Sokka slide down the back of the bison's tail landing next to a rocky shore. In the last Earth kingdom village they visited Sokka heard word of a small group of water tribe ships. Learning the group just missed them by a day the gaang decided to investigate.
Sokka knew it had to be his father.
Sokka ran alongside the edge of the cliff side to reveal a shore on the other side. Familiar ships were already dragged ashore.
"Water tribe." Sokka whispered.
Men clothed in blue had set up camp. Sitting around fires and walking up and down the shore. Sokka didn't know how much he could miss the simple color of his people's clothes.
"Water tribe!" Katara beamed.
Now all he needed to see was…
"Sokka?" a man came from a nearby fire pit making his way towards them.
Sokka squinted his eyes, "Bato?"
"Bato!" Sokka and his sister bolted to embrace the man as Bato squished them against his chest.
"It is so good to see you two. You've grown." He gestured to the height he remembered seeing the two at when their warriors left years before.
Bato gestured to Aang, "Who is this with you now?"
"Bato, this is Aang. He's the avatar."
"The avatar... I would love to hear how you two ended up traveling with none other than the avatar."
Aang rubbed at his neck, "Long story really."
"Long is good," Bato said placing his hand on Sokka's and Katara's shoulders. "Just wait until your father hears."
"Dads here!" Sokka beamed.
"Of course, follow me."
Bato lead the group to the outside of the main tent. A small group of men surrounded a fire as they ate their dinners.
Sokka watched as his father's face lit up at the sight of his children, embracing them in his arms. Seeing Bato after all this time couldn't compare to how Sokka felt about seeing his father.
"The avatar." Hokoda hummed as he added fuel to the fire. "How did my children end up helping the avatar?"
Sokka told the tale of Katara's bending making Aang's iceburg resurface breaking him free from his icy tomb. Tales of Zuko hunting them down and sometimes barely getting away with the help of his trusty boomerang.
"Now were here in the earth kingdom to find Aang an earthbending teacher." Sokka finished.
"Don't worry," Hokada said. "in our travels we have seen many a great earth benders. And about that Zuko fellow, there is no need to worry about him any longer. Tonight we shall have a celebration of reunion with family, and to new friends!"
The small tribe of men cheered.
Sokka wasn't sure what he meant about not worrying about Zuko anymore. His thoughts disappeared as he was handed a bowl of Sea prunes.
The next morning the water tribe got word of fire nation plans to invade a nearby village. The plan was to leave within the hour parting ways with the gaang.
Sokka was currently stuffing his sleeping pack into Appa's saddle.
"Sokka!" Bato's voice called from below.
Sokka climbed down from the bison's saddle landing next to the man.
"Get your sister and Aang, your father has something to show you all before we part ways."
Hokoda led them to one of the only tent still stored away onto the ships. Stopping outside the tent Sokka couldn't make out what his father was thinking … or what they were doing here.
Hokoda stood in front of the tent flap, "The story of your kids travels were aw-inspiring and terrifying even for an adult. But before you take off on your journey I want you to be reassured that one thing will not faulted you on your trip."
Hokoda turned to open the tent flap allowing the gaang access inside. One person was lying on a mat facing the opposite wall. Their legs and most likely wrist were tied.
"Dad," Sokka turned to his father." What's going on?
"See for yourself." Hokoda gestured to the unmoving person.
Sokka kneeled down, pulling the person's shoulder towards him to revel who his father was keeping tied in one of their tents.
Sokka's breath got caught.
Aang was the only one to speak, "Zuko?