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“And you’re sure.”

 

Zuko stares down with immense skepticism. The ropes that Sokka’s given him are strong but smooth—nothing that will chafe or burn, even if he struggles. Which is part of the fun, apparently. Zuko’s not sure how much fun they’re going to have, but Sokka’s excited enough for both of them, blue eyes blown out into dark pupils, and his breaths coming quick and shallow.

 

Zuko’s not sure how much this is going to do for him, but Sokka had asked, and it’s clearly doing something for him. Maybe it’s the rope ties or maybe it’s the whispery silk of Zuko’s red overrobe that’s loosely belted around his waist. Maybe it’s that Sokka spent the better part of the last hour fingering Zuko until he thought he was gonna cry before slipping a plug into him for safekeeping. Whatever it is, it’s hazy and heady, and Zuko feels drunk on it.

 

“Sweetheart? I am totally, absolutely, one hundred percent sure.” Sokka blows a kiss at him from his back on the bed, lifts his hands above his head and crosses his wrists. “If I don’t like it, I’ll tell you. Now please, I’m begging you, truss me like an arctic moose-hen.”

 

Zuko makes a face.

 

“...That’s not sexy.”

 

“Shut up. I’m always sexy.”

 

Zuko makes the same face but more so. 

 

Even so, that doesn’t stop him from carefully wrapping the ropes around Sokka’s wrists, tying a knot the way that the book said, then stretching each remaining end out to tie to the posts of Zuko’s appropriately royal, fit-for-the-Fire-Lord bed. Tying up his partner might not be doing all that much for Zuko, but what it’s doing for Sokka is definitely doing it for him. It’s an entire process and not something to be rushed. 

 

Zuko tries his best to be careful and thorough, and even though he’s determined to not be too into this, he can’t help but lean back to admire his work when he’s finished. Sokka looks beautiful, stretched out on display, the red rope a bright contrast on dark skin, and there’s a solid temptation to toss aside the rest of the ropes and jump his bones just the way he is.

 

It’s tempting for Sokka, too, if the way he hasn’t been able to take his eyes away from Zuko’s face means anything.

 

It means enough. Zuko ducks his head; he finds scrutiny difficult to deal with, even now. Sokka chuckles at him, warm and fond, and a geyser of pure love wells up from Zuko’s heart at the sound.

 

“I love that you’re doing this for me, honey,” Sokka tells him, “You’re doing a great job. Thank you.”

 

Zuko feels his face begin to burn hot. He distracts himself by making a few decorative knots with the ties on Sokka’s legs. He looks gift-wrapped.

 

Maybe there’s something in this for him after all.

 

“...You’re welcome,” Zuko finally mumbles when he can manage to make words work.

 

The knots aren’t perfect—barely great, if he’s being honest. Sokka deserves perfect. But the ropes lay in smooth, soft lines against his skin and he’s gorgeous, and there isn’t a force on the planet that can stop Zuko from leaning down and kissing him, pressing his fingertips into the twists of rope snaking down his shoulders and painting patterns against his ribs. Sokka gasps into his mouth, strains to no avail against his ties to hold him, pull him close, anything other than just lay there and take it.

 

But Sokka wants to lay there and take it, or at least some part of him does, because Zuko can feel him, pressed up hard and hot against his body. He wants to lay there and take it because his struggles are weak. Zuko straddles his middle and with all of his limbs tied, it takes no effort at all to hold him.

 

“Is this good?” Zuko asks. Sokka’s the one who’s good at knowing without always having to ask but Zuko needs words.

 

Yes,” Sokka breathes between his teeth, staring up at Zuko like he’s never seen him before, “Yes, spirits, yes. Fuck, I want to touch you.”

 

“Too bad,” Zuko tells him sweetly, leans down again to lick into his mouth. “Not unless you want me to untie you. Do you?”

 

“No, no, don’t do that.” Sokka chases his lips when Zuko pulls away, rocks his hips up so there’s no chance that Zuko can miss how bad he wants it. “Baby. Come on. Please?”

 

It’s not all that often that Zuko truly has Sokka at his mercy and even less often that he wants to take advantage of it, but there’s something appealing in sitting atop him like a princess and taking all the time he wants to. Maybe it’s a little mean, but Zuko delights, very suddenly, in feeling powerful, bracketing Sokka between his thighs and with his heart and trust in his hands.

