[identity profile] domolovesyou.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: You're Best With Me
Author: [livejournal.com profile] domolovesyou
Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Pairing: Zuko/Sokka
Disclaimer: Not mine, obviously
Spoilers: The entire series :D
(Crossposted here)




SOKKA + ZUKO
(a pimp post/meta/manifesto)



THE CHARACTERS

I would probably start off with a section about the show, but since so much happens in all 3 crazy seasons and also there is tons of character development and plot devices, it'd take way too fucking long. (I also attempted to write a Super Junior parody - it took me 15,000 words. And each scene was like. 200 words long. So that's how much important stuff happens.) SO we're just going to cut to the chase.

(Also do not mention the movie to me because I do not talk about it. At all.)

→ SOKKA



Name: Sokka
Age: 15
Role: no-bending, swordsman (with a boomerang!)
Family: Katara (sister), deceased mother, living father
Known for: his utter sarcasm, supposed stupidity, affinity for eating (meat), sexism, bad (and the occasional good) jokes, making bad names for stuff (Rocky, Gaang, Boomeraang, Combustion Man)
Overlooked good traits: brash and determined, cleverness (in making plans, and also haikus sorta), intelligence (science + creativity), value of honor and family and friendship, protective of those he loves (see previous trait), and really Sokka just has passion and will stop at nothing to accomplish his goals
Deeper slightly negative traits: Biased in understanding and learning (his treatment of Zuko), placing laws and rules before erm 'what is right' (I think he grows out of this soon enough, but see episode one with Katara and the village and Aang) (though he will appreciate things done for humor and cheating when necessary (so he's not uptight like Katara) (see The Runaway)), tactlessness, rash pride

NOW FOR THE FUN PART.

Essentially, in the TV show, Sokka is the "ladies' man" the same way his sister is the girl who gets all the guys (the men's lady?). First Suki kisses him on the cheek only a few episodes into the TV show. While that isn't, ahem, much, for a kids' TV show it definitely is, and leaves Sokka blushing. Then, at the end of the first season, he shows more love interest in Yue (who I think would have been a lot better just as a friend even if the romance was hinted toward, but I guess it shows Sokka's maturity and growth and how he learns from that) and she kisses him before she ~goes to the Spirit World~, aka she dies. Then when Ty Lee and Mai comes him, Ty Lee flirts shamelessly with him - which Sokka is completely prone to, though this shows that he has a sort of charm (either that or he's the type of guy Ty Lee likes; but while Ty Lee knows how to flirt, she actually has interest in Sokka so it's not just a hey I'm going to flirt with you type of thing). Then Suki comes back and they kiss kiss blah blah make out. Or, well, there was that whole thing with not kissing in front of the moon... guess they can't have sex at night, can they. Cough cough. Anyways.

Now that we've covered Sokka's romantic adventures and experiences, let's go into him as a character! For me, I find Sokka completely endearing - he's the total Ron-type character (read: Harry Potter) - bit of an idiot, second man to the main character, but completely supportive and whatnot. But what I really love about Sokka is just the way he's a billion people all in one body. We see that with his friends he is, generally, "the idiot" - he makes lame jokes and more often than not says the wrong things because he just doesn't think. But that's the way Sokka is. But then with Katara he is super protective - and yes, of course it's because their mother died and their father left to go fight in the war. But it's also because he genuinely loves her - sure, he makes tons of sexist remarks (and I don't really mind at all and I'm a girl and I think sexist jokes are funny all right) and underappreciates her. But I think that's because their relationship is like that: they don't have to tell each other they love each other or hug each other all the time. It's just the way things work. And I will stop trying to make this an incest pimp post (what? Incest? What?) and go on with the other Sokka interactions that are not Zuko because that will take me a lot longer.

I also love Sokka because he is reasonable. He isn't reasonable in the way that would "make sense in context" - he's reasonable as in the world. He's smart, in that sort of way. So when he first meets Aang, I think it's completely understandable why he's less curious than Katara (who is curious by nature, js) and why he doesn't want to do the fun stuff and why he wants Katara to let go of him. Because, really. It's not every day you're out fishing, and then suddenly you find a strange bald boy with an arrow on his forehead INSIDE OF AN ICEBERG. AND THEN LETS OFF A FIRE NATION SHIP ROCKET THING. I mean, that does sound suspicious. Of course, us viewers know that Aang is actually the Avatar. But Sokka doesn't. He's in the background, the only male in the village, trying to take care of everything. He doesn't want something else on his hands. He tried with all his might to protect the South Pole (despite his failures - by Zuko!) and do what men did while all the other women in the village took care of the children. He was loyal to his village that way. But then, after he found out that Aang was the Avatar, after Aang was taken away by Zuko, he realized he was being reasonable in an extremely single-minded way. So he found Katara and decided that they were going to rescue Aang together. Oh sure, he said he wanted to protect her (again, caring!) - but in the end, I think, he also wanted to help Aang save the world.

That being said, I do like the friendship between Aang and Sokka. They don't understand each other completely and there's not too much interaction between them as much as a lot of the other characters, but they do know each other's place in the world and they are both determined enough to do all they can for each other. They have a good friendship; they'd save each other's lives. For Sokka, it's the loyalty of the thing - Aang is his friend, so he would do anything for him. And The Spirit World episode, when Sokka is captured by Hei Bai, really shows their friendship - in a cute, subtle way, but still goes to show that Aang wants to rescue Sokka more than anything. Similarly, there's Sokka and Toph - obviously I forgot to mention two paragraphs above that Toph also at one point has a crush on Sokka (The Serpent's Pass, where Toph nearly drowns and Suki jumps in to save her - only, Toph thinks Suki is Sokka and yells, "Oh Sokka, my savior!" or something of the sort and kisses Suki on the cheek (Toph/Suki anyone?)). They're also another potential pairing, I think, and I do ship them to an extent. They're both hardheaded and brave; only, Toph is more street-smart and laidback, and also isn't as lame as Sokka is. (Sokka is lame! He really is! And so am I, and that's why I love him.) They bicker a bit, but they're also quite cute and have that sort of understanding.

