Title: Thirty Ways in Thirty Days (to Fall in Love with Your Best Friend)

Pairing(s): Tokka, Maiko and Kataang hints

Rating: PG-13 for language and innuendo

Summary: "I just need you to pretend to be my girlfriend for a month, that's all. Y'know, so Suki and Yue will back off. No strings attached. Right?" Yeah. Right. AU Tokka.

A/N: The Prologue is very short, but the chapters will get longer, I promise. Please tell me if you find any OOCness, or other errors. Um...I think that's all...so...on with the Tokka!

Prologue: A Not So Simple Request

You know, when I said I owed you one, this wasn't really what I had in mind

"I just need you to pretend to be my girlfriend for a month, that's all," Sokka said quickly, averting my searching gaze.

I dropped all pretenses and stared.

"Y'know, so Suki and Yue will back off," he added, fidgeting nervously and staring at the ground.

I wound a lock of hair around my finger, still looking at him, speechless.

"No strings attached," Sokka pleaded desperately. I half expected him to drop to his knees and simply beg. "Right?"

Like the intelligent and sophisticated person that I am, I continued gaping at him, for once at a loss for words.

Sokka stared back.

At last I found my voice. "Snoozles?" I croaked out. He looked at me, face alight with hopefulness. I met his gaze, and said flatly, "No."

"Please, Toph," he beseeched, obviously dismayed. "I need your help! Just a month. It won't be so bad."

"No," I repeated, despite my pleasantly squirming insides and over-active imagination that was going into hyper-drive as I spoke.

"To-o-oph," Sokka whined, giving me his best puppy-dog eyed look. "Do it for me. For our friendship." He paused, and let out a pathetic whimper, sticking out his lower lip. "Ple-e-e-ase?"

I didn't reply, but instead said, feeling very foolish and too similar to my mother for my own good, "If you keep your lip out like that, a bee will sting it."

Sokka pouted as I turned and began to stalk away. Wrapping his warm fingers around my wrist, I flinched, trying to pull away. But Sokka's iron grip held steadfast.

This time, when he looked at me, he was completely serious. "Please, Toph. I don't know what to do. Suki and Yue are ruining my life with their constant argumentive-catfight-provoking-unstoppable-possesiveness. How will I survive, if I don't make them think I'm unavailable and in a relationship?"

I bit back laughter and shot him an annoyed look, at last breaking free of his grasp. Sokka looked helpless, his hand outstretched and snatching empty air. "I told you, I won't pretend to be anyone's girlfriend, let alone yours," I scoffed, scowling. "If you were looking for someone shallow, go find Ty Lee, will you?" I added ill-humoredly.

"She's…chipper. And obnoxious," Sokka reasoned, rising from his knees to stand directly in front of me. "I need someone I'm friend's with, and that won't get attached. If I asked Ty Lee out, she'd probably start planning the wedding within a week!"

I snorted despite myself. "Gotta admit, you're right there, Snoozles." Suddenly, I realized what he'd said. "Someone who won't get attached? Bastard," I snarled, folding my arms and glaring as Sokka gaped at me. "So I don't have emotions, is that it? Or whoop-de-doo—did you happen to forget that I was a living, breathing, female? Oh, that definitely makes me want to help you," I scorned. Sneering took an effort, as did concealing my hurt and unrest insides. Did he think I was completely apathetic? Or had Sokka really never considered us more then friends?

At last, the perpetrator spoke. "I didn't mean it that way!" Sokka cried, obviously distressed. "Of course I know you have emotions! Of course I know you're a girl! But can't you see?—you're the only one I can trust to help me, and not spill the beans or—or fall in love with me!"

I barely concealed a flinch. It's a little late for that, I thought sourly, but not without a hint of black humor. I paused. After a moment, I started, "I'm not gonna agree to this dumb plan of yours, Snoozles." Sokka deflated, opening his mouth object, but I held up my hand. "Just wait, okay?"

I cleared my throat, eyes glued to his desperate face. My heart began to melt, and I silently curse this thing, this thing called love. "I just gotta know…" I swallowed. With a defeated sigh, I demanded, "What the hell's in it for me?"

Sokka stared at me, delighted. "You'll do it!"

I crossed my arms. "Yes. I'll do it." Clearing my throat, I gave him a sideways glance. "Well, come on! I asked you what I got out of it, didn't I?"

With a thoughtful nod, Sokka tapped his chin. "Food?"

"No," I replied immediately, disgusted. "That's you, not me." Already I was beginning to regret this.

Running his fingers through his hair, Sokka suggested, "Money?"

"I already got too much of that, remember?" I pointed out, scowling at the mere thought of my parents and their stupid 'Bei Fong Fortune.'

Sokka nodded, biting his lip. "Um…uh…" I could nearly see the light bulb illuminate his dusty brain. "Oh! I know! I'll write a song for you!"

I suddenly felt very foolish for agreeing to help him. A song? Jeez, just imagining Sokka playing his guitar—and singing to me—was nearly enough to make me turn red—but not quite enough, because, I reminded myself, Toph Bei Fond did not blush.

It was only after a moment that I realized Sokka was still waiting for my answer. "Um." I paused and fought back a cringe. I could not believe I was agreeing with him. "Yes."

Surprise flashed across his face. Sokka scrambled after me, as I swiveled around and began to walk away, back towards the school cafeteria. Lunch was probably almost over anyway…I swore inwardly when I realized that in a few moments, I would once more be forced to endure the cruel and unusual punishment that was geometry.

"Really?" He skidded around me and halted, blocking my path. "Are you sure?" Sokka reached a quick hand over to feel my forehead, and I swatted him away. "You're not sick, are you?"

"No," I snapped, shoving him out of the way and stalking back into the cafeteria.

"It's just a month!" I heard Sokka call after me. "No string attached, remember?"

A month trying to harness the feelings that were already nearly out of control.

A month living in a dreamworld that only to Sokka and I would be completely and utterly fake.

A month with the boy I was in love with.

No strings attached?

Yeah. Right.