Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar or the song "Femininity" from Summer Magic, music and lyrics by Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman.
Author's Note: I know, yet another collection to try to keep up with. However, I've had several suggestions as well as ideas of my own using songs from Disney movies, so it seemed time to start this. Besides, after Sokka's Master, I felt that a Tokka piece was in order, and I've been thinking about using this song for months. Enjoy!
"He's never going to notice me, is he?" Toph sounded so unusually forlorn that Katara turned sharply to regard her. The younger girl was sitting a short distance away with her chin in her hands, staring blankly in front of her as she always did. The two of them had been sitting in the shelter of a cave to watch (each in her own way, of course) Sokka practicing sword technique with his new, unique weapon. Aang had agreed to help him by using the wind sword he'd told Katara about.
"What? Who?" was all Katara could think of to say. Toph mumbled something unintelligible. "Excuse me?"
"Sokka," Toph admitted finally. Katara just stared for a few seconds, unable to believe what she was hearing.
"You mean…you're saying that…you like Sokka?" she said carefully, wanting to make sure she was right before blundering on and potentially making a fool of herself. This was definitely something she'd never anticipated.
"Maybe," replied Toph defiantly. "Is there something wrong with that? I mean, you and Twinkle-toes have your little thing going."
"What? We do not!" Katara had been about to smile at the resurfacing of the Toph she knew, but the last part caught her mid-stride, and she could feel her face burning. At least Toph couldn't see that.
You must walk
feminine, talk feminine,
Smile and beguile feminine.
Utilize your femininity;
That's what every girl should know
If she wants to catch a beau.
"Oh please, Sugar Queen," Toph replied derisively. "You forget that I can sense changes in heart rate. Just mentioning him has made you--"
"We were talking about Sokka," Katara interrupted, not wanting to go over her own personal issues. She was already aware that her heart was pounding and didn't need the analysis confirmed. She turned back to look at the mock swordfight. Both boys had stripped to the waist for the exercise. Sokka's dark skin was glowing with perspiration, but Aang hardly seemed to be breaking a sweat. Katara had not really been surprised to discover that Aang could dance, since every move he made looked like dancing. Toph's teasing aside, Katara had to admit that she enjoyed watching him.
Toph picked up an object from beside her and began playing with it, earthbending-style. Glancing out of the corner of her eye, Katara recognized it as the piece of meteorite Sokka had given her. She always had it with her, and Katara was finally realizing the significance of that. She'd simply assumed that Toph was still enjoying the novelty of the strange substance.
"What's the point?" Toph returned, stretching the rock between her hands. "He's never going to see me as a girl."
"Well, it might help if you acted more like one."
"What do you mean?"
"For starters, girls don't usually go around slugging boys they like." Katara thought over the interactions she'd observed between some of the children back home and revised her statement slightly. "At least, only little girls do." Granted, Suki had bested Sokka when they first met, but she hadn't liked him then, he'd kind of asked for it. Their relationship had turned into one of mutual respect through training together. While Sokka could continue to become a better warrior, he was never going to be an earthbender, so that kind of equal footing between him and Toph was completely out of the question. The only thing they really had in common was this journey. Well, that and making sarcastic comments.
Katara leaned forward, tapping her teeth with one fingernail as she thoughtfully considered the situation. By her count, this was the fourth girl to show an interest in Sokka. What was his appeal, anyway? As his sister, she knew she wasn't objective, but it still seemed mystifying.
Act shy and sigh feminine.
Compliment his masculinity;
That's what every girl should know
If she wants to catch a beau.
Since Sokka no longer had superior agility to his opponent, he was using his longer reach to his advantage. Aang could technically make his wind sword as long as he wanted, but it started to lose cohesion at a certain point, not to mention taking up more of his concentration to maintain it. Katara was no expert, but Sokka also seemed to be doing a pretty good job of using the area rocks for cover and taking the high ground when he could, although Aang usually beat him to that.
"You've used some pretty heavy waterbending against Aang," Toph protested, recalling Katara to the conversation.
"That was in training," Katara explained patiently. She decided to ignore the second allusion to her romantic inclinations. "He's the Avatar. He's going to have to face the greatest duel of the century, and he had to master waterbending pretty quickly. I couldn't afford to take it easy on him, or he wouldn't have learned as much. Afterward, though, I always told him he did a good job, and we went back to being friends." If she added a slight emphasis on the last word, she thought she could be forgiven.
"I guess compliments aren't something I'm very good at," Toph admitted after a few moments' reflection.
"You haven't been in a lot of situations where you've needed to give them. It just takes a little practice, though. I can definitely tell you that humiliating a guy is not the way to win him over. You, uh, do kind of make fun of Sokka a lot."
"He makes it so easy! Oh, that's kind of what you mean, isn't it?"
"Pretty much, yeah," answered Katara apologetically.
"I guess I originally started it just because he was a non-bender. I was only used to thinking of benders as being worth anything."
"And now?" Katara prompted when it looked like Toph wasn't going to finish the thought.
"Now…it's like I can't stop. The only way I learned how to deal with people outside my house was by trading insults. And in some ways, I don't want to act any different. I'm afraid he'll notice."
"Isn't that what got this whole conversation started in the first place?" Katara reminded her gently. "You wanted him to notice you?"
"I know!" Toph half-shouted, throwing her hands up in frustration. "Ugh! This is so stupid!"
Let him do the
Men adore good listeners.
Laugh, but not loudly
If he should choose to tell a joke.
Katara hesitated. These kinds of situations with Aang were so much easier to deal with. She knew how to talk to him and what contact he would accept from her. Toph, on the other hand, had always tended to maintain a certain distance. If there was any hugging to be done, she initiated it.
