Again, this is another story I wrote while I figure out how to do the part where Toph and Aang talk/argue in "Back." Thought this one up while staring at the ceiling at 3 A.M.
This story takes place 3 years after the war ends, (Aang being 16, Katara being 18) where my logic would be that they would want to get married long before Aang was 16, but since 16 is the marrying age here, Aang would have to wait until then.
Disclaimer: I don't own ATLA.
When Sokka suggested it, Aang nearly had a heart attack.
Had Sokka somehow read his mind?
There's no way, Aang scolded himself. Probably your idea was so cliché even Momo could've thought of it without trying…
"So what do you think, Aang?" Sokka's voice cut into his thoughts.
"GRAAAAH!" Aang jumped five feet in the air, creating a blast of wind that knocked over Katara's glass of water. "Oh Spirits, I'm so sorry!" Aang exclaimed. "I was just thinking about stuff and…"
"It's fine," Katara assured, bending the water out of her clothes. "I am a waterbender, remember?"
"Oh, right," Aang said sheepishly. "So, uh, anyway, about the…trip…"
Sokka's face fell. "Don't worry," he muttered, trying to sound like nothing was wrong. "It was a dumb idea anyway."
"No, no," Aang interrupted. "I mean, yes, yes, I do want to go, and no, no, it wasn't dumb…" Aang trailed off, aware that he was starting to babble. "I just think I'll go to my room to…uh…pack…" Aang quickly rushed up from the table and ran out of the dining room.
The rest were left sitting in silence with bewildered looks on their faces.
"Uh…did we do something?" Sokka finally managed.
Aang sank onto his bed and put his head in his hands with a groan. "How am I supposed to go through with my plan now?"
A chattering noise sounded in his ear.
"No, Momo, that won't work," Aang murmured despondently. Reaching into his pocket, he took out its precious cargo and examined it…
…a half-finished betrothal necklace.
The plan had been simple: finish the betrothal necklace, suggest the Gaang go on a trip "for old time's sake," and finally pop the question in the middle of the trip at a romantic time.
Of course, Sokka justhad to have the same idea two weeks early. Minus the proposal, of course. Aang couldn't exactly suggest they go on yet another nostalgic journey after this one was over…
Aang groaned again. He was eternally grateful to the monks for bringing out all his airbending potential, but sometimes he wished he could abandon their "evade and hide" philosophy and just think like an earthbender. What would Toph do? he wondered to himself. She'd probably slam her boyfriend against the wall and then—
For the umpteenth time that day, his thoughts were once again interrupted by a knocking on his door. "Aang?" Katara's muffled voice called. "You okay? Can I come in?" she asked in concern.
"Yeah…" Aang answered weakly. He quickly pocketed his half-finished necklace. The last thing he needed was an unintended reveal.
With a creak, the door opened to reveal what appeared to be an extremely bedraggled Avatar sprawled on his bed. "Are you sure you're not sick or something?" Katara inquired. "It's fine if you don't want to go on the trip; I can still tell Sokk—"
"No!" Aang interjected suddenly. "I mean, I can go…I'm just a little tired, that's all."
"If you say so…" Katara said uncertainly. Then her eyebrows rose. "Hey, weren't you gonna pack or something?"
Aang snapped upright. "Oh! Right! Just…resting," he chuckled nervously, rubbing the back of his head.
"Mmm hmm," Katara said. Turning, she started to head out of Aang's room. "I guess I better start packing too."
Aang watched her figure disappear around the corner of his doorframe before resuming his packing, making sure to include a certain necklace.
"So!" Sokka began, gesturing extravagantly, "two weeks of just us and the old times, here we come!"
"Except Scarface isn't here to chase us around," Toph reminded. "And Twinkletoes and Sweetness are dating, and you're more of a bonehead than before, and Sugar Queen—"
"Don't spoil the moment!" Sokka cut in angrily. Then he seemed to remember something. "Oh, Aang, Katara, pretend you aren't dating, that way it'll be like the old ti—"
"WHAT?" everyone yelled.
"Toph's right," Katara muttered. "You are more of a bonehead than before."
"What are you talking about?" Sokka complained. "It would be like the old times…"
"Shut up, Sokka," the entire group said.
Just like old times, Aang thought to himself.
By the time they got to a place remote enough to satisfy Sokka, it was already time to turn in.
It wasn't easy, but eventually everyone managed to scrape the technique for pitching tents out of some rusty corner of their minds. Soon a little encampment was present in the woods.
