Okay, so maybe going hunting on his own this far into the woods was not one of Sokka's brightest ideas. He can already see more teasing re: His Instincts coming his way once he's back in their camp. But he shall bear it with a Water Tribe warrior's dignity, yes he shall, just as soon as he's done dodging the wacky, crazy-hot series of fireballs being shot his way by one very, very angry ponytailed jerk.
In his defense, how was he to know Zuko would be there in the forest too? So all right, it's pretty close to the seashore and the tenacious lunatic somehow keeps tracking them like some crazed polarbear dog with weird Spirit powers, but really, that's not enough to make Sokka start checking every rock and bush to see if Prince Zuko happens to be hiding there.
And just what is Prince Angry Jerk doing here on his own in the middle of the night, anyway? Other than finding ways to make Sokka's life extra miserable, of course. Isn't he supposed to, like, travel everywhere with a pack of bodyguards on those scary beasts with huge-ass horns? Not that Sokka's disappointed there isn't more backup - one Firebender is so much more than anyone can handle, thank you very much - but it seems pretty weird.
Zuko doesn't give him any time to think about it, though.
"Eeeeek!" Sokka definitely doesn't squeal, no siree, he shouts in a very masculine manner indeed, as a blindingly hot fire blast just barely misses his right shoulder. And even now Zuko is advancing on him like crazy, snarling as if he's a pissed-off rat-viper, his stupid ponytail swishing back and forth as he throws himself to the grass and spins on his hands holy crap how did he even do that is it even humanly possible and scissors his legs in the air, producing massive swirls of freaking fire which Sokka has to dodge by literally falling to the ground as far away as he can.
He is never, ever going out hunting alone again.
He hopes to scramble the hell away while Zuko gets back on his feet - fighting is out of the question, there's no way he can take the guy in a fight now and it's not cowardice, it's long-term strategic thinking, he has to stay alive after all and a dignified retreat is the only solution here - but Spirits, the guy is quick.
"You're not going anywhere, Water Tribe!" Zuko roars and then there are searing-hot hands closing around Sokka's ankles, pulling him back down to the ground. Sokka yelps and tries to kick at the prince, but Zuko seems to be stronger than him physically - which is just SO not fair and Sokka's going to complain to the Spirits one of these days, he really is - and has the extra advantage of the weight of his stupid, stupid Fire Nation armor, so eventually Sokka is overwhelmed and finds himself flat on the ground, his wrists pinned on either side of his head, Zuko and his armor crushing him, the Firebender's scarred, scrunched up face so close Sokka can smell fire on his breath.
"You're going to tell me where the Avatar is," growls Zuko, his healthy eye now almost as squinted as the scarred one.
Sokka wants to tell him to go look for his brains instead, or something to this effect, but even breathing is hard with his ribs crushed against the Prince like that - the angry bastard is heavy - nevermind talking. He keeps fighting, trying to free his hands, kicking, kneeing, but the other boy simply refuses to budge and keeps pinning Sokka down with the sheer power of his weight plus the extra load of Spirits-know how many tons of metal he's wearing.
This really won't do. He has to think of something else, and quick, before Zuko decides to sneeze fire at him or something...
He tries spitting, but by some inexplicable parody of a miracle manages to miss and this only makes Zuko angrier, if such a feat is even possible. The grip on his wrists tightens painfully - there will be bruises there in the morning, Sokka can practically feel them blossoming on his skin.
"Tell me where he is and I'll let you and your sister go," Zuko promises, but his voice is anything but soothing and really, how moronic can those Firebenders be, Sokka almost feels sorry for those bastards if their prince is such a hopeless case.
But maybe Sokka can play for time somehow before he finds a weak spot to plant a fist...
"Says the guy who threatens little old ladies," he blurts out, trying not to wince at the wheezing sound of his own voice. "Congratulations, pal, that was really brave."
Zuko snarls at him and whoa, are those actual sparks in his mouth? That's seriously messed up and only confirms Sokka's opinion that Firebending is the stupidest kind of bending ever.
"I promised to leave your village alone and I did," seethes the guy on top of him. "I kept my word, even though the Avatar didn't. I'll do the same this time. Where. Is. He?"
"You know, having such an obsession with twelve-year-old monks really isn't healthy," Sokka grunts out. "I'm sure there's some kind of therapy for that."
"Shut up!" Zuko's nose nearly brushes his. Spirits, haven't those guys ever heard of personal space? "You don't know anything, peasant!"
