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Public Enemies
Chapter information
Series

Drive-ins

Chapter

Four

Written by

Fruipit

Release date

29th November, 2013
(Major revision: 18th April, 2014)

Word count

3,935

Chronology
Last chapter

Comptine D'un Autre Été

Next chapter

Män Som Hatar Kvinnor

More

Here

Public Enemies

Sitting on Katara's bed, a look of blank boredom stretched across her face, Toph found it next to impossible to even feign interest in the other girl. The boys had gone to order a pizza, as they predicted (probably accurately) that they would be up late. And so she was alone with another female, forced to listen to her brush her thick hair (well, it sounded thick, what with the cringe-worthy grkch-grkch-grkch noises that came from it) and a story about... well, she had actually forgotten by that stage.

"-and she got it all to herself."

"Uh, yeah," Toph agreed, uncomfortable. The brushing stopped, and she felt Katara move closer. The bed creaked as the older girl sat down, and Toph felt a finger poke her in the shoulder.

"You weren't listening, were you?" Katara asked, and Toph had the good grace to lower her face at the accusation. "Well, what do you want to talk about?" she continued, and Toph shrugged.

"I'unno. Why do we even have to talk?"

"Because I want to get to know you!" Katara exclaimed, in such a voice that Toph shifted away a few centimetres. She wasn't used to having such exuberant (or, really, any) friends, and in all honesty, she found Katara's positive, cheerful demeanour slightly off-putting. She was used to Kyoshi's frank attitude, or Sokka's pathetic humour. Even her own dour company. Talking to a girl she barely knew as though they were old friends was unsettling, to say the least.

"You do know me," Toph answered blankly, not entirely sure what Katara was asking of her, but hesitant all the same. She heard Katara sigh, although a few seconds of silence told her that the older girl had decided to leave the issue alone.

Toph was far more grateful than she would admit. It wasn't that she didn't like Katara—she did—but Toph was never a particularly sociable person, and had never felt the need to try and be friends with people. Her parents would never have allowed it anyway.

Shaking the unpleasant thoughts from her mind, Toph jumped as Katara sat on the bed with a crrrrgrrr and addressed her.

"Can I bush your hair?"

The question was unexpected, and Toph shot Katara a curious glance. The older girl shrugged, by the way the bed moved, and Toph imitated the action.

"Sure. Whatever," she said flippantly, although Katara didn't miss the questioning tone or how her shoulders tensed. If the older girl picked up on Toph's unwillingness, she didn't say anything. Toph felt Katara sit behind her and delicately pick up her hair. Contrary to her own expectations, Katara was surprisingly gentle, starting at the ends and working her way up to the roots so she didn't tug too hard on the many knots that littered the hair.

"So, how'd you meet Aang?" she asked, and Toph cringed internally. That wasn't a topic she particularly wanted to get into, but she also found herself with some sort of loyalty towards the girl who was being so nice to her. It occurred to her that, for some reason, Aang hadn't told his girlfriend much, and she was grateful for the gap in Katara's knowledge. She remembered giving a vague explanation when she first met 'the sister', but she had a feeling that Katara was after something a little more solid.

"Well, how'd you meet him?" she shrugged, deflecting. She could hear the smile in Katara's tone as the older girl spoke.

"On holiday. My school went to the same ski resort as he did. I met Gyatso there. I went to his funeral, too..." She trailed off here, and Toph fidgeted uncomfortably. "We kept in contact after that, and he's always been one of my best friends," she added, the sweetness in her tone giving Toph a toothache. A small frown graced her face.

"How long have you known him for?" she asked, her voice blank. Katara paused in her work, looking at the back of Toph's head for a moment.

"Oh, a few years. He was just that goofy kid who became more important to me than 'just a friend', I suppose," she said. Watching Toph carefully, Katara took note of how the younger girl slumped slightly—the barest movement that even the older girl, with her watchful eye, could barely notice. "Is that a problem?" she asked, and Toph's head shot up like a rocket.

"Pft, as if," she mumbled. "Why would I care?" The truth was that she did care—a lot. But, she couldn't let Katara know that. It wasn't like she relied on Aang—she had other friends, like Kyoshi. Kyoshi was her friend. And the girls who participated tessenjutsu class. They were her friends too.

Ahh, but that's not the real reason, a betraying voice whispered in her mind. Toph was usually so good at ignoring it, too. You're jealous, because he's the only friend you've ever made on your own, and you aren't even his best friend. She is.

Suddenly, Toph was angry at Katara. Angry at all of them. Angry at how she felt for Sokka, and angry that she couldn't tell him. Angry that she was always number two in the lives of people around her.