And with that, I think that Sokka really knows people. Well, once he gets to know them. But it's the sort of thing - one minute you think Sokka's a complete idiot, and the next thing he's perceptive. Oftentimes his perception is overlooked because his lameness and obnoxiousness is so obnoxious, but you can't help love him anyways. Also, there are notable episodes and events which I think should be touched upon because really, they enhance Sokka's character a lot:

Jet: Minor, minor; but again, goes to the Sokka really knowing people thing. (Of course later this blossoms his grudge for Jet later in the series, but that's also quite minor.) Sokka is definitely not an idiot - he knew, before Aang and Katara, that Jet was an asshole. He was a bad guy. And throughout the episode, he's constantly frustrated at telling Aang and Katara, who tend to believe in the good in people while Sokka does not. Sokka may behave like a monkey most of the time, but he never lets his guard down - he's wary of people the first time he meets them, and it takes a bit of time before he'll go to trust others. That said, he's often portrayed as being the less accepting of the Gaang, but with reasonable doubt.

The Fortuneteller: Also brings into Sokka's down-to-earth ness. While Aang and Katara tend to believe the things that the Fortuneteller tells them (well, mostly Katara), Sokka refuses to believe any of it. In context, I think most viewers would see him being the least stupid of the three, for once. At least, I don't particularly believe in fortunetelling either :P

Bato of the Water Tribe: Mostly Aang-centric, but it shows how much Sokka values loyalty to his father/clan and the rituals that they go through. It's his 'becoming of man', which he finds extremely symbolic. I think this shows how he's learning to grow as a person, even though he and his sister have loyalty struggles at the end of the episode.

The Library: Ultimately shows Sokka's hardheadedness. He despises this war - the war that caused his mother to die, his father to leave, and his village nearly in ruins. So he wants to go the library to figure out a way for them to win this war, even to lie to a large creepy owl thing who has no needs but for himself. At least Sokka wants to save the world.

Sokka's Master: This is the greatest episode for Sokka in-depth. He's the only member of the Gaang without a ~magical power~ - though I think this is completely suitable because Sokka isn't a magical power kind of guy, he's a fight with barehands and strategies (because magical powers are cheating!!) - surely he needs some way of defending himself. And yeah, he's had his boomerang for tons of episodes now. But in this episode, he strengthens himself - not just physically, not just as a fighter, but as a person. He learns to find the value in himself. He's not useless. He knows this. But it's hard for him to prove it. But he learns some awesome ass-kicking sword skills - he makes a sword out of meteorite - and he's not just a tough guy on the outside, but a tough guy on the inside, who is slowly blooming and maturing.



→ ZUKO



(he was difficult to characterize in the intro, so better characterization is with the episode commentary I wrote below)

Name: Zuko
Age: 16
Role: Firebender (aka Aang's Firebending teacher), antagonist-turned-good
Family: Azula, probable deceased mother, living-but-later-imprisoned father (like I said, spoilers)
Known for: his obsession with capturing the Avatar, redeeming his honor, barely having a sense of humor (before turning to the good side of course!), being close to his mother, not having any control of his emotions. At all.
Good traits which are loved by the fangirls: being hot (he really is! Literally! In both senses!), having a tragic back story therefore making him a lovable emo puppy; but if we're talking seriously, he's controlled and determined. Very determined. Also talks to himself.
Negative traits: Again, little control over his emotions (therefore little control over his Firebending, at first); very little temper, expresses no sense of humor until half of season three

ZUKO'S ROMANTIC EXPERIENCE is actually um. Well it actually starts before the series (whereas we see Sokka blushing after being kissed on the cheek), because he had been with Mai or had a romance with her of a sort before he was banished. This isn't stated explicitly, really; but we know that Mai and Zuko have known each other since they were kids and had had a ~romantic interest~ in each other back then (the flashback episode with Zuko's mother, which I can't quite remember right now). There's also tons of Zuko/Katara subtext which I will ignore although it's probably the most popular ship in Avatar (again, which I will ignore.) There's also a bit of UST Zuko has with a girl named Song in The Cave of Two Lovers; Zuko also goes out on a date in The Tales of Ba Sing Se, which shows that he's a romantic, a gentleman, and also vehemently not extremely swayed by the ways of women.

ANYWAYS. Zuko's relationships! I love the Zuko-Iroh relationship almost the most in this show (I don't know what relationship I like most, actually, but Zuko and Iroh are adoring.) Iroh is Zuko's surrogate father, and he's excellent at being one - Iroh has a lost son, Zuko has an evil father. Zuko just wants acceptance from his father, whereas Iroh is the only man in the Firenation who accepts Zuko. Iroh is the perfect father figure for him - he has a sense of humor (which, again, Zuko lacks until half of season 3), he knows where his loyalties should lie and they do, he's extremely badass, he can control his temper which makes him a fucking awesome Firebender (because control is key, in Firebending), he's patient and calm and cool and collected, and he drinks tea and plays funny Asian games. He's everything that Zuko isn't, but in the way that he knows Zuko inside and out whereas Zuko is stuck inside his own brain. Iroh understands Zuko. Iroh knows what's best for Zuko. And Iroh was absolutely heartbroken when Zuko left him and Zuko later when he realized what he had done, but they made up quickly - because Iroh is the closest thing to a father Zuko has ever had in his life. And a father is, really, all he's ever wanted.

