Zuko was furious. His Uncle had been shot by his sister and the Avatar and his group were still there. The waterbender was offering help which he did not want because he didn’t need any help, he was a Prince, thank you very much. But then he turned around and saw them. The warrior had his hair down. His hair was down!
Zuko was speechless. He couldn’t answer when the waterbender asked again to help his Uncle. He almost didn’t hear her. It wasn’t until the warrior asked if Zuko wanted Katara to heal his Uncle did he realize he should say something.
“Uh...sure...That... that would be nice. Thank you.” Zuko was still staring at the warrior (with his hair down!) when he answered. He almost had forgotten about his Uncle. Almost.
“Are you okay?” The warrior asked. What was his name?
“Uh...yes...?” Zuko replied.
“You’re just staring at us. Is something wrong? I mean, besides your Uncle being hurt.”
“I forgot your names.” Zuko blurted out before he could stop himself. Did he care about their names? Not a chance. But if it meant the warrior talked more and didn’t touch his hair, Zuko would continue to word vomit.
“Uh... My sister Katara is the one healing your Uncle. Aang is the Avatar. Toph is new, she’s Aang’s earthbending teacher. And I’m Sokka.” Sokka pointed at each person as he spoke.
Zuko could not stop staring at Sokka (and his hair) while he talked. Zuko would do anything Sokka said as long as he kept his hair down. Why had Zuko never seen Sokka with hair down before? Did Sokka not realize the power he possessed?
“That should be good. I’ve done all I can for your Uncle.” Katara said as she stood up.
“Then I guess we should go.” Sokka shrugged.
“We should join your group!” Zuko spat out.
“Uh... what now?”
Zuko could ask himself the same question. He was against the Avatar and now he wanted to join them? With no conversation with his Uncle on the matter? Would Uncle be okay with it? Actually, it didn’t matter. Sokka had his hair down still. “I just think it would be good if I joined your group. My Uncle and I are declared traitors in the Fire Nation.”
“And let me guess, you’ll volunteer to teach Aang firebending too?” Sokka asked, voice laced with sarcasm.
“Yes.” Sokka might have been sarcastic or joking but Zuko was serious. Whatever Sokka asked, Zuko would do.
“Nephew? Are you sure?”
Zuko did not look at his Uncle. He kept his eyes focused on Sokka, as if one look away and the hair would be gone. “I’m sure. I’m very sure.”
“He’s not lying.” Toph laughed. “He’s very sincere in his desire to join us.”
“You can tell when someone is lying?” Zuko asked-still staring at Sokka. (Would anyone say something about his constant staring?)
“Yep. Through my earthbending. I can feel heartbeats.”
Zuko looked at Toph then. She was smiling at him. She could feel his heartbeat. His was probably beating like crazy. It wasn’t his fault! It was the hair! The gorgeous hair that lined his face so perfectly. The hair that made Zuko lose all inhibition and made him want to kiss Sokka. Wait...what? Where did that come from? Oh his heart was going crazy again.
“That’s, uh, that’s neat.” Zuko finally said. He tuned the rest of the conversation out. He followed when they left but spent most of his time watching Sokka-and trying not to stare at him. It wasn’t until after they rested that Sokka pulled his hair back. Zuko had not slept the entire time. His body would not let him sleep with Sokka right there with his hair down. Did Sokka know what he was doing? Probably. He was smart like that.
After that first night, Sokka only had his hair down at night on occasion. Not every night either. Zuko was glad as he got some sleep. But then he wasn’t happy because he didn’t get to see the hair down. That was the main reason for coming. Not that he would tell anyone that. Staying with the group, he learned more and was glad he was with them, but if he didn’t see Sokka with hair down, it would have been a long time before he joined them.
In the desert, Sokka decided to go shirtless which caused another problem for Zuko. When his hair tie came undone (thanks Toph, really) his hair was flying in the wind and he was shirtless. Zuko was about to have a heart attack. Toph, who was holding onto Zuko the entire time, laughed hysterically at Zuko. Zuko could feel the blush all over his, all down his body. When asked, he lied and said it was the heat.
“Heat from watching Sokka.” Toph mumbled low enough for only Zuko to hear. That comment made him blush harder and her laugh even more. Stupid heartbeat.
Once they found the stupid library and Sokka put clothes back on, Zuko elected to stay behind with Toph. Toph said it would be good to have someone who could see with her too, in case of trouble.
“So... what’s with the heartbeat Sparky?” Toph asked after everyone left.
“I can tell. What does he do that makes you crazy?”
