Love, Actually
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25th July, 2013
(Major revision: 21st January, 2014)

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Comptine D'un Autre Été



Love, Actually

"So, what are we watching this week?"

"Ahh!" There was a shriek of surprise and the sound of something breaking from the far corner of the kitchen. "Toph! Don't sneak up on me like that!" Katara admonished above the blind girl's snickering.

"I'll be sure to scream out in advance," she said, still laughing slightly. Katara let out a low hmmm, and Toph could only imagine the frown on her face. "Oi, Twinkletoes!" she called out to the lounge room, "Your girlfriend's had her ego smashed. Come kiss it better!" Toph walked towards the doorway, although without her cane she miscounted the steps and ran her shoulder into the wall with a dull thdd. She scowled comically in the direction of the offending wall, before turning her blind gaze on Katara.

"What? I broke my cane," she shrugged. Turning back to the doorway (now she knew where it was), Toph's didn't realise that the person approaching her (given away by their loud, thumping walk) had other plans than to just to say hello.

The smile she offered in greeting was wiped from her face when the earth beneath her disappeared and she was slung over the other person's arms like a bride.

"Ahh! What the fuck?! Put me down! Put me down!" she cried, wrapping her arms tightly around the neck of whoever had the gall to pick her up. Katara was out of the question, and Aang didn't walk the way this person had. Eyes wide, Toph stopped squirming enough to notice the broad shoulders and little tickle of facial on the crown of her head.

"You really wanna stay in there when you've just given Aang and Katara permission to spread their oogies?" Sokka laughed, the vibrations rumbling in his chest—rrrmgg-grrm-grrr. "I didn't know you would have a death wish like that! Feed me to sharks, throw me in a mulcher, but never subject me to that, Toph!" He was still chortling as he carried her into the lounge room. Someone flicked her head, but by the way Sokka giggled when she growled about it, it seemed likely it was just Aang's payback for her earlier comment about his girlfriend's ego.

The small sting did nothing to distract her from exactly who was carrying her, and the fact she was being carried in the first place. A decision between staying put or being dropped like a log wasn't difficult, although the thought had Toph holding on a little tighter. It was hard to ignore the strange ache in her chest when he noticed, and held her a little closer, too.

"There ya go," Sokka said, kneeling down to place her carefully on the lounge. Toph couldn't deny she was happy to be on solid ground, but to her surprise she found that she was also slightly sad about it, too. "Your Melonness," he added in a mock British accent, bowing deferentially. Toph felt her face heat up in a blush, and even the scowl on her face and the punch she landed on his chest couldn't hide it. At least Sokka didn't seem to notice.

"I'm not a melon," she mumbled. "Hurry up, guys!" she yelled into the kitchen, a way to distract herself as Sokka patted her thigh in order to get her to shuffle over slightly.

"What are we watching this week?" she asked, drowning out the crrrr-reeek of rusty springs as Sokka settled his weight on her left.

"Love Actually. It's a romcom—Katara's choice, obviously. So..." He trailed off awkwardly, and she raised an eyebrow as best she could. "How did you, uh, break your cane?"

The surprise must have been evident on her face, but to her surprise he didn't try and backtrack, instead preferring to wait for her to answer.

"Oh, uh, it doesn't matter. I'm going to go and get another one tomorrow." She had the vague notion that he was frowning at her, however she didn't want to talk about it any longer than necessary. Sokka waited for a few tense seconds, but when it became obvious Toph wasn't going to say anything more on the matter, he let it go with a low sigh.

"Hey Aang, come and help me get the snacks."

Katara replaced her brothers' presence in the room—and on the couch—although it by no means lessened the tension. If possible, Toph felt even more uncomfortable; she had never been fantastic at empathising with other females, and what she knew of Katara (mostly from Aang's pre-dating, love-struck days) led her to assume she wouldn't get along with her.

"So, Toph. Got a boyfriend?"

The blind girl didn't even try to stifle the hapless groan that erupted from her throat. "If I did, do you think I'd be hanging out with you guys on a Friday night?" she asked, scowling in Katara's direction. The other girl moved slightly in what Toph assumed was a shrug (albeit an awkward one), although she didn't say anything. It gave Toph the perfect opportunity to turn her head to the conversation wafting in from the kitchen. She wondered for a moment whether Katara could hear it, too

"She just got angry. The thing was flimsy anyway!"

