Toph/Zuko Avatar The Last Airbender
Disclaimer: I own nothing...
Well Kept Hidden
The last time they saw Toph, she was waving to them from the front door of her home, her parents stood behind her, beaming down at their small daughter. The look of relief in their eyes was obvious. They were grateful that Aang had brought her home safe, but letting her out of their sight again was going to be difficult.
A smile stretched across Toph's face, but it didn't seem to reach her eyes. It only seemed to be the instinctive relex of the muscles...there was nothing in those eyes. It was...fake. There was a hint of something. Pain, maybe? Desire? It was hard to tell, Toph was exceptionally good with hiding her emotions.
Yet, had they looked even to the corner of their eyes, they would have seen Zuko's face. His eyes were hard as he waved back. His brow was drawn together, his mouth had become a tight line. He looked as he was buried in thought. But none of them noticed...they just smiled and waved back...even though they all knew she couldn't see them.
A few days later they said good-bye to Zuko. The foriegn city they had traveled to was an odd place to dismiss at, but none the less, he did. He left with a curt nod, a simple "thank you", and a swish of his cloak as he turned and walked away. They watched him until his form disappeared into the sea of faces...and then they too turned and carried on.
The water village Katara, Sokka, and Aang had come to know was gone. It was replaced by extravegant buildings, beautifully crafted homes, and...more people.
Aang expected Katara and Sokka to immediately tell him to stay, to come live with them. No such thing happened. Not either one of them said anything like it at all to Aang. And so he brought it up...
"... ...Do you want me to stay?" Aang asked, hesitating before asking. Katara grew very grave for a moment. Her blue eyes seemed to slip and glaze over...she was thinking hard. After minutes of silence, Katara sighed.
"It's your choice Aang. I'm not going to stop you. Where you want to go, where you want to be is not my desicion." Katara whispered. That was not what he wanted to here. She saw his face fall, and bit her lower lip. She loved him, and her wrenching heart told her so.
"Of course...if it were up to me...I'd like you to stay," Katara said, "Besides, I'd follow you anywhere you ever wanted to go."
And so Aang stayed.
Seven years later...
Seven years. Seven long years.
Sokka had gotten married. Yes, Sokka. A nice girl. Katara had approved. She knew his heart had broken over Yue. And it was hard to see it happen again when he lost Suki. Katara could tell he was in love, and she knew better than to hurt him. Besides, she really was a sweet girl.
Aang had proposed. It was a difficult desicion to make. Katara wasn't sure if she was ready. She loved Aang, she did. But it seemed to be a little...early. She was hesitant at first and had told Aang she wanted to think hard on it. Aang didn't seem to mind. In fact, he never lost that goofy grin of his, and it only seemed to get wider when Katara replied..."yes".
Not any of them had heard from or seen Toph through all these years. Zuko hadn't kept in touch either. They knew Iroh had taken place on the throne, so where was Zuko?
It caught Sokka and Aang off gaurd when Katara announced she wanted to go see Toph. But it wasn't unexpected. They all did. After some swift reassurance of Sokka's wife, they were off.
The place hadn't changed. It was kind of funny. Even in all these years, it was hard to imagine that a place could stay so...unchanged. The only thing that was different was the head stone in the court-yard off to the side. They all sighed with relief, but their hearts clenched as they read "Sir Beifong: Loving Husband, Loving Father" followed by the dates of his birth and death.
They were met by her mother at the door. Her face looked haggard, new hard lines wrinkled her skin, and grey hairs weaved in and out of her hair, but her eyes lit up when she saw them.
"Come in! Come in!" she gushed. She was happy to see them, that as obvious.
"Toph's been expecting you! She's out back. She's got a...surprise for you." at the word surprise, her face hardened a bit, but the smile stayed.
And so they found Toph out back, kneeling a garden, pulling weeds and planting seeds. Her back was to them, but she stiffened when she heard them approach. Whirling her head over her shoulder, her smile widened.
"Is that you guys?" she called.
"Toph!" Katara's voice cried jubilantly. Toph smiled.
"Wait there! I'll be up in a second. It's getting harder to move faster." she said, chuckling. Aang, Sokka, and Katara shared glances of confusion. Seconds later, Toph stood, stretching a bit, her back to them.
"Your mom told us you-" Sokka started and was cut short when Toph turned around and began walking towards them. This was not what they expected...at all.
"Toph...you're-" Katara couldn't find the words...she was speechless.
"Pregnant? Yup." Toph finished for her. She ran a hand over her very prominent belly, a smile dancing on her face. They were all silent. Katara spotted it first...the gold band on her left finger.
"You got MARRIED!" she cried. Toph winced. The others shock increased as they saw the ring.
"Calm down, calm down," Toph urged, her face turning a bright red, "It was a small ceromony really. My parents...parent, some relatives, and some of his friends." They were all quiet again.
"So...who'd you...you know? Marry? The father, and everything?" Aang asked shyly. Toph smirked, and her eyes suddenly seemed glowed.
"Well, you're just about to meet him." she said.
"Hey Toph! I'm-" but the rest died away. So that's where he went. They all turned to face a very flustered, and an extremely irritated-looking, Zuko.
"You married...Zuko?" Sokka asked, his voice hoarse. Toph nodded. Zuko's face drained of color and he forced a slow smile.
"Well, this wasn't what I was...expecting." he said slowly.
"Niether was this." Katara huffed angrily, wrenching forward Toph's wrist and exposing the ring. Zuko's face grew bright red again. Toph wrenched her arm away.
"And you wonder why I didn't invite you," Toph sighed, "I married him because I loved him. I already had to deal with my family...and HIS. I didn't really want the over-bearing of your guys's disapproval."
"Besides...we're having a larger wedding this coming spring after the baby's born. You're all coming to that." Zuko put in, almost frantically.
"Why would you think we would disapprove."
"Because he's Zuko." Toph muttered, rubbing her stomach again. Zuko had made his way over to Toph and placed a light hand around her wiast. She smiled appriciatively. Sokka sighed heavily. Aang looked down. Katara smiled weakly.
"So, you came back here after all that, didn't you?" Sokka asked. Zuko cracked a smile and nodded.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Katara asked, a gentle smile breaking out over her face as she stared at the two lovers. For all of them, the atmosphere suddenly seemed...calmer, more at ease...lovely.
"Well...some secrets are best kept hiddedn."