Author's Note: So, this is my second try at an Avatar fic, and I apologize vehemently to Sokka for being my favorite because I tend to torture my favorites with lots and lots of angst and I don't think I'll ever stop. Please tell me if you think they're in character enough. There might be some OOCness towards the end. Also, I tried to make this fall into canon as much as possible, though the Fire Nation raid scene was a little altered.
Anyway, I've been wanting to write something about that comment Katara made to Sokka about their mother in the Southern Raiders episode for a while now, but I wasn't sure what. Last night I had a bad dream about my mother and woke up in tears (no, I'm not trying to make you pity me!). I couldn't sleep anymore and it totally inspired me to write this fic. Once I started, I never stopped. I'm a little iffy about the end. I think it's kind of cliché, but I digress. Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I even teared up a couple of times. ;)
Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender belongs to "Bryke" and Nickelodeon, not me. That's why this is fanfiction.
The night his sister left to find the man who killed their mother, Sokka dreamt of old times.
He remembered, in his dreams, the village in which he'd grown. How the sun reflected off of the ice and how the frosty air nipped at his face and how sometimes it was so cold it was difficult to breathe. He remembered running through the deep snow, stumbling, after his sister with snowballs in his little, mitten-clad hands. He remembered the way that the wind picked up and the way that the ocean swayed. He remembered the people, the lifestyle, the food.
But he could not remember her.
X X X
He stumbled into the hut with a dull thud.
She looked up at him suddenly, pressing her fingers firmly to her lips. There were sleeping children beside her, snuggled together in blankets and furs. They were no more than five, maybe six. She motioned to them and silently urged the man to be more quiet. She did not want him to wake the children.
Understanding, he removed his boots and set aside his weapons with care. When he was finished getting himself settled, he trotted across the tent and bent over to give his wife a kiss before moving to the other side of their children and joining them. They made a sandwich this way.
She smiled into his eyes and took his hands. For a while they just lay there. Occasionally they would look at the children, resting peacefully, as if they were mersmerizing pieces of art. And then they would look back into each other's eyes and just smile, as if they had to say nothing.
But eventually he did.
"Busy day, I heard?"
Kya gave him an amused nod. Her voice was low. "You could say that." Her eyes glistened for a second and she looked in thought. Then, she squeezed her husband's hand and smiled again. "But I'm sure it wasn't nearly as busy as yours. I was wondering when you were going to get back."
"Sorry, I know it's late. We were hoping to be finished sooner but, well, you know how it is."
He gave her a look. "Did these monsters cause you any trouble?"
Kya resisted a laugh. "I thought we already discussed that I had a busy day." She turned to her children and brushed the hair out of her daughter's face. The girl did not stir at the touch. "I figured that would explain enough," she smiled. "Your daughter would not stop talking about the snow. She followed me around all day like a baby tiger-seal would its mother, I could not get her to leave my side at all, and told me how the snow was her most favorite thing in the world. I mean, she went on and on and on - she had a list of more than a hundred reasons, Hakoda. She was very convincing."
He perked an eyebrow at her. "Is that so?"
"Yes," she mused. "Even as I was cooking, as I was helping Chena with the embroidery. Katara was there right at my side, chatting, chatting. It was very amusing." Then, she turned towards her son and smiled again. She always smiled like that when she looked at her children. It was almost whimsical. "Your son, on the other hand, it turns out was feeling rather mischevious today. When he kept asking about you, about when you were returning, I told him to go play outside. He was getting restless, waiting. He really wanted to show you something. I'm not sure what. Of course, I told him that he could show you when you got back, and away he went. I saw him playing around in the snow for a while but then I went to help Kusuk and Tama - she's been feeling a little under the weather lately..."
"Yes, Bato told me about that. How is she doing now?"
Kya nodded her head. "She's doing better now. She will be fine within the week, I think. She's been eating well and has been getting enough rest. She even appeared to be in higher spirits today. The poor thing's been so miserable as of late. She told me she was getting sick of being sick."
"I'm glad that she's doing better now."
"Yes," Kya continued. "Anyway, when I was tending to Tama in the tent, Nuka came in and-"
The two turned at the sound of the voice. Their son was rubbing his eyes tiredly, and he looked confused. His little hand dropped to his side as he turned, trying to get a better view of his guilty-looking parents.
Kya brushed a hair of out his face. "I'm sorry, honey. Were we too loud?"
The boy mumbled something incoherent in response. He was clearly not awake yet.
