|By roca dos||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
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July 30, 2013
Although Aang heard Toph clear enough, he pretended not to. He had been lying motionless on the sand for a few wonderfully peaceful minutes. No Avatar duties, no Council Members to deal with, no nothing but the warm sand and sun and cool ocean breeze. The first of which gave him some leeway as far as Toph's incredible sight was concerned. They all knew she couldn't 'see' quite as clearly on the shifty terrain. And, since he was utterly relaxed, enjoying one of what he hoped were many restful moments on his mini-vacation, his heartbeat was slow and steady. There was nothing that would give him away. The Avatar was safe from the Greatest Earthbender in the World's wrath.
Or so he thought.
The sand beneath him shifted so suddenly, Aang barely had a chance to let out an unmanly squeak before he was buried completely by the rock granules. Everything was silent for a few seconds, only the sound of the waves and a few birds flying overhead could be heard. Then, an air sphere Toph couldn't see, but certainly felt, swirled and grew until the airbender had room to breathe again. In the process, he sent sand flying in every direction.
"Are they at it again? But I wanna go outside."
"Sokka," his wife's tone held a definite hint of warning, "You can wait a few more minutes, can't you?"
"Toph!" the Avatar sputtered, trying to rid his mouth of what felt like millions of grains of sand. "What is wrong with you!?"
"What's wrong with you!" she yelled, frustrated. But because he was still too busy trying to empty his mouth of all the minuscule particles, he wasn't paying attention to her. "Ugh," Toph growled, stomped her foot on the ground, and with a quick flick of her wrist seemed to command the tiny grains covering his tongue to join the hundreds at their feet. "There. Stop being a baby! And, stop ignoring me!"
She had to know calling him a baby would get on his nerves. They had both known each other long enough that they always knew what buttons to push to get the other going. And the fact that Aang at twenty-two still looked like a teenager had become a touchy issue for him. The Council would often pretend to mull over his advice only to go against it in the end. The young monk was convinced they all did so because they believed he was far too young and inexperienced to know the difference. They seemed to forget he defeated Ozai and ended the Hundred Year War and restored peace to the world! With his friends' help, of course. But he did it all a decade ago! Things had gotten so bad, Aang began to contemplate growing a beard to help him look older. He would worry about that later though, currently he had an angry earthbender to deal with.
"I wasn't ignoring you exactly," he lied. Badly.
Toph raised a questioning eyebrow. "Wanna try that again?" she urged.
He should have known he wasn't going to get away with it.
"Okay, maybe I was. But only a little," he amended quickly, while flashing her his brightest smile. One she couldn't see. "So...a rematch for what?"
"Stop playing dumb, Aang." She crossed her arms over her chest. "You know for what! My only loss - the only one - came at your hands," she explained.
Grinning, Aang replied, "I thought you said I cheated?"
The amusement was clear in his tone. It only served to aggravate her more.
"You did! Or have you forgotten you used airbending in an earthbending tournament!?" Against his better judgement he chuckled. Toph didn't find it funny at all and growled her insistence. "I demand a rematch, Twinkletoes!"
"Agni, is Toph still going on about her Earth Rumble loss?"
"Annoying, isn't it? Almost as annoying as you still claiming you could've beat Jet in that sword fight if those guards hadn't interfered..."
"I would have defeated him!"
"You guys are missing the whole point."
"Oh really, wise and know-it-all- Ouch, Suki! That hurt."
"Well, what are we missing?"
Aang let out a long breath. "...Okay."
Toph had opened her mouth to continue arguing, but shut it quickly once he agreed. Pleased that he relented, she smiled at him.
"Good. Name a time and place."
"When and where?" he asked to confirm and she nodded. "How about...here and now?" he laughed, rushing her. It was that joyful laugh that made her remember all the good times. Back when they all traveled together, when things were always fun, and most of them didn't have to escape their responsibilities to enjoy themselves.
