ironwill, firenation tetsuki/azula, 21) things you said when we were on top of the world

Iron Will, 21) things you said when we were on top of the world

“Green suits you,” Azula says from behind her, voice as diverting as ever. Tetsuki doesn’t tense up, though with anyone else she would–hating the idea of anyone else putting her in such a vulnerable position. With Azula physical location means nothing.

And plus, her houndsnake continues to lounge lazily across her shoulders: he would not be so relaxed with just anyone. She’s travelled with the Freedom Fighters for months and he still growls when they draw too near.

Tetsuki turns around to face her princess, “It suits you far less,” she responds, smile immediately curling on her mouth at the sight of the Fire Nation princess in overly traditional Earth Kingdom garb.

“Yes, well, needs must.” Azula sniffs, adjusting the headdress she took from the Kiyoshi warriors, “Terribly impractical, honestly, but it’s not as if I expected any better.”

“It seems effective enough,” Tetsuki nods, gesturing at their surroundings. If she had to be honest, she’d admit that she much preferred the throne room in Ba Sing Se than the Fire Lord’s–though she had only been there once. Something about the solidity of the stone, as if this palace were as old as the mountains itself.

Too bad the same could not be said of its monarchy.

“Was your ticket to entry as impractical as mine?” Azula asks, though surely she must already know.

“I wouldn’t say impractical so much as annoying.” Jet–and the Freedom Fighters through him–have been useful in many ways, especially in capturing Zuko without expending too much effort on her part, but managing his ego to guide him has been tedious.

She’ll be glad to be rid of the both of them.

“You’ve done adequately with the resources available,” Azula says and Tetsuki blinks at her, surprised. That… was a compliment, perhaps?

“You seems to be in a good mood,” she remarks, hesitantly, not wanting to spoil it but unable to ignore it. Tetsuki always wants Azula to be happy.

Fortunately, Azula’s satisfaction is not so easily soured, “Why wouldn’t I be? My idiot brother has been handled, the Dai Li is mine, this city is mine, and soon enough the Avatar will fall. Our victory is assured.”

“Our victory?” Tetsuki reflexively repeats, internally scolding herself. Azula is always careful with word choice, to question her is to doubt her.

Instead of answering her, Azula meets her eyes and reaches a hand out. Tetsuki can feel a twitch run down her arm, an attempt to reach back swiftly aborted. Tetsuki’s houndsnake sniffs at Azula’s hand, tongue flicking against her fingers in greeting. Those fingers can wield lightning, can form flames so hot they run blue; it seems neither Tetsuki nor her houndsnake are afraid.

Finally, Azula says, “I knew it would be a good match.”


A/N: Not quite on top of the world, but definitely “before things started going to shit”–for Azula, that is. Mostly, though, I’m not sure how much impact Tetsuki would have in the world. Like… maybe Ozai still loses, but surely Tetsuki wouldn’t let Azula fail as in canon?

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would u ever write fire nation tetsukis interaction with zuko? or maybe the gaang? im so intrested in this verse

It’s a fun ‘verse isn’t it, anon? I think I like it better than the “original flavor” 😛

So let’s see… for the first, I’m gonna say yes–and give you a ficlet in a bit–because FN!Tetsuki meeting Zuko has a sort of drama that is entirely different from original Iron Will. But the second I’m going to say… hm… maybe…

It’s partially no mostly because the first meeting Tetsuki would have with the Gaang, regardless of FN version or original version, would be as part of the Freedom Fighters, so not much difference there. And then every subsequent meeting after that–as far as the Gaang are concerned–she’s just one more Fire Nation girl who is trying to kill them. Not much difference than what their brief interactions with Mai and Ty Lee are, then.

But it’s also partially yes because… well… FN!Tetsuki really is a lot more fun than the original flavor Iron Will and so if I ever properly write Iron Will I may just go the FN!Tetsuki route completely. Like with (En)Closure, a lot of the ficlets on here are me throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, and the fact that Tetsuki being Azula’s bodyguard is so compelling is, frankly, sticking really well.

