Spun

The occasion wasn't one of any real importance, or any real significance.

It just so happened that they were all within a continent's distance of each other, and out went the messenger hawks. The invitation specified a quaint get-together, a few nights to catch up and learn about how the others have been since the last time. Aang and Katara were heading towards the specified location on Appa, when from below, Toph had shot herself into the air upon hearing Appa's groans. She had grown more confident in the years since her metalbending school, using the mundane work to extend her own skills. She had thumped onto the saddle, frightened Appa, and shocked the life out of Katara and Aang whom were enjoying a short, yet passionate kissing session before a weekend of no privacy.

Before long they had landed, and not a great deal of time had passed again before she was tongue-deep in a cup of whatever Sokka's liquor-making skills had concocted. Suki had cautioned the risks of the drink, but after whispered reassurances that the same side-effects that occurred last time were dealt with, she vigilantly accepted a cup.

For a while it was just the five of them, Zuko arrived in the late morning, and as the sun was at its highest and the wind was warm and subtle. As the day went on, and more friend's arrived, the drinks flowed with more vigour as competitions and rivalries arose.

It must have been after dinner that Ty Lee had spun the full bottle of Fire Liquid in her fingers like a baton, smiling at the thick glass. "What on earth are you thinking about?" Suki had laughed, thinking that her eyesight was settled on Haru, the lean, tall, muscled earthbender sitting opposite her. A few of the other Kyoshi Warriors that had tagged along with Ty Lee smiled at her, and giggled with Suki, also assuming.

"Just reminiscing on a fun game that I have played." She had smiled, then suddenly throwing the bottle into the air, flipped onto her hands and caught it easily between her feet, she walked towards Suki and lowered her feet, and the bottle, into her curious grasp. Ty Lee's stunt had caught the rest of the group's attention, all awaiting further explanation, "You ever played spin-the-bottle?"

"Spin-the-bottle?" Suki had prodded, raising an eyebrow and smiling, "I cannot recall ever even hearing of the game…"

"It is very simple, and really separates the women from the gals." She flicked back onto her feet and held her hand out for the bottle. Everyone still watched, as it sounded competitive, many had etched closer to hear, "You place the bottle on even ground…" she looked around herself, the ground was rocky and irregular, "Hey Aang, be a dear?" Aang crumpled his brow in confusion.

Toph rolled her eyes, "Gees, Twinkletoes, you'd have to be blind to not know what she is asking…" Toph slid her foot away from her, and poised her hands, bringing them suddenly towards her torso, the surface beneath Ty Lee became a perfectly flat plane, even the small stones and tuffs of grass that sprinkled the dirt merged to form a seamlessly level surface with the earth.

"All she said was-" Aang tried to defend himself, Toph smirked and punched him in the shoulder, before crossing her arms and bringing attention back to Ty Lee.

"Thank-you Toph." Ty Lee smiled, laying the bottle horizontal on the ground. She placed a finger against the neck of the bottle, and spun it. Though she could not see it, she could feel it, it vibrated the earth in the most unusual way, the waves came off it in spirals, not in circular forms. The sound of the full glass rotating on the smooth surface let out a faint, attractive ringing sound that seemed to echo for Toph. She wondered if Aang could feel the waves and hear the sound as she could too. "The bottle will spin, and the neck will point towards someone…" she waited for the bottle to stop, when it did, it was directly at one of the Kyoshi warriors, "And the spinner, has to kiss whomever it landed on, then the person who got kissed, and did the kissing, takes a drink and spins next." Ty Lee walked towards the smiling warrior and planted a small, soft peck on her lips. There was many emotions that flowed through the people around Toph, heart rates sped, breathing hitched silently, she almost laughed at the even spread of variation. Half were excited, half were nervous and concerned, she even snorted aloud as she felt Aang glance from Katara to Zuko, to Haru and then back to Katara with a soft pout.

"Wooh! Sounds good to me!" Sokka laughed, Suki shot him a look of slight disapproval.

"What if you don't want to kiss the person it lands on?" Zuko then asked, not because he objected to anyone in the group he was current amongst, but for the sake of knowing the rules.

Ty Lee shrugged, "Has never happened in a game I have played. It is all in good fun, but!" she said suddenly, raising her finger to the group to hush them, "Things can always take a turn for the worst if you upset someone…"

Those final words were spoken an hour ago, Ty Lee admitted that it was better when everyone had a few more drinks in them. She cracked open her bottle and vowed to retrieve the other for the game when she became satisfied with the state of the others. Toph was chatting happily to no one in particular when Katara approached her, she filled Toph's drink, and even tried to approach the topic of earthbending. It was when Katara unsubtly brought up Toph's little crime spree many years ago that involved scamming, that Toph raised an eyebrow and cut her off with a hand right in front of her face. "What do you want, Sugar Queen?"