Oh. So they were talking about that. Fucking fantastic. Toph felt her cheeks heat up again, and her gut began to glurg-burble with guilt that Katara must have heard. To Toph's surprise, though, no one said anything as they all reassembled in the living room. A cool can of Coke was thrust into her hands, and Aang dutifully pressed the play button.

After essentially being kicked off the couch to make room for Aang, Toph spent several moments to create a small nest on the floor with the blankets that someone—probably Sokka—had the forethought to bring out. He was closer this time, gently breathing the words into her ear; action was one thing, but for a guy, Sokka was surprisingly good at describing the romantic aspects, too.

"- he just wants to get out of there because now he feels foolish (It's a... self-preservation thing, you see). He obviously didn't think about this when he was recording the wedding. It makes sense though, because he organised the surprise band and everything..." Sokka fell silent as the action ceased for a moment, and Toph turned her head a fraction in his direction.

"I love this song," she whispered.

"What's it called?" The hot breath tickled her ear and throat again, and she fought the goosebumps that threatened to rise at the intimacy. That shouldn't be happening...

"White Flag, by Dido. It's really sad..."

"I didn't think you'd like this kind of music," Sokka commented. Toph gave a small shrug, her face impassive.

"There's a lot you don't know about me," she replied, before focussing her attention back on the movie. A lot you don't want to know.

When the movie ended (with a cheesy love song. Toph stuck her nose up at it while Sokka tried to explain how 'classic' it was), Katara practically ran into her room before Sokka could say anything. Aang remained sitting dumbly on the couch until his girlfriend shouted for him. Sokka levelled a glare at Aang before the bald boy managed to escape; even Toph could hear him gulp.

"Firefly?" Sokka asked as he put the movie away. "We were only up to the second episode."

Toph frowned glumly. "Can't," she replied around a mouthful of pretzels; tgrik-gritgtig. "Kyoshi wanted me home early this week—what's the time?"

"Uhh..." She heard Sokka move piles of what was probably DVDs around, looking for his phone. "10:37."

"Fuck, I was 'sposed to be home at ten-thirty. You think you can drive me?"

"No problem," he shrugged. "But we will finish it one day!" he announced dramatically. A snort erupted from the short girl, and she rolled her eyes.

"One day, sure," she said, and Sokka had no idea whether she was being sarcastic or not; he frowned at her for a moment, before letting it go.

That week, the drive home was significantly more upbeat being that the car's two occupants were still completely awake and had consumed a great deal more sugar than they needed to. The stereo was playing softly (some programme playing stuff from the 80's, if Toph were to hazard a guess), and she could hear the wind in the gap in the window; Sokka had opened it to de-mist the windscreen.

"It's Aang's turn to pick a movie next week, and he's probably gonna pick something really stupid. I hope you have an awesome film lined up," Sokka told her as they drove through the quiet streets.

Toph turned her sightless gaze on him. "I get to pick a movie?" she asked, surprised. Sokka looked at her from the corner of his eyes, and shot her a warm smile.

"Why wouldn't you?" he asked, confused. "You're still watching it." Toph told herself it must be the wind that caused his voice to sound so soft.

They arrived at her home and Sokka parked the car in her driveway. "Lemme help."

Never one to let people do things for her, Toph opened the door and jumped out. She began to make her slow, unaided way up the path; it was only when she stumbled over a slightly uneven brick and Sokka grabbed her hand before she could hit the ground that she allowed him to lead her up the path after that little mishap. All appreciation for his gesture disappeared as he knocked on the door with a drm-drrrm-drm.

"The fuck are you doing?" she hissed, eyebrows furrowed beneath her hair as she yanked him away from the door.

"I'm gonna apologise for keeping you out," he said, frowning at her in confusion. "Don't you want me to?"

Toph brought her free hand to her forehead, but she already knew it was too late to send him away. The door creaked open, and suddenly there was a giant standing in front of Sokka.

