"Oh come on Katara!" Sokka whined, ok maybe not WHINED. After all whining is what Katara's children do, not her very mature older brother.
"Sokka I said no" Katara insisted, wondering what she had done to deserve this. It had been eighteen years since the war ended but Sokka was still about as mature as he was eighteen years ago. For a teenager that had been all right, impressive even. But for a grown man it was getting very annoying.
"Is it because you don't have a baby-sitter? Because I'm sure someone-"
"No Sokka it's because the last time I agreed to go out with you and your work friends, Aang and I had to literally drag you out of the bar before that huge guy rearranged your face!" Katara insisted; she never really could blame Sokka much for getting as drunk as he did when he went out with the guys from work. He usually had pretty good self-control and could stop himself before he had too much, but he really hated those people he worked with; the only reason he ever went was because Aang guilt tripped him into it.
"But I'm going to be board without you" her brother continued to whine.
"Take Toph then" she suggested
"I already tried, she says she's working late tonight" he muttered, Katara shot him a look of sympathy but secretly she was wishing she knew how Toph could literally kick Sokka out when he got too annoying and not feel guilty about it, she wished she could do that.
Before anything else could be said two wails were heard coming from the next room. One was the sound of baby Kya crying and the other was four, almost five, year old Bumi claiming that he hadn't caused the problem.
"Hang on" Katara said as she dashed from the kitchen in order to see what had happened to her children.
Sokka huffed and leaned against the counter. Stupid kid has it out for me he thought to himself, he didn't really believe that but he knew Katara wasn't above returning to the kitchen with her still screeching daughter and attempting to continue their conversation; knowing full well that Sokka wouldn't be able to effectively try convincing her to go to a bar while looking at his almost one-year-old niece.
Katara returned to the kitchen only three minutes later, Kya slightly calmed down but still crying in her arms while Bumi sat in time out a room away. But Sokka was gone; probably let himself out the back. Katara sighed; she really did feel bad for her brother but she had just gone out the other night with Toph and Suki, besides Sokka would have to learn to put up with these guys on his own eventually.
He was trying not to get drunk. He really, really was. Sokka loved the buzz that came with getting drunk as much as the next guy but if Aang and Katara still hadn't let go of what happened last time then he didn't want to give them something else to laugh about. But these guys are just so unbelievably annoying! There's himself, Aang, Calder, Iresha, and Jiang. Calder and Jiang were both a little older than Sokka and because of that often treated him like a child; needless to say Sokka does not like them. Iresha was better, being only six months older than Sokka, but the guy was always so involved in his work. Even here sitting in a bar he was going over a flow chart for some new road plan that Sokka was sure they had finished weeks ago. Aang was really the only person Sokka worked with that he actually liked, but when they went out Aang was too caught up in talking some kind of politics with any one of the others to notice his buddy's misery.
A sudden thud pulled Sokka out of his thoughts and he looked down at the floor to see a little girl, roughly four or five years old, picking herself up off the ground.
"Sorry mister, I just tripped" she apologized sweetly when she noticed the water tribe man staring at her. She then hurried away, happily running through the bar as if she were playing a game.
Sokka sighed; he couldn't really judge people who brought their children into bars with them because he himself had brought Bumi and Kya once or twice, not that it went over well once their parents found out. He couldn't even judge the parents for letting them run loose because again HE had allowed Bumi the same freedom. He supposed that the only reason he was somewhat surprised to have seen the little girl, and she wasn't the first, was that he had brought Bumi and Kya during the day when he stopped in looking for someone. He hadn't been drinking and it wasn't late at night when some people were getting completely wasted.
Shrugging he let the matter go, he figured he doesn't have kids so who is he to judge other peoples parenting skills? Besides now he had a much bigger problem, he had been snapped out of his thoughts and was now listening to Iresha and Aang discussing modifications for the new road system. With a groan he admitted defeat and got up, casually informing his colleagues that he was going to get another drink. He tried to ignore the whispered comments from Calder and Jiang as he left, which sort of succeeded considering the worst he did was grind his teeth. As he made his way to the bar his mind was distracted by thoughts of all the other places he'd rather be or people he'd rather be here with. Shaking his head he figured he may as well just order his drink and go back to his torture, and he was about to, when he noticed who the bartender was.
