Title: Ember Island Truths
Pairings: Zuko/Katara, Toph/Aang, Sokka/Suki, and Mai/Ty Lee.
Summary: After the Team Avatar experiences some really bad breakups one right after another, Aang and Sokka devise a way to win back the hearts of their girls: A love potion, of course! Unfortunately, things don't go as planned, and an unexpected effect of the potion may cause some real feelings to get reveled.
A/N: THANK YOU xlovelylightx and Nephthysmoon for being awesome and speedy betas!
This chapter is a doozy; it goes lulz, drama, romance, lulz, and then some angst.
Also, it's my first time even attempting to write yuri--be nice.
When Aang woke up again, Toph and Sokka were standing over him.
"Uh, you okay, buddy?" Sokka asked, more amused than concerned. "You kinda passed out on us there."
"Yeah, way to wuss out like usual." Toph smiled, punching him hard in the shoulder, her own special way of showing affection.
It was strange. Even though Aang knew Toph would soon fall madly in love with him (thanks to the potion that seemed to have a special quality for making Aang increasingly miserable), she was still just Toph, and was acting completely normal.
Maybe she doesn't have secret feelings for me? Aang thought curiously. The thought was like a double-edged sword. On one hand, if she didn't have secret feelings for him, that was one less problem the potion had brought for them. Yet on the other hand, it sort of stung to know that nobody in their little gang had feelings for him that derived from the usual friendship, even if it was just an awkward and possibly one-sided crush.
"You're spacing out again." Toph hit him a little harder this time. "Do you feel alright, Twinkles?"
Aang blinked. "Uh, yeah, I'm fine."
Toph didn't seem convinced. "You aren't lying…but you aren't being completely honest, either. What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I'm just…worried."
Quick, think of something! "Uh, you, actually. You drank that fruit punch, and we think it might've gone bad."
If Toph noticed he was lying, she didn't act like it. "Awww, Twinkles…" She said amiably, her face turning a light pink. "That's the sweetest thing you've ever said to me!"
Aang could feel the blood rushing to his face. "Well, you're my friend. Of course I'm going to worry about you."
She leaned over and planted a nice big wet one right on his cheek. "For that, I'll forgive you for lying to me just now."
She then hit him a little lighter a third time on his other shoulder. As she walked away, Aang couldn't help but notice the slight sway of her hips, something that must have occurred in the past year or so.
"Man, I know you're madly in love with my sister and all, but if I were you, I'd chase her down and tap that while you still have the chance."
The thought was mildly tempting. Aang hated to admit it, but Toph was pretty. Not in the drop-dead-gorgeous-sparkling eyes pretty Katara was, but pretty nonetheless. It was a sort of hidden beauty, one you had to look past all the dirt and tough-talk to find. The fact that she seemed to like him, really like-like him, was really flattering and made his heart beat a little faster.
And then he remembered that Katara was his One True Love (even if she didn't know it half the time), and shook the thought away.
"Yes, but I love Katara, Sokka. I know she's the girl for me, and once I convince her that we're made for each other, I'm sure we'll live happily ever after!"
"Whatever," Sokka shrugged. "You go keep an eye on Unexpected Lovers #1 and #2, I'll stay here and guard the potion."
By 'guard', he obviously meant 'nap by'.
(What? He was tired. All this drama had worn him out. Plus, he was a growing boy, and boys needed their rest.)
Either way, it made Ty Lee giggle as she walked right by him.
"Aw, so cute!" She said, tiptoeing over him to get the glasses sitting on the table. She and Mai had been dying of thirst since they got here, so Ty Lee had snuck to the kitchens to get something to drink. When she saw the glasses sitting on the table unceremoniously beside Sokka's sleeping body, she assumed the glasses were meant for them. So she patted Sokka on the head cheerfully, grabbed two glasses of what she assumed was fruit punch, and almost walked right into Suki on her way out.
"Oh good!" Suki said smiling. "You found drinks! Everyone's been so thirsty…"
Ty Lee nodded, and kicked the door back open with her foot. "Yeah, they're right back there, beside Sokka."
Suki's eyes narrowed at Sokka's name, but still nodded and followed the direction of Ty Lee's foot.
Ty Lee, meanwhile, continued her journey to find Mai, only to find her seething in Zuko's general direction.
"Look at him," Mai seethed. "Look at how sodding happy he is. He was never that happy with me."
