Chapter 1: Arrival
I've got a new Taang story for you! I've been working on this for a while, and I am in love. This will be multi-chapter, and most of it is written already. I'm still working on the ending scenes and editing. It's freakin CUTE. All aboard the Taang train!
On The Precipice
Toph moaned pitifully from her mountain of blankets in the saddle. "Why are they having the wedding here?"
Aang rolled his eyes at her. "I told you Gran Gran can't travel anymore. Sokka wants her to be there so he moved the party to her."
She only groaned again in answer. Aang did feel bad for her, she wasn't able to warm herself with her bending like he could.
And what's worse, she won't be able to sense anything on ice.
He had promised to be her eyes the whole time they were there, but she was still going to be miserable either way. He didn't know what else to do to make her more comfortable.
"Ah we're here!" Aang shouted, pulling on Appa's reigns to lower them down to the humble but slowly regrowing city of the South Pole.
As he landed, he waved at some kids running by and some people pointing at him. He climbed back to the saddle to start unloading their bags.
Toph was completely buried, not even a toe sticking out from her warm cocoon. He tried not to giggle, it was kind of adorable.
"Come on Toph, the sooner you move the sooner we can get inside where it's warmer." Aang goaded her, trying to peel back the blankets from her steel grip. Finally she relented and sat up.
She pouted at him, "I hate this."
He chuckled, tucking her bangs behind her ear. "I know. Let's just get it over with, okay?"
He started to gather the bags, throwing them over the saddle. Until finally it was just Toph he needed to get down. She stood, ready to jump with him when he realized something.
"Toph, you have to wear shoes. You'll get frostbite."
Toph grimaced. "Twinkles, I don't own any shoes."
Aang groaned, of course she didn't. He should have thought of that before they left for the South Pole. "Alright then, we'll have to do this the hard way."
"What does that mean- hey! Put me down!" Toph wanted to punch him but that would mean letting go of the blankets on her shoulders.
Aang easily lifted her, plus the fifty pounds of blankets. "I'm not letting you walk barefoot on ice, idiot."
Toph flushed as she heard some of the townspeople cooing at them.
"At least let me ride piggyback instead of you carrying me this way!" She snapped at him.
She was so cute when she was flustered. Aang decided not to point that out to her.
"No. This way, your feet are covered by the blankets." And he liked carrying her this way. Like the hero carrying the princess. (But he wasn't gonna tell her that either.)
"Aang! This is embarrassing." She hissed at him. "What if Snoozles sees this? Or Sweetness- oh spirits they'll never let me live it down."
"Then I suggest we start walking instead of arguing out here in front of the whole town." Aang leaped down from Appa, who immediately left for the stables to get a nap in. He quickly gathered the bags on his back.
Aang frowned, "Where is Momo? I haven't seen him in a while."
"Um, I think he's stuck in my blankets somewhere.."
Suddenly Momo popped up behind one of Toph's shoulders, chirping at them.
Aang laughed, at least he wasn't squashed.
He greeted the townsfolk as they walked to the Chief's hut. Toph burrowed her face in his neck, pretending to not exist.
He could still feel her shivering, so he walked faster. Her lack of bickering remarks and threats was concerning.
Finally they reached the center of the city, and Aang decided not to knock and just barrel in to get Toph out of the cold climate.
Everyone looked up as Aang accidentally slammed the door open- it was hard to open a door when his hands were full of earth bender.
"Aang!" Katara was the first to exclaim, rushing forward to greet him. "Oh my gosh- is that Toph!?"
She ushered him in, closing the door behind him. "Come sit by the fire."
Aang dumped their bags as Zuko stood from the loveseat closest to the fire, concern etching his face. Aang thanked him as he sat down, making sure her feet were closest to the fireplace.
"Is she okay?" Sokka asked from the kitchen.
Toph peeked her head out from between the blankets and Aang, her teeth audibly chattering as she answered, "J-just f-fine, Snoozles."
"Oh you poor thing!" Suki frowned. "You've never been to the poles before, have you Toph?"
She shook her head, sinking back into Aang as a sign she was done talking.
Zuko sighed, "Let me guess, she has no coat or shoes."
Aang nodded, "Yup. And I don't have any to give her."
"You should have thought to buy some before you left." Zuko shook his head with a frown- always so logical.
"You could have put your shoes on her!" Sokka chided him. Aang rolled his eyes at them; they truly were big brothers.
"Maybe that would have worked when we were twelve, and even if Toph hasn't grown much more, I sure have. My shoes won't fit her at all. They'd fall right off." Aang joked.
Aang groaned as Toph elbowed him in the gut- she must be starting to feel better. But hey, she was small. He always told her she was like a small little fairy, and she always punched him for it.
Zuko suggested, "I can try to find some spare clothes on my ship for her."
"Actually, honey, I think I have some old things that will fit her." Katara patted Zuko's shoulder and kissed his cheek before leaving in search of said items.
Aang could feel that Toph had stopped shivering. Even Momo was warmed up, as he crawled out of the blankets and flew over to Sokka.
"Here's some tea." Suki set a tray down at the coffee table. "How was your flight here?"
Aang shrugged, "It wasn't bad. We didn't run into any storms at all."
"It was terrible." Toph whined against his chest. The others laughed at her.
They chatted for a bit longer, catching up on the happenings of the last couple months that they hadn't seen each other.
Toph slowly warmed up, and soon she scooted off of his lap to sit to his side, closer to the fire. She left her legs thrown over his though.
Suki and Sokka soon had to leave to check on their banquet hall and meet with some people to finalize wedding details.
Zuko stood as well, "I'm going to check on Katara, she's taking so long she probably got distracted."
And then it was just them two by the fire. Aang briefly wondered where the rest of their family was.
He looked down at Toph, "Are you feeling better now?"
She shrugged. "Yeah. My feet are still cold."
Aang hummed, moving his hands to slide beneath the blankets. "I'll warm them up for you."
Surprisingly, Toph allowed him to touch her feet. They weren't quite as rough as he had expected. He slowly massaged the middle, allowing his hands to heat up. He dragged his thumbs up her soles, his whole hand engulfing her tiny foot.
