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|and Dragon of The West||Drama||PG||Positive||None|
|The Wasted Warrior, Part 2: Regrets|
March 1st, 2011
The Weary Warrior
Hakoda sat quietly within his tent, idly thumbing the fur of his wolf mask. He remained still, vacantly gazing toward the door as if daring to see into the infamous Spirit Realm. For half an hour since receiving the order from Sokka for their first patrol since their return home, he had failed to gather the will to rise from his seat. Light flooded the room as an old friend slipped through the entrance. "Hakoda, the warriors are ready to head out, what's taking so long?"
The old warrior lifted his blue eyes to meet Bato's with a solemn frown. "Oh; I see." Bato calmly responded; his friend practically wore his heart on his sleeve.
Hakoda released a hoarse chuckle, sliding his helmet back onto the table beside his sword. His face spoke of many a sorrow, worn with age and war, just like the mars and chips of his blade. "Am I really that obvious?"
Bato only crossed his arms, firmly gripping the ancient burn marks he sustained so long ago. "As obvious as the proof you saved my life." He slyly responded with a tap on his burns that could well have proved fatal. "I'll go get your son."
He let out a frustrated snort as Bato left the tent, turning his gaze to his armor laid out on the counter. Would Sokka help him pack it and mark his helmet and sword per tradition? Bato understood his desire so quickly, so easily. He hadn't been sure how his war buddy would take it, but allowed himself a brief smile that it had gone so smoothly. Perhaps Bato shared his feelings.
With each passing minute Hakoda's anxiety increased akin to a fretful child. He could feel his own pulse thumping vigorously through his neck as the cloth door rippled back, revealing his full-grown son. As their eyes met, a shiver of dread crossed over the old warrior. This was it. It was time.
Sokka jabbed his thumb over his shoulder as he addressed his father. "Bato told me you wanted to see me...what's this about?"
"Well son..." Clearing his throat, a solid thump echoed as his boots firmly met the floor, turning to face his son; his chief. "Can you believe Sora is already taking her first steps?"
"You kiddin' me? I thought Katara was crazy about it, but Aang...wow. That's all he can talk about..." Closing his fingers over his chin, he stared perplexedly at his father. "You've dilly dallied for thirty minutes just to bring up that Sora's walking now? I mean, that's great and all, but..."
"It's not that Sokka." Hakoda cut in, though he followed his interruption with brief hesitation. "I really don't know how to tell you this." His brow knotted, no longer able to hold his chieftain's gaze as silent tears streamed down his hardened cheeks.
Sokka eyed his father's sudden change with wonder, dropping his arms loosely to his side. His father had been acting peculiar lately, though Sokka had managed to bite his tongue many a time rather than address it. He could do so no longer. "What? Are you regretting giving me this position? I mean I know I've screwed up now and then. If that's what this is about you can have it back..."
Hakoda swallowed down a heavy lump in his throat, lifting his callused hands to brush back tears. Between raspy breaths, he dared a reply. "It's just...that, well...I've been thinking." An exasperated sigh interrupted his words, leaving him breathless as he choked on his tears.
Bewilderment overwhelmed Sokka. His lip trembled as his eyebrows stiffened in anger and confusion. "That's it isn't it? Well, go on..."
He shut his eyes and exhaled, mustering his fleeting strength to utter his fears. "Well son, I'm scared..." Attempting to formulate a sudden reply, Sokka's mouth fell agape instead. He stood aghast, dumbstruck at his father's words. Had he really said that? Was this his father? This middle-aged man trembling in tearful agony...this stranger...received Sokka's sudden frustrated glare. "You're afraid."
Sokka's two words were livid, coated with doubt and disdain. Hakoda's eyes widened pitifully, imploring his son to understand as he begged between sobs. "Sokka, please! I already missed this once. Please, I can't miss it again..."
"So which is it?!" His son bellowed back, slamming his feet to the ground as they carried him briskly for his father. "You're scared?! Of what? You can't miss what again?" Amidst his rage; a sudden memory flashed into his mind, forcing his eyes wide in shock. "Sora."