While Toph was momentarily distracted, Aang lifted her up over his shoulder and ran at full speed towards the ocean. An uncharacteristic 'eep' escaped her lips as drops of water splashed all around her and Toph realized what he was doing a moment too late. Despite her complaining, she wasn't nearly as afraid as she had once been of the liquid substance she couldn't see in. In fact, the blind earthbender had even taken a few swimming lessons from Katara herself. Unbeknownst to anyone else, of course.
When Aang finally put her down, Toph gasped at the cool temperature of the water. Her confident demeanor didn't waver however.
"Real mature. What are you, twelve?" she snapped, irritated because her once dried clothes were now dripping wet.
"Says the woman who can't let go of something that happened ten years ago," he muttered under his breath.
"Let me remind you, you won on a technicality!" she huffed, pointing her finger in the direction of his voice. Why didn't he get it? It was her only loss. Maybe...he couldn't understand because he was used to losing, she thought with a rueful smile. The Council had been driving him crazy lately. Every one knew it. Even if she hadn't been Chief of Police, she was certain she would have heard about it. Perhaps...perhaps she could cut him some slack in that case. He was on a mini-vacation, after all.
With a sigh she turned to face him fully. At least, she thought she did.
"So...this is your idea of a rematch, Twinkletoes? We gonna splash at each other? 'Cause that's about all I can do out here," she finished, kicking at the useless salt water.
"Uh..." Aang mumbled absently. He was too distracted by the way her slick, pale skin glistened under the warm sun to form any sort of coherent reply.
Toph's outfit wasn't revealing in any way, quite the opposite given some of the tiny straps of clothing girls liked to wear out on the beach. But there was no denying she looked good. Back in Republic City, she was rarely out of her metalbending uniform. And though Aang thought she looked pretty good in that, too, he picked Ember Island as his mini-vacation destination purposely. Secretly, he hoped she would end up wearing her usual waterfront attire: small, orange top and brown trunks.
"Um, we can have your rematch later," Aang promised, smiling, and cutting through the continuous waves towards her.
By the sound of his voice, he seemed to be moving closer. How she hated not being able to sense his vibrations. Her lack of sight didn't bother her nearly as much as not knowing exactly where Twinkletoes was. Everything back in Republic City was either made of earth or metal, so unless Aang was employing his native element, Toph usually had a good idea of his location. It was...nice...knowing when he was close by. That, and not being able to do her job, were the main reasons she hated leaving the city.
"'Just watch' what? I don't see anything?"
"Wait for it..."
"Sokka, your wife is evil- Ow! What was that for?"
Having been standing still too long a time among the constant waves, Toph began growing disoriented. The problem with being blind was she couldn't simply walk back to shore. It was a bit frightening knowing that if she went the wrong direction there was a very real possibility of drowning. Anxious, she called to him.
Even though he had been lost in his thoughts of her, of them, and impossible things, he snapped to attention when he heard the distressed way she said his name. In an instant he bended himself to her side and took her hand in his so she would know she wasn't alone.
Comforted by presence, Toph anchored herself against him, and the dizzying moment passed. Before she could insist they return to dry land, she felt something that made her jump out of the water and onto the airbender, nearly knocking him over.
"Aang, pick me up! Something bit me!"
"Is she okay?"
"We should go check!"
"No one is going anywhere."
"Katara? I thought you were making lunch?"
"I was, but you three are driving me crazy spying on those two who are also driving me crazy! It's about time they figured this out!"
Aang stumbled back. Toph's weight, added to his own, plus the way she continued to practically climb him to get away from the water, made the usually nimble Avatar lose his balance. After a few backward steps of trying to regain his footing, they fell with a loud splash onto the very shallow end.
They landed with an 'oof' as air rushed out of both their lungs. Aang's back hit the soggy ground, but he held Toph securely against his front, her head resting on his chest as she tried to catch her breath. Small, soft waves hit their tangled legs, then began to recede once they reached his waist.