"Why won't you let me go if I'm so ignorant, then? I clearly won't be of any use to you..."
The Prince is not amused by this flawless bit of Sokka logic - here come the sparks again, and it's kind of weirdly fascinating how they dance on Zuko's tongue and past his lips, almost-but-not-quite reaching Sokka's skin.
Which... sort of could give him an idea.
Because let's be honest, he's not going to heave Zuko off himself by force here. The guy seems to have glued himself to Sokka with the powers of his superhuman tenacity, however disturbing that sounds. He cannot reach any of his weapons like that either. Which means it's time to resort to other means and put his Water Tribe ingenuity to good use.
Zuko makes it astonishingly easy, too, all but shoving his ugly face into Sokka's...
So he's definitely not telling anyone about this, ever.
He presses his lips to Zuko's before the revulsion at kissing a fucking Firebender gets the better of him and - bingo. The Prince clearly wasn't expecting anything like this. He pulls back almost immediately, eyes going comically wide - Sokka is temporarily fascinated by the sight, even the scarred eye goes as far as it can and the way Zuko's face looks is for a moment nothing like what Sokka's used to, it's almost kind of nice and very, very amusing. The Water Tribe boy decides he's not going to give Zuko time to recover and pushes himself up, capturing Zuko's lips again - all for perfectly strategic purposes, of course, though, surprisingly, the whole experience isn't quite as disgusting as Sokka expected.
If he's to be honest with himself, Zuko's lips are very hot and it feels... pretty good.
Not that he'll ever admit it out loud.
There is an awkward moment when they're both basically frozen and unmoving, Zuko too floored to do anything, Sokka taking full advantage of being one step ahead of the Firebender and pressing his lips into his forcefully, trying to distract his opponent hard enough for him to release his wrists. And in the meantime, Sokka tries hard not to think how this is his first proper kiss, full on the mouth and not a peck on the cheek like Suki's was, and instead prays to every Spirit who'd listen for this to work. He is fifteen and Zuko cannot be very older than him, sixteen perhaps, so he must react somehow - Sokka thinks of sex pretty much all the time when he's not running away or fighting something, after all, and if Zuko is even remotely human he has to experience similar, um, predicaments from time to time, however disturbing it is to think of Prince Zuko sporting a boner.
It's taking too slow, so Sokka bids his sanity a temporary goodbye and sticks his tongue out, trying to pry Zuko's lips open - because let's face it, if anything is going to distract Zuko enough to actually let his guard down, it's this. And, lo and behold, the Prince does the most unexpected thing possible: he does open his mouth. Which is... well, intended of course, but also really, really strange and also incredibly hot in a way Sokka is not going to overanalyze.
Let's just say they're both horny teenagers in a decidedly intimate situation and leave it at that, okay? Okay.
So Sokka puts every ounce of concentration he can muster into controlling what is amazingly turning into a mutual kiss, and very firmly doesn't think about the growing tightness in his pants or how incredible Zuko's mouth actually feels, so warm inside, or the way Zuko tilts his head almost grudgingly into the kiss, his long, bound hair falling to the side and brushing Sokka's ear. And it shouldn't be surprising to discover that the Prince lets him control the kiss at first - Zuko really isn't a type to find dates easily, though Sokka always imagined it would be a piece of cake for an actual heir to the throne to pick up girls, even with that scar eating away half his face like a giant parasite, but clearly it isn't because the other boy doesn't seem to have any experience with this to top Sokka's. They're both pretty much experimenting, trying out angles, and Sokka is not entirely sure whether this is a normal operating procedure when engaging an enemy, but doesn't particularly care at the moment.
So Zuko likes boys, does he? Or maybe he's desperate enough to kiss anyone. Or maybe Sokka's just that incredible at kissing. Probably the latter. He is Water Tribe, after all.
Soon, it turns out that his idea was truly ingenious - Zuko's grip on his wrists lessens, enough so that Sokka can free his right hand. The Prince notices this and stills immediately. Easy now, he cannot lose the advantage...
He should have delivered that punch then. But he doesn't - somehow, his right hand lands on the back of Zuko's bald head, just under the ponytail, and strokes heated skin. Which is obviously another victory for his instincts because Zuko, uh, he melts into Sokka, making a guttural sound somewhere deep in his throat that goes straight into Sokka's mouth, clouding his head for a moment with an overwhelming Wow, that's hot.
