This is how it started: Sokka was bored and working from home. His job was essentially just answering the phone, and he rarely did that. For the most part, he just had automatic emails get sent out, and just checked Outlook once an hour to make sure someone responded. Truly, the man was regularly committing wage theft. But also, who cares?
So, in his boredom, and with the knowledge that his best friend came into a lot of money after his father’s fortunate (and suspicious, but Sokka wasn’t going to mention anything) demise, he had the grand idea to buy one of the old Victorian homes that was absolutely decrepit, and completely renovating it.
Zuko, was, fortunately, equally as bored, and agreed to join him on this endeavour.
With that, they bought the first home they could find that wasn’t actually about to collapse, contacted their best friend Suki, who was a contractor with an all-woman crew, and gave a ninety day notice on their lease.
(Suki was absolutely enraged that they had the audacity to only give her ninety days to complete what she said was an “absolute nightmare of a fucking project”, but it was too late now.)
(Sokka and Zuko were also slightly convinced that she was overcharging them, but were too scared to ask.)
Now, it should be noted that both Sokka and Zuko had no idea how home renovations even worked. Sure, Zuko probably watched too much Fixer Upper , and Sokka walked through Ikea for fun, but if you asked them how one actually finished floors, they would both just stare at you blankly.
So, as the trio stood in the foyer of the very old home that they’d purchased for a very good price, with only one brain cell between the three of them, Sokka was rubbing the back of his neck.
“So, do we have to, like, help with anything?” he asks.
Suki narrows her eyes at him, her hands firmly on her hips. “If you’re asking if I’m letting either of you two dimwits near my tools, the answer is a very firm no. If you’re asking if you can just fuck off to do whatever, the answer is also no.”
“We won’t just.... Just fuck off! We’d, uh-” Sokka trails off, looking over to Zuko with wide eyes.
Zuko is nodding his head quickly in agreement. Agreement to what, though, is unknown. “Yeah, of course not. We’ll be here. Right here.”
Suki sighs, a migraine slowly starting to develop. “You don’t have to stand here like awkward turtles. But we do need you on-call. You have design decisions to make.”
Zuko frowns. “I thought you made the design decisions?”
“Wait, yeah. Hold on. I thought that-”
“Oh my god,” Suki says. She has to sit on a step, though by the creaking sound it makes, she’s half worried it’s going to collapse beneath her. “I’m a contractor , not an interior designer.”
The two men are just staring at her, their eyes blank.
Suki is going to commit homicide. She really, truly is.
“What did you two think your roles would be in this?” she asks.
“Well,” Sokka starts. “We bought the house-”
“ I bought the house ,” Zuko mutters under his breath.
“Right, Zuko bought the house, and, I mean, he’s paying for the renovations, but I’m going to help pay the mortgage--”
“But I’m not, like, a landlord,” Zuko interrupts. “That’s gross.”
“Right, no. Not at all. We’re just helping each other out,” Sokka affirms.
“I mean, we practically share finances anyways,” Zuko says.
“Oh, yeah, so really it’s no big deal. You know, we considered doing a joint bank account-”
Zuko is nodding his head quickly. “Yeah, and you know, it might be smart. Given that we’re doing this project--”
“And you two are just friends, huh?” Suki interrupts, looking between the two of them, an eyebrow arched.
Zuko frowns. “Of course.”
“And roommates,” Sokka adds.
There’s a small pause, before Suki lets out a small sigh. “Right. Okay. Great.”
Sokka and Zuko are continuing to just stare at her, eyes once again blank.
“Do y’all have, like, any idea on what you’d like to do? In terms of design?” she asks.
They continue to just stare at her.
“Oh for-” she stands up, pulling her cell out of her pocket. “I hope you two idiots can afford Ty Lee’s fees.”
Luckily for everyone involved, Ty Lee was, in fact, an interior designer. A very good interior designer. She had awards. She was highly sought after. She was also relatively booked up. But considering that she was 1) Suki’s best friend and 2) married to Zuko’s sister, she decided she could squeeze them in.
