Chapter One

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Breaking the Habit

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Sokka was stewing. It just didn't sit well with him. Sure, it worked out for other people, but he didn't want it to have anything to do with his dad. It simply should not be happening.

He paced back and forth, dislodging and spraying great puffs of sand with each step. The beach was beautiful at this time of morning: the air crisp, the waves rolling but busy, the taste of the sea salty and bitter yet fresh. It would have been comforting to think of his home with the Southern Water Tribe—for despite the sad memories, he had many good ones as well—but Sokka refused the cheering effects of such thoughts. Things were not going according to plan, and it riled him. True, he did not have a set plan for his father's life, he hadn't figured out all the minutiae of his father's day-to-day assent into "oldness," but at no point was his dad supposed to go out and get a hot young girlfriend. And it wasn't that he didn't want his dad to date people—that was fine. He'd been without a wife for a decade now, and it was only fair he should be able to find someone and be happy. But a female Firebender half his age? It was just weird. It was just—

"Sokka! Where have you been? We said we'd all meet at the southern end of the peninsula, not the eastern!"

Katara's hair unexpectedly blew up into her face and open mouth as Appa began his quick descent. As they came closer, Sokka could see that all three of them—Katara, Aang, and Toph—had already assembled for their trip. Ignoring the display of his sister choking on a strand of hair, Sokka turned his attention to his two best friends. Aang's ever youthful face beamed down at him, and though Toph's clear eyes seemed to be looking at something three feet to his left, Sokka still knew the crafty smile playing across her lips was meant for him. He couldn't help but return a warm smile in greeting.

But he couldn't hold back a retort for Katara.

"Yeah, Katara, I'm sorry if my brain has been a bit scattered lately, what with our dad suddenly wanting all of us to meet him and his girlfriend back home for a 'special supper.'" He made quote makrs with his fingers, the sarcasm dripping from his voice.

"Oh, Sokka," Katara began in her rational yet emotional voice as Sokka greeted Appa with an affectionate pat and climbed up to the others. "I don't like it as much as you do, but we have to respect Dad's wishes and his choices. If he's ready to move on after Mom"—her voice slightly caught in her throat—"then we need to accept that."

In his fever to argue this point, Sokka lost his seating and leaned heavily into Toph as Appa took flight once more. "Respect his choices? What are we supposed to respect about him dating someone who could practically be his daughter?! I don't care if he wishes he can, but can't he find someone his own age? And someone who's not a Firebender?"

"Sokka, her being a Firebender shouldn't even matter," Aang put in. "We're in a time of peace now, and we all need to learn to live together and respect one another."

Sokka grumbled something about "the Avatar would say that," but his words soared along with the wind back over Appa's tail.

"Besides," Aang continued, "It's not like she was doing any of the fighting in the war anyway."

"Yeah!" cried Sokka self-righteously. "'Cuz she was still in diapers!"

"Oh, right," Toph recalled. "Yeah, because she's just four years older than you, and you were still in diapers then, too, right?"

Toph couldn't see his scowl, but she could practically feel his expression through the familiarity of years of friendship.

"My point is that she's just not right for him. He needs someone his own age, and so does she."

"Oh, what, you mean she needs someone about your age?" Katara interjected. "Really, Sokka, are you this upset about it because you like her?"

"No!" he shouted. "I might have liked her at one point—I mean, I did meet her first—but I just mean she should be with someone who isn't as old as dad. I mean, his back could give out in a year. Maybe even next week. He decided to go back home and settle down, and I'm telling you, he's no spring chicken anymore."

"I don't know about that," Toph mused. "He's still a pretty hot stud for a dad."

"Toph!" Katara and Sokka cried in united revulsion.

"How can you call our dad a hot stud?" Katara didn't want to think of her dad as hot or as a stud.

"And how can you even tell if he's hot or not?" Sokka added.

Toph wiggled her toes at him. "Trust me, I can tell," she said. "I feel bodies' vibrations. Clothes don't vibrate." She smirked.

Everyone suddenly felt very shy in their garments, heavily clad though they were as they continued to fly south. Sokka became very rigid and tried not to move a muscle.

