Chapter 5


“Well...I don’t see why we can’t then!” Sokka let out happily, and rubbed his stomach.

“If you set me free, and you give me food...and you won’t chase The Avatar, I don’t see the downside!” He laughed out in a naive sort of joy.

Sokka still wasn’t one hundred percent convinced that Zuko had ‘peace and tranquility’ on his mind, but so far he’d take anything he could get to try and get some food. He’d had nothing but salty tasting water, and bread that was described more as mold than an actual food. He tried to imagine eating the disgusting meal day after day for more than a week. It literally made his stomach, and knees, feel weak.

Sokka stood, and stretched his arms above his head, as Zuko stood with a little more grace than Sokka could ever hope to gain in the next few years of his life. Zuko eyed the Water Tribe teen and sighed with agitation.

“You reek.” he stated simply, and beckoned the other with a finger.

“What? I do not!” Sokka let out indignantly as he raised an arm, and sniffed his own body to try and detect a scent, if a foul one.

“You do. None of the ship’s crew is your size, or near it, so you’ll be using my old set of pants, and shirt. Complain, and you get to walk naked upon the deck for the rest of the voyage. Like it or not, you will be changing out of that, and bathing yourself. Your stench is sickening.” Zuko cut harshly into Sokka’s ego as he spoke with a cruel honesty.

Sokka felt his forehead tense in the reaction that pulled an ugly frown from his expressions. He snorted as Prince Zuko sliced deeply into his pride, and ego. The Prince of Asses was really starting to annoy him. Sokka flicked his wrist in a sardonic expression for Zuko to ‘lead the way’.

“Hmph...” Sokka grumbled out, and crossed his arms over his chest.

Zuko watched the path of the limbs, and shook his head. The childish movement made his Gouka roar, and tremble on its edge. All day, he’d been containing the Fire that was ready to consume him on a constant basis. What was it about this silly peasant child that made his Gouka reach so strenuously for him? Why did it want to consume Sokka with so much more fervor than any other mere person he’d met before?

Zuko didn’t have the time to ponder the question as he was reminded that the other was waiting for his leadership into the innermost parts of the ship. The parts where the crew actually slept, and his quarters also resided. Sokka was tapping his foot in the most irritating way, and it actually reminded him of a black smith at work. Only it was a foot, on his floor. Sighing in distaste, Zuko motioned for the other to walk ahead of himself.

He may be ready to strike a small truce with the Water Tribe teen but he did not trust his back to the likes of Sokka. A moron who was a klutz half the time, and a glutton the other half was not his ideal man for being behind him in an attack, or any sort of situation.

Zuko pointed out turns for the boy ahead of him before they got there so that Sokka would not just walk around blindly. It brought a smile of almost sadistic intent to Zuko’s face as to know that the other was in such misery at not know where they were going. He watched the back of Sokka, relishing in his glory when they reached his quarters all to soon.

“Wait here...” Zuko grumbled out, and slid inside his room.

He didn’t want anyone to see his walls. The nightdemons were getting worse, and the Gouka was starting to control his actions when he slept. It was getting worse, and he didn’t want his long time enemy, now forced friend, to know any of his weaknesses. As Zuko slipped into the room, he shut the door and gave a harsh order to the other.  

“Wait here. Don’t move.” Zuko seemed to be very quiet at the moment, but Sokka pouted all the same.

It was strange that Zuko was being so tongue tied when he had been lashing out with said appendage so often earlier that day. It was as if the man was starting to think. Ha. A Fire Bender thinking. It was a laughable thing.

Sokka stuck his own tongue out at the door that Zuko had disappeared into the room behind it. He looked at the door, studying it as he waited for The Prince to return from his journey inside his own room. It seemed there was a poem etched into a piece of metal. It looked very old, and seemed to be written in an old type of verse.

Now, Sokka didn’t know much about poetry, but knew that it had an affect on the person who read it. Some people were deeply touched by the Word Art, while others hated it beyond reason. Sokka never found a taste for the stuff, but he did appreciate how the words fit together like a puzzle. It seemed that the poem engraved into the metal across Prince Zuko’s door was older than most. It used a choppy language that they used in this day and age. Sokka leant closer to the door, and squinted to read the language printed there.

“Air from around me,
water from before me,
earth from below me,
fire from within me,

I call thee now

Air as my guide,
Water as my sea,
Earth as my home,
Fire as my heart

Remind me of why I fight

Air as my freedom
water as my compassion
earth as my wisdom
fire as my passion

Please guide me now.”

Sokka paused, and looked up as he read it aloud. It was the strangest thing he’d ever heard. It was as if the four elements were in harmony with each other, and they were one. A controlled being that all could love as their own.

Sokka leaned closer to reread it when the door was shoved open. The door opened from the outside, inwards so that the person trying to reach the room could enter easily if they were being followed. In this case, it lead to Prince Zuko, and the Peasant Sokka standing nose to nose with each other.

“Uh...” Sokka looked into the eyes of the Fire Prince who had let the angry facade drop in surprise of the situation.

“You have beautiful eyes?” He said, and grinned stupidly.

Zuko’s eyes widened at the declaration, and then glared out at Sokka. The other gulped, and flicked his tongue across his lips in a nervous gesture to wet his lips as the Fire Prince’s glare pierced him. Throwing the clothes at the other, Zuko stomped out of his room, and pointed down the hall.

