Pairing/Characters: Firesibs, with cameos by Uncle Iroh and Mai
Theme Set and #: Fire, #3: War
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: I have nothing but shame for the title.
You named him little brother because that's how you saw him – as something small, to be stepped over. In the end, you will fall; you will think he's not the one, he was never the one as he stands over you wearing the adornments of Fire Lord that were meant to be yours.
Family is a battle. You understand this, learned from your father's example and noted his strategic strikes, how he found each weak point and exploited it; the traitor Iroh's beloved Lu Ten, killed in battle (as if that was a mistake); grandfather's need for a pure bloodline and strong successor when Iroh proved himself unable to take up the task. You even observed with care his treatment of his only son, and marveled – to create someone so dependent, so deeply flawed, was truly a thing of beauty.
So you know that family is a battle, if not a full-scale war. What you never expected was this outcome.
As you kneel before your no-longer-little brother, your nails cracked and broken and your hair in shameful disarray, you think a princess surrenders with honor and strategic retreat, and bow lower.
"Fire Lord Zuko – brother - " you entreat. "I - I have made many mistakes - "
"Save it," says Zuko. You dare to look up. Iroh is on his right, Mai on his left, and you can feel an ember-burn of anger in your stomach.
"I can change," you try – it seems to be a popular theme with Iroh, at least.
"I don't think so." Zuko stands, steps forward from the throne, and narrows his eyes. "Do you know what Uncle told me once?"
Probably a meaningless aphorism dressed in a semblance of relevance, you think. You stay silent. You have never been stupid.
"It was after you shot him with lightning," Zuko continues. "After your backhanded attack. He said that you're crazy and need to go down." He raises a hand, and fire sparks around his fingers. "I'm inclined to agree."
Iroh looks away, but the blankness of his face is not one of disagreement. Mai's eyes narrow, but the expression is not one of dissatisfaction.
You always knew family was a war. You just never thought you'd lose.