The east wind.
A new beginning.
Sokka looked down at Suki while she was dozing in front of the fire, snoring ever so gently. He wanted to wake her up and tell her his fabulous news but at the same time he didn't want to wake her because she was always so grumpy when he did that. He settled for nestling beside her and trying to wake her up with his vibes.
If such a feat were possible, the intent way Sokka stared at the girl would have definitely woken even the deepest slumber but as it was, Suki was exhausted from her days training the young villagers, boys and girls. Suki had a teacher's patience and practicality with the village children as she taught them all sorts of differing skills and fighting styles. She had seemed in her element, but Sokka knew she's been unhappy in the Southern Winter. They've never intended to stay this long really, but a terrible storm had ravaged the south pole and made the usually pleasant trip to Kyoshi impassable for 2 months now. Sokka had raised the idea that they send for Aang and fly out on Appa but Katara had nixed that idea pretty quickly. Sokka had then raised an eyebrow and Katara's reaction and she's gotten, well, huffy and had stalked off.
What had happened between those two? Sokka was baffled. One day everything was hunky dorky, the next it was like an awkward explosion had sucked all the fun out of the room and replaced it with a giant fog of uncomfortable. Not even Toph made any comments, that's how uncomfortable it was. The silence was so charged between Aang and Katara that Sokka knew if they'd had Zuko with them he'd have been able to bend lighting out of it. This silence was oppressively and powerfully uncomfortable. It was more uncomfortable than the time they'd gone into the jasmine dragon to find that Iroh had hired this cute girl called Jin, and apparently she and Zuko had gone out on one date and the Firebender had used that an excuse to just be a giant blob of social-ineptitude. But this day around this camp fire had been even more awkward than that day in the teashop. The silences felt even more embarrassing than that time he'd gone with Zuko to apologise to some Earth chick he'd stolen an ostrich horse from. Wow. Sokka had never seen anyone, in his entire life, dig such a big whole for themselves so quickly. The silence that had followed Zuko's dithering, blathering apology was one giant awkward sandwich with embarrassing sauce on top and it had still been less awkward than this campfire.
Suki was the first one to interrupt the silence, first by coughing very pointedly, then by standing up and finally by announcing that she and Sokka would be splitting from the group soon.
"Sokka and I have been thinking. And we think it's time we went back to the Southern Water Tribe and Kyoshi Island…." The silence that followed was broken only by Momo's chattering and reproachful look. "Don't look at me like that, it's just for a little while" Suki said out loud to the lemur bat. And this somehow, miraculously broke the tension.
Suki would later tell him that she had thought, in for a penny, in for a pound. This situations is difficult anyway so what's the damage in making extra difficult. The charm of travelling with Aang and trying to fix the world's problems was wearing thin. She had wanted to go home for a while. She missed Kyoshi and her warriors and having a permanent home. Sokka had already known, in his heart, that where ever Suki went, he would follow. They'd been talking about it for a while. Sokka didn't want to leave Katara, he'd always assumed that she'd stick with Aang. But upon Suki's announcement she had leapt to her feet.
"I'll go with you! I've been missing home too."
"I'll fly you guys there." Aang offered helpfully and Katara gave him a look. A look that threatened to bring a tsunami of awkward back on the group. Toph couldn't see this look and if she could sense the awkward she just ignored it.
"Alright! South pole it is!" Toph announced enthusiastically. She'd been quite chipper about it until Sokka had explained how much snow and ice they'd be encountering. Then she visibly blanched at the thought of going everywhere in bare feet over ice. It still didn't stop her though.
They'd left the next morning for the south pole. They had decided to go to the south pole first. It was the middle for the southern summer and the best time to go home. This time of year they could be the most helpful for the village which would be stocking up for the winter. If Sokka could go back in time, he would've made sure they'd gone to Kyoshi first so at least Suki wouldn't have to be snowed in here.
Aang and Toph had stayed only for three days. Toph hated, hated the south pole. She taken to demanding PiggyBacks everywhere from Sokka because she couldn't see through all the ice and her feet were too cold and who wants to wear snow shoes anyway. She'd broken three walls and two igloos and one snow man by 'accident' which Sokka interpreted as just plain old frustration. It wouldn't do Toph any good to stay for the original plan of two months. Sokka was sure the South Pole couldn't take it. He and Suki and mulled it over. Suki put forward ideas, ideas that Sokka promptly pooo-pooed, much to her annoyance.
"We could all hop on Appa and the whole gang could go straight away to kyoshi?" Suki said
"Have you seen how awkward it's been with the whole gang lately?" Sokka replied. It wasn't the real reason, but he thought the real reason sounded too selfish. He'd only just gotten home and he hadn't realized till then how much he'd missed it.
"Well maybe Toph and Aang could keep travelling together, doing Avatar stuff?" Suki said in what she thought was a reasonable voice.
"Are you crazy? Do you know what those two could get up too without adult supervison."
"Are you the adult supervision!" Suki exclaimed with disbelief.
"No, I meant Katara… obviously"
"What about sending her back home for a bit. We've all been travelling with Aang for years now, everyone is feeling a bit homesick, she must miss Gaoling, even a little bit." Suki said quietly.
For a moment Sokka was taken aback by the simplicity of tehs uggestion. Could they really all just go back home, pick up where they left off, after everything? If they did that then what would happen to Aang. All this talk of home was very well for him and Suki and Katara. But Aangs home was an empty temple filled with dust and memories. And Toph, she had made it abundantly clear after the first time they went back to Gaoling that she never wanted to go there again. No, going home was not the simple answer it once was.
"No, It's her choice and she doesn't want to go back there."
"Well, it's not fair to her to expect her to stay here in this icy craphole for two months."
"Oi! That's my home you're talking about!"
"Well what do you suggest then Ideas guy? Cause so far I'm the only one think up solutions."
It was if the universe, which had previously been filled with antipathy towards Sokka, saw this moment to help him out. In the form a fire nation messenger hawk. From his favourite royal dorklord. No power in the universe, no fire nation decree, could stop Sokka from calling Zuko variations on dorklord. These included 'your dorkiness', 'sir dorksalot' and 'dorkbender'. It made Zuko hilariously mad which only encouraged Sokka more. Besides Sokka had been there for the several of the prince's more notable dorky escapades and he considered Dork a term of endearment and a big step up from his previous nicknames for zuko which included Jerk bender, angry jerk, etc.
"The Fire nation!" he cried.
"Where?" suki spun immediately into a fighting stance. Old habits die hard.
"No I mean we can send them to Zuko! It's perfect! He's go an enormous palace filled so there's more than enough room for them, and country full of social problems for Aang to solve so he'll feel like he's doing his Avatar bit and it's also full of jerks for Toph to beat up, so she'll be right in her element! She's always got a kick out of tormenting assholes. It's like her favourite hobby. Let's go ask them."
Toph had been ecstatic at the idea! She could drink tea with Iroh, run amok round the palace and throw rocks at Ozai everyday just for shiggles. Oh yeah! Fire nation beware! Aang however seemed a little more reluctant. He gave Katara a long look before finally sighing and saying "alright then" in a tone of voice that implied. "actually it's not alright, but I'm just going to go with the flow."