Avatar: The Last Airbender
Rating: Teen – Scenes of Sensuality
Disclaimer: "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and its corresponding characters, locations, and trademarks are the properties of Nickelodeon. All rights reserved.
Summary: After a day of leisure and pampering at the spa, Katara and Toph are returning home when three girls make fun of the young earthbender. When Katara stands up for her, something changes, and she begins to feel something new for the older girl. Later than night, she confesses these new feelings to the Water Tribe girl, and what results is something neither of them thought possible.
Chapter 1: "You're beautiful…"
Surprisingly enough, the day had gone fairly well. Toph wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of spending the day at a fancy spa like Katara was, but she had to admit, she'd had fun. That said, not everything at the spa had been what one would call an enjoyable experience – having her feet cleaned was at the forefront of that list, but at the end of it all, she liked how it made her feel. She actually felt girly for a change. She felt…pretty.
At least, she did until those three girls they passed on the bridge said otherwise. Being blind, Toph really had no idea what she or anyone else looked like, and while her appearance was not something she ever really took too seriously, the hurtful jokes and comments that the girls had made still struck home. Toph had gotten her revenge with Katara's help, dropping the girls though the bridge and sending them down the stream. While it felt good, it didn't help to ease the pain as the damage had already been done.
Katara and Toph continued walking down the path in a bit of an uncomfortable silence until Katara finally spoke up, feeling the need to make sure Toph was okay. She knew the young earthbender was tough, but something in her voice when she responded to the girls at the bridge told Katara the she was hurting inside.
"Forget about those girls, Toph," Katara said in a calming voice. "They don't know what they're talking about."
"It's okay," Toph lied, attempting to put on a strong front. "One of the advantages about being blind is that I don't have to worry about appearances. I don't care what I look like. I'm not looking for anyone's approval."
Toph was trying her best not to show it, but even as she spoke, the emotional wall she had put up around herself to hide her feelings was slowly beginning to crumble. When she could fight it no more, she stopped walking and lowered her head, tears forming in her milky green eyes.
"I know who I am," she finished, defying her sadness even as the tears trickled down her cheeks.
"That's what I really admire about you, Toph," Katara said as she approached the girl from behind. "You're so strong, confident and self-assured. And I know it doesn't matter, but…" she paused and brought her hand up and gently placed it on the girl's shoulder, turning her slightly so that she could see her face, "…you're really pretty."
Toph lifted her head slightly upon hearing this. The words were soft, gentle and reassuring, and they sounded sincere, but it was the last thing Katara said that really caught her attention and seemed to have the most impact. She didn't know why. Somehow, those last three words, above all the others, made her feel better again.
"I am?" she asked, half not believing the older girl.
"Yeah," Katara said, a kind and loving smile on her face, "you are."
Toph smiled. Katara thought she was pretty. She didn't know why that meant so much to her, or why it felt so good to hear, but it did. She didn't even know for sure if the waterbender really meant it, but for now, just hearing the words was enough to lift her spirits.
"I'd return the compliment, but I have no idea what you look like," Toph joked, getting a laugh from Katara as they began walking again. "Thank you, Katara," she added before giving her friend a playful punch on the arm.
"Ow," Katara squeaked, rubbing her arm.
- - - - - - - - - -Later That Night
With the day passed into night and the moon shining high overhead outside their temporary home in Ba Sing Se, Aang and the rest of the gang had finished dinner and were sharing tea and stories with each other about their various experiences throughout the day. Unfortunately, no one had any new information in their continuing search for Appa, but Aang apparently had quite the adventure in his attempt to help a petting zoo owner, finding him and his animals more suitable facilities and living environments. Sokka also seemed to have had a fairly eventful evening, speaking proudly and boasting about his defeat of a poetry teacher in an impromptu Haiku-off. Though, to his dismay, no one believed him.
Katara shared the story of her and Toph's day at spa with the boys, but as she expected, they didn't take too much interest in the tale. Even so, the Water Tribe girl made sure not to mention their confrontation at the bridge. Despite the Toph's ability to put on a strong front, Katara knew the hateful things those girls said had really hurt her inside, and even though she knew the younger girl hadn't forgotten the experience, she didn't want her to have to relive those unpleasant memories.
While the rest of the group exchanged their stories, Toph herself remained silent, only half paying attention to what was being said. Her thoughts were consumed with the memory of what had happened earlier in the day…though, oddly enough, not of the part she would have expected.
It was the things Katara had said; why they seemed to mean so much to her; why Katara's thinking she was pretty mattered so much. It gave her a warm feeling inside whenever she though about it; a strange feeling of joy and happiness that wasn't quite like anything she'd really felt before. It was difficult to explain. Something just felt…different now.
With a few shared laughs and additional stories, the group had finally finished their tea and was beginning to grow weary. As they prepared for bed, Katara noticed that Toph had already quietly slipped away into her room. She had been relatively reclusive all evening, which Katara could only assume was related to the events from earlier in the day. She couldn't help but feel for the younger girl, because for all she knew she may have had to put up with similar treatment from people like that for much of her life.
