Today’s the day, Sokka’s decided. He’s going to tell his dad that he’s bisexual.
He comes to this decision after lying in his bedroll and staring up at the roof of his igloo for thirty minutes, like he prefers to do when he wakes up and there aren’t any morning people - Aang, Zuko - around to bother him. He’s just started contemplating how exactly he’s going to go about this when speaking of morning people-
“Sokka! Get up, Dad’s waiting for us!” -there’s Katara. She’s back in the South Pole while Aang does some work at the southern air temples, which they’re in the process of making livable again. Her visit had just happened to coincide with Sokka returning from the Fire Nation - mostly on a vacation, if he’s being completely honest. ‘Ambassadorial duties’ can encompass a lot of things.
“I’m up, I’m up,” he mumbles, dragging himself upright and getting a faceful of his own parka, which Katara’s thrown right at him. “Really?”
“I thought you’d catch it!” she laughs, not sounding sorry at all. He throws his pillow at her as he pulls the parka over his head; he’d learned the hard way not to throw snow at her - master waterbender and all that. Look, he’s not at his best in the morning. They all know this.
A gentle water whip gets him in the back of the head anyway.
“Hey!” he exclaims, pulling his newly damp hair out of his face. “Now we’re gonna be even later, unless you want my hair to freeze.” He squints at his reflection and futilely tries to squeeze some of the water out of his hair. He’d learned that lesson real fast the first time he’d run out into the snow with wet hair and ended up freezing and snapping off a good three inches of it.
“If you’d just gotten up early like the rest of us…”
“It’s beauty sleep, Katara, you wouldn’t understand. It’s bad enough that Zuko gets up with the spirits-damned sun; I don’t think he’s ever been in bed in the morning.”
“Aw, poor Sokka, doesn’t get to cuddle with his boyfriend,” she teases. She takes pity on his sad wringing and bends the rest of the water out of his hair, though, so in the grand scheme of things it could be worse.
“Oh hey, that reminds me,” he says as nonchalantly as he can, focusing on binding his hair into his wolftail and avoiding her eyes. “I, uh, think I’m gonna come out to Dad.”
“Really?!” He barely has time to turn around when he finds himself with an armful of Katara, beaming and squeezing the life out of him. He doesn’t remember her hugs being quite that tight. “I’m-”
“You don’t have to say it,” he interrupts, but her grin is infectious.
“Nah, I’m gonna. I’m proud of you, Sokka.” His chest goes tight hearing those words - in that moment, she’s the spitting image of their mom.
“You have no idea how weird that is that my little sister is saying that to me,” he says, and if he's fighting back a few rogue tears, that's none of anyone's business. He can’t see her face, smushed as it is into his chest, but he can still somehow feel the eye roll.
“I take it back.” Her squeeze says the opposite.
“Alright, alright, let me go, unless you’ve somehow learned airbending and can bend the air back into my lungs.” She laughs and complies, whacking him in the arm - he never should’ve let her hang out this much with Toph.
“What if I had, huh? Maybe Aang taught me.” Sokka gets an involuntary jolt of terror just from the thought of it.
“That’s terrifying, please never say that ever again.” He’s not going to say ‘you’d be too powerful’ because he is not going to grant her that satisfaction, but he thinks it very loudly as he pulls on his gloves and grabs his weapons from their place beside the door. The war is over, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely safe, and even three years later, spending a year essentially on the run has made him twitchy whenever he doesn’t have something sharp close at hand.
“So? How are you going to do it?” she asks as they duck out of his igloo, squinting at the sunlight reflecting off the snow after the dim light inside.
“Huh? Oh, I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m thinking I might just wing it. Retiring from being the plan guy, you know? I’m trying something new.”
“You’re so dramatic - ‘trying something new.’ Stop letting Zuko practice his plays with you.” He turns pleading eyes that are only sort of fake on her.
“But his monologues are-” He finds himself with a mouth of Katara’s glove, and she has an eugh face on that he wants to take a snapshot of in his memory.
“Okay I’m gonna stop you right there, I do not need to hear that.”
“But-!” Her grip tightens.
“Absolutely not.” He’s tempted to lick her, but the glove is in the way. Instead he blows a raspberry on her palm. “Are you five?” she yelps, but his mouth is free, so it worked.
“I hope not.” The eugh face is back.
“I will push you into the ocean.” They reach the docks at the far end of the circle of igloos still bickering and shoving at each other; Katara is definitely cheating, bending the snow around him to form weird shapes on his shoulders and feet. Dad and Bato are loading equipment onto one of the bigger boats, but pause to wave as Sokka and Katara come into view.
“You two ready?” Dad calls, vaulting over the side of the boat to draw them both into a hug.
“R-ready, yup, that’s me,” Sokka says. He could just say it now. Dad, I’m bi. He opens his mouth, then closes it again. It’s not the right time, he tells himself, steadfastly ignoring the twist of nerves in his stomach that tells him that maybe there never will be a right time, and he just has to suck it up and do it.
“Just tell him,” Katara hisses over her shoulder once they’ve been released and are trailing Dad onto the boat. Sokka shakes his head violently.
“Not now!” he hisses back. “What if it makes it awkward?”
“In what universe-” It’s Sokka’s turn to slap a hand over Katara’s mouth.
“Shhhh! Dad’s coming back!” She gives him a Look, but doesn’t rat him out when he drops his hand and tries his best to look natural. Dad looks at him weird, so maybe he didn’t succeed at that as well as he thought, but thankfully doesn’t say anything. Sokka holds the pose until he’s sure his dad has passed, then lets out a relieved sigh. Katara smacks him lightly over the head.
