Contrary to his initial reluctance, Zuko wound up accepting the offer to meet Sokka at the plaza, a decision which resulted in him being guided tipsily back to Ursa's at a very, very late hour.
"We can't wake up Mom," Zuko murmured, leaning heavily on Sokka's shoulder. "She's gotta get up early 'n it wouldn't be nice."
"Oh yeah?" He missed Sokka's grin as the other man reached to pull back the portal curtain. "You're always so thoughtful, Sparky."
"N't call me Sparky!" Zuko tried to sound indignant, but even to his own ears the words were nothing more than a slur. "'S not manly."
Sokka simply chuckled. "Ohhh, now you're worried about manly," he said, "dish boy."
With Sokka's help, Zuko made it through the doorway and into the living area.
"So what if I do dishes," Zuko said. "What's wrong with being helpful? It's good to be helpful. I...I should be more helpful!"
"Easy Prince Poutypants," Sokka said as he pulled a teakettle from a stack of cooking pans. "I'm not insulting you. It's called teasing."
Zuko's brandy-wine-fogged brain took a moment to process this.
"Teasing?" he said.
"Yes," Sokka said. "Teasing. Like I've been doing all along since I decided to stop disliking you three years ago. Teasing you. Because you make it so easy." Sokka dug some tealeaves out of the herb basket. "Do you think you can light a fire without melting the house down? You need to sober up."
Yet another subject change. Zuko's brain grudgingly shifted gears in an attempt to keep up.
"Sure," he muttered. "Uh...stand back."
Sokka stepped aside. In a feat of concentration rivaled only by those displayed in his earliest days of fire bending, Zuko focused his energy and shot a tiny flame from his fingertips to the fire's logs.
"There," he said as it jumped to life. "How's that?"
"That's just great," Sokka said, and set about brewing tea. Zuko watched him and tried not to yawn.
"Since when do you make tea?" he asked at length. The room was slowly warming and that was making him sleepy.
"Since Order training. It's part of Iroh's program." Sokka sat down next to him as they waited for the kettle to steam. "You're yawning."
"Yeah, the brandy-wine hangover will do that to ya."
Zuko nodded, then turned quizzical eyes in Sokka's direction. "How come you're not yawning?"
"I've had a little bit more practice drinking arctic brandy-wine than you have."
"So you're not...feeling anything?"
Sokka shrugged. "I am, I'm just better at hiding it than you are."
"Katara said the first time you drank it, she had to bend you out of the ocean."
"Oh, you mean the polar puma thing?" Sokka rubbed the back of his neck. "Heh. Yeah, I got a little carried away that night."
"Di...did she ever do that?" The question was out of his mouth before he could stop it and Sokka was turning to him, looking awkwardly uncomfortable.
"Did she ever do what?" he asked.
"P..polar...pumaing," Zuko replied. "Did she...you know?"
"Zuko..." Sokka got up, heading over to the fire to pull the teakettle. He fished out two cups and poured before returning to the floor and the question. "Um...no offense man, but I don't know if I'm comfortable talking to you about whether or not my sister has ever jumped in the ocean naked."
Zuko felt himself blush to the roots of his hair. "Right, that's...not something we should be discussing. I'm sorry."
"It's just weird," Sokka said. "I mean, I get it, but it's weird."
"It would be like me asking you if Azula..."
"OKAY." Zuko held up his hand, not wanting Sokka to ever finish that sentence. "Okay. Naked sisters are off-limits. Deal?"
"Yeah." Sokka took a sip of tea and then looked back at Zuko. "You like her though, don't you?"
Zuko cupped his hands around his tea and said nothing.