To my friend, the awesome and hilarious blubbergumm aka the 'Khalessi' of the squad. Hope you accept this story as your b-day gift.

Better Safe than Sorry

"No. FUCKING. Way!"

Golden-amber eyes tore their gaze away from the pharmacy aisle over to his best friend standing beside him who simply smiled at the glare he shot him.

"Now, now, Jerkbender," Sokka's smile broadened as he watched Zuko's eyes flash with annoyance at the nickname. "Let's not soil the air with your dirty language. There are children here."

Sure enough, a mother crossed their path, heading over to the health and beauty section with her three young kids at the exact moment the f-bomb ripped through Zuko's lips. The kids giggled at his bemused expression, the mother glared at him for the profanity, and Sokka offered little help, having himself a good laugh as the woman rushed her kids along.

Face hot, Zuko returned his attention over to the front, inwardly shuddering.

Only with Sokka, he thought with a twinge of annoyance. That was when he found himself being placed in the most awkwardness of situations. It's been that way since they met in third grade, becoming instant friends after Zuko caught the boomerang Sokka had aimed for his head and threw it back with such a strong force, it sent the younger boy skidding across the floor. According to Sokka, it would be a sin against the warrior-guide for them not to be a team.

And a team they were, having each other's backs through thick and thin, supporting one another through anything even if what the other chooses to do causes a few (or a lot) of questioning looks. It also meant, for Zuko at least, putting up with Sokka's antics that often landed them in trouble.

Like the time they were ten and Sokka thought it would be a fun idea to empty the glue bottles from the art class and replace it with spoiled milk, which had the entire room smelling horrible and earned them a week of detention. Or when they were thirteen and Sokka thought it would be a great idea for them to test out his dad's new truck, never minding the fact neither one had the slightest idea how to work a car, thus explaining the several mailboxes they crushed through during their road test, finally stopping when Sokka crashed into a fire hydrant. Or when they were sixteen and Sokka somehow convinced him that the best way to get his crush was to recite a poem he wrote for her, which wouldn't have been so awful if it wasn't for the fact he recited it during the school's open mic-night and he was a bundle of nerves when hundreds of eyes are locked on him.

But now, at seventeen, Zuko was sure Sokka landed him in a situation that took first prize for Sokka's greatest hit.

Not to mention my worst memory to date, he thought, his face burning.

Condoms. Condoms everywhere. Dedicated to not just one section but two whole aisles, to the front of them and back. Lubricated, latex and non-latex, ridded. Condoms meant for his pleasure, for her pleasure, for shared pleasure. Condoms in every size from small to extra-large, available in every color imaginable and, to his shock, in any flavor the buyer may choose.

"Why?" That was the only logical thing someone could say at that moment.

"Because it's necessary."

"Again why?"

"Because now that I know you're doing the nasty with my sister-which still makes me cringe by the way," Sokka added, pointing a warning finger against Zuko's chest. "I brought you here because you need to make sure all the bases are covered."

Just when he thought this moment couldn't get any worse. "We-I-" He blushed bright red, trying to unscramble his words. "We don't need to have any bases covered."

"Ah-uh." Sokka drawled.

"And there was no nasty-ing being done," Sokka cocked his head to the side and raised his left eyebrow accusingly. "We've only been dating for a few weeks. We're taking things slow."

"Famous last words before the dude's pushing a baby carriage."

"I'm outta here-" He took one step towards the exit. Sokka yanked him back with the hood of his sweatshirt, nearly strangling him.

"Not so fast, Jerky," If Sokka had any clue how wrong the nickname sounded during a time like that, he didn't show it. He was focused on the mission. Or what he believed was the mission. "We're not going anywhere until you get some protection."

"What part of 'taking things slow' do you not understand?"

"What part of 'baby carriage' escapes you?"

Growling under his breath, Zuko pressed his fingers against his temple, hoping to tame the headache beginning to form. This moment was definitely going down in history as Sokka's greatest moment and his worst. He wondered if his best friend was aware of how...weird this was. "You realized this is just plain wrong, right? You want to me to buy condoms so I can basically have sex with your sister?"

Katara, the third piece to their trio. His other best friend that became his girlfriend who also happened to be Sokka's little sister whom he was crazily protective of.

Sokka grimaced, going through a full-body shudder, as if he needed to itch away from his skin. "Trust me, I'm aware how wrong this is," He shuddered once more, shaking his head, and took in a deep breath, clearing away the disgust from his face. "But we all have to do what we got to do."

"Sokka, for God's sake," he begged. "This is awkward for us both. So why not we just call it a day and go home-"

"You lost the privilege of forfeiting when you decided to do the nasty with my baby sister."

"You-we-" Growling, he ran his hands over his weary face, pulling at his hair. "We did not do the nasty."

Sokka turned his body over to him, hands on his hips, a scowl slashing his face. "Then do you want to explain the disgusting, sickening display I saw happening on my couch?"

Oh brother. Zuko dropped his head into the palm of his hand, groaning, wishing the floor would swallow him up.

He remember exactly what happened on that couch.

The squeak that came out of his mouth was louder-and a bit shriller-than he expected. Then again, he couldn't be at fault. She was the one who caught him off guard, deciding to jump him the second he sat down, sending them sprawl across the couch.

