"Well I hope you're happy, twinkle toes. I don't imagine we'll be visiting my parents again any time soon," an annoyed voice broke through the fog of his mind, and Aang pulled his arm away from his face only to groan and roll over. Did Appa have to fly so close to the sun?
Aang, Katara and Sokka had flown up to Gaoling to visit Toph's parents and pick up the earthbender to return her to her academy. This was only the fourth of fifth time that Aang had ever met Toph's parents, and he wanted to try and make a favorable impression on the pair. They'd never really warmed up to him, despite Toph's constant reassurances that she chose to leave and he had nothing to do it.
What he hadn't counted on was dinner. Well, not dinner: the wine served with dinner. It was liquid candy – sweet, syrupy, and it went down smoothly. He'd drank his fill, and the servants had just kept refilling his empty glass.
He wasn't drunk though. At least, he didn't think he was drunk, even though he realized he was slurring his words, and having a hard time lifting his fork, and couldn't seem to pay attention to one face for too long. Despite all this, he took exception when Sokka pronounced loudly "Maybe you shouldn't have anymore to drink, Aang."
The room started spinning not long after, and he found that the only thing he could focus on, the only thing that seemed to give him an anchor to the sober world, was the pair of light blue eyes on his right side. Eventually this expanded to include the slope of her little nose, and the full pout of her lips.
Her lips... Man, he loved her lips. Whether she was biting them in thought or puckering them in anticipation or twisting them into a teasing smile, he was constantly fascinated by Katara's lips. He felt he could watch them for hours.
Actually, if he was going to be honest with himself, he didn't just want to watch them. It started off with a small urge, the tiniest impulse he tried to deny. But it became more persistent, and finally Aang was convinced that he would just die if he didn't kiss Katara at that exact moment.
Leaning over to reach for her, he misjudged the distance and fell out of his chair onto the stone floor. Katara half-shrieked his name out of surprise and twisted in her chair to look down at him. Vaguely he heard Toph making excuses to her horrified parents, along with a poor attempt at keeping the laughter out of her voice. "He doesn't get much wine, he can't handle it too well when he does."
Cool fingers brushed his temple, and there they were again, those lips that he wanted to kiss so badly. "Maybe you should skip desert and head straight to bed," Katara said to him softly, taking his arm to help him up. Sokka took the other arm, and together the water tribe siblings helped the drunken Avatar from the floor. Once standing, Katara slung one of his arms around her shoulders and wrapped one of her arms around his waist, supporting him as he navigated his way through the tilting world.
"If you'll excuse us," she said politely, nodding at the hosts, before pulling him from the room.
She helped him down the hall to his bedroom, talking in a low, soothing tone of voice. Twice they were approached by guards, but Katara, in an attempt to salvage some bit of Aang's dignity, shooed them away quickly.
Inside his room, she got him into bed, pulling off his boots but not bothering to pull out his sleeping clothes. Pulling the covers up to his chest – a futile effort, for they'd be kicked off in restless sleep anyway – she leaned over him, but instead of the kiss he'd been hoping for she merely stroked his forehead and whispered an order to get some sleep.
Katara got up to leave, and he tried to sit up. "Where you going?" he asked, confused. They'd slept near each other all through their journey, and once it was over Katara had simply moved closer, into his bed without a second thought.
"I'm going back to dinner, but I won't be back tonight. Sokka's rooming with you, and I'm sleeping in Toph's bedroom tonight, remember?" Vague memories of Toph insisting that her parents would welcome Aang as a son before they let him and Katara sleep in the same room under their roof floated through his mind. She left the room before he could think of any sort of reply, and slowly the drowsiness took over and he slipped off to sleep.
Far later into the night, well after everyone in the house had fallen asleep, Katara was jerked from sleep by a loud noise. Sitting up and rubbing her eyes, she noticed that Toph was already up and at the window in her room.
"Aang's outside," she said lightly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to find the Avatar standing drunk below her bedroom window.
Katara shot out of bed and to the window and confirmed Toph's words. Sure enough, there was Aang, wearing only his pants, swaying on the soft grass beneath their window.
"But I put him to bed!" she said to Toph. "How did he get outside?" She scratched her head. "And where are the rest of his clothes?"
"Katara!" he called. She didn't respond, and a moment later his voice carried up to her.
Toph's lip curled. "Is he singing?"
Katara nodded before turning bright red. "Do you think he knows what he's saying?" she asked, embarrassed. "Where would he even learn that song?" The slurred, bawdy lyrics continued from below – something about a boy meeting a girl, and various nighttime activities. Katara felt the heat coming from her red face, but Toph was far more composed, almost bordering on disinterested.
"That's an Earth Kingdom drinking song," she said. Katara just looked her for a moment before reaching the same conclusion as the blind girl.
"I'm going to kill him tomorrow," Katara said with conviction.
Toph interrupted her own response with a tilt of the head and narrowed eyes. "Do you hear that?"
"Hear what?" As soon as the words came from her mouth she heard what Toph was talking about: loud wailing and howling. A second later a pair of wolfhounds came tearing around the corner, heading for Aang. "Oh my-"
Aang finally noticed the dogs coming after him and with a panicked yell took off, forming an air scooter and sailing through the courtyard.
"Are you out of your mind!" Toph bellowed at the guards who were coming up behind the hounds. "You set the dogs on the Avatar!" Aang's foot suddenly dropped from the air scooter and caught on a rock. He soared through the air before landing in the bushes, feet sticking out at awkward angles.
"Call them off!" Toph ordered.
They fled the estate at dawn.
Toph's earthbending academy was less than a day's flight from Gaoling. Sokka took the lead of Appa while Aang slept in the saddle, and they arrived at the school a little after midday. Katara slipped away immediately, and while Sokka was unloading Appa and Toph was taking care of business, Aang quietly snuck after her.
Katara had claimed she was going to the spare bedrooms to air out their sheets and settle everything in for them, but Aang knew where he would really find her: in the main garden, the center of which featuring a huge fountain that Katara herself had designed as a gift for Toph.
She was practicing a minor waterbending technique, one that Aang knew she favored when trying to relax and calm her mind. As he approached her she ignored him, until he strode up to her, grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her into a mind-numbing kiss.
She stiffened, then leaned into him, allowing him to take the lead. When she finally pulled away, she looked at him, eyebrows pulled. "What was that for?"
"I've been wanting to do that since dinner last night!" he exclaimed.
She smiled and let out a light, fluttery laugh. "Is that what last night was about?"
"Yes! And I've got the bite marks on my butt to prove it."
"Well then," she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling his forehead down to hers. "I owe you for making you wait so long."
"Yes. Yes you do," he said solemnly.
"And maybe later," she whispered softly in his ear, making him shiver at her warm breath, "I can do something about those bite marks."
He laughed, then leaned in to kiss her again. Before he could she ducked away and started back into the stone building behind them.
"First though, I'm making sure Toph has no wine on the menu tonight."