Zuko gives Zhao his just dessertd
The room is bright and airy, but there is no calm, no life. The fires burn with malice and his stomach recoils. It takes all his control not to retch. Zhao is sneering and he remembers his father’s twisted grimace of disgust. “Your eyes are testament to your failure” Zhao’s voice and his father’s voice echo. Zuko turns his mind to the here and now, and the gong sings. Quickly the young bender pushes his inner energy to his hands, connects to Zhao’s chi, and holds.
Zhao stops in shock; he can’t bend. Zuko smiles and Zhao’s sick grin is now a mask of fright. Zuko squeezes and feels Zhao drop to his knees. Zhao twists and writhes, but Zuko can’t let go, he won’t. He’d lost his home, his birthright, all because he’d refused to fight before. It’s wrong, it’s so wrong; he’d done the right thing. Something breaks inside, and flares beneath his fingers, his grip loosens, but Zhao doesn’t attack.
The green energy flares and rushes through the link between himself and Zhao. For one moment Zuko see’s Zhao. Sunset has turned into a fully dark sky studded with stars when he returns to the waking world. Zuko is tired, his bones feel like milk, and his Uncle scolds him while relieved tears flow. They are both taken off the grounds, and Zuko is surprised to note that Zhao looks at him with terror filled eyes.
He hears the servants talking, that Zhao’s chi reserves have been destroyed. That he will most likely never bend again. Zuko is shocked, and afraid. “There is no way word won’t reach the Fire Nation.” “When father hears about this?” he shudders in horror. Just getting out of bed is impossible. His inner fire is exhausted, and he is freezing cold. Exhaustion hits him again and he surrenders to black oblivion.
When he wakes, Zhao is sitting on the adjoining cot facing him. The man has changed; his eyes are pained and filled with the promise of violence. A thousand words of apology come to Zuko’s mind but they don’t make it past his lips, there is no forgiveness. For a few tense, precious seconds there is only the sound of Zhao’s ragged breathing, his large hand wraps around Zuko’s throat. Zhao throws Zuko against the wall, making the entire room quake as he storms out. The door screams as rusted hinges are nearly ripped from the wall. Zuko buries his face in his hands and weeps.