"Sokka," Hakoda hummed. "Go back to sleep, son."
"You're back," was all the boy said.
"Yes, I'm back now." Hakoda placed a gentle hand on his son's shoulder. "Just go back to sleep. It's late."
"Mommy said I could show you something when you got back."
Hakoda smiled. "You can show me whatever you want when it's morning, okay? But right now it's late. Go back to sleep." Seeing the look of hesitance on his son's face, Hakoda continued. "I'll be here in the morning so you can show me. I promise. Just sleep. Daddy's not going anywhere."
Content at the promise, and without another word, the boy rested his head and shut his eyes. He was asleep in seconds.
"We should probably get some rest too," Hakoda told his wife. He did not want to risk disturbing the children again.
"You're right." She lowered her head again and smiled. "After working so hard all day, you could probably do with some sleep too."
"I love you."
"I love you, Hakoda."
"Goodnight," was all he said.
X X X
Sokka wasn't sure why he remembered this moment.
It was just one of those random, unimportant moments that he sometimes remembered at random, unimportant times. There was no real reason for it. There was no real significance. But he remembered waking in the middle of the night to the sounds of his father returning home from hunting, from wherever. He remembered that night clearly. Though when he dreamt of that night, of that moment, there was one thing that was not clear.
His mother's face. He could hear her voice lulling him back to sleep, but her face was blurred as if someone had taken a filter and placed it over his eyes. His memory was hazy.
He could not remember what he wanted to show his father.
X X X
"Okay, now you're going to get it!"
He scooped a good chunk of snow into his hands and then flung it, fast and hard, at his sister.
The snowball hit its target with miraculous precision. Right between the eyes. The force was enough to knock the poor girl over. The snowball she was readying in her defense fell from her hands and crumbled. The tears were instantaneous.
"Ow! Mommy! Sokka hit me with a snowball!"
The boy turned and threw his arms up into the air, grumbling. He did not appreciate it when his sister brought their mother into things just for the sake of getting him in trouble. Which, at her age, seemed to happen a lot. "It's a snowball fight! That's what I'm supposed to do!"
The girl sputtered. "Well, you didn't have to do it so hard!"
Kya frowned. It seemed her children could never go more than ten minutes before someone was complaining. And often times it was someone other than her children. She crossed the field and, with her hands on her hips, approached the siblings. The girl, no more than six or seven, was sprawled miserably over the snow. There was frost left over on her forehead, in her eyelashes, from the attack. The boy, seven or eight, was standing no more than a few yards away, looking exasperated.
"Katara," the woman consoled, reaching for her daughter's arms and pulling her up. She brushed the excess snow from her daughter's tear-streaked face and frowned. "You're fine, honey. It's just a little snow."
The little girl put a shaky hand up to her eye and covered it as if it had just been blown off. "But he hit me really hard!" She turned to her brother and glared. "That hurt, Sokka! You're a meanie head!"
"Katara, no namecalling." Kya turned to her son. "Sokka, what did I tell you about playing nice?"
The boy gave her his best look of innocence. "I was playing nice! Katara just doesn't know how to take a hit. She's such a girl."
"Well, at least I don't...um, well, at least I'm not a big meanie head like you are!"
Kya looked tired. "Katara," she reprimanded. "I said there's no name calling. It's not nice."
"Neither is hitting someone in the face with a snowball!"
"You're right. That's not nice either," she agreed. "And I'm going to talk to your brother about it so that he doesn't do it again, okay?" At her daughter's nod, Kya smiled. She brushed at the girl's forehead again and then motioned towards the tents. "Now, why don't you help Gran Gran finish getting dinner ready while I have a word with your brother, okay? I'm sure she could use your help."
"Okay," the girl said, skipping away.
Kya watched her daughter disappear into the tent before turning around to face her son.
"I'm sorry!" He cried. "I didn't know she was going to cry! I didn't mean to hit her so hard. But she makes it too easy! She's the one who started the war anyway! She hit me with the snowball first!"
"It doesn't matter who started what first," Kya said. She closed off the space between her and the boy and placed her hand on his shoulder. She nudged him forwards as she began to move away from the commotion of the village. "Come on, let's take a walk. We need to have a little talk."
"Am I in trouble?" he asked.
