Familiar Faces

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough.

Warnings: Speculation, Spoilers up to Season Three, Implied Character Death

AN: For Avatar_500 over on LJ. The prompt was #17: Stir.

He finds her beyond the outskirts of the city. It's snowing but only very softly, and there's enough daylight that he can make out the fine lines of her face. Even after all these years, she's every bit as beautiful as she was as a girl; she looks exactly like he imagines their mother would've had she lived this long. Steel wrapped by silk. Softness over a diamond-hard core.

Even in mourning, she's lovely. Her hair is still more brown than grey, and her eyes are bluer than the deepest waters.

But there's a bitterness present now. A curse at the fates and spirits who promised them all a long and happy life after their hard work was complete. A flicker of hatred for the lost dream of growing old together surrounded by family and friends.

They sit in silence for nearly an hour, just staring out at the flurries floating by. But her words when she finally speaks are a spear through the heart.

"They named her Korra," Katara murmurs, and her voice is far too gentle for the sheer horribleness of that statement.

Sokka swallows and closes his eyes. A sob is stuck in his throat like a hard lump.

Kyoshi lived for over two hundred years. Roku probably could've surpassed that without Sozin's inference and Kuruk too if he hadn't been so consumed by fighting Koh. But Aang didn't even get a century. Not really. And certainly not counting his time as an Avatar iceberg.

It just isn't fair; it isn't right. He did so much. Helped so many people. And he doesn't even get to see the birth of his first great grandkid. Sokka himself has already managed three with a fourth on the way.

And worse than that, worse than anything is the knowledge of what Katara lost. Is knowing that she won't be far behind. She'll refuse to be left behind.

"Have you seen her?" he asks before he can stop himself.

The question he really wants to voice is on the tip of his tongue, but Sokka swallows it. Somehow, he already knows the answer.

Katara bites her lip, and he almost thinks she won't respond. But she does, and he'd give anything to take back what he didn't even say.

"She isn't…"

But his sister shakes her head, one hand balling into a fist over her chest. Sokka can see the agony in her eyes, in the tightness of her shoulders. In the shuddering breaths she takes.

"She isn't…" Katara begins again and clenches her other fist as she fights for control, but the surface ice has already cracked. "He's not… He's not there. I looked, and there was only a stranger."

The first drop is red in the dying light, and the second burns even more on her cheek. The third slides down her nose as he reaches for her. Then, there are too many to count.

Her tears are blood on his skin, and she weeps until she breaks entirely.

Ever Hopeful,