“He has his hair down. Not often. But when it is, he’s like a whole new person.”
“Must be a seeing thing. Though you’re the only one who goes crazy.”
“I can’t help it! He’s gorgeous!” Zuko sighed. “It’s like this, you learned bending from badgermoles, right? But also had someone teach you normal earthbending for your parents sake, right?”
“Correct on both.”
“Okay, so seeing Sokka with hair up is like normal bending. Nice, no problem. Seeing Sokka with hair down is like learning from badgermoles. A whole new world is opened up for you and it’s amazing!”
“Wow. That good huh?”
“Yes. I don’t know why anyone else doesn’t see it but it’s amazing. He could probably defeat my father just by wearing his hair down.”
“We should keep that in mind.”
“If we ever see my father face to face to fight him, I’ll make sure to tell Sokka to take down his hair.” Zuko rolled his eyes though Toph couldn’t see it. He didn’t doubt the plan, he doubted the possibility of all of them seeing his father.
The next time Sokka had his hair down, was after the fall of Ba Sing Se. Zuko wondered if Sokka had his hair down for Azula, would she still have won? Knowing how crazy she was, it was probably best to keep her to only benders fighting her. (Not that Sokka was a bad fighter. He wasn’t.)
On the Fire Nation ship, everyone had to wear disguises. Which led the Water Tribe in Fire Nation red and an issue of their hair. How they had to wear their hair to be specific. Sure, they saw how others wore their hair from fighting but getting it styled correctly? A problem. More like Zuko’s problem as he was surrounded by thirty men with hair down that needed help. Men that reminded him of Sokka, an older version of Sokka, a buffer, older version of Sokka. With hair down. Gorgeous hair, perfectly rounding their faces.
Was this going to be what Sokka looked liked later in life? If so, Zuko was going to love it. (And hate it.)
Still, the problem was all these buff men asked for help and Zuko could not find any words. He was speechless, he could feel his heart stopping, and could hear Toph’s laughter from several rooms away.
Zuko realized if he opened his mouth to speak, he had no idea what was going to come out of it. He could say something useful. He could ask them to take him then and there. He didn’t know! So much hair!
He decided the best course of action was to just turn around and walk away. Run to his room and lock the door. Except he couldn’t lock the door. Except there was another bed in his room because they had to share. Except the other person was Sokka. Who was in their room already. With his hair down. And not dressed yet.
Zuko figured the universe or spirits or whoever hated him. He couldn’t this much Water Tribe! (He probably could if he said something.) (Zuko could handle a lot.)
“Zuko! I need help! I can’t figure anything out!” Sokka said, pulling on Zuko.
Zuko nodded because the only words coming to mind were “hot”, “hair”, “gorgeous”, and “yummy”. None of which he was going to repeat out loud.
“I can’t get these clothes right. How do you people wear these? It’s too many items and it’s too hot!”
Zuko shrugged and nodded while Sokka kept talking. Zuko had to help Sokka with his clothes which set off another set of problems. Zuko could only point at which items went where because otherwise, Zuko was going to faint.
Then Sokka needed help with his hair. The problem he ran away from. Why was it always hair?!
Zuko ran his fingers through Sokka’s hair to help him. Instead of helping, Zuko broke out in a goofy grin and proceeded to faint.
“Zuko...? Are... are you okay?”
Zuko could hear Sokka as he was waking back up but stayed where he was. Embarrassment made him stay put.
Toph’s laughter became louder as she stormed into their room. “Did Sparky just faint?”
“I’m not sure what happened. He was standing here helping me, then fell down.”
“Maybe he needs food. If you gave him some meat, he’ll be very happy.”
“Will you watch him? Maybe I should get Katara too.”
“Do whatever you want. I’ll take care of Princess.” The door open and closed. “He’s gone. You can get up now.”
“I hate you.” Zuko sighed, sitting up.
“So what was it this time?”
“Sokka asked me to help him. With his clothes. With his hair! I touched his hair and I was out!”
“You got it bad.”
“It’s his hair! Or Water Tribe hair. I don’t know. The Water Tribe cornered me with their hair down and I panicked as well. This is insane!”
“Is the hair a you thing or a Fire Nation thing?”
“Both? I don’t know. Maybe Fire Nation. We pride ourselves with our hair. We don’t cut it unless we have been dishonored.” Zuko shrugged. “But then it could be me as well. I have a thing for hair.”
“You have a thing for Sokka’s hair.” Toph corrected.
Zuko opened his mouth to dispute that then closed it back up. He could dispute without lying and Toph would know he was lying. “I probably do. But if you saw what I saw, you’d feel the same.”
