The Avatar’s supposed to be one of the wisest people in the world and is the strongest bender by far. Everyone knows that, no matter what nation they’re from or if they’re a bender themselves. It was just a fact that the Avatar was an influential figure like no other.
Aang, however, is an idiot.
Seriously? Katara and him are sick for a few hours, and the kid gets himself captured by the Fire Nation? Who cares if he got rescued by some masked swordsman, there is still the issue of him being locked up in a supposedly unbreakable fortress!
Sokka may have been slightly frustrated.
… Okay, he is extremely frustrated because this was the exact sort of thing they should be avoiding! And Sokka loves Aang like a little brother, but the kid needed to work on common sense.
“You said someone broke you out?” Katara asks the airbender, her voice light. “What were they like?”
Aang tilts his head, the innocent expression reminding Sokka of a penguin-otter. “They were wearing a mask, so I don’t really know. But they had this pair of swords and they were amazing with them! And the Fire Nation called them the Blue Spirit, and they moved like they could be a spirit, but they were breathing and-”
Of course, he didn’t know .
They arrive at the North Pole and it’s everything and nothing Sokka had expected it to be.
There are buildings carved from ice with a delicate touch, and cool water flows around every corner. The moon glows high above them and familiar constellations dance over his head.
It’s beautiful and plentiful, everything that home isn’t.
Their northern sister had everything the Southern Tribe didn’t, and it hadn’t even crossed their minds to share their wealth of resources or knowledge. Everywhere he looks, Sokka finds privilege and even a hint of this would have gotten their Tribe back on their feet, and Pakku refuses to teach his sister simply because she’s a girl, for a reason she can’t control.
And maybe he would have agreed with him before this journey, before Aang and all their travels had taught him on their desperate race to this place, but now? Now anger lurks below his skin, as cold as the ice the Tribe was built on.
But there’s also Yue, who’s beautiful, yes, but also kind and generous and patient. Yue, who loves her people more than anything and is brave, braver than anyone Sokka has ever met.
Sokka can’t truthfully deny that he likes her, especially given how obvious he is about it, but it’s not going to happen. Yue’s engaged to a warrior of the Northern Water Tribe, and her feelings about that don’t even seem to matter.
And yet, Yue keeps going, and Sokka can’t help but admire her.
But black snow falls from the clouds like an omen, a bitter reminder of what happened to his home, and Sokka knows what’s coming.
The invasion arrives, and just like at home, there’s far from enough time to prepare. It’s an endless rush of madness, thwarting each attempt at order, and within minutes, balls of fire rain down on the Northern Tribe.
There are two firebenders at the Spirit Oasis, Zhao and a man that’s a stranger to them. There’s a peaceful expression on his face, but Sokka doesn’t trust that for an instant.
Zhao kills them. He kills Tui like it’s nothing, and in that moment, the world fades to gray. The blues and whites of the ice are chased away by a flash of cruel red as the Moon Spirit pleads for help, sensing the danger, and then color is gone.
The stranger immediately goes on the offensive, and the calm expression is gone, replaced by a hardened look that Sokka is intimately familiar with. The look of a warrior who’s not holding back. Within moments, the stranger has taken out four military firebenders with ease, and it doesn’t even look like he’s trying.
When the stranger turns to face them, Sokka tenses, preparing for a fight. The man may seem to be on their side, but appearances can be deceiving.
Instead, the man simply bows. With gentle hands, he raises Tui’s mortal form, now still, into the air, somber.
“There’s no hope now.” Yue says, with tears in her eyes. “It’s over.”
But Aang’s eyes glow pure white, and when he speaks, hundreds of voices join his own. “No. It’s not over.”
And Aang becomes one with the Ocean Spirit, and across the North Pole, water glows a bright blue as the Ocean Spirit takes its revenge. Hundreds of Fire Nation soldiers fall that night, and Sokka doesn’t know if it’s Aang or the icy waters that take them.
