Things to note: This is an AU fic. That means no bending! Imagine this taking place somewhere like England. Around Sherlock Holmes' era, of course.
The Adventures of Sherlock Sokka: Part One
In the dank, murky streets of Ba Sing Se, two figures slinked through the shadows. A car puttered past, pale headlights shining into the alley; they slipped further in, unnoticed.
Its this way, one hissed.
Are you sure?
All was silent again, save for the gentle taps of rain beginning to fall. A high gate loomed ahead, trimmed in gold and carved with intricate designs of flowers and vines. Guards stood alert on both ends, a pistol strapped at their side.
The two slid against a nearby house. One peered up, clearly debating the next course of action. I could scale this
The other clicked his tongue. Yeah, well I cant.
Ill toss you a line, was the curt response as they started up the stone wall.
In a matter of moments, they were both on the other side and weaving carefully through the garden (the rope was left dangling, forgotten). They moved with ease, obviously acquainted with the manor, and quickly pried open a metal door near the back as a means of entrance. A musty smell permeated the room. The taller of the two groped around, murmuring about a light.
Suddenly, a torch blazed in front of them, illuminating something they had not expected: the cops. A woman glared at them, face shadowed by the light of the fire as she accentuated, Welcome, beloved guests.
Sokka, have you seen Aang?
He stood, magnifying glass still pressed up to his right eye, and sniffed. I have no idea where your boyfriend is. As you can see, Toph and I are on a case--the one you said we shouldnt take, by the way--and time is money!
Toph cracked her knuckles. Hes right, she said. Mrs. Foofoo-whatever wont find herself, you know.
Hes not my boyfriend. Katara groaned and massaged her forehead. And looking for a pet in a city as big as this? Youre better off trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Returning to his hunt (which required him to stoop down and scrutinize every speck on the ground), Sokka quipped, So youre saying that finding a guy beaten to death in a dumpster, nursing him back to health, and pretty much becoming joined at the hips isnt love? He crossed his arms. Guess thingsve changed in the past few years, eh, Toph?
His sister snarled, stomping a few feet over to fetch her bag. Im a trained nurse, Sokka. What else did you expect me to do? She finally sighed and looked over at the younger girl. Hey, you have the report?
Sure, but it doesnt do me much good. Waving the paper in front of her pale eyes as if to highlight her point, she passed the note to her.
Katara read it over, letting her mind take in the facts. Have you tried the markets yet? It likes fruit.
He snapped up and shoved a finger to her mouth. Shuuush! Do you see this? This is an official detective suit. His hand reached inside the jacket and pulled out a pipe. And this? This is an authentic detective pipe. Who here is fit for solving this case?
Rolling her eyes, she replied, Why, you, of course!
Thats right! A cocky smirk grew on his face as he began walking down the street. Now, to the market! The faster I get this done, the faster I can go home to my beloved violin!
At this, even Toph grimaced.
Extree! Extree! Read all about it! Break in at the dukes estate!
A lot of crimes have been happening lately, Katara murmured as she gave the boy a coin for the paper. Her eyes studied the page for all of ten seconds, slowly taking in the top story, before she whispered a short, oh no, and flung the newspaper at her brother.
Sokka peeled the tabloid from his face, tossing his sister an annoyed look before taking a glance at the first page. Big-shot unknown and dukes son caught breaking into manor, he read aloud (no, not because he remembered Toph was blind; he just happened to read to himself often). A pitiful picture of two cuffed men, one in a snazzy suit and the other in a more unkempt outfit, sat to the right of the story; a caption beneath it read Due to certain events last night, which lead to the death of two policemen, these two have been set for execution.
Popping his pipe into his mouth, he announced, Well, looks like weve gotta go to the jail.
The two clung to each other as best they could through the thick bars of the cell. She fretted about his current condition, straightening his hat and attempting to clean a smudge on his cheek. He blushed and tried to move back.
Toph nudged Sokka in the gut. Are you sure theyre not dating or anything? she asked.
He raised an eyebrow. As far as I know
How did this happen? Katara finally asked.
Aang chuckled nervously, fidgeting with his restraints. Well, its a long story. Zuko and I--
This appeared to be the first time she took notice of the other occupant in the cell. You! This is all your fault! As soon as Aang starts hanging out with you--
What the hell did I do? Zuko insisted, nostrils flaring. His anger withered as her dagger-throwing glare dug deeper. He slid his stare to the ground, kicking at the dirt.
