On the Precipice
"Wake up, wake up! It's wedding day!"
Toph groaned and smushed her face into Aang's back. Why were her so-called friends always waking her up so early?
Katara forcefully entered the room, going to the windows to draw the curtains back and let sunshine into the room. Aang and Toph both flinched as the light hit their faces.
"You're evil ." Toph whined.
Katara crossed her arms, ignoring how adorable the two looked cozied up together. "I'm not taking no for an answer today! Today is far too important. So get up!"
Aang untangled himself from Toph and the blankets- much to Toph's displeasure- rubbing his eyes sleepily. "Mkay I'm up."
"I need Toph in the shower immediately, and then report to my room for hair and makeup. Aang, go to Sokka's room with your stuff."
Toph groaned and sat up. "Do I seriously have to wear makeup?"
"Yes." Katara pursed her lips. "Now get moving!"
The two younger teens grumbled at her but obeyed. It wasn't smart to ignore Katara when she was in a 'get it done' mode.
Most of the morning was spent running around and getting ready. The boys had been ready far earlier than the girls, so they had left to finish setting up last minute things around the banquet hall. Sokka and his father left Aang and Zuko in the main hall.
Aang was fiddling with some decorations when Katara and Toph walked in. He almost dropped a vase.
They were both wearing blue dresses, and Aang realized he had never seen Toph wear blue before- the parka she'd been wearing everywhere was purple, so blue was a new color on her. It was a long dark blue dress, with a sheer light blue shawl over her bare arms. Her hair was braided and twisted around her head, and the makeup made her eyes look bigger than before. She looked older, graceful, elegant-
"Holy fuck it is so cold." Toph complained.
Aang almost laughed. Trust Toph to open her mouth and destroy the whole 'innocent damsel' facade.
He walked up to her, "Where's your coat?"
"Sugar Queen wouldn't let me wear it! Because it would 'ruin' the look." Toph rolled her eyes, rubbing her hands up and down her arms.
Aang frowned at Katara, drawing Toph closer to him so he could wrap his arms around her to warm her up. She gratefully sank into him.
"Oh stop giving me that look, Aang. She's fine." Katara flicked her curled hair behind her shoulder. "It's not even that cold."
"Katara, this is the South Pole ! Yes it is!" Aang griped.
Before Katara could continue arguing with him, Zuko wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her cheek. "You look lovely, my dear."
Katara blushed and smiled at him. She leaned up into him to whisper something in his ear and that's when Aang started to ignore them. Bleh. Hopeless lovebirds.
Instead he ran his hands down Toph's toned arms and took hold of her cold fingers. The metal of her ring was so cold it felt like it was burning his skin. "Are you feeling warm enough?"
She turned her head so her chin rested on the other side of his shoulder, now facing him. In a gravely serious tone, she answered, "I don't think I will ever be warm again, Twinkles."
Aang laughed, shaking his head at her. He placed a kiss on her head. He felt Toph tense up and he quickly drew his lips away from her. He hadn't meant to do that...
Heat rushed to his face and he awkwardly cleared his throat. "Um, well why don't you take my jacket for now until we start the ceremony. I don't need it."
Toph squeezed his hands gratefully and nodded. "Yeah. That would be nice."
The ceremony was quite simple. Aang had never attended a Water Tribe wedding before, and their customs were interesting to watch. It consisted of presenting each other gifts- for Suki, new green silk robes embroidered with blue designs and for Sokka, a new sword forged with gold. They proceeded to exchange simple vows (everyone politely pretending Sokka wasn't crying his eyes out) and mix two dyed waters together into one, creating a brilliant turquoise color. The ceremony of course ended with a kiss.
The applause was deafening.
And then of course, the real party started. Food and drinks and dancing were abundant.
"Come on Toph! Put your drink down I wanna dance!" Aang pulled her elbow.
She shook her head, smiling at him in amusement. "I can't even finish my punch, Fancy Dancer?"
He groaned in annoyance at the nickname. She laughed loudly before gulping down the rest of her drink. Aang took her hand and practically ran to the dance floor.
They spun and jumped and twirled for what seemed like hours. Even when the slow songs played, they would dramatically whirl about, cackling like children despite the many unapproving glances aimed at them.
