A/N: *sits in the Box of Shame* *places a Dunce Cap on her head* I can't believe I forgot about this story. I was so wrapped up in my other one that I've been a terrible owner to this one. Ugh. I feel ashamed. *cries in humiliation*
And don't worry. I still remembered my promise: this will be finished soon. Hopefully before I start school, but I may have to give up a few weekends once I start getting homework again. But rest assured I've gotten a sudden surge of motivation. I'm in a writing frenzy. Let's hope it lasts.
It's More Than Enough
The first thing that Toph noticed in the morning was that she was abnormally warm.
Normally during her travels with her friends, she was perfectly fine with just her rock tent and the breeze around her. Sokka and Katara were really the only ones that slept in sleeping bags along with quilts and sheets. She supposed Aang preferred Appa to the ground. She understood that. After all, Appa was really fuzzy. He probably made a warm, comfy bed. But she was probably the only one that slept on the cold, hard ground without any covers. Not that she minded. It was just a fact.
But she didn't remember putting up a rock tent last night. In fact, she didn't even remember getting off of Appa last night. Yet she magically appeared here…wait, where was here?
She was on the ground. That much was completely obvious. She could feel the forest around her as well as the strange heartbeat not too far away that probably belonged to Appa, who was actually wide awake and sounded eager to get going. She felt a pile of wood and branches next to her, which probably meant that Aang started a fire last night. As she brought her hand a little closer, she felt the heat from the embers that were probably still glowing. She sort of recalled Aang placing in front of the fire last night, but that definitely wasn't why she was so warm.
She sat up and rolled her head around, loosening the muscles in her neck. Right away, she felt her leg still throbbing under the bandages Aang had placed there yesterday. Granted, it didn't hurt as much anymore, but she still felt the blood rushing to her leg in a hurry to try and repair the damage inflicted. She raised her arms in order to crack the kinks out of her shoulders when she felt something fall of her shoulders and flutter to the ground. She reached and noticed the blankets that must have been covering her and keeping her warm the entire time.
She smiled quickly. Aang probably covered her last night.
And for good reasons, she commented right away. She remembered that they were supposed to land along the coastline yesterday and then make their way across to the Earth Kingdom—which meant a whole day of flying over water. Joy, she muttered to herself. But the breeze from the sea was really rather cold, despite the fact that it was supposed to be quite hot outside like it had been for the past few days. She actually felt goose bumps rise on her arms which were exposed to the cold.
She hopped up on her feet, being careful with her leg which was still hurting a bit. Thanks to the medicine that Aang had with him, she could probably limp now. But knowing him, Aang would probably make her keep her weight off of it for a while. She supposed he was right. But it was moments like these that she kind of wished Sugar Queen was around. Only being able to Earth Bend with one leg was going to be torturous.
Toph rubbed her hands roughly down her arms. This was insane. It was boiling yesterday, yet today it felt as if the temperature dropped by double. She didn't plan for cold weather, so her short sleeved shirt did absolutely nothing in terms of warming her up. She grumbled loudly and grabbed the blanket that was covering her this morning and wrapped it around herself twice. At least Aang was smart enough to bring warm blankets. But honestly, who planned for fall weather in the middle of the summer?
"I see you're awake."
Ugh, Toph chastised herself. It seemed like every time he spoke to her, her heart would start hammering. How was she supposed to remain calm around him when her body kept betraying her like this?
Toph nodded reluctantly and hugged the blanket around her tighter. "I guess. Though if sleeping means being unaware of this bipolar weather, I'm kind of regretting the fact that I'm awake."
Aang shrugged and pulled his long-sleeved robes closer to him. "Yeah. I guess there's a cold front sweeping through. It happens. It'll probably be scorching tomorrow like always."
"How did you know to bring blankets?"
Aang walked over to Appa and started fitting his saddle back on. "I didn't. I just keep that stuff back on Appa just in case. You never know what you need, you know?"
Toph heard Appa grunt as Aang secured the saddle and started fitting on the reins. "How's your leg?" he called loudly.
Toph kicked her foot and bent a pile of rocks on top of the embers, putting out the fire until there was only smoke rising up. "It's okay, I guess. I can put weight on it at least, but I'm probably going to be limping for the next couple of days. The Water Bending you did might have actually healed it a lot."