Toph tilted her head back on the chair. "That... actually feels amazing, Twinkles. I require this every night from now on."
Aang chuckled, continuing to rub his thumbs into her feet. Toph let out a throaty moan that did funny things to his body. It made him want to...
Someone cleared their throat, "Are we interrupting something?"
Toph snatched her feet away from him and Aang felt his face flush. He looked up to see Katara and Zuko raising their eyebrows at them in dismay.
Aang coughed, changing the subject. "Are those clothes for Toph?"
Katara narrowed her eyes at him but let it go. "Yeah. I found an old coat and some fur boots. They should be about her size."
"Perfect!" Aang stood, taking the items from Katara. He threw the coat on top of Toph's head and she grumbled at him. He placed the boots down on the floor- normally he'd put them on her and lace them up himself but with Katara and Zuko suspiciously watching them he decided not to. Toph would be so embarrassed she'd kick him in the teeth.
"Would you like to go to the market with us?" Zuko asked, winding his arm around Katara's waist.
"Oh that sounds like fun. What do you say, Toph, want to brave the cold again?" Aang turned to her.
She was finishing up tying the boots on. "As long as you don't carry me around again Twinkle Toes."
"Awe but it was so sweet!" Katara cooed. Toph stuck her tongue out at her.
Toph pulled on the coat, buttoning it up. Aang pulled her hood up. "All set then!"
"Oh there should be mitts in the pockets, hon." Katara told Toph as they walked outside. Aang guided her through the doorway as she fiddled with the mittens.
Outside Toph latched onto his arm as they walked, and she huffed under her breath in annoyance of her dependence. She really hated ice.
Zuko and Katara walked ahead of them, swinging their hands together gently.
Katara turned her head to them, "Gran Gran and Pakku opened up their own shop this year. It's a jewelry stand."
Aang smiled, "I was wondering where they were."
"Where's your Dad?" Toph asked.
"He's in a meeting. Although he's trying to arrange a hunting trip with you boys."
Aang paled, "Um, no thank you."
Katara waved a hand at him, "Oh we already told him you wouldn't go. Zuko on the other hand..."
Zuko groaned. "I don't want to go out into the tundra but I don't have a reason to say no."
Katara giggled at him, "You'll be fine, it's not like you'll freeze to death, mister fire bender. It'll be fun! Bonding time and manly stuff."
"And while they're doing that us girls will have a spa day! And I guess, Aang, you can come if you want?" Katara politely invited him.
Aang made a face and Toph groaned, "How about just you and Suki do that, Sweetness."
Katara frowned, "I suppose, if you really don't want to..."
"I don't." Toph drawled.
"Here we are." Zuko announced.
The town square was hopping with people. There were stores and cafes exuding warmth, inviting people in from the cold. There were stands lining the streets full of food, hunting gear, beautifully woven clothing and more.
"This looks amazing!" Aang exclaimed, he was amazed at how much had been rebuilt. This was more like the South Pole that he remembered from his childhood.
Toph gripped his hand suddenly, "Twinkles! I smell food, take me there immediately."
Aang laughed, letting Toph drag him to whatever her nose was smelling. Zuko and Katara walked a different way, leaving them be. They came to a stand selling soft buns. Some were savory and filled with veggies or meat, some were sweet with fruit and sugar.
"Ugh I'm starving!" Toph whined. "We haven't ate anything since we left Gaoling."
"Yeah but your parents stuffed us with a feast right before we left." Aang reminded her teasingly.
She waved her hand nonchalantly, "Hours ago. My stomach wants food now."
Truth be told, he was getting hungry too, he just wanted to mess with her a little.
Aang smiled at the seller, "Can I get one meat, one vegetable, and two of the strawberry?"
"Of course! Anything for the Avatar and his girlfriend! On the house!" The lady exclaimed excitedly.
Aang flushed red, stammering that Toph wasn't his girlfriend- but the seller had already moved away to prepare his order.
Toph blew her bangs out of her face. "People are going to assume whatever they want, Aang. Don't get so worked up about it."
"I'm not worked up-"
The lady interrupted him, "Here's the savory buns, I'll have the dessert ones out in a moment."
Aang accepted the buns graciously, and of course the lady turned away before he could ask which was which. He sighed.
"Take a bite out of this one, I don't know which is meat and which is veggie." Aang held one of the buns up to her mouth.
Toph took a small bite and chewed thoughtfully. "That's the veggie one."
Aang placed the other in her hand, "That's yours then."
They quickly ate their steamed buns- Aang didn't realize it but he had been hungrier than he thought. They were already finished by the time the seller came out with the strawberry ones.
Aang felt his face burn as he noticed the woman had drizzled chocolate in the shape of hearts on top of the two buns. At least Toph wouldn't notice. "You two are a cute couple! Enjoy your date!"
He didn't bother trying to correct her again, awkwardly mumbling a thank you.
He stole a glance at Toph. She had her face turned away from him as she took a bite of the sweet bun, but he could see a pretty blush on her cheeks and an awkward hunch in her shoulders.
"Don't get so worked up about it." He teased her.
She elbowed him in the stomach- or at least attempted to. She missed entirely. (Her not being able to 'see' was actually good for his physical health.) "Shut up."
Aang laughed, throwing an arm over her shoulder and leading her down more stalls. Their sweet treats were quickly gone.
They were content to walk along the street with the hustle and bustle, Aang occasionally pointing things out to her.
They passed a stand filled with ivory jewelry, and Aang paused. "I wonder if this is Katara's grandparents' stall."
"Let's find out." Toph started to walk forward, Aang had to shout a warning and guide her around one of the tables before she rammed into it. She sighed, "I should just follow you."
Aang chuckled, grabbing her gloved hand to weave around the tables further into the makeshift tent. He was relieved to find it was warmer within the tent, he worried the cold was too much for Toph, even with the winter gear.
"Master Pakku!" Aang called as he spotted his old teacher. The old man turned and smiled, gripping his forearm in greeting, "If it isn't Avatar Aang... and Master Toph, correct?"
