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How did he miss this?

Sokka thought back, to his initial realization, back when ponytail Zuko was still chasing them, watching as the angry Prince lifted his leg to use as a weapon. But the water tribesman was really too busy running for his life to worry about that.

It should have been obvious. Chains were broken, well-trained soldiers taken out with a single kick, and Sokka had been? The tan boy shook his head. He couldn’t possibly have noticed before. Everyone fought differently.

Now, however…

Sokka sat, gaping, seal-jerky forgotten in his lap as Aang and Zuko sparred without firebending, the latter having insisted that Aang needed to know how to fight without any of his bending skills. The rest of the kids gathered around, alternating who they cheered and booed as the fight continued, Katara hovering threateningly nearby. Sokka had enjoyed the chaos, whooping excitedly as Toph kept a running commentary based solely on what she could feel, switching his cheers from the Avatar to his (secret) boyfriend, much to the displeasure of his sister, dodging several snowballs hurled his way. Until-

Aang was small and agile, utilizing his normal fighting style of nope , but he hadn’t counted on his opponent being just as nimble, Zuko able to quickly abort his movements to follow the slippery Avatar, Aang stumbling backwards in surprise.

“You have to be prepared.” Zuko said casually, dropping to sweep his leg around. Aang jumped easily, using his opponent's head as a springboard to vault to the other side, landing a blow to Zuko’s blind side.

“Were you prepared for that?” Aang quipped, taking advantage of the momentary distraction to put himself out of range with a fancy backflip that put Zuko on his back.

“Sparky’s down!”

“Shut up, Toph!”

“You’ve got him, Aang!”

“Thanks, Katara!”

Sokka flicked a pebble in his sister’s general direction.

The firebender nodded from his position on the floor, performing a quick nip-up to regain his footing, an aerial spin and push to Aang’s back sending him sprawling.

“Denied!” Toph crowed happily, sending her listeners into fits of giggles (with the notable exception of a certain waterbender sending her a dirty look).

To his credit, Aang shrugged and spun to his feet, kicking up a wave of dust to obscure both combatants.

“Good strategy.” Zuko remarked from somewhere within the cloud. Sounds of a scuffle ensued, the particles gradually clearing to reveal an unexpected situation.

Aang had gained the upper hand, standing behind the firebender with both his arms twisted behind his back, his opponent’s close proximity and relative strength preventing any offensive moves from the trapped teen.

“I got you!” Aang sounded winded, his voice barely carrying over the cheers of his friends. “Does this mean I win?”

Zuko didn’t respond, shifting his weight slightly, unable to break the hold.

“Give it up, Zuko. Aang beat you this time, fair and square. Just concede alre-” Katara’s smug monologue was cut off by a move that had all the kids silenced in a beat.

Zuko just, lifted his leg , and kicked Aang over his shoulder.

Aang hit the ground, along with Sokka’s jaw.

-------

The door to their shared room hadn’t even shut when Sokka exploded

“What the hell was that!” 

Zuko started in surprise, turning wide-eyed towards his astounded significant other, frozen with one boot off. 

“What was what?”

“Don’t act innocent!” Sokka squealed indignantly. He had followed Zuko back from dinner dumbly, unable to say a word after the conclusion of the earlier match. “You know!” He gave a little kick. “The leg lift- thingy! How you beat Aang!”

“Oh.” The tension practically bled out of the dark-haired teen as he tugged off his other shoe, his shirt removed and folded across the only chair. “You mean this?” He turned and mimicked the move from earlier, leg parallel to his torso.

“Yes!” Sokka looked like he was about to faint, stumbling over to their shared bed and collapsing on it, holding onto the frame for stability. “Yes, that.”

“Agni, Sokka.” Zuko shook his head, sitting on the bed beside the stunned teen. “I thought I upset you or something.”

“What!” Sokka turned, seizing his boyfriend’s shoulders and turning them face-to-face. “Never! I wouldn’t, you know I couldn’t, I-” The rest went unsaid, a chaste kiss shared between them before Sokka stood to ready himself for the night, his own shirt joining the fire nation red.  “Wait.” He paused mid-stretch, his arms over his head. “Zuko.” The black-haired teen didn’t look at him. “Zuko!” Gold orbs moved from the window, the smaller boy jerking backwards slightly when he realized the room’s other occupant was approximately twelve inches from his face.

“What?!”

Sokka leaned closer, blue eyes practically glowing in the late sunset. 

“Does that mean you can do the splits?”

Zuko blushed lightly, the flushing of his pale cheeks obvious. Sokka gaped.

“Does that mean you can?!” Zuko nodded.

“Will you show me?”

“Uh.” Zuko looked away, shy nature overcoming him. “Sure?” He stood and moved to the center of the stone floor, acutely aware of his boyfriend’s intense gaze practically burning a hole in his back. “Ahem.” He cleared his throat, staring at his feet before looking up to meet the eyes of his significant other, blushing again at Sokka’s eager smile.

“You kind of-” he slid his right foot forward, body sinking to the floor until he was flush with the stone. Full split. “Yeah?”

“Oh, Tui and La.” Sokka breathed, watching his boyfriend rise and stretch the opposite leg, mentioning something about balance in between.

That’s so hot.

“Oh.” Zuko’s words bled through the astonishment, Sokka watching as the firebender liften himself once more. “I can also-” without much preamble, he dropped into a straddle, legs fully extended to either side.

He was only there for a moment before bending his knees, gently folding his legs into his chest, face beet-red as he prepared to stand again.

“It’s not that much, honestly-”

He didn’t see Sokka until the other hit him at full speed, knocking them both to the floor, lips locked together.

---Elsewhere in the temple----

Toph jumped in alarm, jerking her feet off the ground at near superhuman speed.

“Oh, gross.”