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1st August, 2013
verb [with object]
[to] protect or shield from something
The sun beat sweetly upon two travellers, one in blue and one in green. They were standing outside a great estate, the smaller tense and the elder fidgety.
"Toph, I don't think this is a good idea...." Sokka trailed off as he caught the harsh glare from his friend. Well, he assumed it was a glare. Toph's mouth was turned down in an unamused frown, although he couldn't be certain without her eyes. For a blind girl, he found it strange—and somewhat intriguing—that her entire being could be conveyed through the glassy orbs.
"And why not?"
Sokka had a feeling that her eyebrow was raised, but she still refused to turn her head.
"I just... don't know what they're going to do..." he mumbled, not necessarily lying to his friend (for he had a hunch) but not completely being truthful. Any other time she would grill him until he spilled his guts, but not today.
"Neither do I," she admitted suddenly, "but they're my parents. I have to see them again. They always wanted me to be something great; it's what my lessons were for. I'm sure they're proud of me," she finished with an assurance that Sokka felt was more for herself than him.
"Yeah, but I'm pretty sure they meant a great wife, or an awesome entrepreneur. Not the girl who discovered metalbending and ended a hundred-year long war."
"Yeah? Well, I think you're wrong. You can wait outside."
"Toph..." She finally turned to look at him, but he found he couldn't meet her gaze. "I just don't want you to get hurt."
She snorted at this. "I'm a big girl, Sokka. I can take care of myself."
"I know... I'll hang around out here, though. Your parents probably think I've held you hostage for four years!"
Toph laughed a little at that, and after hesitating the barest second to tell him, "I'll be back in a few hours," she moved to the front door to ring the obnoxious doorbell. Sokka watched as she was admitted into the property, before sliding against the wall of a nearby stall.
He knew she said it would be a while, but Toph was unpredictable—even more so, it seemed, since the end of the war. She had chalked it up to being an adrenaline junky, but Sokka had his own theories—ones which he would never, ever tell her as long as he lived for fear for his life and future children. After all, he reasoned, if he had been the one to nearly die, he would want to live as much as possible.
As his mind began to wander through said theories, Sokka took no notice of the people around him, staring at his strange Water Tribe garb or the way he would smile at a particular memory. Several young children eventually stole the attention of the townspeople by snatching a loaf of bread from a stall, but Sokka still took no notice. It appeared that nothing could shake him from his thoughts; that is, until Toph unexpectedly popped up from the ground, kicked him in the leg and told him in a low voice, "Come on, let's get outta here."
Sokka scrambled to his feet, but she was already walking away, her bare feet shuffling along the dry earth as she hoisted her own bag over her shoulder.
"Toph?" he ventured tentatively, hesitating as he reached out for her shoulder, before betting it all and placing his hand on her arm. "Toph? I thought you were going to be in there for a couple of hours?" he asked quietly when she didn't even bother to shrug him off. They had slowed down to snail-sloth speed before she finally stopped on the outskirts of the town.
"You couldn't have just had faith, could you?" she demanded quietly, dropping the bag to cross her arms over her still-developing chest.
"Toph... what happened?"
She looked up at him, the harsh glare hitting his very soul. It barely registered when she punched him in the chest.
"You couldn't just believe it would be okay?" Toph punched him again, harder. "You had to be a pessimist, didn't you?!"
She was becoming louder and louder, her actions more frenzied, but Sokka did nothing to protect himself. She needed this.
"You couldn't just want me to be happy?!" she cried at him. He didn't cry out or flinch as she finally released all the anger and guilt that she had harboured for so many years. He didn't cry out in pain; the only evidence to show that he knew of his friend's grief washed over his cheeks as she slowed, still shaking.
Bringing his arms around her, Sokka lifted his hands behind Toph and pulled her close, holding her tightly against his bruised chest. She fought him for a few moments before it stopped, and suddenly she was still, quiet in his arms.
"I'm sorry, Toph. I just wanted to protect you..."
His only reply was the gentle sniffles of his best friend.
Notes: This is the only story in which Toph cries. Just for you, Ty :)
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