Toph grinned at the formality. "I could get used to that title. Why don't you call me that, Twinkle Toes?"
"He never was the most respectful student..." Pakku teased.
"Tell me about it." Toph giggled.
Aang drawled, "I'm still standing right here."
"Sorry, I didn't see you there." Toph grinned wickedly as Pakku laughed.
"Aang, is that you?"
Aang turned to see an elder lady walking towards them. "Gran Gran! How are you?"
She dragged him down for a tight hug. "Oh how you've grown! It's good to see you."
He pulled away and she patted his cheeks gently before looking past him. "And you must be Toph dear, I've heard so much about you."
"Yep, that's me. Good to meet you guys."
Pakku wrapped his arm around Kanna and smiled kindly at them, "We're glad you're here. Feel free to peruse our store."
They nodded and Toph latched onto his arm again so she wouldn't run into anything. Aang looked among the jewelry, it was all very beautiful and well-made.
Toph sighed, "I'm sure it's all very pretty. But this isn't really my scene Twinkles, let's go do something else."
Aang was about to agree when something caught his eye. "Hey, hold on a sec."
There was a hair clip, made from white ivory and covered in pearls. It was very pretty, and for some reason Aang thought it would suit Toph perfectly.
He smiled as he grabbed the clip and turned to her. "Let me try something."
Toph rose an eyebrow at him as he lowered her hood. "Aang, if you're trying to dress me up with jewelry-"
"Can I take this off?" He ignored her complaining. He gently took off her headband, not waiting for her answer. He reached behind her to unravel her long hair from the bun it was contained in.
Toph reddened as he threaded his fingers through her hair to smooth it out. "What are you doing?"
"I just want to see something!" He pulled back the sides of her raven hair and clipped them back. Pulling some of the side strands out of the updo, he framed her face. Finally he combed through the bottom half and arranged it on her shoulders.
"There." He reached his hand up to tuck some hair behind her ear, letting his thumb graze her pink cheek. "Pretty."
She looked down at the floor, trying to hide her blush. "I don't care about being pretty, Twinkles."
He tilted her chin up. "That doesn't make it any less true. You're beautiful, Toph."
With his grip on her chin he had the pleasure of watching her face flush redder and her eyes widen in surprise.
"There you guys are! We wondered where you'd wandered off to."
The younger benders jumped at Zuko's voice, Aang snatched his hand away from her face.
"I see you found the new jewelry stand! And oh, Toph your hair looks so pretty down!" Katara awed.
Aang grabbed Toph's shoulders to tilt her so they could see the clip. "Isn't that clip nice? I was just about to buy it for her."
"It's lovely!" Katara agreed.
"I'm gonna go pay for it." Aang escaped before Toph could try to talk him out of it.
As soon as he was out of earshot, Katara gripped Toph's shoulders eagerly. She whispered, "I saw that. What is going on between you two?"
Toph crossed her arms. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm fairly sure you do! Are you guys dating?!" The water bender squealed.
"No. Drop it." Toph growled.
Katara grinned, "Are you going to date? You like him, right?"
Toph squirmed against her grip, her face bright red. "Leave me alone, Sweetness! I don't wanna talk about this!"
"Oh Katara let her be." Zuko chided her. "You're embarrassing her."
Katara pouted but released Toph from her clutches. "Fine. But I want to know!"
Toph sniffed, "There's nothing to know."
"Well, I don't know about that..." Zuko gave a small smile. Katara high-fived him.
"You guys are lucky I can't chuck rocks at you right now." Toph threatened.
They laughed and Zuko spoke, "Isn't it great?"
Aang walked up to them, "What's great?"
Toph reached out for his hand blindly, "That we're leaving."
He settled his hand in hers, raising an eyebrow at the older couple. It seems they had upset her somehow. Katara waved his concern off.
They all walked out of the tent after calling goodbyes to Pakku and Kanna. Aang lifted Toph's hood back up.
"Zuko and I are going to a cafe, want to join us?"
Aang hummed, looking to Toph. "We had a snack already. Are you still hungry?"
"Not really." Toph shrugged. He nodded in agreement. The buns had been pretty filling.
"You guys go ahead, I've got somewhere else to take Toph..."
Chapter 2: Seventeen
Thank you for all the sweet reviews so far! This has blown up across all my platforms I'm so glad you all love it. I plan to update this weekly, if I can restrain myself (I've never been good with keeping to a posting schedule). Hopefully that gives me enough time to wrap up the ending. I'm working on it but I won't give y'all something half-baked. I want it to be perfect!
It will probably be about 6 or 7 chapters, there's already 12K words and counting so we will see. It is all deliciously tooth-rotting fluff. Just cute cute CUTE. You might puke it's so sweet. Anyways, here's chapter two!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
On The Precipice
"Penguin sledding?" Toph asked critically.
Aang nodded excitedly. "It's super fun! You'll love it!"
"I'm blind Aang. I can't see where I'm steering!"
Aang scoffed, "That doesn't mean you can't go penguin sledding! Obviously the otter penguin wouldn't crash itself."
She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Alright if you say so. How do we catch those things?"
"Katara taught me this trick..."
Soon enough, the two were sliding down the snow banks on otter penguins' backs.
Toph screeched in glee as the wind whipped at her face, snow sloshing into her hair.
The unexpected dips and rises on the path made her stomach lurch and whenever she went midair the breath left her lungs. It was terrifying, yet exhilarating. It was... well it was really fun.
Finally their descent slowed and their laughter subsided. "Alright, that was pretty fun Twinkle Toes."
"Told you!" Aang bragged.
"But now I'm soaked and freezing and we have to walk back up a hill to get to the village." Toph deadpanned.
Aang laughed. "Did you forget I'm the Avatar?"
He raised his arms up, creating a raised platform of ice underneath their feet. Toph squawked and stumbled forward, gripping onto the lapels of his jacket.
"I am a water bender.." He grinned.
Toph slid closer to him as he began to move the platform up the hill. She felt wobbly on her feet, so she shuffled closer and wrapped her arms around his waist. "You jerk."
