Author: Loopy777 PM
The proverbial in-character Sokkla romance. Naturally, it's something of a tragedy... or is it?Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance - Sokka & Azula - Words: 1,646 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 40 - Follows: 4 - Published: 04-29-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5028001
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The first time he really experienced her was during the invasion on the Day of the Black Sun.
Sure, they had tussled a few times before that, in the Earth Kingdom, but Sokka hadn't been present for what were described to him as her more impressive victories, and even when they shared a battlefield, they were usually preoccupied by other people. No, it all began with their separate conversations with the Earth King. Sokka kicked it off by successfully convincing the monarch to support his invasion plan, and Azula unwittingly responded when she tricked the King into revealing Sokka's plan.
That's when they began their dance.
She led by overthrowing the Earth King and conquering the whole Earth Kingdom nearly single-handed. He fell into step by improvising a new approach and scavenging an army from his remaining allies. Like a boy on his first date, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. By the time he marched, burdened by weapons and armor, into the Fire Lord's underground command complex, she had deduced the survival of the plot, and predicted every detail. Their personal confrontation in the depths of the complex, when he held her against a wall and demanded the whereabouts of his missing girlfriend, was almost incidental to the whole event. He truly experienced her, like a first kiss that awakened the man within him, as he watched the War Zeppelins rise, and realized just how utterly she had defeated him.
He left his army behind and ran, her face seared into his memory.
They didn't have much of a chance to dance after that. Azula was justifiably preoccupied by her brother's betrayal, and Sokka was content to spend the time truly getting a handle on all the factors, cultivating what resources he had left, and anticipating the ideal opportunity to strike back. Life had interfered, though, in the form of a maniacal Fire Lord who just didn't know when to quit, and when the dust settled the war was over. Azula had broken under the pressure and was sent away to a place where she could get help for her mental troubles, in preparation for a more traditional imprisonment. Sokka had retired from the Way of the Warrior, and tried his hand at making a life with Suki.
Then Azula surprised everyone. How sane she was at that point is a debate for the ages, but she nevertheless escaped, and began a depressingly competent Fire Nation Rebellion against her brother the Fire Lord, fought by conservative dissidents loyal to her father. The Avatar eventually had to be called in, followed shortly by his good friends. Sokka had lost his sword during the final battle of the old war, and he wasn't eager to pick up another one, so he stayed with the thinkers and focused on providing direction. Though, he did get a chance to use his boomerang a little.
The continued clashing of their respective armies was like a series of dates. She slowly evolved from a stranger into a real human being in his mind. Not that he saw her, at any time during the campaign, but her personality was distinct in the proceedings. He learned how she thought, what she valued, and her little quirks. She came alive as a mind, from the detritus of her plans, more to him for some reason than any of the others helping to run this not-a-war. Finally, her rebellion was crushed, and Sokka thought he could at last get back to focusing on the main woman in his life.
Azula was never caught.
The first sign that she hadn't given up was an assassin. Zuko took care of him without trouble, but Sokka knew the attempt was more of an announcement than a serious gambit. The hired killers didn't show up with any great frequency, but regularly enough to sustain a sense of harassment. Then the real threat was revealed, a rogue army based in the Earth Kingdom of all places, made up of fanatics who thought the Fire Nation hadn't paid enough for the Century of War.
Fire Nation haters working for the Princess of Flame. Brilliant.
This not-a-war was different from the last one. First of all, it was much more spread out, so Sokka found himself doing a lot of traveling, which at this point of his life he no longer thought of as fun. Also, Sokka got the feeling that it wasn't part of Azula's personal grudge against her brother. When he could detect her hand in an incident, it was of a more probing, experimental nature. She didn't seem to understand her enemy.
Azula knew neither Zuko nor the Avatar was in charge, and she wanted to figure out what kind of a person she was dancing with.
When the first Battlefield Warlord showed up, wielding a jian sword like he once had, Sokka chalked it up to coincidence. When the second was discovered some months later, also favoring a jian, he began to wonder if he had finally attracted her attention. When the third attacked his latest command camp, he couldn't help but think she was making eyes at him.
Within a few years, he smashed her latest army to pieces. He had still never managed to see her.
He returned home and enjoyed his growing family very much, but he wasn't surprised when a new international terrorist group became active. The incidents were isolated, and spread far apart, so he still had quite a bit of time for his wife and very loved kids, but Sokka was starting to really weary of the dance. Couldn't she find another boy, one who was more attracted to gruesome murders?
As the years marched on, her influence began to disappear. Some didn't think she was even active, or alive in some opinions, never mind still planning out these small attacks with any signature flair. Sometimes, Sokka wondered if he was insane; why was he the only one who could see it?
Did he know her that well?
Was she calling out to him?
Fortunately, time was indeed as effective a healer as his sister during a full moon. He still kept tabs on what he believed to be her terrorist tantrums, but that was the least demanding of his many hobbies. Seeing his beautiful children grow up and be blessed with kids of their own was much too distracting. The times were changing, as well. First came a new Earth King, followed by a reorganization of the Kingdom's City States. The Fire Lord announced a co-rulership with his charismatic and intelligent daughter, a move that was surprisingly well received. It had been years since the Avatar had been required to actually do his job, to the monk's pleasure.
Then the strikes came. They were too organized to be bandits, and nothing was taken. Plus, that was a considerable amount of firepower for what amounted to violent vandalism against some merchants. It was only when Sokka looked at the locations on a map did it stand out. Or not? It wasn't a pattern, exactly. Really, it was more of a memory. No, a familiar feeling. Only someone who had been plotting her manipulations since that first rebellion would recognize it. But how could she know? Was she that smart? A genius?
What did that make him?
And what was with that odd blank spot to the Northeast?
A month later, having subtly warned his children that he might not return, in such a way that they wouldn't even realize his true message until after he was already gone, Sokka arrived at the top of the hill with sword in hand and boomerang on back. He knew there wouldn't be any point in bringing friends or allies. She'd know, and that would be the end, until next time. There would definitely be a next time.
So like a young husband, he had indulged her in this, to heartwarming effect. She stepped out of the shadows as soon as he arrived. Azula was wearing her old armor, which still fit and looked good on her, polished special for the occasion. She no longer wore her royal topknot, instead favoring a simple ponytail with her classic bangs.
She didn't speak. Neither did he.
The fight began. She was still quite the Firebender, her every attack flowered with azure flames, and she had only improved as a warrior, in his considerable opinion. Of course, his skills had grown to the point of legend, so he held his own. They expected nothing less of each other, these warriors who hadn't fought in personal combat for decades beyond easy count. His face remained passive as he toiled, reacting not at all to the sweat that beaded across it. She smiled slightly, her eyes intense, although not as wild as he remembered.
This would be their last battle, and neither wanted to rush it.
As the sun settled behind the mountains, and the conclusion drew near, Sokka was struck by a regret, that Suki couldn't be at his side. He couldn't have known that at the same time, Azula marveled that it wasn't her brother she was fighting, as she had assumed it would be as a child; she hadn't even thought of Zuzu in ages.
The last light of the day faded, and the man and the woman fought in perfect harmony, a dance as only lovers can perform, the emotions thick in the air. Neither the man nor the woman had ever moved so gracefully, so powerfully, so confidently, and as the motion slowed, they realized they would, in certain ways, never be apart again.