So maybe on the Gaang, which for all intents and purposes of this ask box event means no. But maybe one day I’ll get to writing Iron Will in a coherent, consistent manner. (HAHAHAHAHA, uh, my poor series, what have they done to deserve me as a writer)

Anyway, here’s that FN!Tetsuki meets Zuko ficlet:

The first time you come to court is as Azula’s–friend, follower, servant, plaything, you’re not sure, you don’t much care–you try not to gawk at the sheer opulence like the absolute hoyden you are.

Your origins were humble, for all that your bloodline says otherwise, your early years were spent in forest camps and rough villages with barely enough people to be considered such. Your father worked best on the frontier, amongst people who would never know or care about what kings and lords got up to so long as they could take care of their basic needs.

In another life, you might have been much the same.

But even going from that to your grandparents’ holdings–their mansion only one in comparison  to the utterly tiny buildings in the town around it–is nothing like the adjustments required here.

“You’re making a scene,” Mai sighs, informing but uncaring. Hypocrite. Her family is better off than yours, but they’re nouveau riche–the court is an entirely different sort of splendor than she’s used to as well.

“Who needs ceilings that high?” You respond rather than feel chastened. You’re not the one making a scene, you are insignificant in the trail of Azula as it should be. “How do people even get up there? The servants must, there would be cobwebs otherwise.”

“Who cares what the servants do?” Mai says, a droll sort of thing meant to shame you once more. She is not Azula, her words have no bite.

Ty Lee giggles, “Maybe they stack on top of each other to reach the ceilings.”

You consider the thought, smile at the image, “I doubt it,” you disagree, but temper it with flattery, “I don’t think any servants are as skilled as you are.”

“Obviously,” Mai says–less in agreement to the compliment and more out of disparaging those inferior–but it still makes Ty Lee grin brightly.

“Quiet,” Azula says, not even turning around to address you to your faces. It gets the job done anyway. “I don’t have to remind you to be on your best behavior, do I?”

It is threat more than question, but plausibly deniable permission on top of that.

Then Azula turns around, a small, sideways smile on her lips. “Let’s show the court exactly what we learned at the Academy.”

Nothing catches on fire–both surprising and not in a hall full of benders–but Ty Lee does manage to get up to the ceiling by way of hanging banners and three tactless young officers end up with stab wounds.

Only one of them was your fault.

Bizarrely enough, you meet the Dragon of the West before the Fire Nation prince. Or perhaps it is not so odd given the way the boy avoids his younger sister.

It is incidental when you meet him, the Dragon of the West, the would-have-been Fire Lord were it not for his lost son.

You wonder, briefly, what it must be like to have a father who would ruin himself at losing you. But, of course, you would have no idea where to begin.

It is as you are wandering the halls–not lost, merely… exploring–that you happen upon each other.

“Your eyes,” says the Dragon of the West, surprised, and you look away quickly, flushing, self-conscious. Your eyes are grey and green and nothing at all like flames.

“Please excuse me, your highness,” you murmur before scuttling away.

You get even more lost before a maid happens upon you and is kind enough to guide you back. As befitting your borrowed status, she does not look you in the eyes.

You will never know this, but it was not the color of your eyes that surprised the Dragon of the West but rather their age.

He would have said they were old eyes in a young face.

He would have been right.

The first time you meet Zuko it is from two steps behind Azula as is your place. He barely even notices you–which internally you sneer as a lack of situational awareness, but you know has more to do with the way he practically flinches away from his younger sister.

This? This is supposed to be the future Fire Lord?


Unfortunately, it’s not so much about him as a person as it is him as a symbol–there is no argument that Azula is the better heir, more talented, more compelling, the kind of leader that would bring greatness to the nation. But there will still be traditionalists and opportunists who prefer him over her. Those who cling foolishly to birth order and sex, those who would rather have an easily manipulated Fire Lord.

His mere existence is a threat to Azula’s reign.

The second time you meet Zuko, you actually exchange words.

In plain clothes and a houndsnake coiled loosely around your shoulders, you look nothing like a royal attendant.

He recognizes you anyway, if belatedly, apparently not so unobservant as you thought.

