This little drabble popped into my head last night and I felt compelled to write it. It's my first true attempt at Toph and Taang for that matter. They are all a bit older since I can't justify preteen romance.
I've only been called pretty once. In all my 18 years. Once. Not that I care, because I don't. I'm Toph Bei Fong. The Blind Bandit. The Avatar's teacher. The greatest earthbender in history. I don't need to be called pretty. Beauty is for people who can see. Which I can't. Not that I care. Because I don't. I don't need to.
It was after our day spa experience and she said I was pretty after those mean girls made fun of us (and we got our revenge by dropping them into the canal!). I knew she was telling the truth. I could feel it. She doesn't normally lie, and that day was no exception.
But that was the last time.
And I don't care. I don't.
Or that's what I keep telling myself. It makes the hurt that much more bearable.
"Hold still, Toph," Katara commands as she yanks and tugs on my hair trying her best to wind my long black hair onto the golden wooden support as Suki applies the makeup to my face.
"I am holding still," I shout, "You're the one pulling me all over the place."
She knows I'm right so she just snorts.
It's the five year anniversary of the end of the war and tonight is a celebration. Oh, and Suki and Sokka are going to have a kid so I guess we're celebrating that too. Yea for them! Whatever.
When they finally finish dressing me up like some doll, they work on themselves. I try not to listen to the two pig-hens clucking on and on about how "you're just glowing, Suki!" and the "Katara that blue dress is just gorgeous on you," or the "Should I wear the diamonds or the sapphires?" Yadda, yadda, yadda. Bleh.
I sit, hands placed neatly in my lap, remembering my manners engrained into me from birth and wait for them to finish, shifting in my seat getting restless.
Slipping on my bottomless shoes, we all head for the ballroom. I can smell the trays of food, hear the musicians playing music from all four nations, I feel the vibrations of hundreds of people come to celebrate. Katara leads me to the head table where the gaang all sits. First Fire Lord Zuko speaks, then Sokka, then someone else, and yet one more person gives drabbles on about how glorious and thankful we all are to have ended the war. Huzzah! I bring the goblet to my lips and chug the sweet nectar within hoping it will dull me. Alas, it does not.
Katara asks me what I want to eat and begins popping items onto my plate. She hovers over me like I'm completely helpless.
After the meal, the music begins again. The first man comes up to ask Katara to dance to which she declines. I offer to dance and I can feel the vibrations from him. Not interested in the blind girl. Got it. I try to hide my disappointment, which I do behind my sarcasm.
Then another man approaches her, then three more, but it's not until Zuko approaches that she accepts. She leans in to me, asking my permission. I wave them away. She practically squeals in delight as she is led onto the floor and taken into his arms. I can picture her giving Sparky her infamous Sugar Queen smile. I hear her laughter after he whispers something in her ear.
I listen around me to the voices; I feel the movements of the dancers. After over an hour of sitting and waiting, I can't take sitting around any longer. Plus this wine is starting to get to me. I slowly make my way outside. Leaning against the railing, I close my eyes. Not that it does anything. It doesn't change that I'm still poor blind little Toph. The funny one. The one who can go shot for shot with the big tough guys. The one no one wants to dance with.
I barely feel the footsteps approach me. I know exactly who it is.
He leans against the railing too. I hear his breath hitch like he's unsure of himself all over again. He tries to make mindless chit chat, but I am in no mood.
Finally he says it. "You look pretty tonight."
I turn my head and look away. He's lying. I can feel it.
"You don't mean that," I say darkly.
I hear a rustle as he shifts his body. I can hear him rub his bald head. "You're right. I don't," he replies.
My heart sinks. I didn't think it would since I'm so used to this feeling by now. The rejection of the opposite sex. It's my ritual. I'm the best earthbender in the world but no boy will look at me the way they look at Katara. Suki. Hell, I think Momo gets more attention than I do.
His heart is racing. Is that shyness I detect? Weird. His breath is shallow. This is very weird indeed.
I feel him lean in closer me. His hand on my arm, he turns me around to face him. His fingers touch my chin lifting my head up so that I can "look" at him. Not that I can see him, but I have an idea where his eyes are and I avoid that spot on his face. I feel him close to my face. His breath on my cheek.
"You're beautiful every night," he whispers. "And every day."
I want to tell him he's lying. I want to so bad. But I can tell he's not. His heartbeat is faster than normal, but there's a rhythm to it that proves his honesty. This time my breath hitches. This can't be real. I must have drunk too much.
He's still here. I feel him close in. Our breaths mix. Then his lips on mine. And suddenly I don't care that I'm blind because all I can, all I want to, feel is him. His soft lips pressed against mine. One hand on my cheek the other on my waist. I pull away. Emotion is tearing me apart. I can feel my tears ready to spill. His thumbs run across my cheeks wiping the traitorous escapees away.
"Beautiful," he repeats.
"I thought… Katara…" I don't even know how to finish that thought. I had used it as an excuse for so long now so as not to allow myself that heartache of not being chosen even though they hadn't been together for three years.
He chuckles lightly. "She is my friend, yes. But you. It's you."
I've only been called pretty once. In all my 18 years. Once. Not that I care, because I don't. I'm Toph Bei Fong. The Blind Bandit. The greatest earthbender in history. I don't need to be called pretty. Beauty is for people who can see. Which I can't. Not that I care. Because I don't. I don't need to.
But then after that one night I was called beautiful by the most wonderful man, my airbender, every single day of our next 98 years as husband and wife. And I couldn't be happier.
Aww. So I hope my first attempt at Taang worked. Love to hear what people think of this one.