Weeks passed and Sokka thought that maybe the omega was getting used to life with them. He was able to get up and start moving around, but he never left the igloo for more than a moment or two. He never picked up any of the furs when he left them - Sokka was convinced that he’d decided it was his nest, which was kind of amusing - just walking around in the thin clothes like everything was fine.
Sokka also noticed that Zuko trusted almost no one, just the children who had taken to going and bothering him. He didn’t seem bothered if they came and crawled into his lap or cuddled with him. He always started acting a little more relaxed when they were around.
Sokka tried to communicate with him, but it was mostly them both ending up frustrated and the omega trying to hide in the furs. Sokka was completely unable to try and soothe him or tell him that there was nothing to fear.
Sokka knew that he was scared of him, but he also knew that there was nothing he could really do about it. He just had to hope that he’d realize that Sokka meant no harm. That they were trying to help him.
He walked in again, looking over at the omega and about to say something to get his attention when he found him curled up in the furs. His jaw was tensed, eyes suspiciously wet, and clearly in pain. Sokka quickly moved to his side, trying to figure out what was wrong. He looked at him, seeing those gold eyes look up at him in panic made him want to defend him. He bit back growls, wondering what was wrong when he realized that there was something else wrong.
Sokka could smell blood. He reached forward, barely daring to touch the omega, but watching the way he was clutching his stomach as he hissed out soft breaths told Sokka more than he thought it could.
His eyes went wide and he darted to the entrance and shoved his head out, voice raising, “Katara!”
He watched her look up and stare at him but at the sight of his panic, he was feeling she stopped from yelling at him. She hurried over and he pulled her inside. Katara still looked annoyed for a few moments until she reached the room and saw Zuko.
“Katara I can smell blood-” She was at his side in a moment and dragging him to the other’s side as well.
She mumbled softly, “Okay, I’m sorry, but I’m gonna need you to calm down.”
Sokka couldn’t really fault Katara for her worry and panic anymore than he could blame Zuko for just curling up tighter in an attempt to protect himself. Katara pulled him up trying to convince him to trust her for a minute.
“Katara,” He muttered; watching them and then he hesitated and glanced at her, “Spirits I hate my life.”
He slipped up behind him and grabbed his wrists to pull him and pin him to his chest. He watched him thrash again and tried to mumbled softly to the other. He saw him flinch and lowered his voice even more. He was speaking softly, trying to stop him from fighting back and hurting himself or Katara more.
He knew what had to be happening and he couldn’t help the worried little whine he gives. He could hear the whimper from Zuko as Katara was carefully checked on him. Sokka kept trying to give little whines and worried noises, hoping that he understood. Sokka was worried about him and trying to make it clear.
Zuko hesitantly let out a little noise of fear again and Sokka returned it with a soft noise of comfort. He hesitantly relaxed a little, which hopefully made it easier for Katara to check on him. He kept his hands on his wrists, wanting to avoid the other striking out in fear or anger.
Katara slowly pulled back and gave him a look, Sokka knew it all too well. He couldn’t help the apologetic noise that escaped him. The omega just went limp and Sokka could feel how he was trembling. The low noise of pain could only earn sympathy from Sokka. Sympathy and noises that let him know he felt bad. They’d tried hard to help him, but it apparently wasn’t enough.
Zuko was limp and Sokka hesitantly moved and laid him back. He curled up again and Sokka glanced at Katara. She looked at him and then Zuko, who had found his way completely under the furs. Sokka didn’t know what else to do, but he carefully let himself be led away from the omega who was clearly distressed and upset. He didn’t think those words were enough to describe the other’s emotions though.
“I know,” He murmured to Katara, “I could tell as soon as I realized he was holding himself.”
“Yeah,” She muttered, glancing back at the whimpering, shaking form under all the furs, “I’ll… see if I can’t find clothes that he can change into. At least until we can get his own cleaned up.”
Sokka paused, remembering the fight the omega had put up and the shocking strength behind it. Sokka had to put a considerable effort into restraining the omega so he wouldn’t lash out at Katara in his haze of pain and fear. He was much stronger than he’d thought.
He hesitantly stepped back in, knowing that the other was probably extremely upset and there was nothing Sokka could do about it. Intruding felt wrong. Leaving him completely alone felt dangerous. He sat down at the wall like he used to, staring at the space above the omega. It wasn’t as far as the omega would probably like, Sokka could easily reach out and touch him. It probably felt strange to be watched so closely.
Sokka watched Katara come back in, glancing at him and giving him a sad, understanding smile. They didn’t want to leave him alone, but both of them in the same space as he was probably even more stressed. He watched him, sitting there and watching her slowly leave after placing clothes down and gaining the other’s attention to point towards him and then the clothes.
“For you,” She said softly, then glanced at Sokka, “Can you bring his out after he gets dressed?”
“Course,” He told her, watching her leave.
He could see the other sit up and then look at him as he carefully reached for the clothes. Sokka took a moment and then realized why he was getting a look.
“Sorry,” He muttered, pressing his face into his own knees while he heard slow movements.
He waited until he heard the other’s voice, lifting his head and having to stop and stare in awe.
He shouldn’t be that unfairly good looking in the clothes, bundled in a parka and burrowing back into the furs again.
Zuko stared back at the Water Tribe alpha who was staring at him blankly for a moment after he’d managed to get into the clothes the woman had left him. He was just stared at for a little bit before he shook his head and grabbed Zuko’s clothes and went to the entrance and was gone for just a minute before he came back.
