Feels Like Forever and an Unexpected surprise

Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender belongs to Nickelodeon. So please don't sue.

Summary: He had been waiting forever. She was caught by surprise. A Sokka/Toph
One-shot fic. Takes place sometime after the journey. In continuity with my "Alike" fic.

How much of it was real? He had been alone watching others go on with their lives for so long, it felt like forever. It had been like this before he met Her but now it was so much worse. What was he? A being with a soul that was lost, he was becoming detached from the world all he did never came from his heart. All he really was doing was sitting alone and he would continue to do so forever.

Life never gave him easy answers; he wasn't a coward and would never, ever, consider the possibility of suicide to end his existence. He was a warrior and would take no cowards escape.

He was an observer. Never participating, never contributing and yet also never taking.

He felt he had purpose during the journey but in the end after they had succeeded that purpose faded and he was finally struck by the full force of his inability to save her, Princess Yue. What he considered his greatest failure. The failure to save another loved one. It seemed like those around him would eventually be condemned to death. He had convinced himself that, that was the only explanation to it and so set himself apart from his sister whom he had sworn to protect. After all how can you protect someone if you're the danger itself?

His sister at first felt that perhaps he was just taking sometime to properly mourn for Yue, but when the weeks turned to months and then to years she knew something was wrong and immediately felt that perhaps it was time to intervene. She wrote to Toph. Who had after joining the journey became one of Sokka's closest friends and his personal confidant.

She would be able to help him.

Having not kept in contact with Katara for over a month Toph was surprised when the message arrived and upon hearing of Katara's plea for her, Toph, to help her brother was all packed up for the trip to Omashu where the siblings and the avatar now lived.

She arrived in the city the next week and stayed the night at Katara and Aang's place, the two having gotten married not more then 5 months ago, before going down to Sokka's place the next day.
When she did arrive she saw, or perhaps felt, what Katara had meant. Though clean and properly furnished the house felt dead. Sokka hadn't acted as he would have during the journey, not a hint of sarcasm in his voice and once having been almost impossible to shut up at times he rarely spoke.

She couldn't let this continue.

"Sokka… what's happened to you?" she asked. "Nothing's happened to me, what are you talking about I'm just as I've always been." He replied softly.

"Damn it! You know damn well what I'm talking about! Why are you like this?" she yelled, "Where's the old Sokka gone to?"

Sokka sat there on his couch staring at the usually calm girl having only seen her like this a few times.

He felt something claw at him inside.

"What old Sokka…" he said just loud enough for Toph to hear. And even as he said those words he began thinking about what he had been and what he was now.

Toph sighed and walked over to him and kicked him in the shins. Hard.

"YOW! What you do that for?" he yelled suddenly showing much more life then he had before.

"To wake you up." She said to him with a grin on her face.

"I don't need waking up," he said to her in a harsh tone, "and I don't need you." He snapped at her. The fear that she would fall to the same fate as the others around him setting in once again. He prayed that she wouldn't be patient with him and would leave him be and go on with her own life.

It didn't work and only served to make Toph more determinant to break him out of his self-imposed punishment and solitude.

The clawing got a bit stronger inside him.

"Where have you gone Sokka?" she whispered to herself once again.

"I'm right here…" she heard him reply in a equally small voice. His voice slightly shaky now.

She sat down next to him and pulled him into a hug, just like the way he used to when they were on the journey together, when she woke up from a nightmare and needed calming. He was always there and would rise almost immediately when she stood at his tent.

She never understood why she did that.

And even now she didn't understand why she was comforting him as he had begun to sob.

He has been so alone. He never wanted to hurt anyone else. Never wanted to fail someone again, and most of all, he finally realized, he didn't want to be hurt. He had distanced himself from the rest when he finally could. After the journey ended and had been using Yue as an excuse for the state he was in.

He wasn't a warrior. He was a coward for having run away. He knew that he couldn't have stopped Yue from dying even if he sacrificed his life for it. He knew that he wouldn't have been able to save his dear mother no matter how hard he tried. And yet he never accepted it. And now, slowly, he was beginning to.

He didn't want to lose anyone else and locking himself away wasn't the way to do it. He held on to Toph tighter but not so much so that it would hurt her. He was giving in.

Toph sat there holding him silently watching him thinking that the way she was feeling now was how he would have felt when she came to him. She didn't smile, she didn't frown. She just sat there holding him close to her stroking his back. But she knew that there was something she was feeling that he certainly wouldn't had felt when he held her then.

He didn't want to lose his baby sister and he knew that if he wanted to make sure that she would be safe it was that he would have to be with her and not lock himself up not knowing what she did. He didn't want to lose Aang who felt like a younger brother to him, while he knew his losing of Aang was quite impossible him being the avatar and all, he could at least protect from that which Aang wasn't sure of. And most of all he didn't want to lose Toph who had been his closest friend during the journey and in some ways had become more important then his baby sister. So much more. Having been around her for so long especially while she was growing Sokka thought he would have thought of her as another younger sister. But as she grew more and more he had begun to notice things about her. Things he wasn't suppose to think about.

What would Yue think of him? He questioned himself and tried his best to block all thoughts like this, the task becoming much more difficult when she came to him in the night. But he persevered he couldn't have gone along with his feelings at that point because of age. He was 16 and she was only 12. It wouldn't be right. But age can be a funny thing a few years and suddenly it was alright for them to be together but of course by the time it had come he had decided to lock himself away and hadn't seen her for so long his feelings dieing down along with the rest of his soul.

But she was here now and the feeling was stronger then ever having come from his realization that he would need everyone.

And he needed her most.

He gently pushed himself away from Toph, still keeping his arms on her and brought his face close to hers whispering a thank you before closing the gap. He had been waiting for so long his heart having moved on from Yue. It seemed like forever to finally get to this moment.

Toph sat there in shock feeling his lips against hers. Her eyes wide open. She didn't plan for things to turn out this way and thought of pulling away from the kiss but found herself unable to. Her hands which she had raised to push herself away from him now snaking around his back pulling him closer to her.

It was funny how things had turned out this way for them.

He was the first to break the kiss leaving Toph leaning forward slightly. He held her tighter to him and whispered to her another thank you. While she closed her eyes and enjoyed their moment.

He broke the silence by saying to her "I guess I'm back."

She smiled and replied, "That you are."

END

A/N: Thank you for reading my 2nd avatar fic I hope Toph and Sokka weren't too OOC (who am I kidding they were --) reviews are welcome and so is constructive criticism, anything that can possibly help improve my writing. Thank you.