"Okay, why did you do that? Everyone knows doing something like this can only end badly."

The other boy threw him a glare, his already-rosy cheeks darkening.

"I know you're from the south and all, but seriously. Did someone dare you or something?"

More glaring coupled with a small, reluctant nod. His cheeks matched his cherry-red scarf, which matched his gloves.

With a sigh, the teen addressing him put his hands on his hips and shook his head, slow and sad. "You know, as decent a guy as you are, stuff like this leaves me convinced that you're a horrible, horrible influence for my sister."

"Sokka?" the girl in question called, descending the school's front steps a few yards away. Then, seeing who he was talking to, she nearly tripped over herself in her hurry to reach them (an effort that was not helped by the slick sheet of ice covering the pavement). "Oh my God, what happened?"

Pointing to where his tongue was stuck on the frosty flagpole, Zuko widened his eyes as if to say, "What the hell does it look like?"

After taking careful ministrations to unstick his tongue and assess the damage (a tiny bit of skin had peeled off, but would heal soon enough), Katara was quick to ask the all important question: "What were you thinking? Did Jet drug you before you could get out of the locker room?"

"It was Toph, actually."

"What was Toph doing in the guys' locker room?" Sokka asked, raising one eyebrow in a manner that somehow encompassed curiosity, confusion, and disturbance all at once.

"No, I mean she offered me fifty bucks," Zuko explained, not quite able to form the words on account of his skinned tongue.

"And you agreed?"

"I didn't know what would happen!"

"Uh, it's Toph. Besides, what do you need fifty bucks for? You and your uncle still have, like, a gazillion dollars after your crazy dad cut you from the family business."

"Sokka," Katara sighed, giving him one of those looks that implied she was questioning how they could be related, "gazillion isn't a number."

"Exactly! They're so rich I have to make up a number!" To Zuko, he said, "Why would you do something Toph asks for a measly fifty bucks?"

"Uh . . ." he stuttered, biting his lip and rubbing the back of his neck. "I'll tell you later."

"What? Why can't you just tell me now?"

"Because," he said, using the hand he had been rubbing his neck with to point toward Katara, who stood on the opposite side and couldn't see the gesture, "I don't want to talk about it in public."

Sokka blinked. ". . . Oh. Okay. I'll call you after supper."

Up on the school's roof, one pair of binoculars and one pair of super-sensitive ears watched as the trio walked away. With wide, mischievous grins, Jet and Toph bumped fists.

"Okay, I don't care if he's trying to get cozy with my ex; blackmailing Scarface is fun."


Lick: 1. To pass the tongue over or along; 2. To get the better of; defeat.

Disclaimer: "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is property of Nickelodeon, which I am in no way associated with.