dignity and that she, therefore, still wasn’t into incest.

With that she closed the door behind her and let her blanket glide to the floor at her ankles.

The bathwater was a temperature between hot and warm. It was pretty soothing she had to admit as she lowered herself beneath the surface. A friendly steam lifted off of the water and into the air, fogging up the mirror.

Azula wasn’t unhappy about this, she didn’t exactly desire to see herself at the moment.

She let simply just sat there for a while, soaking in the feeling of clean water against her skin. After a 分 または so passed she set to work on actually cleaning herself. She scrubbed at her arm until she could see the pale skin beneath the grime…and then some, until the spot grew red. She repeated this for every inch of her body—aside from the cut and stitched places.

And then Azula moved onto her hair scrubbing it down the best she could…until it felt clean.

The water was so tainted and murky she decided it was best to drain and refill the bathtub. She did so and repeated the process until the water remained clear. It was quite a wonderful, refreshing feeling. Her body almost felt lighter without its blood and dirt coverage.

Draining the bath once more, Azula stood and dried herself and downed her medications. She took a deep breath and draped the silk ローブ Zuko had left for her, over her shoulders. She smelled clean, she missed smelling clean. It was a floral scent, Azula couldn’t quite remember what kind of soap she had used, she kind of just picked one.

She still couldn’t bring herself to stand before the mirror again. She was never good at doing her own hair anyhow. So she walked out of the bathroom.

Azula nudged Zuko’s sleeping form with her foot. “Some guard あなた are.”

The man shook himself awake. “If あなた didn’t take so long…”

He knew it was coming before she 発言しました it; “If あなた hadn’t sent me there…” He couldn’t really argue, she was right.

“Dinner is ready…or it should be.”

“Bring it to my room.” Azula turned in 発言しました direction.

“Aren’t あなた going to come down stairs? Ty-Lee heard あなた were back and she…”

Azula hugged her arms to her chest. It was bad enough that Zuko got to see her in this state. But Ty-Lee? Mai? She quickened her pace and slinked into her room. She slid once again back into bed, this time clinging to one of her pillows.

Not even ten 分 later Zuko approached her room with some kind of steaming スープ and a glass of even steamier tea. Not far behind him was Ty-Lee, carrying some other side dish. Azula rolled on her side facing away from the cheery acrobat.

The girl flopped down 次 to her. “Why are あなた mad at me?”

Azula heard Zuko shuffle away, probably so he wouldn’t get an earful for bringing the girl with him.

“I’m not.”

“Then why won’t あなた look at me?” Ty-Lee pouted.

“I don’t want to.”

“Come on, please.” Azula still couldn’t’ see Ty-Lee’s face but she knew the girl was making those ridiculous 子犬 eyes. She cartwheeled over to Azula’s other side. The princess tossed the covers over her head.

“That’s no fair!” Ty-Lee hollered and tugged at the blanket. “I haven’t see あなた in so long.”

Azula slid her hand out from under the blanket. “There, you’ve seen my hand, あなた can go back によって Zuko now.”

“If あなた come out from under there I can feed あなた your…”

“I can feed myself!” Azula snapped, her mind drifting to the chilling scrape of metal on her teeth...the jab of the fork against her teeth. Needless to say her words came out もっと見る aggressively then they needed to.

“I was just trying to help.” Ty-Lee muttered.

Azula hugged the 枕 closer to her. “I know.”
The girl tugged the blanket off of Azula’s face. The princess didn’t open her eyes. She didn’t want to see whatever expression was on Ty-Lee’s face. She felt the girl’s fingers glide over one of the most swollen bruises. “What did they do to you?” Her 質問 was vocalized at a volume just above a whisper.

Azula squeezed her eyes shut harder.

“That looks like it hurts…” Ty-Lee frowned, her eyebrows furrowed in concern. “Is this why あなた won’t come downstairs?”

Azula sighed and nodded affirmatively. She reached for the spoon on her nightstand.

“It’s hot.” Ty-Lee cautioned as she handed Azula the bowl of soup.