He deepens the kiss without really thinking about it, whimpering as Zuko's tongue slides its way into his mouth, and their noses bump as they try to change angles, which is awkward, but not so much really. Sokka decides he likes touching the Prince's head almost as much as he likes kissing him, which is a thought he's never ever dreamt of having, but here you go. His life's been so strange recently, with Airbenders and Avatars and flying bison and crazy Fire Nation princes and Spirit Worlds and running blockades and what have you, that kissing Zuko and actually enjoying it seems to fit right in with all the other extra-weird shenanigans that've been happening to him.
Besides, there's a real purpose to all of this. He hasn't forgotten. Scratching the back of Zuko's head and caressing it like he could the nape of a polarbear dog is just part of the plan.
But then, just as the kiss is starting to blend into something more passionate and needy, Zuko suddenly pulls away, though not far enough to lose the touch of Sokka's hand, the Water Triber notices; he's panting and blushing, too, the angry expression gone from his face, replaced instead with something that shouldn't make the regions of Sokka's groin feel even more uncomfortable, but it does. His eyes are half-lidded and strangely glazed over, their color bright and quite - beautiful.
Sokka stares at him, his own expression probably just as aroused, and for a moment all he can think of again is Hot.
"What," Zuko breathes, stirring the air between them, and Sokka keeps his mouth half-open, quite irrationally wanting to dive right back into the kiss, "are you playing at, Water Tribe?"
Zuko's lips shouldn't be so enticing when red and swollen from kissing and glistening with saliva, but they are. Sokka wants to feel them again.
But he had a plan here, didn't he? Escape. Yeah. He's supposed to try to escape...
He shuts his eyes for a moment. Looking at Zuko is almost enough to make him feel apologetic and bad for what he's about to do.
He caresses Zuko's head some more, his thumb tracing idle circles on warm skin, and then he looks back at - at the enemy, he has to remember that, at the ruthless enemy who invaded his village and threatened his family and who wants to capture the world's only hope for peace and who got in their way so many times it's not even funny, and who is a cruel, angry bastard prince of a country of cruel, angry bastards. He has to remember that. And not the fact that now, right in this moment, Zuko looks just like a confused boy his age who's never kissed anyone before and is about to be kicked in the gut - not quite metaphorically.
He's not going to feel bad for the Firebender. He's not.
So, with all that firmly on his mind, he leans in closer, pulling Zuko back in so that their lips brush, and murmurs "I'm improvising." Then, he kisses the Prince one last time - just one little peck, he can't help himself - and draws back.
And punches Zuko right in the face.
He's put everything he's got into the punch and it proves enough for his purposes - the Firebender falls off him and to the side with an undignified yell of pain. Sokka takes immediate advantage of the situation: he jumps to his feet and delivers a swift kick to keep Zuko on the ground, then runs, runs the hell away, as fast as his legs would carry.
He doesn't look back over his shoulder - nothing he could see is going to make him run any faster. The rapidly growing heat and the familiar roar of the flames come dangerously close to his back at one point and Zuko's terrifying scream of "You'll pay for this, peasant!" splits the forest, but Sokka just keeps running, skipping over tree roots and through the bushes, dodging low-hanging branches, saving his breath as much as he can. There are no feet stomping in his wake afterwards, but that's no reason to slow down and Sokka doesn't allow himself to until he's close enough to the camp that he can hear Appa's snoring.
"UP! Everyone up!" he yells as he crashes into the clearing, panting as though he's just run like a madman, which he has.
Katara is up immediately, rubbing her sleep-sticky eyes and gazing at him like he's sprung two extra heads, and Aang's up, too, jumping to his feet from where he was sleeping snuggled in Appa's fur.
"What's happened?" he asks, bewildered, and Katara is moving out of her sleeping bag already, shaken into action by Sokka's appearance.
It's amazing how adept they've become at the speedy retreat championships.
Sokka throws himself into packing up before he even starts explaning. "Zuko. His crew too, nearby, probably. Need to get the hell away from here. Before he catches up." And that's all he's going to tell them, damn right, definitely no details and certainly none about stealing kisses from Firebending princes.
It's enough to get the other two moving; he doesn't remember the last time they've cleared camp so fast. He's helping with virtually everything, anything he can get his hands on, because it's easier than remembering what he's done and marveling at the fact that he can still feel the phantom taste of Zuko's lips burning against his own.
In no time at all they're airborne again, Appa carrying them north into the night, and only then does Sokka finally allow himself to breathe.
Well. He's sure he won't tell anyone about what happened tonight, ever, including under torture, and he's pretty certain Zuko will keep it to himself too, but... Um.
Their next fight is sure going to be interesting.