Im in jail, too, you know
Katara, its not his fault! the younger man cut in. I asked him to take me there, anyway.
Sokka leaned in, hand placed thoughtfully on his chin. And might I ask why you were there?
Detective time? Toph inquired hopefully. He nodded, slipping a monocle over one eye, and she cheered silently.
Duke Ozai needs to be stopped, was Aangs simple response.
We, Zuko elaborated, were going to uncover some of the dirty business my father has been dealing with. But we werent expecting Azula to be there. It was like she knew I was coming
. He sighed. She was one step ahead of me. Story of my life, I suppose.
So you retaliated?
No! We--I would never
! Head drooping, Aang looked away.
They knocked us out. When we came to, wed been thrown in here. They told us were to be
executed soon. The dukes son frowned and rested against the back wall. Although, I hear Ive been charged with vandalism, as well. Something about painting my name all over Han Zu Bridge
A snort sounded from the previously-serious detective. Toph slapped him on the back, perhaps to warn him, and mused loudly, Really, now, Princess! I never wouldve expected you to do something like that!
He shot them an irritated look.
Aang glanced at Katara doubtfully. And Im supposed to put my faith in them?
You wanted to see me, Father?
The man turned, offering his daughter a short glance before returning to the mirror to fix his tie. Ive heard that your brother has been arrested and will be hanged soon, he stated; though his eyebrows were narrowed, there was a hint of humor in his voice. No one suspects foul play, I assume.
Azula crossed her arms and examined her nails in a bored manner. Of course not. Why would anyone believe Zuzu? He has more motive than any other disowned child in this godforsaken city.
He reached for his cane, long and black and topped with a fire-shaped diamond, and opened the tall blinds. The sunlight spilled in, detailing the interior of the room: a study, of sorts, with high bookshelves and dark walls and a blood-red carpet that was decorated with some of the finest furniture one could acquire.
Very well, Ozai said. As you know, I will be in Omashu for about a week. I expect everything to be in order when I return.
Oh, please. I know how to behave.
Walking to the door, he stopped for a second and claimed, I had placed that same faith in your brother a few years ago. And then he was gone.
A crooked grin appeared on her face, features twisting into that of annoyance. Well, Daddy dearest, Im not Zuko, she hissed. In a few quick strides, she was in the hallway. Ty Lee! Mai!
A-Azula! yelped a brown haired girl. She jumped up from her seat and tidied her long pink dress. Is everything okay?
Yes. Of course. Azula looked around expectantly. Wheres Mai?
I dont know, replied her friend, playing with a few strands of hair. Whatever it was, she said it was urgent.
The woman placed her hands on her hips. I see
, she muttered.
Katara brought her hands to her mouth in shock. You dont mean to say
youre planning on escaping? She heard her brother hum in acknowledgement as he scribbled something down in his notebook. She smacked him. Dont write that down!
Well, weve already tried to get out a few times, Aang recalled. Contrary to many books Ive read, spoons are not the best tools for digging. Oh, and these bars dont bend. At all.
Sokka leaned over to Zuko, hand to his face, and whispered, Hey, have you tried hitting on any of the guards?
What? But--but theyre all men! the scarred man spat, bewildered.
But what if ones gay? Get him to like you, and maybe hell help you out! Beside him, Toph withheld a snicker.
Zukos eyes widened, clearly thinking the idea over. He lowered his voice: I cant just do that
! And everyone knows of my engagement with Mai!
You could say the engagement is for show, Toph added nonchalantly with a shrug, finally over her bemused spell (they would get a nice laugh about it later, anyway).
you really think it would work?
Aang let out a depressed whine and banged his head on the bars. Weve only got three days. And, honestly, our chances are pretty slim. He peeked at Katara, gray eyes weary, and continued: Theres so many things I havent been able to do
And youll get to do them! she asserted. Giving his hand a quick squeeze, she turned to the dynamic duo. Right, Sokka? You wont just let Aang die, will you? (What about me? voiced Zuko, ignored yet again.)
I suppose not
, was his unsure answer. He squinted at the two prisoners. Im not going to get paid, am I?
I didnt think so.
Toph patted her partners shoulder roughly, grinning. Dont worry, she offered. I can always beat the payment out of them later. The two men winced, suddenly not so eager to be released.