“I think the fireplace would look good if we painted it white,” she says. It’s the first thing she’s said since she tackle-hugged the two of them.
Zuko, however, makes a gagging sound. “Painted brick ? Absolutely not.”
“What’s the problem? I agree, white would look good,” Sokka says. “Especially if we re-stain the floors to be a bit darker.”
Zuko’s eyes widen. “Re-stain the… Sokka, these are original floors , we can’t just re-stain them!”
“What are you talking about? Of course we can! I’m not saying rip them up, or, god forbid, throw carpet over them! I’m just saying we can re-stain them to be a bit darker.”
“No, absolutely not. That’s heresy.”
Sokka’s eyes narrow. “It’s stylish and would be a return on investment!”
“What the fuck do I care about a return on investment? I want to live here. I’m not a real estate tycoon ,” Zuko looks hurt for a moment. “Are you comparing me to my dad?”
Ty Lee’s eyes are rapidly darting between the two of them. She looks a combination of horrified and intrigued. Sokka’s face, however, immediately becomes heartbroken.
“Ah, no, babe, of course not,” he says, reaching over to give Zuko’s arm a squeeze. Ty Lee lets out a little squeal.
“Oh goodness, I didn’t know you two were together!” she says, giving a little bounce on her feet.
Zuko frowns at her. “We’re not.”
She stops bouncing, her eyes once again bouncing back and forth between the two. “But he just called you babe?”
Sokka shrugs. “It’s just a term of endearment.”
Another awkward pause fills the room. Ty Lee takes a moment before clearing her throat. “Right. Okay. Well, we’ll just hold this, uh, fireplace conversation for later. Let’s talk about light fixtures? Any preference there?”
“Oh, we for sure need a ceiling fan in here. Summers are just so miserably hot,” Sokka says.
Zuko groans. “In the living room? That’s so outdated.”
Sokka sputters. “ Outdated ? You’re the one that won’t let us stain the floors! This color is outdated!”
“It’s a classic!”
Ty Lee can feel her head begin to hurt. She attributes it to the darkening aura filling the house.
From Ty Lee
So they’re dating, right?
Oh absolutely. Isn’t it ridiculous?
From Ty Lee
Bets on how long it’ll take them to actually
Like officially? They’ll be married with
kids before they admit to anything.
From Ty Lee
I just really wish you were wrong
right now. But you aren’t
Make sure to overcharge them for this.
It’ll pay for your post-project therapy
From Ty Lee
Oh don’t worry. I’m on top of it.
After Zuko had broken down crying after one of the walk-throughs with Ty Lee and Sokka had had to make an emergency run to Jack in the Box to get him a milkshake, they decided to just completely trust her decision-making skills and leave the project to her.
(She decided after that particular adventure to triple-charge them.)
They did, however, realize that they needed a landscaper. The yard was currently completely covered with weeds and whatever other miscellaneous plants show up after years of neglect, and at the suggestion of both Suki and Ty Lee, the two called in Zuko’s ex and his (other, actually platonic) best friend, Mai.
The first thing out of her mouth as she opened her car door and looked at the absolute chaos that was the front yard was: “I’m charging you double.”
Zuko nods. “I’m pretty sure Suki and Ty Lee are as well.”
Mai gives them a look. “And I’m sure you two deserve it.”
She does a walk-through of the front and backyard, making Zuko and Sokka wait for her on the front porch (they were currently banned from entering the home, per Suki’s command). When she emerges from the home, she’s glaring absolute daggers at them.
“This is a jungle, not a yard.”
“It’s definitely its own little ecosystem,” Sokka acquiesces.
She glares down her nose at them, which is truly a marvelous feat considering that they both have a good six inches at her. They both squirm a bit, feeling like children being caught stealing a cookie from the jar.
“Are you actually going to take care of a lawn?” she asks.
“What? Of course!” Sokka says.
At the same time, Zuko shakes his head. “Absolutely not. We just set up a good schedule for doing the dishes.”
“Great, so we’re zero-scaping the front yard for sure,” Mai says, pulling out a notepad and writing some stuff down. Zuko makes a little humming noise, and she shoots him a glare. “What?”