After Aang and Sokka retired to their respective rooms for the night, Katara gradually made her way over to Toph's doorway, stepping as lightly as she could in an attempt to minimize her vibrations so as not to disturb the young earthbender if she had already fallen asleep. She stood silently and listened intently through the door for any sign that the girl might still be awake. About a minute ticked by before she resigned herself to the fact that her friend was asleep, and slowly began to withdraw from the door when a faint voice caught her ear.
"Katara?" Toph whispered.
"It's me," she replied softly, turning back to the doorway. "Sorry if I woke you."
"You didn't, I was just thinking." Toph paused for a moment. "You can come in if you want."
Katara briefly glanced around the hall and listened for anyone else who may be awake. Content with the silence, she slowly slid open the door to the girl's room and made her way inside, closing it behind her.
"Hey," she whispered, taking a few cautious steps forward. "You okay?"
"Yeah, you don't have to worry about me," Toph replied frankly. "I used be in the Earth Rumble tournaments, remember? I'm used to hearing comments from jerks like that. You don't have to come to my rescue, though, I can take care of myself."
There was a long pause following the girl's comments, leaving Katara feeling a little unwelcome despite her earlier invitation. She started to turn to leave when she heard Toph's voice again. "Thanks, though."
Katara looked back over her shoulder and smiled. "You're welcome, Toph. Goodnight."
"Wait," she said with a hint of uneasiness in her voice, stopping the older girl again as she was about to leave. "Did you…did you mean what you said?"
"Earlier, you said that…that I was pretty." She paused and lifted her head up. "Did you really mean that?"
The Water Tribe girl turned back to Toph and walked over to her, sitting down in next to the blind girl and wrapping her arms around her in a gentle hug.
"Of course I meant it, I wouldn't have said it if I didn't think so," Katara assured her, releasing her embrace. "Why would you ask something like that?"
"I've never really had any friends before," Toph began. "My whole life, my parents hid me away from most of the outside world because I was blind, thinking they were protecting me. But I didn't feel protected, I didn't need it; all I felt was alone and isolated. That's why I secretly competed in the Earth Rumble tournaments, and why I left home to come with you guys; to break away from that sheltered life." She paused and turned her head in her friend's direction. "And now that I'm with you, I feel wanted…cared for. I've never had that feeling."
Katara reached out and took one of the young earthbender's hands and gently cupped it into her own, causing Toph to blush slightly in the dim moonlight.
"We're glad to have you along, Toph. Aang chose you as his earthbending teacher for a reason, and you're just as much our friend now as any of us. You're part of our family now."
"It's more than that with you, though. At least, it is now…for me."
Katara shifted her position slightly. "What do you mean?"
"I…I…" Toph paused in a moment of uncertainty, abruptly recoiling her hand away from Katara's and lowering her head, shying away from the older girl. "Nothing. Nevermind."
"What is it? Tell me."
"I…I can't. I shouldn't."
"It's okay, you can tell me." Katara placed a comforting hand on the blind girl's shoulder. "I know you don't need anyone to take care of you, but we're friends, Toph. You can talk to me about anything."
Toph's eyes began to water slightly as the other girl spoke, overwhelmed by her feelings.
"No one's ever treated me like this before. Most people just want to take care of me, ignoring what I want or feel. You actually care about me. And after today, I realized that…" she paused and turned her head, and seemed to look Katara directly in the eyes as if she could actually see her, "…I care about you."
The Water Tribe girl's eyes widened slightly, taken aback by this statement. It felt…strange to hear. It wasn't so much what Toph had said, but how she said it. Surely she didn't mean… No, of course not…could she? Was that even possible?
"W-what do you mean?" she asked in her confusion.
Toph blushed and turned her head away again, embarrassed. "I don't know. I mean…I know we didn't exactly get along at first, but…I've never felt this way about anyone before."
"You mean…?" Katara paused, her question eliciting a faint nod from Toph, which confirmed her thoughts. "But…how? Why? I mean, I'm a girl, like you are."
"So what?" she countered. "Would I know that if no one told me? Would I know if a person was ugly or not if someone didn't tell me? What difference would it make, anyway? Boy, girl, ugly, pretty; everyone looks the same to me. I don't see people the same way you do. I don't know what you look like, and it doesn't matter to me that you're a girl. All I know is that someone has been treating me kinder than anyone I've ever known, and that I've come to care for that person…a lot." Toph paused as a tear trickled down her cheek, before turning her head back towards the older girl. "And that person's you, Katara."
Katara was speechless. She never could have imagined that she'd had such an effect on the younger girl. And after hearing what Toph had said, opening her tough outer shell and pouring her heart into her hands, she truly had no idea what to think or feel. What should she think? What should she say? What could she say? The last thing she wanted to do was hurt her, of course, but…there was something else…and she didn't know what. It was all so confusing.
"Toph, I…I don't know what to say," she finally managed.
"Say that you care about me, that you feel the same way I do."
"I…I can't. I'm sorry, but…I just…I just don't know."
The young earthbender turned away, lowing her head in shame. "I'm sorry, Katara. I never should have said anything."
"No, don't be. Look, I'm glad you told me. It must have taken a lot of courage. It's just that…this is all so sudden for me. I don't know what to think or how to feel. I just…I need some time to think about all this."