As the boat unmoors and the shore disappears into the distance, Sokka tries his best to lose himself in the work of sailing and fishing. It even works, for the most part, but every time he catches his dad and Bato looking at each other with the faces that Katara says look very much like the way Sokka looks at Zuko, he feels a little pang in his chest that he can’t blame on the cold.
Despite Sokka’s distraction, it’s a good fishing trip. Especially once his dad starts making fish jokes - they are not “bad,” Katara, “pick a cod, any cod” is hilarious.
It’s only when Sokka makes it back to his igloo, hours later, that he remembers that he still has to actually tell his dad about the thing.
Logically, Sokka knows that he shouldn’t be nervous. His dad is literally married to a man, and even if he weren’t, Sokka brought the prince of the Fire Nation, who his dad didn’t know wasn’t evil yet, along to break him out of a high-security prison and he didn’t have any problems with that. But he can’t help it. He doesn’t even know what he’s nervous about, but his heart is still pounding out of his chest like a panicking rabbaroo. He can almost hear Toph laughing at him.
Sokka straightens his shoulders and looks right into his reflection’s eyes in the mirror. I can do this.
“Bi, I’m Dad.” Fuck. “Tui and La this should not be hard!” he berates himself. “Bi, I’m Dad? Really? That’s what he’s supposed to say.” He flops back onto his bedroll with a huff.
“Hey Dad,” he says, still lying flat on his back. “Uh. Boys.” Oh, come on. He raises his head and glares at himself in the mirror. He’s a war hero. He (and Suki and Toph) took down the Fire Nation’s entire airship fleet by themselves. He’s dated literal royalty. He is currently dating the Fire Lord. So why can’t he get his stupid mouth to cooperate? He staunchly refuses to remember that the first thing he said to Yue was ‘do you want to do an activity?’ or that his first attempt at asking Zuko on a date had gone so poorly that to this day his guards are only sort of joking about thinking it was a poorly executed assassination attempt.
Just say you like guys, Katara had told him. “Just say you like guys. Just say you like guys. It’s gonna be okay.” He starts pacing around the circumference of the igloo - maybe not looking at himself will do it. Honestly, he’s pretty sure that any of the things he’d managed to blurt out so far would work, because he’d gotten his sense of humour from somewhere, but he wants to do this right.
“I. Like guys. Dad.” Oh, whatever. Close enough, right? There’s no use in putting it off any longer. It’ll just prolong his suffering. It’s all going to be okay.
“Just say ‘you like guys,’” he tells his reflection sternly, then nods to show himself he’s got it. Before he can change his mind, he shoves his way out the door and strides over to the large chief’s igloo in the center of the ring. He knocks on the side of the entrance and sticks his head in when he hears the call of “come in!”
“Sokka!” Dad says, looking up from the wood he’s whittling and smiling, rising to wrap him in a hug. Sokka leans into it, fighting the urge to let himself slump. He can almost forget why he’s here, up until his dad releases him and takes a step back. “Did you need something? Or are you just here to keep your dad some company?”
“Oh, um, yeah,” he says, scuffing the toe of one boot against the floor of the igloo. Just like that his heart is going again, so loud in his ears that he’s pretty sure his dad can actually hear it. “Dad?”
“Y-you like guys!” Wait. What?
Later, when his face has stopped feeling like he’s just eaten too many fire flakes and Katara is done making fun of him, he’ll laugh about it, but right now, Sokka is just frozen. His dad stares at him. Blinks. And then lets out a very, very long sigh.
“Sokka, you were at the wedding.” Sokka splutters, waving his hands in front of his face and wishing very hard that he could bend time. He hasn’t managed to get an actual word out of his mouth and his dad is starting to look somewhat concerned when Bato sticks his head through the doorway connecting the igloo’s two rooms.
“Koda,” he says, eyes comically wide. “You like guys? Why didn’t you ever say?” Hakoda drags a hand across his face. Sokka thinks vaguely about spontaneously bursting into flames.
“Sokka,” he says, gesturing at Bato, “my husband. Bato,” he gestures to himself, “your husband. Now that we all know each other-”
“Dad I’m bisexual!” Sokka blurts in one long rush. Dad stares at him. Bato stares at him. Sokka bravely resists the temptation to turn tail and flee.
“Hi, bisexual,” Dad says after a long moment, one side of his mouth twitching. “I’m Dad.” Sokka’s jaw drops.
“A PUN?!” he yells. In the background, Bato’s forehead makes acquaintances with his palm. Laughing, his dad pulls Sokka in against his chest and hugs him tightly. Sokka goes, feeling like all his bones have liquefied.
“I’m sorry,” he says, still chuckling. “I just couldn’t help myself. I shouldn’t have made fun-”
“It’s okay, Dad,” Sokka mumbles. He thinks his heart rate might be coming back to earth - which is nice, he wasn’t planning to die at nineteen from a heart attack. “It was kinda funny.”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was. Don’t give me that look, Bato, you played along. But Sokka,” Sokka makes very reluctant eye contact to see a serious expression on his dad’s face. “I am proud of you. For telling me, and for everything.” Sokka smiles.
“Thanks, Dad.” Dad smiles back and hugs him again, and Sokka gives in to the impulse and drops his forehead to his chest.
“I mean, not like it wasn’t obvious.”
“Oh, nothing. Bato, I can see your polar dog eyes from here, c’mon.” A minute later Sokka finds himself being squashed between Dad and Bato. He decides he’d misheard that comment. Katara had always said he had selective hearing.
As Sokka disappears out the door of the igloo, Hakoda turns to Bato with a wry grin on his face.
“How long d’you reckon it’ll take him to tell us he’s dating the Fire Lord?”