He sat back down, not even saying anything.
Zuko realized that he wasn’t even looking at him, keeping his eyes mostly off to the side. He just laid there, thinking of how the man had held him down, only earning more panic from Zuko, but… it wasn’t like he had hurt him. He’d held him down, but he’d also been only letting out noises that told him that he felt bad. Told him that he didn’t want to hurt him or make him more upset, but he couldn’t let go.
It seemed like some things could get across even language barriers. Which included an alpha trying to comfort him through his… Zuko just gritted his teeth and tried not to think too deeply on it.
He was still horrified by what had happened, curled up in the relative safety of his impromptu nest. Which no one tried to remove him from so far.
Zuko didn’t know what possessed him to do it, but he reached out and grabbed his pant leg, refusing to look at the eyes he could feel on him for a moment. He glanced up, met with confusion, but the other just shifted to give him an easier grip on his clothes. The alpha letting him cling to him slightly, even if Zuko didn’t completely trust him.
He was hit once again with the want for Azula and his uncle. He’d even take Mai and her colder demeanor or Ty Lee’s enthusiasm. He just craved familiarity. He had none of that here and he’d just lost his baby.
Zuko hid his face at the thought, knowing he would probably start crying because of it. He gripped the material in his hand again, breath stuttering. He kept his eyes closed, shivering as he drew his body back under some of the pelts and only let his hand stick out.
He heard another low noise, clearly one that the alpha let out. He tried to place it, but he found that he couldn’t think very clearly. He also found that he was letting out a small noise. He felt pathetic, calling out for help like that. The alpha continued to let out more noises at him.
Zuko simply hid his face a little better. He let himself know that there was someone watching, even if it wasn’t who he wanted right then. He found himself falling asleep; confused and exhausted.
He closed his eyes, letting himself doze off.
Sokka watched the omega burrow back into the furs and heard the tiny noise he made in return. It was clearly a noise meant to ask for help, the omega too exhausted and upset to stop it. Sokka just made a hopefully soothing noise in return. He just kept making small, soothing noises and hoping that the other wouldn’t get more frightened by them.
Zuko had apparently fallen asleep, Sokka watching his grip go loose and he sighed as he looked at him. He tried to think of why he might have been thrown onto the ice.
What were the laws like for omegas in the Fire Nation? He knew that in the Southern Water Tribe that omegas were perhaps coddled a little, not taught to fight much. Treated like they were delicate. He looked down at his hands and thought of the powerful way the other had fought his grip. Zuko had very nearly thrown his hands off of him.
He sighed, wondering if he’d be okay at all. Clearly it wouldn’t be anytime soon.
Over the next week, Zuko seemed to go through the same motions. Resting and speaking softly with the children. They seemed really excited about what they were doing as well. They’d sneak around Sokka and whisper, but he didn’t think anything bad was happening. It was just a lot of talking.
Zuko also usually slept completely buried in the furs. He seemed perhaps a little less untrusting as well. Both good things when it came to trying to help him. His health seemed a little better according to Katara.
He also left the igloo occasionally, never straying far and just covered in the warm clothes that he wore now. It was better that he was walking around, which made Sokka say nothing. It meant he was at least trying to do things.
Sokka paused as he watched the children scurry out of the igloo again, giggling like crazy. They smiled at Sokka though.
It was suspicious. He slowly walked over to the igloo and ducked in. He looked over at Zuko, who blinked at him as he walked in. He smiled at the omega and watched as he carefully twisted the bracelet he’d gotten back. Sokka remembered how upset he’d been that it was gone and how relieved he’d looked to have it again.
The omega seemed to be thinking of something, watching Sokka and he just stared back as the other made up his mind.
“Thank you,” Zuko’s voice was still raspy and low, fumbling over the words slightly.
Sokka’s eyes went wide and it was barely a moment later that he was grinning at the other. He couldn’t believe it, trying to figure out when the other could have picked up the language.
Suddenly his mind went to the kids who kept creeping in to the omega and the way they were giggling like they knew something. They’d been teaching the omega the language as they sat with him, likely finding it amusing to teach him.
“Your welcome,” Sokka said, thinking that the kids couldn’t have taught him everything, but likely enough that he could understand little things.
Zuko had the weird thought that the Water Tribe warrior was really good looking. He shook the thought off, knowing that the other was just pleased that he could speak a little. It had been a shock that the children started to teach him their language, but he was grateful. They were happy to teach him.
Zuko looked up as he heard the other man speak slowly, making sure he could understand.
“-better?” He frowned, the only word he understood being that.
Oh. Zuko stared as he realized that the man wanted to know if he was feeling any better than before.
“Little,” He said, hoping that the point got across.
He just nodded, taking a moment, looking at him as he seemed to be choosing what to say, “Hungry?”
Zuko almost laughed, shifting in place to get more comfortable and nodded a little at the other.
Iroh stared at his niece in worry, seeing the dark look in her eyes. The news of her brother’s disappearance and assumed passing hadn’t gone over well. He was sure that if she had her way every guard who had failed him would be dead already.
The thing was, she seemed to lay all blame on her father, which Iroh suspected might be fair. His nephew had disappeared after speaking out against the needless death of an entire division of soldiers. His soft heart the reason so many liked him in the castle and the town.
Azula’s anger towards her father was enough to convince Iroh that she knew something more, but approaching his niece was always a risk. Especially without Zuko’s calm to temper her.
He just hoped that whatever had happened, it wasn’t as bad as he thought it could be.