“Fire Nation Prince Zuko,” you say to the Freedom Fighters, most of them too thrilled at capturing their prey to pay any attention to his face or yours.

“Let me go,” he says. He struggles with the ropes. Futilely tries to burn them away.

“I wouldn’t bother,” you say, “they’re enforced with wire. You’d only end up burning yourself.”

Jet laughs at the irony and, after a beat, so do the others. He takes over at this point, as is his wont. He still thinks he’s in charge. It’s useful, so she’ll let him. “Listen up, Fire Nation scum,” he starts on his spiel, “we are the children of those you killed, those you oppressed. We’re what happens when–”

“Did Azula put you up to this?” Zuko asks, interrupting Jet, and if there is anything bitter in his tone, resigned and expectant, then it is too mild for you to hear.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you say, because why would you ever give up your cover at his behest, “I’m just an Earth Kingdom orphan trying to strike back against Fire Nation tyranny.”

In another life, you wouldn’t be lying at all.


A/N: Check out the Ask Box Would You Ever!

Trailblazers (2017-12-24)

Their romance is nothing like a fairy tale–too steeped in the violence of their work–but it’s real and true and everything Tetsuki wants.

She marries a good man, solid and stable, who makes her feel like she can be a good woman, too, if she just wills it.

Every kiss from Tetsuya makes her feel like the heroine of her very own story.

She loves Komadori, but not the way he hopes for–still, he is dear to her, and her to him, and it is difficult to be vulnerable in a world of war.

She reaches out, accepting his touch, and lets the intimacy speak for her.

He is a good man; it’s unfortunate Tetsuki isn’t the right woman.

Their’s is a lost connection, a hypothetical disaster in the making.

Azula would as soon kiss her as she would gouge her eyes out–they would surely destroy each other.

Maybe, in another life, Tetsuki would even let her try.

Love is soft and sweet again, no longer the clawing desperate creature, thread-like bonds gentle yet firm:

Tetsuki doesn’t need to say how important Maya is when her actions have already done so, words have never been how she communicates with Hiei, and it’s mostly a joke when she threatens to shave off the fox’s hair.

Tetsuki gets used to poison kisses, everything growing green around her; she’s lightheaded from giddiness as much as the toxins, luxuriating in the sensation.

Or maybe it’s the sound of machinery, oil streaked across her skin; or the view of the stars from outside the atmosphere, breathless but not suffocating.

Now she’s a heroine in more than just feeling.


A/N: Or, some quick three sentence fic about Tetsuki being in love?

Check out the Ask Box Advent Calendar!

Iron Will (2017-08-17)

A/N: More of that Fire Nation!Tetsuki AU

Perhaps, if it was just the three of them, it wouldn’t have worked. Azula’s abrasiveness and Mai’s negativity and Ty Lee’s desperate, failing attempts to hold them together dissolving with every passing snide and dark remark.

But you are there.

And you are not quite sure what you bring to the group, what missing component it is that you intrinsically have and contribute that makes it work so beautifully, but it does.

And instead of just drifting apart, only coming together when the Fire Lord sends Azula on her mission, bonds long frayed and ready to snap, leaving is deliberate. Is a choice. Is just the first step in a plan to make sure that when the time comes, the four of you will be stronger than ever.


For a while, you serve in the court as Azula’s attendant. Which seems like basically a glorified servant, but which your grandparents are ecstatic about–what an honor, they exclaim, their halfbreed heiress getting so close to royalty.

It works, for a while. You learn some things: what games are played amongst high society, political dealings and tangled schemes, and the power of below the stairs rumors, the lifeblood of the court.

But it’s not enough.

“I’ll become useless to you,” you say to Azula one night, after you’ve reported the most important secrets to her. You’ve seen her use even the most innocuous misconduct to bust a would be captain down to helmsman.

Your reports help, but they’re not vital.

“As useless as a pampered, pedigree catowl,” you finish, because this has been on your mind for a while and better to admit it now while you still have the self-awareness to do so than to have it thrown in your face months later.

