The One Where the Fire Nation Clearly Loses

He wakes up with rough abrasions on his wrists and a tick in his left eye, exacerbated by the ceaseless drip, drip, drip coming from the dank corner opposite his own. One would think Fire Nation ships would be impervious to mould or damp, but no. He can see the rust on the bars even from where he’s sitting—speaking of which, he’s pretty sure he landed smack on a patch of mildew, which has been enthusiastically dampening the seat of his pants for the last indefinite length of time.

Oh, and he’s been taken captive by Prince Zuko and held prisoner on his battleship. Obviously.

Fortunately, Sokka is a reasonable guy. He doesn’t panic easily—overreact, maybe, possibly, but not panic—and keeps his head in a crisis. He trusts his wit, and knows how to turn a disadvantage to his favour. He’s a warrior of the legendary Southern Water Tribe. Sokka is an island of calm, a million cool miles away from getting distressed over his situation. Breathe in, breathe out. Relax.

His hands are bound, but that’s only a minor impediment. The guards are near, but not visible—just around the corner, where the corridor from his cell takes a sharp right turn. (Stupid of them; Water Tribe guards would never have been this sloppy. Minus two points for incompetence, Fire Nation.) He has his boots, his slightly damp trousers, and even his warrior’s queue is intact. They took away his coat, but that’s only to be expected, and inside the Fire Nation ship is warm enough anyway. At least they haven’t touched his weapons’ bel—

He looks down, and notices his boomerang is gone.

Sokka’s eyes widen.

His boomerang is gone.

And then the panic hits.


Okay, so there was a little scenario with the guards, and some distraught yelling, and Sokka making a number of loud and extremely derogatory remarks regarding the sexual capacity of their mothers, Prince Zuko, and the people of the Fire Nation as a whole. And then there was another little scenario with Prince Zuko coming in to see what all the racket was about, just as Sokka was stating his loud and extremely derogatory point about the royal family, which subsequently led to Zuko ordering that Sokka be gagged to prevent further trouble. And then Sokka bit the guard who tried to silence him, which, upon hindsight, wasn’t very smart, seeing as they brought in backup and more binds and now there were three guards, all lounging in front of his cell, eyeing him with suspicion and intense dislike.

Okay. Okay, fine. Not one of his greatest moments, but every warrior has his weak points, right? His boomerang is a touchy subject. Now, getting out of this predicament, that’d be the mark of a true Water Tribe warrior. He’ll just have to think up a genius escape plan and defeat all those squinty-eyed Fire Nation soldiers. No problem. It’ll be a piece of cake.

Idly, Sokka shifts his wrists, trying to rearrange his hands so that they wouldn’t chafe so much. The heavy rope which binds him is expertly tied, digging into his skin so that everything past his wrist is one big throbbing ache. It’s a distraction, spiking up with every twitch of his fingers, making him clench his jaw in pain. He isn’t used to breathing through a gag, and keeps trying to inhale through his mouth; the constant sputtering is giving him a headache.

He closes his eyes; breathes deeply through his nose, in and out, concentrating on calming down. Focus, he thinks. You know what to do. And it’s true, he does—the problem is pulling it off without the guards noticing. He breathes in again, and exhales quietly. Easy as falling off a log. The Fire Nation couldn’t outsmart its way out of a woven basket. Besides, their battle helmets look totally stupid. Minus two points for style.

Very carefully, he brings his hands to his left boot, rummaging inside gingerly before drawing out a thin sliver of sharpened whalebone. It’s barely the size of his thumb, easily cupped in his hand, and he starts the arduous process of manoeuvring the tip, flipping it between his fingers and shifting the rope in order to cut through his bonds. The guards are busy gossiping like a bunch of old ladies and, as expected, pay no attention. He slowly lies down on his side, facing away from them, and evens his breathing so it looks like he’s gone back to sleep. After a minute he starts faking soft snores, muffled by the gag, to mask the sound of whalebone scraping against hemp.

“Water Tribe,” he hears one of the soldiers say in disgust. “Nothing but eat, sleep and badmouth. Wretched lot.”

