THE last chapter! Yay! I can't believe I completed a whole fic! -in awe- I never finish an entire story! Given, this is a series of one-shots...but hey, it's still a story -shot- Anyway, I'd like to thank all of you who have reviewed, kept this going, alerted, favorited, this fic and have been wonderful support C: Really, you have no idea how rare it is for me to actually finish a fic and I'm thrilled.
THANKS to InuHanyouGurl for letting me use (1). You'll see what it is when you get there. Check out her fics, yo, 'specially Virtually a Princess. Ahluvs. And I think I replied to all the reviews, if I haven't, don't worry, I'll get to them I'm just totally happy right now -doing the happy dance-
LESSON TEN: CONFESSIONS
LESSON TEN: CONFESSIONS
— Sokka's Field Guide
Sokka paced back and forth, growling under his breath, muttering incoherent nonsense as he spun sharply to turn and stomp back down his invisible line. He was at a complete loss of how to handle this, of what to say, and he muttered to himself, trying to formulate some rational thought – only to glance fleetingly at Katara and Zuko and returning at once to that pit of confusion and swelling rage.
His sister stood, after having scrambled up from the bed, and leaned against the edge. She rolled her eyes at the warrior's antics. "Sokka, you're being completely irrational," she pointed out carelessly, giving her brother a look.
"Irrational? Irrational?" He only rounded onto the pair, pointing a shaking finger at the prince. "I'm not the one trying to bed someone else's sister!"
Zuko stiffened at the accusation. "I wasn't trying to bed anyone!" He defended adamantly.
"Oh, so my sister's not good enough?" Sokka challenged.
"What?" The prince in question replied, thoroughly lost.
Katara's face flushed red, and she pointed a finger at her brother, reaching out to prod him roughly in the chest. "Stop yelling, stop pointing that finger, and listen for once in your life," she hissed through her teeth, cheeks heated and stomach churning with all this talk of bedding one another and really, she might be comfortable with Zuko, but she wasn't so comfortable as to even joke about such matters with him!
Let alone have a serious conversation about it!
Led by her brother!
"OK, fine, go ahead. Explain away," Sokka said, folding his arms across his chest. "Explain how I found you and Prince (1)Hotpants over there snuggled up all cozy in the same bed."
The benders blinked.
"I knew it!"
Katara stepped forward just as Sokka made a move towards the recuperating prince. "Sokka! Stop this! We can explain!"
"Then let's get this over with so I can stop this stupid tirade and go eat!" Her brother replied, waving his arms in wild gesticulations.
Katara glanced back at Zuko, who parted his lips to speak. No sound came out, and he shut his mouth again. The waterbender sighed and turned back to her restrained sibling. "I couldn't sleep last night," she began, wondering how she could explain herself without revealing the intimacy manifesting between her and Zuko (she could barely grasp it herself, how could she be expected to explain it to someone else?) "And you left by then. And I went to Zuko because I had a nightmare and…"
"So instead of going to Aang or me or Toph or anyone else, you decided to walk all the way down the hall to him."
She reddened, "Yeah."
Sokka nodded, "Continue."
"I was up and she knocked and came in. And she was crying so I comforted her," Zuko added, voice devoid of any and all emotion (though his own face was a particularly vibrant shade of scarlet). "And we must have fallen asleep, that's it."
"That's it, huh?" The warrior repeated skeptically, rubbing his chin in a manner befitting a detective as he approached the bedside. "Well, that's all fine and dandy, but you two haven't mentioned one thing—" And he yanked at Zuko's covers, letting out a theatric gasp as he pointed a shaking finger at the prince, "Underpants!"
Zuko hung his head, slapping a hand over his face, and drew it down in light irritation.
The waterbender slumped her shoulders, resisting the urge to water whip some sense into Sokka's thick, brotherly skull. "It's not what you think, really I just—"
Zuko scowled, "It's really not a big deal—"
"UN-DUH-PANTS!" The warrior repeated, still pointing furiously at the prince donned in nothing but a pair of shorts. Bandages were wrapped securely about his form and about his head, but apparently those didn't matter. Neither did it matter that underpants was more than what other patients wore under their hospital frocks.
Sokka continued to pace, back and forth like one of those target games at the festivals, muttering to himself.
"What am I going to do?" He groused, wiping a worried hand down his forehead, "I should have known!" The warrior exclaimed in a frenzy, tugging at his hair, still down from his previous night's sleep, and then he stopped dead in his tracks, face paling to a chalky white, "Dad's going to have my head for letting this happen—!"