Yue trades her life for the Moon’s, becoming one with the spirit who had once given her life. Her own life for her people’s, for the balance of all things.
It’s not fair, Sokka desperately wants to say, but this is war, and war is anything but fair.
The man, however, already seems to know what Sokka’s thinking. “You know,” he starts to say, “Your friend must have been brave. Not everyone would give themselves over to a spirit, after all.”
“Yeah,” Sokka agrees, but he can’t fully relax. This man is a firebender, an ash-maker , a General. He may have helped them, but they can’t be allies. Still, his voice is thick with emotion, and he can’t stop the words. “Yeah, she really was.”
They don’t stay much longer after that.
The flight to the Earth Kingdom is long, dragging on for what seems like days, when Sokka knows it doesn’t take anywhere near that long.
Aang is quiet, quieter than he’s ever been, and Sokka doesn’t know what to do.
The little airbender is practically his younger brother, or at least Sokka treats him as though he was. He’s just twelve years old, and he shouldn’t have this burden on his shoulders. According to his father, the Avatar is traditionally told of their heritage at sixteen, and in times of peace, there wouldn’t be this rush to master their powers.
But Aang is just a kid, only twelve years old, and that’s far too young to be fighting in a war.
He and Katara are too young to be fighting this, and so were Suki and Haru and the Freedom Fighters, but all of them chose this. They chose this fight, there’s nothing keeping there. No obligations to the world. They’re just trying to survive the life they’ve been given.
But Aang? Aang doesn’t get a choice.
The Avatar is either a peacekeeper between all people, or a vessel built for war.
The Earth Kingdom is huge, full of quiet fields and jagged peaks and more green than Sokka had ever thought was possible. Sokka’s never seen anything like it, from the sprawling valleys and forests that seem to last forever.
As they look for places to land, Sokka catches glimpses of white petals dancing alongside them, caught in the breeze.
A few petals land in Katara’s hair, and his sister looks beautiful. She smiles at him, and he smiles back, and wow, she really does look like mom.
With each small village they see, they find more white flowers.
“What do these flowers even mean?” He says to Aang, loud and annoyed and curious because these flowers are everywhere, and they have to mean something. That’s the only reason almost every town they’ve come across is decorated in white.
“Do you mean the flowers, dear?” A woman says, and Sokka turns at her sudden presence. There’s something warm and approachable about her, so he nods. “Why, they are the white lotus flowers. You see, dear, the flowers are for Agni’s child!”
“Agni’s child?” Aang asks, but the woman laughs, and says something about herbs and patients as she wanders off.
That does not sound good.
As they travel, Sokka learns to collect stories.
Not only do the stories give them more knowledge about the Earth Kingdom, which is beyond helpful because Aang really needs an earthbender, but they also inspire people to do good, even in the colonies.
And, not that he’ll ever admit to it, Sokka loves all the stories and legends about the Blue Spirit. A swordsman in a mask, or so the stories say, whose silence is a symbol of safety and freedom.
“The Blue Spirit?” Aang asks with eyes wide, full of building recognition.
Sokka nods. “They say he’s a master swordsman in a blue mask. Sound familiar?”
He stills for a moment, and then everything about Aang brightens, from his expression to his posture and most of all, his eyes. “The man who rescued me from the Stronghold!” Aang’s face grows serious, however. “But he was injured when we split up, and I don’t know what happened to him.”
Well, that certainly makes things more difficult, Sokka wants to say, but doesn’t, he isn’t going to crush Aang’s hope. “He’s probably fine, Aang. That man broke into one of the most secure places the Fire Nation has. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
The conversation shifts after that, but Sokka can’t help but wonder who exactly this ‘spirit’ is.
From what he’s heard, Pohuai Stronghold is inescapable, and even more so, no one’s managed to break into it. Ever. It makes a guy wonder who’s crazy enough to risk getting captured by the Fire Nation to free a kid they’ve never met.
Well, at least they know there’s another person watching out for their airbender.