When Toph's breathing returned to normal, Aang assumed all was well again. "You okay?" he asked after a few minutes of simply lying there, trying not to become too preoccupied by the feel of her supple body on his.
"Am I okay? I told you something bit me!" she cried, lifting her head to glower down at him.
"Did she say something bit her?"
"Hey, sis, maybe you should heal-"
"Nothing bit her."
"How can you be so sure unless... Oh, no. Katara, you didn't."
"Hey, I just gave them a gentle nudge in the right direction."
"And you said my wife is evil, Zuko, but yours is plotting- Ow! Why is everyone hitting me?"
Toph might have been glaring at the airbender, in fact, if she could see, she would have been staring directly into his grey eyes, but the fact she didn't remove herself from her position on top of him spoke volumes. At least to Aang it did. It was then he made up his mind. All those times he had been too nervous to say anything, all those days he had not been brave enough to try something, he wasn't going to add to the already long list anymore. This would be different.
"Are you tired of fighting me yet?" he asked, quite taken with the way her hair had fallen out of its bun to frame the sides of her face.
"That wasn't fighting!" she began to argue, but when he cupped the side of her jaw with a smooth palm, she froze, and the rest of the words ceased to matter.
"Are you tired of fighting me yet?" he repeated, letting his fingers get lost in the ringlets of black hair that continued to fall undone.
Chills ran down her spine and it had nothing to do with the cooling water lapping at them. Toph swallowed, pretending she didn't love the sound of his voice in that moment or the way his hands felt running through her hair...
Wanting Aang had seemed so strange initially. When she finally accepted she may have had a tiny, nearly insignificant crush on him she tried to ignore it. But as the months passed and they continued spending more of their time with each other than anyone else, that tiny, insignificant crush grew. Before she knew it, she was actually looking forward to their assigned missions, sneaking out of boring dinners together, and just being around him. Oh, she was well-aware of how nauseating the whole thing was, but it couldn't be helped. It was so unlike her, and yet she couldn't shake it. And now, as she lay on him, enjoying his closeness and the warmth of his body as well as the feel of the toned, hard muscle underneath her fingertips, she didn't want to shake it.
"Are you?" she countered, her cheeks coloring.
His heart swelled when the pretty pink blush overtook her features.
"Toph..." he whispered her name, unable to contain the combination of dread and elation that swirled inside him. Still, he forced the words out because he had been wanting and waiting for her for years. "...what do you say? You and me...?"
Her heart began to beat faster and she was certain he could feel it. "You and me?" she repeated, surprised her voice didn't tremble. You and me. The words bounced around in her head. You and me... Honestly, she couldn't think of anything she wanted more.
"I say, sure, why not?" she shrugged as though that wasn't the biggest understatement ever.
It wasn't the most romantic of declarations, but though the words themselves were casual, Toph would never take something so lightly. If she said yes, even in her roundabout way, she meant it.
When Aang cupped the back of neck and brought her mouth down to his, she leaned in willingly. It was a slow, sensual kiss.
Neither noticed when the curtains of the window facing them fell shut. Or how the sun continued on its journey across the clear, blue sky. Even the gentle waves surrounding them were completely forgotten.
When his tongue delved into the warmth of her mouth, she moaned her approval. When his hands traveled along wet, bare skin, she returned the favor. Both were lost in a haze of desire.
It felt so good. He felt so good. But Toph had to make one thing clear before she gave in completely.
"Don't think this changes anything," she informed him, breaking momentary contact with his lips. Breathing heavy, Aang blinked up at her in wonder. But before he could ask, she explained, "You still owe me that rematch."
His breathy laugh ghosted across her neck and she fought back a shudder. When he told her, "Name a time and place," then dipped his head to trail kisses along her jaw, she arched into him and muttered something about later.
Mumbling in agreement, Aang captured her mouth with his once again.
A/N: Inspired by beanaroony's flawless Ember Island Taang art on tumblr.
For the collective works of the author, go here.