Kya shook her head after a moment. "No, you're not in trouble. I know that you didn't mean to hurt your sister." She gathered her thoughts for a second and then began her lecture. "Sokka, I know it's hard sometimes when there's not many other kids around your age to play with. All the other boys, they're at least five or six years older than you, or younger than you. I know that sometimes you might feel bored or lonely because there's no-one around."
"They won't let me play with them," he said.
Kya squeezed his shoulder and frowned. "What, honey?"
"The older boys," he explained. "They never let me play with them. Even when I ask nicely." He scowled at the thought. He'd tried to join the other boys for company on countless occasions. He tried to be funny, he tried to impress them, he tried to show that he wasn't just some dumb little kid craving attention. But the others never gave him the time of day. They were growing older and were not interested in hanging around with someone his age. Without their acceptance, he had no-one to play with but his sister. Without their acceptance, he had no friends. "I tell them that I can fight and that I'll keep up when they go on their adventures, but they never let me. I don't think they like me very much."
"I don't think it's because they don't like you," Kya consoled. "I just think they're a little too old for you."
"But I'm almost eight! I'm old! I'm not a little kid anymore!"
Kya smiled, albeit a bit sadly. "I know you're not a little kid anymore, sweetie. But sometimes kids..well, Inuq and Miki and the other boys, they're a lot older than you are. Inuq's already thirteen now. They're becoming teenagers and they don't have time to play around in the snow like they used to. They have to train a lot to become warriors, they have to hunt-"
"But I can do those things too! Dad said I'm going to be a great warrior!" The boy's wolftail bounced as he strutted across the snow. "I know how to fight. I know how to hunt. And I can fish too! Dad took me fishing yesterday, remember? I didn't catch anything but that's okay. I can still do it."
"I know you can do all those things," Kya confirmed. "And I know that you're going to make a very good warrior some day. But you're still young, Sokka. You're too young to go to war. You still have a lot to learn but you're getting there. And one day, when you're older, you'll understand. Some day you're going to be Inuq's age and you'll understand when Tiko and the other babies want to join you on adventures. You're just a little too young now."
Sokka frowned. "But it sucks."
Kya couldn't help but laugh at his remark. She stopped herself, though, not wanting to upset him further. "Sokka, I know that it sucks being a lot younger than everyone else. It's hard to get accepted, and when the other kids don't want to play with you, it hurts your feelings. I know that. But just because the other kids don't always want to play with you, doesn't mean that they don't like you, or that there's something wrong with you. They just want to do different things. They just want to do them by themselves."
"I understand," he said sadly.
"Good," she squeezed his shoulder again. "I'm glad you understand. And it's okay to feel upset about it sometimes, too. I know that you really like the other boys. Maybe once you get older they'll realize what a great warrior you are and want to play with you. But right now, you just have to make the most of it. And remember, you have Katara, so you're not really alone. You have me, and Gran Gran, and your father. We all love you. We all want to spend time with you."
"Yeah, but you guys are always so busy," the boy huffed. "Dad only takes me hunting with him sometimes and you and Gran Gran are always cooking or cleaning or taking care of the little kids. I don't like to play with Katara. She's a cry baby!"
"She's not a crybaby," Kya said. "Remember what I said about namecalling. Katara's just younger than you. She's more fragile. I know that you like to have fun with her but you have to remember that she's your little sister and you need to be more careful around her. Sometimes you get a little carried away." After all, he was just an overly-energized little boy with no other children his age to play with. Sometimes he got too rough with his sister but he didn't do it on purpose. Kya did not fault him for that. "You have to remember to take it easy."
"I didn't mean to hit her so hard," he said again. "I didn't want to hurt her."
"I know you didn't, sweetheart. Just remember to be more careful."
Sokka gave her a smile. "I guess I'm so tough I don't even know my own strength."
Again, Kya laughed. Although this time she did not try to control herself. "Yeah, I guess so, my little warrior. You've got to control that strength of yours, okay?" She said as she pulled him into a quick embrace. "We don't want anybody getting hurt."
"I promise to control my strength, Ma." He beamed, "I'll make sure to be careful."
"Good. Now, run back home and clean up for dinner. I'm sure the food should be ready by now." She rubbed his small hands in between hers for a moment, then added, "And what did I tell you about coming outside without your gloves on? It's freezing. You don't want to lose your fingers, do you?"
"Then no playing in the snow without your gloves. Now run along."
The boy took off towards home. Kya waited a moment or two before kneeling low enough to take a handful of snow and pat it into a rough sphere. She stood and smiled, holding the snowball behind her, ready to shoot.