The acrobat watched Azula bring the spoon to her mouth, it was done with all the grace and elegance Ty-Lee remembered of the princess. “You’re really pretty.”

Azula 発言しました nothing, looking just as downcast as before.

“I mean it, あなた are.”

Her nod of disagreement was done ever so slightly, Ty-Lee almost hadn’t caught it. She waited until Azula was finished with her スープ before taking her into a comforting embrace. “Yes あなた are.” Ty-Lee insisted, running her thumb over Azula’s hand. “You just need some rest and…” she skipped over to Azula’s dresser and snatched up the hair brush, “…this.”

Azula let the circus girl mess around with her hair (braiding it, ponytailing it, even pigtailing it) until she was satisfied—the girl settled on just leaving it lose and tossed over Azula’s right shoulder. It was definitely much longer than she was used to.

Azula bought herself to mutter a thank あなた as Ty-Lee flounced around the room trying to recall exactly where she had taken the comb from.

She sat back down on the bed. “Zuko tells me that you’re going to get some kind of surgery tomorrow?”

“To fix these, yes.” Azula opened her ローブ enough to let the acrobat see one of the many brownish-yellow bulges on her stomach.

Ty-Lee cringed. “That really looks…”

Gross. Azula filled in, in her head. Sick.

“Painful.” Ty-Lee finished.

Azula shrugged, her unease slowly fading away. Apparently Ty-Lee wasn’t going to pass judgments afterall. “I guess I’m sort of used to it.” She winced—truth be told she was only fine when she wasn’t thinking about it; that crawling feeling never truly had left. She covered herself up again. “I suppose I’m just ready to get it taken care of.”

“I’m glad you’re okay.” Ty-Lee added as she handed Azula her お茶, 紅茶 and side dish…some sort of meat.

“Yeah.” Azula replied and took a sip of her tea. “More または less.” She never really thought that feeding herself would be such a luxury. Nor that well-cooked would be a thing to appreciate.

“I’ll run this downstairs for you.” Ty-Lee offered when Azula finished. She took the plate and the bowl from her hands. “You still drinking that?”

“Yes.” Azula tapped her fingers on the teacup’s 磁器 surface.

“I’ll be right back.” Ty-Lee bounced off the bed.

Azula lowered her head back to the pillow. She was asleep before Ty-Lee came back. Even in sleep she couldn’t seem to escape that place. She found herself once again strapped to the cold, unforgiving, metal operating table. Zhu-Ling and Tang-Shin looming over her, their faces were distorted and nasty. His scalpel jabbed into her eye.

She bolted up right, beads of nervous sweat forming along her hairline. She was breathing heavily, ハート, 心 thudding.

She felt a hand a 上, ページのトップへ hers. She jumped back before registering that it was only Ty-Lee. The girl had decided to keep her company. Azula let the girl lower her back down.

They had something of a conversation. Azula remembered bits and pieces through her sleepy haze. She remembered laughing. In the morning, Ty-Lee’s recollection of that moment was even foggier then hers. The acrobat thought she had dreamed up the entire conversation.

Azula only remembered telling Ty-Lee of her nightmare and then Ty-Lee making some stupid pun about Tang-Shin.

She had awoken before Ty-Lee, the girl was sprawled out on the floor.

Azula was feeling quite better…well-rested at the very least. She yawned and stretched her arms before getting out of ベッド and instinctually going over to her dresser and mirror. Azula found herself cringing and biting her lip upon looking up.

Truth be told, looking at her reflection wasn’t a total mistake. Azula looked a great deal better; some of that puffiness had left her eyes. They still bore the lines of sleep deprivation but they weren’t so vacant, they had their spark back. Her face was still very much bruised but the swelling and gone down and they were starting to fade…starting.

Azula decided to dab some lipstick on and ran a brush through her sleep tousled hair.

“Hey!” Ty-Lee hollered. “You didn’t tell me あなた were awake…I wanted to do your hair again.” She mumbled.

“You nervous about the operation?”

