Romance in the bottom of my Tea cup
Disclaimer: I don't own "Avatar." If I did, there would be at least a whole episode of nothing but Zuko/Sokka smut. But there isn't. So, as far as I know, I don't own it.
Warnings: Slash. Angst. Going-on-ness
"You have to understand something," he said, lifting his small earthenware cup to his lips with calloused fingers. He inhaled, breathing in the scent of jasmine that swirled up to meet him before lifting the cup and taking a sip. He let out a satisfied breath. Then he set the cup back down on the table, next to the pot, steam still rising from the top of the spout. It reminded me of breathing, slowly exhaling air that was once mine. I lifted my cup up to my face, and poured some down my throat. I winced, it was too hot, and it left trails of fire in its wake.
"Long before Zuko was born, I am sure the fates decided his life was not going to be so pleasant." Iroh continued. "He has never had it easy."
I pushed my cheek up, leaning on my elbow, sideways on the table. I could see that, I supposed. I didn't want to admit it, but I suppose he was right. But I can't help myself. You'd be angry too. The dusty light of the afternoon filtered through the back window of the teashop kitchen. They were closed for the day. Sunday was useful in this city for talking with family. But I don't intend to spend my days trapped as a housewife, my life on the chopping block, because the only life I've got is being tied to the floor.
"Sokka, you are the best thing that has ever happened for Prince Zuko, even if he doesn't realize it." Iroh turned his attention out towards the dusty street, now devoid of travelers. Their house was empty too. Everyone else's houses were full of families. But not this one.
Speaking of families, I need to get back to mine. Loose-knit as it may be, I love them all for who they are. How we're still alive, I'm not sure. I should be, because I know that we've done it with strength, intelligence and luck. I'd like to say that the intelligence part was mostly me. So, I would have thought that we could face anything together. And we almost can. But I can't. And, despite being the smart one, I can't figure out how to fix the mess I've made.
It probably started because I was alone. I don't want to live my life by myself. Being a warrior doesn't mean that you live life alone, right. So, being the solitary warrior left at the southern pole, I'd assume I might wind up wooing someone like Princess Yue. But no. Of course not.
You know, Zuko isn't the only one who has it tough. Where's my luck? How did I get stuck with him? To be truthful, I suppose that it was my fault I fell in love with that fire-bending hot-head. but I was innocent! I didn't know what I was getting myself into! You can't sell me a fruit that looks like a mango but tastes like a lemon, right? I mean, that's like fruit-fraud, or something! It can't be legal.
So, in truth, when I saw Zuko working at this tea shop, he was playing tricks with my head, his light amber eyes shining, rolling in sadness. One of them was cored in a light red scar, how could I resist. He looked so terminally sad, that I just had to start staring at his supreme pathetic-ness. And just when I was about to roll my head back and laugh in a superior fashion, he went and snapped "What are you staring at?"
Well, you just don't talk to Sokka of the Water tribe that way. I mean, he was the outcast, and I was the guy who discovered the avatar. I was prepared to find Toph so we could both laugh. But, I didn't. Why I didn't , I don't know. And then he turns away, when I hadn't finished talking. How inconsiderate!
So, of course, I had no choice but to start shadowing him around until I found him in a more agreeable talking mood. And, so, maybe along the way I saw him walking, on hot days without a shirt. So, as you see, I was ambushed into looking at him. I had no choice. Then I returned with the food, or rations, or whatever errand they had sent me. And, of course, everyone's favorite flame-head never gave me an appropriate chance to talk, so it fell on me to create conversation:
I ambushed him at the tea shop back ally entrance one day, slipping stubborn words from his throat like fire. He refused to speak as much as he could, only accusing me of ruining his life. The nerve of some people. He made me so angry, sometimes things just slip out when I speak with him.
"I wouldn't even talk to you if you weren't so damn cute!"
I didn't know where that came from. I must have let that apple I ate sit out in the sun to long. (You know how they get, when they've started to ferment just a little. it takes the edge out of your wit.) And that idiot just stood there, staring at me like I was crazy! The nerve of some people. I had to make a quick exit out the back of the alley. I was running for my life, and you would be too.
And then, through my infinite wisdom, I was back a week later, ordering lemon tea from him one Monday afternoon, looking him in the face, staring down his stare. I looked at him, and spoke in a clear calm voice, saying everything I intended. and he said: "fine." Which was fine with me. And it stayed fine until he followed me home one Thursday afternoon. I was leaning against a wicker bucket full of cantaloupes, thinking of picking one up for the trip onwards from Ba-Sing-Se. And I turned around, deciding to leave them, my left hand brushing against the one on top of the pile. And I saw him, following me with a determined look shooting from his eyes.
Needless to say, I used some of my finest material, expletive wise, on the way out of there, sprinting, digging my heels into the dirt. I looked back, the crowd parting in my wake, Zuko was sprinting, and gaining fast. I hung a sharp right, between buildings. I stood, gasping, hands on my legs, and leaning down over the ground. I stood there for a while, gathering my senses. When a pair of feet entered my scope of vision. And not a single thought slipped through my mind before I was up against the wall, foreign lips of flames over mine, breathing steam down my throat.
And, as my one mistake I've ever made in my life, I actually kissed him back. I can't think of what else I did, but my hands were on his shoulders when he pulled away, golden eyes staring into mine. I couldn't think. And his searing self pulled away, and I couldn't help myself. I wanted more.
And he said: "So."
And that was all I needed to hear, for a while.