“My uncle was in one of the earlier Southern raids,” another one offers. “Said it was the easiest job he’d ever been assigned in the army. Like melting an ice cube in a furnace, he said.”

“Your uncle worked as a grocer his whole life, hotshot,” the third guard interjects. “He’s never seen the ass end of a battleship.”

“My other uncle!” the guard protests, and it’s a damn good thing Sokka can’t close his mouth over the gag anyway, because if he could he’d probably have cracked three molars by now grinding his teeth in rage. Once he’s out, he swears this ship is going down.


It’s best to stop before he cuts through the ropes completely—having his hands free wouldn’t help him much with the guards around, they’d just rebind them again—but leaving the hemp weak enough to snap with a sharp tug. He’s just restoring the whalebone shard, trying to figure out the best way to pull off a classic mysterious-fatal-illness charade and get the guards to unlock the cell door, when Prince Zuko barges into the room again.

“Wake him up,” he says, “and take him to my chambers.” Sokka can’t help but perk up at these tidings, stirring slightly on the floor. The guy definitely knows how to make himself useful.

“Hey, you,” says a guard—and why do they always use that line? It’s such a prison cliché, minus three points for unoriginality, Fire Nation—as he unlocks the cell with a rattle. “On your feet. We’re going on a little trip.”

“Mmph,” says Sokka, which the guard correctly interprets as a pejorative. That earns him a cuff across the face. “Mmph,” he says again, insolently, as he’s jerked out of the cell and down the corridor, away from the prison hold. The ropes around his wrists are loose, but he keeps his hands close to his belly and none of his custodians notice. Dilettantes.

All the hallways of the ship look the same—just grey metal and the flickering red-orange of firelight—but the same is true with Water Tribe ships, so he can’t really take points off for that. He tries to memorize the way, but Zuko, walking ahead of them, sets a fast pace, and he ends up being nearly dragged along by the guardsmen. They aren’t particularly gentle, and seem to enjoy making him trip a lot. He snarls. They cuff him on the head. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

The field trip is interrupted when Zuko comes to a halt in front of an enormous door, emblazoned with fanciful bronze designs and flanked by a pair of truly hideous wall tapestries, bearing the insignia of the Fire Nation in gold. Sokka looks upon this pageantry with disdain. It’s flashy and pretentious, so typical of these people. Minus ten points for lack of taste.

“Make sure nobody interrupts us,” says Zuko, as Sokka’s chucked unceremoniously into the room, staggering to keep his balance. Zuko follows him inside, closing and bolting the door in his wake. The interior of the prince’s room is exactly as offensive as its exterior, possibly more so. The additional torches on the walls give off a strong light, allowing Sokka to see with even more clarity the painfully vermillion hangings and unfortunate rugs.

“Ugh,” he says—a universally acceptable sound, legible in whichever environment. Zuko narrows his eyes dangerously.

“Water Tribe,” he hisses, slow and clear. “You’re going to tell me everything you know about the Avatar. Now.”

Sokka raises an eyebrow.

“...Damnit,” says Zuko, and his expression is seriously almost worth getting captured for. Minus twenty points for total and crippling stupidity. “Make one false move, and you’re charred meat, is that clear?”

Sokka nods helpfully, and angles his head so that Zuko can untie the gag.

“There,” says Zuko after a moment, fingers busy at Sokka’s nape. “And if you make a single smartass comment—”

“Who, me?” Sokka says, whipping around. The ropes around his hands snap easily and he lunges forward with an uppercut, point-blank. Zuko has no time to dodge or block; he’s slammed against a wall as Sokka’s fist connects solidly with his face.

It is quite possibly the most satisfying thing Sokka’s ever done in his life.

Man, that felt good,” he grins from ear to ear, rubbing his wrists. They’re sore and tender, skin scraped raw with friction. There are two red circlets on his forearms, like the traces of shackles. It looks ugly and wrong; he’s already itching to get out of this joint. “Right, who’s up for payback?”

“Like hell,” he hears, a split-second before he’s forced to leap back or get scorched by a raging fireball. The flames sear past his face, too-hot, and dissipate as they hit the far wall. Zuko stands up, which Sokka takes as his cue to drop and roll—not a moment too soon, because the air above his head suddenly turns into an inferno. He makes a grab for Zuko’s leg, tugs wildly, and barely hears Zuko’s cursing as he loses his balance, the flames angling upwards as he falls.

