Dark Puck - Separation VI [My FF.net Account] [Ongoing Fic Post] [Wingless Archangel Studios]
January 13th, 2010
06:10 pm
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Separation VI
Title: Separation
Rating: PG-13 for language
Genre: Crossover fusion
Fandoms: Avatar: The Last Airbender and His Dark Materials
Timeline: Season One, immediately following 1x09, The Waterbending Scroll
Summary: Returning to his ship after the fiasco with the pirates, Prince Zuko stumbles across the body of a boy in the river. Quickly it is determined that the boy is alive, but that something is terribly wrong...
Warning: Inspired in part by avocado_love's Inner Nature but completely different from her story, I promise you. Original characters, who will be familiar faces for those of you who've kept up with my other works. Some foul language.

I | II | III | IV | V


It was past midnight, but Zuko was not yet ready to make camp. His fury sustained him, kept him going beyond Kouji's limits. They'd taken a komodo rhino to make the travel easier on the boy. Kouji was mounted in front of him — though he'd fallen asleep some hours earlier and was now leaning back against the exiled prince. Fortunately, his sleep was uninterrupted by the nightmares that had plagued him since Zuko had first saved him. He couldn't really blame Kouji — not after what had happened to him.

White-hot fury overcame Zuko again, and he gripped the reins so hard that his fingers hurt. To scar a child in an Agni Kai was one thing. Zuko had accepted the challenge from an adult, and had the training and the ability to face him. For an adult to attack a child who lacked the capacity and facilities to do the same was another thing.

Zuko's father had intended to teach his son a lesson.

Kouji's father had intended to kill him.

And now Zuko intended to teach Kouji's father a lesson.

After that… Zuko wasn't sure. The ship of a banished prince was no place for a child, but…

Irie swooped down from overhead to land lightly on the komodo-rhino's skull. Lashing her tail from side to side, she said, "We can't keep him, Zuko."

He shot her a molten glare. "I know that," he snapped.

"You want to."

"…shut up."

Irie sniffed and fluffed her striped feathers. The argument wasn't over, only delayed, and both of them knew it. The annoyed firebender let a small puff of flame escape his mouth, taking care not to scorch his small charge.

In hindsight, this was not one of the brighter things the prince had ever done.

Zuko felt the impact against his arm a split-second before he flew off the komodo-rhino, dragging Kouji with him. Without thinking, Zuko pulled the boy tight against his body, turning in the air so that he would be between Kouji and the unforgiving ground. The double impact of his back against the earth and of Kouji against his chest drove the breath from his lungs. Zuko rolled, getting Kouji underneath his body just in time to take another hard impact against his back.

By now he was awake; Zuko could see the boy's grey eyes, wide in fear, staring up into his. "Stay down!" the prince ordered him tersely. He got to his feet and turned just in time to spot another boulder coming for him; this was handled with a spin-kick. Now he could see their assailants, a quartet of earth kingdom soldiers. They were keeping their distance, which meant they thought their earthbending would be enough to handle Zuko.


And then he heard Kouji cry out; he turned in time to see the child be sunk into the ground to his waist. His fury spiked, and he turned back to the earthbenders with a snarl on his lips. "Let him go!"

"Surrender and come quietly," one of them replied, sounding smug.


The earthbender shrugged, and Kouji yelled — but his cry was ragged, as if something was hindering his breathing. "It's up to you, of course," the spokesman added.

"You…," the fire prince growled helplessly. Hadn't the boy been through enough already? If he fought back, that bastard would crush Kouji!

Irie screamed and dived, aiming straight for the dæmons of the other men; and Zuko heard another, more forceful yell from Kouji. Something behind him exploded, and then a boulder flew past the prince's head and struck one of the earthbenders.

"What the hell!?" yelped another of them, and he planted his feet far apart, drawing a number of small rocks from the ground and firing all of them off at Zuko, too many for the prince to avoid. Before he could brace himself, the earth in front of his feet bucked, and thrust itself high to form a wall.

Startled, Zuko turned back to see Kouji in a firebending stance, his face contorted with rage and his eyes determined. But there was no fire, and Kouji wasn't trapped anymore…

And everything clicked into place for the prince of the Fire Nation. But now was not the time to deal with this knowledge. They weren't safe yet. Zuko darted around the wall, calling fire to his hands and loosing it at their attackers in one huge flare.