Ty Lee winced as Mai's aura grew steadily blacker and blacker. "Now now, Mai, I thought we were past this. You don't need him, and he doesn't even deserve you."
Mai's posture changed just slightly in retaliation. "You're right. I don't need him, the jerk." She the plucked the glass straight out of Ty Lee's hands. "Thank you, Ty Lee."
"Aw, you're welcome!" Ty Lee said cheerfully as Mai guzzled the entire drink in one sitting. "'Sides, I never thought the two of you were that great of a couple, anyway. I don't think he ever really did appreciate you like he should have."
Mai didn't answer. Instead, Mai just sort of stared at her. It kind of freaked Ty Lee out a bit.
"Oh no, you're staring! Do I have something on my face? Get it off, get it off!" Ty Lee began searching around frantically for a mirror before Mai stopped her.
"You don't have anything on your face, Ty Lee." Mai said with a gentle smile, an unusual presence on the unemotional girl's face. "In fact, you're rather beautiful."
Ty Lee blushed at the compliment. It was so unlike Mai to point things like that out, but it was a nice change. Ty Lee enjoyed it, certainly.
"Thank you, Mai." The teenaged girl said, surprisingly somber. "You aren't that bad looking yourself, you know? I'm sure you'll find a nice guy somewhere to appreciate you."
"What if I don't want a guy?" Mai whispered shyly, her pale face turning scarlet. "I mean, never mind me, Ty Lee. I'm just being stupid. It's just, you've been such friend to me, and most friends wouldn't go through what you've gone through for me, and I feel like I haven't appreciated you enough and--"
Ty Lee lifted up one finger and pressed it against Mai's mouth, silencing her. "It's okay…" she whispered, her face turning as red as Mai's was. "I--I like you too."
So when Mai leaned in to kiss her, deeply and unashamedly, Ty Lee kissed back just as boldly, her glass on the table left abandoned and untouched, the potion never needed for Ty Lee's already-present feelings.
If only every pair had been so lucky…
Sokka woke up to Suki's foot in his chest.
"OW!" He yelped. "What was that for?"
Suki's glare was searing. "I can't believe you would be so lazy. You planned this party just to sneak to the back to sleep?"
"Of course not!" Sokka jumped up clumsily. "I was guar--uh, never mind. I guess I just fell asleep on accident."
Suki raised her eyebrow, but decided against questioning him. "Whatever. I just came back her to get something to drink."
She then brushed past him and grabbed a glass off the table before taking off.
It took Sokka a few seconds to figure out exactly what had happened.
Shit! He thought, and chased after her.
"Suki, wait, don't drink that!" His ex-girlfriend stopped in her tracks, whirling around to face Sokka.
"Why? I'm thirsty, and if you give me some stupid reason--"
"It's a love potion," Sokka blurted out before he really thought about it. "I was going to have you drink a love potion to fall in love with me."
Suki stared down at the glass then gazed back up at Sokka, then back down at the glass again. "You—you were going to use a love potion on me?" She blinked, unsure of her feelings right now. "I--I—what made you stop me from drinking it?"
Sokka took the glass out of her hand and sat it down on the table next to them. Time for his moment of glory, his Oscar-winning performance for Best Delivered Sappy Romantic Speech. Sokka lived for this sort of glory.
"Because I love you, Suki," he answered honestly. "And I want you to love me. And I guess I've realized that I want you to love me out of real love, not something I forced you into. I just wanted to get back with you so bad that I was willing to do anything to win back your heart, though now I realize it's something you should give freely. And I'm sorry I forgot to write to you, but I guess it's too late for that…I just hope that maybe someday you can forgive me, and maybe even love me again."
Suki's icy exterior melted before Sokka's eyes. Hook.
"Oh, Sokka." Suki wiped a tear from her eye. "Did you really mean it?"
"I meant every word." Line…
The next thing he knew was Suki's warm arms engulfing him, her soft lips tangled with his own. Score!
When the two of them wandered off to find some nice 'privacy' time, it never occurred to him that he had left a full glass of the love potion unguarded and out in the open where anyone could pick it up…
"I think I'm going to go talk to Katara," Zuko said brightly, standing up with the intention to win over the fair maiden's heart. "Maybe the two of us can get together some time, and do an activity or something."
Aang pushed Zuko back in his chair. "No, you can't do that."
"But why not?"
Aang seethed. "Because Katara and I just broke up, and that would make you look rather insensitive, don't you think? Besides, you wouldn't want me to start dating Mai, would you?"
