Tokka Week: Day 4
Prompt: It takes two to tango.
The Space Between
1. If Sokka could've gone back to that first night at the wrestling arena, he would've back placed a million bucks on the Blind Bandit, no matter how small or fragile she appeared. He'd have cheered for her all the way without a second thought, and claimed proudly that he'd always known she'd beat the Pebble into the ground.
And when she finally joined them that night, Sokka might've mentioned that he was cheering for the Blind Bandit the whole time, even when Aang blew her right off the stage.
Of course, he reminded himself mentally, it was for the winnings, naturally. Not for anything stupid like maybe the fact that he cared about her.
When Sokka told her this, Toph was smart enough to know it wasn't just a matter of money.
2. The next thing he knew after Earth Rumb VI, Toph left.
She felt the tiniest bit hurt that Sokka was the only one to even try to stop her.
Sokka was somewhat crushed that Toph failed to listen.
3. When Suki arrived in their little, oh-so-perfect-without-her group, she messed everything up from beginning. It was all garbled and strangled from the moment Sokka's heart spiked with the brush of her lips.
Toph's own pulse jumped as well. But not from affection, or excitement.
For Toph knew and understood from the moment Sokka's voice sung when he spoke her name, and the split second she noticed their hearts thudding in harmony with each other's (but not with her own).
There was no room for three in the game of love.
And thus, there was no room for Toph Bei Fong, either.
4. Suki left.
Toph was happy.
Sokka was someone perturbed by the fact that he didn't know what to feel.
5. They were in Ba Sing Se when it happened.
She walked out in a gorgeous, flowing dress, hair done atop her head and makeup on her face.
And then, Sokka understood.
Toph was a girl.
6. Surprisingly, it didn't change much. Perhaps he stared at her a little too much, that night posing as a mere server, or perhaps his thoughts wandered.
Once, Sokka caught her blush when he looked at her, and realized she could tell. But…that couldn't mean anything. Toph was a friend, nothing more.
Was Sokka misleading her? Was he being selfish by noticing this part of her? Wouldn't it be cruel to display interest in Toph, then move on—as Sokka knew he might? Even by the end of the night, he couldn't answer any of them.
The only thing Sokka did know by the time he stumbled into bed that night was that no matter what, he could not hurt her—not like he hurt Yue (he knew is was true) and Suki (he saw it in her eyes).
After that, Toph wasn't a girl anymore.
7. Ba Sing Se fell.
If it was Toph, Sokka'd have caught her.
8. They ventured into the Fire Nation with nothing but superficial disguises and prejudice.
They came back out with no one but each other.
9. Somewhere along the way, Toph became Sokka's best friend.
He wasn't sure when he realized it, either. But then again, perhaps Toph had always been there, by his side. It just took Sokka a while to notice it.
A memory returned to him—their reflections in the water, and words on his lips he has never spoken before—and then, Sokka knew.
Toph become his best friend when she heard what no one else had, and understood it.
10. Yes, Toph thought months later, with some despair, as Suki's hand intertwined with Sokka's beside the campfire. It was quite true.
It takes two to tango, and no more.
11. Sokka didn't want to live without Toph.
It hit him as she hung from the very tips of his fingers, one slip away from death; from the abyss. If Toph died, whom would he turn to? Who would he talk to, or joke with, or be understood by? Certainly not Aang, or Zuko, or Katara. Certainly not Suki.
Speaking of which, if Sokka's girlfriend hadn't come—hadn't saved them all—Toph would have dropped. Sokka owed Suki for that, at least.
And the, the soldiers would have come after him next.
It surprised Sokka to realize he wouldn't have stopped them.
12. Three years down the line, Sokka still liked Suki best.
He still loved Toph more.
13. Just in time, Suki left him instead. Again, but not.
This was different.
Either way, Sokka was relieved.
When the news reached her by way of Katara, it was Toph's turn not to know what to feel.
14. They met again, once more, on the dance floor. Sometimes, Toph quite thought Fate had a sense of irony.
"Hello, stranger," Sokka bowed. "May I have this dance?"
Toph frowned. "You better not step on my toes," she muttered, refusing to answer his question.
She had always been trying to follow in his footsteps, but a dancer is always limited to only one partner.
"Suki left," Toph stated offhandedly as they swayed to the music, her body pressed up against Sokka's like she'd always hoped for. But it wasn't enough, it never was.
"I noticed." Sokka drew away and spun her back, twirling like the beat of their hearts: faster, faster.
"And you've found someone else?" A beat, a chance, a moment in time.
A pause, and a fragile, daring hope. "Is it me?"
Sokka didn't answer her question, but merely commented, "It's nice to get back to just of the two of us. Three's a crowd."
"Love leaves room for only two," Toph responded, stopping her own heart—her own foolish wishes—in the middle of a beat. Failing. And then, restarting.
Sokka raised an eyebrow. "Really. Glad you noticed. After all…" He spun her closed, and smiled. Really smiled. Grinned. "Haven't you heard?"
He leaned forward, playfully serious, and confided in her—just her, because really, Toph was the only to ever need to know, "It takes two to tango."