Warning: Slash. No Beta.
A/N: First thing's first; this was inspired by the Western Air Temple episode itself, and another fic on FF.N called Burned. I was just in the mood to write some thing slightly cheesy, with hurt/comfort and this popped into my head. Zukka – Zuko/Sokka and WAT- Western Air Temple. BTW, takes place a while after WAT; everybody trusts each other (or they should, anyway) and all that.
Katara looked over the Air Temple one last time. Azula had retaken up the hunt and they had to be careful. Aang, Toph, and Haru had created a rock wall, hiding the temple from sight. In fact, they had taken it a step further, on Zuko's insistence, and created a fake Temple. It wasn't a perfect replica by any means, but it was close enough, especially considering their use of it; Toph had created an earthquake big enough to be felt by the villages close by while Aang had let the fake Temple crash to the bottom of the canyon, and Haru made sure that the real Temple didn't fall. If the Temple was always covered by the rock wall, then, should Azula come looking for them at the Air Temple, she should hear about the earthquake, and see the fake ruins, and conclude that they had found another place to hide.
That was the only reason Katara felt comfortable leaving Haru, Tao, and the Duke alone in the Temple while she, Aang, Sokka, Toph, and Zuko went to the next town to get supplies. She tapped her foot, looking over the group of three that was staying behind. "Alright; to review-"
Haru sighed, exasperated. "Don't open the wall; Toph and Aang can open it when you get back."
Katara nodded. "And-"
"And if we hear anyone, add more rock to the wall."
"And if we hear Firebenders, add a lot more rock to the wall."
"That's right. Last thing-"
"If we think it's Azula, better safe than sorry; add as much rock as we can to the wall and hide as deep in the temple as possible. We get it, Katara." Haru said with a slight smile.
Katara sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. "I know. I just want you to be safe."
Haru pushed her toward the rock elevator Toph had created, as Appa was a bit too conspicuous to take through a forest. The elevator would take them to the top of the canyon and they would walk the rest of the way. "We will be. But if you don't leave now, you'll have to be away two days instead of one. Now, go!" Katara stepped on the elevator and offered one last smile to Haru; that was when she noticed him winking at Toph. She giggled softly behind her hand and leaned over to whisper in the younger girl's ear.
"Haru's winking at you."
Suddenly, a rock, about palm-sized, flew through the air and hit Haru in the face, the smack resounding through the entire Temple.
"Lose the porn 'stache, then we'll talk." Toph said, slamming the rock wall.
Haru stood and stared at the wall for a moment before tears filled his eyes and he sniffled. "But I like my mustache." He whimpered.
The group walked through the forest, but as night fell they were forced to set up camp. They had brought some of the last food with them, which Zuko and Aang both cooked. After everyone had eaten, they curled up in sleeping bags to go to sleep. Zuko was left, staring up at the stars long after his companions had fallen asleep. He had never been able to sleep well when he felt venerable, and outside with no cover while his sister was chasing them was making him feel very venerable. After a few hours, he managed to fall into a fitful sleep.
At about midnight, as Sokka was returning from using the restroom (over near the trees on the opposite side of camp from the stream) when he noticed Zuko tossing and turning in his sleep. Figuring that it was another nightmare, as the older boy had plenty of them; Sokka knelt at Zuko's side to try to shake the fire bender awake. At first, nothing happened, other than Zuko mumbling, so Sokka shook him harder, calling his name. Suddenly, Zuko's eyes shot open.
Zuko shot up from his sleeping bag, panicked and certain that the camp was under attack. Fire shot out in a ring around him, offering protection from whatever had woken him in the first place. He was startled when a familiar voice yelped in pain. When the fire faded, he found Sokka crouching near him, hands held close and eyes clenched in obvious pain. Zuko felt his breath catch in his throat and he scrambled out of his bag to inspect the damage to the younger boy, softly cursing the paranoia from living on the run to the depths of hell and back.
