DISCLAIMER: I don't own Avatar the Last Airbender. The work is purely fictional.
She knew from the beginning that he was that girl's home. Maybe not from the very beginning, but the vibrations she felt when they saw each other after so long at the Full Moon Bay ferry station, she knew then. Those quick fluttering beats of his heart as she kissed him and those shallow breaths she took as she neared him. Jealousy, of course, seared through the blind earthbender. Over the past few weeks that they had been together she had developed a crush, puppy love. Some days, when Appa was on the ground and they were walking, she could feel him walk until the end of time. She was aware of every little move he made. Two days before the stupid encounter with Suki, Sokka's heart had raced… around her.
She had been sitting off to the side away from the group, crying. She had let them take Appa away. Those sand benders had the upper hand. If she had just practiced sand bending instead of being bored outside the library's entrance. If she were a stronger, bigger girl maybe then he would still be here. Every night since then she had felt Aang toss and whimper in his sleep. She was the cause for Twinkle Toe's pain because she had lacked the ability to save the tower and save Appa at the same time. Toph picked up a rock and threw it hard out in front of her.
On top of feeling weak, she was constantly observing Sokka with a twisted pit in her stomach whenever he came near. He knees felt ready to give out whenever he called her name. And when they touched she could beam for hours. He was a constant, terrible distraction. She chucked another rock; it hit some tree in the distance. The tears kept streaming down her flushed cheeks. "Stupid, stupid, stupid…" she muttered shakily. She was stupid for losing Appa, stupid for hurting Aang and most of all, stupid for liking Sokka. A sudden voice made her gasp.
"Hey Toph, the food is—" He looked at her small form, huddled with her knees against her chest. "What's wrong?" he said quietly. He knew it wasn't good. Toph was the strongest person he had met and she was in tears. Toph shook her head not trusting her voice. She cleared her throat.
"I'll be there soon Snoozles, start with out me." She was doing fine until the last few words. Sokka kneeled down beside her, worried.
"Toph, you can talk to me. Please talk to me." He gently spoke to her with a hand on her back. "Tell me what's going on." At first she was unresponsive, tears falling silently and unwillingly. Then with a broken sob she flung herself into his arms and cried into his shoulder.
"It's all my fault Sokka! I lost Appa! I hurt Aang! If I was a better earthbender maybe he would still be here! I should have been practicing sand bending instead of goofing off and resting. I should have known better, I should have been stronger."
"Stop it, Toph." He hugged her tightly. "It isn't your fault," he whispered to her. "I promise you, it's not your fault. You'll drive yourself crazy like this. You're the toughest girl I know. I know it's hard, but we'll find Appa. I promise." Toph let Sokka's clothes absorb the last of her tears. He smelled like a campfire, making her smile a little.
"Did you burn your clothes starting the fire?" He gasped as if appalled.
"What! I— no! I didn't! Momo made me trip and it wasn't my fault." He was still hugging her while waving his arms erratically. They sat silently after that for a few moments. "You feeling better?" He released her and helped her up. She punched his arm in embarrassment. "Ow! What did I do?" He rubbed his sore arm.
"Don't tell anyone I cried! I don't think I've ever done that before… Let it all out for someone to see. So, thank you." Her face heated up and a blush raced quickly across her face.
"Of course, Toph. I care for you, a lot." Her blush deepened and his heart sped up at his own words. "W-well like a sister!" He said, explaining himself. "Come on, let's go eat." He started walking towards camp. Toph smiled to herself. He was lying about the sister part. She sped up and flicked him as she passed.
"You know what the best thing about seeing with my feet is?" she asked with a smile. "I can feel when someone is lying." Sokka let out a tiny splutter and sat down by the fire. His heart beating in that uneven pace, that her own heart knew so well.
With her here it's like it never happened. He was so happy to see her. Sokka loved that girl, and why not? She was pretty, she could see, and she obviously adored him. Toph could recall the exact moments leading up to her realization.
They were at Serpent's pass walking those stupid travelers across. Sokka and Suki would not stop flirting and being cute with each other. That was when the Fire Nation ship fired at them. With a few simple movements, Toph saved Sokka from harm. Instead of saying 'thanks' or a nice pat on the back, he rushes off to help Suki. Then he was all over her throughout the entire night. She wanted to approach Sokka about the incident earlier, so she went off to find him. Toph felt them before she was within their seeing distance. Sokka was upset and Suki tried to kiss him. Toph was overcome with sadness and jealousy. Though a second later she realized he had refused. He did like her! Suki was old news. Filled with renewed hope Toph went back to her rock tent.