Hakoda remained silent, withholding his sobs as he lifted his eyes to his son. "That's it isn't it?" Sokka continued softly, his own lip quivering amidst a sea of emotions – fear, rage, sorrow and confusion. "So you missed mine and Katara's childhood, and you want to make up for it with this baby? What is this? I mean, how is that supposed to make me feel?"
"No, it isn't like that! I can't make up for that. All I can worry about is right here and now, and I need to be there for her."
That was enough. He couldn't take this hurt any longer. Sokka burst into tears as he whipped away from his insolent father. Turning for the table he immediately plunged his finger into a small silver tin of warrior face paint, hastily smearing it across his father's sword and helmet. "Sokka..." Hakoda nearly cried anew as he witnessed his son's reaction.
Even so, amidst his tears Sokka found his words came calmly. "You know; back when Katara was such a jerk to you, I thought she was out of line...but now, now I don't blame her. She was right; you really weren't there for us." A sudden scowl crossed his brow, turning to ensure his following words hit home hard. "It seems no matter what I do; or how hard I try to follow your footsteps..." Sokka couldn't bear it, his words cut off as his throat clenched in agony. "You're always abandoning me."
"Sokka, no!" Hakoda burst out, leaping from his chair as his son stormed out of the tent. Following him out into the frigid weather in nothing but his casual wear, he laid his heavy hand on his son's shoulder. "Please! I can't do this anymore, it isn't because of you Sokka! I'm old, my reflexes are failing me; I'd surely die out there!" He shouted above a harsh gale that blew through their icy village. "I'm not quitting you...I'll still be here, I just won't be a warrior. Please understand! I've lost so much of my life to war!"
"Whatever!" Sokka jerked away, tearing his shoulder out from his father's hands. Spinning on his heel he quipped back in rage. "You want your peace you got it! I've already marked your helmet and sword, it's done! You're out! Finished! Now drop it and leave me alone!"
Hakoda gazed in astonishment. "I lost time with my mother...time that I can't get back now; what's left of my life I want to share with my family. So please; don't shut me out son...I love you."
Many silent eyes were observing this spectacle now as Sokka's glare lessened, but failed to fade. After a moment of silence Hakoda began to shiver in the cold breeze. "Get back inside." Sokka stated firmly, turning away. "I can't have you dying to the weather either, old man." The chieftain added with no emotion, steadily walking away from the scene.
"Son..." He inaudibly whispered beneath his breath, hidden by another strong gale. Frozen tears marked his cheeks as he turned back for his tent, consenting to his son's wishes.
"Please understand! I've lost so much of my life to war!"
"You're out! Finished! Now drop it and leave me alone!"
A tight scowl darkened Katara's features as she trudged hastily through the snow. It hadn't been but moments after the argument that she had been informed. She didn't want to believe it, but couldn't fathom something so public would be exaggerated.
"I'm old; I'd surely die out there!"
"I can't have you dying to the weather either, old man."
Katara's brow knotted sharply, glaring at the snow before her. Why would Sokka say such a thing? No, she wasn't hearing the full story; it was just the scattered memories of a bystander observing a hasty argument. Her thoughts paused as she pressed on, considering for a moment that however scattered the memories may have been, they were founded on some truth.
Should she ask her father what happened and hear his version of it? Her sapphire eyes honed upon his tent, pondering this for but a moment before deciding against it. Time was of the essence, if she didn't make it to the warriors in time they would set sail.
The wooden vessels sat idly in the bay's frigid waters, bobbing with the waves of the ocean. Something seemed off; the warriors weren't busying themselves for their first scouting run since her return home. A small gathering of nearly seven men stood by the hull of a nearby vessel, with Bato leaning back against its wood boards. Sighting the approaching Waterbender, Bato signaled a welcome for her as he stood upright.
