Sokka looked at the midnight's moon as he settled himself next to the sleeping Earthbender. Her breathing had been labored and he had worried about her all night. Was she okay? Was she homesick? Or…was it something else?
He shook his head, trying to clear away the excess thoughts so he could focus on her; focus on Toph.
She shivered inside her sleeping bag, though it was warm enough to sleep out in the open for a change. Restless and tossing, an arm flew out and hit Sokka in the side of his leg. Muffling an outcry, he gently pulled her head into his lap. Let's hope she doesn't wake up, huh Yue? he thought ruefully to himself, staring into the blinding white beauty of the full moon.
Sokka sat and absently stroked Toph's hair as he thought over the past few days. They had been hard on Toph and he was almost certain that was part of what was wrong. First, it had rained continuously for the past week, wherever they traveled, and it had messed with her ability to see since the raindrops' vibrations were all over the place. On top of that there was an incident with the campfire, burned feet, and flying – all of which Toph hated for different reasons.
All leading up to tough, tom-boy Toph, whimpering in her sleep and causing the only non-bender in the group to be worried sick for her. Warrior Sokka, he thought, grinning through the fading fire towards where everyone else was sleeping soundly. What a joke.
Toph shifted again in her sleep and Sokka found himself rubbing circles in her back. "You'll be better soon, I know," he whispered to her. "I'll make sure."
He knew it would be his job – never a burden, not for her, he thought – to carry around the stubborn Earthbender until her feet were healed. He also knew she would complain and try to insist that she was fine, and he'd let her walk around a bit –but not very long, can't let her get hurt anymore than she already is- and say she was fine, watching her as she winced with pain in every step. But none of it would matter. He would insist right back that she needed help since she couldn't see very well without her feet.
A name and a string of unintelligible words were murmured by the hurt Earthbender. "Sokka…iloveyouandjustwantyoutobesafe…"
He smiled to himself, knowing she was dreaming of a long-ago battle. When they Defeated Ozai five years ago, he knew that it took the greatest toll on Toph. She almost died and it was his fault. If Suki hadn't come at that exact moment…well, Sokka didn't want to think about it. Toph meant too much to him and he knew that in that moment he would have sacrificed himself to save her.
Sokka continued to rub her back, feeling sleep sneaking up behind him. No, can't sleep, he tried to reason with himself. Not when she's so fragile, so breakable, so…beautiful. For the first time, Sokka truly understood why the Bei Fong's had treated Toph with such care. She could be rendered helpless in a second, in a single accident; a single second when he was being careless.
He laid next to Toph, never once jostling her or letting up on his protective grip on her waist. I'll just lay here and have a short cat-nap. Yeah, that sounds great…still be able to protect her.
Just as Sokka was suppressing a yawn, the moon once called Princess Yue looked down and cried asilver tear for the boy she'd love forever and the little blind girl who loves him – the one who deserved him more than anyone else.