A/N: Hello everyone! This story was going to be a really long oneshot about the South Pole, but it turned into more of a taste of how our four heroes feels about being home. So, therefore, it's sort of a character experiment. xD
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
City of Ice
"There it is!"
Enthralled, Katara flung herself across Appa's saddle and pointed into the distance. The wind whipped at her face, sending her hair loopies flying in all directions. Her grin was wider than even Sokka could remember. They were home.
At the other end of the spectrum sat Toph, a defined scowl on her face. With one hand she gripped the saddle for dear life, but she leaned on her other hand as if bored.
"Big deal," she said. "It's just a bunch of snow and ice."
Katara's smile faded just a bit. She turned and faced her blind friend. "It's a lot more than that, Toph," she insisted gently. "It's my home. I grew up here and I haven't seen my family in over a year!" With a thoughtful expression, she tapped her chin and mused, "I wonder what master Pakku did to the place."
From the reins, Aang turned around and gave Katara a large grin. "Let's find out, shall we?"
He snapped the reins and Appa sped up. Meanwhile, Sokka yawned and laced his fingers behind his head. His stomach gave a loud rumble. He groaned.
"Ah, what I'd give for some blubbered seal jerky right now," he said. "I haven't had that since Aang used the rest of mine to start a fire."
Aang gave an embarrassed laugh from where he sat.
Better than the thunderous applause that they had received as they touched ground, the enormous feast that they had celebrated, and the transformed city, was that Aang could watch Katara be truly happy. Actually, happy was an understatement. When she'd gotten down off of Appa and saw her grandmother standing there, she'd burst into tears and proceeded to hug just about everyone in the entire village.
"Wow Aang, I can't get over how different it is," she said, still awed. "It's like a whole different place."
Aang and Katara were walking down the icy street together, admiring the huge buildings of the city.
"It's beautiful," agreed Aang.
That was true. As much as he was enjoying the beautiful city that celebrated the end of the war, though, he couldn't help but feel sorry for the blind member of the group. He turned and saw Toph sitting outside their house, her back against the frozen wall and her arms crossed. Katara didn't notice Toph sitting there, for Pakku had waved at them from where he stood with a few other Waterbenders.
Katara waved back enthusiastically. "What can we do for you, master Pakku?"
Pakku approached with a knowing smile. "We could use a couple of master Waterbenders over at the infirmary," he said. "This recent heat spell is calling for a handful of repairs. What do you say?"
"We'd be delighted to help," Katara replied with a bow and a grin. "What do you say, Aang?"
Aang tore his eyes away from the scowling Earthbender and looked at Katara. She was grinning at him. It was like magic: Aang's mind seemed to blank out. He felt his expression melt into a grin.
"Sure, I'd love to help," he said, and they headed off without a backwards glance.
Toph was beginning to really hate the South Pole.
She was most certainly not having the time of her life – that was for certain. For the first time in a long time, she was nothing more than a silly blind girl. Here, on this giant glacier, nobody would take her seriously. Worst of all, she got pity from the townspeople. To Toph, pity stares were patronizing and something to be hated.
"Hey Toph, wanna do something?"
It was Sokka. Since she was experiencing a lack of Bending abilities, she hadn't felt him coming. She jumped in surprise.
He sat down beside her in a lazy slump and pulled one knee closer to his chest so that he could lean his elbow on it. Apparently Toph wasn't having half as much fun as Katara was. Sokka, well, he'd never really been outwardly ecstatic, but he'd at least been having a good time. Thus far he'd been keeping a steady supply of different meats in various, easy-access places, just in case he felt the urge to snack.
His eyes wandered down from her frowning face to her feet, which had once served as eyes. They were stuffed into a pair of boots much like the ones that Katara wore.
"I haven't seen you wear shoes since that time we dressed up for the Earth King's Bear's party," said Sokka, pointing to Toph's feet.
Toph rolled her eyes as if annoyed by his presence, but a flitting smirk crossed her face for a split second as she replied, "I didn't wear shoes that day, Snoozles."
Sokka blinked. "Oh, right. Then I guess I've never seen you wear shoes, have I?"
"Guess not." Boy did she sound as if she wished he were on fire or something. "I figure that I might as well keep them from freezing off, just in case I ever get the chance to use them again.
A few moments passed, in which Sokka felt extremely awkward and Toph fumed silently. Sure, he had a few suggestions of what they could do, but he also had a feeling that the Earthbender would be less than willing to tag along. So, when he realized that Toph planned to sit there until the end of time (or at least until they left the South Pole), he decided to act.
"Come on, Toph," he said, climbing to his feet.
This surprised her into uncrossing her arms. "Huh?"
"Come on." Sokka reached down and grabbed her by the sleeve. "I'm taking you for a tour of the city." Wow. He'd actually called the South Pole a city. As much as the people in said city functioned like a tribe, there was no denying the change in size.
Toph allowed Sokka to assist her to her feet, if grudgingly so. She brushed the snow off her backside and snorted unbecomingly. "Sounds like a waste of time to me. Did you happen to forget that I can't see on ice?"
"Nope," he answered, almost cheerfully. He linked his arm through hers and began walking. It was as if he were leading her in a dance instead of dragging her along in his wake. "I'm going to be your eyes."
A blush crept onto her face at his touch, but she managed to hide it well enough. Or, at least, she hoped so. Sokka was radiating warmth and excitement as he took her along and began tugging her in different directions, pointing out different buildings and people.
"…and just wait 'till tomorrow. We only have an hour to walk around today, but since Aang and Katara are going out with the Benders, we'll have all day to go through the city. I'm still learning too, so we'll have plenty to see and learn about…"
Sokka seemed to have taken her silence as attentive listening, and it sort of was. So she was spending all day with Sokka tomorrow, was she? Toph fought a grin and allowed Sokka to continue his little tour. He seemed to be having a rather nice time. That, and she would be spending the entire day with him tomorrow. The thought rang in her head as if in an echo.
Toph was beginning to really like the South Pole.
A/N: As I said, it was more of an experiment. Sometime later I'll write some sort of oneshot about Sokka being Toph's eyes. Not an original idea, no, but I can't help but picture some sort of line like this:
"You can't sit here forever, Toph."
"Sure I can. I thought I'd just stay right here with the only piece of sight I have left," Toph replied, and held up a rock.
Sokka raised an eyebrow. "Have you been carrying that in your pocket the whole time?"
But anyway, more of that some other time. For now, thanks for reading!