A/N: Heh, I thought this up a little while ago after watching 'Tale of Sokka' in 'The Tales of Ba Sing Se'. You don't have to like poetry to read this story, though it does contain a number of Haiku. Heck, I don't like poetry and I wrote this, so it must count for something.
And yes, this is Tokka. It contains a little Kataang as well, though it's not the main focus.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Battle of the Verses
Since Appa had been flying for almost twenty-four hours without any sleep, Aang decided that landing for the night would be the best idea. Sokka, Toph, and Katara were quick to agree, for they wanted to be able to stretch their legs after the long journey with only a handful of pit stops. Now, as they sat by the fire a few feet away from a sleeping Appa, they were bored.
"I'm bored," Toph announced from where she lay on the ground with her fingers laced behind her head.
"Me too," Sokka agreed, nodding his head as of to emphasize the point. "Let's do something."
Katara raised an eyebrow. "What did you have in mind?"
In response, he shrugged. "I don't really care. I'm so bored I want to scream. Just do anything." Then, a few moments later, his eyes widened. He leapt to his feet, causing Katara to move away slightly in surprise, and turned his back to the fire.
"What's wrong, Sokka?" Aang asked, sitting up in alarm.
Sokka delivered to his friends a sly grin and replied,
"I spoke in Haiku,
A poem of syllables.
Have you heard of them?"
After a moment of counting syllables, Katara threw back her head and laughed. "Sokka, I didn't know you were a poet," she said, grinning.
"In the big city,"
"I stumbled across a group,
And found there a skill."
Now Aang laughed in appreciation for Sokka's random talents. Sokka crossed his arms across his chest and opened his mouth to speak, but a different voice cut across his.
"Don't act so impressed,
Haiku are very simple.
Hardly a challenge."
Sokka whipped his head in the direction of the person who had spoken to see Toph in her same spot, but with a smirk on her face. He scowled.
"So is that a threat?
I am actually quite good.
Dare you face Sokka?"
Katara and Aang looked at one another with knowing smirks on their faces. Neither Toph nor Sokka were known to back down in the face of a challenge. And it seemed that, thus far, Toph did not intend to let him win. She coughed to clear her throat, spit over her shoulder into the dark, and closed her eyes as if at ease.
"Not much of a threat.
I will take you down swiftly,
With your own smart talk."
Katara 'ooh'-ed in a low voice to egg her brother on. He responded.
"I don't think you will.
Always before you dive in,
You should stop and think."
This time it was Toph who laughed, though her laugh was a dominating one. She got up on her feet and turned in the general direction of her opponent, her hands placed coolly on her hips.
"I'm sure you recall,
I almost drowned on the Pass.
When you left me there!"
Sokka's jaw dropped in offended shock. He took a few steps closer to Toph and pointed an accusing finger at her – one that she could not see.
"I thought you could 'see'!
And I tried to rescue you.
Suki dove in first."
Toph was quick to respond.
"Of course. Silly me!
Sokka of the water tribe,
Can't tell dirt from ice."
At this, Aang gave Katara a look that declared his worry of where this Haiku-off was going. Katara shook her head and pressed a finger to her lips. Though her expression was blank, it was clear that she wanted to know where this was going to lead. Meanwhile, Sokka had taken only a moment to think up a response.
"I would have saved you!
If Suki hadn't jumped in,
I'd have been right there."
Toph snorted unbecomingly and crossed her arms.
"If it was Suki,
You'd have dived in without thought.
Your boots, shirt, and all."
This time Sokka wore an expression of genuine surprise. All eyes were on Toph as she frowned, her expression hard.
"Who are you to judge?
You don't know the half of it!
…you don't know the truth."
He dropped his arms and turned around, a troubled look now on his face as well. Katara looked back and forth between the pair and wondered if her suspicions were true. Aang, on the other hand, seemed surprised by this new attitude. What had once been a friendly competition had turned into something else entirely. Something with an undecided outcome as of yet. One of Toph's eyebrows raised in surprised interest.
"Then humor me, please.
I know not of what you speak.
Do you dare explain?"
Sokka spun around and faced Toph again, determined. Both competitors seemed to have forgotten that Katara and Aang sat there, listening to every word that was being exchanged.
"Oh, I dare explain.
While the outside is content,
A storm brews at heart."
He sighed and looked towards the fire. A series of shadows danced across his face, illuminating his puzzled expression. As if she could see him, Toph turned her head in his direction and spoke.
"Know you not the truth?
Share we the same condition?
A blind man stands here."
With that declaration, she pointed at Sokka and smirked. He tore his eyes away from the fire and furrowed his brows at the Earthbender, though she couldn't see it.
"I don't understand.
What are you talking about?
I have missed something."
Toph reached up and tapped her chin thoughtfully before smiling and kneeling down. She placed one hand on the ground and listened to the earth.
"Wildly beating heart,
Breathing strange, irregular.
I see what you feel."
Aang shot Katara a sidelong glance and she returned it. They were thinking the same thing: should they intervene or – possibly a better idea – leave them to their conversation? Katara furrowed her brows and turned her eyes back to her brother, who had begun speaking again.
"You see or you know?
You can't shut up forever.
Come on, spit it out!"
Toph bowed her head as if in shame, her voice suddenly quiet.
"I like you, a lot.
And I know that it is wrong.
Should I just leave now?"
She jerked her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the dark woods. To her surprise and to the surprise of Aang and Katara, Sokka laughed.
"No, we've gotta talk.
This is very important.
Come on, walk with me."
He stepped forward. At this, Katara stood up and caught the attention of both Sokka and Toph. Smiling, she motioned for Aang to stand and clasped her hands together.
"You two stay right here.
Aang and I will go away."
She raised a warning finger at her brother and smirked.
"Stay out of trouble."
Katara and Aang walked off together in the direction of the woods. Inside, he was amazed that a simple contest had turned out to be a confession-fest. The thought seemed laughable, but it had actually happened. And maybe, Aang thought as he watched Katara out of the corner of his eye, he could get into a little Haiku match of his own. He smirked. Why not give it a try?
After all, it seemed to work like magic.
A/N: After writing this, I began thinking in Haiku. The horror!