Again, I will try to lay off the family relationships because apparently I get super into them. So I'll only touch upon Zuko and Azula. They hate each other. Basically. But Azula is manipulative, whereas Zuko is not; Zuko doesn't make clever plans, he goes out and just does it. Azula's more subtle. She's more cunning, more taunting, whereas Zuko is subject to being taunted, and he doesn't taunt because he thinks it's a waste of time - he just takes action. He doesn't say witty things. He doesn't try to make witty remarks. He always has the end in mind. That's why it was a failure for him to capture the Avatar (not like he was "meant to", anyways!) - because he was so determined to capture the Avatar, that's all he wanted to do. He just kept trying over and over again to capture him. While Azula formed plans to make Zuko look like a good guy, look like a bad guy, crush him, and possibly even destroy him.

I, ah. I have no idea where I'm going with this. Onto other things.

Zuko and Aang. They're actually a really popular ship in Avatar fandom (and I do ship them myself - this manifesto is glorious) and they're basically the Draco/Harry, love/hate, even a bit canon slash pairing. And Zuko's obsessed with capturing Aang, until he turns good and then they turn into best buds and dance with each other. But this is not a Zuko/everyone pimp post (nor is it a Sokka/everyone pimp post, self!!) Also, Zuko and Katara - they both understand each other, mothers dying, blah blah that sort of thing not to mention the end of season two ANYWAYS. Again, I don't talk about Zutara that much. (coughs) Zuko's sob story and angst is definitely something to be cooed. But that is not what we are here for. But anyways, it's with Katara where we understand that Zuko is a sensitive guy. A deep guy. Who also happens to be crazy hot.

Zuko's outstanding trait, to me, is his appreciation. Because he's very, very bad at it, despite his sensitivity. He thinks he appreciates his father. He doesn't appreciate Iroh, for quite some time. Because he only has his sights set on capturing Aang and regaining his honor - because all he wants to do is be appreciated. But in the beginning of the series, he's not appreciated for who he is, the same way he doesn't appreciate things the way they are. His first loyalty is also to his family, when really it should only be to those who care about him: his mother and Iroh. But he seeks his father's approval and even believes in the things Azula says, and even when he's presented to his father because he "killed" the Avatar and is now on Azula's side, he deems it a good thing. That he's on Azula's side, as much as he dislikes her. So Zuko is very single-minded. (The same way Sokka is, hehe.)

And now, episode commentary! About Zuko's character, at least XD Most of season one is basically Zuko trying to capture Aang over and over (and over!) again, though I'll just point out ones where he's doing more than just that :P

The Southern Air Temple: I think this episode goes to show that Zuko is not entirely a bad guy. His nemesis for capturing the Avatar is General Zhao, but even when he duels Zhao, he spares his life. Like all good people do! So it's basically sort of foreshadowing that Zuko is not a bad guy, at all.

The Spirit World/Winter Solstice 1: Zuko goes after Iroh before running after the Avatar. So he's not completely obsessed. Because he cares more about the life of his uncle more than regaining his honor with his father. Again, a clue that he's not evil at all.

The Storm: This episode basically is almost Zuko's entire back story. Raised as a prince, pampered and whatnot, son of the Fire King - and is let in on one of the meetings for the first time. Unfortunately, he speaks out of turn because he wants to save some of the Fire Nation army's lives instead of sacrificing them in the Earth Kingdom for a "greater victory"; thus ridiculing himself and, apparently, bringing shame to his father. So his father tells him that he's going to do an Agni Kai (formal dueling), which Zuko agrees to because he thinks he's going to duel the man he had disrespected - but instead, he's dueling his father himself. His father then scars him and banishes from the Fire Nation, and tells him that he's not allowed to return until he captures the Avatar. I think, ideally, Ozai just didn't want him around at all and was sending him out on an "impossible" task to make him leave, but Zuko stuck by his father's words, determined to capture the Avatar for nearly two years.

The Blue Spirit: The ULTIMATE foreshadow that Zuko is not a bad guy - he rescues Aang! Sure, it's probably so he can capture the Avatar for himself without letting Zhao present the Avatar to the Fire Lord - but still. It's also THE episode for Zuko/Aang shippers (but again, we're not supposed to be getting into that.)

The Cave of Two Lovers: This episode isn't very important Zuko-wise, actually; but I believe that it shows that Zuko is learning to understand. He's learning to understand things outside of family and honor. He's now living as a street rat, even though he had grown up as a prince. He's learning to become less of a prince and more of a human; he's learning to mature and be less single-minded, like he usually is.