 

“Baby,” Sokka whines a little when Zuko takes a teasing lap at his nipple, “That’s not—not nice.

 

You’re not nice,” Zuko points out.

 

“I’m so nice. Sweetheart, baby, I’m always nice to you.”

 

That’s patently bullshit, and Zuko bites down, just a little, hard enough to sting and hard enough that he can swallow Sokka’s gasp of surprise, rolling his hips against the unmistakable pressure of dick on his ass. Still, Zuko’s not feeling particularly patient right now. Sokka’s whole body uncoils when Zuko slips his hand down, intent on wrapping his fingers around—

 

...Fabric? Where fabric should not be, trapped under loops of red rope.

 

Zuko goes very, very still. Underneath him, Sokka freezes too, realizing immediately the same thing that Zuko just has.

 

“Um.”

 

“...Are we stupid? I think we’re stupid. You’ve made me stupid.

 

“I had nothing to do with that,” Zuko says roughly, tugging to try and pull Sokka’s pants down down his hips and failing miserably. If it were just pants, that would be one thing, but his stupid belt keeps getting caught under the loops and they’re tied so tightly that Zuko can’t finagle it out, and the harder he tries the more flustered he gets until his stupid fingers do nothing but scrabble against rope and warm skin.

 

“Stop, stop, stop, calm down. Just—I don’t know, I guess just loosen up the knots and you can retie them or tighten them up or whatever.”

 

So Zuko proceeds to try and loosen up the knots or retie them, or whatever.

 

“Um.”

 

Sweetie.

 

“I’m sorry!” Zuko can’t help flailing his hands out, windmilling a little in sudden, unsquashable panic. He wants to crawl into a hole and die. “I can’t, um—I think I messed up. I can’t—“ He makes another try to loosen the knots. Fails. “Shit. Shit.” He pulls a bit too hard and Sokka winces. “Sorry. Shit.”

 

“Sweetie.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Zuko’s furious with himself and gets even madder when his eyes start up a treacherous burn. He scrubs at them and will die before he admits that his knuckles come away damp. “They’re meant to not—to not break. I’m sorry. Shit. I just have to. Um.”

 

Zuko.” Sokka’s voice is suddenly loud and sharp and it gets Zuko’s attention exactly the way that it’s supposed to. He goes very still, and when Sokka speaks again, his voice is gentle. “Take a minute. Nobody’s dying. It’s just rope. It’s just pants.”

 

Zuko grits his teeth, but an angry sniffle slips out of him anyway. It’d be horrible of him to just run away and maybe never come back, but the option is a tempting one anyway. Maybe find a way to fly into the sun? 

 

This is a spiral that he recognizes, though.

 

Sokka recognizes it too, and even though his hands are tied, he wiggles his fingers in invitation. Zuko reaches out to hold them.

 

“Come on. It’s kind of funny?” Sokka offers with a waggle of his eyebrows. “Who else would forget to take off pants at a time like this? Come on. It’s funny!”

 

Zuko is still too mortified to find it funny and he scowls. He wants to cross his arms over his chest, but that would involve letting go of Sokka’s hands. Not an option.

 

“Why are you so upset? I’m not.”

 

“You should be!”

 

Zuko’s startled by his own vehemence and so is Sokka, judging by the way his eyebrows creep up into his hairline. He’s expectantly silent long enough that Zuko doesn’t have a choice but to elaborate.

 

Which he does, eventually, and with great reluctance.

 

“...You don’t really ask me for a lot,” he mumbles when it’s clear that he’s not getting out of it. Even tied up, immobile, and wearing his spirits-damned pants, Sokka manages to bully him into using his words. “You were really excited and I wanted it to be good.

 

“It was good! Is good! We’re not done.”

 

“I forgot to take your stupid pants off!”

 

We forgot to take my stupid pants off,” Sokka corrects. He had the audacity to look like this is hilarious; although he’s smart enough not to say so or worse: laugh. “This is a team effort, good buddy. Besides, I think you forgot a little bit more than my pants.”

 

Zuko stares.

 

“What?”

