disclaimer: I claim no ownership over any of the characters contained within. This story is written for fun, not profit.
request: (From v.voltaire at livejournal.) I humbly request a fic in which Sokka believes he is slowly becoming the "mother" of their little family.
So somewhere along the way Sokka has become the Responsible One, the Dependable One; the Mother. He isn't sure how or why, though he has his suspicions, none of which are even possible to articulate because, frankly, none of it makes any sense. He should have known, though. Sokka can't shake the desperate thought that he should have known.
In a way, Sokka thinks absently as he washes out the few pieces of (useful) pottery they've collected, it's like he's becoming his mother.
That thought startles him enough that he drops one of the pots on his foot and spends the next five minutes hopping on the other, swearing and then taking the time to limp over to the other two and throw a wet rag in Aang's face.
The first sign is one he notices only in retrospect, the way you only notice yeah, you were a whiny-ass little kid, years after the fact; the way you realize oh, well, it must have been the shellfish, glad I know that, steer clear of the seafood.
Sokka has experienced all three.
In further retrospect, hindsight being what it is, he's kind of glad he stopped eating shellfish years ago.
It's night and he's peeling apples, oranges, a veritable buffet of fruits and vegetables because he was the idiot who went and said, "Maybe we oughtta eat healthy tonight," since Aang had been groaning all day about a stomachache.
(Sokka'd told him to stay away from the shellfish, just as a general rule; it wasn't his damn fault the kid couldn't listen to reason.
"Stop picking on Aang," Katara had said, indignant, clutching Aang to her chest.
"Excuse me for trying to help," Sokka said, snidely. "And you, get away from my sister."
"I don't feel so good," Aang said, pitifully, and then looked as dreamy as a violently ill boy could when Katara rubbed his back.
"He's faking," Sokka said, with the sort of conviction that damned ships.)
"Let's not help Sokka with dinner," he grumbles, carefully stacking the peels together; he has faint ideas of drying them and saving for snacks. Plan ahead; don't starve. "It's okay, we'll just make Sokka do all the cooking. 'Why thank you Sokka! I'm so glad you're slaving over the food Sokka!'"
"Excuse me," Katara says, sharply. Sokka looks up at his sister; she's carrying a pile of firewood in her arms. "I'm standing right here."
"Great," Sokka says. "Could you heat some water so I can make the stew already?"
And then it turns out, no, it wasn't the shellfish, it really is some sort of horrible, pseudo-apocalyptic stomach bug that Katara contracts shortly after Aang; so Sokka winds up spending something like thirty-six hours on his feet, running rags and pots to the creek near their campsite so he can wash sweaty faces and clean out bowls filled with the stew he'd spent an hour making, dammit.
It's the stew that really sticks in his craw, as if the illness is purposefully (and maliciously) targeting Sokka with a rallying cry of, YOUR STEW IS NOT WELCOME HERE.
He'd spent an hour cooking. An hour. And who winds up having to cook thin broths and soften hard travel bread in water so Katara and Aang can eat at least something? Sokka. He feels this is possibly the worst comment on his cooking he has ever received and when he thinks about it, his eyes cross he's so pissed.
And then he realizes, when Aang's fever breaks and Katara croaks, "Thanks," while fumbling for Sokka's hand, squeezing it in her own as she smiles, tired, in the dark - it's not so bad.
Sokka kind of likes knowing he's the one who pulled them out of this brand of virulent darkness. Even if he can't get the smell out of his clothes for a week.
But, hell, sacrifices are made, people are saved, and in the end he makes another stew and this one stays down.
He likes that even more.
So somehow, as a result of all this, Sokka ends up the group's unofficial chef, and that slowly builds up to dishwasher as well because he finds Aang leaves bits of food in the pottery when he says he's done washing, and Katara - in a general revolt against gender roles and Sokka himself - pretty much refuses to do anything other than sew Sokka's pants. And, well, that's all right, too, because Sokka trusts himself more than he does either of them. He makes sure the pots shine, as much as terracotta can, before he even thinks of using them to store food.
Somewhere, too, he starts working as the one to make sure Aang leaves Katara alone for at least two hours in the day ("Girls need private time," he snaps, enough that it becomes ritual) and that Katara doesn't run herself into the ground because he knows she will ("Look," he says, exasperated, prying the basket out of her arms in a marketplace, "I can help, okay? Stop looking at me like that!"), and he even helps out with Momo every once in a while, when he's sure the monstrosity isn't going for his eyes.
What the result is, in the long run:
Sokka cooks, Sokka cleans, Sokka nags and herds and feeds and in one nightmarish incident when Prince "I Am An Ass" Zuko crashes the tiny town they're sleeping in, even has to half-dress Aang himself because the kid can't even see straight.
The day comes when Sokka smacks Aang upside the head and snaps, "Wash your hands!"
Aang looks at him as if his head has fallen off his shoulders.
Sokka, when he's realized what he just said and how for a (weird, nostalgic, but mostly weird) moment he thought he could hear his mother, wishes his head had fallen off his shoulders.
So Aang peels the rag off his face and looks - bewildered, confused, and dripping soap water from his nose - at the murderous expression on Sokka's face. "Uh," Aang says. He turns, helpless, to Katara, who shrugs with a confused look to mirror his own.
"I," Sokka says, darkly, "am not your mother."
And then he grabs the rag and stalks off, dignified and vindicated, to where he starts cleaning the next pot with the sort of righteous fury angels only dream of.