“I wasn’t expecting to find the Avatar in a place like this,” the Fire Nation General says, “But the horsefly rarely sees the spider’s web before they collide.”
Sokka blinks. One time, two times, three times. What. He looks at Katara, and her expression mirrors his own. What in Tui and La’s names does that mean?
Aang, however, seems to understand the man perfectly. He gives the General a bow, and the man returns it.
“Who are you?” Sokka says before he can stop himself. “And how do you keep finding us?”
The man laughs, eyes crinkling, and somehow, he finds himself relaxing. “I am Iroh, but please, call me Uncle. I am simply an old man searching for his nephew.”
And they talk and drink tea, and Uncle is right.
There’s something satisfying about sitting around a campfire drinking tea, all while talking to a man that should be a threat but isn’t. Somehow, sitting around the campfire with his younger siblings and the old man, there’s peace and quiet like no other.
Sokka can’t help but wonder if this is what things were like, back before the war, before Fire Lord Sozin declared fire to be superior and created a rift that went beyond repair.
He wonders if this is the world Aang grew up in.
Sokka won’t admit it, but that night, he feels safer and more at ease than he has since they left the South Pole.
Toph, for a lack of a better word, is something else.
When they see her in the ring, she’s a sight to behold. The Blind Bandit fights like a rat-viper, precise and controlled, and yet somehow, there's something wild in the way she holds herself. Sokka may not know many earthbenders, but after watching the other competitors, he can safely say that the Blind Bandit doesn’t fight like anyone else.
Toph Beifong, however, is quiet and outspoken, dressed up and fussed over as though she was a glass doll. It's painfully obvious that she hates it, and maybe Sokka has spent too much time learning to read people, but her parents don't even seem to notice.
Because her parents want a perfect heir, not a blind daughter who doesn’t care for nobility or social etiquette or simply being perfect at all. All Toph wants to do is be herself, and Sokka gets that. Maybe not to the same extent she does, but he knows the feeling of having too much pressure put on your shoulders.
Because he’s the son of Hakoda, Chief of the Southern Water Tribe, and while his father was nothing like Toph’s parents, there was still that underlying knowledge that he would take his father’s place.
So, while Sokka has no intention of comparing their situations, he’s mentally adopting Toph, whether she likes it or not.
That night, she comes into their room, explains exactly what Sokka already knew. That her parents were overprotective and worried and that she was tired of pretending to be someone she so blatantly wasn’t.
And maybe that’s why she decides to come with them, even though she got kidnapped alongside Aang.
Toph, given her background as an Earth Kingdom noble, knows more about the Blue Spirit and Agni’s child, whoever that is, than anyone else they’ve talked to.
Upon finding out that none of them know much about either one, she gives them an unimpressed look. A very unimpressed look that’s sort of terrifying.
Sokka only notes how terrifying she is, and moves on. After all, his sister is scary sometimes, and he’s seen Aang take out an entire fleet of Fire Nation ships. ‘Scary’ seems to be a requirement for this little group of theirs, so Sokka doesn’t worry about it.
“They’re both pretty popular Earth Kingdom legends,” she tells them boredly. “Though, they’re sort of opposites. The Blue Spirit is a protector, though, I’ve heard plenty of people call him a menace. He’s a swordsman who fights against Fire Nation soldiers when they cause trouble, but he’ll pretty much kick anyone’s ass if they start something. You’d probably like him, Snoozles.”
And that only serves to make the Blue Spirit even more interesting to Sokka. Because a swordsman who fights for some version of justice? It sounds like something you’d hear about in one of the stories Gran-Gran told them as kids, not an actual person running around the Earth Kingdom.
“What about the other one?” Aang presses, lightly poking Toph, and jumping away before she can retaliate. “Agni’s child? They seem important.”
Toph snorts. “You could say that, Twinkletoes. Agni’s child is a wandering firebender.” She says, casually, as though an ash-maker wandering around is a good thing. “I know what you’re thinking, firebenders are evil blah, blah blah, but this kid isn’t much older than you are, and all he ever uses his bending for is lighting up a room or entertaining kids.”
