Sokka heaved a great sigh, slumping forward in bed. His tired hands shuffled over his messy bedside table, grabbing his pack of cigarettes and a lighter. By the light of the moon on his back, the moon that traced the outline of his sleeping wife (and a million memories that would never come to be), he pulled a cigarette out of the pack and lit it. He breathed in again, in and out, watching the smoke dissipate in the pale light of the night. Don't give yourself cancer, his sister would say.
Fuck that, Sokka would answer. Like it matters anymore. He took another puff of his cigarette, squeezing it tightly between his thumb and forefinger. Glowing debris fell off its end and burnt holes in the sheets bunched up under Sokka. He could fix that. Or, rather (since he couldn't do anything, not really), he could get it fixed. There's a difference, he found himself thinking. His eyes glanced off the side of a sword hung on the wall.
He let the cigarette burn out eventually, stubbing it out next to a million similar marks on his bedside table. Sokka leaned forward, hiding his head and face in shame. Useless piece of shit you are, he thought. Thousands of images of a wisp of a woman floating away, an old flame extinguishing on a hospital bed, drifted through his mind. He coughed and leaned forward. And if you do die of cancer, good job, champ, he congratulated himself, you're leaving your last hope alone.
Sokka looked back at the silhouette of his wife. She was asleep, adrift and at peace, her mind not dwelling on her recent losses. He almost smiled as he watched her. She could bring it all back to him, and that was the least of her abilities. You're out of your league, he thought again, the same thought he'd had on the night before their wedding.
"Don't beat yourself up like that," she said, sitting. Sokka almost jumped as Toph rose, blinking at him.
"I didn't mean to wake you," he muttered.
"Doesn't matter." She crawled across the bed and wrapped an arm around Sokka's shoulders. Toph sniffed the air and wrinkled her nose (almost eliciting a smile). "You were smoking again?"
He shrugged. "It clears my head."
"Stop doing that, asswipe." She playfully smacked him on the shoulder. "You don't have the lungs for it."
"What, like firebenders do?"
Toph softened. "Shut up." She kissed him on the top of his head. "I don't want to lose you, too."
He turned his head around and caught her lips in a kiss. "For you, anything."
"Is that what's got you down tonight?" Toph stilled for a moment. "Or morning. Whatever."
"Can't do anything worth shit in this world," Sokka answered, his eyes wide at her. "Swordfighting. Like that's really useful."
Toph snorted. "You really think that's all you can do?" she asked him. "You're a fucking codebender, that's way more useful than earthbending."
Sokka was still sheepish. He shrugged and looked at the floor. "Listen, there are people who are better than me out there."
"There's always someone better," chided Toph. Then, she laughed.
"Listen to you, little miss metalbender," Sokka grumbled.
"And how many programmers have a view like this?" Toph spread her arms at the wall. Sokka laughed and kissed her on the cheek. "Wrong wall?"
"Of course." He turned her around and sat, crosslegged, on the bed next to her. The moon was high and shimmered in the expansive dark window to their bedroom.
"Look at you," she whispered, "he was proud of you, you know."
Sokka looked down. "Was he?"
"You know he was. You worked for what you got." Of course Toph would know that. It had been a stupid question to ask. Even beyond his own nephew, Iroh had trusted Toph beyond anyone else in the world. Sokka's chest hurt.
"I love you," he told Toph, leaning into her.
"I love you, too." She nuzzled into his neck. "Even when you forget what you mean to me."
"Yeah, you," Sokka teased.
"Me. Your sister, your friends." Toph paused to kiss Sokka on the collarbone, sending shivers down his spine. "The world."