Aang chuckled, "Feel free to walk then, Miss Beifong."
"This doesn't change the fact that I'm dripping wet." She complained.
Aang smirked at the innuendo (hey he was seventeen okay), answering, "I can take care of that, too."
He drew the ice water from both of their clothes. The dirty meaning must have gone over her head though, as she simply muttered a thanks and rested her cheek on his shoulder.
He sighed forlornly, directing his ice sled back to the hut. One of these days...
Aang and Toph plopped down at the circular dinner table. Katara was on Toph's other side. Aang wrinkled his nose at the smell coming from the big pot at the center of the table. He asked hesitantly, "Is that... sea prune stew?"
Katara giggled at him, "Yes it is. But we prepared a veggie dish for you."
She set a large plate of seasoned rice and vegetables in front of him before passing bowls of soup out.
Toph took one bite of the stew and turned green. She grabbed Aang's shoulder to have him lean down so she could whisper in his ear, "This is disgusting. Give me some of your food."
Aang clamped his mouth shut to keep from busting out laughing. He slid his plate over in between them. "Here, we can share."
She scooted a little closer to him, "You're a lifesaver Twinkles."
Nobody else had any issues with the seafood stew (although Zuko's soup may have been more fire flakes than prunes). They eagerly cleaned out their bowls. Clean up was an easy feat with everyone helping.
"Well we'll leave you kids alone. It's our bedtime anyways." Gran Gran joked.
Hakoda warned them to keep the noise to a minimum. They chimed goodnight as Hakoda, Kanna and Pakku retreated to their bedrooms for the night.
"I'll light the candles then!" Zuko proclaimed.
"Candles for what?" Toph asked, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise.
"You didn't think we would forget your birthday Toph! Of course we remembered it." Sokka patted her head as Suki set down a cake on their table. It was Toph's favorite- strawberry and cream.
Katara squeezed her shoulder. "We're all going to be busy tomorrow so we wanted to celebrate it tonight with you."
Toph smiled, tilting her head down to hide it. "Thanks guys." She blew blindly towards the heat until the candles went out.
Suki clapped her hands, "Yay! Time for cake and presents!"
"Me first!" Katara cheered, setting a box down in front of Toph.
Toph shook her head in amusement, feeling around the large box to open it. "This better not be a dress, Sweetness."
"Maybe next year." Katara laughed.
Finally Toph got the paper and ribbons off and lifted the lid. She pulled out something soft, it felt woven. "What is it?"
"It's a hat. And there's a scarf too. I got them for you to help with the cold."
So considerate. Toph smiled at her, "Thanks Katara."
Suki placed a green bag in front of her that had little badger moles woven into the fabric. "This is a new bag, and inside there's some headbands and bracelets for you."
Toph ran her fingers along the little stitched animals. Her fingers traced over the kanji in the middle of the bag. She smiled, "It even has my name on it. Thanks Suki."
"Here's mine." Zuko set an elegant golden box in front of her.
Toph ran her fingertips over the fine artwork on the box before unclasping the latch and opening it. She only felt cold metal inside.
"Zuko. You got her a knife?" Katara complained.
He frowned at his girlfriend. "It's tradition! On your 17th birthday you get a knife."
Katara groaned and pinched her nose. "What kind of tradition is that? You didn't give anyone else a knife when they turned 17!"
Aang spoke up, smiling softly. "What Zuko didn't include is that it's a Fire Nation tradition for older brothers to give their sisters a knife on their 17th birthday. 17 is usually when kids leave their childhood homes. It's a reminder that the older brother is always protecting you, even if he's not there with you."
"Awe Sparky, you little mush ball." Toph grinned.
Zuko flushed and crossed his arms. "Whatever."
"Well my gift isn't so sappy. Here ya go." Sokka plopped a very badly wrapped box on the table. Toph gasped as her hand wavered over the box.
She quickly tore it open. "It's a rock!"
Everyone rolled their eyes. So far her favorite gift was a rock. How very Toph of her.
Toph held up a rock that looked similar to her meteorite bracelet. (That she had been deeply regretting leaving at home.)
Sokka smirked, "I found another meteorite and harvested as much of it as I could. Totally unrelated, Zuko I have new swords for you."
Zuko's eyes shined in excitement.
Toph melded the space rock into different shapes. She wore a huge smile on her face. "A rock."
"Alright, Aang, try to beat that." Sokka boasted.
"Uh, I was just gonna give it to her later..." Aang rubbed the back of his neck. If he gave it to her now they'd all jump to conclusions.
"Don't be silly, Aang." Katara blinked in thoughtfulness, letting a smirk cross her face. "Unless it's something... private?"
Aang blushed and mumbled, "No it's... just don't make it weird."
He pulled a small velvet box from his pocket and quickly popped it open.
"Oh no way no way!" Suki squealed. Aang flushed and glared at her.
"Wait a second, Suki isn't that-?" Sokka gasped.
"It totally is!" She wiggled up and down on her cushion.
"It is not!" Aang barked. "This is why I didn't want to do it in front of you guys!"
"What is it?" Toph frowned.
Katara peered at the jewelry box. "I don't get what the big deal is, it's just a ring."
Toph's face became bright red as her voice raised an octave. "A ring?!"
"It's not that type of ring!" Aang defended.
Zuko and Katara shared a confused look. Zuko asked, "I saw lots of people wear rings in the Earth Kingdom, does it signify something?"
Suki smiled, "In the Earth Kingdom it represents marriage. Just like the Water Tribes have betrothal necklaces. Sokka and I plan to wear both necklaces and rings."
Katara squealed, "I knew it!"
"Marriage?!" Zuko hit his hand on the table. "You guys are only 17!"
Aang groaned, slamming his head on the table. "I told you it's not for that! It's just a normal ring!"
"Suurreee, Aang, we totally believe you." Sokka exclaimed sarcastically.
Aang snapped the box shut and shoved it back in his pocket. "You guys are the worst. The worst!"
(And when he actually proposes to Toph, it sure won't be in front of these guys.)
"Awe look at his lil tomato head." Sokka teased and Katara tried to mask her giggle as a cough.
