Chapter one: The capture

The air was so thick with smoke it felt as if walls had been erected all around him, his eyes and lungs stung badly. Reaching up he tied the dirty scarf tighter around his face, it was a desperate attempt to keep from inhaling the smoke and damaging his lungs further.

His blue eyes darted around nervously, all the while tears slid down his face due to irritation. He was not in a good situation, loosing sight of his sister and Aang half and hour ago during a raid. Ash fell from the sky like snow, gently drifting down to rest on the charred grass. It was amazing that something that looked so peaceful and harmless was a product of something so destructive.

A blue flash erupted nearby, lighting yet another tree ablaze. It was so close Sokka could feel the heat clawing at his tear and sweat coated face. Suddenly pain filled his shoulder, dropping his knife to the ground he reached over covering the pain filled spot. Looking he saw blood slowly covering his hand, seeping between his fingers. A small throwing knife was protruding out of his shoulder; it hadn't gone very deep, luckily hitting a bone. Unfortunately the next thing he saw was the hazy sky as his feet were easily kicked out from under him.

Hitting the ground hard, his vision became blurred and his eyes stung. Looking over at a blackened tree, its branches twisted upwards as if trying to claw at the sky in some attempt to escape this hell that Sokka now knew for certain he would be dying in.

The sound of footsteps crushing burnt leaves and grass shattered the silence, but quickly melted away into nothing as the poison in the knife slowed his mind and caused everything to turn black.

Sokka knew something wasn't right when the sound of muffled talking filled his still blurry and confused head. Taking in a breath of air cause him to wince in pain as his throat and lungs stung like fire. Coughing loudly dew to the pain he decided to keep his eyes closed knowing that they would sting as well when opened. His head pulsed with a light ache, and his body felt strangely chilled. Shifting his body he could feel the cold steel of cuffs around his wrists. They also encircled his ankles. A length of chain ran between the bonds, short enough to stop him from straightening to more than a crouch.

His body tensed when the voices became louder, slowly their incoherent mumbling forming into words. The sound of their feet making contact with the floor caused his head to pound louder like someone was playing a war drum behind his eyes.

"He's awake, took long enough," a female voice said casually as if she was merely commenting on a piece of furniture in a room. "It was a shame we got him and not the Avatar but now days anything will please my father."

Sighing loudly to himself Sokka knew who was speaking. He kept his eyes closed and his body still thinking that maybe by doing this they would think he had fallen asleep again.

Suddenly pain filled his side when a foot collided with his ribs, pulling the breath out of his body causing him to cough uncontrollably.

"I know your awake, so don't play stupid with me, now roll over and look at me," Azula demanded, her voice trying to hide the rage that was bubbling up inside like a demon.

Sokka rolled over on the cold stone floor, managing to ease his eyes open he blinked back tears that started to form when the bright lights hit them. Waiting patiently for his vision to clear and make sense of the dank masses that surrounded him he could only figure that he was in a small room judging from the way noises echoed off the walls. His guess was that it was a small cell or possible torture chamber.

As his vision returned the figure of a woman stood before him, lights from lamps glowing around her silhouetting her figure. He couldn't see any of her features; her face was hidden in shadows, but still he felt her cold eyed drilling into him.

Azula stepped forward slowly allowing the lights to flood across her calm face, within seconds her features materialized. Her golden eyes looked him over carefully as if he was something of intrigue. Like an ancient artifact that had just been dug up.

She reached down towards him, laughing lightly when he pulled back in fear. Her hand was cool to the touch and surprisingly soft as her hand gently cupped his face forcing him to look her directly in the eyes.

"He needs a healer," she said turning back to look at a guard that stood near the doorway of his cell.

Nodding in reply the man backed out of the room, his footsteps fading quickly as he hurried down the stone hall. Looking back Azula pulled back his shirt; it was now coated in dried blood and dirt sticking to his skin. Flinching slightly in pain when the fabric pulled on the wound Sokka hissed a curse under his breath.

"Your lucky Mai decided to hit you there, she could have split your head it two if she wanted. I told her not to." Azula said, pulling the blue cloth away from the wound so she could observe it better.