 

“Are you a firebender or not? Do you or do you not keep a knife in your drawer for convenient assassination attempts? Come on, honey. Use the noodle.”

 

Zuko sputters. 

 

“But the ropes—“

 

“Fuck the ropes!” Sokka wiggles his hips. Despite all of the nonsense, his boner is still alive and well. “Just cut a hole for my dick or something. We can figure it out after.”

 

Zuko gapes at him. He’s fully aware that he’s just as ridiculous as the man underneath him, completely naked under what Sokka calls his sexytime robe and just desperately wanting to stop being so embarrassed. Sokka makes up for him by being completely shameless, teasingly rubbing the hard line of his cock against Zuko’s body any way that he can.

 

“Come on. You’re really gonna just leave me like this? I’m down if you are. Come on. Come ooooooon.” Zuko’s weak to whining (weak to most things involving Sokka, if he has to be honest, but whining is near the top of the list right up there with fox-puppydog eyes). Everyone who knows him knows it. “I love you and I don’t care that we forgot about my pants. Just please get your knife and cut me a dick hole.”

 

Zuko gets his knife and very, very carefully cuts a hole in the fabric of Sokka’s pants big enough to stick his dick through. It looks ridiculous but it gets the job done and it doesn’t seem to matter to Sokka, who continues to twist around like an enthusiastic caterpillar.

 

“Take me, I’m yours.”

 

“Shut up,” Zuko grumbles. “I already cut you a dick hole. What more do you want?” 

 

He expects some token sass and isn’t ready to get a faceful of sweetness and a bright smile. Zuko’s not prepared at all and feels like his heart might just outgrow his body, feels just as thrown and blown away by Sokka as he did the first time and the next and the next. 

 

Probably for the rest of his life.

 

“Honey, all I want is for you to climb up here and give me what I deserve. Just really let me have it.” Sokka gives another wriggle, nudges himself right up underneath Zuko’s soft, decadent, sexytime robe. “Are you gonna?”

 

Zuko is gonna.

 

It’s suddenly very hard to swallow. Is the room hot? The room feels hot. Zuko’s abruptly very, very aware of the plug that’s been keeping him properly stretched throughout this process. Part of Zuko wants to be a little more of a teasing shithead about it but the excitement written all over Sokka’s face does him in. He reaches behind himself to work out the glass plug with his fingers, still slick with oil, and can’t keep back the little hissing moan that has to come out of him at the stretch and the drag.

 

It’s good enough, but Sokka’s cock is always better.

 

Zuko’s heart is hard thunder in his head. He means to be at least a little more dignified about it but hoists his way up onto Sokka’s hips with enough enthusiasm that the other man huffs out a laugh. That laugh gets cut off almost immediately when Zuko presses his way down onto his cock, the familiarity of his body relaxing him the way his own brain never seems to manage.

 

They’ve never done it this way before—Sokka’s held Zuko’s hands down once or twice before when he’s asked but it’s never been like this. It feels almost distant while also being one of the most intimate experiences of Zuko’s life. It feels strange to be so in charge of someone’s pleasure. It feels stranger to not be held. Sokka’s hands are tied, his legs are tied, and he’s already shown that straining against his bonds is effectively useless.

 

It doesn’t stop him from testing it out anyway. The stretch of the ropes creak and then hold. Sokka lets out a soft, shuddering breath.

 

“Is this good?” Zuko asks, more focused on Sokka’s blissed, almost dazed blue eyes than his own substantial pleasure, “Is this what you wanted?” Please tell me that it’s good , his treacherous brain wants to send straight to his mouth, please tell me that I’m good. This isn’t about him, though. Not right now.

 

Zuko wants Sokka to get exactly what he wants. All the time, but especially now, because this is something that he asked for. Zuko desperately wants it to be good for him.

 

He’s not disappointed.

 

So good,” Sokka sounds a little wheezy, like all of his breath’s been punched out of him. It’s beautiful. “It feels so good. Exactly what I wanted, thank you, sweetheart. So good for me, always giving me just what I want.”