"As long as you're okay," he called back. Then she heard him snort softly. "Although, it is a little bit of a shame; I would've loved to carry you onto Appa," he teased, smirking.
"Oh, shut up!" she shouted back. "You're never going to let me live this down are you?"
He laughed. "Nope, not at all."
Toph simply scowled at him and turned away.
"We're going to have to get you more bandages when we land, you know," he shouted over to her. "Those aren't going to last you long," he told her, referring to the bandages that were still covering her leg from yesterday.
"I'm sure it's fine," she assured.
But he simply shook his head and called back to her again. "Nope. You're supposed to change them every day. But I don't have any more clothes that I can afford to rip up and I'm out of actual bandages. So when we land, I'll wrap you up again."
Toph felt a gust of wind as Aang landed in front of her without making a single sound. He looked around quickly to make sure that they didn't forget anything, muttering his checklist of items to himself as reassurance. Toph dragged herself over to Appa, moving as much as she possibly could in the process so that she could shake off the cold.
"Are you really that cold?" Aang asked. He sounded more concerned than anything else.
Toph nodded her head furiously. "I like it better when it's warm outside. Cold weather is absolutely diabolical."
Aang shrugged and placed a hand on her shoulder. He leaned his head in closer and whispered into your ear. "Are you sure you don't want another hug? You might warm up." He laughed to himself as he walked back over to Appa, leaving Toph to glare dangerously at him from a distance.
Toph rolled her eyes in annoyance. "You know, you're going to regret making fun of me when I find something to make fun of you with."
"Try all you want," Aang shrugged, settling himself on Appa's head with the reins in his hands.
Toph responded with a scowl as she Earth Bended a pillar of Earth and walked on to Appa's saddle, minding her burnt leg the entire time. "Oh I will try. I'm a natural born con artist. I'll get something."
"So what, are you planning blackmail me now?"
Toph shook her head and looked offended. "No! I would never do that to a friend," she smiled cunningly.
Aang stared at her strangely before throwing his arms up into the air in frustration. "I don't win with you. Ever."
"And you're not going to," she added happily.
"Then again," Aang said slowly. "I did win when I said I could make your face turn colors."
"Look, until you find something on me—which you won't—I'll tease you all I want," Aang chuckled.
Toph pouted angrily. He's getting too freaking bold. It isn't fair.
"We'll just wait. I'll get my dirt. Don't you worry."
"Whatever you say Toph," he said in a sing-song voice.
He signaled Appa and Toph immediately felt the air start to blow around her face as they took off into the air. Mentally preparing herself for the terribly long and unfortunately continuous journey in store for her, she spread out her legs, and lay spread eagle on the saddle. Aang lifted Appa of off the ground and towards the ocean. Toph wrapped the blanket closer to her as the wind chill made the temperature drop rapidly. It probably wouldn't have been a big deal to people like Katara or Sokka who were bred to live in freezing temperatures, but being born in the Earth Kingdom, she absolutely hated cold weather of any kind. Thus explained her seemingly ridiculous but highly necessary fashion statement that consisted of a blanket wrapped as tight as a cocoon around her body.
It didn't take long for Appa to fly level and get a feel for the direction he was going in. The wind started to die down and it was soon nothing more than an occasional breeze. Thankfully, although it was still rather cold, the wind wouldn't be adding to the frigid temperatures anymore. She was able to hear the crashing waves below her and even heard some birds flying not too far away from Appa himself. Aang muttered something to Appa before he let go of the reins and sat himself across from Toph, who was still wrapped tightly in her blanket.
"You're not going to steer Appa?" she asked.
Aang shook his head and leaned his back against the edge of the saddle. "Nah, he knows where he's going. As soon as we hit land we're going to get off anyway."
"Do you know where we're going?" Toph questioned.
"Of course I do," he answered. "There's a town that I've been to before that's near the edge of the Earth Kingdom. We'll be able to stay there for the night and hopefully get a nice comfortable bed until we have to leave the next morning. It's a bit north, but all we have to do is travel East for a little bit and we'll hit Ba Sing Se. We'll probably get to Kuei late tomorrow afternoon."
