This is a very, very slightly altered version of the original version of this story - I needed to add some time in for the new prequel-ly scenes, that's all. It's still just an agsty, angsty scenelet with some very mild Toph/Sokka.
This story contains fairly heavy-handed implications of rape and/or violence to a teenage boy. Please let me know if I've handled the topic in a way you feel to be unrealistic.
Reviews and concrit appreciated (particularly the original reviewers, cause I'm not sure I get to keep those. Thanks, guys!)
Another week later, and Sokka's louder than ever. Katara seems to think he's back to normal, but Toph is fairly sure this isn't the Sokka they lost. His plans are more enthusiastic and less well thought out, almost suicidally so. His sleeping patterns are a nightmare, and it's a rare night Toph doesn't feel him spend half the night tossing and turning, or on what seem to be the worst nights getting up and going for a walk. Even when he's not talking or trying to sleep, he's a lot jumpier. Toph can feel that, too; the way he tenses when people get too close, the constant shifting of weight, the way the first thing he does on a rest break is find something to put his back against.
Toph knows why, too; that prison. It's like no matter how had he might try to run, his mind is still locked in that tiny dark cell with no escape. They may have broken him out, but the prison broke him first. She's not entirely clueless as to what might have happened in there; for all his usual bluster, he's still only a teenage boy and as the Blind Bandit, she talked to a couple of ex-cons. Tough men, but even they blustered about their time in prison.
It seems like tonight's going to be one of the really bad nights. Sokka just got up.
But tonight, Toph's decided to see if she can make a difference, so she removes the front door of her self-made cave and glares in his general direction. She can't think of anything appropriate to say, so she just goes with the first thing she can think of, a rather harsh "Some of us are trying to sleep, meatboy." She cringes as she says it, but what else is there to say?
Sokka jumps and freezes, and by the time he's come up with an answer, Toph's stood next to him. "Well, let's go walkies then," is all she says. She's fairly sure Sokka has a hundred reasons why she shouldn't go with him, so she frowns at him again.
The walk doesn't last long, but the total silence makes it seem longer, and they end up back in camp without a word being said. Sokka's mumbling something about goodnight as he goes back to his sleeping bag. Toph decides tonight might not be a good night to start confronting him; a couple more walks first, she thinks, so she goes back to her cave.
And in silence, she worries for the loud-mouthed boy she used to know and wonders where he went.