Pleased, Sokka wrote one last thing down and exclaimed, Alright, guys and gals! I believe I am ready to start this case! He handed his notebook to Toph enthusiastically and adjusted his hat. My notes are in top shape-- The woman at this side, though not able read a word of it, nodded in agreement. --and Im raring to head out!
Arms locked, the two marched out of the room, a bar song trailing behind them; Aang and Zuko shared a nervous look before shifting their gazes to Katara.
Please, please, please tell me youre going with them.
She shook her head, defeated. I see no way around it.
Maybe it wouldnt be so bad, after all.
Lunch time, convicts.
Aang lifted his head from his pillow, noticed the dirty bowls in the guards hands, and muttered, Yay, gruel. He laid back down, hunger eluding him.
Realizing that this was his chance, Zuko attempted to unbutton the upper half of his shirt before turning to the impatiently waiting man. Uhm
h-hello there, he said, trying to sound coy but failing horribly. You, uhh, you work here often?
Eyebrow raised in disgust, the guard shoved the food into the stuttering mans chest and stomped off. Sorry, pansy, he called, but I dont swing that way.
Zuko cursed under his breath, lip twitching when he heard his cellmates suppressed laugh, and debated throwing the slop at him for his own selfish amusement.
So youre in jail for less than a day, and youre already moving on to men?
Her slim figure leaned against the doorway, hidden partially in the shadows. A beat later, she sauntered up to him, face nearly unreadable; but he noticed the humor hidden behind her golden glare (which only made him even more embarrassed). Arms crossed, the woman waited for an explanation.
How did you know
? he finally asked dumbly.
I read the newspaper, idiot. Her mouth curled into a scowl. So this was your big plan? Getting hanged before you get married? Oh, thats a great idea, Zuko.
He shifted uneasily. I didnt think--
With a sudden flare of rage, she shoved a finger into his chest. You never seem to think! she yelled, shocking both herself and her fiancé. A deep breath and a cough later, she was calm again, eyes dull and voice monotone: Azula knew.
She always knows.
Black hair glistening in the faint light, she whispered, I would have helped you.
Zuko hesitantly reached out and cupped her cheek, keeping his features serious. I didnt want you to get hurt. If anything were to happen to you
, he trailed off, his hand sliding down her neck.
Mai watched him, unsure, before offering him a soft smile. She closed her eyes and made to leave. You cant protect me now--Im in too deep, she murmured, mostly to herself. Looking over her shoulder, she simpered.
Good luck with that boyfriend of yours, Zuko. I doubt your wooing skills have improved much, so youll need it.
He shouted out in protest, but she had already disappeared. With a heavy exhale, the dukes son fell back onto his bed and stared at the ceiling.
So, Aang began, apparently trying to strike up a conversation. Thats your girl, huh?
Sokka let out a groan and buried his face in his hands. How am I going to look for clues when I cant even get in?
From across the street, the gate was propped wide open, but guards surrounded the entire area. There was a small crowd forming, mainly consisting of long nosed women and screaming children, as a well-dressed group filed out of the manor and into a sleek black car. The police were also present, combing what little of the grassy inside area the group could view.
Want me to go with plan 58? asked Toph, taking a step forward expectantly.
He shook his head. No, that wont work, he grumbled. Too many witnesses
Katara thought she should ask about this plan 58, as well as the ones before and after it, but held her tongue. Why dont we just go and ask some questions?
Peeking through his fingers, he snorted. I was going to do that.
Right. You just wanted to snoop around, didnt you?
They wearily walked up to the entrance. Toph was in the lead, shoving each person out of the way with a shout of, Step aside! Extremely important people coming through! while Katara apologized and Sokka tried to look somewhat significant.
Once at the intended destination, Sokka (pipe jutting out of the corner of his mouth) scampered over to the nearest officer. scuse me, my good man. Mind if I ask you a few questions?
Sorry, Sir, but we are unable to disclose information at this moment.
Eyes narrowed, the detective scowled in annoyance. A moment later, he was trying again, undaunted. Why, hello there! Im sure you guard this vicinity often. Anything
interesting happen? Last night, perhaps? He anxiously tapped a pencil against his chin.
The man stared out, face set in a stern glare. No, was his dry response.
By this time, Toph had found her way to where Sokka was. Look here, Mister, she started, jabbing a finger at the mans chest. You see him? Hes on a major case right now and without the facts, theres nothing he can do. Dont make me pound them out of you. She snarled lightly before adding, Besides, you realize that the basics of this case were released in the paper today, right?