Perhaps the foul attitude came from Toph's own unwillingness to accept her own faults. Or, no, that was wrong. Her unwillingness to change them. Perhaps her anger came from the fact that, at almost sixteen years old, she had never had anyone tell her they liked her around, or had ever really acted like they cared about her at all. In a little over a decade of being in the system, she had been with thirty-four different homes, and in all that time, her only friend (her only real friend) was the first one she had ever met. Gyatso was her first real home—home where she actually felt loved and accepted, before Kyoshi—and after she was moved from there, the whole this was just a slippery slope.

But she sure as hell wasn't going to tell Katara that.

"I don't care," she reiterated, narrowing her eyes and glaring in Katara's direction when she realised that she had fallen silent following the unusual bout of reminiscing.

"Well, I think it's great that he has a friend like you," Katara piped up, ignoring Toph's expression before she stood up from the bed. "I have some old pyjamas for you, if you wanted to get dressed before the boys come back?"

Toph looked in the direction of the other girl, wondering what was going through her head. Toph knew she was closed off and secretive—even Aang didn't know all that much about her—but she wished that people weren't so delicate to her. She wished that, if they were curious about something, they would just ask her. She ignored the hypocrisy that Katara had in fact asked her, and she had blown her off. Groaning inwardly, it was all she could do to not put her head in her hands and block out the world so she could think.

"Toph, I want to be your friend. It's not hard. Please?" Katara's voice was low and quiet—almost pleading—and Toph wondered, yet again, what Katara was thinking. No one had ever willingly wanted to get closer to her after they had met her—it was always the other way around. She would talk to someone, and all would go well until they realised how completely fucked up she was.

"I'm not stopping you," she said, still unwilling to let someone into her life who could just as easily walk out of it. She heard a sigh, and a gentle gromp as Katara sat on the carpeted floor.

"Sweetie, you are. You're my boyfriend's best friend, and I know nothing about you," she reasoned; Toph wasn't entirely sure whether she felt angry or guilty, and she wasn't sure if it was at herself of the other girl.

"Why do you care?" she muttered, crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm not even—you are." She couldn't keep the bitter note from her voice, and though it was to late to take it back, Toph still made an attempt to mask it. "Fine. What do you want to know?" she asked, tone making it clear that she wasn't going to willingly (perhaps even truthfully) divulge any information. If nothing else, perhaps by getting closer to Katara she could get even closer to Sokka. The very thought sent a hot spark running along her limbs, and she gave a small shudder.

Katara didn't say anything, but Toph heard the crack of her knees as she stood, and the woomph-woomph-woomph of her footfalls on the carpet. The bed depressed as the older girl made herself comfortable, and Toph almost immediately felt pressed for information that she wasn't sure she was ready to give—to anyone. She wondered if it was worse because she knew she'd be expected to answer (and that, really, she should). Oh, she'd been questioned before, by state workers, foster carers, police. None had gained much information from her.

She felt Katara take her hand, and quelled the urge to jerk it away. It would probably be worse if she did that, so she sat on the other girl's fluffy bed, uncomfortable despite the soft mattress and thick blankets as she waited for Katara to say something. She heard the familiar chg-agachg-chga of Sokka's car, and wished the other girl would hurry up.

"I'm not going to ask you anything, Toph," Katara finally said. "Your business is your business. But if you ever want some girly time, I'm always going to be here. I like you." The final few words were stated with such decisiveness that Toph couldn't help the small snort that erupted from her nose. She supposed Katara was frowning, not understanding the action, but Toph didn't feel the need to elaborate.

"Yeah. Sure. Whatever." Toph couldn't help the way the flippant sentence rolled off her tongue, immediately fell on the defensive. She knew Katara would have a hurt expression on her face—they always did—but she didn't particularly want to be the cause of that. She reminded herself that it was all for Sokka. "Look, Honey," she said, her nonchalant tone and bored expression completely at odds with how she felt. She wasn't able to keep the mask on for long. "You don't know me. So, tell me, how do you know you like me?" she challenged. "Why do you even care!? I don't need friends, and I know that even if I did, I wouldn't want my friend to be some fucked up freak like me. So, what's your deal?!"

She had no idea where the outburst had come from, and judging from the complete lack of noise or movement, neither did Katara. Toph was panting heavily, trying to release some of the pent up anger, but it wasn't working. She needed to do something destructive. Without waiting for an answer (one she wasn't even sure would come), Toph jumped up from the bed, letting her cane lead her out into the kitchen. The boys were clattering around with plates and cups, and she could definitely smell the pizza, but even extra spicy supremo couldn't get her to slow down as she pushed through the room and walked out into the front yard.

"Hey, Toph!" Sokka's voice carried through the still air, and she almost stopped to look towards him. Almost. How could she look at him when angry tears were threatening to spill over her cheeks? He called out her name once more, and Toph's resolve almost failed then and there. She was just about to stop when she heard Aang talking to the older boy, telling him to leave her alone. Where once she would have appreciated to gesture, allowing her to calm down on her own, she only felt anger at the bald boy. What if she didn't want to be alone this time?