“Go on. There is a showering room where you can rid yourself of that stench, and dress. I will be...burning those clothes you wear now.” Zuko grumbled out as the Gouka roared in wrath since Sokka’s nervous gesture encouraged it.

The Gouka was beginning to look for any excuse to tangle Zuko’s emotions, and make his own mind set fail him. The Hell Flame was starting to pervade him in the manner that it demanded Zuko to grasp onto the other and-...and he didn’t know! It wanted SOMETHING! His best guess was to burn the other teen, but he couldn’t do that! The truce had to be honored if he wanted to ever find his balance to the Gouka. His own body was rebelling against his mind, and it was most tiring.

“Go on...” Zuko pointed, and Sokka sighed.

“Alright alright, keep your pants on.” Sokka taunted the other, and walked to the door which the other had pointed out.

Sokka waved a cheery little wave as he stepped into the room that emitted steam as soon as the door was open. Zuko glared with his one good eye, and leaned against the wall that was opposite the bathing door.

He couldn’t find any clothing that was small enough to fit the wiry frame of the Water Peasant, and so he used a retired model of Fire Bending attire to dress him. He wouldn’t give his own clothing, but he was more than willing to loose the garb that he had never used.

The clothing that he had given Sokka was made of a normal type of cotton from the plants grown in the Earth Kingdom. They were easily grown anywhere, so it was adapted to the needs of Fire Bender’s, and brought up in a more heated environment. Thus, the cotton like substance has adapted, and helped keep the clothing made from the new hybrid  from being burned as easily as its cousin did. The shirt was made from the material which happened to be called, ‘Kindled Cotton’.

It was cliche, the name of the plant, but the shirt had the rough colour of sandstone mixed with blood. A papery brown colour that exuded red as well. It had a tiny pattern of an ornate flames crossing the neck of the shirt, the sleeve ends, and the  of the hems of the shirt. It was plain, for it was an undershirt, but it worked as well as any other clothing that the idiot might have been wearing. The pants that were given to Sokka were made of the same material, but rougher, and not as well processed as the shirt. It was a darker brown, almost black that gleamed crimson in the light. It also helped protect from singeing and burning.

The pants went to the knees of himself as he had been told, and the boots were to cover the bottoms of the pants. The boots were made from the hide of one of the creatures that covored the lands of the Earth, but Zuko didn’t know at the moment. All he knew about the hide was that it kept the skin underneath from burning, singeing, and even from getting overheated.

Zuko looked up from his thoughts as Sokka stepped out of the steam showers, and waved the condensed moisture out of his face. He coughed as the mist in his lungs attacked. It seemed that he wasn’t used to the mist that was surrounding him, then again...it was fire, and water combined. Mist was a thing that could calm and relax some, while killing others with weak lungs. It was amazing how the mixture of elements could bring out different reactions in people you would think to be the opposite.

“Finally done? Who knew that the Water Tribe needed so much time to change clothing...Prissing yourself up?” Zuko asked haughtily, and reached out his hand to receive the rank clothing from before.

Sokka frowned, and reached out. He plopped said clothing into the hands of the awaiting Prince, and snorted. With the sudden gesture, the loose neck line fell from Sokka’s slim shoulders down to one mid arm. Zuko froze as his eyes drank in the sight of revealed skin.

The tanned flesh showed weeks of hard work in the sun, even if his skin colour was already a deep tan.  It showed the slim joining of muscle, and skin at his collar bone where it peeked almost shyly from beneath the hem of the Kindled Cotton. Zuko’s throat constricted as he gazed upon the skin of the other male before him. His own flesh rippled beneath the clothing he wore, and his Gouka snarled in absolute rage. It burned him in such a fierce way that his arm was lifted to take away the sensation. He looked almost surprised to his shoulder to find that where he had lifted it, his body stopped burning. It felt almost....cool.

He stepped forword to escape the sensation of fire, and found that it started to cool. He stepped again in an almost trance like state, and suddenly his fingers were bathed in an icy coolness. Feeling the fire of Hell for most of his life left him with the feeling of desperate need for the touch of coolness. He NEEDED the feeling of cold seeping into him, to keep him sane.

He looked to where the wonderful absence of heat was coming from, and saw that his hand had come in contact with Sokka’s own skin. The satiny soft skin of the other left him with a craving to draw closer in an attempt to cool his own heat. To douse his own Hell Flame that seemed tamed by this young boy.

“Uhm...why are you touching me?” Sokka asked, his voice teetering on angry, and confused.

“...” Without a word, Zuko pulled his hand down Sokka’s shirt, and pulled up the neck line to cover the skin which he so desperately wanted to touch. To feel. To even taste to see if it were cold on his lips like it was on his fingers.

“Covering you up. None of us want to see your body.” Zuko replied scathingly as his very core yearned for the closeness of the boy who exuded comfort for the Fire Bender.

“Ha ha. Very funny. It’s not my fault that your stupid shirt doesn’t fit me...” Sokka pouted out in a childish way.

The Prince stared unbelievingly at the petulant like boy who knew nothing of politics, and manners. This child was so precious to The Avatar, but acted as if only seven himself. What was this world coming to?




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