"For letting what happen?" His sister shrilled, throwing her hands up in exasperation. "Nothing happened!" Her face flushed a bit, at the very thought of anything happening, and she felt Zuko shift on the bed behind her, "It's not like I slept with him or anything!"
Katara rolled her eyes, "Alright, so I slept with him, but not like how you mean it!"
The boy was not in the least bit placated and he let out a growl of frustration, returning (once again) to his pacing. "This is a disaster, dad's going to kill me and, oh god! What will Suki think? That you guys are already sleeping together and we haven't even—" He gasped, "You did it first!"
A hand came out to smack him across the face and Katara withdrew it at once, preparing for another. "Shut up, sit down, and listen, or I'll hit you so hard you'll think this is all a dream!"
"That's not such a bad idea," Zuko supplied from the cot, fingers massaging the bridge of his nose to relieve an oncoming migraine.
Katara scowled at her brother and took his shoulders into her hands. Their eyes met, were locked. "Nothing. Happened," she reiterated slowly, "Nothing. Happened."
He frowned, "Your voodoo mind tricks won't work on me."
The waterbender let out a shrill cry and leapt at her sibling, but Zuko grabbed her before she could do any damage, and he held her back, looking at Sokka through understanding golden eyes. "If he won't listen, he won't listen," he said reasonably. "I have to talk to him."
"Then talk to him!" The girl insisted, breaking out of his hold and gesturing to her hard-headed brother.
Both males eyed her warily.
"What?" She asked.
Sokka quirked a brow at his former-buddy, and then settled his eyes back onto his sister. "We need some…Man Time."
"Man Time, you know. We need to have a man-to-man talk. Just us men. Manly-ing it up."
Katara shook her head, "I don't believe this." She scowled incredulously at the prince, giving him a hysterical half-smile, clearly irritated. "Can you believe him? Asking me to leave! Anything you guys talk about I can hear, right?"
Zuko's brow raised. "No."
"Excuse me?" She inquired irritably, mouth falling open. "Why not?"
Sokka sighed, hooking an arm around Zuko's shoulders. "Because, dear female sister of mine—" (she rolled her eyes at the redundancy), "—we need to have a Man Talk. Nowhere in that phrase are women mentioned. Therefore, out you go," and he made a shoo-ing gesture with his free hand.
Katara lifted her hands into the air, controlling her temper, and stormed out, "Fine," slamming the door behind her.
Once she was gone, Sokka closed his eyes. "You have two seconds to explain what the hell you were doing."
Zuko barely had time to open his mouth when Sokka tackled the prince back onto the bed,
"What the hell do you think you're doing hitting on my sister?"
The firebender, caught off guard, grabbed at his opponent's arms, pushing him off. "I wasn't thinking!" He answered as he worked to keep Sokka's fisted hands away from his injuries. "I didn't mean to!"
"What do you mean you didn't mean to?" The warrior challenged disbelievingly, standing up from the cot and glaring at his friend, "You've been asking me for tips on girls and this whole time it's been Katara, hasn't it?"
"I'll kill you!" Sokka announced, leaping for him once more, but this time Zuko was prepared and side-stepped the assault, causing the warrior to slide over the covers of the bed and land unceremoniously on the other side. After he picked himself up, he grabbed a tray set on Zuko's bedside, "Now I'll kill you!"
Zuko stepped away, avoiding the flying tray. "No, stop—you don't understand!"
"I understand that I've been helping you woo my baby sister!" Sokka argued, flailing the dish here and there, completely missing the intended target. "Why didn't you tell me? You totally broke the Man Code!"
"The Man Code!"
The prince was confused.
"You don't even know the Man Code!" Sokka declared in shock, motions freezing mid-swing. "You don't know the Man Code…" and then his arms fell to his sides and he laughed, laughed as if this entire thing was just the funniest situation in the world – and the fire prince was eyeing him with widened eyes, maybe a little scared because he had a sinking feeling that perhaps Sokka had been drugged.
It wasn't so.
"Zuko, Zuko, Zuko," the warrior said sympathetically, "Buddy. How can you expect to survive in the Manly World of Manly Men if you don't even know the Man Code?"
The prince shrugged, making sure to keep a distance between him and his buddy. "I don't know, I guess I'd just continue on with how things were going," he admitted.
"That will never work – I nearly killed you," Sokka said.
