The roar of the fire coming from Zuko’s hands was terrifying. Aang screamed as he was singed, Zuko’s glassy eyes swirling around.
How were they supposed to know the sword was cursed?
Zuko had seen it in the undergrowth, not even thinking twice as he pulled it out. Within seconds he was whirling around blowing fire. Sokka and Toph tried to talk to him.
“Zuko! Snap out of it, noodlebrain!” Toph yelled, jumping away from a plume of fire shooting from Zuko’s hands.
“Zuko, it’s me, Sokka! Can you even hear me?” He was slammed to the ground, his face burnt as he screamed.
Aang charged toward Zuko but was kicked into a nearby tree. Zuko’s head snapped to the side, his arm twitching. His eyes were empty, and he seemed to be staring at nothing, the sword gripped tightly in his hand. Suki was the only one who hit him, hitting him in the back of the head before skidding into the dirt with the force of the sword.
In the blink of an eye, Katara was swinging through the air, rope in hand. Within seconds Zuko was on the floor, arms and legs tied up.
Aang stepped forward, pulling the sword from his grip. Zuko immediately slumped in the ropes, unconscious.
“Is he ok?” Sokka gasped as Katara leaned in to check his pulse.
“Still breathing. Let’s get him to safety.” Katara replied.
That night they all sat around the campfire, watching the bound boy propped against the tree.
“Weird day.” Toph shrugged.
“I hope Zuko’s ok.” Katara murmured, letting her head sag. Toph rubbed her shoulder, leaning against her girlfriend’s arm.
“Me too.” sighed Aang.
The fire dimmed, and they settled in, Sokka resting his head on Suki, Aang laying down on the dirt, Toph and Katara curling up together, the night birds crowing distantly in the woods.
Zuko’s eyes shot open.
The first thing Zuko remembered was the attack. The second thing was being tied up.
Oh no. They had done this to him because he attacked them, this was a punishment. They would never forgive him. What had he done? He began to panic, gasping and choking under the ropes.
“Zuko!” Suki cried, jumping up.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop myself, I’m so so sorry. Please…” tears rolled down the boy’s face.
“Zuko, it’s not your fault.” Aang cried, kneeling next to him.
“You don’t have to do this, please, stop, stop, I can’t.” Zuko begged, his head thrashing.
“Zuko, what are you talking about?”
“Please Katara. You don’t have to do this. I won’t do it again. Please. Please.” By the end Zuko was screaming in panic.
“He means the ropes.” Toph realized, using her earthbending to cut the restraints. Zuko collapsed on the ground shaking, his breaths heaving.
“Zuko!” Suki laid her hand on his hair, weaving through it as he gripped the ground.
“Are you alright, Zuko?” Aang was frantic, glancing around for some form of assistance.
“I… I don’t, I was-” Zuko mumbled, letting his body relax.
“You don’t need to talk right now, let’s get you somewhere to rest.” Katara replied, laying a hand on his back.
“I’ll do make a bed on Aapa’s saddle, it’s more comfortable than the ground.” Sokka offered, running off to grab blankets.
“You know we’d never hurt you, right?” Toph asked, kneeling down.
“Yeah, I do. I just, you know, it’s hard to remember that sometimes.”
“We’re here for you, Zuko.” Suki pulled him up into a hug, the rest of them piling on, Sokka running back to give the group a quick squeeze.
“Now come on skunkface, lets get you onto Appa.” Toph snickered.
Despite Zuko’s grumbling protests, they dragged him up into the saddle and into the cocoon of softness Sokka had created. As he drifted into sleep, the rest of team avatar smiled, glad to have helped their friend.