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2nd September, 2013

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Toph hated it when Sokka drank. She hated it even more if everyone else did it with him. It wasn't like he was an angry drunk, or even a sad one. No. Sokka was an affectionate drunk. So, when Zuko became tipsy and called for his own carriage, and Aang had left long ago, it was up to her and her level head to rescue him from whatever pickle he had wound himself up in. She hated it, but she would always do it—she had always helped him, in the decade they had known each other. Of course she would.

And that, of course, was the crux of the matter. He tortured himself with drink; she tortured herself with him.

Toph had never dated. She wasn't entirely sure why people broke up if they still loved each other (Suki had muttered something about duty), and why it was so monumental when they said those three little words. She didn't know how it felt—any of it. But, true to herself, she ignored it—she didn't need that stuff. She was Toph Beifong, strong and hard, and she didn't need anyone but herself.

Unfortunately, all that reasoning went out the window when she half carried him home, and he wanted nothing more in his intoxicated state than to smell her hair, or marvel at her calloused hands.

This evening, she had managed to get him away from the alcohol with barely a complaint, although he did whimper slightly as she took away the half-bottle of the Water Tribe vodka. Shoving a piece of jerky into his mouth, he munched on the salty food with a simple expression as she payed his tab and led him from the establishment. She very much would have preferred to take him back to his own house, but it was almost twice as far away as her own. Sighing resignedly, she tugged him along, forced to listen to whatever came to his mind that night. He was generally a particularly talkative drunk, but tonight he seemed fairly content to just follow her.

"Wher- where're we goin'?" he mumbled, tripping only a little over the uneven ground.

"Home, Sokka," she sighed again, ignoring the fluttering in her stomach as he strung his arms over her shoulder.

"Bu' this is the way to your home... Tophy! Are- are you takin' me home?" he slurred into her ear, not realising she couldn't see him wiggle his eyebrows.

"I just said that, didn't I? Geddoff me." They rounded the corner into her street, and with another hard shove, Toph had him walking down the small garden path. He didn't say anything as she unlocked the door, walking in without a fuss as the wood swung open.

Toph expected him to go to the guest bedroom or, failing to make it up the stairs, the lounge room couch. She did not expect him to grab her hand and pull her to the couch.

"We never get to talk an'more, Tophy!" he cried, stringing his arms over her shoulders again. Ahh. There goes the talking. Either he ignored or didn't noticing the way she tensed up. "I wanna talk again," he mumbled, digging his face into the crook of her neck and shoulder.

Sitting there awkwardly, Toph tried to get out of the situation as calmly as possible. Which was to jump away and mutter something about needing water. Practically running to the kitchen to pour herself a glass from the pitcher, she couldn't help the memories that surfaced; of him nudging her when she punched him, laughing—laughing because of her—and the way his skin smelt as it mixed with her own unique scent. Sliding to the floor with her head in her hands, Toph made no effort to move as she felt Sokka fall off the lounge and start crawling over to her.

"Nnn.... you okay, Tophy?" he mumbled as he sat next to her. She didn't answer for a moment, and so he tried again. "Are you sad? I don't want you to be sad... You're my bestest friend an' if you get sad, I'll get sad, and then we'll be two sad people, an' that's two people too many...."

He trailed off at the end, and even through the hazy intoxication, he noticed how her lips curled up slightly at his words.

"I'm fine, Snoozles." She gave a little grin, but even then it still felt hollow. She meant it—she'd always smile for him—but sometimes she wanted him to smile for her, too.

Taking the positive expression as an invitation, Sokka gently lay his head on her shoulder. He felt her tense again—why did she keep doing that?—before she raised her arm and wrapped it around his wide shoulders.

"Sorry you had to come an' get me again," he said quietly as her fingertips started to slowly massage his head. "You're awesome... Suki used to just leave me... Why do you do it?"

The fingers stopped momentarily, before they began moving again, and she answered with her own question, "Why did Suki leave you?" She didn't feel the need to specify, and he didn't ask.

"I dunno... after the war, we couldn't- being with each other didn't help. Dri- drinking didn't help," he said quietly, stumbling slightly over his words. "I mean, when you love someone you should be able to help them, an' they should be able to help you if you need it. But we didn't have that... we couldn't rely on each other..."