"Anyways are we gonna eat the cake?" Zuko asked, eyeing the sweet dessert.
"Yes please." Toph groaned, thankful for the topic change.
"Aren't you going to ask for separate bedrooms?" Katara asked them, a grin pulling at her lips as she crossed her arms.
Toph froze on her way to the single full bed, her hands pausing on pulling back the blankets. Aang flushed and stuttered, "Oh. I just assumed that you could only spare one room for us."
"Yes but we have a couch... if you're uncomfortable sharing that is."
Aang hesitated, looking back and forth between the two girls. He wasn't sure how to answer Katara. Toph spun around and pointed a finger at Katara. "Sugar Queen, you know we've been traveling around together. So yeah, sometimes we have to share a bed. Don't look into it too much."
Katara put her hands up, "Of course." She smiled knowingly. "Have a good night then."
She closed the door and Toph flung herself face first onto the bed and groaned. "They're all being so annoying!"
Aang laughed, setting their bags in the corner. "Did you expect anything less?"
"Can I see it?"
"Toph I hate to break this to you, but no, you can't see anything."
Toph flung a pillow in his general direction. She missed him by a good two feet. (Proving his point.)
"The ring you dolt. Aren't you going to give it to me?" She challenged.
"Oh. I didn't think you wanted it.." Aang trailed off. It did imply they were together. He shouldn't have even bought it.
"Well I do." She said haughtily.
He snorted, pulling the box back out of his pocket. He sat down on the bed next to her. Delicately, he slid the ring onto her fourth digit of her right hand. He was glad he'd guessed the ring size correctly.
She ran her fingers over it. "What's it look like?"
"It's gold. One of the few metal jewelry pieces they had; I bought it with the clip. The stone is jade, it matches your eyes."
Toph teased, "Careful, Twinkles. If I didn't know any better I'd think you were in love with me."
Aang felt his cheeks heat. This would be the perfect opportunity...
He chickened out. "I... I can take it back to the store. I shouldn't have bought it-"
"Aang." She felt around the bed and gripped his hand. "I told you, I want it. I really like it, thank you."
He smiled gently at her. "Happy birthday, Toph."
They stared at each other a moment, and Aang really just wanted to lean forward and kiss her. It almost looked like she was leaning in too..
Toph blinked and leaned back. She cleared her throat as her cheeks flushed pink. "I guess it's time for bed."
Aang wanted to groan- or maybe bash his head against the wall. So close.
They always did this. Skirt around each other in a 'maybe' dance. But one of them would always pull away, not quite ready to admit whatever this was between them. As time went on, and he was more sure of his feelings, it got more and more frustrating.
He eventually realized that he was more ready for the next level than she was, and he was trying to give her time and not push her. He knew she felt something for him too, she just... needed to get used to the idea, he supposed.
Aang sighed, reluctantly letting go of her hand. "Yeah. I'm gonna take a shower I think."
"Alright weirdo who takes showers at night."
He chuckled, shoving her shoulder lightly. "Alright weirdo who takes showers in the morning."
He stood to gather his things and retreated to the connected bathroom.
"Hey, wait. Where's my bag?" Toph stood, putting her hand on the wall.
"Here I'll bring it to you." Aang got her bag from the corner and plopped it in the bed. "There ya go."
He refrained from kissing her forehead as he passed. He definitely needed a shower to help clear his head and emotions.
Aang exited the bathroom about 15 minutes later to a dark bedroom. He was a little embarrassed that he'd forgotten his underwear, but he'd just sneak over to his bag and Toph would be none the wiser.
He tiptoed through the dark bedroom and started ruffling in his bag, trying to feel for his underwear in only the dim light from the bathroom.
"You better not be waltzing around naked just because I can't see you." Toph grunted from the bed.
Damn. Nothing got past that blind girl. Aang laughed heartily, "I've got a towel on!"
"Sure you do Twinkles."
He shook his head. "I just forgot-"
"Your tightie whities?"
He snorted at her. "Go to sleep already."
Finally, he grabbed his underwear and hurried back to the bathroom to change. Even if Toph couldn't see him, it would be weird to change in front of her. And she'd no doubt harass him about it.
Exiting the bathroom for good this time, he turned off the oil lamp and pitched the whole room into complete darkness. Aang carefully treaded to the bed as his eyes somewhat adjusted to the dark. He pulled back the covers gently, slipping in beside her. He didn't think she was actually asleep yet-
"Finally. You take forever." Toph turned to him, pouting.
Aang got comfortable, turning on his side to face her. "Sorry. I've told you before, you don't have to wait on me."
Toph tangled their feet together and curled her arms up by her chest. "I know. Good night, Aang."
He smiled, tucking a long tress of her hair behind her ear. "Good night, Toph."
Please leave a review! It makes me feel warm and mushy inside!
Chapter 3: Naptime
God I'm gonna barf. Or just squeal over these fictional characters some more.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
On The Precipice
A persistent pounding woke him up from his pleasant rest. He slowly blinked his eyes open to the light rays of dawn.
Toph groaned against his neck, shoving her face deeper against his skin. Aang stared down at her happily for a moment- he would never get used to waking up and cuddling with her in a bed- before the knocking started again. He huffed in annoyance. Who was that and what did they want so early?
"Make it stop." Toph groaned again, nuzzling into him.
"You're gonna have to let go of me first." His left arm was pinned under her waist. Plus one of her arms and a leg was tossed over him like a koala sloth; he wasn't going anywhere until she moved. And who would have thought that Toph would be so cuddly? The first time he discovered this she threatened to bury him in a rockslide if he told another soul. (It's not like he would have- he wanted her cuddles all to himself.)
Toph whined, releasing him from her grip and untangling their legs. She rolled to the other side of the bed. "Now I'm cold."
Aang sat up slowly, rubbing his face to try to wake up. He groaned as the knocking persisted. He threw the covers off and stood up. "I swear if this is Sokka I'm gonna punch him."
He wasn't usually violent- unless you interrupted snuggling time with Toph. Aang stomped to the door and threw it open. On the other side was Katara and Zuko- both much too chipper. Damned morning people.