The men scattered, and Kouji was waiting. He threw himself into a midair flip, landing hard in a crouch that shook the earth and dislodged a fairly big stone. The boy rose with his hands before him, clenched into fists, and then opened his hands quickly; the boulder shattered into pebbles in response. The wave of rocks moved with him as he raised his arms over his head, then pulled them down to his chest and pushed out, sending a hail of small, hard-to-avoid stones straight for the other earthbenders.

That's a firebending move! The thought drifted through Zuko's head as he closed with the only earthbender out of range of Kouji's assault and let out a stream of fire. Unfortunately, the man lowered his head, using his hat to deflect the blast — and bringing him in range for Zuko to kick him in the face.

One down.

Zuko turned to see that Kouji, not surprisingly, wasn't doing very well. After his single assault, the boy was hard-pressed to defend himself against the other three earthbenders; the prince noticed that he was panting with the exertion. Without hesitating, Zuko approached from the side, simply tackling one of the men and cracking him one across the face. Two down.

"So, you Fire royals need children to defend you now?" taunted the spokesman for their enemies; angry, Zuko opened his mouth, but Kouji spoke first.

"The Fire Nation teaches their children to fight!" the boy cried hotly.

The spokesman — probably the captain, Zuko decided — laughed scornfully at Kouji's declaration and demanded "And what would you know of fighting, traitor brat?"

Kouji flushed, angered more by the 'brat' than the 'traitor'. "Don't think you know everything about me!"

"I know everything I need to," the captain replied hotly. It was his companion, keeping an eye on the dæmon fight, who realised what was off.

"Captain!" he said urgently. "The kid — he's got no dæmon!"

This brought the man up short, and he gave Kouji a piercing once-over that turned to disgust. "Of course. Only a freak would side with them." He turned to the other man. "Lieutenant, we might as well put the thing out of its misery." Furious, Zuko moved in to attack, but the boy screamed, his cry overflowing with anger, sorrow, and pain. It was an unearthly sound, and for a moment the prince thought he heard an answering call.

The ground began to buck and pitch, throwing all but Kouji down. Quickly Irie left her battle with the earthbenders' dæmons and flew back. "He's lost control!" she cried as Zuko tried to get to his feet. The earthbenders were wisely trying to flee, but the ground was shaking too hard for them to balance themselves and ride it out.

Everyone from the four nations — three, now — had heard tales of benders who lost control of themselves and their element. None of those stories ended happily for the benders, or for anyone around them. For an instant, Zuko considered running, but all it took was a glance at the child to make him decide that abandoning Kouji was not an option.

He turned back and began to fight his way to the boy.

"No, Zuko!" cried Irie, her eyes wide in panic. She flew down to try and chase him off, but he resolutely ignored her, forcing his way forward. In turn, his dæmon let out a frustrated noise that was half snarl, half scream. "You'll get us killed!"

"I will not abandon him!" Zuko snapped, his golden eyes blazing. Irie let out that scream/snarl again, then flew down and dug her claws into the armour on Zuko's shoulder, trying to help him keep his balance as he moved closer to the epicentre of the quake.

A fleeting thought passed through Zuko's head: What would happen if the Avatar lost control like this? Then he was in arm's reach. Without hesitating, the prince reached out and drew Kouji to him, hugging him tight. The ground lurched, but Zuko grimly rode it out, holding on to the child. He wanted to say something comforting, but he didn't really know how to.

Irie, however, seemed to pick up on it, and settled down again, finally landing on his shoulder rather than holding on and trying to drag him around. She leaned forward and rubbed her face against Kouji's, causing Zuko to stagger with the shock. He didn't chastise her, though. They needed everything to rescue the boy from himself, and if that meant breaking a taboo, so be it.

There, in Zuko's arms, Kouji slowly began to calm. The first sign was the quake calming around them, for which Zuko was vastly relieved — and profoundly disturbed to note that the earthbenders were nowhere to be seen. The second sign was Kouji's arms coming up to wrap around his waist. The earth finally settled completely, and the boy let out a choked sob.

Awkwardly, Zuko stroked the boy's hair, vaguely remembering similar gestures from when his mother had calmed him as a child. "It'll be okay," he said softly. "You said she was alive. You'd know better than anyone else."

Kouji had no words in reply. He just clung desperately to Zuko and sobbed until, mercifully, he fell asleep. Very gently, the banished prince lifted the boy in his arms and began trekking after the rhino. Irie flew overhead, occasionally circling him. When at last they found the beast, the tigershag dæmon settled down on one of its horns while Zuko loaded Kouji aboard.

"Forget prison," she told Zuko harshly. "Let's just kill the bastard."

Zuko nodded agreement and set off once more.

Current Location: my bed
Current Mood: confused
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