“Gotcha,” Sokka grunts, and now they’re both on ground level, where things degenerate into a street brawl, rough and claustrophobic and completely lacking in dignity. Zuko has more finesse, more skill at fighting, but Sokka’s smarter and faster and manages to get on top, where he uses the weight of Zuko’s armour against him. If they weren’t in such an enclosed space, Sokka knows he’d be pinned in no time—privately, he pats himself on the back for helping blow up Zuko’s previous warship and getting him to move into a smaller one. Long-term thinking. Good stuff, Water Tribe.

The match is close, full of snarls and growls, with them clawing at each other like a pair of wild beasts. Sokka has honestly never experienced anything so exhilarating in his life.

It makes sense, he thinks as he disarms Zuko’s chokehold, trying to grab at his flailing Firebender-y hands. All things considered, they’re just a pair of teenage boys. Then he narrowly avoids getting punched in the diaphragm as Zuko actually tries to fireball his face, that crazy shit, and Sokka decides it’s time to shut this party down.

He takes a hit to the stomach in order to pin down both of Zuko’s wrists, slamming them against the floor, then digs a knee into his groin. Zuko makes a noise, something like “nauagh”, and struggles to rise, but Sokka latches on to that sensitive spot between the neck and shoulder and bites down hard. Zuko strains for a moment then goes limp under his hands, like a tiger seal when you pinch its nape, and Sokka sends a private blessing to his father for taking him on all those hunting expeditions. Nature is an excellent teacher when it comes to fighting dirty.

They stay like that for a moment: a frozen tableau, breathing hard. Zuko’s skin tastes like sweat and Firebender, which is gross, so Sokka spits it out and looks down at his captive, sweaty and triumphant. “Aha,” he pants. “Payback.”

Then he notices Zuko is breathing hard, too, but in a different way, and he’s not only not-struggling but actually lying very still, as if trying to minimize the contact between Sokka and himself. And his face is flushed, but not merely from exertion or the firelight, and that place next to Sokka’s knee is—

Holy shit,” Sokka hears himself say, eyes wide as plates, unable to decide whether this falls under the category of 'disgusting’ or 'mortifying + hilarious’. The rational part of his brain notes that it’s a pretty normal reaction, considering their age, not to mention all the twisting and grappling that went on back there. The other 99%, however, can only think: Minus ten thousand points for everything ever.

“Holy shit,” he says again faintly, for good measure, and feels himself turning a little green around the gills. Zuko narrows his eyes.

“I can still kick your ass,” he says defensively, face red. “This is nothing.”

“Nothing?” Whatever’s pressing up next to Sokka’s knee, it certainly isn’t nothing. He’d leap back in revulsion and unadulterated horror, but then Zuko would be free to sauté him. Death, or coming in contact with an aroused Firebender? His life is full of impossible decisions. Sokka tries not to grimace. “I don’t believe this.”

“Shut up,” Zuko snarls. “One word from me and you’re back into that cell for the rest of your miserable life.”

“Calling the guards? In your state?” Sokka nudges upwards with his knee and Zuko makes a tiny noise in the back of his throat, swallowing hard. “Firebenders. Are you all this shameless?”

“Shut up,” Zuko snarls, genuinely angry, but Sokka presses down again and his breath hitches, ever-so-slightly, just as his hips rise in response. It’s disgusting, in the way that the Fire Nation is disgusting, but also, to Sokka’s 15-year-old sensibilities, really incredibly hot.

“Man,” he says, and now his breath is coming just a bit quicker too, watching Zuko pinned down and responsive beneath him, feeling him strain against Sokka’s knee. He shifts his weight a little, nervously, and Zuko moves with him—no, Zuko moves in contra, rubbing against him, instinctively responding to the friction. Sokka feels an unmanly flush creep into his face. He tries to pull it together. “You’re at my mercy,” he attempts, but it comes out all wrong, almost a question, and Zuko reddens in a way which definitely isn’t intimidation. His answer is to lower his eyes and grind against Sokka: a tight, desperate circle of his hips, and suddenly Sokka finds himself grinding back, acting by pure reflex.