Toph smirked. "Impressive itinerary; But when are we going to eat? I don't want to be stuck up here for an entire day with nothing to eat. I'll die."
Aang shook his head and sighed. "First of all, we're not going to be stuck up here all day like you think. We'll reach the Earth Kingdom village in a few hours. Then we can stay there for the night and slink over to Ba Sing Se. Second of all, you're not going to die. I snitched some food from the kitchens in the Fire Palace before we left."
Aang moved around Toph and dug into the packs that he had placed in the back of the saddle. Toph blew into her hands while she heard Aang rummaging through bags and bags of who-knew-what that he took the trouble of lugging on to the saddle. Almost immediately, he popped his head out of the packs and came out with his arms filled with food.
Toph unwrapped her blanket enough to allow her arms to poke out. Aang grabbed her hands and pressed a bundle of something wrapped in a napkin in one hand along with a smaller, drawstring bag that seemed to be letting off a lot of heat. She heard a thump in front of her as Aang jumped in front of her with his own to bags of food, and started to undo the knot on the first bundle he gave her.
"What did you grab?" she asked, pulling at the cloth.
"The bigger one is just some vegetable dumplings. The cooks had made one batch too many, so they gave me the extras for me to eat. So I split them with you."
"What's this then?" Toph asked, holding up the drawstring bag in her other hand.
"Fire Flakes," he said happily. "You might want to wait until they cool off though. Sokka always said they're really hot if you eat them right away."
"Cool," Toph nodded. "Though I have to say, I don't really understand Fire Nation cuisine." She bit thoughtfully into a boiled dumpling and breathed a sigh of relief as food started to collect in her stomach.
"Why?" Aang said, his mouth probably filled with food.
"They use too many spices," she explained. "I mean, all of their dishes are spicy, all of them. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the spiciness too much. I can handle it. But there's such a thing as moderation." She shook her head, taking another bite of her dumpling. "They probably burned off all of their taste buds, That's why the spiciness doesn't bother them."
"Well, the dumplings taste fine," Aang commented, stuffing more boiled dough and vegetables in his mouth.
"That's probably because there's no meat in them," Toph explained, taking extremely smaller bites than Aang was. "I heard they season entire Komodo Chickens with a whole barrel of spices."
"I don't doubt that," Aang shuddered suddenly. "I mean,they probably have to douse it in spices just so people will eat it. I heard that it's a pain to eat."
"It is," Toph grumbled. "It's so hard to chew that it's not even worth it. Yet all these nobles put them on their fine cuisine menus. I swear, sometimes I'm glad I grew up in the Earth Kingdom."
Aang nodded and sighed. "Yeah. I have to admit, that feast they made for us at your parent's house was pretty tasty," Aang complimented, drawling out the last two words to emphasize his point. His eyes started to sparkle and his voice sounded far away. "Especially that egg custard tart."
Toph laughed. "Figures you'd fantasize about the sweets. Sweetness says you go crazy every time you see an egg custard tart."
"Are you kidding?" Aang exclaimed loudly. "The Earth Kingdom is genius for coming up with such a delicious dessert! I could eat it all day."
"Fine," she smirked. "Let's remember to buy some when we land before you explode."
By the time the two of them had eaten through their dumplings and started dipping into the Fire Flakes, they couldn't be more grateful for the snack. Despite the fact that it heated up their palates to the point where they had to stick their tongues out into the cold air just to cool them down, it warmed up their entire bodies and allowed for them to ignore the particularly chilly weather. She figured it was exactly like that oddly warm day that always popped up in the middle of the winter, so thought nothing of it.
The ride to the Earth Kingdom, which Toph had expected to be rather dull and uneventful, turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. Aang was sitting directly across from Toph and had his arms folded behind his head. Toph was on her stomach, fiddling with her space bracelet and turning into as many shapes, figures, and formations she could think of. One thing she was thankful of was that the two of them never had a moment where they were bored with each other. Whenever the two of them decided to remain silent, it was always a comfort and never awkward. More often than not, they were always speaking, let it be about complete and utter nonsense, or something that might actually be important. Time with Aang always had a habit of escaping from her to the point where she never knew if it had been two minutes or two hours with him.
Bottom line, she was never bored with him. Especially when their talks happened to travel to the strange end of the spectrum.