Returning his gesture with a courteous nod, she scoured the ships nearby for signs of her brother. "What brings you here Katara?" Bato addressed respectfully, interrupting her observation.
Well, this would work out better anyhow. She decided she would probe for information before continuing any farther. "I was hoping you could tell me." She crossed her arms, burying her mitts beneath her fur coats sleeves. The warriors exchanged glances, sidestepping as they provided room for her to join them. "Alone, please."
Bato stepped forward curiously, dismissing his companions with a simple nod. After the warriors had left their company, Katara cleared her throat and set her eyes upon the aged warrior. "You haven't left yet. Why is that?"
"Well if that's a problem I can just go now." He responded with a sharp chuckle.
"No, it's not that. I meant is something wrong, what happened? Have you heard from Sokka or my dad?" She couldn't help but mention them, directing the topic in the direction she desired.
"Hm." His eyes fell to her feet, drowning himself in silent thought for a moment. This wasn't something he should simply frivolously tell anyone; he had kept the secret to himself for the time being. Yet, she was right, something was going on here and he suspected it was this. "Your father delayed us; he needed a private meeting with his son."
"And where is Sokka now?"
"He came by just a minute ago and suggested we set sail immediately; I questioned what happened but he wouldn't say. I was just about to go see Hakoda when you shown up. May I ask what you have heard?"
"It's best you don't. I'll see to it myself." She shook her head in response, returning to the reasoning that began this. "Can you tell me why dad wanted to speak with Sokka?"
His wary eyes held the younger woman's curious gaze, nodding gravely in acceptance. "He has served us loyally for decades, it was his time." So that was it. She scowled harshly and twisted her head away, glaring at the boat bobbing quietly on the waters in the distance. "Please forgive my asking again; but this is troubling me. What was Sokka's reaction?"
"He didn't take it well." Turning from the older warrior, she made her way along the docks to settle this matter with her brother.
The wooden door swung open, shedding light into the chief's candlelit cabin. Sokka rotated in his chair to spot his sister's figure darkening the doorway. Stepping in, the door latched shut behind her, sealing them to their privacy. The expression on her face warned him she knew, likely everyone did. Yet, he played naïve. "Hey sis. Shouldn't you be with Sora? Has she been walking more? Shame I can't stay to watch."
Bad choice. "Yes, a shame." She retaliated spitefully, clutching her arms in both hands as she straightened herself before him. "Do you have anything else you'd like to tell me, brother?" Her words fell out flatly, just as stiff as her posture.
His stomach churned as a crawling burn stretched up his spine. He was in for it, and not just from her. Still, he refused to buckle simply because his sister was challenging him. "Nothing but the usual." He sarcastically shot back, turning back to the desk before him.
Hasty footsteps echoed off the wooden floor before she slammed her hand on the desk's surface, demanding his complete attention. "Don't downplay this Sokka! You know what you did, now tell me why!"
Their eyes met sharply, nearly sending sparks between each other's solid glare. "I let him Katara. I could have said no, but I let him."
"Let him what?" She stood upright again, turning as she glowered down to her seated chief. "Right now the only thing I know is that you let him suffer. What you said to him was beyond out of line!"
"You're one to talk!" Sokka bellowed as he shot up, knocking his chair back to crash upon the floor with a thud. "Or did you forget?" Standing eye to eye, he leaned in as each refused to break their glaring contest. "You practically snubbed him during The War! Don't act so self-righteous that you completely forget what kind of a man he is!"
Her mouth cracked open as she stood horrified. "You're comparing me to this? How dare you." In stark challenge, she thrust forward and jammed her finger into his chest, driving him back a half-step against her approach. "Unlike you I never said anything I would regret! I knew when to hold my tongue; you just let yours run loose! And this is completely different! Back then was because of just how much I missed him in my life, and also unlike you I knew why he did what he did!"
"Then why did you act like such a jerk in the first place, huh? He knows exactly why! I told him just like I told you; I feel exactly like you did then – because he abandoned us! And he's still abandoning me! Excuse me if you're too blind to see he never changed!" At this point, both their voices had escalated beyond control.
