iron will, firenation au, things you said too quietly

Iron Will, Fire Nation!Tetsuki AU, 3) things you said too quietly

June waits until the moon is high in the sky, night gone nearly silent, only the crackling and popping of their fire and Tetsuki’s soft, childish snores sounding through their camp. Father isn’t staring into the fire–he would never be so foolish as to ruin his night vision like that–but he’s definitely keeping his gaze away from her younger sister’s sleeping form.

June waits before she brings up the matter of the letter, “You can’t really mean to give her to them, do you?” she asks, more challenge than anything else. June is older enough than Tetsuki that she remembers Mother, remembers the way her face would go pinched and unhappy whenever she spoke of her parents. As far as June knows, her maternal grandparents are awful people. Tetsuki knows even less.

Tetsuki doesn’t even know where they’re going.

Father’s mouth thins into a flat line, perhaps remembering Mother’s displeasure at her family, perhaps just irritated at June questioning him, “Would you rather I give them you?” he responds, as much assessing as it is punishing.

If June were volunteering to take Tetsuki’s place, Father would let her, but neither of them want her to: Father reluctant to lose his trained apprentice, June unwilling to lose her freedom. Tetsuki is too young to know any better.

Maybe that’s just an excuse.

June grits her teeth, doesn’t answer, the pause was answer enough. But still she persists, “Why give in at all? We don’t owe them anything. Mother left them for a reason, they disowned her. She hated them!” Her shout rings through their camp, loud and almost repulsive in the night. Both June and Father glance over at Tetsuki, waiting, watching, but she remains asleep.

“They’re still your family,” Father says finally. Unhelpfully, “Your mother didn’t hate them,” he adds nothing else.

June can feel her face heat, and she struggles to keep it–rage or tears–down. “We could just ignore the letter, keep going on as we have. We could stay together,” it sounds more plaintive than she means to, Father won’t respond to this kind of weakness. June needs to be stronger.

Father is silent for long enough that June thinks he’s dismissed the conversation. She rises to ready her bedroll, as near to her little sister as she can stand–Tetsuki is at the age where she kicks in her sleep, never still even unconscious–they only have a few more nights before they arrive at Mother’s ancestral home.

June only has a few more nights with her sister.

“They’ll take care of her,” Father says belatedly.

June wants to bite back–we’ll take care of her–but the tone of his voice makes her hold.

“Your mother and I,” Father starts, and June can’t help but listen intently, “Who needed a home when we had each other? Even on the road, you were raised with love.”

What does this have to do with Tetsuki, June wants to ask, but doesn’t.

Unbidden, Father answers. “They’ll take care of her,” he repeats, still not looking at Tetsuki. Inanely, June thinks the night suddenly feels cold.

“The road alone is not enough for a child.”

~

A/N: The implication being that Tetsuki’s backstory is always sad. But at least June loved her! … but June is still only a child herself at this point 😦

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Landsailor (feat. Glen Phillips) by Vienna Teng

Landsailor
Landsailor, sail on time
Rain or shine, I know you can
Cloudraker
Cloudraker, share your finds
All your wonders at my demand

Lightbringer
Tamer of night
Blossom of hours unleashed
Make me a lawbender
All equalized
Saved from the chill and heat
Your power flows through me transformed
Here’s where I was born

Landsailor
Deepwinter strawberry
Endless summer, ever spring
A vast preserve
Aisle after aisle in reach
Every commoner made a king

Earthbreaker
Noble and prized
Feed me beyond my means
Hello worldmaker
Never denied
Build all my wildest dreams
But there’s a storm outside your door
And I’m a child no more

Headless and faceless
Tireless and seamless behind these walls
This is my progress
When you don’t notice my lines at all
I split the world open
Delve ever deeper in my alchemic arts
I crack the ciphers to free up your mind, your life, your heart

Oh landsailor I’m your landsailor
In the bed that we’ve made in the bed that we’ve made
May every nail be shown may every nail be shown
Great lifebringer great lifebringer
The price that we pay the price that we pay
Time that you made it known time that you made it known
I want to be your bride in full oh be my bride in full
Shield my eyes no more shield your eyes no more
Oh I am altered now for good altered now for good
Shield these eyes no more shield these eyes no more

@to-someplace-else: listen to “Landsailor” by Vienna Teng, A:tLA verse.

~

Hm… this one is difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vienna Teng and this song, but as a prompt this seems kind of… too on the nose. Like. This seems like it would be more suited to a… what’s it called when artists do a soundboard-y kind of music video? Almost like an anime opening sequence but not really? Well, whatever that is called. And then it’s just a matter of assigning different “titles” to each of the Gaang and doing little vignettes on them as related to their little bit of verse.

And while I love sticking Tetsuki into pretty much anything, I don’t think even an abstract of this would work so well for an Iron Will ficlet. Like, she doesn’t know she’s out of place and she’s way too anti-social to be working behind the scenes for the Gaang in the way that this song expresses during bridge. Maybe a different SI!OC–one who knows what’s at stake and is keeping an eye on the Gaang to make sure they succeed?

I’d say this is an Uncle Iroh song, but that seems almost too unbalanced. Is it a Mai who can see the future and knows that her friend will fail–must fail, for the good of the world–but wants to make sure she’s not so utterly destroyed in the process? Is this a Lu Ten lives but must pretend to be dead in order to ensure his father isn’t assassinated by his uncle and the Gaang succeed!AU?

Actually, that last one sounds pretty fun. And, like, can you imagine Lu Ten partnering up with June who is initially annoyed by him and then it turns into reluctantly fond? And how cool would that be in the Iron Will ‘verse, too? An entire B-sides to that series… which would make it the C-sides of the Gaang’s adventures? I dunno.

