Pairing/Characters: Sokka, Katara
Theme Set and #: Fire, 17: Ice
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Disclaimer: Wish it were mine...but it's not.
Notes: Spoilers up through 3x13, The Firebending Masters.
Sokka isn't even a bit surprised to find Katara practicing her waterbending by the fountain, even though it's the middle of the day. Toph and Haru are off somewhere trading earthbending tips, with Teo and the Duke watching, and Aang and Zuko have only been gone for two hours. And Sokka remembers long days at the South Pole when doing chores was just a tiny bit too much for Katara, when she would disappear for long hours to the shore and come back much more relaxed.
She's doing something that apparently involves changing water to ice and back again, repeatedly and quickly, so Sokka waits until she takes a breather to interrupt - after all, Sokka's typically the one to get injured and/or soaked when Katara's practicing.
"Hey," he says. "Can we talk?"
Katara stretches briefly, standing on her toes and reaching towards the ceiling. "What about?"
Sokka grimaces. "About Zuko."
Katara's hands curl into fists, and she drops her arms by her sides as she turns to glare at Sokka. "What about Zuko?"
Sokka holds up his hands defensively. "Look, I get that you don't trust him and you have every right not to - "
"Oh, you mean after he sided with Azula and got Aang killed?" Katara asks. "Or maybe you're referring to the time he kidnapped Aang, tied him up, and carried him into the middle of a blizzard - or probably when he hired an assassin who could make things explode with his mind to kill Aang?"
"I think I get the point," Sokka says.
"And do I have to repeat that he got Aang killed? If it had just been me and Aang against Azula, we could've taken her, but - "
"Katara, I know." Sokka crosses his arms. "I'm not exactly happy about this either, okay?"
Katara crosses her arms right back, and when she speaks, she enunciates every word clearly. "I. Don't. Trust him."
"I know," says Sokka. "Gee, I feel like I've said that before." Katara rolls her eyes, but before she can talk, Sokka interrupts. "Look, I have three good reasons why you shouldn't be worried."
"I'm not worried!" Katara shouts, flailing her arms; the water in the fountain moves accordingly, and Sokka looks pointedly at it. "That's angry, not worried," Katara snaps.
"Right," says Sokka. "Okay then, three reasons why you shouldn't be angry. One: us. Well, more you and Toph, I guess. The truth is, the two of you are actually pretty scary, and Zuko's gonna want to think hard before betraying us since he knows the world of hurt the two of you will put him in."
Katara doesn't say anything, but she does shrug a bit - fair enough.
"Two: Zuko. Toph said he was being sincere - and I know, he may have been sincere then and then changed his mind or whatever, but we can only work on what we know, and we know that he genuinely wants - or wanted - this.
"And three: Aang. Katara, he's the Avatar. Not only does that mean he has to learn firebending, but it also means he can probably take care of himself."
"He doesn't have the Avatar State to fall back on anymore," Katara points out. "And he's just a kid!"
"He's a kid who, from what I understand, was a master airbender before the age of twelve, and has since mastered both water and earth pretty awesomely. If he wanted to take Zuko down? I think he probably could."
Katara looks away from Sokka, then meets his eyes. When she speaks, her voice is low and controlled. "You saw Aang after Azula took him down. I did everything I could, everything, and for a while there I thought - " Her voice breaks, and she takes a deep breath.
Sokka sighs, and sits on the edge of the fountain. Katara sits next to him, but stares at the flagstone floor of the temple, not meeting his eyes. For a moment Sokka doesn't see the confident waterbender his sister has become, but the girl he knew right after their mother died, and after their father left; scared and small, but oh so determined.
"I know it's hard," he says softly. "On the Serpent's Pass, with Suki, I was so worried that because - because I couldn't protect Yue, I wouldn't be able to protect her, either. But then I found out that she came with us to make sure I would be okay - that she was trying to protect me. That's when it really hit me that she could take care of herself - and that's why I can't go after her right now. Because I know where I'm needed, and it's right here."
"I don't see what that has to do with Zuko," Katara says, but very quietly.
"I think Aang needs you right now," Sokka says. "But not as a bodyguard - as a friend."
Katara sighs. "I still don't trust him."
"Good," says Sokka. "Neither do I."
"You don't?" demands Katara.
"Are you kidding? If I get so much as a hint of betrayal coming from his general direction, he'll be getting a faceful of boomerang faster than you can say 'angry jerk'."
That, at least, makes Katara crack a smile. "Thanks, Sokka."
Sokka nudges Katara's shoulder with his own. "Hey. What are brothers for?"