She Will Be Loved

I own neither to song nor characters…

So please don't sue.

KEY

Song lyrics

Flashbacks

Zuko telling the story

-

-

-

Beauty queen of only eighteen

She had some trouble with herself

He was always there to help her

She always belonged to someone else

.

I've loved Toph for as long as I can remember. We grew up together. Our parents were old friends and always stuck us together to play. The Bei Fongs wanted Toph to have an older brother figure. That's were I came in, or where I was supposed to come in. Although it's hard to look at Toph as a little sister when I love her the way I do.

One thing that I've never quite gotten over is seeing her with other guys. We were homeschooled together with our friend Aang, and unfortunately, my sister, Azula. Once she started going to Ba Sing Sei University though, guys started to notice her. They had reason to as well. Once Toph turned probably seventeen, she slowly started to lose her 'tomboy' figure. By the time she was eighteen, she was by far one a total knock out. Long, silky black hair. Petite with great curves. A beautiful face and the most gorgeous eyes I've ever seen. Toph's been blind since birth, and as a result, her eyes were a pale and foggy jade green. So, I guess it's not really much of a shock that there was someone there.

Most of the guys were pretty nice. I made sure they were. Most girls take their boyfriends to meet their fathers. Toph brought hers to meet me. I would give the typical 'Hey buddy this. I've known Toph since she was running around in diapers. She's my best friend. If you hurt her, I hurt you, physically.' But they were never the right guys for her. There were a couple of guys I thought that would be, but they were just the same as all the others. Every time one of them left, she would come running to me. I didn't mind. I liked being the one that she trusted enough to come to.

The first guy that let her down was Aang. Well, he wasn't the first to break up with her, he was just the first I thought might actually be 'the one' for her, that let her down. It was their freshman year in college and they had been going out for three months. Three months of nice dinners, movies (even thought she's blind, Toph loves a good movie), and even a few picnics and hikes. She came pounding on my door at two in the morning, nearly giving me a heart attack. I think she secretly took a little pleasure in scaring the crap out of me. She could never do that when we were little. She tired so hard to though…

.

I drove for miles and miles

And wound up at your door

I've had you so many times but somehow

I want more

.

"Toph?" I asked, opening the door, sleep still clear in my voice.

"Zuko, can I come in?" she asked.

"Of course," I told her opening the door wider.

"So what's up?" I asked as she sat down on the couch.

"Twinkle broke up with me," she said staring at the blank TV.

"What?" I asked confused. The last time I had seen them together, Aang had been head-over-heels for her.

"He said he found someone else. She a junior named Katara."

"Well, um, are you okay?" I asked awkwardly, patting her on the back.

She chuckled. "Don't worry Zu. I'm not going to cry or anything.:

"Oh thank God," I said letting out a sigh of relief, causing her to chuckle again. "So if you're not because you need a shoulder to cry on, then-"

"Why am I pounding on your door at two am?" she finished for me.

"Yeah," I nodded.

"Well, I feel like ripping both their heads off, and after a very recent Hung Gar lesson, I think I can come pretty close. I know that you won't let me though."

"So should I get the rope and duck tape and tie you to a chair, or can you calm down with just some good kickboxing and conversation?" I asked her.

"Kickboxing should be fine," she said and that added after a second, "or maybe a movie and junk food?"

"James Bond?" I asked.

"James Bond," she nodded. "I get the popcorn you get the movie."

"Sure thing, chocolate bars and skittles are on the top of the fridge."

"Cool," she said going into the kitchen as I moved to get the movie set up. A moment later, I heard the microwave start and then a soft thumping.

"Zuko, I can't reach,," Toph called. "The candy is all the way in the back."

I chuckled and walked into the kitchen, trying hard not to laugh at the sight of Toph jumping up and down, trying to reach the candy.

"Oh shut up," she laughed, when she heard me.

"I didn't say anything," I told her as I grabbed the candy, not even having to stand on my toes.

"Oh shut up," she laughed again, as I handed her the candy.

"Want a pair of sweats, Shorty?"

"Please, these jeans are very uncomfortable," she admitted.