Zuko Alone: Best Zuko episode. Again, he's learning to go out on his own - and after his uncle disapproves of his stealing for food (which I personally thought was a good choice, because no way were they going to be let into someone else's house because they were banned from the Fire Nation with a price on their heads) - he's forced to do things himself. Here, we get a huge insight into Zuko's past. He loves his mother: his mother is his best friend. Even though Ozai is relentless and Azula is, um, psychotic (Ursa, his mother, even says that there's "something wrong with her"), his mother loves him with his dear heart (cough Draco Malfoy complex cough). So when his mother 'mysteriously disappears' as Azulon, his grandfather, dies, he's worried. Azula then insinuates that his mother died to save his skin (and she says this without any compassion at all, thus relating to her psychoticness) because he would have been killed instead (or something like that.) At the same time, Iroh's son had died which led to Iroh's depression and declination to becoming the next Fire Lord. Anyways, in the outside world, Zuko finds a boy who had been bullied by Earth Kingdom thugs, and rescues him; the boy's family takes him in and sees his scar as a "result of the war" (which technically is true); the boy also steals Zuko's knives and plays with them, but then later Zuko finds out and teaches him how to wield the knives properly; Zuko witnesses the boy seeing his older brother off going for the war. It's evident throughout the episode that Zuko definitely feels something for this family, and learns the idea of family values, a family that is tied together. And also, he partially knows that this is his own family's fault, and so he does his best to help the family out by doing some labor. However at the end of the episode, Zuko reveals his true identity and the family shuns him and it's super sad and I almost cried my eyes out all right 8(

Lake Laogai: Once more, Zuko sacrifices his want to capture the Avatar, and instead frees Appa for Aang. HE BE GOOD, NOT BAD. (And let it be noted here that I knew from when episode 1 came out that Zuko would be Aang's Firebending teacher. Duh.)

The Crossroads of Destiny: Azula allegedly kills Aang. She gives the glory to Zuko. Rah rah. Obviously she's planning something, obviously Zuko suspects this and does nothing. Iroh is also disappointed, and imprisoned. 8( This is Zuko making a bad choice, of course. Again, his first and foremost loyalty had always been to his family, to his father. And despite that he had grown tons since season one, he still has much to learn.

The Beach: Zuko lets out his anger on his friends. I think this is also the episode where Zuko and Mai's intimate relationship is really introduced - but it's on the rocks, so it's not all that great (of a relationship and what they have. Coughity cough.) It just goes to show that he's really not very good at this girlfriend thing. Cough. He also gives himself expectations that I don't really think others believe he can go through, or think are absolute necessities - but he does and that's what's important, right?

The Day of Black Sun Part 2: ZUKO LEAVES! This is his ultimate obstacle that he finally got over: his father. He tells his father he's no longer taking orders from him. He doesn't care. And he's going to fucking join the Avatar. And, again, he doesn't care about his father. He goes to his father with his pride and dignity, and leaves with his pride and dignity. He wears no shame, he wears no regret - he's determined to go against his father. He doesn't care anymore. Because he realizes that his loyalties are not with people who care little about him (if at all) - they lay with people who love, who know what's right in this world, who can stop the war. In the end, he's never really cared about power, he's cared about love. He's cared about his Uncle. He's cared about being loved. And he knows that he's not going to get it from his Father, so he's leaving, because his true destiny is to love. (Oh wow, I'm really being cheesy aren't I?)

352 - 357: Basically, these episodes are Zuko getting into the Gaang, teaching Aang Firebending (kindling a friendship), a two part episode about Sokka and Zuko (WHICH IS COMING LATER), restoring his friendship with Katara, and ultimately letting out his SENSE OF HUMOR, being human, and becoming a real member of the Gaang. Honestly, these are my favorite episodes because the dynamic and chemistry Zuko has with each of the Gaang members - Toph, too! - are completely awesome and spaz worthy and even though I despise Zutara I do love their friendship.



THE RELATIONSHIP

So what do we have now? Well, now we have Zuko and Sokka. We have Zuko, who is the sensitive boy with the angsty little backstory; and we have Sokka, who wants to make a story of his own.

There are tons of reasons why Zuko and Sokka are my OTP. Sure, it's because they're both guys. Sure, it's because they're both hot. Sure, it's because both of them are main characters but they're also side characters, and they don't have a huge love/hate relationship or love/love or hate/hate or anything but just manage to work.

First, let's talk parallelism.

If you didn't notice above in the family listings, which I hope you did, both of them have a sister, a deceased mother, and a living father. And all right, Azula's cray cray while Katara is, well, not; and Sokka's father was an awesome man who Sokka looked up to while Zuko eventually ended up hating his father. But they both had loving mothers, and even though Sokka was closer to his father, there's still that maternal love that affected them both. And, ultimately, I think Zuko could possibly be a little bit jealous of Sokka's relationship with his father, something he's never had.

Also, both of them are extremely single-minded (which I emphasized a lot with Zuko, considering he had learned of one way of life until he was vehemently banned from the Fire Nation entirely); Sokka with his self-righteousness, Zuko with his extreme determination. They both have passion and energy and will stop at nothing to do what they want and that's why the sex would be hot. But they're both also extremely caring, to the extent that they have the emotional capacity of a girl. Oh yes, Sokka's can be very insensitive at times - but he wants what's best for his sister, Suki, Aang, and while he does his duties with some reluctance, he still does them. Not just because they're his duties, but because he cares. Similarly, Zuko cares for his uncle even though he doesn't realize it at first, and while he is very underappreciative of him, he'd captured him from the Earthbending soldiers. He valued his friendship with the members of the Gaang. Both Zuko and Sokka are also very, very self-seeking and yet care for others on the sidelines. Not to mention the fact that the both of them value swordsmanship greatly; because Zuko, while is a Firebender, is also the Blue Spirit and has great skill with knives and swords, the same way Sokka is a combat type of man who uses swords. Not only is this a... euphemism, but is also another way they're alike, in a less psychological way.

This actually isn't why they're my OTP, though.