And Zuko opted not to comment on that, lest he incite Sokka's wrath once more.
"Well, I can't be mad at you if you had no idea you were breaking a code," the warrior mused, and then he looked at Zuko with that lopsided grin of his. "I think it's about time someone taught you the Man Codes. Lucky for you, I've got a whole book of 'em, and I happen to have a copy of it right here—" and he removed a bound pamphlet from his backpack, handing it to the prince.
Zuko blinked. "Um…thanks."
"It's really no problem," Sokka said, waving a dismissive hand as if he did this all the time. "I'm only here to help."
Zuko eyed the title apprehensively. Written For Men, By Men. "By Men?"
Sokka shrugged, "Haru helped. A little."
After another second, Sokka slapped a hand onto Zuko's shoulder.
"Well, I'll let you skim through that, you can keep it if you want – I already signed it, see? And about this whole Katara thing – we'll just pretend it never happened, alright? But now I know, and it's alright, I guess, but I'll be keeping an eye on you – no funny business," and he moved towards the door before pausing, turning back to Zuko, and chucking, whispering an amused, "Prince Hotpants," as he left.
Iroh came in then, holding a tray of tea, and blinked at his nephew. "Nephew, why are you in your underpants?"
The nurse entered the emptied hospital room, preparing it for the next patient, and was confused as to why shards of glass and tea were spilled all over the floor.
Katara was still simmering later that day after they checked out of the recuperation facility, annoyed with her brother and with Zuko. When the prince was finally alone, she approached him, grabbing his arm, pressing her fingers against his bandaged wounds, pressing a palm to his forehead.
Zuko blinked, startled by the contact, the gentle caresses, and could feel the heat creeping up the back of his neck. "What are you doing?"
"Checking for any injuries," she answered, "I heard a lot of yelling after I left, did Sokka hurt you?" The prince quirked a brow at that, and she shook her head, letting out the softest of laughs. "Well, alright, did you hurt Sokka?"
"No," the prince answered dismissively, amber gaze watching her carefully, the way her face was relieved to see him, the way the storm in her eyes had calmed, and she looked so happy and content and beautiful and— "Ow!" He exclaimed, moving away to rub his forearm where her fist nailed him, "What was that for?"
The bender frowned, "For kicking me out of the room!"
And without so much as a hesitation, she grabbed his face and moved to smash their lips together in something that might have been a kiss if she hadn't lost her balance and instead bashed her lip against his chin.
Zuko reared back, touching his face, "What was that for!"
Katara covered her palm over her lips, tasting blood, and her cheeks reddened at the horror of what she did (or didn't do, because she had it all planned out in her head and it certainly did not go as she had hoped).
Only when Zuko realized that she was blushing was he able to connect the dots and he laughed, earning a glare from his object of affections. "Katara…" he began, and she shook her head.
"No, no. Go ahead, just laugh," she snapped irritably, thoroughly humiliated.
But she barely made it two paces away before he took her elbow, catching her chin with his hand, and their lips met, harshly and forcefully and awkwardly but it didn't matter because he was so warm, and she lost her balance but that didn't matter either because he braced her and even out in the open, under the sky, in front of their friends, they didn't care – not when her hands wove through his hair, not when his mouth had the ability to shoot off fireworks in the back of her mind…
And this time, Sokka's rampant yelling was ignored.
'…I give up.'
— Sokka's Field Guide
FINISHED! THE END! DONE! -throws confetti- You can expect SFG, E. II: So She Choked on the Ring to come out soonish. It depends, I'm thinking of doing a separate but supplementary one-shot for Sokka's Written For Men, By Men, but I'm not sure I can come up with 'Man Code' things. If anyone wants to give it a go, I offer it up C: I'll be focusing a bit more on Acquiesence right now, probably getting ready to get it to Chapter 15 before getting out the first chapter for Edition II.
But here's an excerpt for the upcoming Sequel! :D
Sokka's Field Guide, Edition II: So She Choked on the Ring
CLICHÉ NUMBER ONE: FOOD
Zuko's eyes widened as she took a bite of the custard, protest stuck in his throat. Katara was busy with her dessert, thoroughly enjoying it, and then she stopped, brows raising as her teeth hit something that wasn't the creamy custard. The waterbender scowled, prodding it with her tongue - it was round, and hard, and had a hole through it. She spat it out, curiously eyeing the custard-covered band.
The prince cleared his throat, cheeks bright, "Er...surprise?"
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