"Good morning!" Katara sang. "We didn't want you guys to miss breakfast!"
Aang tried not to glower at her. "What time is it."
Zuko answered, "It's later than it looks, sunrise happens later here. It's already past 8."
"Fine." Aang started to close the door.
Katara shouted into the room, "Breakfast is in 15 minutes!"
He shut the door in her face and retreated to the bed. He flopped down on it, curling around Toph who had already fallen back asleep. She blinked her eyes open sleepily as his movements jostled her.
"What'd they want?" She murmured.
"Breakfast in fifteen minutes."
She hummed in acknowledgment, and they both closed their eyes again...
A knock sounded on the door.
Aang jolted in surprise. He must have fallen back asleep.
"Aang! Toph! We're starting breakfast come on!" Sokka called through the door.
"Why won't they let us sleep? It's my birthday." Toph whined.
Aang grumbled as he sat up.
Sokka shouted, "Don't make me come in there!"
"I'm gonna kill him." Toph muttered, sitting up as well. She stretched, popping a few joints.
Aang sighed, standing up. He was unfortunately awake.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Aang griped, "We're coming, Sokka. Now go away."
Toph groaned, slowly standing from the bed and feeling her way to the bathroom. "I guess I'll shower later."
He rolled his eyes- Toph still didn't mind being a little dirty.
Aang rummaged through his bag, throwing on a long sleeved orange shirt and changing into brown pants. He wrapped a yellow tunic around one shoulder. He was putting his shoes on when Toph exited the bathroom with her toothbrush in her mouth. Aang carried her bag to the bed again so she could find fresh clothes. "Here's your bag."
She nodded her head, digging around in it as he went to the restroom. When he was finished with his business he opened the door back up in case she needed the sink. He stood at the counter brushing his own teeth. They'd travelled together so often that they had their own flowing routine. It was utterly domestic and Aang loved it.
Toph came in, dressed in thick green pants, a long sleeved pale yellow shirt and a white tunic that fell over both, ending just below her knees. She tied a green sash around her waist before pushing him out of the way of the sink. She left again to find the fur boots Katara had given her. Soon enough, they were finally ready. And not too late. Probably.
Aang grabbed a comb and the clip he'd gotten her before they headed downstairs- Toph's hair was a mess.
"Well look who decided to join us!" Suki teased as they appeared.
Katara chided them, "The food is getting cold."
"Sorry mom." Toph sniffed. Aang put his hand on her lower back to direct her to the two open cushions. Gran Gran placed two plates in front of them and Zuko poured them fresh tea. They murmured thank you's and dug in as others continued their morning conversations about the day ahead.
Soon enough people started to pick up plates and clean up. Hakoda, Pakku, Sokka and Zuko threw on coats and gathered bags, preparing to head out for their hunting day trip, hoping to be home by dinnertime. They all got hugged and kissed goodbye. Zuko got an especially long kiss from Katara until her father cleared his throat.
After helping to clean up, Aang and Toph sat on one of the couches. He put his long legs on either side of her small body. He had to keep them bent or his feet would hang off the end of the couch. She rested her elbows on his knees, fiddling with the golden ring on her finger.
Aang gently combed through her hair, releasing all the tangles. Toph sighed happily and tilted her head back.
"Twinkles have I ever told you that I love it when you play with my hair?"
Aang chuckled, starting a braid that Katara had shown him how to do. "I've got no hair so I've gotta mess with someone's."
He played with her hair often, whenever she was willing to let him. Because of this, the bald monk had ironically become quite adept at hairstyling. Aang finished the braid, twisting it up into a bun before clipping it securely.
Katara and Suki came down the stairs, giggling and whispering to each other. Suki spotted them on the couch, "We're heading out to the spa, are you guys sure you don't want to come with us?"
"Yeah, we're good." Toph settled back on Aang's chest and closed her eyes. Maybe they could take a nap. Since they were so rudely awoken at an ungodly time.
Katara hesitated, "Well okay, don't get into any trouble then..."
"Yes, Mom." Toph and Aang chorused.
They left and Aang rolled his eyes. "Trouble? As if she isn't the one that did scamming ploys with you."
"Well she wasn't very good at it. As soon as she got involved we got caught." Toph snickered.
Aang laughed, wrapping his long arms around her as he leaned back into the couch. "Give her some credit, she broke you out of prison."
Toph hummed, snuggling deeper into him. "Yeah she did good. I'll deny I said that though."
He chuckled and closed his eyes. "Nap time?"
"Nap time." Toph agreed.
Toph woke up feeling hot. She groaned in protest.
She felt around for the reason, hoping she could just throw off a blanket and go back to sleep. She soon became aware that the reason was Aang.
He must have turned them while he slept. She was facing him now, squished between his body and the couch. The boy had grown very large, and she had not. With both of his arms wrapped around her and one of his legs thrown over her hip- she barely even had any air to breathe.
She moaned pushing against his chest and wiggling. "Aang, wake up!"
Aang murmured unintelligibly and tightened his hold on her.
Looks like it had to be the hard way then. If nothing else, Toph had her strength.
Toph grunted, pushing against his body. He was so big, it wouldn't take much to roll him off the edge...
And there he goes.
What Toph didn't take into account was Aang gasping awake and reactively grabbing back on to her as he fell.
Toph yelped as she was dragged off the couch with him. She groaned, propping herself up over him. A blush spread across her cheeks as she realized she had landed in between his legs, her hands planted on either side of his waist. He was sprawled out underneath her.
"Toph..." Aang complained, leaning up on his elbows. He lost his breath again though when he saw how close she was to his face. Her face was pink, their chests were almost touching.
Her raven hair had come undone, half of it unraveled from the braid and hanging in waves. He wanted to thread his fingers into it, pull down her lips to his. He noticed her labored breathing and hooded eyes. She didn't move from her position of towering over him.
Aang stared at her soft lips, repeating her name breathlessly. He wanted to kiss her.
He even lifted his hand to do so...
Toph scrambled away from him as if he was on fire.
