Zuko riding off
Sunset in the Mind's Eye
Chapter information


Written by


Release date

July 8, 2013

An entry for Ty's one-shot contest.

Sunset in the Mind's Eye

As I lay there on the cold stone floor, the life draining from me, eyes glazing over with the murky sheen of death, my last sight before the darkness enveloped me was of a young woman I had come to know. I pushed aside the calls from beyond—calls from the spirits, beckoning at me to join them. I pushed away their enticing offers and the incredible pain inside me and instead, recalled the memories of that fateful day when I met her.

"My name is Katara," she had said.

It was a marvelous name fitting for a beautiful woman. I had known from the moment she looked into my eyes that we were destined—mandated by the spirits—to be together. Her amber eyes shined with a surreal sparkle as she stared into mine, making my heart stop. I was stricken by her allure. Breathing was difficult, thinking of her dark brown hair that pirouetted about her body and her simple yet elegant Water Tribe dress that cascaded down her figure like silk. She was as fluid as the water she bent, and I had been drowned in her delightful aura.

"Thanks for saving us Jet. We're lucky you were there." Katara's voice, sweet as honey, lulled me into a blissful reverie.

Looking at her, it was hard to think of anything, my mind transfixed with her image, her everything. The way she had spoken alone made my knees buckle and my entire body shiver.

I couldn't remember what I said in response, but each time I think of that day, I remember two symbols: water and fire. Of course, they meant other things as well: blue and red, healing and hurt, life and death.

Fire, it had been the one reason that I fought at all, the only reason I kept my will to live. For so long, I had been a victim to the memories of my past come to haunt me—memories of the day my world came to rest in ashes. For so long, that had been the only reason I had fought: to extinguish the flames, ever growing, ever hurting. Until this day. Now, as I lost myself in Katara's eyes, I could see the same pained memories within her that haunted me. We were unique. We each had stories to tell. And I vowed at that moment that harm would never befall her so long as I still breathed.

Shame. If only I had known.

If I had known that it would end so soon, I would have soaked in every peculiarity about her like a sponge. I would have breathed in every last detail and hungered for more. The cadence of her step, the slight twitch in her lip when she smiled, the feel of her hand on mine I knew. But what of her hopes, her dreams, her desires? Those would be forever lost to me. If only I had known.

The darkness was closing on me now, constricting me with undulating, snake-like tendrils. Her words, I had to hear them one last time.

"We were relying on instincts," she had said.

"Yes, we wanna see it," she had said.

I couldn't quite remember what she was talking about anymore, nor my responses. All that remained was the entrancing cadence of her words and the melodic tone of her voice, as clear as a cool running creek. It was rapture.

My mind was blurring like my vision had. At moments, it was a collection of colors, at others times it was shrouded and barely discernible. I delved deeper into my memories, desperate to find closure. It was too soon to embrace the dark.

"Forgive me Katara. I am forgetting." I felt my throat close up as I spoke.

Those were my last words on this Earth. Hopefully, they were an appropriate send off. I couldn't manage to speak again. My voice was gone, my breath was gone, so I turned again to my thoughts. But they too were fading as well.

A sudden painful thought welled up in my mind. It brought a wave of dread over me—a feeling of failure. At the center of it was Katara's face, disappointment chiseled on her young features. The sight terrified me. I wasn't certain what it was but thankfully it didn't last. Surfacing was another memory to replace the last, and a good one at that. If I could, I would have smiled wide. Funny, how opposites attracted, how a bad memory could exhume a good one buried deep within my consciousness—how a wonderful woman could lo... Sorry, I couldn't remember the rest.

But the good memory, the good memory I still remembered. It brought tears to my eyes, tears of sadness for what I would leave behind, but also tears of joy for what was to come, for the both of us. It went something like:

As we ascended into the trees above, Katara tight in my arms, I began to look around at my adopted home. At the upper fringes of the forest canopy, radiant rays of light streamed down to caress my face with warmth. The feeling was pleasant, like Katara. I gazed at her again in all her riveting beauty. She was my symbol for healing—water being the natural counter to fire, to pain.

I wanted desperately to keep her folded in my arms forever. Slowly, she glanced up at me, giving me a smile of thanks, filled with compassion. I returned the gesture, thinking quietly to myself. Thoughts of the future. Our future. All the monsters and beasts I would slay, to keep my loved ones safe. For them, for her, I would do anything.

I really would have done anything. Anything.

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