Zuko is serious; Sokka is reckless. Zuko expresses nearly no humor; Sokka attempts at humor almost every day. But Sokka brings out Zuko's playful side, while Zuko grounds Sokka. And they both understand each other in a way that none of the other characters do, because they both place tons of value on the idea of loyalty.

Sokka: I need to regain my honor. You can't stop me, Zuko.
Zuko: You need to regain your honor? Believe me, I understand. I'm going with you.


(Really, the in-depth analyzation of The Boiling Rock episodes is coming... I just couldn't help it this one time.)

Anyways. There's just tons to develop in the Zuko/Sokka relationship - because they sort of have that unspoken rule, the "bro code", only it's not just about being a guy. It's about being friends. It's about being destined for great things that you didn't know until later. It's about finding out who you really are - Zuko, as a person; Sokka, as a man. It's about looking into the little things and keeping everything on a deeper level. I always thought that out of all of the characters, Zuko and Sokka would be the characters who could relate to each other the most - close in age, both boys, both struggling through a war that they both want to end, that they were both just thrown into. They see each other and just know things - the way Zuko knew that Sokka wanted to sneak off to rescue his father, because it's something he would have done, for someone he loved, for his mother. It's the sort of relationship, to me, that doesn't really need subtext or canonness or like, thrown-into-your-face evidence to actually work. Because when you truly think about it, there's just something about the way Zuko's sensitive-like-a-girl and Sokka's overly-and-obnoxiously-passionate personalities just work. They relate to each other in ways more than one, and yet someone could say that they're definitely on opposite ends of the spectrum.



... THUS WE ARE GOING TO START ON THE EPISODE ANALYZING (which is my favorite because even though I said all that about not needing evidence, THERE IS EVIDENCE ANYWAYS.)

Let's go with the beginning:

The first member of the Gaang Zuko meets is Sokka. Yeah, all right. He threw him off his boat. He didn't even spare him a second glance. But Sokka stood up to Zuko before anyone else. They never really had a hate/love relationship. They never even hated each other; Katara didn't like Zuko in a different way, because he had her convinced that he would turn good at the end of Season 2, and then he didn't. The feelings weren't really all too high for Sokka when that happened; he just disliked them because of the bad things he had done, but Zuko repented. Their friendship sort of eventually fell into place once Zuko joined his group and proved that he wasn't going to try to capture Aang (though Zuko was sort of frustrated with his Firebending at the time; Sokka was lax.)

Sokka: Hey jerks. Mind if I watch you two jerks do you jerk bending?
Zuko: GET OUT OF HERE!
Sokka: Take it easy, I was just kidding around. Heh, jerk bending... I still got it...


Aang already knew Zuko had good in him. Katara patronized Zuko for what he did at the end of Season 2. And Zuko had just burned Toph's feet. But Sokka - Sokka actually had every right to dislike Zuko just for who he was, because even though Zuko never hurt him personally, his natural tendency to be wary should have been in full force, because Zuko had just entered the group. But already he was delivering his bad insults, and already he was joking around with Zuko. Not only was this a not very Sokka-like thing to do - but also showed that their relationship is natural. There wasn't any situation that really had to enforce it. Once they were given a chance to form a bond - the bond formed quickly.

Sokka: Soooooo all we need to do is make Zuko angry! *proceeds to poke him in various places around the body with his stick*


cough

See, look? Friendship :3 The Sokka/Zuko relationship develops almost as quickly as the Zuko/Aang one does, but the Zuko/Aang one had history. Sokka and Zuko didn't... and yet, they just work. Together.

And now onto my favorite episode.



THE BOILING ROCK

We start off where Sokka asks Zuko about where the Fire Nation kept their prisoners. Zuko is reluctant to tell him, but when Sokka continues to ask him, he eventually lets up. The Boiling Rock is where the prisoners were kept, and is the most heavily guarded prison in all of the Fire Nation. Sokka then leaves, saying that he 'just wanted to know' and felt better about it. Later that night, however, he sneaks off to Appa so they can go to the Boiling Rock - only to be stopped by Zuko, who then tells him that he'll join him.

This action really touches me, in a variety of ways. For one, I think it shows that Zuko is starting to care about Sokka, even though they know very little about each other, even though only two episodes ago Zuko was still struggling to let him into the group. Also, it shows that Zuko understands Sokka in a way more than the others do - if Sokka had been talking to Katara or Aang, they probably wouldn't have bothered because they would think that he was into more trouble and wouldn't want to be a part of it. And Toph might want to join him, but Sokka would actually try to keep her away because he wouldn't want to bring her in. But Zuko is strong and is a man, and the reason why Zuko wants to come with him is because he wants to make sure he's okay, and the reason why Sokka lets him (even though he doesn't want him to) is because he knows that Zuko can take care of himself (and also because Zuko has a war balloon. Because Zuko wants to help). Already there's this piece of trust that's formed between them, even though their friendship is barely developed - and yet, it's already been developed in less than a single episode.

They also claim they went fishing together. Which I find adorable. (I also read an awesome fanfiction on this, which I will rec... later down below.)

