One could think that Sokka had some ulterior motive for pulling the Firelord out of his office and basically dragging him to take a break, but one would be wrong, and one, who are his sister and practically sister and ex need to keep their mouth hushed. Did pulling Zuko out of that stuffy room end up with some bonus of sparring with the firebender and with Zuko taking his shirt off? Yes. But Sokka made him take a break from the goodness of his heart.
(If he closes his eyes he can see Katara rolling her eyes at him vividly.)
So there they were, after hanging out practically the entire afternoon together and joking slightly as they made their way to the bedchambers. And yes, maybe they could have parted ways, and maybe Sokka should have if he wanted to walk the short way to his room, but….. Well… he felt like taking the scenic route. Yes. That's why he was still walking with Zuko.
Alright, maybe it was cute to see Zuko fuss about the meeting dignitaries from all the kingdoms that has almost no way of going wrong at this point but that was neither here nor there
It was then they were interrupted with an abrupt call from behind them.
"Oh! Hey, You're Lee from the tea shop!" called out the Earth kingdom nobleman who spotted them. Sokka blinked.
He had never thought Customer Stingy was a nobleman, nor one that would be coming to this meeting, but it seemed he was wrong.
See, it sort of rooted to when Zuko, terrified of becoming an evil overlord like his father had been, took some time to go to Ba Sing Se to work with his Uncle at his tea shop to make sure he never lost touch with people who aren’t nobles. The rest of Team Avatar, whenever they could take time off from Everything, went there too so it became a tradition, If they could take time off, They’d be found at the Jasmine Dragon, sometimes to hang out and drink tea, sometimes to help out Uncle Iroh (though that was mostly just Sokka and Zuko,). The older fire bender was only too happy to provide them a chance to just be kids.
Which is kind of also why all of them sans Zuko were usually in disgises, to not be caught as the heroes, but as teenagers that help out at a tea shop when they’re free.
And now, on the matter of Customer Stingy, well, the man was, as the name suggested, stingy. His order for the tea was the most specific order for tea Sokka had ever heard in his life. And no one bar Uncle Iroh and sometimes Zuko could ever get it right. And on top of all that the man never in his life gave a tip.
“I suppose the Fire lord brought you here to serve him?” the man says in his usual haughty tone that made Sokka want to punt him.
“Uh-” Zuko says. Before Sokka grabs his bicep to quiet him.
“He does serve tea for the fire lord” Sokka admitted gleefully. And it was true enough, despite Ozai as a firelord was probably the type who had someone to wipe his butt, Zuko never took to his father’ level of
arrogance, and after years of doing everything for himself, he just prefers doing things for himself. As a result, yes, Zuko does make his own tea.
“Wonderful! Then you can serve tea at tomorrow's meeting” Customer Stingy says cheerfully.
Zuko, ever the sweet and oblivious, nodded slowly, “Alright then.” he mumbled and Customer Stingy nodded in that cheerful yet condescending way of his and left.
“You think he knows I’m the Fire lord?” Zuko asks, looking at the man’s retreating form frowning.
“Absolutely not.” Sokka grins at him.
Customer Stingy, who’s name is apparantly Xinso side eyed Sokka when he enter the meeting Room, Probably wondering what he was doing in the meeting room when he was also hanging out with Zuko or, well, Lee yesterday. He visibly shrugged him off, probably not deeming Sokka important enough for his attention.
Sokka was tempted to wear the Wang fire mustache and beard that he used in the tea shop with either his ambassador robes or his water tribe robes but refrained himself, he was playing the long game after all. And besides almost everyone made effort to dress themselves to dress out of any nations colors.
“So, Lady Beifong, I didn’t know You would be here, are you here in capacity to team Avatar?” asks Xinso wiggling in his seat, Toph beamed at him,
“I’m here as the scribe.” she informed him. Sokka could see Katara shaking her head at her but she didn’t comment.
From what Sokka knew, Toph was here for no reason other than she wanted to be, and well, who’s actually going to go up to her and say no? Xinso gave Toph a perturbed look. He could see his own father blinking at her but deciding not to comment. Chief Arnook stared until his dad pulled the other man into a conversation.
