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|The Breakfast Club|
7th January, 2014
The Breakfast Club
Toph had only been in Katara's room once, and she barely remembered how she got there that time; by all accounts, she shouldn't be able to find it without someone showing it to her again. But, Katara was a girl, and her room smelt. Not bad, necessarily, but it just had an unfamiliar, unmistakably feminine odour that Toph couldn't help but scrunch her nose up at. It wasn't that she hated the scent, but rather that she wasn't used to something be so sweet. Kyoshi certainly never bothered with it.
"Aang, get out," she said, effectively announcing her presence as she walked through the doorway. There was a small ummmmm coming from one corner of the room, and she furrowed her brow. "Now," she reiterated. "I need to talk to Katara."
There was silence for several moments, and she assumed the duo was sharing a glance. Toph huffed, crossing her arms before a quiet word slipped from her lips.
"Please?" she mumbled. There was the aura of another shared glance, although Toph didn't try and break it this time. She stood there, biting her lip, waiting for Aang to respond. It wasn't him that spoke first, though.
"Aang, could you?" Katara told him. There was a second of hesitation, and Toph briefly wondered what Katara was thinking. The last time they had spoken hadn't been on particularly good terms. She felt Aang brush past her, but Toph didn't move. Suddenly, she didn't want to be there.
"So, what did you want to talk about?" Katara asked. Toph couldn't identify the emotion in her voice; perhaps hostility (which would not be unwarranted, she admitted), but not completely. Toph opened her mouth a few times, but no sound came out. She felt rather nauseous, and without realising it, she began swaying slightly. "Toph?"
Toph looked towards Katara, regaining control. It didn't even matter what she looked like; she could feel it in her gut. Toph put her head down, facing the floor as she chewed slowly on the words she knew she had to say, but still didn't want to.
"I'm sorry." The words were spoken in a quiet rush, and Katara almost missed what she said. Toph's tone was almost pleading, her voice slightly higher in pitch than normal. She bit her lip, and idly, her fingers reached up to scratch at her wrist. "I didn't- I mean... I shouldn't have got- gotten angry with you... You were just.. being nice..." she trailed off, almost faltering. She purposely kept her eyes averted from Katara, who was naturally scrutinising Toph's every move.
"It's okay, Toph. I forgive you," Katara replied, smiling slightly. She knew Toph couldn't see it, but she knew it was there. Toph gave a jerky nod, and hesitated just long enough to alert Katara before turning around to make her way out of the room.
Toph turned her blind gaze back to Katara, confusion written on her face. It was Katara's turn to bite her lip.
"You know, Toph, you can talk to me about anything. Us girls have to stick together," she said with her eyes averted. When she looked up, Toph seemed to be on the verge of breaking something, or yelling again. Her face was red, a heavy frown pulling at her eyebrows. There was a laugh from down the hall (Suki's, from the sound of it), and Katara could have sworn that she saw Toph's face slacken for the barest second.
Toph herself couldn't even believe she was thinking about telling Katara. Wasn't there a girl code against the dating of friends' brothers (or, in her case, just liking them)? And, if she were to be completely truthful to herself, Toph did want to be friends with Katara. It couldn't hurt to try, could it?
"Hey, Toph?" Katara's voice broke through Toph's angsting, and she looked up. "Do you wanna just... chat?" she offered. Toph regarded her warily.
"I don't know... do you have a favourite... song?"
Toph raised an eyebrow, although she had to applaud the other girl's attempt. She knew from experience that if someone had wronged her, she would be less inclined to spend time with them. Katara was making an obvious effort, and the least she could do was try.
It wasn't lost on Toph that those words were also thought by her last time, and how that turned out.
"I don't... really listen to a lot of music. Well, not of the new stuff," she offered, voice low. "I don't really have the money to get into that. I just listen to whatever Kyoshi has."
"Oh..." It was obvious that Katara had no idea what to say next, and Toph couldn't help but share in some of the older girl's discomfit.
"Turn around," she commanded, moving slowly towards the bed. She briefly wondered whether there was a strange look sent her way, before she disregarded it. There had been no sound to suggest Katara had moved at all, even as Toph sat on the bed next to her. "Come on, I promise I won't shout again."
She said it in such a cavalier manner, Katara almost forgot exactly why the girl had shouted last time. She was hesitant to give it the chance to happen again, but at the sight of the girl's expression, Katara couldn't say no.
After all, the hope that appeared in the blind girl's eyes, albeit faintly, was not something Katara had expected.
She naturally still had her reservations, but how could she say no when someone was reaching out? Perhaps not for help, but it was obvious to Katara that Toph needed something; or, something had happened to force her into such a position. The brunette wasn't complaining, although her heart did go out to Toph. With a small grunt, she turned around, trying not to let her mind come up with too many dreadful scenarios.
It did not wander far before she felt Toph's small, slightly pudgy fingers combing through her hair. The blind girl didn't make a noise, carefully and steadily parting Katara's hair in order to do.... something with it. Katara could only clear her throat noisily.
"Shush, I'm just braiding it." There was a pause, and Toph elaborated on the unspoken question, "I can hear it moving from the other side of the room. It was annoying me."
Of course, that wasn't the real reason. Toph certainly remembered how kind Katara was to her the previous week, offering to brush her hair. She didn't like debts.
