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01 March 2008 @ 02:59 pm
Self-Reduction  

Title: Self-Reduction
Character: Azula
Fandom: Avatar the Last Airbender
Genre: General, Introspection
Rating: PG
Word Count: 518

Self-Reduction
 
…sick now, sick later…
 
Of love, Azula knew best. Surprised them, the others, always the them there and the them now. But Azula knew best. How to love, take and reject or reciprocate. Or bend it rough, melt it into herself and make holy, wholly her own.
 
Because Azula loved with the best intentions: the sacred love, the hallowed lie.
 
And—
 
She raises her finger, just a bit—a slight, and twirls it against the teacup. Empty and devoid, no tea left. She holds it up against her lips, pretends to sip, feels imaginary warmth and comfort filling her lungs. Pneumonia, the doctors called. Fine, she said. Better that than the other.
 
Consumption.
 
The surest, most fitting way to die.
 
“Mother never loved me, didn’t she? Don’t talk. It’s a no, just shut up will you? Shut up and go away. What’s the point, Zu-Zu? She’s dead, isn’t she? Probably long-gone and buried in two feet, shallow water. Heavy water. Weighed down by her stupidity.”
 
“Shut up,” Zuko said.
 
“Touchy today, aren’t we?”
 
“Shut up, Azula. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Mother’s not dead…she just had to go away for a while.”
 
“Stupid. Just like her. She is dead, and that is final. But look on the bright side: it’s not you. So you shut up. Stupid. Don’t know a thing. Just like her.”
 
-x-
 
In a small village far, far away, far to the south and replete with hunger and dread, Ursa sat down to rest. She slid her aching feet into the stream, counted her calluses and bruises and healing wounds. Bright and clear, her face reflected back. Mirror, Mirror. Who Is The Luckiest Of Them All?
 
Certainly not you, Fallen Queen.
 
And she stood to leave, continue on, to the south, to the sea and beyond (and drown her misery in salt and rot).
 
The next day, the waters flooded over, burying the place where she sat.
 
-x-
 
Now, she’s fourteen, and now, she learned to hate.
 
It came naturally, almost like loving did. Unexpectedly.
 
One slap, that was all. A terse, resounding, smarting brush across the face. And her eyes narrowed into slits. Daggers aimed at her father’s heart.
 
The Other Fool, Azula thought. And knew she was right.
 
-x-
 
There was a present on her bed, rested in wine-spilled rustling silk—large and coruscating, the jewel stared back. Azula leaned in, felt its smooth edges curving under her fingertips.
 
Caged.
 
Fat and white, it laid in her palm, still glittering from the candle’s light.
 
Azula smirked. Apologies from Father.
 
And quick like her newfound hate spreading, the pearl burst into flames. Blue, hot, painful, and white. The lightening seared her skin.
 
The lightening that was the first.
 
-x-
 
Every night, Azula kissed her mother’s portrait (and wondered why Ursa’s grim-painted mouth never smiled).
 
And every night, she turned over her face one section at a time. And one night, there was nothing left. Satisfied, Azula decided Ozai must cry.
 
Edified.
 
Multiplied.
 
Gutted and open (vermiculate), hung upside-tipsy-side toward the sky.
 
Why? —she asked.
 
Because her face was all gone now.