“Uh- well, you wouldn’t happen to know when the refreshments arrive would you?” Xinso tries again, Sokka prepares to cringe away from Katara’s glare.
“Sorry, no, I don’t go to the kitchens a lot, lots of knives and stuff lying around , I could cut my feet,” Sometimes it’s really really hard to not burst out laughing at Toph’s terrible jokes.
“Oh! Uh my apologies! It was just I saw the server from my favourite tea shop yesterday and asked him to serve us today, they make amazing tea in the jasmine dragon, so I hope Lee will make great drinks today. "
Sokka saw Toph freeze, he felt Katara stiffen next to him and bit his lip, hoping they wouldn’t give away the prank before it even began, it took him hours of begging to get Zuko to get along with it (ok, maybe not hours, one hour, one singular hour. But the point stands.)
“Lee?” Toph asks looking for all the world like a curious child and not the scheming mastermind that she is.
“Yes, quite a great tea server that lad, I’m sure today’s refreshments will be amazing” Xinso assures the poor blind child that was somehow roped into being a scribe for the Fire lord’s meeting.
A pebble hit Sokka’s shin, probably bended by the evil evil gremlin that was sitting across from him.
Right before Katara or Toph could say something that would ruin his brilliant plan, Suki comes in as his saviour, or you know as representative of the Kyoshi warriors, but that's neither here nor there.
She took a seat right next to Toph, sandwitching the girl between her and Xinso. Sokka leaned over to her as she sat,
Suki eyed their surroundings before talking in a low voice, “ Nothing new, but we’re wearing him down.”
Sokka sighed before nodding, “well, we couldn’t have expected it to be this easy to sway the Dragon of the West”
“I’d say a few more pai sho games, and, -” she turned to Toph, “- how’s the new blend coming?”
“As fast as it can, but you know, It’s still tea, so that’s plants and stuff I know nothing about. “
“Right, I’d say We’ll get him to tell us where the cell is by the end of this month or next.” Sokka was thankful that at least one of them thought to keep things vague enough so even if the others did hear them they’d have no clue who’s cell they were talking about.
“Why are you bribing General Iroh?” his father whispers cautiously. And that was just the point he was making.
“It’s nothing important, we’re just looking for something and Uncle Iroh knows where it is” Katara helps him evade with a bright smile.
Their father eyes them both warily for a moment, but lets it go. They both sigh in relief.
Aang and Zuko enter the room at the same time. Zuko with a teapot and a tray holding cups and Sokka resists the urge to rub his hands together.
Chief Arnook looked quite possibly horrified when Zuko served the tea, so did he man with him, his father, who has talked to Uncle Iroh and has seen Zuko serve tea before, took it with grace. Xinso took his cup eagerly and took a sip. “Wonderful job Lee” He crowed. Chief Arnook choked on his tea and Sokka’s father heaved a deep, deep sigh. Suki gave Zuko a flat look who then subtly pointed his chin towards Sokka, like the snitch he was. Katara immediately glared at him
Then, Xinso turned to look around, “My, this meeting is taking long to start isn’t it.” He muttered. And the look of pure unadulterated fear that Chief Arnook’s companion gave Xinso will stay in Sokka's memories for many years to come.
“Yes, we should begin.” Zuko nodded and took his place at the head of the table, across Aang right at the seat for the only representative for the fire nation.
Forget Arnook’s companion, Xinso’s face is going to bring sokka joy for the rest of his life.
“Are you alright uh…. Xinso?” Aang, the sweet summer child called, concerned.
“Xinso, did you really tell the Fire lord to bring you tea?” forget what he was saying earlier, Toph is an absolute angel. She's leaning on the table with her cheek on her hand looking almost directly at Xinso. “Isn’t that like a I dunno capital offence?”
“I think the last guy who disrespected the Firelord in a meeting was castrated” Suki pointed out brazenly examining one of her fans. Xinso whimpers. Katara facepalms. The guy then mumbles something that makes Katara shift guiltily.
“Did he just ask the painted lady to save his soul?” he whispers to her, making her groan out loud.
“And these are the kids that saved the world.” His father announced to Arnook.