Aang turned to see Gran Gran at the entryway of their living space, her hand over her mouth, scandalized.
"Gran Gran!" Aang panicked. "Uh... we just... fell off the couch is all."
The elder woman cleared her throat. "Perhaps you should save those activities for behind closed doors, young man."
He flushed and Toph covered her face in embarrassment. "No, we were taking a nap! And fell!"
"You don't need to defend yourself, I was your age once." She headed for the front door, shaking her head. "I'm leaving now, but take that to the bedroom please."
Aang whined pitifully as she closed the door.
Toph stood, trying to ignore the blood that had rushed to her cheeks. She blushed too much around this kid. "Well that was embarrassing. I think I'll go drown myself in the shower now."
Of course they were going to avoid talking about it. He snorted, standing as well. "Okay, I'll help you upstairs."
Toph harrumphed and crossed her arms. "I can get upstairs just fine." She turned and started walking.
Aang remained silent in amusement as Toph wandered around. First she stubbed her toe on a table, then she walked into a wall, until finally she stopped in the kitchen and sighed. She didn't know this house well enough yet.
"Okay fine, help me upstairs then."
Aang was reading a scroll when Toph made her way back downstairs. (She memorized the turns and steps so she wouldn't have to call on Aang for help. She was an independent woman dammit.)
Her raven hair hung down, the sides pulled back by the clip he got her. She wore a bright yellow dress over green pants. It had long sleeves and a low neckline. It clung to her curvy hips. A tight green vest accented her chest. He let his eyes wander over her appreciatively for a moment (was she trying to kill him?) before shaking his head and reminding himself to be respectful. Clean thoughts were hard for a hormonal teen boy but he was a monk after all, and he knew how to restrain himself.
He stood, "What does the birthday girl want to do?"
"Well what else is there to do here?"
Aang hummed in thought, "I think I remember seeing some arcade games in the town square."
"You're on, Twinkle Toes."
Merry Christmas here's a gift! Hope you have safe and happy holidays with your loved ones (even if it's through a screen). 2020 is almost over folks. Maybe this story will bring you a bit of joy during this shitty year.
Chapter 4: Anchor
DATE DATE DATE
Also some heart to heart convos :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
On The Precipice
Toph giggled, clutching the badger mole stuffed animal under her arm. "This was pretty fun, Twinkle Toes. We should go to arcades more often."
Aang grinned, grabbing her hand, "We should. Hey there's a cafe over there we can grab some lunch at. My treat."
She rolled her eyes, "Is it really your treat when everyone gives you stuff for free, Mister Avatar?"
"Well it usually works out for me because I never have that much money."
Toph laughed at him as they entered the store. They ordered some (free) seaweed wraps and sat in the corner by a fire.
"Have you ever had hot chocolate?" Aang asked as they finished their wraps.
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Like, melted chocolate?"
"It's a Water Tribe speciality drink. I'll go get some."
Aang came back a few minutes later with two mugs of the sweet drink. "Careful, it's really hot."
Toph smirked, gripping the mug. "I would have never guessed that."
He nudged her foot playfully under the table. She leaned forward and sniffed the drink. "Mmm, smells good!"
"What, you don't believe me?" Aang laughed.
Toph smirked, "Well, since I can't tell if you're lying anymore..."
"Toph!" Aang complained, "I never lie to you, Sifu!"
She giggled, nudging his foot back. "I'm just messing with you, Twinkle Toes!"
Aang rested his elbow on the table, cheek in his hand as he smiled at her giggle. "Well go on and try it then."
Toph lifted the mug to her lips and tilted it. Sweet liquid filled her mouth. She flinched when something touched her nose, pulling the cup away as Aang laughed at her. He reached across the table and wiped the whipped cream from her nose. He licked the cream from his thumb.
Toph pouted at him. "You didn't tell me there was cream on purpose!"
"Maybe." He sang. "But do you like it?"
She huffed at him. "Yes, it's delicious."
"Told you so!"
"Yeah, yeah." She rolled her eyes at him.
Aang took a sip of his hot drink, relishing in the sweetness. It filled him with memories of traveling with Gyatso...
His heart still twinged in his chest when he thought of all he had lost. Fond memories of his people that he couldn't save. He felt a deep bittersweet melancholy.
But he had to continue on. It was his duty to preserve the memory of his people. To uphold their legacy. And besides...
Otherwise he would already be dead; the air benders would be truly gone. He never would have woken from the iceberg and began traveling with Sokka and Katara. He never would have created new friendships and saved the world from the brink of total destruction.
He never would have seen visions of Toph giggling at him in that swamp.
Aang smiled softly, he's been chasing her around ever since.
He was brought back to the present as Toph reached across the table, frowning at him. "What's wrong?"
She always was in tune with his emotions without ever seeing his face. Even without her bending she could still get a read on him, that was impressive. Aang sighed, taking her hand. He fiddled with her dainty fingers, stroking the jade stone of her ring.
"I was thinking about the first time I tried hot chocolate. Gyatso brought me down here one day..."
Toph squeezed his hand gently.
He continued, "I miss him- I miss all of them. But then I thought, even if I've lost a lot... I've gained a lot too."
Aang raised her hand, kissing the back of it softly. Toph's breath caught in her throat, her eyes shining with emotion. "Aang..." She trailed off, speechless by his bold admission.
"Did I ever tell you about my visions of you?"
She blinked, taken aback by the sudden change of topic, "What? What visions?"
"Before I met you."
Toph's mouth dropped open. "What kind of weird Avatar shit is that?"
Aang laughed, threading their fingers together. "It wasn't just me affected. We were at this spirity swamp... Katara and Sokka saw visions of people they had lost. But I didn't; I saw you."
"You just kept giggling and running away from me..." He pretended to be affronted.
She huffed out a laugh and smirked, "Well that does sound like me."
"I didn't even know you, but I knew I had to find you. In the visions, you had a flying boar with you. So that's eventually how we located you after the Earth Rumble, at your parent's estate. And I just knew you had to be my sifu."
