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27th May, 2013
verb [regrets, regretting, regretted]
1. [to] feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do)
Digging her toes into the dirt, she changes it to sand, if only so she can blind herself to the actions of those around her. She sits, alone, the dirt tables and chairs created especially for her reminding her of what a terrible person she is. The people she is surrounded by are her family—they are her rock when she needs comfort or just wants a friend. She has no right to feel the way she does, but as he comes closer she can't help her stomach drop, and she almost earthbends a hole to escape through. She has already dug one figuratively—why not get it over with and disappear?
"Toph! Come dance, it's really fun!" the Avatar calls, pulling her from her chair. She stumbles, feet caught in the sand and he quickly catches her. He is smiling, she knows it, but for some reason, it makes it all the more painful. Her hand is wrenched from his as she walks away without a word. She runs to the wooden house, bridesmaid dress flapping around her ankles as she escapes. Not for long, and not long enough, as he follows her, kissing his wife to assure her nothing is wrong. He calls her name as he enters the house but he knows straight away that it is not necessary. There is only one person who would sob with such heartfelt abandon—a person who has bottled up her fears and grievances for too long.
He has never heard her cry, and knows there is very little that could cause her to shed such painful tears. She doesn't hear him approach the room she has holed herself up in; he doesn't tell her he is there until his hand is on her face, wiping away the tear- and makeup-stained cheeks. She gasps at the unexpected sensation, and he hugs her tight and close. She squirms from his grip but he refuses to yield—she is his best friend, there is nothing he wouldn't do for her.
The contact brings forth yet another round of hysterics, and he can't stop the question as it flows from his tongue; "What's wrong?" She shakes her head, but he presses further. "What can I do?" She looks at him with blind eyes, teetering on the edge of hiding away or telling him.
She doesn't know how he will react if she tells him, but she can't help it—she cannot live her life without letting him know, somehow. She made that mistake with the other one.
If she had been in a happier state of mind, she possibly would have laughed at the situation. The blind tomboy, incapable of showing emotions yet falling in love with her two best friends? Even at the wedding of the Avatar, she holds on to the vague hope that someone will love her. It hurts, far more than she has ever let on, that the people she has loved have never noticed nor reciprocated.
She tells him she wants—needs—one thing, and he agrees to it readily. Anything to make his best friend happy, he reasons. Katara, his wife, is happy. Her brother and his spouse are in the throes of having a young child, yet they are more joyous than the Avatar has ever seen them. And the Fire Lord and Lady have brought their own nation back from the brink of destruction and poverty. Everyone is happy, himself included, except for his young friend. If he had more sense, he would have realised why, just by thinking of the reasons everyone else was happy.
He looks from emerald green eyes to the window, blue skies like a painting beckoning he return soon to the party—his party. He can see Katara coming up the pathway, wondering where he is. He opens his mouth to tell Toph that perhaps she would be better to talk to, when suddenly she throws herself on him, nipping at his mouth and tugging on his lips.
She has never kissed anyone before, it is obvious from the beginning. She cups his face and still he doesn't respond. He sits in shock as he realises what she is doing, the motions uncoordinated and wet as her tears begin leaking again, down her cheeks and over their intertwined mouths. He cannot think, because as much as he loves her, he never wanted to be with her. He goes to push her off—alas, too late. Katara bursts through the door and Toph jumps away, pink cheeked and red eyed. The waterbender has no idea what to think, and stands stock still. Aang looks up at his wife, hurt on her features as the scene replays in front of her mind. Toph slides off the bed and pushes past her friend without a word, cold and numb.
It registers in her mind that it was wrong, but she cannot find it in herself to feel guilty. She hasn't felt anything but loneliness and desolation for months—but, now she knows she will always be lonely. She hadn't heard Katara walking up the stairs, so desperate was her attempt. The realisation brings forth a fresh round of tears as, with shaky fingers, she dresses into her light travel pants and shirt. She cannot stay here now—not now he knows; that she knows.
Perhaps she was always meant to be alone.
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