"Sokka!" She called.
The boy turned to look at her, unsuspecting. That was when she nailed him in the chest with the snowball. He stumbled back at the impact, startled, before turning to her with a ridiculous expression.
Kya laughed. "I think we have a little time for one small snow war before dinner, warrior. That is, if you're up for it."
Sokka grinned evily. "Okay, mom! You're so going to get it!"
X X X
It was one of Sokka's favorite, and final, memories of his mother.
It was one of the only memories he had of being alone with her. He remembered how they'd hurled snowballs at each other mercilessly, for what felt like hours. The cold was unrelenting but she never took it easy on him, which he liked. His mother never took it easy on him. She knew that he could handle it. He knew that she could handle it too.
They eventually made it home before the sun went down.
His hands were freezing and there was frost in his hair, but he was content. Katara had completely forgotten she was angry with him and had instantly began chatting him up about something that their father had told her in the morning. Gran Gran handed him a bowl and he took to the food immediately. Sea prunes, if he remembered correctly.
And he was certain he did.
But what he wasn't entirely certain about was his mother. She sounded so different to him, as if she had been using someone else's voice. He couldn't place it. He wasn't sure if he remembered it clearly enough.
X X X
The day that the Fire Nation raided their village, Sokka had wanted to fight.
When the black snow began to fall from the sky, ashy and dangerous, they all knew what it meant. His sister turned to him, and he turned to his sister. The snowball he was preparing in his hand was left forgotten.
"I'm going to go find mom," Katara said. And then she took off.
Sokka watched her worriedly as she sprinted back towards their tent. There was fear in his eyes, apprehension, but the reaction was automatic. His legs began to move before he could even register that he was moving. Suddenly, he was rushing fowards with the other men. They had their weapons poised, their faces set. Battle cries filled the sky just as the soot grew heavier. The boy struggled to keep up but he pushed forwards. He had a boomerang. He wanted to fight.
"Sokka," one of the men said when he spotted the young boy come up behind him. "What are you doing here? Get back to the village. Go with the other children. It's not safe."
"I can help you," the boy pleaded. "I can fight. I want to fight!"
The tribesman, a middle aged hunter by the name of Siku, refused to let the boy get lost in the middle of a vicious battle. Without a second thought, he roughly grabbed the boy by the front of his parka and began to half drag him towards the village. Sokka struggled to keep up with his speed.
"No! Let me go! I want to fight!"
Siku simply shook his head and began to pick up the pace. "Your father told you to stay with your family if something ever happened. He wouldn't want you out here. It's too dangerous for you. You need to get inside with the woman and children, where it's safe."
"But I'm strong! I'm a warrior! I want to help! Please?"
"Please, just listen to me!" The man cried, shaking him. "You're better off inside with your mother, your sister. With your grandmother. They'll need you to make them feel safe. They're probably worried about you. Leave the fighting to the older men. You get back to your tent. Your father would never forgive me if I let something happen to you out here."
"I said no! Be quiet and listen to what I say!" Siku demanded. "You're too young, Sokka. You need to stay hidden."
"I don't want to hide! I'm not afraid of them!"
This was what Siku was worried about. "You should be."
As they bounded near the tents, Siku spotted the boy's grandmother. Kya and Katara were nowhere in sight, though he figured they had already taken refuge. The rest of the women were scrambling to get inside, away from the chaos, holding their screaming babies close to their bodies. When the boy's grandmother spotted them, Siku was quick to wave her down.
"Kanna! Take Sokka!"
The boy began to thrash violently in his hold. He tried to pry the man's hands away from his parka and get away, but to no avail. The man was much stronger than him and Sokka could do nothing but ground his feet, attempting to stop him. He refused to give up. He refused to hide like a coward. He was a warrior and he wanted nothing more than to be right there, beside his father and the other tribesmen, and fight for his home. But no matter how hard he tried to escape the man's grip, his efforts were useless. Siku quickly scooped the boy up from under his arms and all but carried him like one might a football. Sokka's legs were kicking the entire time.
"Kanna! Take him, quickly! There's no time!"
They met in between and Siku passed the boy quickly. Kanna grabbed onto her grandson and held him even as he struggled. Siku didn't wait to exchange another word. Satisfied that the boy would be safe with his grandmother, he sped off back towards the battle, his spear high in the sky.
"No! Gran Gran! I have to fight!"
