Author's Notes: This story is set after Rufftoon's Water Tribe AU comic. If you love Avatar and haven't read her comic on dA, you're missing out. But you don't need to know what happens to enjoy this story.
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar nor am I making money off this. My only reward comes in the form of feedback.
Summary: Years after the war, Azula is on the run, hunted by the Avatar and her brother, but her greatest threat lies behind an unassuming smile and a pair of intelligent blue eyes. Sokkla - Future Fic.
The Dragon and the Wolf
Chapter One: White Lotus, Black Sword
A hooded man placed a tile in the center of the Pai Sho board. The old man across from him smiled. "I see you favor the white lotus gambit. Not many still cling to the ancient ways."
"Those who do can always find a friend," the stranger replied in a low voice that hid as much as his dark attire. He shifted and his black cloak slipped, revealing the hilt of a sword. If the old man noticed the weapon he gave no indication.
"Then let us play."
Without hesitation, the old man placed a tile and his mysterious companion placed his own. Within moments the board was filled with a symmetrical design in the shape of a flower.
The old man grinned and put his fist to his open palm. "Welcome, initiate. The White Lotus opens wide to those who know her secrets." He nodded and two men stepped from the crowd in the tavern and stood behind the cloaked stranger.
"It's him," the old man said and they clamped their hands around the cloaked man's arms, pulling him to his feet.
"You're ours now, Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe. Don't resist and we won't hurt you."
One of the men pulled back their prisoner's hood in triumph. A dull looking earth kingdom citizen with a trim goatee gave them a blank smile and spread his hands innocently.
"Wait, this isn't him!"
A sick crunch punctuated his exclamation and the man dropped without another sound. His partner pushed the decoy aside and grabbed his sword, facing off against a different cloaked man whose famous black blade was bared for the world to see.
Hooded shadows concealed half of the swordsman's face, but his white, toothy grin stood out against the deep tan of his skin and the dark brown scruff on his chin.
"The real Sokka is taller and better looking than that guy. Get your facts straight next time you try and set a trap for me."
The traitorous Pai Sho player scrambled to his feet and made a run for it but he didn't make it far before a flash of blue connected with the back of his head, toppling him to the ground.
"I'll deal with you later," Sokka told the unconscious man as he caught and sheathed Boomerang, never taking his eyes off his opponent. "So you gonna stand there all day? Or are we gonna dance?"
The man growled and rushed forward, his sword held high for a downward thrust that would have bisected the Water Tribe warrior if it had connected with flesh. Ordinary steel impacted with otherworldly metal and the black blade passed through with minimal resistance.
The man stared at his ruined weapon and looked up into the face of his defeat. Sokka tossed back his hood and smiled wolfishly.
"Please tell me that wasn't your whole plan."
Chairs scraped against the wooden floor as the rest of the patrons in the tavern rose to their feet, half of them pulling weapons from under tables or cloaks while the others lifted their bare hands threateningly.
The disarmed man backed into a firebender's stance and smirked. "Our master didn't underestimate you, if all you're worried about is your ego."
Sokka kept his sword trained on the firebender as he slid into a more defensible position, taking in the room full of enemies and calculating his odds. He snorted and grumbled the ironic parting words he'd said to his friends earlier that week. "No, no guys, I don't need backup. I can take care of it all by myself."
"Try not to damage him too much," the firebender reminded the others as they boxed him in.
Ignoring the orders, two edgy firebenders stepped forward and launched a pair of fireballs. Sokka kicked up the Pai Sho board and ducked behind it, muttering an apology to Iroh under his breath as it ignited. He grabbed the legs of the table and hurled it with all his might into the center of his foes. Men dodged the flaming furniture and Sokka dashed straight for the nearest exit.
Four armored men stood between him and the door and Sokka spun, avoiding a fireblast from the first. His cloak whirled and the skull-helmeted firebender didn't see the black blade until it cracked his mask in two.
Blood erupted from the man's broken nose as he staggered back into one of his companions, and Sokka's forward kick dropped them both.
The next firebender side-stepped his fallen friends and attacked with fists and feet, agile despite his armor and more intent on bludgeoning than bending. Sokka blocked a flaming punch with his forearm and their steel bracers clanged and scraped together as the bender pushed against him and intensified his flames.
Like a wave giving into the shore, Sokka stopped resisting and ducked, letting the man's arm pass above his head. He uncoiled and smashed his gauntleted fist into the firebender's unprotected jaw, lifting the man from his feet with the force of the blow.
The last firebender did the only sensible thing he could think of and lit the wooden tavern door on fire to try and stop the outnumbered warrior from escaping the building.
Sokka pulled up his hood without breaking stride and shoulder slammed into the man, sending them both tumbling through the burning wood.
His cloak caught fire and the Water Tribe warrior rolled to his feet and pulled it off in one fluid motion, wrapping it around his latest foe and leaving the man to flail helplessly in the flaming fabric. Firebenders poured from the burning building, hot on his trail, and Sokka darted down the first alley he came to, hoping The Universe was on his side for a change.
"Why is it always firebenders?"
There was no answer but the roaring of flames and Sokka dove for cover, rolled to his feet, and sprinted for all he was worth away from the new contingent of men on his heels. Barrels, boxes, and everything else in his path became his tools, but for every enemy he downed, more swarmed to take their place.
The former Fire Nation colony was supposed to be a neutral zone, open to both Earth Kingdom and new Fire Nation citizens, but everywhere Sokka turned men and women shouted and gave chase.
