A crackle of lightning. Searing pain. Her scream echoing in his mind. The one voice he had never wanted to hear scared.
A cold laugh. An irritating nickname. Her perfection rubbed in his face. The one voice he couldn't seem to get out of his head.
Zuko tossed and turned in his sleep, memories morphing into nightmares as he slept. Katara stirred and noticed her husband's troubled sleep.
"Zuko," she murmured, gently touching his shoulder.
That crazed laughter taunting him that he would never be good enough, never reach Katara in time. Reminding him that the one person he couldn't imagine living without could die at any moment. The smell of lightning permeating the air.
Then a crack and that scream that he had been dreading. Finally, miraculously able to move again, he ran to the waterbender's side. She was too still... He shook her, calling out her name over and over.
Zuko gasped as he jolted awake from the nightmare. His wife leaned over him, her blue eyes worried.
"Zuko, are you all right?" she asked gently.
He almost cried at the sight of her alive and safe. He sat up and held her tight. "Thank goodness," he breathed hoarsely.
Katara pulled him closer, enfolding him in her gentle arms. She felt tears gather in her eyes as she felt her strong husband shaking. "I'm right here, sweetheart."
He pulled away to trace her face, the dream still too fresh. "I dreamed you had died... in that fight against Azula. All I could hear was her voice taunting me as you..." he broke off, his tears finally getting the better of him.
Katara gently kissed his scar before pulling him close again. "I know..."
He didn't move, just clung to his only salvation from the horrible voices of the past.
"Just focus on the sound of my voice," she said quietly. "I'm here, and I'm alive."
He nodded, concentrating on the reality of her. The warmth of her body, the gentleness of her caress, the blue of her eyes, the riot of her curls. Everything that proved that she was alive and holding him. Slowly, he calmed down and relaxed completely.
As he drifted off to sleep, he felt his wife kiss his forehead. "Good night, Zuko."
Wow... what a lot of words... I'm sorry... Honestly, I could have written a lot more. In fact it started with a dreamy memory for each of his family pictured above. But it didn't flow right and it got too long so I chopped it down to just Azula.
But I figured I'd use the theme interpreted as "the voices of the past." I like drawing a tortured Zuko... (I should probably get that looked into...) But I picked the voices I felt would torture him and sometimes, depending on the person, guide him as well. And I love drawing couples comforting each other after nightmares.
Okay, I'll shut up already.