let your past guide you.
you were born as the eldest of two. a little prince, precious to your people and once both of your parents. though you can't say with certainty that there was a time your father loved you...that there was a time he might have been proud of you, you tell yourself there must have been. perhaps it had been before your sister was born because once she came into your life, it was clear that your father favored her. firebending came to her so naturally-contrary to popular belief bending isn't something that comes naturally even to those who's families are strongly tied to an element. you were a late bloomer when it came to your firebending skills. you had to struggle, you had to learn how to get up after you fell. sometimes it was embarrassing, especially if you failed in front of your late grandfather who had little patience for failure. you could have given up you suppose, but your fragile pride would not allow for it. each time you failed it helped to fuel the anger deep in your stomach which helped keep your flame burning. your failures also gained you extra help from your uncle. at first you were a little indigent, turning your nose up at it because your uncle always had been a little strange to say the least. he was always laughing, joking and had a strange respect to other benders despite the fact that those of the fire nation have been told they were above it all.
once, all the nations had been unified (or at least living in peace). but your grandfather had been greedy and drunk on power. he attacked the other nations and overtook many of their lands. the avatar was the one person who could stop such a thing because the avatar was a master of all the elements. but he had disappeared when the fire nation attacked the air temples. you're not sure if everyone believed he had died because everyone knew that another avatar would have risen in his place. however, no avatar had risen sense the air nomad who had been just a child. by the time you were born the fire nation had a firm grasp on the nations around them with only a few earth kingdoms who had remained independent. while you could not seem to connect to your father, you were particularly close with your mother. she was a gentle soul and a stark contract to your father. the man had told you directly that while your sister had been born lucky...that you had been lucky to be born. you heart had broken that day and you often wonder why you still longed for his love and acceptance. your uncle had been assigned to bring down the great city of ba sing se which is an earth kingdom protected by a great wall. he laid a seige for six-hundred days, but much like the earth benders themselves; ba sing se remained. your uncle however, had lost his only son. this loss devastated your uncle so much that he came back, having surrendering in the fire nation's name.
your father was outraged by this but you did not realize how deep his outrage went. he called a meeting with your grandfather and had you and your sister perform your skills. your grandfather wasn't that impressed and dismissed you. however, you and azula hid behind the curtains. your father begged to take your uncle's place as the next son in line to take the throne. he had claimed that your uncle was weak that he no longer had heirs to the throne and that he obviously did. your grandfather was obviously furious that your father would even suggest that to betray his own brother when he was in pain. the last thing you know for certain is that your grandfather told your father that his own suffering had yet begun because you ran away to your room. later, azula came in and she seemed positively ecstatic. she told you that your father had been told to kill you so that he too would know what it felt like to loose a child. of course you yelled, telling her that she was just messing with you. your mother heard the commotion and made azula leave the room while you told her what she said. your mother ran her hands through your hair and told you not to worry. you fall asleep with the mantra "azula always lies" on your lips. later you wake groggy...or maybe it was a dream. your mother tells you that everything she did was to protect you. "never forget who you are" she says, kissing your head. you just smile and sink back into your dreams. the next morning you find that your mother is gone and that your grandfather is dead. your father became firelord as his last dying wish. you never see your mother again.
it is just one of many losses you have faced in your life. sometimes you still see her in your dreams. you wonder what she would think of her son now? when you were thirteen years old, you begged your uncle to get you in on the war council. you said that you are practically a man and that it was your right to participate. your uncle finally agrees but only after you swear not to say a word. you agree, not knowing how hard it would be. you wish now that you would have kept your mouth shut. but for some reason you never developed a cold, callused heart; you actually care about your people. and so when the general leading the meeting suggested sacrificing an entire division of men as a means to divert attention you speak up in horror and disgust. how could anyone suggest throwing away so many men like that? of course the general was angry with you and so was your father who has been there as a witness. he tells you that you must participate in an agni kai; an ancient firebender tradition used to resolve conflict. you agree because you think it will be against the general that you offended. what you don't realize that it had actually been your father that you had caused the offense. you don't realize it until you turn to face your opponent in the ring. you are confused and overwhelmed with guilt and humility. you plead with your father, telling him you do not wish to pay. your father claims that this refusal of an agni kai was a sign of cowardliness and that you did not deserve the titles bestowed on you. he says that you disrespected him and that you would learn respect "suffering will be your teacher". a scream was ripped through your throat as an pain like you had never experienced before seers into the left side of your face.