"I'm just saying that there's no way Sparky keeps his hair that silky without a hairdresser," Toph argued.
"There's no way that Zuko would subject himself to sitting in front of a vanity while people were messing with his hair," Aang retorted, popping another handful of Fire Flakes in his mouth.
"Think about it," Toph said carefully, leaning over and tapping the side of Aang's head. "His hair is never unruly, it's always smooth and silky—trust me, I've pulled out his topknot enough to know—and yet Katara swears there is not even a single comb or hair product in his room. Not one! Either he's a magician or he has people who fix his hair for him."
"Maybe his hair is just like that naturally," Aang shrugged. "I mean, I've heard of people that roll out of bed without doing their hair, and it turns out perfect every single time."
Toph wasn't buying it. "Whoever said that is a liar. There's no way your hair looks good right after you roll out of bed. It's impossible. People always do something to their hair. And because Sparky doesn't know the first thing about hair care, he pays people to do it for him."
"Maybe he's too afraid to reveal to the world that he knows how to style hair," Aang thought. "Maybe he keeps all of his brushes, hair products, and combs hidden and only takes them out to use on his hair when no one is looking."
Toph nodded slowly, carefully thinking over Aang's theory. "It would make sense. Sparky, the Closet Hair Stylist. He's way too proud to admit, you're right about that. But that would mean he needs an actual hiding spot for them. Where would he hide them?"
Aang shrugged. "I dunno. Under his bed?"
"Doubt it. The maids probably clean under there every day. What about his wardrobe?"
"Nope. The maids put his clothes away after they wash them, so they would definitely see any hair stuff he was trying to hide. Maybe he keeps them in his study."
"Yeah, that could be a possibility. But where in his study?"
They spent the majority of the time over to the Earth Kingdom discussing any and all hiding places for the Fire Lord's secret stash of hair care accessories. They even went so far as to suggest that Katara was in fact the mastermind behind Zuko's success. But Aang said that it probably wasn't possible. Even before Zuko was friends with them, his ponytail was always in mint condition. It even sparkled when the light hit it correctly—even though Toph had a hard time believing that. Toph suggested that the maids were being paid off to not whisper a word about anything. Sparky and his honor were far too important so he probably needed a cover. They had both ended the conversation by agreeing to interrogate the maids about the issue once they returned to the Fire Nation.
Aang had then pointed out along the way to a small island which was home to the world's most prestigious and notable mental health facility. It also happened to be the place where former Princess Azula was rumored to be spending her days.. Aang had said that she was being monitored around the clock and that she was never left alone. Toph of course found this to be extremely funny and then started going into Azula's probable day-to-day routine. They each exchanged the possibilities, which ranged from medicines that made her say "please" and "thank you," right down to self help circles where Azula would have stand up, introduce herself, and say that she had sadistic and homicidal tendencies. This had gone on for hours seeing as how the conversation often switched over to bashing Azula rather than discussing her schedule.
By the time Toph's cheeks were starting to get sore from smiling and laughing so much, she Aang heard gasp sharply and crawl over to the edge of the saddle. Toph let the blanket around her shoulders slide off as she poked her head over the edge as well and tried to face herself in the direction Aang was looking. She grabbed his robes and yanked on them hard.
"Hey, what are you looking at?"
Aang had jumped up from his seat and clambered over to Appa's head, steering him sharply to the left and causing Toph to jerk to the side.
"What happened?" she asked.
Toph heard Aang call to Appa and felt the bison speed up considerably. She felt the sun bright and hot on the top of her head, making up for the rather chilly morning weather and started to hear shouting not far below her. With one final grunt, Appa had landed gently on the ground below them and promptly sat down on the ground, tired after the long flight. As soon as the bison had stopped moving, she heard Aang hop down from the top of the bison. She climbed over the edge of the saddle and stomped on the ground the minute her feet touched the ground.
The first strange thing she noticed was the strange structure that surrounded the small village. In the distance she could feel that there was a large mountain not too far away. It was strangely hollowed out and no vibrations traveled through it, which led Toph to believe that it was actually a volcano. There was a mountain pass that continued around the volcano and down towards the village. Just when she thought that the pass would lead through the gates of the village, large walls of rock started jutting up into the sky. They were pointed and jagged, and they reached high into the sky, shielding the entire town from the volcano. It seemed like such a strange fortress that it was impossible to believe that it was made by natural causes. But then she remembered one of the stories that Aang had told her about their travels before she joined the group.