Zuko looked around the room for his ex-beau, and then chuckled. "If you want her, you can have her!" He pointed over to the two teenaged girls trading spit. "You may have to pry her away from Ty Lee, though."
Aang's face turned as red as Zuko's armor. "That's not the point and you know it!"
Zuko kept laughing. "Whatever. I'm still going to go talk to her. You don't have to follow me around, you know. Go bother someone else."
Then Zuko left, leaving Aang clueless as to how he managed to leave so stealthily, and alone. At least Katara hasn't taken the potion. Aang thought optimistically, daydreaming about Zuko trying to flirt with Katara, only to have Katara freak out and severally injure him.
What Aang hadn't known was that Katara had taken the potion. When Sokka had sat Suki's drink down, effectively stopping her from drinking it, he had left an unguarded glass full of the potion just sitting there. All Katara had seen was Sokka putting the glass down. And, well, she was thirsty. And Sokka was her brother. She had drunk after him so many times it wasn't even funny.
So when Katara walked up to the table and picked up Sokka's disregarded glass, nobody thought to tell her that the drink was, in fact, a love potion, and that drinking it would bring forward any suppressed romantic feelings for the first person she saw or heard.
Which is why she was caught so off guard when Zuko ran up to her, eager to talk to her about seemingly nothing.
When he ran, his hair bounced and flourished like some male protagonist off of the cover of those ridiculous romance novels that she did not read damn it. His golden eyes sparkled like rays of sunlight, shining just for her. His scar, which she barely noticed anyway, seemed more subdued, like it had shrunk somehow.
"Kataaarrrraaa," he purred, his breath smelling sweet. "I must say, you look amazingly sexy tonight."
She could swear his bulging triceps winked at her. Hi there, they said dreamily, ignoring the fact that Zuko was wearing not only a long-sleeved shirt but also a coat of heavy armor.
At least, that's what Katara thought she saw and heard. What Zuko really said was:
"Katara," He said, smiling in a dorky fashion. "You look really pretty tonight. I mean, you look pretty every night, but there's something really special about you today, I think it's your hair."
Katara didn't hear that. And if she did, she didn't hear it in the high-pitched, talking-entirely-too-fast voice Zuko was currently speaking in. Instead, she heard it in the deep, sultry sound Zuko used on her once before…I'll save you from the pirates…
"Did you do something to your hair? Or maybe it's your dress, and the way it fits your sha--never mind. Anyway I just wanted to say Ithinkyou'reprettygoodbye."
As he turned and walked away (most likely out of embarrassment), Katara couldn't help but notice what a shapely butt Zuko had.
"I want to freeze Zuko to a wall, tear off all his clothes, and screw his brains out."
Toph spit out her drink. "Okay, you know what? I could have lived my entire life without knowing that. Why did you tell me that?"
Katara shrugged beside her companion. "I don't know. I had to tell someone."
"Why not Suki?" Toph offered gingerly.
(In her mind, Katara imagined what it would be like if she had asked Suki.
"You have the hots for Zuko?" the Suki in her mind said smugly. "Freeze him to a wall and fuck his brains out."
Mental!Katara squirmed in her seat. "But what if he doesn't like me?"
Mental!Suki smiled a vicious smile. "Like a said, freeze him to a wall and fuck his brains out. He'll start to like you, I promise.")
Katara frowned. "I think she would have been a little too honest. Besides, I need some advice."
This girl was seriously coming to Toph for romance advice? What was wrong with her? "Well, if you like him, you like him. Why don't you just tell him?"
Katara bit her lip. "I can't."
"Pride, mostly," Katara admitted honestly. "See, if I jump Zuko, it makes me look desperate and needy. Plus, I look insensitive because I just broke up with Aang."
Toph rolled her eyes. "Then, I dunno, wait? I didn't even know you had a thing for Zuko, anyway."
"I didn't," Katara confessed. "But he's wearing his armor today. And the last time he was that close to me wearing his armor, he tied me to a tree."
Toph bit her lip uncomfortably. "And that makes you want to…sleep with him?"
"Oh, you have no idea." Katara swooned.
"Right. Unfortunate as it is, I don't care about your relationship problems. Go, I dunno, make out with Zuko or something."
Katara pinched her teasingly. "Oh, fine, be that way."
And she left, leaving Toph alone in peace and silence for roughly thirty seconds.
Then Zuko plumped down beside her unexpectedly.