When he reached for his hands, Sokka flinched away instinctively and Zuko's stomach jerked in guilt. "It's alright. I'm not… I'm not going to hurt you." He said softly, though his throat tightened and he had to force the words out. A damn fine way to prove his trustworthiness; burn the poor kid. Sokka slowly relaxed and Zuko pulled his hands away from his protectively hunched figure to look at them. They were covered in bright red burns that would most definitely scar. "Damnit." He muttered, pushing his hair out of his face in a frustrated fashion. Sokka looked at him with unshed tears swimming in his eyes. A voice in Zuko's head screamed something akin to 'Untrustworthy Villainous Bastard!' at the sight. "Damnit." He repeated, slightly louder, his voice straining as he pulled the boy to his feet.
Sokka didn't resist as Zuko led him over to the river near their camp, though the firebender continued to mutter curses all the way there. They reached the riverbank, but Zuko didn't even pause, wading into his opposing element to the waist with out a second thought, and taking Sokka with him. Zuko gently lowered the boy's injured hands into the water, sighing. "Why did you wake me up, anyway?"
"You were having a nightmare." Sokka said, shrugging. "You've… had a lot of them."
Zuko bit back a scalding insult and shook his head. "Don't wake me up like that, alright? If you need to wake me up, just… stand back and call my name or something. God, I knew I shouldn't have let you get close to me." Sokka glanced up at the taller firebender, surprised and slightly hurt by his attitude.
"Sorry for being friendly." He muttered under his breath, looking away and sticking his bottom lip out in a pout.
Zuko sighed; a bit of steam coming out through his nostrils, fuelled by his frustration. "Look," He jerked the boy's hand out of the water and pushed it towards his face. "This is what happens when people get close to me, alright? It doesn't matter what I do, or how I try to control myself. When I'm surprised, I loose control, and the only was people are safe is if they stay away."
"That's not true." Sokka said quietly.
"Yes it is!" Zuko shouted, flames bursting away from him to spread out over the water, only to die before the reached either of the banks. His eyes widened in shock and he ripped his hands away from Sokka's wrists, taking a few jerky steps back to put distance between him and the other boy. "See?" He said whispered, looking down at his hands as if he couldn't believe what had happened.
"That wasn't that big of a deal; the flames weren't very strong, nothing even caught on fire and-"
"I could have killed you!" Zuko yelled, his hands clenching into fists before he moved out of the river, ready to run back to camp. However, Sokka was as quick as he was, following him to the bank and gripping the back of his shirt to stop him from running away. He flinched when the tender skin of his hands met with the rough cloth the firebender wore, but held strong all the same. Zuko whirled on him, grabbing his shoulders. "Why can't you get it through your thick head that I'm dangerous?"
"Why can't you get it though your thick head that I've faced worse than you since leaving the North Pole and it'll take more than an outburst from a firebender to scare me away?" Sokka yelled back.
Zuko growled, eyes narrowing. "You don't get it, do you? Anytime I'm caught off guard, or get angry or frustrated, I'm a threat to those around me! Do you really want to take the chance that I'll hear a person yell or trip and drop something, and end up burning down the camp?"
"We wouldn't have let you come with us if we didn't trust you!"
"Well, maybe you shouldn't trust me so easily!"
Sokka rolled his eyes, exasperated and tired of this argument; Katara would give them both hell if they kept yelling and woke her up. So, he knocked Zuko's hands off his shoulders, gripped the other teen's collar and pulled him down about an inch, smashing their lips together and effectively ending his arguments. Zuko's eyes widened and he stared at the boy, even after the kiss had ended and he was released.
"There." Sokka said, slightly out of breath. "I've officially shocked you, and I'm not barbequed. Now, will you stop going on about how 'dangerous' you are?"
Zuko's mouth opened and closed for a minute or so before he finally sputtered. "Stupid… rash… unbelievable… water peasant!"
"Get used to it; Aang's worse than I am."
Zuko sighed heavily before sitting down on the riverbank, putting his head in his hands. "Let me see your hands." He managed though clenched teeth. Sokka obediently sat beside him and presented his hands, palms up. Zuko held each wrist tenderly and brushed his thumb lightly on his right palm, guilt returning three fold when Sokka flinched at the touch. "If anyone is going to get close to me, it shouldn't be you."
Sokka pursed his lips together. "You mean, because I'm not a bender."