Using her cane only to avoid the most serious of obstacles, Toph almost tripped over a small crack in the sidewalk outside Sokka's house before she caught herself, shuffling away from the house as fast as she could. There was a cool breeze that did a wonderful job of blowing away her anger until all she was left with was an empty feeling of exhaustion; fumes of her rage that took up more energy than was worth it. There was the faint aroma of tobacco on the wind, and following her nose, she stumbled across a small park. The area wasn't really that much different to her own street, with a quiet, out of the way atmosphere. There was a squueeee of a rusty swingset that grated on her ears, and Toph wondered why people had to try—why they had to try and foster community spirit, and togetherness. There were so many better things to waste taxpayer's money on than a park. The tell-tale smell of cigarettes told her that the plan had backfired, anyway, so why did people have to bother?

The smell also told her she'd probably be able to bum one off one of the street rats and/or hoodlums and perhaps calm down a little.

The catcalls came first as she approached, although that was the norm with such places. They really weren't dangerous unless you weren't used to it and didn't know how to react. Toph had learned through experience that, most of the time, they were completely harmless. Especially in crowds such as this (there had to be at least twenty people), there were almost always other girls who kept their men under control.

"Hey there, Sexy!" a deep voice called to her, and her head shot up. She recognised that voice...

"Jet?" she answered, coming to a halt and crossing her arms. There was the sound of scuffling, and before she realised it, someone was standing right in front of her.

"Oh, shit, Toph! It is you!" She could tell he was smiling, and she couldn't quite quell her own answering smirk.

"'Sup, dude? Hey, can I bum a cigarette?" Short, simple, straight to the point. Jet didn't answer with words, instead placing his own at her lips and bringing the lighter up to it.

"That one'll cost you," he said before flicking open the small, metal case with a fshck and lighting up the cigarette. Toph only waved him off, already expecting him to say that. She immediately felt better as the nicotine flooded her system, and couldn't focus on much else at that point. It was all she could do to stop from throwing herself on the floor in utter bliss. It had been too long since she last snuck out to spend any time with him.

"Oh, God, that's good," she murmured, taking a second, long drag. "I needed that, thanks." The 'thank you' wasn't even completely fake, either. She did genuinely appreciate this, least of all because cigarettes were expensive. It always helped to know people, though, and Jet knew the best.

"How'd Kyoshi let you out this late?" he pried, replacing the cigarette he had just given her with a new one, placing it between his lips and lighting it. Toph grimaced, stuck between sighing and groaning, although her mood was much improved with the cancer-stick hanging from her lips.

"She didn't. She doesn't know I'm here." Toph paused for a moment before deciding to give in to her earlier wish and just plopping herself on the ground. Jet followed her, the gravel krchcnching beneath his sneakered feet. His crew, who had been watching the two with minor interest, returned to whatever they were doing beforehand (probably smoking too, if history served Toph correctly).

"Ahh, and you needed an outlet?"

Toph looked towards Jet, unsure as to whether he has asked a question or made a statement. She decide to just answer it regardless, more to just fill the silence than anything else.

"Yeah." Toph closed her eyes as she took a final puff, ignoring the slight pain in her fingertips as the embers hit the filter and burned her. She was normally pretty good at knowing when to stop so she didn't hurt herself, but the conversation with Katara had frazzled her and left her head all over the place.

"What about a distraction?" Jet pressed, and Toph roller her sightless eyes. "You still owe me; cigarettes aren't cheap, you know. Smellerbee is having a harder time pickpocketing too, coz the people 'round here know us..." he trailed off, looking up at the sky. Whatever peace had come with the silence as broken as someone shouted at them.

"Fuck up, Jet. You try and do better, then!" A female voice cut through the night, and Toph raised her hand in greeting.

"Hey, Bee," she said, sighing as she came to a decision and turned back to Jet. "Fine. What do you want with me tonight?"

Jet gave a smirk, and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "I want you, but I doubt you want an audience..." Toph felt her stomach clench at his unrestrained vulgarity, and let out a slow breath.

"As if you've don't have a place tonight, Jet," she muttered, feeling him shiver slightly as she said his name. Placing a hand on his chest, she carefully trailed it down until it rested over his pants. "You definitely do want me," she grinned, pressing down slightly. It was Jet's turn to suck in a breath

The thought of spending another night with Jet had her heart racing, and she could hear the blood pumping in her ears. She wanted to be with him tonight; that much was certain, but she had to go back to Sokka's at some point, and she preferred to do that in the same condition (if less angry) as when she left. She had enough self-awareness to know that she needed something from Jet, though, and if this was the only way she could fool herself into thinking she was loved, then it wasn't all bad—she was still able to fool herself.

