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May 3rd, 2009
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Title: Turning Point
Author: Dark Puck
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Pairing/character: Ichiro (OC), Hyo (OC) Azula, Iroh, Zuko
Rating: PG-13
Prompt: Thorn from Verve Challenge's Runes - Elder Futhark table.
Notes/Warnings: AU (Firelord Ozai adopts the Yujiro siblings), OC-centric

A rune of negative change, contemplation and conflict.

Ichiro would later lambaste himself for not paying close enough attention while Uncle tried to convince Zuko now was the time to choose 'good', whatever the hell that meant. He would have to talk to Uncle about using ambiguous terms with Zuko Thickskull. He had just started to pace when there was a loud crashing, and green crystals shot up around him and Uncle.

Only Zuko was left free, and Ichiro was in a bad position, with his face to Uncle and his back to whoever had ambushed them. That position got even worse when he heard his sister's voice.

"I expected this kind of treachery from Uncle and Ichiro," Azula said as Ichiro tried to crane his head around to see her, "but Zuko - Prince Zuko - you're a lot of things, but you're not a traitor. Are you?"

"Release them immediately!" snapped Zuko, seemingly not listening. At least he seems to remember that free-for-all where she hurt Uncle, Ichiro thought. One of the Dai Li agents moved around to keep Ichiro in his line of sight, and the prince only barely kept his eyes from widening. Qin!

If one of the four Captains was with Azula, then... He dropped his gaze down in time to see Qin make one of Liu's hand signals. So Azula controls the Dai Li. Shit.

Oops, Azula was still talking.

"It's not too late for you, Zuko," the princess said. "You can still redeem yourself." That drew Zuko's attention, and Uncle's too.

"The kind of redemption she offers is not for you!"

"Why don't you let him decide, Uncle?" Azula asked, sounding annoyed. "I need you, Zuko."

Oh, she's planning something, Ichiro thought. Keeping her in sight was hurting his neck and his eyes.

"I've plotted every move of this day, this glorious day in Fire Nation history, and the only way we win is together."

Ichiro growled and pulled on the crystals holding him in place. Zuko wasn't arguing with her, which was a very bad sign.

"At the end of this day," Azula went on, "you will have your honour back. You will have Father's love, instead of his little doll."

Ichiro bared his teeth. "Don't go getting your jealousy at Yui all over Zuko!" he snarled.

Azula ignored him, remaining focused on Zuko. "You will have everything you want."

"Zuko," Uncle said quietly now. "I am begging you. Look into your heart and see what it is that you truly want."

"You're free to choose." Azula made a gesture - also one of Liu's, Ichiro was partly amused to note - and Qin and his partner cleared out as the princess walked by, though she paused briefly to smirk at Ichiro before making her way after Katara and the Avatar.

"Zuko," Ichiro said, hoping to counter the poison Azula had dripped in his brother's ear, but Zuko didn't reply for several long moments. Finally, he removed his outer robes and darted off after his sister.

"It isn't just Azula who is jealous of Yui," Uncle said as Ichiro started fighting against the green crystal holding him. This made Ichiro pause and look over at the old man. "Zuko, too, has felt quite resentful of the attention Ozai showers on his youngest daughter."

"It isn't Yui's fault!" Ichiro snapped, throwing himself against the green crystals. Wait. I've got some give here. Looked like the deal with Hyo was still on.

"I am well aware of that, Prince Ichiro," Uncle replied.

"I hate that title." Ichiro closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, then turned his attention inward, to the fire within himself. You are a child of the Divine Flame, a son of Agni, he told himself, using terms that Zhao's army friend had used. This won't hold you.

Fire rippled over his hands and flowed up his arms, digging into the crystal through the spaces he'd been left. It was hard focusing enough through his anger to keep the fire from consuming him, but Ichiro was earth-stubborn and soon his body was wreathed in blue flame. He drew in a deep breath, and felt the fire draw back against him, so close and tight that his clothes and the hairs on his arms were getting scorched, then let it out with a yell.