She walked over and tugged on his robes again. "Are we…?" she began.
Aang nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah. Makapu Village."
She nodded. "So that must be Mt. Makapu, huh?" Toph said, jutting her chin over to the volcano up the mountain sides.
"Yeah. Not very smart of them to build a village at the base of a volcano, but who are we to judge?" he replied.
Toph twisted her foot against the ground and felt a vast array of vibrations pounding against the ground. They felt like a few hundred footsteps running in their direction. The houses that belonged to the village were suddenly feeling very empty and very abandoned as more people started to make their way over to the two Earth Benders.
"Um…Aang? I think we have company?"
"What do you mean?" he asked.
Toph sighed. "I mean, your fan club is coming."
No sooner than the words had left Toph's mouth did a large group of women broke into view and started running full throttle over to the monk. In a matter of seconds, Toph and Aang both found themselves in a thick crowd mostly made up of women who were fighting each other to get a glimpse of the Avatar. The two backed up until their backs were pressed up against Appa's fur as the people started closing in and getting closer to the pair who had arrived. Toph could only hear screams, shouts, squeals, and even a few people fainting around them. Among the unintelligible babble, she was able to catch portions of what people were shouting.
"Oh my gosh! It's the Avatar!"
"I haven't seen him since he was a kid! Look how handsome he got!"
"Forget handsome. He's absolutely delectable!"
"He saved our whole village from that volcano, can you believe it?"
"Hehe. Well, he can come and save me any time he wants to."
Toph glared at the large crowd of women that were spewing compliments all over the place. Normally, she wasn't one to get jealous, but something about the way these women were probably ogling him at the moment made her blood boil. It was ridiculous that they couldn't stay conscious while they were around him and that their tongues were probably hanging out of their mouths. It made her sick. They had no right to be swooning over him like a bunch of idiots.
…Not that she was jealous. Of course not. That was just as ridiculous. Never. No. Not even close. She was just concerned for the well being of her best friend and feared that these crazed women would try and kidnap him or something.
Or, at leas,t that was the excuse she gave herself to excuse her hostile attitude towards all of the girls surrounding them.
What she didn't expect were the whistles and the hooting that she had started to hear as well. Soon, there were men mixed into the bunch and she was hearing cat calls and clapping from the men as well as screaming and squealing from the women. She wasn't sure if there was even an opening in the crowd for them to escape. The thought of Earth Bending herself into the ground and escaping into some terribly deserted part of the village crossed her mind. But then there was the issue of the possible mob that would be chasing her if she tried to run away. Besides, this was an Earth Kingdom village. Who's to say that there wasn't an Earth Bender here that wouldn't be able to follow her into the ground and chase after her under there? Something about that scenario sounded ten times worse.
"Check it out! It's the Blind Bandit!"
"Isn't she that Bei Fong girl too? She traveled with the Avatar. She taught him Earth Bending too."
"I wonder if she teaches Earth Bending. I hear she's totally epic!"
"Man, she is not ugly!"
"You think she'd let me introduce her to my parents?"
Toph growled at the comments. Next to her, she felt Aang tense up his muscles and turn his head towards the comments that were being thrown her way. If she didn't know any better, she would have thought that he was extremely bothered by the comments. Almost as if he was getting defenseless and—dare she say it—jealous!
But of course she did know better. So that was completely ludicrous, not to mention impossible…
"Let me through! Let me through! Everyone clear the way!"
Slowly, the confusing barrage of noise had ceased as the crowd in front of them started to part slowly. Coming down the newly formed isle was someone that Toph noticed had a heck of a lot of jewelry on. She could hear the jingling coming from the person walking forward after every step she took. Not even the Fire Lady wore that much jewelry,and Katara was quite fond of covering her arms in expensive bracelets. But somehow, the people seemed to respect this person, for most of them muttered quiet apologizes towards this person and a few even bent at the waist slightly as they made a path for them.
"Ah, the Avatar. I knew that I would be seeing you again soon. You've grown into quite the young man, I see."
