...I think this is the fastest I've ever updated. Holy crap on a stick.
Sokka and Zuko finally meet up again, although it is kind of a short reunion. This is just the beginning of their adventures in Ba Sing Se, if you can really call it that. Not much else to say about this chapter.
As a note for the future, I update the status of this fic on my profile page, so if you're waiting for the next installment, it'd be a good idea to check back and see how the chapter's coming along.
I'd also like to take a moment and thank everyone who reads this fic, those of you who have been with it since the beginning, and to all of you awesome reviewers. You guys give me the motivation and inspiration to keep writing. In addition, if you guys have any ideas for scenes, or specific things you wouldn't mind seeing in the fic, let me know! I'm open to new ideas and stuff. I won't guarantee that I'll use all of them, but they're always appreciated.
DISCLAIMER: Avatar and all related characters, creatures, locations, etc. belong to Bryke/Nickelodeon/Viacom.
WARNING: Shounen-ai alert. Don't like, don't read. 'Nuff said.
They had only been in Ba Sing Se for about an hour…and Sokka was already sick of it.
The tribesman let out a hopeless, disgruntled sigh as he collapsed upon one of the gigantic pillows in the corner of the room. His cerulean eyes glanced around at his comrades; everyone, including Momo, had fallen asleep, scattered about their new home. He couldn't blame them, seeing as he was starting to nod off as well. After dealing with that Joo Dee character, who wouldn't be tired? She was definitely a piece of work, that woman…
Toph was right--the city had so many rules, it was beyond ridiculous. Sokka hated all the meaningless restrictions. They couldn't really do anything here. He punched the pillow in ire before burying his face in the fluff, growling.
He remained still for quite sometime, turning over many thoughts in his head. It seemed like there was so much to do, yet not enough time to accomplish everything. The gang's checklist of things to do? Well, first they had to find Appa, which proved to be almost impossible at this point. Who'd have thought a several-ton sky bison would be so difficult to track down? Next on their list was to relay information regarding the upcoming solar eclipse to the Earth King…which, like finding Appa, also proved to be nearly impossible. Not only did they have to talk to his mighty Earthliness about it, they actually had to wait for an audience with him. About two months, as Joo Dee had so enthusiastically informed them. It was such a big waste of time…something that they really couldn't afford right now. Having to be patient just pissed Sokka off, to put it bluntly.
However, the tribesman also had a side-quest of his own. Now that they were finally in the Earth Kingdom capital, he could commence his search for Zuko. He had an idea of where to begin looking, but even then, it would take forever to find the ex-prince. Ba Sing Se, although divided into three separate districts, was an enormous city. Lady Luck would certainly be a useful companion for this mission.
Sokka pulled himself up to a sit on his knees, glancing out the front window. The sun hovered at its peak in the middle of the sky, meaning that he would have plenty of time to go out and about before darkness settled. With a tired groan he threw his arms into the air, stretching his entire body upward. His arms dropped lazily to his sides as he stood.
Deciding it best to leave a note for the others regarding his absence, he quickly scrambled around for some paper, a brush, and ink. He just happened to find the needed materials within seconds, and he hastily scribbled a short message. After examining it for a moment, he left it on the small table in the middle of the room where the other three would surely spot it. He checked his back for his boomerang, and with a grin of satisfaction, he slid the front door open and left the house in silence.
A whooshing noise trailed a silver boomerang as it sliced through the air, curving and spinning until it returned to its master's partially gloved hand. Sokka could barely stifle the yawn that crept up on him, catching him off-guard. He had been aimlessly wandering around the city for hours with absolutely no luck in locating the firebender. It hadn't even dawned on him to look in the lower ring until just a while ago…and now that he found himself in said district, he was sure as hell glad he had his baby with him. There were a lot of shady characters lurking about the street corners and in the alleyways, and if the need arose to defend himself, he was prepared with a weapon.
The tanned teen let out yet another yawn, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth. It felt so dry and pasty, and the taste was downright awful. He smacked his lips a couple times, sticking his tongue out in slight disgust.
"Man, I'm really thirsty…," Sokka murmured, giving his boomerang another good toss. Upon catching it, he sheathed it in its pouch on his back and glanced around in search of a place where he could grab a drink…and possibly a bite to eat.
As he traveled through the unpaved streets, of course he would happen upon numerous food stands; unfortunately, none of them offered or sold beverages. However tantalizing and scrumptious the food looked, Sokka refused to eat anything without having something to wash it down with. It was nearing dinner time and the universe, since it found the tribesman to be such an excellent target for mockery, teased him by ruthlessly attacking him with savory smells and succulent aromas of freshly-cooked meals.
Finally, after nearly a half-hour spent in agony, the tribesman stumbled upon a small tea shop.
"Hm…tea sounds good right now," he said, thoughtfully rubbing his chin. Nodding in affirmation of his decision, he pushed the door aside and stepped into the tea shop. It wasn't too crowded; quite a few tables remained empty and ready to seat new customers. Sokka chose the closest one for himself, off to his left and one table back. He took a gander at the counter in the back of the shop. A short man with a thin moustache and some sort of…pointy, triangular patch of facial hair on his chin stood stiffly, observing the shop with nervous, squinty eyes. The tanned teen assumed this man to be the owner. However, he could see no employees anywhere. How was he supposed to enjoy a nice cup of tea without anyone to serve it to him? Sheesh.