Eventually they both grew tired and wanted more punch. Aang guided her to the drink table. He had his arm around her and tried to remind himself not to pull her closer possessively. He was just being her eyes- nothing more.
"Oh man, I wish I could have seen her face!" Toph cackled, drawing him from his thoughts.
Aang smirked, "You're lucky you didn't. She was scary."
"Well, you did step on her dress." Toph put her hand over her chest, looking scandalized.
He laughed before reluctantly drawing his hand away from her waist so he could pour them both drinks. He placed one in her hand carefully.
Toph took hold of his arm so he could guide her back to their table. They had just sat down when they got interrupted.
An older lady from the Earth Kingdom approached them, smiling wide. She must have been from Suki's village. "Oh young love is so sweet. And what a beautiful ring! I hadn't realized the Avatar was engaged. When is your wedding?"
Toph choked on her punch, going into a coughing fit. Aang patted her back gently. He almost made a comment about not getting so worked up about it, but decided now wasn't the time.
Aang answered the woman politely, "We actually aren't engaged, ma'am."
"Oh! How surprising. Sorry to assume then, I just saw the ring and... and well, just the way you two look at each other." The woman smiled wide, clasping her hands together. "It reminds me of my husband and I when we were younger. Don't let me impose then! I'll leave you to it."
An awkward silence fell between them as the woman left them. Aang wasn't sure what to say. They should have expected comments about the ring- but comments on how they looked at each other?
Aang flushed at how very obvious his affections for her must be. Even strangers knew it.
Toph had to know too, right? He hadn't outright said anything to her yet, but actions were louder than words... She probably could guess. They'd had so many tense moments lately. Maybe he should clarify his feelings to her finally... and maybe she'd be ready to admit that there was more than friendship between them.
"Toph-" Aang began the same time that she also opened her mouth.
They both stopped. "Go ahead." Aang shyly smiled.
Toph shook her head, "No, you first."
"Okay, well, I-"
Aang was interrupted yet again this time by the clinking of glass.
"Everyone, if you could take a seat, we're going to toast to the newly married couple!" Katara announced.
Aang sighed in frustration. Would he ever tell Toph how he felt? Could they please just have an uninterrupted moment?
He tried to push his frustration aside and focus on the happy occasion.
Katara cleared her throat, "Many of you might not know how Sokka and Suki met. It's a really fan -tastic story."
Sokka slapped his forehead. His sister should really not try to be funny. That was more his expertise.
"Suki kicked his ass, many times, and he inevitably fell in love with her. I always knew there was something special between them. It started as young love that endured through a war, and eventually grew into something that is going to last a lifetime. So here's to them!" Katara raised her champagne flute high. "May your love last forever!"
They all cheered, clinking their drinks and downing them.
Most couples returned to the dance floor, and Aang was about to drag Toph back out when he noticed a slight pinch in her face. He noted she propped her feet up on the empty chair next to hers. For someone who never wore shoes, those strappy death traps must be hurting her feet pretty badly. Maybe he could offer her another foot massage, she seemed to like that before. Aang flushed as he recalled the sound she had made when he rubbed her feet... Maybe the foot massage was a bad idea.
His musings were interrupted as Katara and Zuko approached them.
"Aang, you owe me a dance!" Katara giggled, hugging his shoulders. Aang glanced to Toph in concern. He didn't want to leave her alone at the table, but he knew she wouldn't want to join them.
"Oh go on. I'm danced out." Zuko shooed him from his seat. Aang was more willing now that he knew Toph wasn't being ditched. He patted her knee as he left.
The married couple had escaped from grueling conversations and approached the table, overhearing them. Suki teased, "I hope you aren't too danced out, Zuko. We wanted to dance with you all."
The Fire Lord groaned, but he couldn't resist when Suki grabbed his arm and yanked him to the dance floor.
Sokka chuckled at them, sitting down in the seat Aang had been sitting in. "Did you wanna dance more too?"
Toph shook her head. "Don't tell anyone but these shoes Katara is making me wear are killing me ."
"You did do a lot of dancing with Aang..."
Toph smiled, "Yeah. It was really fun."