Sokka had lost himself to his rage, and Katara had just met her breaking point. "You WHAT?!" She stood back, stretching her arm for the doorway. "What is this for? Pride? You can't just let him go in peace? Payback? What?! What is it? Because whatever you're doing is just stupid – why do I always have to correct you, even as a chief? I swear I'm raising more than just Sora here."
"Get out Katara." He narrowed his eyes, nearly spitting his order at her.
"Sokka, I will leave when this is over and you will apologize to dad. Or don't you think he's hurt, since now that we lost Gran Gran, his only son would rather him die in battle than live peaceably at home?"
"Yeah sure; you just keep playing mother and telling me what to do. You like to act like you're so much better than everyone, always so quick to say things are different. Nobody's perfect except you." His words carried an icy chill, one that brought a deathly glare from her in return.
"I am just about sick of you." She hissed venomously, narrowing her eyes for her adversary. "I wouldn't play mother over you if you didn't act like such a child half the time."
"Get. Out." He reinforced his demand sternly, jabbing a finger for the door.
"No." She plainly retorted. This argument was going nowhere. Despite Katara's adamant desire to right the wrong she felt was done, Sokka proved just as stern in his belief he had done no wrong. Her mind stewed quickly over what to address next, but as she did so the door to the room swung wide open.
Sokka lowered his finger as three warriors, with Bato at their lead, advanced through the doorway. Without wasting a moment's breath Bato began with a livid shout. "How dare you have the audacity to address a hero like Hakoda the way you did!"
"Bato, this is a family matter. Please stay out of it." Sokka addressed the furious warrior calmly, yet directly. Katara crossed her arms and stood back, resting against the nearby desk. She wanted to keep this within the family as well, but that wasn't quite working out according to her plans. Perhaps Bato had shown up at just the right time. He appeared more enraged than she was if that were possible.
"Tough luck on that one chief." Another warrior piped up just before Bato continued.
"If you think for a second I'm going to sit back and let Hakoda be degraded by his own son because of a supposed family matter, you have another thing coming son." Bato balled his right hand into a fist and pounded his own chest in quick rage. "I owe that man my life! And if you think I'm the only one who would dare say such a thing then you're a fool! He's the most valued and respected man I can think of among all the Southern Water Tribe, dedicating decades of his life selflessly for the well-being of others!" The three warriors behind him stepped beside Bato, two crossing their arms as they all eyed their chief.
"And he got his retirement, okay!? Would all of you get off my back? I gave him what he wanted!"
"That was no way to send off an esteemed veteran; a former chief who held a defensive for the Earth Kingdom with no benders at his disposal." He crossed the threshold slowly, tipping his head to Sokka as he approached, slightly taller than his chief. "He never shown you the marks of war he bears or told you how aches and nightmares plague him, did he? You should ask him sometime. Perhaps when you're over your own self pity."
Katara cupped her hand over her mouth as tears welled in her eyes, turning away from Bato. This was the first she'd heard of her father's wounds. If only she had the opportunity to try to heal them away sooner, maybe she could have made a difference.
"Look, Bato..." Sokka began calmly, failing to keep eye contact with his warrior. "I'm sorry, alright? Our fight wasn't because he was retiring; it was because...well..." He swallowed hard. Bato was right; he had let his own self-pity affect the argument.
"Because of what?" Katara posed, twisting her head back as she wiped away tears from her cheek.
Sokka sighed, dropping his head against his hand as he rubbed firmly at his temples. "I guess because we're all still stressed..."
Bato sighed, idly waving off his three comrades before he finished addressing Sokka. "Go speak with him. I will not be setting sail with you until Hakoda is properly received." Turning to Katara, Bato graciously bowed his head, crossing his arm over his chest in an honorary salute. "I apologize for interfering against your wishes, lady Katara."
