Captains Sokka of the Water Tribe and Toph Bei Fong of the Earth Kingdom. Their exploits were legendary amongst the tavern keepers of the Fire Nation Capital.
Mostly because they tended to wreck everyplace they walked into.
So when they first walked past me and into the Dragon's Den, I could scarcely believe it was the same duo I'd heard so much about. She was so small and unassuming; he was short and still had the gangliness of youth about him, rather than the muscle and build of adulthood.
Two hours later, however, I had new appreciation for the phrase 'looks may be deceiving.'
Things had started out quietly enough. They came in, sat at a table, and ordered their drinks. Convinced that they weren't causing any trouble, I returned to my post outside the door. People came and left, and it was shaping into a normal night.
A loud crash from inside told me that my night at the door had ended. As I opened the door to enter, one of the serving girls came running out, crashing into my chest. "What's going on, Misa?" I asked her.
She looked at me with daggers in her eyes. "Those…two…are destroying my father's tavern! And you're just standing here!"
I held her shoulders and gently pushed her to the side. "I'll take care of things," I told her. Whether this calmed her down or not, I couldn't tell, but I didn't stay outside long enough to find out.
Inside, it looked as though the war had stared all over again.
It was an all-out bar fight. Tables were being overturned, glasses smashed, and patrons just attacking each other for no reason. People were bleeding and bones were being broken. It didn't take much imagination to figure out who was at the centre of it all.
I started breaking up the individual fights, sometimes having to go so far as physically throwing people out into the street. Slowly, the chaos ebbed, and Misa came back inside to start the daunting task of cleaning up. "I'll help in a minute," I told her. "I have to take care of the instigators." She cast a dark look to the back of the room, then nodded to me.
In the very back of the tavern, a single table with two drinks and a boomerang on it was the only one that was still on all four legs – the rest were either overturned or smashed completely. Several men were lying on the ground as well, apparently unconscious. The chairs were little more than firewood.
Captains Sokka and Toph were standing by themselves, preoccupied with whatever was in his right hand. It was obvious that they were both exceptionally drunk – neither one could stand up straight. His left hand held his sword. I looked around and saw no other weapons. Surely they hadn't done all this with only two weapons?
I walked over to them, arms folded across my chest.
"Okay, Toph, here," he said, handing her whatever was in his hand. "I'll point you in the right direction. Just throw it at the target."
She giggled. At least, I think it was a giggle. "Easy for you to say."
He held her upper arms and faced her toward the back wall. "Okay," he said, "straight ahead."
She pulled her arm back and threw the object at the wall. It ricocheted off the stone wall and went off to the right at a sharp angle. It was only then that I realised what they were doing.
Captain Sokka was teaching Captain Toph to play darts.
"What do you two think you are doing?"
Both of them turned to face me. It took a moment for Sokka's eyed to focus on me. Naturally Toph's didn't, but it looked like she was looking straight into my eyes. It was an eerie feeling. "What does it look like we're doing?" Sokka said.
"It looks like you have destroyed an entire tavern so you could teach a blind woman to play darts."
"Wow, Snoozles, he's perceptive!" Toph giggled again. "That's exactly what we're doing!"
Sokka dropped his sword and put his hands on his hips. "I have to say, you are the smartest Doorman we've met, and we've met a lot!"
"I'll bet you have." I looked around the room at the unconscious forms. "And what exactly did they do?"
He threw both arms into the air. "They didn't want us to play. I ask you, how rude is that?"
"They didn't want you to play?"
"Nope. Something about Toph stabbing one of them in the eye. No one tells my Toph that she can't do something!" He put his arm protectively around her shoulders.
And, although she would deny it with every ounce of her being, Toph blushed at the gesture.
"Besides," she said, "I can do whatever I want." She reached her hand up to her opposite arm, grasping the black bracelet she was wearing on her upper arm. Her reputation as a metalbender was widely known, but to watch her do it was something else entirely. In one graceful and fluid movement, she had bent the metal from a circlet into a perfect replica of a dart. "I am Toph Bei Fong. There's nothing I can't do!" she proclaimed, and threw her newly made projectile at the wall.
Unfortunately, she threw it at the wrong wall. She did manage to miss Misa by a few inches, and the dart came to a rest, embedded in the stone wall.
"You missed," I told her.
Sokka walked over to the wall to get the dart. He squinted, then gasped. "Toph!" he yelled. "You pinned it to the wall!" He pulled the dart out and stumbled back over to his companion. He had the dart in one hand, a dragonfly in the other. The insect's wings started buzzing weakly. It was still alive!
