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reds of sins

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Aang never looks at anyone like they’re a villain, even if they so clearly believe themselves to be, when it’s all they’re known as. Not when they steal cabbages, or commit infamous murders across the continents.

To say that it’s infuriating to have that directed at you doesn’t even begin to cover it.

It’s not about naivety. Aang’s not a child. He’s had his entire nation wiped out, and he barely seems to show anger towards it, though they know that can’t be true; there’s just never so much as a furrow of Aang’s brows that isn’t caused by confusion, or a tremble of his jaw that isn’t caused by something sad. 

Zuko doesn’t know how he handles it. 

All of it. The weight of the world, the need and drive to fix, the readiness with which he accepts. 

Zuko’s in a better place. Has been for a while, but when he compares the anger he had at twelve, to the lack of it that Aang doesn’t have now, he doesn’t know what to chalk it up to. 

It’s not naivety. They’ve all been through too much for that. 

“You’re staring,” Zuko mutters.

“Sorry!” Aang drops down next to him, Momo falling off his shoulder and into Zuko’s lap. “You looked stressed, but then I got distracted and started wondering where you got your scar—”

“Aang,” Katara hisses. “You can’t just ask someone—” 

“It’s fine.”  

There’s an awkward silence as Aang winces at Katara’s injuring stare. Sokka pokes at the fire, sucking in his cheeks and blowing out a squeaky, low whistle, trying in his own way to break the awkwardness.

Toph has no such reservations. Probably didn’t even know about the scar till now.

“Where did you get it?”

“Uh.” He scratches his arm. Briefly wonders if he should make up a lie to save himself from the pity. “Pissed off my dad.” 

Predictably, the silence doesn’t get any better. It stretches and thins, and though Zuko’s never told anyone about it, never was in the kind of situation to have to explain it, where he had people he could almost call friends— 

It’s strange. He doesn’t feel the pity. They’re quiet, but it’s less out of shame, than it is out of—

Anger, he realizes. 

“Your dad did that to you?” 

“Dude, that’s— what the hell.” 

He looks to his left, to avoid looking at the enraged faces in front of him, because if anything, he knows Aang won’t have the same expression. Because Aang doesn’t get mad. 

Aang is as white as a sheet. 

It’s just the slightest bit daunting; it’s different to when he’s sad or mourning, and with a jolt, Zuko realizes that the thin line of Aang’s mouth, the whites of his eyes, and the set of his jaw mean that Aang isn’t just upset, but pissed.

He blinks. 

Stares at Aang for a second longer before breaking out into a fit of snorts.

“Dumbass, why are you laughing!”

And for once in his life, Zuko entertains it; the thought that maybe — maybe, if even Aang, ever pacifying, can get mad over it — that perhaps it was never his fault to begin with.