Of course, Toph just stomped her foot and made a tent in three seconds.
"Well, I'm going to bed!" Sokka announced loudly. He dove into his tent, feet still peeking out.
"Bit louder, Sokka, I don't think they heard you in the Northern Water Tribe," Toph muttered sarcastically.
"I heard that!"
Katara rolled her eyes. "Guys, just try to go to sleep, like the old times, right, Sokka?" she said pointedly.
"Fine…" Sokka pulled his feet into his tent and tried his best to sleep.
He was doing fine until the subdued sound of a kiss and a quick "Goodnight, love you" shattered the haze enveloping his mind.
"Augh, oogies!" Sokka yelled, covering his head with his pillow.
That still wasn't enough to completely drown out the sound of yet another abnormally loud kiss.
Aang almost fell asleep with a serene smile on his face (who wouldn't, after a kiss from Katara?) when he suddenly remembered his botched plans.
The happy smile on his face immediately morphed into a melancholy frown.
Well, it's not the end of the world, Aang thought to himself, trying to rationalize away his disappointment. Just come up with another plan…
Aang's eyes widened.
Maybe this plan wasn't over yet…
"Alright, soldiers, rise and shi…" Sokka trailed off in midsentence, arms still halfway through a stretch.
"Hey Sokka," Katara greeted absentmindedly. Her attention was mostly focused on eating a delicious-looking loaf of bread. Beside her, Toph was messily chewing part of an apple.
"You're eating breakfast? And you didn't wake me up?" Sokka demanded in disbelief.
"Well, we didn't wake Aang up either," Katara answered, through a mouthful of bread.
"Yeah, the way he's sleeping, I think his nickname is gonna have to change to Snoozles," Toph said.
Sokka was already marching towards Aang's tent. "Wake up, Aang!" he bellowed into the tent. "We've got lots to do today!"
A moan followed by what sounded like "dontwannawakeupgowayorillkillyou" emanated from Aang's tent in response.
"Oh, no you don't!" Sokka exclaimed. "You're waking up now, mister!"
A blast of air blew him into a tree.
"Urgh," Sokka moaned. "I give up." Picking himself up, he slunk towards the campfire.
"Hey!" Toph yelled suddenly. All heads turned towards her. "Oh no, they're taking Appa!"
Aang burst out of the tent instantly only to find the sight of a grinning Toph and a laughing Katara. "Hey, guys, that's not funny," he grumbled, rubbing his eyes.
"Well, now that you're awake, why don't you eat some breakfast?" Katara suggested, holding out a moon peach.
Aang paused in mid-rub. "Sure, I guess," he yawned, heading towards the campfire.
"So why are you up so late?" Katara asked curiously. "Usually, you're up before all of us since you're meditating."
"Just a bad dream, no biggie," Aang lied.
Toph snorted. "You know, Twinkletoes, I know you're ly—"
"So, Sokka!" Aang interrupted. "What are we doing today?"
Lighting up instantly, Sokka instantly rolled out the entire day's schedule, while Aang internally sighed in relief.
"WOOOHOOO! CANNONBALL!" Everyone ducked out of the way as Katara created a huge wave after impacting the water.
"I think we should eat some lunch," Sokka suggested. "I'm kinda hungry…"
"You're always hungry, Snoozles," Toph said. "But yeah, I'm kinda hungry too…"
"Me too," Aang agreed, flopping onto his back. "I think I'll go into town to check for some—"
"No way!" Sokka interrupted. "If people see that you're the Avatar, they'll start following you around! That's the last thing we need, running into random stalkers."
"Not to mention the fangirls," Katara muttered to herself.
"Oh, right…" Aang said.
"I'll go," Sokka declared, jabbing a thumb at his chest.
"Sokka, wait, remember to get some vegetarian stuff for Aang…" Katara called.
Sokka was long gone.
"So," Katara said, turning back around. "What should we do while we wait?"
"Oh, uh, I think I'll go make up for missing my meditation," Aang said nervously, getting up. The concealed betrothal necklace suddenly felt heavier in his pocket.
"Yeah, right, Twinkletoes, I know you're—"
Aang suddenly broke into a spontaneous coughing fit. "Bye!" he called out weakly, zooming into the forest on an air scooter.
"So what were you saying, Toph?" Katara asked, eyes still on the last place she had seen Aang.
"Never mind," Toph sighed, leaning back. "You'll find out later."
Clink. Clink. Clink.