"I want to fuck Katara against a wall hard and fast, and I don't know why," he said by way of a greeting, as though that was something all friends talked about.
Toph broke the glass she was holding.
"Well, I'm sure she feels the same way. Maybe the two of you should go sort out your problems rather than telling me these things I don't want to hear!"
Zuko fidgeted nervously. "But I don't think she likes me like that--"
"I'm sure she does!"
"And besides, I can't go to her now," Zuko explained breezily. "If I jumped her, I'd look desperate and needy. Not to mention insensitive, because I just broke up with Mai."
Toph just kind of stared wordlessly. Did they…did they just quote each other?
"Plus, she's my best friend—"
"What am I, chopped liver?"
Zuko turned towards Toph, concern written all over his face. "I have four best friends, mind you, and I love you all equally."
Toph snorted. "Except for Katara, who you want to fuck against a wall."
"Yes," Zuko said without missing a beat, seemingly missing her sarcasm. "I'm afraid our friendship may suddenly become rather strained if that were to happen."
Toph twitched. "Is your drink alcoholic?"
Zuko stared down at the cup in his hand, suddenly worried. "I dunno, I found it in the back behind the other drinks. Probably…Why? What does that have anything to do with what we were talking about?"
Toph didn't answer; she just grabbed the glass from Zuko's hand and guzzled it down in one fell swoop. She put the now-empty glass back in Zuko's hands firmly.
"Here. Solve your own damn relationship problems. I don't care."
Toph couldn't explain it then, but she had a sudden desire to see Twinkletoes. She wanted to see him. She wanted to grind him in the dirt and make him tell her what he was lying about this morning. She wanted to hit him for making her blush, for making her unsure. She wanted him to stop obsessing so much with Sugar Queen and to start paying attention to the girls around him, girls like her.
Mostly, she wanted to kiss him, and she had no idea why. The thought of kissing Twinkletoes had never occurred to her. To her, Twinkletoes was almost genderless, a chaste monk without hormones or a working sex drive. She hadn't thought about Twinkletoes as an actual boy in years, not since she first met him, when he encouraged her to escape from the prison she had called a home for years. Back then, she liked to pretend that Twinkletoes was her knight in shining armor, that he had whisked her away from her overbearing parents only to run away with her into the sunset on top of a flying bison.
That little fantasy, however, had died a rather painful death the moment Aang had shown that Appa clearly meant more to him than Toph ever would. And call her selfish, but Toph liked to think she was worth more than a smelly bison, even if he was Aang's only living connection to his nomadic ways.
But now, for some stupid, stupid reason, she was entertaining the thought of kissing him. Maybe more, if the kiss went well.
Quite frankly, she didn't see a reason not to. Katara had made it quite clear that she didn't want anything to do with Aang romantically, and really, a bit of kissing might cheer the boy up.
Luckily, unlike most of her kind, Toph was a woman of action, and if she wanted to do something, and there was nothing particular harmful stopping her, the she would go after it.
So she walked up to Twinkletoes, grabbed him by his stupid monk-ish collar, and pulled him in for what had to be the most surprising kiss of his life.
It was nice, Toph thought, her lips pressed against Twinkles'. His mouth was warm and inviting and tasted like some sort of fruit. It was a nice kiss, though it should have been deeper, should have had more meaning.
Should have had less of Aang pulling away.
"Toph," he sounded really confused. "Why--why did you do that?"
She could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks. "Isn't it obvious?"
He pulled away slowly. "Toph, I--I'm sorry, I just don't feel the same way."
She punched him in the chest and smiled. "It's alright, Twinkletoes! I was just messing around with you! Like I'd actually like you, anyway!"
She whirled around as fast as she could, hoping he didn't see her cry.
Aang stood there dumbfounded.
Never in a million years would have he imagined Toph Beifong walking up to him, kissing him senseless, and then leaving in a fit of tears.
(Toph could cry? Seriously? The thought made him feel really guilty.)
It's for the best, though. He thought soberly. It was better to break her heart now than to lead her on, only to have tomorrow revealed that she didn't really like him like that anyway. It was for the best, even though it hurt, because Toph was a really good kisser for a blind girl, even better than Ka--
He stopped what he was thinking and stood up. No more, he thought depressively--time to do what he had set out to do in the first place--to make Katara fall in love with him again.
And he knew just the person to help him find her…
"So Mai and Ty Lee are still making out, I see," Aang said gingerly, plopping himself down beside Zuko, trying not to let his despair show.
