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|Day the Twentieth: Departure|
21st January, 2014
They were shouting, yelling, screaming at each other, albeit subdued so as not to alert anyone. Too late, Toph thought wryly as the volume reached its crescendo before dying away abruptly. She felt the Kyoshi Warrior hurrumph and walk away, the Western Air Temple shuddering as though she were an earthbender. She could feel Sokka staring after her, and the jealous pit in her stomach reared its ugly head again, before calming down as the girl realised that Sokka was now single. Single. Smiling, Toph felt him begin moving, walking towards where he knew she was—she sat in the same spot by the fountain everyday, after all. It wasn't like she had anyone to hang out with, anyway.
"Toph? Can I sit here, please?" Lying with her back on the floor, hands and feet pressed firmly on the earth beneath her, Toph knew what he wanted to say. She had heard and felt everything. He wanted her empathy, sympathy, perhaps even pity. She should have just refused him, but he sounded so sad. He may have forsaken her friendship for a relationship with someone else, but contrary to what most people believed, she wasn't a complete bitch. And if this meant he might actually look at her for a change, well, all the better. She actually kind of hated how much she wanted it.
Toph found this strange, in and of itself, because after he had begun to date Suki, she had pulled away, tried to convince herself she didn't actually need him. There were times that she had been all but invisible to him as he shared a joke that, once upon a time, he would have told her. Dinner was perhaps the most pronounced moment of quiet and, in Toph's opinion, loneliness, as Sokka would all but ignore her in his pursuit to talk to Suki. The blind girl wondered if anyone noticed, because the Water Tribe boy sure didn't. And there was no way the Kyoshi Warrior couldn't not know of Toph's feelings towards her boyfriend.
It would not have been such a big deal, and Toph was quite prepared to brace her feelings if it meant she could still be friends with him. It wasn't worth losing that. Unfortunately, the universe didn't work like that. While Toph vied for the attention he used to give her—no more, no less—he stopped noticing her altogether. Toph had never intended to cut herself from him completely, but as time went by it became harder to see him at all. Eventually, she stopped trying, and Sokka didn't even notice because he had given up long before.
Finally deciding that she should probably answer him, Toph sat up and indicated that he could sit down.
"She dumped you, huh?" Straight and to the point. He must have thought that it was her usual manner, but really Toph didn't think she could keep the glee from her voice had she spoken a longer sentence.
"You heard that? Well... yeah..." Sokka sat down next to her, his heart beating slow, although not nearly as sad as she expected.
"What do you want me to do about it?" Toph asked, sounding annoyed. She wasn't really, it's just that she didn't want to have her first full-on conversation with Sokka in over two months one where he would question "What happened to us?" and talk about his now-ex-girlfriend, and how awesome she was. From the noise they made in the bedroom, the vibrations she could do nothing to stop, Toph knew Sokka thought she was more than awesome.
"I dunno... talk?" His innocent reply set Toph's teeth on edge. Since when did they talk? He hadn't given her the light of day for almost a whole season, and suddenly there was no one left for him to talk to? She was his rebound, Toph realised.
"What if I'm busy? I don't have time to talk to you," she lied, far more difficultly than she expected.
She could feel Sokka glaring a her, but it was too late to take back what she said. Toph knew she sounded like a petulant child, but she honestly didn't care at that moment. She felt the familiar tug of her heart when he moved closer, his own heart pumping a rhythm that made Toph hate him and herself even more.
"What do you want from me Sokka? I don't have any comforting words for you. You want my advice? Find a chick to snog and get over her, because by the way she was screaming at you, Suki ain't coming back. And judging by her heartbeat, she had been planning this a while... You don't even seem that upset." As soon as she said it, she regretted it. Sokka's heartbeat began racing and she wondered exactly how much information he had taken from her outburst. He seemed to have ignored most of what she said however, focussing on that which she had immediately wished she had bitten back.
"How can you say that?! The girl I love-" Toph cringed at this, "-just broke up with me, and the only thing you can suggest is I go and kiss another girl?" The disappointment in his voice caused her heart to sink into the earth.
"Since when do you care what I think? You've barely noticed me," Toph huffed at him, crossing her arms.
"Toph, are you jealous?" he asked, dazed. The blind girl scowled, her face was flushed with red and her eyes glaring daggers.
"I'm sick of you treating me like crap!" she hissed at him, punching the ground and sending him sprawling on his back. Sokka picked himself up tenderly, surprised at her outburst. He raised an eyebrow and frowned. Her face remained red and she was breathing deep breaths.
"Toph, you're my best friend," Sokka said quietly.