But it didn't stay that way for long. I avoided him for a week, turning tail from the tea-shop, running ion hot air and lonely energy. I suppose that despite my best camouflage, my body is just too good to hide away. Zuko found me again, behind a barrel of pickles in the market square. I just happened to be in his vicinity, eating my lunch in hiding so as not to be raped. And he held out his hand to me, saying only the harshest of words:
"Get up." He pulled me along, tripping myself as I tried to spin out of his grip. I tried to run, but he overpowered my with his pure pathetic-ness rays he was bombarding me with. I felt sorry for him, his head remaining stable as he walked along, dragging me. You have to be either royalty or a warrior (or both, in his case) to be able to walk with such a steady gait. And I was distracted in that while he suddenly stopped. We were alone again. What ensued is nearly to scary to reveal to innocent children, but I will continue because it must be told to preserve the knowledge that Zuko is actually a human being:
I twisted, attempting to free myself from his iron hands, and fiery temper. I yelled out to leave me alone. He said stop. I wouldn't stop. I managed to twist around, but he just stood there, holding me as still as He could. I screamed for help, but he had picked the perfect spot for his devilish plot. The crowds of people were in the market, but their milling about, haggling over prices, and the general proceeding of commerce clouding out my desperate cries. When he spoke in a brief burst:
"Look." He spoke this in his quiet, almost breathy voice. He stared at his shoes, looking down and away, while I was standing, my arm outstretched and being held by him, leaning out at an angle, trying to get free.
"I'm sorry." he said.
"For what?" I said.
"For kissing you!" He forced this bit out through angry lips, and stood, taking deep breaths before he opened his mouth again. it was a few minutes before he spoke again. "You can leave if you want." Then he let go of my hand, and I fell, on the ground, on my ass! and he just turned, and started snickering. And then, he was laughing. Not some prissy little fake laugh you do when you want to humiliate someone. It was the kind of deep, side-splitting laughs that jolts through your system like wine. And that was the moment when I fell in love with Zuko Roku.
I guess I never noticed I fell in love with him then, but I did. At the time, I was amazed that Zuko had an honest laugh in him. I got angrier the harder he laughed. The dust settled as I watched him wipe tears from his eyes as he tried to contain is shaking.
"What is so funny!" I yelled out. I mean, sure it was great that he laughed and everything, but of course I had to get it by injuring myself. Zuko is sadistic like that. He pointed at me, smile spread on his face.
"You...You... fell on your butt, and you had the funniest look on your face!" He spluttered. And I noticed: I had never seen him in a better light. And I felt like kissing him. So I did. It didn't last long, just a second or two. He looked at me with surprise on his face. I had never seen him so relaxed. I couldn't believe he could be like this. He had always been, I don't know, like the poster child for teen angst.
He kept looking at me, his hand resting on my waist. So I was feeling more and more awkward. You would be to! I mean, he was just standing there, like I was a fish! And so, I said: "What?!" and he just smiled. Then he kissed me again. It was nice, like peanut butter ice cream lingering on your lips. And, you sit for a minute, but then you need another taste, because the flavor is stuck in your mouth, making you crave another cold bite. I was home late, that night, the lanterns were lit, and the fountains were turned off for the night. People walked by quickly, the night settling on the city like a cool blanket. I walked with his hand in mine. It may have been mushy, but anyone would have done it.
I smiled at his face in the harsh and quivering shadows cast from the lamps, and an off home. Needless to say, I was questioned far beyond reason for being just a little bit late. Really! But things settled down again; after all, Katara, you were the only one who was angry. And that faded in the morning. So when we went for a walk, for equipment, you were all so surprised when I was aware of our surroundings acutely when passing the tea-shop. I prayed to the gods that Zuko wouldn't see me. And, the gods must have been having a pissy day, because Lo and behold he ran out, waving his hand, calling out in a throaty voice: "Hey!"
So I ducked down behind you guys, and demanded hiding. See, it all makes sense if you see it from my point of view. But, of course, you had to ask why and moved out of the way so he could see me crouched in the dirt. Now, where's the friendship in that? And he stood above me, with everyone staring at the clot we had made in the road. "I think you left this at the tea-shop yesterday." And he held out my boomerang, gleaming in the light. I could have sworn I had brought it home.
"Thanks," I said, looking down and away from him. How embarrassing was he going to make this, I asked myself. I was soon to find out that this was just the beginning.
"Hey." he said. "See you later." And like that, he walked off, back towards the tea-shop, leaving me to fend for myself, question-wise.
That's when you said "Sokka?", and your voice went up at the end like it does when your about to ask a question and I've done something to make you mad. And then: "What was that all about?" So. Stop right there. If you were me, what would you have said? You would have said exactly what I said:
"Nothing. I just stopped there for tea once, and I must have dropped my boomerang."
"Then Katara: "that doesn't make any sense. 1: you never leave your boomerang behind and 2: Even if what you said was true, why would he say 'I'll see you later?'"
So I said I didn't know why. Which wasn't really a lie if you think about it.
And then, you Toph started agreeing with Katara, which was enough to make Aang start believing you too. So, I was sunk if I kept talking about it. So I didn't. Very simple, and straight-foreword.
Later that night, I snuck out too meet him again. So, I couldn't stay away. Sue me! Everyone has a few flaws, so I should be allowed a few. He was standing just outside, sweeping the sidewalk outside the shop clean of costumer's feet. And, I called out his name, so he looked up to me, and I ran to meet him. He opened his mouth before I could take a breath of air, and asked me what the rush was. I needed a minute, I ran all the way from our place to his, and I couldn't concentrate enough to even form sentences. He didn't seem to mind too much, just held my arms up as I leaned into him. And then i said that he was nice and all, but I sure as heck wasn't going to date him.
"Look, it's not like your not nice, but I really think I don't want to be your boyfriend."
And he didn't say anything after that, and just kept sweeping the step off. I stood and watched him until there wasn't any dirt left for the broom to move. Then I walked home.Dundundun...