It’s twelve years later when the dark-haired, gold-eyed child shows up in the middle of the Water Tribe’s village. When a distinctly Fire Nation ship pulls up to the shore, waving a proud banner that no longer provokes an intense surge of fear and hatred. There’s still wariness, a touch of lingering doubt, but the immediate urge to flee is gone.
The young man who steps off said ship is really just a child. A bit older than Toph had been all those years ago. There’s an innocence in his eyes, however, a certain naivete that Toph had never carried, which always made her seem older. Aang had that same older, wiser look in his eyes. This child, flanked by two stern-faced men who are obviously protectors of some kind, does not have a single wary glint to his gaze.
He asks for Sokka.
No one is surprised. Sokka, after all, is one of the Water Tribe’s great heroes. He is known and beloved by all. Many a well-wisher and fan have come to the south just to meet him, or shake his hand, or hear his stories about the battle against the dreaded Phoenix King.
He is pointed in the proper direction, to the second biggest hut in their village. The first being reserved for Chieftain Hakoda with enough space to host council meetings.
The young boy, obviously of Fire Nation heritage, arrives at the hut and tells his bodyguards to remain outside. They obey with much scowling. Some curiosity is born from this exchange, and slowly, a crowd of Water Tribe residents begin to form outside the famous Sokka’s tent.
This, of course, is when the boy chooses to speak. “Sokka!” he calls out, hands cupped around his lips, voice a bit shrill. Poor thing. It doesn’t appear puberty has struck yet.
A moment of anticipatory silence sweeps through the village. Then, the heavy fur over the doorway sweeps aside, revealing their hero Sokka and his ever-present, equally heroic wife Suki. They blink in stunned confusion.
“Uhh… do I know you?” Sokka asks, scratching at his bearded chin. (The beard had been a late addition and an absolute must as he never lost his fondness for the fake face hair he’d donned while undercover in the Fire Nation.)
The kid’s eyes light up upon sight of Sokka and he lurches forward, managing to startle both Sokka and Suki in the process, causing them to shift into defensive stances. Instead of an attack, however, Sokka finds himself embraced heartily.
“I’m Tom-Tom!” the boy gushes. “Don’t you remember? I want you to be my teacher!”
Sokka’s jaw drops and Suki laughs herself silly.