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|50 First Dates|
16th December, 2013
50 First Dates
"G-girlfriend?" Toph repeated, gulping a little as her throat closed up.
Toph could hear the cheesy grin on his face, the smack of lips on lips, but only just. The blood, again, rushed through her ears as her stomach dropped away, and although she couldn't see it, her pinkish cheeks had paled substantially, making the pallid girl look even more ghostly than usual.
"O-oh," she managed to force out from around the lump in her throat. Her arms were leaden, and it sent sharp pangs through her chest. She was saved from having to do or say anything else because at that moment, Ty Lee decided to arrive. She had been in the bathroom too, but crutches on a born acrobat were probably not the easiest—nor safest—things for her to use.
"Hey, Suki, our movie starts in a minute, and I need help getting up the stairs," she complained lightly. "Oh, hey Sokka, Toph!" Toph felt herself pulled into one of the lithe girl's tight hugs, and didn't know whether she wanted to push her away, or sink into it. Ty Lee didn't give her an option, which was probably a good thing, as they broke apart.
"Aww. I'll see you later, babe?" Sokka asked, and the nauseous feeling that had plagued Toph that morning came back in full force. It seemed that the universe wanted to give her some consolation for the bad hand, though, because Sokka's phone suddenly went off. He handed it to her without picking up. "It's Kyoshi," he said. "Do you mind getting it?" It took Toph a moment to remember that they had traded numbers that morning in the car, so Kyoshi could reach them, but when she did so she took the proffered item and nodded, walking away from them a little as she answered. She could try to fool herself into thinking it was because he was still a little scared of her, but the hurt side of her argued that he probably just wanted to make-out with Suki for a while.
"Hey, Toph." Kyoshi's voice ran tinny through the phone, and Toph had never thought it sounded so good.
"Take me home," she said, not even bothering to return the greeting. Kyoshi's silence conveyed her surprise at the tone—and the request—but she gathered herself quickly.
"Am I dropping Sokka home?" she asked, and Toph tried as hard as she could not to flinch.
"Hold on..." She walked slowly back towards the group, suddenly feeling very small. She didn't like it at all. "Sokka, do you need a lift home?" She tried to imbue her voice with as much feeling as she could, but was woefully transparent. Sokka shot her a funny look, but of course she missed it. It had been weeks since Toph's voice was that flat, but then again, it had also been weeks since she felt that low, too.
"Uh, if it wouldn't be too much to ask, that'd be awesome!" he replied, and Toph gave a jerky nod.
"Yeah, if that's cool," she answered into the phone. There was a pause from the other end before Kyoshi spoke again.
"Are you okay?"
Toph didn't really want to talk about it, let alone on the phone in front of him; she answered with a terse, "Yes." Kyoshi didn't speak for what seemed to be the longest time, but when she finally did, it was just to say that she was coming. Toph handed the phone back stiffly.
"I'm going to wait outside. It's too cold in here," she said blandly. Without waiting for a reply, she walked off into the crowd, following the sounds of traffic and the feel of slightly warmer air. She was strong, she didn't need him. She most certainly wasn't going to break her 'no crying' rule over some guy.
But once she got outside, she couldn't stop the utter humiliation from setting up shop where her heart should be. In one moment, where she was finally happy, she had told someone. Told someone that she might actually like someone else, and that they seemed to like her. Yeah, sure, that was bad enough on its own, and something she would have been lamenting about earlier. Not this. Not telling the girlfriend of the guy. Toph's arms itched, and she sat down on a seat near the smoking zone. Even second-hand stuff was better than nothing at this stage. The will to not cry was fading—she couldn't even channel it into anger anymore. What was the point in being angry when everything was shit and it wasn't going to get any better?
Idly, Toph scratched at the long sleeves of her shirt. She had hoped Kyoshi would arrive before Sokka found her, but apparently she wasn't finished her round of bad luck.
"You okay?" he asked, inadvertently repeating Kyoshi's question as he sat down with a small hff.