Toph ran her thumb along his knuckles tenderly. His bittersweet tone and soft voice made her drop her own admission into the air between them. "I'm glad you found me. You changed my life."
Aang sighed, letting the heavy weight of grief slide off his shoulders as he stared at Toph in front of him. He didn't think it was possible to be more grateful for her existence. She had changed his life too; she taught him so much and helped him to grow into the Avatar he is today. She was his rock.
"Yeah, me too." He answered simply.
(He wonders if he should have mentioned that the swamp only shows visions of people that you love.)
Toph sat by the fire, shaping her new space rock into different forms. Spirits did she miss earth.
It was later in the evening now, the manly men had returned from their hunting trip just in time for dinner. Then mostly everyone had retreated to their rooms to clean up and head to bed. She wasn't that tired yet, due to her nap earlier. (She tried to avoid replaying that particular nap incident in her mind.)
Someone approached her, but it couldn't be Aang since he just went to go shower.
"Hey squirt. Did you have a good birthday?" Zuko asked as he sat down on a cushion next to her.
Toph smiled genuinely, "Yeah, I did. Aang and I went to an arcade- which I won most of the games, of course- and I tried hot chocolate at a cafe, and then we went to a theater play. We were about to go shopping around when we realized we were about to miss dinner."
"That does sound like a fun date." He teased her.
Toph decided to play dirty. "So, when are you gonna grow a pair and propose to Sugar Queen?"
He pursed his lips in annoyance (would people stop asking him that?). He retaliated, "When are you gonna admit to being head over heels for Aang?"
Toph punched his shoulder and he winced.
"But really Toph, be real for a second, just you and me. You have to realize he's in love with you. And we can all tell it's reciprocated. You both are so obvious. So why are you avoiding it? That's not like you."
Toph fiddled with the golden ring on her finger- the weight of it heavier with unspoken meaning. She frowned, "I do... love him." She struggled to say it aloud to someone, allowing herself to be vulnerable. "I just..."
She trailed off, and Zuko waited patiently. He wasn't the best with words either, or emotions for that matter.
"I guess I'm just scared. Scared that he doesn't feel the same after all, or that one day we would break up and lose the friendship we have." She took a deep breath, exhaling shakily, "I'm going to mess it up. I'm terrified to lose him."
Zuko gave her a sad smile, asking softly, "Why do you think you'd mess it up?"
Toph sighed. "Having friends is still kind of new to me. Sometimes I just... worry that I'm gonna fuck it all up and I'll have to go back home and be alone again."
The young Fire Lord patted her head affectionately. "I won't let that happen. None of us would let that happen, Toph."
"I know, I know. It's just... my fear I guess." She shrugged. A rational part of her knew it was unrealistic, but that deep, still-hurting part of her feared being alone and abandoned again. That she wouldn't be understood and accepted and seen.
He nodded. "That's valid. I still have doubts too, it's normal. I worry that one day Katara will wake up and decide she doesn't want to be with someone who has made so many mistakes. Someone who has hurt so many people..."
Toph looked at him shrewdly, her sightless eyes piercing into him. "Katara is over it. Everyone is. That's not who you are anymore- and you haven't been that guy for a long time now. You've done good, Zuko."
Zuko sighed, folding one knee up to rest his elbow on it. "Yeah, I know. But it's still a fear I have." He nudged her shoulder, throwing her words back at her.
Toph felt her lips turn up in a grin. "Okay, so our fears are silly."
"Exactly. It's hard to believe, but people do care. You and I... we don't have to be alone anymore."
Toph felt like it was a bit easier to breathe.
She would never be alone anymore. These people... her family... they saw her. And they loved her. So maybe... she could stand to be a little more open with them. Including Aang.
"Thanks, Zuko." She paused, deciding it was time to lighten the mood, "But seriously, Katara has been dying for you to ask her."
Zuko laughed. "Trust me, I know. She's not very good at hiding it." Toph giggled before Zuko continued, "I already have a necklace... I've been carrying it around with me for months. I'd let you see it but, ya know, you can't see."
She flicked him. "I'm sure it's very pretty. So what's stopping you?"
"Convincing my council took ages. When I finally got their approval I uh, at first just couldn't ever find the courage. And then I couldn't find the right time and place." Zuko rubbed the back of his head and winced as he rambled, "And then I wondered if doing it so close to Sokka's wedding would kinda steal his thunder... Don't wanna spark any sibling rivalry, ya know?"
She shook her head, grinning wide, "Excuses, excuses." What a hopeless, awkward dork. How did Katara have the patience to put up with his bumbling?
"Well, actually, during our hunting trip, I talked to them about it. Sokka told me to get over myself and man up- that was oh so helpful. And Hakoda gave me his blessing, which still kinda blows my mind... Even Pakku was supportive. Though all he said was to not screw it up."
Toph smiled at him gently. "That must have taken a lot of courage."
"Oh I had the thought in the back of my mind that I would 'mysteriously disappear' on this trip."
Toph cackled, slapping her knee- oh now that was a scuffle she'd pay money to see (well, figuratively speaking).
Zuko smoothed his finger over the pendant in his pocket. "Hakoda wasn't surprised by the question at all. He was all for it- even stated that he wouldn't be able to find her a better match in all the nations. I was blown away. He said that a marriage between the Fire Lord and the Southern Water Tribe Chief's daughter would further promote peace and unity."
Toph hummed in consideration, "Or it might make the Earth Kingdom pissed off because favoritism."
"Well... not if an esteemed Earth Kingdom heiress married the Avatar himself..."
Toph's eyes widened and she blushed red, punching Zuko's arm as hard as she could. Zuko laughed, rubbing his arm tenderly, "I'm just saying! A win for all the nations!"
"Ugh whatever! I'm done with this embarrassing conversation!" Toph stood haughtily. Her dramatic exit was a little dimmed by the fact she had to trace her hand on the wall to find the stairs.
She made sure to send a snorting Zuko the finger though.
The good news is, I think I am finally finished writing this story! :) The bad news is the next chapter will be the final chapter. :(
Thank you so much for reading, please leave your thoughts below!
Chapter 5: The Big Day
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."