Toph didn't respond. She simply sat motionless with her back turned and her eyes closed. After a long silence, Katara began to stir and turned so that she was sitting on her knees. "I think I should go…"
"Before…before you do, I have a favor to ask."
Toph turned around so that she was now, too, sitting on her knees and facing Katara. "I…I want to see you. I want to see your face, what you look like."
"But how?" Katara asked, puzzled. "You're blind."
"It's something I learned growing up. All I do is run my hand over your face, and I can feel the different shapes and contours of your face, which makes an outline in my mind of what you look like. I usually don't ask people this because it can feel a little awkward, but…it's important to me."
A soft smile formed on Katara's face. "Okay, Toph," she said kindly. She then leaned forward and slowly crawled over to Toph, stopping when their knees touched.
Feeling her approach, Toph lifted her hand and extended it out towards the older girl. After she settled in, Katara gently took the young earthbender's hand into her own and guided it to the side of her cheek.
Toph began to move her hand gradually around the edge of Katara's face, exploring the soft curves and contours of her forehead, cheeks and chin, and taking in the smooth texture of her skin. As she did so, Katara felt genuinely surprised by the tenderness of the younger girl's touch as she traced her fingertips around her face. She'd never imagined that Toph, who always seemed so rough and brawny, could also be so gentle, so loving. She was amazed by it.
The waterbender closed her eyes as Toph's delicate hand ran slowly down her face, starting at her hairline and moving straight down over her eyes, nose and mouth. Her lips parted slightly as the girl's fingertips passed over them, letting out a content sigh and sending a slight shudder down her spine. The feeling seemed strange under the circumstances, but it was not unpleasant, and as she relaxed, Katara found herself melting into the other girl's sensual caress.
After a moment, Katara exhaled again, releasing another breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding and bringing her mind back down to reality. This was all so confusing. She wasn't sure what these new feelings meant, or that she should even be having them, but she couldn't deny that something was there; something different, stronger than before. Is this what Toph meant? Was this how she felt? Maybe these feelings weren't as strange as she thought they were.
Toph's hand began to slow as she approached the conclusion of her exploration of Katara's face. The canvas being painted in blind girl's mind was almost complete, and she could scarcely believe the fairness of the older girl before her. It was an image she would never forget.
As the young earthbender's hand returned to where it's journey had begun, Katara's eyes slowly opened to see tears forming in Toph's eyes and a joyful smile on her face. Katara smiled back, placing her hand over the one still resting on her cheek and gently taking hold of it as a small cloud moved overhead, obscuring light from the moon.
"You're beautiful…" Toph said, nearly speechless.
Katara laughed, smiled and cried all at once, overwhelmed by a flood of emotion. "So are you."
The Water Tribe girl paused when the cloud passed, allowing the dim moonlight to shine through the window once more, and stared deeply into the earthbender's milky green eyes. Something was different somehow. The girl sitting in front of her wasn't just Toph anymore. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. It just felt like there was more to it now…far more. It felt like she was suddenly seeing the younger girl in a new light. It felt nice.
Toph narrowed her eyebrows as something odd caught her attention. It was faint, and she hadn't noticed it at first, but Katara's heart was beating a little faster than it was before. She started to wonder why, for a moment, before feeling the older girl's weight shift slightly in front of her and her heart begin to beat a little faster still.
"Katara?" she asked, puzzled by the strange sensations.
An instant later, the earthbender's eyes widened in surprise as she felt something soft press lightly against the edge of her lips, and then pull back, coming to a rest only a short distance away. She sat there frozen in disbelief as her own heart skipped a beat, and her cheeks turned an deep, rosy red when she realized what just happened.
"You…you kissed me," she muttered, wholly mystified. "Why?"
"I…don't know," the waterbender replied timidly, not sure of the answer herself. "I just…felt like it."
"But… I thought… You said…" Toph stammered in her confusion. "I don't understand."
"I know…I'm not sure I do, either." Katara paused as she too began to blush. "I guess I just…changed my mind."
The young earthbender couldn't believe what she was hearing. Katara liked her back. She hadn't said it in so many words, but she did – and she kissed her! She actually kissed her! Toph could still feel the tingling sensation on her lips from where the other girl's had touched. It felt like a dream.
With her heart racing, she closed her eyes and faintly puckered her lips. She had practically no idea what on earth she was doing, only that she wanted to kiss Katara back. There was no question in her mind as to why, though. It was simply because she wanted to, because she felt like it.
She leaned forward ever so slowly, inching closer and closer to the Water Tribe girl. When she felt a light breath of air blow passed her lips, however, she hesitated. There was barely an inch now separating the two, and all of a sudden she felt overwhelmingly nervous and flustered, unsure if she should continue and fully expecting Katara to pull away. But she didn't, and when another light breath swept passed the young earthbender's lips, everything was suddenly calm, and a warm feeling swelled within her.
Her confidence restored, Toph leaned in and closed the distance between herself and Katara, and met the older girl's lips with her own. It that moment, time seemed to stop, and all of their doubt and uncertainty fell away…and they kissed.