He stared at her for a moment, contemplating. For such an idiot he sometimes caught onto things that weren't spoken aloud.
"You know," Sokka started cautiously, "there was a moment where I almost let Suki go, not telling her how I felt. Because I had lost someone I loved, and I didn't want to go through that pain again."
Toph rubbed her arm, looking at the ground. "And what changed your mind?"
Though Toph couldn't see it, Sokka had a warm, soft smile on his face. "When you love someone, you shouldn't let them go. Life doesn't give us any promises. It's best not to waste it."
"When'd you get wise, Snoozles?" Toph punched his arm and grinned at him.
Sokka chuckled and rubbed his arm tenderly. "When your best friends are the Avatar and the Fire Lord, some of their wisdom rubs off on you."
"Whatever you say, oh wise one."
He placed a hand on her shoulder. "Seriously though, Toph. Take a leap of faith. Don't waste your time anymore on fears of unknowns or what if's."
Toph seemed to stare out in the distance. "Yeah... Maybe you're right."
After a long night of dancing and clean up, they were finally heading back to the hut. Zuko and Katara had stayed behind to continue visiting with family and guests along with the newly married couple, but Toph and Aang had wanted to crash as soon as possible.
The night was quiet and dark as they slowly made their way back to the Chief's hut. It wasn't a far walk, but it was snowing and Aang didn't want Toph to slip and fall in the slick snow. She had his jacket on, but he couldn't exactly trade shoes with her, so their pace was slow. He considered offering her a piggyback ride, but her long dress wouldn't make that ideal.
Their silences were usually so comfortable, but Aang felt anything but at the moment. He was tense, his mind churning as he wondered if he should take a chance and tell Toph how he felt. This time they wouldn't be interrupted.
Little did he know that Toph's thoughts were in the same turmoil. The air between them was thick- almost palpable.
She stopped, her feet digging into the snow and her hand pulling Aang's to make him pause too.
"Aang." She bit her lip. "I need to say something."
Aang felt his breath hitch- was this it?
Toph started, "I... I've really enjoyed traveling with you these past few years, and growing closer. You've made me a better person, and I'm glad that I met you." She faltered, feeling a blush spread across her cheeks. "What I'm trying to say is..."
He waited, the snowflakes falling around them in the quiet night. It was surreal. Was this the moment that they'd be vulnerable and genuine- that they would truly confide all of themselves to each other?
Once again, Toph's foul mouth crashed his serene thoughts.
"Oh for fuck's sake." She groaned, running a gloved hand down her face in frustration with herself.
Toph decided to throw caution to the wind. Zuko was right- she didn't like to beat around the bush. She faced things head on. She dove head first. She asked questions later. Consequences be damned. That was Toph Beifong.
And Sokka was right too. She had to take her chance. Had to truly live her life. She could still lose Aang by standing here and doing nothing.
So she took a deep breath and took the plunge. She could do this, she could be vulnerable.
"I'm not good with words, Twinkles. You know that."
Before he could answer, she grabbed Aang's face, dragging it down to hers and laying her lips over where his should be.
"Mmph!" Aang's eyes widened and he stood frozen in shock. She was-!
Toph pulled away softly, quickly. She rubbed her thumb across his cheek. "I love you, Aang."
He stared at her for a moment more before a smile stretched his cheeks.
He gripped her waist, dragging her closer to him as he dipped his head down to capture her lips. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, gripping the back of his neck as she met the passion of his lips.
This kiss stole her breath.
The snow was gathering in her hair and on their clothes. The whole earth seemed to stand still for them in this moment. Quiet, peaceful, just each other. Eventually they pulled away, settling their foreheads together to catch their breath.
"I assume by that enthusiastic kiss that you feel the same then." She teased him.
Aang chuckled, pulling her closer against him. "Toph Beifong, of course I love you."
"Good. Don't you forget it, Twinkle Toes."
He laughed again, leaning down to kiss her again, whispering on her lips, "Never."
"You know, I never finished the swamp story."
Toph raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean?"
"The swamp shows us visions of people we love." He stroked her cheek. "I think it knew I would fall in love with you one day."
"If you say some mushy crap about soulmates I will barf on your shoes, Twinkle Toes."