"Uh, hi," he squeaked. Toph knew Kyoshi would be glaring down at the young man, and under normal circumstances she would have laughed at his obvious discomfit. However, the fact that Sokka was actually meeting her carer was not a standard occurrence, and didn't find anything funny about the situation at all..

"Who are you, and why are you holding Toph's hand?" The tall woman asked coolly, an eyebrow raised at the scene. Sokka glanced down at their clasped hands as though only just noticing that they were, in fact, touching, and he quickly pulled away.

"She, uh, she couldn't see," he stuttered, "So I said I would help her so I led her up to the door where I knocked and she got angry and then you answered and I forgot I was holding her hand until you pointed it out. I'm sorry."

"Sokka, this is Kyoshi. Kyoshi, Sokka," Toph interjected, without giving Kyoshi a chance to say anything else.

Kyoshi looked from her charge to the young man in front of her. He was probably 18 or 19—not someone from Toph's school. Not that the blind girl had ever shown any interest in other people from her school anyway. It made Kyoshi wonder how they knew each other.

"Where did you meet?"

Toph let out a grllgr from the back of her throat, but she was ignored by both of them. Sokka sent her a strange look that Kyoshi did not miss

"Aang is dating my sister," he said, voice a lot quieter than anyone who knew him was used to. All of a sudden, Kyoshi's demeanour changed.

"Oh, well, that's fine then! Come on, Toph. I have work tomorrow, and you're late." She left the teens in the doorway rather suddenly, and Sokka couldn't help the surprise that flitted across his face as he started at the spot Kyoshi had been standing.

"Thanks for tonight, Sokka," the blind girl told him, shaking him from his thoughts. She lifted her small fist and punched him lightly in the chest, more a symbol of camaraderie than anything else. Her grin was pretty big, too. "Let's just hope Aang picks an easy movie this time. Those different character scenes were difficult."

Turning around, she took a few tentative steps forward until her foot rested on the threshold. There, she paused and turned. "I'll talk to you next week?"

Sokka nodded enthusiastically. "Definitely! See ya next week, Toph," he said, smiling as nudged her with his arm before going back to his car. Toph slid inside and closed the door. She took a moment to lean against it before sinking to the floor with a soft schithump.

"Nice boy," Kyoshi said, walking into the foyer from the kitchen. "I saw that, you know."

Toph glared at the woman before she let the expression drop wearily. "He is nice..."

"Watching movies," Kyoshi commented drily. "I could never see you as a moving picture fan. Raised dots all the way—I thought I had you pegged."

Toph laughed lightly and gave a small hiccup as she replied, "Sokka helps. He tells me everything that's going on in the movie. Like, I dunno, all the action and stuff. It's pretty cool. We watched Serenity last week and Love Actually this week. He's fun."

Kyoshi raised an eyebrow. "I'm raising my eyebrow at you."

Toph let out a huff and frowned at the floor in thought. "No one's ever done stuff like this for me before," she said quietly. "Not even Aang. I just... I've only known him a while; I don't wanna wreck anything..."

"Toph..." Kyoshi moved next to Toph and joined her on the floor with a rather ungraceful dumpth. "If a guy is going to the trouble of helping a blind girl watch movies, I'm pretty positive that means he likes her. Who normally would put that much effort into it?"

Said blind girl looked up towards her carer, eyes wide and—dare Kyoshi say it—bright. "Really?"

"Yeah, really," she smiled. "Now, get your ass into bed before I decide to punish you for being late."

That night, Toph dreamt of her new family.

Notes: This one was obviously inspired by one of my favourite romcoms. Actually, it is my favourite. Trust Katara to pick it... I've revised this chapter and added a good 800 words to it, so hopefully it flows a little smoother.

Part One: Genesis

ShinyLove, ActuallyComptine D'un Autre ÉtéPublic EnemiesMän Som Hatar KvinnorThe Sleepover ClubBlind Date • 50 First DatesSin CityThe MatrixNon, je ne regrette rienThe Breakfast ClubCrouching TigerHidden DragonThe Wedding SingerShí Miàn Mái FúDangerous Liaisons

Part Two: Fall
Love for LifeTiny FurnitureThe Broken Circle Breakdown



SerenityLove ActuallyÁmelieThe Wedding SingerHouse of Flying Daggers

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