"I think I have a pair from middle school that'll fit. You might have to roll them up a little at the bottom though," I laughed, resulting in Toph punching me in the arm with a, "Shut up Zuko."

"I'll be right back," I said going to get a pair of pajama pants for her. I found a pair of old flannel pants that Iroh had given me my senior year in high school, then went back out to give them to her.

"Thanks," she said going to change.

I went over and sat on the couch after grabbing a few pillows from the bedroom.

"So ready for kick butt awesome spies?" she asked throwing her jeans in the chair and coming over and sitting next to me.

"You bet," I smiled. "Oh and Toph, don't worry. Aang's just a jerk."

"Thanks Zuko," she smiled back, leaning her head against my shoulder.

"Don't mention it. Okay, all emotions out the door, Bond is on."

.

Sokka was the second guy that I thought could be right for her, but he was the first to break her heart. Even though he was my friend, I felt like breaking him for it. After Aang introduced Katara to Toph, with me being sure she wouldn't wring her neck, they actually hit it off and were pretty good friends. Then, we all got introduced to Sokka, and I was the one that got them together. I don't know why I always try to hook Toph up with other people when I want her for myself. Oh wait, I remember why, I'm too much of a coward to tell her how I feel, and so I cover it up by getting her together with other guys. I am truly an idiot.

When she came knocking on my door the second time, it was in the middle of the day, but it was more of a shock than the first time. She had called me two days before and said that she and Sokka would be in Florida for the next week, enjoying their spring break with the beach and sun. She and Sokka had been going out for a little over a year.

.

It's not always rainbows and butterflies

It's compromise that moves us along, yeah

My heart is full and my door's always open

You can come anytime you want

.

I was in the middle of watching the soccer game, and a very intense one at that, when there was a knock on the door.

"Coming," I called, going over to the door, my eyes still glued to the brand new big screen.

"Z-Zuko?" I heard her whimper, and I turned to find my oldest friend in my doorway, her cheeks stained from tears as even more fell from her eyes.

"Oh God, what happened, Toph?"I asked, pulling her into my arms.

"Sokka," she mumbled into my shirt. I had a feeling that James Bond wasn't going to be able to fix it that time, or Indiana Jones, for that matter.

"Come on in," I said pulling her inside and over to the couch. "Want to talk?"

"Not yet," she sniffled. I wondered if she had cried the whole way here.

"I'm sorry Zuko," she said weakly.

"For what?" I asked, completely confused on why she was apologizing. The only one I wanted to hear saying sorry was Sokka, and not to me. I wanted him down on his knees begging Toph for forgiveness. I had seen Toph cry once in her life before now, and that was when she found out that her parents had been killed in a car wreck. A car crash that she survived with barely a scratch.

"You've probably got plans, and I come in here crying my eyes out."

"Toph. You're always welcome here. Now what's going on?" I asked pulling her farther onto my lap.

"Fine," she said with a sigh. "So you know how we went to Florida for spring break. Well, it turns out there was an alternative reason Sokka wanted to go. He'd been talking to this chick online and he went to meet her. They've been talking for months, Zuko." The last sentence was weak, barely above a whisper.

"Toph- I'm- I- Sokka's an idiot," I said, unable to think of anything else to say.

"Thanks," she said with a sniffle. "You know, Zuko, I think I actually loved him. I really do."

"I know," I told her stroking her hair. "Hey, I'll be right back. I'm going to go call Katara. I'm sure Sokka called her to let her know you were missing, and she's probably freaking out. Okay?

"Yeah," she nodded, grabbing a couch pillow and squeezing it tightly.

"I promise, it won't be more than three minutes," I said, sliding her off my lap, and going into my room. I picked up the phone and dialed Katara's number.

"Zuko, is that you?" she asked frantically.

"Yeah."

"Is Toph there? Please tell me she's there."

"Yeah, she's here."

Katara let out a sigh of relief, and then said through what I'm sure was clenched teeth, "My brother is going to die. How can he do that to her? I thought he loved her. I thought that she was actually going to finally be the one that could turn my player of a brother around, but no he just had to blow it. I hope he knows that he just lost the greatest thing that ever happened to him. You know, I bet he hasn't even realized just how bad he screwed up. I hope he's happy with that little bi-"

"Hey Kat," I said cutting her off. "I gotta go. I told Toph I'd just be a minute."

