I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender. This is slash. Don't read it if you don't like.
It's been said that you can tell a lot about a person from their friends. But, you know, you can tell a lot about someone by what they consume. Some people are up-in-your-face about it, like why they don't eat beef, why they're vegans, or vegetarians or what have you. So someone in Ba Sing Se should be no different than anywhere else, right?
They aren't. No surprise there. But is there a surprise in liking lemonade, at least on hot days. Because this is not the most popular circumstance for someone to enjoy anything. Or something exotic. So it was strange when travelers liked it, or refugees, or anything, because it isn't native.
And, not wanting to be known, Sokka slid from his perch in conversation with Aang, and searched the menu for something thirst-quenching. Because it was one of the aforementioned truly hot days, in their walled-in City. Soon, he shifted to fanning himself with the pages of the menu. Picking a table next to a one of the small circular windows high up on the thick clay walls. He was sliding in and out of the argument like a salmon swimming upstream: flashing thoughts and jumping just out of reach. But that was because he couldn't focus on anyone but one individual who looked strangely familiar.
His back was to Sokka, with a wide-brimmed hat doing an excellent job of shielding his head from Sokka's view. It was one of those situations when you are ready to walk up to a person, and talk to them out of irritation, because all you wanted to see was their face, and they seem quite determined to keep something large and obtrusive in between you and themselves. But you don't.
And you don't go up and talk to them, because you remember that even if you tap them on the shoulder, and they turn around, that they might smile, but there's no recognition in their eyes. So Sokka didn't tap the man on the shoulder, and he kept looking over the top of the Avatar's head, nodding absently to everything he said.
He wasn't sure what flashed a red light in his mind about this guy, but it did. When Katara wanted to waste money on something she found under some white stall and a merchant with quick eyes and quicker hands. Or when Aang wanted to stop, hide among masks, and start an explosion of insanity that will envelop a third of the city.
Speaking of "this God-forsaken City" as he calls it lately, why on EARTH were they still here? if the King had wanted a dialogue with the Avatar, he could have positioned himself better. When the got there, no quarters were prepared, so they were set loose in the city, bobbing downstream for a while, until the King could greet them. Not that they hadn't adequate funds, because they did. They could have done anything with the spending money he had given them in exchange for their time. As if they had time to go cavorting about when they should be preparing for war.
But that left his head. Because the man who was such the object of his attention was turning, and talking to a waitress, who's interest was apparent, dutifully taking down the order. Sokka saw a pale chin. Now, where had he seen that before? Well, there was... Zuko. It could have been him, but that seemed so unreasonably. He tossed his head to the left, up past the mud walls of the fine dining establishment towards the swinging door to the kitchen. There were now scores of people in the restaurant, all of the tables seemed packed to the brim, groaning as the old maple wood struggled to keep itself together. They all had small glass vases with little white flowers in them. They were mostly ignored, lost in the clamor. he went back to fanning himself, elbow narrowly missing Katara's left ear.
"Watch your arm!" She yelled out into his ear, ringing like a bell in distress.
He jumped again. "Pay Attention!" she continued on her irate messaging. "Aang needs a better plan. How are we going to keep him out of the Fire Nation's hands, huh? Got any ideas, or are you to busy zoning out?" He nodded again. Clearly our friend is not so focused.
So maybe he couldn't explain it. But why should he have to. It was a week later. And he had still come back at one each day. Hoping to catch a glimpse of someone and their order. And he had come alone. He didn't usually order anything. But a lemonade. And he sat, letting condensation run down the glass, forming rings on the table in the corner. He felt the heat of the room close his throat, but still he drank. He hadn't seen the man in any of those six days. So he drank.
And waited for today to be different.
To be continued. Please review/ Will be Zulo/Sokka. probably two-shot.