The voice sounded like that of an old woman, and Toph thought that she talked a little bit like Uncle Iroh. Iroh had this type of voice that spoke years of wisdom and insight, which is why she always came to him for some good advice. Plus, his freshly brewed tea was also worth the visit. This woman sounded very similar to him, so she assumed that she was probably the elder of the village,and was probably wise and influential enough to quiet down the crowd around them.
Aang had bowed slightly. "It's nice to see you again, Aunt Wu. I'd like you to meet my very good friend and my Earth Bending teacher, Toph Bei Fong."
Aang nudged her forward a little bit and placed her directly in front of the woman. She had to try not wrinkle her nose when she got a whiff of the perfume that this Aunt Wu person was wearing. It was very overwhelming, and it smelled as if she poured the entire body all over her skin, hair, and clothes. Still, she remembered Aang telling her about Aunt Wu. She was the village Fortune Teller and was held in high respect in the village seeing as how her visions were never wrong. Aang said that her psychic abilities were probably a little less than reliable, but she was still very intelligent, and gave him a strong piece of advice when he was young.
Toph bowed quickly and held out her hand. "Nice to meet you."
Instead of grabbing her hand to shake it, Aunt Wu ignored the Earth Bender's hand and grabbed at her chin. Toph was about to say something before Aunt Wu began to twist her face to the left, then to the right, and then to the left again. She tilted Toph's head up and started to mutter unintelligible comments under her breath. Her scrutinizing gaze was set on Toph's face and Top felt slightly nervous at having someone look so intently at her. After all, she was blind. It's not like Aunt Wu was going to see anything insightful. So what in the world was she looking for?
"Hm," Aunt Wu nodded, letting go of Toph's chin and folding her hands delicately in front of her. "Well, you certainly are quite the character. Sharp tongued and hard headed, no doubt." Toph scowled at this. "But very determined and extremely loyal to those she loves." She turned to Aang. "Quite a friend you have with you. She's leagues different from the Water Bender you brought here last time." Aunt Wu then leaned toward him and winked. "Don't let her go, okay?"
Toph missed the wink, so she didn't understand why Aang was rubbing the back of his neck again as if he was terribly nervous. The old woman chuckled and whispered something about young people before straightening her spine, and speaking loud enough so that the rest of the crowd (which was probably the entirety of the village) could hear her clearly.
"So, what brings you to our quaint little village again, Mr. Avatar."
"We were wondering if we could possibly stay here until tomorrow, if it wouldn't be too much trouble," Aang explained. "We are heading over to Ba Sing Se as the Earth King's escorts."
Aunt Wu smiled and nodded. "Ah, well there is no reason at all that we can't make room for War Veterans such as yourselves. And besides, after what you did for us when Mt. Makapu erupted, it would be rude of us to refuse." Aunt Wu had snapped her fingers and gestured towards a few young men that came at her side at once. They owed slightly again before listening to her specific instructions.
"Please take the Avatar's bison into our stables. Make sure that he is comfortable and that he has enough to eat." The two men nodded before going over Aang who had handed them the Appa's reins and gave them specific instructions on how to make sure that Appa was as comfortable as possible. As soon as the large flying bison was led away, Aunt Wu had gestured them forward and asked them to follow her into town. The crowd slowly started to dissipate as they started going back towards their houses in small groups.
"Can you walk okay?" Aang muttered.
Toph nodded. "I told you. I'm just limping a little bit. I'll be fine."
"Here." He grabbed Toph's arms and wrapped it over his shoulder. He then grabbed her around the waist and started to help her walk forward and keep up with the Fortune Teller that was disappearing into the village. Toph's eyes widened and looked toward Aang, trying to control the blood flow that was creeping North.
"L-look. I can walk fine, you don't have to help," Toph pleaded quickly.
"Listen," he said softly. "Forget about me teasing you and poking fun at the situation. You're my very good friend, you're injured, and it'd be rude of me to have you walking on your own when you can barely do it properly."
"But I don't—"
"Just humor me," Aang cut her off. "Maybe you don't need help, but I want to help you. Call it kindness, gallantry, or whatever you want. But you are not walking without any help." His quick and insistent response left Toph to do nothing but simply nod and allow him to lead her away into the town.