Aang, of course, believes this without a doubt. “We should find him! Maybe he can help!”
Sokka and Katara exchange glances, passing worry and caution between each other. Good, she doesn’t instantly believe in this guy either. Which is a really good thing, because Sokka can’t be the voice of reason for all four of them.
Toph, however, only laughs. “Here’s the thing. You don’t just find Agni’s child. He’s probably one of the most wanted people in the Fire Nation. He’s supposed to be super recognizable, but they’ve been trying to find him for nearly three years! ”
Katara blinks, and Sokka recognizes that look. The almost clueless one that meant she was barely refraining from asking something. “Why do they want him found so badly? It doesn’t seem like he’s done anything that’d harm the Fire Nation.”
Their earthbender gives her a look. “Are you kidding me? Half of the colonies consider him to be the true heir to the Fire Nation throne! Why do you think every port is covered in white lotus petals? There’s a reason they call him Agni’s Prince.”
Oh, spirit’s above, that might be a problem.
They travel and learn and get into so much trouble that Sokka’s honestly surprised they’re still alive.
Fighting Fire Nation soldiers? Check.
Running from a trio of crazy talented girls that want to kill them? Check.
Barely getting away from the aforementioned girls? Check.
At this point, Sokka is just waiting for them to run into the Spirit or the Prince, because it’s not like they can get into any more trouble.
Okay, saying that will probably jinx it, but Sokka can’t bring himself to care.
They run into Uncle again, and somehow, Toph knows him.
“He makes good tea and gives good advice,” she says, after Sokka asks her, and he can tell that’s the end of it. Because no matter how much he loves the earthbender, he can’t deny that Toph is absolutely terrifying.
It’s better than the first time, warmer somehow.
Maybe it’s because Toph is there, joking and laughing as Aang and her play, or maybe it’s because there’s no tension to dispel. When they’d first met Uncle, there was an undeniable divide, and though it had faded quickly, it was there for all to see.
But now? There’s only laughter and mischievous grins as Uncle carefully lights the campfire with a flick of his wrist.
“Sokka, would you care for a game of Pai Sho?” The man asks, smiling gently at him.
And if he knew how to play Pai Sho, he would say yes in a heartbeat, because Sokka knows it’s a game of strategy and patience, skills every warrior needs to know, and when he says this, Uncle laughs.
“I can teach you, if you’d like.” Uncle says, and Sokka nods eagerly. “Now, while some may call it an ancient strategy, I myself prefer the old lotus gambit…”
Iroh beats him at Pai Sho every single round they play, but when he says Sokka is improving, the words are genuine and warm, and Sokka can’t stop the smile that crosses his face.
They see him for the first time in a small village, one of a growing number where Fire Nation soldiers patrol the streets and the floating lotus petals are set alight.
The kid is tall and thin, and there’s something weirdly familiar about him that has alarm bells ringing in his mind, though, he knows he’s never seen the other boy in his life. Sokka is so, so tempted to ask him for a spar, disregarding the fact that the boy’s a complete stranger, but then he turns, and they lock eyes, and all Sokka sees is gold.
Pure, golden eyes stare back at him, and all Sokka can see is the men who raided their village and killed their mother, because this boy is Fire Nation. He’s Fire Nation, the reason why they’re on the run, and Sokka feels rage boiling in his stomach, but he shoves it down deep inside his chest.
Because there’s no cruelty in those golden eyes.
There’s none of the harsh coldness Sokka has come to associate with most firebenders, nothing that screams ash-maker or heartless or soldier.
“Hey!” He starts to shout, but then Sokka notices the panic in the boy’s eyes, and Tui and La, is that the Prince? But that obviously can’t be true because there’s no way someone like that would be anywhere near a town held by the Fire Nation.
And of course.