“No.” Azula replied. “Not at all really.” Compared to everything else Tang-Shin had put her through, this would be nothing. At least they were trying to help her, at least she’d be asleep または at the very least numbed for this procedure.

Azula took the cup of お茶, 紅茶 from her bedside, reheated it, took a シート, 座席 on the edge of her bed, and finished what was left of the liquid inside.

Zuko stepped into the room. “You feeling any better? Ty-Lee didn’t bother あなた too much did she?”

“Hey!!” Ty-Lee exclaimed for the 秒 time in under fifteen minutes.

“I suppose. I’ll be doing much better once this operation is over and done with. And Ty-Lee…” Azula glanced at the girl who was now balancing on her hands. “…She was a joy.”

Zuko offered her a smile. “Good to hear. Kirah is ready whenever あなた are.”

Azula stood. “I’ll get dressed.”

“You don’t have to, Kirah will be preforming the reverse-operation here...in the palace.” He added quickly. “Not your room.”

“I could have figured that one out dum-dum.”

“It’s good to have あなた back.” Zuko led her down the hall, Ty-Lee prancing a little ways behind.

“Swell to see あなた again, and under better circumstances.” Kirah motioned Azula to a bed. “This is actually a fairly simple fix, as the infection hadn’t had a chance to spread. All I’m going to have to do is open up the stitches and the bulges and from there, drain the roachant extract. I’ll also have to cleanse the infected areas as well—that’s what Lily is here for, she’s a friend of mine, a waterbender.” She pointed to a brown haired girl.

Azula positioned herself on the bed.

“If all goes well, you’ll be back to your normal self in about a week.”

“That’s too long.” Azula murmured.

“You ready?” Kirah asked.

“Yes.”

Kirah held a little small leaf under Azula’s nose. These asylum workers…former asylum workers were just full of herbal surprises. Azula began to nod off. It wasn’t a painful blackout like the other times, it was quick and easy, a foreign calm creeping over her as she slipped out.

Azula awoke in her bed, Ty-Lee’s hand over hers, Zuko and Mai across the room looking in her direction. She tried to push herself upright, her arms found no strength at all. And then she remembered the paralysis. So she lie there staring up at the ceiling. This was going to be a long week. “I don’t like this.” Azula declared. “I want to sit up.”


“Morning, Azula!” Ty-Lee chirped. “The reverse-operation went really well.” She helped Azula into a sitting position, leaning against her bedpost. She held out Azula’s arm so that she could see Kirah’s work. The girl did a pretty good job; aside from a crescent shaped scar, any sign of the roachant bulges vanished.

She was also rather delighted to no longer feel the insects crawling beneath her skin. The thought bought a sort of tingling sensation to her arm. One that she couldn’t scratch. A whole week like this…Azula didn’t know how much patience she had to deal with it. “I don’t suppose you’re going to be my care taker?” Azula asked.

Ty-Lee’s dopey grin doubled in size. “For the whole week!” She hopped off of the bed. “Which means I’ll get to comb your hair every day!” She fetched 発言しました instrument and flounced back onto the bed.

Azula glanced over at Zuko.

He nodded. “Mai and I will be here as well.”

“We’re gonna have a great time!” Ty-Lee threw her arms around Azula.

“Maybe あなた will.” Azula grumbled. The acrobat was lucky Azula couldn’t shove her off. “Ty-Lee…get off of me.”

Ty-Lee put on her little pout again. “Don’t want too.”

And so the girl would cling to Azula for as long as she pleased—a snickering Zuko didn’t 表示する any signs of pulling Azula out of Ty-Lee’s embrace…nor did Mai, who busied herself with examining her nails.

“I hope あなた three have some ideas as to how you’re going to entertain me.”

“Have あなた heard about what happened in those three days あなた were getting that operation?” Zuko asked.

“Exactly how long do あなた think あなた can drag the story out?” Azula asked.

“Not very long.” He shrugged. “But it’ll use up a few minutes.”

“Well…go on the.” Azula prompted.

