Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender

Author's Note: Finally! I can upload documents again! Enjoy!

Catching Up

Over a meal of stewed prunes, fish, and other traditional Water Tribe foods, Sokka told Hakoda the story of finding the Avatar in the iceberg. He also talked a little about visiting with their sister tribe at the North Pole and mentioned that Master Pakku and some others were heading down to the South Pole.

"Did you know Gran-Gran was supposed to get married to him?" Sokka asked. Hakoda admitted that he hadn't known about that. "But it was an arranged marriage, and she didn't want to, so she left. That necklace Katara wears was her betrothal symbol. Can you believe it?" Hakoda had the feeling that Sokka was leaving a lot of things out, but that was probably for the best. Even what he was hearing made him worry a lot.

Sokka further described what was going on with the coming comet, the solar eclipse, and their plans to take advantage of the situation.

"That's incredible. So, what's the Avatar really like?" Hakoda asked. Sokka shrugged.

"You met him."

"You mean, he's like that all the time?"

"Pretty much, only more so. He was kind of restrained around you."

"Restrained?" That wasn't the word Hakoda would have used. "He seems very polite."

"Oh, yeah. He's always polite, even to his enemies," Sokka gestured with a spoon. Hakoda took in his son shoveling food into his mouth ambidextrously and raised a sardonic eyebrow.

"Apparently, his manners haven't rubbed off on you," Hakoda commented. Sokka grinned back at him unabashedly.

"Some things never change." Sokka chewed thoughtfully. "You know, maybe I said that wrong. Aang really doesn't seem to think of anyone as an enemy. I don't know if that's an Avatar thing, or just the way he is."

"Isn't that same thing?"

"Not exactly. The Avatar spirit is reborn over and over, but each incarnation is a separate individual. I mean, Aang can go into the Spirit World to talk to Avatar Roku. That kind of means they have different souls, doesn't it?"

"I…suppose."

"Anyway, I try not to think about it too much. Katara's better at the spiritual stuff."

"Speaking of Katara, I got the feeling you knew more about her feelings for Aang than you said back there."

"Oh, yeah. She's totally crazy about him."

"But does she love him?" Hakoda wanted this point clarified.

"I'm not completely sure about that, but I think so," Sokka chuckled a little. "You should have seen her right after we met Aang. Katara was so protective of him!"

"My daughter? Protective of the Avatar?"

"Well, we didn't know he was the Avatar at first. He was just like a normal kid. Most of the time, that's basically what he is. I mean, assuming that regular kid became a master airbender at the age of twelve." Sokka paused for a moment. "Actually, though, she was still protective of Aang even after we found out. Quite a maternal instinct my sister has."

"But that's not the same as the kind of love he feels," Hakoda pointed out.

"True," Sokka conceded. "I'm getting to that. They had a strong connection from the very beginning, and I could always tell he needed her. But it took a while to see if it went both ways. The first indication I had was when we almost came with Bato. The farther away we got from Aang, the more…hollow Katara seemed to get. But what really convinced me was what happened in Serpent's Pass."

"You went through Serpent's Pass?" Hakoda was shocked. He had heard how dangerous that route to Ba Sing Se was supposed to be.

"Yeah. Anyway, Aang had been kind of walling himself off from everyone after we lost Appa. Even Katara. I could tell that was really hard for her. She tried to hide it, but when he finally decided to open up to her again, she bawled like anything. That proved to me that there was something she needed from him, too."

Sokka fell silent after this long speech, while Hakoda thought about everything that had been said. He was still trying to wrap his mind around the idea of the Avatar as a son-in-law.

Well, their lives will never be dull, that's for sure, he thought. He decided to reserve any further judgments on the potential relationship until he actually saw Aang and Katara together.

"Well, it sounds like we nearly have your sister married off," Hakoda said jokingly. "What about you? Any special girl in your life?"

"Yeah. Yeah, there is," Sokka replied, giving a small, wistful smile. For some reason, he spent a moment looking out the window, where the moon was rising over the Earth Kingdom. He then launched into a description of a female warrior he'd met on Kyoshi Island and again recently.

"She taught me their fighting techniques and helped me become a better warrior," Sokka told his father. "Maybe, tomorrow, I can show you some of the things I've picked up along the way."

"She sounds…impressive," Hakoda said. It was really quite amazing. The matches his children had apparently found for themselves were practically the opposite he would have expected. As happy as he was to see Sokka again, Hakoda was a little sad, too. His children were virtually strangers to him now.

"I'm sorry I couldn't bring you with me, Sokka," Hakoda apologized. "Maybe I should have at least come back and picked you up later. I can see how capable you are."

"It's okay, Dad," Sokka answered. "If I hadn't been home, Katara wouldn't have gotten mad and broken the iceberg, we wouldn't have found Aang, and, well, the world would be about to end. It all worked out for the best."

Hakoda agreed, and their conversation lasted long into the night.

Two days later, Sokka was demonstrating his boomerang techniques for his father on the shore when he saw Appa approaching. He landed nearby, and Aang ran over to the encampment.

"Sorry to cut your visit short," Aang said breathlessly, offering a hasty bow to Hakoda. "Katara's in trouble."

"What? How do you know?"

Aang merely pointed to the arrow on his head, and Sokka understood that to mean it was "Avatar stuff." He turned to Hakoda.

"Sorry, Dad. We've got to go."

"Of course," his father said quickly, moving in for a final hug. He pulled back and held Sokka by the shoulders. "You all take care of each other, okay? I'm very proud of you, Sokka."

"Thanks, Dad," Sokka said, and he followed Aang over to Appa. "What's going on?"

"I was in the Avatar State, and I had a vision. Katara was being attacked." Aang leapt up to Appa's head and took the reins. Sokka settled himself in the fur of the bison's back.

"Back to Ba Sing Se, buddy. Yip yip," Aang called. Still facing straight ahead, he added, "I'm sorry, Sokka."

"Huh? For what?"

"You remember those Kyoshi warriors the Earth King told us about?"

"Yeah?"

"They weren't really. It was Azula and her friends in disguise."

Invisible fists closed around Sokka's heart and throat as he considered the implications of that. He forced himself to take a breath.

"Is Suki okay?" he asked. Aang looked over his shoulder, and there was a haunted look in his eyes.

"I don't know. I'm sorry," he repeated. Sokka clenched his hands and ground his teeth together. Not again.

"If they hurt Suki, OR Katara, they're going to pay," he promised.

"Agreed," Aang said darkly, and they flew the rest of the way in silence.

--

Member of the Boomeraang Squad: charleegirl, Jesus.Lives, Liselle129

Thanks to Aero-Dragon's-Sky, Song of the Storm, AvatarJunkie, Yami Marik, SnakeEyes16, frozenheat, Val-Creative, Earth's Luxury, MormonMaiden, Livexthexmagic, Piper Aurora Potter, charleegirl, pokey, Nuclear Kitty, and Kumori Doragon for reviewing this fic.

Author's Note: This ending is based on a theory I have about the season finale, even before I saw the longer promo. I see Aang and Guru Pathik having a kind of Luke Skywalker/Yoda moment. Katara gets attacked by Azula or something, and Aang senses it because of the combination of his strong bond with her and being the Avatar. Guru tells him it's more important to finish his training, and Aang says, "Forget that! I have to help her."