Finally, Katara decided to take a chance. She shifted over to the blind girl and placed an arm tentatively around her shoulders. When she wasn't immediately thrown into the cave wall, she relaxed a little.
"No, it's not stupid," Katara assured her. "I know exactly what you mean." In fact, she had felt very similarly at the dance party a week or so earlier. She'd been jealous (not that she'd ever confess it out loud) that Aang had asked Onji to dance, yet when he'd invited her next, Katara had doubted herself and tried to turn down what she secretly wanted. It was kind of perverse, when she thought about it. She was very glad that she'd given in, and the memory of that incredible dance still made her feel a warm glow from the inside out.
"Yes. Maybe you could try laughing at his jokes," Katara suggested.
"I laugh," Toph objected.
"At him, not at his jokes. There's a difference."
"So it's okay to laugh when he's trying to be funny, but not when he's just being stupid?"
"That's one way to put it," agreed Katara. "The thing is, men have pretty fragile egos. They're good at tearing themselves down without any help. What they need us for is to build them back up again."
Be radiant, but delicate,
rules of etiquette.
Be demure, sweet and pure -
Hide the real you!
"I think I understand," Toph mused. "No guarantee I'll be able to do it, though. Anything else I should know?"
"Well, you know how to act like a lady. Maybe you should try some of that."
"But that's not really me."
"Look, I'm not saying to do everything your mother ever told you," Katara temporized. "Just little things, like not picking your nose in public."
"Honestly? It's kind of gross. You may not be able to see it, but the rest of us can."
"Oh. I never thought of that."
Katara stood up and circled the blind earthbender, viewing her appraisingly.
"This might be hard for you to grasp, but one thing you have to keep in mind is that boys are very visual," she commented. "Maybe we can do something with your look." Toph's expression wasn't too happy at the suggestion, but she sighed and shrugged.
"Well, I can't be any worse off," she decided. "Work me over."
Katara was delighted to be able to do this, more than she'd ever imagined possible. She'd never really had other girls to play "dress-up" or anything with, so she supposed that this and her earlier playing of the Painted Lady was her slightly older version of the childhood game. First, she took down Toph's hair and meticulously combed it. Aang and Sokka had carried their sparring out of sight, which was probably a good thing. Not only would it provide surprise when they came back, but Katara also didn't run the risk of getting distracted.
Katara created the obligatory topknot to Toph's head as her first step. She wanted to leave some of the hair down but was afraid it might interfere with her movements if it was too loose. In the end, she secured the red headband across the top, more or less like it had been before, and secured some of the hair on the sides into it as well. This left a cascade going down her back, large enough to look intentional but small enough not to get in her way. The next stage was the clothing.
You must look
feminine, dress feminine,
You're at your best feminine.
Emphasize your femininity,
That's what every girl should know…
"This new outfit might actually have some possibilities," said Katara, thinking aloud. She took off the vest and pulled the fabric of the strapless dress in different directions. "Toph, you are getting a chest! Why are you hiding it?"
"Don't remind me," complained Toph. "It's starting to get in my…wait a minute. Are you saying that boys like these things?"
"They're definitely a selling point," Katara answered, swallowing her laughter. Even in her tiny village, she had managed to figure that one out. She pulled off the wrap-like cloth that Toph usually kept around her hips. Pulling the top tight, she re-tied the extra piece directly underneath Toph's chest, accentuating her bust. Toph was a little uneven, natural enough at this stage of her development, so Katara made adjustments until the visual effect was more symmetrical. She was just finishing when she heard the boys enter the cave.
"Thanks for the workout, Aang," Sokka was saying. He removed his sword belt and boots. "I'd better go wash up." He loosened his hair and ran his fingers through it.
"No need," Katara replied airily. "Toph?" At her name, the earthbender punched a deep hole into the rock, all the way down to the shallow groundwater. Katara bended fresh (and very cold) water up, drenched Sokka with it, then pulled it back off of him and sent it back down the hole.
"Th-thanks," he stammered. Despite the fact that his teeth were chattering, he still managed to sound sardonic. Aang handed him his shirt, and he shrugged into it gratefully, rubbing his arms and stepping back into the sunlight to warm up. Suddenly, he looked at Toph and stopped what he was doing. "Toph…you look different." Toph nervously twisted a lock of hair around her fingers.
"Oh, yeah. Well, Katara was bored, so she did this," she explained. "I have no idea what it looks like."
"It looks nice," Sokka informed her, and Katara smiled. She didn't mind taking all the blame for Toph's little makeover. She was actually quite happy with the final result.
"Thanks," said Toph quietly, blushing faintly.
After pulling his own shirt on, Aang raised his eyebrows at Katara inquiringly. She just shrugged, but she was inwardly wondering if she could convince him to leave with her. It couldn't hurt to give the other two a little time alone.
Besides, she was definitely in the mood for a dance.
That's the way to catch a beau!
Member of the Boomeraang Squad: charleegirl, Jesus.Lives, Liselle129, Strix Moonwing, Avatarwolf, MormonMaiden, libowiekitty, Snows of Yester-Year, La Vixen de Amor, chocolatecoveredbananacheese, Aangy, and honorary member SnakeEyes16
Author's Note: Okay, so there might be just a little Aang-fangirl drooling here. A woman must have her guilty pleasures, and this is more harmless than most. Some people might not understand why I like this song, but I think the "Hide the real you" line really cinches it. So much shipping in this season! It's delightful! Of course, I had to throw some Kataang in there.