"Yeah? Well it doesn't feel like it," she retorted sharply, not even attempting to keep the hurt from her voice.
Sokka looked at her, taking in details that he hadn't noticed before. As he looked past the black hair and pale skin, he as surprised to see how much he had missed. Her clothes seemed a little too small for her now, and she had redesigned the space bracelet into a more elaborate pattern. Katara must have given her a haircut, because instead of hanging limply in front of her eyes, they seemed to sweep just over them, showing the barest hint of green. Even her face had changed slightly; her cheekbones were more prominent than they had been only a few months ago, and her lips were a little fuller. Perhaps he hadn't noticed her as much as he used to; but then again, she was Toph. She didn't need him to keep her company, right?
"I- I'm sorry, Toph," he said earnestly. "I guess I didn't realise..."
Toph scowled again, and he couldn't help but think that even the ugly expression was transformed into something petite on her.
The two sat in strained silence while she chewed on a piece of grass, and he watched her. Retrospectively, he could say he missed her, but at the time he had no idea how much time he had started spending around Suki. Toph still had a stubborn frown on her face, messing up her pretty features. It had no place on her small mouth.
"I like your haircut," he piped up suddenly. "I like seeing your eyes."
If he had expected her to scowl or punch him, he was surprised—pleasantly so—when she turned the barest shade of red. He saw her eyes widen, and suddenly, his brain made a connection. Sokka wasn't stupid (although he could be a little thickheaded). He had known a break-up was coming, but like a stubborn child, he had refused to see it. Suki honestly had become a companion that he believed he needed to be happy, but that wasn't the case at all. He didn't feel any happier with her than without, and it was only as he looked back over the last few months that he discovered what had been missing from his life. Something that he once held, perhaps, before it was lost. And there was only one thing he had lost.
"Toph..." he whispered, before meeting her lips with his.
If he expected guilt or shame at his actions, it didn't come. This was what he had been missing—just a little spark to reignite something powerful that, with Suki, had dwindled.
Toph lifted her hands to his chest as though to push him off; it was then that he put his own on her cheek, and she felt her resolve simply melt away. Toph had never been kissed—not like this. The kiss Ohev gave her was light and chaste. There was no lust involved, only 'like' (for she hadn't had enough time for them to become something more). The way Sokka's lips danced around her own, pulling sharp little gasps from her throat. Her legs felt weak and if she continued on like this there was no doubt she'd collapse just because she couldn't hold herself upright anymore.
It was this thought that had Toph opening her eyes, ashamed to find that they had shut seconds into the kiss; she pushed him away sharply and found that she wanted nothing more than to get back to kissing him. It was everything she had hoped and more—except for being ridiculously forceful in the beginning. But, that passed until she was practically goop on the floor; it was then she realised that she couldn't do it, because it wasn't real. She had wanted it, but he hadn't. She didn't even know why he had kissed her in the first place.
She had felt her own sense go out the window as soon as his lips touched hers, and it scared her. She always had a reason for her words and actions, and whenever she spoke or acted, there was a purpose behind it. Scamming people had been so they could have money to buy food; signing up for Earth Rumble was to show people that she shouldn't be underestimated; even keeping her feelings a secret was to protect herself. What gave him the right to screw with her?
"Why the hell was that for?" she shouted at him, more to cover the tremor in her voice than because she was actually angry. "You just break up with your girlfriend and kiss someone else?! You don't do that, Sokka!"
"Wha-? It was your idea to kiss someone!" Sokka argued, and Toph was having a difficult time not punching him repeatedly for being so stupid. Sokka was having a difficult time holding himself back and not start kissing her again.
"I didn't mean me!" she cried, knowing straight away that it was a lie. Sokka looked her in the eyes, searching. His best friend hadn't changed so much that he couldn't see the fear in her face, or the confusion.
She knew he didn't love her—or, she thought he didn't. He loved Suki, although that positive emotion was clouded by hurt and anger. He didn't even like Toph that way—she was fairly positive that he had only just realised that she was a girl in the first place. She didn't know what to do. Should she hurt him, kiss him, fight him? Dare she think it, run away? She could do that, and say it was giving him time to think about what he had done.
Pouting, she stood up and marched away, leaving Sokka to watch after her and hopefully not follow her. Toph was angry, furious, seething. She hated herself and she hated him; so why did she want to go back there and keep kissing him? She had managed to keep her feelings hidden from all but herself in the years preceding the Hundred Year War, and to have them spill out because of a heat-of-the-moment, the-guy-I-likes-girlfriend-just-broke-up-with-him kiss. No one had suspected her of liking him, and now...
And now she didn't know what to do.
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