Commentary: Here's a short story told in equally short snippets. Why so short? It's easy to read—it's easy to write! =) And it's already DONE, bwahahah! I'll post a chapter every couple of days or so.
This is for Crossy, because… because.
This is set post-series. I hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: Don't own the franchise.
CHAPTER ONE: Signed, Sealed, Delivered…
Sokka Gets a Letter
The skitter of talons on the sill brought Sokka's head aright. Submerged up to his elbows in paperwork, practically swimming in obligation, he was eager for a moment's distraction—marginally hopeful, too, that this hawk came bearing something besides another treaty negotiation or alliance proposal.
The bird hopped impatiently along the thin bar beneath the window's smudgy panes, nipping at Sokka's fingers as he fumbled to untie its burden. "Hold still," he hissed. Unwilling to submit to such a request, the hawk scored his knuckle with its message-blunted beak, shook itself free of him, and took wing again. The small scroll formerly attached to the bird rolled across Sokka's desk with a clatter, its seal cracked.
Cursing and sucking at the small wound, Sokka unrolled the scroll with his thumb—noting idly that the crumbling seal was green—and scanned its top for an official crest. There was none. The majority of the scroll, in fact, yielded nothing but an expanse of blank parchment, and only near the missive's curling bottom did the tribesman locate the intended message.
Come to Gaoling by the solstice at the latest, the hurried line of scrawl read. Make it snappy. I need you.
And then, beneath that: Just you.
No opening—no signature, no address. No pleasantries.
No one in Gaoling but his best friend in the world, Toph Bei Fong.
Sokka reread the message three times. He said aloud to the stack of border contracts at his elbow, "She must be in pretty deep if she asked someone to write a letter for her." Under his desk his boots tapped out a staccatoed concert, and beneath his parka he felt the prickle of nervous sweat start up in earnest. Prison? he wondered, and dismissed the thought immediately. No—it wasn't likely a rural Earth Kingdom jail could hold Toph; she wouldn't need his help with that. Death in the family? That was only slightly more plausible, because Lao and Poppy Bei Fong had never been ill to Sokka's knowledge, not to mention both were fairly young. Maybe another Rumble tournament? Could be, could be.
Still, though, sending a message, especially with an arrival deadline…
"That's very un-Tophlike," Sokka informed his cup of tea, left over from lunch and long since cold. Absently he rolled the scroll up again, fixing it closed with a dab of sealing wax and a thumb's firm press. His eyes trailed to his calendar, half-buried beneath a faltering cascade of trade regulation memorandums. He counted the little squares on that calendar's barely visible grid.
Four days 'til the summer solstice.
"Looks like it's time for a field trip," he observed sagely. Papers rustled as he stood, tucking the scroll into the confines of his vest. Hooking his fingers about his lunchtime beverage cup, he threw the cool dregs of the tea through the open window, replaced the mug on his desk, and strode resolutely from his office.
A harassed voice in the alleyway beneath the window wailed, "My cabbages!"