"This is dangerous." Sokka went to the kitchen to get them snacks, which didn't put much distance between them.

Katara looked like she was comfortable where she was right now, smirking above him as she straddled his hips, giving him an eyeful of beauty and curves.

"Very dangerous." His smirking siren was toying with the button of his shirt, unbuttoning it then buttoning it again, teasing him with her light touches. He shivered as she undid the first button, then went down to play with the next one.

Katara looked up his buttons to him, her bright azure eyes mischievous as her smirk. "Do you want me to stop?"

Zuko used every part of his remaining brain-power to think this through carefully. On one hand, his best friend was right next door and could walk in any minute, discovering the "surprise" they were saving for later. On the other hand, in between pulling double shifts at his uncle's tea-shop and all-nighters at the library for his midterms, he barely saw Katara this week.

As if she could read his mind, Katara leaned down and kissed him, using her charms and very skillful down to quiet down the questioning protests, to make him stop thinking about anything that didn't have to do with his beautiful girlfriend and her delicious mouth.

Mind made up, Zuko's hands ran through her torso, causing her to let out a breathless moan as she leaned in closer, wrapping her arms around his neck, opening her mouth. His hands crawled underneath her tank top and brushed against her back, relishing in the familiar feel of soft skin-


Their reunion was quickly ended as soon as it began, interrupted by the shrill shriek that caused them to froze.

Sokka backed away from them, his hands covering his face.


"Sokka." Katara got herself off from Zuko, fixing her shirt.


"We were going to tell you," Zuko had to raise his voice to hear himself over Sokka's shrieking. "It just never came up-"

"My poor, innocent eyes" Sokka mourned. "They'll never be the same again."

"It's not like we wanted you to see that," Katara said. "We thought you were still getting the snacks."

Sokka dropped his hands, staring at his sister incredulous. "Seems to me you decided to skip snacks and go straight for the desert," He gestured towards a stunned Zuko. It took five seconds for him to realize what he said, and once he grasped the meaning, the hands immediately flew back to his face, covering his face. "And on my couch. My child. You desserted on my couch and I'll never be able to un-see that."

Suffice to say that afternoon was not a fun one-for any of them. Despite the three-hour rant of Sokka cursing him for breaking bro-code, with the additional two hours of riding through Sokka's threats of killing him in multiple ways if he had even the slightest hint that Katara was hurting, the secret came out. Meaning no more sneaking around, though it was exciting. No more worrying about Sokka and how he reacted, which was exactly as Zuko predicted and more.

He thought that was the end of that.

Until Sokka decided to charge into his room the next day, at seven in the morning on a Saturday, dragging Zuko out of bed and having him drive fifteen miles to the super Wal-Mart outside of town. In his half-asleep, irritated zombie-haze, he didn't think much of it other than how much Sokka owned him for this favor.

The second Sokka dragged him to the pharmacy section and gestured at the rubbers, Zuko's mind went from figuring out how Sokka would repay him for driving up here to killing him and making it look like an accident.

"I am not picking condoms with my girlfriend's brother-"

Sokka cut off his protest by pressing his hand over Zuko's hand, ignoring the burn of his glare. "Oh yes you are. And I will tell you why, using two simple words that are every high school's guy's most feared: 'I'm pregnant.' I was scarred enough as it was with the first 'surprise' you two gave me on the couch. If Katara somehow popping out your surprise, best friend or not, I will make sure you're eight feet underground."

Zuko knocked his hand off his mouth. "It's six feet," he reminded him. "The casket is buried six feet."

"I'll knock you down two more flights," Sokka shrugged easily. "Keep the maggots company."

Before this day Zuko thought there were two things that could cause him a migraine: school and his family. Sokka, once again, was taking the top prize and he was suffering for it.

He turned his gaze over to the condoms. He suppose, in his own way, Sokka was making sense. Even though they were taking things slow, there were times when it was hard to stop. Times when things got a little too heated. Sex may not be in the near future but it didn't hurt to make sure that, as Sokka poetically said, all the bases were covered.

"Alright," he said with a defeated sigh. "What do you recommend?"

Sokka grinned, as if he was given life-changing news, and cracked his knuckles as if he was heading off to battle. Suppose, he was, in his own mind. "Don't worry, Jerky. I got you covered."

Oh, Zuko wasn't worried. He was miles past worry. He was now heading straight towards the ends of mortification and regret.

"Before we review the pros and cons of latex and lubricated, I need to ask you a very important question. Do you know where to stick your solider in?"

This time Sokka's comment didn't get any stunned looks or stuttering. For a spilt moment he thought Zuko didn't hear him. Until he felt a force that could rival that of the Hulk's slamming against his arm, nearly knocking him to the ground.

"Jesus Christ, Zuko!" he gasped from the pain. "I need that arm."

"You can be a real dick, you know that!"

"Hey, part of safety is knowing what you're doing. And should the time come-which I really do not want to know by the way-when you and Katara decide to do the nasty, I want to make sure both parties know what they're in for. No pun intended."

"I know what to do and where to stick it. We both suffered through eighth-grade health class, Sokka."

"Then you remember what Ms. Kia said during the lecture. 'Better safe than sorry, boys.' No shame in being embarrassed, ZuZu."

He earned himself a punch on the other hand, one that was twice as hard.