He slid his gaze down to her. Then he knows that there is no case, seeing as the culprits have already been caught.
Were not taking any chances. Lives are on the line, after all, Sokka said.
The lives of murderers, you mean.
Toph put her hands on her hips. She rolled her dull eyes and muttered, Like you saw anything.
This got his attention. He smirked, hand reaching up to stroke a long sideburn. Ill have you know that I am captain of the dukes guards. Anything and everything that happens at the estate is witnessed by these very eyes.
So you did see something! Sokka concluded, flipping open his notebook.
With yet another sly grin, he clarified: I saw two young men break under the pressure of being caught red-handed. They were brutal and wild, but we were able to stop them before anyone else was killed.
That doesnt sound like Aang at all! Katara retorted, having finally made her way over to the others. She glowered at him. Youre lying.
Oh, am I? I dont see how I--as well as all of the other men who were present at the scene--could be lying.
Her mouth twitched with rage, and she took a step forward. I dont care how many people witnessed it, Aang would never--
Captian Zhao! What is going on here?
A woman, dark red dress-suit hugging tightly against her body, strolled up, arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed; behind her, a perky girl in pink twirled a lacy umbrella. The guard straightened instantly. Lady Azula. I was just informing these three that nothing out of the ordinary occurred last night, although they seem to refuse to listen.
She scrutinized them evenly before waving a manicured hand at them in a shooing fashion. Well, there you have it. Please leave.
Magnifying glass pressed against his eye, Sokka leaned in and inquired, Do you know anything about yesterdays happenings?
My brother and a dumb friend of his were attempting to end Fathers life, I hear. I, however, was sleeping at the time, she replied with a yawn. Placing a finger on his forehead, she flicked him out of her way. He stumbled back, pipe popping out of his mouth. Arent you a little old to be playing detective, anyway?
Toph threw a fist in the air. Hey! For your information, Sokkas a real detective!
A snicker formed at her lips as she began down the street. I suppose theyll let anyone be a detective these days, she mused loudly. Her pink clad friend tossed the group an apologetic look before hurrying away.
Pouting, Sokka picked up his pipe and dusted it off. Seconds later, his pencil was moving furiously against paper. His sister peered over his shoulder, curiosity getting the best of her, before bringing a hand to her head and heaving a sigh.
What a bitch! Toph remarked at last.
You and Katara, huh?
Aang rubbed the back of his head shyly. Naw, its nothing like that.
not yet, at least.
Propping himself up on his elbows, Zuko let out a chuckle. Not yet? And when, exactly, are you planning on changing that?
The younger man leaned back, murmuring, Depends. I really dont want to ruin what we have.
Well, I guess thats understandable. It took me a long time to hook up with Mai. He noticed the interest flash across his cellmates face and decided to go into detail: Id known her since
well, practically forever. She was close friends with my sister, but always found time to pick on me. Once, shed chased me into a corner just to pour mud down my shirt!
He laughed at the memory, a toothy grin on his lips. Later, I realized that shed been watching me--and what surprised me more was that Id been watching her, too. But before I could do anything, my father sent me on this
trip. He wanted me to learn more about the workings of the world, he explained. Eyes closed, he continued:
After three years, Id figured she moved on. Who would wait for someone like me, right? So when I was dropped off at Ba Sing Se Dock, you can imagine my surprise at seeing her there, waiting. Shed been waiting
Wow, Zuko, Aang whispered. Eyes wide, he brought his knees to his chest. It must be wonderful, being with the girl youve always loved.
The scarred man blushed and messed with the collar of his jacket. Well
I just-- He cleared his throat and attempted to change the subject. Anyway, how did you guys meet? I mean, youve told me that Kataras your guardian angel, but feel free to elaborate.
Chortling, he recalled, Id been on a pretty serious case--
A case? What do you mean?
Aang quickly tried to rectify his story. I-I mean, I was heading
to work? He received an eyebrow raise.
okay. If I tell you this, youve got to promise not to tell anyone.
Is it that serious? He sat up, cautious but eager. I promise.
Alright. Ive been wanting to tell someone this, anyway, he stated. Youve heard of Roku, havent you?
You mean the man who saved Ba Sing Se from the huge fire about fifty years ago? Zuko asked. Wasnt he the one that helped locate a band of thieves, too?