 

The praise pools thick and warm in Zuko’s belly, curls his toes and makes his own cock twitch. He sinks down further, torturously slow, until he’s fully seated and there’s no more for him to take, until he can feel every inch hard and hot inside him. Zuko doesn’t quite know what he should do with his hands so he reaches out, curls his fingers against the lines of Sokka’s cheeks, leans down to kiss him. He’s not very good at talking but he could kiss for the rest of his life and die happy.

 

Sokka’s movements are limited by his ties but that doesn’t stop his hips from rolling up, comfortable and familiar even when Zuko feels unmoored and out of his depth.

 

“Is this something that you like? You’re so quiet. Talk to me, please.”

 

Zuko likes being told what to do. He likes being told what Sokka wants from him in bed, likes even more when he gives him what he wants even if that’s not always what comes easily or naturally. He likes knowing, but he doesn’t particularly like talking about it. It’s not an order or a command—barely a gentle question!—but it’s taken a long time to get to this point, and Zuko answers anyway.

 

“I like how much you like it,” he says finally, so quietly that in the end he just slumps over completely to bury his nose in the soft space underneath Sokka’s ear. “It’s different but not bad.” Zuko rubs a line of soft, silk rope. It’s deceptively strong. He’s not sure that this is something that he would choose for himself, but that’s not the point. 

 

Sokka chose it, and Sokka likes it. 

 

“Is there…” Zuko trails off. Even now, even when they’ve been together for so long and done so many different things together, it seems strange to have a conversation during sex. “Is there anything else you want? From me. I want—“ even now, he can feel the telltale heat of what’s sure to be an impressive blush coloring his cheeks and the tips of his ears, “I’ll give it to you! Okay? Whatever you want.”

 

Sokka makes a lot of different sex faces. A lot of them are yes-yes-yes faces and some of them are oh-spirits-please-do-that-again faces, and even more of them are teasing, are amused, are on the verge of laughter. And then, sometimes, he looks like this: so warm and soft and shamelessly in love that Zuko can barely stand to look at it. It’s not the first time, but it always sort of makes his heart hurt, makes his eyes water, makes him want to curl up and cry with how lucky he’s found himself, to have someone in his life who looks at him like that.

 

Zuko swallows hard and tries not to come undone.

 

“You want to know what I want?” Sokka’s staring up at him, starry-eyed with pleasure, sex-mouthy. “I want you to ride me like you own it til you come over all these pretty knots you made, and then after you’ve taken what you wanted, you can undo my hands so I can put ‘em all over you. Can you do that for me?”

 

Sokka’s words shoot straight through Zuko’s heart all the way down to his dick, and the noise that they tear out of him is embarrassingly loud and even more honest.

 

Zuko can do that. 

 

Sex is easy and fun and familiar, and the pace that Zuko sets is to his own pleasure—just as Sokka has requested. He can tell, too, because his blue eyes are hazy and his mouth is open and wordless, for once. Zuko braces his hands on dark-skinned shoulders and takes , chases his orgasm like it’s just him and his hands instead, even as his robe slides off his shoulders to pool around his waist, held up only by his belt.

 

Time means nothing, time is nothing; the only thing that exists in Zuko’s sex-drunk fog is Sokka, Sokka, Sokka. 

 

“Sweetheart, spirits , sweetheart,” Sokka’s babbling, almost incoherently, twisting hard and straining, “You’re perfect, so fucking perfect, okay? You’re so good, just like that. Fuck, I think I’m dying. Taking it so good for me, baby, I love you so much, always so good for me.”

 

Zuko comes, not with a moan or a yell but with a sob, shatters so hard that he can’t keep his eyes open, and slams his hips down with enough force that Sokka wails underneath him.

 

“Please, please, please,” he pleads, definitely more than a little incoherent, “Hands. Hands?”

 

Zuko scrambles back for the knife he’d used earlier and cuts through the ropes securing Sokka’s hands to his bed, and seconds later arms are wrapping around him and crushing him close to his chest. It’s too much feeling so immediately after his own orgasm, but Zuko won’t be the one to ask him to stop, not when it feels so spirits-damned good. He drops his face into Sokka’s neck and enjoys the feeling of being held, being fucked into and used, being good, loose-limbed and syrupy and warm. 