“Nothing!” he says.
“Zuko, I’ve known you since we were four. You haven’t changed at all. The humming noise means you want to say something, but you’re absolutely terrified that you’re going to be judged for saying it. Now, what do you want?”
Zuko blinks a few times. “Do I really do that?”
“Yes,” both Mai and Sokka say at the same time.
“Oh,” he says. “That’s… that’s kind of sweet that you both noticed.” Tears start to well up in his eyes, and he blinks them away. “Well, I was just, well, uh, well, I just thought that--”
“Zuko, please ,” Mai says.
“Oh!” Sokka says. “Is this about the garden?”
A look of relief flashes across Zuko’s face. “Yes! I want a salsa garden!”
“A salsa garden?” Mai repeats.
Sokka is nodding now, a look of excitement in his eye. “Yes, yes. A raised garden, where we can grow, like, tomatoes. You know, and peppers and stuff. When we retire, we want to have a cottage with a huge garden, so we figured that we might as well learn how to grow stuff now, right? And now that we have a backyard, we can have a raised garden!”
Mai is looking at them with a blank expression, as per usual, but her eyes have developed a curious glint. “You two are… planning on retiring together?” she asks, working hard to keep her tone innocent.
They both look at her, their faces guileless. “Well, yeah. Of course. We’re best friends,” Sokka says.
Mai continues to just look at them, an eyebrow slowly arching. “Right. And all best friends just… plan their retirements together. In a small cottage with a garden. Just the two of them.”
“Of course,” Zuko says, frowning. “It’s totally normal.”
“Right,” she repeats.
(She’s going to have to charge them triple for this.)
What the actual fuck
From Ty Lee
lololololoololool I KNOW
Yeah, it’s a complete nightmare
I’ve never been more grateful for being
aroace than I am in this moment. Is this
what all people in relationships are like?
From Ty Lee
I don’t think me and Azula are annoying ):
From Ty Lee
Mai, you literally used to date Zuko.
Doesn’t count, we were like 15
From Ty Lee
Didn’t you date Sokka @Suki
Doesn’t count, thought I was straight
Is anyone we know straight?
Good question. Katara?
From Ty Lee
Well it’s not like I’m just gonna ask.
I’ll ask. What have I got to lose?
Why am I in this friend group?
From Ty Lee
You crave the chaos.
A month and two days into the renovations, Sokka and Zuko were finally allowed back into their home. This was only because Suki and Ty Lee needed some sort of input on what they wanted with two of the four bedrooms.
“Well, the one in the back will be our home office,” Sokka says.
Zuko nods. “Yeah, for sure. We can just share one.”
“Yep,” Sokka agrees. “And I know Zuko wants one of them to be a library.”
Zuko lets out a little squeal. “All of my books will have a place now!”
“And then we were thinking,” and with this, Sokka reaches over and gives Zuko’s hand a squeeze. The two ladies look at the entwined hands, look at each other, and sigh. “That the smallest bedroom can be a room for the dogs.”
“Dogs?” Ty Lee asks.
“Yes!” Sokka says, now clapping his hands together in excitement. “With the backyard, we can get two dogs. We’ve already picked names, Hawky and Druk, and we think that we know which ones--”
“Hold,” Suki interrupts, holding a hand up. “There’s only four bedrooms.”
Zuko and Sokka look confused. “Yeah?” Zuko asks.
She’s looking between them, her mouth slightly open in shock. “Four bedrooms. One you’re using as an office, one as a library, and one as a dog room. That means one of you doesn’t have a bedroom.”
“Ah, right,” Zuko says, giving a small shrug. “We’ll just share.” Sokka nods in agreement.
The two girls stare at them. Two minutes pass in silence.
“Share?” Suki asks, her voice dripping in disbelief. “Tell me, Zuko and Sokka. You two are just friends, right?”
“Of course,” they say at the same time.
Ty Lee sighs. “They’re just so close to figuring it out,” she whispers, her tone sounding almost desperate.
“Figuring out what?” Sokka asks.
Suki waves a hand at him. “You’ll get there when you get there. Okay, let’s talk light fixtures.”