Up in the fire balloon, we see that there's a little bit of awkwardness between them, because there's so much on both of their minds... and they're not saying anything XD It's also the firs time where they're actually left alone, and all of a sudden they're just two teenage boys stuck in the middle of a war, together. Also, the dialogue here is amazing, both with their relationship and characterization:

Sokka: Pretty clouds.
Zuko: Yeah, fluffy.
Sokka: *whistles*
Zuko: What?
Sokka: What? Oh- I didn't play anything.
Zuko: ...
Sokka: You know, a friend of mine actually designed these war ballons?
Zuko: No kidding.
Sokka: Yep. A balloon. But for war.
Zuko: If there's one thing my dad's good at, it's war.
Sokka: Yeah, seems to run in the family.
Zuko: Hey, hold on, not everyone in my family's like that.
Sokka: I know, I know. You've changed.
Zuko: I meant my uncle. He was more of a father to me. And I really let him down.
Sokka: I think your uncle would be proud of you. Leaving your home to come help us, that's hard.
Zuko: It wasn't that hard.
Sokka: Really? You didn't leave behind anyone you cared about.
Zuko: Well I did have a girlfriend. Mai.
Sokka: That gloomy girl who sighs a lot?
Zuko: Yeah. Everyone in the Fire Nation thinks I'm a traitor. I couldn't drag her into it.
Sokka: My first girlfriend turned into the moon.
Zuko: That's rough, buddy.


This is one of my favorite scenes in Avatar (if not my favorite!) They're just two guys in the sidelines, in a war but still teenage boys. They're the outlet for one another. They find that they can definitely relate to one another. And despite this natural awkwardness, they learn to be together and work together. They can also use each other as sexual outlets- /shot

Then their balloon proceeds to go into the steam- unfortunately, the air in the balloon is as hot as the air outside, so due to the laws of science and whatnot, they can't fly anymore. So they land on the the Boiling Rock island. And are now stuck. Zuko admits that he doesn't think things through, Sokka admits that not all his plans are work so he's playing it by ear.

............. they eventually both get Fire Nation suits. So er. We can also assume that they've seen each other naked, considering they didn't put it on over their old clothes (because they were both long-sleeved, and the Fire Nation suits are short-sleeved.) And um. There's no scene where they actually change into the clothes. Heh.

Anyways, onto more plotty stuff. Due to the fact that they are both stuck on the Boiling Rock, together, and have no idea what the hell they're doing, they can only do one thing - rely on each other.

Since they're disguised as Fire Nation guards, naturally, they have 'duties' to tend to - so when they're called to a scuffle in the courtyard, they have to go out with the other soldiers. It's there where they see a man being attacked for doing something "wrong" and, naturally, Sokka wants to help - but Zuko grabs onto Sokka's arm and tells him they can't blow their cover.

This arm-grabbing was also unnecessary zoomed in on. Here, have a screencap.



Including with the whole 'sticking together' thing, they then proceed to have cute (pun intended, sorta) dialogue with one of the guards.

Guard: Isn't that cute?
Sokka and Zuko: ...
Guard: *stares at them*
Zuko: Yeah, cute.
Sokka: SUPER cute.


(cries they are talking about themselves, obviously)

Then shit goes down, Sokka's assigned to take the dude into the "Cooler", yadda yadda... then Sokka tells Zuko to "meet back here in an hour." It's probably just for them to find each other again - but still, they need to stick together! They need to be with each other! Always!

More plotty stuff happens, the Warden comes, blah blah blah... then Zuko goes out on the ~balcony~ where Sokka is.

Zuko: Hi there... fellow guard. How goes it?
Sokka: Zuko?
Zuko: Shh. Listen. I asked around the lounge. There are no Water Tribe prisoners. I'm afraid your father's not here.
Sokka: What? Are you sure? Did you double check?
Zuko: I'm sure.
Sokka: *bangs head against wall* No! So we came all this way for nothing? I failed. Again.
Zuko: Ah, what would Uncle say? *walks over to balcony and looks up to the sky* Sometimes the clouds have two sides. A dark and a light, and a silver lining in between. It's like a silver sandwich! So... when life seems hard, take a bite out of the silver sandwich!
Sokka: *has a relieved look on his face and runs over to the balcony as well* Maybe we haven't failed after all!
Zuko: That's the spirit! (I can't believe that worked!... ) I didn't even know what I was saying.
Sokka: No, what you said made no sense at all...

First, it's the way that Zuko is genuinely extremely sorry that Sokka's father isn't at the Boiling Rock. Not because they came here for nothing (like Sokka complained), but actually because Sokka's father isn't there. He feels for him. He empathizes with him. He then proceeds to say nonsense about clouds and silver sandwiches, which is just more insight to his sense of humor which he actually has. And it's completely adorable. And endearing. And makes no sense. And Sokka knows.

Then Sokka finds Suki and runs off to get her. ZUKO LOOKS ANNOYED. Maybe it's by Sokka's suddenly lovestruckedness. (Or maybe Zuko's just jealous.)

Sokka then goes to talk to Suki about leaving the island, which is not important because again, this post is about ZUKO and SOKKA and yes, their relationship is formulated by relationships and there are tons of relationship in between but what's really important is about these two boys and in spite of it all, despite that their destinies aren't supposed to intertwine at all, despite that they could have gone throughout the entire series without forming a bond or a friendship, they do. And that's one of the reasons why Zuko stands guard while Sokka relays their plans to escape the Boiling Rock to his girlfriend. Zuko doesn't really care about Suki that much (to be honest); he cares about Sokka. He cares about him and Sokka escaping. He just wants help for them to escape. That's why. And also because, again. Zuko cares about Sokka.

When Sokka comes out cough, he finds Zuko and another guard in a scuffle because the other guard had wanted to see what was going inside Suki's room. Then the guard tells Sokka to arrest Zuko - which leads to Sokka throwing Zuko to the ground and pinning him down. (Of course, Zuko gets up and Sokka tells him he'll figure it out.) So er. Yes. Make of that what you want.