"We must get inside, Sokka," the elderly woman said. For someone of her age, she was surprisingly strong. She held the child by the arm and began to pull him in the direction of the nearest tent. It did not belong to them but it did not matter. It was not safe outside during the raid. They needed to take shelter with the others and wait it all out. She prayed that they would be alive to see the end of it.
"But my dad's out there!" The boy cried.
There were tears of frustration beginning to fall down his cheeks, but Kanna simply scooped him up much like Siku had done not a few moments before and began to lead him towards the tent, kicking and screaming and feeling helpless the entire time.
When the raid seemed over and the silence grew too loud to withstand, Sokka ran.
Kanna couldn't even stop him. He was out the flap of the tent before she could even register he was about to move. They'd been sitting with two other women and three children, mere infants, trying to stay hidden, trying to wait out the worst of the battle. Sokka had struggled to sit still at first, but Kanna held held onto him tightly, whispering words to calm him in his ear. He did calm eventually, though he was clearly agitated.
"Sokka!" Kanna shouted, peeking her head out of the tent.
The sight that greeted her was not one she would ever forget. The village was left devastated. There was soot and ash everywhere. Tattered material, from what appeared to be clothes, blankets, other tents, lay scattered across the snow. There were weapons with no owners left forgotten. There was blood and there was bodies.
The boy rushed into the tent without pausing to look at his surroundings.
What greeted him were the faces of his father, of his sister. They turned to him, quietly. There were tears streaming down his sister's face, but Sokka was unsure why. When he took a step further, he realized his mother was there too. Her eyes were open, but they were void of any spirit, of any life.
That was when he realized she was dead.
X X X
When Sokka awoke, it was with a start.
It took him a few moments to realize that they were no longer under attack, that he was nowhere near the South Pole. His father was not there, and neither was his sister. She was off with Fire Prince Zuko seeking revenge and his father had taken refuge with the others in their party when they'd had to split up with Appa during Azula's unsolicited visit.
He glanced to his right. Suki was there, sleeping soundly beside him. The flap of the tent was swaying to and fro in the wind. There was silence except for their breathing - Suki's calm and relaxed, his erratic and frantic.
It took him another second to realize he was crying.
He reached a hand up to his face and sure enough, they were wet with his tears. He frowned and wiped his hand on the front of his tunic, unhappy with knowing that they were there. He didn't know why he was crying but for some reason he felt as though he could not stop.
Suki was awake. She was looking at him now. All signs of drowsiness vanished from her face when she saw him. She sat up, confused and concerned. She was afraid that something was wrong.
"Sokka, what happened? Are you okay?"
The young warrior somehow managed to give his female counterpart a smile, though he appeared to be just as confused as she. He wiped his face with the back of his hands and then took a deep breath, trying desperately to relax himself. "I'm fine, Suki. Don't worry."
But she continued to anyway. "What's wrong?"
"I'm okay. I just...I just had a bad dream," he said vaguely. "Don't worry. I'm fine now."
Suki gave him a look that said 'Quit lying to me or I'll kill you', but responded with a tender voice. She sat up straight and scooted closer, wanting to make sure that he was really okay. She had a feeling he wasn't. "You don't look fine," she told him. "What happened?"
He shook his head. "It's fine, Suki. Let's just go back to sleep, okay?"
She watched him lay his head down. She waited a few moments before asking, "Do you want to talk about it?"
"I just want to sleep," he told her tiredly.
She moved closer to him again and laid down beside him. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she curled in close, nuzzling her head into his chest. They were both at ease with this proximity. Suki could feel his heart rate slow, his breathing even. Sokka pulled her close to him and held onto her as if he was afraid of letting her go.
There were a few moments of silence before she spoke up.
"Was it about the war?"
"I told you I didn't want to talk about it," he said hotly. But after a moment, he sighed. "Kind of."
Suki adjusted her head in the crook of his arm and frowned. "Sokka, you know you can tell me anything. You can trust me."
"I know that," he assured her. "I know I can. It's just..."
"It was about the war, wasn't it?" She asked again. When she got no answer, she took it as a yes. "What happened?"
"It was just a memory, really. I just dreamt about stuff that happened a long time ago," he said mysteriously. "But it's all over now and I'm fine. Everything's okay."
"You know I don't believe you."
Sokka sighed. "Well, you should. I told you I was fine."
"Sokka, you know as well as I do that you're not fine," Suki frowned. "Something about that dream really upset you. You were crying." When she felt him shift, uncomfortably, she placed a hand on his chest. "And there's nothing wrong with that. I just want to know what happened. I just want to know how I can help you."
