A Sokka Thing
The young cat swung back and forth in the air, teetering on the boundary between life and death. His captor cruel and apathetic, he had no chance of appealing to mercy. As the weapon fired up, Sokka knew he'd met his end. Only the Spirits could save him now.
One Hour Earlier
Sokka paced in circles, glancing every so often to the door. His sister was gone again, and with that new dog around, he was worried about her.
Aang sighed in annoyance. "Sokka, I told you that you don't have to worry about the dog anymore."
"A beast that stupid wouldn't remember to keep to his word." He paused his pacing momentarily to scratch behind his ear with his leg. "I just want to know where my sister is."
Probably with Zuko again, thought Aang. His knowledge must have shown on his face. The Water Tribe boy came over and poked a paw at him. "You know where she is, don't you?!" Aang tried to get away with shrugging his shoulders, but Sokka just narrowed his eyes and tapped his foot. "Where is she?"
"What?" It was hardly the answer he expected. "Don't you lie to me, Avatar. Katara can't tap-dance." He paused for a moment, thinking. "Unless… Someone taught her how. But who knows how to tap-dance?" He glanced over at Toph, who was ignoring Sokka's interrogation of Aang. "IT WAS YOU!!"
The girl flinched, her fur standing on end. "What the… Why are you SCREAMING all of a sudden?"
"You'd know how to tap-dance, wouldn't you? Everyone knows you're good with your feet, Toph Bei Fong."
"Oh, yeah, Sokka. I know how to tap-dance, and I taught Katara. We were planning on becoming a tap-dancing duet after the war."
"I knew it! That's where she's been all this time." He jabbed a finger at Toph. "Shame on you, trying to leave me out of your show business plans. You know I'd make a great manager."
Toph tried to interrupt him but he shushed her and went on. "Katara's practicing tap-dancing then. Where would she go to do that? It'd have to be somewhere private…" There was a moment of silence while he thought. "The courtyard! She could hide behind the bushes and practice on the grass. Perfect!" He bounded over to the door. "Stay here, you two. I'll go find my sister." He left at this, hopping down the hall.
"I don't think Sokka knows what 'sarcasm' means."
"You know what else he doesn't know?"
"That you can't tap-dance on grass."
"And that cats can't wear shoes?"
"Yeah. Now I know what Katara goes through."
Toph thought for a moment. "Where is Katara, anyway?"
The Waterbender, at this time, was curled up on Zuko's stomach, while the dog lay in a far corner hiding from her. Perfect…
The young man tromped along, practicing his speech on how best to chew out his sister for not including his in their plans. His padded paws hardly made a sound as he walked on the tile. Having learned his lesson from the first time, he took care to avoid Azula's hallway, and went the other way to the courtyard.
When he stepped outside, the bright sun greeted him. His pupils contracted, and he squinted against the light. Half blind, he wandered around looking for his tap-dancing sister while waiting for his eyes to adjust. He went around checking behind bushes and trees and other secluded areas. Behind him, the grass crunched softly.
Sokka would've jumped out of his skin had the girl not been holding him down. His first response was to yell, or at least scream, but he held his tongue at the last minute.
Mai and Ty Lee came over to congratulate Azula on her fine catch. While the kitty squirmed, Azula said, "Ty Lee, if you will." A few gentle (or not so gentle) hits to some pressure pointes, and Sokka stopped squirming. While the other two weren't looking, the pink girl wiped her hands off on her clothes. The last thing she wanted was to reveal her secret.
"Now, now," crooned the Princess, "Just what shall we do with you?"
"Let's cut off a foot or two. Maybe then he wouldn't run so fast."
"No. Then he'd be a cripple, Mai, and I'd have to help take care of him." She looked down at the furry captive in her arms. Sokka would've trembled had he not been temporarily paralysed. The Princess reached a hand out to him, and to his surprise started scratching him behind the ear and under the chin. Her manicured nails were perfect for the job, and Sokka started purring before he knew it.
Mai and Ty Lee shared a look. "Azula, don't you hate cats? You threw that one into a pond, right?"
"Oh, I like cats. That one was just in my way."
"Really? You do like cats?" Ty Lee asked in amazement.
"Not as much as Uncle, but I do. They're clever, elegant, graceful, and independent."
"And flexible," added the contortionist.
Azula glanced over at her. "Ty Lee, you seem to like cats."
"Uh… Mhm, they're really cute."
"Do you want to pet him?"
"No, thanks. He seems to really like you."
"He'll like you, too. Just pet him in the right spots."
"It's okay, Azula."
Ty Lee was reluctant, too reluctant. Azula grinned. She must be…
There's the thesis; now to prove it.
Azula started walking over to her, holding the kitten in front of her.
"Hey… What are you doing?"
"You really don't want to pet the kitty?"
"No thanks." Azula was too close now; Ty Lee started backing away, right into a tree. She was trapped.
"Azula, it's okay, really. You and Mai should pet him." Azula didn't stop her advancement. She held the cat out, and he swung perilously. Oh, no, thought Ty Lee. My nose is tickling! She tried to hold it in, but a sneeze is inevitable.
"Ah… Ah… Choo!"
Sokka cringed as he was sneezed on. He could only hope Azula would give him a dunk in the pond to wash off.
"Ty Lee…" The pink girl braced for her sentence. "You're allergic to cats, aren't you?"
Mai chuckled. "I guess your circus didn't have any lions or tigers."
She blushed. "No, it didn't."
"That'd make a good show. Instead of the lion biting your head off, you sneeze it off. Makes the lion's job a lot easier."
Azula walked over to Mai and handed her the cat. Pressed against her clothes, the dark and gloomy girl feared the worst. When she lifted him up, she saw the damage: gray hair on black clothing. "Just wonderful." Sokka took the opportunity to rub his face against her shirt, wiping off any sneeze germs.
"Aw, he's so affectionate."
Azula grinned. "That's great, Mai. You've finally found someone."
She sighed. What would Zuko do if he heard her say that? Knowing him and his raging jealousy, he'd probably beat the cat up. "Can you take this thing now. He's… Shedding."
"Okay, give him here."
Katara had rejoined Aang and Toph on hour ago when Sokka finally came stumbling in. His fur was all fluffed up, and he smelled faintly of perfume.
"Sokka, where have you been?" asked his sister. "We were getting worried."
"I wasn't worried," Toph slipped in.
"Azula and her friends had me in their clutches."
"Well, you're not wet, so I guess she didn't try to drown you."
"No, but I got sneezed on and clinged on and Ty Lee'd on."
"The contortion girl?"
"Yeah, she hit my pressure points and I couldn't move."
"So," his sister interrupted, "You were with girls all day?"
"Well, yeah, but…"
"And after all those sweet things you said to Suki." Aang shook his head. "Tsk tsk."
Sokka was red hot and decided to change the subject. "Katara! Why didn't you consult me to be your manager?"
"Your and Toph's tap-dancing routine."
"I repeat: Huh?"
Toph and Aang burst out laughing. It took him a minute to figure it out, but eventually added two and two. "Hey! You guys lied to me!"
The Earthbender girl gave him a pat on the back. "Wow, you figured it out! You're so clever, Sokka."
"Uh, can someone fill me in?"
"Don't worry about it, Katara." Aang smiled at her. "It's just a Sokka thing."
A/n: Okay, you guys all get that the little introduction at the beginning of this chapter was referring to Azula holding Sokka and walking Ty Lee into a corner to make her sneeze, right? It's kind of like the opening to The Runaway. Thanks MartaBPC. End a/n.