Standard disclaimers apply.
Sokka was stirring a penguin meat, seal meat and fish stew when Kota burst through the doorway of the icehouse, yelling with excitement.
"A ship, Daddy, I saw a ship, it's silver and has smoke over it, is it Uncle Zuko, is it?" Sokka laughed and caught him up before he could trip over dinner. "Is it him, you said he would be coming soon, will Irah be with him, will she?"
"As I told you - what, twenty five times already in the last week? Irah stays home with Aunt Mai when Uncle Zuko visits in the fall, just like you and Kya stay with Mommy when I go to the Fire Nation in the spring. You'll see your friend again next summer, in Ba Sing Se."
A scowl settled over the young face, and Kota spoke with the firmness of a six year old who has to explain things to a grownup again. "She's not just my friend, Daddy, I'm going to marry her, remember?"
"How could I forget?" After seeing the young heir to the Fire Nation once or twice a year for all of their short lives, Kota had decided at the last Team Avatar reunion that she would be his wife, and Irah had happily agreed, once she understood that getting married involved pretty clothes, a party and presents. Sokka and Zuko had attempted to explain the logistical hurdles in such a plan while their wives just smiled in quiet amusement and Iroh had enthusiastically aided the young couple, even helping Kota make an 'engagement necklace' out of clay and baking it with his firebending.
Zuko had complained that night that he never got his engagement necklace, leading to a pillow fight and a threat to withhold kisses which Sokka had made good on for an entire two and a half minutes. The water tribesman smiled at the memory as he reached for some dried sea plums. "If it is Uncle Zuko, dinner will need to be a bit bigger, so why don't you take Kya out to gather some late berries for me? By the time you get back we'll know if it's him or not."
As he cheerfully filled out the stew, he heard a rustling as someone moved into the main room of the icehouse. "I heard something about a smoky ship. Should I be opening up the guest room so it can warm up?"
"Kannik, you don't need to get up yet!" Sokka gave the stew a last stir and moved quickly to sweep his wife off her feet and place her in a large pile of furs. "And you know he can heat up his rooms just fine, why make the rest of the house colder for something that will take him three breaths?"
"Because good hosts have comfortable rooms waiting for their guests, you mannerless southern savage," she responded as she lay back, contented.
"Yeah, and real men make their wives cook even when the sight of raw meat makes them retch, you tradition-bound northern priss." He stuck his tongue out happily and tossed her a piece of flatbread then went back to the stew.
"I'm sorry, does someone need a real man? I came just in time..." Zuko grinned as Sokka abandoned his cooking to near tackle him into a hug. "Are you sick, Kannik?" He twisted from the water tribesman's grasp to kneel and formally kiss the woman's hand.
"Just the usual morning, noon and night sickness. I swear it gets worse every time..." She smiled though and the Fire Lord's face lit up in happiness.
"Well congratulations and sorry all at once then! And as usual, Uncle Iroh is frighteningly insightful, because he suggested I bring you some ginger tea this year." He laughed as she practically shoved past him to paw through his dropped bags. "Relax, I won't make you wait till the kids get their presents, lie down again and I'll make you some."
"No, you should get settled in," she gestured to the side of the room and a doorway appeared in the ice perfectly placed for the thick hide curtain that hung on the other side. "Sokka, help Zuko with his things, I'll take care of the stew and make some of this," she clutched the decorated tin to her like a lifeline.
Sokka gave her a classic 'I really wanna but am obligated to object' look, but she cut him off before he could even try. "Go on, it's not that bad this afternoon and now that the room is open it needs warmed up." He smiled his gratitude and gave her a quick kiss before grabbing his friend's other bag and following him through the doorway.
He was neither surprised nor displeased to be grabbed by a pair of strong arms the moment the hanging dropped behind him, or by the hungry kiss he was pulled into. "Hmmm... missed you, too," he said breathlessly once the other man let him go. "This room is freezing, get some fire on so you can take off the parka..."
Zuko chuckled and spread his arms while breathing steam out to heat the guest area. "Have I mentioned that you have the greatest wife on the planet?"
"Says the guy whose wife is running a country for him while he sneaks off on her for a couple of weeks!" Sokka responded with a grin.
"Hey, I'm sneaking off on my advisors, she gives me advice as I'm packing and asks for details when I get home! But okay, we both have great wives."
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure when they're hanging out at the reunions they discuss how great they are and come up with ways for us to pay them back..."
Zuko grinned happily, in a way Sokka would never have believed eight years ago. "Mai always does have a lot of new requests after Ba Sing Se, you may be on to something, there." He stripped off his outwear and pulled the water tribesman down onto the fur covered bed with him. "If Kannik's morning sickness is worse than last time, maybe we should skip the hunting trip this year." He didn't sound happy, but he did sound sincere.
"I offered twice already, she'll probably perfect the water whip technique just to smack me if I try again. And she pointed out that we really do bring a lot of meat back, with you drying it out there, so the tribe almost depends on it for the winter prep."
"True..." the firebender nibbled at a tempting looking ear lobe while he ran his fingers through brown hair, playing with the beads that Sokka had started braiding into it once he was a father. "Maybe we'll make it shorter this year and spend the extra days fishing, then you'll still be able to help out in the mornings and evenings. I can dive for deep crabclams while you fish, didn't you say she got cravings for them during her other pregnancies?"
"Fresh crabclams in late autumn? She's gonna divorce me and beg you to take her a second wife! But yeah, that's probably a good-" he was cut off by the sounds of running feet and squeals at delight at the new door in the common room, and rolled off of the Fire Lord just as two bundles of blue clad energy burst through the hides and into the bed.
"Uncle Zuko! It was your ship! We got berries for dessert!"
"Did you bring me presents, Uncle Zuko?"
"Did Irah send me a letter, I wrote her one last month, did she get it?"
"I hope you brought fire flakes!"
Zuko laughed helplessly as the two pounced. "I brought lots of presents, including fire flakes and fire gummies. Irah sent a letter and a painting of her in the necklace - which," he whispered as an aside to Sokka, "she refuses to take off unless it's a formal function - and the berries sound great, let's go help your mom get them washed." He scooped Kya up, tickling her face with his hair while Kota grabbed his other hand and enthusiastically pulled him out of the room.
As Sokka watched his two children continue their nonstop demands for attention from their 'uncle', his friend turned back in the doorway and gave him a smile that got him thinking of the non-hunting-related supplies he needed to be sure to pack for their trip. An old thought, familiar and warming, rose in his mind as he briefly considered the plausibly deniable tension release he'd gone looking for almost a decade ago. 'This was such a better idea than my original plan...'
A/N : Yes, Sokka married a Northern Tribe transplant rather than Suki. With her obligations to the Kyoshi Warriors, I decided that she really didn't make much more sense than Zuko as a life partner if Sokka feels strongly about his need to build a family in the Southern Tribe. I beg forgiveness of the Sukka fans.
A/N2 : My first completed multi chapter fic! Short compared to some, but long for what was originally conceived as a one-shot. Thank you all for reading! I might do some "one to three shots" before I start another extended work, so feel free to send suggestions, requests and encouragement!