Of course, the maybe-Prince is a certified idiot, and was totally the boy wandering around a town in Fire Nation possession with super obvious weapons, because what else would he be doing?
Aang seems to be even more determined to find the boy, and Sokka has to agree with him, because seriously? Do benders have any sense of self-preservation? Katara has some common sense, Sokka has to admit, and Aang and Toph are just kids, but the Prince? The Prince is literally a wanted criminal, so you’d think he’d have a bit more common sense than that.
Aang has another run in with the Blue Spirit, except this time, they’re all together. Sokka decides to give Aang credit for finding him, though, since the kid literally corners the guy and immediately starts talking.
The Blue Spirit simply watches, not saying anything, and when he turns his gaze on Sokka, it’s all he can do not to shudder.
The man’s awesome, Sokka can’t honestly say otherwise, but he’s also really creepy. Dressed in all black, moving silently among dark streets, the Spirit’s practically invisible. Then there’s that mask, eternally grinning as hidden eyes watch on as though they see right through you.
So yeah, awesome, but insanely creepy and definitely not someone they want to make an enemy of.
And yet, here Aang is, happily chatting with a man who can probably kill each and every one of them. Well, except Toph. There are probably a handful of people in the world that can actually stand on even footing with Toph, and really, what are the chances of the Spirit being one of them.
With their luck, it’s best not to push it.
“So really, thank you for rescuing me!” The kid chirps, waving his hands all over the place, and even through the mask, the Spirit looks overwhelmed. Sokka bites back a snicker, because that’s Aang for you. “Oh! Are you still hurt because if you are, Katara can heal you!”
The Spirit takes a step back, shaking his head, and that’s when it hits Sokka.
He doesn’t talk. For whatever reason, the Blue Spirit simply doesn’t speak. A part of him desperately wants to know why, but he knows it’s not his place to ask.
So, he stays silent, watching the trio of benders smother the swordsman in questions until Sokka finally grabs a scroll and some ink from their bag and shoves it at the man.
“There,” he says plainly, a smirk on his face. “Now you have a way of communicating that doesn’t involve being verbal.”
The Spirit stills, and then bows, just like Iroh does, but that can’t be right, because doesn’t the Blue Spirit target Fire Nation soldiers? Why would he use gestures and cultural motions of the same group he fights?
Whatever, Sokka thinks, a man’s past is his alone and his to share. Who am I to question it ?
They run into maybe-the-Prince again three towns later, this time in a tiny Earth Kingdom port. Toph says it’s known for its artisans, and it’s a good thing Toph decided to come with them, because if she didn’t, then they’d probably be lost by now.
Granted, they keep circling through towns that are close to Gaoling, because none of them really have a sense of direction, Aang least of all.
Anyways, the second meeting is more subtle, and there’s actually a conversation with the strange boy.
Sokka lays eyes on him only seconds after Katara does, and he immediately starts wandering in that direction. It was clear from their last encounter that the boy is a bit jumpy, and Sokka doesn’t want to trigger a moment of panic like what happened last time.
It takes him five minutes to reach him, and it probably could’ve been quicker, but he really doesn’t want to rush this and-
Spirits, it sounds like Sokka likes him.
That doesn’t matter, though, so he reaches out and taps the boy on the shoulder, and he flinches. The boy recoils, darting away from him, and Sokka finally gets the fact that this boy’s been scarred, and not just by war. A burn wraps around his neck disappears under his clothes, and Sokka can see splashes of burned skin on his wrist. And the worst part of the scar, the painful handprint cupping his face, is obviously no accident.
And when he whips around to face Sokka, the boy takes a series of steps backwards.
As though Sokka is going to hurt him.
He holds his hands up calmly, and subtly gestures for his friends to stay back. “I don’t have anything against you, okay? I just want to talk.” His voice stays steady, despite the growing tension in his mind.