He smiled fondly. The one and only! Well, what if I were to tell you that he was part of this organization made to uphold peace in the world?
and that I was trained by him?
Makes sense, his friend replied less than a beat later. I mean, why else would you want to stop Father?
A little shocked at how easily the man believed him, Aang felt his jaw drop. Really? I-I see. Uhm
anyway-- He tried to collect himself. --as I was saying, Id been on a case and, well, I wasnt exactly prepared. You know Im not a fighter. They ambushed me and left me to die.
I woke up to Kataras smiling face, though the first thing I remember hearing was Sokka playing his violin--quite badly, mind you--and Toph telling him she was going to toss the thing into the fireplace. He picked at a tear in his pants, muttering to himself. Ive been slacking on my duties lately
but I cant help it. This is the first time Ive felt like I belong. I
I actually have a family.
Zuko looked away. At least you have one, he mumbled.
His cellmates gray eyes slid up to him. Youre part of my family, too, Zuko.
The clouds swirled together, gray and ominous. It was going to rain.
Mai walked with slow steps. Though appearing to be deep in thought, she was quite aware of her surroundings. Her fingers traced the hilt of the dagger hidden under her sleeve, grasping the sheath out of habit. She let out a soft breath, one she hadnt realized shed been holding, and glanced to the sky.
There you are, Mai!
Pink umbrella spinning gently, Ty Lee ran up with a grin. Weve been looking for you, she sang.
Oh, have you? the black haired girl pondered.
Of course! Azulas voice rang out. Seconds later, she was before them, a fake smile blooming on her face. We were quite worried about our friend.
She deadpanned, Ive only been gone for a few hours.
With an exaggerated sigh, Azula said, But dear Mai, I feared you would be doing something regretful! Your beloved Zuzu is in jail, after all. Ty Lee let out a soft gasp, bringing her hands to her face.
I did see him, the woman admitted calmly, fingers clenching underneath the dark fabric. He had no right doing something so stupid before our wedding, and I merely went to tell him so.
Is that all?
Glancing at her authoritative friend, she nodded. Why would I lie, Lady Azula? Ive no reason to give Zuko the time of day. Not after what hes done.
A satisfied smirk replaced the mask. Excellent. She clapped her hands and spun on her heels. Come, ladies. I believe weve dillydallied long enough. We must return to the manor.
Mai closed her eyes and mouthed something in silence. The sound of raindrops began to fill her ears, and she vaguely wondered why she felt none pelting her skin. Opening her eyes, she saw Ty Lee smiling comfortingly; she held her small umbrella above their heads. Accepting the hand that reached for hers, she let the young woman pull her close as they started down the sidewalk.
Katara crossed her arms as her brother stuffed his notebook into his pocket and attempted to use his hat as a shield. Toph practically hissed and tried to hide under Sokkas jacket.
Its just rain, you two.
Its wet and nasty and makes everything stick to you! insisted Sokka, hurrying to a nearby shelter (a beaten down porch).
Shaking off, Toph griped, So. Today was a total waste of time.
Not really. Weve learned that theyre trying to hide something.
Yeah, Sokka added, wringing out his cap. And that Zhao guy is an asshole.
His sister, still standing in the rain, tilted her head back and allowed the droplets to run down her face. We need to find out more
or else Aang--
Not this again! Toph groaned and plopped down on the cold ground. Twinkles will be just fine. Youll see! Tugging on his pants, she was able to bring Sokka down to the floor with her. Right, ace detective?
At least someone believes in me! he cried and brought a finger to his eye with a sob.
Katara allowed herself to laugh. Well then, what should we do next?
He began chewing on the end of his pipe as he flipped through his notes. Something
, he muttered. Leaning over, he shoved a page into his friends face. What do you think, Toph? Any good?
Sure, why not!
care to tell me what the hell is on the paper?
Sokka paused, confused, before realization suddenly dawned on him. Oh.
right. Uh, Im thinking we either find a way to get that Zhao guy to talk or, you know, learn more about Zukos lovely sister.
We could always split up tomorrow and do both, Katara offered with a shrug.
That! exclaimed Sokka, pointing at his sister with enthusiasm. That is a great idea!
She narrowed her eyes. No bar hopping.
Not even one? Toph begged.
No. And dont give me that look. You two can drink yourselves silly after Aang is safe again.
The blind woman huffed and blew at the bangs sticking to her face. Stick in the mud
, she grouched as her partner wailed miserably beside her (But that could be days!).