“I’m sorry,” Zuko says to you, so softly that you can barely hear it; softly so no one else can hear. It wouldn’t do to have anyone hear the Fire Lord apologize to a war criminal soon to be executed.
You say nothing in response, but you nod minutely–in acknowledgement, in forgiveness, in permission–before you are led forward in chains and forced to kneel.
For crimes against humanity; that’s what you are charged with. It’s certainly what you are guilty of, for all that they didn’t seem human at the time. The Fire Nation soldiers you killed, that is.
It was war and you were a child just trying to survive, you could argue. You never harmed civilians, you could say. And you would be telling the truth.
But it doesn’t excuse the way you crept into the homes and slit the throats of over a hundred Fire Nation soldiers. Killed them in their sleep, in the dark of the night, and left their corpses for their families to find.
Accessions must be made for peace. It does not matter that you are friends with the Fire Lord, with the Avatar; Zuko’s rule is tenuous, Aang’s authority non existant in the Fire Nation. In order for Azula and Ozai to be executed, in order to secure the throne in Zuko’s name, an Earth Kingdom criminal must be dealt the same punishment.
You know this, because you were the one to suggest it.
You are six the last time you see your sister, ZhuEn. She is fifteen and father has proclaimed her a skilled enough bounty hunter to begin working on her own. She leaves on the back of her shirshu, off to make a name for herself, and you dream of one day being just like her. It was a bittersweet time–happier, lighter, but the last moment of such contentment.
You are seven when Fire Nation soldiers kill your father for refusing to take a hunt. You are seven when you see him burn and you flee, more from his agonized screams than the towering armored figures. You never really forgive yourself for that.
You live for years, just wandering from forest to forest; occasional stops in towns, wreaking what damage to the Fire Nation army you can by way of murder and theft.
You try to convince yourself you are a hero, but you have always been more of a coward than a liar. There is no point in hiding the truth from yourself.
You are fourteen when you happen upon the Freedom Fighters, the group of refugee children playing at guerrilla warriors. You are not quite the same as them, but you see something in Jet’s eyes–a reflection of someone you could have been–and maybe he sees something in you, too, because he lets you stay.
Perhaps lets is the wrong word, because in a matter of months you find yourself clashing with Jet more and more often. About ideology and implementations–you are a blade where he is a bludgeon. The Freedom Fighters grow, but it also begins to split between you and him, and you are so close to just taking your faction and leaving when–
You are fifteen when you meet the Avatar.
A/N: An SI!OC Avatar the Last Airbender fic that won’t leave me alone. Not sure why it’s in second person, but okay… The original idea was that this would be my SI!OC’s fourth reincarnation (after our world, katekyo hitman reborn, naruto, and something else) which is why I’m tagging it with Tetsuki Kaiza. But I think I’m just going to scrap that idea… though the title won’t make much sense without the name Tetsuki…