He gasps—it feels good, really good. Not that he ever seriously thought about it, he’d always figured Firebenders would be clammy and too-hot, like he felt when he woke up occasionally, with the sheets sticky and clinging to his skin. Zuko is warm to the touch, panting roughly under Sokka’s hands, but mostly he’s hard and willing and insistent, demanding contact, fingers fisted into the rug. Sokka’s at the age when looking at anything, from seaweed to anthills, makes him think about sex, which a) makes him very glad to be constantly airborne, b) is totally not conducive to keeping his cool in the current, extremely sex-related situation.

“Ahh,” Zuko is making these tiny, breathy noises—extremely distracting—and his mouth is all open, tongued curled slightly inside. If Sokka were in a more intelligent state of mind, he’d use the opportunity to make a witty comment about Zuko swallowing flies. At present, though, he can’t do much more than lean down and lick into Zuko’s mouth, gasping and wet, ungainly. Zuko responds immediately, opening up and tilting his head to meet Sokka’s. It’s still horribly awkward—their noses bump, teeth clicking, but after some manoeuvring their tongues twine and oh good lord that’s hot. Sokka, for the time being, lets himself lie on top of Zuko and grind and kiss and draw entirely too little oxygen to his brain. This is the most aroused he’s been in his life.

He bites Zuko’s lip, getting spit on his chin, and hears him make a moaning sound totally inappropriate for the exiled Prince of the Fire Nation. He does it a second time, just for that, and then very suddenly the carpet’s on fire.

“What the—?!” he rolls away, flailing like a mad person, rumpled and wild-eyed with panic. Zuko scrambles upright and extinguishes the flames with a snap of the fingers, breathing hard. Sokka stares at him, then at the crimson rug, where a scorch mark the size of his fist is still smouldering. Zuko has the grace to look slightly abashed.

“It was hot,” he says with dignity. “And you were—it’s a perfectly natural reaction.”

“You shot fire. Out of your hands.” Sokka’s aware that he’s gaping, and that the expression is rather unflattering. He’s also stating the obvious, but when faced with bizarre situations like this one, Sokka is a down-to-earth kind of guy: he sticks to the facts. The facts being, Zuko’s erogenous zones and Firebending triggers seem to be disastrously mixed up.

He should be thinking: my fingers were inches from his palm and this is dangerous, get out of here. What he’s actually thinking is: what else can I do to make him lose it?

What he says is: “If we continue this, no way your hands are anywhere near my face.”

Zuko stares at him, and Sokka can almost hear the wheels turning in his head. The silence stretches, tenuous, and then very abruptly Zuko says, “Fine.”

“Fine.” Sokka wonders, inanely, what they’re supposed to do now. He’s hard, almost painfully so, and this fact ranks as most urgent on his mental list of priorities. Zuko seems to be feeling exactly the same. Now that they’re not panting in each other’s ears anymore, it seems like a great opportunity to re-analyze the situation and debate whether having it off with the exiled Prince of the Fire Nation is truly something he wants stacked to his credit. Sokka very firmly doesn’t answer that question.

“Alright,” he says, to steer himself back on the correct path, i.e. sex: “Lie down.”

Zuko raises an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“Facedown,” Sokka clarifies, and kicks away the carpet. It’s unsettlingly flammable. “I’ll be on top, and—”

“Excuse me?” Zuko looks like he’s going to have some kind of indignation-induced stroke. “You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to play along to that.”

“Which one of us is the flamethrower, again?” Sokka snaps. “Look, this is a strategic decision. Barring any wild movements, there’s a lot less chance of you, say, setting me on fire that way.”

Zuko looks as if he thinks Sokka on fire might not be such a bad idea. “I can control myself.”

“Yeah, we saw how well that worked out,” Sokka is starting to get impatient, because seriously, sex. “Hands aren’t the only problem. What if you decide to sneeze fire all of a sudden?” Zuko looks faintly guilty. “Oh my god.” Sokka stares. “Seriously? That’s messed up, man.”