He pondered how to begin. “Some time after Tang-Shin took あなた in for the operation, Kirah told me what had happened. Once I found out that Tang-Shin planned on turning あなた into a weapon of some kind I decided I wasn’t going to try to negotiate with the Akuzan anymore…Akuzan—when I showed him proof that Tang was treating あなた poorly, admitted that he knew the whole time and he was using you…”

“You are horrible at telling stories.” Azula interrupted. “For the record Tang-Shin already told me that I was leverage.”

“Alright…skipping that.” Zuko mumbled. “After Kirah had told me Tang-Shin was already operating on あなた I may または may not have ロスト my temper. So I sent fleets of ships to the island with orders to just set everything and anything on fire.”

Azula sniggered. “You would.”

“So would you!” He shot back.

“Well…yes.” Azula admitted. “But I would send in the war balloons too. Make a grand entrance.”

Zuko rolled his eyes. “Anyways, they had some allies in the Earth Kingdom. I informed these allies that emperor Akuzan was not 芝居 in their best interests, that he in fact, was trying to put our father…I mean our as in mine and yours, not mine and the Earth Kingdom’s father…”

“Really bad at telling stories.” Azula whispered to Ty-Lee. The girl giggled.

Zuko cleared his throat and continued. “…That he was trying to put our father back in power. I tried to convince them to fight alongside us—the 火災, 火 Nation military and I. But they claimed that they no longer wanted any involvement. I didn’t have time to argue with them so instead I sent another fleet of ships to block any attempts to escape the island. It was a pretty quick and easy fight really. I had Kirah lead an army…”

“Kirah led an army?” Azula laughed.

“Sort of.” Zuko answered. “I told them to listen to her. Apparently they did, because they followed her into the institution and got あなた out. Speaking of which…Kirah told me あなた murdered Tang-Shin with his own roachants?”

If Azula could have shrugged, she would have. “He deserved it” she stated nonchalantly. “Zhu-Ling did too, but I didn’t get to her.”

“Yes, she was one of the people who tried to escape. Her ボート sunk pretty fast. Anyhow, I don’t believe there’s much left of Sun Dragon Island. In fact I don’t think there is anything left of it.”

“Nothing at all?” Azula asked.

“A giant floating rock maybe.”

The four of them shared a laugh…just like old times.

.o0o.

Azula closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

She had to do this.

She had to go back there at least once.

Since returning ホーム from that Agni forsaken island, not one night had passed where she hadn’t dreamed of being caught with in the bowels that place. The nightmares ranged anywhere from a dream-relived experience of something that had actually happened, to a distorted…hellish version of all the hallways, filled with vial creatures. Other times she would be one of the vial creatures, または もっと見る likely, she’d see herself after a completed operation…like Hiru.

With the nightmares came a certain paranoia that Tang-Shin had somehow survived.

There was a night when she had almost overdosed in an attempt to get the paranoia to subside.

That was when Zuko finally caved. He promised her that when she could walk again, he’d take her to Sun Dragon Island.

He seemed to dread the 日 もっと見る than she.


Zuko had waited an extra day, to make sure she’d be alright. After looking his sister over he decided that today was as good a 日 as any; she no longer looked tired または sickly thin, for the most part she was back to the girl he knew. Aside from that one particularly nasty bruise, there was really no sign of what she had gone through.

Azula stepped off the boat, using Zuko’s hand for support—her balance was still quite off, her movement sloppy from a long lack of use. But her thoughts were clear and determined.

Aang stood behind them, filtering the air of any harmful impurities, Azula wasn’t keen on the アバター seeing her in such a tense and uneasy state.

She stepped over pile of charred wood—beneath it, what may have once been a human being.

The place reeked of death and smoke. Of burned flesh and something else…something rotten. The ground, hot beneath her feet, was a mess of ash and blackness. Nothing was alive.

Nothing.

She looked at the hollow and broken skeleton of her old prison. Smoke still billowed off of it as if it had just been set aflame.

With a certain fury she thrust a ball of 火災, 火 into the haunting structure.

It toppled with a groan.

Azula closed her eyes.

It was over now.

All that remained were the crescent shaped scars.