"There's nothing you can do to help this," he said. "Like I said, it's something that happened a long time ago. I just remembered it. That's all."
"What happened a long time ago?" She paused. "Is this about the Moon Spirit from the North Pole?"
Sokka looked surprised. "What? No! No, this isn't about her. This isn't about Yue. I..." Again he shifted, uncomfortable. "I just...I was thinking about the South Pole. I was dreaming about home, about when I was little, that's all. I was just dreaming about that. It's okay."
"Are you homesick?"
Sokka shrugged. "I guess, a little. Are you?"
Suki shrugged too. "I suppose I am, yes. I wish I could return to Kyoshi and help, but I know where I'm supposed to be." She reached for his hand and she squeezed it softly. "Right now, I'm supposed to be here, with you. This is how I'm supposed to help. We're going to help Aang win this war and kick that dumb jerk Ozai's butt, and save the world. And then, once it's all over, we'll be able to return home. I'll go back to Kyoshi then and help rebuild. That's where I'm needed in the longrun, that's where I belong. But right now, I'm supposed to be here. I'm supposed to be right here with you."
Sokka smiled. "I'm glad you're here, Suki."
"I wouldn't be if it wasn't for you," she said back. "You did bust me out of prison, remember."
"Well, it's not like I did that alone. Zuko was there. He helped too. In fact, he was the one who managed to get us out there in the first place. Without him, I wouldn't have gotten nowhere. He knew where you were, he knew how to get to the prison. I couldn't have done it without his help. You should be thanking him," Sokka reminded her.
"I did thank him. And I would do it again, too, if he was here."
"Oh, right." He'd momentarily forgotten that the prince had run off with his sister.
Suki turned to give him a funny look. "Are you still upset about that?"
"Am I still upset?" Sokka laughed, though it contained no mirth whatsoever. It just sounded exhausted and fake. "Well, it's not my place to stop her. Katara's a big girl. She can make her own decisions, whether I agree with them or not." He shrugged. "I know that she had to do this. I can understand that. Just like I knew I had to go rescue you. I had the option available, so I took it. And it was risky and dangerous and could have ended badly, and it was pretty bad at times, but look what came out of it. I got you out, didn't I? I even got my dad out! We all made it back safely. It was worth it. Katara had an option open to her, too, and she took it. I can't fault her for that. I can respect her decision."
"But you're not happy about it."
"No, but I'm not supposed to be happy about it," he explained. "It's not my place, it's not my journey. Katara wanted to do this, not me. No, I don't agree with her decision and I hope that when she finds that guy, if she does, that she doesn't make any mistakes that she'll regret later. But whatever she decides, she decides. I have no say in that. She obviously has a mission of her own and it's not my place to stop her."
"What would you do?" Suki asked suddenly.
"What would I do if what?"
"If you came across that guy. The one that Katara and Zuko are looking for. The one that killed your mother," she went on. "If you knew that that was him, wouldn't you want to do something about it?"
Sokka looked hurt. "Of course I'd want to do something! Do you think I don't care?"
Suki frowned. "That's not what I meant."
"Well, that's what it sounded like," he replied. He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, thinking. "Look, if I came face to face with the guy, and I knew that it was him, of course I'd want to do something. If I found out it was him, I would probably beat the guy for all he was worth. I might kill him, I don't know. If I found out suddenly, I'm not sure what I would do. But I would want to do something." He shifted again. "It's not that I don't want to do anything. It's not that I don't want Katara to do anything either. If the guy suddenly appeared in front of us, I'd probably help her bury the guy. But actively going out and searching for him after all these years...I don't know. It's just not the same. I can understand why Katara wants to go for this, but I don't see the point. I don't think it's worth the time."
There was a moment of silence as they both tried to regain their thoughts.
"Does that make sense?"
Suki nodded. "Of course it makes sense. And I think I agree with you."
"Yes," she said. "I do. I do agree with you. Because, like you said, there's a difference between finding out on the spot and acting on impulse, rather than actively hunting someone down to avenge someone else. Even if it was your mother. I don't think it would be the right thing to do. I don't believe that that would fix anything."
"Katara seems to think so," he said darkly. "She cares a lot about this."
Suki caught his tone. "What are you implying?"
"Nothing," he shook his head. "Nothing. I'm not implying anything. I'm just saying...Katara seems to think that this will fix everything for her, and it won't. I know that it won't. And I think she knows it too. But she just wants to do something about it, anything."
