Tokka Week

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Day 7

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Promise

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I told Princess Yue's father I'd keep his daughter safe.

I told Suki we'd always be together.

And then I told Toph that she'd always be my best friend.

It turns out I can only make promises I can't keep.

Katara tried to tell me that's not true. She said, "But what about your promise to Dad that you'd take over leadership for the Invasion when he got hurt? You promised him you'd make it back, and you did."

I told her that was different. That was a promise between warriors, between a man and a son. It was more like an understanding. Those kinds of promises are just understandings between men.

But promises to women are different. They usually involve love and being together and stuff, and it's those that I just can't keep somehow. For each of those promises I break, a heart breaks, too. And then having broken someone's heart is enough to break mine, and I wind up alone and miserable and wishing I could change things, even though I know I can never fix any of it. Yue will always be the moon and my first love; Suki will always be my first kiss and first break up; and Toph…Toph will always be my best friend, so I guess I've kept that promise.

But unlike the two promises I couldn't keep, the one I made to Toph…I don't want to keep that one.

When I made that stupid promise, I was still involved with Suki. Things weren't so great between us, and I started spending more time with Toph. I felt freer when I was with her, as cliché as that sounds. I guess it was just that Suki and I grew up, and we grew apart, and neither of us wanted to accept that, not after everything we'd been through together. She wanted to keep me the way I'd always been with her before, but I just couldn't—I don't think anyone can—but like a coward I didn't want to be the one to say it was over. So I avoided Suki and all our problems and went to Toph.

I could have humility with her without feeling humiliated like it sometimes was with Suki. Yeah, Toph always makes fun of me and always has, but with Toph that's just how she shows she cares, let's you know she's thinking about you because she gave you her time of day. And she never really asked questions either. At least none she expected me to answer. She's said before that she can tell when people are lying by the change in their heartbeat. Maybe she never expected me to verbally answer her questions because she could read my bodily answers by the change of my heart. Or maybe we'd been friends for so long that she could just read me.

So Suki and I broke up for a million reasons, but really just for the one reason: neither of us was "the one" for the other. Not that I believe that any of us has only one true love in life, but there is a difference between a "for now" love and a "forever" love. Suki was a "for now" love that I needed for a long time. But not for the rest of my life. That was hard enough for me to deal with; but telling Suki felt impossible, but necessary, and impossibly necessary all at once. That break-up hurt so bad, and I don't know which was worse in the grand scheme of my love life: Yue choosing her people over me, or me choosing me over Suki. I'll probably never have an answer for that.

And you would think Toph and I would have gotten together, but we didn't. She confronted me two months after my split with Suki—she waited an entire two months before she said anything to me about us—asking me how I felt about her, if I cared about her as more than a friend. I was so lost and confused then that I almost said 'yes' because I missed being in a relationship, whether it was a good one or not. But something held me back. For whatever reason—maybe that I didn't want to hurt our friendship, or I didn't want to ruin my chances with her before I was truly ready to move on, or maybe I was too emotionally drained to even consider the possibility of thinking about her in that way—whatever it was, I told her 'no.'

And she did the unthinkable.

She cried.

I never saw it coming. It was the first thing I would have expected from any other girl, but not from Toph. From Toph it was the last thing I expected.

So there she was, crying in front of me, and I had no idea what to do. As usual, though, that didn't stop me. I took her in my arms and held her as she cried and said she'd been waiting so long and I still didn't want her, and I couldn't say anything except we'd always be best friends, and that just made her cry harder.

And now we get to why I can't keep that promise. I finally figured out how I feel about Toph, and if she asked me again whether I liked her as more than a friend, I would have a different answer for her today than I did back then.

But now I'm too late. She's with another guy, and she's happy. They're both happy, and they're happy together, two conditions which sound like the same thing, but really aren't. It's selfish to say that I wish they weren't so happy together, but the fact of them being together makes me severely unhappy. I want Toph for myself, and the existence of a 'they' impedes my chances for a 'we' with Toph. And now I need to do something about.

But I'm not going to. If Toph and I are going to be together, she needs to know that it is she, and not I, who make that choice for her. When she was ready before, I wasn't ; and now that I'm ready, she's not. She gave me time to come to my senses and find my way to her, but right now I need to be her best friend and return the favor of understanding and patience. I will be her best friend for however long it takes, and when the day comes for me to ask whether she likes me as more than a friend, that will be the day I break my promise. Because when she answers me on that day, she will either say 'yes' and we'll become more than friends, or she'll say 'no' and our friendship will not survive our broken hearts.

And that is why I can't keep my promise to Toph and why I'm just no good at keeping any promise made to a woman at all. I will be her best friend for as long as she needs me, but I can't be her best friend forever. I just can't do that.

Because even though I can't keep a promise, I've made another one.

But this one's to myself.

I promise myself that I will never give up on Toph. I will wait for her, no matter how long it takes. Even if our friendship suffers, I will always be there for her because I don't want her to disappear from my life like Yue did, and I don't want us to become strangers like what happened with Suki. So I promise myself I will never give up on the girl I forever love because I already know that the vows I may take with her one day will be the promises I will forever keep.

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Fin

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A/N:

Not exactly bidding farewell to Tokka Week with an especially lovey-dovey funny fluffy piece with this one, but again, I wanted to try something different, and I like how this turned out. Did anyone notice that the entire thing is Sokka's train of thought, but his name is never mentioned (until just now)? I thought that would be a nice touch, an interesting bit of trivia for those who like that kind of thing (I love that kind of thing).

I originally thought about doing a similar reflective type of piece, except from Toph's perspective, but I switched to Sokka instead. I'm not entirely sure why I decided on him (except to say it was an inner, practically subconscious decision), but I can say with some degree of certainty that I balked at the idea of delivering a serious piece entirely from Toph's perspective. I might take a stab at writing a serious P.O.V. from her at some point, but tonight Sokka inspired me, and a smart writer knows never to dispute the muse. (Unless that muse provides only bad ideas more harmful than helpful!)

As always, I look forward to your all's feedback. And since this is the last day, I would like once again say Happy Tokka Week to all of you readers and fellow contributors out there, and, of course to Tokka Week organizers on deviantART, LiveJournal, ffnet, and everywhere else! Many, many thanks to all from this very satisfied Tokka fan!

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P.S.

I don't own Avatar, and I don't own Tokka Week.

I do own this fanfic, though, so please R/R!!