you are banished from the fire nation with your uncle. you are tasked to find the avatar because if he returns...it could mean that the fire nation would loose power. while you knew at the time that this was another slap on the face as no one knew where to even begin to look, you sink your teeth into the task. you'd do anything to restore your honor. to earn a place in your father's black heart. surprisingly enough, you do find the avatar. he was in a small southern water bender's tribe. you are surprised that he hasn't changed from his description of a hundred years ago. he looked like a child about ten years old wearing the traditional arrows of am air bending master. he is the last of his people so there was no doubt that he was the avatar. he is unsurprisingly powerful and maybe he could have won on his own, but he saw that your fire could hurt the tribe that he had obviously befriended. he struck a deal with you to allow himself to be caught in exchange for the lives of the tribe. luckily, you aren't your father. he would have destroyed that village to cause the avatar more pain. you agree and lead him onto your ship. you feel like you finally will be going home, you even celebrate with the crew that has been sailing around with you for two years. you know you can be harsh and closed off and you know that they missed home too. however, it wasn't meant to be. the avatar escapes and you feel yourself sinking into darkness.
you don't let yourself sink further though. this was not the first time you'e fallen and you know it won't be the last. the avatar continually eludes you and it is made more difficult when one of your father's top-ranking generals seems to be interested in capturing the avatar for himself. as the general did have more resources on his side he was able to capture the avatar without seeming to bat an eye. if you hadn't dressed as the blue spirit and saved the avatar yourself, he may have succeeded too. you're pretty sure that's when things first started changing deep inside you. even if it was selfish in some ways because you wanted the avatar for yourself. you even reveal your true identity to him and he extends a hand in friendship. it was laughable really, not only because you didn't save the avatar to save the avatar but because you couldn't imagine why he'd want to be friends after everything you've done. you let him go too, even if you could have taken him without the usual gang to fight by his side. after you get some much needed sleep, you are hot on the trail of team avatar again. through everything...despite everything, you remain loyal to your nation. to your father. it wasn't until your dear sister came to you and your uncle after the battle that had taken place in the northern water kingdom. your father's general had been killed by the water spirit that had possessed the avatar and maybe your father blamed you. you honestly don't know.
your sister tells you that your father had received threats to overthrow him and wanted to surround himself with those close to him...including you. your uncle wasn't too sure about the truth of the matter and you grew angry with him and stormed off. maybe you should have listened to him, your uncle is usually right about these things. despite your uncle's skepticism, he joins you when you meet with azula to board the ship back home. you are filled with hope and she seems almost happy to greet you. but one of the people on the ship says the word "prisoners". you and your uncle escape, but barely. you still remember the feeling of the ground on your hands as you heaved over. you see your own reflection. you aren't sad. you aren't even mad. you feel...empty. without words both of you cut your hair off with daggers and effectively disown the fire nation as it disowned you. you watch your hair wash down the river together and your hopes of ever restoring your honor with it.
let your present inform you.
you don't know how far you and your uncle walked from that river. you suppose it doesn't matter. you stopped to rest, eat, and try to sleep. at some point you come to a fork in the rodevelopment and your uncle gives you a sad smile. he says that it would be best to split up, just to make it harder for anyone to find you both. it makes sense and you aren't really good at goodbyes, but you hug him. no words are needed, but the look in his eyes says that he will one day see you again. the ride seems even longer once you split up, but finally you arrive in a town you've never heard of before. you find a tea shop and are hired as a waiter there, a little tribute to your uncle and hopefully a way for him to find you should he be able to come looking. it's a simple life...one where you aren't on the run or chasing after anyone. there's something growing inside you every day. something you can't name, can't even describe. you are going by the name of lee, even though your scar may betray you. but try as you might you can't just forget who you are. who you were. and yet every day you try to open yourself up just a little more. after all they can't hate someone they don't know right?