"Okay. Hey I just realized something Zuko. You're the type of guy that Toph needs. You're always there for her to run to, and I've seen the way you look at her."

"Katara, don't tell her okay. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about playing match maker. Just don't, not now. She's really tore up. She loved him, and he tossed her," I said with a sad sigh.

"If you're sure…"

"Yeah, I'm sure," I said before hanging up.

I went back into the living room and found Toph staring at her phone, which was ringing softly.

"Toph?" I asked, shocked by the expression on her face. It resembled one that I saw on a puppy once. A young puppy in a cardboard box with a sign that said 'Puppies for free' in sloppy handwriting. The pup was all alone, all if siblings already sold, and it was raining.

"It's him," she said, turning towards me.

"Do you want to answer it?" I asked her.

"No."

"Do you want me to answer it?"

"A little."

"Why only a little?"

"Because you'll tell him off, and I really want you to, but at the same time, I don't want you to either," she said as the ringing stopped, only to start back up a second later.

"I'll do whatever you want," I told her.

She held the phone out to me and then rethinking it half way through, turned it off.

"I want you to make all the pain go away Zuko," she said.

"I don't know if I can do that, but wait here," I said after a moment of thinking. I went into the kitchen, grabbing two spoons, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, Doritos, and a six pack of coke. I took it into the living room and dropped everything on the couch, handing her the two spoons. I walked over to the shelves, searching for the old home videos. I found them and pulled one out sticking it into the VCR player, then walked back over to the couch, and pulled Toph back on my lap. "It won't for very long, but maybe for a few hours. I've only got eight different videos.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Just listen," I told her as I watched seven year old Toph chasing an eleven year old version of myself on the screen.

"Zuzu! Get back here!" younger Toph yelled, her voice filled with laughter.

"No way," younger me called back

"Are these the old videos?" she asked.

"Yep."

"Toph, Zuko, dears, please stop running," Poppy giggled from behind the camera.

I reached over and snatched the remote, turning it off as soon as I could.

"Toph, I'm sorry, I completely forgot that some of the movies were from the Bei Fongs."

"No," she said, a small smile on her face, "turn it back on."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah," she nodded leaning back against my chest.

"Okay," I said pressing play.

"Was she pretty?" Toph asked me.

"She was beautiful."

"People say I look like her. Is it true?"

"Yeah., it is. You look exactly like her when she was our age," I told her and it was true. I had seen the pictures of Poppy Bei Fong at Toph's house. She smiled and turned her attention back to the screen.

Two hours later, Toph's breathing started get slow down and she relaxed even more. A few minutes later, she was fast asleep and I knew she was fine for now. Tomorrow when she woke up, she'd probably feel the pain all over again, but I'd be there then too.

.

Toph didn't date much after that. It took almost a year for me and Katara to convince her to start again, and then she didn't go on very many second dates, only tons of first ones.

She finally agreed to go on a second date with Haru. They went out for a couple of months, but he broke it off, saying she wasn't putting enough into it. He didn't realize that she was afraid to put all over her trust in someone again. That time, she didn't have to come find me. He broke up with her at a party, and she ran out to her car.

Katara found me out on the back deck, watching the falling rain, and told me what happened.

.

I know where you hide
Alone in your car
Know all of the things that make you who you are
I know that goodbye means nothing at all
Comes back and begs me to catch her every time she falls

Tap on my window knock on my door
I want to make you feel beautiful

I don't mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved
And she will be loved
And she will be loved
And she will be loved

.

"Katara, give me your keys," I told her after she told me.

"Why?" she said pulling them out of her pocket.

"Because I think I know where she told the driver to take her."

"Be careful. The roads are wet," she said handing them to me.

"Thanks."

"And call me when you find her." Katara will make a good mother someday.

"Okay,"I agreed before going out to her car.

I drove to the old playground that we used to spend hours at a time playing. I let out a small sigh of relief when I saw the black town car that took Toph wherever she needed to go. I parked Katara's car behind the other, and waved to the driver as I passed, and walked into the castle shaped jungle gym. I scanned all of the towers then made my way over to the tunnels and found Toph in the middle one.