The fire lashed out, hot and fast and hard, and the crystal encasing Ichiro exploded. He staggered, for a moment dazed, and then took off down the tunnel after Azula and Zuko. "Ichiro, wait!" Uncle called, but the boy didn't stop.

At least, not until a hand reached out of utter darkness and jerked him aside, tossing him into a room. Stone scraped, and the opening he'd been pulled into closed. Ichiro had managed to keep his feet and now fell back, calling fire to his hand and rearing back to punch—


"You again," he said, moving out of his fighter's stance.

The second-in-command of the Dai Li looked highly stressed, and who could blame him? With Azula's takeover, his job had become a lot harder. "No matter what happens out there, she's going to want you taken prisoner."

"I already told you no!" Ichiro snapped, but Hyo held up a hand.

"Listen to everything I say, whelp." He didn't seem that fond of having to work with a Fire royal. "We can get you out. You've seen the Water boy who talks to the moon."

Oh yes, Ichiro had seen him. And the other Water boy who followed him around with death glares for them who mocked him. "You'll use them?"

"Krisuk and Hahn are very handy to have around, and Krisuk understands the importance of keeping me happy." Ichiro took a step away from Hyo. Sometimes it was easy to forget the man was even Dai Li. Right now, however, it was glaringly obvious. Hyo gave him a grim little smile. "The Dai Li protect Ba Sing Se by any means necessary. Even if it means temporarily giving into the whims of spoiled Fire spawn." Without warning, he had Ichiro pinned to the wall by the throat, his feet dangling off the ground. "And if you cross me, Prince Ichiro, you won't even know you're dead."

Golden eyes went wide, and Ichiro nodded. Azula wasn't kidding about the killer instinct... Holy shit, he's supposed to be the nice one!

Something exploded outside the room, and Hyo dropped Ichiro and tore open a hole in the wall. Light caught their eyes, and the two of them looked up to see the Avatar rising into the air surrounded by a column of light, his tattoos glowing. "Maybe he'll actually—" Ichiro started, then he noticed a different sort of light and looked down to see his sister finish a lightning charge and fire.

There was complete silence as the Avatar plummeted; everybody was too shocked to move. It was the Water girl, Katara, who collected herself first, drawing water around her and then riding a tidal wave over Zuko and the Dai Li agents. In the midst of that confusion, Ichiro felt Hyo's hand on his back, and then he was shoved out of the small room, the stone slamming closed behind him.

Ichiro whirled to yell at Hyo, stopped when he saw the smooth rock, then turned back to see Zuko and Azula advancing on Katara. Zuko.

Ichiro snarled and ran towards his brother, ignoring the fire from higher up to tackle Zuko to the ground. "Bastard!" he yelled, punching Zuko in the face.

"You've got to get out of here!" Uncle yelled to Katara while Zuko pitched Ichiro off of him. "We'll hold them off as long as we can!" More fire flared while Zuko tried to pin Ichiro, but Ichiro had been trained in hand-to-hand fighting, and he weighed more than his brother. He lost all track of Katara and the Avatar as he and Zuko wrestled on the ground. Ichiro got in several more punches, but Zuko got in a few good licks too.

"Get off!" Zuko shouted, and Azula jabbed a dart of fire at Ichiro. When the other boy deflected it, Zuko punched him in the gut, making Ichiro gag. Then two Dai Li agents were hauling the younger prince off and tossing him aside to be encased in crystal as well.

Zuko looked at Uncle, his eye blackened and his lips split, but Uncle turned away without a word. Then he turned to Ichiro, who spat. "Guess I know what family really means to you now," he growled.

"You are not my family," Zuko snarled back. Those five words struck Ichiro to the core, and he could only gape at his bro-- at Prince Zuko. Their eyes met and held, but it was Ichiro who turned away first.

Current Location: my bed
Current Mood: calm
Current Music: Heart of an Ocean - Gaelic Storm
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