"I've been practicing seeing with my feet a lot, Toph, and combining it with my Waterbending," Aang mentioned. "It really helps to know when to avoid this one Earthbender official who smells funny. This guy keeps trying to take me to plays and sports and things to show people he knows me. He's this really big guy, and when he approaches, I can see the vibrations of the sweat dripping down his body—"

"OH-kay, Aang, you can stop right there." Sokka suddenly felt ill.

The group sat in silence for a bit, and then Toph spoke.

"So your dad's invite said it would be okay to bring a date."

Her statement hung in the air.

"And either they have the ability to hover so I can't sense them, or it's just the four of us," she reasoned.

Still silence.

Aang glanced at Katara, whose face held no expression as it turned to look out over the ocean waves far beneath them.

Toph sighed. "So are you two still on this silly break thing of yours, or aren't you?"

"Sure are blunt," Sokka muttered.

"That's how I roll, babe," she replied. To Aang and Katara she continued, "Really, what's going on with you guys?"

"We're still on break," Aang told her. "Katara had some doubts she wanted to sort out, so we're just taking some time apart for now, but we'll be back together soon." Toph and Sokka could tell he was trying to sound confident, but he instead sounded as if he were repeating to them his mantra of the past two or three months or however long this so-called "break" had lasted.

"Aang…" Katara murmured.

"The break will be over soon," Aang said again.

Katara didn't say anything and continued to sit motionless, expressionless. But a slight darkening of her eyes suggested her turmoil of thoughts within.

"What about you two?" Aang changed the subject.

"Oh, me?" Toph asked. "I'm not seeing anyone really important right now. No one I'd want to drag to the South Pole anyway. That's a date challenge I only reserve for guys I really like. If they pass the Freeze Your Butt Off level, they might get to third base!" She chuckled at her joke.

Sokka didn't find it very funny, but he said nothing.

"And you, Sokka?" Aang asked.

Sokka really didn't want to have to admit this, but he knew they weren't going to leave him alone until he told them. He drew in a breath and said, "Oh, I just didn't…think you guys were bringing dates either, so I decided not to bring one to make you guys feel better about not having one, too." It all came out faster than he intended, as spur-of-the-moment lies usually do, and unfortunately, his friends saw right through this one.

"Still can't get a date, huh?" Toph said.

"I can get a date!" he defended. "I just didn't feel like one is all."

"Sokka, it's been two years since you and Suki broke up. Are you still not over it?" Katara asked gently.

"Oh, no! I'm over it!" he insisted. "She got tired of me and dumped me, but…but I was tired of her, too, and I feel better than I ever have. I love being single!" Something told him they didn't buy this either.

"Oh, Sokka, she didn't get tired of you. You two started dating so young, she just wants a chance to date other people so she can know if it's the right choice to be with you. Her breaking up with you might save you both from wasting time in a possibly doomed relationship when you could be out dating other people. It doesn't mean she doesn't care about you anymore."

"But if she loves him, why does she have to go out and date other guys to know it's real?" Aang suddenly said. "Why go through all that when she already told him she loved him and wanted to be with him?"

"Because she needs to know. She needs to know what's out there. You can't just expect her to date one person her entire life," Katara began heatedly.

"But she said she loved him, so how can she take that back? After everything?" Aang persisted, matching her intensity.

"People say stupid things, Aang!"

She had spun to face him. Tears hung in her azure eyes.

"Stupid?" Aang said the word as if for the first time, and his face suggested a bad taste that it left in his mouth. "Are all those years together 'stupid' to you?"

Katara turned her eyes downward.

"Let's not talk about this now," she said. "We're almost there."

Everyone knew they would not arrive at the Southern Tribe's village for another half hour, but they all welcomed the silence anyway.

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To be continued…

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A/N:

Woah! I haven't written a fanfic in forever, but that just proves how awesome Avatar is! This is a Kataang and Tokka fic, and I hope you, dear reader, will enjoy what I have in store for the bunch. I would very much appreciate your comments, and if you have any suggestions, I will definitely take them into consideration! : )

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P.S.

I don't own Avatar, but I am considering purchasing a Zuko/Sokka/Aang set for my own personal amusement. Heh heh heh 3