“Shut up,” Zuko retorts, but it’s rather strained. He seems half-resigned to the idea, which Sokka guesses is more due to the fact that being hard for so long is starting to get physically painful. He knows; he can feel it in his own trousers. A lot.

“I'll jack you off, you know, I'm not a complete moron," he says, and swallows—even just saying it out loud is erotic. Zuko stares at him with renewed intensity, as if his interest has suddenly been piqued. "I'm really good with my hands. You'll enjoy it, I promise. Think of this as a... precautionary measure."

Zuko thins his mouth, wound tighter than a spring. He looks as if he's teetering between agreeing and punching Sokka in the face, possibly with a red-hot gauntlet.

He just needs the tiniest little push. Sokka licks his lips, stares Zuko square in the eye.

“Listen,” he says with finality, “I’m the plan guy. That’s my thing. Trust me to know what I’m doing, okay?” He stands there, open to scrutiny—hands on his hips, face honest, cock throbbing.

And unbelievably, against all odds, Zuko complies.


“Nngh,” Sokka says, which seems to encapsulate many of his current sentiments, such as holy shit and wow and that's hot. Under him, Zuko sounds a muffled response and arches up, hands palm-down, spread flat against the floor. Even like this, with his face turned away and the stupid topknot constantly getting in Sokka’s face, he’s ridiculously attractive. Ridiculously. It’s almost unfair.

“You know,” Sokka pants, voice straining. “I get the crazy idea this would work better without clothes.”

“Naungh,” says Zuko, and grinds back against him in a way which definitely conveys agreement. He’s sort of pinned to the floor, and understandably trying not to move his hands too much, so Sokka figures it’s up to him to see that idea through. He tries to focus on not-coming and figuring out Zuko’s trousers at the same time. It’s difficult—he’s reaching blindly and there are clasps and strings and all sort of truly useless contraptions which serve only to complicate. Minus a shitload of points for obfuscation and bad tailoring, seriously.

Zuko twitches every time Sokka’s hands accidentally brush the tent in his pants; snarls something indecipherable, almost needy. It’s just as distracting as those stupid defence mechanisms Zuko’s clothes have got in place, and Sokka has to remind himself to aim for the clasps, to work, not just touch.

On his second try, with the help of a small miracle, he finally win outs. Zuko lets out a breathy “haah” as Sokka’s hands tug the fabric past his hips; he ducks his head, momentarily disarmed. The topknot’s end grazes the nape of his neck, brushing against sweat and bare skin. Sokka very blatantly stares.

Zuko’s lower half is even paler than his face and arms, thin but well-defined, muscles tense. He can’t see anything below waist level too well. For the first time in his life, trying to get naked in a hurry, Water Tribe apparel has turned against him in what can only be described as pure treachery. He actually fights his clothes, how many people can lay claim to that? Zuko shoots him a look over his shoulder, a what’s taking you so long look, and half-snorts at the sight of Sokka viciously grappling with his belt.

“I helped design this damn thing, come on,” Sokka grits out, breathing shallow, face flushed red. His hands, so good at craftsmanship, actually fumble. Inexcusable.

“You’re a moron,” Zuko says, breathless. His eye, surrounded by scar tissue, is still expressive, fixed on Sokka’s hands. It narrows with arousal, urgency.

Once his own trousers are off—and oh, finally, sweet sweet freedom—Sokka runs a hand up Zuko’s back, roughly, as a prelude to gripping his shoulder, then presses against Zuko from behind.


“Yeah,” Sokka manages weakly. The tips of Zuko’s ears are incredibly close and red, totally distracting, not that it takes much to disarm him by now. He can’t decide where to focus anymore, how, on which part; Sokka’s brain seems to have fizzled out the minute his penis came in contact with Zuko’s ass.

The thought alone is enough to make him emit a mildly embarrassing noise. Zuko voices an affirmative.