"There," Aang murmured quietly in satisfaction. "That curve's done…"
A rustle behind him nearly made him jump in shock. Hurriedly, he hid the betrothal necklace and chisel within his robes and tried to assume a meditation pose.
"Toph, that is the most unconvincing animal sound I've ever heard," Aang called out, eyes closed. "What do you want?"
Toph ignored him. "So you're chiseling something, right?"
Aang paled. "Wha—what—are you talking about?" he stammered. "I was meditating!"
Toph laughed loudly. "Haha, your heartbeat is almost as high as that time when Katara showed up in that Fire Nation dress…you were chiseling something."
"N-no I wasn't…" Aang stuttered. "Could you go away please? I'm trying to meditate here," he asked, trying to fend off any other invasive questions.
Aang felt a suspicious shifting sensation in his pocket and realized that his betrothal necklace was moving…
"No!" he yelled involuntarily, grasping at his pocket.
The betrothal necklace flew out of his pocket and landed right in Toph's waiting hands. "Nice work, so far, Twinkletoes," she said, feeling the necklace. "Oh look, there's a ribbon…"
Aang's face reddened and he ran frantically towards Toph. "Wait, Toph, before you—"
"Hey, this feels like a betrothal—"
"SHHHHHH!" Aang hissed hysterically. At Toph's confused look he whispered, "Can't you feel that?"
"Aang? Toph? Where are you guys? Sokka's back!" Katara's yell sounded through the forest. "Guys?" Her voice sounded like it was only a few feet away.
"Give that to me!" Aang ordered. Snatching the necklace away from Toph, he sat down and resumed "meditating." Toph launched herself into the air with a pillar of rock.
"Aang?" Katara's voice sounded from directly behind Aang, and he took a deep breath and stood up, trying to pretend that he had just snapped out of a trance.
"Yeah?" Aang asked, brushing himself off.
"Sokka brought lunch," Katara informed.
"Oh, ok," Aang said. Whew, that was a close one, he thought, as he followed Katara back to the campsite.
As the days passed by in a blur, Aang found he had to sneak off more and more to finish the necklace before the ending of what Sokka came to call "The Most Awesome Trip in History." Over time, his excuses became more and more ludicrous. One time, he had to excuse himself to "help teach Momo the basics of airbending."
His efforts paid off, though. By the final day of the journey, the necklace was four-fifths done.
For Aang, that was one-fifth too less.
"Look, idiot, you put the pepper in first, then you stir…"
"No, first you stir, then you put in the pepper!"
With a smirk, Aang remembered that Toph and Sokka had been arguing over their cooking for several hours now. Katara was off in the forest either bathing or practicing her waterbending.
Conclusion: this was the perfect time to sneak off and finish that last fifth of his necklace.
With a self-satisfied grin, Aang turned around and began walking…
…only to nearly collide nose-to-nose with Katara's face.
"Going somewhere?" she asked with a knowing grin.
"Uh—no—I mean—" Aang stuttered in shock. Stumbling backwards, his foot caught on a rock on the ground. Aang fell to the ground with a pained grunt.
"Did you really think I didn't notice you sneaking off and making stupid excuses?" Katara asked. Her face floated into view above Aang's.
"Uh…" Aang was still winded from the fall, though he was pretty sure that he wouldn't be in talking condition anyway, fall or no fall. Normally this would've been because of the suggestive posture they were in, but right now, he was more afraid of something else…
"So, what've you been sneaking off for?" Katara continued. Leaning forward, in a tone that nearly made Aang lose all his resolve and tell her then and there, she murmured, "You can tell me, you know."
Then her expression changed completely. "Did you steal my necklace?" she asked disbelievingly, looking down.
With an intense sinking feeling in his stomach, Aang looked down near his pocket, a horrible possibility coming to mind.
Yep. The fall had knocked his unfinished necklace clean out of his pocket. Right in Katara's view.
"N-no…" was all Aang could stammer out.
Katara felt the place where her necklace had been, noting that it was still there. "Then whose…is this…" she began.
Aang just stared at her mutely, waiting for her to realize.
"That's too much salt!" Sokka protested.
"Hey, I'm not the one who made tha—"
"YES! YES!" A sound suddenly interrupted the loud bickering.
Sokka looked over to see the problem. Much to his chagrin, Katara and Aang appeared to be on the ground kissing.
"Uh…did we miss something?" he wondered aloud.
Welp, not the best ending, but I'm still (kinda) satisfied with it anyway. Read and review please! :D