The next morning they were crossing the path. Only one minor problem, there wasn't a rocky path through out the entire crossing. Katara split the water and they could finally pass. Within minutes, the serpent showed up and disrupted her bending. With only milliseconds standing between Toph saving everyone or not being strong enough to keep them from drowning, she twisted her wrists and brought up the column of land. From there Katara made an ice bridge. No way was Toph going anywhere she couldn't feel. Flying was bad enough.
But he spoke. He wanted her to cross the path. With a deep breath Toph moved forward. For Sokka, she would and could do this. She could hear his voice on the other side, guiding her. However moments later the bridged broke sending Toph into the water. She screamed, terrified. Dying was the last thing she wanted. Again she was weak, unable to help herself. Bursting in and out of the water, she heard Sokka yell that he was coming for her. Toph still screamed, but she knew he wouldn't let her drown. Not Snoozles. A hand caught her under the arms as she was sinking and brought her choking body to a warm chest. She couldn't contain herself, "Oh Sokka! You saved me!" After weeks of pent up feelings she kissed the soft cheek, pouring all of her emotion into it. All of a sudden Suki's voice rang in her ear.
"Actually it's me." It didn't matter what she said, Toph wasn't listening. She had kissed Suki.
"Oh… Well... hehe…You can go ahead and let me drown now…" she mumbled embarrassed. Now Suki knew she was the other girl. If they kept traveling together it would be really awkward for the three of them.
Hours had passed since the incident with Suki. Toph had left Sokka alone. After all, Suki seemed to really like him. Walking around, She over heard the two. Suki was leaving and had just apologized for the previous night. Toph couldn't help the pride of winning swelling in her chest. Then as soon as it had arrived, it deflated. They were kissing. Sokka pushed Suki against the wall and kept kissing her with a passion she knew would never be hers. Toph slowly walked back to camp.
"What's up with you? A baby was just born! Be happy!" smiled Aang enthusiastically. Toph shrugged at him.
"I'm just tired." She walked away from him and set up her rock tent.
With that, Toph centered herself. She had to bury these feelings. Sokka was in love with a girl she couldn't compete with. With a deep breath she let only one tear slide down her cheeks. No more tears. Not for Sokka. Though they had what seemed to her to be moments throughout their journey, Toph always kept Suki in mind. It didn't matter how close she and him were getting, it wasn't right.
After the invasion, she decided to move away from the group. She would miss Katara, Aang and even Zuko. She had said good bye to them in the Jasmine Dragon. Sokka and Suki were on a date that evening. It was better that way. Toph didn't think she could leave him. After saying good bye to everyone, Toph went for a small walk through Ba Sing Se alone, remembering the times spent fighting the war, until a familiar pair of feet came marching along in front of her.
"You were just going to leave?" He was angry. She didn't mean to make him so mad. "Without saying anything to me?" He was hurt too. This is exactly what Toph had been trying to avoid. "Why are you leaving?"
"Why does it matter? I've done my job here, might as well get a move on." She said bluntly and without emotion. Toph felt Sokka flinch at her words.
"I don't want you to go…" He shifted uneasily.
"What are you saying Snoozles? You're all shifty." She said with a forced annoyed tone.
"If you go, I can't…" He took a breath. "I can't protect you." Toph gave a curt laugh. He wanted to protect her? From what? Dying? Getting hurt? Sokka hurt her every second he spent with Suki.
"From what Snoozles? Fire benders?" she teased.
"From everything." He said quietly. "Back on that Fire Nation air ship, before Suki saved us… you remember?" she nodded. "Well… you were just dangling there and our grips were failing us. I kept thinking about how sad this world would be without you. I promised myself that if we survived, I'd protect you with all of my being. If you go, I can't be sure what will happen to you. You don't have to go. Stay with Suki and I!" He suggested.
"You want me to stay with Suki." She asked flatly. Sokka gave her a confused look. Then with a rush of emotion it seemed to click for him. "I'm wasting my time here. I don't need any protection. Especially yours. We aren't even friends. Good bye Sokka. I hope you have your happily ever after with your Suki." Toph nearly spat her name. She turned and left Sokka standing there. As if on cue, the sky began to release a heavy down pour. The rain effectively covered Toph's tears as she abandoned the man she loved.