Author's Notes: Here we are, folks, the fifth installment of Big Brother! Only one left to go, and then a new project for me to start. I'm planning just a little short series called Five for sometime soon. (But not too soon...)
You know, I never feel I have a real grasp on Sokka's personality; when I write him, it's not the show's Sokka, but an Alisa-created Sokka. Toph, on the other hand, can be difficult to write, but really shines through when she's written correctly. Does anybody else have this sort of problem?
Anyway, please review!
Mamoru wiped delicately at the corner of his mouth with the edge of his tunic. He couldn't suppress the pang of disgust at this practice, but he had been forced into it when he realized that there wasn't a single napkin in the entire house. Brushing a few crumbs from his pants, Mamoru stood and gathered the few dishes he had eaten his breakfast from. He strolled purposefully to the sink and pumped cold water over the dishes, which he quickly washed and dried—he paused to eye the teetering pile of dirty plates and bowls that seemed to be the build-up of several days' meals and had to restrain himself.
Shaking his head, Mamoru instead turned to a pot over a small fire. He stirred the contents for a moment, observing with a critical eye, and then added a small amount of hot water to it from a teapot. A few more stirs and it was deemed worthy. He gave the stack of used dishes one more apprehensive glance before padding out of the kitchen and into a hallway.
The hallway Mamoru had entered was short and had four rooms that branched off of it: a bathroom, a large closet, Sokka's bedroom, and the bedroom Toph was staying in. Mamoru paused outside of the first room before sliding back the door carefully.
"Toph?" he whispered into the silence. "Toph, I made breakfast, if you want some."
From the corner of the room emanated a low grunt, and what Mamoru assumed was Toph twitched around a bit. He cleared his throat anxiously. "Just come out when you're hungry, I'll leave the food on the table, okay?"
Something that sounded suspiciously like a snore came from Toph's corner. Mamoru slid the door shut quietly behind him and reached for the door across from it. He threw it open with a bang and stepped inside Sokka's room.
"Time to get up, Sokka!" Mamoru sang, throwing open the curtains (which looked more like sheets, he thought) that covered his single window. "The early bird gets the worm, as my Nana always used to say!"
There was a throaty moan from the strange heap of mismatched blankets on top of the straw mattress in the middle of the room, and Mamoru thought he could see what looked like a foot sticking out from under a faded jade blanket with an embroidered flying boar in the corner. He tapped his own foot somewhat impatiently as Sokka disappeared further within the mess of cloth.
"C'mon, Sokka, get up! I made breakfast and everything!" declared Mamoru. "We're going out for tea today, you and me—we have some things to discuss! So let's go, mister!"
The pile twitched half-heartedly for a moment, then fell still. Mamoru blew a lock of wavy hair out of his face and cried, "I'm going to pull those blankets right off of you if you're not going to get up!"
A head appeared slowly from within the tangle—Sokka's eyes looked bloodshot and his long dark hair was everywhere now that it wasn't in its usual ponytail, and even his skin seemed paler this morning. He was giving Mamoru the greatest look of distain he could, but it wasn't very impressive as he looked like nothing more than a floating head.
Mamoru flashed the head a grin. "Time to get up!" he announced merrily. "I've got breakfast ready, porridge and toasted bread with jam, so hurry up before it gets cold!"
With a great, lumbering motion, Sokka got to his feet and brought his face level with Mamoru's. "D'you know what a hangover feels like?" he whispered hoarsely.
"Nope!" Mamoru answered, fixing Sokka with a cheeky grin. "Now up and at 'em, Sokka! D'you want mango juice with your food? I'll pour you some!" And without a backwards glance, the Earthbender strode out of the room and into the kitchen.
Once there, Mamoru ladled out a bowl of porridge, spread jam on a few pieces of toast, and poured two glasses of mango juice. By the time he'd set it all on the table, Sokka came limping into the kitchen, his hair pulled back and his eyes focused on the belt he was trying to tie around his waist. He paused as he spotted the meal and blinked up at Mamoru.
"This for me?" Sokka asked quietly, already sitting across from where Mamoru was standing.
"Yep!" Mamoru responded, taking a seat of his own and pushing a bowl toward Sokka. "Toph too, if she ever wakes up."
Sokka made a noncommittal grunt and pushed the porridge away, his nose wrinkling. Mamoru frowned.