Playing with a length of hair that hang over her shoulder, she whispered, "Promise not to laugh?"

"Nope." Toph smirked, preparing to let all hell loose if the secret was worthy.

"Well, I was going to ask you to rig the gameplease."

Toph was silent for a moment before she threw her head back and snorted, she was laughing, supporting herself on her knees and wiping her eyes, "W-what's wrong, Katara? Concerned for your maaaaan?" she laughed and hooted, Katara stood before her with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face.

"N-no! Of course not! I trust him with my life, and my heart!" she snapped.

"Ew, no details please." Toph said, straightening up and sipping from her cup.

"I just don't think I could handle watching him kiss someone else, game or no game…" She rubbed her arm consciously, embarrassed, "I just thought that with your bending skills, you could aid the bottle into rolling only to me when he plays."

Toph thought for a minute, "Won't that create an endless cycle of him getting you, then you getting him, then him getting you…"

"I am sure after a few turns Ty Lee will invent some rule, if there already isn't one." Katara shrugged, she watched Toph's blind eyes as they stared sightlessly in the direction of the smooth patch of earth she had bending.

Everyone seemed to be actively avoiding it, as if it was cursed, or sacred.

She was thinking about it, remembering what it felt like when she felt Suki and Sokka kiss for the first of a hundred times, or when Mai used pull Zuko into her arms, even when Aang and Katara kissed, the feeling that she was missing out on something she didn't even care much of. But, she knew that it would be painful for someone who is so in love, to watch another share that love just for a simple game of amusement, she sighed, "Don't worry, Sugar Queen. I got your back."

"Eee! Thank-you Toph!" Katara smiled, pulling her into a firm hug, Toph made a grunting sound and sipped from her cup while still in the hug. She could feel Zuko turn towards the pair, she assumed that he was looking towards her, as she was facing his direction, Toph shrugged and pulled a face, she felt Zuko's chuckle vibrate through the earth. She wasn't long released before she needed a new drink, she walked towards the stone table that homed the various options, while she was there, she felt a familiar structure. One of the bottles was identical to the one Ty Lee was going to use to spin, she stroked her finger from the neck to the base. Seems pretty straight forward, doubt it will put up much resistance if I-

"What do you want, Sokka?" she could feel him attempting to sneak up behind her, he was already poised to let out a shout in an attempt to frighten her.

"Damn it! You always feel me…"

"You aren't exactly sneaky." She huffed a smile, Sokka began talking to her as she filled her drink, he filled his own and laughed along with her jokes. He spun a chicken-pig skewer in his hand and ripped the meat off with his teeth, still managing to talk with a mouthful. They chuckled about people at the party, and when Sokka brought up Ty Lee's game, something inside Toph knew what was going to happen next.

"So umm, you remember when you, Aang and I used to scam the people in that little Fire Nation village?"

No way…

"Yes…" she held.

He's not going to ask-

"I wanted to ask you a favour…"

Oh my fucking-

"What favour is that?" she said dryly, she already knew, she held her drink to her lips as he scratched the back of his head and fluffed at his wolftail.

"With Ty Lee's game, the spin-the-bottle game, I was wondering if you could secretly do me a solid." He asked, trying to avoid straight out asking her to rig it for him.

"You want me to make sure your spins land on Suki, and hers on you?"

"Yeeeeah…" he dragged out the 'yeeeee' with a guilty tone, "I just don't want her, or me, to get upset, you don't have too… But, if you could, I would be eternally in your debt."

"You already are, Snoozles…" Geez, what is with these Watertribe people?! "I suppose I can help you out."

"Aw! You are the best Toph!" he smiled genuinely, pulling her from the ground and into a tight hug, she blew her fringe from her face with an unimpressed sigh, her toe was pressed against the ground, and she felt Zuko again turn towards her. Feeling him let a surprised chuckle free, she scowled into Sokka's chest, waiting patiently to be put down. Eventually she was placed back on the ground, Sokka strutted back towards a group of friends, seeming pleased with himself, and Toph stood alone with pursed lips near the drink table. She took a deep breath as she felt Zuko walking towards her, she turned her head in his direction.

"What, is there something I can do for you, Sparky?" Toph mumbled, Zuko leant against the table, and faced at the party in silence.

They stood there for a moment.

Toph liked Zuko, she could hear and feel how hard he tried for everyone around him, how he'd laugh at jokes, and chat as happily as possible. But she knew that he secretly just wanted to relax his expressions and just be himself, and with Toph, he knew he could be. There was no pressure to smile, no one was going to make him act happy for the crowds. He was happy sometimes, but they were usually times with his uncle, or when he wasn't being told to act that way, like he was tonight.

"You appear rather huggable tonight." He said after a while longer, peering down at her, his scarred eye already making it hard to see her expression.

