Title: Bound and Determined

By fuzzytomato

Disclaimer: Yep, I own it. Own it all. That's why season three is taking sooo very long. /sarcasm. Seriously, don't own it, making no profit. Please don't sue.

Tagline: When Sokka's guilt over Suki pushes him into action, he enlists help from an unlikely source - Zuko. With Toph along for the ride, the three embark on an adventure, and redefine the ties that bind them.


By the light of the moon streaming in the barred window several feet overhead, a girl raised her weary hand, the weight of her shackles pulling on her tired limbs. With grubby, trembling fingers, she placed the sharp rock against the metal cell wall and despite the small shriek of resistance, pulled it forcefully down, leaving a scratch, a mark, a witness to yet another day she had endured. Satisfied with her work, she allowed the stone to fall, with hopes she would use it again the next evening, and she crawled across the filth to her sleeping mat. Another day she had survived, another small victory, and as she lay down her head, dreams of a blue-eyed boy within her reach in the encompassing darkness of the prison cell, she closed her eyes.


He opened his amber eyes, turned his head on his pillow and stared at the picture propped on the table beside him. Despite protests from his fatigued muscles, he reached for it while sitting up and by the light of the moon studied the careful lines of ink on parchment that formed the impression of his uncle, his father, and hoped, yearned for forgiveness. The image blurred beneath his gaze as salty tears gathered in one eye, streaked down one cheek, and the boy angrily scrubbed them away before they could fall and ruin the picture in his hand. Placing it tenderly back in its resting place, he lay on his mat, his past failures replaying in his head, unable to sleep.


Bare feet flat against stone, sleep elusive, the girl felt the familiar vibrations of her companions through the rock, counted their heartbeats, measured their breathing, as she sat near the courtyard fountain unaware of the long shadows cast by the ancient carvings beneath the moonlight. One, two, three, four peacefully asleep in their rooms, one in the throes of a nightmare, one on the edge of sleep, tossing, turning and one, she turned her head to the other end of the courtyard, sitting on a precipice talking to the moon. She couldn't hear the conversation, but she could feel the quaking of his voice, the weariness of his posture and wondered what the moon offered in her companionship that the rest of them did not.


He rode in silence, the ostrich-horse thundering beneath him his only companion, as he navigated the small worn path toward the town, moonbeams his guide. Slowing his mount as he neared the outskirts of the village, the sounds of the forest night giving way to the sounds of a raucous nighttime town, his sharp eyes scanned the streets and upon finding the building he was looking for, pulled the ostrich-horse to a full stop. Dismounting, he reached into his saddlebags and pulled out the lone object he would need. Flipping the circular tile in his hand, he allowed it to dance along the tops of his fingers in a halting rhythm, flashing its symbol of a white flower as he hummed.


He sat, leaning against the stone, fiddling with an unraveling blue thread of his shirt, seeking solace in her light. He talked of anything and everything, of Aang learning firebending, Haru and his mustache, Toph's healing feet, Katara's issues with Zuko but skirted around the real reason he couldn't sleep, the hurt that resided in his chest, the guilt that weighed on him every minute of every day. Once he had run out of the mundane, he gave a sorrowful sigh and looked up with wide eyes and uttered the sentence that had been burning in him since they had fled the Fire Nation on the day of the eclipse.

"I failed."


A/N: So, here we are again my friends. fuzzytomato has officially lost her mind and has decided to write a new Sokka and Zuko buddy adventure. But this time, I'm branching out and adding Toph! Wooohooo! And starting as usual with my choppy prologue style.

And as usual, action will build as chapters progress. (For those not familiar with my style of writing, please go read Brothers in Arms) Probably won't be updated as quickly, or be as long, but will hopefully include much of the interaction you know and love from my two favorite boys.

So please, drop me a line, and don't forget to tell me what you think.