She smiled sheepishly; it had been awhile since she had heard such well-mannered speech. This reminded her temporarily of being among the Air Nomads, leaving her to wonder how they were getting along without her and Aang. After Bato had taken his leave, she sat in silence against the desk, observing the closed door in thought.
"Katara." Sokka interrupted her memories, directing her attention back to him. "Look, about what I said..."
"It was rather rude." She stated drably, staring haughtily at her brother. "But forget about it. I know you actually like how I've treated you over the years...and that you see my face when you try to remember mom."
Sokka's heart plummeted. He never had told her that; it must have been Toph. How could she give him up like that? He did not see that coming. Letting out a frustrated grunt he turned away, entertaining irritation for the Earthbender. "I overheard you talking with Toph back in the Fire Nation...I was below you when you said that."
"Yeah, yeah..." Sokka idly responded, reaching up to rub the back of his head nervously. Learning Toph hadn't ratted him out brought him a portion of relief. "Well that's just great. No hard feelings then, thanks for stopping by."
"Sokka." She pushed off of the desk, pacing steadily to stand beside her brother. Taking his shoulder in her hand, her tone conveyed sympathy. "Go see dad. I think he really needs you right now."
"Yeah..." He hung his head, as embarrassed as ever at his own shame.
"Kya, I am sorry." A worn, depressed old man's voice sounded. In his hands he held one of her most cherished memories, a small blue outfit the loving mother had intricately crafted so long ago. "I've let you down."
He dropped Katara's baby clothes to his chest, allowing his arms to fall lifelessly at his side on the bed. Suddenly he felt like no more than a child, desiring that his own mother had not died so he could bear his heart before her; but she was gone too.
He hadn't ceased his tears since his argument with his son, though he hadn't truly even tried. It seemed the world had turned against him, steadily drifting away. He finally closed his eyes, allowing silent tears to descend into his long, dark brown hair.
Minutes passed in somber silence, allowing reflection upon times long forgotten. Where had he gone wrong? Or for that matter, had he ever been right? Kya had been such a centerpiece to his life, losing her had sent his world crashing down around him.
How does one be a father in times of war? One more raid on their village could have devastated it. By taking the fight to the Fire Nation, he had hoped to keep his enemies from harming further innocent lives. But in doing so he had sacrificed being a part of his family. Not just his children, but time with his mother as well.
War had claimed more from his life than he had even realized before. Losing Kanna had been the final blow, opening his eyes to how swiftly life was running away from him. He ran a callused hand over his face, groaning at how he should express himself to plead for forgiveness when he wasn't sure he deserved it.
The walk was a quiet one, filled with many a watching eye. Leaving the docks, the young man's heart had spilled, seemingly being dragged behind him with each step. He knew now he had gone too far, allowing himself to become lost in the heat of the moment and weight of his emotions.
Sokka's head clouded with the anxiety for what words he should use. Swallowing his pride and admitting his failure was nothing new to him, he felt like he had been doing so all his life. But this time it hurt; he had dragged his father down with him and made himself an utter fool of a chief before all of his peers.
Was he only doing this because he was made to? He neared his father's tent, holding the door in his sight as he approached. He didn't want his words to feel empty, as if placed in his mouth by others. For a good minute he stood patiently before the hut's entrance, rehearsing in his mind apologies he might voice, though none felt appropriate. Finally relenting a plan could not be made, he drew a deep breath. He had put his foot in his mouth plenty a time, now he would simply do as he had always done before; press forward and see what happened.
The smeared sword and helmet still sat undisturbed on the table. His father's armor remained unpacked, awaiting attention on the counter. Simply the sight of this wrenched Sokka's gut, reminding him of his behavior.
At the back of the hut lay his father, the sight of which struck Sokka dumb. A small metal chest sat open beside the bed holding an assortment of color-faded toys and clothing, some of which he recognized. Hakoda wasn't even looking at him, gazing vacantly up to the curved ceiling like he didn't even recognize his son was there.
"Dad." Sokka implored.