Jet didn't say anything to her silence, instead raising his hand to place it on her chest, pressing gently. Toph sat there as he leaned forward, capturing her lips as his hand trailed downward and up underneath her shirt. While she didn't miss Jet, she certainly missed the closeness of the moment—the physicality—and she broke away long enough to mumble, "Only this far," to him before allowing her lips to be captured in his once again. He gave a little moan, and knowing exactly what she wanted, she slid her tongue into his mouth. His hand continued its pleasant dance across her skin, dotted with goosebumps, and her own slid around to push his face closer to her own. Jet smirked into her mouth and moved his hands down to her hips just long enough to pull her onto his lap before they returned to her chest.

Breaking the kiss, he leant forward enough to whisper lecherously into her ear, "You know, I always think of you—during, I mean."

"That's because I'm the best," she retorted, her eyes closed as his hand ghosted from one side of her chest to the other and she began rolling her hips over his. It was always fun to tease. With a small groan, Jet let his hand slip under her bra, and suddenly teasing wasn't fun anymore. Throwing her head back at the feel, Jet used it as an opportunity to attach his lips to her throat. Toph couldn't help but anchor him there with her hands, not allowing him to moved away as he continued to assault her senses—it had been too long since she visited Jet, and not long enough, it seemed. Neither noticed the intruder until they spoke up.

"...Toph?"

Toph's eyes, which had been shut despite the uselessness of them, shot open and she inhaled sharply. Letting her head slump a little, she noted that Jet hadn't let go of her throat (actually, his lips had worked their way down to her collarbone), and she turned her head in the direction of the voice.

"What, Sokka?" she hissed, caught between pleasure and absolute mortification. She really didn't want Sokka to see who she was hanging out with (no one had ever thought Jet was a good influence—he had developed a rather... interesting reputation), but at least she could trust him to keep kissing her for as long as she let him.

The small sucking noises he made—plkchsska-sklpah—was drowned out by Sokka's heavy breathing, although she had no way of knowing if it was shock or anger. Probably both. Toph was waiting for Sokka to say something so she could push Jet away, and a louder inhale signified that Sokka had caught sight of the other boy's hand moving underneath Toph's shirt. She couldn't bring herself to get him to remove it, though; Toph needed that closeness, the one that no one else could—or had ever tried—to give her. The one that, for the first time, she wanted of a specific person... who was currently ogling at what they had just seen.

"I'll just leave you with your boyfriend, then." Sokka's voice broke through, bitter and low. Toph heard the krnch-krch of gravel underfoot as he walked away, and couldn't help out the small sigh, momentarily caught in her throat. She grabbed Jet's cheeks and slowly pulled him away, shivering a little as the breeze brushed her wet throat. He began kissing up her face, and it took even longer to remove him from there. Brought back to the present, she could feel the bulge in his pants digging into her, although any pleasure she would have gained from it (physical or psychological) was completely gone.

"It's been too long," Jet finally murmured against her cheek, allowing her to slide off his lap and onto the ground. She heard him whip out another cigarette, and was only partially surprised when he handed it to her. "I've almost forgotten how... receptive... you can be." He grinned, and finally the last dregs of any positive emotion left Toph. She heaved herself up from the gravel when she felt Jet slide something into her hand. It was a small carton of cigarettes, and she looked at him curiously. He shrugged, taking the cigarette in her hand and having a puff.

"I'm having a party tomorrow, up near Gaoxing Lane—you know, that old joint with the stairs." He stood up and brushed off his pants. "If you need another escape, this'll be perfect."

"Yeah, sure," she said quietly, turning the box over in her hands. "I'll see you tomorrow, maybe." She felt Jet smile, and he gave her a light smack on the backside.

"See ya, Toph," he said, watching her turn around and make her way back in the direction she came from.

The walk back to Katara and Sokka's seemed longer than the one to the park, and she would probably have missed it if she didn't almost trip on the crack outside their pavement again. Toph wavered there on the sidewalk, not knowing whether to keep walking, stroll in with her usual swagger, or try the 'humble' thing people were always talking about. Unable to come to a decision, she just plopped herself down on the path, head in her hands. The guilt she couldn't feel earlier suddenly appeared like an extremely unwanted guest, and she groaned quietly. Of course she had to screw everything up. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Trivia

Um, mostly this is to point out that I have no idea what the heck I'm even doing anymore.

  • The scene with Jet was actually not really supposed to be in there.
    • It was written for an anti-Sukka fic I had, before realising I hated the idea anyway. But, I do love Jet >:D
  • I wanted Katara and Toph to have like, a sort of bond. That didn't work.
  • This is also the longest chapter to date. Which is not the reason why it took so long, I just didn't feel like writing it.
Drive-ins
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
Characters

TophSokkaKataraJetAangKyoshi

Films

SerenityLove ActuallyÁmelieThe Wedding SingerHouse of Flying Daggers


See more

For the collective works of the author, go here.

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