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|The Broken Circle Breakdown|
15th September, 2014
The small display was enough; Toph roughly wiped the tears away and set her heart to stone. She wouldn't cry. She had done this to herself, so she wasn't allowed to cry over it.
Even so, she just wanted to be alone. She knew how to deal with 'alone'.
"Can I have a minute?" she ended up asking, still feeling Katara's eyes on her. Her voice was barely more than a murmur, and she felt her friends—friends?—hesitate.
"We- we can't, Toph..." Aang placed his hand on Toph's as he answered. "You're-" he sighed. "After tonight, they don't want to take any chances. I'm sorry..."
The couple watched as Toph futilely attempted to clench her fists, the muscles in her hands spasming. Her jaw tightened, and Aang used her distraction to nod his head towards Katara.
"I need to make a phone call," the brunette said, glancing at Aang for approval. He gave a small smile and she continued. "I'll be back soon, Toph. I'll get the nurses to bring a dry shirt, okay?"
She wasn't expecting Toph to say anything, so when the other girl muttered out a, "Thank you, Katara," she was pleasantly surprised. Katara left the room smiling, though with her went all the noise.
Toph never liked silence. To be perfectly frank, she abhorred it. She would never tell Aang how much she appreciated it when he whispered, "Scooch over," in her ear and sat softly on the edge of the bed. Everything he did was soft, she mused as he gently clasped her hand.
"Do you wanna talk about it?" he asked, smiling ruefully when she let out a short snort. "Yeah, I didn't think so," he conceded. Toph turned slightly and buried her face in his side.
Breathing deeply, she spoke, her voice coming out muffled and almost unintelligible. Chuckling, Aang asked her to repeat herself. Toph lifted her head away slightly, staring at his navel.
"You smell like Katara," she said. Aang lay his head on hers.
"And you still like burrowing, huh Badger?"
Toph scowled, but there was no venom in the expression. "No, I don't," she said. Aang didn't see her face fall, but he certainly heard it in her voice as she continued with a quiet, "I don't even know..."
"Hey, hey," he said, wrapping his arm around her. "... Toph, what happened?"
"I don't want to talk about it..."
Aang let out a sigh. "You remember the first time I met you? You marched up to me and told me you were in charge of everyone and I had to listen to you."
Toph shrugged, unabashed, though a small smile had begun to work its way onto her face again. "I could tell from an early age you needed guidance," she quipped.
"You were seven!" Aang cried, eliciting a tiny chuckle. The smile that had risen to his own face at the memory dropped as he continued. "And now? Toph, we want to help you," he started. "Katara was in tears. Finding- no one ever wants to see their best friend, their little sister, bleeding out on a bathroom floor," he told her.
Toph turned her head away, unwilling to hear anymore. Aang knew, of course he did, and he squeezed her a little closer. "We love you, Toph."
He didn't say anything more after that, put he didn't let her go, either. Toph had her face pressed into his side, the warmth turning her cheeks pink. Her breathing evened out and aside from the sporadic shivers, almost managed to forget her damp shirt.
"Where's Kyoshi?" she ended up asking after a few minutes. Aang's thumb had been rubbing circles into her shoulder, and he didn't break the routine as he answered.
"She had to go to the State Department. She'll be back soon."
Toph nodded in acknowledgement, too tired of everything—too tired in general—to do much more. Aang still had his other hand around hers, and it staved off the worst of the trembles, and she found herself almost nodding off to sleep. Not quite, though, and she stirred when she heard Katara walk back into the room. She felt herself missing Aang's warmth almost straight away when the boy was ushered from the room. He placed a soft kiss on her temple—again with the softness!—and she remembered when they were young and he comforted her then, too. In the hospital with severe infection on her back, and his presence just helping her through the pain.
And now she was alone with Katara, and the full weight of Aang's words settled on her. They both had seen everything. They didn't know and now they did, and Katara's silence and awkwardness was enough to tell Toph that the other girl had no idea how to react.
Or maybe she did. With no warning at all, Toph found herself pinned between Katara and her pillow as the older girl sniffled into her shoulder.
"Spirits, Toph. Don't ever scare me like that again," she murmured softly. Toph could feel a wetness on her cheeks that didn't come from her, and was about to lift a hand when Katara pulled away. "I have another shirt for you here," she said, rubbing her nose. "I'll just be outside. Let me know when you're done."
Toph felt the material land lightly on the bed, and as the sound of Katara's footsteps reached her ears, she couldn't help but remember what Aang had said.
Katara halted, and Toph found she couldn't keep her head up.
"I can't... can you help me?" she murmured, breathing deeply. She wanted to say more, but she wasn't able to as Katara moved forward. The brunetter picked up the dry shirt and pulled down the blankets so Toph's feet were free. Toph didn't argue as she was helped to the edge of the bed, her legs swinging loosely over the side.
Katara wasn't one for inaction, though, and guessing somewhat correctly that Toph didn't want enough time to think about anything, moved forward.
"Arms up," she said gently, reaching for the hem of Toph's shirt. The blind girl obeyed silently, appreciating the clinical efficiency with which Katara behaved. Even so, Toph knew she was scrutinising every cut, every blemish. Though Katara didn't say a word, Toph still felt ashamed, scared for a reaction that she didn't want to hear.
It never mattered with Jet, so it shouldn't now. It shouldn't but it did. Even as all of this was going through her head, Katara finished replacing the damp shirt.
