Chapter information

Seven Seaside Stones



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Release date

4th August, 2013

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Ember Island




after a long time, typically when there has been a delay


Toph had never realised how difficult sneaking away was, until she actually desperately wanted to do it. When she was a child (perhaps... six years ago?) it had been easy, because she hadn't wanted to. But now as a young adult, she was almost prepared to bend her friends underground just so she could get away without raising suspicion. She'd reach out with her bending, ensure that no-one was watching her, and make it about half-way out of the camp (or building or wherever) before Aang was running to catch up to her, or Katara was calling her name. To be honest, she was rather sick of it.

Not that she didn't get any time to herself—she had managed to get away before. That was probably why it was so irritating; she knew exactly what to expect, should she actually be able to escape. After all, she didn't go and cock-block Aang or Katara—what did she do to deserve it?

On the off-chance that she was actually able to get some time alone with Sokka, something, or someone, would inevitably interrupt.

She remembered staying at the Fire Palace. She had finally cornered Sokka in an empty room, and had been enjoying the feel of his lips on her throat. Unfortunately, Zuko had panicked when he couldn't find the resident troublemakers, and it was only due to Toph's superior hearing that they had broken free in time for half the palace guard to swarm the room. That had been a mood killer, and neither had been very happy with the Fire Lord after that escapade.

The second time, they had been camping in the rain, and so Sokka asked Toph is he could bunk with her—his tent had conveniently developed a hole. Naturally, she agreed, and the two had about ten minutes of unbroken making-out before Katara and Aang demanded (well, he asked) to be let in because the earthen tents were better insulated against the bitter wind that had picked up. Suffice to say, the duo didn't sleep, and were rather short with the confused waterbender the next day.

Toph was, to put it mildly, annoyed. She hadn't waited over half a decade just for her friends to ruin any chance she had at forming a more intimate relationship with Sokka. Actually, she could probably blame him, too, because he wanted to keep it a secret. Toph knew the reasons, but she didn't care. As far as she was concerned, the Kyoshi Warrior broke his heart, and if he wanted to move on he should be allowed to. But, she didn't dare suggest they tell anyone. After all, she would be lying if she said the secrecy wasn't a little hot, too.

It wasn't all about the kissing. It was the closeness, not only physically (but that was a part of it), but also emotionally. He didn't have to do anything, say anything, to make her feel secure. He didn't 'protect' her, but rather braved the enemy with her (the enemy that was her own inability to accept him as loving her, she quickly discovered). Their dynamic hadn't changed—the way they moved and spoke to each other was still the same. Only, there was more. After the relative seclusion and isolation she had suffered as a child, Toph found the feeling to be, well, nice.

Inevitably though, they slipped. They were on Ember Island, and Toph agreed to learn to swim. Well, when she agreed he could have asked her to turn into a platypus-bear for all she cared. She honestly hadn't been focussing on his voice at that moment. Sokka was... distracting.

They made sure to find a more secluded part of the beach. The Water Tribe warrior wasn't entirely sure how controlled he could remain, and didn't want to give anyone ideas. Unfortunately, the sight of her in wet bathers did tend to take up a significant portion of his mind, and so when she wrapped her legs around his waist, holding on as he carried her a little deeper, he didn't notice Aang flying above, wondering what they were doing.

When Toph nestled her face on his neck, he didn't notice the young monk grin and fly back towards their friends. Especially when she tightened her grip and began placing soft kisses under his ear. He vaguely wondered exactly how scared she was, before a gentle nip distracted him once again.

He didn't notice Aang returning, followed closely by Zuko and Katara. He was too busy brushing wet hair out of the way, before attacking Toph's face with his own. She grinned fiercely, and he found himself lost in her foggy eyes that seemed to stare straight through him. Actually, it was only the cat-calls that brought his attention back to reality. Turning around, his heart sank as he saw his friends standing (or in Zuko's case, relaxing) on the shore waiting for them. Toph felt his heart pick up, and finally she too noticed the cries. Her face turned a deep shade of red as she realised what had happened.

She wasn't embarrassed for herself—that would be pointless and silly. No, actually, the guilt only formed when she heard him cuss and hold her a little further away from his body. She wasn't offended by the movement; Toph was confident enough in herself to know that the past weeks (months, whatever. Who was counting?) were honest—that his feelings weren't a lie. That it wasn't his feelings for her that had caused such a reaction.

It was his lack of feelings for Suki.

Taking her back to shore, Toph stayed slightly behind Sokka as he drudged up the beach, a sorry look on his face. Aang was grinning madly—she could sense his fluttery heartbeats—but she couldn't get a read on Zuko or Katara. Zuko, probably because he didn't care, and Katara because she was avoiding focussing on her reaction. She reigned her bending in, concentrating only on the weight of her friends. She felt Katara take a few steps forward, before nudging her brother.

"It's about time," was all she said, before she was walking back up the beach, Zuko dragging behind her.

Toph heard a loud, "Hooray!" from Aang as he chased after his girlfriend, and cocked her head in Sokka's direction.

"So... you wanna get back in the water?"

She didn't see his coy glance, but she definitely felt it when he grabbed her and ran towards the ocean.

Notes: Uhhh..... no idea. I literally just finished this (hence why it's a lot later than usual). Rest assured, I'm back to my usual angst tomorrow!

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