 

“Fuck, fuck, honey,” Sokka gasps into Zuko’s ear, kisses his hair and his temple and anywhere else he can reach, “Where do you want me to…?” He’s trying hard to keep a steady rhythm but he’s close to his own precipice; his hips stutter.

 

“Inside,” Zuko mumbles, dazed and hazy, into his neck, “Inside. Want it. Please.”

 

“Okay, okay.” One of Sokka’s hands is splayed out firmly against the small of Zuko’s back; the other is buried in the mess of dark hair at the nape of his neck. Enough pressure that Zuko feels it, enough pressure that he knows he’s not falling alone. “Inside, just for you, baby.”

 

Everything feels good right now. Sokka’s hands on him feel good and so do the insistent, messy kisses they’re exchanging, and so does the flood of warmth when Sokka comes hard inside him with a loud, satisfied groan. Zuko’s floating. The world is like a tub of warm bathwater and he can’t make himself give a single, solitary shit about anything other than how fucking good he feels.

 

For long minutes they lay quietly together on top of rumpled, decadent sheets, long enough that Zuko’s brain slowly starts to fit its pieces back together. Sokka’s legs are still tied so he doesn’t have much choice but to lay on his back. Sticky and reluctant, Zuko sits up.

 

Sokka blinks at him.

 

“You okay?” He asks.

 

“Yeah,” Zuko answers. “Just…” he taps his wrists together. He cut the ropes but only the connections to the bedposts, and loops of soft silk rope are still twisted tightly around his wrists. “Do you want to…?”

 

He offers Sokka the knife, but Sokka pushes it back at him.

 

“Can you do it for me?”

 

Zuko does. Carefully he cuts through the knots he can’t pick loose with his fingers, unties the ropes and lets them drop to the floor. They’re soft but even so, Sokka’s twisting and thrashing has left red marks where it rubbed against his skin. Sokka isn’t upset about them but lets Zuko press into them with the tips of his fingers, like that can make them go away.

 

“Does it hurt?” He asks finally. The knots in the diamonds going down Sokka’s chest are easier to undo and mostly decorative, meant to be pretty instead of hindering movement, but Zuko’s gentle in his removal anyway. Sokka shakes his head.

 

“Nah. It doesn’t hurt.”

 

Zuko undoes the bonds on his legs and the moment he’s through, Sokka’s plucking the knife from his fingers to toss it aside. Zuko only yelps a little when Sokka grabs him around the middle and curls up around him, tossing a leg over his hip and burying his face in the nape of Zuko’s neck. Zuko holds onto his arm with both hands. He’s not sure how long the marks will last. They’re light, from friction rather than impact.

 

Zuko kind of wants to lick them. He does not do this.

 

“You’re thinking again,” Sokka mumbles indulgently into his hair, squeezes Zuko just a little tighter. “Anything I need to know?”

 

“Is there anything I need to know?” Zuko shoots back. It’s easy to roll over and fold himself into all the little spaces that Sokka leaves open for him. It’s a familiar position and Zuko loves it. “Are you tired? Hungry?” They’ll need to clean up too, but that’s way too much work right now, especially if Sokka isn’t bothered by it. “Do you need anything?”

 

Sokka huffs out a laugh.

 

“Is that what I sound like whenever I try and do things for you, sweetheart?” Zuko doesn’t have the oomf for anything snarky but he does scowl a little, directly into Sokka’s sternum. The man has the nerve to laugh at him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m fine. I’m good. I think you just showed me the spirit world through my dick.”

 

Zuko glares up at him.

 

“Just let me hold you for a while, and I’ll think about letting you get us some water in a little bit.”

 

That single sentence is enough to kill any token protest that Zuko might have. Not that he’s really going to complain much (or even at all) about being cuddled. Zuko lives for this almost more than he does for sex, loves the feeling of being held closely like he’s precious, like he’s important. 

 

“I can get it now,” he offers and gets another squeeze for his trouble.

 

“No,” Sokka says. “Not yet. Stay with me.”

 

Zuko stays. They take a power nap, and Zuko wakes up to fingers pressing inside him, and they fuck again, slowly and lazily this time with Sokka spooned up close against his back and holding him tightly. This time, after, he lets Zuko get up to get water, which turns into snacks in bed, which turns into another nap.

 

This time, they sleep until morning.