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|More from Fruipit||Hurt/Comfort & Romance||PG-13||None||No update page|
27th March, 2013
Jumping free of the large ship docked in the city ports, Toph used her earthbending to soften the fall before standing up and brushing herself off. She wasn't 12 years old anymore and it would be unbecoming for the Chief of Police to roll around in glee whenever she exited one of the infernal vessels. The brushing only resulted in smearing the dirt even further, and she grinned happily at the people standing around her in shock that a person had just leaped from a large boat to the earth at the very least 30 feet below.
Walking away calmly, the blind earthbender only made it around the corner before she was running at full speed, desperate to be home. Not that she would tell anyone that. Everyone knew that she was seeing someone—and any person who had spent any time around her knew how much she loved him. It wouldn't do to seem to desperate for his touch, to long for the time when she would hear him whisper her name. Under the cool façade, though, she was bubbling with excitement and apprehension, a small portion taken up by anger at Aang for keeping her away for so long.
Dodging people in the crowd, Toph let the anger fade away until all she could feel was agitation, a frantic need to be home and in his arms again. After all, she couldn't really blame the wimpy Avatar for needing her. Even at 21 years old, he still had the same difficulty facing problems head on as he did when he was 12, and often called her away from Republic City to sort out issues in the Southern Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation. As long as she didn't have to go to Gaoling, Toph didn't complain. Much.
Slowing down, she walked the few blocks left until she was standing outside her door. Shinji would be waiting for her, even if she was home a few days early; he never worked when she was out of town. He was on the council as the Earth Kingdom representative, and when the Chief of Police was away, nothing ever got solved. The council ended up deciding that it was easier to just forgo meetings unless something serious came up—which it never did. Walking across the threshold, Toph could hear someone laughing from the other end of the house.
"Shinji?" she called uncertainly, her loud voice carrying through the wood and stone dwelling. She heard someone say something, and even with her superior hearing she almost missed the "oh, god" before she felt a pair of footsteps hit the floor. Toph ran towards it, reaching the bedroom before she stopped, the smile slipping from her face the same time the colour did. The person standing in front of her was definitely not Shinji. She recognised the heartbeat, but refused to believe what her mind was screaming at her to see. She couldn't feel her boyfriend, maybe he was out? Please, god, don't let him be here... Toph took a step forward and felt the woman in front of her back away. The sheets on the bed rustled, and Toph knew then that what she had been dreading since she first heard the strange but oh, so familiar footsteps.
"Toph, please, let-"
"Get out, Sakira." Her voice brooked no argument, and yet the young lieutenant stayed where she was standing.
"Toph, it isn't-" Sakira made to move towards Toph when she caught a glimpse of the fury on her boss's face.
"Get out, Sakira!" Toph heard the muffled movements of someone picking up strewn clothes and putting them on. Sakira practically ran out the door once she was presentable, and Shinji stood up carefully.
"Toph, listen," he told her in the low voice he knew she loved as he walked towards her. "She seduced me... I'm so sorry, it will never happen again."
Toph turned her blind head towards the man she loved, and for a moment he thought that she would forgive him.
"How long?" she asked quietly.
"Pardon?" He must have misheard. Did she want to know-?
"How many times has this happened?" Toph repeated her question. The entire future of their relationship hung on his answer, and they both knew it.
"This is the first time, I swear!" He practically shouted at her in a vain attempt to conceal the truth. Unfortunately for him, she saw right through him. Taking a menacing step forward, she repeated the question a third time.
"How many times?" Toph knew it had happened, and thought that she could handle his answer. She was wrong.
"I swear it was the first time," Shinji lied. "I really do love you." He did love her; when he said those three innocent words, he meant them with his heart, but merely having a heart for this woman had never been enough for the councilman. Toph couldn't appreciate his looks, an aspect that he thought very highly of. Why couldn't he have fun with people that could fully appreciate him?
Toph ignored how weak she felt. She knew he was lying, but she didn't want to believe it. She had loved him, and had told him so. He always responded, and she knew he had never lied about it, so why did he have to hurt her like this? Swallowing the lump in her throat, she managed a tight whisper.
"Get out now, before I arrest you," she told him, sounding far calmer than she felt.
"Toph, sweetie, why don-"
"I said get out!" she screamed at him, earthbending him roughly to the door. Toph had always thought herself above such flighty emotions, but at that moment she felt completely consumed by rage. Harshly pushing him out the front door, she ignored his protests of his state of undress, of how she was over-reacting. The blind earthbender didn't care. She slammed the door in his face and bolted it shut. Turning around, she sunk to the floor. Tears falling freely, she sobbed until her head hurt. It took her several hours to finally finish pouring her heart out, by the time which she was appalled with herself. Rubbing the tears away, she stood up and walked over to the liquor cabinet which held the spirits she had saved for a special occasion—the birth of Aang and Kataras daughter, Kya, two years ago. Toph didn't drink much, so she still had some distilled cactus juice left, plus a new sort of drink sent by Zuko for her to try. He called it 'Fire Whiskey', and if it was anything like the tequila that Sokka had sent her for her 18th (which she had managed to get him to send a few more bottles of in the years since), it was exactly what she was looking for. Downing three shots in a row, she actually stopped to enjoy the numbing effect the fourth had before she was moving back to her bedroom. Taking another gulp to steel herself, she began to pack up all of Shinji's belongings, identifying them by smell more than anything. She took a whiff of a shirt, and was filled with memories that she had shared with him; hidden, secret memories that she had thought had only been shared with each other. Alone in the council room, in the very bed she was sitting on... Taking another gulp so she didn't start crying again, Toph worked quickly, vaguely wishing that Zuko was with her so he could burn all of the clothes. By the time she had cleared his possessions from her closest and stored them in paper bags to throw out tomorrow, Toph was most definitely drunk. She didn't think about the council meeting she had tomorrow, where she would see Shinji, or the tests planned for the junior recruits, where she would see Sakira. Toph didn't think about what she had discovered that night. She thought about nothing but the earth beneath her and the bottle of cactus juice in her hand (by this stage, she had already finished both the Water Tribe Liquor, and the new drink Zuko sent that she couldn't remember the name of). Giggling feebly, Toph dragged her doona from her bedroom and made a small nest on the floor of the lounge room. Running out of fun things to do, she began to earthbend small figures of people she knew and places she had been, laughing at the deformed Momo she created, before allowing the soothing motions guide her to sleep.
