046. Strong

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A long time ago, Toph believed she had a slight crush on everybody in her inner friend circle.

Sokka, however… she can't fight off that crush.

They're been friends for over ten years, and Toph still feels a soft, urgent fluttering in her stomach when Sokka holds onto her elbow. When he touches her.

She doesn't have to know how Sokka looks to know how brave and genuine and sweet he is. He can prove it fine on his own through his actions, his decisions he makes for his friends and family.

Being an adult means living with your actions, and Toph accepts them, raising Lin on her own.

Republic City, along some isolated outskirt of Earth Nation land — Aang and Zuko's pet project, she guesses — needs order and a police force.

Toph accepts Zuko's invitation to join them, not so inclined to spend the majority of her time as a mom. Lin ends up being watched over by her friends and their friends than with Toph, thankfully.

(Lin's safer that way too.)

She hears it from a heavily pregnant Katara first, while visiting her in Air Temple Island — Sokka is here. He sailed in by a merchant ship, disguised to attract less attention, and without Suki.

They're not together — they have not been for a year now. Suki returns to the Kyoushi Warriors.

Sokka's voice is hoarse and gladdened, as he hugs Toph, enveloping her in the scent of arctic polar fur and oil and the sea-salt.

That's when Toph kisses him, for the first time, cupping his warming face with both of her palms.

He only breathes her name, in a sort of reverie and awe, lightly grasping her shoulders and kissing her back before Toph has a chance to regain her senses or curse at her rotten luck. Her mouth feels tingle-swollen and puffy, long after Sokka has vanished to attend councilman duties.

In the darkness she's accustomed to, Toph pieces together the sensations — the angular feel of Sokka's cheekbones. A coarse dusting of facial hair on his upper lip and jaw. How he smirks against her lips, as if knowing the inevitability.

A year passes.

Sokka has already gone home to the Southern Water Tribe.

He goes before noticing what Katara does, with her friend's mounting, regularly timed sickness. Toph finds herself with a second daughter, who squalls and fusses louder than Lin ever had as an infant.

Suyin, with her angular features and overconfidence and bravery, will value those she considers friends and family above all else, like a true child of the Southern Water Tribe would.

Toph's daughters do not need to know their parentage, to understand who they can be.

She doesn't want to tell Sokka either.

(He may have her heart… but this is her daughter.)

Zuko lets her know as soon as Sokka passes away, naturally in his sleep with no medical explanation that his tribespeople can gather.

With grief and anger brimming every bit of her, and needing to let go, Toph leaves for the wilderness by herself, abandoning her possessions and her two grown children.

They don't ever rely on their mother, and she doesnt need anyone — for a long, long time.

Maybe it was meant to be this way.

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ATLA/Legend of Korra isn't mine. YALL CANNOT TELL ME SUYIN ISN'T SOKKA'S DAUGHTER! IT'S JUST NOT REALISTIC! WE DON'T KNOW HER FATHER AND SHE FITS EVERYTHING PERFECTLY TO BE SOKKA'S DAUGHTER IN LOOKS AND IN PERSONALITY/BELIEFS. I'm too wrapped up in this to ever be persuaded otherwise. Clearly. I should have wrote an older and romantic Tokka ages ago but,,, it never happened. Oh well. Here it is now! Comments/thoughts appreciated! :D