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Release date

19th July, 2013
(Major revision: 16th January, 2014)

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Love, Actually




When Toph stepped through the threshold of a small house in suburban Republic City, she could already feel the confused gaze as it struck her. She briefly wondered why she had decided to let Sokka convince her to visit his home—get to know each other beyond random meetings that had become not so random—although she had resigned herself to the fact that it was too late to change her mind. She had no idea why she was humouring him like this; she definitely wouldn't call him a close friend. More like acquaintances, really.

There was complete silence for a moment as she blindly regarded the other presence in the room. She could hear Sokka walking up the front path, and emboldened by his approach, stuck out her chest.

"Who are you?"

There was a tense silence emanating from the stranger not two metres in front of her—they actually seemed rather taken aback by her bald question. Before Toph could narrow her opaque eyes in annoyance—seriously, was everyone always so willing to ignore her?—Sokka barged loudly through the door. Toph could hear a lot of shuffling and clattering, and held out her hands to help him. He nudged her with a carton of soft drink, and with sure fingers she took it, pointedly ignoring the person who had ignored her. It didn't take Sokka long to notice them, though.

"Katara!" he cried, pulling her into a hug.

Toph moved her head up to survey the girl in front of her. Well, she hoped it looked like it. It was always a fun experiment to see how long it took people to realise she was blind. It was probably the combination of arrogance in others' company and total ignorance that led people to assume such a thing (because arrogant people never deigned to look at other people, apparently).

"Why is she here?" the girl asked from somewhere above her. Being short was almost as annoying as being blind. "I mean..." Here, her voice became lower and quieter, and Katara seemed not to realise just how sensitive Toph's hearing was. "How is she going to enjoy the movie?" Ah, so The Sister knew she was blind. That was interesting. Not particularly surprising, but interesting. Apparently, Twinkletoes did more than just make out with his girlfriend. Unless Sokka told her.

Toph wasn't sure how to feel about him actually talking about her to anyone.

"Because I invited her," he said, with the pathetic, whiney voice that Toph actually found was less annoying than Aang in general. "I thought she'd appreciate movie night, too! I can tell her what's going on."

"You got a problem with that, Sugar Queen?" the Toph piped up. From the way he was leaning, she knew Sokka was smiling. "Anyway, Aang said he was coming going out tonight, and I assume he meant here. It's not like he has any other friends. He just had to get changed outta his track gear. Apparently, it's embarrassing getting dressed in front of me. As if I can fucking see anything anyway. Not that I'd wanna see anything he has. Eww, imagine that, Sokka. Sokka, are you imagining it yet?" She laughed as Sokka made a disgusted choking noise, ignoring Katara's blustered reprimands over her use of language (and topic of choice). After Sokka had managed to force the unfortunate mental image from his mind, he turned to Toph, intent on asking her a question.

"Did Kyoshi give you a curfew?" Sokka asked, watching the was Toph's face scrunched into a small frown as she thought. Before she had a chance to speak, Katara whispered to Sokka;


Sokka hushed his sister with a tightly whispered, "Her carer," before turning back to Toph. She ignored the exchange (and Katara) as she answered.

"Oh, please. As if Kyoshi could actually make me do anything," Toph replied flippantly. "But, she did specifically mention that there be no sex, drugs, so don't get fresh with me." Katara uttered an indignant cry at the accusation that turned into a choke as it was she who became plagued by Toph's words. She was naturally ignored by both Toph and Sokka, and used the ringing doorbell as an excuse to leave the room. She ran off to answer it as Sokka pulled Toph through the house, narrating where they were, and where they were going to her until he reached the couch and plopped down on it with a satisfied ahhh.

"What movie are you going to explain to me while Aang and Katara suck each other's face off?" she asked. The innocent tone of voice belayed the actual meaning of the words, and Sokka had begun answering by the time he realised exactly what she had said. With a scowl that quickly dropped, he began to answer again.

"Serenity. Joss Whedon's masterpiece—crazy girls with like, psychic powers. Prostitutes, guns. It's a space-cowboy movie with no aliens, and fake Chinese." He shrugged with a grin as Toph's mouth opened in a wide beam, showing off all her pearly teeth.


"Oh, yeah, it's awesome," he nodded, "it's based on this TV show-"

Sokka was interrupted by a low shii-dook from the doorway; he and Toph turned in unison (one to look and one to hear) as Aang tripped from the kitchen lino and landed—surprisingly lightly—on the blue carpeted floor of the lounge room.

"Oof. Toph? What're you doing here?" he asked her from the floor. "I thought you were going to see J-"

"No!" She yelled a little too loudly, and Sokka jumped. Her eyes wide, Toph tried again. "I mean, I was going to go... somewhere else, but Sokka invited me here. I wouldn't have agreed if I knew you were going to be here," she joked easily. If Sokka didn't notice the tightening of her lips, Aang certainly did. He knew her well enough to understand Toph-speak for 'shut up or I will end you', though, and if he wanted to lie long enough to see his children (that's if Toph left him with the capacity), he also knew enough to let the matter drop.