Rather than return his attention, Hakoda's eyes slowly closed. What should he say? Son? He wanted to reply, to ask forgiveness, but at the moment he couldn't find himself desiring to request it. Instead a dull emptiness filled his heart.
"Dad, please..." He continued, slowly carrying himself for his father's bedside.
A single, fresh tear ran down his cheek, sensing his son's approach. His throat swelled with his struggle, creasing his brow in confused frustration. He wasn't mad at Sokka; or rather, he was but wished not to be.
His son dropped to his knees beside his bed, joining him in his tearful anguish. "I never should have said what I did."
"You only said what was on your heart." He calmly responded.
The words had been spoken and there was no taking them back. Sokka sank further, sitting upon his legs as he took the bed's side in his hands. "No, I overreacted. You're on my heart."
Attempting to smile at his son's corny comment, he found that he couldn't. Sokka's words had not satisfied his ache. He released a heavy sigh in attempt to keep from losing his composure like his son had before.
"Say something." Sokka begged. He found himself desiring to hear his father's words, even if it meant releasing his anger upon him.
"I tried, son." He bit his tongue, holding back his emotions to draw a forceful breath. At last he turned his head to cast his forlorn eyes upon his son. "I know it felt like I abandoned you, believe me I know. Being apart from you was torture for me, because I felt the same way. I often considered throwing it all away to return home and be with you and your sister, but I couldn't – not when so many lives were depending on me."
Sokka breathed gently, sitting upright as he forced a smile for his father. "I'm proud of you dad."
Those were the words of sweet release Hakoda needed. Tears burst forth as he shot up, throwing his arms around his son's shoulders to pull him into his hold. Sokka returned his father's embrace, joining in his tears. "I'm the failure here, not you. I don't deserve to follow in your footsteps as chief."
"Everyone stumbles, Sokka. But you have enough wisdom and courage to admit when you do. I forgive you."
"I'm sorry." He quietly added, muffled against Hakoda's shoulder. Cracking his tear-filled eyes open, he noticed the marked helmet and sword still lying on the table. His eyes strained at the sight. "Dad. There's something I need to set right."
Lowering the Arms of War
Hakoda sat peacefully in his chair, his eyes closed as he bounced his leg steadily. His mind ran over the events of the day, still weary from sailing such a great distance between the two opposing tribes. He found himself wondering, would he miss the life? Could he simply switch from his years of vigilant service to simply live commonly among families?
He had done it before, so long ago, and it wasn't as if he hadn't been around his family during this time. Yet, he sensed he was changing with age. Even so he found memories of war and fear for survival still lingering within his thoughts. Perhaps with time he could settle into a life of calm, especially considering the wonderful company he would keep. No, he knew better; these memories would be with him for life.
But still he smiled at the day's events.
"Hakoda, Warrior of the Water Tribe, our former esteemed chief; arise." Sokka spoke as calmly as possible; having rehearsed this many times over. They had already begun the ceremony and it was well underway, but the final steps were the most anticipated.
Standing upon the issuance of the current chief, Hakoda lifted his helmet before his chest. Just behind Sokka stood the great icy gates of the Southern Water Tribe, with a line of warriors standing at either side of the path leading to it.
Reactively, Sokka closed in on the retiring veteran, reaching forward to gracefully lay his painted fingers atop the readied helmet. "For your vigilant service and protection of our people and even insomuch as for other nations, I give you the Mark of the Trusted."
Tears welled in his father's eyes, remaining silent as Sokka took the helmet from his father and placed it on a nearby ice-flat. Reactively Hakoda proceeded with the next planned step, withdrawing his sword to lay it flat upon both his palms. Resting his fingers on the side of the blade, just above the hilt, Sokka lifted his voice once more. "For your determination to see each battle through, often risking your own life such that no soldier was left behind, I give to you the Mark of the Brave." Sokka fluidly marked a half moon upon the blade's side, then again as Hakoda flipped the blade over.