Zuko took a long gulp from his glass, which Aang was beginning to suspect had alcohol in it. "You have no idea how many times I've had that dream."
Aang figured he could have lived his entire life without knowing that.
The pair sat there in silence, waiting and watching as the two teenager girls' sucked face. It showed how depressed Aang was that he wasn't more aroused than this. (What? Ty Lee was hot.)
Finally, Zuko spoke up. "What's wrong with me?"
Books could be written about what all was wrong with Zuko, but Aang decided to give the guy a break. "Nothing. Why?"
"This should be hot," he mumbled. "This should be the hottest thing I've ever seen. I've spent many nights dreaming about this exact thing, and now it's happening and I don't care."
Aang shrugged. "Maybe you just have other things on your mind?" Aang certainly did.
Zuko planted his face into his hands. "I know! All I keep thinking about is how wonderful Katara is and how hot it would be if she were in the middle of Mai and Ty Lee and how much I lo…"
Zuko gasped; Aang's eyes bugged out.
"What were you about to say?" Aang screeched lowly, trying not to draw attention to them. For some reason, it was very important that Aang hear what Zuko was about to say.
Zuko let out a small breath he hadn't know he had been holding. "How much I…love her."
Aang punched him in the face.
It was a spontaneous reaction, Aang figured, but one he wouldn't take back for the world.
"What is wrong with you?" Aang screamed, yet still keeping his voice relatively quiet. "I love her! A few weeks ago, you were dating Mai and you were happy--"
"I'm never happy."
"—and I was with Katara and Sokka was with Suki and we were all happy and--"
Zuko pursed his bloody lip. "We must not have been too happy, seeing as we all broke up within a few weeks of each other."
Aang's eyes narrowed. "That doesn't mean we weren't happy--that's all your fault, by the way. Breaking up with Mai, causing her to go to Ty Lee, who caused Sokka and Suki—"
"You keep mentioning these events like they're related." Zuko pushed himself off of the floor. "They aren't. What didn't work between Mai and me has nothing to do with you and Katara."
Aang narrowed his eyes. "Then why did Katara break up with me after talking to Suki? Why did she dump me then, huh?"
"Maybe talking to Suki gave her the courage to do something she's wanted to do for a while," Zuko said coolly. "Perhaps it made her realize that, despite how happy and perfect everything was suppose to be, she herself wasn't really all that happy."
The words stung deep within his core. The fact that he had loved and adored Katara for so long had become second nature to him. The thought that Katara didn't return his feelings was a foreign concept.
"I love her," Aang said firmly, unwilling to admit how much Zuko's comment had unnerved him. "And she loves me. I'm sure of it."
Zuko raised his lone eyebrow curiously. "How? Has she ever told you so?"
"She doesn't have to!" Aang growled. "I know she loves me!"
"Oh yeah?" Zuko crossed his arms. "How many times has she kissed you?"
Aang flayed his arms around wildly. "Thousands of times! We kissed all the time!" It was a mild exaggeration--Katara was always a bit awkward with the kissing, seeing as she was still a bit taller than him.
Zuko shook his head. "You misunderstand me. How many times has she kissed you?"
It was such a stupid question, yet Aang struggled to come up with an answer.
The silence was unnerving.
"Give me one time," Zuko said smugly. "Give me one time that she initiated the kiss, and I—"
"Ba Sing Se." Aang spoke out. "After the war, at Ba Sing Se. We were standing on the balcony, and she kissed me, and we've been happily together ever since."
Zuko's eyes narrowed until they were nothing more than thin slits of gold. "You never gave her a chance to say no, did you?"
Aang steamed. "She could have said no any time she wanted!"
Zuko scoffed. "Of course she could have, I mean, look at how you've behaved ever since the two of you broke up! No wonder she didn't break up with you before, if you've acted like such an immature—"
"Just because I used a love potion to make her--" Suddenly Aang realized what he said, and his hands flew up to his mouth, hoping to cover his mistake.
But Zuko had heard every word.
"You've got five seconds," he breathed heavily "To explain to me what you just said. Because if it's what I think you just said, Avatar or not, I will beat you to a bloody pulp." Zuko breathed steam. "How dare you. I honestly cannot believe what I just heard. You would use a love potion to make Katara fall in love with you? That's low, Aang. That's pathetic. You wouldn't even let her choose--"
"But Katara didn't take the potion!" Aang squeaked, feeling oddly small with Zuko towering over him with a look of rage in his eyes.