A short while later, Sokka is busy planning to escape the island with Suki and Zuko (who are tense around one another because Zuko burned Suki's village down. Not that, you know, Suki should be scared that Zuko is trying to steal her boyfriend. Though she should n__n) when Chit Sang comes and asks them about it. Sokka immediately denies it, as does Zuko. What does Suki do? Let them cover all three of them up. Together. Actually, it's more like Sokka's the one who usually does the denying while, in any other circumstance with any other character, they would just nod along with Sokka's lies. But here Zuko actually helps him, he provides with the lies - he appreciates Sokka in a way most of the other characters don't, and through really little actions like this, shows how much he really cares for the other boy.

Sokka eventually gives Zuko a wrench. Which is sort of a euphemism, okay.

Chit Sang and Zuko then proceed to have a mock-fight so that Zuko can get into the cooler, which would be their escape. After the fight, Suki looks anticipated to escape - Sokka merely looks peeved. Probably because he'd seen Zuko basically get beat up in a fight and can't do anything about it.
It's what his face says, anyways.

Sokka approaches Zuko in the cooler, as a guard, and says he'll let him out if he's 'learned his lesson.' Zuko replies that he's 'learned his lesson.' Then they proceed to talk about their plans.... this scene, regardless, is definitely hinting at the slashiness in the way they talk (i.e. playful, daunting and mock-serious) and also by the smirk on both of their faces. SEXUAL TENSION IN THE AIR, PEOPLE. And just when you don't think it can get any better, a guard comes out from around the corner and Zuko pulls Sokka into the cooler, where they are alone together! Yes, yes, this is cute and physical and all; but then they hear the guards talking about war prisoners coming onto the island. Now a normal person (basically, Katara, Aang and Toph) would urge Sokka for them to just leave and forget about it, because it's probably not Sokka's father - but Zuko actually asks Sokka what he wants to do. He's letting the choice come to him. Because he knows how much Sokka wants to see his father again, and Sokka is first to him in this sense - he's been planning to get off the island with Sokka, but when he hears that there might be a chance that they'll have to stay, he asks Sokka. He cares. And even when Sokka makes his decision not to, Zuko actually seems to want him to stay. He doesn't have to. He's not even supposed to, as a person or a character. A normal person would just be like, all right let's get off this crazy island. But Zuko wants Sokka to be happy, he wants him to see his father. This could parellel to Zuko's own experiences with his parents (mostly his mother) and rescuing them - and it could also relate to the fact that Zuko cares deeply about Sokka.

Sokka: Maybe sometimes it's just better to call it quits before you fail.
Zuko: No it's not. Look Sokka, you're going to fail a lot before things work out.
Sokka: Is that supposed to make me feel better?
Zuko: Even if you fail over and over again -
Sokka: Seriously.
Zuko: *puts hand on Sokka's shoulder* You have to try every time. You can't quit because you're afraid you might fail.


Sokka decides to stay. Suki decides to stay with him. As does Zuko. He really doesn't have to - after all, what is he to Sokka so far, when they're not even best friends? Suki's the supposed girlfriend. Zuko and Sokka barely even have much of a friendship (it's probably been about a week since he'd joined), much less a brotherly bond. And yet Zuko stays.

(We will interrupt this program with our few pairing problems:

SUKI/SOKKA
I love Suki, I really do; she's badass and a strong female role, and sort of makes up for the physical aggression that Katara doesn't have. I believe the reason why she's paired with Sokka, though, is because they both like martial arts and Suki sort of appreciates Sokka's values. But the one reason why I don't think they can work out - I can ship them, yes, but I don't actually think there's too much chemistry - is because they seem sort of forced together. Thrown together. There's nothing much else that they have in common. They're all talking and kissing and just discussing, but there's not much understanding. Their personalities don't really align. They're sort of awkward and skewed, and sure they might talk about deep things, but when it comes down to it, Suki can't really empathize with Sokka the way Zuko can. Zuko can see all the flaws and good traits about Sokka, he sees past the way he acts. The Suki/Sokka ship seems really shallow to me, like they're just together for the convenience of it all, just so they can be together. I feel like in the future they might break it off, because really, they make much better friends - but not much as much of a couple. Their relationship is very two-dimensional, not at all developed, and I think only stemmed as a result of hormones and nothing else.

MAI/ZUKO
I love Mai too. Mai is quiet and sarcastic, but not like Sokka. However, the Mai/Zuko pairing just completely falls flat to me. Mai is boring for Zuko. She's not aggressive at all. See, the problem with the relationships in this TV show is that they're only defined by kissing - no understanding, very little emotion, and overall shallow (I can allow Katara/Aang for this, though.) Relationships are just defined by touching. Even Zuko and Katara! And I think this isn't a good portrayal of relationships at all - and the reason why Zuko/Sokka is so attractive to me isn't because they have a lot of physical interaction, isn't because their physical relationship would be good looking. But because there is so much past the surface. Because they both know each other. Because at the end of the day, they know each other more than anyone else. And the best friends make the best lovers, and Aang and Katara were always together, Toph really wasn't just right for Sokka, Yue turned into the moon, and Suki was away for most of the series. And then Zuko comes along. They strike up a friendship. They could strike up something else, too. And yes this paragraph was supposed to be about Mai and Zuko but if you see how little they actually interact, and the few times they have conversations they have bickering even though they're to be a nice, happy couple and when Zuko turned to the 'bad' side in the beginning of Season 3 and was supposed to be happy with his girlfriend, he wasn't happy at all. There's just no chemistry. It's shallow. It's a result of hormones. There's little to no emotion at all, just like Suki and Sokka.)

