Hope you guys like this one; it's one of my favorites so far from this collection. Sokka needs someone to put him in his place every once in a while. ;) Idea, of course, came from the whole "Sokka's instincts" exchange in... Jet, I think? -has been far too long since I've watched season 1-

Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar or its characters.

09. I


"You have no idea where you're going, do you?" Toph asked monotonously, kicking a rock into a nearby tree. "You're going to get us completely lost."

"Don't talk like that, Toph. It's bad karma," Sokka informed her soberly. "And we are not lost. We're just… taking a scenic detour. See? Isn't this a nice forest?"

Toph rolled her unseeing eyes. "Beautiful, I'm sure," she said sarcastically. "But I'd really rather take the more direct route, considering we are expected to meet Katara and Aang in Omashu by sundown. So which way?"

Sokka frowned and began inspecting the trunk of a tree with an unnecessary amount of concentration. Toph was about to ask him what on earth he was doing when he piped up, "Moss grows on the north side of the tree, right?"

Toph groaned and stamped her foot, rotating the ground beneath Sokka's feet so that he was now facing her. Sokka lost his balance and fell rather inelegantly with a thud and a surprised yelp. "What was that for?"

"That," Toph said, once again knocking him off his feet as he tried to get up, "was for you being a moron. I told you that you would need my help. But did you listen to me? No! You were so sure that your 'instincts' would lead you in the right direction. And look where those 'instincts' have gotten us. You're totally lost!"

Sokka rubbed his sore thigh. "Not totally lost," he corrected her matter-of-factly. "We have been going in… this direction" - he pointed a hesitating finger, then adjusted its trajectory a bit - "for about an hour now. And before that we were following some sort of path. So we could retrace our steps if necessary… But I happen to think that if we keep heading north, we will reach our destination in no time." With a satisfied nod, Sokka set off in a direction that was most definitely not north.

He sank to his knees in quicksand. "Ahhh - TOPH! Quit doing that!"

Toph marched angrily over to him. "When are you going to admit that you need my help?" she asked, exasperated.

Sokka stared at her a long moment, and she could feel his accelerated heartbeat. Time for the moment of truth. "Okay," he admitted finally, with a surprising amount of dignity considering his body was halfway in the ground. "I have no idea where I'm going."

"Obviously," Toph agreed with a haughty snort. "So… what? You gonna ask me for help now?"

Sokka looked down. "C-can you please help me back up onto solid ground?"

"That's not what I meant, and you know it." The earth underneath the quicksand shot upward with such force that Sokka fell for a third time. "Tell me you were wrong."

Sokka scowled. "I hate you," he said under his breath.

"I could easily leave you stranded in the forest and tell Katara and Aang you were eaten by wolf-tigers," she reminded him brightly. It was starting to not sound like such a bad idea.

"Fine!" Sokka conceded. He swallowed. "I was… being arrogant, Toph, saying I didn't need your help. I'm sorry. I have no idea how to get to Omashu from here, and I need you to guide us."

Toph smirked and knocked him down once more, for good measure. "Follow me," she instructed. "No more of this 'instinct' business. We're going to rely on a real sense of direction from now on."

And despite the angry bruises forming on his legs, Sokka smiled as he fell into step behind Toph. She was headstrong and unforgiving and stubborn to a fault, but she was also probably the most reliable person he knew. It was a relief to know that they were finally headed in the right direction, even though he'd had to swallow his pride in order to make it happen. For now, he was content just to follow her.

Con-crit appreciated.