"Uh-huh," he muttered. Toph shot him a scowl, and he backed off. "So, how do you know Sokka?"

Toph dropped the angered expression, grateful for the subject change. She shrugged as Katara walked into the room, laden down with bags of chips and popcorn. "I just do. He's gonna explain a movie to me," she answered simply, and he nodded as though it were the most casual and common thing to do.

"Wait, I'm confused," Katara announced, placing the snacks on the floor with gentle thumpths. "How does everyone know each other?"

Toph felt Sokka move off the couch; she heard the slap-slop-slap of bare feet on linoleum, and decided that it was up to her to answer. "Well, I just know Sokka. And I met Aang a few years ago. He's like... he's my brother." She shrugged again. "We all just... know each other." There was a chi-shich-shich as the chips were poured into bowls, and she heard the sound that announced Sokka's return; Toph only had a brief moment to wonder why he left before he placed a cool can of soft-drink in her hand.

"Oh. You don't, uh, you don't look related," Katara said dubiously, causing Toph to laugh, although her eyes didn't light up as much as they should for such a happy expression. No one noticed the blind girl pull down the sleeves of her jumper, or lower her head a fraction.

"Well, we aren't—not really. Kyoshi is Roku's... master, I guess, an' me and Aang sort of bonded when we were both under his care. I met him before that, but they moved me away. We kinda just kept in contact after I was moved to Kyoshi, coz I didn't have-" Toph cut herself off here, eyes wide in surprise, before she coughed awkwardly and shrugged.

"I mean, it's okay, coz me an' Kyoshi get along really well, despite everything. All for the best." She shrugged again; the air was rank with emotions, and Toph couldn't suppress the grimace that rose to her face. She was used to having people express pity or sympathy for her, and it was only a matter of time before Katara gave her a hug; it was important that Toph forestall her for as long as possible. She wouldn't be responsible for any pain that the other girl found herself in, if that were the case. "Anyway, where are your parents?" she challenged, voice annoyingly (at least to her) calm. Toph was sure she had tried to make it sound angry.

"Oh, well, our mother died when we were young and Dad's in the Navy," Katara answered, a little taken aback by the sudden—but not completely random—change of topic.

"And you live here... alone?"

Katara shrugged. "Well, yeah. I keep telling Sokka to get a job and all, but we get money from Dad's wages and some support from the government. Solar power and owning the house makes it easier," she answered, looking at her brother. He grinned easily.

"Easier to be lazy, definitely. Come on, let's start the movie. I'm sure Toph doesn't really care," he said, glancing at the blind girl. Her lips curled up into a smile.

"You're right, I don't." This was definitely a lie—Toph was always interested in him—and he pouted at her.

"Aww, Toph..." he mumbled, "you're breaking my heart..." He couldn't keep the smile away, and she knew it. With a flippant wave of her hand, she indicated towards the TV.

"If we actually get around to the movie, maybe I'll apologise," she shrugged, and Sokka took the hint. The movie was popped into the DVD player with a gentle tip-whrrrr, and the chip bowl passed around. Sokka sat with Toph on the couch, whispering the action on the television while Aang and Katara lounged on the floor.

"- and she's looking at a TV hanging from the roof. There's an octopus, it just popped out of a woman's boobs, and a mouse just turned into a guy... She's still staring at the screen (... Miranda...). Okay, now she just took off her overdress thing, I'm not sure how to explain it, oh and she's kicking the shit out of everyone. A guy's got her in a headlock and she... just kicked her leg up—god, she's flexible—and wacked him on the head. Mal's getting his gun from the depository, he just sent Jayne to stop her. He pushed a guy away who tried to punch him and has come up behind her (gorrammit, girl, it's me!). River just punched him in the nuts, and grabbed his gun. Oh, Mal just got his out, and (etta kooram na smecht)—that was her brother; River just fell asleep."

The rest of the film passed in much the same way; Toph was, despite herself, having more fun than she would have thought possible, and it was almost a shame when it finished earlier than expected.

"Can we watch that show you were talking about earlier?" she asked.

"Oh, if you're gonna do that, Aang and I aren't interested," Katara interrupted, before Sokka had a chance to speak. "We'll just be in my room...."

"Nah-uh-uh-uh," Sokka admonished. "Door open, stereo off. Got it?" There was a heavy groan, but Toph heard Katara lead Aang up the hallway without a spoken complaint.