They fell into a light silence, broken only by their breathing, and the sound of a catowl hooting in the distance.

"Would you help me?"

Even in the near silence, Sokka had to tilt his head to hear her properly. Did- did she want his help? But Toph never wanted help! She never needed it, never asked for it. The fingers didn't falter at all as the silence grew dark and heavy, hanging on the reply Sokka—even in his alcohol induced state—wasn't sure he could give. She spoke again, and for once in his life, he didn't interrupt.

"I mean, you said that it's a mutual thing, isn't it? I've never had anyone want to help me. They wanted to help the little blind girl they saw. But you don't see me like that; I know you'd be helping me and not that little girl."

Toph fell silent, and Sokka could feel the heat emanating from her face. He felt as though Toph had just told him something important, but for the life of him, his poor brain couldn't make the connection. Her fingers were still running through his hair—wait—why were they doing that?—and she smelt sort of like earth, but it was more like a forest in the rain. Or a beachside wood. Yes, there was definitely salt there. It smelt nice.

He found his mind nodding off, the purpose behind her words still undiscovered as his eyes shut.

"I'll help you, Toph," he mumbled, yawning. He felt her hands stop again as Toph stood up, but the hushed complaint died in his throat when she heaved him up.

"I'm not having you fall asleep on the floor. Come on."

They made it perhaps halfway to the stairs before Sokka groaned and gave up, collapsing on the couch. Unfortunately, the action ended up dragging her down with him. As soon as she was aware of their proximity, Sokka felt Toph try and jump away. He couldn't imagine why, and so he grabbed her in a tight hug and held her there.

"Don' go!" he cried drunkenly, shaking her a little. "We didn't get a chance to talk!"

He felt Toph's chest expand beneath his arms as she inhaled, and then sighed.

"You're drunk, Sokka. We can talk tomorrow."

She made no move to hug him back, and he missed the feeling of her hands in his hair. Moving closer (if that were even possible), he pushed Toph into the corner of the arm-rest and back of the couch, practically lying on her as he snuggled down. He wasn't sure what had compelled him to make such a move; he just wanted to be closer to her. His head moved up and down as her chest moved in quick pants beneath him, and he listened to the sound of her heart tapping solidly beneath his ear.

"Mmm.... maybe you're right..." he yawned. "I'll just go to sleep an' we can talk in th' morning."

Bright light streamed in through wide windows, causing Sokka to wake up and groan, before nuzzling his head further into his arm to obscure the offensive sun. It took him several moments, but he soon realised that the breathing, moving skin that he had his face pushed into was both very soft and very warm.

And definitely not his.

Opening his eyes, slowly, hoping for the best yet fearing the worst, he felt his face heat up in a blush when he realised he was sleeping on a very comfortable female chest. Looking up, he came face to face with a very red Toph, who was breathing rather heavily and quite flushed.

"Wh- what are you doing?" she stuttered, eyes wide. Sokka could only gape at her as the colour continued to fade.

"I like your chest!" he cried out, before wrenching himself upright and mentally facepalming himself as Toph choked on nothing. He almost missed the way her lips—very pink and pretty lips—curled up slightly.

Suddenly, his mind was intruded by thoughts that, until recently, had centred around Suki. Again, his dastard brain voiced the first though that popped into his head, and he knew that it was possible for Toph to look like a tomato.

"You're a girl!"

The words were uttered, more in surprise than anything else, and he found himself drawn to the way her eyes—her gorgeous, utterly useless, fabulous eyes—flitted around, looking in every direction but his. Slowly, he slid along the couch. Toph bit her bottom lip in trepidation, and he desperately wanted to see how they would taste covered in his. But, if he went for it, and she didn't reciprocate, it could ruin their friendship completely.

Would you help me? ... I mean, you said that it's a mutual thing, isn't it?

Eyes wide in dawning realisation, Sokka felt his heart beat a few tentative beats faster. Holding his hand out and cupping her cheek, he smiled as the gorgeous colour flooded her face again.

"I'll help you, Toph," he whispered, leaning into her once again.

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