The boy relaxes, and relief rushes into Sokka’s chest. Because he doesn’t ever want to have someone afraid of him, not like he had been. Because Sokka is, well, Sokka. He may be a bit rough against the edges, and he might not be the most welcoming person, but he doesn’t want to be feared. Not by anyone, and definitely not by someone they want to befriend.
He gives Sokka a thorough glance over, and yet again, he’s reminded of how familiar the searching gaze is. “Who are you?” The boy asks, his good eye narrowed. “What do you want?”
The air around them is becoming uncomfortably warm, and Sokka refrains from sighing. Firebender, he reminds himself. My name is Sokka, and I’m from the Southern Water Tribe. Like I said, my friends and I just want to talk. Is that alright?”
The boy hesitates. Then, “Okay.” And it’s as simple of a response as it gets, and yet, Sokka can’t help but smile. He’s about to ask one more question, but the boy’s quiet voice cuts him off. “I’m Zuko.”
They don’t take Zuko to their campsite, none of them are ready for that.
Zuko still looks like he’s ready to bolt at a moment's notice, and Sokka absolutely hates that, so he sticks by the firebender, who he hasn't actually seen firebend, instead of taking his usual place between Katara and Toph.
Thankfully, his little sisters aren't bickering as much as usual, and thank the spirits they weren't arguing.
"Hey, Zuko!" Aang calls excitedly, and Sokka mentally braces for any sort of trouble. "You're a firebender, right?"
"Yeah, I don't really use it that often," he says, and ever so carefully, lights a fire in the palms of his hands. And yeah, now that they're face to face, Sokka can see why Zuko might not be a huge fan of firebending. Because from this distance, Sokka can clearly see the burn scar that covers Zuko's skin.
There's no mistaking the cause of that. Whether it had been in combat or an accident, that scar was the work of a firebender. Sokka knows what natural burns look like, and it’s not like this. Natural burns are wild and out of control, mottled skin where a flame took and took and took until someone finally managed to extinguish it.
Someone did it to him, and yet, Zuko still bends as though nothing ever happened to him.
"So does that mean you're Agni's Prince?" Aang asks, and Sokka holds back a groan.
Why is tact such a hard concept to grasp? He internally asks the void, and as expected, the void doesn’t answer.
Zuko takes a deep breath, then answers. “The Prince is a wanted criminal, and I have a hard enough time getting by without paying attention to that sort of thing. I’m just trying to get by without attracting too much attention to myself.” He says, and Sokka knows his smile is fake, but he can’t bring himself to mention it.
Aang tilts his head. “Can you teach me firebending?” He asks, and wow, maybe that’s not the best thing to ask a person you’ve only met once, but it’s not like Sokka can say anything now.
Zuko already looks uneasy as it is, and all they’re doing is talking. One wrong move and he’s gone , Sokka thinks, and he knows he’s not wrong.
But all Zuko does is laugh, shaking his head and dark hair covers his open gaze. “You don’t want me teaching you, Avatar. I’m not a good person, and I’m even less of a good teacher. Trust me, I’m the last person you should be asking.”
So, here's the thing.
Sokka knows that he should just let Zuko be, and go back to doing his own thing. He knows this, he really does, but now he's curious.
And once something's stolen his curiosity like this, it's near impossible for Sokka to let go of it. And even more so, he doesn't think he can. Because Prince of Agni or not, Zuko seems like a person that could help them.
Because no matter what Zuko said, he seems to be a good person, and he fits. He fits into the group almost as smoothly as Uncle had. He laughs at Sokka’s jokes and watches Aang’s tricks and helps Katara cook and describes things Toph as though he himself had lost his own sight once, and knew all the things he’d missed.
And spirits, there was something about the other boy that draws people in, like moth-bats flocking to a light. And he'll be damned if he says it out loud, but there's a feeling bubbling up inside his chest insisting that Zuko is supposed to be with them.
Call it instinct, or a gut feeling, or whatever you want to call it, but Sokka knows that whatever the feeling is, it's true.
