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Secret Tunnel

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He held her hand as if his life depended on it, soft fingers which had been there for so long he could barely remember a life without them. It was a sweet touch, reviving his inner fire and dulling the pain if only a little.

“Can’t this go any faster?” The voice of the young man complained as the temple shook, it’s roots being torn apart stone by stone. Nothing could escape that thing…

“I don’t think she is listening, Bolin”

“Well, it doesn’t hurt to try”

Blinking, the old man turned his eyes away from his wife to look towards the young woman meditating at the center of the secret room. After all this time the Air Temple still held the image of every avatar that ever lived in its heart, and now, one so young was attempting to do the impossible. He couldn’t help but think Aang would be proud of her…

“You okay?”

Soft blue eyes stared down at him and Zuko smiled, even as a loud cough made the taste of blood clear in his mouth. The worst pain though was still the thought that he had survived when so many had been gone.

“Never better”

She shook her head. “You never quite learned how to make jokes did you?”

“Is that standard Kyoshi Warrior skill?” he questioned earning a chuckle from her. Her fingers slowly tracing lines through his hair.

“He is climbing the mountain now” An old cranky voice declared when they felt the rumble of the earth once more, her blind eyes looking down, obviously feeling the monster coming closer. “Big dumb jerk, he won’t stop...” She grimaced, and her feet moved with all the power of a master earthbender, the greatest in the world, and yet, after the whole mountain seemed to shake over itself, her mouth twisted. “He is coming.”

“No!” The young woman screamed, her hand taking the Avatar’s on her own. “Korra needs more time.”

“Asami is right” The two brothers were getting up, and he knew what they were about to do before they even moved for he would be doing the same if he could. “We’re getting you time...”

“Yeah, as much as you need”

“Don’t be foolish! Mako, Bolin!” her voice was still as bossy as the old days, he smirked, feeling his wife squeezing his hand in agreement. “You two don’t need to go out there...”

“But the airbenders… Your children...”

“They will do what they can, and so will I...” Saying that Katara rose to her feet.

“B-but, we need you!! You’re one of the people who were alive then, we...”

“Asami!” Katara’s voice was stern and yet kind. “You already have everyone you need now…”

“Sparky and Suki got this” He would have held them both down, but the two old women smiled at him from where they stood. “So what do you say Sugar Queen? Still up for one more fight?”

“Against an evil Avatar bent on destroying everything? Couldn’t miss it...”

He said goodbye to two of his best friends with his eyes, Suki squeezing his hand the whole time as debris rained down from the top of the temple. Mako and Bolin were clearly unconvinced as they watched the whole thing, finally coming down to seat with Korra. Whispering… What, he couldn’t hear…

Soon, the sound of battle echoed straight from the tunnels and everyone’s gazes went to the entrance. Zuko chuckled.

“Toph is gonna drop the mountain on him.”

“Not this one I hope,” Suki said cheekily…

A purple light suddenly engulfed the top of the temple, and Zuko could see the raining stones ready to crush everyone inside. Bolin was quick, bringing forth a solid ceiling of earth atop of them, darkness suddenly filling the chamber as the few candles were snuffed out.

Silence ruled for a while as Zuko fought to keep himself awake. The mission seemed so distant, so out of his reach, and yet he kept his fire burning. He did it for her most of all… For the children… For the world, just like his best friend would’ve wanted…

“Korra” Asami’s voice lingered from the shadows, and Zuko opened his eyes. Someone, Mako, had produced a small source of light that now flickered over Suki’s face. She was not as young as in his dreams. Her hair was gray these days, and her skin crinkled, but her eyes still held the same living mirth from their youth. Still the eyes of a warrior after all these years… “I don’t know if you’re listening, but please hurry… I know you can do this… Bolin, Mako and I… We know you can do this...”

Something wet touched his feet, and he moved his fingers a bit. A crashing booming sound seemed to be the roar from the earth as the chamber was flooded with water… Toph… Katara….

“Korra….” Asami was saying. Zuko looked to Suki… “I love you...”

Like the sun breaking at dawn, the sacred chamber suddenly came alive. The eyes of avatars from all time burst with light and Korra finally rose from the ground. Air, Water, Earth, and Fire floated eerily around the small group as Zuko glimpsed Korra rising to her feet, power surrounding her form, something electrical he could feel from a distance… Like Druk’s heat in a winter’s night, or Suki’s lips against his own…

The Avatar kissed her wife softly and glided his way. Her eyes seemed to look for Toph and Katara, Zuko imagined but found only the fight outside. Wasting no time she quietly knelt by their side, her presence pulsing with power.

“Are the two of you ready?”

“Yes” Suki answered for the both of them, and then there was a thumb pressing against his forehead. Zuko could feel the pain going away, drained from his spirit, while he stumbled into the unknown…

He was greeted by the feel of soft silk sheets…