"How do you know how to braid?" Katara asked. Toph could only snort.
"I am a girl, you know. Besides, braids are neater sometimes," she explained, silently marvelling at the sheer volume of hair that Katara had atop her head. "And, just so you know, you can... ask me stuff..."
Katara turned slightly, just enough to regard Toph from the corner of her eye.
"You won't yell again?"
Toph gave a small nod. "Yeah, I won't yell. Doesn't mean I'll answer, but I won't yell."
Katara was silent for a while as Toph finished with her hair. There was so much she didn't know, and so much she wasn't sure she wanted to. They did have one common factor, though (well, one less painful than the fact that neither essentially had no parents), and Katara deemed it to be a good place to start.
"How do you know Jet?" she asked, curiosity written in her small frown. It was impossible for Katara to miss the downturn of Toph's lips, or the way she slightly bared her teeth.
"How do you know him?" was the response, and Katara would have laughed if the air hadn't felt so tense. It wasn't as though she liked remembering Jet, however as Katara looked at Toph's closed face, hidden behind her bangs and blank expression, she truly realised that the blind girl didn't trust anyone. And she realised how much she wanted—and needed—that trust in order to help her.
"I met him a few times. Parties, around the neighbourhood... I liked him, he had this kind of wild, roguishness about him that I think is appealing to most girls," she answered. Toph bit her lip, looking thoughtful.
"Did you sleep with him?"
The blind girl hadn't expected Katara to shout so loudly, nor for her tone to be so disapproving. Toph's eyes widened, and her mouth hung open just long enough for Katara to see.
"I- no, I didn't sleep with him. When I finally talked to him, I realised he wasn't the guy for me. Not to sound conceited, but I knew I could do better."
Toph fell once again into silence, her hands finally dropping from Katara's completed braid. Katara turned to look at her, but she couldn't read anything on her blank expression. She was thinking deeply, and Katara desperately wanted to know of what.
"Toph? Did you, uh, did you... sleep with him?" she asked slowly. The blind girl's eyes flashed up.
"So what if I did?" she challenged, although the fire was gone from her tone; she just looked tired. Katara couldn't blame her—a quick glance to the clock showed it was a little later than she expected. That, and she remembered how totally exhausted the girl was earlier.
"Just... nothing." Katara was quite willing to back off, but Toph wasn't having a bar of it.
"No, what were you going to say?"
"I just don't know how you could do it," Katara explained, rather lamely in her opinion. Toph gave a snort.
"It's not hard. One minute you're fighting, the next you're kissing, and then you start fucking and you barely realise until after what you've done, but it doesn't matter because even though the guy can be a total prick, he made you feel special in those twenty-or-so minutes while he had you in his bed."
Toph fell silent, taking a few breaths to make up for those she had neglected during her small rant. She was surprised, to put it mildly, that she had offered such details, but she supposed it didn't really matter, either. Katara was a girl, too. It didn't mean that Toph didn't need some kind of reaction.
"Oh, um...." Katara was at a loss at what to say.
"Why did you want to know?" Toph asked quietly, as though hushed whispers would allow the Spirits to forgive her for her outburst.
"Sokka... he told me what happened last weekend... Well, told everyone..." she trailed off at the look of absolute horror Toph sent her way, eyes wide and more terrified than they had ever been before. Toph rubbed furiously at her arms, and action that was not missed by Katara.
"What- what did he tell you?" she asked, cursing herself. Way to make it obvious, Toph.
"Just that he, er, saw you at the park. With Jet..."
Toph visibly relaxed, her shoulders slumping as a deep breath was let out. Katara wondered what else the girl had done in order have such a reaction, although she knew from said reaction that Toph wasn't very likely to share.
"Toph, he doesn't love you," she said suddenly, her voice smooth and kind. "Maybe he did. I don't know, but Jet isn't the kind of guy to fall for someone."
"I know..." The reply was so low that Katara could barely make it out, but when she did, it was all she could do to bite her tongue and let Toph continue. "I know he doesn't, and he never did. But I never did either, so it's not like I'm... pining after him or whatever." No, that would be Sokka, wouldn't it?
It was more than the fact Katara had asked that caused Toph to look towards her. It was the tone she used, the way the intrusive question seemed so much more innocent and curious that had Toph letting her in, just a little—just enough.
She gave a sigh and kept her eyes turned downwards. "Because it's better to be with someone you don't love than to be alone," she said quietly.
She did not expect Katara to let out a small awww and pull her in for a hug. Toph stiffened as hands pressed down on her back, but Katara either didn't notice or didn't care as she held the younger girl.
"You shouldn't think like that, Toph," she said quietly. "You'll find someone some day."
Toph didn't have it in her to refute Katara's claim, and so she just sat there, allowing herself to be held. Only when the older girl pulled away did they realise something was wrong.
Toph pinched her eyes shut, letting out a silent sigh. Of course Sokka managed to hear that. Of course.
A/N: Oh, boy, that chapter was hard. It just... wasn't working for me. Also, will return to Tokka month now, it's just that I wanted to get this chapter out there because Toph really hasn't been growing much as a person, and I needed to change that. The ending was literally 'now, how will I continue this next chapter? I know! The increasingly unlikely chances of Sokka sneaking up on her. Yeah, I'll use that again'.
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