"Don't you like porridge?" he asked, slightly offended that all his hard work was being so easily rejected.
"M'not hungry," Sokka forced out. He pushed the bowl farther away and instead reached for a glass of mango juice.
Mamoru took a sip of his own juice. "You'd better eat something, though," he advised, "if we're going out for tea later!"
Sokka tugged the ponytail at the back of his head and sighed. "M'not going out for tea."
Mamoru cocked his head to the side, looking puzzled. "Why wouldn't you be? I need to talk with you and everyone knows that it's easier to talk over a cup of tea!"
A flapping hand waved in his direction. "Maybe tomorrow," Sokka offered weakly.
"Tomorrow?" exclaimed Mamoru. "Oh, that will never do! Today, I think, right now would be as good as ever! Shall I make some jasmine tea, or would you prefer ginseng?"
Sokka cradled his head in his hands and Mamoru chuckled. "Jasmine it is!"
Polishing off his cup of mango juice, Mamoru strolled about the kitchen, gathering up the necessities of tea-making and humming loudly all the while. This seemed only to annoy Sokka, as he pressed his hands over his ears and groaned.
It only took a few minutes to gather all the things for making tea, and another few minutes to get the water boiling. Mamoru settled himself in his seat and prodded Sokka in the head, as he seemed to have fallen back asleep.
There was a grunt, and Sokka slapped at the younger man's hand. Mamoru laughed.
"For a second there, I thought you had drifted off," he said, allowing himself an airy smile.
"Unfortunately not," was Sokka's mumbled reply. He settled his chin firmly in his palms and eyed Mamoru. "What'd you wanna talk about again?"
A mischievous grin worked its way over the Earthbender's features as he coyly responded, "Oh, nothing, just the girl you've got hidden in your spare room."
Sokka rolled his eyes. "I don't have her hidden."
"Mmhmm, of course not!" cried Mamoru, waving his hand airily at Sokka. "Certainly you wouldn't hide her from all the men out there who would be more than willing to date her!"
Sokka's eyes narrowed. "What're you saying—?"
"Ahh! Tea's done!" announced Mamoru, ignoring Sokka's pointed stare and instead pouring two cups of steaming jasmine tea for the both of them.
"What was that supposed to mean?" Sokka asked again, his eyebrows furrowed and his tea ignored.
Mamoru blew on his tea before taking a long sip. Then he lowered the cup and said inquisitively, "What's what supposed to mean?"
"What'd you mean when you said I hide Toph from men who want to date her?"
"I'm just saying that you keep Toph very sheltered," Mamoru explained, shrugging his shoulders. "You didn't want me to have tea with her, and I wasn't even looking for a date!"
"I'm just looking out for her," Sokka said defensively. He added half-heartedly, "Besides, how was I s'posed to know you didn't wanna date Toph?"
"You didn't," agreed Mamoru. "But… she's such a cutie! What if I wanted to date her now?"
"I wouldn't let you," the warrior shot back coolly. "You're not her type."
Mamoru raised his eyebrows and fought back a smile. "You know Toph's type?" he questioned.
"'Course I do," Sokka insisted stoutly. "And it's not you, so don't get any ideas."
"How do you know that?" Mamoru asked. "How many boyfriends has Toph had for you to figure out what type of men she likes?"
"She's had—" He opened his mouth, then paused, brows furrowed. Sokka took a thoughtful gulp of tea and finished, "None. At least, not any that I knew."
"I don't know!" snapped Sokka. "Besides, what does any of this have to do with me?"
Mamoru smiled. "I didn't say it had anything to do with you. Unless… it does?"
"'Course not. How many boyfriends Toph's never had has nothing to do with me," insisted Sokka.
Mamoru "hmm"ed and gave Sokka an inquisitive glance (which he avoided) before raising his nearly empty cup to his lips and drinking.
"Really," said Sokka again, as Mamoru busied himself with pouring more tea, "it has nothing to do with me. I mean, okay, sure, every once in a while I'll intervene—you know how creepy some people can be. But I'm just being a… a good big brother, that's all."
Mamoru paused from refilling Sokka's cup to remind him, "But Sokka… you're not her brother."
"Yeah, well," huffed Sokka, "I might as well be. I take care of her more than anyone."
"You're not complaining, though."
"Of course I'm not complaining! I like taking care of Toph, I like having her around. It's just like the old days, except without old food and a smelly flying bison."