“I’ll take your word for it. So when Sokka comes back, what are you going to say?”
“Nothing. And neither are you!”
“Maybe he’ll offer you some meat to give you some energy.”
“What? I’m just talking about food.” She smirked. “If you thought of something else, that’s on you.”
“I can’t believe this. I can’t have this conversation right now.” Zuko sat with his head in his hands.
“Just touch his hair again. You’ll be fine. As long as you don’t faint like a little girl again.” She laughed.
“I’m in so much trouble.” Zuko sighed.
The day of the invasion things were mostly going well. The attack was going in their favor. Until Aang came back and said Ozai wasn’t in the Palace.
“There’s bunkers under the volcano. He’s probably in one of them.” Zuko said.
“I can help find it.” Toph added.
“And use your metalbending to open the doors quickly.”
“Then let’s go!” Sokka said, holding the timing device. “We don’t have much time before the eclipse starts.”
Toph, Aang, Sokka and Zuko all ran through the bunkers searching for Ozai. Between Zuko remembering where Ozai might be and Toph able to sense people, it didn’t take long for them to find the room he was in. Aang pushed the door open with a quick air blast and Toph made quick work of the guards knocking them out and burying them halfway in the ground. (Not all the way because that was bad. Just so they couldn’t fight if they woke back up. Are you happy Aang?)
“You think you can beat me Avatar?” Ozai snarled.
“Toph, do the thing.” Zuko whispered to Toph as Ozai kept talking. On the other side of Toph stood Sokka. Toph reached up and pulled Sokka’s hair out of his hair tie which cause him to yell out.
Ozai blinked at the four of them. “Zuko, what is this? What is going on?”
“Uh...” Zuko shrugged. “Hair...?”
“What?” Sokka hissed. “Zuko what are you doing?”
“Shut up Sokka!” Zuko hissed back. “Just leave your hair down. And I don’t know, flip it or something.”
“Flip my hair?! What is wrong with you?!”
“Enough!” Ozai yelled, breaking their conversation up. “Is this your plan Zuko?”
“I see.” Ozai stepped down from his seat and walked towards Sokka. He stood in front of him, walked around him, then stood back in front of him.
“There are more.” Zuko added. Aang gave him a confused expression and Sokka tried to do the same but was unable to with Ozai standing in front of him. Toph was the only one who seemed to know what was going on and smirked.
“Right. Okay.” Ozai walked to Zuko. He removed his crown from his head and handed it to Zuko. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it worked.”
“It’s the hair, isn’t it?”
“It’s the hair.” Ozai nodded.
Toph bent some metal cuffs around Ozai’s wrist. Sokka and Zuko led the way back to their group with Toph and Ozai following and Aang hanging out in the back. Zuko purposely had them walk the way they did so Ozai could constantly see Sokka’s hair. And if Sokka tried to pull it back, Zuko would smack him.
“Why do you keep doing that? What is going on?” Sokka whispered.
“It’s your hair.”
“I know you guys were talking about hair but I don’t understand what you mean by that.”
“Hair is important in the Fire Nation. You look completely different with your hair down. Like a whole new sexy person. I figured if Ozai saw your hair down, it might make him stop. And since all the Water Tribe looks like that with hair down, that would work even more.”
“Wait... did you just say I look sexy?”
Zuko ignored Sokka and continued walking. As soon as they were above ground, Hakoda and Bato noticed all five of them and raced over, Hakoda’s hair falling out of his tie. Zuko tried to control his heart as he saw Hakoda race over. He heard a deep breath and knew Ozai saw Hakoda.
“Kids, I take it you found the Firelord.” Hakoda said, staring at said Firelord.
“I’m your prisoner!” Ozai yelled as he held out his hands in front of Hakoda.
“Oh... okay...” Hakoda carefully took Ozai’s wrists, unsure of what was going on. “Then I guess we should go somewhere.”
Hakoda and Bato left with Ozai while the rest stood in place. “Huh, that was weird.” Sokka said.
“I thought I had to fight Ozai. What happened?” Aang asked.
“Sokka had his hair down.” Zuko shrugged, staring at Sokka. He couldn’t get enough of the hair.
“So... I defeated Ozai...?”
“I guess you could say that.”
“That’s awesome!” Sokka had a big grin on his face. “I can’t believe I did it!” He gave Zuko a big kiss. “I defeated Ozai!”
Zuko blinked a few times from the kiss before he felt himself fainting. Again. Stupid hair.