More plot happens. Hakoda is here at the Boiling Rock! Yay! Hakoda and Sokka formulate a plan to leave, since Chit Sang was captured by the rest of the Boiling Rock guards. And now Sokka needs to tell Zuko the plans.

He's at the door of Zuko's room when two guards appear, and ask him what he's doing there. Sokka makes a lame excuse; the guards say they need to take him away. Sokka then becomes worried and asks, "Can I have just ten more seconds, to 'rough him up' a bit?"

Again, you can make what you want of that sentence.

They have a mock fight (with Zuko giving very convincing grunts... cough) where Sokka tells Zuko his plans; then the guards come in and Sokka takes Zuko in a headlock! The guards take Zuko away and Sokka is a bit dismayed - but hah, physical violence. They are so boys. Two boys who were in a slightly homoerotic scene. (Yeah, it's a cartoon and a kids' show - but what more can you expect? :D)

The rest of the second part of the episode (because technically it's an hour-long episode, split into two parts) is basically everyone else, and escaping and whatnot, with drama with the Warden and Azula and such (aka, not much Zuko/Sokka time.) But we know that Zuko still cares about Sokka, which I've stated like ten times in this thing. And Sokka cares about Zuko. Because as they're leaving, Zuko turns back - and it's Sokka who asks him what he's doing because they have to leave. Because he cares. His dad didn't care too much abuot Zuko, and neither did Suki nor Chit Sang - but it was Sokka who was worried because Zuko was hanging back. And when they arrived back with Aang, Katara and Toph, Zuko said that he brought the "meat of friendship and fatherhood." Let it be noted that he rescued his girlfriend from the island. He didn't really care about Chit Sang all that much, as a friend. And yeah, he loves his father. But he placed friendship above all else - he didn't mention Suki, and he mentioned fatherhood second. He brought back the meat of friendship. His friendship with Zuko. And again, the best friends make the best lovers, and it's evident that in this episode, Zuko and Sokka have this sort of unofficial best friendship. For the rest of the series they aren't seen as close, but with what happened, I doubt it'd be impossible to ignore. They understand each other in a way no one else can (which I've also said like, a billion times.) And also, friendship-turned-romances are the best things.

Zuko and Sokka's relationship really isn't developed much in the series, because they're both side characters - the plot mainly focuses around Aang, Katara and Aang's destiny. And yeah, they both play a huge role - but not so much together. Despite all this, though, they spent the first two and a half seasons knowing each other at a second dimensional level, but when they're thrown together, they already have a deep understanding of each other? It's a close friendship, yes - but as a shipper, one can see that their relationship is already forming quickly, and while it's not touched upon any further after The Boiling Rock episodes, it's still there. It's something to be grown, to be blossomed. And I think that's the most wonderful thing about Zuko and Sokka - because they'll have time to formulate something past what they have, even though they already have so much together. But for their relationship, there can always be more.




FANDOM

The fandom... actually, I'm not that huge into the fandom. I'm just a really big shipper XD Though I'm pretty sure it's not uncommon. But anyways, for me, the fanart is my favorite thing about Avatar fandom, especially Zuko/Sokka. Because there is just so much great fanart that even though I love fic, I just love the way artists can draw Avatar style super well. Here, have some awesome Sokka/Zuko fanart 8) (None of it is by me, btw, and if you want me to give credit for something that's yours, just let me know!)

(Right-clicking and selecting "Open image in new tab" or something of the sort gives you the full image :D)

* **



*SPEAKING of this scene, it's one of my favorites. Heh heh. It's the beginning of the next episode following the Boiling Rock, where Zuko wants to talk to Sokka's sister; he asks Sokka for help because he wants to find the man who killed their mother. While the angsty Zutara is not great and all, it's just amusing that Sokka is in a seductive pose just as Zuko comes along, and Sokka thinks it's Suki... obviously, Zuko is not Suki :3
** I wish I could read Chinese...


And now for fanfiction! I actually haven't read tons of Avatar fanfiction, but I'll provide you with what I have for Zuko/Sokka:

There's a Fleeting Fanworks rec list, which I will probably get onto sometime soon. I found it by Googling, but it seems legit 8D
There's also the FF.net community Bumpy Road for Zuko/Sokka, and also you can find Zuko/Sokka fic quickly by this search. :D

I do have two extremely memorable Zuko/Sokka fic, which I will now provide rec and links to! Because I love them and they are my favorite Zuko/Sokka stories out of the little Zuko/Sokka stories I've read - but are still extremely good.

Princess For A Day by Scuttlebutt Inc.
Rating: NC-17 for smut, but the rest is PG-13
Notes: This story is fabulous. It is long. There is crossdressing. CROSSDRESSING. And it's long. The smut is awesome. The romantic tension - brilliant and hilarious. The story is simply mindblowing, and is definitely one of my favorite stories of all time.

Man to Man by Kyatto no Edo
Rating: PG-13
Notes: This is short and friendship, but also hilarious. Seriously, Zuko and Sokka's relationship can be portrayed as angst - but it can also be portrayed as humor. There's just so much to work with, with the both of them :'D ♥



AND THERE YOU HAVE IT. That took me several hours. It's about 4am right now. BUT HOPEFULLY YOU SHIP ZUKO/SOKKA NOW and if you do, then I am satisfied :3 Because Zuko/Sokka is a lovely pairing and I think that the world should love them ♥♥!

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