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A Poor Excuse for a Date

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As places in the Four Nations went, Republic City was certainly grand. Several years before, it had finally surpassed the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se; some speculated that it was now also larger than the Fire Nation capital. On nights like this, when the days grew short and dark fell early, the lit-up windows made Republic City look like it was strung with stars. Its citizens unashamedly called it the most magnificent city on Earth; Suki thought she might have agreed with them if the circumstances weren't so dire.

Sokka was missing. No, it was somehow more than that - Sokka was gone: no crime scene, no ransom, no clues to follow, and no sign of him anywhere in the city. She could deal with people kidnapping Sokka - it happened a lot - but this… this was new and worrying. She didn't know how to deal with this.

Toph was sleeping at her desk, passed out after nearly a solid day of work (and, possibly, a soon to be fired lieutenant's idea of help). The Council was ignoring the problem, just as they always did. Aang and Katara were visiting the Western Air Temple hundreds of miles away. Sokka was gone. Soon enough, Suki would be, too, though she would leave a note on Toph's desk.

Sokka was gone, and she was going to get him back.

Finding Sokka, for once, was surprisingly easy. Unlike most of the times this sort of thing happened, Suki knew exactly where he was headed after work because they had been planning to meet up. Retracing his route was easy (he really needed to work on varying his routine like Toph told him to) and finding a smear of blood and his boomerang in a dark alley (dear God, she should have fallen in love with someone with more common sense) was even simpler. The idiots of the week had even left a calling card - a set of well-defined tire tracks and what looked to be a broken, standard-issue stun baton.

Suki followed the tracks towards a mostly empty area of town. This was going to be an interesting fight.

***

"Really? The one night we're both free and you get kinapped?" Suki said.

"It wasn't my idea!" Sokka protested.

"We need to have better dates," Suki said. "Dungeons are not my thing."

"They aren't mine, either!"

"Could've had me fooled," Suki grumbled as she slumped onto Sokka's shoulder. "Next time Toph lectures you about situational awareness, actually listen for once. I'm tired of saving you."