"You can't defend yourself quickly enough. It's too easy to hurt you." Zuko said, quietly. As an afterthought, he added. "Not that you don't prove yourself in battle, but Katara, Aang, and Toph can react as quickly as my bending can and be defended against it in an instant. It takes a little longer to get your hands on a knife or boomerang, and even then, it's not going to do much against fire."
Sokka glared at the firebender for a moment before standing up and returning to the river, putting his hands under the water.
"What are you doing?" Zuko asked.
"Just watch." Sokka answered. He tilted his head up and looked at the moon before closing his eyes and concentrating.
Nothing happened for a moment, and Zuko was about to call out to the younger boy, but then the river started glowing. His eyebrows shot up to his hairline and his complaints died on his lips. Then, as suddenly as it had started, the glowing stopped and Sokka fell forward, disappearing under the water's surface. Zuko jumped to his feet and dove into the water, grabbing the slimmer body and pulling it up to safety where the boy gulped in the much-needed air.
"What the hell was that?" Zuko asked, eyes narrowed in suspicion as he laid the boy on the bank and sat beside him.
Sokka smirk and proudly held up his right hand. Zuko's eyes widened and he grabbed it, pulling it in front of him to examine it closely, running his fingers lightly over the palm in disbelief. It was unblemished; smooth tan skin that looked as if the flames had never touched it. "How?"
Sokka shrugged, smirk never leaving his face. "My grandmother always said that the people of the Water Tribes always heeled faster, even if they couldn't bend, because of their close relationship with the moon. Well, when Zhao killed the Moon Spirit at the North Pole, there was a girl; the princess Yue, who had been sickly at birth and given life by the Spirit. When the Moon Spirit died, she returned the favor, and took its place. While we were there for Aang to learn waterbending, we became friends. I think I loved her, and I kind of hope she felt the same way. Now, I think she's watching over me. All I know is that I was climbing a tree a couple weeks ago and fell and landed on my arm. It hurt pretty badly and I thought I'd broken it, but I tripped into a stream on the way back to camp. The water glowed like it does when Katara used it to heal Aang after the battle at the Earth Kingdom, and then my arm was better. I've tried it a few times; there has to be a bunch of water, the amount Katara carries with her isn't enough, and I can only heal myself. I don't think it's Yue healing me; I think she's helping me to bend the water and heel myself, and that's why I almost fainted afterwards, if that makes any sense. I don't exactly understand it myself."
Zuko frowned in thought, his fingers still grazing over the hand he was holding. After a moment, the hand was pulled away from him and its owner leaned closer to him, whispering in his ear.
"So, stop worrying about hurting me. I can take care of myself." Sokka then stood and headed back to camp, leaving Zuko alone with his thoughts.
The firebender sat on the riverbank, studying how the moon reflected in the water before finally breaking the silence by quietly muttering to himself. "I never wanted to hurt you in the first place."
Voice Off Camera: sing-song It's CRAAAAPTAAAASTIIIIIC!!!!!
Silent: growl Shut up…. This fic probably has a rewrite in its future; it didn't come out the way I wanted it to. However, if I don't post it now, I never will, because if I think about it too much, I'll decide it should never see the proverbial light of day and let it rot on my hard disk for a year and a half before finding it and deleting it. I really was looking for some more OverprotectiveBoyfriend!Zuko and InPain!Sokka than I got, but no use bitching about it now.
VOC: snort Too late for that.
Silent: ignore And I really wanted to have Zuko kissing Sokka's hand while it was burnt or right after it healed, but the former would've hurt too much to fit with FeelingGuilty!Zuko, and the later spelled OOC-ness all around, so…
VOC: OOC-ness happened anyway!!
Silent: raises eyebrow Odd. You haven't made one comment on how I suck yet in this AN.
VOC: That's because you're proving your suckyness and failure at life all on your own, love.
Silent: Damn you. Damn you to hell and back, and then to hell again so I never have to see you again, you vile creature… Urm, review, please!! First Avatar Fic, and I know it's OOC to the MAX, but nonetheless. And even if you just want to say that I fail at life, VOC rather likes those, so send them in anyway.