But it wasn't the first time an entire city had been out to get him.
Sokka jumped and grabbed a rain gutter, grunting as he pulled himself up to a second story ledge. He wasn't nimble like Suki and Ty Lee, but what he lacked in flexibility he made up for in strength, determination, and creativity. Or at least that's what they kept telling him over the years to make him feel better.
Space Sword made short work of a set of brass shutters and Sokka stepped inside the darkened room and tripped over the windowsill, displaying a stunning lack of agility. Something sliced through the air where his head would have been and he thanked his inherent clumsiness as he smashed the flat side of his blade into the legs of yet another attacker.
"How many of you are there!?"
He didn't wait for an answer, scrambling to his feet before anyone else could jump him from the shadows.
Fire split the darkness and Sokka threw himself out of the room. The building had an inner courtyard and he vaulted over the banister and landed, feet first, in an elaborate rock garden. It was all he could do to avoid hitting the stones and there was nowhere to roll to diffuse the impact.
His left shin throbbed and he stumbled, catching himself on a boulder.
"Great idea Sokka, land on your bad leg."
His old war wound always chose the worst times to act up, though Sokka knew he had no one to blame but himself. The Universe giggled and he took one limping step and knew he was in trouble.
The stomping of booted feet filled the air as men filed into both levels of the courtyard. Sokka hobbled to the center of the rock garden and leaned his back against a man-sized boulder, catching his breath as armed men approached him cautiously.
He chuckled. "You guys ever heard of a fair fight?" He drove his sword into a head-sized rock to free up his hands and reached inside his tunic, grinning. "Yeah, me neither."
He pulled out a handful of small metal objects and lit their fuses with a snap of his fingers. He couldn't take credit for his spark gloves, since he'd invented them based on the Rough Rhinos' explosive expert, though Sokka liked to think he'd improved on the design.
He tossed one handful to the left and one to the right and the resulting explosions sent men and earth flying. Sokka stepped forward and grabbed his sword, catapulting the rock he'd skewered at one of the central support beams.
Wood splintered and the floor gave way under the weight of armored men. In all the confusion, only a few of them stayed focused. Sokka caught a spear under his arm and twisted, pulling his attacker off balance and swiftly pinning him to the ground with his own weapon.
"You guys might just want to give up. I'm sure your boss will understand when you come back empty handed."
"I'm sure she wouldn't."
The voice sent chills down Sokka's spine but there was no time to react before two fingers jabbed the small of his back and sent a different kind of energy shooting up it.
She grabbed his wolf's tail and held him as electricity coursed through his nervous system. His back arched and he howled as his limbs convulsed and his hands clenched involuntarily, his right steaming around the handle of his sword.
"You lose," she whispered in his ear as the last of the current danced over his body, bringing with it the smell of burned flesh and singed hair and melting fabric. She let go and he buckled and collapsed to his knees but managed to stay upright by sheer force of will, head bowed as though in prayer to merciless gods.
"Seems you're finally showing the proper respect. You belong on your knees, peasant."
The men formed a loose circle around them, keeping their distance as their master stepped into Sokka's view, her stride slow and purposeful as though she had all the time in the world.
"It's been a few years," she said, conversationally, checking her nails before fitting him with a look of intense disregard. "I see you haven't changed much."
His lips twitched and he pulled them back into something resembling a smile, showing teeth outlined in blood.
"How you doing, Azula?" His voice was raw but steady. "Still crazy?"
There was a flash of rage in her amber eyes and she lunged for him. Her men cried out in warning but nobody could have saved her if she hadn't regained control of herself. Space Sword hovered an inch from her unprotected abdomen and she let her eyes drop to the tip of the black blade she'd almost impaled herself on.
She lifted her gaze to blue eyes as piercing as any steel. They both smiled.
His arm shook from the effort and he lowered his weapon to the ground in defeat.
"Can't blame a guy for trying."
"I've always liked that about you." She smirked. "It must be annoying to be the only one in your pathetic little band of do-gooders who knows how to end a fight."
She leaned forward and took the sword from his hand. He didn't resist or flinch, even when the damaged skin tore from his burned palm and fingers. She wiped the handle on her cloak and held his famous sword so she could inspect the perfect blade.
"This will make an excellent addition to my collection. They say your sword has no equal."
"It's not the quality of the sword that makes the swordsman."
"Too true," she replied. "Pity this sword didn't have a better master. Perhaps I'll find it one?"
Sokka barked a laugh and blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. "Well, you might want to hire outside help if you're looking for a decent swordsman. Your henchmen were disappointing."
"They were, weren't they?" Azula let her disapproval show as she scanned the ruined courtyard and the men and women who were still picking themselves up and helping the injured.
The man who'd been giving orders in the tavern stepped forward and bowed his head. "We're sorry, Princess. We won't let you down again."
She rested Sokka's sword on her plated shoulder. "Oh, I'm sure you will. But hopefully you can manage to get one defeated warrior back to my ship."
"Of course, Princess."
She turned and stepped through the line of former Fire Nation soldiers. The men closed in around Sokka but he kept his eyes on Azula and his sword until they disappeared from his view. He pulled his attention back to the circle of angry men and grinned cheerfully, holding up a hand. The men stopped with blunt weapons and fists poised in the air.
"One request, guys." He gestured from his chin to his forehead. "Not the face."
The officer smiled coldly and his speeding fist was the last thing Sokka saw.
Author's Notes 2: Just so nobody calls me out on it, yes I know Sokka lost his weapons in the end of the series. He found them. :)
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