"Do you think she'll actually go through with it?"
"I don't know. I honestly don't know this time," Sokka said. "But whatever she chooses, I hope it's the right decision for her."
Suki hesitated. "And, what's the right decision for you?"
"Focusing my efforts on finishing this war," he answered. "That's the right decision for me. I've already gone on a personal mission this week. I went and I got my dad and I got you. And I bonded with Zuko. That's like a triple win. And I managed to bring back two people who can really help us out. We can use all the help we can get at the end of this. That's the right decision for me."
Suki said nothing.
Sokka continued. "At least I'm not grasping for something that I can't have. I knew that I was not going to leave without you. Finding out my dad was there was an added bonus. But I knew what I was looking for when I got there, and I wasn't prepared to leave until I had it. Katara's looking for something she can't have. She's not looking for closure, and she's not going to get it by killing the guy who messed up our family. She's just trying to get Mom back. But she can't have that. Neither of us can."
"You really loved her, didn't you?"
"Who? My mom? Of course I loved my mom. Didn't you love yours?"
Suki's expression was unreadable. "Yes, of course I loved my mom. I wish she was still around to see what I've accomplished. I'm sure you feel the same way about yours." Suki took a moment to intertwine her fingers wth his. "But I know that I can't ever have that either. People have to find closure within themselves. My mom and I were separated when I was very young. Younger than you, even. I've come to accept it as a part of life that I don't like. There's nothing we can do to change the past. The past is the past, right? Why bother trying to change it if we can work on changing the future instead?"
"Katara thinks I don't care," Sokka shared.
Suki stopped and looked towards him, confused. "She thinks you don't care about what?"
"About Mom," he explained. "She thinks that I don't care about what happened to her. She thinks that I don't care enough to try to do something about it. But I am trying! I'm trying to end this stupid war so that nobody else has to get hurt! I'm sorry if I don't want to go on another suicide mission for pure revenge. Chances are she won't even find the guy! But she still thinks that I don't care. She thinks that I don't care enough to do something important."
"You know that's not true, Sokka."
"She told me that she had to do this. She told me that I didn't love her, that I didn't love our mother, the way that she did, because she's going on this big adventure to find peace and I'm just waiting around doing nothing. What do you think?"
Suki looked into her boyfriend's eyes. "Sokka, I think that Katara's just hurting right now. I think she's confused and I think you're confused too. I also think that's okay. I think that a lot of us are confused, if not all of us. Things have been hectic and crazy and stressful and we've all been working for so long fighting for this war. Even before we all met each other, we've been struggling for years. None of this is easy. It's difficult not to feel confused. It's difficult not to feel upset. This is war."
"I'm not upset that Katara said what she said. I'm upset because I know she was right."
"What do you mean?" Suki frowned.
Sokka sighed before explaining. He fidgeted with her fingers, distractedly. His eyes were elsewhere. "When my mother died, I was pretty young. I was about nine years old, Katara was just about to turn eight. It happened a long time ago but...well, it's not easy to forget. I can still see...I can still remember the day that it happened...I can still remember seeing her lying there when we found her. I'll never forget what she looked like at that moment. But, any other moment, it's all fuzzy. Every day it gets harder and harder to see her. To make out her features. I know what she looks like, but when I really try to make out her face, I just can't. Something always seems wrong, something always seem off about her. It's like I can never get it exactly right."
"Sokka, your mother died a long time ago. You were little. I can't remember what my mother looked like, either."
He shook his head. He didn't stop fidgeting. "Katara was even younger than me. And she still remembers. And she still...talks about her all the time, as if she's never forgotten her. I can't hear her voice in my head anymore. I can't see her face in my dreams. There's always something holding her back from me. It's like...like, I'm not trying hard enough to remember or something. But then when I do, I try and I try and I just can't. I can't do it. I can't find her anymore. Katara doesn't even have to look for her. But I have to look for her in my memories and I just can't ever find her."
Suki shook her head. "Sokka, Katara's not that much younger than you."
"But it still matters, doesn't it? I knew my mom longer than she did, and I still...why can't I remember her?" He asked, suddenly speaking louder than necessary. His voice quivered with emotion and he was vaguely aware that his eyes were getting blurry. "Why do I have to try so hard to remember my own mother? My own mother! Katara still talks about her, she still treats it like an open wound, like if it just happened. But it feels like it was in a whole 'nother lifetime for me! I can't feel it like she can."