"Damn Watertribe people can't keep their ice-cold fingers off me." She heard him huff a laugh and sip from his drink, "How is being one of the most powerful people in the world feel? After me, of course."

"What about Aang? He is probably more powerful than me." He smiled, they turned towards the Avatar as he entertained Katara and a few others with bending all the elements into shapes, before being tripped up by Sokka and having the equivalent of two barrels of wine dumped on him. "W-well, when he is serious…"

"Ha, don't be modest, Firelord Sparky." She said, taking a sip from her cup and holding it towards him, "Fill me." She smirked, winking up at him.

He scrunched up his nose with a smile, an attempt to hide the blush from anyone who may be watching. "So, what were Katara and Sokka so happy about?"

"Gee, I don't know, what aren't those two happy about?" she scoffed, "Sorry Sparky, 'fraid that is a secret." Zuko lowered his eyebrow, prepared to play her game, when-

"Toph, can I talk to you for a second?" Suki smiled, nodding politely at Zuko as he raised an eyebrow.

"Sure." Toph sighed, handing him her drink and being dragged away by the Kyoshi Warrior.

/\/\/\/\

This game is going to be so damn lame… Toph huffed the hair out of her face, only to have it fall back in front of her eyes. Everyone was kneeling around the patch of smoothed soil, and chatting excitedly to one another. From across the group, Zuko was watching Toph, as she seemed to be scowling in concentration at the full bottle that lay on its side in the absolute centre of the circle. Ty Lee called everyone to attention, "Okay everyone, so, here are the rules!" she said, standing up and leaning into touch the bottle, "Spin the bottle, whoever it lands on has to kiss. Once you smooch, each take a drink and then spin again."

"What if, and I am just thinking of all possibilities here," Sokka said, peering at Toph, Zuko noticed and glanced between the pair, "It lands on the same people over and over."

"Has never happened to me…" Ty Lee said, placing her hand on her chin, "I-I guess after two times of it happening, just pass the turn to the person of your left?"

"Sounds fantastic, who goes first?!" Sokka said, leaning back with his cup.

"I think you can, handsome!" Ty Lee smiled, gesturing at Sokka to spin.

Sokka looked momentarily nervous, again glancing at Toph, before across to Suki, also watching her. "Alright, spin baby, spin!" He spun the bottle, Toph placed her hand against the ground. The vibrations spiralled out, the shrill of the glass against the earth was faint, she focused on its speed, she tested herself, tightening the muscles in her hand. The earth beneath the bottle seemed to grip the spinning surface, she was careful to make it as subtle as possible. It spun twice more, Toph still tightening her hand muscles, and stopped, its nose pointing squarely at Suki.

Toph sighed lightly, impressed with herself if she was honest.

Sokka smirked as he slunk across the circle to place a firm kiss on Suki's mouth, people laughed and joked about how lucky it was. Sokka popped open the bottle and took a large sip, gawking at the horrid taste, Suki mimicked with a laugh.

The shift in the amount of liquid, while only slight, was enough for Toph to realise that this was not going to be as easy as she assumed. She could feel the change immediately as it was laid on its side, but she held her confidence. As Sokka edged back to his seat, Suki leant forward to spin the bottle, she peeked at Toph, who lowered her head and readied her hands. She spun, the mesmerising sound flew out with the vibrations on the solid, smooth earth, Toph's hands tensed, taking more effort to slow the momentum of the glass with less fluid sloshing around inside it. It slowed, the tune softened until its nose was pointing directly at Sokka's wide grin. A few people laughed, some commented on how lucky it was again. Aang and Katara looked at each other, then across to Suki, over to Sokka and then to Toph. Zuko noticed this and followed their line of sight, he knew for sure why they were looking at her now, but he smiled with disbelief. Suki moved over and lifted her hand to cup Sokka's chin as she kissed him softly.

Ty Lee said that the person to the left of Sokka was to go, which meant it was Aang's go.

He placed his fingers on the glass and spun it with an impressive amount of force, it spun for a lot longer than anyone thought, their voices getting louder as it slowed, Toph was on it in a moment.

And Zuko was paying attention this time. He smiled as he saw Toph's fingers tighten, the tendons showing in effort, forcing it to subtly extend its spin until it landed on Katara. "Well!" Aang smiled, blushing lightly, "Look at that!" he stood and walked across the circle, pulling her up into his arms and dipping her into a quick kiss, some people 'awh'ed and others made jokes. Ty Lee looked disgruntled but was convinced it was just a coincidence.

"Katara," she said, trying to sound light-hearted, "your turn!"

"Of course," she smiled, "Aang, you can return to your seat." She winked, Ty Lee had an idea.

"No!" Ty Lee laughed, "Wait! You should swap with… Haru, move to where Aang was, Aang, you move to where Haru sat." she wanted to see if there was a reason everyone was sitting exactly opposite to their partners, maybe Toph, Haru or Aang made the ground uneven, or something… Aang cast a confused look at Haru, but they exchanged spots anyway, the Avatar plonked down next to Zuko and shrugged.

