Stolen Moments, Stolen Glances

Flames licked the walls around Sokka, flickering a deep blue that was the tell-tale mark of one certain Firebender: Azula. The ruins of the palace seemed an endless labyrinth, passageways twisting and turning much like the flames that plagued his every dream. Looking around him, he realized he was alone. Where's everyone gone? Katara, Aang, Zuko, Toph ? In that instant, he knows that she's chasing him. Not the Avatar, not his friends, not even the little blind Earthbender that is fighting for the man they both love…

The thought made him stop in his tracks. Toph. Spirits, how he couldn't ever let her know about what happened when it was just him and the princess. Not with how new their own relationship was. It would crush her. Blue flames snuck around a corner, tempting, teasing him to run.

So run he did. Halfway in the other direction, Sokka thought that maybe he shouldn't have gone towards the flames, towards the one thing that tormented him most. He tried to convince himself it was all in the name of saving the others, but he knew it wasn't. Maybe, because she feels the way I know she does, if I ask her not to hurt the others she'll leave them be. Immediately he realized how unlikely that sounded. Azula giving mercy (to anyone except him)? It was like seeing an end to the war – possible, but against everything he prided himself in knowing.

And spirits! Why did everyone seem to be gone, everyone except him and his beautiful, psychotic princess? He deftly jumped a fallen column, wondering vaguely how much damage he and Azula had caused so far. He hoped it was a lot. To his left is the sound of her laughter, and his own sister's screams. He can't tell which is worse. Running towards both, he realizes that they were caused by the same thing: a crumbling doorway. The doorway separating Katara and Toph from Aang and Azula.

It's over, he thinks. No way Aang can do this with having to worry about Katara too. So Sokka does the logical thing – he jumps over rising flames to tackle the raven-haired girl who was too bloodthirsty for her own good. "Aang, get the girls and leave! I'll be fine!" There is a small hole between the fallen rocks, one just big enough for Aang to crawl through.

In his mind, Sokka prays that Aang will listen to reason. The others had so much to live for…and he didn't. He couldn't even bend, and how hard was that? Sure, Toph would be upset – only marginally more than his sister, he thinks– but she could find love again. Sokka doesn't think he could if something happened to her. Not even with the crazed princess he was currently sitting on top of.

"Get. Off. Me. NOW!" she violently whispered, venom oozing through every word. "Now or I shall singe your body into ashes and leave you here to blow into the wind."

In his stupidity, all Sokka can do is chuckle as he whispered under his breath, "You wouldn't hurt me, Azula; you and I both know it. Stop squirming so we can get this little charade over with."

Her eyes shine with their shared joke when she raises them to his own. "Surely you're not saying you'll let me go?" They both know they have to keep up the act until it's certain that everyone else is gone.

Another infuriating chuckle. "Now, I never said that." Sokka has to admit that he enjoys messing with her. Looking over his shoulder, he sees that Aang did indeed listen to reason, taking the girls and getting out. He can tell that Toph at least isn't happy, if her screaming at Aang is any indication. "Can't leave Sokka with the psycho…!" he thinks he hears from her, the words getting fainter with each breath, but can't be sure.

She notices it too. Smirking right back at him, Azula points out the one thing that's holding him back: "She loves you, doesn't she? It would crush her to know what's been going on, wouldn't it?" When he only nods and stares at the floor, the smirk softens and her vulnerability shows through. "Oh, Sokka. Why do I do this to you?"

He knows she blames it on herself, their secrets. Everytime he tries to tell her that it's not all on her – if he wanted out of it, all he would have to do is say the word. It might up her resolve to capture Aang, but she would find a way to let Sokka escape. Just like she always did. Tracing her face with his thumb, Sokka searches her eyes for some sign of anything. "Azula…you do this because we both want it. Both need it."

A tired smile from the princess. "I suppose your right."

"I always am, aren't I?" Azula realizes this is why she fell for him in the first place. Even though they were supposed to hate each other, wish the other dead, he could still drop all the pretense and just be. Wherever he was, that was where he wanted to be. He never lingered where he didn't want to be. Sure, there were times he wanted to be somewhere else, but it was always due to his irreplaceable sense of adventure.

"That you are."

Sokka eases himself onto the earthen ground beside her, wrapping an easy arm around her shaking shoulders. Peering down at her face, he sees something he never expected: tears. "You aren't crying are you, Azula?" he quietly questions, tightening his grip on her.

"There is water coming from my eyes, so I would assume so," she gets out around the soft sobs escaping from her mouth.

He doesn't say anything for a moment, just wraps her up in his arms and holds her until the sobs subside. "Sh, it'll be okay, I'm here," he murmurs into her hair, "I'm here, Azula." After a few shaky breathes, he lifts her chin up. "Do you want to tell me what's wrong?"

She nods, taking a second to steady her voice. "It's just…for once I'd like to have a normal time with you. Not have to try and look like I'm about to kill your friends just to see you. Have a normal relationship. Be normal. Have you take me out for dinner. Do normal, mundane things like that, with you."

"I know what you mean," Sokka says, looking around them. "A destroyed palace isn't really that romantic, is it?"

Azula weakly laughed, gazing up at the boy she loved. How do I deserve you? She thought. How did I get someone as wonderful as you? "Not entirely."

He sighed. "I want to be with you, Azula, but everything is against us. Everything. You're supposed to be trying to kill me, not kiss me. I'm supposed to be scared to death of you, although I am, but for different reasons. And Toph. Spirits, what do I do about her? Azula, you know I love you, but I love her too. And not that you don't, but she deserves to have someone love her."

Tears start streaming again. "I think I know where you're going with this, Sokka…"

"I'm so sorry, Azula, truly. But how long did we really think this would last? Even the moments we do get are short and far spread, due to Mai and Aang and everyone else." He kissed her gently. "I love you. Never forget that."

"And I you," she whispered.

He got up, not looking back at her as he walked away, instead staring into the seemingly endless labyrinth of corridors. He knew if he did that he wouldn't ever leave her, and he needed to. For her sake, if not his own. "Goodbye, Azula."

El Fin

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AN: Well, that was different - who ever thought I'd end up doing a Sokkla fic? (Not me, that's for sure! Ha.) Was having a talk with DarkBluexx [a LONG, long time ago] and we started talking about ships and stuff in the Avatarverse. Somehow or another crack ships came up, and Azula x Sokka was mentioned.

It really caught my imagination. Here is one girl who has ONE romantic scene in the entire series (at the beach, remember?) and they guy who has 3 girls fall for him (Yue, Suki, and Toph). One psycho princess and one hopeless goofball. There was just something about them made me want to write this. –shrugs- I don't know what it was, but I think this turned out rather well. I would not be against writing more of these two if any of you want me to! Just review! xD

And, of course, since it's me, there's always the Tokka. Gotta love it. :3