Suki sat up. "Sokka, it's okay."
"No, it's not okay!" He said, sitting up as well. "How can you say you even loved your mother if you can't even remember her? It's been six years and already it feels like she never existed."
Suki didn't know what to say. For a moment they just sat there, in silence.
Her hand moved to his again and he did not resist it. He just sat there, rapidly blinking his blue eyes in an attempt to stop the tears from escaping. But they did escape anyway. And this time, he didn't even bother hiding it. Suki squeezed his hand tightly to show she was there.
"It's just..." He cleared the lump in his throat and sighed. "I just wish that I could remember."
"I just wish that she was here, and that she would tell me that everything is going to be okay and that we're all going to make it through this fine. I just wish that she was here so that I could see her." He paused for a moment. "And my dad too. I wish just my family was back together and we could all just go home, I just want to go home and pretend this stupid war never even happened."
Suki smiled sadly. "I know the feeling. Nobody wishes this war was ever started."
Sokka took her hand in his own and held it tightly, welcoming the touch. Never had he looked so lost before, Suki decided. She'd never seen him crumble under the pressures of war. He was Sokka, and Sokka was the idea guy, the master planner. If it hadn't been for him, they never would have gotten anywhere. He was good at working under pressure. But now he just looked young, and lost, and sad. It made her sad too. They were all way too young for any of this. Aang was the Avatar and he was only twelve. The fate of the world shouldn't have been left on the shoulders of a bunch of kids. But, as fate would have it, it was.
"It'll be okay," Suki said sincerely. "Katara will be back soon, within a couple of days, and we'll meet up with your dad again, and all the other guys. Teo, Haru, everyone. We'll all be together and everything will work out, I know it will."
"I love how you're so sure," he laughed. "I never told anyone this but, I'm scared."
"I know you are. We're all scared."
"The end is just so final, you know? And if this doesn't work...if it doesn't work, and if Aang fails, if we all fail..."
Suki stopped him. "Nobody's going to fail, okay? Aang is the Avatar. He's been working really hard to master all of the elements. And with you guys to back him up, there is no way we can lose. Trust me, everything's going to work out just fine. I know it will."
"I just don't want to lose anybody else."
"And you won't," Suki promised. "Nobody is going to lose anybody. Everybody is going to be just fine. I believe in you. I believe in us. I believe in Aang, and I believe in Zuko. I believe in your sister, and Toph, and everyone. I believe that together we will fight until the end and that we will beat this. We will end this, and then we can all go back home. And I promise you, Sokka, you will see the South Pole again and I will see Kyoshi Island again, and everything is going to be okay. As long as have each other, as long as we're all together, all of us, we will win this."
The boy smiled. "I love you, you know."
Suki didn't hesitate. "I love you too, Sokka."
"No, I mean...I really do love you. I really, really love you."
Again, she did not hesitate. "I really love you too, Sokka. I really love you too."
A comfortable silence overcame them. They sat, hand in hand, thoughts churning in their heads. The wind blew and the flap of the tent waved to and fro, but besides that, it was silent. The others were still asleep and for now, they were at peace.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"Sokka, don't you even."
So he didn't. He just turned and motioned towards the bed rolls. "We should probably try to get some sleep then. We need all the rest we can get."
"I agree," Suki nodded. "Sleep would be nice."
As they snuggled into their positions, Suki curled up into his chest, Sokka's arm wrapped protectively around her, they shut their eyes and let the darkness overtake them.
Before Sokka drifted off to sleep, he nudged her. "Suki."
"Thanks for talking to me."
"You don't have to thank me," she said. "You would have done the same thing."
"I know I would have. But just...thank you."
Suki smiled. "You're welcome, Sokka."
"You really think we're going to be okay?"
"I know so. As long as we're all together, we'll all be fine."
"Yeah, I think so too."
"Good. Now stop worrying your pretty little head and get some sleep, alright? We're going to be tired in the morning," she said. "Like you said, we need all the rest we can get."
"Right, Sokka?" Nothing. "Sokka?"
Suki turned her head to see the young Water Tribe warrior. He was already fast asleep. Rolling her eyes and smiling, Suki buried herself deeper into the crook of his neck and shut her eyes.
The wind picked up and the tent flap waved to and fro, but there was silence inside. And for the rest of the night the two slept together in each other's arms, finally at peace, nightmares forgotten.