And while he is also a (self-)exiled Fire Nation prince, Lu Ten’s story would be different. He doesn’t have Iroh to guide him, no ship and navy crew to ferry him where he wants to go. But maybe he’s not entirely alone after the attempted assassination cover up (because headcanon that Ozai had Lu Ten killed and had it covered up because he was in battle and thus plausibly deniable as KIA): 

Maybe one or two of his squad mates also go MIA because even though Lu Ten’s a poncy prince, he’s still their friend. And maybe an enemy earth bender who sees the Fire Nation crown prince and thinks this is a premium opportunity to take him hostage and ransom back except then Lu Ten’s “death” is made official even though “what the hell, there’s no body” and earth bender realizes that Fire Nation internal politics is ~awful~. And then they stumble into June who’s originally on the weirdly well-paying hunt for “unnamed Fire Nation army defectors” and she’s just like, “you’re incompetent and obvious, I guess I’ll stick around because if you’re really the prince then you can pay me more and if you can’t then at least I’ll be on hand to collect the bounty instead of some other hunter.” Do they eventually get a swamp bender? Maybe.

Basically, Lu Ten builds his own crew of outsiders to help fight against FIre Nation tyranny.

 And in the end, even if he does get reunited with his father, he decides not to officially “come back to life” because he enjoys traveling around and having adventures with his friends than staying at home and being Fire Lord. Maybe he and his friends are the first officers of the United Forces?

Sorry, to-someplace-else, I think I’ve managed to turn this beautiful, uplifting song into “Lu Ten and Friends’ Adventures”

(Also, Ask Box Advent Calendar is on!)

‘Bend and Break’ for Iron Will (or other Avatar stuff if you want)

Ooh, Iron Will prompts, yay! Thanks, anon!

Hm, let’s see…

The title you’ve given me is very much opposite of Iron Will. Or, rather, an AU!Iron Will in which Tetsuki’s strength of character… isn’t all that strong?

Which would harken to the Fire Nation!Tetsuki AU, but just saying Bend and Break is the title of the Fire Nation!Tetsuki AU is a hug cop out.

So a specific story within the FN!Tetsuki AU… like… outside POVs of FN!Tetsuki while she’s on her travels.

I have two in mind, but I think for a full fic three or more would be better.

So the first one would be Jet’s POV. Because, like in Iron Will canon, Tetsuki does stumble upon the Freedom Fighters, if a bit later, and with her own agenda in mind.

She’s not one of the “founding members,” but she did learn manipulation in the Fire Nation court at Azula’s side, so when she joins them she gains the same amount of influence fairly easily. She doesn’t tell them not to attack Fire Nation settlements/soldiers–frankly, if they can’t handle themselves against a bunch of unruly Earth Kingdom children, they don’t deserve to be part of Azula’s future empire–but she does whisper in their ears ambitions of grandeur. After all, the Fire Nation can easily wipe away tales of fallen squadrons and failed colonies–the Freedom Fighters won’t make a mark like that.

But if they went after the Fire Nation prince? Well… there’s only one of those… and he HAS been traveling around the world on a fool’s errand. Strike the Fire Nation where they’re most vulnerable, she says, end the monarchy before it can solidify their hold over the entire world.

Jet isn’t immune to the idea.

Instead of like in Iron Will canon, where the Freedom Fighters grow and become unwieldy, in this AU, they slim down, become more ruthless. They’re on the hunt for a Fire Nation prince–they don’t have time for kindness among their members, can’t afford to be weighed down by kids who can’t contribute, can’t fight–and soon they’ve been whittled down to a small group. The core members, as it were. Leaner and more effective, which means far fewer people to be betrayed when the truth of Tetsuki’s heritage comes around (of course Zuko recognizes one of his sister’s friends, even if she is wearing Earth Kingdom colors and surrounded by Earth Kingdom teens)

She’s ruined the Freedom Fighters by giving them exactly what they want…

… but before that would be the other POV I have in mind–and I’m not sure why I didn’t say that first, but the Jet/Freedom Fighter POV just had a very nice dramatic reveal to it that it came to mind first. Specifically, the bounty hunter June, aka ZhuEn, Tetsuki’s older sister.

And unlike in Iron Will canon, in which Tetsuki doesn’t reunite with her sister until the last few episodes of the series (or post canon, even) the two of them meet pretty early on in AU!Tetsuki’s travels… mostly because Tetsuki actively seeks her out in the beginning.

Mostly because, while she did have some bounty hunting and survival lessons from their father before their grandparents took her for their own, she didn’t have nearly enough to be effective. And there’s some emotional drama, maybe, because June is just like: my lost little sister has found her way to me but all she wants is to learn bounty hunting and she doesn’t care at all that our father died but I haven’t seen her in years, etc. etc.

Whereas Tetsuki is like: our father made it perfectly clear how much he valued me when he gave me to our grandparents, so I don’t see why I should care about what happened to him, but I just wanted to see if you’d be willing to teach me, I have some foundation, I can pay you if that’s the problem just consider it a strictly business relationship, after all it’s not like you argued much if at all for father to keep me.

And then it’s like, “I was just a teenager, Tetsuki, what could I have done then?” and Tetsuki’s like, “And I was a child–your sister!–you should have fought for me!”

And, really, I don’t think there’s much in the way of resolving it. Maybe June, knowing this is the closest she will ever get to her sister after everything that’s happened, does agree to take her on as an apprentice for a year–which is how Tetsuki gets her training in the AU–or maybe she doesn’t because that’d hurt more, and so Tetsuki leaves immediately because if June won’t teach her then what’s the point of staying, which June immediately regrets?

I dunno. Emotional drama.

I’m unsure who the other outside POVs of FN!Tetsuki would be, anon, but those two in particular fit the “Bend and Break” title best.

~

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