"All dry," Katara said, brushing her hands over Toph's shoulders. Toph had her face angled towards the floor, and opened her mouth to say something when there came a light knock at the door.
"Toph?" Aang's voice carried through the wooden door, causing Toph to jump slightly. "Kyoshi's here..."
Katara walked to the door, pulling it open slowly. Even with her superior sense of hearing, Toph was unable to make out much of what was said. Truth be told, she wasn't trying all that hard, either. The door closed again, and she could tell from the heavy footsteps that only Kyoshi was in the room with her.
Again, with the silence.
"Just get it over with," Toph muttered. She tried to move back so she could bring her legs up on the bed, but couldn't put enough pressure on her hands to do so. Even though Katara had put her shirt on properly, she suddenly felt very naked in front of Kyoshi, bandages wrapped halfway up her arms.
Kyoshi didn't say anything, though, and Toph felt herself biting her lip under the intense gaze. She refused to turn her own face away, but even so she felt herself withering. "Just say what you have to and leave!" she cried out, louder, almost a bellow save for the way her voice cracked.
"And what do I have to say, Toph?" Kyoshi asked. She sounded like she was frowning. To Toph's ears, it sounded like she was disappointed. Just another voice in a sea of hundreds whose expectations she would never get close to reaching. Spirits, she could feel the lump rising in her throat. Did she really have to answer that question?
Not really, and she didn't; Toph sat there silently, throat bobbing as she attempted to swallow around the lump that was making it difficult to breath, let alone anything else.
Kyoshi wasn't one to display affection openly, nor was Toph one to show her; the one time, only a few short weeks ago, that Toph had cried around her, she had woken up gluggy and ashamed that she had let anyone, let alone her carer, see her like that.
That was why Toph couldn't hold back the small choke of surprise when she heard Kyoshi move forward and settle her weight on the bed. She let out a quiet sigh and wrapped a strong arm around Toph's slight frame.
"What did the department say?" Toph asked, letting herself sink slightly into Kyoshi's side, her hands were running along her bandages.
"... Do you want to move again, Toph?" Kyoshi said instead. Toph paused for a moment, thinking back. She'd been hurt more in the last few months than she had in the last few years of moving around. New 'homes', new lives. She'd never stayed anywhere long enough to really form a true home anywhere. Until recently, her home had been with Jet, and his weed. His body. Now, it was with everyone else.
"No," she said quietly. "I don't want to move anymore."
"What do you want?"
Toph's began chewing on the inside of her cheek, swallowing thickly. "I want to be happy," she said finally. "I thought- I thought I was going to be happy..." She sniffed, letting Kyoshi tug her a little closer.
"Toph..." Kyoshi began, "What did he do tonight?"
The blind girl couldn't even find it in her to be surprised. She clenched her fists as tightly as she could, though Kyoshi soon noticed and encompasses her hands with her own, forcing Toph to relax. This time, as the first tear dribbled down her face, Toph didn't feel ashamed. She just wanted someone to hold her and not judge her.
"Sokka-" Spirits, even saying his name was painful. She choked again, the tears dropping with a vengeance as years of pent up hatred and hurt finally exploded. "He- I didn't mean to do anything. I didn't do... he started it."
Kyoshi stayed quiet even as Toph bumbled through the explanation, only offering small words and soft hushes. "Deep breath, Toph," she said, rubbing the blind girl's back in an effort to calm her down.
"He... he kissed me," she finally managed, though the tears refused to cease. "He kissed me and touched me and... he made me feel... special... and- and then he left me. He didn't- he called me a whore and a child and he left after making me so happy. How- how could he do that?" She finally turned her gaze to Kyoshi; the tall woman's heart broke for her young charge. Toph's face was red and splotchy, eyes drowning in the tears she was trying—and failing—to so desperately hold back. "I thought he was my friend..."
Kyoshi didn't hesitate as she slid off the bed and, pulling Toph to her feet, wrapped the girl in a tight hug. Toph sagged against her, finally letting herself go as she sobbed desolately against her carer's shoulder.
They stayed there together, Toph leaning against Kyoshi as the older woman tried to hold her together, until she finally fell asleep.
Notes: About the title... er, I used this one mostly because when I watched it, I couldn't stop crying. It's an absolutely brilliant film, and one recommended to me byafter I asked her for Belgian film recommendations (not saying she in any way encourages nor discourages the viewing of this film. I don't actually think she's seen it). I urge everyone to go watch it, though there is some nudity and sex scenes that aren't really for younger audiences. But, it's in the name of storytelling, so I have no qualms in promoting it ^^"
After a three-month hiatus, I do apologise for the short length and lack of action. I was having some difficulty ^^"
|Part One: Genesis|
Shiny • Love, Actually • Comptine D'un Autre Été • Public Enemies • Män Som Hatar Kvinnor • The Sleepover Club • Blind Date • 50 First Dates • Sin City • The Matrix • Non, je ne regrette rien • The Breakfast Club • Crouching Tiger • Hidden Dragon • The Wedding Singer • Shí Miàn Mái Fú • Dangerous Liaisons
|Part Two: Fall|
|Love for Life • Tiny Furniture • The Broken Circle Breakdown|
Toph • Sokka • Katara • Jet • Aang • Kyoshi
Serenity • Love Actually • Ámelie • The Wedding Singer • House of Flying Daggers
For the collective works of the author, go here.