"Hey Zu" she said without lifting her head off her knees.

"Hey Toph," I said crawling in the tunnel and sitting next to her.

"There's something wrong with me isn't there?" she asked.

"There's nothing wrong with you. Absolutely nothing," I told her brushing her wet hair out of her face.

"There's got to be. You're the only guy that I can always trust to be there and that's only because you promised my dad that you would act like an older brother."

"Toph," I said brushing my hand behind her ear and let resting it on her cheek, cupping her face. "I don't look at you like a sister."

"You don't?" she asked lifting her head off her knees.

"No, I've always loved you, but I haven't loved you that way in awhile. Not since eighth grade."

"But you've never said anything. You even convinced me to go out with other guys," she said turning so that she was facing me, not that it really did much.

"You're four years younger than me. It always seemed wrong, like I was type of pedophile or something. Besides, you always looked up to me like an older brother. I thought that's what you wanted. And if you couldn't be happy with me, I wanted to make sure that you were happy with someone else."

"Not for awhile," she whispered softly.

"What?" I asked confused.

"After I got over Sokka, I kept thinking about that night at your apartment. I realized how safe I felt in your arms and how you've always been able to cheer me up. Then whenever I was with you, my chest always felt tight. It took me awhile to realize that it was love, but then once it I did realize, I tried to get rid of it, push it out of my mind, because I thought that there was no way that you could feel the same way."

I know that she wanted me to say something, but I couldn't think of anything. The only time I'm ever speechless is when I'm with her. So I did the only thing I could do. I leaned over and kissed her. For a second, she was completely still, and even a little stiff. Just when I was thinking that I had made a mistake, taking things to quickly, she responded, her lips moving against mine. No, with mine.

Toph let go of her knees and threw her arms around my neck, pulling me closer. I couldn't help wrapping my arms around her waist doing the same, as we both poured various emotions into the kiss. I could feel that she felt a little afraid though. Afraid that I would be like all the other guys that left her behind for someone else. There was no way I could do that though. I'd seen what it did to her. I never wanted to be the cause of that type of pain.

"Toph," I whispered, my breath coming out in almost a gasp, as our foreheads were leaning against each others.

"Yeah Zuko?"

"Don't worry. I won't let you go," I promised her.

"I know," she said hugging me tightly.

"Come on, let's go back. It's raining and your driver is probably really bored by now."

"Okay," she agreed.

I gave her hand a squeeze and crawled out of the tunnel and felt her following behind me.

When we made her way over to the cars, she walked over to hers and knocked on the window, waking the sleeping driver. He immediately rolled down the window asking, "Yes Miss?"

"You can go on home Takashi. I'm going to get a ride with Zuko."

"I don't know Miss, I have strict orders from your grandmother not to let you ride with anyone else."

"She'll be fine with Zuko gibing me a ride. You can call her and ask if you want to get her okay though."

"Thanks Miss," he nodded pulling out her cell phone.

"Lady Bei Fong, Lady Toph is requesting to get a ride with a young man named Zuko. Is that okay or should I bring her home myself?" we heard him ask into the mobile phone.

"Of course Miss. Have a good night," he said before hanging up. He turned to us and nodded.

I took that as my cue to grab Toph's hand and pull her over to Katara's car, opening the passenger's door for her.

"Thanks," she smiled getting in.

When we got back to the party, Toph went in the kitchen to get a drink, and Katara made her way over to me.

"Good job Zuko."

"What you mean?" I asked her.

"Oh don't play stupid with me. I can tell by the look on your guys' faces that you hooked up. So congrats. I got to say it took you long enough though."

"Thanks Katara," I said blankly.

"Fine, fine, I get it. I'll drop it," she laughed, going over to dance with Aang.

Toph walked back over to me and asked. "Everything okay?"

"Yep, everything's perfect," I said hugging her. And finally, everything was.

-

-

-

So there you have. Just off the printing press. Well not really, just out of word, but you get the idea.

Please tell me what you think.

SPiKE :)