It was the weekend before the start of the fall semester at Ba Sing Se University. It was still warm, being the end of August, but Katara felt like there was something else in the air that day…then again, it could just be the heat and humidity getting to her as she lugged the last box of her stuff from Sokka's car up to her dorm room.
As she huffed and puffed up the stairs to her room (the elevators were full of people anyways, she told herself), she rolled her eyes as she heard Sokka trying to put his so-called "moves" on Katara's new roommate, Suki. The weird part was that Suki was falling for it, giggling at Sokka's lame joke! Seriously, is she laughing at Sokka or with Sokka?!?
Earlier in the summer, Coach Pakku had asked her to room with the new transfer from Kyoshi Island. Suki was to replace one of Katara's water polo teammates that had to drop out of school for personal reasons and Katara was happy to oblige. As it was her sophomore year, she knew BSSU pretty well by now and she thought it would be nice to room with a teammate this year.
Katara and Suki were able to get to know each other by messaging each other and checking out one another's MySpace pages out before classes started. Katara was easily convinced that Suki was a sweet girl and would make a great defensive addition to their high-ranked team. Besides, if Coach Pakku had gone out of his way to recruit her, it is in the team's best interest for me to help the new girl out anways.
"You know, I play goalie for the Ba Sing Se Bears professional hockey team," Sokka said as nonchalantly as he could. "I always have extra tickets to home games, so I'll be sure to send you and Katara a few pairs once the season starts."
"Well, I've never been to a hockey game before," Suki replied with a smile. "But it sounds like it'll be fun and I'm looking forward to getting to know the city better."
"Alright Sokka, Suki and I'll make sure to head out to a few games later this year," Katara said while entering her room and glaring at her brother for being such a dork. "Don't you have practice or a workout to go to soon? You mentioned it earlier when you were complaining about helping me move into my dorm room in, what did you call it? Oh yeah, 'the most horribly hot and humid day of the year,'" Katara retorted in her best impression of a lame, tired Sokka she could muster.
At that, Sokka said his goodbyes to Suki, mentioning that it was really nice to meet her.
Gods, why does he always have to have the goofiest smile on his face whenever he meets a pretty girl, Katara thought.
Soon enough, Katara was walking her dumbfounded brother back to the car.
"You know, you don't have to hit on every cute girl you meet, Sokka," Katara said accusingly. "Besides, you'll have plenty of time to get to know here—she's rooming with me for the rest of the school year."
As she said it, she playfully elbowed her brother in his arm.
"Yeah…" Sokka said dumbly. "Oh and try not to reveal too many embarrassing details about me! I don't want her opinion of me being tainted by my kid sister," Sokka said as he straightened himself up and ended his directive with a lift of his right eyebrow.
"Oh, is the big, bad, all-star goalie of the Ba Sing Se Bears afraid of little ol' me…whatever could I say to taint your obvious reputation of being an awesome hockey warrior," Katara joked with a sarcastic emphasis on the word "warrior."
"You know what I mean, Katara. Well, I have to go. Keep yourself out of trouble and remember I'm just a phone call away. I'll stop by next weekend to take you out to lunch and see how the first week of classes went," Sokka ended, smiling while his sister lunged in for a big hug goodbye.
"Thanks for helping, Sokka, see you next weekend," Katara replied in kind.
As he drove off, Katara was somewhat sad to see her brother go and at the same time relieved that he was no longer there to hit on her new roommate. They had always been close when they were kids, and even when Sokka was drafted to play for the Ba Sing Se Bears right out of high school, she was still able to keep in close touch with him. They spoke on the phone nearly every other day, no matter where Sokka was for a match and she always got to come up to the city in the off-season and catch up with her big bro. Oh well, it isn't like I haven't gone through this before, she thought to herself remembering the start of her freshman year.
With a huff of breath to her forehead, Katara walked back into her residence hall with a small sense of trepidation. I hate unpacking boxes…
If there was one thing that Zuko hated more than the start of the school year, it was how excited Iroh got. Iroh loved the beginning of the school year because it meant more people in the tea shop—catching up with returned customers and meeting the new students, faculty and staff that would stop by DragonsTea. The tea shop was so close to campus that it practically was on BSSU property. Besides that, it provided a perfect spot for students to study, hang out or grab a bite to eat. And a perfect spot to people watch, Iroh thought to himself.
For Zuko, the new school year meant dealing with crowds of people he didn't like and didn't care to "get to know," losing sleep while cramming for tests and enduring another two semesters of people staring at his scar whenever he gave an oral presentation in class. I can't wait for this year to be over. After this, only two semesters left and I'm home free! Zuko smiled to himself at the thought.
He quickly took off his apron and placed it on the hook in the manager's office he shared with Iroh. Over the summer, he'd worked as assistant manager and watched the tea shop while Iroh went on vacation.
This year, Iroh decided to go on a two-week cruise with some old friends. They called themselves the "White Lotus Society…" Why did they name themselves something so silly and cryptic? Zuko questioned when he first heard about it. As far as I'm concerned, all they ever do is drink free tea and play pai sho at the tea shop every afternoon.
Zuko quickly gathered up his backpack and was ready to head out the door when Uncle's voice rang out from behind the register and caught him before he went out the door.
"Zuko, where are you headed? I thought your shift wasn't over for another hour?" Iroh asked.
"Don't you remember Uncle?" Zuko replied, only to receive a blank stare from Iroh. "I asked you if I could head out early today to go pick up my books at the bookstore. I want to get in there before classes start and it gets insanely crowded." It's probably already jam-packed in there…
"Since it's slow right now and we're adequately staffed, I think I'll come with you, nephew," Iroh stated matter-of-factly.
"Uncle, I don't need you to come to campus with me to buy my books," Zuko said with apparent annoyance in his voice. "I have my own money and I'll make it out of that madhouse faster if I don't have you slowing me down."
"Is that any way to talk to your elder, Zuko?" Iroh queried with an air of disappointment in his voice. "Besides, you should save your money for going out and having fun. I am paying for your books and I will not take no for an answer."
At that, Zuko let out a small groan and simply said, "Fine."
With that, Iroh let the staff know that he was heading out. They quickly left DragonsTea and walked towards campus.
"I'm heading upstairs to pick out my textbooks, Suki," Katara shouted over her shoulder. "I'll look for you when I head back down, okay?"
"Okay," Suki said, absentmindedly nodding while checking out some sweatshirts with the BSSU logo on them.
Katara braced herself to head up the stairs to the second level of the bookstore. There was already a hoard of people crowded around the bookshelves trying to find their textbooks as quickly as possible and she dreaded having to head into the mob.
She had an empty basket in one hand and her class schedule in the other. Quickly, she gathered up her books and with a look of triumph on her face made her way towards the stairs before the crowd got any bigger.
Why do I always wait until the last minute to get my books…Next year, I'm ordering them online and having them delivered!
Unfortunately, while lost in thought, she didn't notice the older fellow and the young man until she had already run into them. As soon as her shoulder collided with the young man, her books flew across the floor at her feet along with the young man's books. All Katara heard was her own voice shouting, "Oh shit!" and an exasperated groan from one of the two men.
Author's note: This is my first fanfic and I didn't have anyone beta it. So, please keep this in mind when you're offering your criticism. Thanks for reading and I'll try to update this as soon as possible!