Azula likes to think she’s an expert on anything related to fire. She even learned how to juggle fire just so she could say she was truly an expert. She had a side gig as a volunteer firefighter. Her therapist was a little scared she was secretly an arsonist.
Which is why Zuko eagerly dragged her to the very strange store located in the industrial side of town in order to pick out a fire pit for the backyard.
“Why don’t you just build one?” she asks, eyeing the price tags on some of the choices. It’s not like her or Zuko didn’t just have a bit of an excess of cash, but still, it seemed just a bit unnecessary.
Zuko waves a hand at her. “That’s a lot of work,” he says. “Should we choose one with a little chimney thing?”
“No, that makes s’mores cooking difficult,” she says offhandedly. “You could pay someone to build it. Like, I don’t know, the contractor you’re already utilizing?”
“Suki is definitely already upcharging me, so this is for sure cheaper,” he says in response. “Should we go for an industrial or cabin feel?”
“Industrial,” Azula says. “How big of a flame are you wanting?”
Zuko smiles, all teeth. “Big.”
She’s always so proud of her big brother.
They walk through the surprisingly large stock of fire pits, mostly in companionable silence, but Azula, ever in tune with her brother, can feel the awkwardness building inside of him. Eventually, she starts to hear him hum a bit. She lets out a sigh.
“What is it?”
“What? Me? Nothing!”
“You’re humming. Something is wrong. Spit it out.”
He frowns. “Everyone keeps saying that.” Azula is glaring at him now. “Fine! Uh,” he pauses a bit, biting his lip.
“ Zuko .”
“Okay, okay! Just, uh, have you and Ty Lee, uh, thought about having kids?”
Azula’s eyes widen. “What?”
“I heard you,” she snaps, before taking a deep breath. “Yes, and we don’t want them. Why? Did you knock someone up? I thought you were gay.”
“I didn’t-- Azula!” he’s blushing now, his eyes looking everywhere but her. “Sokka and I have just been talking about it, is all.”
She’s blinking rapidly now, her mind racing. “Like, the two of you have thought about having kids… together? With each other?”
“Well yeah,” he says. “I’m nervous about my parenting skills given, well, you know,” Azula knows. “But he’d be a great father.”
She’s still blinking quite quickly. “And are you two… together?”
“No!” Zuko says, throwing his hands up in exasperation. “Why does everyone keep asking that?”
Azula just stares at him. Is this the confirmation she needed? Is her brother really this much of an idiot? “Right. You just bought a house together?”
“Are renovating it together?”
“Yes, like, uh, business partners?”
“I’ve heard you’re adopting a dog?”
“Mmhm. And now, potentially, children?”
“We’ll start with one.”
“That’s usually how that happens,” she replies drily. “But you aren’t together?”
“Nope,” he says, with an emphasis on the p .
“Uh huh,” she says. Azula stares at him for another minute. “I think you should get that fire-pit. It has a place where people can place their cups.”
“Ooh, excellent,” Zuko says, turning to look closer at it.
He can’t see Azula giving him an absolute death glare. If he could, he’d be (rightfully) terrified.
Was no one going to tell me my brother
was this much of a god damned idiot?
Out of everyone, we thought you’d know
My therapist taught me to have positive
thoughts towards him. All of those thoughts
Just don’t throw an on fire tennis ball at him
Interested in this story, also scared
From Ty Lee
In hindsight, it’s pretty funny ngl
Especially because Azula completely missed
I’m calling my therapist before I end up attempting
You know, I’ve been contemplating
the same thing.
Homicide, that is.
Well, and in therapy.
We all deserve and need it after this.
Because Suki is the goddess that she is, the house was finished on the eighty-seventh day, and the movers were able to get everything in on the eighty-ninth day. After giving everyone two weeks space from having to even interact with Zuko and Sokka, they finally hosted a house-warming party, which, luckily, Toph, Aang, and Katara were able to join.
They’re all standing around the (beautifully done, great granite choice by Ty Lee) kitchen counter, and Sokka has just finished pouring drinks for everyone, when he lifts his cup. “Cheers, to our new home!”