let your future mystify you.
sometimes you wonder where you are going to end up after this. will you just be in this tea shop forever? what happens if azula finds you? what happens if the avatar runs into you again? could he still forgive you? would you want him to? what about his friends? sokka and katara have been hurt directly by your family, you're not too sure about toph-a blind earth bender princess they have met recently. you have heard that the avatar has gained mastery over water and earth is his next. he will need a firebending master if he wishes to master all of the elements. "remember who you are", your mother's voice whispers in the back of your mind when you fall asleep. what does that even mean. you are zuko, former crowned prince of the fire nation. on the run from your own sister...your own father. the only person who seems to care about you is your uncle. what else is there to know? who did she expect you to be? you just feel like you have let her down too. look how far you have fallen. it's pathetic.
you have always been someone that prefers quiet, of doing things that don't take other people. reading, training, sitting by the water and reflecting. you aren't shy per say, but you have never been an open book. these days you are especially guarded and have built an invisible wall between yourself and everyone else. you find that being in crowds tires you out emotionally and sometimes mentally too. you don't really say much in mixed company, but maybe that's because your father so brutally shut you up as a child. though it may come across as otherwise, you don't mind other people. you just prefer they leave you alone. but you find that when someone is persistent enough that you find yourself craving their attention. you tell yourself you are fine with just your uncle to talk to. but when someone wants to talk about something you happen to know a lot about...when they seem generally interested, you tend to talk more. often times if you are not angry, you are very considerate with your words. you mull them in your head and often speak slowly as if each were important. truthfully, you prefer to listen over talking much. but sometimes your face keeps people from wanting to talk to you. you lie and say it doesn't bother you.
you are surprisingly a dreamer. you tend to think outside of the box, although this is not to say you don't understand or follow along with persist militant orders. but the fact that you have struggled has forced you to find new ways to try something. you aren't someone that usually repeats himself unless it is shown to work. you are also someone that constantly thinks about his place in the world. what it means to be you. azula used to say that you think way too much...that you're too serious. this is true, you don't honestly laugh very much. you are a very literal person and often times sarcasm eludes you. you are someone that sees the whole picture of things...and can miss the small details and it takes your uncle gently pointing out that you missed something. you have regretted not listening to him in the past...but perhaps your youth or your stubbornness makes you repeat this mistake over and over. you've had to learn to say "you were right, uncle" more times than you can count. he's usually kind enough not to respond with "i told you so."
this might be surprising because you come across brash and insensitive. but that couldn't be further from the truth. the truth is that you care too much. even if your men never liked you, you never would have sacrificed their lives. even if it meant catching the avatar. lately, you have started to wake up to the suffering around you and it hurts. you are driven by your emotions, especially your anger. it doesn't take much to set you off and like a roaring flame, it takes a lot to calm you back down. it drives you, it keeps your inner fire alight. but it also leaves you feeling bitter and alone. you are also stubborn and often times unable to see outside of your own point of view. you have always had so much pride in yourself and what you have accomplished. though it also felt...like it wasn't enough. you crave love from your father, even your sister. you miss your mother terribly. it also is known that your uncle sees you as a son, loves you as if you were his son. and that has meant more than words can possibly explain. you aren't too good with talking about how you feel in any real way. sometimes it's just easier to allow people to think of you as the monster that comes to destroy their families. they don't need to know what it dose to you deep down.
you are one of the most disorganized people you know. while you can follow through with plans once they are made, honestly you work better when something is done at an impulse. you didn't really think through your plan when you saved the avatar from your father's top general. you don't think through any of your plans to try to capture the avatar. you honestly just do it and hope for the best. perhaps it is because aang is so much like air...so unpredictable and thinking on your feet has actually helped you in battles against him. you are however, great at muliti-tasking. maybe that's why you are a master at double-swordsmanship. that requires the ability to focus on more than one thing. your uncle...well it's hard to say. sometimes he seems to go with the flow, and is happy being lazy. but he also is far more dangerous and powerful than people think he is. without his guidance you feel a little more lost as he has been an anchor for you, especially during these past few years. but you have a hope, it's small and quiet but it's there. and it may one day lead you to whoever you are to become.