When he finally starts moving, it’s on a different plane entirely, a whole other level of friction and warmth and immediacy. They’re skin-to-skin, no barriers, and Sokka can feel Zuko’s body heat bleeding into his own, mixing, their short breaths combining into a staccato double-rhythm. His pre-cum smears against Zuko’s skin, the curve of his ass, and when Sokka presses deeper it’s hot and slick. His hand creeps to the front, where Zuko’s trousers bunch against his thighs in a mess, and finds wetness there too, cock hard and ready, fitting easily into his hand. Zuko actually moans when Sokka touches him, fingers sliding deftly down, inquisitive.

“There, right there,” he says, voice cracking a bit. Sokka’s not in any shape to mock him about it; he’s dangerously close to the higher octaves himself. They move together, Sokka thrusting into the tight cleft of Zuko’s ass and Zuko trapped against the floor, borne down by Sokka, grinding into his hand. It’s fierce and burning and lasts an extremely short time, all things considered, both of them desperate and gasping with it, already on-edge.

“Nngh,” Sokka grunts into Zuko’s shoulder, hips pumping, meeting Zuko on the downstroke. His hand is clenched tight, fingers wet with Zuko’s pre-cum, the other one clamped against his waist. Zuko’s hips can’t dip any lower; it looks like he’s trying to fuck himself into the floor. They feel it building up in their guts—or Sokka does, and then the air starts heating around him, drawing sweat from his skin, singing his eyelashes and the tips of his hair. Zuko moans into the floor and the temperature leaps another five degrees. It’s weird and potentially dangerous, but damn, is it hot.

Sokka thrusts forward, one, two, and the third time he hits against Zuko’s opening, clenched small and tight; he stifles a moan by biting down on Zuko’s stupid red-tipped ear and comes all over his ass. Zuko tenses, pure energy in flesh, and his whole body clams up before he thrusts into Sokka’s hand viciously, like throwing a punch, and comes against the floor. Split-seconds later, a blast like a meteor explodes out of Zuko’s hands, spread flat against the floor, and the sheer backlash forces Sokka to shut his eyes or go blind.

When he cracks them open again, Zuko is slumped down, boneless, and there are two enormous, black burn marks across the floor and walls, stretching out before his hands, tapering to his fingertips. The room, which was unbearably hot, is slowly cooling down, making the perspiration stick to their skins and stain their clothes. It feels like being in the aftermath of a small forest fire.

“,” Sokka manages, sticky and disgusting but seriously impressed, not to mention giddy with sexual euphoria. He rolls off Zuko, making a face at the mess, and flops down beside him. The floor has already moved from red-hot to pleasingly warm. “Good thing you weren’t facing me, huh.”

“Mmrph,” Zuko says, which Sokka takes to mean I can’t talk right now, my brain’s been blown away by your unbelievable Southern Water Tribe sex antics. He smirks a bit. Now would be a great time to get up and use his enemy’s weakness against him, possibly take the exiled Prince hostage, tie up his hands for a change. Sokka gives the notion serious thought, and dismisses it as being unrealistic. Clearly the concept of getting up is beyond him for the next few minutes.

He moves a lazy hand to brush against his crumpled pants, and discovers the mould-dampness staining his seat has completely dried, thanks to Zuko’s pyrotechnics.

Well. Sokka bites his lip. Plus two points to the Fire Nation for usefulness, he supposes, just this once.


It ends, of course, with a grand rescue and lots of explosions and a flying bison, which Sokka privately considers as the only stylish way to travel. Appa crests the first cloud layer just as the engine room of Zuko’s battleship explodes in a glorious blaze of destruction, not that Sokka’s vindictive or anything, obviously. He grins to feel the wind fresh on his face, the rope burn on his wrists already fading. He has his boomerang and his sword and, well, he did say the ship was going down.

“Sokka,” Katara breaks the silence, still flushed with post-breakout adrenaline. “What happened to your hair? It’s totally singed at the ends, like you got fireballed.”

“Well,” Sokka says, “I sort of tried to escape before you came along. It's a long story. Say, did you know Zuko can sneeze fire?”

“Wow,” says Aang, wide-eyed. “Seriously? That’s messed up.”

“Is that what happened?” Katara looks amused. “Can’t wait to hear you tell that one around the campfire tonight.”

“Eh, sort of,” says Sokka breezily, and for once in his life, refrains from elaborating.




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