Just as before, Sokka carried the artifact to the table of ice and set it down just in front of the former chief's helmet. Hakoda drew a deep, wary breath as he prepared for the coming moments. This was it, this was the finale. He removed his armor ritualistically, folding them neatly together to hold it outstretched in his arms.
But this time, Sokka hadn't yet turned around. A sudden wave of confusion washed over Hakoda, nervously darting his eyes over to his son's back. Was he going to freeze up and not complete it? "I can't do it." He stated audibly, turning a tearful pair of blue eyes upon his father.
No way. Hakoda's eyes widened, taking in the sight of his son with sudden stupor. Did he really just end the ceremony mid-service? "I had a speech all laid out, but I just can't use it." His son approached warily, before standing just in front of his father. "So forget the speech, I have to just say this for myself."
"I am ready, my chief." Hakoda warmly smiled in return, casting a pair of misty blue eyes upon his only son with welling pride.
"When you gathered all our warriors and headed to battle, the decision hurt you terribly to leave behind everything you loved. But you made that choice out of the best intentions, sharing hope and a chance at a peace when there was none. You fought so others wouldn't have to. You've taught me if there's one thing I need to learn from you; it's how to love others more than yourself."
Upon finishing both had broken to tears, yet remained motionless to keep within the ceremony. His son drew a shaky breath, rubbing tears from his cheek with the back of his hand before continuing. "For the devotion you have passed on to me and my sister, I give to you the Mark of the Wise."
As per tradition, Sokka maintained his composure and marked the chest armor in his father's arms, leaving the rest of the armor neatly untouched. However, this didn't feel enough. A sudden idea flashed through his mind that he dared to dismiss, but decided to follow it through regardless. "Dad. Kneel?" He whispered, inaudible to the other warriors. His cheeks tightened in a broadening smile. Dropping to his knees, he lifted his head up to his son. Within a moment's passing, Sokka inscribed the Mark of the Wise upon his father's forehead.
He found himself pondering over what exactly took place following that. It all seemed a blur it had happened so fast, but he couldn't forget the devotion and pride Sokka had displayed for him. Following that moment he had steadily walked for the gates of the village, with his chief behind him, carrying his sword, helmet and armor. Once home they would be packed away, hopefully never needing to see the day duty called them forth once again.
Many a tearful salute, along with a variety of additions and statements of glorious praise, had met him on his march home. This had been his final walk as a warrior; the march of a hero returning to the tribe he had defended for so long, seeking to settle down within its proud arms.
Finally opening his eyes, Hakoda glanced down to the little girl he had been gently bouncing atop his leg, holding his arms supportively around her. Sora had fallen asleep sometime during his reminiscing it appeared.
Katara peered in through the shadowy doorway with a pleasant smile; observing the retired warrior, a grandfather, with his granddaughter in his lap. He slowly rose to his feet, bracing her in his stalwart arms. With a slow pace so as not to wake her, he approached her crib before leaning to set her gently into it.
"Sweet dreams, little one. May you sleep in peace."
- provided the idea I should make the finishing ceremony a flashback. I loved that idea.
- A fair bit of information was attributed to The Awakening, where Hakoda admitted his hurt to Katara.
- The idea of using marks and bundling the armor was requested by Dragon of the West. I decided to reintroduce the marks shown in Bato of the Water Tribe, showing how each can be combined in reverent respect to those who have served well.
- It was intentional that the last word of the story would be Peace.
|Honor Thy Father Chapters|
| Hope Against Hope - A Change of Pace - Tainted Sanctuary - A New Home - Recovered - Empowered - When In Doubt - The Hunt - Full Moon - Reckonings - Sora
The Love of the Daughter - The Wasted Warrior, Part 1: Cycles- The Wasted Warrior, Part 2: Regrets- Daddy - The Charade, Part 1: The Shadow - The Charade Part 2: The Beast - The Charade, Part 3: The Fool - The Breakthrough - Redemption, Part 1: Dejection - Redemption, Part 2: Dominion