Chapter 6

Love Is…

…A Bar Fight

"I love the Fire Nation!"


"I shaid I love the Fire Nation!"

"I can't hear you!"


"Oh!" Toph shouted back over the live band's thunderous music blasting from the stage and echoing off the opposite wall. Then, when it suddenly dawned on her just how drunk they both were, she erupted into a cackling laughter.

"I should move here!" Sokka continued, dancing (read: flailing about) to the heart-pounding beat. "I should move here and live here! Because I love the Fire Nation! And it lovesh me back! Woooo!"

"Yesh, it does!" Toph shouted back, dancing (read: reeling) alongside him. "It lovesh you SHO MUCH!"

"I know!"

"Like, it lovesh you more than you love meat!"

"I know!"

"More than you love sarcashm!"

"I know!"

"But you know what? What it doeshn't love you more than?" Toph burst into another fit of giggles.

"Me!" she finally managed, gasping for air. "Cuz I love you SHO SHO MUCH! Even though you love Shuki! For five long years! Isn't that hysterical?"

She dissolved into giggles again.

"Hey!" she cried around her mirth. "Hey! Why aren't you laughing? Isn't that funny? Sokka? I said, isn't that—"

It was then she noticed that Sokka was no longer beside her and that she had drunkenly confessed her love to a wall of sweaty gyrating strangers.

She scowled darkly, cheeks turning pink and eyebrow twitching.

"Sokka, damn it, I'm going to kill you," she grumbled and marched off in search of him.

She didn't have too far to look: as soon as she extracted herself from the dance floor's pull into the no man's land just before the bar, she felt his presence slumpishly propped against the counter's routinely polished surface.

"Snoozly-kins, whaddaya think yer doin', runnin' off without me like that?" she half-teased, half-chastised, clambering atop a barstool for the specific purpose of delivering an amiable but firm punch to Sokka's bicep.

"Ouch! Toph—" he started, but a female voice interrupted him.

"Oh, you're here with someone. Well…" A regretful pause. "It was nice meeting you, Sokka. Give me a call if you're ever, ah…"

She paused again, and Toph, wobbling a bit from her perch on the barstool, felt the girl give her a not uncritical onceover.

"…free," she finished, an unkind smirk evident even in her voice. Much to the girl's fortune, she walked off then, only narrowly avoiding Toph's wrath (and a drunken Toph's wrath at that).

"Bitch," she spit after her, and for good measure made a face at her retreating form.

"Toph, what the hell?" Sokka sputtered, his capacity for words returning. "She was totally hitting on me!"

"So? You heard what she said," Toph countered, unable to keep a slight smile from her lips. "You're here with me."

"Yeah, but I'm not here with you," Sokka argued. "You're my friend, and I love you, but we're not together. She was a stranger. A very pretty stranger…"

He fell into momentary reverie of just what else she was.

Toph was, as usual, blunt in her assessment. "She was a skank and a rebound, Sokka."

"Exactly!" he cried. "Two very good reasons for you not to butt in on my game!"

"Your game?" Toph barked back. "What game? You dated the same girl for five years! That's not game, that's luck!"

"Hey, I've dated other girls, too!" he shouted in his defense.

"Yeah, that Yue chick," Toph said, rolling her eyes. "Who became the freaking moon! No way does that count!"

"How can you say that?" Sokka cried, recoiling as if on Yue's behalf, horror-struck as if offended for her sake.

But this was not the (drunken) case.

"If anything, she counts double for being the moon! Hell, Yue counts triple! Quadruple! Fiveduple!"

"Fiveduple isn't a word, dumb ass."

"If I say it is, then it is!"

"If you say it is, then it most definitely isn't!"

"ARGH!" Sokka shouted, his fist and teeth clenched and his eyebrows going crazy with rage on his forehead. "Toph, seriously, if you weren't a girl…"

"What?" she challenged, fists balled at her sides. "What? You'd hit me? Ha! Just try it, weepy willow boy! I can take you any damn day I please."

A wave of self-hatred rushed through her, and she berated herself for pushing the argument to this level. But it was like she couldn't help it. She'd spent her formative years communicating in crude tournament-style taunts, and she loved those jeers as a form of art. Her championship belt be damned, though, if her verbal sparring skills didn't get her into worse fights than anything else did. She knew it; she could see it.

And though she knew she'd hate herself even more for it in the morning, right here and now she was going to finish what she'd started.

"No, Toph, I'm not going to do that," Sokka said angrily. Her behavior was beyond baffling now.

"Why? Why won't you? Because I'm a girl?" she spat.

"No, because you're a friend." What the heck was wrong with her?

She couldn't accept that. She couldn't take that for an answer.

"You'd hit me if I were Aang," she pushed. "If Aang pissed you off, you'd sucker punch him in a heartbeat."

"I would not!" he denied. "Toph, what the hell is wrong with you?"

"Oh, me? Nothing. Nothing's wrong with me. I just want to know just what it is that's keeping you from hitting me. Because I'm a girl? Because I'm a friend? Really, Sokka, what the hell's keeping you from hauling off and 'sokka'-ing me in the face?"

"Why do you keep talking about me punching you? Do you seriously want me to hit you or something?"

"OR SOMETHING!" Toph exploded. "'Or something', you idiot!"

Okay, she'd completely lost him now. He was about to chalk her insanity up to "That Time of the Month" when she continued in a heated rage:

"Because I'm not just a girl, and I'm not just your friend! Good lord, is it really that hard to figure out?"

"Figure what out?"

This time it was Toph who erupted into a loud sentiment of ARGH.

"How thick is your skull, seriously? How much bone is there between that pea-sized brain of yours and that so-called Water Tribe wolf's tail you got going on—"

But then Toph came to an abrupt halt. She had reached up to rap on the same skull her tongue railed against, but her knuckles found something missing. And when she unclenched her fist and probed further, first with one flat hand and then the other, she found something completely absent.

"Sokka…" she said slowly, not believing her next words, "…what happened to your hair?"

To Be Continued…


And here is Chapter 6! Sorry for the delay since the last update, but I hope this chapter was entertaining enough for the wait to be worth it. I haven't much else to say at the moment except for thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter / the story thus far. : )

Happy June, everyone!