Zuko is meant to be with them, and spirits, that sounds like something out of a romance or something Aang would say.
But no matter how little he wants to admit it, he knows there’s something off about the way Zuko moves, about the way he speaks without saying anything at all.
And if he’s being honest, Sokka knows it deviates from that scar. Because that has to have come from a firebender, and from the looks of it, it wasn’t an accident. Accidents didn’t look that controlled, and accidents don’t leave a person flinching away from even the smallest movement.
Spirits know Sokka hates purposely pushing a person past their breaking point. But there’s something familiar about Zuko, and while he likes the other boy, it grates on Sokka’s nerves every time he sees him.
Hakoda always said that Sokka’s curiosity would lead him towards trouble, and he was finally understanding his father’s words.
Unfortunately for his curiosity, keeping an eye on Zuko isn’t among the group’s priorities. They have until the eclipse for Aang to master all of the elements, form a reasonable plan to get into the Fire Nation, and figure out what to do with Ozai, and while there isn’t necessarily a tight schedule, Sokka can admit that finding a random kid isn’t high on their priorities.
The curious part of him protests, but Sokka knows how to focus on what is needed rather than what he wants at any given moment. It’s hard, sure, ignoring something when some sort of instinct tells him he’s wrong, but he manages.
They keep running into them, Zuko and the Blue Spirit, and Sokka gets a feeling that they’re connected somehow.
And yeah, that sounds crazy, but once he starts thinking, it’s as clear as day.
But Zuko is obviously hiding something, and the guy’s either a shit liar or it’s painfully obvious. Wherever Zuko goes, the Spirit follows, and Sokka is determined to figure out why.
Sokka runs into the Spirit by himself once, and the masked man simply stares at him, silent.
“You don’t happen to work with a Fire Nation kid, do you?” He asks, out of pure curiosity. He hopes the Spirit knows that, firstly because it’s true, and Sokka really doesn’t harbor any malicious intent against Zuko or the Spirit, but mostly because Sokka really doesn’t want to know if the Spirit is as good of a swordsman as the rumors say.
Well, at least he doesn’t want to find out while on the receiving end of those blades.
But the Spirit simply shakes his head, and before Sokka can say another word, he’s gone.
“Enemies and traitors, working together. Whatever shall I do?”
He’s finally realized just who Zuko reminds him of.
It’s the dark hair and pale skin, and even more so, it’s the amber eyes that almost look golden in the sun’s dying light.
And Sokka hasn’t slept in over a day, and his guess may be entirely off, but it’s in the way Azula covers one side of her face, the left side, and laughs. She laughs about a brother that was supposed to have been lost years ago, but was too stubborn to die, and Sokka knows.
He knows then and there that they’ve become fast friends with the Fire Lord’s firstborn, and that Zuko may or may not be Agni’s child or Agni’s Prince or whatever they call him, but he’s the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation and Sokka doesn’t know what to think.
Because he’s Zuko, who’s somehow become another member of the Gaang, despite their meetings being few and far in between, and Zuko, who breathes life into fire but only uses it for simple things, like heating water or keeping them warm or simply to entertain people.
And Sokka doesn’t want to believe that he’s a part of the family that’s caused so much damage, but Azula’s laughter grows, and he doesn’t have time to think.
It’s five against one. They should be able to win this.
Because it’s Toph and Aang and Katara and Uncle, the Fire Nation General that taught him strategy and patience and so much more, and they should be able to do this.
But Azula sees something behind his shoulder, and Sokka refuses to look behind him, and her laughter grows cruel and harsh and cold.
“Oh, Zuzu, you always did have the worst timing, didn’t you? You were supposed to die years ago, but you never were one to do what you’re told.” And Sokka already knows who’s standing there, behind him, and he resists the urge to look back, because he knows Azula’s planning something.
She always is, and he won’t let his guard down around her. Especially not now.
But Azula smirks, and Sokka tenses. “Father sends his regards.”
Lightning flies and a body crashes to the ground.