"Fine." Toph didn't mean for her voice to sound so sharp, but she didn't know what to say about it to take it back. She felt Sokka look at her peculiarly, but he didn't say anything. Toph was grateful; she loved his voice.
No, dammit girly. Stop it, she hissed to herself. She felt Sokka shift slightly, as though he was about to speak, but the sudden blaring of a horn distracted him.
"That's Kyoshi," Toph said, jumping up as she recognised it. She made her way to the car, knowing Sokka was behind her but not caring—or caring too much.
The drive home was tense, to say the least. Sokka could have blamed his as-yet unresolved issues with Toph's foster carer, but he knew he would be lying. He shot her a glance from the corner of his eye, frowning. Toph's face was drawn, her fringe covering her eyes. What he could see of her mouth was a tight frown, and she was fiddling with the hem of her sleeve, blind eyes focused on it. Kyoshi's phone rang, and as she busied herself plugging the bluetooth in, Sokka leaned in a little closer to his short friend.
"Wotcha thinking about?" he asked, more casually than he felt. Toph jerked slightly, surprised, before her face settled back into gloomy nonchalance.
"Nothing." She turned her face towards him, staring straight through. "Why?"
Sokka shrugged. "You just... got really quiet," he finished lamely. Kyoshi was still talking on the phone, so he wasn't afraid of being overhead. Toph didn't make any comment on his observation, though, and as they pulled into his street, all opportunities for conversation ceased. Kyoshi has a really good memory, he mused to himself. They pulled into his driveway, and Sokka couldn't help but hesitate a moment. He wanted to talk to Toph, find out what happened to make her angry, but he found himself unable to.
"So, er, that was fun," he said rather lamely. "I'll see you on uh, Friday for another movie?"
Toph gave a noncommittal shrug. "Sure. See you around, Sokka. Or, not..." With a halfhearted wave in his direction, she was off. Toph felt uncomfortable, to say the least, and every minute she spent in his company was another blow. She couldn't say she wasn't expecting it, of course. She knew, right from the beginning, that it would all turn to shit. It could have been worse. She could have told him she had feelings. Good feelings. About him, and her, and in the tiny part of her tiny heart, about how she had entertained the ridiculously improbable idea of a them.
In a burst of anger, she swung her hand out, hitting the inside of the door. Kyoshi didn't say anything, and Toph took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm herself.
"So, how was it?" The older woman's voice broke through Toph's wall of self-pity, and she crossed her arms.
"It went fine," came the short answer, and Toph had a feeling she was being glared at.
"Oh? Then what's with the attitude?"
The blind girl sighed, either in an effort to cleanse her mind, or stop herself from crying (angry or otherwise, they were still tears).
"Sorry," she mumbled contritely; this time, Kyoshi grumbled.
"Now I know something's wrong," she said. She didn't ask again, and Toph slumped back in her seat. It was futile, she knew. She could feel the heat prickling at her eyes. Okay, fine. Just because they're there doesn't mean they have to fall, she told herself.
"Toph?" Kyoshi's voice prompted her to look up, and Toph came to the unwanted realisation that they had indeed fallen, and she was indeed crying. She just shook her head; they would be home soon and she could get her hands on a cigarette, or maybe some alcohol. Hell, she'd go and snivel to Jet if she had to. There were only a few things that would make her feel better, and crying wasn't one of them. Sitting around moping wasn't either.
As soon as Kyoshi pulled into the driveway and cut the engine, Toph was out of the car. Her cane slid rhythmically along the pavement as she walked away. Kyoshi called out after her, but she was ignored as Toph sought solitude, at least for a moment while she made her way to her destination. There was only one other person she could tolerate to be around at that moment, and that was because he usually had some alcohol, nicotine, or some other contraband with which she could use to make herself feel better. Despite her head telling her that with Jet was where she needed to be to feel better, she couldn't ignore the quiet voice in her heart asking that, when it was all over, would it truly be worth it?
She didn't have an answer.
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