“Cheers!” everyone choruses. They all take a drink, and Sokka wraps an arm around Zuko, the two of them staring deep into each other’s eyes.
Katara snorts. “Get a room.”
“Well, they do share a room ,” Suki says, shooting them a glare.
“And a bed!” Toph says. “I already snooped through every absolute inch of this home.”
Zuko frowns. “You got here ten minutes ago?”
Toph smirks. “That’s what you think, Sparky.”
There’s an awkward pause after that, before Katara clears her throat a bit. “Well, why wouldn’t they share a room? They’re together?”
Sokka groans. “We are not together.”
Everyone just stares at the two of them.
Zuko is blushing. “What?”
After another moment, Aang breaks up the silence, laughing hard and long. “Y’all are so funny. I don’t know why I always forget that.”
Zuko and Sokka eye each other, before staring back at the crowd. “But… we aren’t joking?” Zuko says, though his voice sounds unsure.
“You can’t be serious,” Katara says, her voice laced with disbelief. “You have a house, you’ve just applied to adopt two dogs, and you share a bed . Of course you’re dating!”
“And they’re considering children!” Azula chimes in.
There’s a collective sound of drinks being spit out in shock.
Katara is staring at them with wide eyes. “You’re more together than Aang and me. Oh my god, are y’all married?”
“No, but we’ve considered it,” Sokka says.
Zuko nods. “Tax reasons,” he says. As if that helps the situation at all.
For the third time that evening, silence falls upon the room.
Aang clears his throat a bit, always the first to regain his footing. “So, uh, s’mores time?”
“I’ll start the fire,” Azula says.
Everyone quickly files out of the kitchen.
That night, after everyone had left, and Zuko and Sokka had made the executive decision to hold off on cleanup until the morning, Zuko sat in bed, staring blankly at the wall in front of him, his brows furrowed, a small frown on his lips. Sokka came out of the master bathroom, still brushing his teeth.
“Somethin’ wrong?” he asks, mildly incoherently.
Zuko shakes his head, before letting out a small sigh. “It’s just… everyone thinks we’re together.”
Sokka nods, jumping back into the bathroom to spit in the sink, before coming back out. “Yeah, ‘s wild.”
But Zuko is shaking his head. “I mean, but aren’t we? Like, kind of?”
Sokka sits on the side of the bed, then, staring at Zuko, his head cocked a bit. “I mean… I don’t know. We haven’t like. Made anything official.”
“Yeah…”Zuko trails off a bit, playing with a thread on the sheet. “But like… I don’t know. You’re my best friend. Like, very best friend.”
“I think about you all day,” Sokka adds.
“Me too! And, I mean…” he trails off again.
Sokka leans forward. “Do you ever think about kissing me? Like, not on the forehead?” That was a usual form of affection for them.
“Yeah,” Zuko whispers. “A lot.”
“Me too,” Sokka whispers back.
“And I like cuddling with you, too. And, you know, holding hands. We do that a lot, now.”
Sokka is leaning back against the headboard now, a curious look on his face. “Should we kiss, then? See if we, like, feel like officially being together?”
“Together together?” Zuko clarifies.
Zuko gives a nod of consent, and Sokka leans over to give him a small peck on the lips. It’s super short, just a second, really, but they both break apart with smiles on their face.
“Oh, I liked that,” Zuko says.
“Me too,” Sokka agrees.
They sit in companionable silence for a moment, Sokka getting under the covers now. Zuko leans his head on his shoulder.
“I’m glad we’re together, then. It’s nice.”
“I guess we have been like, actually together for a while.”
“ Hmm ,” Zuko hums. “Yeah, I guess. It’s just nice to like, actually get to kiss now.”
They turn the lights off, getting cozy, Sokka the little spoon. In the silence and the dark, Zuko lets out a little hum.
“What’s up?” Sokka whispers.
“Should we tell everyone?”
Sokka considers this, before shaking his head. “Nah, they already know.”
And so, like every night for the past few months, the two sleep, curled into each other, small smiles on their faces, and bad dreams chased away.
The best of friends.