She was a woman about his age, correction she was one year younger. She was wearing a white shirt and a black vest, typical of bartenders. Her dark brown hair, so dark that in this light it looked black, was tied back in a high but messy ponytail. After all these years Sokka might not have recognized her right away if it weren't for her eyes, those golden eyes which used to strike fear into his very soul. The bartender was Azula. For a moment he just stood there in shock, wondering how… just how. What was the psychotic, ex-princess, of the Fire Nation who had last been seen running into a place known as Forgetful Valley, doing bartending in the middle of Republic City? Sokka did a quick survey of the room but couldn't see anyone unconscious so she probably hadn't poisoned anyone, yet. He was thinking of his next move, should he run and tell Aang or investigate this for himself? He was so caught up in debating this he didn't even notice he was still staring, but the bartender did.
"Can I help you?" A familiar and slightly irritated voiced questioned him, Azula's voice.
"Huh? Oh uh…" Sokka trailed off, unsure of what to say.
Unamused the woman he could swear on his life to be Azula turned away and began wiping up something that had spilt behind the bar at some point during the night.
"That's fine, take your time" she remarked, her voice displaying no evidence that she recognized him.
"Wait!" Sokka said a little to urgently, deciding that Azula would surly recognize Aang, but if she had forgotten him then he could go this alone. "Uh, shot of whisky" he finished; this time embarrassment from his outburst laced his voice.
The woman let a smirk escape her lips before she poured his drink, he watched her carefully but unless she had poisoned the whole bottle or the glass, which Sokka wouldn't doubt, she didn't do anything to it. Sokka paid her for the drink but was still hesitant to actually take it, which of course the woman noticed.
"You know most guys down a shot the second they get it" she informed him so he tried to shrug it off casually.
"So, uh, what's your name?" He asked nonchalantly, or he thought it was nonchalant anyway.
"If you're trying to get a girl drunk then I suggest not picking the only one in this place who has to stay sober" she remarked as she handed another customer his drink.
Sokka's face fell immediately following her comment, now he was completely convinced this is Azula he's talking to. Then it hit him. He's standing at a bar actually TALKING to Azula. The psycho tried to kill him, his friends, his family, and thousands of other innocent people a countless number of times, and he's standing here talking to her like it's the most ordinary thing in the world! Not to mention that if there is one thing Azula can do better than lie; it's tell when other people are lying. Of course Sokka hadn't actually told a lie yet but she could probably tell that he was trying to figure out if she was lying.
"Yori" A female voice snapped him out of his thoughts.
"What?" He asked as the bartender filled another drink.
"My name is Yori. I was just going to tell you to get lost but you seem to be very set on just standing there staring into oblivion and since you asked, my name is Yori" she spelled it out for him.
Now Sokka was beyond confused, Azula bartending in the middle of Republic City was hard enough to understand, but this woman NOT being Azula? Sure he hadn't seen her in years but if Sokka had to guess what she looked like today, he would take a photograph of this so called Yori. Of course she could be lying, in fact it was more than likely that she was.
"So can I get you another drink, since you obviously don't want the shot, or are you just going to stand there in your own little world all night?" She asked, once again bringing Sokka back to reality.
"Uh, sorry it's just, um, have we ever met before?" He finally asked; he figured that if she was going to lie then he might as well try and catch her in the act, as if he had any chance at that.
Yori looked like she gave the question a moment of thought "I don't think so" she finally answered.
Sokka was about to say something else when the little girl he had seen earlier came walking by and, much to his surprise, went to the entryway of the bar.
"Mommy I'm tired" she whined and before Sokka could make the connection for himself Yori was sighing as she dug through the pocket of the apron tied around her waist and pulled out a set of keys, then tossed them to the little girl.
"The silver key is for the office, shut the door behind you but don't lock it" she instructed but the little girl was already on her way, mumbling that she already knew.
Now Sokka was in complete and total shock. His mind screeching AZULA HAS A KID?!
"Don't look at me like that, I changed shifts last minute and couldn't get a sitter." She snapped in defense.
Yeah, that's the reason I'm questioning your parenting skills Sokka thought to himself. "No I, never mind. I uh, I should be going" he said then excused himself from the bar and went back to the table of dull which he had come from.
He didn't say anything to Aang and he didn't plan on it just yet. First he needed proof, why he cared so much he wasn't sure. It could be just pure curiosity, it could be a feeling of sorrow for that little girl and the need to prove that her mother either was or was not mentally capable of even being near children. All he knew was that he had to get to the bottom of this.