he always kept a handful of stars in his pockets
When he was younger, he always dreamed about having a little brother. He loved Katara, never any doubt about that, and he was so, so lucky to have her as his sister. But he still dreamed about another boy; someone who could train to be a warrior with him, someone he could share the burden of keeping the Southern Water Tribe safe with. Maybe even someone without the ability the bend water; someone he could share his boomerang and maybe his sword with.
He stopped dreaming about this boy not long after his dad leaves their tribe and he has no parents left. He still keeps the vision of the boy alive, in his head, and pretends he's real, sometimes, when he's all alone, and he's absolutely certain that Katara is busy elsewhere and won't come bothering him.
It's now, a few years later, that he travels with a boy younger than him.
Aang is not exactly what he had imagined is perfect little brother to be: firstly, he can bend elements. Like — a lot. All of them. And he definitely doesn't fight with boomerangs or swords, and he has absolutely no time to learn it. Mastering all four elements comes first.
But, sometimes, he now dreams about a world where Aang has defeated the Fire Lord and has mastered all the elements; he dreams about a peaceful time where he can step up and show Aang how to properly throw a boomerang and how to always make sure that it comes back.
Just for fun. Not because they would need it in a fight for their lives.
Just — like a big brother showing his younger one a little trick. To have fun together.
Aang is also a lot more hyperactive than the little boy he imagined having around. It's hard to pin him down; Aang always seems to hang in the air in some way or another. Most often on his air scooter or his glider, but sometimes he goes floating with the water, too.
Sokka finds it charming, in a weird way. It's definitely never boring with Aang around; just watching him fly around their newest camp with Momo is highly entertaining. Since Toph joined them even more so: she can get hilariously angry when Aang spends too much time in the air, and she can't sense him.
Aang is nearly always happy. He smiles and laughs more than Sokka could handle in the first few months their traveled together; he was used to the stern and exhausted faces in their Tribe. Even the children there had hardly ever any reason to laugh: war does that to people.
But Aang is just who he is: a happy person, a happy child. It loosened something inside Sokka that he hadn't realized had hardened. He smiles and laughs more now than in the last years, even though the war feels closer than ever before. It's a good feeling.
But they are fighting together, side by side. Aang with his bending that gets better by day and Sokka with his boomerang and his wit. They are fighting together against the big evil, as he had always imagined doing with his little brother.
Aang fails at whispering, the excitement in his voice too much to contain. It doesn't matter; Katara is busy on the other side of the camp and Toph just rolls her eyes in an overly dramatic fashion.
Sokka moves to Aang's side; kind of hiding behind a rock, kind of not because of how obvious it is.
“What's going on?”, he asks and Aang does something weird with his arms, kind of flapping them around like a wayward bird.
“I've got something to show you”, he says, grinning, “but you have to promise not to tell Katara; she'll get angry.”
Sokka is on board immediately and grins back. “She won't hear a thing from me.”
And then Aang stops flailing his arms and reaches into the pockets of his weird airbending clothes that look honestly to complicated for Sokkas tastes. Too much fabric just — hanging there. Somehow.
He folds his hands open slowly, as if revealing a great secret. Sokka secretly thinks that if he doesn't hurry up, Katara will probably notice that they're gone, but doesn't take Aangs fun away. Katara could never really get angry at Aang either way.
In the palm of his hand lay two fruits, perfectly ripe and in the most beautiful colour. They look beautiful and delicious.
“Where have you found those?”, Sokka asks, honestly kind of stunned. Colour raises in Aangs cheeks and Sokka knows. “You stole them?!”
“It wasn't like that -”, Aang starts, eyes down and starts pulling his hand back. Sokka reaches out and snaps one of the fruits before Aang can quite finish the motion.
“Amazing!”, he says, because he hadn't meant to make Aang feel bad, and he doesn't really care if or how Aang stole them. “They are one of my favorites.”
Aang's eyes start shining again, and he lifts a few centimeters of the ground. Sokka doesn't even think Aang knows that he's doing that. “I know! And when I saw them I just had to get some for you! But I didn't quite have enough money with me -”
Sokka grins at him. “Thank you”, he says simply and takes a huge bite.
Aang bounces on his feet (still in the air, of course) and raises his own fruit to his mouth.
“Boys!”, Katara yells from somewhere behind them. Aang yelps and rams the whole fruit in his mouth at once as if Katara had somehow gained to ability to fly, too.
Sokka laughs at him and thinks about the little brother of his imagination. He's pretty sure such scenarios belonged there, too.
The little brother of his dreams also had hair on his head, but that's probably a rude thing to say. He's pretty sure the bald head and the blue arrows meant something important in Aang's nation.
It's just — Sokka had to make a few adjustments to the little brother of his imagination.
But he's happy with the family he's got now. The real deal is always better than any imagination.