"Yep, I did!" She turned slightly to face me. Her milky eyes again stared sightlessly into my own. "Toph Bei Fong doesn't miss."
I had to admit I was impressed. The blind metalbender had pinned a dragonfly to a wall without killing it. "Be that as it may, you need to leave now." They gave no sign that they understood me. "Both of you."
The change in Sokka's mood was startling. He had gone from happy to indignant in less than three seconds. He handed Toph back her dart, which she promptly returned to its rightful place on her arm, and put the dragonfly on the table. "Now, look here," he said, stumbling towards me. "I am Captain Sokka of the Water Tribe, personal friend of your Fire Lord and the Avatar himself." He poked me in the chest. "I am a war hero! I don't leave until I want to leave!"
"Sokka!" Toph pulled on his arm from behind him. "It's okay, we can go now."
He turned to look at her. "What?"
"Well, Captain Boomerang, if you hadn't noticed, that guy is about fifteen feet bigger then you." His shoulders slumped, and I had to suppress a laugh. "And he's sober. You wouldn't stand a chance."
"Are you saying I can't take him?"
"Wait, let me check." She tapped her chin with her finger, pretending to think hard. "Yes!"
They had both obviously forgotten I was even there. I wanted to get them both out, but interrupting could have been hazardous, regardless of their level of intoxication. They had, after all, just taken out everyone in the tavern, and neither had so much as a scratch.
And, I admit it; I was starting to become interested in these two. If I didn't know any better, I would have sworn to the spirits that they were married. They certainly fought like they were.
Sokka puffed out his chest. "I can take him and anyone else that walks in here!"
"Sorry," Toph said. "I'm afraid you'd have to be a man to do that."
"Are you saying I'm not a man?" Sokka took a step toward her.
"Well, you did wear a dress because your girlfriend told you to." Toph took a step toward him.
"Yeah, yeah, everyone knows I did that. But I was in warrior training at the time."
Toph raised one eyebrow. "Really? Two weeks ago?"
Sokka scowled at her. "Well, if you have to be a man to take on this guy, I guess you could do it."
Toph said nothing. She just set her jaw and faced Sokka. I could see her hands, clenched into fists, shaking. "Did you just call me a man?" Her voice was barely above a whisper.
"Well, you just called me a woman."
Toph took another step and closed the remaining distance between the two of them. Her head tilted back to face him. "I. Am. Not. A. Man."
Sokka look straight into her eyes. "And I am not a woman," he whispered.
"Prove it," she whispered back.
It was hard to say who moved first. But the next moment, his lips were attached to hers, and they were kissing more ferociously than I'd ever seen two people kiss before. She reached up and grabbed the back of his head, while he pulled her closer to him by her hips.
They broke off almost as abruptly as they had begun. "I'm hungry," Sokka said. "Wonder if there's anything in the palace kitchen worth eating." He turned quickly on his heel and immediately lost his balance.
Toph caught him before he could fall backwards. She smiled at him. "Only one way to find out, Captain!"
He strode over to the upright table, picked up his boomerang, and sheathed it behind his back. Toph picked up his sword and handed it to him. He accepted it, then slung his arm around her shoulders in an attempt to remain upright. Together, they stumbled toward the door. It was like their squabble had never happened.
I followed them as they left, making sure they didn't step on anything – or anyone. A few of their 'victims' were still unconscious on the floor.
"I like this place," Toph announced. "Maybe we should have my birthday party here next month."
"Sounds like a great plan!" Sokka agreed. "We'll invite everyone in the Fire Nation!"
I sighed and shook my head as they walked away. I wasn't sure I could handle another night of these two.
My only consolation was that, as intoxicated as they were, they weren't going to remember a thing about this whole evening.
I chuckled softly and went back inside to help Misa clean up Toph and Sokka's mess.
Let's all hear it for Tokka week 2.0!
This is a prologue of sorts to my multi-chaptered "Heart of the Warrior." The doorman in Chapter One is the same guy telling this tale. Actually, Doorman has a very extensive and tragic background - but that's another story for another day.
And the answer to the question is no - they really don't remember anything the next day. I like doing that to these two. Ah well, it all turns out alright in the end, I'm sure.
As always, thanks to my friend and beta, aka Arashi(ff)/Capt-BA(dA). Have a glowy panda, Captain!