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5th December, 2013
"Okay. First things first—alcohol."
After convincing Toph to let him take her hand to lead her to the nearest market (one that had a tavern or bar in it), the duo had made rather quick progress. It was still slow, although after he tried giving her a piggy back for the first time, he hadn't attempted it again. For a blind girl, she had rather good—and ridiculously painful—aim and reflexes. He did want to have children some day. Currently, they were standing in the middle of a square in the Middle Ring. There was a fountain in the middle, not quite frozen but it had stopped running. There was a thin layer of ice on the top that was easily broken by the children tapping it. Sokka glanced at Toph, who hadn't said a word since they arrived in the square. Looking around, it was more of a circle, anyway.
"Wanna go inside so you can see?" he asked, and it seemed to shake her out off... whatever she was thinking about.
"What? Oh, yeah. Sure. Come on!" she grabbed his hand, although stayed rooted in the same spot. It took Sokka a few moments to remember that he was the one who had to lead her, not the other way around.
Shaking himself from his hazy thoughts, he tugged gently to let her know the direction he planned to walk in. There had to be a bar around somewhere...
After trudging through the snow for a while, he managed to stumble across just the place they were looking for. Brightly lit, he could hear the sound of muted laughter coming from within. Walking straight in, Sokka let out a light sigh at the warmth that suddenly enveloped him. It was not the only sudden thing, as when he turned to look at Toph, he also felt like laughing a little. As hard as she tried to be regarded as 'one of the boys', Sokka could safely say that, as she grew older, it was becoming next to impossible. Especially with the way little flakes of snow stuck to her (in Sokka's opinion) ridiculously long eyelashes and she turned her pink nose and cheeks towards him. She moved her mouth, saying something, but Sokka only caught it when she punched him.
"Did you hear me? I said I'm hungry," she frowned, although Sokka didn't miss the way her mouth twitched playfully.
"Well, we could have real food," he began, "or we could have candy. Take your pick."
Toph could only roll his eyes. Sokka clapped his hands gleefully at the non-verbal answer, taking her hand and leading her to the counter.
"Excellent. Candy it is." Toph smirked deviously, and Sokka made a mental note to watch exactly how much sugar she was eating. And then sic her on Katara and Aang. That would be a hoot. He returned her smile—not forgetting she couldn't see it—and tapped on the bar. Ordering them both a light drink (root beer for her, and some eggnog for himself), Sokka propped his elbow up on the bar, head in his hands. He watched as Toph took a sip, and giggled to himself when the layer of froth stuck to her upper lip. She licked it off before poking her tongue at him.
"Lolly time?" she asked hopefully, and that time Sokka truly couldn't suppress his laugh.
"You know, there's more to the holidays than junk food and making out," he said pragmatically, and Toph stuck her tongue out again, a grimace on her face.
"Really?" she asked, sounding like she didn't believe a word of it; not that Sokka was especially surprised. The more he thought about it, the more he didn't believe it, either.
"No, not really," he admitted, and Toph bared her teeth in a cheeky smile.
"Well, what about us poor souls who don't have anyone to make out with," she asked. "Are we destined to get fat off sugary food?" He didn't have an answer to that; his usually hyperactive mind was suddenly drawing a blank on pretty much everything.
"I don't, uh, I don't know..." Toph shot him a curious look, and he shook his head. "Anyway. Time for sugar. I wonder whether we could get Katara all hyped up," he mused, picking up a piece of multi-coloured jennamite. Toph cocked her head, patting the bench. It took Sokka a few moments, but he quickly figured out what she was doing. Moving the bowl of candy over, he made it just tap her wandering fingers. Her eyes flickered in his direction, but he stayed silent.
"So, you think she'd go hyper on sugar?" she asked, before letting out a little chuckle. "I'd love to see her drunk! Hmm...." she trailed off, chewing on the rock as only an earthbender could, while Sokka licked his pitifully. She was silent just a little too long, even for her, and Sokka had ordered them both second drinks and a new bowl before asking her what she was thinking about.
"Oh, nothing, really," came the answer, although it was too quiet and distracted. "I'm just... planning."
Sokka grinned and nodded, not knowing what was going on in her head, only that he would probably like it. The barman put their drinks on the table, and before Sokka could grab his, it was accidentally picked up by Toph's long fingers.
"Uhh..." he made the dubious sound in the back of his throat, although by the time he finished the noise, Toph spat the vile liquid (in her opinion) back out, all but drenching the poor barman.
"God, how do you drink that?" she cried, thrusting it towards him.
"Hey!" he cried, taking the mug from her so he didn't lose any more. "Katara made that all the time for me when I was little. It's a traditional Christmas drink!"
"... Really? So... Katara likes it too? Excellent...." she muttered, a dark smile that both thrilled and terrified Sokka forming on her face. "I have a plan. We have to do everything Katara says, help her out. That way, when we make the... whatever that is... and spike hers, she won't think it's weird!" Toph's smile took up half her face, and all Sokka wanted to do was smile with her; unfortunately for him, he saw one great big hole in her plan.
"But, won't she be able to taste the difference?" he asked. Toph's mouth curled into a subtle frown.
"Well, there's an alcohol that kind of tastes like that stuff—brandy or something. My father used to drink it all the time. And we can always say that I messed up a few ingredients," she shrugged, feeling not at all guilty about using her blindness. Sokka clapped her on the back.
"Does this mean you'll get into the holiday spirit?" he cried happily.
Sokka felt his heart fall a little, and from Toph's expression, she wasn't joking.
"Oh..." He looked at his blind friend, who had her arms crossed. She wasn't scowling or grimacing, but she still didn't seem happy. Well, she had made herself look weak (in her eyes) that morning. And Aang had laughed at her falling over. She probably wasn't feeling too charitable towards the season. Could she do it for another reason? "Please, Toph?" he asked quietly. "It used to be Dad and Katara and I, but he's at the South Pole, and she has Aang. I don't wanna celebrate it on my own... That's no fun..." he trailed off, looking away. He looked back just as quickly when he felt her small but powerful fist land on his upper arm.
"You big baby. But fine, I guess I can... give this a go," she muttered, and instantly, his heart was lifted again. He raised an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into a half-hug.
"This is going to be the best Christmas ever!"
My original notes for this chapter went a little like this:
"Toph + sugar don't mix. Toph + Sokka + sugar = a nightmare for Aang and Katara."
As you can see, they changed a little. I may still use hyped up Toph. Also, I had no idea how to end this, only that I'm already running behind, so I just wanted to get this up.
For the collective works of the author, go here.