"Lazy-ass shop owner," Sokka grumbled, resting his chin on his palm, elbow pressed against the surface of the table. With his free hand, he traced random squiggles and shapes across the wood. He soon resorted to tapping his fingertips impatiently, also letting out a small yawn.
Sunset quickly approached, he noticed as he stared out the open window. He would have to head back to the upper ring soon, give up his search until later on. Assuming that the gang would have more than enough free time, though, he would probably resume looking in the morning. Now that he knew how to get to the lower ring of the city, he wouldn't waste as much time in the middle and upper districts.
Yes…time was definitely a popular theme of thought for the tribesman nowadays. Not having enough time, having too much time, wasting time…making up for lost time…
"Good evening, sir. What would you like?"
Sokka nearly jumped out of his skin, the interruption of his musings taking him by surprise. "About damn time," he muttered, turning his head upward to see the waiter. "What do you rec--" he began, but slowly his voice drifted off. His ocean irises widened, matching the excited grin that now spread across his lips. "Zu--"
A pale hand over his mouth silenced him immediately, making this the third time in about a minute that he had been interrupted in one way or another.
"Shh! Don't call me that," Zuko whispered, leaning closer to the Water Tribe boy. "Here, my name is Li." Sokka nodded and the firebender dropped his hand, revealing the smile that still remained on the darker boy's face.
"I…I can't believe it," Sokka breathed, shaking his head a bit. "You…you're here. Here. I thought it'd take me forever to find you!" The tanned teen melted to the floor as Zuko gave him a warm smile.
"Wait here for a moment," the pale boy said as he headed to the back of the shop, where his uncle was busy brewing fresh tea, and the shop owner still kept watch like one of those creepy statues with eyes that followed people everywhere. Sokka rocked back and forth on his feet as he waited. Zuko bowed to his uncle and came back to the tribesman with haste. "My uncle said I could take my break now. Can we step outside?" he inquired, gesturing to the door.
"Sure, of course," Sokka replied, following the firebender out of the shop. They darted around the corner to the side of the building, hidden from view of the windows. It was then that the tribesman practically jumped on the ex-prince, hugging him tightly. "I missed you so much!"
"I missed you too, Sokka…a lot…," Zuko said, in a hushed tone. The two broke away from their hug after a few long moments of just holding each other…a feeling that they both missed over the recent weeks.
"So…how long have you been here in the city?" the Water Tribe boy asked.
"A couple days. I took a ferry from Full Moon Bay to the outer wall," the firebender said, shrugging his shoulders. "What about you?"
"Oh, we just got in today…would have been last night if it weren't for the stupid drill."
"Yeah…the Fire Nation had this gigantic machine and tried to drill a hole in the outer wall," Sokka informed the other, his voice low and dark. "Your sister was there…Aang had to fight her."
"Careful, Sokka," Zuko warned, his tone gradually quieting. "Don't mention the Fire Nation here. Don't mention anything about the war."
"Why?" the tanned teen questioned, cocking a brow. Great, more rules? What the hell?
"I don't have time to explain; my break's just about over."
"Oh…," the tribesman sighed, dropping his shoulders sadly.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" the pale boy asked, placing a hand on the other's shoulder.
"Uh, nothing that I know of," Sokka said, placing his hand atop Zuko's.
"Think you can come by around lunch and grab a bite to eat together?"
Sokka's eyes lit up, and his smile returned to his face. "Sure! Yeah, I'll come," he pretty much shouted. It took every ounce of self-control he had to keep from jumping for joy. 'Spirits, Zuko and I are going on a date!' he mused, giddy inside like a school girl.
"Great," the firebender said, the smile in his flaxen irises matching the grin on his lips. "I better get back in there now. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Yes, tomorrow, lunch," the Water Tribe boy stated, barely able to contain his excitement. Zuko turned to leave, but the tanned teen immediately grabbed his wrist and held it tight, preventing him from doing so. "Wait, Z--I mean Li…"
"Hm? What is it?"
Without even thinking, Sokka went in for the kill, taking Zuko's lips in a fierce kiss. The scarred teen returned the kiss with just as much ferocity and snaked his arms around the darker boy's neck. All at once, the immense loneliness and longing of the weeks past seemed to just melt away.
A pair of dark chocolate orbs watched the two from the shadows. They watched as the boys parted, exchanged a few more words, and went their separate ways. The owner of the spying eyes growled, ducking even further into the shadows.
"So, Sokka, you're here too…," Jet murmured, twirling his wheat in his mouth. "You better keep your hands off my Li, or there'll be hell to pay."
With that, he dashed down the alleyway, disappearing in the approaching darkness of nighttime.
And of course I end it with Jet being the stalker we all know he is. Couldn't help myself.
That's about it for now. Read/review/alert/whatever you do. Thanks for reading, guys!