Waking up drunk wasn't a new experience for Toph. It didn't happen often (not in several years, at least), but it did happen. Waking up this drunk was. She couldn't remember the last time she had finished three bottles of very alcoholic drinks all by herself, and she couldn't remember a time that she had needed the alcohol as much as she had last night. Sitting up slowly, she clutched her head and pinched her eyes shut as though it would suppress the pounding headache. Rising unsteadily to her feet, she stumbled to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water, drinking the lot before making her way to the bathroom. After peeing—a lot—and cleaning herself up a little, Toph felt more prepared to face the world. She couldn't not go into work; that would be running away, and Toph didn't do that. Drinking last night was a way to... celebrate her newfound single status. Sighing, the blind earthbender made her way from her small home to the Town Hall, giving Shinji's rather expensive clothes to a homeless man spouting nonsense about the earth overheating. Managing to find at least some humour in that lifted Toph's spirits slightly, before she remembered that Shinji would be at the meeting too. Pushing away the unease she felt at the possibility of seeing the man who cheated on her – with her own protégé, mind you – Toph continued to the hall, mindful that she was probably very late, and that she didn't care. Aang was probably late, even the ever-punctual Avatar found it difficult getting out of bed the day after he returned from a trip. His and Katara's nocturnal activities would have kept him up half the night. Toph knew, because that's what she had been planning; being cheated on, having her heart broken, and getting drunk had definitely not been on her list of things to do last night.
Walking up the imposing stairs into the Hall, the council members became silent as she approached, ceasing their squabbling about whatever had taken their fancy.
"Hey, Toph! Wasn't sure you were going to make it!" Aang's cheery voice carried through the quiet hall, and Toph inwardly cringed. She must have been really late.
"What time is it?" "Uh... Well, the meeting actually kinda just finished—we can talk about the importation of fireflakes tomorrow, Councilman Vika!—so that makes it almost lunchtime..." Aang didn't seem upset that she was dreadfully late – he was just happy that she had even bothered to show up. Walking further in, she could feel Shinji's heartbeat working double-time as he packed up his belongings, and she smiled that he was feeling as bad as she was. Toph moved to stand next to Aang and immediately regretted it.
"Woah, Toph! What party did you go to last night, you smell like a brewery!" The earthbenders eyes went wide and a red blush creeped into her face. She could feel Aang looking at her curiously, and Shinji had turned to face her. She could tell by his heart that he found the fact that she had drunk last night quite humorous. Trust Aang to screw it up...
"Oh, nothing... Just celebrating being back here... Not tied down at all..." she replied. Toph spoke lightly enough, but her voice had a hard edge she knew Shinji noticed. Aang mercifully took her words at face value, and Toph allowed herself to be led by him out of the chamber.
"Well, I'm not needed, so I'm gonna go home... Sleep or something..."
"Toph, can I talk to you?"
Shinji's voice broke through her mumbled excuses and Toph felt herself grow red again. She had no idea what she was feeling towards the man, and desperately didn't want to be alone with him. Unfortunately, Aang misinterpreted her reddened face, and made a hasty retreat so he didn't have to witness anything he didn't want to see of his friend. He had walked in on her once in her bedroom, which was something he had taken great pains to forget.
Left alone with her ex-boyfriend, Toph felt more uncomfortable than she had ever felt before—not even when she went to see her parents after the war. She stood standoffishly to the side, not looking his way.
"What do you want, Shinji?" Her voice sounded resigned, but she couldn't help the way it cracked as she said his name. Toph felt him move closer to her, putting his hands on her hips.
"I didn't mean it, sweetie... I love you, you know that? I'm sorry, it won't happen again..." He kissed the corner of her mouth, and she was wondering why she didn't push him away. Perhaps she should do just that? Bringing her hands up to his chest to push him off, she suddenly felt his soft lips touch hers, nudging her. All thoughts of pushing him away flew out the window as she succumbed to her desire to be with him again. She was just sea-sick yesterday, it affected her judgment, her lie detecting. How could he cheat on her, when he loves her this much? Slowly, Toph let herself loosen, becoming lost in the arms of the mad she loved, and who loved her. He had to, he wouldn't lie.
He loved her. He loved her. He chose her and he loved her, and they were together...
That's what she told herself the first time it happened.
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