"Why," Sokka asked his voice hoarse.

Azula smiled, "Because you are more valuable to me alive then dead." Eyeing the wound she spoke again this time her tone sounding more like a warning then a statement, "But not so much I wouldn't think twice about ending your life."

"Well that makes me feel much better," Sokka muttered, closing his eyes once again. His body felt so sore, and there was a nagging feeling of a fever creeping up on him. He was in no condition to fight, and knew he wouldn't stand a chance even if he was healthy.

Waves of nausea crawled over Sokka's body as his stomach twisted violently; cruelly playing with what little food he had eaten. Breathing deeply he fought off the feeling of being sick, there was no way in hell he was going to allow himself to get ill here. Rolling over to again lay on his back he shivered as the cold from the floor seeped through his shirt and into every pore of his body. One good thing about the cold was it took his mind of the pain and nausea and the cold eyes of Azula staring down at him. He could feel the unwelcomed sensation of unconsciousness creeping over him, he fear blacking out again and possibly waking in a much more uncomfortable position if that was possible.

Fortunately Sokka didn't have time to contemplate his possible fates when the sound off foot steps again filled the hall. Opening up his eyes again when he heard someone enter the room, a small amount of relief flooded his body at the sight of the healer. True it was a fire nation healer but at the moment he didn't really care.

"How's his condition?" Azula asked stepping back.

Sokka watched as the healer bent down, his big bushy eyebrows furrowing in concern. "Not good."

The sound of his moans echoed off the walls bouncing back to mock his pain, as the healer dug around his shoulder to extract the tip of the dagger that had broken off in his bone. The metal instrument twisted into the flesh of his skin causing him to yell out in agony. Warm blood now trickled down his arm and onto the floor, forming a small crimson puddle. The healer had been digging around for what seemed like hours, the small amount of pain killers he had been given wore off almost minutes into the procedure.

Puling away the healer revealed the small metal tip clasped tightly between his forceps that were now coated in blood. Setting his instrument aside he washed Sokka's wound and stitched it shut, by this point his arm and shoulder felt so numb the needle entering his skin could be easily ignored. Dressing it the healer stepped back and admired his work, a small smile of satisfaction on his old and tired looking face.

"Its done princess, but he still poses a great chance of developing an infection, he already is showing signs of illness. I suggest moving him into a more comfortable sleeping area."

Azula sighed loudly, "If I must."

Sokka was hauled up and forced to stand, his legs feeling like they would give out any second, blood soaked rags falling to the floor, along with his shirt that had been removed during the surgery. His feat dragged along the floor as two fire nation soldiers pulled him down the many halls of what looked to be an old complex. Looking over his shoulder Sokka caught a glimpse of Azula following behind, her hands behind her back keeping a fair distance away. She smirked catching him looking at her and it sent unease throughout his body.

His new room was much nicer then the prison he had first woken up in, this one at least had a mat on the floor, and a door made of heavy wood that was worn from years of use. A small lamp spilled what little light it could into the room casting long shadows on the walls that danced when the flame flickered in protest due to the disturbance in the room.

Sokka was placed on the futon mattress that smelt strongly of dust. The feeling of something soft on his back almost made him want to sleep, he fought the feeling back because the daughter of the fire lord was now standing in the doorway, her hands on her hips, and a blank expression gracing her pale face.

"I believe you should be thanking me, I never give my prisoners such comforts. But then again I don't take in many prisoners so the whole thing is a little knew to me," she said calmly, her voice sounded oddly amused as if she knew something he didn't.

Walking over to him, his blue eyes watched as she casually spun a set of keys on her finger, the metal flashing brightly when it caught the light. Looking down on the wounded water peasant Azula debated over removing his cuffs or not. He did look very pitiful lying there, and as much as she enjoyed watching him suffer it would not go over well if her father found out that there only chance of luring the Avatar in had died on them due to her neglect, if that happened she may soon find herself a banished honor less wanderer like her brother.

His eyes questioned her actions when he felt the heavy cuffs being removed, "You run you die," she stated without even looking at him.