Toph snuggled deeper within the pillows on the couch as Sokka changed disks, and even she couldn't hide the smile as Sokka began narrating Firefly. It wasn't as good as the movie, however several episodes in she still couldn't really tell what the story was about (although it would have helped had she not fallen asleep mid-way through the second, and not have Sokka notice until he felt the wet patch on his shirt where she had dribbled).

Shaking her gently awake, Sokka couldn't help the grin as she realised she had been drooling, and even in the half-light of the television he could see the embarrassed blush that appeared on her cheeks. "Come on, Toph. I'll take you home."

"I thought Aang was driving me?" she said, gums and eyes clammy from sleep and soft drink.

"Aang left ages ago. We were up to the scene where Niska had just killed his wife's nephew." Toph gave him a blank look for a few seconds, before understanding dawned on her face.

"There was the guy with the weird European accent? I remember now," she said, stifling a yawn with a yah-ahhh. "D'you think you could gimme a lift home?"

Sokka nodded, before remembering that she couldn't actually see him. "Yeah, no problem. Are you gonna come back again next week?"

Toph shrugged, pouting her lips in a tired frown. "I can. This was... fun..." she told him, not sure if it was the right word to use. Should it be fun for someone to have to meticulously explain something to her? Definitely not. She didn't need anyone to do anything for her. Her frown deepened as she thought further about it. This was different.

The duo slipped into his restored Alpine—after Sokka woke Katara up to tell her where they were going (she threw a pillow at his head that bounced off Toph's shin)—and he drove her the ten minutes to the small house she lived in with Kyoshi. The comfortable silence between them broken only by the chg-agachg-chga of the old motor, and Toph couldn't help but feel annoyed by the small bump that signified they had just driven over the gutter. Why did it have to interrupt? She liked just sitting with Sokka.

"Thanks, man," she said, slipping out of the passenger seat with a sigh too low for him to hear. "Can't wait for next week."

Smiling, she turned away and slammed the car door shut with a foom. The car remained silent, and Toph wondered briefly whether or not Sokka was waiting for her to get inside before he drove off. In spite of herself, the little grin she tried to force down appeared, growing wider the longer she thought of it. After all, he was just being.... chivalrous, yes? Nothing wrong with that. He wasn't helping her at all.

Lifting her key from the metal necklace around her neck, Toph fumbled for the lock (probably leaving horrible scratch marks on the lock in the process). Usually, it took only a few seconds to locate the keyhole, but Toph just wasn't getting it that night.

"Here, lemme help."

Toph jumped as she felt Sokka take the key from her, placing it in the lock carefully. She hadn't heard him sneak up behind her, too lost in her own thoughts and the struggles to open the door. Her heart was racing—tathump-tathum-tatathump—and she only hoped it was the shock of having someone sneak up on her. She heard the click of the lock giving, and Sokka gave her back her key. His hand was far warmer than she had expected, and it seemed to linger over hers for hours.

"Oh, uh thanks, Sokka. Um... 'night!" she stuttered, clenching the key tightly in her hand.

"Hah, good night, Toph. Or, morning. Whatever." She felt his hand touch her shoulder for a second (and this time it truly felt like that long) before he left her and began walking back to his car. With a blind wave in his direction, she opened the front door.

Sliding inside, she put the key back into her pocket and made her way to her room. Across the foyer, five steps on the carpet before her left hand could touch the corner of the hallway, and then it was just the first door on the right. Reaching underneath her bed, she grabbed a cigarette from the packet stuck underneath the beams with a large wad of blutack and moved back through the quiet house. Toph slid open the back door with a small ssshhhrrr, being as quiet as she could before making herself comfortable on the outside lounge. Flicking the lighter on, she burnt her fingertips (although she was beyond feeling that sort of pain now) before the little stick finally lit. Taking a drag, she willed her heart to slow down as she thought about the night. Counterintuitive, had she thought any deeper, but she was just enjoying the memories.

Sucking on the cigarette, it seemed to be the first night that it didn't calm down her racing mind. She smoked it down to the filter, making sure to put it out properly before pushing the filter through the gaps in the deck. Kyoshi would murder her if she knew she was still smoking—not that it actually made her feel any better. Actually... she already felt kind of good...

Dragging herself back into the house, Toph forewent the usual bedtime rituals, instead falling straight onto the messy sheets after circumnavigating the junk on her floor. She would probably trip and break her arms one day, but at that moment she didn't care.

She fell asleep dreaming of her new friends.

A/N: Several fun facts for you to enjoy:

  • I was originally just going to write a massive one-shot, but thought it better to break it into chapters. Really good when you think that this is over 40,000 words now.
  • I chose Serenity as the first movie because, at the time, it was my favourite film.
  • A line in Pegelia's story, The Last Prom King, inspired the small sentence about Toph one day tripping over and breaking her arm.
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

See more

For the collective works of the author, go here.

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