“I’ve never know you to be a coward,” Azula responds, pausing mid brush and staring down your reflection, “If you want to leave me, you can just say so.”

I’m not leaving you, you don’t say. I could never leave you, you definitely don’t say.

“You don’t need me here,” you say, instead, because that is safer, “But one day you will and I need to know that I won’t be the anchor dragging you down when that happens.”

One month, she demands, doesn’t ask, and you are both relieved and disappointed; still, you take the time you are given and prepare.

Azula’s enemies are not here. Or, at least, not any that are a real threat to her, they’re out traveling the the world.

You need to do the same.


Zuko was always going to be a problem.

You knew this even before you noticed Mai’s persistent crush on him, the blatant way the Dragon of the West preferred him over Azula.

Before the Agni Kai.

“He’s incompetent,” Azula scoffs, dismissing the notion, “and soft.”

And normally that would be enough to convince you, but this is for Azula and for her, you are tenacious.

“It doesn’t matter that he’s not as skilled or smart or even if he wanted to be a tea server in Ba Sing Se! He is still the firstborn, and male at that, there will always be members of the court who would rather see him succeed your father than you.”

There are still whispers of discontent, after all, thinking Iroh ought to be restored to his rightful place over Ozai.

You will not have the same happen to Azula.


When you leave, Azula gifts you with a houndsnake. Its black and green diamond patterned fur is beautiful, of course, but you appreciate its sharp fangs and paralytic venom sacs far more.

And the way that, after a curious sniff and lick, it coils around your shoulders placid and ready to strike anyone who comes too close.

There’s one unfortunate cretin who will be spending the next week in the hospital for daring to assault the attendant of the princess–never mind that it’s her last day.

Houndsnakes are not native to the Fire Nation archipelago, nor are they a common creature in pet stores.

They are loyal and dangerous and not at all useless.

It is the nicest compliment Azula has ever given you.

man, that one with tetsuki and azula made me so excited?? like, now i’m wondering what would have happened if azula got to her first? what about a bodyguard!tetsuki? these two strong, brilliant women, and they see each other’s worth, askjfsblhdbfsg need me more of that

So I know this is meant more as a review to this previous ask box author’s cut than another prompt, but I liked the idea so much and, in a way, it does kind of involve an unwritten headcanon for Iron Will that I’ve yet to reveal so… thanks, anon, and also please enjoy?


The only difference between what you will and might have become is this:

When you are six years old, your maternal uncle dies. Your grandparents–who had disowned your mother for running off with a lowly, uncouth Earth Kingdom bounty hunter–are now without an heir.

Your father will not give up ZhuEn–she is near to completing her training and would not suffer going anyway–whereas you are six years old and the reason why your mother is no longer alive.

The choice is obvious because it is not yours to make.


It becomes apparent very early on that your grandparents don’t really want you. They’re just making do. But even a second born mongrel of an heiress is better than their line ending.

They are desperate and have a reputation to maintain, and so they send you off to the Royal Fire Academy for Girls in hopes the matrons will make something of you.

You’re certainly made into something, but not by the matrons.


You hate school.

You only just started training with your father before he sent you away, but you miss the lessons–how to hide in the trees, rig traps and ambushes, and where to stab a person so it’ll hurt but not maim.

At the Royal Fire Academy for Girls you are taught useless things, like how to eat a meal in a ladylike manner and play musical instruments and the names of long dead Fire Nation nobles.

You smuggle a pair of knives into your uniform and memorize the matrons’ patrol of the dorm at night. During lessons you daydream about escaping, but you don’t actually plan on following through:

You’re sure your grandparents would disown you–heiress be damned–and your father has made it clear there is no place for you.

Still, just in case.


You don’t look like your father–whose image is fading quickly from your memories–but you have an Earth Kingdom look about you, grey eyes nearly green.

“Like pond scum,” the princess says with a falsely sweet smile on her face.

One not entirely useless thing you’ve learned at the academy: words can be as sharp as blades.

“Your nose is cute,” you say–and you can practically see the interest fade from the princess’ eyes. Everyone compliments her, wants to befriend royalty–“like a baby boarcupine’s.”