She wasn't sure why, but there had to be some sort of higher being in the sky that was writing out these embarrassing situations like they were scenes in a hit play. No matter how hard Toph tried to not reveal any hidden emotions around Aang that would hinder their friendship, something always had to come up that would threaten her deepest secret. Granted, Aang was terribly oblivious in an innocent sort of way, so he probably wouldn't have noticed regardless. But still, it wasn't fair. She was trying so hard to let her best friend heal in peace after the wedding of the only girl he was ever really in love with and fate just kept pushing her, almost as if it was yelling, "Just hurry up and kiss the monk already!"
But, as the Fortune Teller said, she was stubborn—or maybe she said hardheaded. How was she even able to figure out all of those things about her anyway? How could you see determination, hard-headedness, the tendency to talk as if you were tongue was made of knives, and timeless loyalty, just by twisting a person's face around? Whatever. Toph never understood Fortune Tellers. She always found them to be cryptic and, more importantly, phony. It was better to just ignore people like that.
As she was hanging onto Aang and being led into the middle of the village, even more whispers were being thrown around the town as they walked on. Because of her rather acute senses, she was able to hear a lot more than she would have wanted to.
"Look! Look at how he's holding her!"
"Aw! That's so sweet. They're the cutest thing I've ever seen."
"Dang. That means the Avatar is taken."
"Forget the Avatar. That means that the hot Earth Bender is taken."
"He came here with a pretty Water Bender last time he was here. I thought for sure that was his girlfriend."
"Are you kidding? Look at them. They're made for each other. Such tenderness. I think I might faint."
"I'm so happy for him. That Earth Kingdom girl is really pretty and they seem to like each other."
"I agree. I see chemistry so strong it's bubbling over!"
Toph rolled her eyes. One thing she hated more than anything else was gossipers. Her parents and their friends were already adept gossipers. Actually, they were so good the entirety of Gaoling's secrets were already discovered and spread around the entire city by her parents alone. To be honest, she found it to be terribly annoying, and it was even more annoying now that she was the brunt of all of the gossip throughout the town.
It was as if the entire world was dropping hints.
Aang turned to her and brought his mouth to her ear. More whispers of "What is he telling her?" and "Why is he being so nice to that chick!" were floating around. Either Aang didn't hear them or he chose to ignore them, because he didn't waste a second to whisper to her so that no one else could hear.
"Sorry. I didn't think this village was filled with this many gossipers." He sounded a little guilty and even a little embarrassed.
But Toph nodded her head as she limped onward. "It's okay. It's just a bunch of people with nothing else better to do with their time. It doesn't bother me." Yeah right. They're all insinuating that we're a couple, she snickered.
Aang grumbled to himself. "Tell me about it. To think that people could be so in tune with our lives just because we stopped a war. I feel like we're always the topic of discussion even if we're not around."
"You better watch out though," Toph warned quietly. "Some of these guys don't like that you're so close. I can hear everything they're saying."
Aang shrugged. "So? You should see some of the death glares you're getting from all of these girls. They can't do anything."
"But still," Toph complained, letting her uneasiness about all of the rumors surrounding them show. "It's…weird. Why are people taking you helping me so seriously?"
Aang hugged her closer and started turning his head towards all of the stares that people were giving. Most started whispering louder, some glared, and others turned away, embarrassed by the fact that they had been caught staring.
"I don't know. Maybe they're all jealous," he laughed so that only the two of them could hear him. "We are pretty popular. Besides, you're really pretty. All these guys are probably mad they're not the ones leading you into the village."
Toph nodded. That made sense, she supposed. After all, guys would jump on any opportunity to impress a girl, especially if that girl happened to be famous. But she still found the whispers and the pointing annoying and distracting to say the least. She wished people would just mind their business and leave them be. They were just two best friends, and one of them happened to be helping the other one who happened to be injured. There was nothing strange about it. And what did she care what these people thought? They were all strangers and it would do her no good to pay attention to them. What did they know, anyway? Stressing over this was just…
…wait a minute. Did Aang just call her pretty?
A/N: I decided to stop it here, because the chapter was getting too long. But, I thought this was the perfect way to end the chapter. I hope you liked it. I enjoyed writing it.
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