"Without Avatar Aang and Katara, as well," added Mamoru.
"But without Aang and Katara," agreed Sokka. "Except… that's kind of how it was back then, too. My sister and her little boyfriend would do their thing and it would be just me and Toph."
"Did you and Toph do lots of thing together back then, too?" questioned Mamoru, adopting a posture of complete interest, leaning forward on his elbows and observing Sokka over the rim of his teacup.
"Yeah, we did," reminisced Sokka. "Katara and Aang liked to Waterbend all the time, so we'd do our own thing. I taught her now to swim and she taught me not to mess with angry Earthbenders."
Mamoru snorted into his tea and Sokka reached out to cuff his head.
"She's scary when she's mad, I'll have you know, more than my little sister, and I didn't think that was possible!"
"Do you make her angry all the time, then?" Mamoru asked, still trying to suppress his amusement.
"I think I still make her angry all the time," Sokka admitted, "but we never fight. I can't say the same for Katara, though."
"That's good," said Mamoru, smiling gently at the warrior. Then his easy expression morphed into one of horror. "Ah, wait! It's not good that she fights with Katara, that's bad, it's good that she doesn't fight with you!"
Sokka chuckled. "Yeah, I suppose that's a good thing."
Mamoru flashed a relieved smile and pushed the plate of cold toast toward Sokka. "You and Toph still do lots of things together," he prompted, pushing a bowl of cold, lumpy porridge in Sokka's direction as well.
"Yeah, we do," Sokka replied, shoving the dishes away with a frown. "Earth Rumble 11 is in a few weeks."
"Ah, that's right!" cried Mamoru excitedly. "I can't wait to see Toph fight again! I love watching her win; she's the very best fighter!"
"Mmhmm," Sokka murmured through a swallow of tea. "I even found a couple Benders for her to practice against."
"Oh, wow!" Mamoru laughed. "You sure are a dedicated coach!"
"I wouldn't say coach," muttered Sokka. "More like dedicated friend."
The Earthbender nodded understandingly. "What else do you do with Toph?" he wondered.
"Well, we go out to restaurants a lot," answered Sokka, "since neither of us are very good cooks."
"Don't you ever get mistaken for a couple?" Mamoru inquired curiously.
Sokka's face grew indifferent as he said flatly, "All the time."
"It must be because you two are so adorable together!" pronounced Mamoru with a bright smile, winking merrily at Sokka.
The Water Tribe warrior rolled his eyes and deadpanned, "That must be it."
Mamoru tutted. "You don't have a girlfriend, do you?"
Sokka shook his head no.
"Ever wonder why?" asked the younger man. "It's because you're with Toph all the time. It's because you act like her boyfriend!"
"Wha—? I don't act like her boyfriend!" Sokka cried. "And the only reason I don't have a girlfriend is because I can't find a girl I like!"
"Or maybe," Mamoru suggested, "it's because you've already found a girl you like."
"What? If you're saying Toph—!"
Mamoru grinned and shrugged. He watched Sokka frown for a moment before jumping to his feet and announcing, "Well, I'm gonna leave you to your thoughts! But I have one last question for you."
Sokka looked up at him and raised his eyebrows.
"Don't you ever wonder why it's you protecting Toph, and now some other man?"
Two blue eyes blinked up at him for a moment, then lowered quickly to the tabletop. Mamoru smiled softly and walked out of the kitchen and into the shady hallway.
"Morning, Toph!" he greeted the form immerging from room on the right.
Tired eyes didn't even turn in his direction as Toph's fist met Mamoru's shoulder.
"Shuddup," she growled, and staggered off to the kitchen.
Rubbing his arm to work away the pain, Mamoru watched as Toph gave Sokka a firm shove strong enough to knock him over, collapsed next to him, dropped her head to the tabletop, and said, "If you ever take me drinking again I'll kill you."
Blinking away his shock, Sokka patted Toph awkwardly on the back and murmured, "I'll keep that in mind."
Grinning, Mamoru slipped back into the hallway and had to contain a shout of glee. Everything was falling into place perfectly. Now all that was left was the final push in the right direction, and then those poor restaurant servers would never be mistaken about Sokka and Toph again.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Feel free to stop by my lj (check out my profile for the link) -- I have lots of extra notes on Big Brother and especially Mamoru, if you're interested!