Even the young of that particular species can only be generously considered hideous.

Anger and interest flare. You smile back.


After that, your status at the school shoots skyward like a firework.

Your parentage doesn’t matter anymore, neither does the fact that you’re heiress to only a minor house–you are part of the Fire Princess’ cohort.

Even the matrons begin to treat you better, no longer smacking your hands to make you pay attention. Now you are allowed to daydream in peace, but you no longer need to: you’ve found your place.

Or, rather, your place has been found for you.


A/N: I have a few ideas for some future scenes in this AU, but this was the core of the idea; this is kinda how that bodyguard!Tetsuki would come about.

Check out the Ask Box Author’s Cut event!

Iron Will, for sure. I’d like to know what Azula thought of Tetsuki – she’s probably the one few kids as willing to kill as her.

Ooh… okay. See, the thing is, I know Azula and Tetsuki meet at least once (before the “epilogue arc” of politics, imprisonments, and executions.) But I haven’t yet figured out when exactly or how often so this is not firmly canon for Iron Will.

However, because you brought it up, I do quite like the idea of Azula and Tetsuki meeting frequently enough for them to form not entirely negative opinions of each other.

Thanks for the prompt, generic-name-goes-here, I hope you like it! ( ˘ ³˘)♥


You shake off the hypnotism.

No, it doesn’t even touch you, like water against a turtle duck’s shell.

The Dai Li are caught off guard.

They’ve taken your friends and they’ve taken your knives–you’re desperate and have nothing to lose. Teeth and nails; unerring, vicious accuracy and a frenetic, unpredictable rhythm.

For a single, optimistic second you think you might be able to win.

But you are underground and they are earth benders.

(Your tactics are designed to be used against Fire Nation soldiers, in the comfortable setting of forests, not caves.)

They bring you to the Fire Princess, force you to kneel, blood still dripping down your chin. You bare your teeth, streaked with red, and refuse to speak.

“What a waste,” she says with a surprising amount of sincerity, as if honestly bemoaning the fact that this near feral teenager won’t pledge fealty to her.

She’s about a decade too late for that.


Frankly, you’re not on the same level as the others.

Your struggles were smaller scale–single towns and individual murders–nothing so far reaching as royalty or the balance of nations. The fate of this world does not rest on your shoulders.

And yet, that’s why you get involved: it shouldn’t have to rest on any one person’s shoulders.

You’ve never killed a king before, but you’re more than ready to step up if the Avatar can’t do it.

Instead, on the day of black sun, you find yourself facing the Fire Princess once more.

Jet’s hook swords are still a little clumsy in your hands, a mediocre showing of his signature weapons, but you think he wouldn’t mind too much when you’re trying to kill Fire Nation scum with them.

“Didn’t I kill you?” the Fire Princess asks, ducking under a swing, almost conversational.

Getting struck by lightning isn’t exactly on your list of experiences to repeat–the most painful thing your body has been through, like your blood boiling from the inside–but you didn’t die from it.

(Actually–not that you’ll ever tell anyone–you were able to walk away after a few minutes, not a single burn or scar to show for it.)

“That little zap?” you sneer back, and you think it must be the swords’ influence because you were never one for repartee like this, “You’ll have to try harder than that.”

Weirdly enough, the Fire Princess smiles.


You don’t see her again until After, when she is but a shadow of her former self.

There is no life for her here–or anywhere, really. Compassion’s not really your thing, but you never believed in drawing out a death.

“I can make it quick. Clean and quiet,” you offer, unnerved at yourself. Not about the actual offer, but the recipient.

The guards have no idea what you are talking about.

Her head tilts. A spark of something showing through her eyes, “Make it loud. Make it bright. Make it messy.”

Despite the restraints, she is commanding, she is regal. You wonder what your life would be like if you had met her much earlier.

“I want to go out with a bang.”


A/N: I only now realize how this could be interpreted as Tetsuki x Azula. I mean, that’s not what I intended, but if you want to see it that way feel free to do so?

Check out the Ask Box Author’s Cut event!