Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar.
AN: So, this whole thing is totally inspired by my little brother, who does not respect personal space and frequently falls asleep with his head on my arm.
The storms brought change. Zuko was used to them and assured the others that they were just thunderstorms -- thunderstorms that came back to back for over three weeks. The first night everyone woke up and Katara was so worried about the younger children's fears that she issued a new rule: everyone would sleep in the large hall they used for training and cooking. Oddly, Sokka had not argued and Toph would later let it slip that he was just as afraid of the thunder as the rest of them. And so, for several nights they all slept clustered around the fire.
There was one problem with Katara's plan: children loved Zuko. Even he was completely unsure as to why, but there was no denying the fact, even Aang had a special fondness for him. Often after the move, Toph and the Duke would fall asleep on top of the ousted prince. Sometimes he would try to move them back to their own sleeping bags, but more often than not he would let them stay. He knew Katara hated it. He caught her giving him a look of pure hatred one night when he woke up with Toph and the Duke curled up under his arms. He'd returned her gaze with a "what can I do?" smile and went back to sleep. The next day she was especially hard on the laundry.
But the real trouble didn't come until well into the stormy season. Zuko was awakened not by the sun but by his hand, it had fallen asleep. He suppressed a moan. He had gotten used to this since sleeping with the others. It wasn't uncommon for one of the younger ones to fall asleep with their head on one of his limbs, cutting off circulation to the lower portions of it. Zuko continued flexing, trying to get the proper flow without waking the child. He heard giggles and a growl and assumed Sokka had woken up from hunger, as he often did, and Aang was laughing at his predicament. Though, the giggles were a bit high pitched. Maybe he'd woken up Katara to do his cooking.
Zuko moved his leg slightly to try and relieve the need to move. He was sprawled out on the floor and really wanted to roll to the right, but the child was on his left arm. He settled for rolling into them and draping his free arm over their waist for comfort's sake. The growling increased to mutters and Zuko wondered why someone didn't just get Sokka some food already. He swallowed and considered rolling Toph off of his arm. He was certain now that it was Toph and not the Duke. Even at her young age he could feel the beginning of a waist and hips forming -- he was actually surprised at how obvious they were -- and her hair was definitely too long and too good smelling to be a boy's. He shifted, trying to find the most comfortable position and only then noticed something. Toph's hair smelled strange. It was -- like the oasis at the North Pole. But that didn't make any sense. How could Toph….
It was then that everything happened. There was a war cry and Aang and Toph (from the other side of the room) both shouted for Sokka to stop. The Toph in Zuko's arms leapt up as did Zuko. They exchanged harried glances as Haru and a nicely timed rock wall from Toph held Sokka back.
"What were you doing?" Katara asked, pulling a blanket over herself.
He raised his good eyebrow. She was wearing her training uniform which he had seen a hundred times before. "You fell asleep on me," he said.
"I did not!"
"Then how do you explain my completely numb hand?"
"Why don't you explain?" Sokka cried, pushing past Haru. "Explain how you ravaged my sister in the same room as the rest of us!"
A wall of water slammed into the boy and Teo and the Duke couldn't contain their laughter. Sokka fell to the floor, unconscious. Katara gave Zuko a nasty look and marched around the fire. She collapsed to the floor with a huff and did not move again. Zuko shook his head and lay back down. In seconds the Duke was leaning against his exposed back and Toph was curling up next to him.
"Tell me the truth," Zuko whispered as the room quieted down, "how did she get over here?"
Toph smiled wickedly. "There may have been some bending involved."
"Toph," Zuko mock growled and tickled her beneath her neck.
"Stop! Stop it!" she cried, keeping her voice low. He did and she sighed contentedly.
Zuko let her fall asleep, wondering how long it would be before he could ask Katara about her hair without losing his head. He really wanted to know how it could still smell like the oasis after all this time, especially after she'd spent so much time in the Fire Nation with the smoke and soot everywhere. He flexed his fingers, remembering the feel of her in his arms and pushing back the thought that he'd like to feel that again. Sokka would kill him and he was fairly certain Aang would too, and the avatar could come up with some pretty imaginative deaths he was sure. He was lucky, he thought as he looked down at Toph, that he'd been a criminal for a while now. Talking in his sleep was something he'd been trained not to do and Toph would surely lord anything he said tonight over him until the end of time.
AN: You should always review oneshots, otherwise how will I know who read the whole thing and who turned right back around?