Zuko looked hagged. His pony tail was gone replaced with full head of short hair. His cheeks sunk in just enough to notice. Bruises were scattered along what parts Sokka could see.
Sokka couldn't process the information his eyes were telling him. What was Prince Zuko doing in his father's tent?
Just looking at Zuko Sokka could tell something else was wrong. He was pale, paler than he had ever seen the fire bender. He wasn't running a temperature, but he also wasn't as warm as he suspected a fire bender should be.
"Dad," Katara interrupted Sokka's thoughts. "What's going on why do you have Zuko in your tent!"
"When we went into town not far from here we got word of the Fire Prince. He had just made his exit after getting into a fight with the locals." Hokoda replied.
Sokka didn't doubt it, Zuko was a hot head.
"When we found him he was riding an ostrich horse, both tired and weak. We took the opportunity. Even in his weakened state it was a tough battle. Did you know he is a master swordsman? In the end we persevered."
Sokka wished he was there to see it. His father a non-bender, taking down the Fire nation's crowned prince.
"If we thought capturing him was difficult, just keeping him in the tent was even harder. Many escape attempts were made. I set guards on him day and night to make sure he couldn't leave."
Aang leaned down placing his hand on the fire bender, "You hurt him."
Hokoda bowed his head, "Not all of my men could see past his fire nation colors. This is war. People get hurt."
Sokka watched as Aang's knuckles on his staff whitened.
Hokoda went on, "If it wasn't for that witch and her Ice coolants, I don't know how the Prince would have fared on a ship filled with water tribe."
"Coolants?" Katatra questioned.
Hokoda grabbed a small basket opening to reveal tiny clear stones. "The witch said that it helps a person cool down from the inside. We were using them when we were closer to fire nation territory due to the temperature difference compared to home."
"From the inside…" Katara muttered to herself as she held one of the stones in her palm.
Aang shot up blowing air at Sokka. "You can't give those to fire benders!"
Sokka looked up at the air bender, "Aang what are you talking about, they are harmless. He just said they all have been using them."
"To us yes," Aang kept his eye on Sokka's father, "to fire benders no. What even made you think to give those to him?"
Hokoda's eyes were locked onto Sokka and the downed fire bender. "We didn't know. We wanted him to stop destroying the tents and my men were getting tired. There was talk about just doing away with the Prince."
Sokka moved over as Katara's blue healing bending lit up beside him.
"It worked. He couldn't hurt my men anymore with his fire bending and started being more compliant. A plus for my men and the fire prince in the long run."
Katara's healing light dimmed out, "Aang, I don't know what I can do. His energy paths seem to be stalled, cold even."
"That would explain his temperature." Sokka muttered as he placed his hand on Zuko's arm.
Aang slashed his staff towards the men, "We're taking Zuko with us and you cannot stop us."
"What?!" Sokka yelped.
Aang leaned down, "Sokka help me with him."
"Aang are you crazy?" Sokka said. "This dude has been trying to capture you this entire time and you just want to take him with us!"
"Help me or not he is not staying here."
Sokka looked at the Fire Prince, not even noticing what was going on around him. How his own enemy was fighting to save his sorry neck.