Katara pursed her lips and spun the bottle, glancing to wear her lover now sat, Toph scarcely had to intervene as it came to a stop on Aang.

"Someone is messing with the botttttllleeee!" Ty Lee stomped her foot, a few people laughed.

"But, Aang and Haru moved…" Sokka and Katara said in unison, a few people kept their hands over their mouth to hide laughter as Ty Lee growled at them.

"Fine! You four can no longer spin! Next!" She shouted to the person next, looking to where Aang sat, "It is your turn…" Toph relaxed and quickly responding to a question that The Duke asked, who sat on her right. Toph reached backwards for her cup, relieved to have a break, only having to intervene if it risked landing on any of the people who approached her. She lifted her cup to her mouth, drinking almost the whole thing, she was about to swallow the last mouth full when her fingers picked up on something.

Someone is influencing the bottle. She kept the fluid in her cheeks as she felt it being deliberately slowed in order to land on… me?

No way… Not a chance! She tightened her hand to convince it to spin past her, it did, but gained momentum in order to come back around, who the fuc-… Aang… Aang was trying to make the bottle land on her, he was the only other that could. And she would not have it. Though she didn't even know who had spun the bottle, as she hadn't been paying attention during the breaks between spins, she refused to be shown up by the Avatar on an ability she had taught him. The earth was forcing large amounts of pressure on the glass, influencing it as it struggled to abide. The bottle was beginning to slow, he was winning, she tried to force it to continue, Aang tried to make it stop, there was a light 'tink'-

Uh-oh. They thought in unison.

The bottle shattered, large chunks smashing on the smooth ground, Katara swooped her hand and collected the liquid before it could be absorbed by the ground. The pieces of glass rocked and came to rest as the gathering remained silent.

The neck of the bottle, still intact, was directed at Toph.

"That still counts!" Aang jumped to his feet, everyone looked at him.

"Bullshit it does!" she stood, everyone turned towards her.

"The bottle's neck is still pointing at you." He smiled, "Ty Lee, that counts, right?"

"You broke my bottle!" she yelled, looking between the two.

"He did!"

"She did!"

Toph and Aang had tried to direct blame onto each other simultaneously.

"Just for that," Ty Lee growled, "it does count. I hope it teaches you a lesson on cheating."

"Fine," she snarled, "who is the unlucky soul?" she tried to sound terrifying, smiling dangerous in the direction of Aang.

Zuko chuckled and moved to his feet.

Oh.

She felt the blood drain from her face and her stomach erupt into butterflies. They increased as he moved towards her, she knew that her expression of terror had dropped, she knew that blood was beginning to pool in her cheeks. He stood a foot from her and held his hand out for her to take, she was frozen. Someone nudged her and she would have killed them for the action, but she was too busy trying to remember how to make her limbs work. Finally, she was able to slip her hand into his, he pulled her into his chest suddenly, his arm wrapping around the small of her back and lifting her onto the tips of her toes. Her chest was pressed against his, her hand was still held, and she could feel the heat of his mouth as he leaned in for the kiss.

She met his lips with her own, he was obviously leaning down to meet her height, they were warm, smooth and welcoming. The kiss lasted for a few moments, when they pulled apart people laughed and cheered.

"I wouldn't say I am unlucky." He whispered, as he let her go and dissolved back into the group, leaving Toph standing with a blush and pout.

/\/\/\/\

He found himself glancing at her often, Suki had stolen the end of their conversation for some private matter. He wondered what Katara and Sokka had wanted, he knew that she wouldn't tell him. Ty Lee was getting people pumped for the approaching game, he looked down into his drink as he considered the possible outcome of the game. He imagined potentially having to plant a kiss on each person at the party, some he couldn't hold back an expression of horror at the thought.

One brought a smile to his lips, he didn't realise he was smiling until he caught his reflection in the cup he held. Huh… The only one who never asks me to smile, the only one to make me feel like smiling… He feel the corner of his mouth turn up again, realising that the feelings he developing were what he never knew he wanted.

"Hey Zuko, enjoying the party?" Aang asked, noting the smile from a distance and walking up alongside Zuko as he sat next to him.

"It is quite nice to see everyone." He said softly, leaving it at that.

Aang sat next to him, they remained in silence for a moment, Aang was watching the party go on around them, smiling at anyone who met his gaze. "Say, Aang," Zuko mumbled, Aang looked over to see him watching Toph and Suki chatting, "How good is your seismic sense abilities?"

"They are okay, I guess…" he pursed his lips, "But Toph is the one you want."

"I just realised." He whispered to himself, smiling lightly, "When Ty Lee tells us to come play that game, do you want to do me a favour?"

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\